The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 11:33 GMT
Black Zimbabweans suffer in land reform

Many thousands of black farmworkers are destitute

      By Christian Fraser
      BBC correspondent recently in Zimbabwe 

On the edge of a dry, dusty field, 30 miles east of Harare there is a small collection of mud huts.

It is home to 200 farmworkers.

Five months ago, they worked in the surrounding tobacco fields for their white employer but the farmer has been forced off his land and the crop he planted has withered in the ground.

      We have no food, no work and no money. Who will feed my children now
      Grace, farmworker 

The self-styled "war veterans" who surround his empty farmhouse refuse to let these people work. They are guarding this farm for their new tenant.

President Robert Mugabe claims land like this has been confiscated to assist the resettlement of landless peasants.

But the selection process is controlled by committees from the ruling Zanu-PF party and the main beneficiaries are party officials, "war veterans", and card-carrying members of the party, some of whom have no background in farming.

Broken nation

The tenant of this farm has yet to make an appearance.

In the faces of these former farm workers is a nation broken.

Cowed into submission by their indifferent masters they sit and wait.

      Even farmworkers' children have been beaten

But as they wait the stomachs of their children grow bigger, swollen by malnutrition.

"We have no food, no work and no money. Who will feed my children now," says 37-year-old Grace.

Her 10 children are given one meal a day.

Through the hot afternoons, under a baking sun, they scavenge in the nearby woods for roots and fruit.

Already two people from this village have died. One from chronic diahorrea, the other from Aids.

Political aid

"Something like 4.6 million people in this country need food aid now," says the Reverend Tim Neill.

"By December that figure is going to rise to 6.7 million".

      I would say we are down to 10% of production
      John Worsley Worswick, White farmer 

Reverend Neill resigned from the Anglican church last year over the controversial appointment of Nolbert Kunonga, the bishop of Harare, an open supporter of Mr Mugabe.

Since then, he has been involved with the Farm Community Development Trust, a charity assisting commercial farmers and their workers affected by the land reforms.

His work is getting harder as the government tries to restrict the work of the charities.

"The queue forms and the first third get the food - the last two-thirds of the queue don't get any food. I suppose it is just a miracle that the first third were people supporting the Zanu-PF party," Reverend Neill observed sarcastically.

Sharp decline

Mr Mugabe's fast track land-reform plan is now in its final stages.

In 2000, there were 4,500 white-owned farms.

      Only government supporters get food aid

Today only 400 farmers are still on their land.

More than 300 farmers have been arrested this year for breaching the government's compulsory acquisition orders, known as a Section 8.

With vast areas of farmland left untended, the government now has precious few commodities to export - the economy is in sharp decline.

"I would say we are down to 10% of production," said John Worsley Worswick, from the farmers' lobby group, Justice for Agriculture.

" We used to produce something like 220 million kg of tobacco. A month ago we were looking at a crop of around 40 million kg, now we are probably looking at something more like 20 million kg.

"Ten per cent of production. And I think that will be reflected right across the board for every crop. In fact it will probably be worse. It is not as political at the moment to produce a tobacco crop as it is to produce a food crop."

Black market

Tobacco accounts for one third of Zimbabwe's foreign currency reserves; money the country needs to buy things like fuel and other imports.

The shortage of foreign currency is crippling and as the crisis continues to get worse the Zimbabwean Government has defaulted on all its foreign loans.

      Mugabe says he is giving land to the poor

The impact of this economic catastrophe is everywhere.

In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, we queued for an hour and a half at the only petrol station with any fuel.

The biggest hospital in the capital, Harare, is running out of essential drugs.

As the Zimbabwean dollar continues to plummet in value, people are desperately trying to exchange Zimbabwean currency for US dollars.

The official exchange rate has been pegged at 55 Zimbabwean dollars to one US dollar.

On the black market, the exchange rate two weeks ago was Z$700 - by the end of last week it was up to Z$1,500.

Every day food prices change.

The menus in Harare are marked up every morning and yet the wages stay fixed.

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Zim Independent

Zim dollar falls to new low
Loughty Dube
ZIMBABWE'S currency has taken a further plunge towards its lowest trading
record when it fell dramatically against international currencies on the
black market this week due to what a leading economist says is panic buying
by parastatals.

A week ago the Zimbabwe dollar was trading at $800 against the US dollar and
at $1 800 against the British pound and the headlong plunge continued this

The dollar is now trading at over $ 1 800 against the American greenback and
$ 2 500 against sterling and is expected to fall further.

The Bulawayo parallel market is selling the rand for $250, up from $180,
while the Botswana pula is selling at $280, up from $200 last week.

The fall of the dollar comes a week after the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) released a report urging the Zimbabwean government to act to end the
current economic crisis facing the country.

The IMF report predicts that inflation in Zimbabwe could rise to 522% next
year if no new economic measures are introduced by government.

Economist Eric Bloch attributed the plunge in the exchange rate on the black
market to panic buying that has created a huge demand in a shrinking market.

"Government parastatals last week flooded the black market to raise money to
pay their debts and this has forced private companies involved in imports
into panic buying of forex and thereby creating a serious demand in a
shrinking market," said Bloch.

He said Noczim and Zesa officials were active on the black market last week
seeking forex to pay off debts to South African fuel company Sasol and
energy supplier Eskom respectively.

"This situation was exacerbated by Air Zimbabwe which moved into the black
market last week to raise over US$28 million to pay Exim Bank for the two
planes they purchased through them, hence the forced increase in the
exchange rate," Bloch said.

The fall of the Zimbabwe dollar has forced price increases on a daily basis
in basic foodstuffs and imported goods - a move that is impacting negatively
on ordinary Zimbabweans.

Last week beef prices went up overnight by more than 100% while the price of
basic commodities is rising on a daily basis.

Bloch said if the dollar continued on its free-fall, businesses that rely on
imports would fold and this would result in the country's unemployment rate
further going up.

"If the situation continues like this, companies that rely on imports will
close," said Bloch. "Unemployment would worsen and this would result in more
widespread shortages of basic commodities."

Bloch said there was no other way to arrest the forex situation in the
country except by a drastic devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar.

"If the president continues with his attitude that devalution is dead, then
there is no way we can end forex shortages and the ever rising exchange
rate," Bloch said.

"We are waiting for the total explosion of the economy and all of us in
Zimbabwe are aboard a Titanic that is about to sink."
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Thursday, 7 November, 2002, 16:12 GMT
Zimbabwe 'diverts food aid'

People must show Zanu-PF, as well as identity cards, to get food

The European Union has condemned the government of President Robert Mugabe for diverting food aid to its own supporters and ignoring opposition activists.
A Danish minister told Reuters news agency "that is not acceptable."

      The Zimbabwe Government is using our aid and our food to put political and economic pressure on its own people
      Bertel Haarder, Danish Minister for Europe 
Last weekend, a United States official warned that the US may have to take "intrusive" measures to ensure that food aid was properly distributed.

Up to six million people - half the population - are estimated to need food aid after poor rains, combined with the government seizure of almost all white-owned farms.

Bertel Haarder, European Affairs Minister of Denmark, which holds the EU presidency, was sparking at a meeting of EU and Southern African officials in the Mozambique capital, Maputo.

The meeting was due to be held in Denmark but was switched to Mozambique because Zimbabwe's leaders are banned from entering Europe under EU sanctions.

"We would like to strongly react against the fact that the Zimbabwe government is using our aid and our food to put political and economic pressure on its own people," Mr Haarder said.

Maize bags

The BBC's Christian Fraser, who recently went to Zimbabwe, says that bags of maize were stacked outside polling stations during the by-election in Insiza - reportedly put there to reward people who voted for Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

Zanu-PF won the election in what was considered an opposition stronghold.

      Just a few hundred white farmers remain on their land

Following the US warning, Zimbabwe accused it of planning to invade the country under the pretext of guaranteeing the distribution of food aid.

Mr Mugabe denies that the food crisis is a result of his land reform programme and blames it on a drought, which has affected much of the region.

But white farmers who are prevented from working their land say that their dams are full of water.

Just a few hundred white farmers remain on their land, out of some 4,000 two years ago.

Our correspondent says that the land has gone to Zanu-PF officials, who often have no farming background, instead of the landless black people who were supposed to benefit.

In Maputo, Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge repeated his government's argument that former colonial power Britain should compensate the white farmers who have lost their land.

As a result of British colonial rule, whites owned much of Zimbabwe's best farmland.

Britain has refused to pay unless there is transparency in the redistribution of land.

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Number 10

Visitors from Zimbabwe will need visas

Zimbabwean nationals travelling to the UK will be required to have visas
unless they have a right of abode here, the Home Office has announced.

The new visa programme will help to ensure effective immigration controls
and make it easier for genuine Zimbabwean visitors to travel to the UK. It
will put the UK in line with virtually every other European Union country,
the USA and Canada - all of which require Zimbabwean nationals to hold

Home Secretary David Blunkett said:

"I have decided to bring in a visa programme for Zimbabwe to deal with what
is very significant abuse of our immigration controls by Zimbabwean
nationals - large numbers are refused entry to the UK and returned, others
are granted short term entry, many as visitors, but fail to return home. In
addition, the UK has experienced increasingly large numbers of unfounded
asylum claims from Zimbabwean nationals.

"The visa programme will also make it much easier for genuine Zimbabwean
visitors to travel to the UK. At present, because of the pressures on our
immigration controls, they face lengthy queues and questioning on arrival."

The new arrangements will take effect on Saturday 9 November, with
transitional arrangements in place to assist genuine visitors who have
already bought tickets for travel on or before 7 November and will arrive in
the UK before midnight on 15 November.
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      Customs duty revenue down by 50 percent

      By MacDonald Dzirutwe Senior Business Reporter
      11/7/02 6:29:42 AM (GMT +2)

      THE government will this year collect $21.58 billion from customs
duty, or more than 50 percent less than the $49 billion it had anticipated
to net from duty revenue, according to figures from the International
Monetary Fund (IMF).

      The shortfall could exacerbate the govern-ment's budget deficit,
officially forecast to be around 14 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)
this year but seen at around 16-20 percent, and wreak havoc on an already
struggling economy.

      Last year the government earned $16.55 billion in customs duties,
which was $3.45 billion less than the $20 billion it had hoped to raise from
duty revenue.

      The IMF had projected last year's customs duty collection at $15.3

      Shipping and forwarding industry experts this week blamed Zimbabwe's
foreign currency shortage, which has forced most importers to seek hard cash
from the parallel market where rates are prohibitively high, for the drop in
imports and duty revenue.

      The thriving black market, buoyed by the forex crisis and the fixing
of the Zimbabwe dollar at 55 to one US unit by the government, levies more
than $1 500 against the Zimbabwe currency.

      "People now have less money to spend on imports because of the high
cost of sourcing foreign currency and this is why we have less customs
duty," an official at a Harare clearing house said, refusing to be named.

      "This is why I believe the IMF (International Monetary Fund) figures
are more realistic than the government's projections," he told the Financial

      Economists said the government was likely to collect more revenue from
individuals' Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) income tax and sales tax. This, they
said, would probably compensate for the slump in customs duty and marginally
narrow the wide budget deficit.

      Economist Witness Chinyama said the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA)
was now more efficient in collecting PAYE taxes and that sales tax
collections would also increase as a result of high consumer spending.

      In the second quarter of this year, Zimra had collected $24.3 billion
or 40 percent of total revenue from the PAYE tax while $16.8 billion was
generated from sales tax.

      There were no figures to show how much ZIMRA had raised in duty during
the same period. But the revenue authority is expected to raise a total of
$240 billion this year from duty collections.

      Former finance minister Simba Makoni in July increased the exchange
rate to $300 to one US dollar for the importation of passenger vehicles,
oils, fats, beverages, tobacco and manufactured goods to meet the government
's rising expenditure needs.

      Makoni had hoped to raise $11.5 billion from the adjusted exchange
rates but analysts say this will not be possible because of a slump in
imports of the listed goods.

      Independent economist John Robertson said for example the price of
passenger vehicles had shot up by 178 percent since July, thus reducing
demand for imported vehicles in Zimbabwe.

      Because car kits entered the country duty-free, it was now cheaper for
manufacturers to import these and assemble the cars in Zimbabwe.

      "Because of this, we now have more people bringing in the kits since
it is now very expensive to import a car. You will find that the government
will be prejudiced of valuable revenue," he said.

      An economist at a Harare commercial bank said the slump in customs
duty collections was inevitable and a predictable symptom of a sinking

      Zimbabwe is in its fourth year of economic recession, which has been
worsened by a cut-off in international aid by the West to protest the
government's seizure of private farms, a crackdown on the judiciary, the
media and the opposition and a disputed presidential ballot in March.

      It faces critical shortages of fuel, foreign currency and food; annual
inflation runs at 140 percent; unemployment stands at 70 percent and
absolute poverty affects nearly 80 percent of its estimated population of 14
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      A presidential poll re-run or a new constitution?

      Isaya Sithole
      11/7/02 7:02:52 AM (GMT +2)

      In my last contribution [October 3-9] I stated that the failure of the
talks between ZANU PF and MDC shifted the focus of the Zimbabwean debate on
democracy to a question of whether what Zimbabwe needs is an election re-run
or a new constitution.

      In Zimbabwe electoral laws are tipped in favour of the sitting
President and with the vast legislative powers that the Executive Presidency
has, it is obviously extremely unlikely that it can ever be possible in
Zimbabwe to have a free and fair election under the current laws.

      Of particular concern is Section 158 of the Electoral Act which gives
the President something close to arbitrary powers in respect of elections.

      On a literal interpretation, the provisions in Section 158 of the
Electoral Act give the President the right to ride roughshod over every
electoral law and the provisions in the Act which seek to uphold and protect
the notion of free and fair elections are hence not worth the paper they are
written on.

      Only within the two months preceding the Presidential elections
President Mugabe promulgated a statutory instrument under Section 158 which
had the effect of making substantial amendments to the Electoral law to his

      Morgan Tsvangirai's application to have the statutory instrument
declared ultra vires the Act and Section 158 of the Electoral Act declared
unconstitutional was dismissed by the High Court on the grounds that he does
not have locus standi; without proceeding to look into the merits of his
case. [In simple terms locus standi refers to the eligibility of a person to
bring a claim before the courts].

      The Zimbabwean judiciary has generally adopted a very restrictive
approach to locus standi and this technicality has been used to deny the
people a right to be heard especially in matters of public interest. It is
needless to say that the Zimbabwean judiciary has always been a
disappointment in matters relating to elections. It is against this
background that the call for a re-run of elections should be considered.

      In spite of the overwhelming evidence of electoral irregularities, all
odds are against the success of the MDC court challenge.

      Apart from a host of bad precedent on election petitions, the fact
that we have a restructured judiciary whose independence is questionable,
and in particular a pro-executive Supreme Court, is sufficient cause for

      Even if the court rules in favour of the MDC, what are the chances
that Mugabe will accede to a re-run of the elections when he declared way
back in Zvimba that such a call is a wild goose chase?

      However, we hear that President Obasanjo announced in September at a
press conference in Lagos that Mugabe has told him in confidence that he
will respect the order of the court. (Perhaps the President had a prophetic
vision and he now knows the decision of the court in advance!).

      Supposing the MDC wins the court challenge and a re-run of the
election is granted, we will still be stuck with the effects of POSA, the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, The Presidential Powers
(Temporary Measures) Act and the Executive Presidency itself as an

      The Presidential Powers Act empowers the President "to make
regulations dealing with situations that have arisen and that need to be
dealt with as a matter of urgency; and to provide for matters connected
therewith or incidental thereto". To date no regulations have been created
under the Act relating directly to elections.

      Nevertheless, there is nothing that precludes the President at some
point in time when he is under pressure to use the power conferred on him by
the Act for the purpose of temporarily amending the electoral law. In other
words, regulations that can not be enacted under the Electoral Act may be
permissible in terms of the Presidential Powers Act, which expanded the
legislative options available to the President.

      Supposing the President does not do all this, there is nothing that
precludes the ZANU PF dominated Parliament from amending the Electoral Act
or giving the President a gift of more powers pending a re-run of the
elections and rigidly insisting on the rule of law!

      These stuck realities make the argument for a re-run of elections
unappealing to me unless the re-run is sought within a constitutional

      The MDC court challenge must not be a strategy complete in itself but
it must be part of a broader strategy which involves strategic alliances
with civil society.

      The argument that the crisis in Zimbabwe is a "crisis of governance"
has not had any credible rival in sight and abuse of the electoral process
is part of misgovernance.

      The constitution sets the structure for governance and if the
constitution is defective, governance can even be worse - rotten! If the
crisis in Zimbabwe is one of governance, then "it is a new constitution,

      So the constitution must be the first target for all those that aspire
for good governance, tolerance, nation-building and economic development.

      If one retraces our history to 1997 and reflect on the emergence of
oppositional forces in Zimbabwe it is clear that the facts speak for

      Up until 1997 we did not have a vibrant and discerning civil society
in Zimbabwe. The underdeveloped socio-economic structures undermined the
emergence of social forces capable of exerting a counteracting effect on the
authoritarian tendencies of the post-colonial governing elite.

      It is public knowledge that the government accepted to embark on
constitutional review following immense pressure from civil society. It all
started with labour and student uprisings in 1997-98 and the
heavy-handedness with which the police dealt with these revolts raised
serious constitutional questions especially in relation to the powers of the
President, the Bill of Rights and the electoral process among other issues.

      The labour and student uprisings occurred at a time when the country
was beginning to feel the real pinch of the government's pursuit of
neo-liberal economic policies and up to now Zimbabwe is experiencing a
severe economic rescission compounded by a controversial land policy and the
controversial re-election of President Mugabe.

      This led to increasingly drastic cut-backs on social expenditure which
resulted in deterioration of such social services as health care delivery
and education. Unemployment continued to rise and poverty became more

      There was widespread perception that since its inception in 1987 the
Executive Presidency had concentrated for too much unaccountable power in
one person's hands and this power has been badly abused to the detriment of
the people of Zimbabwe.

      Disconnected calls for constitutional reform could be heard from
various quarters of the civil society and this resulted in the formation of
the National Constitutional Assembly.

      The NCA is a loose coalition of opposition political parties and civic
organisations including labour and student movements, church groups, youths,
lawyers, progressive intellectuals and academics.

      The major objective behind the formation of the NCA was for it to act
as a common action front to lobby the government to embark on a
democratisation of the constitution.

      The government refused to engage the NCA in meaningful discussions
over constitution making. The NCA was pressing for the convening of an all
stakeholders conference to agree on the process and the legal framework for
the process.

      Government knew that such an approach would undermine their intended
dominance of the process and they preferred to proceed by way of a
commission appointed by the President while a defiant NCA embarked on a
parallel process whose major aim was to act as a barometer to the findings
of the government- appointed Constitutional Commission.

      It is now on record that the Constitutional Commission's draft
constitution was resoundingly rejected by Zimbabweans in the historic
referendum of February 2000 mainly because the NCA successfully campaigned
for a "NO" vote citing both content and process arguments.

      The "NO" vote to the Commission's draft constitution did not mean a
"YES" vote to the urrent constitution. The fact that we had embarked on
constitutional review in the first place is testimony of the fact that there
is a general consensus, if not unanimity, among Zimbabweans that the current
constitution has outlived its political value.

      It is an illegitimate constitution that has the effect of compromising
the legitimacy of any government that derives its mandate from it. In other
words even if the MDC, or any political party for that matter, were to take
over political power, their legitimacy would still be in question to the
extend that they point to the current constitution as the source of their
political authority.

      The current constitution symbolises the last vestiges of colonialism
in Zimbabwe in spite of the rhetoric of "sovereignty" and "independence"
from government circles.

      Now that we have been told over and over again that a new constitution
is not a priority in government, the forces of change must go back to the
drawing board and do what they have done before.

      By the way who said if a new constitution is not a priority to the
government then the government is not a priority to the people?

      However, it would appear that the NCA, which was the common action
front has sulked over time. Some have broken away to form their own
organisations where they are chairpersons, presidents or secretaries of this
and that.

      In addition, the MDC which is one of the major member organisations of
the NCA has of late preoccupied itself with an election re-run (with taking
over power, to be blunt!).

      However, because of the partisan nature of a political party, the MDC
does not have the capacity to command a following that is characterised by

      To be continued

        a.. Isaya Sithole is a Harare-based legal practitioner
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      Murerwa's no-win task

      11/7/02 6:42:51 AM (GMT +2)

      WHICHEVER way Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa juggles the 2003
national budget figures next Thursday, he cannot win and none expect him to.

      Neither he nor any Cabinet minister could possibly stitch up a
meaningful and binding financial chart for the nation in the 12 months from
next January purely because few in the government seem to care about living
within their allocated budgetary votes, the trigger of Zimbabwe's economic

      And because the economy is in a tailspin, none could possibly give an
accurate prognosis of the conditions on the ground in a month's time, let
alone in a year.

      Thus Murerwa's budget will largely be irrelevant. It will be more of a
stop-gap financial plan that is likely to be reviewed in the course of next
year if it is to make sense at all.

      Notwithstanding Murerwa's no-win assignment, he could take some
measures which in the short term could just keep the nation's ship afloat.
But he faces tough choices.

      An increase in the price of fuel - already signalled by President
Robert Mugabe's call on multinational oil groups to buy their own fuel -
would lubricate the wheels of a sagging economy, and yet there would also be
a political price to pay for this.

      A fuel price increase would automatically lift prices of virtually all
other goods and services just when ordinary Zimbabweans can hardly make ends

      Zimbabwe's inflation, already at an unprecedented high of 140 percent,
would rise sharply and hurt both consumers and companies. Just last week,
the International Monetary Fund projected Zimbabwe's inflation at more than
500 percent by next year's close.

      But is the government prepared for such an eventuality? If not, what
are its options on fuel procurement in the face of a biting squeeze on hard
cash? The answer is: none.

      Perhaps to go around the same problem, Murerwa could raise the 40
percent level of foreign currency which Zimbabwean exporters cede to the
central bank. Thus, there would be more hard cash to pay for fuel supplies,
but is Zimbabwe earning enough forex to continue subsidising fuel

      What incentives would he give to exporters to boost their production
and thus earn more forex in the face of inflation-fuelled production costs
and shortages of raw materials and equipment caused by the forex crisis?

      Murerwa cannot possibly raise or widen the tax threshold for
individuals and corporates because it is already too high.

      But then what does he do in the face of dwindling revenues that come
into the state coffers? Does he sell part or most of the government's
companies, the so-called parastatals, to raise the cash that he needs?

      After two years of upheavals on commercial farms which have left half
the population in dire need of food aid and with signals that a much worse
famine could be beckoning, how and from where will Murerwa raise the money
to import food?

      Are Zimbabwe's hungry millions prepared to go on empty stomachs for
much longer?

      It is obvious that the government, for all its hardline and
nationalistic rhetoric, desperately needs huge aid injections from none
other than its Western "imperialist enemies". But are they themselves
prepared to dole out their aid?

      Still on agriculture, has the government now raised and distributed
the funds that are critically needed to buy inputs and equipment for the
reported thousands of new black farmers who are taking over the commercial
farming sector?

      If not, is Zimbabwe not facing a man-made catastrophe of empty farms,
of no food, of no crops and of no hard cash normally earned by tobacco and

      These and many other questions will no doubt test Murerwa's mind to
the limit ahead of Thursday's budget. We wish him luck but the omens do not
look promising at all.
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ZIMBABWE: Oxfam urges government to lift ban on feeding

JOHANNESBURG, 7 November (IRIN) - A British charity Oxfam on Thursday said it was still awaiting approval from the Zimbabwean government to go ahead with the delivery of food supplied by the World Food Programme (WFP).

Jane Cocking, Oxfam's regional programme manager in Zimbabwe told IRIN: "We are still in negotiations to become a WFP implementing partner. All the paperwork has been done and there are ongoing discussions with the Ministry of Social Welfare. We are confident that the suspension will be lifted soon." 

Last month Oxfam and Save the Children's Fund (SCF), another British NGO were banned from distributing WFP-supplied food aid. Additionally, SCF was ordered to stop distributing its own food to people in the Binga district of western Zimbabwe.

The ban on the two charities came at a critical point, with hunger deepening across Zimbabwe. WFP has estimated that close to six million are in need of emergency food aid until the next harvest in March/April 2003.

In the meantime, Oxfam said that it had distributed seeds to communities in the Midlands and Masvingo provinces.

Last year the government accused aid agencies of using food relief to campaign for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

More recently, the politicisation of food aid has become a controversial issue as the government faces allegations of channelling food aid away from regions where political opposition is strongest.

Last month WFP suspended the distribution of relief supplies in Insiza district in Matabeleland South province due to alleged political interference by President Robert Mugabe's ruling party.

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      Little room for manoeuvre as Murerwa unveils new wish list

      By Nqobile Nyathi Assistant Editor
      11/7/02 8:44:59 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE'S 2003 national budget is doomed to be another worthless wish
list unless the government adopts a holistic approach to address fundamental
causes of the country's economic crisis, analysts warned this week.

      Economists and market commentators said unless the government realises
that the budget can not operate in a vacuum, whatever proposals Finance
Minister Herbert Murerwa presents to parliament next Thursday would come to

      "What needs to be done is to come up with a budget that tries to
instil confidence in the economy," Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce
economist James Jowa told the Financial Gazette.

      "But that is going to be very, very difficult because the budget by
itself is not adequate to restore confidence. There are other issues outside
the budget that need to be addressed, otherwise the budget will not do

      Kingdom Financial Holdings analyst Witness Chinyama said: "What is
needed is a holistic approach, whether it be economic or political. It has
to be a package that addresses all aspects of the problem."

      The analysts said such an approach would require the drafting and
implementation of a comprehensive economic recovery strategy that would
identify the underlying causes of Zimbabwe's economic crisis, means of
tackling them and a realistic timetable for doing so.

      The government would also have to commit itself to restoring the rule
of law and demonstrating respect for property rights, which have been under
attack since ruling ZANU PF supporters began occupying white-owned farms in
February 2000.

      Failure by the police and the government to protect these rights or to
bring to book most of the perpetrators of violence associated with the farm
invasions and elections in the past two years has seriously damaged Zimbabwe
's image as a safe investment destination.

      The analysts said respect for the rule of law and property rights
would restore the international community's confidence in Zimbabwe's economy
and encourage foreign investment as well as assistance from the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, whose withdrawal of
balance of payments support in 1999 has contributed to economic recession.

      "One of the major problems for the economy is the foreign currency
crisis, and to improve our foreign currency inflows we need to do three
things," Chinyama said.

      "One, we have to encourage the export sector through devaluation or
better prices. Two, we have to re-engage the international community. We
also have to encourage foreign investors and we know foreign investors
mainly use our relationship with the IMF and World Bank to see if we are a
risky or a safe country."

      But the analysts said none of these measures were likely to

      President Robert Mugabe has told the international community that
Zimbabwe can do without its support, while the government says it has
completed the seizure of white-owned farms and is not planning to reverse

      "I don't think any of these things will be addressed right now," Jowa
said. "That means we will have a budget in a vacuum. It won't have support
from the international community or other measures to back it up.

      "That means we will have to rely on tax revenue and we are already
taxed to the neck. If he (Murerwa) tries to increase tax, this will simply
shrink the tax base, companies will collapse and jobs will be lost.

      "If the basic things are not addressed, revenue will shrink and we
will have to come up with another supplementary budget and have another huge
budget deficit. It's a vicious cycle."

      The economists said Murerwa's budget was likely to place focus on the
agricultural sector, the backbone of Zimbabwe's economy and which the
government has identified as the engine that will drive future growth.

      Tobacco growers, whose exports are the single largest foreign currency
earner in Zimbabwe, would have to be well taken care of to minimise the drop
in output expected next year because of the government's agrarian reforms.

      "Growers look forward to the possibility of an early announcement of a
significantly increased support price for the new season when the Minister
of Finance and Economic Development presents the fiscal budget for 2003,"
the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association said in its October 2002 report.

      "The announcement of a viable support price scheme as soon as possible
will be necessary for continued support by financial institutions and
growers alike as they proceed at the moment with a leap of faith in
continuing to transplant their seedlings."

      Commentators said Murerwa was also likely to make proposals aimed at
supporting the so-called new farmers who have been resettled on previously
white-owned land and who need massive financial support from the Treasury if
they are to maintain the same level of output as displaced commercial

      This means Murerwa cannot afford to address the government's loose
monetary policy, which has fuelled inflation, presently pegged at 139.9
percent. The government has maintained low interest rates since January last
year, encouraging borrowing and consumption which has resulted in negative
returns for investors on the money market.

      Chinyama pointed out: "I think he will want to see that borrowing
remains cheap for the farmers. Curbing inflation means tightening monetary
policy and tightening monetary policy contradicts the need to provide funds
for farmers."

      Sagit Stockbrokers said in a commentary: "The forthcoming budget has
much to address if the authorities are determined to keep the financial
markets viable.

      "We doubt, however, that a significant interest rate increase will be
effected bearing in mind the government's financial obligations to meet
national food and fuel requirements, as well as the agrarian reform

      The analysts said Murerwa might still try to meet the needs of other
sectors of the economy, most of which have been hard hit by inflation and
are expecting the budget to propose ways of alleviating the problem.

      Manufacturers, for instance, are facing soaring production costs
because of inflation but are unable to raise their prices to keep pace with
the increasing cost of production.

      The government reintroduced price controls last October, adversely
affecting the viability of many companies and sparking commodity shortages.

      Gold producers have also been forced to scale down operations or to
close down completely and retrench workers because of high production costs,
foreign currency shortages and a fixed exchange rate.

      Independent economist John Robertson said: "It's very difficult for
him (Murerwa) to address inflation, but there are fears a price and wage
freeze might be included in the budget and that would be disastrous.

      "A price freeze today would need foreign exchange stability starting
from two months ago. You can't do it now and get away with it. A wage freeze
would be disastrous because prices on the black market would continue to go

      This would significantly raise the cost of living for ordinary
Zimbabweans, close to seven million of whom are threatened with starvation
because of food shortages and many of whom are unlikely to be catered for in
the 2003 budget through funding for the social welfare system.

      "Unemployment is rising, many people need assistance and the
government is not meeting their needs," Robertson noted.

      "In the past, the government has said to aid agencies 'if you think we
have a welfare crisis, you can come and sort it out' and over the years it
has stopped allocating money for social welfare because donors would deal
with it.

      "But these donors are not there anymore and the ones that are coming
here are looking at disaster relief. It all adds up to a miserable situation
where a number of people will have to be neglected. I think as they draft
the budget, they are looking at how much money is there and how many people
can be left out.

      "People are saying Murerwa has no room to manoeuvre. Each year a
budget is presented they use the same phrase and it's still true. It has
never been more true than now."
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      Is the opposition a bunch of spineless sissies or warlords?

      Marko Phiri
      11/7/02 7:04:17 AM (GMT +2)

      AS Zimbabweans ponder when their woes will come to pass, hope in the
eventual attainment of that Utopia has been placed in other folks who have
provided the legitimate forum for the representation of their grievances.

      In the history of this young nation, the conditions that prevail today
were in the past met through the formation of political opposition parties.

      These were the now ruling ZANU and ZAPU. Their contributions to the
people's struggle here for self-rule have been documented and the challenges

      Years later, Zimbabweans find themselves faced with the same challenge
as seen back in the fervent nationalism years of the 1970s. But what is
unfortunate is that while we have seen the latter-day oppressors' mutation
come with the population collectively failing to duck or resist that forced
march toward this Africanised gulag, the people who the ordinary man, woman
and child vested their trust in toward the realisation of the same goals
that were pursued back in the years have had the unenviable task of having
too much expected of them.

      It will be argued that the circumstances that existed when the fight
for Zimbabwe's independence was born have been graphically made manifest
today, thus the men and women who have taken up the challenge on behalf of
fellow compatriots have to soldier on and bring victory today, not tomorrow.

      But what that analysis apparently seeks is what could be called the
time frame that has been allocated to the opposition here for the
realisation of those ideals that are eagerly sought after today.

      How many years have people given the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) to deliver them to the promised land?

      Formed in 1999 and standing in its first election in June 2000 a few
months later, the expectation among many here no doubt was that the party
was just what the doctor ordered to pull Zimbabwe from what then appeared
not to be a terminal affliction.

      Perhaps naturally, people demand immediate relief when travails hit
them hard - which in itself is not wrong as it would double their resolve -
but it would be grossly unfair to apportion all the failings to make this a
better country once more on the men and women who took the challenge on
behalf of all peace-loving natives of this land as some writers have opined.

      It is beyond debate that all sane Zimbabweans are in agreement that we
need salvation and quickly. What lacks consensus is obviously how that path
is to be trodden.

      With the people having shown their allegiance to the MDC, it is
obvious that the party had been seen as their only way out of this living
hell, and that this was to be achieved via the ballot. But because the June
2000 parliamentary elections which had been expected to leave President
Mugabe with a parliamentary minority, came and went amid gross abuses of
both human rights and electoral conduct, the people's resolve was naturally

      This meant they apparently "had not seen nothing yet." The worst was
yet to come.

      And then came the March 2002 presidential election, controversially
won by the ruling party's candidate. Alarm and despondency reached alarming
levels as people became aware that they had to wait some six more years of
hell before their second shot at expelling their tormentors.

      Blaming anybody for failing to be equal to the challenge that has been
provided in the form of the ruling party is to ignore the first rule of the
politics of Africa itself.

      The history of the continent is littered with horrendous tales of how
men and women were brutalised by ruling parties which invariably had been in
the forefront in the struggle that brought self-rule.

      Armies were privatised, the police force made a mean fighting machine
against unarmed citizens, legislation to quell all dissent was enacted, free
thought banished, academics thrown into filthy jail cells, fathers
kidnapped, patriots forced into exile. We could go on.

      Can it be argued conclusively that all this does not exist today in
this country? But have the leaders of the opposition fled their motherland
like the "cowards" which they have been called?

      People dreaming of a Zimbabwe that will be a model of democracy and an
economic bulwark in the southern Africa region will note that the presence
of the MDC itself is a stepping stone toward that ideal. It is the presence
of that cabal of patriots willing to make their presence felt to the
establishment that will itself rescue this country from this wretched

      And this because it takes the presence of a political opposition to
push for better existence for the people. But that push itself fundamentally
rests on universally recognised means in the form of an election, yet
because this has not borne the fruit as desired by all here, we thus hear
the charge that the opposition here are a bunch of spineless sissies.

      If the birth of a strong opposition had never been, that in itself
would have sealed our fate as people morbidly content with taking punishment
as copiously dispensed by the ruling party. Salvation does not come simply
because you yearn for it - it comes because you have worked for it. Yet
desperation has bred unorthodox means for the realisation of a favoured
ideal, and at very high human cost.

      The very fact that Zimbabwe finds itself in a situation like this
which has also pitted the ruling party against outside powers in the form of
the European Union and the United States has meant that any who attempt to
step into the ring to fight the ruling party is dismissed as one who is paid
to sing that tune by those outside forces.

      And as this comes when the theme in African politics is solidarity
under what appears to be that citizen unfriendly banner of pan-Africanism,
efforts to effect change by locals are met with immense resistance.

      While the leaders as seen at the Earth Summit echo each other's
sentiments, the people dismiss them as folks out of touch with reality.
Nobody wants to hear speeches attacking imaginary enemies. What people want
are speeches accompanied with actions attacking poverty.

      Amid such zany behaviours from men who should be leading lights, what
then becomes of anybody who attempts to oust them through the ballot?

      The appointment of another Harare Commission to assist the MDC mayor
in the running of the affairs of the capital city would be enough to show
that with such an opponent the opposition will be blamed till eternity for
failing to lead Zimbabweans to a better existence.

      In all the blame being heaped on the opposition here on its failure to
push this regime out of power, should we not be grateful that they have not
resorted to other means that defeated political parties bent on getting to
State House have employed across the African continent?

      Surely these men are of different stock from the "transformed
democrat" Charles Taylor of Liberia who as a warlord clinched victory in a
presidential election simply because Liberians feared that if they voted for
somebody else that man was going back to the bush and resume his slaughter
of the innocents.

      Zimbabweans surely should be grateful that despite all the frustration
of the opposition by the ruling party, they have not been awoken in the
middle of the night by the sound of gunfire. Could anybody have done better
considering the forces the ruling party has in its corner, which include a
judiciary handpicked to do the bidding of ZANU PF?

        a.. Marko Phiri is a freelance writer
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      Will the troops shoot to kill eight months after? (Part 3)

      Masipula Sithole
      11/7/02 6:41:56 AM (GMT +2)

      LET us finish this theme on the likely behaviour of men and women in
uniform and in dark glasses eight months since the controversial March 2002
presidential election. Will they shoot at fellow citizens legitimately
protesting the government's ineptitude in providing them with security and
the "good life"?

      We argued in Part One (see Fingaz, October 24 2002) that the country
is fast reaching a consensus on the source of its misery, and that men and
women in uniform and in dark glasses are part of this emerging consensus.
They are, after all, part of the general citizenry.

      In Part Two (see Fingaz, October 31 2002) we further argued that
institutionally men and women in uniform and in dark glasses, to the extent
they choose to, are the last guarantors of constitutional order and good
governance in any society before the general citizenry takes to the streets
to demand a new social contract.

      But the military may be corrupted and perverted by politicians, and
therefore may be inclined to protect an inept and corrupt government. This
is borne, in our case, by information about some of our commanders' alleged
involvement in the "Diamonds" Republic of the Congo.

      We argued, nonetheless, that this corrupt tendency, notwithstanding
the parallel debate (parallel to that raging within society in general)
among men and women in uniform and in dark glasses, that this debate is
beginning to focus on individual and institutional responsibility for
getting the country out this mess.

      We made the point that often it is the strains and contradictions that
surface within the military and other instruments of state coercion that are
often the straw that breaks the camel's back.

      We want to conclude this theme by discussing recent developments that,
in our view, are potentially a danger to the state's instruments of
coercion, hence to society in general.

      Besides the mainstream military and police, there are far too many
other outfits performing military or paramilitary and police functions in
our country today.

      This is a development that started prominently after President Robert
Mugabe acquiesced to war veterans' costly demands in 1997. The war veterans
have remained a prominent - if not notorious - feature of state apparatus of
coercion since then, gaining in stature at every successive election.

      In addition, and to a much grander scale, is the official creation of
the Border Gezi National Youth Training Centre for the production of youth
militias, the so-called "Green Bombers". They have dubious military, police,
party and civilian roles of inculcating patriotism into the general public.
This is the legacy the late Border Gezi left us.

      The "Green Bombers" will soon be fighting for space and making
"costly" demands on the government as they realise their importance and
pivotal role for the regime's survival as the late Chenjerai Hunzvi's war
veterans had discovered when they made their demands in 1997. It is very
obvious they will start replacing the war veterans in importance to the
regime's survival. Witness their role and impact in successive elections

      Already the President has publicly recognised them as "war veterans of
the Third Chimurenga", positioning the most enthusiastic among them for the
national shrine to be buried as national heroes, while some among the
veterans of the Second Chimurenga are sent to jail for crimes committed in
the enthusiasm of work for the party.

      I have in mind here the case of war veteran Andrew Ndlovu. It was
Samora Machel who once observed: "The revolution eats its own children."

      Then there is the "Police Support Unit" outfit. Is it the actual
police or a "support unit", I wonder?

      I ask the question because in most "law and order" operations the
"support unit" seems more prominent than the police establishment it is
supposed to be supporting, and the unit is inordinately opinionated and
political, unlike personnel from the conventional police force.

      The role of the regular police is being increasingly despised and
marginalised; it is thoroughly compromised. If the rumour is true that the
youth militias are to impart patriotism on campus, then the days of the
police support unit on campus or anywhere else are narrowly numbered, except
as auxiliaries to assist the emergent youth militias.

      They were called "Young Pioneers" in Malawi. Even the army and police
feared them. There was ambiguity of turf; institutional jealousy crept in.
The Young Pioneers provoked a confrontation with the army; they were crushed
and run out of town.

      Should our army wait until they are provoked into a confrontation?

      Coming late in Zimbabwe, the youth militia will be behoven not to
Kamuzu, but the new politicians, the so-called "Young Turks" in ZANU PF, as
the old recede to the background or die out. With the massive production at
several centres like the Border Gezi Centre, these militias will be the new
recruits into the army. Soon the "best and brightest" (I mean the most
"loyal and patriotic"!) among them will be promoted to army commanders.

      This makes institutions and individuals in them nervous, no matter how
one looks at it. There creeps in institutional jealousy as the ambitious
manipulate the chaotic situation they have deliberately created.

      Such are the likely consequences of too many actors and institutions
doing the same thing. At some point, there is bound to be collision whether
or not this is the intention of the politicians who seem busy muddling

      "Assume you are right, Professor, what do we do now," you will ask?

      Really, I don't know. Tanyira pogona. We have made a mess!

      But my suspicion is that some among men and women in uniform and in
dark glasses have the answers, if only we can consult them before we mess
things up for them and ourselves further.

      In the past I have not hidden my admiration (if fascination) for
former army commander General Solomon Mujuru. It seems to me there is a
perceptive side to that man on national affairs. Have we consulted him or
omafikizolo have taken over?

      Having served his country so sterlingly - both before and after
independence - Mujuru gave way to others and went into business. He could be
creating employment for our school-leavers had our politics been right. He
was the only one to publicly say our involvement in the Democratic Republic
of the Congo (DRC) was ill-advised, right at the beginning of the costly
diamond war.

      Somehow the dignity of our men and women in uniform and in dark
glasses has to be restored; it must be restored; it would be irresponsible
and unpatriotic not to do so. The forces should be the guarantors of society
's security in its pursuit of the "good life".

      To me the answer is simple. Those who have made their money from the
bonanza in the DRC should make their exit from the army into business and
help create employment for the many who are unemployed. They can't continue
to have it both ways; it is hurting Zimbabwe; it is therefore unpatriotic.

      I think those who are advising early retirement will succeed. They
must succeed, for if they should fail, Zimbabwe is headed for another
Chimurenga, the real "Third Chimurenga" (not chemombe mbiri nemadhongi
mashanhu!) during which the troops will simply watch.

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

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      Govt to spend money it does not have

      By Professor Anthony Hawkins
      11/7/02 8:44:07 AM (GMT +2)

      With the inmates securely in control of the financial asylum, no sane
economist is going to predict what will be in next week's budget.

      Suffice it to say that accounting groups and banks are cutting back on
their public presentations, apparently because they envisage a non-event,
but also because as inflation escalates into the stratosphere it is time to
keep a wary eye on costs.

      The asylum analogy is all too valid. If correctly reported, the deputy
finance minister wants to levy income tax on Zimbabweans working offshore.

      Often, such incomes are covered by double-taxation agreements -
certainly in the case of the two main countries affected, the United Kingdom
and South Africa.

      Accordingly, such a tax - even if it were feasible, which it isn't -
would be illegal. Not that that would bother the inmates who gave up on
legality years ago.

      Predictably, the deputy minister has since denied that the government
planned to tax exiled Zimbabweans.

      In any event, forecasting what might be in the budget is a pointless
exercise given the massive divergence between budgets and outturn.

      The experience during the first half of 2002 is striking. Although the
economy is declining twice as fast as former finance minister Simba Makoni
predicted a year ago, revenues were 15 percent above target.

      The explanation? Inflation was substantially higher than forecast.

      Normally higher inflation would also mean increased spending. But not
in a paragon state of fiscal rectitude like Zimbabwe! Expenditure was 28
percent below budget because foreign debt is not being serviced,
capital-spending programmes were not being fully implemented and, of course,
savers and pension funds are being ripped off in the most cynical and
unprincipled fashion. All par for the course.

      To further highlight the sheer pointlessness of the budget exercise,
former minister Makoni tabled a supplementary budget which increases
spending by $53 billion (13.5 percent, of which $11.5 billion was to be
funded from additional revenue.

      In theory then, the budget deficit projected last November of $138.3
billion was to increase to almost $180 billion. But because revenue is above
forecast and spending below, Makoni was optimistic of meeting his original
deficit target of 12.9 percent of GDP.

      With inflation likely to average 135-140 percent in 2002, GDP
estimates are highly problematic.

      More meaningful indicators of the gravity of the fiscal situation are
hyperinflation, escalating money supply growth and offshore arrears,
estimated at over US$1 billion in mid-year and forecast to reach US$1.75
billion by year-end.

      Converted at a realistic exchange rate, Zimbabwe's GDP is probably in
the region of US$4.5 to US$5 billion, meaning the economy is now smaller
than those of Botswana and Mauritius.

      Arrears alone are now 35 percent of GDP and total foreign debt,
including arrears, exceeds GDP.

      It can be taken for granted that what Dr Herbert Murerwa does about
this unhappy state of affairs and what he should do will turn out to be two
very different things. Put simply, the situation is straightforward

      The essential policies should be:

        a.. Abolition of the official exchange rate

        b.. A huge increase in interest rates, coupled with accompanying
measures to curb money supply growth

        c.. Increased taxation and substantial reductions in public spending

        a.. The urgent restructuring of the public sector, including
reductions in the number of civil servants - especially soldiers.

        b.. Accelerated privati- sation

      But these remedies are politically impossible. Abolition of the
official exchange rate has been ruled out - in the most categorical terms by
President Robert Mugabe himself.

      A substantial interest rate hike would burst the asset price bubble,
bringing down highly geared corporates and individuals, as well as several
banks in the process.

      Successive finance ministers, and the current Reserve Bank governor,
Leonard Tsumba are guilty of creating a basis of a systemic financial sector

      For that reason, not to mention the fact that the highly geared
sectors of the economy are peopled by numbers of ZANU PF heavies, a rational
and responsible monetary policy is a non-starter.

      More importantly, a sharp rise in nominal interest rates would
jeopardise the government's land resettlement plans because it would make it
impossible to provide credit to the new farmers at bargain-basement interest

      Spending cutbacks are impractical too, given the need to spend
massively on land resettlement, while also trying to keep pace with
hyperinflation in terms of government consumption spending, wages and

      Lip service may be paid to public sector restructuring and
privatisation, but without foreign participation privatization is unlikely
to be successful.

      With formal sector employment today no higher than at independence 22
years ago, this is not the time for the government to be retrenching staff.

      All of which suggests that the 2003 budget will be more of the same.
In a vain attempt to hold on to power at any cost, the government will
continue to spend money it does not have, funded by running the printing
press - literally - while also borrowing from the banks.

      Notes and coin in circulation increased 70 percent in the first eight
months of 2002, while money supply has doubled over the past year.

      We can expect the familiar platitudes about the need for fiscal
responsibility, the promise to introduce VAT next year, or very soon
thereafter, the commitment to bringing down inflation and re-engaging the
IMF, and promises to reform the public sector.

      We may get a petrol price hike since NOCZIM must again be losing money
hand-over-fist and, in another fig-leaf operation, Murerwa might well decide
to increase the 40 percent of foreign earnings that exporters must sell to
the Reserve Bank at the ludicrous Z$55 rate to 50 percent or even higher.

      That would be self-defeating, since it would merely further accelerate
depreciation in the parallel market. But this government's capacity to do
the wrong thing should never be under-estimated.

      If ZANU PF were not so obviously - indeed criminally - culpable for
the inter-related crises it has created, the five F's of food, forex, fuel,
fiscal policy and finance - one might have some sympathy for the unfortunate

      Such sympathy would be misplaced. Those deserving of sympathy are the
75 percent of the population living in "abject poverty", to quote Makoni
"the sick and elderly who cannot afford drugs and medical care, the
pensioners", who have been ripped off disgracefully by Makoni and Reserve
Bank governor Leonard Tsumba, while the self-serving Old Mutual has Pontius
Pilate-like washed its hands shedding crocodile tears for those foolish
enough to have trusted it.

      Sympathy too for the starving millions, the millions afflicted with
HIV-AIDS, for those ejected from their farms and those farm workers deprived
of a livelihood, however meagre.

      Murerwa's budget next week should be judged in terms of what it does,
not just to revive a terminally-ill economy, but for the millions of people
who are casualties of the government's policies.

      I won't be holding my breath.

        a.. Anthony Hawkins is professor and director of the Graduate School
of Management at the University of Zimbabwe.
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      Fuel price hikes could fuel instability: analysts

      By Abel Mutsakani News Editor
      11/7/02 8:45:52 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWEANS could end up paying about $750 for a litre of fuel or 10
times more than the current pump price if the government goes ahead to allow
private oil companies to import fuel into the country, a development
analysts this week warned could have dire economic and political

      In a rare admission of failure, President Robert Mugabe confessed last
week that his cash-strapped administration was finding it increasingly
difficult to keep the fuel pumps running.

      Mugabe indicated he would revoke an earlier decision barring oil
companies from importing fuel, but stopped short of saying they would also
be given the greenlight to sell the product at market prices.

      Economic and political commentators said the freeing of the oil market
to profit-driven private firms would trigger price increases across the
economy that could possibly ignite political and social upheaval in a
country that has for the last three years leapt from one crisis to another,
but somehow remained intact.

      Brian Raftopoulos, an associate professor at the Institute of
Development Studies, an affiliate college of the University of Zimbabwe
(UZ), said: "We are looking at a total meltdown situation. It is clear if
this happens (if fuel prices go up), then it would in the next few months
help push the country into absolute collapse. "

      Raftopoulos spoke as the International Monetary Fund's resident
representative in Zimbabwe Gerry Johnson this week warned that the country
could soon plunge into a hyperinflationary spiral that could bring the
economy to total collapse.

      Noting wage-led strikes by university students, teachers, medical
staff and engineers at the national Air Zimbabwe airline, the respected
Raftopoulos said there was already a momentum for a general strike and price
hikes across the economy.

      Any upward changes in the price of fuel could quicken mass strikes by
long-harassed citizens.

      Zimbabweans are paying $66.39 for a litre of diesel at the pump and
$74.47 for a litre of petrol, most of it imported from Libya and South
Africa by the state-run National Oil Company of Zimbabwe which, together
with the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, gets 40 percent of all hard
cash earned by Zimbabwe to pay for energy imports.

      Mugabe did not specify whether private oil companies would be
similarly allowed easier access to cheaper foreign currency nor did he shed
light on how the price of fuel imported by private companies would be

      The government more than a year ago rejected a proposal by private oil
firms to be allowed to import fuel as a consortium, fearing that this action
would push up prices of the vital commodity just as the government was
facing its biggest electoral challenge from the country's main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.

      Petroleum Marketers Association of Zimbabwe (PMAZ) chairman Masimba
Kambarami said the association was planning to meet the government sometime
this week to seek clarification on arrangements the state had for oil
companies to import oil.

      But whatever price structure or modalities the industry would work out
with the government would need to also address the viability of the oil
companies, he noted.

      "The bottom line for everybody is viability and sustainability of
supply," Kambarani told the Financial Gazette.

      Harare-based independent economic analyst John Robertson said the
government was likely to continue importing some of the fuel but allow
private oil firms to procure more of the commodity.

      Even if the government allowed private firms to have access to the
little foreign currency that is available in the country at the official
rate of one American dollar to $55, as is the case now, the hard cash
trickling into Zimbabwe would not be able to pay for fuel requirements, he

      Robertson said the oil companies could raise their own resources to
pay for fuel from abroad or could mobilise the foreign currency from
Zimbabwe's illegal but thriving black market but that whatever they did
would have to result in them making a profit.

      The Zimbabwe dollar is officially pegged at $55 to the American unit
but even the government has admitted that this rate grossly overvalues the
local currency, given the huge inflation differentials between Zimbabwe and
its major trading partners.

      Most financial analysts say the real value of the dollar is much
closer to the black market rate, which at the moment is around $1 500 to one

      Robertson said: "The price of fuel on the international market is
US$0.50 per litre and ruling out any other additional costs, you will still
get a price of 750 Zimbabwe dollars for a litre of fuel if the companies use
the real value of the local dollar.

      "Clearly whatever pricing formula or supplying arrangement they will
come up with, we are looking at a price of fuel that is more or less 10
times what people are paying now."

      UZ business studies professor Tony Hawkins said: "The government is
caught between a rock and hard place: either it allows a substantial rise in
the price of fuel or there is no fuel at all."

      The UZ professor spoke as garages and car owners this week reported
that many fuel pumps, especially in Zimbabwe' s southern regions, were
running dry.

      Any hike in the price of fuel could immediately ignite unrest in the
labour sector, with workers possibly opting for industrial action to force
employers, themselves reeling under an economic siege, to award
substantially high wage rises to track galloping inflation.

      "Any substantial increase in the price of fuel would be very, very
inflationary, with prices going up across the economy. We could see a
complete dislocation of everything - the social, labour and economic
sectors," Robertson acknowledged.

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      UK firm threatens to sue govt over losses

      Staff Reporter
      11/7/02 8:33:21 AM (GMT +2)

      AFRICAN Gold Plc (Afgold), a United Kingdom-based gold producer, says
it is to lodge a compensation claim against the Zimbabwe government for
losses caused by the country's volatile political climate.

      The firm did not say how much it would sue for in what would be the
first case of its kind in independent Zimbabwe.

      In a statement accompanying the firm's 2002 financial results just
released, chairman John Teeling said Afgold's operations in Zimbabwe had
been hurt by Zimbabwe's economic meltdown and a breakdown in the rule of law
in the past two years.

      The company, which in the past 15 years has invested more that four
million pounds in Africa, most of it in Zimbabwe, has been forced to sell
off most of its local gold interests because of tumbling gold prices,
soaring inflation and an artificially high exchange rate.

      Afgold's remaining Zimbabwean gold mine, Inez, has been hard hit by
macroeconomic instability. Its management has been harassed by ruling ZANU
PF supporters, who have invaded white-owned farms since February 2000.

      Teeling told shareholders: "Political uncertainty has exacerbated
economic turmoil. Hunger is widespread and famine is inevitable.

      "Ominously, the rule of law is breaking down. In the past year, the
Inez mine has been invaded three times. Senior management has been
intimidated, threatened and physically abused. The local police force is
either unable or unwilling to help.

      "During the invasions, we have been in touch with the relevant
authorities. As a UK company listed in London, we obtained assistance from
the Foreign Office in London and from officials in the Zimbabwe High
Commission. We have informed the authorities that we will lodge a claim for
damages and compensation against the state of Zimbabwe."

      But he said his company, still out in the market in search of other
investments in Africa, had no plans to pull out of Zimbabwe as long as Inez
mine remained self-financing and local management was willing to remain in

      The firm hopes to continue operations at Inez, located 25 kms east of
Kadoma, partly to safeguard the interests of 100 workers who have about 700

      Teeling said: "We supply this village with water, fuel and some
security. In recent months we have begun supplying staples such as salt,
maize and cooking oil. If Inez closes, there is no alternative paid
employment. Workers of 12 years' service and their families may starve. It
is as serious as that.

      "But it is not altruism alone which keeps us in Zimbabwe. Gold miners
and explorers must go where the gold is. Zimbabwe is rich in gold.

      "It was the third largest gold producer in Africa after South Africa
and Ghana but output has halved. When the political situation clarifies and
economic stability returns, Afgold would hope to participate in the revival
of the mining industry. It will take some time, several years, for the
present upheaval to run its course, but finish it will."
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      ZANU PF debates Mugabe's surprise U-turn on fuel imports

      By Sydney Masamvu Political Editor
      11/7/02 8:36:30 AM (GMT +2)

      THE top leadership of the ruling ZANU PF met yesterday to debate
proposals to allow private oil companies to import fuel amid reports that
divisions had emerged over the issue, with one faction fearing a political
fallout if the government relinquishes control of the crucial energy sector.

      Yesterday's meeting followed an announcement by President Robert
Mugabe last week that multinational companies must import their own fuel
instead of buying the commodity from the state-run National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe (NOCZIM).

      Mugabe said it was foolish for the government to continue procuring
fuel on behalf of international oil firms, which he alleged then reaped huge
profits while the state incurred losses.

      The ZANU PF Politburo, the party's supreme body, was yesterday
expected to debate the proposal on fuel imports and either endorse or reject

      Party insiders told the Financial Gazette before the Politburo meeting
that they expected to be briefed on the proposal before debating it.

      A task force, including private sector representatives, charged with
working out the means of implementing the scheme would then be formed, if
there was consensus, to oversee the fuel import by multinational oil

      Petroleum Marketers' Association of Zimbabwe chairman Masimba
Kambara-mi said there were still several issues to be worked out before a
new policy on fuel procurement could be implemented.

      "We have had some talks but there are still some complications and
policy issues that have to be ironed out and other players like NOCZIM will
also have to be part of the process," he told the Financial Gazette.

      ZANU PF insiders said there was a flurry of consultations during the
week among Politburo members ahead of yesterday's meeting to determine the
merits and de-merits of Mugabe's U-turn.

      Some members were arguing that allowing private oil firms to procure
fuel would push up the prices of transport and basic commodities as oil
firms would have to charge market prices for their commodities.

      These officials are arguing that price controls imposed by the
government last October would become irrelevant, with disastrous
consequences for consumers.

      "We have in the past few days been consulting among ourselves on this
issue and some think it is not ideal under the current economic and
political environment to bring in private oil companies on board on fuel
procurement," a Politburo member said.

      "The issue needs further discussion, which we will do. It is a good
idea under normal circumstances," he added.

      Other members said while they appreciated that Zimbabwe had the lowest
fuel prices in the region, they wanted the government to maintain the
present arrangement until the country's political and economic crisis eased.

      They want the price of fuel to be reviewed on a quarterly basis,
beginning with the 2003 national budget, which will be presented next

      These members also want to know how the new arrangement will work and
whether private oil firms will be given priority in the allocation of
foreign currency by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

      They are also demanding that state security agencies audit some of the
oil companies.

      Authoritative sources say the Central Intelligence Organisation's
economic unit has already compiled a risk report detailing the economic and
political impact on state security of allowing private players to take over
fuel procurement.

      Fears of sabotage by the multinational companies have also been

      Zimbabweans are currently paying $66.39 for a litre of diesel at the
pump and $74.47 for a litre of petrol, most of it imported from Libya and
South Africa on preferential terms by NOCZIM.
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      Timber firms win case on seizure of estates

      11/7/02 8:35:02 AM (GMT +2)

      THE High Court yesterday barred the Ministry of Lands from acquiring
forestry estates belonging to private companies Border Timbers (Pvt) Limited
and Forrester Estates (Pvt) Limited in the eastern highlands.

      In a provisional ruling granted by High Court judge Justice Charles
Hungwe, illegal settlers who have occupied land in Forrester and Border
Timbers estates will also have to be removed by the police.

      The companies' lawyers, Wintertons Legal Practitioners, had argued
that properties belonging to the two firms were protected by
intergovernmental bilateral agreements between Zimbabwe and Germany.

      The two companies have German shareholders. The lawyers said the land
would only be acquired when the Zimbabwe government paid full compensation
for the properties and with the consent of the German shareholders.

      The lawyers said because the properties had not been legally acquired,
the occupation by the settlers was illegal.

      Last month illegal settlers preparing land for planting set fire to
more than 14 000 hectares of forestation belonging to Border Timbers and the
Forestry Company of Zimbabwe (FCZ).

      The fires engulfed pine and gum trees worth about $9 billion, most of
it which would have been destined for the export market. Border Timbers and
FCZ are some of the biggest timber producers in southern Africa.

      Border Timbers has in the past warned its shareholders in cautionary
statements that the company is choking as a result of the government's
fast-track land resettlement exercise which has targeted some of its

      Border Timbers and Forrester had initially cited the ministries of
foreign affairs, defence and state security in their case but the lawyers
for the two firms yesterday dropped this demand, saying the action was no
longer necessary.

      Meanwhile five white farmers yesterday applied to the High Court to
have their eviction notices invalidated. They challenged the acquisition of
their farms by the government. An interim ruling will be made next

      Although some farmers have successfully challenged the government's
eviction and land acquisition notices, the government has in some cases
continued to resettle landless blacks on those properties.

      Last August the government ordered about 3 000 farmers to quit their
properties and make way for the resettlement of landless blacks.

      - Staff Reporter
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      ZANU PF backers blacklisted

      Staff Reporter
      11/7/02 9:49:02 AM (GMT +2)

      NEW Zealand has extended smart sanctions slapped against Zimbabwe in
April to cover 142 officials of President Robert Mugabe's government and
business associates of the ruling ZANU PF, it was learnt this week.

      Wellington imposed smart sanctions against members of Mugabe's top
hierarchy after his March presidential election victory, which has been
rejected by the international community and the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change because of alleged electoral fraud.

      The sanctions initially covered Mugabe and 19 of his top officials,
who had already been blacklisted by the European Union (EU) and the United
States of America, which have also introduced arms embargoes against

      New Zealand Foreign Ministry Press secretary John Tulloch this week
said the list of the affected officials had been expanded to reflect an
August Cabinet reshuffle in Zimbabwe and business people who had profited
from their association with ZANU PF.

      "We started with 20, then went to 72 and that was to take into account
a Cabinet reshuffle and things like that. Names have been added from the EU
list and a couple of other intelligence agencies from overseas.

      "The majority of the names are concerned with members of Cabinet and
government, but there are some business people as well."

      Tulloch declined to make available New Zealand's expanded blacklist,
saying intelligence sources who had contributed to its drafting had
requested that names on the list remain confidential.

      "Some of the names on the list were taken from overseas intelligence
agencies who asked us not to publicise the names," he said.

      However, New Zealand officials say the expanded smart sanctions list
"follows closely" the list of Zimbabwean officials and business people
banned by the EU, the US and Canada.

      The EU's blacklist, which has been expanded from 20 to 79 since
sanctions were introduced in February, includes Mugabe, his wife Grace, his
two vice presidents, Vice President Simon Muzenda's daughter Tsitsi as well
as the entire Cabinet and ZANU PF Politburo.

      Business people banned by the United States include prominent bankers
Enoch Kamushinda, Taka Mutunhu, Gideon Gono and David Chapfika. Also
included are businessmen Philip Chiyangwa, Saviour Kasukuwere, Billy
Rautenbach and John Bredenkamp.

      New Zealand Foreign Minister Philip Goff said Wellington had decided
to extend its blacklist of Zimbabwean officials because of the Mugabe
regime's refusal to heed international protests against human rights abuses
and the subversion of the rule of law.

      "President Robert Mugabe has continually failed to respond to the
international community's profound concern about human rights abuses and
subversion of the rule of law in Zimbabwe," he said.

      "Accordingly, New Zealand has decided to extend its travel
restrictions against the Mugabe government. The ban has been placed on
individuals implicated in a serious way in undermining the rule of law and
promoting or allowing human rights abuses. It is now being widened to
include those profiting from their commercial dealings with the Mugabe

      He said New Zealand's travel ban underlined the country's commitment
to working with the international community to apply pressure on Mugabe to
restore democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

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From The Guardian (UK), 7 November

'Since I was born, I've never seen such hunger'

Andrew Meldrum in Nkayi, south-western Zimbabwe

The old woman crawls from her hut and slowly stands up. She walks unsteadily to greet the visitors. "Pardon me," she says politely in the Ndebele language. "I am weak. We have gone two days without food. We are gathering wild berries but they are not enough. We are losing strength." The tidy homestead of five huts decorated in lively geometric designs speaks of a more prosperous past. "Since I was born in 1924, I have never seen such hunger," says Maria Nyathi (whose name has been changed to avoid retaliation). "Even in 1947 when there was terrible drought, we could easily purchase food. But now the government prevents us from buying food because they say we support the opposition." Mrs Nyathi's dreadfully thin daughter is racked by a cough. She has Aids and is declining rapidly because of malnutrition. Mrs Nyathi's granddaughter, seven, is too weak from hunger to walk to school. Nearby, the state's grain marketing board sells maize, but the Nyathi family and many others have been turned away to punish the 40,000-strong Nkayi district for voting for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). "It is criminal what this government is doing," Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube says in his Bulawayo office, 100 miles to the south. "They don't care if people die. For the sake of political power the government is willing to sacrifice the lives of thousands. The government is starving areas that voted for the opposition in recent elections. It is the work of devils." As thin, hollow-cheeked people wait for donations outside his offices, the visibly distraught archbishop says the casualties of the government's policies are mounting. "No less that 80 people have died of starvation in Matabeleland already; 600 have died from the combination of Aids and hunger," he says.

Binga, in Matabeleland North province, is the most egregious example of food being used as a political weapon. It is one of the areas hardest hit by the famine, but the government has stopped all food deliveries to the area for months. A handful of President Robert Mugabe's "war veterans" blocked deliveries of food to schools by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and Save the Children UK. The UN world food programme cannot deliver food to Binga until the government gives its approval for a charity to distribute it. Meanwhile the people are starving. More than 30 have died from malnutrition, officials at Binga hospital say. The area voted strongly for the MDC in the March presidential election and again in the local council elections. Local officials tell Binga residents to "go to Britain for food", says the area's MP, Joel Gabbuza. His allegations are echoed by the local MP in Nkayi district, Abednico Bhebhe. "Our people are being starved because they refused to vote for Mugabe," Mr Bhebhe says. "We try to smuggle in food but it is dangerous. The war veterans have declared Nkayi a 'no-go' area for any MDC and for any whites." He was beaten and imprisoned for weeks when he visited his constituency during the presidential election in March. MDC supporters recount stories of torture and murder in the Nkayi area. "I was whipped with barbed wire. My feet were beaten so I could not walk. I was kept in a pit for several weeks and forced to drink urine," says Venny Dube, 30, showing scars to back up his account. "A friend was murdered; others are still missing months later." The people of Nkayi are afraid of further reprisals. At Mrs Nyathi's homestead, when a motor vehicle is heard passing nearby, she immediately urges the Guardian to leave. "If it is the war veterans they will hurt you and punish us. Go and tell the world what is happening here," she says.

Business Day

      SADC needs a clear agenda on poverty'

      Group's goals must be defined well'
      GABORONE Poverty and sustainable development were inextricably linked,
said Botswana's President Festus Mogae as he opened the 2002 Southern
African Development Community (SADC) consultative conference here yesterday.

      "Poverty is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today," he

      "The good thing about this meeting is that we are all in agreement as
we start. The challenge is to translate our goals into concrete improvements
in the general living standards of our people and the sustainable reduction
of poverty."

      The conference is the annual meeting between the 14 member states of
SADC and their international development partners.

      Mogae has asked for more funding to fight HIV/AIDS, which was
reversing development; and to make good on promises to provide money to
fight famine in southern Africa.

      If the SADC's development agenda was formulated to show what members'
priorities were, it would be easier for the co-operating partners to

      "Our development agenda must clearly show how we intend to move
towards halving the number of our people living under extreme poverty by
2015," Mogae said.

      Peace, stability and the HIV/AIDS epidemic continued to be major

      Referring to famine in the region, Mogae said: "The number of people
affected by the food crisis is estimated to rise to 14,4-million by March

      "Although the worst affected countries are Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia,
Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique, Angola and the Congo, the remaining
countries of the region will be equally affected if the drought continues
into next year, especially semi-arid Botswana and Namibia.

      "Four months after the launch of the United Nations-SADC humanitarian
appeal, $256,5m, or 42% of the $611m required has been secured, mostly for
food aid.

      The agricultural recovery programme has only received 28% of what is
required. The health sector has received 14% of the required $48,2m. More
must be done," Mogae said.

      Although famine-stricken, some SADC member states will not accept
genetically modified foods as part of aid packages.

      Saying he had no concerns about genetically modified food "I eat what
is served to me" Mogae said the SADC was aware of the urgent need to
pronounce a clear policy on the issue. Sapa
      Oct 29 2002 12:00:00:000AM  Business Day 1st Edition

      07 November 2002
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From The Daily News, 7 November

Chiwengas to stand trial for farm seizure

By Fanuel Jongwe Court Reporter

The High Court has referred for trial the dispute over assets between Jocelyn Chiwenga, and a commercial farmer, whose property, Chakoma Estates in Goromonzi, she occupied in April this year. Justice Rita Makarau made the ruling after Roger Staunton, the director of Shepherd Hall Farm (Private) Limited, applied for an order compelling Chiwenga to allow a valuator to assess the value of the assets in dispute. Jocelyn is the wife of the Zimbabwe National Army Commander, Lieutenant-General Constantine Chiwenga. Makarau yesterday referred for trial the protracted property dispute between the Chiwengas, T Mautsa and the Minister of Lands, Agricultural and Rural Resettlement, on the one hand, and Staunton, on the other. Shepherd Hall Farm operates Chakoma Estates. "The applicant asks for an order that this court appoints a valuator to place a value on the assets," the judge said. "However, there is a dispute as to the quantity of the movable assets that the respondents took over when they took occupation of the farm. The parties have produced different lists. In my view, evidence will have to be led on this dispute. Accordingly, the matter will have to be referred for trial."

In addition, Makarau ordered Mautsa, the Chiwengas and the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement to give notice that they would defend themselves within 10 days. They took over the assets after they occupied the farm in April this year. Staunton is also seeking a court order compelling the respondents to compensate him for the value of the contentious assets and allowing him to remain on Chakoma Estate. He also wants the court to restrain Mautsa, the Chiwengas and the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement from interfering with his occupation of the farm. The application was not opposed. Staunton filed an urgent chamber application, pending determination of his court application, and was granted a provisional order. The respondents were barred from selling, exporting or disposing of flowers and vegetables from the farm. The proceeds from the sale of flowers and vegetables from the farm in the control of Hortico (Private) Limited were frozen pending determination of the application.

Staunton alleged in his application that Mautsa and the Chiwengas invaded Chakoma Estate and promised to compensate him for the land and improvements on the land, for vehicles and other equipment and for crops on the land if Staunton introduced them to his overseas market. Staunton obliged. When the date for the promised compensation passed without payment, Staunton approached Mautsa and the Chiwengas. He was allegedly told that he would be paid by the government in terms of the Land Acquisition Act. Meanwhile, Mautsa and the Chiwengas continued to harvest and pocket proceeds from the export of vegetables and flowers. Mautsa and the Chiwengas denied the allegations against them. They said they were the lawful owners of the property which they said was allocated to them by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement. They said they did not promise Staunton any compensation.

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Zimbabwe man arrested for Mugabe poster

HARARE, Nov. 7 - Zimbabwean police arrested a man for carrying a poster in a
Harare township saying God would punish President Robert Mugabe for ''evils
done'' to the people, state media reported on Thursday.
       The man was arrested on Wednesday for holding a poster saying: ''God
shall confront Mugabe over evils done to people. Then would the police and
Central Intelligence officials arrest God on that day?''
       The Central Intelligence Organisation is the national spy agency.
       The man was detained under a tough security law that forbids people
from denigrating the president, the state-owned Herald newspaper said on
       The crime is punishable by a fine or a year in prison, the newspaper
said. Police were not available to comment.
       Zimbabwe is facing its worst political and economic crisis in 22
years, partly due to a controversial state campaign to redistribute
white-owned commercial farms to landless blacks.
       Nearly half the country's 14 million people are facing a hunger
crisis due to drought and the land upheaval. Unemployment and inflation are
at record highs, and consumers are battling shortages of fuel and cooking

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