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SA farmer sticking it out in Zimbabwe


    November 04 2006 at 03:41PM

By Peta Thornycroft Independent Foreign Service

'If you don't sow, you don't reap," said Dan Nel, his grin conveying
the extreme irony of this remark in an unpredictable, lawless land.

He's a South African farming in Zimbabwe and is determined - eviction
order or not - to stick it out. Nel doesn't want to go back to South Africa.

He "loves" Zimbabwe and is planting madly near Karoi, 200km north of

He gave most of his farm to the government a few years ago, hoping
this would persuade the "land reform" cronies to leave him a few hundred

When Nel pleaded for a reversal of his eviction notice, Lands Minister
Didymus Mutasa reportedly asked him if he was an Arab. "If you were an Arab,
there would be no problem," the minister said.

Mutasa, who is also in control of the Central Intelligence
Organisation, hasn't a clue about agriculture and says he doesn't mind that
80 percent of about 15-million hectares of seized former commercial farmland
is growing weeds.

He is dishing out farms like confetti - some of it to people from his
home area in eastern Zimbabwe. He signs them over by official "offer
letters", mostly to the top brass.

Receipt of an offer letter, in theory, spells the end for a white
farmer. However, many of them are hanging on by their teeth. Despite being
pestered often by people demanding that they abandon their homes, crops and
equipment, the shrug off the offer letters and eviction notices.

Sometimes district officials and war veterans tell farmers to ignore
Mutasa. Last February, someone in the government decided that key white
farmers, without political profiles, should be invited back to boost foreign
currency earnings. Instead, it got even tougher for the about 350 white
farmers still working a small part of their land.

Nel has given up hoping his South African citizenship - or that he was
a foreign investor - would make any difference.

Anyway, the rains are two weeks away and his crops are nearly all
planted. Will he be there at Christmas?

The answer lies in Mutasa's mood or the throw of a dice.

The white Zimbabwe farmer story has gone on and on for more than six
years. Between 2000 and the middle of 2003 there was a frenzy as a few
farmers were killed, while several were beaten or locked up. They fled in

A few were relieved they were being forced out as they were going
broke anyway.

Then it settled down for a while and farmers started giving most of
their land to the government and applying to be "resettled" on the

Most are still waiting to hear if their applications were successful.

The government promised 99-year leases to purge survivors, but they
haven't materialised as millions of hectares would have to be surveyed to
make them legal tender.

Land laws were changed every time a farmer's lawyer saw a chink in the

Finally, a year ago, the constitution was amended to make it
impossible for farmers to seek redress in the courts, and all white-owned
rural land was nationalised.

Now there is the final land law, passed by the Senate three weeks ago
and still to be signed by President Robert Mugabe, which makes eviction
automatic. Until a fractious Mugabe signs, Mutasa carries on dishing out
eviction notices.

People like the Nels are still hanging in there, but each month a few
more leave - some forced out, while others give up in a hostile environment
or due to a lack of finance.

The other human tragedy, of course, is the workers.

Some farmworkers helped Mugabe's militants during the land invasions.

They were promised the earth by liberation-era "war veterans" who
spearheaded the onslaught.

But apart from retrenchment packages from departing farmers, they got

One farmer now living in Harare, but still in touch with his former
workers, said last week: "Many of us fear that about 40 percent of them died
since we left. They hardly ever get paid by the 'new' weekend farmers."

In addition to the 350 or so white farmers trying to continue on the
land, there are some, with nowhere else to go, just living in their
homesteads. They, too, are receiving eviction notices.

Some are quietly renting land from anyone prepared to let them. A few
have done a deal with "new" farmers and share profits. A handful, now living
in town, finance former workers and split any profit.

So there are probably about 700 white farmers still in Zimbabwe with
some contact, often extremely tenuous, with their old farms.

About 3 500 have left farming, or the country, for good - or so they

A few "new" farmers, like Mugabe's sister, Sabina, and her son,
Zanu-PF MP Patrick Zuwayo, are doing well about 40km north of Harare on a
sophisticated white-owned farm they were given.

They are the exception. Don't believe regular reports from Harare of
how agricultural production is improving. It's not. If rains aren't good
this summer, harvests will be worse than last year, and that was a record of
sorts: the lowest production for more than 50 years.

This article was originally published on page 6 of The Star on
November 04, 2006

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Gono back in Russia on investment drive

By Dennis Rekayi

HARARE - RESERVE Bank Governor, Gideon Gono, is in Russia once again
following up on investment opportunities as knives are being sharpened back
home for his head at the forthcoming Zanu PF conference.

Gono, according to sources in the finance ministry, jetted into
freezing Russia mid-week with a team from the central bank to follow up on
investment opportunities unearthed during two earlier visits this year and a
recent one by a Russian delegation to Zimbabwe.

The visit comes after reports alleged Gono had been duped into signing
deals worth $300 million in Zimbabwe's mining, power, and aviation sectors
with criminals posing as Russian businessmen. The central bank chief has
since rubbished the allegations saying the agreements were not a hoax.

Efforts to get a comment from either Gono or his office were fruitless
but embassy officials confirmed the Governor and his team were indeed in
Russia on business.

If they materialise, the investment deals from Russia are a potential
boost to Zimbabwe's ailing economy and Moscow's own bid to raise its
economic profile in southern Africa.

Analysts say Russia's interest in the sub-region, following a
determined push by China, signalled growing competition for Africa's natural
resources as the two economies boom.

Gono, who has been spearheading campaigns to have foreign investment
in the country, urging an end to farm invasions, cracking the whip on
corruption and making decisions that have affected and touched on the nerves
of his colleagues and those in the high echelons of the ruling Zanu PF, is
becoming increasingly unpopular amongst top Zanu PF officials as the party
prepares for its annual congress.

Sources in the party said daggers and knives were all being sharpened
for Gono who does not attend such gatherings unless invited to give a
speech. Ironically, this year's congress is being held in Goromonzi, which
is Finance Minister, Herbert Murerwa's constituency. Murerwa and Gono have
clashed over the country's fiscal and monetary policies and related issues
over the past few years. Different camps in the party are apparently
planning to use the platform to mobilise against the Governor, who is
President Mugabe's blue-eyed boy. Mashonaland East province, which will host
the conference, is, according to sources, one of the provinces leading the
call for Gono's head.

"Things are happening so fast and as we saw in 2004 the fall of
Jonathan Moyo through the Tsholotsho debacle, there are many in the party
who feel Gono has overstepped his boundaries and has made decisions
affecting them and their desire to acquire more wealth so they want him
 out," a finance ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity

"Despite the general outlook of the economy today, people cannot deny
that for the first time in many years, there has been a scramble for
deposits with banks now giving better interest rates," he added. "What this
means is that those companies and individuals who have foreign currency and
have been relying on borrowings because money was cheap will be forced to
offload it because they cannot sustain the high rates of 500 to 600 percent.
So in the process the parallel market goes down too because money is not
there so those caught with their pants down blame it all on him."

He said it was clear there had been a lot of corruption within the
government, epitomised by the Ziscosteel deal in which some of the people
intending to succeed President Robert Mugabe in 2008 are said to be

A Zanu PF official told "people want to finish
him off. The smear campaign is reaching new proportions despite the fact
that he told the Herald recently that he is not interested in politics. Many
believe he is liked by the people and they are afraid his star seems to keep

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will be watching
the Zanu PF congress closely. The party has since said Gono's biggest enemy
was not the MDC but those from Zanu PF who have and continue to benefit from
the chaos in the country.

"It remains to be seen what strategy will be used at the conference
but close sources I have heard say they will not leave him alone," said the
Zanu PF official.
Meantime Gono will be in Russia until next week sealing business deals
that include some mining concerns in the country.

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Mugabe's Guards Nicked For Stealing

By a Correspondent

HARARE - Three of President Robert Mugabe's guards appeared in court
Thursday for allegedly conniving with security guards at the Harare Sports
Club, which is directly opposite Mugabe's official residence, to steal
sports attire.

The three are said to have broken into the Zimbabwe Cricket's
storeroom and stole sports clothing worth Zd$895 496.

Privates Admire Njiri Chigwendere (28) and Stansilous Choto (28) and
Lance-Corporal Martin Khabo (30), all based at the State House, appeared
before Magistrate Olivia Mariga facing housebreaking and theft charges.

According to the Herald, they were not asked to plead but were
remanded out of custody to November 22 on $10 000 bail each.

Representing the three was Harare lawyer Happy Tsara. She said
successfully applied for bail for her clients saying the three had
cooperated with the police since investigations into the theft began.

Investigations in the three began earnestly when one of the soldiers
was spotted wearing part of the stolen kit.

According the State, the three were on guard duties at State House
when they connived with guards from Masimba Security Company manning Harare
Sports Club to steal from ZC.

The soldier guards broke into the ZC storeroom on a number of
occasions this year and stole uniforms that included T-shirts, sweaters,
tracksuits and crickets trousers.

The uniforms included 279 T-shirts, 126 pairs of tracksuits, 75
sweaters, 48 pairs of cricket trousers and 79 pairs of short trousers valued
at Zd$895 496.

One of the stolen pair of shorts was allegedly recovered from
Chigwendere who was wearing them leading to the arrest of Choto and Khabo.

Some T-shirts were allegedly recovered from Choto and Khabo while some
pairs of cricket long trousers were found at the houses of city people who
had bought them unawares.

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Zimbabwe to issue 99-year leases to black farmers

Yahoo News

Sat Nov 4, 4:40 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - The Zimbabwean government will next week issue 99-year land
leases to black farmers who have been resettled under a fast track land
reform scheme.

"The first 99-year leases giving security of tenure to A2 farmers (black
farmers who have been resettled) will be issued on Thursday at a special
ceremony to be presided over by President Robert Mugabe," the state run
daily Herald reported on Saturday.
"The launch of the new lease system is part of measures that cement the
agrarian reform." it added.

The daily quoted a statement from the Lands ministry describing land reform
as the hub of economic revival and sustainable development in the country.

"Zimbabwe's land reform has has come of age as the nation celebrates the
official launch of the 99-year leases," the ministry said.

The ministry's secretary, Ngoni Nyamasoka, said the leases were a reflection
of the Goverment's commitment to black economic empowerment through
sustainable use of natural resources.

"Those A2 farmers who have been on land for the last three years and have
been assessed by National Land Board in terms of the relevant Act, will be
issued with leases," Nyamasoka said.

The seizure of around 4,000 farms since 2000, part of the government of
President Robert Mugabe's controversial land reform policy, is seen as a
major cause of the economic crisis in the southern African nation.

Before the start of the farm evictions, agriculture accounted for 40 percent
of foreign currency earnings but that has now dropped to around a quarter.

Amid criticism that the farm seizures have led to a slump in production,
Mugabe has warned new black farmers to either start producing food or have
the land seized again by the government.

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Now we'll get the seed

Saturday 4th November 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
The first week of November 2006 has been the hottest that many people can
remember. As I make notes for this letter it is 35 degrees Celsius at midday
in Marondera - normally a cooler part of the country. The forecast is for
temperatures to top 38*C in Kwekwe today and 43*C in Kariba. When it is hot
like this it is hard to pay attention to anything but some things do manage
to cause a slight stir of interest. Headline business news in the South
African media one day this week was: "Zimbabwe is holding back the whole
continent and is an island of decline." A sentence like that is cause for
great embarrassment to us but it also brings slight relief. It means that
our fanatically diplomatic neighbours are finally starting to be publicly
outspoken about us - it really is about time.

Also causing a stir of air in the scorching heat this week has been the
launch of a vision document by a group of Church leaders. Called "The
Zimbabwe We Want", the Church leaders say that the nation is "sliding into a
sense of national despair and loss of hope." They say that principles of
peace, justice, forgiveness and honesty have degenerated and that even some
Church leaders have "become accomplices in some of the evils that have
brought our nation to this." The document apparently calls for a new
constitution, for the repeal of repressive media and security laws (POSA and
AIPPA) and for an independent land commission to bring sense and
productivity back to agriculture in Zimbabwe.

The voices of local church leaders, along with the voices of our neighbours,
raised the temperature a little more although I don't think either said
anything about last weekend's rural council elections.

At the beginning of the week I met a man with a bright purple stain on his
little finger. "I've been to vote" he said, his voice filled with pride but
his face creased with despair. I asked him how it had been out there at the
rural polling stations in the dusty villages. The man shook his head slowly,
exhaled loudly. "At least now we will get the seed," he said. He told me
that two weeks before the elections donors had come with seed maize to the
village. The seed had not been given out though, the village heads were
waiting till 'after the elections.' Similar findings were made by the ZESN,
an electoral monitoring body, who said : "residents were told that if the
election outcome was not favourable to ZANU-PF the price [of the
state-subsidised maize] would be increased." Official figures of voter
turnout had not been released by the end of the week but in the Kadoma
mayoral elections, held concurrently with rural district elections, the
voter turnout was diabolical - just 9% (NINE PERCENT!) of registered voters
had bothered.

Also, completely un-noticed by the state media in the sweltering heat this
week was a protest held by members of the National Constitutional Assembly
in Harare. 250 people were rounded up and arrested by baton wielding police.
There were many reports of people being beaten up. Chairman Lovemore Madhuku
and two others were still being held days later.

It is hard to see light in such dark news from Zimbabwe but small things
give relief - the voices of a million crickets that fill the night air; the
calling of the cicadas clinging to Msasa trees during the hot days and the
glimpses of a gorgeous plum coloured starling in the new canopies shading
our gardens. Such beauty in such harshness. Because of this, and for this,
we still have hope.
Until next week, love cathy.

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ICC says Zimbabwe may return to tests in late 2007


Sat Nov 4, 2006 3:26 PM GMT

MUMBAI, India, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe could return to the test arena in
November 2007 if they improve their domestic structure, the International
Cricket Council (ICC) said in a statement on Saturday.

The ICC's executive board made the announcement after president Percy Sonn
and chief executive Malcolm Speed reported back on their fact-finding trip
to Zimbabwe in late July and early August.

World cricket's governing body has asked Zimbabwe to establish a credible
domestic first-class structure and secure competitive cricket for their best
players against high-class A sides in the next 12 months.

The Zimbabwe government took control of cricket in January and one of their
first decisions was to withdraw the national team from the test arena.

The ICC blamed in-fighting in the Zimbabwe board for their plight but has
been assured by Zimbabwe Cricket chairman Peter Chingoka that a new draft
constitution will be adopted at a special general meeting on Nov. 18.

Zimbabwe have been forced to pick a depleted team since April 2004, when
most of their senior players retired or opted to further their careers in
other countries after a dispute with the board that followed Heath Streak's
dismissal as captain.

The Zimbabweans lost nine of their last 10 tests, seven by an innings.

They are still playing one-day internationals but last won a limited-overs
game against a major team against West Indies in November 2003.

Zimbabwe lost all three qualifying games in the Champions Trophy in India,
against Bangladesh, West Indies and Sri Lanka.

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Zimbabwe State Power Utility Defends Steep New Rate Increases


By Carole Gombakomba
03 November 2006

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, or ZESA, was on the defensive
Friday over its decision to increase electric power rates by 95% for
households and 27% for its business customers, effective retroactively to
Nov. 1.

ZESA Corporate Affairs Manager James Maridadi said the increases were
necessary to absorb ever-rising cost of running the state power utility
under the harsh economic conditions prevailing in Zimbabwe, including
inflation of around 1,000%.

But critics say mismanagement coupled with state interference plus a chronic
shortage of hard currency are to blame for the increases.They say electric
bills now eat up the bulk of meager household incomes that now distantly
trail soaring living costs.

Maridadi told reporter Carole Gombakomba  of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe
that despite the increases, Zimbabwe has some of the lowest tariffs in the

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The price of charity

Daily Record, UK

4 November 2006

How one Scots woman is helping the people of Zimbabwe get back on their feet
By Annie Brown
SHOPPING, for Mary Convill, is a bewildering experience in a country where a
loaf of bread can double in price overnight.

Mary is a director of the charity GOAL in Zimbabwe, which has the highest
inflation rate in the world.

It runs at a staggering 1,204.06 per cent and is crippling the economy.

The situation is tolerable for Mary, but it means locals find it impossible
to budget on meagre incomes which average only £70 a month.

Mary, 47, said: "I get a decent salary, so I'm not desperate for resources,
but the people I work with really are."

This week their government-sponsored consumer council admitted families had
to fork out £50 to pay for food and other essentials over the course of a

Health costs skyrocketed 68.2 per cent from September, bread 42.4 per cent
and white sugar 38.6 per cent.

The rising costs are difficult enough for those in work, but Zimbabwe also
has an unemployment rate of 70 per cent.

Mary said: "People aren't sure where their next meal is coming from.

"Inflation here means you can't buy the same things with your salary this
month as you did last month."

Industry has also suffered, shrinking 65 per cent in the last 10 years.

Mary, originally from Paisley, has lived in Zimbabwe for six years, working
for various charities and has previously worked in India, Peru and Malawi.

In Zimbabwe she oversees a variety of humanitarian projects run by the GOAL
charity, which includes increasing access to food, water, shelter, medical
attention and primary education. It is a nondenominational, non-governmental
and non-political organisation.

On the ground, GOAL distributes food in partnership with the UN. It is also
helping fix disused bore holes which will provide access to clean water. In
schools, the charity provides supplementary meals, just like school dinners.

Mary said: "This year's harvest has been better and there's not a famine,
but there is a shortage of food. Children are still undernourished."

The charity also supplies families with mosquito nets.

Mary said: "We are focusing on pregnant women. If a woman is pregnant and
she gets malaria, she can die, so we need to get people used to sleeping
under nets.

"We are trying to do simple things that will make a difference."

The AIDS problem has reached epidemic proportions in Zimbabwe and GOAL is
trying to raise awareness of the disease in schools.

Almost two million people have contracted the disease, 160,000 of them
children and more than one million kids have been orphaned because of AIDS.

Mary said: "Quite often our charity workers lose a relative to AIDS. Some of
the workers are even looking after the children of relatives who have died,
as well as their own."

GOAL has also implemented a schools' AIDS awareness programme, which touches
on sexual exploitation.

New figures released yesterday revealed there had been 2301 child sex abuse
cases in Zimbabwe between January and August this year.

Mary said: "We want to alert children to sexual abuse and also alert
teachers that we are watching them because they have been known to be part
of the problem, as have parents in some cases.

"It is a difficult one. We have heard of some horrendous cases. We want
children to know they have a right to say no."

Mary calls Zimbabwe her home from home, although she loves visiting her
parents in Paisley for everyday luxuries like a cappuccino or basics like
reliable electricity.

Zimbabwe is subjected to regular power cuts which hit Mary's home in the
capital Harare, two or three times a week.

She said: Sometimes there's no electricity for 12 hours. Now we are more
organised and have a back-up battery system that will keep the lights on for
a few hours."

Despite the volatility of Zimbabwe, the forced slum clearances and the land
seizures from white farmers, Mary has always felt safe.

"There have been times when international relations have been fraught," she
says. "But it doesn't manifest itself in the way you are treated by ordinary

In many ways it's the simplicity of life in Zimbabwe that Mary loves.

She said: "I don't feel like I am missing out on anything. There is very
little advertising here, so we are not being bombarded about the latest must

She laughs when she admits: "We go around in fashions from the Seventies."

What Mary does find difficult though, is watching the people around her
suffering amid poverty and disease.

But she said: "Despite the difficulties, I still think it is a beautiful

"People try to approach every single day with an attitude of good humour.

"They help you out, and act with great dignity and greet you with warmth,
smiles, and gentleness.

"Everybody has a good word to say about what we do here. It helps me and I
get encouragement from them."

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RBZ messed up

Zim Standard


      IN what could turn out to be a huge embarrassment for Gideon
Gono, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe recently procured
      70 000 tonnes of fake fertiliser from an obscure South African

      Moreover, the "counterfeit" stuff is being distributed to
unsuspecting farmers as the genuine article, certified Compound D.

      The distributor, the Grain Marketing Board, is said to be fully
aware of the inferior quality of the product but was last week still
transporting it all over the country.

      It is distributing the fertilizer - a blend known as 7-14-7 - to
farmers countrywide.

      Impeccable sources said a senior RBZ official awarded the tender
for the supply of about 70 000 tonnes of fertilizer to a South African
firm - Intshona - ahead of tried and tested traditional suppliers.

      The sources said the contract did not go to the government
tender board. About 35 000 tonnes have already been supplied and are being
distributed to farmers who are unaware of its inferior quality.

      Curiously, the GMB has itself raised concern with the RBZ over
the quality of the fertilizer.

      In a letter dated 3 August addressed to RBZ division chief, Dr
Millicent Mombeshora, the GMB acting chief executive officer, Samuel Muvuti,
explained that the imported fertilizer was below standard and would affect
next season's agricultural output.

      Mombeshora is responsible for strategic planning, foreign
investment promotion and special projects at the central bank.

      Muvuti said tests had indicated that the fertilizer was
"inferior" and should not be distributed to farmers. The tests were done by
GMB and RBZ through a testing station of the Ministry of Agriculture.

      "From the analysis reports to date, the D compound that has been
imported from South Africa and sitting in our Aspindale depot is not
acceptable as D compound and cannot be distributed to our farmers as it is
an inferior product," wrote Muvuti.

       Although in the letter Muvuti said the fertilizer was not being
distributed, The Standard on Friday witnessed several farmers loading the
useless fertilizer onto lorries for use at their farms.

      Workers at the depot confided that the fertilizer being loaded
onto the trucks was the fake product from South Africa.

      The chairman of the State Procurement Board, Charles Kuwaza,
through his secretary, refused to comment on the issue, referring all
questions to the RBZ.

      In his letter, Muvuti said: "We therefore request that a team
comprising Arex, RBZ and GMB should urgently be dispatched to Secunda, South
Africa, and make investigations into the source of the sub-standard compound
D and at the same time obtain a sample for testing of the product from
Intshona before it is dispatched, in case it comes from the same supplier at

      The GMB boss said there was need to establish the company's
ability to perform and supply the remaining 35 000 tonnes.

      "The visit is critical, given our situation of forex shortage
and the importance of a successful land reform programme."

      Zimbabwehas reeled from a serious food shortage since the
violent 2000 land invasions that disrupted farming operations.

      It is estimated that about 3.5 million people now survive on
food relief.

      RBZ sources wondered privately why Mombeshora did not buy direct
from an established fertilizer company.

      "The information I have," said one of the sources, "is that one
of the companies operate from a small office and are backyard operators."
Contacted for comment on Saturday, Muvuti advised The Standard to call after
30 minutes saying he had visitors.

      Efforts to contact him after half an hour were fruitless as his
mobile phone had been switched off.

      The Minister of Agriculture, Joseph Made, said he knew nothing
about the fake fertilizer. Nonetheless, he said, there was no fertilizer
which did not help crops grow.

      Made said: "I have not heard about that issue but if it happened
then the company that supplied us should give us the fertilizer with the
correct mix."

      Gono, who is said to be fully aware of this corrupt deal, could
not be reached for comment as he was said to be in Russia. Mombeshora was
said to be busy throughout last week. She did not return messages left with
her secretary.

      Efforts to get comment from Intshona were unsuccessful. When The
Standard phoned their last known numbers, the person who answered the phone
said the company had moved out the building. This newspaper has also
established that Intshona, which has links with some people at the RBZ, does
not manufacture fertilizer at all.

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Brisk business in death

Zim Standard


      HARARE city council's decision to shut down many firms dealing
with funeral services has led to the birth of a thriving but illegal "death
business'" at State-owned hospitals.

       Hospital employees, working with illegal undertakers, are
cashing in on bereaved relatives who can no longer afford skyrocketing
funeral fees.

      In September, the council temporarily closed down 21 licensed
coffin-selling firms. It had proved they had started preparing bodies for
burial, for which they were neither licensed nor properly equipped.

      Moreover, this "moonlighting" by the coffin-makers deprived the
council of much-needed revenue.

      But investigations by The Standard soon proved that council
action had brought an undesirable element to the business of death.

      There was a sharp increase in funeral costs after the closure of
the private parlours.

      A Harare woman who declined to be named said she went through a
nightmare after a close relative died at home.

      "We moved from one parlour to another after the government
hospitals told me that they had no space. The private parlours are charging
as if it's a crime to have a dead relative," she said.

      There are only six properly-licensed funeral parlours in Harare.
They are now charging between $150 000 and $200 000 to cover a funeral. The
money caters for the preparation of the body and transport only.

      An official at Doves Funeral Services said they now charge $180
000 for a funeral. The fee does not include transport costs outside Harare.

      Sources at the Harare Central Hospital mortuary said workers,
realising the desperate situation facing many bereaved people, were making
fat profits by preparing the bodies for burial at the hospital under cover
of darkness.

      Some of the workers had teamed up with illegal undertakers to
form their own private funeral parlours. One such parlour is located in
Highfield's Gazaland area.

      A visit to the hospital last week indicated that more than 20
illegal undertakers were conducting thriving businesses, advising mourners
on how to get their deceased relatives buried at an affordable "people's"
cost. The illegal undertakers were even ready to go to the houses to prepare
the bodies.

      "How can we help you?" asked one undertaker, eagerly, unaware he
was talking to a reporter. "Where is the body? Is it an adult or a child? Do
you have the papers (burial order)? We can help you bury your relative and I
tell you we are the cheapest in town."

      He said the cost of preparing the body would be $20 000. The job
is done in their backyard parlour in Highfield's Gazaland.

      "We can also provide transport, coffin/casket and help you with
the documentation," he said enticingly. "We can even come to your house to
prepare the body and our coffins range from $28 000 to $80 000."

      Investigations last week threw up the probability that normal
procedures were not being followed when private parlours brought in the

      Security at
proved dubious, at the very least.

      City of Harare acting director of health, Prosper Chonzi, is
reportedly probing the activities of the funeral parlours.

      Last week, he could not be reached for comment as he was
reported to be attending a funeral, out of town.

      The City ofHararecharges over $20 000 to bury an adult in any of
its cemeteries. A grave for an adult at the low-income Granville cemetery
costs $19 550 during weekdays and $24 550 at weekends.

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Spirit Medium stalls plans to seal off diamond fields

Zim Standard


      MUTARE - Intervention by traditional leaders and a spirit medium
is said to have persuaded the government to suspend its plans to have the
police and army cordon off the Marange diamond fields, after thousands of
fortune seekers descended on the area last month.

      About 7 000 men and women were camped at Chiadzwa on Friday, up
from the 5 000 who mined and traded in the stones.

      Over half of them are mining and trading in diamonds while the
rest are doing a roaring food and drinks vending business.

      Last week the police said they planned to seal off the site,
accusing some of the people of engaging in illegal diamond dealing and using
mining methods which seriously damaged the environment.

      The illegal trade could deprive the country of millions of
dollars in foreign currency earnings.

      The drastic action was averted after traditional leaders,
reportedly acting on the advice of a spirit medium (Svikiro), pleaded for
the action to be put on hold.

      They are said to have convinced the authorities that the
discovery of the industrial diamonds, reported in May this year, was a
"divine" reaction to the "traditional prayers" to relieve this
drought-stricken community, over 100 km south-west of Mutare.

      Much of Marange district receives only scant rains and has
paltry harvests. Many families for the most part rely on government and
donor organisations food hand-outs.

      "Basically," one man in the area said, with a straight face,
"the (traditional) leaders said God and the ancestors had intervened to make
diamonds a life-saver for the community."

      He asked: "Why take away the opportunity God has given us?"

      There was no immediate comment from the government.

      Others suggested the eviction order had been stayed to allow a
ministerial panel, appointed by President Robert Mugabe and led by National
Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, to complete its assessment work.

      The team includes officials from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
They visited the site towards the end of last week.

      There were also reports that the police initially assigned to
seal off the area had been re-assigned to other duties. They have been asked
to monitor the mining and trading activities, with orders to arrest anyone
disposing of the stones illegally.

      The stones, which are said to have a ready market in South
Africa, are supposed to be sold solely to the State-run Minerals Marketing
Corporation of Zimbabwe, which has set up a cash site at the centre.

      But the marketer is failing to cope with the demand, forcing
traders to deal with "loaded" unlicensed middlemen.

      So far, more than 100 people have been fined for dealing
illegally in diamonds.

      Three days ago, three suspected dealers hitchhiking along the
highway to Marange landed in trouble after offering occupants in the vehicle
three buckets full of the stones in return for cash.

      The trio was promptly arrested by police undercover agents who
had offered them the "lift".

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CIO agents step in to resolve domestic dispute

Zim Standard


      CENTRAL Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives in Masvingo
recently threatened a government employee after a domestic dispute with his
wife, The Standard was told.

      Purazeni Jakata, employed by the Ministry of Water Resources and
Infrastructural Development in Masvingo, said he was shocked to be summoned
to the CIO offices in Masvingo over the matter.

      He said he has been married to Pauline Jaravaza, a nurse at the
Masvingo General Hospital, for close to two years. The couple has a
five-month-old baby.

      "I would like to believe all these problems are as a result of
my wife's young sister, Regina, who works for the CIO," he said. "I cannot
imagine the CIO guys dealing with domestic matters. My encounter with the
guys was so frightening."

       Jakata has since made a police report at Masvingo Central Police
Station. Police in Masvingo said they were not aware of the case but Jakata
said: "The CIO guys started by accusing me of insulting the government which
I could not understand. They later told me that my wife, with the support of
her parents, had decided that we go on separation."

      After the fallout a fortnight ago, Jakata's wife is now staying
with her parents in Masvingo's Eastvale suburb.

      Contacted for comment last week, the wife confirmed that she had
gone back to her parents' home."I don't know anything about the CIO story,"
she said. "Let him tell you what he wants. He is just trying to make up an
issue. He never paid any lobola to my parents."

      Regina Jaravaza, who works for the CIO, strongly warned this
paper against publishing the story. "Those guys may file a lawsuit against
you and I don't want that story to be published," she said.

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Outrage over maternity tax-relief snub

Zim Standard

       By Foster Dongozi

      WOMEN'S organisations have expressed outrage over the refusal by
the government to award pregnant women untaxed salaries for the three months
they are on maternity leave.

      Women members in the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions had
proposed at a maternity workshop in July that pregnant women should not be
taxed while on maternity leave as they needed as much money as they could to
prepare for the birth of their babies.

      But the government, through the Ministry of Finance, rebuffed
their request, saying granting such women tax-free maternity benefits could
cause "distortions" in the economy.

      A memo signed by a government official says in part: "In order
to reduce distortions within the economy, as well as reduce the
administrative burden of tax collection on the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority,
government has taken a deliberate stance to reduce the schedule of tax

      Lucia Matibenga, the ZCTU first vice-president, said she was
"outraged" by the response from the government.

      "We believe in engaging the government through dialogue and if
that does not work, then we have several options, like lobbying and others.
When a woman is on maternity leave, she will be contributing immensely to
the country and for our government to punish women on maternity by not
awarding them cash benefits is absolutely diabolical. We stick by our slogan
that every woman is a working woman and we will consult our partners in the
informal sector and civic society on the way forward."

      Matibenga is also the president of the regional Southern African
Trade Union Co-ordinating Council, the umbrella body for all labour
federations in Southern Africa.

      The deputy chairperson of Women's Coalition, which groups all
women's organisations in Zimbabwe, Regina Dumba, said: "It is sad and
unfortunate that the government does not consider the plight of women.
Pregnant women need a better diet and drugs for themselves and their babies
and that is when we need more money. We wonder where we are going as a
nation if we don't realise that women will be on national service during
pregnancy and yet the government sees it as something else."

      Dumba said the Women's Coalition would write a letter to the
Ministry of Finance, demanding a meeting with senior government officials.

      "If dialogue does not achieve anything, then we will see what we
can do."

      The coalition recently staged a demonstration outside Parliament
to protest against sexist remarks made by MP Timothy Mubhawu (MDC).

      Stella Moyo, a Harare woman, said she was surprised that the
Ministry of Gender and Women's Affairs had not reacted to the snub. She also
wondered why Vice-President Joice Mujuru had not used her position to ensure
women got the tax relief.

      "The refusal to grant pregnant women cash benefits is the
clearest sign that the ministry is a toothless bulldog," Moyo said."I think
the ministry should be disbanded, instead of being used as window-dressing
to mislead women into thinking that their welfare is important in the eyes
of the government."

      Women's Affairs minister, Oppah Muchinguri, appeared blissfully
unaware of the storm affecting her constituency.

      "I am not aware of the issue that you are talking about, so I
cannot comment. I will first have to do my homework before I respond. Thank
you for alerting me to that."

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Working for the Chinese is hell on earth - workers

Zim Standard


      AN outbreak of infectious diseases looms at a Chinese-owned
brick moulding site in Harare. Over 150 workers and their families live
there without lavatories or proper housing.

      Workers of the Chinese-owned firm - S & M Bricks - also complain
of poor pay and working conditions.

      The absence of lavatories forces the workers to use the bush to
relieve themselves, raising a heavy stench throughout the compound.

       Human waste is strewn around the compound, attracting hordes of
big, blue bottle flies, dubbed "The Green Bombers" by the workers, who are
exposed to such communicable diseases as cholera and dysentery.

      The Standard found only one available lavatory during a visit to
the compound last week. It was not flushing because there was no running
water. Worse still, the lavatory is less than five metres from the canteen.

      The overcrowded and generally poor living conditions have
allowed lice and bugs to breed rapidly in the compound.

      The workers said rats, which scurry from place to place in broad
daylight, add to the general state of filth in the compound.

      "At times, we spread our clothes and blankets on top of the hot
ovens to kill the bugs," said one of the workers, exposing his back to
display many small pimples. "If you look at my skin closely, you will notice
the work of the bugs."

      Apart from the threat of an outbreak of disease, the workers
alleged poor pay and very long working hours: they start at 6AM and finish
at 7PM for $6 000 a week.

      They complain there is not enough protective clothing for their
type of work, which requires overalls, safety shoes and gloves.

      "Once in a while Mr (Yumpu) Meng (the managing director) gives
us Chinese-made tackies," said one worker, "but they don't last a week
because they are not strong. Most of us work without any form of

      He asked not to be named for fear of victimisation.

      Meng could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone went
unanswered. Several messages left at his office were not responded to.

      Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Workers' Union (ZCAWU) senior
regional officer, Alex Masarakufa, said his union did not represent workers
who moulded common bricks.

      "We only represent those who produce cement bricks and concrete
products," he said. "They (S & M Bricks workers) should go to the ministry
(of Labour)."

      Masarakufa said contract workers in the construction industry
are paid $183.10 an hour, which translates to about $8 788.80 for six days
if they work for eight hours a day.

       But most workers at S & M Bricks work for an average of 12 hours
a day and earn $6 000 for six working days.

      Chinese companies have been lambasted in several African
countries for the alleged second rate treatment of their workers.

      In Zambia, there is a growing backlash over low wages and poor
conditions in Chinese operations.

      At the NFC Africa copper mine in Chambishi, a Chinese-owned
operation in north-eastern Zambia, hundreds of workers rioted in late July
over reports that management was reneging on a pay increase.

      Chinese employers opened fire on the striking workers, wounding
four of them.

      When a government minister, Alice Simango, saw the conditions at
one of the mines, she wept on national television and accused the management
of treating workers like animals, prompting the government to close the mine
for three days.

      The issue also featured prominently in campaign speeches in the
run-up to the Zambian Presidential elections held recently.

      Opposition politician and presidential candidate Michael Sata
had promised to take action against Chinese companies accused of
ill-treating their workers.

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Harare Council managers accused of looting food rations

Zim Standard


      AN internal Harare City Council audit has revealed that senior
managers in the Municipal Police department abused food rations worth over
$97 000.

      The food rations - tinned beef, beans, fish and spaghetti - were
to have been given to officers who took part in Operations Murambatsvina and

      But the food ended up being served to senior Municipal police
managers during breakfast and other meetings.
      Some of tinned food was taken home.

       The officers who withheld the rations never sought any authority
from the Chamber Secretary, Josephine Ncube, the audit said.

      The audit was carried out after four municipal police officers
blew the whistle.

      But the case took a turn for the worse for the whistle blowers,
who have gone for the past three months without pay.

      Patrolmen and members of the Harare Municipal Workers' Union
Gift Jembe, Isaac Sigauke, Howard Mazanhi and Message Sadomba have taken
their case to the Ministry of Labour. They say they are being victimised for
exposing the corruption.

      Their lawyer, Joel Mambara of J Mambara and Partners early last
month wrote a letter to the Town Clerk advising him that his clients were
being victimised.

      "Our clients are at a loss for this draconian unwarranted and
illegal measure. Our clients also strongly feel that they are being
victimised for revealing malpractices and corruption in their department,"
wrote Mambara.

      In papers filed with the Ministry of Labour, the workers wrote:

      "During Operation Murambatsvina and subsequently Garikai, Harare
Municipal Police divisional management spared a lot of tinned foods which
were meant to be ration for officers on duty.

      "Later, after these operations our management started eating and
taking home the spared tinned foods," said the workers in a joint affidavit.

      Chamber Secretary Ncube was not immediately available for

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Can Muradzikwa stop the rot at ZBH?

Zim Standard


      A tough assignment awaits Henry Muradzikwa, the new Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) chief executive officer.

      Coming from the University of Zimbabwe, where he was a lecturer
in the Media Studies department, Muradzikwa faces what insiders say could be
an insurmountable task to turn around the fortunes of a run-down State

      Muradzikwa arrives at Pockets Hill at a time when there is
mounting confusion about the restructuring exercise, initiated by the late
Tichaona Jokonya, a former diplomat who became Minister of Information and
Publicity, after the unceremonious departure of Jonathan Moyo.

      He died a few hours before he was due to announce his new plan
for a State network that appeared to be on the brink of collapse.

      Everything that could have gone wrong appears to have done so.
Experienced staff have been forced out and advertisers remain sceptical of
the corporation, which is heavily controlled by the government.

      Mismanagement, corruption and a financial crisis have blighted
the corporation, which enjoys a monopoly of the airwaves, from which it has
failed to profit financially or in popularity.

      Even mundane things appear not to work at Pockets Hill. For
example, the lifts that provide a quick passage to the chief executive
officer's fifth floor offices were down when Muradzikwa arrived three weeks

      Boasting an impressive CV, close associates say Muradzikwa is
well-qualified to take the challenges head-on.

      Muradzikwa is a former editor of State-owned Sunday Mail
newspaper and former Editor-in-Chief the Zimbabwe Inter Africa News Agency.

      He was fired from the newspaper after it had published a story
of Zimbabwean students being expelled from Cuba because of their alleged
HIV-positive status.

      His presence is alreadybeing felt at ZBH, days after he assumed
office. He has ordered an audit of assets at the corporation, amid fears
that the ZBH equipment may have been looted.

      There are reports that many computers are mere shells, after
having beenstripped of their hard drives by unscrupulousworkers.

      Muradzikwa could not, for the second week running, talk to The
Standard about how he intends to tackle what some insiders say is the
nightmare at ZBH.

      "It's too early for me to talk about my work," he said over the
telephone. "I am still going from one meeting to the other and I need more

      The veteran journalist said he would be in the office this week
after embarking on a familiarisation tour of ZBH bureaux across the country.

       But insiders said as he assesses the task facing him, there are
indications it won't be a stroll in the park.

      In the various newsrooms and offices at the corporation,
confusion reigns, with morale at its lowest.

      Nine companies, set up following an unbundling exercise
initiated by Moyo, have been reduced to two, leaving many executives and
workers uncertain of their fate.

      There are reports that there is heavy lobbying by some
executives who want to retain their cushy positions. Some of these have
reportedly sought to endear themselves to Vice-President Joice Mujuru in the
hope that she could flex her muscles and ensure they do not leave the

       Before the restructuring exercise, ZBH had a top heavy
structure:there were nine CEOs at Pockets Hill, with 25 board members in
charge of loss-making companies.

      Now with Muradzikwa at the apex, ZBH will have two general
managers, one for Radio and the other for TV services.

      Muradzikwa has to formulate a new culture at ZBH if things are
to change. A Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Transport and
Communications that investigated ZBH found that the corporation had no clear
personnel policy and procedure, "hence the lack of clarity on authority

      There have been reports of clashes between Newsnet chiefs,
Tazzen Mandizvidza and Chris Chivinge.

       Interference from government officials could also affect
Muradzikwa's work. Stories abound of ministers and permanent secretaries
barking orders to journalists, bypassing the main editors.

      It remains to be seen whether Muradzikwa would make an impact in
such an environment. Critics say he is too close to Zanu PF and may not wish
to alienate the top brass in the party.

      A veteran broadcaster, John Masuku, says of Muradzikwa's
challenge: "He has to work hard to change the culture at ZBH. If you look at
the bulletins, you notice simple grammatical mistakes, facts not put
correctly; the professionalism is in doubt. There are also lots of repeats."

      Masuku worked for 27 years at the then Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation in various capacities. He is now with the independent Voice of
the People (VOP) radio which broadcasts from outside the country.

      He was once the controller Radio Services before becoming
Controller Montrose Studios in Bulawayo.

      He was among hundreds of workers kicked out of ZBC when former
Information Minister Moyo moved in like a whirlwind in 2001.
      "Some of us worked at ZBC at a time when the government was in
control," said Masuku, "yet we still managed to come up with programmes that
catered for both sides: why can't it happen now? That is the challenge
facing the new CEO. ZBC should be a public broadcaster not a State

      On Muradzikwa's appointment Masuku said: "The Media Institute of
Southern Africa (MISA) said in the absence of an act of parliament that
guaranteed the independence of ZBH from political and economic influence,
the corporation could remain 'a personal theatre of every minister of
information who comes into office,' as observed by a 1999 parliamentary

      "The new appointments at ZBH are, therefore, unlikely to change
anything, as the station will remain under the tight grip of the executive,
closed to any alternative voices. The ZBH is riddled with material and
manpower incapacities."

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Nkala, Pius Ncube in anti-Mugabe talks

Zim Standard


      BULAWAYO - Enos Nkala, a former defence minister, announced last
week he met Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube as part of a plan to form a
"united front" to remove the government from power.

      Nkala, a founder-member of the ruling Zanu PF party, said he was
meeting church leaders, diplomats, civic society leaders, politicians from
across the political divide to lead the front against the government of his
former colleague, President Robert Mugabe.

      Nkala served in the early Mugabe cabinets, until he was cited in
the top people's motor vehicle racket known as the Willowgate scandal, in
the late 1980s.

      He has recently described Zimbabweans as "cowards" for not
revolting against Mugabe's government.

      Nkala has still not recovered from the notoriety he garnered in
his home turf over his role in the Gukurahundi massacre, launched by the
government against so-called PF-Zapu dissidents in both Matabeleland and
Midlands provinces in the 1980s.

      Nkala was minister of defence at the time.

      Recently, Ncube has also described Zimbabweans as "cowards" for
not rising up against Mugabe's regime. He has volunteered to lead protest
marches against the government.

      Nkala has said he was prepared to spend the last part of his
life in Mugabe's prions for leading the struggle against him.

      Ncube confirmed he met Nkala, but would not give details. He too
is a fierce critic of Mugabe's policies.

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Cash shortage robs Masvingo of justice

Zim Standard


      MASVINGO - The High Court last month postponed its third session
circuit to next year in Masvingo amid revelations that the Ministry of
Justice had no funds to pay accommodation and transport allowances for Judge
Tedious Karwi and two other officials from Harare for their stay here, The
Standard has learnt.

       The session that was supposed to sit for two weeks was adjourned
after High Court hearings failed to resume, leaving witnesses stranded for
three days at the provincial magistrates' offices here.

      The 25 affected witnesses had travelled from as far as Chiredzi,
Bikita, Zaka, Chivi and Gutu to give evidence in cases involving their
relatives and other suspects.

      They spent the whole day milling around the courts.They also
complained of hunger as the local officials did not have funds to feed them
because their coffers were reportedly dry. The witnesses also had nowhere to
sleep. They were, however, offered accommodation at Masvingo central police
station where they slept without blankets.

      Under normal circumstances, court officials secure accommodation
and meals for witnesses during the session until the trial is over.

      Court officials in Masvingo told The Standard that the session
was cancelled after the Ministry of Justice indicated that it had no funds
to pay for hotel accommodation and transport allowances for Justice Karwi
and two other court officials.

      The officials said the move would impact negatively on justice
delivery in the province as the Masvingo magistrates' court was already
facing a backlog crisis as cases continue to pile up without trial.

      "The development has a negative impact on justice delivery as we
are already reeling from a backlog crisis," said an official who declined to
be named. "And this means the trial of these people some - who are in
custody and others who are out would be heard next year when we will be
supposed to be dealing with new cases that will come next year. Reports from
Harare indicate that the ministry failed to raise funds for the High Court
judge and his clerk and an interpreter. But what puzzled us is how a huge
ministry like ours can fail to pay accommodation for three people only for
two weeks."

      Masvingo High court chief law officer, Jatiel Mudamburi,
confirmed that the circuit was cancelled but declined to shed light on the
reason for the cancellation.

      "The session has been postponed to next year but I am not the
right person to discuss why it has been cancelled. I think the Master of the
High Court is the better person to answer these questions," Mudamburi said.

      However, a witness who spent three days in Masvingo city waiting
for the High Court Judge expressed disappointment with the development
saying it had inconvenienced them.

      "I came here on Sunday and this is my fifth day here," Last
Murambe, who had travelled from Zaka, told The Standard.

      "I was supposed to give evidence to the court in a case
involving murder. We spent over two hours travelling to and from the central
police station where we were told our accommodation for the night had been
sorted out. But when we arrived at the police station we were referred back
to the court. We only managed to get somewhere to sleep at around 8PM and we
slept in the laundry section without blankets."

      The witnesses, however, slept in the laundry room at Masvingo
police station for three days before they were informed that the session had
been cancelled and the High Court would resume next year.

      Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa and Master of High court and were

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No looting at Zisco - Msika

Zim Standard

      by our staff

      BULAWAYO - Vice-President Joseph Msika has said government
officials have not looted struggling parastatals.

      Msika's comments contradict accusations that government
officials have been pillaging the state-owned steel making enterprise,

      Msika said the parastatals had been knocked down to their knees,
not by corruption or mismanagement, but lack of equipment.

      He said this on Saturday last week at the official opening of
the Chaba Opencast Mine and the commissioning of new machinery sourced from
China at Hwange Colliery Company.

       "The problems with our parastatals, including companies like
Hwange Colliery and Zisco are not that of mismanagement but that of
under-capitalisation," Msika said.

      "What I want to say to parastatal workers is that they should
stop crying for salary adjustments. Where should government get money for
recapitalisation for their salaries?

      "All workers should emulate what Hwange Colliery Company workers
did when their company was going through a torrid time, they did not ask for
a pay increase."

      But economic analyst, Eric Bloch was quick to shoot down Msika's
statements, saying the parastatals had collapsed due to incompetence and

      "What the Vice-President said is not correct. It's not only lack
of funds which has contributed to problems faced by parastatals," said
Bloch. "Lack of skills, incompetence and corruption by management are some
of the main factors which have contributed to the downfall of many

      Msika's comments also appear to contradict Finance Minister
Herbert Murerwa, who attributed the poor performance of parastatals to poor
corporate governance.

      Presenting the 2006 budget last year in December, Murerwa said
the government would privatise seven parastatals as they were a drain on the
fiscus. Among the struggling parastatals are the National Railways of
Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority and Air Zimbabwe.

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Cash squeeze stalls major tourism project

Zim Standard

      By Our Staff

      A shortage of funds is hampering the implementation of crucial
projects at the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, National Parks and
Wildlife Authority officials have said.

      The officials said this threatened the success of the project,
especially for Zimbabwe where investors were reluctant to set up viable
projects without a cue from government.

      The GLTP consists of the Kruger National Park of South Africa,
Gonarezhou of Zimbabwe and the Limpopo National Park of Mozambique.

      A National Parks official, Tessa Chikabonya, said projects
outstanding at Gonarezhou included electrification, demining, construction
of a viable communication network, bedding facilities and setting up of a
border post.

       Chikabonya said Zimbabwe's financial resources were limited and
this was delaying progress on the projects.

      "Two transformers have been procured and we are now waiting for
the Rural Electrification Programme to connect the electricity," she said.
"We have already paid $140 million to REA to do that. But our problem
concerns limited resources. We will need a big capital investment to
electrify the park."

      The official said the authority was facing a big challenge in
terms of improving communication systems within the park.

      But she said dialogue had begun with network providers to enable
cell phone services to be available while funds had been mobilised to
construct a causeway.

      Chikabonya said the authority needed funds to improve the
bedding capacity.

      Four chalets have been completed and four others are under
construction but more work would be needed to accommodate large numbers of

      She said investors had been invited to take up tenders but some
had developed cold feet because of lack of funding and the "inaccessibility"
of the area.

      The official said 7 000 square kilometres of land needed to be
cleared of land mines in the Sengwe-Chipise wilderness and the project would
still be implemented though the authority has failed to mobilise US$10,5

      She said the Ministry of Defence had moved into the area and
would only start work once funds had been provided for the equipment.

      The wilderness constitutes a corridor that will link Gonarezhou
to the Kruger National Park.

      The area in general faced problems because it had failed to
attract visitors and lagged behind Kruger, which receives 1 million tourists
annually. Gonarezhou receives an average of 2 000 visitors in a year.

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China to Hwange rescue

Zim Standard

      By Our Staff

      HWANGE Colliery Company (HCC) got reprieve last week when the
China North Industries Corporation deferred payment of the company's US$6,3
million debt.

      The debt accrued after the purchase of equipment early this year
and would be paid out after two years, a Norinco official said.

      The deputy chief executive officer of Norinco, Mr Jin Zhi Zhon,
said during the commissioning of the equipment last weekend that 70% of the
money owed to his company would be deferred for two years.

      Hwange Colliery received machinery, including two drilling
machines, from Sweden, two shuttle cars from Joy Mining in South Africa, 10
terex dump trucks, two Atlas excavators and one Terex water browser from
Norinco in China.

      The mining company said earlier that production had doubled in
its opencast and underground mines to 10 000 tonnes and 1 600 tonnes
respectively owing to the purchase of the equipment.

      HCC is a strategic company in Zimbabwe on which most of the
industries rely for provision of coal. However, the company has been failing
to meet demand due to various constraints, among them machinery break-down
and a flooding that took place in one of its mines in the first quarter of
the year.

      HCC Managing Director, Godfrey Dzinomwa said their problems
could be a thing of the past, with the use of the new equipment, but
conceded the issue could not be fully resolved without a functioning
continuous miner belt.

      The belt is among the strategic equipment the company needs to
meet the national demand of 320 000 tonnes.

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Poor services by parastatals scaring away investors -Bloch

Zim Standard

      BULAWAYO - The failure by parastatals to provide essential
services is scaring away investors as there is no guarantee that their
operations would not be disrupted, says economist Eric Bloch.

      Bloch said investors could not sink money into the country as
long as there was no assurance they could rely on struggling parastatals,
with a monopoly on providing services, to deliver.

      "Investors want to know that the parastatals can offer efficient
services without disrupting their operations," Bloch said in an interview on

      "They need to know they can rely on their services, such as
electricity, communications, transport . . .Without these services there is
no investment."

       Parastatals are struggling to provide essential services due to
a host of factors, such as lack of foreign currency. At the same time, they
are saddled with huge debts they can't settle.

      During the CZI congress this year, Finance Minister Herbert
Murerwa, attributed the pathetic performance of parastatals to poor
corporate governance.

      He said price distortions had weighed down parastatals, noting
that this also resulted in poor service delivery as they had no money to
provide services.

      Analysts have called for the privatisation of parastatals in a
bid to help resuscitate them.

      Bloch said the government should deregulate the economy and do
away with price controls that are scaring away investors.

      The government stands accused of running down parastatals by its
continuous meddling in their operations.

      Presenting the 2006 budget in December last year, Murerwa said
the government would privatise seven parastatals as they were a drain on the

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Share dip causes investors' flight

Zim Standard

       Marketwatch By Deborah-fay Ndlovu

      A drop in share prices and re-introduction of the 91-day
Treasury Bill lifted deposit rates last week, guaranteeing the flight of
investors to the money market.

       The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's newly-introduced seven-year
stabilisation bond also helped the increase in short term interest rates.

       Analysts said the there was a scramble for cash, as a result of
the bond, prompting the increase in interest rates.

      "The deadline for the take up for the five-year bond was Monday
and soon after that the seven-year bond was introduced. So banks are still
building up on their portions for the bond and there has been a high
appetite for money. As a result, the money market had deficits ranging
between $5 to $10 billion for the greater part of the week. That had a huge
impact on deposit rates," one dealer said.

      The week saw short-term rates for seven to 14 days going up as
high as 500% from 50% earlier.

      Analysts said the introduction of the 91-day TB also contributed
to the upsurge in deposit rates.

      "It's quite mind-boggling why the paper is back but this just
says the RBZ would do anything to mop up excess liquidity. It being an OMO
(Open Market Operation) means what they want is to get money from actual

      "With the bonds they get money from banks but at the end of the
day the money still belongs to the depositors who can claim it, and
financial institutions are obliged to pay. Getting it from the depositors is
a way of controlling speculation because once it's locked in the TB, the
individual cannot just claim it back," said a local analyst.

      The increase in deposit rates negatively impacted on the stock
market, causing it to fall flat.

      Share prices of most counters dropped significantly as the
equities turned into a sellers' market.

      Analysts did not see a reprieve in sight, with Interfin
predicting that investors would approach the stock market with caution ahead
of the 2007 national budget.

      "We expect monetary policy inconsistencies and surprises to be
affecting equities at the same time we expect the stock market to be
relatively quiet up to a time the Ministry of Finance announces the 2007
budget," said Interfin in its weekly report.

      It said most investors were opting to hold assets against shares
because the money market was unpredictable.

      The industrial index closed Wednesday 4.90% points down to 327
645.08 points. Among the losers were PPC and Old Mutual which were down $5
000 to $85 000 and $270 to $5 400 respectively.

      Gains were made in Colcom and ABCH, which were up $15 to $110
and $10 to $360 respectively.

      The mining index shed 3.11% points to close Wednesday at 138
100.82 points on the back of losses in Rio Zim and Bindura. The counters
were down $100 to $3 200 and $20 to $380.

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Lack of inputs threatens next year's yields - experts

Zim Standard

      BULAWAYO - Zimbabwean agricultural experts have warned that the
prohibitive cost and non-availability of farming inputs like fertiliser
could affect next year's harvest.

      Thulani Mkhwananzi, spokesperson for the government's
Agricultural Research Extension in the western province of Matabeleland
North, said: "The situation is really bad here, especially considering that
the farmers have little support from government. What they need most is
seeds at relatively low prices, because most of them are poor and

       "It is just a few who rely on remittances from their relatives
outside the country who manage to secure all the necessary implements," he

      Seed Co the country's main seed supplier, has warned of a
serious deficit and was quoted in the official Herald newspaper as saying
that the country needed to import 10 000 tonnes of maize seed to meet the
demand in the current planting season.

      Two months ago, the agricultural ministry also terminated a
three-year-old policy of providing free fertilisers and seeds to farmers who
had been allocated land under the fast-track land reform programme that
began in 2000.

      Most agricultural inputs are imported and beyond the financial
reach of many farmers, who are suffering the combined effects of Zimbabwe's
steadily deteriorating economy and last season's low yields after widespread
shortages of chemicals, fertilisers and seed. Independent estimates suggest
only 800 000 tonnes of maize was harvested this year, or about two-thirds of
the country's annual requirement; the government has insisted that around
1.8 million tonnes were produced.

       Despite denials of a shortfall by government officials, a recent
USAID-funded report on informal trade in Southern Africa said Zimbabwe would
have to import cereals. According to the South African Grain Information
Service, Zimbabwe has imported nearly 100 000 tonnes from South Africa since
April this year.

      The May 2006 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment, yet to be
released, identified 1.4 million people as critically in need of food

      With less than a month before the farming season starts,
Thandolwenkosi Nkomazana, a subsistence farmer in Matabeleland North, is
still battling to secure seeds, fertiliser and spare parts for his worn-out
ox-drawn plough. His main problem, he said, is not necessarily the
availability or non-availability of the inputs, but the cost.

      "Seeds are available at the shopping centre, including spares
for a plough, but the problem is that I don't have money to buy them. They
are just too expensive. In fact, many villagers here can barely afford (the
inputs), and the worry is that planting will be starting very soon," said

      His dilemma is shared by subsistence farmers across the country.
Despite an attempt by government to impose price controls on agricultural
inputs, producers have repeatedly hiked prices, arguing that they want to
keep pace with inflation, currently at over 1 000 percent annually.

      A 10kg bag of maize seed costs an almost unaffordable Z$10 000
(about US$40), and the same amount of fertiliser goes for Z$40 000 (about
US$160). Surveys by IRIN revealed that seeds were still available in most
shops in Bulawayo and in rural areas.

       Agriculture minister Joseph Made said that the government was
aware of the problems farmers were facing, and said his ministry, Seed Co
and other related companies were discussing the issue of prohibitive prices.

      "We are working towards the harmonisation of prices, so that all
farmers, peasant or commercial, can buy all the implements they need without
forking out a lot of money," he said. "We are not neglecting any farmer." -

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Massive job losses as raw material shortages bite

Zim Standard

      By Our Staff

      UNILEVER, one of the country's biggest manufacturing companies,
faces a bleak future because of a shortage of raw materials.

      The company has retrenched 113 of its 500 employees, albeit on a
voluntary basis.

      Human resources manager, Noah Matibiri, said the company was
presently operating at 20% capacity, which prompted management to explore
retrenchment as a cost-reduction measure.

      "Due to continuing viability problems, Unilever Zimbabwe are
exploring a number of cost-reduction measures to facilitate survival in the
current harsh economic environment," said Matibiri. "One of the measures
being actively pursued is that of right-sizing our structures to fall in
line with present and forecast business activities."

      Matibiri said retrenchment was something the company was still
to explore but sources close to the company said 113 employees had been
given their severance packages.

      The sources said Unilever had been sending workers on leave
intermittently because of the raw materials shortage.

      "The previous week people went on leave," the sources said.
"They are back at work now but they are just milling around. Things are that
bad. They cannot find foreign currency yet some of the raw materials are
imported from as far away as Venezuela which means money is needed to
transport it to Zimbabwe."

      As a result, serious shortages of edible oils and detergents are

       Unilever manufactures bath soap, petroleum jelly, washing soap
and powder, soups and margarine.

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Beware of churches' initiative

Zim Standard


      THE churches in their latest initiative recently launched in
Harare have delivered themselves to Zanu PF on a plate. As a result they run
the danger of becoming ensnared in the ruling party's sinister web of deceit
and diversion.

      The government and the ruling party will play along because the
initiative will buy them much-needed breathing space but the end result will
mean nothing except an extension to Zanu PF's sclerotic rule.

      For the government, getting the churches to come together to
speak with one voice and vision is a major coup. Since Zimbabwe is made up
of various churches, the government will claim that it has the support of
all citizens of this country and that any dissenting voices are of people
being paid to destabilise the country.

      Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The churches
have misread and mistimed the situation and have misdirected themselves. The
churches' initiative - The Zimbabwe We Want - must be seen in the context of
recent overtures by government to church leaders who were wined and dined at
State House. It is billed as an attempt to create dialogue with the State
when there is no reciprocity on the part of government. There can be no
dialogue when President Robert Mugabe declares certain aspects

      The essence of dialogue is that people approach it with an open
mind and arrive at a common position.

      There was also a fundamental flaw in the way the whole matter
was handled. Mugabe and the political parties should have been the last port
of call. They would then have been presented with the outcome of
consultations with the people.

      Despite Mugabe's posturing, the government appears to support
the initiative by the churches but has no intention of following it to its
logical conclusion. They will milk it of its value and drag their feet, in
the process creating false expectations. By the time the churches realise
that they were misled, Zanu PF and the government will be selling the
country another illusion.

      The government desperately needs a pretext to explain its
heel-dragging on political reform. The church dialogue provides a perfect
excuse to do nothing while telling international observers and the region
that it is engaged in talks. It also needs a mirage on which it can focus
national attention between now and next month's Zanu PF national conference
in Goromonzi, and after that the discussion around whether or not there will
be Presidential elections in 2008. The churches' intervention was fortuitous
for the government and the ruling party.

      But there is a history to all this. There have been previous
attempts by government to exploit willing or naïve members of the clergy in
order to prolong its term. Andrew Wutawunashe, Obadiah Musindo, Bishop
Nolbert Kunonga, Father Fidelis Mukonori and others have all betrayed their
calling to serve the interests of the regime. Who can forget Peter Nemapare's
performance at State House earlier this year?

      The churches need to be informed by the role the church played
during the struggle for independence and learn to avoid such pitfalls. While
the churches believe that such pieces of legislation as AIPPA and POSA need
to be repealed or amended, the government has a different interpretation and
we saw this when promises to this effect were made to President Thabo Mbeki
of South Africa.

      The government is good at promising reforms but it is also a
master of deceit.

      The national vision document is another clever hoax by the
government and Zanu PF to divert attention from the administration's real
and mounting failures. Sadly, the churches have become unwitting partners.

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Gonos efforts stymied by bad politics

Zim Standard

       SundayOpinion By Trust Shumba

      FREEDOM is both the primary objective and the principal means of
development . . . what a person has the actual capability to achieve, is
influenced by economic opportunities, political liberties, social
facilities, and the enabling conditions of good health, basic education, and
the encouragement and cultivation of initiatives. These opportunities are,
to a great extent, initially complementary, and tend to reinforce one
another." - Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom: An Approach (Nobel
Laureate - Economics).

      Does the Governor of the Reserve Bank really believe that
economic development can take place in a distressed and hostile political
environment such as Zimbabwe? No matter how Dr Gideon Gono executes his
monetary plans, all his efforts will come to nought or even exacerbate the
problems bedevilling the nation as his report cards show.

      In the three years or so of his tenure, the results of all his
efforts and policies have impacted negatively on the lives of the people of
this nation. None of his policies has ever had a positive effect. It's been
a long time since the wheels have come off and the economy keeps hurtling
down. The IMF must have also whispered this unpalatable truth in his ears a
long time ago.

      The Governor's policies cannot work in a distressed political

      Homelink was launched amid so much fanfare, and was touted as
the part miracle answer to Zimbabwe's foreign currency shortage.

      The closure of indigenous banks was not for reasons unknown. All
that was taking place was with the connivance and tacit approval of the top
men in government. But the indigenous bosses and their financial
institutions were expendable once the chefs had milked them.

      While the Governor tried to wipe out foreign currency dealers
and parallel marketers, they have resurfaced and the lucrative parallel
market is undermining Gono's efforts. He is free to take a walk on the World
Bank Street in disguise and see how the "Osipathelenis/ What have you
brought us?" numbers have swelled. They are a direct result of the political
blunders and economic mismanagement. They will never be eliminated unless
the government engages the IMF and the World Bank in order to sort out
balance of payments support.

      Until the Reserve Bank convinces politicians that good politics
breeds good economics it will not be possible for Zimbabwe to access the IMF
and World Bank loans and sort out balance of payments - the crux of Zimbabwe's
problems and not the inflation bogeyman.

      Once the problems of foreign currency are sorted out, inflation
will climb down.

      The Reserve Bank knows the answers to Zimbabwe's economic
problems but it does not have the courage to tell the politicians directly
because politicians will not entertain such notions.

      Four million Zimbabweans face starvation. They are impoverished
and their lives ruined as a direct result of economic mismanagement.

      As the US Ambassador has clearly stated, economically we have
gone back 50 years. The economic recovery that is often talked about is just
another fabrication that has been replayed over and over again.

      Commerce and industry have been ravaged and many are closing
shop, retrenching or scaling down just to survive. The political and
economic environment is further compromised resulting in more hardships and

      Can we still say we have a conscience and that part of the
mission is to alleviate poverty when all one sees around is more poverty,
which is a direct result of the country's economic policies? Thousands of
people are dying each week because they cannot afford basic medicine and

      During the past three years Zimbabweans have seen more
suffering. It is time the Reserve Bank told the politicians that good
politics creates an environment conducive to good economics. The two always

      The RBZ should spend more time, effort and energy convincing and
educating the politicians that through fiscal discipline, good governance,
transparency, accountability, democracy and implementing these noble ideas
the country will witness the fruits of the central bank's economic monetary

       Finally, integrity and truth is still an option and so is
admitting failure.

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Some thoughts on the new church initiatives

Zim Standard

      Sundayview By Webster Zambara

      IT would seem a new rainy season brings with it a new political
wave in our country. Two years ago it was the Tsholotsho Declaration that
rattled through Zanu PF and resulted in some ruling party heavyweights being
sent to political Siberia. The issue is still haunting that institution's
corridors of power even today.

      Last year it was in the MDC, where a seemingly simple
disagreement on whether to take part in an election would result in the two
factions as we have today. I deliberately never contributed to the debate
torched by the split and the theories developed thereafter beyond my circle
of friends, and it is not at all the purpose of this article, but their
recent routing in local government elections should remind them of the very
old saying; united you stand, divided you fall.

      This year the Churches have come on board. To a certain level
that cannot be ignored. They are also a divided lot. On one side there is
the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance formed earlier in the year, then we have the
Christian Heads of Denominations. And if we are to fall to some media
propagated divisionist and polarist theories, the Churches are divided along
the MDC - Zanu PF polar lines, which lead us nowhere.

       However, at a deeper level, the Churches are not divided. They
are intricately bound by the issues that they raise in trying to create a
better Zimbabwe for all. Closer looks at the documents they have produced
clearly show that they have the same direction. In fact, they should be
found guilty by omission for letting the people of God suffer to this end
while they pretended as though they did not see what was happening. Only a
few of them will be spared.

      Now there are two fundamental issues that are raised by the
intervention of the Churches and these cannot be separated. First is the
issue of the vision, and second is the strategy. As for the first one,
everyone will agree that we are angry with the situation we are in. Actually
the issues raised by our Church leaders are so obvious to everyone in
Zimbabwe. Forget about our politicians who say they will meet to discuss the
document. They want to meet over some food to "discuss" what we talk of day
in day out in kombis, in Sakubva, in Dulibadzimu, in Jahunda, in Dotito, in
Chiguhune - you name it.

      I do not know where they got the idea that they will think on
our behalf, then agree for us whether the Church leaders have raised the
right issues or not. Foolish! We do not want the levels of poverty we are
in! We do not want inflation over
      1 000%! We do not want hospitals with no drugs! We do not want
to die of hunger! We do not want to walk to town! We do not want corruption
at Ziscosteel swept under the carpet! We do not want to be jobless! We do
not want anything that makes our lives miserable, period.

      We all know where we want to be. This brings the second issue up
for serious discussion. How do we get there? How will we deal with obstacles
along the way?

      In order to realise our vision we obviously need to undertake
certain actions. This is where we either make it or break up. I have
personally found out that very many people do not want to invest their
energies and resources on strategising, and yet it is the crux of the

      If you want the situation to change, and you do not know how
that change will come, then forget about the change itself. Be content with
the status quo. That is why many Zimbabweans always wish for our past. They
do not want to crack their heads strategising for the future. Unfortunately,
life is not lived for the past. Life is lived for the future.

      The principle of engagement taken by the Church leaders is very
plausible, more so to many of us who believe in the philosophy of
non-violence, following the example of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Martin Luther
King Jnr.

      In brief, they did not ostracise their or shun their opponents
but interacted with them; they had love - an intense "friendly feeling" -
for their opponents; they worked to build friendships with them; they were
transparent about their own strongly-held beliefs and hopes and did not
compromise on them; they did not try to defeat their opponents; and, in
modern terminology, they looked for win-win outcomes.

      They followed a central Gandhian belief - that you cannot
achieve a good end, such as friendship and harmony, by bad means, such as
ostracising or trying to defeat your opponent. Fighting, whether with words
debate or weapons, is not effective in building peace.

      Let us take our tri-polar situation into consideration. I say
tri-polar putting the Churches on one side, the MDC on another, and Zanu PF
on the other. All the three have divisions of their own as earlier stated,
but they are not significant for now. The advantage we have is that the
Churches have an ear in both political parties (as well as other smaller
ones in the periphery). These institutions have one vision they all share, a
prosperous Zimbabwe.

      If they do not invest in strategising, either individually or
collectively then we will never realize it. We have so many examples of good
visions bogged down by poor strategies. President Mugabe had a very good
vision to redistribute land to his landless peasants. But the strategy used
has been disastrous so far, and we now talk of "recovering" the sector.
Whatever anyone tells us, the truth is this year we sold only 50m kg of
tobacco when in 2000 we sold 265m kg.

      We may shout from the top of mountains that we are on an
economic recovery path, but as long as we make our parastatals retirement
homes for our distinguished army officers and expect them to make profits
then we are a hopeless people.

      The most dangerous thing is to do something wrong and pretend it's
good, like we seem to be doing.

      Now that Mugabe has openly applauded the Church's initiative but
also openly expressed his stance on the issue of the Constitution, the
challenge our Church leaders face, and all of us too, is to co-operate fully
in areas where we agree, but start non-violent strategies that will put back
the issue of the Constitution on the national agenda.

      This could be the same with the Gukurahundi and Murambatsvina
issues: "the Zimbabwe we want" document raises but which the government may
think otherwise, basing on history.

       Meanwhile, we can join hands on issues of corruption, violence,
the land question and many others, but without having to compromise on our
own strongly held beliefs and hopes. We cannot continue socialising
ourselves in enemy images. This is for the good of our country.

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A neighbour's 'quiet diplomacy' or complicity

Zim Standard

      SundayOpinion By Briggs Bomba

      FOR a long time ordinary Zimbabweans have held legitimate
expectations that South Africa will use its leverage as the biggest
political and economic power in sub-Saharan Africa to support the
realization of the democratic ideals of the people of Zimbabwe and help
resolve the crippling poverty and economic meltdown.

      While Pretoria played a direct role in places like Lesotho, the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote d'Ivoire and Sudan, South Africa's
attitude towards the crisis in Zimbabwe has been characterised more by an
unintelligible stance, officially defined as "Quiet Diplomacy" which in
practice camouflages the reality of Pretoria's subtle support for President
Robert Mugabe's regime.

      The role played by, not just the South African government and
its public institutions but also its private capital, is nothing less than
complying with the regime of Mugabe.

      Zimbabweans, therefore, have a right to feel let down by their
key neighbour who could have the greatest influence on the present crisis.
Details coming out of the recent Sisulu Commission of Inquiry into the SABC
only add to this feeling of great betrayal.

      The Sisulu Commission established that the SABC, acting on the
instructions of its managing director, Dr Snuki Zikalala, blacklisted
certain civil society voices on Zimbabwe because of views they hold on the
crisis. Zikalala is the managing director, SABC News and Current Affairs. He
is a former ANC political commissar.

      Among those banned from the station is Archbishop Pius Ncube of
the Roman Catholic Church, Mail and Guardian publisher Trevor Ncube, Elinor
Sisulu, the media manager for the Crisis Coalition South Africa office and
political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki, young brother to President Mbeki, who is a
strong critic of Mugabe's policies.

      This is a serious scandal if one considers that the SABC as a
public broadcaster has an obligation to provide the public with a balanced
view on the crisis in Zimbabwe. Zikalala justified banning Trevor Ncube by
saying, "Trevor Ncube has his newspapers which he uses to attack Mugabe
every day and why should I give him space on my broadcaster."

      He thinks Elinor Sisulu and Moeletsi Mbeki are removed and
misinformed on Zimbabwe. He hasn't had the courage to tell anyone why Pius
Ncube should not be allowed to comment on Zimbabwe. Zikalala's agenda is to
systematically marginalise, from the SABC, voices critical of Mugabe's

      The SABC is violating journalism's cardinal principle of giving
professional and unbiased coverage and instead acting as a "solidarity
broadcaster" for Mugabe's regime. The SABC's coverage of Zimbabwe's 2005
parliamentary elections immediately springs to mind. The broadcaster had a
team of 59 journalists in the country whose coverage of the elections was
nothing less than a public relations mission for Mugabe and his regime. When
Zimbabweans were dismissing the elections as predetermined citing serious
distortions of the playing field in favour of the ruling party, the SABC's
main anchor Hope Zinde shocked Zimbabweans by declaring, within a matter of
a few hours of checking into Harare's Sheraton Hotel, that the conditions
were conducive for free and fair elections.

      "The first thing that I have to say", she said in her report, "
is that this is a very peaceful country, contrary to many reports out there,
especially in South Africa and some western media . . ."

      Zimbabweans will also remember Zikalala's interview with Mugabe
just after the elections where he proved a fan of the dictator. At the end
of the interview, Zikalala even compliments Mugabe saying, "It's a very
peaceful country and we have seen the economic turnaround ourselves". What
peace and which economic turnaround?

      Under Mugabe's iron rule people have been reduced to a nation of
foraging paupers stripped of any dignity. Mothers have to endure the pain of
seeing their children wailing because of hunger but not knowing what to do.
Workers can barely go through a week on a minimum wage. Communities have to
cope without basics like water and electricity. The sick cannot get drugs.
The vast majority of the population is now destitute.

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