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Harare begs for food aid

Zim Online

Friday 02 November 2007

By Regerai Marwezu

MASVINGO - The Zimbabwean government has written to relief agencies,
friendly countries and "whoever is in a position to help" begging for food
as hunger worsens across the country, Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche
told ZimOnline.

Zimbabwe, also grappling with its worst ever economic crisis, has faced food
shortages since 2001 but President Robert Mugabe's cash-strapped government
this year said it had made adequate plans to ensure no one starved.

Goche said the U-turn to invite outside help was because the government
wanted to save lives.

"What we need now is to save people and not politics. That is why we have
written letters this week asking for food from whoever is in a position to
help", said Goche, who declined to name the countries and relief
organisations approached by Harare.

Goche, who thanked the British government for providing food aid worth eight
million pounds through the World Food Programme (WFP), said Harare would
happily accept donations even from countries considered unfriendly because
the situation was critical.

Zimbabwe's relations with Britain are strained, with Harare accusing London
of mobilising its Western allies to impose sanctions against Mugabe's
government. London denies the charge and in turn accuses the Harare
administration of violating human rights.

Goche said: "We are grateful to all countries be they our enemies or friends
because the situation is now critical. What we are now focusing on is to
save human life through the provision of food."

Harare's appeal for help comes as the WFP this week announced it had
imported nearly 36 000 tonnes of maize from Malawi as part of emergency food
aid for Zimbabwe.

The relief agency that has played a major role in feeding Zimbabweans said
it paid US$6.2 million for the maize bought for Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe - once a regional breadbasket - has battled severe food shortages
over the past seven years after Mugabe's government violently seized white
farms for redistribution to landless blacks.

The often chaotic and violent land reforms, that Mugabe defended as
necessary to correct colonial injustices, slashed food production by 60
percent leaving millions of Zimbabweans to rely on food handouts from
international relief agencies.

In August, the WFP appealed for US$118 million to buy food for starving
Zimbabweans over the next eight months.

The food relief agency says it already had 138 000 tonnes of food but still
needed another 180 000 tonnes to distribute to about three million
Zimbabweans until the next harvest in April.

In addition to food shortages, Zimbabweans must also contend with the world's
highest inflation rate of nearly 8 000 percent, rising unemployment,
shortages of hard cash and other basic commodities as the country grapples
with an economic meltdown described by the World Bank as the worst in the
world outside a war zone. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe opposition activist shot dead

Zim Online

Friday 02 November 2007

By Batsirayi Muranje

HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party on Thursday said a former army brigadier shot and killed one of its
activists while another survived the shooting but was battling for his life
in hospital.

The main wing of the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai said retired brigadier
Benjamin Mabenge shot Taurai Chigede and Clement Takaendesa at point blank

The opposition party, that described the shootings as politically motivated,
said Takaendesa died on the spot while Chigede was in critical condition in
hospital in the Midlands town of Kwekwe, 275 km south-west of Harare, where
the shootings took place.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the incident, but said initial
investigations indicate that Mabenge shot at the two MDC activists and two
other people when he saw them poaching fish at his Woodlands farm near

Bvudzijena, who said Mabenge was in custody while police carry out
investigations, said: "It is alleged he fired a single shot which hit
Takaendesa killing him on the spot and the same bullet hit Chigede severely
injuring him in the pelvis."

Mabenge is a prominent member of ZANU PF in Kwekwe where he has been accused
in the past of victimizing MDC supporters.

"ZANU PF's ugly hand of violence continues and insincerity in the talks
continues to reign supreme," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said in a
statement referring to talks between Zimbabwe's two biggest political
parties aimed at finding a solution to the country's political and economic

A key objective of the talks that are being facilitated by South African
President Thabo Mbeki is to end political violence and ensure next year's
presidential and parliamentary elections are free and fair.

However, the MDC has accused of ZANU PF of insincerity towards dialogue,
saying President Robert Mugabe's party has stepped up violence against
opposition supporters despite the talks.

The opposition party was expected to present to South African facilitators a
dossier on politically motivated violence against its activists.

Mugabe and his Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi, who met a delegation of
opposition officials last week to discuss violence, have dismissed
opposition claims that its supporters were being victimised as lies and

Meanwhile, South Africa's official opposition Democratic Alliance party on
Thursday said it had submitted written parliamentary questions to Mbeki on
the Zimbabwe situation. Mbeki has ensured talks between ZANU PF and the MDC
are held in almost total secrecy.

The South African opposition party wants Mbeki to adapt a more robust stance
against human rights violations by Mugabe's government. The African
Christian Democratic Party said Mbeki had to be more "honest and open" with
his northern neighbour.

The ACDP said: "As an opposition party we urge him (Mbeki) to stop being
biased and protective towards Mugabe while the Zimbabwean government
continues with human rights abuses." - ZimOnline

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Harare cuts voter registration centres

Zim Online

Friday 02 November 2007

By Regerai Marwezu

MASVINGO - The government has reduced the number of voter registration
centres in the country by over 60 percent amid reports of critical shortage
of financial and human resources.

It emerged yesterday that the second phase of the voter registration
exercise was not budgeted for, resulting in a last-minute rush to raise the
required funds.

The exercise to update the roll ahead of next year's joint
presidential and parliamentary elections that was completed last August had
to be extended last Friday after complaints mostly from the main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party that thousands of newly eligible
voters from areas it controls were left out.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) yesterday confirmed that not
all registration centres had been reopened for the mop-up exercise that
began last Friday.

"We are busy working flat out so that some of the traditional centres
which did not open are opened before the end of the exercise", said ZEC
spokesman Utoille Silaigwana.

The extended voter registration exercise runs until mid-November.

Sources said urban and rural constituencies seen as opposition
strongholds were hardest hit by the reduction of mobile registration

In Masvingo province, only 90 registration centres re-opened when the
exercise was extended compared to more than 200 centres that operated in the
province's 14 constituencies during the first phase that ended in August.

Just one centre is serving Masvingo urban, home to more than 500 000

"The problem is not in Masvingo alone but is countrywide where over
half of the centres are yet to open," Silaigwana told ZimOnline.

He noted that a critical shortage of funds had affected the electoral
body's ability to hire personnel.

Sources said officers hired for the exercise were getting an allowance
of $400 000 a day and some teachers normally hired during such times had
refused citing poor remuneration.

Zimbabweans go to watershed polls early next year to choose a
president and members of parliament.

The MDC has already written to ZEC demanding the convening of an
all-party meeting to agree "practical approaches" to the registration of
voters to avoid mistakes made in a previous exercise to record voters.

Zimbabwe's voters' roll has been in shambles for years with hundreds
of thousands of names of voters who died or left the country to live abroad
still appearing on the register, while thousands more voters have failed to
vote in previous polls either because their names were entered in wrong
constituencies or did not appear at all on the register.

President Robert Mugabe's government has been accused of rigging
elections by manipulating the voters' roll. - ZimOnline

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New Zimbabwe electoral law on the cards

Zim Online

Friday 02 November 2007

By Wayne Mafaro

The Zimbabwe government is expected to gazette new electoral
legislation that will transfer responsibility for managing the voters' roll
to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and bar members of the security
forces from being seconded to or hired by the commission.

The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, which could be gazetted as early as
today, would amend the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act [Chapter 2:12], the
Electoral Act [Chapter 2:13] and the Traditional Leaders Act [Chapter 29:17]
(No. 25 of 1998) to make provision for various matters arising from the
newly passed Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 18) Act.

The Bill would, among other things, transfer to the ZEC the
responsibility for keeping voters' rolls, a function currently handled by
the Registrar General's Office.

It will also make voters' rolls more accessible to the public.

"The first new section will transfer to the commission the
responsibility for keeping voters' rolls, and will indicate what particulars
must be recorded in the rolls.

"The second new section will make voters' rolls more accessible to the
public, and will require the Commission to provide copies of the rolls to
candidates and political parties contesting elections," says the Bill, a
copy of which is in the possession of ZimOnline.

The proposed legislation will also bar police officers from polling
stations, unless they are casting votes or unless they are specifically
summoned to assist polling officers quell disturbances.

Members of the police force, defence forces or the prison service will
no longer be seconded as staff of the commission except where their services
are required for the provision of security.

Currently some senior members of the electoral commission are former
army officers.

The Bill will also include a clause empowering the ZEC to regulate the
conduct of news media prior, during and after the elections.

"The media will have to be impartial when accepting or refusing to
accept electoral advertisements and will have to publish public statements
by the commission in regard to elections," the Bill says.

The clause will insert a new Part IV A into the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission Act, which will prevail over provisions contained in other media

Public broadcasters will be required to afford parties and candidates
contesting an election free access to their services in accordance with
regulations made by the commission.

"In terms of the new section 16F, the Commission is obligated to
monitor the Zimbabwean news media during any election period and report on
the coverage of the election by the news media in its post-election report,"
the Bill says.

Clause 14 of the new Bill clips the powers of the minister of home
affairs and allows the commission to proceed on certain matters without
seeking his or her approval.

In particular, the Commission will not be required to seek the
minister's approval to enter into arrangements connected with its functions
with any government or authority.

The commission will no longer be required to furnish the minister with
copies of the minutes of its meetings. This provision was felt to compromise
the independence of the commission.

The new law will also require the ZEC to submit a report on the
conduct of an election or referendum to the president, Speaker of the House
of Assembly, the minister of home affairs and all political parties that
contested the election or referendum within six months.

The commission must begin its own programme of voter education no
later than 90 days before an election.

The proposed law comes just over a month after a compromise deal was
agreed between the ruling ZANU PF party and the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) regarding the controversial Constitution of Zimbabwe
Amendment (No. 18).

The MDC had contested the passing of the constitutional amendment,
arguing that it was a ploy by ZANU PF to consolidate its stranglehold on

Reliable sources said the Bill had already been sent to the government
printers for publication today or next week. - ZimOnline

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State agents seize tape from film-maker over pesky land question

Zim Online

Friday 02 November 2007

By Tafirei Shumba

HARARE - Zimbabwe government agents forcibly confiscated a videotape from a
filmmaker who had quizzed visiting Jamaican reggae artist Luciano over his
support of the country's controversial land reforms during a press

Award winning film-maker Tawanda Gunda Mupengo and camera person James Jemwa
were confronted by the agents who grabbed the tape of the recording of the
press conference and accused the two of asking "wrong" questions.

Luciano, who is in Harare as part of a government public relations programme
to spruce up the image of the battered country and improve tourism arrivals,
had openly endorsed Zimbabwe's land grab as noble during the press
conference on Wednesday.

Mupengo provoked the ire of the state agents - who working with music
promoters under the government tourism promotion body, the Zimbabwe Tourism
Authority (ZTA) - when he quizzed Luciano about his support of land reform
and threats that had been made on the musician's life by people opposed to
the land reforms.

Apparently Luciano was reported on Wednesday to have received death threats
believed to have emanated from South Africa over his public support of the
Zimbabwean government and its land redistribution programme.

Despite the death threats, Luciano was spotted on Wednesday night at a
reggae musical show by a local outfit Transit Crew at Book Cafe, a
restaurant in Harare's Avenues area, with at least 10 bodyguards.

"I simply asked Luciano a very innocent question about his support of the
land programme and what he thought about the death threats over his support
of the land reforms to which he said as an artist he was a soldier and
soldiers were always under threat," Mupengo told ZimOnline.

It all seemed well as the press conference ended and the filmmaker and Jemwa
packed their equipment and left the venue of the press conference.

But once outside, the agents and promoters pounced on Mupengo and Jemwa
forcibly grabbing their camera demanding the tape with the recording of the
press conference. Mupengo and Jemwa complied and handed over the tape.

Said Mupengo: "Confiscating the tape was robbery. They robbed me of my
intellectual property and earnings as a filmmaker. It baffles the mind why
anyone would want to censor questions that have always been asked about the
land reforms."

Mupengo said he was consulting lawyers before making a police report over
the matter.

A consortium of businessmen has been locked in behind-the-scenes
negotiations with the tourism authority who wanted to buy out Luciano's
tour. The musician is believed to have been paid US$30 000 by the tourism
authority for his tour.

The tourism authority has been offering lucrative contracts to foreign
musicians to perform at government propaganda concerts in a bid to portray
the pariah State in good light.

The propaganda musical shows by the authority complement those of the
Ministry of Information and Publicity who hold about a dozen dusk-to-dawn
shows per year promoting the ruling ZANU PF party and government. -

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Archbishop Ncube must not recoil in shame

Zim Online

Friday 02 November 2007

By Tanonoka Joseph Whande

GABORONE - Archbishop Pius Ncube, I see you are going over a rough patch.
And at such times, we tend to make matters worse by doing something silly in
an attempt to caution the trauma of our misfortune.

Often this knee-jerk reaction makes matters worse. Just stay calm; heaven is
about to happen in Zimbabwe.

I must say right away that I was pleased silly when you denied any ambitions
to run for the Zimbabwean presidency using a regional party to achieve such
a goal. It was a wise move.

You see, Sir, you should be above such tomfoolery. You are not only a
national figure but one with international influence.

Aligning yourself with a party based on tribal allegiances would have been
the death of you. We have never met but you were quite an inspiration to
millions of people, including me.

Your Excellency, I was most pleased to discover that you, like all of us,
are human; that, like the rest of us, you are also free to be foolish.

I am not in any way prejudging that the things that have been said are true
but, allow me, Sir, to say that if they are true, you owe nobody an apology.

Only God, your maker would need to hear from you. What I find interesting is
that hypocrites accuse you of things they have themselves done and continue
to do using public funds.

They are taking other men's wives using taxpayers' money. And that, I dare
say, is the most repulsive, rotten and low-down thing anyone, let alone a
president, could do.

And they are doing it while the national anthem is being played, while we
stand at attention. Your Excellency, life makes no sense and people make
less. Anyway, this letter is not to sing accolades to you, Sir.

This letter is not to give you support where you do not deserve it. This
letter is not to hype your very well-known efforts to bring a little justice
to our nation. For that, you don't need me, or anyone else for that matter.

Your honest efforts are a matter of public record. This letter is from a
believer and is directed to you, Sir, just in case you feel weighed down by
the evil pervading our country and especially a rabid president our country
has been cursed with.

This letter is to you, Pius, to remind you to fight on.

Your fighting spirit and the battles you have waged are not related to the
'crimes' that Robert Mugabe so shamefully broadcasts to the people.

How does a president find the time to talk about a particular person's
perceived adulterous affair? Is this what Mugabe is all about? No wonder the
country is in such a mess.

Mugabe finds the time to address the nation about rumours of romance
allegedly perpetrated by a citizen and pays no regard to law.

Mugabe, a bored murderer who is under siege from all angles, stops 'running'
the country to indulge in gossip and talks about an alleged affair that is
officially scheduled to be heard in a court of law.

You once announced that you were praying for his demise. I hope you are
still on your knees, sir. You have been fighting a lone, dangerous battle
against an old spent and homicidal dictator.

You have spiritual, psychological and physical scars to show for it. Mugabe,
always a coward and pretender from the early days, still hides behind other
people's sons.

He is a manipulator; he is not original unless we talk about killing
innocent people. Your Grace, this letter is an appeal to you. The work you
have done and the allegations levelled against you by Mugabe, himself a
cruel adulterer, are not related.

One does not cancel out the other. I, therefore, urge you to fight on,

Regardless of what Mugabe does to you, please continue with the struggle.
Heaven is about to happen. You, like so many other sons and daughters of
Zimbabwe, have an obligation to free Zimbabwe.

I would feel very sad were you to coil up and roll into a shell and deny
Zimbabweans that exceptional courage of yours that they had become
accustomed to.

It is Mugabe who should feel ashamed of himself, not you. Fight on, dear
brother. Your accusing president is the fiend which the country must get rid
of. You got to fight on, Pius; you got a job to do.

You have to help to free this country and the people. When that shameless
pretender Supa Mandiwanzira showed you 'footage' of your 'escapades', I was
touched by your reaction.

You displayed an unrushed and edifying dignity; it was a classic display of
self-control and belief in self. The last time when I saw such courageous
demeanour was when Saddam Hussein faced the hangman.

After that encounter, you were silent for quite a period of time and I
believe you were in retreat, communicating with your Lord, talking,
listening and seeking guidance.

God sometimes doesn't deliver us out of our hardships but through them. A
Luta Continua, Pius!

And welcome back to the spotlight. I became a Catholic in 1964. Over the
years, I became aware that my church had a problem, especially when I was at
school in Boston.

Your Excellency, allow me to suppose, just to suppose that the adultery
allegations against you that Mugabe is so pathetically proud of were true,
history shows that it's not Pius Ncube but the church that has a problem.

Our church, like all other churches, is weak when it comes to such matters.
Others are actually solemnising marriages between men; they allow women to
marry each other.

The church is made up of individuals and individuals who are fallible.
Individuals are human and that is why we all need God. Except Mugabe who
blasphemously calls himself the Son Of God.

Your Grace, you will be surprised to find that your alleged transgressions
are just minute and meaningless when compared to the work you have done for
the Lord and for the people. God takes note; he does.

Forget those who are drunk with power and who have signed contracts with the
Devil. I am amazed at a leader who works so tirelessly to trumpet negatives
and who cheers when bad things happen.

Mugabe believes in destroying the country in order to keep it. While other
leaders weep when misfortune befalls their citizens, ours feels inadequate
if there is no political killing carried out in his name.

Pigs love mud, Pius, and when you wrestle with one, you ought to be prepared
to get dirty. Mugabe is a man who deserves no reward in either this world or
the next.

I read somewhere that psychiatrists say the child within us never dies and
the ethics and standards pounded into us in our very early years, no matter
how stern or inappropriate, are never completely forgotten, but "exist like
reproachful ghosts in the dark recesses of our minds."

You are human, Your Excellency, and you have a job to do so get on with it!

Even the still wind has a voice, my dear brother Pius, for even in
shabbiness, there is room for pride.

*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean writer

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Observers Skeptical As Harare Moots Relaunch Of Banned Newspaper


By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
01 November 2007

Zimbabwe's Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu this week raised hopes
that the Daily News and Daily News On Sunday, shuttered four years ago by
the government for allegedly violating draconian media laws, might hit the
streets again.

The move is pursuant to a February decision by high court Justice Rita
Makarau, who said Media and Information Commission Chairman Tafataona Mahoso
was biased and ordered the MIC to reconsider its decision refusing
registration to the newspapers.

Ndlovu, responding, said he has named a new MIC board that will look into
the closure of the papers. The MIC's new board includes Chinondidyachii
Mararike, Charity Sally Moyo, Edward Dube, Tendai Chari and Ngugi wa Mirii.

But media observers are skeptical as Ndlovu retained Mahoso as chairman and
kept board member Pascal Mukondiwa, seen as a staunch government loyalist.

Advocacy Coordinator Abel Chikomo of the Media Monitoring Project of
Zimbabwe told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that the composition of the panel despite the nominal overhaul suggests
nothing will change.

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Mugabe rejects Mandela's plan

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has rejected overtures by former South African
president Nelson Mandela and other international statesmen for him to retire
ahead of next year's elections to avoid further deterioration of the

Mugabe's resistance to renewed domestic and international pressure for
him to quit before the polls demonstrates his rigid determination to hang
onto power at all costs. This seems to have become his main objective
despite the worsening crisis and attendant suffering.

Impeccable sources said Mugabe has given the brush-off to Mandela and
his "Global Elders" team which deals with trouble-spots, snuffing out any
hopes of him leaving office before the elections now likely to take place in

It is understood Mugabe told off former United Nations
secretary-general Kofi Annan, who is part of the Elders group, after he made
contact in September to arrange a meeting in Harare to discuss the Zimbabwe
crisis, including his sensitive retirement issue.

Mugabe and Annan fell out publicly after UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka in
2005 compiled a damning report on government's Operation Murambatsvina which
said the crackdown had displaced at least 700 000 people directly and
affected 2,4 million others. Mugabe blocked Annan from coming to Harare to
discuss the issue on that occasion.

Two months ago Mugabe again blocked Annan from coming to Harare to
discuss the Mandela initiative. Annan originally wanted to visit Harare to
meet with Mugabe before the crucial Sadc summit in Lusaka. Mugabe stormed
out of the meeting after clashing with host President Levy Mwanawasa.

Mandela's Elders initiative is funded by British billionaire Sir
Richard Branson, the chairman of the Virgin Group, a vast business empire,
and musician and activist Peter Gabriel.

Branson, who is worth about US$8 billion and was recently ranked by
Time magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world, is
part of the Elders team. The group includes Mandela, who is the patron, his
wife Graça Machel, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the chair.

Other members of the group include Annan, Ela Bhatt, prominent Indian
lawyer and international labour leader, ex-Norwegian prime minister Gro
Harlem Brundtland, former US president Jimmy Carter, ex-Chinese foreign
minister and Peking University professor Li Zhaoxing, former Irish president
Mary Robinson, and Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi professor of economics and

Mandela, Tutu and Yunus are Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Sources in South Africa said Mandela communicated with Mugabe through
his advisors in March, indicating to him that he had played his role in the
liberation of his people, but it was now time for him to go. It is said
Mandela stated he would not like to see Mugabe hounded out of office by his
own people and treated like former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet once
out of power. Sources said Mandela further noted Mugabe would be better
advised to leave sooner rather than later with residual respect and a
modicum of dignity.

Mandela communicated with Mugabe via their advisors on March 30 after
the Zanu PF central committee met in Harare and claimed afterwards that
Mugabe was endorsed as the party's candidate in next year's presidential
election when in fact he had not been. Mugabe was only endorsed last week.
It is understood that Mugabe appreciated Mandela's message, which was
supported by South African government officials and ruling ANC leaders, in
particular party stalwart and business magnate Tokyo Sexwale, and promised
to get back to him. He never did.

Realising that Mugabe was not willing to respond, Mandela unleashed
the Global Elders to pursue the Mugabe issue and find ways of engaging him.
Mandela and Mugabe are perennial rivals in the region and clashed over the
DRC intervention in 1998.

The Elders met in Johannesburg during Mandela's 89th birthday on July
18 to discuss hot spots around the world, including the Zimbabwe crisis.
They resolved to send Annan to Harare to talk to Mugabe about his retirement
plan and also dispatch a team to Darfur to assess the situation. The Elders
went to Darfur recently.

At the Johnnesburg meeting, close sources said there were different
suggestions on how to approach Mugabe on the issue given his notoriously
prickly disposition. Carter and other Elders proposed that a team, which
included former African presidents, should approach Mugabe and persuade him
to go, but Annan said that would not work because Mugabe was bound to reject
a ganging up approach. Besides, Annan said the group might end up working at
cross-purposes. He then said it would be better to send one person to meet
with Mugabe and his name was put forward. Annan agreed. He then tried to
arrange a meeting with Mugabe but was snubbed although he did not give up.

After discussing the Mugabe issue with the Elders in July, Mandela
said that his team must "speak freely and boldly, working both publicly and
behind-the-scenes on whatever actions need to be taken".

"Together we will work to support courage where there is fear, foster
agreement where there is conflict, and inspire hope where there is despair,"
he said.

Former Botswana president Sir Ketumile Masire persuaded ex-Zambian
president Kenneth Kaunda to reform in 1990 and helped to end the crisis
there. Mugabe himself, Mandela and Masire were in the past involved in
efforts to end problems in Lesotho, Swaziland and Zambia.

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Zanu PF, MDC move elections to June

Zim Independent

THE ruling Zanu PF and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
have agreed to postpone next year's crucial elections from March to June
during ongoing talks in South Africa.

This comes after President Robert Mugabe has signed into law the
recent amendment to the constitution to introduce limited political and
electoral reforms supported by both parties in parliament.

Well-informed sources close to the negotiations, which resumed in
Pretoria on Tuesday, said yesterday the two parties agreed that the joint
polls - presidential, parliamentary, senate and municipal - will now have to
be moved to June to allow more time for preparations, subject to approval by
their leaders.

The sources said Zanu PF and the MDC - which on September 30 agreed on
a new draft constitution as part of the talks - have also agreed to amend
provisions of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act to
relax the media operational environment and to facilitate a better
implementation of the law under which four private newspapers were closed.
This week Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu re-organised the
state-controlled Media and Information Commission to reconsider the case of
the closed Daily News.

The sources said the two parties yesterday debated amendments to the
Public Order and Security Act. While the parties agreed that every country
needs security laws, especially after the terrorist bombings in the United
States, they differed on the type of legislation needed in Zimbabwe. The MDC
wants sections of Posa which have been used to ban its rallies removed.
Piecemeal changes to this law are expected soon.

Zanu PF, represented by Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, and the
MDC whose delegates are Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti are now also
discussing the last item on the agenda - the political climate.

This week they were focusing on targeted sanctions imposed on Mugabe
and his cronies as part of the negotiations. Under the item, they are also
expected to discuss issues such as the de-militarisation of state
institutions, the role of traditional chiefs in politics, use of state and
donor food relief for political gain and foreign broadcasts to Zimbabwe.

When the parties resumed talks on Tuesday on the day of the deadline
for the conclusion of talks they had only agreed on the draft constitution
but had not reached an agreement on electoral laws, security legislation,
and media laws because of disagreements. They had also not even started to
discuss the political climate, the last item on the agenda.

After missing the October 30 deadline, the parties now expect to
finish the talks on November 7 and sign the main agreement by November 15.

Although the polls are supposed to be held in March, delimitation of
constituencies now done by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission instead of the
ad hoc Delimitation Commission has not yet started. Registration of voters
is also still continuing.

Government is also struggling to mobilise enough money to finance the
elections, which will almost certainly leave the fiscus virtually empty and
fuel the worsening economic meltdown.

About $3,5 trillion is needed before the end of the year to print the
voters' roll. The Registrar General's office has only received $110 billion
so far. The department which has to print the voters' roll is also unable to
pay its bills due to a financial crisis.

Police - who are expected to undertake massive recruitment for the
elections - are also facing serious financial problems. Deputy police
commissioner Levy Sibanda said this week their $1,5 trillion budget was now
almost exhausted, with only $85 billion remaining.

The amount is only enough to cover the police's expenses for a month.
Sibanda said police are now unable to pay their bills as well. This all
indicates a lack of preparedness for the elections. - Staff Writer.

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MDC rift widens

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

DIVISIONS in the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai widened this
week with power struggles at its headquarters in Harare spreading to the

Just as the October 12, 2005 differences split the MDC into two
factions, the current divisions have been stirred by the violation of the
party's constitution by Tsvangirai who is accused of relying on a "kitchen
cabinet" for policy decisions.

Tsvangirai two weeks ago fired the party's women's assembly executive
headed by Lucia Matibenga for alleged incompetence.

Highly placed sources in the party said Tsvangirai has alienated
himself from his National Executive and National Council following the
unprocedural dissolution of the women's assembly against the recommendations
of a commission of inquiry into allegations of "dysfunctionality".

The commission, composed of chairman Sam Sipepa Nkomo, Blessing
Chebundo and Sessel Zvidzai, recommended "reformation" but was ignored by
Tsvangirai who proceeded to dissolve the assembly.

Officials who differed with Tsvangirai's alleged unconstitutional
decision include the party's national organising secretary, Elias Mudzuri,
who wrote to Tsvangirai reminding him that: "Section 6.1.2 of the MDC
constitution states that 'it shall be the duty of the president to uphold
and defend the party's constitution'."

The wife of Ian Makone, Theresa, was last weekend controversially
elected women's assembly chairperson, confirming assertions that Tsvangirai
wanted to catapult his close allies into influential positions through the
backdoor to safeguard his interests.

The sources said besides Makone, Tsvangirai was under pressure to
reward other members of his kitchen cabinet by ensuring that they contest
next year's elections in "safe" constituencies.

Kitchen cabinet members set to benefit include Piniel Denga, who is
eyeing Mbare after failing to clinch Chikomba on two occasions, and Denis
Murira who is gunning for Budidrio, currently held by Emmanuel Chisvuure.

In Bulawayo, the divisions have isolated MDC national leaders such as
vice-president Thokozani Khupe and national chairman Lovemore Moyo from
their support base.

The sources said the supporters accused the two leaders of blindly
following Tsvangirai's instructions.

The divisions are much more pronounced in the Midlands province where
two camps, one led by former Gweru mayor and party secretary-general Patrick
Kombayi, and party secretary for local government Sessel Zvidzai, have

The Zvidzai camp is understood to be enjoying Tsvangirai's support
while Kombayi is in charge of the militant youth wing. Last week the two
camps turned violent resulting in houses for the deputy mayor, Councillor
Obert Tachi Ncube and Councillor Elvis Mavondo being stoned.

The camps accuse each other of wanting to impose candidates ahead of
primary polls for the 2008 election.

Kombayi and Zvidzai are fighting for the Gweru senatorial post.

"Kombayi has always wanted to contest for the senate post but is now
threatened by Zvidzai who is also eyeing the same post following the
scrapping of executive mayoral elections," a senior party official said.

The official said the Kombayi faction is also against the imposition
of Roderick Rutsvara as the Gweru Urban candidate arguing that he doesn't
qualify since he has been in the party for only two years.

The sources said the differences were gradually spreading to other
provinces as the leadership had started writing to Tsvangirai questioning
his handling of party issues.

Women from Chitungwiza women's districts have written to the National
Executive showing their solidarity with Matibenga, a development which shows
that they have abandoned Tsvangirai.

"Since we are faced with presidential elections, dissolving the women's
assembly and bringing newcomers into the party would divide the electorate,"
wrote the Chitungwiza women's districts in response to Tsvangirai's decision
to dissolve the assembly.

"We reject the Zanu PF mentality of bringing "mafikizolos" into the
party. President Tsvangirai must not forget those who remained with the
party when it split," the women said.

l Meanwhile, the MDC yesterday made a claim, which was dismissed by
the police, that one of its youth members in Kwekwe was shot dead and the
other seriously injured by a former senior army officer and Zanu PF

In a terse statement, the MDC said Zanu PF's "ugly hand of violence
and insincerity" continued to reign supreme.

"This afternoon two MDC youths, Taurai Chigede and Clement Takaendesa,
were shot at point blank (range) in Kwekwe by retired Brigadier General
(Benjamin) Mabenge," the MDC claimed. "Takaendesa died on the spot and
Taurai Chigede is battling for dear life in a hospital in Kwekwe."

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena last night confirmed the shooting
of Takaendesa and Chigede at Woodlands Farm, but denied it was

He said the victims and three others were found poaching fish with
nets by Mabenge in Mbembeswane River that flows through his farm.

"It is alleged that the retired brigadier general fired a shot at the
five suspected poachers using a 303 rifle," Bvudzijena said. "The single
shot that was fired hit the deceased who died on the spot and the same
bullet hit Taurai Chigede who was severely injured in the pelvis."

He said Mabenge was arrested and would face murder charges.

"It is unfortunate that statements coming from certain quarters seek
to predicate for political expediency this unfortunate occurrence from the
realm of common criminality into that of political violence," Bvudzijena
said. "Initial investigations do not indicate any allegiance to a political
party by either the accused or victims to be material in this case."

The MDC claimed that Mabenge was Rural Amenities minister Emmerson
Mnangagwa's chief parliamentary election agent in 2000.

Mnangagwa lost the Kwekwe parliamentary seat to Blessing Chebundo of
the MDC in 2000. He went on to lose again to Chebundo five years later.

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'Tsvangirai losing control over MDC'

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure/ Lucia Makamure

MORGAN Tsvangirai's future at the helm of the opposition MDC hangs in
the balance after it emerged that he has lost favour among party structures
over his "dictatorial" style of leadership.

Tsvangirai, impeccable sources said, was accused of being a "serial
violator" of the party constitution and relying on a clique of party
members - referred to as the kitchen cabinet - to make far-reaching
decisions on the MDC.

He is also accused of failing to stem violence in the MDC's ranks and
not briefing or consulting the party on the on-going Sadc-initiated talks
with Zanu PF.

The sources said as a result of Tsvangirai's leadership, the MDC was
on a verge of another split after he three weeks ago allegedly masterminded
the "unconstitutional" dissolution of the women's assembly executive headed
by Lucia Matibenga.

Matibenga's executive was replaced last Sunday by another one led by
Theresa Makone, the wife of Tsvangirai's advisor, Ian.

The sources said senior party officials, among them organising
secretary Elias Mudzuri, spokesperson Nelson Chamisa, youths chairperson
Thamsanga Mahlangu, deputy secretary-general Tapiwa Mashakada, health
secretary Blessing Chebundo, transport secretary Murisi Zwizwai and Budiriro
lawmaker Emmanuel Chisvuure, have opposed the dissolution of Matibenga's
executive as unconstitutional.

Those against Tsvangirai's move, the sources added, were prepared to
part ways with the MDC leader and were reportedly planning to oust the
former firebrand trade unionist if he declines to reverse the women's
assembly decision.

Mashakada is being tipped to lead the MDC in the interim until a
special congress is held to elect a substantive leadership.

Tsvangirai reportedly enjoys the support of secretary-general Tendai
Biti, national chairperson Lovemore Moyo, and his kitchen cabinet made up of
Theresa and Ian Makone, Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro, businessman Jameson
Timba, and lawyer Selby Hwacha, among others.

Documents in the possession of the Zimbabwe Independent reveal that
Mudzuri last week wrote to Tsvangirai telling him that the dissolution of
the Matibenga-led executive was unconstitutional.

"The process (dissolution of the assembly) can only be done by the
national executive committee, national council or the national assembly of
women," Mudzuri warned Tsvangirai. "It is unacceptable for us in particular,
the president and the secretary-general as the custodians of the
constitution to breach our party constitution to this level. It is also my
considered view that you must re-look at this and respect the constitution
which is the supreme document governing our party."

The former Harare mayor urged Tsvangirai to reverse the dissolution
and follow procedures that conform to the constitution to ensure that the
impasse in the women's assembly was resolved without "creating new

Mudzuri's advice was not listened to and a special women's congress
was convened in Bulawayo on Sunday, which turned into a farce.

Matibenga's group met at Emakhandeni Hall, while another faction
rooting for Makone assembled at MDC vice-president Thokozani Khupe's

However, this week Tsvangirai endorsed the outcome of the congress
held at Khupe's restaurant that saw the "election" of Makone as the women's
assembly chairperson.

In a statement, Lovemore Moyo said the assembly had held a
"successful" congress "where a new team of leaders was elected by the women

"The event itself was marred by bussed people who came to disrupt the
event, even though the High Court had ruled on Friday that the
extra-ordinary congress could proceed as long as the women themselves were
in favour of dissolution," Moyo said.

"Due process took place in arriving at the decision to dissolve the
women's assembly executive. The decision taken by the standing committee on
Tuesday, 2 October 2007, was a constitutional decision, which was in the
best interests of the party and the women themselves."

This, MDC sources said, was unacceptable to senior party officials who
felt Tsvangirai was now abusing his power. On Tuesday, Tsvangirai met the
MDC parliamentary caucus at the party's headquarters in the capital, Harvest
House, where lawmakers reportedly voiced their "deep" concern on his alleged
continuation to "flagrantly violate the constitution".

"It was made clear to him that he cannot continue to violate the party
constitution. He was warned that this time around there will be no split in
the party, but he will be expelled," one of the sources said.

After the meeting, Chisvuure and Mkoba MP Amos Chibaya were allegedly
beaten up at the party headquarters by youths aligned to Makone after they
were accused of bussing people to Bulawayo to disrupt the women congress.

So serious are divisions in the MDC that Tsvangirai had since Tuesday
convened provincial assembly meetings to discuss "party hygiene issues and
the way forward".

Tomorrow, the MDC's national executive will hold a crucial meeting to
discuss "critical issues affecting the party and the nation".

Chamisa said high on the agenda will be the women's assembly issue,
the dialogue process between the MDC and Zanu PF and the alleged escalation
of violence against opposition members.

"The MDC as a democratic institution has sufficient mechanisms to deal
with both the internal and external challenges that are fairly inevitable in
such a mass-based organisation," Chamisa said. "Saturday will provide the
party leadership from all the provinces with the perfect platform to reflect
and debate these critical issues affecting the party and the country."

However, sources said the meeting would most probably decide the fate
of Tsvangirai in the party.

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MDC officials face disciplinary action

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube

DOZENS of MDC senior officials in the Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction
who include several Members of Parliament (MPs) face suspension and even
expulsion for allegedly leading demonstrations denouncing the party
leadership at the violence-marred women's congress in Bulawayo last weekend.

The party's national executive committee will meet this weekend to
deliberate on action to take against those accused of taking part in the
demonstrations where the party's leadership was denounced for being

Several district, provincial executive members and MPs joined women
aligned to expelled former women's assembly leader Lucia Matibenga in a
march to protest her suspension from the party.

The women together with the youths marched in the city centre and
converged on a restaurant where the party's vice president Thokozani Khupe
was addressing delegates at a parallel congress organised in the city.

The demonstrators attempted to break into the venue but failed to do
so as doors to the congress taking place at the restaurant were secured from

The party's secretary-general, Tendai Biti, said the party was aware
of the actions of some of its party members and said the party's national
executive committee will meet over the weekend to deliberate on what action
to take against all those involved in the demonstrations against the party's

"As a party we are aware that some of our party members in senior
provincial and national positions were involved in organising and taking
part in the weekend demonstration that denounced the party's leadership,"
said Biti. "But we are a democratic party. We say party members have a right
to express their views in a manner that does not undermine the principles of
the party."

"But if the party members were singing derogatory songs about
president Tsvangirai then it is up to the executive committee to decide this
weekend what action to take against those that took part in the
demonstrations. The national chairman will submit a report that the
committee will deliberate on before taking a decision."

He however said the party was also aware that Zanu PF had a hand in
the demonstrations but did not elaborate further on the allegations.

Pressed to comment on whether the MPs involved in the demonstrations
will be expelled from the party Biti said the decision was now entirely up
to the national executive committee.

Sources however said a Gweru-based MP and another Harare-based MPs
were coordinating the marches and were later confronted by party youths on
why they were urging members to take part in the demonstrations against the
party leadership.

Party sources said the MPs involved will be expelled as Tsvangirai
seeks to assert his authority over the party and contain divisions already
rocking it.

The MDC women's congress was initially supposed to be held in
Emakhandeni but was moved to a city restaurant owned by Khupe after a group
loyal to Matibenga had barricaded the initial venue of the congress.

However, Matibenga was not deterred as she led a group of singing
women to Khupe's restaurant where they demonstrated outside before they were
dispersed by riot police.

The divisions within the Tsvangirai faction are set to split the
opposition into three entities after the main party broke into two factions
two years ago.

The Tsvangirai-led faction of the MDC recently dissolved the women's
assembly chaired by Matibenga on accusations of non-performance and

Theresa Makone was subsequently elected chairperson of the women's
assembly to take over from Matibenga.

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'Jocelyn Chiwenga is my friend' - Makone

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure

THERESA Makone, the newly elected women's assembly chairperson of the
Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC faction, has confessed that she is a "long
standing" friend of Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga's
controversial wife, Jocelyn.

Jocelyn is a Zanu PF loyalist who has branded the MDC puppets of the
West and in August reportedly tried and failed to physically assault

Makone, the wife of the party's secretary for elections Ian Makone,
made the startling revelations to a commission of inquiry into the
dissolution of the MDC women's assembly by the party's standing committee
three weeks ago.

Home affairs secretary Samuel Sipepa Nkomo chaired the commission.

According to the commission's report, a copy of which is in the
possession of the Zimbabwe Independent, Makone said: "She (Chiwenga) is my
friend of long standing. My being friend to her does not have any bearing on
our separate political belonging, and persuasions.

"It doesn't follow that people should not have friends outside their
political parties. As a family, we have other family friends of long
standing who are not MDC, such as the Simba Makoni family. We don't ditch
our friends simply because we now belong to separate political parties. It
defies logic."

However, Makone's disclosure reportedly shocked senior party officials
who were of the opinion that the women's assembly boss should not be
associated with people like Chiwenga who are sworn enemies of the MDC.

In August, Chiwenga hurled insults at Tsvangirai who was touring shops
in the capital to assess the impact of the government-sponsored price blitz.

Chiwenga is alleged to have called Tsvangirai a dog and being the
cause of Zimbabwe political and economic problems.

A day after she hurled insults at Tsvangirai, Chiwenga in an interview
with the Independent challenged the MDC leader to a fistfight accusing him
of being the root cause of Zimbabwe political and economic crisis.

"If Tsvangirai thinks he is a man, he should come to my office and
fight with me. I will beat him black and blue. He went globetrotting calling
for sanctions to be imposed on Zimbabwe and today he goes around town with
journalists in tow claiming that shop shelves are empty as a result of
President Mugabe,"Chiwenga told the Independent.

Tsvangirai at that time condemned Chiwengwa's actions saying she had
become a law unto herself.

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Citizenship law to prejudice many of voters

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

WITH only four months to go before the 2008 elections there are fears
that thousands of people rendered stateless following the enactment of the
Citizenship of Zimbabwe Amendment Act No 12 of 2001, could again fail to
vote as they are still to have their Zimbabwean citizenship restored, it has

Perceived aliens from neighbouring Sadc countries like Mozambique,
Malawi and Zambia, including their off-spring born and bred in Zimbabwe,
some of whom have never been to their forefathers' original countries, were
all rendered stateless in 2001.

Some have since renounced their alleged foreign citizenship and others
are doing so in the current voter registration mop-up exercise.

However, it has emerged that a large number could fail to do so as
they do not have the required long birth certificates due to migration and
death of parents and guardians.

Others have sought legal advice on the issue.

Irene Petras, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights director whose
organisation submitted evidence on the issue to the Parliamentary Portfolio
Committee on Defence and Home Affairs earlier this year, confirmed in a
statement that her organisation was representing affected alien farm

She said her organisation had been vindicated by the findings and
recommendations of the committee on the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act as it
supported its interpretation of the Act and the Government Notice which sets
out the legal position which it has successfully argued in court on behalf
of innumerable victims of the Registrar-General's misapplication of the law.

" We regret however that, despite the recommendations of the
committee, the Registrar General has nevertheless continued to apply his own
blatantly wrong interpretation to deny Zimbabweans their rightful
citizenship in contravention of our national law as well as international
human rights standards which protect against an individual being rendered

"We continue to be consulted by farm workers and other individuals who
have wrongly been advised that they have forfeited their Zimbabwean
citizenship despite not holding any other citizenship," said Petras in a

She said this was a matter of concern as the nation approached the
2008 elections, as many people were likely to be denied their right to
register as voters and exercise their fundamental right to choose their
representatives or run for political office

"This can only suggest that the Registrar General, as the person
responsible (incorrectly, in our view) for drawing up the voters' roll and
registering voters, has ulterior motives as, instead of scrupulously
implementing the recommendations of the committee to abide by the rulings
and interpretations of the courts and cabinet and undertake "a vigorous
nationwide campaign" on the Citizenship Act, he continues through his
actions to defy the legislature, just as he has done and continues to do
with orders of court, evidencing a clear lack of respect for the rule of
law. This must end as a matter of urgency," she said.

Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo was in May quoted as saying
in the Herald that all aliens born in Zimbabwe should register to vote,
adding that plans to issue them with identity documents were at an advanced

He said a meeting was being held with the RG's office "to iron out
grey areas".

However, despite the court rulings, the Registrar-General still
requires aliens' children to renounce their alleged foreign citizenship and
the process has not been smooth as some have no long birth certificates
because their parents and guardians either passed away or returned to their
original countries.

The citizenship saga dates back to 1983 when government amended the
Constitution to do away with dual citizenship which was allowed at
Independence in 1980.

According to a Zimbabwe Election Support Network report, the
Constitution then provided for dual citizenship.

In 1983 the government amended the Constitution so as to remove the
guarantee of dual citizenship by amending the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act
(now Chapter 4:01).

Dual citizens had to surrender their foreign passports and sign a form
renouncing their foreign citizenship.

The renunciation had no effect in foreign law, but it satisfied the
government until 2001, when the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act was amended
again for dual citizens to renounce their foreign citizenship within six
months, failing which they would cease to be Zimbabwean citizens.

This time the renunciation had to be valid in terms of the foreign law

The initial abolition of dual citizenship was almost certainly aimed
at the whites, but ended up affecting those whose parents migrated from
neighbouring countries.

These people, whether they knew it or not, were also dual citizens
even if they had been born in Zimbabwe, and like whites they were obliged to
renounce their foreign citizenship.

The report says very few of them did so when dual citizenship was
first abolished in 1983 and government was faced with the embarrassment of
having disenfranchised many of its supporters in rural areas.

This led to a hasty constitutional amendment before the 1990 general
election, which gave the vote to people who were not citizens but permanent
residents since the beginning of 1986.

This led to a further amendment of the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act in
2003, which stated that descendants of migrant workers from Sadc should
renounce their foreign citizenship by filling in a prescribed form, thereby
"confirming" their Zimbabwean citizenship.

The report said the problem with this amendment was that all the
people who might have benefited from it had already lost their Zimbabwean
citizenship by the time it was promulgated (March 5 2004).

The courts have ruled against the Registrar- General in a number of
cases but the office continues to stick to the renunciation requirement.

To clarify the law, the Minister of Justice published a notice in the
Government Gazette which the cabinet also endorsed and approved that
everyone was presumed to be a Zimbabwean citizen by birth and one could only
renounce foreign citizenship if he or she had had to acquire it. One of the
first cases to challenge these provisions was Morgan Tsvangirai v
Registrar-General and others.

Justice Adam held that it is wrong to presume that when one has a
parent or parents that are born out of the country they are citizens of the
other country by descent.

This interpretation has been relied upon in several instances when the
RG has refused to issue individuals with passports.

The other previous judgements were in favour of Judith Todd, and
Ricarudo Manwere, Lewis Uriri and Trevor Ncube.

The Registrar-General refused to issue Lewis Uriri (a lawyer) a birth
certificate for his child claiming that he was Mozambican.

Uriri was born in Zimbabwe but both his parents were born in
Mozambique and migrated to this country before Independence.

The Registrar-General lost the case and was again ordered to pay the

Two years later, in the case of Trevor Ncube v Registrar General the
court made a similar ruling faced with the same facts.

Born locally from a Zimbabwean mother and a Zambian father, Ncube was
refused renewal of his passport.

However, Justice Bhunu sitting at the Harare High Court ordered the
Registrar General to pay the costs on a higher scale as he was in defiance
of cabinet rules and a court orders.

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Politburo shocks Mugabe, rejects further land grabs

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

ZANU PF's decision-making body, the politburo, last week rejected a
land reform report that proposed a further purging of the few remaining
white farmers.

Sources privy to the developments said the Minister of State for
Special Affairs Responsible for Land and Resettlement Programme, Flora Buka,
last Wednesday presented a report to the politburo, proposing a further
expropriation of white commercial farms, arguing they were still "too many"
white farmers on the land.

Buka's report said there were 927 white farmers remaining on farms, a
figure it said was too big, and proposed that the number be reduced to five
farmers per province, implying that only 40 white farmers were expected to
remain on the land throughout.

To Buka's surprise and that of Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of Lands,
Land Reform and Resettlement, and minister Ignatious Chombo, Zanu PF
secretary for lands, members of the politburo rejected the report describing
it as a "retrogressive proposal".

Politburo members argued that the eviction of more farmers would bring
the economy to its knees because they were the ones providing the little
supplies that were still trickling onto the market.

They further argued that the report was driven by nothing other than
racism since swathes of land were lying idle following the emotive
fast-track land reform programme.

Others pointed out that a further purge of white farmers would cause
an unnecessary international outcry.

Some farmers have taken their land acquisition challenges to
international courts arguing that the whole programme had turned racist
since it targeted only white farmers.

President Robert Mugabe, the sources said, was equally shocked by
members of the politburo's response because he had the impression that his
lieutenants would welcome another opportunity to grab more farms judging
from the fact that party bigwigs were the ones leading the current wave of
farms evictions.

The rejection forced Mugabe to strike-off the land issue from the
agenda of the Central Committee meeting the following day.

Effects of the rejection began to show this week when Zanu PF bigwigs
leading the latest farms invasions were ordered by the courts to vacate the
properties they are intending to take over.

The High Court on Tuesday ordered Senate President Edna Madzongwe to
vacate Stockdale Farm in Chegutu owned by Richard Thomas Etheridge.

In Karoi, Myles Hall, who had sought the intervention of Makonde MP
Leo Mugabe, was granted relief allowing him to continue his operations at
Summerhill farm. Hall was under threat from Nomhle Mliswa who claimed
ownership of the farm on the basis of an offer letter from Mutasa's office.

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Magistrates, prosecutors strike

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure

MAGISTRATES and prosecutors across the country downed gavels this week
in protest against poor remuneration and deteriorating working conditions.

The strike, which started on Tuesday, has resulted in disruptions in
the justice delivery system as many cases that were set down for hearing
this week were postponed.

Lawyers with cases that were supposed to be heard on Wednesday at the
Harare and Chitungwiza magistrates' courts said they were told that
magistrates were on strike.

"There were no magistrates at the Chitungwiza courts to attend to our
cases and we were advised to wait until the strike ends," said one lawyer.

Zimbabwe has about 300 magistrates, although some of them are leaving
the country for greener pastures.

A prosecutor who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent on condition of
anonymity said the disparities in the salaries of judges, regional
magistrates and magistrates has also contributed to the strike.

According to sources, a judge earns $400 million a month, a regional
magistrate $200 million, a provincial magistrate $28 million, and junior
magistrates $20 million.

The striking magistrates also bemoaned the government's failure to
implement provisions of the Judicial Services Act, which was enacted last
year to improve conditions of service in the judiciary.

Meanwhile, in Bulawayo, sources said Prisca Dube, a senior magistrate
at Tredgold Magistrates Court and Phineas Mpofu who was the senior public
prosecutor (Western Division), departed during the week for "greener

More resignations were looming, said the sources.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa could not be reached for comment as
he was reported to be out of the country.

However, Chinamasa and his permanent secretary David Mangota are on
record as saying the ministry was working on a package to retain
magistrates, prosecutors and interpreters.

Various government departments, particularly the education and medical
sectors, have been hit by massive resignations due to poor remuneration and
conditions of service.

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High Court bars Mutasa from interfering with Rydings school

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

THE High Court has interdicted Minister of State for National Security
and Lands Didymus Mutasa, his lawyer Gerald Mlotshwa and businessman Themba
Mliswa from interfering with the administration, assets and programmes of
Rydings Primary School in Karoi.

Mutasa in August designated a farm on which the school is built and
allocated it to Mlotshwa, who in turn appointed Mliswa as chairman of the
school's board of governors.

This irked the school's board of trustees led by Richard Chimuka,
which then filed a High Court application in September seeking a provisional
order compelling Mutasa to set aside the notice of acquisition of Rydings of
Enthorpe Farm and its allocation to Mlosthwa.

High Court Judge Justice Susan Mavangira recently granted a relief
order to the trustees saying Mutasa, Mlotshwa and Mliswa should not
interfere "with the administration, assets and programmes of Rydings School
in any manner whatsoever".

Mavangira advised Mutasa, Mlotshwa and Mliswa that if they intended to
oppose the confirmation of the provisional order, they must file a notice of
opposition, together with one or more opposing affidavits with the registrar
of the High Court.

"If you do not file an opposing affidavit within the period specified
above, this matter will be set down for hearing in the High Court at Harare
without further notice to you and will be dealt with as an unopposed
application for confirmation of the provisional order," Mavangira said.

The Zimbabwe Independent reported in September that Mutasa on August
18 allocated Rydings of Enthorpe Farm to Mlotswa under the commercial scheme
of the land reform programme that commenced in February 2000.

The move was hotly opposed by parents who wrote a petition to
President Robert Mugabe seeking his intervention.

The parents appealed to Mugabe to "take whatever action you deem
appropriate" in order to ensure that the school continues to function for
the benefit of pupils and the community.

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Price blitz costs govt $20 trillion

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

GOVERNMENT has lost a massive 66% of its potential tax revenue since
the launch of the controversial price blitz in July, businessdigest can

A report seen by businessdigest shows that government will lose $20
trillion of its potential revenue from corporate tax and valued-added tax
(VAT) because of the price controls and current shortage of basic

The report also shows that because of the revenue loss the budget
deficit will exceed 63% of gross domestic product.

Under normal circumstances, the government is supposed to rely on tax
revenue to fund its operations.

Government had this year projected to collect $30,2 trillion in tax
and duty. An initial assessment of the impact of the crackdown done by the
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) had projected a potential revenue loss of
$13,1 trillion. The gap has however increased to $20,2 trillion.

More revenue will also be lost on VAT because most retail shops have
not received any stock for the past three months.

Zimra, which collects taxes on behalf of government, is also bleeding
because of the price blitz, the report said.

Zimra will also experience huge outflows through VAT refunds because
of increase company claims.

Government will also lose trillions of dollars in potential income tax
because of increase unemployment. Thousands have lost their jobs since the
blitz started in July.

The few workers that remain in their jobs will pay fewer taxes because
their working hours have been reduced.

Companies like Innscor, Blue Ribbon and OK Zimbabwe have reduced their
working hours to cut on overheads.

Other companies have sent workers on unpaid leave making it impossible
for government to collect any income tax from them.

The report said the few products that are being manufactured are
finding their way onto the informal market where government does not have
the structures to collect taxes. With no revenue government will have to
fund its operations from borrowing on the domestic market, a move that
economists say will fuel inflation.

As of September 2 government's domestic debt was $8,1 trillion, an
indication that the state has increased its reliance on borrowings to fund

Economists say the government will supplement the income from
borrowings by printing money.

The central bank has pledged to revive the production through at
concessionary rates of 25% but analysts say money will have to be printed to
fund the operation.

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Time Bank curator clings on to assets

Zim Independent

THE curator of Time Bank, Tinashe Rwodzi of PriceWaterhouse Coopers,
is still holding on to the bank's assets almost 16 months after his term as
curator ended.

Rwodzi was supposed to hand over the assets to Time Bank's directors
and shareholders when his term ended on June 30 2006.

Businessdigest however understands that Rwodzi, who was in charge
since the bank was placed under curatorship in March 2004, has been refusing
to make a procedural handover of the assets to the shareholders and

Rwodzi has been insisting on a symbolic handover which Time directors
argue would contravene the Banking Act.

A procedural handover and takeover will involve the verification of a
company's account balances, assets, liabilities and treasury valuables. The
process is supposed to be done by both parties - the curator and the
directors of the bank.

The directors of the financial institution are also allowed to appoint
an independent auditor to verify the curator's assessment and the state of
the company at the time of the handover.

A symbolic handover means that the curator will surrender the bank's
assets without verification by the shareholders of the financial
institution. It is normally done away from the bank.

The danger is that there will be no accountability on the state of the
bank at the time of the handover. Once the shareholders accept the company
from the curator they will have no recourse if they discover anomalies.

Rwodzi wrote a letter to Time directors on July 4 last year inviting
them to a meeting to make a symbolic handover of the assets. The directors
however refused to attend the meeting arguing that a symbolic handover would
not be procedural under banking regulations.

They also said the proposed meeting did not have a clear agenda and
had been given on short notice. In their letter of reply the directors said
they wanted the curator to follow the proper accounting systems during
handover and takeover. They said a procedural handover would allow them to
check the state of their assets and verify any changes that the curator
might have made during his time at the bank.

"By insisting on a symbolic takeover the curator is denying us the
chance to make him accountable for his action," said one of the Time Bank

"He is saying we must blindly take over a bank we have not been
running for the past three years. How do we know what has been moved or
tampered with? That is wrong under good corporate governance principles."

The impasse is far from over with Rwodzi sticking to his decision
arguing that he was acting on instructions from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ). He has since written to the directors advising them to make an appeal
to the central bank if they have any queries with his decisions.

Time directors have written back to the curator reminding him that the
buck stops with him because he was in charge of the bank for three years. In
that letter, the directors said an appeal to the central bank would not be
procedural under the Banking Act.

"We suspect that his proposal for us to appeal to the central bank is
meant to trap us," said the directors.

"If we appeal to the central bank, the curator will become a mere
witness instead of being the chief player in the whole issue." - Staff

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Price blitz gives birth to job cuts

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

SOMETIME in July four officers from the President's Office arrived at
OK Zimbabwe Machipisa branch in Highfield.

They were armed with a special government directive to reduce prices
to pre-June 18 levels. They proceeded to cut prices of all commodities.

As a huge crowd of customers formed outside the supermarket, the
officers became so overwhelmed that in certain cases they would just guess
prices of some commodities. It was as if OK Zimbabwe was having a fire sale.
It was chaotic.

An old lady came to the till with a packet of dried kapenta and asked
how much she should pay. The till operator referred the old lady to the four
officers who were now fully in charge of the proceedings.

One of the officers flipped through a document she had but failed to
find the price for the product. On realising that the price had not been
specified the officer responded: "I can't find the price for that but how
much do you have grandmother?" The old lady said she only had $33 000 on

The officer then looked at the puzzled operator (she has to be
surprised because the actual price was $220 000) and directed that she sells
the kapenta at $33 000.

"Just give her at that price," said the officer playing "Father
Christmas" at the expense of the listed firm.That decision cost OK Zimbabwe
$187 000 in loss on a single product. More products were treated in the same
manner by the officers.

That off the cuff decision seemed to have opened the floodgates. As
the word spread among the customers that there were other goods whose prices
had not been specified, more customers came with queries. Under pressure the
officers started pulling prices randomly from their heads. That is how
chaotic the operation was.

Christina Maruta who was a merchandiser at the shop watched in horror
as people looted the shop.

"Within three hours the shop was almost empty," Maruta recalls.

"The only products that remained on the shelves were left because
people did not really need them." After a government induced shopping spree
the supermarket was left with a few packets of pet food in one corner and a
few toiletries in another.

Maruta also bought a few things with the little money she had. It
however didn't cross her mind that she was indirectly aiding her own demise.
In fact her demise did not come until the third week when she realised that
the shop would not be able to restock.

"That is when I started worrying", she now says.

With nothing to sell some workers had to be sent home and Maruta was
one of the merchandisers who lost their jobs.

"The manager said we were no longer needed because the shop was
empty." About 15 workers were laid off at that branch. More workers were
affected in other OK branches.

Maruta is now surviving on selling basic commodities on the black
market. Using the connections that she had made during her stint as a
merchandiser, Maruta is able to get commodities like sugar, cooking oil and
flour at controlled prices to resell on the black market.

She is one of the thousands of workers who have lost their jobs
because of government actions. Her plight measures the real effect of the
government's crackdown on the common man. While government's propagandists
desperately try to pitch the move as a victory against price hikes,
thousands of workers are now battling to pick up the pieces of their lives
shattered by the crackdown.

They are jobless because of government policies - victims of bad
economic decisions.

"Selling products on the parallel market is not easy. I am always
running away from the police," Maruta said.

Three weeks ago, she was caught up in a police raid and spent two
nights in the cells at a police station. Police confiscated her goods and
fined her. She then watched helplessly as the officers shared the
merchandise among themselves.

She went back home to find her maid gone leaving her three young
children alone.

This week she was back again at her usual spot still trying to dodge
the police and trying to win a customer at the same time. This is now her
"new job".

"The government calls us criminals (black market traders) but they
forget that some of us would not be doing this if they had not implemented
the price freeze. We are here because of their actions."

As government continues to keep the lid on prices, supposedly to
protect consumers,more companies have resorted to cutting jobs to reduce

TM Supermarket recently laid off about 300 workers to reduce crippling

"Manufacturers are no longer making any goods because of low prices
imposed by government," said David Mills who is TM group retail director.
"There is nothing from the supply side"

The few workers that remain at most retail shops have had to do with
no salary increases because the companies are already bleeding.

Their future too looks bleak unless something is done urgently. With
profit margins as low as 20% and limited stock, it seems the end in near for
most retail companies.

The major victims of the job cuts have been contract workers who are
mostly employed in the bakery and butchery departments of supermarkets.
Supermarkets have also reduced the number of sales representatives, till
operators and those in the delicatessen areas.

"It's only a matter of time before the chop reaches managerial
workers," said a senior manager at Gustai Supermarkets.

There will certainly be a further effect on related sectors. Security
guards and till slip checkers will certainly have to go. For those managers
that were convicted for allegedly refusing to reduce prices, these might be
their last jobs because they now carry a criminal record.

About 3000 managers were arrested during the blitz. A few are still
facing trial but the bulk have been convicted. The problem is that some
companies are strict about criminal records. Norbert Kazunza (not his real
name) is one of the managers who were arrested convicted for refusing to
reduce prices.

"It has just dawned on me that I am now officially classified as a
criminal. What job will I get with that kind of record?" said Kazunza who
was arrested together with five other managers in August.

"How will I explain ten years from now that this was a conviction done
under a politically motivated crackdown on businesses? How will I explain
that at that time the law was extremely vague and was being applied

The blitz has also affected government's revenues in Valued Added Tax
and corporate tax. It is highly unlikely that most companies will not be
able to pay their corporate taxes.

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Clothes retailers stop credit terms

Zim Independent

Jesilyn Dendere

ZIMBABWEANS can no longer buy clothes on credit terms.

Most department stores have stopped offering higher purchase terms
after government's directive that they reduce their margins to 50%.

The stores said it does not make sense to offer credit at margins of
50% because of inflation and increased overheads.

Workers in the credit departments will have to be reassigned or
retrenched altogether.

Lawrence Mabhiza, a director at Truworths which also owns Topics, said
the company had suspended credit sales because it was not viable under the
pricing formula implemented by government.

"We have suspended all account sales, we are not accepting them," said

Retail shops are not allowed to apply replacement costs in their
pricing systems, making it impossible to restock without fresh capital

To restock the companies now have to rely on bank loans which they get
at rates of between 450% and 550%.

Suppliers are also demanding cash.

"Don't you know what is happening on the market," Mabhiza said when
asked why they had stopped all account sales.

Truworths and Edgars stopped their credit facilities in September.

Mabhiza said revenue from credit purchase was being eroded by
inflation by the time the installments are settled.

Although most retail outlets have not made public their losses during
the price blitz, analysts say it was almost certain that listed companies
like Edgars and Truworths will declare huge losses in their year-end
results. Already the impact of the crackdown is apparent from the emptiness
of the shops.

A survey by businessdigest this week revealed that although most
retail outlets are re-stocking they are still unable to meet the demand.
Queues have been a common sight at Topics and Edgars as people scramble to
buy at controlled prices.

Number 1 Stores branches which cater for the lower end of the market
are almost empty. Express, which is owned by Edgars, has limited stocks.

Edgars has also closed of its non-profitable branches to reduce costs.
The company is still facing viability problems despite the recent price

Government has also failed to deliver on its promises to help the
company. In September government met with Edgars management and promised to
assist the company to continue with operations.

"We explained that the group was in the country for the long haul, and
that there was no other agenda besides business. We discussed viability
problems and encouraged to continue engaging relevant regulatory authorities
for the resolution of this problem," said Edgars managing director Raymond

The rescue package was supposed to come from the Ministry of Industry
and International Trade but until now Edgars has not received anything from

Source at Edgars said the company has made plans to close 19 branches.

Mlotshwa however denied the company would close the branches
permanently. He said only four Express branches will be closed permanently.

"In the Express chain, seven stores have been closed temporarily and
four are closing permanently. No Edgars chain branch has closed," Mlotshwa

Businessdigest understands that there has been no written agreement
between government and Edgars as negotiations are still in the process. The
parties are said to be failing to reach a consensus on the margin that is
supposed to be the mark-up profit.

The government had initially said the group should operate at 28% a
margin a figure which Edgars said was too low for the company to operate
profitably. The company then tabled a proposal for a 60% mark-up.

Government then allowed Edgars to trade at 73% on condition that the
retailer would not close any shops.

Government however reversed the decision demanding that the group
trades at 28% because its was comparing Edgars to Power Sales.

"The overall impact is that our business has become much smaller than
before. However we remain hopeful we will survive the short term," said

"Should viable margins be agreed, it should take six months to a year
to return to normal trading. That is how long the supply chain is in the
footwear and clothing business in Zimbabwe."

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Falgold production hit by power cuts

Zim Independent

Pindai Dube

FALCON Gold Zimbabwe (Falgold) says gold production at its two
operating mines has slumped due to power cuts and late payment by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

The company said it had lost over US$443 000 because of Zesa's load
shedding. Expansion at the mines has also been halted because of the central
bank's delays in paying for gold deliveries.

Zesa Holdings recently increased load shedding hours after regional
power utilities reduced exports to Zimbabwe citing unpaid debts and
increased demand in their own countries.

Mozambique's supplies to the country were reduced from 300 megawatts
to 195 megawatts over a US$35 million debt.

Presenting results for the month ended 30 June this year in Bulawayo
this week, Falgold Zimbabwe chairman, Greg Hunter, said power outages had
affected mining operations resulting in a drop in production levels.

"Production has been lower than anticipated. Continuous shortages
mining inputs and interruptions in power have adversely affected mining
operations. "Zesa down time during the period under review was total of 763
hours and this equates to an estimated production loss of just over 700
ounces or gold revenue of US$443 000," Hunter said.

Hunter said that the expansion programmes have been limited during the
last six months due to the delays and sometimes non payment by the Central
Bank for gold delivered to Fidelity Refineries.

"Due to the non-payment of US dollars earned from gold lodged with
Fidelity Refineries the anticipated exploration and development programme to
expand mining operations has been limited as the capital earmarked for this
has been diverted and used to sustain miming operations."

Hunter said Falgold has been able to sustain production with a US$1
million loan from the Central African Gold (CAG), the major shareholder in
the mining company.

CAG acquired an 85% stake shareholding in Falgold in March this year.

Falgold recorded a pre-tax profit of $7,1 billion. The company is
still owed US$506 590 by the RBZ.

Falgold owns Dalny Mine in Chakari, Golden Quarry Mine in Shurugwi and
Venice Mine in Kadoma. Venice Mine has been closed for the past three years.

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Controls create price distortions

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

GOVERNMENT'S decision to slash prices of basic commodities has created
serious price distortions in the market as businesses battle to stay afloat.

The move has also resulted in an avalanche of imported goods whose
prices are being set at black market rates.

Over the past two months retailers have resorted to stocking imports
to fill the void left by local producers who are not manufacturing at the
controlled prices they were forced to charge by government's price blitz.

The prices of most imported goods are beyond the reach of many
consumers whose wages are not being reviewed because their companies are
bleeding because of the price controls.

While the imports might have helped restock shops, their prices
clearly show the futility of government's decision to control prices in the
first place. Consumers are now bearing the cost of government's poor
economic policies.

It is because of the government's crackdown on prices that the country
now spends billions in scarce foreign currency importing products that
should otherwise be manufactured locally at cheaper but competitive prices.
For example while local companies like Victoria Foods are being forced to
sell rice at the gazetted price of $800 000 for 2 kgs, South African brands
like Tastic rice packed by Tiger Consumer brands is going for $2,5 million
for the same quantity.

While the gazetted price for two litres of cooking oil is $660 000,
imports are being sold for between $3,5m (Sun oil) and $4 million (Sunflow).
Locally made tissue paper brand Softex manufactured by a subsidiary of the
listed Art Corporation now costs $400 000 for a pack of four but imports
from South Africa are being sold at above $900 000 for the same quantity.

Other imports in the shops include juices and toiletries which are all
nearly five times more expensive than the gazetted prices of local products.
Other products include Black Cat peanut butter (South Africa) which is going
for $2,3 m while government insists that local producers sell peanut butter
at $430 000.

Ellis Brown powered milk manufactured by National Brands Ltd is being
sold at $5m but local manufacturers of a similar product like Dairibord and
Nestlé are controlled at less than $1m.

Imports Golden Dawn table salt and Selati Sugar manufactured by TSB
Sugar Ltd are now popular on the market at the expense of similar products
from National Foods, Blue Ribbon and Grain Marketing Board.

Zimbabwe is also importing biscuits and snacks from Malawi.

The market has to do with baked beans imported from Zambia when there
are local brands like Cashel Valley, Heinz and Marlon. Analysts say the real
beneficiary of government's price controls has been regional countries. The
real loser is not the government but the consumer and local industries.

"It is the Zambian or South African farmer and manufacturers who are
benefiting. In the end, it is their (regional countries) economies that are
thriving because the Zimbabwe government has destroyed its own industry,"
said the marketing director with a local retail chain.

Analysts have said if the local manufacturers resume production their
goods might never be able to catch up with the foreign products.

Economic consultant John Robertson said as the last remaining stocks
of goods trickle out of factory warehouses onto the market, the country
could see the start of an inflationary spiral that would make today's prices
seem cheap.

"It could go much higher 10 times as much for some things in the next
couple of weeks, as goods cease to exist and imports flood the market,"
Robertson said adding that the real victim will be the consumer. ZB
Financial Holdings group economist, Best Doroh said local retailers were
being forced to import some of the basic commodities to fill-in the gap
created by the low capacity utilisation in the local industry.

"Consumers require these basic products and if they are not available
from local manufacturers, then retailers have to satisfy that need through
imports," said Doroh.

"Ideally, you would want the local industry to benefit from the local
demand, but unfortunately the benefits are now accruing to foreign
manufacturers at the expense of our own local industry."

Doroh said it will take some time for the local market to recover
because some critical raw materials need to be imported and the full
production cycle for some products is longer. "In some cases critical
production mass has to be achieved first," Doroh said.

"It will not be cost effective for industry to produce some products
in very low quantties."

The worst is however yet to come.

This week the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) chairman,
Godwills Masimirembwa announced a decision that analysts say would stop
supermarkets from selling imported goods.

"The commission notes with concern the indexation of manufacturing
costs or the costs of imported items on the basis of the parallel market
foreign currency exchange rate," said Masimirembwa.

"We have so far approved many price review proposals. "However, if
reference is made to parallel market rates, then we will strike it down
because that is against the law.

Any cost build-up that is outside the official exchange rate will not
be approved," he said.

In other words Masimirembwa was saying imports are also technically
controlled because retailers will have to use the official rate.

That means that an imported beer like Windhoek whose landing price
from Namibia is about R12 will cost $360 000.

The effect of this new policy shift is that companies will immediately
stop importing. The shops will be empty again.

"Charging goods at the official exchange rate of $30 000 can only be
viable if retailers or manufacturers managed to get foreign currency at that
official rate from the Reserve Bank," said Doroh.

Doroh said it was not practical to produce or import a product
factoring in the official market rate in the cost structure and expect to be

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, Callisto
Jokonya, said that government needs to address foreign currency

"The commission should implement the correct pricing system in order
to boost industry's production capacity," he said.

Jokonya said NIPC should allow correct pricing structures without any
delay in order to stabilise prices.

"Companies are not happy with the prices they are being asked to
charge," he said.

"As part of the way forward, the nation needs to address foreign
currency availability and be bold enough to implement the correct pricing
system," said Jokonya.

Since the price blitz started five months ago most Zimbabwean products
have found their way in neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, Malawi
and Zambia where producers are making better margins.

Prices distortions are also apparent in the few locally manufactured
goods that make it to the formal market.

Just what is the official price of a bottle of Coca Cola?

A shop along Takawira Street says $130 000 is the price while a bottle
store along Kwame Nkrumah says it's $150 000.

A convenience shop along Kaguvi Street says it's $250 000, another
says it's $60 000 but Delta, the manufacturers of Coke, say the retail price
is $38 000.

The official price of bread is $100 000 but retailers are selling a
loaf at between $400 000 and $600 000.

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Tsvangirai busy scoring own goals

Zim Independent

By Blessing Zulu

THE year is March 2008, President Robert Mugabe has called for a
national election and people have not been told about the location of
polling stations, only the day - Saturday.

When people wake up to go and cast their votes they are told people in
Harare have already cast their votes at the Zanu PF headquarters and Gumba's
Supermarket and President Mugabe has won a landslide victory. Imagine if the
same scenario is replicated throughout the country.

What is the likely reaction from Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of one
faction of the MDC? What will be the reaction of the international
community? I will not answer these questions, as I do not have the spiritual
powers of Rotina Mavhunga, the diesel mystic.

I am now convinced that the circus that happened at the so called
Women's Congress in Bulawayo demonstrates that Mugabe's government can run
an election better than the MDC faction led by Tsvangirai. It is now clear
that Tsvangirai has been busy missing the point and scoring own goals

Tsvangirai is quick to say there is nothing special about Lucia
Matibenga, but surely this is not about Matibenga but about the rule of law
and abiding by the party's constitution. A few months ago, he whipped his
MPs to endorse the controversial Amendment Number 18 Bill. Whether this was
good or bad only history will tell. But I think history will judge him
harshly. The decision has riled Tsvangirai's strategic allies in the civic

It must be emphasised that Zimbabweans have suffered enough - our
inflation is the highest in the world at nearly 8 000%, life expectancy is
below 35 years and unemployment about 85%.

We pray to the almighty everyday that in future we must not have a
leader who abuses the people and the constitution like Mugabe, but with the
behaviour of the opposition, our prayers are not being answered.

Whenever there is change it must have substance and the unfortunate
events unfolding in the MDC are proof that the opposition and the ruling
party are conspiring to disappoint the people of Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai must be the last court of appeal in the MDC, but for him to
ignore his National Council and National Executive and unilaterally fire
elected officers using his kitchen cabinet in Thokozani Khupe's restaurant
is rather disturbing.

It is not surprising that the media and groups normally sympathetic to
Tsvangirai have lost confidence in his leadership abilities. People do not
have electricity, food, clean water, medicine and other basic essentials yet
the MDC is again focusing on internal problems.

The MDC has its roots in labour and mostly the poor. It is unfortunate
therefore, that Tsvangirai has allowed the haves and have-mores to elbow out
the poor and the workers. Theresa Makone, whose husband Ian Makone is
Tsvangirai advisor and funder, has become the chef in Tsvangirai's kitchen
cabinet and is giving Tsvangirai the wrong advice.

What is baffling is the fact that Theresa Makone has not done anything
in Mashonaland East where she was the chairwoman. The MDC as we all know
does not have a single seat in Mashonaland East and does not seem to be
making any progress in this province. Where then is Tsvangirai getting the
impression that she is the messiah for women?

Tsvangirai is surrounded by lawyers such as Tendai Biti, his secretary
general, but for a whole secretary general to endorse such an illegal move
is baffling. From this circus, it is clear that Tsvangirai and Biti have now
become a liability to the party and are a danger not only to themselves but
to the nation.

It is a national disgrace that even the most senior leaders in the
party are being kept in the dark about the goings on. But typical of Zanu
PF, they do not have the guts to go public, and the people can only hear
through hearsay what is happening in the party. Real democrats must never
allow the devil to run away with the pulpit. The truth shall set us free. In
this regard I say hats off to Grace Kwinjeh for standing firm.

What guarantee do we have that these individuals will respect Zimbabwe's
constitution once in government? Can anyone ever control them if they are in
power and have the state resources at their disposal? These are the
questions that the nation failed to ask Mugabe in the 80s and we are paying
dearly. Not challenging our leaders and asking tough questions is now the
conventional wisdom for Zimbabweans across the political divide.

The wisdom, or lack of the same, says if it's Mugabe or Tsvangirai you
should hedge, flee, dodge and spin; at all costs, don't criticise.

After the split with the Welshman Ncube faction and the public
sympathy that he got from most people, Tsvangirai now has an unhealthy
disregard for democracy and the party's constitution enhancing the prospects
of miscalculation.

Tsvangirai must show his respect for the people and democracy by
reversing this very unpopular decision to use the kitchen cabinet to smoke
Matibenga out of the party. If this is not done as of yesterday, the party
will resemble the last 30 minutes of the Titanic, there will be so many
jumping ship.

There is no denying the fact that Matibenga has grassroots support and
kicking her out unceremoniously is likely to shake the resolve of many party
supporters; they may not join Arthur Mutambara or Mugabe, but they will not

The MDC as we knew it was a broad-based democratic movement, but is
now dead. It's now just a political party seeking power. This was supposed
to be a watershed election for Mugabe but again Tsvangirai has made another
strategic blunder.

* Zulu is a former political reporter with the Zimbabwe Independent
and is now based in Washington DC.

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New divisions expose MDC weaknesses

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

DIVISIONS rocking the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai have
exposed the party's lack of preparedness for presidential and parliamentary
elections scheduled for March, a development which might hand victory to
Zanu PF on a plate.

The opposition has recently plunged into serious infighting on
virtually all fronts, from the women's assembly, disagreements over
inter-party talks, and candidate selection for the elections.

The divisions have seen the opposition diverting attention from
canvassing electoral support and shaping a convincing campaign strategy to
fighting itself. The dissolution of the women's assembly opened the
infighting, which the MDC had tried to conceal.

Former assembly chairperson Lucia Matibenga lashed out at the MDC
leadership, accusing it of violating the party's constitution. She went to
court seeking an interdict to stop an extraordinary congress held last
Sunday, a bid she describes as designed to force the MDC to respect its

Matibenga argued that the MDC's standing committee had no powers to
dissolve the women's assembly as that power was only vested in the party's
national council. She said the party's constitution was clear that changes
in the make-up of the women's assembly could only be effected after an
extraordinary party congress.

"The MDC leadership is showing it is allergic to strong women, they
want women they can manipulate, " said Matibenga.

Other women in the MDC said the latest episode was driving all the
party's positive energies into the ground. The development has put
Tsvangirai under a barrage of criticism over his leadership.

Political analysts said the instability in the MDC ahead of a crucial
election against Zanu PF could tilt the electoral scale in favour of
President Robert Mugabe despite a plethora of opportunities which need to be
harnessed. The MDC has failed to use the worsening economic crisis, price
blitz and food shortages as opportunities of advancing their cause.

Political commentator Eldred Masunungure said the turbulence in the
MDC - which is driven by an uncontrolled quest for power - drastically
militates against winning next year's elections.

"The MDC are shooting themselves in the foot," Masunungure said.
"Instead of consolidating their support base, they are alienating it. They
have a penchant for pressing a self-destruct button at the wrong time."

Masunungure said it was disturbing that the MDC was scattering their
support and greatly diminishing their chances of putting up a formidable
challenge against Zanu PF because of unnecessary squabbling at the
leadership level.

"The MDC is failing to harness public anger into support," he said.
"Instead of working tirelessly to capture more support for themselves, they
are sowing seeds of confusion amongst supporters, a development which might
force supporters to stay away from the election."

Masunungure said the MDC kept on facing these groundless squabbles
because of a lack of a unifying factor between supporters and the leadership
beyond personalities.

"Unlike Zanu PF, the MDC lacks a unifying force and an ideology which
glues the leadership and supporters towards one common goal. Their politics
are the politics of poverty. It is politics of survival whereby those
seeking to be elected members of parliament or councillors have not achieved
anything in life. Politics is the only industry they know."

He said the squabbles led to the split two years ago and it is
conceivable that there could be another formation.

"It won't be surprising to see another formation sympathetic to
Matibenga emerging and that would signal the demise of the MDC," he said.

Masunungure said public opinion polls conducted in May showed that the
MDC was losing ground and instead of concentrating on gathering support,
they are fighting each other. Analysts said the MDC support base was fast
diminishing because of the party's failure to capitalise on economic
developments and convert growing public anger into a meaningful resistance.

"MDC paid a deaf ear to ordinary people's cries and anger from the
time of Murambatsvina, the price blitz and still continues to do so in the
current food shortages plus the deteriorating economic situation," one
analyst said. "Their failure to articulate developments and offer
alternative solutions is tantamount to letting down supporters, leaving them
doubting its ability to rescue them from Zanu PF tyranny."

Zimbabwe Peace Project chairman Alouis Chaumba said all the democratic
forces were worried about the developments in the opposition, which he said
were diluting the momentum to unseat Zanu PF.

"It has become a tradition in the opposition that whenever they are
faced with a crucial election, they find themselves disagreeing over petty
issues," Chaumba said. "Their focus then changes from facing the common
enemy and resolving national issues to personalities, giving away the

Chaumba said the opposition was letting down its supporters
considering the magnitude of disgruntlement over how the leadership is
handling developments in the party. Under normal circumstances these
failures to resolve internal politics should ring alarm bells to the
leadership if they entertain hopes of becoming the next government.

"Conflict in general is not bad but what becomes wrong is the failure
to deal with the disagreements internally," he said. "It casts doubt on
whether the party is prepared to embrace democracy at national level."

Other analysts said at this point in time the opposition should be
consolidating its electoral strategy. They should be rolling out campaign
strategies for the elections, which are only five months away. They should
be identifying constituencies and beginning to rally their supporters behind
possible candidates from the grassroots levels. The MDC should not wait for
Zanu PF to set the agenda and tone of the elections.

They should be ahead of the ruling party so that its duty would be to
counter their strategies and not advance theirs.

The analysts said the MDC would have only themselves to blame for a
dismal outcome in the forthcoming elections if they do not put their house
in order now.

The uproar coming from the women's assembly dispute has been described
as having tendencies of autocratic management associated with the Zanu PF
way of doing things and has attracted criticism from key MDC allies, forcing
leader Tsvangirai to call an emergency meeting this Saturday.

One of the MDC's key allies, the Zimbabwe National Students Union
(Zinasu), came out in support of Matibenga arguing that the decision to
relieve her of her duties broke the party's rules. Zinasu warned Tsvangirai
that the people would punish the MDC by voting for Zanu PF, justifiably so
if an end was not found to the mudslinging.

"What kind of government do we want to be when we cannot honour our
own covenants and respect the will of the people?" asked Zinasu president
Promise Mkhwananzi in a solidarity letter to Matibenga. "What guarantee is
there that the MDC as it currently stands will deliver a new constitution to
the country and bring back our freedoms?"

Mkhwananzi said they were all devastated at what was going on in the
MDC, more so at a crucial period before elections.

"I know that you are the heroines that stood with Tsvangirai during
his time of need. We stood with him together with you, because of our
genuine desire for a new society based on the respect for and promotion of
human and gender equality, but today we are confused. We do not know whether
we stood for the right thing or not - the October 12 question remains

The MDC's latest troubles are testing even Tsvangirai's most ardent
supporters, particularly female backers who feel the party is frustrating
ambitious stars in their ranks.

Many backed Tsvangirai when half the MDC's MPs broke away from him
after he rejected a vote of the party's national council on October 12,

The MPs accused Tsvangirai of being a dictator when he vetoed the
party's decision to field candidates in senate elections later that year.

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Why Zanu PF-MDC talks are set to collapse

Zim Independent

By Phillip Pasirayi

THE ongoing Mbeki-mediated talks between the ruling party, Zanu PF and
the opposition MDC are doomed largely because of the failure by the two
parties to locate and define the national question through the same lens.

Whilst the opposition is still interested in pursuing the democratic
route to win the people's mandate to govern, Zanu PF remains unmoved by the
deepening national crisis and is determined to consolidate the politics of
coercion as opposed to consent.

The Sadc mediation is caught up in this cobweb of Zanu PF's politics
of survival. I do not provide this thesis because I am some prophet of doom
or that I am a Zimbabwean who is not interested in transformative change but
because of my appreciation of how Zanu PF is set to delay the Mbeki process
and frustrate the MDC out of the talks.

The first point is what I would call the Robert Mugabe factor.
President Mugabe is the biggest stumbling block who is holding the country
to ransom due to his insatiable desire for power. Mugabe is 83 years old,
has been in power since Independence from Britain in 1980 and has committed
serious crimes during the 27 years that he has been in power.

If anything Mugabe is comfortable with a situation where he dies in
office and skips the possibility of being arraigned before international
criminal tribunals to face charges of crimes against humanity. The situation
is even worse now as we witness growing resentment to Mugabe's rule not only
from opposition parties but from camps within Zanu PF who are working to
oppose Mugabe's nomination as the party's presidential candidate in the
forthcoming elections.

There is evidence of a serious lack of common vision and what
constitutes the common good between the negotiating parties.

The ongoing Zanu PF-MDC talks are not anything new in political
science as there is a growing body of knowledge about what is called
deliberative politics or the politics of accommodation given as the solution
for deeply divided societies. Unless the two parties agree that there is a
serious national crisis characterised by gross human rights abuses, rampant
corruption, economic meltdown, lack of investment, militarisation of the
state institutions and public policy incongruence, among other problems,
then the talks will not yield any substantive results.

The public couldn't care less about electoral politics and the
politics of constitutional engineering when they do not have anything to eat
or money to send their children to school.

So far the agenda of the Zanu PF-MDC talks has concentrated on the
same debate of how to ensure that we have free and fair elections and how we
can have a new constitution in place which sounds good but is divorced from
the struggle of the poor people who want to know when they can have bread,
sugar, cooking oil and other basic commodities.

A more practical approach would have been putting on the agenda of the
talks issues such as the setting up of a transitional governmental authority
drawn from a wide section of Zimbabwean society to immediately deal with the
economic challenges that our country is facing, which include food shortage,
and fuel and electricity shortages, among other problems.

This transitional government would be constituted by experts and
technocrats from government, opposition, academia, civil society and other
interest groups with a clear mandate of resuscitating the economy as an
immediate concern before facilitating a process of constitutional reform.

Elections at this moment are not a viable alternative that will
address the socio-economic and political problems the people are facing. It
is only the politics of accommodation that will save our country from
descent into total collapse.

The agenda for these talks which we got through the media is not a
people's agenda but rather a self-serving agenda meant to buttress the
partys' position and gain political capital from the process.

Zanu PF and MDC have no business discussing the smart sanctions
imposed on the Harare regime by the US and the European Union (EU) or
disbanding the so-called pirate radio stations broadcasting from the UK,
South Africa and the US. The international community unequivocally imposed
sanctions on a norm violating regime and it is the conditions that invited
the sanctions which should rather be debated and not how the MDC should ask
the VOA Studio 7, SWRadio Africa to shut down or the EU and the US to lift
the sanctions.

It is not so much about advocating for the broadcasting stations to
disband but it is about a change in policy and Zanu PF's willingness to
protect and promote citizen rights which will translate into a shift in
editorial policy at SWRadio Africa, Voice of the People or Studio 7.

In the same vein, if people's freedoms are being respected in Harare
and if administrative and judicial mechanisms are put in place which enhance
the respect, protection and promotion of human rights, the countries which
imposed the sanctions will reconsider the sanctions and work with a reformed
political establishment as opposed to the one that abuses the rights of its

The media plays a crucial role in reconciling conflicting parties as
much as it can exacerbate the situation through partisan and less balanced
reportage. The tone of the government-controlled media has not changed in
portraying the MDC as a party created by the British to effect regime change
in Zimbabwe. If anything the vitriolic attacks against officials of the
opposition have intensified since the Zanu PF-MDC talks began.

Journalists like Pikirayi Deketeke or Caesar Zvayi must know the new
dispensation is looming. For the purposes of political expediency,editors
may decide to extinguish columnists such as the Herald's Nathaniel Manheru
who only exist to deride opposition and civic leaders.

In the same vein, zealots like historian and former journalism
teacher, Tafataona Mahoso, must not be allowed to continue insulting the
leaders of the MDC, likening them to rebels and terrorists. The idea here is
to reconcile all political forces that exist and create a semblance of a
nation that celebrates its diversity and is ready to confront the
socio-economic challenges that it faces as a bloc.

Political scientist, Rud Andeweg notes that the spirit of
accommodation in politics is rooted in the understanding that the
alternative to political compromise in the long run is detrimental.

In Zimbabwe, the ruling party does not want to compromise with the
opposition and civic groups. Zanu PF strives to outplay and outwit the
opposition and does not at any time want to collaborate with the groups that
it continues to brand as agents of regime change.

The ongoing talks do not include other important players within
Zimbabwe's body politic such as labour and human rights rights groups. This
makes it difficult for the bi-partisan process to produce a result that is
national and that Zimbabweans can proudly identify with as reflective of
their thoughts, aspirations and the future that they envision for the

The exclusion of critical voices such as the National Constitutional
Assembly, Women of Zimbabwe Arise, Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and many others
in the ongoing process, makes the whole process a farce that is aimed at
hoodwinking Zimbabweans into believing that their problems are being
addressed whilst nothing substantive is happening.

 * Phillip Pasirayi is a Zimbabwean scholar based at the University of
North Carolina, Chapel Hill (USA).

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MDC its own worst enemy

Zim Independent


IT is a fact that intra-party squabbles and the tactics of
one-upmanship have since time immemorial been known to leave political
entities badly bruised and benumbed from self-inflicted blows. There is
nothing to gain from internal strife but the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change appears to have difficulty grasping this truism.

For a long time, the MDC has oftentimes pretended that talk about
internal squabbling is a creation of the media or political opponents. But
the current crisis - spawned by the party leadership - is too obvious to

In a nutshell, Morgan Tsvangirai's executive stands accused of
subverting the party's constitution by dissolving the women's assembly
leadership and imposing Theresa Makone, the wife of his advisor Ian Makone,
to head the group.

This is the worst form of advertising for Tsvangirai as a leader of an
opposition party that fancies itself as an alternative government to the
hopeless Zanu PF administration. Without any good reason, Tsvangirai and his
cohorts have in the past two years elected to refocus the party from the
core business of putting pressure on the Zanu PF government to engaging in
an embarrassing tangle of infantile fights, backstabbing and gossip.

The pace of degeneracy from the split of October 2005, the failed
reunification discourse spanning the greater part of last year, and the
party's failure to respond to the national crisis, has only helped to
amplify the extent of the leadership deficit in the party.

It should be noted that at the time of the party's formation cynics
raised doubts about whether the MDC leadership was capable of evolving in
tandem with the changing political circumstances in the country and chart a
path for its transformation from a mere movement to a political party ready
to form the next government. They were right.

The MDC executive, especially its leader Tsvangirai, has failed in the
transformation stakes. The party under his watch has morphed into a
rudderless entity which owes its current existence more to public sympathy
and popular hatred of President Mugabe's Zanu PF than to prudent leadership.

After the 2005 split, Tsvangirai went around the country tapping
public opinion on the way forward. The verdict was clear that opposition
supporters wanted unity, and they still want unity. The differences within
the opposition - which resulted in the split - had nothing to do with
popular will but inflated egos and lack of tact. The current strife is no
different. It does not reflect the situation on the ground among grassroots

One trait of a good leader is an ability to keep a party together -
notwithstanding contesting views therein - and to use the energy of the
group to march towards a common goal. But alas, in the MDC, it is Tsvangirai
who has elected to amplify the differences and ensured superficial cracks
developed into crevices and then chasms which over time have become
impossible to bridge. Worse still, in the current episode Tsvangirai has
worked to create a crisis where there was none in the first place by
fighting the influential women's assembly.

We do not know what Tsvangirai thought he would achieve by fighting
Lucia Matibenga and trashing the party's constitution. This is an
unnecessary sideshow on the eve of a crucial election.

One is tempted to think that Tsvangirai deliberately creates problems
to test his own leadership prowess and hopefully emerge stronger after
solving them to the satisfaction of all stakeholders. He does not appear to
be on top of this game.

At a time when the country is crying out for visionary leadership
ahead of next year's elections, the supposed head of the opposition is now
fighting for his own survival as party members have ganged up against him.
Tsvangirai at the moment has his back to the enemy as he is facing off with
supposed allies. A leader in this position is vulnerable from both sides.
Meanwhile, there is still Mugabe to contend with.

The MDC today should go through a serious process of introspection.
The party should start to question whether the current leadership has been
effective in driving the democratic process forward. As things stand, the
present approach is not working for the MDC or the country.

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How Africans impoverish Africa

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

By Joram Nyathi

IT'S almost 25 years since I last read Walter Rodney's seminal book,
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. If I recall well, it told of how nearly 30
million Africans were shipped to slavery in the Americas and the Caribbean
to provide raw labour on sugar plantations in exchange for guns, sugar and
wine given to West African chiefs.

Reading about the brain drain from Africa to Europe in the South
African Mail & Guardian this week, I realised that that parasitical
relationship persists today in subtle but more damaging ways. More damaging
because Africans have themselves become willing tools, using intellectual
resources acquired at great cost to Africa in the service of the developed

The M&G report had disturbing statistics. A third of Africa's academic
resources are diverted for the benefit of developed Western nations; Africa
loses US$4 billion training graduates for the West.

Zambia has lost 90% of all doctors trained since independence in 1964
to Europe and America; there are more Sierra Leonean doctors in Chicago than
in the country itself, and "cash-strapped Benin provides more medical
professionals to France than there are in the whole of its own health
system", the report says. The revelations were made at a conference of the
Association of African Universities in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, last

The push factors in this unidirectional movement of skills include low
salaries, political conflict and wars, poor living conditions, and lack of
research facilities and funding. It has to be acknowledged that most
European cities seem to have better amenities and are more professionally
managed than we see in Africa. Europeans have parlayed all their talents and
skills to get to where they are and African professionals are
opportunistically fitting themselves in without the toil required to improve
their own countries. About 20 000 professionals reportedly desert the
continent every year, some with no intention of returning to the "dark

I don't have official figures for Zimbabwe but NGOs and opposition
politicians claim between 3-4 million Zimbabweans have left the country
since 2000 for South Africa, the US and UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand
and Europe.

This is probably one of the key reasons why Europe was able to develop
to where it is today: its skilled personnel and professionals didn't have
anywhere to escape to in times of crisis. The colonies were too backward.
For Africans, the colonial metropolis offers the safest refuge. Refugee
status has become a badge of honour. We have become complicit in the
underdevelopment of Africa, exploitation of its resources, endemic poverty
and political instability.

We are coy about using the word patriotism, instead opting shirk our
responsibilities to go and speak proudly about how conditions are unlivable
back home. European nations enjoy high living standards in part because of
skills of Africans financed from the sweat of the poor. Africa remains poor
because it lacks the skills which it produces in abundance for the developed

We cannot exonerate politicians for the state of the continent: bad
policies, tribal politics, nepotism, corruption, political violence and
general lack of respect for human rights. The result is that those who have
exceptional skills emigrate. Others stay out of politics. The tragedy of all
this is that those who engage in active politics, being less discerning, are
prone to manipulation, with the result that bad politics reproduce
themselves. Those who withdraw into their shells or emigrate deprive the
continent of the antidote it needs to develop. Informed political decisions
cannot be left entirely to the less informed in any society.

I am not persuaded by the argument that we earn foreign currency by
exporting the skills we desperately need. There are lots of resources to
which our professionals could add value before they are exported to earn
greater foreign currency. A nation without human capital cannot hope to rise
beyond a dumping ground for substandard imports.

Africans must come to the rescue of Africa. We must all agree in the
end that nothing short of constructive engagement between politicians and
academics can improve our lot. It is the professionals themselves who can
articulate the conditions under which they want to work, with politicians
taking a less cynical view of the definition of patriotism. With a little
political commitment, the continent's push factors can be reversed.

The West must take the moral blame for using the savings it makes from
not training its own to induce Africans to sell their skills for petty
personal gain at the expense of their countries. It is hypocritical of the
West to moralise about African poverty with no compunction about stealing
African professionals. It is equally hypocritical to reduce all of Africa's
myriad problems to simply poor governance and human rights while luring away
those with the intellectual resources to make a difference.

In the final analysis, it is evident Africa doesn't need European
philanthropy; it needs its skills back - its doctors, architects, lawyers,
accountants, teachers, university lecturers and engineers to feed and
develop itself. African intellectuals owe the continent a huge debt.

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Who is fooling who?

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

By Vincent Kahiya

THIS week, I continue with the discourse on the dollarisation of the
economy. In this column last week, I questioned Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce Marah Hativagone's intentions in supporting Air Zimbabwe's quest to
charge fares in foreign currency.

Hativagone was quick off the blocks last Friday to advise that "the
RBZ buys forex from the parallel market to pay Zesa and Air Zimbabwe bills."
The full response from Hativagone is published below.

This allegation has also been made by another business leader,
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Callisto Jokonya earlier in
the year although he could not furnish the nation with details of how much
the central bank spends buying foreign currency on the illegal market. One
day we expect the central bank governor to confirm or disprove that his bank
is involved in acts of illegality. In the absence of a rebuttal, it can be
assumed that the central bank is involved in illegal activities on the
parallel market, which new National Incomes and Pricing Commission chair
Goodwills Masimirembwa this week said is illegal.

In an interview on radio news on Monday Masimirembwa said companies
making submissions for price reviews should not quote parallel market rates
in the cost build-up of products and services. He said business should stick
to the official rate of US$1:$30 000. At a press conference later in the
day, he said companies importing goods for sale should produce foreign
currency receipts for the purposes of calculating the mark-up.

Hativagone's assertions on the abundance of forex in this country and
Masimirembwa's declaration on the pricing of imported goods bring me to the
point of whether the pricing commission is capable of reversing reality of
the parallel market and replacing it with the myth that there is foreign
currency available for us all. Masimirembwa's position on pricing models
based on the official exchange rate presupposes that there is sufficient
foreign currency on the official market and there is therefore no reason for
business to resort to the parallel market. His position also presupposes
that state institutions are in charge of the formal economy where everything
is done by the book.

Assuming that products and services are priced on the basis of the
official exchange rate, then Zimbabwe has some of the most expensive goods
and services in the world.

A beer at $200 000 is almost US$7 or R50 and buffet lunch at Meikles
at $4 000 000 will translate to US$133 or about R1 000! Compare this with
US$7 and R100 for a beer and a meal respectively in South Africa.

What is obvious in this country at the moment is that the informal
world is big and operates on the borders of legality. There is a meeting
point between the informal market and legality. That is the home truth.
Prices of government services have moved in tandem with the parallel market
and not necessarily the artificial exchange rate. The monetary authorities
have always come up with a blend rate for exporters and other primary

The recent review in the producer price for wheat at $71 million puts
the commodity at US$2 367 using the official exchange rate. Compare this
with US$370/tonne at the gate in South Africa. The same technocrats and
apparatchiks who denounce the parallel market by day have in a way benefited
from the black market. Is it not amazing that farmers getting tractors under
the state mechanisation programme will repay loans calculated at the
official exchange rate while they can sell their produce at parallel
market - factored prices?

The point here is our government talks tough about the parallel market
but is in a subtle way a participant. What authorities in Zimbabwe should do
is commission a study to quantify the extent of the informal economy and its
impact on government policy. A study on the same theme in Peru by economist
Hernando de Soto discovered that informal housing in Lima was not 14% of the
total, as the official figures stated, but 42% with a value of US$8,4
billion, slightly more than the country's external debt. In public transport
we discovered that 87% of the buses in Lima were illegal and when combined
with illegal taxis, it turned out that 95% of the public transport was
private and informal. The value of buses was US$120 million.

The value of illegality here should be a useful pointer to what our
government is actually in charge of. A cursory glance at the moment shows
that it is not very much after all.

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Why can't the state media inform us?

Zim Independent


THE Sunday Mail has been able to take advantage of the MDC's inept
publicity machine to suggest reports of state violence against the party's
supporters were "lies".

The MDC attributed the death of Morgan Tsvangirai's bodyguard Nhamo
Musekiwa in Johannesburg to assaults by the police on March 11. But Roy
Bennett said his death was the result of an Aids-related illness.

This is indeed an embarrassing episode for the opposition. But what is
so dishonest about the Sunday Mail's coverage of this faux pas is the
suggestion that there is no such thing as state-sponsored violence.

Why doesn't the Sunday Mail tell its readers what happened to Tichaona
Chiminya and Talent Mabika? Who was responsible for their murder and where
is he now? What happened to the killers of Martin and Gloria Olds? More
recently we still haven't been told why the killers of Gift Tandare and
Edward Chikomba have not been brought to book.

Newspapers have a duty to expose state criminality but the Sunday Mail
hasn't revealed a single case because it is locked into an agenda of denial.

The Sunday News followed the same line suggesting the MDC had been
"lying over the years as it rabble-roused". Its editor said the MDC should
report any "excesses" by a political grouping to the police, not the media.
In other words he doesn't want to know!

This is a pathetic case of an emasculated press masking the state's
dirty business.

Did Tsvangirai and Beatrice Mtetwa lie about their injuries? What sort
of a society is it where the leader of the opposition and the president of
the Law Society are beaten black and blue by law enforcement officers; where
the president warns that his opponents will be "arrested and bashed"?

But what the episode with Kembo Mohadi tells us is that state violence
is no longer an acceptable political tool in the region. Obviously prodded
from Pretoria, there was an unusually quick ministerial reaction to the MDC's
claims while the state media's shrill response tells us that "bashing" is
something South Africa's mediators can't indulge.

Meanwhile, let's hope the maladroit MDC avoids giving any more
hostages to fortune. What they should be doing is swallowing their pride and
reunifying with the Arthur Mutambara camp to provide a viable opposition
which voters yearn for as elections loom.

Tsvangirai revealed after travelling around the country not so long
ago that MDC supporters wanted unity. After lengthy negotiations agreement
was reached on reunification and Mutambara agreed to serve as vice-president
to Tsvangirai.

But then, after months of painstaking negotiation, the Tsvangirai
faction came back to insist that Thokozani Khupe be the party's second
vice-president after Mutambara, a condition they knew would humiliate the
opposition leader and negate the agreement.

Whoever was responsible for this clumsy intervention after the
agreement had been virtually signed and sealed performed a signal disservice
to opposition politics. What is worse, nobody in the Tsvangirai camp appears
willing or able to make the concessions required for the opposition to mount
a serious joint challenge to Mugabe. The national interest requires it but
the MDC is unwilling to provide it.

Remember, in politics you don't have to like your allies. You just
have to work with them towards an agreed goal. As we have it now, the
incumbent has driven the country into poverty and dereliction. But, despite
the fact he has nothing to offer voters except more of the same, he will be
reelected because the MDC can't mobilise the country against him.

As a result the economy will further contract, businesses will go to
the wall, the army of the jobless will grow, and millions more will be
driven into exile.

It's a tragedy and it's coming to a theatre near you in March.

Just in time for the election we note the launch of a dubious student
organisation that has been told to safeguard the country's resources and
resist the temptation to emigrate.

Ambassador Christopher Mutsvangwa, formerly our ambassador to Beijing,
addressing the "Association of Responsible Youths in Zimbabwe" last week,
said "God has made us rich so we should make good use of our resources".

It is not absolutely clear what this outfit actually does apart, we
suspect, from collecting state funds. Mutsvangwa told the youths that the
current rift between Zimbabwe and Britain was about the control of
resources. The youths should "guard our resources jealously", he said,
because the imperialists were after them.

This suspicious state-sponsored association has as its patron Godwills
Masimirembwa who said he liked working with youths. A few tips may be useful
on how they can get their hands into the national cookie jar. Seven or eight
members of a similar organisation, Zimbabwe Integrated Youth Survival
Alternative, could be seen marching into town on Saturday waving placards
with a police escort.

There is already one such phoney student movement called Zicosu. How
many more are there?

Meanwhile, we would like to hear from Mutsvangwa what prompted his
return from China and what he is doing now apart from misleading
impressionable youngsters with silly tales of imperialist plots.

On which subject, we were intrigued to read that in the midst of the
worst economic crisis on record the government has the resources to spend on
an intelligence school to be named after President Mugabe.

The country was at war with the "forces of imperialism personified by
Britain and America who preach the ideology of hate and murder", the
president told those attending the laying of the foundation stone of the
"multi-billion dollar" National School of Intelligence.

We are a little mystified as to why, if it is to be named after the
president, hasn't it been? And it is clear that, far from engaging in
specialist research, its findings have already been made known! So what use
is it, apart of course from providing political grist to Zanu PF's
threadbare ideological mill?

In this context, have you noticed how the president accuses others of
exactly what he is accused of? We appreciate turning tables on one's enemies
is extremely satisfying but people tend to notice the obvious point that it
is a case of the pot calling the kettle black!

At least you don't have to be particularly intelligent to be in charge
of the intelligence college. The Herald carried a picture on its front page
of Didymus Mutasa at the opening ceremony. But on this occasion he had
dispensed with his blue shawl and was wearing a white dustcoat and yellow

Still on pots and kettles, we liked the description by Tafataona
Mahoso of the National Democratic Institute and International Republican
Institute as "veteran rigging organisations". Coming from an apologist for a
successfully rigged state, this was rich indeed! Mahoso was incandescent
this week that the African Commission on Human and People's Rights regarded
NGOs, trade unions and the independent media as human rights defenders and
not the regimes that presumed to carry the mantle of the liberation

He really doesn't get it. When those regimes resort to lies, coercion
and violence to retain the people's loyalty they cease to be human rights
defenders and become liberation-betrayers. Zimbabwe is now widely regarded
as a classic example and it will take more than Mahoso's constipated
conspiracy theories to change that.

And what does Patrick Zhuwao think he is doing replying in the Sunday
Mail to an article published in the Independent? He was responding to views
on agriculture expressed by John Robertson and Bruce Gemmill. If he wants to
discredit himself as a politician by such unprofessional conduct, that is
certainly the best way to go about it.

Perhaps in the meantime he could tell us how much he has spent and
what he has achieved as deputy Minister of Science and Technology?

Zanu PF still hasn't told its newspaper, The Voice, the dates of its
extraordinary congress. We have published those dates, December 12-14,
several times over the course of the past month. None of the state or party
organs have been allowed to do so for some mysterious reason.

If the ruling party's own newspaper can't tell members something as
elementary as the dates of its forthcoming congress what can it tell us that
is of any news value?

The story about mayoral posts being scrapped was in the Independent of
October 5 (Page 4). It was published by the Sunday Mail as "News" on October
28 and by The Voice on the same date.

Still with The Voice, we noticed a banner heading saying: "Who will
win the road race in his owner (sic)?"

The marathon was run in Gweru in honour of Simon Muzenda.

We referred last week to the unenviable task Godwills Masimirembwa
faces as Prices Tsar. He has not got off to a good start. When our news
reporter made an appointment to see the self-important official he was
chased away with a flea in his ear.

"Read what I think about the Independent in today's Herald," he
barked. "You are not a serious newspaper." Our crime was to have reported on
the succession without saying Mugabe was the only candidate at the ruling
party's special congress in December.

It was heresy, apparently, to mention other possible contenders.

Thabo Mbeki had reportedly asked if there was anyone else who might
want the job.

Masimirembwa's piece in the Herald of last Friday is worth a look. It
is one of the most fawning, attention-seeking articles the paper has
published - in a field where the competition is strong.

"President Mugabe is the epitome of a valiant defender and protector
of the right of Zimbabweans to nationhood, ownership of their land and
resources," Masimirembwa said. "That the so-called independent press is
mesmerised by the intellectual and political genius of President Mugabe is
not in doubt.

"President Mugabe's capacity to hold Zanu PF together, to hold the
country together to make this country an oasis of peace and tranquillity, to
face the economic challenges brought by illegal economic sanctions and to
keep the ship steady in stormy waters is what worries the so-called
independent media."

Indeed it is. The thought that the country will face another five
years of hardship and poverty because ambitious job-seekers and
praise-singers are promoted over the qualified and competent is truly

One consequence of Mugabe's damaging economic policies is inflation of
8 000% - and the illusion that the regime can control prices by arresting

Masimirembwa, whose credentials in the business sector are unclear, is
the agent of a failed policy. Price controls have failed wherever they have
been tried. Significantly all those letters to the editor in the Herald and
Sunday Mail backing the government's crackdown appear to have dried up! It
is evident to even the most obtuse Zanu PF supporter, of whom there are a
number, that the policy
isn't working as empty shelves attest.

Masimirembwa also appears to know nothing about the press. It is not a
good idea when you want to win the confidence of the public to attack the
media as your first step. You don't have to like newspapers in order to
communicate with them!

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Sadc, Comesa or Ecsacom?

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

ALTHOUGH far from being the only one, a prerequisite of recovery for the
Zimbabwean economy and for ongoing economic wellbeing is that Zimbabwe very
substantially increases its export performance.

The needs for a virile, substantive export facet of the economy are diverse.

They include the generation of critically needed foreign exchange in
relatively considerable, consistently forthcoming, quantities.

Although Zimbabwe has a great potential wealth of many primary products,
including a significant range of precious minerals, agricultural commodities
such as tobacco, beef, citrus, tea, coffee, sugar and many others,
nevertheless Zimbabwe is a very import-dependent country.

Zimbabwe must import petroleum products, agricultural inputs, many
manufacturing inputs, plant, machinery and equipment, and many, many other

To fund those imports requires foreign currency, and Zimbabwe is chronically
short of that critical need.

Although some of that critical need can be forthcoming through Foreign
Direct Investment (FDI) and, for a period of time, though international aid,
balance-of-payments support, lines of credit, and the like.

On an ongoing basis Zimbabwe must generate the bulk of its foreign exchange
requirements through exports.

The potential for doing so is very great, for most of Zimbabwe's primary
commodities are in major demand, regionally and internationally, Zimbabwe
has a tremendous, almost unique, array of tourism resources and,
notwithstanding the horrendous afflictions that have impacted upon the
manufacturing sector, Zimbabwe still has the second most developed
industrial infrastructure in Southern Africa.

That potential is very greatly reinforced by the markedly increasing demands
within the region for, with the sole exception of Zimbabwe, the entire
region is undergoing very extensive economic growth.

South Africa is benefiting from the immense surge in the world gold price,
from 13 years of significant political stability, which has facilitated
creation of an investment conducive environment, from dynamic technological
developments and pronounced industrial expansion, and from sound,
constructive fiscal and monetary policies.

To varying degrees, all other countries within the region are all attaining
positive economic growth, Zimbabwe being the very notable only country in
the region which, year after year, has a horrendously contracting economy.

And, it is of major import that Zimbabwe is geographically placed to be a
key supplier to most, if not all, of the region.

Moreover, its export potential can be very greatly increased, and realised,
if much of its economic focus would be upon value addition to its treasure
trove of primary products.

Heretofore, to such extent as Zimbabwe has engaged in export operations,
albeit inadequately, a very high proportion of the exports have been in
primary form, without any meaningful value addition thereto.

But, if Zimbabwe is to achieve real and extensive penetration into export
markets, it needs to undergo a variety of fiscal and monetary policy

It needs to have a market-force driven economy, instead of a command economy
grievously mismanaged by government, it needs to contain inflation
vigorously, constructively, and lastingly, and until inflation has been
successfully contained, it needs to devalue its currency on an ongoing
basis, in alignment to inflation.

The development of viable, considerable export operations, worldwide, but
with especial focus and emphasis upon the region, will also need intensive,
innovative and dynamic marketing, product diversification, stringent quality
controls to assure consistent, high product quality, and proven timeous

However, Zimbabwe will also have to resolve its relationships with its
present, and future, trading partners.

Zimbabwe is a member of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc),
alongside Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania
and Zambia. But Zimbabwe is also a member of the Common Market for Eastern
and Southern African (Comesa), together with Angola, Burundi, the Comoros,
Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi,
Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda
and Zambia.

Thus, in addition to Zimbabwe being a member of both Sadc and Comesa, so too
are Angola, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia.

Comesa intends to establish a customs union by 2008, and Sadc by 2010, and
both entities have told Zimbabwe and the other four common members that they
will have to determine in which they intend to remain, but that they cannot
be members of both.

Such determination can have very great impacts upon Zimbabwe's future export
performance for, although one or both of those future customs unions may not
necessarily become free trade areas, with zero customs duties on goods
flowing from one member country to another, there would be a commonality of
rates of duties, and such rates would be markedly less than those pertaining
to goods being imported from countries external of the customs unions.

Some argue that as South Africa is very pronouncedly the most virile and
advanced economy in the entire region, it is potentially the greatest
purchaser, by far, of Zimbabwean goods, as compared to any other countries
in the region and that, therefore, Zimbabwe must remain a member of Sadc,
and therefore must withdraw from Comesa.

Others contend that doing so would be disastrous for, if South Africa
benefits from favoured customs duty levels on its exports to Zimbabwe, it
will be able to use the size of its manufacturing enterprises, which are
beneficiaries of considerable "economies of scale", to supply goods for sale
in Zimbabwe at lower prices than Zimbabwean manufacturers of like products
can sell such goods.

This, they suggest, would result in the destruction of Zimbabwean industry,
and hence they argue in favour of Comesa membership, instead of remaining in

The latter contention is suspect, for if Zimbabwe effectively created
substantial export market penetration, then many of its industries could
rapidly grow to a degree according them like economies of scale and,
therefore, market competitiveness.

That competitiveness would be even greater for those whose inputs are
primarily of Zimbabwean origin, with value addition thereto.

Others suggest that, in the medium to long-term, Comesa membership would be
the more advantageous to Zimbabwe, having regard to the greater population
that constitutes Comesa.

But one must ponder whether it is necessary to have two separate regional
associations, with membership restricted to one or the other.

The proximity of the countries that constitute the region of Southern,
Central and East Africa, and their very considerable commonality of
interests, suggest that the better solution could well be a merger of the
groupings, to establish the East, Central and Southern Africa Common Market

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Zim Independent Letters

Why Zanu PF wants to abolish executive mayors

IT does not need a scientific microscope to learn the motive of the
paranoid regime's resolution to dissolve the posts of executive mayors.

As is the common culture of Zanu PF to try by all efforts to defend
the obvioulsy indefensible, now it is the sitting power between the town
clerk and the executive mayors and implementation of proven barren
government policies.

Surely for Minister Ignatious Chombo with his doctrate in the wardrobe
to think that the urban majority will believe this could be a cruel
underestimation of their analytical abilities as the following obvious
factors have given birth to the resolution.

* The ruling party is scared of an imminent embarrasing defeat if the
elections are held. Who is comfortable with sky rocketing bills of
unavailable water? Worse still, the water is unhealthy for human consumption
when available. Who is comfortable with daily sights of sewerage floods? Who
is comfortable with mountains of uncollected refuse and precarious craters
on our roads?

* As the ruling party is bankrupt with no meaningful sympathisers
besides kraal heads and headmen, there is a strong need to consolidate its
grip on council affairs with the control of revenues being prominent. Most
Zanu PF chefs have unscrupulously contracted their private companies to the
councils using the influence of their offices. In the event that the
opposition holds influential posts like that of executive mayors, retaining
these contracts won through fraudulent means will be extremely difficult.

* With victory for the opposition as obvious as the rising of the sun
each day, for the ruling party to campaign for the election of their
candidates will be like sowing seeds on a rock then expecting to harvest.
The abolishment is just sour grapes.

* Fear of exposure of malpractices and incompetence is also another
factor as to why Zany PF won't hand over the control of councils to the
opposition. It is not surprising that Chombo admitted that there has never
been efficiency in administration of councils since 1995. And who has been
running these councils beside Zanu PF? Why can't they now try fresh blood as
is the will of ratepayers by giving the opposition a chance to prove their

* How can a ruling party feel comfortable controlling gullible and
subservient rural and growth point councillors, chiefs, headmen and kraal
heads when the opposition deals with industrialists, the investors and
intellectuals? Surely it does not need a rocket professor to explain to us
which party deserves respect in as far as the economy of the country is

Makanyisa Wacho,


More to these zeros than meets the eye

WITH our world-record rate of inflation we have become cavalier about
all the zeros attached to our worthless currency. For instance, we tend to
talk quite blithely about millions, billions and, now, even trillions trip
off the tongue as though a daily occurrence. The principal organ of state
propaganda, the Herald, often trumpets trillion-dollar budgets, as though
these were some sort of great achievement on the part of its lord and
master, the government!

So, then, it comes as a shock to realise the following facts. One
million seconds equates to a mere 11,5 days; a billion seconds leaps to 31,7
years and a trillion is a mind-boggling 31 700 years, or nearly 32

And this is what Zanu PF has casually done to our once respectable
currency in less than three decades. Shame on them.

Peter Lovemore,


No law for pre-testing

I RECENTLY visited my local Vehicle Inspection Depot to make a driving
test booking on behalf of my son. I was surprised to be referred to CMED to
make a "pre-test" booking with them.

What on earth is a "pre-test"? What if he is found to be competent
with CMED but fails the driving test with VID? Why must he be tested twice

I decided to consult my lawyer on the matter and he assures me that
there is no supporting legislation for this so called "pre-test". It has
never appeared in the government gazette. Where does the generated revenue
end up and under whose legislation?

I M Cross.

What have MDC senators achieved?

MY question is directed to the MDC senators. What can they count as
their achievements for people in their constituencies since being elected on
November 26, 2005 ?

I am not talking about the vehicles, hefty salaries and benefits they
have received, neither am I talking about the tractors they enthusiastically
accepted from President Robert Mugabe.

We are told that the senate election issue is the one that is
responsible for the MDC split. We are approaching new elections in 2008. Now
it is time to account. Was participating in those elections worth it after

Asher Tarivona-Mutsengi,

Calgary, Canada.

Just stupidity

ISN'T it just wonderful how the government is clamping down on the
price increases of foods and vows to bring it under control?

But what about the fuel importers who are forced to pay $1 million for
a litre of fuel. Or find forex! Where? I am a Zimbabwean,
I have no outside money. If you can't pay the million dollars, how do
you get to work and run a business?
Very frustrating.


By email.

Even RBZ is doing it too

I THOUGHT I must respond to your very strong remarks against Air
Zimbabwe's appeal to charge tickets in forex in your memo last week (Zim
Independent, October 26).

It is important to remember that:

lOther sectors, such as mining, are paying their electricity bills in
forex. Noone complained when we advocated for that move last year and it is
bearing fruit;

lMost business people including MPs pay other airlines in forex and
actually sideline the national airline in favour of foreign ones. Where do
they get all that forex from?

lIn the aftermath of the price blitz, shops were selling mostly
imported goods. Where is that capital forex coming from?

When I say forex is "awash", what I mean is, it may not be abundant in
the normal channels - that is the banks - but it is definitely available on
the streets and even under the bridges.

The RBZ buys forex from the parallel market to pay Zesa and Air
Zimbabwe bills. What does that mean? Obviously the official rate is too low
to entice those with forex to trade normally. What this economy definitely
needs is BOP support which is not forthcoming at this juncture.

Do you seriously believe that our airline will survive by continuing
to charge airfares in local currency? Give me a break! My advice is: Let us
be real. If we can semi-dollarise, which I understand we have done, so what?
Please read a revealing article on Page 14 of your paper's last week edition
for more insight.

Marah Hativagone,

ZNCC President.

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Zimbabwe Cricket Not Ready For International Test Return - Analyst


By Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye
01 November 2007

Zimbabwe's "A" cricket team was roughly handled by Sri Lanka's "A" team
Thursday in Harare, losing by 31 runs in the last in a series of one day
international matches fans hope will smooth the team's way back onto the
international test circuit.

But Sri Lanka made a clean 3-0 sweep of the series and at least one observer
concluded that Zimbabwe has more work to do before returning to test play.

Sports commentator Brian Goredema told reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye
of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that that based on Zimbabwe's performance
Thursday he does not believe the team is ready to return to test status by
next May.

The International Cricket Council has advised Zimbabwe to play international
four-day matches in preparation for a return to the test circuit. But
Zimbabwe's inexperienced players have to continued to suffer at the hands of
more experienced teams.

Nonetheless, Zimbabwe last month staged an upset win against Australia in
one of their matches at the World Cup Twenty20 in South Africa, leading some
to conclude it wouldn't be very long before Zimbabwe was a contender again
in test action.

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