The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Army locks up 430 gold panners

Zim Online

Tuesday 28 November 2006

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe army has detained 430 civilians including
children and refused to hand them over to the police since arresting them
last Friday for illegally panning for gold at one of its farms,
authoritative sources told ZimOnline.

      The army does not have arresting powers under the law and it is also
illegal to detain suspects for more than 48 hours without taking them to

      The gold panners, many of who our sources described as being "in a
state of shock" are being held at an army camp at Battlefields, about 250km
south-west of Harare.

      "The gold panners, who included more than 10 children, were rounded up
by a group of soldiers who bundled them into some armoured trucks and took
them for detention in their barracks," said a senior police officer, among a
team that has been trying unsuccessfully to have the panners released into
the custody of the police.

      It was not possible to establish from the army under which law they
were holding the panners or how it intended to deal with its captives.

      The Zimbabwe army that is fiercely loyal to President Robert Mugabe is
notorious for victimising opposition supporters and its generally
high-handed treatment of civilians.

      Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi said he was unable to comment
because he was "yet to be briefed on the incident".

      Deputy police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka flatly refused to take
questions on the matter.  "This is not an issue to discuss with the Press,"
Mandipaka said before switching off his mobile phone.

      According to sources, the panners had ignored repeated warnings by the
army to stop digging for gold on its farm near Battlefields forcing the
soldiers to launch a massive crackdown against the illegal miners.

      Illegal gold panning has become rampant in most pasts of the country
as thousands of Zimbabweans battle to make ends meet because of a severe
seven-year old economic crisis that has spawned shortages of jobs, food and
other basic survival commodities, while inflation has shot to more than 1
000 percent.

      But the gold panners are accused of wreaking havoc on the environment
through their rudimentary mining methods. The police have in the past
launched several campaigns to stamp out gold panning. But this is the first
time that the army has arrested gold panners.

      This is however not the first time that the army - that is accused by
churches and human rights groups of committing human rights abuses - has
acted outside the law to arrest and detain civilians. For example in 1999,
the army detained and tortured journalists Ray Choto and the late Mark
Chavhunduka for days in open defiance of a High Court order to release the

      Mugabe, who has heavily relied on the army and police to keep public
discontent in check in the face of a worsening economic crisis, backed the
army for arresting the journalists. - ZimOnline

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Meat firm closes shop as industry grinds to a halt

Zim Online

Tuesday 28 November 2006

      BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's biggest but undercapitalised meat processing and
canning company has ceased operations, in yet another example of the
dramatic collapse of the southern African nation's once impressive
industrial sector, ZimOnline has learnt.

      The government-owned Cold Storage Company (CSC) that once raked in
millions of dollars in hard cash through beef exports to the European Union
(EU) shut down its main slaughterhouses and meat processing factories in
Bulawayo and Masvingo about three months ago and put more than 3 000 workers
on forced leave, company officials told ZimOnline.

      Other relatively smaller CSC plants across the country have also been
shut down.

      CSC spokeswoman Patience Madambi would neither confirm nor deny that
the company had ceased operations, preferring to only say that the meat
company was still grappling with the same problems that had threatened to
bring it down before.

      She said: "Nothing has changed . . . the problems we are facing the
problems are still the same."

      The CSC had struggled to remain afloat after the EU suspended beef
imports from Zimbabwe after a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in the country
three years ago and starving the meat company of vital hard cash inflows.

      Under the Lome IV Convention, Zimbabwe enjoys a 9 100 tonnes annual
beef export quota to the EU.

      Undercapitalisation, mismanagement and corruption as well as
stiffening competition from smaller and privately owned abattoirs helped
hasten the collapse of CSC.

      Senior managers at the CSC' main plant in Bulawayo said there had been
little or no production in the last three months and that workers sent on
forced leave had not been paid because the company coffers were empty.

      "We have been doing nothing except only for about two weeks in the
last three months when we were able to do some production . . . otherwise
things are at a standstill," said one CSC official who did not want to be
named because he was not authorised to release such information to the

      Several hundreds of Zimbabwean companies, both owned by the government
or private investors, have collapsed as the country battles its worst ever
economic crisis.

      The economic meltdown, classified as the worst in the world outside a
war zone by the World Bank, has sent inflation soaring to more than 1 000
percent and spawned shortages of raw materials, machinery and spares for
industry, while food, fuel, essential medicines and other basic survival
commodities are also in short supply.

      Western governments and the main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change party blame the economic crisis on repression and mismanagement by
President Robert Mugabe. He denies the charge. - ZimOnline

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Zim among nine states ordered to present regional target reports

Zim Online

Tuesday 28 November 2006

      PORT LOUIS - Zimbabwe is one of nine Southern African Development
Community (SADC) countries given until February 2007 to produce their first
reports highlighting progress towards meeting a set of agreed regional
macroeconomic targets.

      Following a meeting of the SADC Macroeconomic Sub-Committee that ended
here on 24 November, Zimbabwe is expected to have a difficult time
convincing its southern African neighbours that its economy is sound and
that its policies are not a liability to the rest of the region.

      According to sources who attended the meeting, only five countries,
including Botswana, Mauritius and South Africa have so far submitted their
first macroeconomic convergence reports.

      The other nine have either completed the first drafts or are on the
verge of doing so.

      "These reports will be able to show whether the policies of member
states are indeed working and whether we are all pulling towards the goal of
a shared future," said a senior SADC official who spoke on condition he was
not named.

      Zimbabwe Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa was not immediately
available to shed light as to when he will be presenting his macroeconomic
convergence report to SADC.

      SADC envisages creating a free trade area by 2008 and a customs union
two years later.

      This calls on countries making a number of commitments. These include
an undertaking to implement stability-oriented macroeconomic policies and to
aim to meet a range of specific convergence targets.

      The first set of targets - to be achieved by 2008 - include attaining
single-digit inflation, budget deficit of less than five percent of Gross
Domestic Product (GDP), reduction of public and publicly-guaranteed debt
below 60 percent of GDP, and maintaining a current account deficit of less
than nine percent of GDP.

      With an inflation rate of 1 070.2 percent in October - the highest in
the world - and a budget deficit projected at more than 50 percent in 2006,
Zimbabwe looks the least likely to meet the regional targets.

      Some analysts project that the country's inflation rate could, in
fact, rocket to about 5 000 percent by mid 2007 before tapering off to
around 4 000 percent by the end of the year.

      Quasi-fiscal activities by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and
instability on the foreign exchange market are expected to contribute to
pressure on inflation as well as to the widening of the budget deficit in
the foreseeable future.

      The RBZ has - against advice from the International Monetary Fund and
donors - been dolling out funds to finance non-productive farmers and
collapsed companies.

      The government has since 2000 also largely failed to live within its
means, with the Ministry of Finance consistently asking parliament for
supplementary funds to meet its bloated financing requirements.

      In July, Murerwa presented a $327.2 trillion supplementary budget
which raised the budget deficit from the initial figure of $13.9 trillion to
a staggering $253 trillion.

      This pushed the projected deficit for 2006 to about 56
percent. -ZimOnline

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ZIFA board members refuse to take blame over SA trip

Zim Online

Tuesday 28 November 2006

      HARARE - Divisions within the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA)
board worsened yesterday over the disastrous Young Warriors trip to South
Africa for the Under-17 African Youth Championships qualifier against South
Africa last week.

      The Young Warriors were forced to travel by road to Johannesburg after
initially being made to believe that they would travel by air.

      The young Zimbabwe team was humiliated 5-1 by the South Africans in
this first leg tie and the return leg in the country is almost certainly a

      Already the travel plans, which saw driving a day before the match for
a rigorous 19 hours, have created a platform for the already divided Zifa
board to trade accusations and counter accusations.

      A ZIFA employee who spoke to ZimOnline yesterday afternoon confirmed
the developments.

      "The interesting thing about this trip to South Africa is that
everyone at ZIFA is running away from blame. The chairman (Wellington
Nyatanga) is claiming that when arrangements for the match were being made,
he was away in Namibia and was only following developments in the press.

      "Regis Dzenga, who is board member for development is denying
responsibility for the trip while treasurer, Gladmore Muzambi is also
distancing himself away from the problem. Nobody knows who did what.

      "But the bottom line is that Zifa members are trying to fight each
other but unfortunately they are using youngsters as pawns in their big
fight. Individuals in the board are deliberately creating problems so that
they divert the blame to their enemies with a view of discrediting them in
the media. It's shocking that these fighting individuals can sacrifice the
game for their personal wars," said the official.

      The board members were not available for comment yesterday as they
were said to be locked up in meetings. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe says China bids $3 bln for steel firm stake


      Mon Nov 27, 2006 12:45 PM GMT

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - A Chinese company has offered $3 billion for a 60 percent
stake in Zimbabwe's struggling state-owned steel firm, according to a report
in the government-run Herald newspaper on Monday.

Zimbabwe's Ambassador to China, Christopher Mutsvangwa, was quoted in the
paper saying the Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC) had put in an
offer for shares in troubled Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Ziscosteel)
and was waiting for a response from Harare.

The move would be Beijing's biggest investment yet in the crisis-hit
southern African country.

"MCC applied for a 60 percent stake in Ziscosteel after a meeting which was
held between MCC officials and our government," Mutsvangwa was quoted as

Analysts were cautious on the report, however, saying President Robert
Mugabe's government has a history of announcing or signing pacts with
foreigners which never take off or crumble within months.

Mutsvangwa said he was expecting Harare to approve the deal and the Herald
quoted an MCC spokesman, Song Guanghui, confirming the bid, saying: "We are
ready for the move."

Mugabe's government is battling to keep Ziscosteel -- which is operating at
around 30 percent of capacity and which critics say has been looted by top
state officials -- from collapsing after years of mismanagement.

"If (the) government approves the deal, which I think it will, Zisco will
regain its status as the biggest steel manufacturer in Africa south of the
Sahara," Mutsvangwa said.


Ziscosteel was the country's main foreign currency earner before
independence from Britain in 1980, but output has sharply fallen to just
78,000 tonnes of steel annually because its main furnace has been derelict
for years.

Industry Minister Obert Mpofu, whose department is in charge of Ziscosteel,
was not immediately available for comment.

Zimbabwe economic consultant John Robertson said the proposed Chinese deal
would be a test of whether Mugabe's government was ready to cede control of
"big, even largely non-operating parastatals" to foreign investors.

"We have seen a lot of these grand proposals on the table, the government
has signed many such agreements, but for lack of commitment they have never
got off the ground and the economy is suffering," he said.

The proposed deal with China comes just two months after the government
announced the collapse of a $400 million investment by India's Global Steel
Holdings to rehabilitate Ziscosteel. That agreement was signed early this

Mugabe's relationship with China dates back to the 1970s when he co-led a
guerrilla war against white minority rule in the former Rhodesia.

The ties have deepened as Western nations imposed sanctions on Mugabe's top
officials over allegations of vote-rigging and political repression. Harare
frequently invokes China as one of its best allies on the world stage.

Critics say Mugabe has plunged Zimbabwe into disaster with policies that
have led to an eight year recession and isolated his government from former
Western donors, prompting it to scramble for aid from the East.

The crisis has left Zimbabwe with severe foreign currency shortages and the
world's highest inflation rate at more than 1,000 percent, keeping the local
dollar a pariah on international markets.

In June a Chinese company and two Zimbabwean firms signed deals worth $1.3
billion to establish coal mines and three thermal power stations in the
country and Chinese companies have bid for rights to explore Zimbabwe's
uranium deposits.

Analysts say Zimbabwe's platinum, nickel and copper deposits could all be of
likely interest to Chinese companies.

China is already the largest buyer of Zimbabwe's tobacco and has over the
last few years delivered aircraft and buses to boost the country's ageing
fleets, while Mugabe has also bought jet fighters, arms and armoured trucks
from Beijing.

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Zimbabwe's Nkomo Announces His Candidacy for President

Mens News Daily

from VOA

November 27, 2006
Veteran ruling Zanu PF politician and nationalist John Nkomo says he is
prepared to succeed President Robert Mugabe when he retires. For VOA, Peta
Thornycroft reports that although there is much behind the scenes battling
for the top post, Nkomo is the first to come into the open and say he is
willing to take on the job.

Seventy-two-year-old John Nkomo is national chairman of Zanu PF, and speaker
in Zimbabwe's parliament. He Has been a member of President Robert Mugabe's
Zanu PF for nearly 20 years. He told a gathering of journalists in Bulawayo
over the weekend that he had come through the ranks of Zanu PF and was
available for the top job at elections due in March 2008, when Mugabe has
previously said he would retire.

Whether the election will be held in 15 months time is uncertain. Several
Zanu PF officials have been telling the state controlled media for several
months now, that the presidential election would be merged with the
parliamentary poll in 2010. This would give Mugabe an extra two years in

To do that, Zanu PF would have to change the constitution for the 18th time
since Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980.

Although Nkomo is the first to say on the record he was available, several
other top Zanu PF members are battling behind the scenes to be chosen for
the job.

The most prominent is vice president Joice Mujuru, the first woman to rise
so high in the ruling party's ranks. She is backed by her husband, former
defense force chief, Solomon Mujuru, who analysts have long dubbed the "king
maker" for having wielded so much power in the military, government,
business and political spheres of Zimbabwe.

Joice Mujuru has been named recently for involvement in an alleged scandal
at the state owned steel company. A rival camp is lead by rural housing
minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was for years tipped as Mugabe's automatic
successor, but he fell out of favor among allegations, which he denies, that
he was plotting against Mugabe.

Another man said to be running for the top job, is controversial and
powerful central bank governor Gideon Gono, who has a close working
relationship with Mugabe. Gono has been accused by the Mujuru camp for
allocating scarce foreign currency to import sub-standard fertilizer, a
charge he denies.

Former finance minister and ruling party insider, Simba Makoni, is also
tipped by many analysts as the dark horse of the race for the presidency. He
is liked by some in the private sector, but is unknown in many parts of the
country outside his home district.

Nkomo is part of the top five in Zanu PF, and has had 40 years experience in
Zimbabwe's pre and post independence politics. He has little appeal to
voters in his home area, in southern Zimbabwe, because he joined Zanu PF. In
his home territory many people are fiercely anti Zanu PF because of
massacres committed by the army in the 1980's.

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ZESA Broke - Power Utility Headed for Collapse

Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 23, 2006
Posted to the web November 27, 2006

Rangarirai Mberi

STATE-OWNED power utility ZESA is insolvent and it incurred a loss of $35
billion (or $35 trillion in old currency) in the first six months of this
year, which could have worsened the frequent and disruptive power outages
the country is currently experiencing.

News of the utility's insolvency comes amid mounting fears of a looming
serious regional power crisis next year.

A confidential auditors' report obtained by The Financial Gazette this week
warns the financial status of the parastatal makes it doubtful that ZESA
"can continue operating as a going concern." The report was handed to
management on October 17, 2006.

"The group is technically insolvent as evidenced by net current liabilities
positions of $52.1 billion (historical) and $57.4 billion (adjusted). The
group has a severe working capital deficit, as the revenue generation cannot
sustain operational costs. Trading, while technically insolvent, has a
bearing on the directors in their individual capacities," the report,
prepared by accountants Kudenga and Company, says.

ZESA, according to the report, is also failing to remit its employees'
individual tax payments (Pay As You Earn) to revenue authority Zimra, is
running short on its payments to national pension fund NSSA, and has also
not been paying its staff's dues to the ZESA Pension Fund.

There is therefore a "risk of a direct garnish from ZESA's bank accounts" by
Zimra, warn the auditors.

The report reveals that salaries at the parastatal gobble up to 79 percent
of ZESA's total revenues. Out of income of $5.7 billion, $4.5 billion went
into staff costs, the bulk of which are believed to be salaries. Loans to
staff are also not being properly accounted for, says the report.

Foreign debt at ZESA stood at the equivalent of $30 billion as at June this
year -- debts that would have piled up significantly after the July

The auditors place insufficient revenue generating capacity, significant
foreign exchange losses, uneconomic tariffs and breach of contracts at the
base of the deepening rot at ZESA. Exchange losses stood at $21.4 billion by

"The group's financial statements should actually be prepared on a break-up
basis, as the going concern assumption cannot be supported by the facts on
the ground, except the fact that the entity is 100 percent government owned
and is strategic to the country."

ZESA has been touting its involvement in agriculture in recent months as a
viable strategy that would earn it the foreign currency it needs to import
power and relieve offshore debt. But the company under which ZESA is running
these activities, ZESA Enterprises, made a $197 million loss from its two
divisions. Agro-business made a $94.5 million loss, while manufacturing lost
$76.3 million.

On the foreign loans, the auditors say: "Though the shareholder guarantees
the loans, their non-repayment has greatly affected the operations of the
entity. A debt takeover by the government or a repayment plan is imminent to
avoid the crumbling of the sole electricity supplier to the nation."

The company is also being run entirely on handouts from the central bank and
government, said the audit, but their continued support could no longer be
guaranteed because of the increased rate of default by ZESA. This meant that
the future of the country's sole power supplier is now at great risk, the
accountants say.

"The capital structure of the group is not proper, with a debt to equity
percentage of 76 percent and 258 percent in inflation adjusted terms and
historical cost respectively. What this means is that the group is being
virtually financed by lenders/creditors."

This is however further worsened by the fact that the bulk of the equity is
revaluation surplus on immovable assets. In operational terms, the
accumulated losses stood at $167.8 billion in inflation-adjusted terms and
$74.3 billion in historical cost terms. The size of the adjusted loss beats
that of the original national expenditure for this year, which had been $128

The report says it is unlikely that ZESA could find a new investor, which
government officials have previously pointed to as the only saviour of the

"The partner who might be offered a stake in the group in exchange either
for a financial injection, expertise or managerial assistance would find it
difficult to invest in a group with results like ZESA's."

A total of US$10.7 million had accrued for invoices not yet received from
engineering firm Soluziona. Of this amount, US$7.3 was outstanding as at
December 2005.

In reaction to this criticism from the auditors, management at ZESA said in
a note attached to the report: "The invoices cannot be posted to the
purchases ledger due to shortages of foreign currency. Unless and until the
foreign currency is made available, the foreign currency invoices remain in
the accrual account."

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Bakers' Letter to Govt Typifies Zim's Crisis

Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 23, 2006
Posted to the web November 27, 2006

Bornwell Chakaodza

AN ACT of desperation? Definitely. But it does highlight once again that a
turnaround of Zimbabwe's fortunes without thorough going political and
economic reforms is but a tragic delusion.

I am of course referring to a letter from bread makers to the government
dated November 7 which unequivocally warned of a total collapse of the
bakery sector as a result of the government-sanctioned price controls.

"As we write this letter, we applied for a price of bread of $467 on October
5 and no price review has been awarded", the National Bakers' Association
(NBA) said.

"In the meantime, whilst we were waiting for the response, costs further
escalated and the correct retail price of a loaf of bread should now be
$638", added the NBA.

A sad story indeed but one which graphically shows what has gone
catastrophically wrong with the way we are tackling our crisis and end
people's suffering. Six years on, things continue to spin out of control all
the time.

In this current hyperinflationary environment of ours, prices of goods and
services continue to skyrocket on a daily and weekly basis.

It has to be noted that, over and above maize meal, bread has to all intents
and purposes become the staple food for all Zimbabweans and the standoff
between the government and the bakers on the issue of price controls goes
right to the heart of this country's crisis.

With inflation going in one direction like a bulldozer coupled with the
continuing fuel and foreign currency shortages and many other hardships,
there appears to be no end to our troubles. The remedies that we are
presently pursuing to combat the inflation that is surging all the time are
clearly not enough.

It is like the war on terror being waged by the United States, the United
Kingdom and other countries - a never-ending war. In our case, it is a war
that could go on and on unless the powers-that-be develop and sustain a
genuine commitment to comprehensive political and economic reforms. This is
the greatest challenge that Zanu PF will have to confront very soon, if not
now. But the question always remains: Is the ruling party prepared to go
down that road given the fact that they are benefiting from the system big
time? Plundering the little resources that are available appears to have
become the only game in town as far as the decision-makers in Zanu PF are
concerned. This is the tragedy as I see it.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

One has only to look at the on-going degrading scramble for land, for
fertilizer, for farming equipment recently imported by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe to understand and appreciate what I am talking about. It is really
one man for himself and God for us all in this dog eat dog kind of

This is the reason why so many people do not believe in the capability and
willingness of Zanu PF to reform itself.

The point is made very forcefully that the decision-makers in Zanu PF have
nothing more than a vested interest in the current political system. Little
wonder therefore that they are always bent on repeating to us Zimbabweans
and the rest of the world the same tired and wearisome untruths: western
sponsored sanctions on Zimbabwe instead of talking about targeted sanctions
on themselves, the principle of land reform which is generally accepted
anyway instead of the methods that were used to carry it out, sovereignty
and so on and so forth. But benefiting from the largesse flowing from the
present system by this tiny fraction of Zimbabweans is one thing, sustaining
it in the long term is quite another.

There are huge limits to continually fighting for a cake that is shrinking
by the day.

In an environment like ours characterized by lack of productivity, ostracism
and isolation from the markets that matter most i.e. the West, what hope is
there for a full-blown economic turnaround? The ruling party has to find a
convincing and sustainable answer to a question like this one.

To those of us who have a vested interest in the successful turnaround of
our fortunes, there is really no other choice but to engage all Zimbabweans
in the search for solutions to our problems.

In the end, there has to be a political solution in which there is a total
buy-in by Zimbabweans of all races and creeds and the entire international
community i.e. East and West, North and South.

Without comprehensive economic and political reforms, we are going nowhere.

Costs and prices of everything will continue to rise daily as they are doing
at the moment making life impossible for the majority of Zimbabweans.

Zimbabweans will continue to flee the poverty of their homeland and in the
process paying a high price in terms of families being torn apart as
children are either reared by their grand parents or children themselves
looking after other children. It is not easy to leave one's culture and
one's family behind. In fact, the high cost on the social fabric of the
Zimbabwean society is yet to be quantified.

The question to be posed is thus: When will Zanu PF wake up to this reality?
Can the country afford this kind of fragmentation?

Is this what the fight for independence was all about? Is power so sweet
that a political leadership can go to the extent of sacrificing its people
on the altar of expediency? Is Zanu PF so obsessed with power that it can
shut its eyes like this to the enormous suffering that Zimbabweans are going
through at the present moment?

How many decent people in Zanu PF - who should know better - are conniving
and contributing to the continued misery and agony of fellow Zimbabweans
purely on the basis of self-interest?

I am asking all these questions not only to prick the consciences of the
decision-makers within the ruling party but also to emphasize the point that
the departure of President Mugabe from the political scene in the not too
distant future might not result in the cure for our political crisis.

Yes, the grand old man of the Zimbabwean politics is at the epicentre of the
crisis that the country is currently facing but let us not forget also that
there are structural problems within the Zanu PF roadmap.

What thought have we given to the struggles that are going on beneath the
surface of Zanu PF and sometimes above the surface? Is President Mugabe to
blame for all that?

No doubt, the civil war within Zanu PF is set to intensify and only time
will tell how it will play out eventually.

Obviously, we are hoping for a soft landing but there is no guarantee that
that will be the case. Behind the rhetoric and the posturing, I think it is
important to set in context the drama of the day.

By way of conclusion, I want to stress the fact that just as the ruling
party has made many choices over the years, it has another choice to make
regarding the seemingly unending crisis we are currently engulfed in.

Life is hard for Zimbabweans today. In this crisis, ordinary Zimbabweans are
paying a heavy price. Businesses are equally paying a high price as
exemplified by the bread manufacturers' letter to government already
referred to.

Zimbabweans including the Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono and his team are
working their guts out - the former to simply survive and latter to try to
offer bandages and administer palliatives without curing the disease.

Will you Mr President, before coming to the end of your political lifespan
begin, at least begin the process of fulfilling your side of the bargain by
simply administering the right medicine: All-encompassing political and
economic reforms.

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Baker Sees Christmas Without Bread

Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 23, 2006
Posted to the web November 27, 2006

Stanley Kwenda

ZIMBABWEANS could go without bread this festive season, according to one of
the country's largest bakers.

Bakers Inn, the bakery arm of listed food group Innscor, has warned of the
impending shortage of the commodity due to the worsening shortage of wheat
and bread flour.

"We are facing a critical shortage of wheat which we get from the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB). Unless something is done to import more wheat, the
country will have a Christmas without bread," said an official at Bakers

During the past two weeks, consumers have had to deal with intermittent
shortages of bread.

In addition to the wheat supply shortages, Bakers Inn is also facing a
critical shortage of branded packaging.

Bakers Inn has also rejected claims that the shortages are deliberate,
designed to push the price up.

"Bread is sold at a controlled price and there is no way we can change the
price, if we are to import wheat then the price of bread will be around
$700. But since we cannot charge that price, we will wait for the government
to give us wheat," said the official.

The grain regulatory board, GMB, is understood to be releasing 6 000 tonnes
of wheat into the market per month at a subsidised price of $12 000 a tonne.

The grain board acquires the wheat at $217 000 per tonne from farmers making
a subsidy of up to $205 000.

But most of the wheat released into the market by GMB finds its way to the
black market and pre-packs by the millers, leaving very little quantities
for bakers.

Experts also expect supply to tighten further after large quantities of
ready-for-harvest wheat was destroyed by early summer rains, with farmers
still unable to secure combine harvesters to pull the crop in.

Recently, more than 200 retailers and bakers were arrested for flouting
price regulations.

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No takers for compensation

From The Daily Telegraph (UK), 27 November

So far there have been no takers for the Zimbabwe government's latest offer
of compensation to 1700 white farmers who were kicked off their land since
2000. The latest offer was made 10 days ago. These regular offers work out
at less than 10 percent of the value of assets on the farmers' property. One
elderly farmer who has been negotiating with the government for some time
did get paid out last week and slightly more than the pitiful amount
originally offered for his farm in eastern Zimbabwe. It was enough to pay
for him to have a heart operation in South Africa where he is presently
recovering in hospital. His wife, who is with him in Johannesburg, is also
gravely ill. The rest of the few hundred white farmers who still live in
towns in Zimbabwe have made other lives for themselves. They are importing
fuel, making furniture, designing and producing household linen, working on
the fringes of the hunting industry, running coffee shops, etc and some
still send money to some of their former workers, who are now mostly
destitute. They say they will wait, and wait, and wait, until they are
offered a proper price for their life's investment on their former farms.
President Robert Mugabe began confiscating white owned farms in 2000. Less
than 20 percent of about 20 million acres taken is now productive.

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Govt Ignored Warning Against Zisco Partner

Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 23, 2006
Posted to the web November 27, 2006

Nkululeko Sibanda

GOVERNMENT ignored a warning by a former cabinet minister not to engage
Global Steel Holdings, whose brief US$400 million partnership with the
Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco) collapsed spectacularly earlier this
year, it has emerged.

Information reaching The Financial Gazette shows that Samuel Mumbengegwi,
former Industry and International Trade Minister, travelled to India on a
mission to evaluate GSHL and advised against going into a partnership with
the firms.

The trip followed reports that Zisco and GSHL were on the verge of clinching
a multi-trillion dollar deal designed to revive the fortunes of the bleeding
steel manufacturer. GHSL was awarded the Zisco management contract ahead of
nine other bidders.

Had the deal not fallen through, GSHL would have injected US $400 million
into Zisco.

A parliamentary committee that recently probed the aborted Zisco-GSHL
partnership noted that there was no due diligence in ascertaining the
authenticity and business record of GSHL before the contract was awarded.
The committee said management at the steelworks had raised alarm over US$145
000 worth of deals agreed to between GSHL and Stemcor, a South African
associate of the Indian firm.

The committee also established that procedures were not followed in choosing
GSHL as a partner for Zisco adding that the powers of the Zisco board, which
was supposed to represent the shareholders' interests, had been "usurped" by
the ministry during the signing of the GSHL agreement.

Said one source: "This issue of the deal between GSHL and Zisco was
discussed in Cabinet where a number of ministers raised concern over GSHL
being awarded the contract."

The basis of Mumbengegwi's reservations was reportedly a record of poor
business conduct on the part of GSHL, a company that is said to have faced
countless lawsuits in Nigeria, the United States and various other countries
for botched business deals.

The parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign Affairs, Industry and
International Trade has expressed similar concerns over GSHL's record.

"Investigations by the committee revealed that GSHL was awarded a contract
against a background of multi-billion dollar lawsuits pertaining to
agreements in Nigeria and the United States of America where the company had
entered into steel deals which it had failed to honour. The implementation
of the contract was unplanned, improper, and highly questionable. There were
no provisions for evaluation and monitoring mechanisms that were put in
place by both parties, a situation that gave GSHL free rein in the whole
deal," reads part of the committee's report.

Mumbengegwi this week confirmed travelling to India but declined to comment

"It is best that you talk to the concerned minister (Obert Mpofu). I did
travel to India and when I came back, I made my report to cabinet and left
everything there as per procedure. The incumbent minister should be in a
position to comment on what then transpired," said Mumbengegwi.

Mpofu could not shed light on the matter, saying he feared contempt of
parliament charges as the parliamentary portfolio committee on Foreign
Affairs, Industry and International Trade was yet to present its report to

"I cannot discuss any issues pertaining to Zisco until the parliamentary
portfolio committee report on Zisco is out. Should I do that, I might be
charged with contempt of parliament. For now, I will have to wait until the
report is tabled in parliament," said Mpofu.

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Rift erupts over "censorship" of Zimbabwe churches report on political, economic turmoil

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: November 27, 2006

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Church leaders in Zimbabwe attempted Monday to head off a
rift over a church report on the nation's political and economic turmoil
after priests of the Jesuit order alleged the report, issued last month, was
censored by government agents.

The Roman Catholic Bishops Conference said in a statement Monday there were
misunderstandings over the report calling for a new "national vision" and
reconciliation and national dialogue to heal conflict in the nation and ease
deepening economic woes. Officials denied the document was "compromised."

But Jesuit priests said in their monthly newsletter differences appeared in
drafts of the report that was issued in final form as a national discussion
paper at a prayer gathering attended by President Robert Mugabe on Oct. 27.

The Jesuits cited several passages they said were watered down.

Referring to sweeping security and media laws, "oppressive laws" in the
original became "contentious laws."
On political and election violence blamed largely on ruling party militants
and government agents since 2000, the Jesuits said in the original church
leaders noted that Zimbabwe's rulers had a "tendency to label anyone who
criticizes the dominant view as an enemy" of the state.

"That was too strong for the censors," said the Jesuit newsletter. Also, any
reference to election violence was eliminated.

In later passages in the "official" version, some references to rights
violations and paragraphs on and freedom of association and freedom of
speech and expression were deleted.

"Who would have an interest in leaving out those paragraphs? Everything
points in one direction," said the Jesuits.

The official text handed over to Mugabe at the October prayer ceremony
claimed churches praised efforts by the government to rehouse people left
homeless in a slum clearance operation in 2005.

"This is a figment of the censors' imagination. It is a blatant lie," said
the Jesuit newsletter.

Most of the estimated 700,000 people who lost their homes and livelihoods in
Operation Murambatsvina, or Clear Out Trash in the local Shona language, are
still homeless or destitute.

The 42-page report given to Mugabe, entitled "The Zimbabwe We Want: Towards
a National Vision", was published by the Catholic Bishops Conference, the
Zimbabwe Council of Churches and the Ecumenical Fellowship.

Some leaders of those groups have been accused of openly backing the
government and the ruling party.

In Monday's statement, those three groups said their document aimed to open
debate in the troubled former regional breadbasket now suffering 1,070
percent inflation, the highest in the world, and acute shortages of food,
hard currency and imports during the worst economic crisis since
independence in 1980.

"Questions have been asked: Who wrote this document? It would indeed be
disturbing if the State felt it could dictate the Churches' agenda. The
discussion document is a Church initiative," they said.

They said there were eight drafts of the document during its compilation,
some having been leaked to outsiders.

"Where there is talk there is hope. However, the Church understands that the
dissemination process still has to earn credibility through broad
consultations and participation," they said.

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Mugabe ponders Mujuru prosecution

New Zimbabwe

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 11/27/2006 10:03:08
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's fight against corruption is closing in on his
closest confidants. The 82-year-old leader is in a quandary and is unwilling
to pass a routine political directive for the arrest and prosecution of
Zanu-PF officials allegedly involved in illegal foreign currency dealings.

Police insiders have said that no arrest or prosecution of a Cabinet
minister or member of Zanu-PF's Politburo takes place without Mugabe's
sanction. It is a political formality that the police and Attorney General
adhere to, but Mugabe's selective approach has irked some of his colleagues
in Cabinet.

The police's criminal investigations department investigated Mugabe's close
ally, retired General Solomon Mujuru, husband of Vice-President Joice
Mujuru, for flouting exchange control regulations and running Mafia-type
shelf companies.

These companies would buy and trade foreign currency on the black market
with individuals and companies in which the government has an interest.
Mujuru then made weekly transfers involving billions of Zim dollars (see
"The docket").

The official exchange rate is set at Z$250 to the US dollar, but the black
market is thriving: the greenback fetches about Z$1 500.

Central bank Governor Gideon Gono has accused big business of sabotaging his
economic reforms by trading on the black market and flouting the Exchange
Control Act, an offence punishable with jail time or a fine.

Since 2003, when the exchange rate was fixed, several business people,
hoteliers and bankers have been arrested for illegally dealing in foreign
currency. However, it appears that no one has the guts to go after Mujuru -- 
whom police insiders have dubbed the "Godfather" of murky foreign currency
dealings in Harare.

Mujuru's dealings have also implicated the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe and
the Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, of which the government is the second major

The Mail & Guardian can reveal that a docket was opened this year and handed
to Mugabe by police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri. But no "political
directive" was forthcoming, so police put an end to the investigation.

The M&G is reliably informed that a second probe was conducted by the
national economic conduct inspectorate, a crime investigating unit of the
finance and state intelligence ministry.

The docket was made available to the M&G by a high-ranking source in the
government, who is concerned that Mugabe is "frying small fish" and leaving
his confidants untouched.

This is despite Mugabe's public assurances that he will prosecute anyone
involved in corruption regardless of "status" or "political affiliation". In
the past two years his crackdown has netted just two ministers.

Front companies

The docket against Mujuru states that there are two front companies
operating from Harare's Five Avenue shopping centre: Cellular Unique (Star
all) and Longfeld Investments. Cellular Unique is mysteriously registered as
a cellphone business operating company.

Both companies use the same address -- CY3095, Causeway, Harare, and have
accounts at the National Merchant Bank's Angwa City branch denominated in
Zim dollars.

The police report indicates that Cellular Unique and Longfeld are front
companies for a parent holding company, Parlovan Investments, owned by
Mujuru. Parlovan is a registered money transfer business that made several
big deposits into Longfeld and Cellular investments accounts.

Another company, identified as AIT, is also allegedly owned by Mujuru and,
according to the docket, is used in illegal foreign currency dealings.

According to a senior government official, Gono is aware of the docket on
Mujuru and has grown frustrated with Mugabe's failure to take action against
the general.

When Gono unveiled his monetary policy statement on August 31 he made a
thinly disguised reference to companies in the Avenues area illegally
transacting in foreign currency deals. "He [Gono] has knowledge of the
police investigation into General Mujuru," said the senior government

A week later, Gono said he would not be prevented from turning the economy
around by people who were trying to intimidate him with their "liberation
war credentials".

This week, when contacted by the M&G to name these powerful people with
liberation war credentials and those masterminding foreign currency
dealings, Gono referred the newspaper to "his Excellency, the president" and
"the police commissioner".

In October Gono banned all money transfer agencies, accusing them of
breaching foreign exchange regulations. Gono believes illegal foreign
currency dealings are ruining the economy by encouraging speculative
tendencies that fuel inflation which, at about 1 000%, is the highest in the

The docket

In the docket against Solomon Mujuru, the police reveal that "the money
transfers and transactions involve large volumes of cash, such as
$40-billion a day".

The criminal investigations department's (CID) probe reveals that "the two
front companies are dealing in illegal forex business". The dealings are
done by Emmanuel Manyika, who heads both companies, with a buyer identified
as Wadzanayi.

The currency is then sold to individuals and companies, including the
Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, of which
the government is a major shareholder.

Six pages of statements from Longfeld's National Merchant Bank accounts made
available to the CID show large deposits from Parlovan Investments during
two months between December 2005 and February 2006.

Why Mugabe won't act

Should Robert Mugabe act against Solomon Mujuru, there is likely to be an
outcry from the powerful Zezuru ethnic group within his party and
government. Mujuru is a Zezuru from Chikomba district, Mugabe's first wife,
Grace's home area.

Mugabe is aware of more than 10 completed investigations into corrupt
activities by senior government officials, but he has not acted on them. As
a result there is a feeling that acting against Mujuru could open a can of
worms, with disgruntled party members spilling the beans on their rivals.
This could dent the image of his party and the government.

A ruling Zanu-PF party Politburo member told the Mail & Guardian that Mugabe's
loyalty to Mujuru dates back to 1976, during the liberation struggle. It was
Mujuru, then known as Rex Nhongo, who formalised Mugabe's leadership of Zanu's
military wing in the presence of the late Tanzanian leader Julius Nyerere.

Before joining the struggle Mujuru had worked as a tyre salesman at Dunlop
in Bulawayo. In 1976 he worked with the late former Zanla commander, Josiah
Tongogara, to have Mugabe accepted by the liberation fighters in the

Back then, there was deep-seated distrust between the liberation fighters
and the political leadership. The leadership had been accused of selling out
the struggle, but Tongogara and Mujuru forced the liberation fighters to
accept Mugabe during a turbulent period that saw countless fighters killed
and others detained for mutineering.

A senior official said that despite becoming "disdainful" and "very annoyed"
by Mujuru's business dealings and lack of party commitment in the past
years, Mugabe is reluctant to send him to prison given his war credentials.

Although Mujuru is part of Mugabe's supreme organ, the Politburo, over the
past years he has not been active in party affairs. But last November he
played a crucial role in elevating his wife to the vice-presidency, fighting
off a challenge by presidential aspirant Rural Housing Minister Emmerson

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Revolutionary Zeal Will Not Put Food On the Table

Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 23, 2006
Posted to the web November 27, 2006

Mavis Makuni

A RECENT television news clip showing an elderly woman farm worker threshing
harvested wheat reminded me of the days when my siblings and I used to do
similar work in my parents' field decades ago.

However, despite the long intervening period and the fact that our land was
the usual, tiny rural patch, I still remember with a shudder what
back-breaking work that was.

I therefore fully understand and sympathise with those of Zimbabwe's new
farmers facing the challenge of working the huge tracts of land allocated to
them under the land reform programme using their bare hands. In the news
clip referred to above, a number of these farmers spoke out about the
insurmountable task farming had turned out to be because of their
ill-preparedness. Some farmers described how they were in danger of losing
their winter wheat crop once the rainy season began. They did not have
access to combine harvesters to clear the crop mechanically and have to use
sickles to cut whatever amount of wheat they can. It was however, an
unwinnable race against time as the heavens could open any time as they did
this week. It means that for these farmers everything spent on land
preparation, inputs and labour, is money down the drain.

The farmers will not only lose their wheat, but this failure to harvest will
affect their preparation of the land for the next crop. The ripple effects
will manifest themselves in many other ways, including shortages of wheat,
which will hit the consumer in the form of bread shortages and unaffordable

It has taken such a long time for the dust to settle in the agricultural
sector since the farm invasions began in 2000 that the problems being
experienced in growing and harvesting wheat are replicated across the board
with respect to most other crops. It will take ages for all the
ramifications of the violent and chaotic manner in which the government
embarked on the land redistribution programme to be addressed. It would be
tragic not to learn from the outrageous mistakes made so far so as to
proceed more humanely and cautiously.

The authorities may peddle as much deceptive propaganda about the success of
the initiative as they want but it is only by admitting that they blundered
by not planning ahead that they can seek lasting solutions while avoiding
creating new problems. The prevailing populist approach of tackling issues
piecemeal is bound to prolong the chaos and compromise production further.

Take the 99-year leases. Despite the hype surrounding their awarding to the
first group of farmers, these are bound to make no impact as long as the
majority of those allocated land have neither the inclination, expertise nor
the wherewithal to use the land productively. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
has recently acquired tractors and combine harvesters that are to be
distributed to farmers. RBZ chief Gideon Gono announced on state television
that productive farmers with a track record of delivering to the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) or Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) would be
allowed to buy the machinery under agreed terms.

It is doubtful however, if, like the 99-year leases, this Biblical
to-those-who-have-more-shall-be-given approach is the best way to address
the lack of productivity on the farms. It means that the relatively few who
already have some capacity to enable them to deliver regularly to the GMB or
Cottco will benefit, while the majority who have nothing will continue to
hold on to land they cannot till. The cycle of declining productivity, as
seen with regard to tobacco, will therefore continue. Another round of
evictions to get rid of these unproductive people will mean more time wasted
before sanity can be restored in the agricultural sector.

But on the other hand, while one sympathises with new farmers who now openly
admit that commercial farming is a mission impossible without the
appropriate machinery, one wonders how they were allocated land in the first
place and how they thought they could succeed as large-scale commercial
producers when all they had were their bare hands. After six years on the
land, they cannot continue to be called "new farmers" who must depend on the
government -- in reality the taxpayers -- for handouts every season.

If agriculture is to be restored to its former vital position as a major
contributor to the gross domestic product instead of being a leech on the
tottering economy as has been the case for the last six years, the
authorities must be more sincere about how they are tackling the mess.

It is all very well to appear decisive as Minister Didymus Mutasa likes to
project himself whenever he announces the latest wave of farm evictions. But
if the criterion for deciding who gets the vacated land continues to be
obscure and suspect, the vicious cycle will continue for the foreseeable
future. The unrelenting chaos and confusion on the farms have proved beyond
doubt that getting an "offer letter" solely because one is a party cadre and
has liberation war credentials is no guarantee for farming success. The
authorities must decide whether taking land from a productive white farmer
for its own sake is in the national interest when it results in perennial
food shortages and hunger for the majority of the population.

The new farmers have had enough time to prove themselves and those who have
not measured up must give up the land they are occupying for allocation to
those capable of utilising it productively. The time has come for everyone
to accept that no amount of revolutionary zeal or slogans can substitute for
the hard slog required to produce enough to meet national needs.

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Don't Take Us for Fools

Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 23, 2006
Posted to the web November 27, 2006

Gondo Gushungo

GOVERNMENT has droned on at nauseating length about its supposed
unquestionable sincerity and unwavering commitment to fighting corruption
fuelled by influential and powerful politicians known for their shameless
display of greed.

But nobody believes a word of it. And it is not getting any plaudits for its
astounding claims about the anti-corruption drive. The reason is simple.
Everything we see is to the contrary of what the government says.

I make my case with reference to facts. Systematic corruption in high places
has been exposed and plenty remains to be uncovered. It is hard to pick up a
newspaper today and not see horror stories about corruption in high places
and the ever present need to urgently deal with the scourge. Yet all the
politically powerful culprits in these corruption cases are still on the
loose. The cases are too numerous to mention.

Thus the shameless posturing by government officials such as the hardly
convincing Minister of State Enterprises, Anti-Monopolies and
Anti-Corruption, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana who said the toothless
Anti-Corruption Commission is to be given more bite by transforming it into
a Zimbabwean version of the Scorpions of South Africa should be seen for
what it is: a placatory gesture to an angry and resentful public by an
increasingly insincere and ill-poised political establishment.

Statements such as: ". . . The commission should be able to receive reports,
start investigations, arrest and prosecute in cases of corruption, serious
fraud and organised crimes to make the commission's work more effective . .
.", as attributed to Mangwana in one of the dailies last week, are
sufficiently pointed to attract the attention of unquestioning media who
have chosen to be embedded with the establishment and where official lies in
all shapes and sizes go forth unchallenged. This is why Mangwana's remarks
clearly did not convert a sceptical public which knows only too well that
the medium is the message.

The good news though is that this is a tacit admission by a government
minister who all along has been pretending to be fighting corruption that
the Commission is useless. The bad news is that we are being taken for fools
who are supposed to believe that merely mimicking the Scorpions will give
the Anti-Corruption Commission teeth overnight! In law-based states, yes
that would be possible. But not in Zimbabwe where laws are changed at a whim
and not everyone is liable to punishment for breaches of the law. Thus one
should pay no attention to Mangwana's language and formulae which create a
false impression of novelty.

In a futile attempt to maintain a façade of determined effort to rid the
country of corruption, Mangwana is trying to make us believe that the
problem lies with the "corporate structure" of the commission. Yet nothing
could be further from the truth.

Disenchanted Zimbabweans know that government is the problem -- the
roadblock to the fight against corruption. This it has done through
politically bribing or intimidating potential witnesses and blocking access
to critical records as is the case with the still unfolding ZISCO scandal
and the multiple farm ownership case, among many others.

Paradoxically, more-often-than-not, a great deal of effort has gone into
hunting anyone leaking information to the press than probing corruption
itself! And I do not have to belabour the reason why. I have already
indicated why in my previous instalments of this column: the pursuit of
corruption cases in Zimbabwe hinges on the political influence of those

Wary of what might come out in the wash, government is keen to keep a lid on
corruption for the simple reason that influential and powerful politicians
and their cronies known for bragging about their influence and closeness to
the centre of power are ninety-nine times out of a hundred, implicated. But
they remain free as the nation's future is compromised for the culprits'
narrow political interests and personal gain. Which is why I have said in
the past that the government's much-vaunted anti-corruption drive is full of
sham and hypocrisy.

What is increasingly clear therefore is that corruption in Zimbabwe is a
political case, which is most probably why the unwritten rule is that
prosecutorial and investigative decisions must of necessity be made from the

If this is so, what will stop the influential politicians, with or without a
Scorpions set-up, from putting a halt on investigative leads that might
expose them? Indeed, what will stop the politicians, known for their bloated
self-interest from, like they have always done, making it difficult for
investigators to subpoena witnesses, suspects and records?

There has always been heavy censoring of critical documents by the
government in its effort to stonewall investigations into cases that the
politicians deem to be too sensitive and politically explosive to be handled
in a routine manner. That is why so many corruption cases from several years
ago were never pursued or there is no visible progress on those that have
just been unearthed. This has in turn frustrated the country's law
enforcement agents.

If the police force, which also came into existence through an Act of
Parliament, is directly or indirectly restricted or prohibited from pursuing
these cases what chances are there that politicians will not interfer with
aggressive inquiries by a Scorpions-look-alike Anti-Corruption Commission? I
mean rules are also written down for the police. But has that stopped
interference by politicians? Have the police been left to get on with their

These questions are some of the reasons why the government's sincerity,
commitment and political will to deal with corruption will always remain
highly debatable.

True, President Mugabe himself has publicly rebuked and admonished his ZANU
PF colleagues for corruption. He even went so far as to invoke emergency
laws supposedly to deal with the corruption scourge. But nothing much has
happened since then.

It has been the same old story which in the past I have referred to as
revving the car without necessarily engaging the gears. There hasn't been a
more robust and spirited fight against corruption. And we all know why.
There is always that political dimension which has created sacred cows
within the country's political establishment.

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Letter from America

An Open Letter to Robert Gabriel Mugabe
President, ZANU-PF
      By Dr. Stan Mukasa
      November 27, 2006

      In today's Letter from America Dr. Stan Mukasa writes an open
no-holds-bared letter to Mugabe urging him to seek mental and spiritual
counseling for a possible redemption for his soul, as the 83-year-old
geriatric dictator approaches the inevitable political and physical exit
doors from this world.

      An Open Letter to Robert Gabriel Mugabe President, ZANU-PF

      Robert Mugabe:
      Jongwe House

      If you close your eyes and imagine what the mood in the country would
be like on the news of your death you may or may not be surprised to learn
about all-day, all- night exuberant celebrations and riotous festivities and
yes, pungwes that will most likely take place along the length and breadth
of this country.
      Your ears would almost be deafened by the unending horn blasts from
all those cars.
      Or, try what Idi Amin Dada, Uganda's former dictator, did one time. He
spread rumours that he had died. His security chiefs took him on a
helicopter ride and he personally witnessed the ecstatic jubilation that
spread around Uganda.
      Lest you think this is an unjustified accusation coming from a
disgruntled Zimbabwean living outside Zimbabwe your very own security chiefs
have advised you that you are the most hated man in Zimbabwe today. They
have also told you that if the leadership of the opposition movement was
organized and united Zimbabweans are ready, willing and able to storm the
State House and hang you upside down by a meat hook like what Italians did
to your fellow dictator, Benito Mussolini, in 1945.
      Maybe that explains why you have moved from the State House to your
multimillion-dollar ultra luxurious mansion that you built on the backs of
the struggling masses. And maybe that also explains why you are now busy
militarily fortifying your mansion. You are a fast learner! You are probably
more aware than any of us the degree and extent of resentment, contempt and
hatred that is leveled against you. But all those underground bunkers and
all those missile defenses and radar will not save you or guarantee you a
permanent peace of mind.
      You are now 83 years old and way in the sunset of your life. In
African tradition people of your age are regarded with great respect as
sources of wisdom who should teach younger generations the virtues of life.
My grandparents were honorable and well respected. When they died hundreds
of people gathered to pay their respects.
      In contrast, when you die thousands of people will come to your
graveside not to pay respect but to make sure it's you being lowered into
the grave so they can pour contempt and ridicule. They will do this
notwithstanding the tradition of not speaking ill about the dead. You will
definitely be an exception to that tradition. Take my word for it.
Zimbabweans are circling like vultures waiting for the day they will hear
the news.
      I do not harbor any wish for death for you. I would hope you live long
enough to be brought, like Liberia's Charles Taylor, to trial at The Hague
for crimes against humanity. I would, however, prefer you were tried in Kezi
at the VERY same spot where on one fateful day back in 1983 your Fifth
Brigade soldiers gathered villagers and told them they were "serious about
hunting dissidents." And to prove their point they lined up scores of
civilians and massacred them in cold blood.
      This was one of the thousands of acts of genocide committed under your
watch and which resulted in the murder of over 20,000 innocent civilians. At
that spot in Kezi I would hope that each of the surviving relatives of the
innocent civilians you butchered will come and stare at you in the face and
tell you what they think of you. And, after you are found guilty, I would
hope you are saved from the people's rage and the gallows so you can serve
the rest of your miserable life in Chikurubi maximum prison.
      While in Chikurubi you will be compelled to listen AGAIN to video
recordings of testimonies from every Zimbabwean who was affected by your
Fascist dictatorship.
      The walls around your solitary confinement in Chikurubi prison should
contain a complete record of how you brought death, misery, destruction and
a Stone Age existence to millions of Zimbabweans.
      When God at His time should decide to take your life I would hope you
are buried with all your sins so they can be your documented record in the
other world.
      In 1980 Zimbabweans gave you an overwhelming vote of confidence when
they voted you in office. Millions converged at the airport to meet you from
exile. Their expectation was that you would bring them out of the settler
colonialism of Ian Smith where they had no political rights.
      You betrayed this hope and trust when you started behaving like Ian
Smith immediately after independence. You did not dismantle the colonial
laws that oppressed blacks. You used them to your advantage. Whatever
economic gains Zimbabwe made in the first ten years of its so-called
independence they were a smokescreen for your real motives. These were spelt
out by the late Edison Zvobgo when he said your single ambition in life was
to stay in power indefinitely and at all costs.
      Incidentally, Zvobgo may have been in your political party but he
spoke very contemptuously about you.
      I remember one day he said people were mischievously misled into
thinking you were very educated by the virtue of all those degrees you
gained through distance education. He said you boasted about having more
degrees than a thermometer. The reality, according to Zvobgo, was, as he put
it, "A B.A .plus a B.A. plus B.A. is still a B.A."
      Zvobgo also ridiculed the so-called ZANUPF women's league who wore
dresses emblazoned with your picture and became a characteristic circus and
spectacle at the airport to welcome you from your endless trips abroad.
Congratulations, you probably beat the late Kamuzu Banda of Malawi's record
on this! Zvobgo used to openly scorn those women whom he said were other
people's wives yet they had unashamedly Mugabe's picture almost tattooed on
their butts and other parts of their bodies!
      Zvobgo was apocalyptically right when he said you have a schizophrenic
obsession in clinging to power even when you know very well that you have
lost the respect, let alone political support, of the majority of
Zimbabweans. He derisively called you the madman from Ngomahuru - that
hospital for mental patients in Masvingo! He said you had been given a baton
in a relay race to pass it on to the next person. Instead, you fled with
that baton into the mountains where you are still running wildly today!
      The fact that Zimbabwe is being ruled by a madman from Ngomahuru
accurately explains the crisis situation in the country today.
      Today, everything that can possibly go wrong in Zimbabwe has happened.
Zimbabwe is not at war yet it has all the symptoms of a war ravaged country.
      You thirst for blood, to quote a statement from one of your fanatical
supporters Joyce Chiwengwa in reference to another occasion in her turbulent
life of unearned luxury, has been a permanent feature of your despotic rule.
You mobilized unemployed youths and trained them into a militia of thugs
numbering 50000 - more than the size of the army! Then you set them off to
kill, torture, rape, abduct members of the opposition movement. The past six
years have been pure hell on earth for Zimbabweans. Human rights
organizations have documented over 400 members of the opposition movement
who were killed, hundreds of women raped some of whom have now contracted
the deadly HIV/AIDS disease. Your militia thugs also gang -raped women and
we have the riveting testimony about this.
      Your disastrous seizure of commercial farms, ostensibly to give blacks
what you called the stolen land, ended up replacing half a million blacks.
It is amazing that you realized that land had been stolen and needed to be
retrieved 20 years after you had been in power and just when you also
discovered you were about to lose the 2000 elections! And now you have
discovered that the same blacks, except your cronies and relatives, you gave
back the stolen land do not deserve it.
      As if that was not enough you launched the so called Operation
Murambatsvina which left millions of already destitute Zimbabweans homeless.
You were an odd sort of Robin Hood. You robbed from the rich but you did not
give to the poor because you also robbed from the poor!
      The results of your disastrous policies are everywhere around you. You
only need to roll down the windows in your bulletproof imported Mercedes
Benz to see how thousands of Zimbabweans are toiling and scavenging just to
survive from one day to the next.
      Zimbabwe's economy, which ironically was vibrant during the settler
colonial regime despite the imposition of sanctions, now lies in tatters. It
has been in recession for the seventh year in a row and has contracted by 40
percent. No other country in the SADC region has experienced this phenomenal
free fall in its economy. Eight out of ten Zimbabweans are unemployed.
Inflation which stands at over 1,000 percent is the highest in the world.
Just to show how high the inflation is , if we exclude Zimbabwe, the range
of inflation rates in the developing countries is between 5 and 100 percent!
      Corruption is now endemic and pandemic. You have created out of state
resources and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe a gravy train for your cronies
who are living a life of unbridled luxury in a country where the vast
majority are starving and homeless. And now the pigs in the feeding trough
are stumbling on each other as the trough runs empty. In your desperation to
refill this trough you are gallivanting around the world selling Zimbabwean
resources to the highest bidder.
      This has got to be a scandal of monumental proportions. It is more
than a justification for your dismissal from office. Yet you have rigged all
elections because you knew very well that you would lose miserably. You have
also manipulated efforts to seek redress through the courts because the
judiciary system is now stuffed with your cronies.
      You have turned down, like a spoilt child, all genuine efforts at
mediating the crisis of governance that you have precipitated. You have, in
what can be termed as act of a madman from Ngomahuru, turned down efforts to
give food and shelter to victims of your disastrous policies. Do you
remember saying Zimbabweans do not need outside food otherwise they will
choke? What can be more insane than this cruel hoax of a statement made in a
country where all indications are that over two million Zimbabweans are in
urgent need of food aid? Even your militia thugs and rank and file soldiers
upon whom, by your very admission, you rely to stay in power have been
reduced to beggars and scavengers.
      If there was any chance at all that you are still capable of listening
to reason and sense this letter would demand that you step down immediately
as you have neither a constitutional nor legitimate right to rule Zimbabwe.
This would pave way for a transitional government made up of representatives
of the opposition movements in the country and under the protection of the
United Nations peace keeping forces who will facilitate a democratic
transition to free and fair and internationally supervised elections,
democratic rule, the rule of law and economic recovery.
      The crisis in Zimbabwe is 90 percent a direct result of your misguided
policies and insatiable and ruthless determination to stay in power
indefinitely. You will be fully responsible and will be held fully
accountable for BOTH the causes and the consequences of acts of civil
disobedience by the Zimbabweans who are clearly fed up with you.
      At the age of 83, you should seek , even at this late hour, spiritual
and mental counselling . You are coming to the end of your life. There is no
redemption for your soul. The future generations and including your own
offspring will spit and curse at your grave. You have brought shame and
disrepute not only to yourself but all those who once trusted you and gave
you the mandate to rule the country.
      God may forgive you. But Zimbabweans cannot forgive you because the
blood and the spirits of thousands of innocent civilians that you butchered
in cold blood and thousands others whom you tortured demand justice.

      Yours sincerely,


      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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African Commission defers ruling on AIPPA

      By Nyasha Nyakunu

      HARARE - The African Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)
has deferred to the next session a Communication filed jointly by the
Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (IJAZ), Zimbabwe Lawyers for
Human Rights (ZLHR) and the Media Institute of Southern Africa
(MISA-Zimbabwe) challenging the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA).

      This follows a request by the government of Zimbabwe to the Commission
which is currently in session at its headquarters in Banjul, the Gambia to
defer the matter so as to allow consultations between itself and
MISA-Zimbabwe to proceed in a harmonious manner.  The government also argued
that the deferment "will aid in the confidence building necessary for the
consultative process."

      Margaret Chiduku, Director of Policy and Legal Research in the
Ministry of Justice advised the Commission of a model Access to Information
Bill which was submitted by MISA-Zimbabwe to the government and Parliament
of Zimbabwe copies of which were availed to the Commissioners.  She
confirmed that the government had accepted the model "in good faith".

      Asked by the Commission whether the draft by MISA-Zimbabwe is the
official draft that the government will be working on as the basis for
negotiations, Chiduku confirmed that the draft is the one the government is
working on.

      "We have submitted it to our Attorney General who is in charge of
legislation drafting.  We have compared it with existing legislation.  The
third complainant (MISA-Zimbabwe) has also submitted the model to
Parliament," said Chiduku.

      Chiduku also advised the Commission that government had consented to a
self-regulatory mechanism for media practitioners in Zimbabwe and that the
launch of the Media Council of Zimbabwe in December this year will go a long
way in addressing concerns raised by the three complainants in their prayer
to the Commission.

      Appearing on behalf of both IJAZ and MISA-Zimbabwe, Legal Officer
Wilbert Mandinde confirmed to the Commission that his organisation had
submitted the model legislation to government.  He also confirmed the
pending launch of the self-regulatory mechanism, the Media Council of

      Mandinde, however, expressed concern that the government request for
deferment might be a ploy to buy time.  MISA-Zimbabwe, requested an
assurance that should the matter be postponed and nothing happened between
now and the next session, the Commission would proceed to deal with the
matter during its 41st session in 2007.

      Appearing on behalf of ZLHR, Harrison Nkomo associated himself fully
with the remarks by Mandinde.

      Delivering its ruling on the matter, the Commission assured the
parties that it was not striking the matter down, but was simply postponing
it so that both parties attempt an amicable solution regarding contentious
pieces of legalisation in Zimbabwe .

      "We are mandated to reconcile the parties. An amicable settlement
begins with the parties.  We will try to support the initiative," said the

      Apart from AIPPA, MISA-Zimbabwe and other civic groups are demanding
the repeal of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), Public Order and Security
Act and an array of laws that impinge on media and freedom of expression
rights such as the Official Secrets Act and Criminal defamation laws.
MISA-Zimbabwe, working with Article 19 and Capitol Radio have already
challenged the BSA at the ACHPR.

      IJAZ, MISA-Zimbabwe and ZLHR submitted this communication seeking a
prayer for an opinion by the Commission to the effect that Sections 79(1)
(on Accreditation of Journalists) and 80 (criminalisation of falsehoods) of
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act contravene Article 9
(on Freedom of Expression) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples'

      The complainants are also seeking for a directive to the government of
Zimbabwe to ensure that the said sections are repealed to remove
accreditation of journalists and criminalisation of falsehoods.

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Mugabe mourns for African support; He won't get it

      By Chenjerai Chitsaru

      HARARE - REUBEN Barwe, embedded with President Robert Mugabe on his
recent trip to Iran, told us of a speech in which the president seemed to
bellyache about the lack of solid African support for his stance against the

      To put it more diplomatic, pan-Africanist parlance, Mugabe was
appealing for unity among African countries in Zimbabwe's new "chimurenga"
against the West.

      Exactly why he would choose Iran, a non-African country, to make this
appeal is a little problematical. Perhaps, he hoped the Iranians, who have
many friends among African leaders whose grudge against the West may never
be dissipated even after with billions of dollars in aid, would pass on the
message on his behalf.

      I detected, even in Barwe's report, a plaintive note: Mugabe sounded
very pained that not too many African countries were as aggressive in their
anti-West stance as he is.

      In many ways, this is very sad. It presumes Mugabe has recognized,
belatedly, that his campaign against the West does not enjoy the unanimous
support of his African colleagues that he hoped it would or should.

      Yet he ought to have sensed this after his petulant pullout from the
Commonwealth in 2004. If he had hoped for a positive response from the rest
of the African members of that multiracial grouping, in the form of a mass
walkout, he must have been disappointed.
      Unless, as with some of his political decisions since independence, he
didn't care what anybody else thought of his action - least of all the
people of Zimbabwe.

      There can now be no doubt at all that our pullout from the
Commonwealth has been costly in terms of the material and moral support we
would have received from fellow member-states in these times of grave

      It is profitless to cry over that spilt milk, yet it is prudent for
the people of Zimbabwe to remember that this is the price they must pay for
allowing leaders not to recognise their enormous responsibility of
accountability to the people, for every action they take.
      In future, the people must exercise their right of absolute
censorship. No leaders should be allowed to get away with such a betrayal of
the people's interest out of personal pique.

      Such a leader must be made to pay the ultimate price for such

      Mugabe's appears to have been a case of grave miscalculation. True,
relations between Africa and its former colonial masters in Europe are still
frosty and, in some cases, bordering on fresh hostilities.
      Yet when one African country, facing internal armed dissent, calls on
the former colonial masters to send troops to quell the insurgency, what
message does that send to the rest of the continent?

      If another African country celebrates the name of a colonialist who
gave his name to the country's capital - which was not changed at
independence in 1960  -  doesn't that suggest a new era of closeness,
belying the coldness  of the past?

      Zimbabwe could be alone in maintaining a stubborn, almost juvenile
antipathy towards the West.  Most of Africa is struggling to give its people
the kind of economic freedom that would give their political independence a
semblance of meaning - never mind the subtle political implications.

      Europe remains dubious of Africa's ability to run its own affairs -
without help from the former masters. Take corruption, for instance: Some
Europeans have put forward the proposition that the problem with African
leaders is that their views of power and politics "often have more to do
with consumption than with transformation".
      To some of Europeans, African power is 'inseparably associated with
metaphors of "food" and "eating".

      Some of this could be laughably biased; until you look at examples of
recent African excesses: Mobutu Sese Seko, Idi Amin, JeanoBedel Bokassa,
Macias Nguema and others.

      African scholars are right to respond to this scandalous portrayal of
African leadership with a massive "Oh, yeah? What about Attila the Hun,
Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Nicolae Caecescu and Slobodan Milosevic?"

      In other words, despotic or corrupt rule is not peculiar to Africa.
Yet the one continent which can ill-afford such luxuries as unbridled
corruption is Africa, because it is way behind the other continents and will
not catch up with them if it persists in squandering  opportunities to
improve its delivery of service to the people.

      Zimbabwe is a microcosm: it had so much going for it in 1980, yet in a
few short years, it squandered it all in policy gaffes which were monumental
in their devastating effects on the economy and political stability.

      Corruption was always going to be the major challenger, as it has been
in other African countries which gained independence before 1980. Ghana
itself did not escape the scourge, in spite of the much-recognised integrity
of Kwame Nkrumah.

      Most historians now accept that it was the ambition of the Convention
People's Party to rule Ghana in perpetuity that undid all the work that
Nkrumah and others intended to achieve for the country.
      Krobo Edusei remains a prime example of this.

      After 1957, every ruling party in newly-independent Africa craved the
hegemony that the CPP enjoyed in Ghana. It was seen as a bulwark against the
dilution of the party's aims and objectives: to achieve unity based on a
one-party system.

      That aim was bolstered by the gospel preached by the Soviet Union and
the People's Republic of China, both of which lent their material and
spiritual support wholeheartedly to the African struggle for independence,
unleashing the Cold war on a world recovering from the Second World War.

      Europe did not act with philanthropy towards Africa. It was as
avaricious towards the continent as it was during the notorious Scramble.

      The rest, it could be said, is history. In their struggle for economic
independence, African leaders realized they would need the aid of the former
colonial masters - but at what cost to their political independence?.

      A few African leaders did not hesitate to put the welfare and
well-being of their people in the forefront of this new struggle. Samora
Machel in Mozambique realized, a little late in his political life, that
Aluta Continua! had to translate pretty quickly into food on the tables of
the poorest Mozambican for it to have   any meaning at all. It was left to
Joachim Chissano to complete what Machel must have realized was the real
politik of the objective of the struggle against the Portuguese.

      Even earlier than that, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere had stumbled upon that
reality too. Ujamma, fashioned on the collective farming tragedy of the
People's Republic, would not be the panacea of the hunger among his own

      In Zimbabwe, it is Mugabe's concept of sovereignty which has gummed up
the works of a return to the reality of the geopolitics of the world after
the Cold War.

      Europe still has the wealth to help Zimbabwe; what Mugabe wants Europe
to forget is the horror of the land reform programme. For him, it was a
quarrel between Zimbabwe and Britain, which may be in Europe but is not the
total of Europe.

      If Britain, the United States and the Europeean Union had not acted
against in the aftermath of the land reform horror and the questionable
conduct of the elections that followed, where would Zimbabwe be today?

      More importantly, where would Zimbabweans be today?  Certainly, there
would be no hope at all for an improvement in the political and economic
future of the country.

      It is true that, right now, such hope is forlorn. Yet as long as
Mugabe and Zanu PF know that there are other people, apart from Zimbabweans,
who are struggling against their semi-totalitarian system of government,
they are heavily constrained somehow from going over the edge,

      It may be true that most African countries have not played the role of
catalyst that they ought to have played in helping Mugabe see the light.
South Africa, for instance, has been a huge disappointment in this respect.

      Yet Mugabe's cry in the wilderness in Iran would seem to suggest he is
not getting his way as far as the continent is concerned. It must be hoped
that, in his desperation for African support, he must end up by asking the
next logical question: what do you want me to do to earn your respect and

      All Zimbabweans must pray that Africa will tell him in no uncertain
terms: respect your people and everyone will respect you.
      Who knows? Even Britain, the European Union and the United States
might decide the man has had enough of their stick, if he decides not to ape
Mobutu, Idi Amin et al..

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Over the hedge

Financial Mail

By Sue Grant-Marshall

Zimbabwe-born Peter Godwin's memoir of the disintegration of that country, and simultaneously his family, is powerful, heartbreaking and disturbing. South Africans have lived cheek by jowl with its breakdown of law and order as we have observed the land invasions, murder of farmers and flight by well-educated, economically active Zimbabweans of all colours from the land of their birth.

The impact of Crocodile is that it distils and compacts the awful truth of what has happened to Africa's one-time breadbasket so succinctly that there's no escaping the question: are we next?

Godwin doesn't address it in his book but it dogs the reader on every page. Many of us have friends and relatives who have endured hardship in a country Godwin first chronicled in his international bestseller Mukiwa. It has been reissued on the back of this fifth book by the New York-based, award-winning journalist, screenwriter and TV documentary maker.

By Peter Godwin342 pagesPicador AfricaR149

"When a crocodile eats the sun" is how the Shona traditionally describe a solar eclipse. The celestial crocodile, they say, briefly consumes the life-giving star as a warning that he is displeased with man below. And dark times indeed befall a nation that rejoiced in Mugabe's conciliatory approach at independence.

Crocodile begins with Godwin's father fighting a heart attack in Harare and ends with Peter lighting a Hindu funeral pyre. His father wanted to be cremated, the disintegrating city is without power and the morgue's back-up generator is running out of diesel. As milky smoke flows up from the chimney stack, he knows that he has fulfilled his father's dying wish. He has cremated the man who was born a Polish Jew, became an English Christian and ended life as an African Hindu. For Godwin learns only shortly before his dad's death that he was born George Goldfarb in Poland and that his mother and young sister were Holocaust victims.

In between that first call to his father's bedside and the end, Godwin takes us on a five-year trip through the land invasions, beginning in 2000. We learn that 78% of white farmers were on property they had purchased after independence, only when it had first been offered to and declined by the government, as the law required.

We are there with Godwin when farmer Alan Dunn dies, opposition MP Roy Bennett is besieged and his wife, Heather, loses her baby after being forced to dance until she collapses. We go with him to his sister Jain's grave, covered with human faeces. Reports have it that she was decapitated in an ambush. He organises the reinterment of her ashes. As Zimbabwe reels under the violence, his other sister Georgina, a broadcaster, has to flee for safety to London.

The sense of unreality is highlighted when Godwin returns home to his Marie Claire editor wife, Joanna Coles, and their two young sons, in New York.

Back in Harare his parents need food, medicine, blood. Godwin returns and watches in horror as the bougainvillea hedge, which serves as a buffer between "Fort Godwin" and the hawkers' camp, goes up in flames. His family is left exposed to passers-by.

But tragedy and desolation are leavened with humour in this intensely readable book, written with dignity and not a shred of self-pity. Mukiwa won every nonfiction award it was entered for and Crocodile should do the same for its insight into how a family and a nation live and die.

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One More Blueprint for the Road

Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 23, 2006
Posted to the web November 27, 2006

Kumbirai Mafunda

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's government, desperate to arrest a seven-year
economic crisis, is crafting yet another "economic recovery" plan to try and
extricate the economy from catastrophe.

Government and private sector sources say an announcement will be made mid
next month outlining details of the new economic recovery plan, which will
succeed the NEDPP, which was announced in April.

Economic Development Minister Rugare Gumbo confirmed this week that the
government is working on the "mechanics" of the new economic recovery plan.

"We have not worked on the mechanics of it. We are thinking along those
lines. Why don't you take my word and wait until December," said Gumbo in a
terse response to The Financial Gazette.

Zimbabwe has, over the past seven years, suffered the world's fastest
economic decline under President Mugabe's administration, which is accused
of being at the centre of the crisis through its expropriation of land and
threats to businesses, actions that critics say have frightened off donors
and investors.

The new plan would be the eighth such "blueprint" since independence. Other
notable plans have been the Zimbabwe Programme for Economic Stabilisation
and Transformation (Zimprest), the Millennium Economic Recovery Plan (Merp),
the 10- point economic plan, Vision 2020, the National Economic Recovery
Plan (Nerp) and the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap), and
NEDPP. None of them yielded any tangible results.

In April, the government launched the National Economic Development Priority
Programme (NEDPP), an ambitious public-private sector partnership which
sought to halt inflation, boost agricultural production and raise US$2.5
billion in investment. But the economic recovery plan appears to have veered
off track, just like its predecessors, amid reports of bickering among key

Despite a pledge by the government to end further farm seizures and allow
farm production to continue, ruling party loyalists have intensified their
grabbing of prime estates and plantations, hindering planning and production
for most agro-exporting firms.

Economic critics say the crafting of a new economic blueprint is an
admission of failure to fix the crisis by the government and is meant to buy

"It is not only an admission of failure but confusion. Measures in this plan
(NEDPP) have not come to fruition," observed Daniel Ndlela, economic
consultant at Zimconsult.

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Publish and be damned?: Zimbabwean commentators 'blacklisted' by the SABC


      Sokwanele Report : 27 November 2006
      In a country such as Zimbabwe, where the media is far from free, still
greater reliance than normal is placed on international reporting of the
gross human rights abuses that are being perpetrated within our borders.
Here, journalists are threatened with arrest and imprisonment under the
draconian AIPPA (Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act),
accreditation by the regime is required, and foreign reporters and press
agencies are selectively banned. Accordingly, Zimbabweans learned of the
biased reporting policy practised by the South African national broadcaster
with a profound sense of shock and dismay.

      The shameful news of the South African Broadcasting Corporation's
(SABC) informal reporting policy came to light in September after an
internal commission was set up to investigate the News and Current Affairs
Managing Director Snuki Zikalala.

      The commission - under former SABC head Zwelakhe Sisulu and advocate
Gilbert Marcus SC - found that the SABC had indeed blacklisted certain
commentators and analysts. It was not official policy, but rather "by
instruction" that certain commentators and analysts were not used because
they were critical of President Thabo Mbeki. Those on the blacklist included
commentators on both South Africa, and on the Zimbabwe situation. The
commission found that these "instructions" were not always objectively
justifiable, particularly in the case of reporting on Zimbabwe.

      The commission found direct evidence that Zikalala gave instructions
that Moeletsi Mbeki, Elinor Sisulu and Trevor Ncube should not be used as
commentators on Zimbabwe. Both Mbeki and Sisulu appeared before the
commission. "Contrary to Dr Zikalala's impression that they were out of
touch, both struck us as having deep roots and connections within Zimbabwe,"
the report says. "This is especially true of Ms Sisulu." It adds: "We find
that there was an instruction given not to use Mr Mbeki and Ms Sisulu for
reasons which are not objectively defensible. We also find that Mr Ncube was
directly informed by Dr Zikalala that he could not be used for reasons which
are not justifiable."

      The obvious question to which these revelations gives rise is why
these persons in particular were "blacklisted". Elinor Sisulu is an active
member of civil society both in South Africa and in Zimbabwe; Moeletsi Mbeki
is a former journalist and now businessman and head of the South African
Institute of International Affairs; and publisher Trevor Ncube is a
successful Zimbabwean newspaper editor, whose stable includes the Zimbabwe
Independent, and the South African Mail and Guardian. None of these eminent
persons conform to South African President Thabo Mbeki's agenda of quiet
diplomacy - indeed, all have been outspoken in the cause of freedom and
democracy in Zimbabwe.

      Nor is this interference in objective media reporting confined to the
last few months. Back in April 2005, the then Head of News at SABC Radio,
wrote Zikalala a letter outlining her concern:

      ...if your instruction was not to use Moeletsi Mbeki, Archbishop Pius
Ncube, Trevor Ncube or Elinor Sisulu, all legitimate public figures, then I
submit that it is so unreasonable to be unimplementable. It would be morally
wrong, professionally wrong, and ethically wrong, and violate not only our
editorial code but the spirit of our Constitution.

      Tellingly, that letter elicited a one-sentence reply from Zikalala the
same day: "I don't think that I will have the time and energy to be involved
in such arguments".

      The fourth name blacklisted above, Archbishop Pius Ncube, is that of
the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, a courageous and outspoken critic
of the Mugabe regime, who is also far from pursuing the "quiet diplomacy" of
Thabo Mbeki.

      Still more tellingly, at the conclusion of the commission's mandate,
SABC sought to keep its findings secret, going to court to get an interdict
forbidding The Mail and Guardian from publishing the full text of the
report. Thankfully, the High Court Judge dismissed their application,
saying, "I don't believe that it is okay to suppress information or to hide
information written in the report", and stating that the content of the
report was of extreme importance to the public as the SABC was a public

      Franz Krüger, a senior lecturer at the University of the
Witwatersrand's school of journalism, said the SABC had "handled this whole
episode very poorly": "I think it's a real indictment for a news
organisation to try [to] interdict another from publishing something that's
clearly in the public interest." He said that The Mail & Guardian Online's
decision to release the report was "a completely appropriate decision and
that there was no justification for keeping the report under wraps". "People
need to see what the commissioners actually found," he said. He added that
the fact that the report found that people were excluded was "horrific". "I
don't see how [Snuki Zikalala] can survive this but he probably will. He's
doing what the board wants him to do. The board wants coverage that is

      The questions that this affair raises are, firstly, from how far up
the chain of command did this reporting policy originate; and secondly, what
are the implications for Zimbabwe (not to mention, of course, for South

      To address the first question, as was pointed out above by Wits'
senior lecturer Franz Kruger, the policy employed was almost certainly
dictated by the board of SABC. It is highly unlikely that Zikalala would
have been acting on his own initiative. It was even reported, directly after
the event, that the Group Chief Executive of SABC, Dali Mpofu, was
"reconsidering his options". So SABC - the national media house of South
Africa - has been exposed as having, albeit unofficially, a policy of biased

      Would SABC take this stand on its own initiative? This seems unlikely.
Here, it is pertinent to look at the official government attitude in South
Africa to the situation north of their borders, in Zimbabwe. Thabo Mbeki has
been employing a much-criticised tactic of "quiet diplomacy" for a number of
years now. Initially, this was not unreasonable, his rationale being to work
behind the scenes with Mugabe to effect policy changes in Zimbabwe. However,
as the months and years have passed, any such efforts that he might have
been employing have been demonstrated to be worse than useless because the
regime has become progressively more entrenched and more intractable.
Accordingly his tactic has been increasingly criticised in the international

      So did the instruction to the SABC come from the man at the top
himself? That we cannot say for sure, though there are many indicators that
point in that direction.

      As to the second question, the most serious implication for Zimbabwe
is that the current political and economic crisis - and the attendant
humanitarian catastrophe - will deepen without the benefit of the objective
reporting and informed analysis one would have expected in South Africa.

      People are dying in Zimbabwe. Aids, poverty and malnutrition have
taken their toll on the population, so much so that the average life
expectancy has fallen to 34 years for women, and 37 for men. We need this
news to be publicised; we need people - influential foreign leaders - to
realise the depth of the humanitarian crisis here and to intervene. As
already stated, Zimbabwean journalists are hamstrung by draconian laws and
by the threat of the ever-present and much-feared (and rightly so!) Central
Intelligence Organisation (the CIO, Zimbabwe's secret police). As such, we
rely heavily on South African media houses who are on our doorstep, to
report the situation accurately and objectively. They have an historic
opportunity to play a part in exposing, not only the humanitarian disaster
which is unfolding within Zimbabwe but the massive crisis in governance
which has created, and is now prolonging, that situation. If they should
fail to seize this opportunity now in effect they would be contributing to
the perpetuation of misrule and suffering. Biased reporting - or simply
looking the other way - is costing lives in Zimbabwe.

      "Publish and be damned" runs the old adage of intrepid reporters who
refuse to allow themselves to be intimidated by tyranny in any guise. For
Zimbabweans however who have no free press of their own, it is more a case
of certainly being damned - condemned to untold further suffering - unless
the truth about their country is published.

      Zimbabweans are as united in their resolve today to remove the Mugabe
regime as ever South Africans were to remove the cancer of Apartheid from
their country. It is a Zimbabwean struggle of course but, critically, they
need the understanding and strategic support of South Africa - as the
liberation movement in South Africa once required the strategic support of
the international community. The international community can criticise
Mugabe and his regime but, with silence from South Africa and President
Mbeki, this can all too easily be dismissed by Harare as "white neo-colonial
interference". What is needed is for Mbeki, as a black African head of state
to stand up to the bully and say "No". Mbeki has the power and influence
that comes with being the leader of the economic and financial powerhouse of
Africa to lead the way for a concerted international push on Mugabe to step
down and hold free and fair elections.

      We can be thankful that the evil of SABC's reporting policy has been
exposed: when matters come to the light they can be dealt with; whilst they
remain hidden, the evil can work unhindered. We hope that the findings of
the commission, and the subsequent subterfuge, will prompt all South
Africans to pose hard questions to their elected representatives. We trust
this will lead to a purge of the web of deceit that has been spun, and a new
openness to objective, truthful and balanced reporting.

      Most of all, we look to the day when President Mbeki will wake up to
the fact that the disaster on his doorstep will not go away unless he and
his government act decisively. Forget the old liberation war credentials -
we need to be rid of the tyrant - and we need President Mbeki to act as
senior African statesman to make this a reality.

      Wake up, South Africa !

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China aims to cut out the resources middlemen

Business Report

November 27, 2006

By Tom Robbins

Cape Town - Local mining companies need to be aware that the Chinese are
increasingly acquiring control of African resources at source in a bid to
sidestep high commodity prices, according to a specialist on China.

"They negotiate the prices of assets with local politicians and then lock
them into 20-year deals," Martyn Davies, the director of the Centre for
Chinese Studies at the University of Stellenbosch, said last week.

He said the strategy was to cut out the middleman, such as the London Metal
Exchange, in a bid to secure the resources required for Chinese

Moreover, the Chinese would set up their own parallel commodities market as
they viewed existing markets as "a London and New York old boys' club".

Davies, who was speaking at an Institute for Futures Research conference,
predicted that this Chinese market would eventually be bigger than existing

He said the Chinese had already set up their own diamond exchange to rival
the bourse in Antwerp.

But Davies said there were many geopolitical complexities to the Chinese
government's strategy regarding demand for African resources.

The US invasion of Iraq had accelerated Chinese business interests in Africa
as they had lost oil assets in that country. The US had strategically
"locked down" the Middle East ,with the Chinese now having access only to
Iranian oil.

On top of this Davies said, the Russians had purposefully excluded the
Chinese as oil customers, preferring the Japanese.

He said that as a result, the Chinese had chosen Sudan as a strategic energy
partner, describing the 3 000 Chinese peacekeepers in that country as
"energy asset protectors".

This explained the Sudanese government's reluctance to allow UN peacekeepers
into Sudan, as they were perceived as US influenced.

But apart from demand for resources, the Chinese saw the 700 million
sub-Saharan Africans as an important market for Chinese manufactured goods.

Davies said that despite the fact that Africans were poor, the Chinese had
experience in their own country of producing goods for the bottom end of the

On top of this, he said Chinese "international" companies were interested in
operating in Africa as part of a quest to learn how to become true
"multinationals" before expanding across the globe.

Despite the risks, they were attracted to Africa because of the lack of
competition in many African markets, he added.

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Zimbabwe plans to build new air cargo hub

People's Daily

      The Zimbabwean government is set to develop a new air cargo hub at
Harare International Airport to facilitate the transportation of exports to
the world market, The Sunday Mail reported.

      Obert Mpofu, the Minister of Industry and International Trade, said
the hub will handle cargo to and from regional and international countries,
which would enable countries to consolidate their goods before they are
exported. Zimbabwe is expected to earn foreign currency from cargo hub fees.

      He said the government would also establish a national cargo carrier
as the absence has negatively affected the country's exports, particularly
horticultural produce and other perishables.

      "The absence of a national cargo carrier has serious transport cost
implications and this is compounded by the fact that Zimbabwe is
landlocked," said Mpofu.

      He said preparations for the construction of the hub are already
underway and that work on the project with interested parties was already in
progress. Funding for the project is expected to come from the government
under the National Export Strategy. He also added that establishing the hub
would be a positive development in Zimbabwe as this would see the country
raking in the much-needed foreign currency.

      Developing the hub is an advantage to Zimbabwe as this would see the
country generating a lot of foreign currency through landing fees for large
aircraft from Asia, Europe and other regions which trade with countries in
the region, service fees for packaging, packing, unpacking, repacking and
consolidating the cargo from regional countries before their goods are
exported, said Mpofu.

      Source: Xinhua

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Zimbabwe embarks on jatropha plant seedling production

People's Daily

      The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) is set to grow 25,000
jatropha plant seedlings to distribute to farmers within the next month for
the 2006-2007 season, The Sunday News reported.

      In a statement, the company said it has been mandated by the
government to spearhead the bio-diesel project. It is the intention of
NOCZIM to embark on a seedling-based jatropha out- grower scheme where the
company enters into direct relationships with willing farmers including
schools and institutions who have land, infrastructure and capacity to raise

      Farmers who are interested in participating in the scheme have been
urged to apply. Progress towards exploring sustainable solutions to the
energy shortfall has been slowed down by a lack of follow-up programmes in
the growing of the jatropha tree.

      About a year after the launch, progress towards the commercial
production of bio-diesel has been checked by operational challenges and
policy deficiencies.

      Feasibility studies conducted at the University of Zimbabwe have shown
that bio-diesel is a sustainable solution to the country's energy problems.

      In trying to meet the volumes of jatropha seed required for the
large-scale production of bio-diesel, NOCZIM introduced an out- grower
scheme in which farmers were invited to supply land while the national oil
company would make jatropha seed available.

      The buying price of jatropha seed was also benchmarked against
international diesel prices to incentivise farmers to grow the jatropha.
However, the response from key institutions has not been positive.

      Source: Xinhua

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States Against Zambezi Current


Thessa Bos

CAPE TOWN, Nov 27 (IPS) - Seventy percent of the Zambezi river's hydropower
potential remains untapped because stakeholder countries have failed to
ratify an agreement as the first step towards activating this potential.

This problem emerged at the annual Zambezi River Basin stakeholders'
conference which took place in Windhoek, Namibia, on Nov. 22 and 23.

The conference was organised by the Zambezi Action Plan Project 6 Phase 2
(ZACPRO 6.2), a Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiative
which aims to facilitate social and economic development in the basin
through improving the management of its resources.

At the opening of the conference, the Namibian deputy minister of
agriculture, water and rural development, Paul Smit, urged those countries
which have not yet ratified the agreement to expedite the process. "It is
teamwork that makes the dream work," he said.

Eight riparian states signed an agreement over a decade ago to establish the
Zambezi Watercourse Commission (ZAMCOM) to lead the development of the
Zambezi River Basin.

So far, only Angola, Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia have ratified the
agreement. ZAMCOM will only come into force after ratification by at least
six of the riparian states. Those still to take the step are Malawi,
Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Currently, several actors are involved in the management and development of
water resources within the Zambezi river basin, a situation which has
sometimes led to inefficiency.

An acute shortage of electricity generation capacity led to SADC's decision
to develop the Zambezi river's high hydropower potential. Power shortages in
Southern Africa are expected to get worse as demand for electricity
continues to exceed the available supply.

However, building dams for hydropower generation purposes can have
far-reaching consequences for the environment and those eking out
livelihoods on river banks.

At the conference the need for electricity was widely recognised, but
participants also stressed the possible consequences of such development.
The extent of these effects needs to be identified through the effective
application of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) which include
stakeholder participation.

Moreover, without the participation of stakeholders at all levels of
society, including water users, ZACPRO's Integrated Water Resources
Management (IWRM) strategy will not enjoy the sense of ownership it needs to

To ensure stakeholder participation at community level, national steering
committees (NSCs) have been created to link ZACPRO 6.2 with citizens on the
ground. However, the majority of the NSCs have not, so far, been able to
include representatives from local communities in their membership.

As a solution, participants suggested that the steering committees link up
with existing institutions. Each riparian state already has systems for
information sharing with local communities. These include sub-committees of
local councils.

Some participants called for the establishment of "smart partnerships" with
community-based organisations. This is another way in which ZACPRO 6.2 can
ensure grassroots involvement.

Malawi's principal secretary in the Ministry of Irrigation and Water
Development, Grain Malunga, pointed out that Malawi has been successful in
involving stakeholders through using grassroots initiatives. These include
community radio stations and community-based natural resources management

Further brainstorming led to suggestions to incorporate awareness of water
management in school curricula, as well as to shift the focus of current
awareness programmes from mainstream media to rural community-based media.

"At the end of the day, the mainstream media reach very few people at the
grassroots level," one participant said.

Fitting the regional plans in with national plans presents another
challenge. Water management strategies rely on a joint effort from different
governmental departments, such as water, agriculture, tourism, energy and

The regional project manager of Global Water Partnership Southern Africa,
Alex Simalabwi, drew attention to the fact that the United Nations World
Summit in September 2005 called for the preparation of water management
plans as part of national development plans.

This has created an opportunity to reach out to policy makers and planners
in other sectors of government to put water issues onto national agendas,
said Simalabwi. Global Water Partnership Southern Africa is one of ZACPRO's
strategic partners.

He pointed out that by working with officials from the Department of Finance
and other government departments, Malawi's water sector budget increased by
64 percent between the 2005 and 2006 financial years.

Simalabwi also underlined the opportunity for national water management
strategies to serve as building blocks for the Zambezi IWRM strategy.

Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia are in the process of developing national
water management plans. Malawi and Zambia have succeeded in integrating the
Zambezi water management plan into their national development frameworks.

"Using national plans and strategies as a basis for the Zambezi management
plan would underscore the national ownership of the strategy," said Malunga.

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