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Zim Independent

Obasanjo wants Zim off Abuja agenda
Dumisani Muleya
NIGERIAN President Olusegun Obasanjo is working frantically to ensure the
potentially damaging issue of Zimbabwe doesn't scupper the Commonwealth
Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in Abuja in December.

Diplomatic sources yesterday said Obasanjo had been making strenuous efforts
to keep Zimbabwe, currently suspended from the Commonwealth due to electoral
fraud, off the Chogm agenda.

The sources said Obasanjo wanted to prevent a major "Zimbabwe row in his
backyard" that could split the 54-member grouping along political or
regional lines.

This comes against a background of reports of further deterioration in the
situation on the ground in Zimbabwe. Political violence and repression
remain pervasive while economic implosion deepens, re-cent surveys submitted
to Commonwealth leaders and diplomats point out.

A report by regional church leaders released last Friday revealed that Zanu
PF youth brigades were still perpetrating acts of violence across the
country. Representatives of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum this week
told Commonwealth high commissioners in London that there has been no
change - except for the worse - in the country.

However, it is understood Obasanjo is planning to bury the Zimbabwe issue
which threatens to create wide fissures in the normally tranquil edifice of
Commonwealth consensus.

"The Nigerians are working very hard to ensure that Zimbabwe does not become
the main issue at Abuja," a well-placed source said. "All contacts by
Obasanjo and his officials are geared mostly to ensuring that there are no
contentious issues on the table."

Sources said Obasanjo, who sits on the Commonwealth troika on Zimbabwe with
South African President Thabo Mbeki and Australian Prime Minister John
Howard, has ordered his foreign ministry, which is preparing the groundwork
for Chogm, to prevent Zimbabwe becoming the main bone of contention in
Abuja. Mbeki is supporting the Nigerian leader's efforts.

"Obasanjo has instructed his foreign ministry to ensure that by the time
Abuja comes there will already have been such progress in dealing with the
matter that it will not be an issue," the source said.

"He believes the Zimbabwe issue could wreck 'his' conference. There may be
some noise about the issue right now but I can tell you, and I know this,
the Nigerians want Zimbabwe to vanish from the agenda."

Efforts to get comment from Nigerian High Commissioner Wil-berforce Juta
were unsuccessful.

Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth on March 19 last year following
fraud and political violence in President Robert Mugabe's disputed
re-election. Harare is, however, trying to get the ban lifted in Abuja.

That will require the ruling party to make progress in its talks with the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

During its suspension, Zimbabwe was asked to address the club's various
concerns. These include political dialogue and reconciliation; electoral law
reforms and other fundamental legislative changes; promotion, in
collaboration with the UNDP, of an organised land reform exercise; human
rights issues and the economic crisis.

But as Commonwealth secretary-general Don McKinnon's report states, and the
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum reinforces in its report released this week,
Harare is in clear breach of the Commonwealth's Harare Declaration, the
Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme on the Harare Declaration and the
Abuja Agreement signed in Nigeria on September 6 2001 in a bid to end the
local crisis.

"The evidence available at pre-sent indicates that Zimbabwe remains
divergent to the Common-wealth goal of 'promoting democracy and good
governance, human rights and the rule of law, gender equality and
sustainable econo-mic and social development'," the forum's report says.

It said Harare has also failed to comply with the Marlborough House
Statement on Zimbabwe, through which the country was suspended, and the
Zimbabwe Mid-Term Review Statement issued by the troika in Abuja on
September 23 last year.

"Electoral processes in Zimbabwe continue to be conducted in an environment
in which citizens are unable to participate freely," the report says. "They
are persistently subjected to violence, intimidation and coercion. High
levels of human rights violations continue to prevail."

It went further: "There has been continued disregard for the rule of law and
manipulation of the judiciary that has compromised equal access to justice.

This has been accompanied by the establishment of a culture of impunity
presided over by a seemingly partisan police force."

On the economy, it said: "Economic decline has accelerated as a result of
mismanagement, coupled with engagement in an unsustainable land reform
programme that has only served to aggravate food insecurity in the country."

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Zim Independent

Mugabe's missing 11m ha
Itai Dzamara
DESPITE persistent claims by government that it has resettled 300 000
families under the land reform A1 model, the Presidential Land Review
Committee's report submitted yesterday revealed that less than half that
number of families have in fact been resettled.

Sources privy to the report, which President Robert Mugabe officially
received from chairman of the committee Charles Utete at State House
yesterday, said it exposed as false the claim that 300 000 families had been

Only about 130 000 families have been allocated land, it reveals.

The report also says government and Zanu PF officials have in many cases
seized several farms each whilst depriving ordinary people of land.

Resettlement figures were exaggerated to justify the grabbing of large
tracts of land, much of which is currently lying idle.

Of the 11 million hectares of land acquired by the government for
resettlement, less than four million hectares have been allocated to
peasants, sources said.

"The report identified that about 130 000 families were resettled under the
fast track scheme," said a source.

"It further identified the process whereby government and ruling party
officials helped themselves to farms whilst figures were inflated of
families that were resettled."

In his first response to the report recently, Mugabe gave his officials a
two-week ultimatum to surrender extra farms and remain with one each.

Special Affairs Minister John Nkomo, who also reportedly has more than one
farm, has said some officials were now surrendering surplus farms.

"These figures were being compiled starting from the district level up to
the provincial level," another source said. "It was therefore easy to claim
a certain number of families as having been resettled on a number of farms,
including those taken over by chefs."

Since August last year, when government claimed to have concluded the
violence-ridden fast track scheme, there have been queries over figures
provided for resettled families.

Sources said that one of the focal points of the Utete team was to verify
the figures, hence the discovery of the inflating of figures as well as
multiple farm ownership by chefs.

The Presidential Land Review report is understood to have recommended
government revisit the fast track scheme, recover looted farms and allocate
them to deserving peasants in order to establish some respectability in the
agrarian reform programme.

The area of productivity was also highlighted in the report, with the low
uptake of land by beneficiaries seen as perpetuating the food deficit in the

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Zim Independent

Govt's food u-turn follows heavy diplomatic pressure
Augustine Mukaro/Blessing Zulu
GOVERNMENT'S reversal of its policy on food relief distribution was as a
result of heavy diplomatic pressure from the United Nations bodies handling
humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe, it has been learnt.

Diplomatic sources said the United Nations Development Programme resident
representative and humanitarian co-ordinator, Victor Angelo, and World Food
Programme director in Zimbabwe, Kevin Farrell, put immense pressure on
government to review its directive that food aid should only be channelled
through government structures.

Their pressure was complemented by donors' threats to stop humanitarian
assistance if government had enforced the new policy.

"Angelo and Farrell met with the Minister of Public Service, Labour and
Social Welfare, July Moyo over the subject," a diplomat said.

"The minister gave assurances that there are no significant changes in the
system of food aid distribution already in place and that NGOs should
continue their work in co-ordination with local government structures.

"Moyo reiterated that the current system of food aid distribution is
functioning satisfactorily."

The Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report released last week said the WFP
regional director raised the issue with President Robert Mugabe who
reaffirmed previous assurances that food aid would not be used for political

"It was stressed that WFP's implementing partners continue to be considered
responsible and accountable for the food up to the point of handover to
beneficiaries," the report says.

"WFP is hoping to finalise with government the Memorandum of Understanding
(MOU) for the emergency operation for 2003/2004. WFP considers this MOU
essential to ensure that food aid distributions can proceed based on
vulnerability only," the report says.

Last week donors also asked for clarification on the controversial issue.

Donors want the food distribution process to continue as it has been in the
past - for the process to be transparent and the beneficiary lists to be
determined in public non-political meetings.

"All were unanimous, politicisation of food aid would not be acceptable.
They commended WFP's policy of zero tolerance of politicisation of food aid
and insisted that this be the basis for future support," the report said.

The backtrack comes after government closed UN Relief and Recovery Unit
field offices in mid-August.

Government alleged that not all procedures for the establishment of this
field presence had been properly followed resulting in UN field staff being
recalled to Harare.

The provincial field units are mandated to provide support to provincial and
district level co-ordination structures in the humanitarian fields. They are
also supposed to monitor, from an independent perspective, assistance
provided with donor resources.

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Zim Independent

Ex-Noczim boss in Libya as police net spreads
Itai Dzamara
NATIONAL Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) former chief executive officer,
Webster Muriritirwa, has left the country and is believed to be in Libya
where he will take up a post with Tamoil amid police investigations into the
Noczim fuel saga.

Muriritirwa, who left Noczim under a cloud at the end of last month, is
understood to be in Libya to join Tamoil.

A relative of Muriritirwa who spoke on condition of anonymity said he left
the country for Libya but claimed to be unaware of his mission there.

"He is out of the country. Yes, he is in Libya," said the relative. "I am
not aware of his mission there."

A senior source at Noczim said Muriritirwa's links with Tamoil were
established during visits to this country by the Libyan firm's officials as
well as when Noczim officials visited Libya.

Tamoil has been supplying Noczim with fuel for the past three years before
their deal collapsed due to failure by the Zimbabwe government to pay its

"He (Muriritirwa) left for Libya about three weeks ago. We have no doubt
about that," said the Noczim source. "His relationship with Tamoil was
established over the past two years when he paid visits to Libya, which we
understand culminated in a deal being clinched."

Muriritirwa resigned from Noczim at the end of last month after what sources
described as a "gruelling battle" with government over the fuel crisis and
the collapse of the Tamoil deal.

"His relationships with Energy minister (Amos) Midzi had reached a low ebb
and was characterised by accusations and counter-accusations," said a
source. The source added that irregularities in the Noczim/Tamoil deal had
also caused a clash between government and Noczim officials.

Meanwhile, it emerged this week that Muriritirwa could be forced to return
to assist investigations as government intensifies its crackdown at Noczim.

Energy ministry sources said a probe into the parastatal's operations over
the past two years had revealed serious anomalies of officials leaking fuel
onto the black market in connivance with top government and Zanu PF

Muriritirwa was appointed Noczim chief in 2000 to take over from Nicholas
Ncube who moved to the Ministry of Finance.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said yesterday that investigations into
the parastatal as well as individuals were continuing.

"Investigations continue as we receive more information. However, I don't
have anything to provide so far," said Bvudzijena.

Midzi could not be reached for comment this week.

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Zim Independent

MDC briefs Mkapa
Dumisani Muleya
OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary-general Welshman
Ncube and his party delegation this week widened their diplomatic offensive
to include East Africa.

Ncube met Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, the sitting Southern Africa
Development Community (Sadc) chair, in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday to brief him
on the situation in Zimbabwe.

"We met President Mkapa and discussed the situation in Zimbabwe. It was a
good meeting in which we exchanged views in a friendly atmosphere," Ncube

"Our objective is to brief regional leaders on what is happening in Zimbabwe
from our own perspective. We were not there (Tanzania) to quarrel with the
Sadc position or to counter Zanu PF views but to give our own account of the

Ncube said Mkapa emphasised there was no way out of the crisis except
through negotiations between the MDC and Zanu PF.

"President Mkapa even referred to the Tanzanian situation after the election
in 2000 and how they resolved their crisis through dialogue," he said.

The MDC delegation last week met Malawian president Bakili Muluzi and South
Africa's ruling African National Congress secretary-general Kgalema
Motlanthe, who last year was involved in efforts to broker talks between the
ruling party and the opposition.

Another MDC team led by deputy-secretary-general Gift Chimanikire was in
Kenya to meet that country's leadership.

Ncube said the MDC wanted to brief all Sadc leaders on the situation in

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Zim Independent

Chequebooks run out
Eric Chiriga
THE critical shortage of foreign currency is causing serious problems in the
printing of chequebooks which are badly needed in the wake of the cash

Sources said two major printing companies, Celsys Print and Typocrafters
(Pvt) Ltd, are failing to produce enough chequebooks because there is no
foreign currency to import special paper and magnetic ribbons which are key
elements in the process.

Celsys Print production manager Ali Arap said: "We don't have foreign
currency to import the paper which is used to print chequebooks and we are
now telling the banks to give us the foreign currency or they can buy the
paper themselves."

Due to the cash shortage, people had resorted to using bank cheques and the
newly introduced travellers' cheques as methods of payment.

Before the problem of chequebooks started, it took only two to three days to
get a chequebook but now it takes at least a week.

At Metropolitan Bank, whose chequebooks are printed by Celsys, it used to
take about four days to get a chequebook but now it takes a week or more.
The situation is the same with many other banks.

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Zim Independent

Agriculture budget unable to meet farmers' needs
Itai Dzamara
THE supplementary budget allocation to the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture,
Water and Resettlement for crop inputs is far from what is necessary to
avert food shortages due to drastically reduced agricultural productivity.

In his supplementary budget proposal three weeks ago, Finance minister
Herbert Murerwa allocated an additional $45 billion for crop inputs as well
as livestock production for the coming farming season.

That was in addition to the $12,5 billion allocated in the current budget,
bringing the total to $57,5 billion.

The amount, analysts say, is insignificant considering the plethora of
constraints facing the agricultural sector.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) agriculture spokesman Renson
Gasela told parliament that the $45 billion was too little considering the
task at hand.

"The additional allocation is far from extricating the country from severe
food shortages as a result of low productivity," said Gasela.

"The amount of money required for inputs is a minimum of $432 billion. The
minister (of Agriculture Joseph Made) says that the additional amount will
include tillage, fertilisers, chemicals and livestock. So this provision is
too little."

Gasela said the total budget for farming inputs, if properly used, would
only yield 150 tonnes of maize. The country requires 2 500 000 tonnes for
consumption. The other option was for farmers to raise their own funds, and
each would need up to $1 million for seeds and fertilisers alone.

Murerwa also proposed to make $60 billion available to farmers through
Agribank, which however is difficult to access due to delays and lack of

In addition, the nation would need to raise enough foreign currency to
import seeds and fertilisers because of the inability of local companies to
meet demand.

Fertiliser and seed manufacturers last week revealed that they would only
manage to produce low quantities this season due to the shortage of raw
materials, which require foreign currency.

It also emerged that efforts by government to secure fertilisers from
Malaysia were hitting a snag due to the shortage of foreign currency.

The destruction of the agricultural sector caused by President Robert
Mugabe's chaotic land reform programme which started in 2000 has led to
acute food shortages. Coupled with damaging economic policies, the effects
have crippled all sectors of society, thereby plunging the country into the
current crisis.

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Zim Independent

German NGOsevers ties with government
Blessing Zulu
ZIMBABWE-Network, a German-based non-governmental organisation which
supported the country's liberation movements during the struggle for
Independence, has cut ties with government to protest human rights abuses.

A spokesman for the NGO, Rosini Fiedler Conradi, told the Zimbabwe
Independent that his organisation was appalled by political and economic
developments in country.

"We were in a crisis at first as we did not know how to react to the
developments in Zimbabwe following reports of gross human rights abuses,"
Conradi said.

"Our members went to Zimbabwe at the height of the political crisis in 2000
and 2001 and this made the picture clearer. The government, it emerged, did
not adhere to the principles of democracy and human rights."

Zimbabwe-Network assisted both Zanu PF and PF-Zapu during the liberation war
against colonial rule. The network raised money and acquired ammunition for
freedom fighters, trained teachers at refugee camps outside the country and
provided logistical support.

The group also assisted in reconstruction and economic recovery after
Independence. It helped ex-combatants set up self-help projects.

Conradi said the group had since stopped supporting Zimbabwe with any form
of aid due to the prevailing repression and human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, former Zimbabwe-German Trade Association president Werner Seidel
has blamed the chaotic land reform programme for the country's economic

"The grabbing of land, even the land that had been purchased after
Independence, will scare away potential voters," Seidel said.

"The message that the government is sending to potential investors is that
their property rights are not guaranteed. It will be very difficult to
convince anyone to invest in such an insecure environment."

Seidel said German investors and local farmers had engaged him to reason
with President Robert Mugabe when he was in Berlin a few years ago on the
need to resolve the land imbalances peacefully.

"I told the president that land reform was necessary but it had to be
resolved amicably," he said.

"There were many farmers who were willing to surrender their farms but the
president did not want to commit himself."

Zimbabwe is in its fourth year of economic recession. Social instability as
a result of unemployment of around 70%, and inflation of nearly 400% are
playing havoc in the country. Nearly six million Zimbabweans will need food
assistance before the next harvest season because of a marked decline in
agricultural productivity blamed chiefly on the government's arbitrary
seizure of white commercial farms.

Government blames the country's enemies led by the UK and the US, the
opposition MDC and drought.

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Zim Independent

MDC pushes for action on talks
Itai Dzamara
THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) this week resolved to intensify
pressure on the ruling Zanu PF party for the resumption of formal dialogue
on the country's crisis.

This emerged from MDC meetings held to discuss the way forward following the
party's convincing victory in recent council elections.

During the meetings, the MDC leadership agreed there was need to give
priority to arresting the country's economic decline.

Sources said the meetings dwelt on the need to guard against Zanu PF's
delaying tactics on the talks while at the same time the ruling party was
telling regional leaders it was interested in dialogue.

"Leaders of the party made it clear to the president (Morgan Tsvangirai)
that action was needed to force Zanu PF to the negotiating table," said a
source said.

"If nothing happens, it might call for mass action because the longer things
stay like this the more people suffer."

The MDC held a widely-observed stayaway in June. Tsvangirai has given Zanu
PF an October 1 deadline to resume formal dialogue or face further mass

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Zim Independent

Zim's new farmers face starvation
Staff Writer/Irin
ZIMBABWE'S chaotic land reform programme has spawned hunger and a major
humanitarian crisis, a recent survey has confirmed.

The survey by the Consortium for Southern Africa's Food Emergency (C-Safe)
found that less than one in every 10 families living in newly-resettled
areas in Zimbabwe has received food aid.

C-Safe said in areas where the consortium operated, vulnerability was "very
high" and over 60% of the 1 625 households surveyed since March were in "at
least one vulnerability category".

The government has been telling the international community that the reform
exercise has empowered the ordinary people. The claims though do not match
the evidence on the ground.

The survey, conducted in Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe, found that rural
households had suffered the brunt of the ongoing food crisis, with 80% of
households classified as "asset poor" or "very poor".

C-Safe noted that while poverty was a significant contributory factor in
exacerbating the impact current food shortages were having on rural
families, many households were without items which could be sold in exchange
for food or to deal with emergencies.

It is estimated that in Zimbabwe the standard value of assets owned per
household averages $194 000 (US$139). "Asset values are significantly lower
in newly resettled areas, as opposed to communal and old resettled areas,"
the survey said.

In some areas parents had been forced to remove their children from school,
most of them citing "the high cost of education" as the main reason.
School-aged children living in households with a chronically ill family
member dropped out of school at a significantly higher rate.

"Ongoing drought conditions meant that almost 40% of all households had
cultivated less land than in the previous season. C-Safe noted that access
to agricultural inputs varied from district to district, with over 90% of
households in Gutu, in the south, reporting insufficient access," the survey

The educational crisis in the country has been exacerbated by government's
failure to build schools in the newly resettled areas. This is despite
earlier promises that schools and clinics would be a top priority.

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Zim Independent

Low-income earners bear brunt of cash crunch
Shakeman Mugari

MARY Majuru, a smallholder farmer from Goromonzi, has been sleeping on the
streets of Harare for the past three days. Unlike beggars who have thronged
the streets in search of food, Majuru has been forced to sleep on the dusty
pavements of Harare because she cannot withdraw her money from the bank.

With the planting season fast approaching, Majuru’s efforts to secure inputs
are in limbo.

“I have managed to get only $20 000 in the last three days. My only hope is
to get enough to buy at least a bag of fertiliser,” says a dejected Majuru.

Her plight mirrors the debilitating impact of the cash shortage that has hit
Government’s insistence that the cash crisis can be solved through stop-gap
measures such as the introduction of travellers’ cheques has dismally

The shortage of bank notes has impacted on everyone across the social
strata. In the last month President Mugabe has used his executive powers to
ban individuals from carrying cash in excess of one million. Under the
hurriedly promulgated regulations, companies are not allowed to keep more
than $5 million. Also in a kneejerk reaction, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
last month introduced travellers’ cheques to ease the cash crisis. The
cheques have however been rejected by retailers and the public who are
sceptical of their worth. Travellers’ cheques are problematic in dealings
between individuals who do not have bank accounts. Commuters also cannot use
them to pay fares or to buy small items such as newspapers.

The RBZ this week made a U-turn on its earlier directive to ban banks from
cashing corporate cheques, a move which analysts say is a clear reflection
of government’s confusion in dealing with the crisis. They say the cash
crisis could be a death knell for the productive sector that is already
battling with the fuel crisis, foreign currency shortages and price
controls. Banks, for their part, have been giving individuals as little as
$5 000 a day. The amount can only buy five loaves of bread. This has
resulted in disturbances in banking halls. In some cases anti-riot police
have had to be summoned to quell angry mobs.

The hardest hit is the informal sector, which has sustained the lives of
most Zimbabweans who are out of formal employment courtesy of President
Mugabe’s economic mismanagement. Unemployment is hovering at 70% while
inflation is estimated at over 400%, putting a huge strain on the RBZ’s
capacity to supply adequate bank notes for daily transactions.

“We are looking at a vendor whose business depends entirely on the
availability of cash. There is virtually no business in the informal sector
at the moment,” said Tapiwa Mudhara, a flea market operator in Harare. “If
the cash crisis persists the informal sector will crumble. From vendors, the
flea market and even those who sell cellphone recharge cards, business is
down because people are conserving the little cash they get for the barest
essentials. The bottom line is that we are in a fix,” Mudhara said.

Analysts say the blame for the cash crisis lies squarely with the
government. Recent reports in the state media reveal that the government
last printed money nine months ago. During the period inflation has risen to
400% and looks set to breach the 1 000% mark by year-end.

“The state blames the central bank for the cash shortage yet the directive
to inject cash into the system is the prerogative of the government and the
Minister of Finance,” said an economic commentator with the Zimbabwe
Economic Society. “Unlike in South Africa where the Reserve Bank operates
with minimum interference from the government, Mugabe thinks he can
arm-twist the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. It is this unwarranted political
interference that has put the economy on its current disastrous course,”
said the commentator.

Formal business is also on the brink of collapse due to the crisis. Eric
Bloch, an economic analyst, says the cash shortage has hit the productive
and services sector and government has no immediate solution to the problem.

“The catastrophe is that businesses that have managed to withstand fuel
shortages and price controls might not be able to deal with the cash
shortage,” said Bloch. “The government shows that it lacks the vision to
manage the economy effectively. The rising inflation should have been
matched by printing of more notes. It is a classic example of how not to run
an economy.”

A rough survey shows that Zimbabweans now spend half their productive time
in queues of one form or another.
Armitage Chikwavira, chairman of the Bakers’ Association of Zimbabwe, says
the impact of the cash shortage has been devastating.

“Our bread sales have been affected. We have reduced volumes since the
crisis shortages started,” said Chikwavira.

“At times we accept cheques but we have serious problems when they are
dishonoured. The denominations of TCs also make our operations difficult. We
get people with a $10 000 TC and they want to buy a loaf of bread and we don
’t have the change.” Efficiency in companies has also been affected by the
shortage. “Workers either come late or they fail to come at all. Businesses
have to send many people to get cash for wages.When efficiency goes down the
cost of doing business goes up, leading to additional inflation. In short,
it is interfering with volume of trade, which spells disaster for the GDP,”
said Chikwavira.

Production targets for most companies are lagging behind as workers pass
their working days in cash queues. Apart from obvious productive issues, the
cash shortage means that Zimbabwe is no longer a viable option for potential
investors. International investors have shunned Zimbabwe because of
political violence, lack of rule of law and government’s crackdown on
businesses seen as consorting with the opposition.

The government will introduce a $1000 bill and the rebranded $500 notes late
this month. However, the RBZ admits that there is no guarantee that the
cross-border traders would not expatriate the new bills to neighbouring
countries. Speaking in a ZTV interview, RBZ director for financial markets,
Stuart Kufeni, said there was no system to curb the expatriation of local
currency to other countries. “For as longer there are no proper systems the
new notes are likely to end up in neighbouring countries,” said Kufeni.
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Zim Independent

Minor elections test of democratic well being

SMALL elections, with little depending on them except for voters and
candidates directly affected, provide a reliable test of a country’s
democratic system and commitment to free and fair elections. When such
elections cannot be obtained with little at stake, what reason is there for
hope in more critical matters?

Chegutu recently provided an example. General elections for Zimbabwe’s urban
councils must by law be held in August every fourth year, 2003 being the
first since the failed constitutional reform exercise of 1999 and the
formation of the MDC with its known urban support.

While Chegutu’s MP comes from Zanu PF, its election of an MDC mayor in 2001
confirmed the MDC also enjoys support there.

A damning official report on corruption, illegality, mismanagement by
councillors and a climate of “perpetual fear” there among council employees
showed why the MDC wanted to contest all 11 council seats; and other High
Court records show what happened when they tried, with violence allowing the
“election” of all Zanu PF’s nominees without a vote — including those
officially considered responsible for the past corruption and fear.

On July 21 what police described as a “rowdy” crowd obstructed access to
Chegutu’s nomination court, attacking all 11 MDC candidates and their agents
with bricks and sticks, as they tried to get in to file their papers,
injuring 10 of them and destroying their documents and those of at least one
independent candidate. One other man managed to lodge his papers but
withdrew later the same day fearing for his life, leaving just 11 nominees
chosen by the ruling party, who had all got in there without difficulty or
fear, to claim to have been elected “freely and fairly” without a poll.

The MDC advised from the outset that its attackers were clothed in MDC
T-shirts, of a kind not used by it since 2000 when many were taken by the
ruling party. Oddly, no ruling party T-shirts were seen there.

Police confirmed investigations and arrests (unspecified) had been made.
There was no police report of anyone else injured. No-one has appeared yet
in the Chegutu criminal court. The ringleader named was not arrested —
unusual for someone allegedly an MDC member and implicated in violence.

After newspaper reports about the application to the court for its
assistance, further attacks at some homes caused more reports against the
same man.

The MDC said the unruly crowd did not comprise its members but that the
court needn’t decide who they were as it shouldn’t matter: Electoral law has
from earliest times prohibited anyone disturbing election proceedings or
obstructing people from being able to sign papers or vote.

The officer in charge said he had been approached earlier and had assured
the MDC of their safety, and had 14 police on duty; but MDC members’
admitted injuries included a broken leg, a broken nose, a broken rib, and a
fractured skull.

Police said after they dispersed everybody with gunfire, they were asked
just after 3 pm at their main station in the surrounds of Town House (where
the nomination court was sitting) to provide the MDC candidates with an
escort there. They took one agent to its door at about 4pm under police
protection — only to be told he was minutes too late.
The MDC’s aspiring candidates, a group of bookkeepers, businessmen, workers
and managers, didn’t give up. After medical treatment, they all applied
urgently to the High Court for an order to allow them and any other affected
candidates to lodge their nominations without interference.

The application was filed a week after nominations and a month before the
poll dates, with replies by all parties and arguments filed and heard by

Although characterised by such serious known violence and no voting,
Zimbabwe’s government described the events in Chegutu as a model of a lawful
election, and successfully opposed the court applying the precedents of
earlier cases to throw a “lifeline to democracy” to allow voters to make a

The Registrar-General, whose duty is to ensure “free and fair” elections,
throughout refused to use his powers to alter the nomination days or
consider the nomination papers of those violently and unlawfully excluded.

The Electoral Supervisory Commission said its personnel heard the complaint
from the man stripped of his documentation, and of police dispersing people
outside the court. It revealed the court adjourned in the afternoon during
its official hours of opening but used the nomination of one other man to
support a claim that the proceedings were “relaxed and peaceful” and

Its four members, each chosen by President Mugabe, failed to respond to the
evidence of violence heard by their personnel that day. Because they saw
nothing, they said nothing, and did nothing.

The urgent application was dismissed a month after it was filed, three weeks
after closing arguments, and the ruling party’s choice then sworn in for the
next four years without a vote. The mayor was not allowed by the “winners”
to attend.
As an appeal against Judge Hlatshwayo’s judgment is likely, it would be
inappropriate to comment on whether we believe the decision was in
accordance with the law. The reality is, when some people decided to
violently block others from standing, no remedy was available.

The bottom line is this gave voters in Chegutu no vote. Authorities let an
election be decided by hooligans outside a nomination court, and all those
who braved the violence to try to get their names on the ballot papers and
participate in an election did so in vain.

Few examples could prove more clearly the flaws still remaining in our
electoral system.
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch

Zim diplomats ill-informed on privatisation

IT has become highly fashionable for countries whose economies are in
disarray to blame the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank
whilst also placing blame at the feet of political opponents and of those
who have the temerity to castigate those countries for their economic (and
frequent political) instability.

This trend of deflecting blame from themselves is especially pronounced in
countries who, because of their economic mismanagement, cease to be
recipients of largesse from the IMF and the World Bank and who, in many
instances, have been suspended from IMF membership.

Zimbabwe is among the bevy of countries whose governments have abused
economic fundamentals and in so doing have become debt defaulters,
jeopardising their relationships with the IMF and the World Bank, and not
receiving desperately needed funding support from those Bretton Woods
institutions. The latest to climb upon the bandwagon of negating and
disparaging all that those institutions do and the principles that they
espouse, is Zimbabwe’s High Commissioner to Zambia, Cain Mathema.

Whatsoever that diplomat’s attributes may be, they very clearly do not
include economics, for he last week waxed vociferously about the IMF, the
World Bank, the treasury of the United States, the ineffectiveness of
liberalised economies and the need for command economies. In so doing, he
inadvertently made a few correct statements, albeit in incorrect context
but, in the main, totally misrepresented the realities.

The high commissioner was commenting on the declining economies of both
Zambia and Zimbabwe, and this was his first error. Whilst it is indisputable
that Zimbabwe’s economy is declining, the same is not true of Zambia.
Admittedly, for almost 40 years that country’s economy was in decline (due
to the then government policies being advocated by Cain Mathema). However,
that economy is now on the ascendancy, albeit very slowly because the depths
to which it had sunk preclude a fast recovery. Zambia does not have a bank
note crisis, there are no petrol or ATM queues or shortages of other
essential products. It is not at risk of an energy crisis.

It is not regarded as anathema and a leper by the international community.
Zambia’s economic recovery is in its early stages, but that recovery is
under way, including substantial growth in the agricultural sector (to no
small extent due to its welcoming the very farmers that Zimbabwe had
displaced), and tourism, whilst its small industrial base is also achieving
growth. The key difference between the past and the present is that Zambia
is increasingly liberating and deregulating the economy and interacting
constructively with the IMF and the World Bank, whereas in the past Zambia
pursued economic policies completely in line with those which the high
commissioner commends.

In his statement the ill-informed diplomat stated that budget overruns and
high poverty levels would continue for as long as Zambia and Zimbabwe
liberalised their economies “willy-nilly”. He said that, “Development is not
just about road infrastructure but must be seen with our workers’ standards
of living improving. Their food must show there is development including
having good income” and that “for that development to come we must own and
control the economy”.

Whilst he is correct that development must be far more diverse than only
addressing road infrastructure, it is difficult to understand how he can
credibly support the contention of a need to own and control the economy.
That was the political philosophy of Zambia from the 1960s to the mid-1990s,
and its economy was driven down to its knees.

That too has been the position in Zimbabwe since independence, save briefly
from 1994–97, and if Zambia was on its knees, then Zimbabwe is now on its
Then Mathema arrived at a most incongruous conclusion as to the negative
consequences of privatisation. He alleged that the mere fact that poverty
has remained high in Zambia despite privatising state-owned enterprises
proved liberalisation was a bad formula to economic development. In making
that statement he overlooked the fact that Zambia’s economy had been driven
to such a disastrous low over such a prolonged period of time that
instantaneous poverty alleviation was an impossibility.

Privatisation yields funds for governments to fund development, redeem debt
and reduce state deficits (thereby containing state borrowings which are a
trigger to inflation), and privatisation usually releases governments from
subsidy or guarantee commitments and assures efficiency, productivity and
customer service. Moreover, privatisation is only one of many elements of
economic liberalisation.

Mathema not only alleged that privatisation was a myth, but he said: “It has
never worked, will never work and cannot bring about development.” How then
does he explain the successful privatisation, more than a century ago, of
certain railway systems and telecommunications in the US, and more recently
of Renault in France, and British Telecom and British Gas, and until other
factors impacted, of British Airways, to cite a few of hundreds of
successful privatisations? And what about Zimbabwe’s successful
privatisations of Cottco, Dairibord, Rainbow Tourism Group, Zimbabwe
Reinsurance Company and the Jewel Bank?

He extends his diatribe against the IMF and the World Bank by saying that
unless government does away with World Bank policies and actively intervenes
in the economy, there would be no development. That is exactly what Zimbabwe
has done for all too long, and not only does it have little development to
show for it, but its principal attainment is intensified poverty and near
total collapse of the infrastructure and the economy.

However, Mathema continued that: “To follow IMF strategies will not help us
at all” and that the IMF continues “cheating us”. He argued that IMF
policies have never worked, are counterproductive to economic growth and
wellbeing and that IMF development proposals and plans were not for the
advancement of Zambia and Zimbabwe, but to benefit American companies.

Pursuing this line of argument, he said: “There is enough poverty in our
region because the IMF/World Bank development plan for us is to market
supermarkets for American and British multinational companies. There is so
much dead capital in our region which we cannot exploit because we are made
to pursue policies that will never develop our economies beyond poverty.”
What nonsense!

Of course the IMF and the World Bank don’t get things right all the time.
Their personnel are human and, therefore, fallible but have a wealth of
experience and a track record of facilitating many economic recovery
successes, in contradiction to the high commissioner’s contentions that the
policies of those institutions have never succeeded and are only directed to
benefiting American and British corporates.

There are numerous examples, including the dramatic economic growth and per
capita income increase in the 1970s and 1980s of the “Asian Tigers”, the
spectacular turnaround in Mauritius from 1984 onwards, the attainments of
many of the countries in eastern Europe in the post-1989 era, the
astoundingly rapid recovery of Mexico’s economy from the depths of
depression, and many others. Even closer to home there are some pronounced
examples, including Botswana and, in recent times, the commencement of
economic upturn in Kenya (which has reduced inflation to 8% as compared with
Zimbabwe’s inflation of more than 400%), and an impressive start to economic
recovery in Mozambique, notwithstanding disastrous climatic conditions for
several years.

Mathema appears to be particularly upset that the countries of Comesa, which
includes Zimbabwe, are merely producers of raw materials for Western
economies. That factually incorrect, for the economies have been, and can
again become, providers to the populace of Comesa, value-adders and
beneficiaries to primary products, economic exploiters of major tourism
resources, and much else. There is nothing wrong with being providers to
others of raw materials if, in so doing, employment is created, investment
be forthcoming, the economy is stimulated, and foreign currency generated to
service needs satisfactorily.

Zimbabwe must remove “the chip from its shoulder” against the IMF, the World
Bank, and the precepts of a deregulated economy. Until that occurs
(concurrently with restoration of law and order, democracy and political
stability), Zimbabwe’s economy will continue its appalling deterioration,
shrinking more and more and the population will become increasingly
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Zim Independent


Government its own worst enemy

THE report by a Church-based NGO on Zimbabwe’s National Youth Service
training programme seems to have stirred an indignant reaction in government

Headed by Archbishop Pius Ncube, Solidarity Peace Trust documents how the
youth brigades have become killer gangs roaming the country and inflicting
violence at will. At a press conference in Johannesburg last Friday, youths
who had sought refuge in South Africa after regretting their depredations
against innocent people, provided testimony on the vicious record of Zanu PF
’s political enforcers.

Zimbabwean officials switched to denial mode, first seeking to discredit the
source and then demanding to know why the gangsters had not been handed over
to the police.
The Herald, casually tossing edi-torial opinion into its report of the
Johannesburg press conference, claimed “Archbishop Ncube has taken every
opportunity to tarnish the image of the government at international fora and
during his sermons”.

It didn’t tell us that the government needed no help from anybody else in
tarnishing its reputation. The Green Bombers are after all a product of its
political desperation and their record speaks for itself.

Archbishop Ncube was accused of “harbouring youths who have confessed to
committing rape, murder and torture in Zimbabwe”.

So it’s true then! That’s exactly what the report says they were doing. Some
elements in the state media tried to convince us these atrocities were the
work of Selous Scouts!
Minister of Youth Development Elliot Manyika who presides over the travesty
known as National Youth Service queried why the archbishop was harbouring
criminals. “He should behave like a responsible citizen,” Manyika stupidly
insisted, as if anybody in his party met that criteria!

He said his ministry and party were able to account for the activities of
“their” youths — which is worth recording for the day when they will be
required to account for their trail of violence, lawlessness and mayhem. The
report is illustrated by graphic photos of torture victims.

Only slightly less obtuse than Manyika, we had Wayne Bvudzijena saying
investigations by the police showed that no such incidents took place in the
country. They were “fabrications by people with vested interests bent on
tarnishing the country’s image”, he dutifully claimed in precisely the same
language as that adopted by other Zanu PF megaphones.

Archbishop Ncube was “just trying to attract attention by moving around with
the alleged murderers”, Bvudzijena said. He accused the South African media
of failing to verify the authenticity of the claims.

Bvudzijena’s statement exposes not only the unprofessional and partisan
posturing of the ZRP since it became a tool of the ruling party whose
spokesmen are rewarded with farms, it shows why no victims of the youth
brigades’ terror should expect justice in Zimbabwe.

The report itself is a well-researched chronicle of the shocking record of
murder, abductions, disappearances, torture, rape, arson and intimidation.

“Accounts of the militia being implicated in theft, vandalism and usurping
powers of law enforcement agencies are multiple,” the report says.

“On the whole the youth militia have impunity, often working under the
direction of war veterans and alongside government agencies in their illegal
activities.” It gives the example of Green Bombers manning roadblocks.

Alongside this damning body of evidence Bvudzijena’s shrill denials sound
spoon-fed and hollow.

“In the event that police prove that a crime was committed, we will liaise
with our South African counterparts to have the criminals extradited,”
Bvudzijena claimed.
The obvious reply to that is to ask what the response of the police has been
to political killings, abductions and torture since 2000? How many
successful investigations have there been? How many prosecutions?

What progress has there been in the case of the abduction and torture of
Mark Chavunduka and Ray Choto? What is the current status of the killers of
Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya? What has happened to the killers of
David Stevens and other farmers such as Gloria and Martin Olds, gunned down
in cold blood?

Do the public have confidence that where they have been victims of political
violence, the police will investigate impartially and take appropriate
action? Has that been the case to date?

Bvudzijena should ask himself why Solidarity Peace Trust felt it necessary
to hold its press conference in the relative safety of Johannesburg instead
of in Harare where victims of violence are more likely to be arrested than
the perpetrators. A man was prosecuted under Posa this week for simply
faxing a letter to a friend in the UK saying Zanu PF had unleashed violence
during the recently-concluded local government polls. His arrest represents
a blatant violation of his constitutional rights.

Do we really want to wake up on Saturday morning to see Stan Mudenge doing
mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on his wife? The picture of the newlyweds
smooching at their wedding reception in Masvingo was plastered on the paper’
s front page and then enlarged on Page 3.

While we wish the couple well, the Herald should seriously reflect on the
sensitivities of its readers who want to enjoy their breakfasts without
having to experience Stan and Alice munching on each other.

And are we familiar with the expression that “there was enough beer to sink
a duck” at the reception? In the end some guzzlers “literally crawled home”,
we are told. We hope that didn’t include the reporter.

President Mugabe disclosed in his address to the revellers that Stan never
rests from his job as Foreign minister. Many times he falls asleep as soon
as their plane takes off, the president revealed.

“Probably he does not know that I have heard him snore many times but now he
has a wife to look to,” Mugabe said, drawing laughter from the assembled
We are still trying to work out how marriage is going to solve the problem.
Will Stan be bringing his wife along to give him a nudge when he starts to
compete with the roar of the jet engines?

The Sunday Mail’s creepy “Under the Surface” columnist who sounds identical
to the Herald’s Jonathan Nathaniel Manheru, has congratulated the Zimbabwe
Independent for not carrying the inter-party talks story on its front page
last week. This is clearly a matter of some sensitivity.

“The paper managed to find a lead story that had nothing to do with the
imaginary talks,” Cde Under declared.

So there have been no talks at all between Zanu PF and the MDC? Don’t we
recall the Sunday Mail in one of its news reports recently admitting that
talks were taking place while this same columnist was insisting they weren’

So why is Cde Under so adamant that no talks are taking place? Has he been
dropped from the negotiating team? Why do reports on the inter-party talks
bug him so much?
Because, like his boss, he sees the talks not only as a threat to his
political survival but an admission of Zanu PF’s failure to govern. And it
is extremely galling that Zanu PF needs the MDC to rescue them from the dire
straits they now find themselves in. Then there is all that annoying
pressure from Sadc leaders who, while publicly expressing solidarity, are
privately prodding Mugabe to sit down and negotiate. There is only one way
to express this frustration and that’s to deny any such talks are taking
place or are even contemplated.

But when they do get under way let’s hope this same columnist doesn’t say he
should have seen it coming. “The writing was on the wall but somehow we didn
’t see it.”
Meanwhile, if Cde Under is sincere in his objections to the Independent
carrying what he claims is the same story on its front page every week, why
does he continue to help Munyaradzi Huni write the same story every week
about the MDC removing Morgan Tsvangirai? Haven’t we all had enough of that
imaginary story by now?

Cde Under, by the way, is still insi-sting that “the majority” of
Commonwealth nations support Zimbabwe’s case for lifting its suspension. Cle
arly he didn’t read the statement by the South Pacific states which met
recently. There was no suggestion there that Zimbabwe was about to be let
off the hook. Admittedly, two of those South Pacific states were “white”.
But the rest were decidedly not. And when you count all those little
islands, they all add up to the numbers ranged against Zimbabwe and its
dwindling band of friends. In any case, the Commonwealth moves by consensus,
not a simple vote. And the consensus at the moment is that, whatever the
views of Sadc and Nigeria, there are no grounds for lifting the suspension.
Get it?

So who needs his head examined? Didymus Mutasa or the rest of us?
Responding to reports that Zimbabweans in the US had sought asylum there,
Mutasa said those involved should have their heads examined.

“They are a crazy gang on a mission to spread falsehoods about their mother
country,” he said. “Everything is normal in Zimbabwe and anyone who thinks
otherwise should have his head examined.”

Now, how many people out there think “everything is normal in Zimbabwe”? Or
can we safely suppose the Zanu PF leadership has a different definition of
normality from the rest of us?

Whatever the case, we know who the real Crazy Gang are. They’re the guys in
charge. Right Didymus?

Those of you who thought last year’s drought was the product of a regional
dry spell have now been put straight by deputy Minister of Transport and
Communications Christopher Mushowe. He told parliament that it was all part
of the conspiracy against Zimbabwe.

The Department of Meteorological Services was operating without a legal
framework, Mushowe pointed out. “Hence, enemies of the state are exploiting
these loopholes as cloud-seeding can be used to disperse clouds, thereby
contributing to drought weather as what happened last year.”

Please cut this out and send it to your friends overseas. We want the world
to know about the Crazy Gang who think last year’s drought was the product
of cloud-seeding. It takes a special sort of ministerial mind to trot out
this nonsense. We are only surprised he didn’t attribute it to the Selous

Perhaps Mushowe could remind us of where he obtained his university
qualifications — and how. It was all an up-Hill struggle we gather!

Most Zimbabweans were under the impression that they liberated themselves in
1980. Not so, according to Libyan leader Moammar Gadaffi. We were liberated
by Libya.
Gadaffi told a cheering crowd at a ceremony to mark the 34th anniversary of
the coup that brought him to power that he had bought his way out of the
Lockerbie imbroglio and paid for the liberation struggle of Palestinians and

“What is money for?” he was quoted as saying in the M&G. “With money we
defend our country.”

“We liberated South Africa, Zimbabwe, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, and Angola.
Now we are reaping the fruits of our struggle. Africa is with us and
supports us.”
So that explains why President Mugabe feels obliged to hand over our
national assets.

Finally, our quote of the week comes from Albert Musarurwa of the Zimbabwe
Human Rights Forum.

Replying to claims from Zimbabwean diplomats that sanctions were causing
hardships, he said: “The Zimbabwe economy is not melting down because Mugabe
cannot go to New York.”

Nicely put Albert.
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Zim Independent

Bank sees no change in Zim's deficit
Ngoni Chanakira
ZIMBABWE'S current account deficit for the year is forecast to remain at
around US$1 billion with merchandise exports expected to remain weak, a
leading financial institution has said.

NMB Holdings Ltd (NMB), which recently had its foreign currency trading
licence withdrawn by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, said merchandise imports
were expected to end the year at US$2 billion, against a background of
declining Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and the absence of much-needed
balance of payments support.

Zimbabwe had its balance of payments support facility with the International
Monetary Fund withdrawn after the country failed to make timely repayments
to the Washington-based institution.

NMB chairman Paddy Zhanda said a capital account deficit of about US$300
million was forecast for this year, up from about US$200 million in 2002.

"As a result of the weak balance of payments position, gross foreign
exchange reserves are expected to average about one month of imports while
usable reserves are expected to cover only a few days of imports," he said
in an analysis of the economy.

Zhanda said Zimbabwe's total external payment arrears were estimated at
US$1,6 billion as at June 30 this year from a position of US$1,3 billion at
December 31 2002.

Government arrears account for 67% (US$1,07 billion), while parastatals and
private sector arrears represent 31% (US$0,5 billion) and 2% (US$0,03
billion) respectively.

The chairman said given Zimbabwe's weakening export performance, donor
support would be required for grain imports.

The first half of the year saw continued designation of farms and the
establishment of a land audit committee to review the allocation of land
distribution under the controversial fast-track phase.

Zhanda said agrarian reforms were unlikely to succeed without a "clearly
defined tenure system, adequate technical and financial support to the new
farmers and systematic development of support infrastructures".

"External financiers and partners will be needed to alleviate the external
debt crisis and provide support for the country's balance of payments
deficit," Zhanda said.

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Zim Independent

Nerp in tatters, says EIU
Staff Writer
THE Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) says the government-driven National
Economic Revival Programme (Nerp) will not solve the current economic crisis
because it is already in tatters owing to bureaucracy.

In a report for 2003-2004 the EIU said there was no hope the programme would
solve the current crisis. It says government had undermined the revival plan
and reneged on its earlier promises to the stakeholders of Nerp.

"If there was any belief that Nerp would be a solution to Zimbabwe's
economic crisis, the government itself undermined it by unilaterally
announcing increases in wages and prices and then extending price controls
over a comprehensive list of basic items," the report said.

The EIU expressed concern over government's commitment to implement the
policies envisaged under Nerp. "It is clear that the programmes outlined in
Nerp to boost various sectors of the economy, in particular the gold and
tobacco sectors to improve foreign-exchange earnings, will not be
implemented," it said.

"The shortage of bank notes and foreign currency experienced in July and
August, and the government's odd and ineffective methods of addressing these
problems, illustrate that there is now little constructive policy planning,
merely ad hoc crisis management coupled with a hefty dose of wishful

Under the Nerp agreement the decision to hike wages and prices of basic
commodities was supposed to be reached with the tripartite negotiating forum
(consisting of the government, organised labour and the business community).

Under the tripartite negotiating forum businesses and the unions had also
agreed to police wage and price increases to help meet the inflation target
of 96% by the end of the year.

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Zim Independent

Prospects of beef industry revival dim
Ngoni Chanakira
ZIMBABWE's cattle herd continues to decline and prospects that the beef
industry is likely to recover are dim, says a senior official from the
Cattle Producers Association (CPA).

The official yesterday said the foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks further
worsened prospects for much-needed foreign currency earnings.

"The foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks continue to dog the industry," he
said. "Our cattle industry like all other sectors in this economy is on the
verge of collapse despite the willingness by some farmers to bring the
industry back on its feet."

He said several trips had been made to Malaysia in a bid to try and win that
market after Zimbabwe had lost out on the lucrative European Union (EU)
export deal.

The official said beef exports to South Africa and Libya had also been
halted because of the foot-and-mouth outbreaks in Mashonaland.

The EU has said the ban on Zimbabwean beef to the region would not be lifted
until the foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks were brought under control.

This put paid to reports that "millions in foreign currency" would be
chalked up soon by the cash-strapped government.

In an interview the Head of the European Commission to Zimbabwe Francesca
Mosca said: "Zimbabwe imposed a self ban on beef exports to the European
Union since 2001 and this has not been lifted. The ban was related to the
outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. Before the ban was imposed, Zimbabwe had
a beef export quota to the EU of 9 100 tonnes per year under the 'Beef and
Veal Protocol' under the Lome IV Convention."

Mosca said this quota was worth more than $2 billion.

"In 2001, before the ban, Zimbabwe had exported around 4 500 tonnes worth
about $1,5 billion," Mosca said. "In 2002 the European Commission spent 17,2
million euro on projects in Zimbabwe and 28,6 million euro have so far been
approved for projects in 2003. Apart from this, the amount spent on/approved
for food aid during 2002 and 2003 is 79,5 million euro."

An export deal with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) hangs in the
balance because the Congolese are allegedly not paying government the agreed
United States dollars, preferring "barter deals" instead.

In a major U-turn about two years ago, seen by business executives as a
political "appeasement arrangement for disgruntled indigenous businessmen",
government gave Farirayi Quality Foods (Pvt) Ltd the go-ahead to also export

The company, whose boss is John Mapondera, was allowed to export beef to
Libya, following President Robert Mugabe's visit to that country in search
of fuel and "alternative markets other than the EU".

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Zim Independent

Where are chefs' children?

WE Zimbabweans are without souls. Whatever our excuses, why are we so
docile? We are asked to fight each other, rape our own daughters and
children, dehumanise everyone, etc.

For a country so full of educated people, it appears education has done
nothing for us. Next time you are at a Border Gezi Training camp ask where
the chefs' sons and daughters are while you get abused.

Those who blame the MDC for a low turnout at elections have been so
comfortable in their low-density suburbs and turned a blind eye to the
torture, intimidation and fear surrounding them.

Those who blame the MDC should be supporting it for keeping the lights
burning before we retrace our steps to the Dark Continent.

For those in South Africa who still support the status quo, it's coming to
you too sooner rather than later - racism, intimidation, the killing of
white farmers, etc.

I would also like to ask the foot soldiers of farm invasions what is
happening to them now that the chefs are allocating themselves prime land?

The MDC should clearly state that the land will be taken back before a
properly commissioned, apolitical land commission is convened to fairly
redistribute the land. Zimbabwe is for Zimbabweans of all colours and not
for Zanu PF. Pasi nekukara.

Hakuna Usingafi,


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Zim Independent

Travellers' cheques not recognised as cash

ALTHOUGH the Reserve Bank says that Zimbabwe travellers' cheques are as good
as cash, they are not recognised as such by commercial banks and building

For example, I want to move a sum of money from my current account at
Barclays to a savings account at Cabs so that I can immediately use the Cabs
purchase-point machines in supermarkets to buy my groceries, having neither
cash nor sufficient cheques to do this.

I thought that the simplest and quickest way to move "cash" into the Cabs
account would be to draw travellers' cheques from my current account and pay
them straight into the Cabs account. That way, since they are "as good as
cash", I would have immediate access to that money.

Not so. Cabs regard travellers' cheques as cheques, not as cash, and want
three weeks to clear them. And Barclays also tell me that if I were to pay a
travellers' cheque into my current account, they too require a
cheque-clearance period. What are they clearing?

I cannot buy a travellers' cheque from my commercial bank unless I have
cleared funds available. Payment against a travellers' cheque is not subject
to there being funds in my account at the time that it is "cleared". The
travellers' cheque has already been paid for.

All that is necessary for a travellers' cheque to be cleared is for it to be
verified that the two signatures on it are from the same (any) person (not
that it is the signature of an account-holder whose sample signature is kept
on file at the bank) and that the cheque itself is not forged.

These should be able to be done by the teller in the same way that tellers
are able to verify the legitimacy of any bank notes that they accept for

By wishing to "clear" the travellers' cheques, Cabs and other commercial
banks are implying that they could subsequently choose to decline them.

So what could happen is that, after a couple of weeks, Cabs could return my
travellers' cheques to me having declined them.

I would then presumably have to pay them back into my account at Barclays,
who would again require their clearance period, and who could, presumably,
also decline them. Where would that leave me and my "cash"? And if Cabs and
Barclays think that this scenario is impossible, why do they need the
clearance period?

So what is happening to the money paid for travellers' cheques while they
are waiting for "clearance"? Cabs and commercial banks are evidently able to
use my cash for their own purposes for several weeks while they do not allow
me to use it.

They are the only ones benefiting from the use of Zimbabwe travellers'
cheques. It certainly isn't their customers.

And where is the Reserve Bank while this farce is being enacted?

Roger Stringer,

Mount Pleasant.

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Zim Independent

Not even apartheid was this bad

SO often we take our freedom and democracy in South Africa for granted that
we forget the plight of those, such as yourselves, in Zimbabwe.

I had the misfortune of visiting Zimbabwe on a mining exploration exercise
on August 13-21. We (my family and I) were scheduled to visit the Victoria
Falls and surrounding areas in the Mlibizi/Zambezi basin for a river boat

Whilst we enjoyed the Victoria Falls and an excursion into Zambia, our
experience in the small mining town of Kamativi (about 200 km from Hwange)
left much to be desired.

From the information my family and I had, this tin mining town used to be a
bustling metropolis for rural folk coming from Binga, Tinde and surrounding

As the mine has since closed down, a number of small "co-operatives" still
live off open-cast subsistence mining including tin and Tantalite (the
latter being one of the minerals I have been contemplating harvesting).

As we approached Kamativi mine, we found the entrance to the mine (near a
local police presence) barricaded with boom gates operated by what we later
understood to be the notorious "Green Bombers".

These Green Bombers in Kamativi not only manhandled myself and my wife, they
even went through our food (helping themselves in the process), luggage and
car. Had my wife not been there with me, I would have gladly fought for my
rights (But then again, what rights did I have in Zimbabwe?).

To add insult to injury, the police presence there, about a couple of
hundred metres away, did nothing to assist. If anything, they acted as if
nothing was taking place.

Further to the above, I was searched and interrogated as if I was a spy, as
if I had contraband that I was trying to smuggle into the mine.

Needless to say that we were not allowed access into the mine and, from folk
we managed to talk to on our way back, the former tin mine is now being used
as a training camp or base for these senseless monsters of a defunct regime.

Surely there has to be a way to get rid of your present dispensation with

The worst humiliation I was ever subjected to in South Africa during the
apartheid days pales compared to what my family and I went through at
Kamativi that day.

As I understand that the mine still has some local habitants there, I
shudder to think of what these poor souls go through on a daily basis.

Does anyone know that this mine (judging by its remoteness and
inaccessibility) is being used for such nefarious activities? That a
population is being subjected to human rights abuses on a daily basis? That
local women are probably (God forbid) being raped every day?

I realise a lot of issues still have to be resolved in your country and my
heart goes out to you the people of Zimbabwe. But unless the local
population does something rather than wait for a saviour, everyone is going
to die of hunger sooner rather than later.

Aluta continua.

Adam Malindi.


South Africa.

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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

How healthy?
Iden Wetherell
I HAVE been inundated with calls this week and last from radio stations in
South Africa and Europe enquiring about President Mugabe's health.

There have been reports of serious illness and even of his demise - in Libya
this week. He travels with a urologist in attendance at all times, the
reports suggest, and has been receiving treatment in Iran, among other

Although we reported in the Zimbabwe Independent last week what the South
African press was saying, I have had to pour cold water on most of these
speculative stories. There is very simply no evidence of Mugabe ailing. He
is to all intents and purposes remarkably fit for a man of 79, alert, agile,
and although profoundly delusional about the country's problems, otherwise
fully compos mentis.

In fact, the only evidence we have of any ailment was when he collapsed in
his hotel room in Malaysia a couple of years ago. That accident was
difficult to conceal because of bandaging. But it is the solitary indicator
that anything might be amiss.

Harare has been awash with rumours. The most persistent one concerns not a
urologist but a prominent neuro-surgeon. He clears his surgery of all
waiting patients, we have been told, so as to afford the president some
privacy during his regular visits.

It's all "absolute rubbish", the specialist has told anybody who bothers to
enquire. He is not treating Mugabe. But you will find people who insist they
know somebody who was asked to clear the neurologist's waiting room ahead of
a presidential visit.

It is never of course the actual person who provides the story who was asked
to leave, always somebody they know.

One reason why Harare is such a rumour mill is the unwarranted secrecy
surrounding the president's health. His staff very simply will not tell us
about any treatment he might be receiving, even where it is minor, instead
creating a smokescreen such as last Friday's upbeat statement about Mugabe
and Vice-President Simon Muzenda.

While there may not be any truth to the rumours currently circulating about
Mugabe, Muzenda's health does give cause for concern. If he is on the road
to recovery as the President's Office suggests, why not publish a photograph
of him sitting up in bed and receiving visitors?

Like Joshua Nkomo, Muzenda has not been allowed to retire for fear of
upsetting the balance of power at the top. Officials will argue that the
health of the president and his deputies is a private matter. I disagree.
They hold public office and are paid from public funds. Their health is of
legitimate concern as it relates to the nation's health. Can individuals
with life-threatening illnesses be expected to manage the day-to-day
business of government?

There have been shocking cases elsewhere of unelected officials and spouses
usurping executive power during the illness of their employers or husbands.

US President Woodrow Wilson's wife Edith made key decisions for 17 months in
1919/20 after her husband suffered a stroke while campaigning hard for
ratification of the Treaty of Versailles.

His exertions left him half-blind and semi-coherent. Edith communicated his
"instructions" to the outside world with the help of his doctor and private
secretary. Vice-President Thomas Marshall felt unable to take over so long
as orders continued to flow from Wilson's bedside.

In the event, Wilson lost the battle for ratification of the treaty in the
Senate and thereby doomed the League of Nations to impotence.

In 1953 Sir Winston Churchill's stroke was kept secret from the British
public. Even the cabinet was not informed. His parliamentary private
secretary Christopher Soames (26 years later, the last Governor of Rhodesia)
managed the Prime Minister's office while RA Butler presided in Whitehall
and Lord Salisbury ran the Foreign Office. The system continued to function
despite the absence of the PM.

Then, closer to home, there was Kamuzu Banda, John Tembo and Mama Cecilia
Kadzamira. Who really ran Malawi during Banda's twilight years?

In all such cases officials argue the need for continuity and stability. I
shudder to think who might really be running the country from Munhumutapa
Building or Borrowdale Brooke in the event of presidential infirmity!

The current succession race will have fuelled, and in turn been fuelled by,
the rumours of ill-health at the top. It will add to the pressure on Zanu PF
to allow new leaders to emerge from the party's annual conference in

These could be two new vice-presidents - the most likely scenario that would
see Emmerson Mnangagwa and John Nkomo filling the shoes of Muzenda and
Joseph Msika respectively - or a new party boss taking over from Mugabe who
would remain as long as he could as president, be it in a more ceremonial

Whatever the case, it is inevitable that the public should want to know the
health status of their leaders. Nearly 50% of men over 60 have a urological
complaint of some sort or prostate problems.

Instead of dissembling, Mugabe's officials should try telling us the truth.
It is usually the most effective antidote to rumour and speculation. And it
generates confidence in the system of government, something desperately
needed right now.

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Zim Independent

Countrymen, I come to praise Gushungo
By Paul Taylor
THE late great Professor Masipula Sithole once described Zimbabwe as a
nation in waiting.

Waiting is in our nature.

Sometimes, as I stand on a London Underground platform, fuming because a
train has been delayed by a few minutes, I remember the queues at home. I
remember seeing a bus which had crashed on the Old Gwanda Road. The
passengers had decamped, made fires and set pots of food to cook, knowing
that it would take a long time for a replacement bus to reach them.

They knew how to wait.

It is a sad fact of Zimbabwean politics that a number of people are
currently waiting, with barely concealed impatience, for the day that the
life of Gushungo reaches its allotted span. In fairness, it must be
emphasised that not all of these malicious people are members of the Zanu PF

We are indeed a nation in waiting. Locked as we are in a grim and dreary
present, we all understand that a brighter tomorrow is but a heartbeat away.

Unsurprisingly, rumours about Gushungo's health abound. Last week a story
mischievously reported that Gushungo and his urologist were en route to Iran
for specialist surgery.

The interesting thing about this story is that it is rumoured to have
emanated from official South African sources. If the story did not emanate
in South Africa's corridors of power, it is certainly being told and retold
there, with great glee.

Why anyone should want to play up worries about Gushungo's health just as
his politburo is about to discuss the vexed succession issue is anyone's
guess. It is as if people in high places want to weaken further the already
weakening Old Man and accelerate his departure from power.

If the Mbeki government is Gushungo's friend I would not like to imagine the
stories that Gushungo's enemies are telling about him. As it turns out,
Gushungo did not go to Iran. Instead, having turned Zimbabwe into a desert,
he went to Cuba to attend a conference about desertification.

I count myself as another one of Gushungo's friends. As I am blessedly not
in a position to write his obituary, I would like to offer instead an
appreciation of his life's work. It may be said that I come to praise
Gushungo, not to bury him.

The Ancient Greeks believed that it was only possible to judge a man's life
when he was dead. "Call no man happy until he is dead," they said.

But Gushungo is now very old and surely we can see at last the true nature
of the man which has taken years to emerge. Surely he is now the figure he
himself has secretly aspired to becoming through the years.

The little boy thirstily absorbing his lessons at Kutama Mission; the
serious school master who sojourned at Empandeni Mission; the zealous
freedom fighter who sat down beside Alexander Kanengoni by the rivers of
Mozambique and wept, while drinking rotgut liquor in the cause of the
liberation of Zimbabwe; all these figures belong to the past.

The Gushungo who has metamorphosed through all these stages is as
unrecognisable as the mopane moth is from the worm that prefigures it.

Today he can be vividly described in just a few images.

The first image is taken from the opening of parliament. The ceremony has
always been ridiculously ornate, even by pompous colonial standards.

Self-importance was always so immense in Establishment circles that it
tended towards the constipative. But when Gushungo's portrait suddenly
materialised and he appeared to bow to his own image, a new standard of
absurd self-importance was established. Gushungo caricatured himself so well
that at a stroke every satirical writer in Zimbabwe was put permanently out
of business.

I suppose we should just be grateful that he did not genuflect.

The second image, though not of Gushungo himself, is just as revealing as a
portrait. It is a picture taken from the air of Gushungo's new palace. Just
as if he feels the need to fill Mobutu Sese Seko's shoes before he follows
Mobutu's fate, he has built his very own Gbadolite.

The vulgar opulence, the luxurious ugliness, the massive scale of the place
is stunning. The self-obsession, callousness and complacency it represents
in a country where the mass of people survive only on the kindness of
strangers is nauseating.

I am still surprised at my surprise at the picture of the palace because,
like others, I have long been following stories about Gushungo's wealth and
its sources and its hiding places. But this tacky palace told me in hard
materials, kitsch concrete and insipid ceramics, that the ascetic Gushungo
who tells the world that Africans are prepared to eat cold food and sleep on
hard floors in the struggle against neo-colonialism does not exist: and that
it is true to say he never existed.

Instead, we have to face up to the fact that we are ruled, not by a great
revolutionary, or a principled nationalist, or a true son of the soil, but
by a callous, vulgar little hypocrite.

My late father had a certain respect for Gushungo. When he came to power and
preached reconciliation my father believed that this fellow school master,
this supposed Christian, might yet break the mould of flawed post-colonial

Before he died however my father would be cruelly disillusioned by the
appearance of the Fifth Brigade in the rural Matabeleland in which he had
spent his adult life. I am glad my father is not alive today to witness the
final flowering of Gushungo's cruelty and vanity.

Gushungo, you have become the mocking symbol of our nation's mad decline. As
Brutus was Caesar's friend, so as your friend I say, I wish for the sake of
your place in history that you had gone long before this day dawned.

Paul Taylor writes on civic issues.

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Zim Independent

A triumph of courage over fear
By David Coltart
WHEN I woke up and thought of the thousands of Zimbabweans who confronted
tyranny with their votes on the weekend of August 30/31, I was reminded of
Robert Browning's words: "One who never turned his back but marched breast
forward; Never doubted clouds would break; Never dreamed though right were
worsted wrong would triumph; Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight
better; Sleep to wake."

These words epitomise the spirit the MDC and its supporters countrywide
demonstrated in the stunning urban council results.

"Stunning?" some may ask. After all the MDC lost Kwekwe and Kadoma and lost
a few small towns in Mashonaland. Kwekwe and Kadoma were both parliamentary
seats we won in 2000 and were of course seats we should have won. That, some
may argue, is hardly stunning.

But I am elated and the events of the past few weeks are highly significant.
If one needed any confirmation of the significance of the results one only
had to watch ZTV, as I did, to appreciate how crushing these results were to
Zanu PF. The results, were only announced almost in passing, 20 minutes into
the news bulletin. Had Zanu PF been happy with the results they would have
been first up.

Why then is Zanu PF devastated and why are these results stunning? It is

The MDC has finally gained effective control of the urban areas.

Before the poll Zanu PF controlled every single municipality in the country
save for Harare. Now they have woken up to the reality that the MDC controls
the municipalities of Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo, Victoria
Falls, Kariba, Gwanda, Ruwa and Hwange and shares power in Chegutu (where we
still have an MDC mayor even if all our candidates were prevented from
filing their nomination papers) and Zvishavane.

In other words the MDC now controls the budgets and general operations of
Zimbabwe's five largest cities, its two premier tourist resorts and several
strategically important towns.

Some 40% of Zimbabwe's urban population live in these centres which are now
liberated from Zanu PF's power and corruption. These same centres generate
over 50% of our GDP. Whilst the MDC won parliamentary seats in all these
cities and towns in 2000, that never translated into control because MDC MPs
have always been in a minority in parliament and were powerless to prevent
Zanu PF from passing laws and budgets to their liking.

For the first time the MDC has gained almost total control over the areas it
first won largely symbolically in 2000.

The MDC has in reality gained ground. For all the focus in the regime's
media on the MDC losing ground in Kwekwe and Kadoma the reality is far
different. It is in fact Zanu PF that has lost ground. Kwekwe and Kadoma
were only lost because of massive doses of violence and intimidation
perpetrated by the regime.

Let us not forget that the MDC MP for Kadoma, Austin Mupandawana, died only
a few weeks ago, his death a direct result of his unlawful detention and
torture by the regime in March, which severely undermined our capacity in
that town.

Our Kwekwe MP, Blessing Chebundo, had his car smashed by Zanu PF hooligans
on the first day of the election, the voter turnout was way over the
national average (suggesting that Zanu PF went to extra lengths to truck
people in) and suspected MDC supporters were dragged out of voter queues by
Zanu PF thugs.

Zanu PF was only able to win in Chegutu and Bindura by violently preventing
our candidates from even filing their nomination papers. In towns like
Marondera and Norton they only won through pervasive intimidation. In areas
where Zanu PF leaders were complacent and took their eyes off the ball they
lost ground.

It is pertinent to remember that both Kariba and Zvishavane were won by Zanu
PF MPs in the 2000 parliamentary election. Kariba is now controlled outright
by the MDC and has a white MDC mayor! Zvishavane is now jointly controlled
by the MDC and Zanu PF who won five seats each.

The result in Kariba is particularly remarkable because it is in Mashonaland
West province which has been a no go area for the MDC since the 2002
presidential election.

The MDC won despite apathy.

Low voter turnout created by apathy traditionally favours Zanu PF because it
is guaranteed of being able to get a hardcore out to vote come what may.

In this election Zanu PF used war veterans and youth militia to do its
campaigning in Bulawayo and I suspect that the same was the case
countrywide. These people who are paid all voted and guaranteed that Zanu PF
would get a basic minimum percentage of the vote. The regime encouraged
apathy, for example the location of polling stations was not advertised and
very little effort was made to get out the vote. In Bulawayo Zanu PF
candidates did not hold campaign rallies.

All of this was premised on the hope that only a few people would turn out
to vote and that they would be able to win by default. This strategy was
supplemented by two diametrically opposed attitudes I discerned in the
voting public in Bulawayo which I suspect prevailed countrywide.

The (negative) one was that there was simply no point in voting. People had
voted for change in 2002 but Zanu PF had rigged and stolen the result and
would just do the same again. The other (positive) one was that the MDC had
won by such overwhelming margins in urban areas in the 2000 and 2002
elections that there was no need to vote, especially when one had such
difficulty in securing basic necessities such as cash, food and fuel.

Added to that of course were the threats to withhold food which created a
huge moral dilemma in the minds of most voters who were torn between voting
in large numbers for the party of their choice and as a result possibly
denying their children food.

Given these obstacles it is astonishing that the MDC did as well as it did
and whilst we clearly have work to do in getting people to turn out in
greater numbers, it is Zanu PF that has to confront the harsh reality that
in a city the size of Bulawayo with over 800 000 inhabitants, they can only
rely on a total of some 9 000 core supporters. The same applies in virtually
every single city and town in the country.

The MDC won despite a totally subverted electoral process.

It is important to remember that as bad as the electoral process was in the
2000 parliamentary election, the process was a cakewalk then compared to

In 2000 we did not have the Public Order and Security Act, youth brigades, a
subverted police force and judiciary, a thoroughly manipulated voters' roll
and food shortages. In 2000 we did have international observers, far more
money to campaign with, and a relative absence of fear.

Since the 2000 election, the MDC has been subjected to an unrelenting
assault. Virtually every single leader has been detained, many have faced
spurious prosecutions and other forms of harassment.

Hundreds of thousands of MDC supporters have been intimidated through
killings, beatings, threats and denial of access to food. The party has been
drained of resources through having to protect the thousands of its leaders
and supporters who have had to be provided with medical care and legal

Thousands of Zimbabweans who voted for the MDC in 2000 have been
disenfranchised through unconstitutional means. Thousands of "ghost" voters
have been introduced to urban constituencies.

Whilst we were able to field candidates in every single constituency in 2000
we were unable to do so this year through the combination of Zanu PF thugs
preventing candidates from getting their nomination papers in and partisan
judges subverting the legal process in favour of Zanu PF. In other words,
the regime has done everything in its power to crush the MDC and to subvert
the electoral process in the last three years.

It is for all of these reasons that the MDC's victory was truly amazing and
why I thought Robert Browning's words so apt. The regime has thrown
everything at us. The regime has done unspeakable things to our friends and
relatives it has murdered, raped, tortured, assaulted, detained and
spuriously prosecuted but it has failed. We have indeed fallen only to rise;
we have indeed slept only to wake.

I have but one final thought which is for those responsible for perpetrating
all the horror that has befallen our beautiful nation. It comes from Edmund
Burke who wrote the following words in 1775: "The use of force alone is
temporary. It may subdue for a moment: but it does not remove the necessity
of subduing again; and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be

Zimbabwe is only held by Zanu PF through force, not by popular will of the
people. These results demonstrate that force has only subdued the people of
Zimbabwe for a moment. In reality Zanu PF no longer enjoys the respect and
support of the people and as such no longer governs Zimbabwe.

Freedom is now just around the corner. Makorokoto, Umhlophe, Congratulations

David Coltart is MDC MP for Bulawayo South.

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Zim Independent

Limpopo Province - what Zim could be
By Tafirenyika Wekwa Makunike
I WAS privileged to participate during the last week of August in the
Limpopo International Investor Conference held in Polokwane at the Meropa
Hotel and Casino.

The hotels were packed with international visitors and it seems Limpopo's
campaign to be the Eden of Africa is clearly bearing fruit.

Limpopo has been classified as one of the poorest provinces, in South
Africa, yet as an economy it has maintained the fastest growth rate of more
than double the national average since 2000. At this rate its fortunes are
clearly set to change in less than 10 years. Under the stewardship of
premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi, a pro-business and pro-investment young team was
assembled and is making Limpopo one of the most attractive investment
destinations this side of the Sahara.

This is a good example of how proper leadership can make a difference to a
poor province as opposed to political insults (kutukirira!) from rooftops.

Geographically, culturally and historically Limpopo is much closer to

When one looks at the Mapungubwe historical site there is no doubt that the
people who built the site are the same as those who built Great Zimbabwe.
Incidentally the moulded gold rhino that they use as one of their tourism
promotion emblems was discovered from this site as well. When one listens to
the common languages spoken in the province such as Venda and Shangani,
there are clear similarities to Zimbabwean languages.

Looking at baobab (another promotional emblem) terrain and what pertains to
the Birchenough Bridge in Manicaland the resemblance is remarkable.

This is where the similarities end. When one juxtaposes the two entities
together it is clear that Limpopo is a microcosm of what Zimbabwe ought to
be in many respects with any semblance of leadership, but is clearly not.

We have one of the most welcoming tourism facilities in this part of the
world yet, with the exception of the Victoria Falls, we only get the cheap,
back-packing, hitch-hiking visitors while others get the big spenders.

One of the programme directors at the conference, Dr Ken Kwaku, Africa chief
representative of MIGA (World Bank), aptly summed it up when he said the
train was leaving. With actual projects that have already been started worth
R10 billion on the menu scattered across mining, tourism, infrastructure and
agribusiness, it was clear this was not one of those speechifying sessions
we are accustomed to. In all the projects there were clear empowerment
targets for historically disadvantaged persons instead of the cat and mouse
investment scenarios.

I got an opportunity to review some of the agro-processing industries being
implemented with the technical assistance of the Centre for Scientific and
Industrial Research (CSIR). With sufficient support; my former colleagues at
the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC) could
be pushing through similar projects.

I had an opportunity to talk to many international investors from the EU,
the US and a large contingent from Asia and whenever I explained that I was
from further north they would nod their heads in sympathy. It seems
investors from our Asian friends who have been talking about implementing
large projects in Zimbabwe are in fact implementing them right here in South

My sympathy goes to Dumiso Dabengwa on the numerous unfulfilled promises he
made on behalf of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project. International
investment is not about philanthropy or political solidarity but about
making money. No sane person would park his or her money in a political
environment where there is no guarantee of getting it back.

Recycling trips to Malaysia and other Asian countries will not change that
state without good investment guarantees.

Notwithstanding the rapid advancement in investment, there are still many
areas that are crying for attention such as genuine broad-based empowerment
not just of the politically connected, poverty reduction and education.

Despite the ultimate economic disaster that has befallen Zimbabwe because of
Mugabe's poor leadership, the man did well in his early days in improving
access to higher education and many of us are beneficiaries of this.

Speaking to various black South Africans at the conference, I was not
surprised that many view Mugabe as some kind of hero for poking his finger
in the face of the white man. Yet when I asked them if they wanted someone
like him in stewardship of their economy no one replies.

I explained to them that I have been a supporter of land reform in Zimbabwe
but I am totally against self-serving political chaos masquerading as land
reform. Does it mean only one nearly 80-year old man is capable of
implementing land reform and no one else can lead our nation? I explained
that their position was the greatest political insult to the collective
intelligence of Zimbabweans since a similar scenario was perpetrated on the
people of Malawi during the Kamuzu Banda era.

It is well and good to have a big political ego like Mahathir Mohamad of
Malaysia after first developing your economy and empowering your own people.
It is totally misplaced to copy the same when seven million of your
inhabitants are hungry and you have a begging bowl in hand while insulting
those you are begging from.

The greatest irony of the Limpopo Province is that most of the lowest paid
farm workers in the area are Zimbabwean and to a lesser extent Mozambican.
When you jump your border due to hunger in your country you cannot negotiate
for your wages from any position of strength and usually you take what is

With absolutely no protection of unionised labour and the threat of
deportation hanging over their heads, they are left entirely at the mercy of
some unscrupulous employers.

This is what happens when we wreck our country in the name of building it.

Tafirenyika Wekwa Makunike is a SA based business consultant.

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