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

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Zim Online

Thurs 23 September 2004

      NEW YORK - South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki yesterday met
President Robert Mugabe in New York as the South African leader pursues his
"behind the scenes campaign" to help find a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.

      Full details of the meeting, held on the fringes of the United Nations
General Assembly session which opened yesterday, were not released but
ZimOnline is reliably informed that Mbeki again tried to persuade Mugabe to
re-start stalled dialogue with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change

      "The President (Mbeki) is of the view that there is no other
alternative to dialogue in Zimbabwe. As long as both the MDC and ZANU PF
remain at loggerheads and refuse to acknowledge the urgent need for
dialogue, the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe will continue to
unravel," said a senior South African official travelling with Mbeki.

      "As far as I know the President (Mbeki) has repeated this stance in
his meeting today with President Mugabe. As you know this has been his
behind the scenes campaign in recent times. There is little else that the
President (Mbeki) can do because Zimbabwe is a sovereign country. He can
only encourage dialogue as he sees no other way out for Zimbabwe".

      But South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance,
said yesterday that Mbeki's behind the scenes approach on Zimbabwe had
failed dismally and it was high time it was changed. It said a more public
approach on Zimbabwe is now needed.

      Mbeki met an MDC delegation led by the party's secretary general
Welshman Ncube last weekend. The meeting was one of many that Mbeki has held
with the opposition in recent times to try and resuscitate dialogue between
the ruling ZANU PF party and the MDC.

      He has also met ZANU PF representatives on several occasions but his
efforts to nudge the two parties into dialogue have so far failed.

      Mbeki called the latest meeting with the MDC after the opposition
party decided to suspend participation in all elections in Zimbabwe until
Mugabe's government complies with the recently introduced Southern Africa
Development Community (SADC) norms and standards on free and fair elections.

      South African officials say Mbeki fears that an MDC pull-out from next
March's parliamentary elections will plunge Zimbabwe into crisis and worsen
an already untenable situation in South Africa's northern neighbour.

      The MDC has already threatened mass protests if Mugabe remains

      Ncube said his party urged Mbeki to appoint an envoy to help spur
dialogue between the two parties. It remains unclear whether or not Mbeki
will consider that option. If he does, it seems likely that such an envoy
would embark on a futile mission.

      ZimOnline understands that the ruling ZANU PF Politburo has resolved
not to engage the MDC in any renewed talks ahead of the parliamentary

      The ruling party has adopted a "take it or leave it approach" and
wants the MDC to adopt the electoral reforms that it has decided to
introduce unilaterally because they "are in the MDC's own interests".

      The MDC argues that the reforms, which include the setting up of an
"independent" electoral commission and one day polling, do not go far
enough. - ZimOnline

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Mugabe draws applause at UN
Thurs 23 September 2004

      NEW YORK - President Robert Mugabe's routine criticism of US President
George W Bush and British premier Tony Blair scaled new heights yesterday
when he accused the two leaders of establishing a new
"political-cum-religious" doctrine: "there is one political god, George W
Bush, and Tony Blair is his prophet."

      This comment in his speech to the UN General Assembly drew wild
applause from delegates from Third World countries who share Mugabe's
anti-Western rhetoric and who disagree with Bush and Blair's widely
condemned war in Iraq.

      Mugabe also launched a broadside at Bush and Blair for delaying reform
of the UN Security Council in what he called a "calculated" attempt at
trying to preserve the influence of their two countries at the UN. He
condemned the two leaders of double standards for waging an "unjust" war in
Iraq while preaching democracy.

      "Ironically, it is the same forces (who preach democracy) that since
last year have been raining bombs and hellfire on innocent Iraqis,
purportedly in the name of democracy," he said.

      Mugabe said sadistic scenes in Iraq's Abu Gharib prison and Guantanamo
Bay had provided "useful examples of the Western concept of respect for
human rights".

      "Let me say once again the West should spare us their lessons on human
rights," he said.

      Mugabe attacked Blair for allegedly advocating regime change in

      "Mr Tony Blair, the British prime minister, has arrogantly and
unashamedly announced in his parliament that his government was working with
Zimbabwe's main opposition party to bring about regime change," he said.

      "Once again, the lawless nature of this man who along (with) his
Washington master believes he is God-ordained to rule our world, has shown
itself," he said.

      Former colonial masters were in no position to teach lessons in
democracy, he declared.

      "Here in the United States, we remain aware of the plight of the black
American of both yesterday and today, and of the semi-slave and half-citizen
status that has been his burden," Mugabe added.

      He insisted that Zimbabwe's economy was recovering despite
international sanctions and lambasted the International Monetary Fund over
what he described as "its strange mouthings, lies and fabrications about our

      The IMF is closing its offices in Harare.

      "Zimbabwe has had to withstand unprovoked, declared and undeclared
sanctions, imposed by Britain and its allies who are bent on bringing down
our legitimately elected government," said Mugabe.

      He added that the UN charter remained the only most "sacred document
and proponent of the relations of our nations. Anything else is political

      Mugabe was also applauded when he departed from his prepared speech to
attack Europe saying, "we do not need any lessons from the Netherlands and
its imperialist allies of the European Union" on organising the elections.

      "Zimbabwe will indeed welcome to these elections those observers whose
sole and undivided purpose will be to observe the process and not to meddle
in the politics of the country."

      British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, was due to meet South African
President Thabo Mbeki in New York yesterday to implore him to do more to end
the Zimbabwe crisis. Mugabe also criticised the use of Western aid to
interfere with sovereignty of weaker countries.

      "Regrettably, we continue to see the unfortunate and futile tendency
to use assistance in this area as reward for political compliance and
malleability, making it unavailable to countries whose governments are
deemed inconvenient," he said.

      Mugabe also criticised the US for what he perceives as entrenched
racism in the country. "When shall we ever have a black or Afro-American
president of the United States? Never, ever," remarked Mugabe. - ZimOnline.
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MDC releases dossier tabling litany of abuses
Thurs 23 September 2004

      HARARE - Zimbabwe's main Movement for Democratic Change opposition
party yesterday accused the government of restricting citizens'
participation in the governance of the country and of using food to punish
its supporters in violation of regional norms and standards for elections.

      In a document released in Harare yesterday, the MDC detailed what it
said was evidence of the government's violation of Southern African
Development Community (SADC) norms for elections since August 17.

      SADC leaders including President Robert Mugabe last month agreed that
only independent commissions should run elections to ensure democracy in the
region. Under the regional standards, citizens must be allowed full
participation in the political process while voting and electoral processes
must be sufficiently transparent and democratic.

      The MDC has said it will not participate in next year's general
election unless Mugabe fully implements the SADC electoral protocol.

      The opposition party said a new Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
law proposed by the government will effectively restrict citizens'
participation in the political process.

      The draft NGO Bill, which the government is expected to pass next
month, will bar civic bodies from carrying out voter education while those
wishing to engage in human rights work will be prohibited from receiving
funding from foreign sponsors.

      The MDC said the police continued to prevent opposition parties and
other critics of the government from holding meetings or public
demonstrations in breach of SADC standards that call for equal opportunity
for all contestants.

      The MDC's dossier reads in part: "(On) 1 September - police broke up a
peaceful demonstration by the National Constitutional Assembly (a coalition
of civic bodies in Zimbabwe) against the proposed NGO Bill. Many
demonstrators were beaten and 41 arrested."

      The MDC said the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority continued
to maintain a blackout on the party's activities despite provisions under
the SADC protocol that all political parties must have equal access to the
public media.

      "(On) 20 September, the state broadcaster announced it will not accord
the MDC airtime. The ZBC claimed it was not covering the MDC because the
party had pulled out of the 2005 election. ZANU PF is accorded airtime on
ZBC daily inside and outside any election period," the MDC wrote.

      "The state continues to use food as a political weapon against its
opponents," the opposition party also charged.

      Government proposals that Mugabe appoint the chairman of a new
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that will run elections in the country and
that the other four members of the commission be nominated by a
government-dominated parliamentary committee also breached SADC's electoral
protocol, said the MDC.

      The protocol requires that bodies charged with running elections must
be impartial, inclusive, competent and accountable.

      Information Minister and government spokesman Jonathan Moyo yesterday
could not be reached for comment on the allegations levelled by the MDC
against the government.

      The MDC, which says it will publish violations of the SADC electoral
protocol by the government every month, is expected to send its dossier to
regional governments in its bid to persuade them to "pressure Harare to
fully embrace the protocol." - ZimOnline

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High Court to hear urgent application seeking to block farm evictions
Thurs 23 September 2004

      HARARE - The High Court today hears an urgent application by the
Zimbabwe Human Rights Association requesting it to bar the state from
evicting black peasants from former white farms they seized and occupied in
the last three years.

      Association director Munyaradzi Bidi said they wanted the government
stopped from burning and destroying the peasants' houses in an attempt to
force them off the farms because it was the government that encouraged the
peasants to settle there in the first place.

      He said: "Our argument is that the government is the one which put
these people on the farms in the first place. We are also asking the court
to order the state to respect these people's human rights to decent
accommodation and sanitation. We can't fold our hands and watch such abuse
of human rights continue."

      The government openly encouraged the peasants to occupy the farms
between 2000 and 2003 and ignored several court orders to stop farm
invasions saying the farm invasions were a "legitimate demonstration of land
hunger by blacks."

      Bidi said he hoped the court would grant the order and allow the
families left homeless after security forces destroyed their homes at Porta,
Little England and Inkomo farms, all dotted along Harare's western boundary,
to return to rebuild their lives on the farms.

      But reports of more distress on the farms continued to reach Harare
yesterday as the army and police burned down farm occupiers' homes across
the country.

      At Mfazimithi farm in Bubi-Umguza district, about 35km outside
Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo, a ZimOnline correspondent saw
about 200 families stranded in the bush after armed police ordered them to
vacate the farm.

      The families related how more than 100 policemen raided their
settlement earlier this week and ordered them to leave because the farm was
now going to be reallocated under the government's A2 resettlement scheme.

      The A2 scheme is for black farmers with resources to engage in
commercial agriculture while the A1 is for the poorer peasants. Several
senior ruling ZANU PF party and government officials have used the A2 scheme
to allocate themselves several farms each according to a government land
audit report leaked to the Press last year.

      Leader of the families displaced at Mfazimithi farm, David Mpofu,
said: "(The police) told us that the government did not want us in the area
because we had occupied it illegally.

      "We tried to explain our situation to them but they would not listen.
They threw our property out of our houses and threatened to burn the houses
and beat us up if we tried to resist."

      Other reports from several former white farms in the provinces of
Mashonaland West and Midlands suggested fear and confusion at the farms as
the black families had either been already forced off or had been given
notices by the state to leave.

      Local government Minister Ignatius Chombo could not be reached for
comment yesterday. But Chombo last week said the evictions were justified
because the occupiers had settled on the farms illegally. He also said the
government would resettle the displaced peasants elsewhere. - ZimOnline

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Malawi rights group urges Mugabe to drop NGO Bill
Thurs 23 September 2004

      HARARE - Malawian human rights groups have written to President Robert
Mugabe urging him to drop a proposed law that will severely restrict the
activities of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) in Zimbabwe.

      In a letter to Mugabe dated September 10, 2004, Human Rights
Consultative Committee of Malawi chairman Rodgers Newa, said Harare's draft
NGO law was calculated to intimidate into silence independent human rights
defenders in Zimbabwe. ZimOnline received a copy of the letter yesterday.

      Newa said his group was also going to write to the United Nations'
Special Rapportuer on Torture as well as the world body's Commissioner on
Human Rights inviting them to probe human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

      The Malawian human rights leader wrote: "(We) learnt with great
concern of the intention of the Government of Zimbabwe to pass a law on NGOs
whose objective the (Malawian human rights) committee considers to
constitute a threat to the continued survival of Zimbabwean NGOs.

      "And, in particular, would place independent human rights defenders at
risk of criminal prosecution for engaging in their legitimate and peaceful
activities of promoting human rights."

      The draft law which Mugabe and his government are expected to enact
when Parliament resumes next month proposes the setting up of an NGO Council
with powers to register or deregister NGOs.

      Under the proposed law, civic bodies will be barred from undertaking
voter education while those wishing to implement projects related to human
rights issues will be prohibited from receiving funding from outside

      The proposed NGO Council, to be approved by the government, will
comprise nine representatives handpicked by government and five
representatives from civil society.

      Civic groups fear the council could be used to deny registration or
deregister NGOs perceived to be anti-government.

      It could not be established yesterday whether Mugabe had responded yet
to Newa's letter or whether the Malawian human rights group had already
written to the United Nations.

      Southern African civic society has in the last two months stepped up
criticism against Zimbabwe's proposed NGO law and the country's restrictive
Press and security laws.

      Botswana's Ditshwanelo two weeks ago also castigated what it said was
increasing repression in Zimbabwe. Several South African human rights groups
and churches have also called on Harare to abandon the proposed NGO law and
amend its security and Press laws. - ZimOnline

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Stuff, New Zealand

Over 2000 Zimbabweans may get permanent residence
23 September 2004

Zimbabweans already in New Zealand on temporary permits may be able to live
here permanently.

Immigration Minister Paul Swain today said the Immigration Service would be
writing to all Zimbabweans on temporary permits, who arrived in New Zealand
before today, to invite them to have their immigration status looked at.

More than 2000 Zimbabweans are in New Zealand having fled Zimbabwe, a
country in economic and political crisis.

Mr Swain today said in a statement that some were expected to qualify for
permanent residence under existing categories for migrants.

Those who did not would be considered under a special residence policy, he

All applicants would undergo stringent health and character tests.

No Zimbabweans entering New Zealand after today would be considered for
permanent residence under the special residence policy.

New Zealand last year suspended visa waivers for Zimbabwean visitors.

Strict criteria were being applied to new applications for visitor visas -
these visas are issued for short-term stays only.

Mr Swain said Associate Immigration Minister Damien O'Connor would consider
any difficult health and character issues on a case-by-case basis.

Mr O'Connor may also consider requests for special directions from another
150 Zimbabweans who were in New Zealand on expired permits.

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      Mbeki confronts Mugabe

      Njabulo Ncube
      9/23/2004 7:10:56 AM (GMT +2)

      SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki, undoubtedly the globally
preferred conduit for breaking through Zimbabwe's political impasse, is
mulling appointing an emissary to the country in a last-ditch bid to
untangle the longstanding stalemate between ZANU PF and the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

      To this end, this paper established this week, Mbeki, who has acted as
the peace-broker in the country's nearly five-year political crisis, is
scheduled to hold talks with President Robert Mugabe on the sidelines of the
United Nations General Assembly in New York this week.

      The New York talks would touch on the protracted political fallout
pitting President Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF and the main opposition MDC, The
Financial Gazette established yesterday. Mbeki has been at the centre of the
delicate arbitration but many feel that his efforts to bring Zimbabwe's
feuding political parties to the negotiating table have largely come
unstuck. But the South African leader is now keen to kickstart formal talks
between the Zimbabwean parties.

      The Zimbabwean crisis has threatened to suck in other Southern African
Development Community (SADC) member states.

      Last Saturday evening, Mbeki met a three-man MDC delegation in
Pretoria where the opposition party briefed him on failed informal talks and
its latest political stance to shun all elections until the government made
concessions on electoral reform.

      It was then that it emerged that Mbeki, who is the chairman of the
SADC protocol on politics, defence and security, earlier had met in Pretoria
Nicholas Goche, Zimbabwe's Minister of State Security.

      Although Goche could not immediately comment, this newspaper has it on
good authority that he met Mbeki last week and they discussed Zimbabwe's
political crisis.

      Welshman Ncube, the MDC secretary-general, who headed the opposition
delegation that included his deputy Gift Chimanikire and Gibson Sibanda, the
party's deputy president, confirmed meeting Mbeki.

      Insiders from both ZANU PF and the MDC revealed that Mbeki had
expressed disappointment over a botched informal deal hatched by both
parties to break the ice.

      Mbeki, the sources said, had sought to find out how far the informal
talks had gone and why the agreed deal had been abandoned when it had been
identified as one avenue of breaking the political ice in Harare.

      The deal entailed both parties supporting a Bill in parliament that
would have resulted in the introduction of a bicameral parliament to
encompass other far-reaching reforms.

      The Bill, the brainchild of Goche, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa
and Ncube, would have seen 50 reserved seats for women.

      Five women would have been drawn from the country's 10 political
provinces, according to information availed to this newspaper.

      The terms of the Bill proposed by the trio would come to parliament as
constitutional amendments, according to the source privy to the informal

      Under the same deal the non-constitutional seats were to be
substituted by legislators to be brought to the House through proportional
representation per province.

      Chimanikire, the MDC deputy secretary-general who was part of the MDC
delegation that met Mbeki last Saturday night in Pretoria, confirmed that
the South African President had indicated he would appoint an emissary but
after talking to President Mugabe.

      "President Mbeki has agreed to appoint an emissary after learning that
the informal talks had broken down. The emissary will look at the positions
the two parties had arrived at before the informal talks collapsed two weeks
ago," said Chimanikire.

      "He (President Mbeki) indicated that he will consult Mugabe over the
issue of an emissary in New York this week. After holding discussions with
Mugabe, Mbeki indicated he would then contact the MDC and brief us on what
was discussed," said Chimanikire.

      The MDC deputy secretary-general also confirmed the bicameral deal his
party had hammered out with ZANU PF to break the political stalemate. He
added that the deal avoided discussing the Presidency, limiting it to
parliamentary reform.

      It is also understood that the MDC's decision to suspend participation
in any future elections in the country had infuriated Mbeki, but after
meeting the MDC he allegedly agreed to re-start negotiations to end the
political impasse in Zimbabwe.

      "We also took the opportunity to explain to President Mbeki why we
suspended participating in future polls. We told him that President Mugabe
was in violation of the spirit and letter of the Mauritius Protocol Summit,"
said Chimanikire.
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      Massive fuel scandal unearthed at Noczim

      Nelson Banya
      9/23/2004 7:11:27 AM (GMT +2)

      A STINKING scam involving the diversion of subsidised fuel from the
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) for resale by privately-owned
underground companies has been unearthed at the corruption-ridden fuel

      While the authorities are still trying to get to the bottom of the
underhand dealings, sources told The Financial Gazette this week that NOCZIM
could have lost hundreds of billions of dollars that have been silting up
the pockets of perpetrators of the crime.

      Indications are that staff at NOCZIM, tasked with the distribution of
fuel to government departments following the liberalisation of the sector at
the height of the fuel crisis last year, connived with private players in
the industry to divert the product from its intended beneficiaries.

      Information at hand reveals that staff at the parastatal are
generating fake invoices purporting to relate to transactions with
parastatals or local government bodies. The fuel is then released to the oil
firms for on-selling at about $2 850 per litre, higher than the $1 650 per
litre charged on fuel for parastatals .

      NOCZIM personnel then pocket the difference while a bank cheque drawn
in favour of the national fuel company pays in the balance. It therefore
means that instead of fuel being routed through to government departments
and providers of essential services, it is finding its way into the black
market or to private players who are supposed to import the product.

      The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which recently prodded the
government to probe NOCZIM in light of the parastatal's failure to import
fuel despite being allocated foreign currency by the central bank, is
reported to be pressing for a full-scale audit of the distribution of fuel.

      Details of one such transaction, executed on August 13 and documents
of which were leaked to this newspaper, entailed NOCZIM generating an
invoice for 20 000 litres, which was supposed to be delivered to Hurungwe
Rural District Council in Mashonaland West. The firm then paid a knocked
down price of $33 million for the consignment, which had a market value of
about $70 million at current pump prices.

      In this transaction the NOCZIM proforma invoice number was 19081,
loading order number 59575 and delivery note number 161336. The registration
number for the truck that delivered the consignment was 805-379 L while
registration for the trailer was 839-617B. The loading bay supervisor was an
R Mufandaedza. Joram Misheck Moyo, the Hurungwe Council chief executive,
yesterday said they had no knowledge of the fuel.

      Sources said the practice, suspected to involve leading politicians,
was widespread and had deprived government-related companies, departments
and farmers of fuel supplies, which were diverted to private firms.

      The government has retained an unpopular official exchange rate of
$824 to the United States dollar to enable the state to make crucial
imports, among them fuel, at a hugely subsidised rate. However, the dual
exchange rate system has created rent-seeking opportunities that have, in
turn, fuelled corruption. The state fuel procurement firm buys the greenback
at $824, 15 percent of its true market value.

      The RBZ has, in the past nine months, doled out about US$120 million
to NOCZIM for fuel imports while private oil firms received about US$113
million from the central bank's foreign currency auctions.
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      Troubled firms to lose $100 bln cars

      Thomas Madondoro
      9/23/2004 7:12:01 AM (GMT +2)

      MORE than 60 luxury vehicles with an estimated value of over $100
billion belonging to four troubled firms facing bankruptcy proceedings as
creditors scramble for their assets will go under the hammer on October 2

      It was established yesterday that the top-of-the-range vehicles belong
to Kondozi farm, Barbican Asset Management, First Mutual Asset Management
(FMAM) and Intermarket Asset Managers. The Financial Gazette visited Auction
City premises located in Mabelreign in Harare on Tuesday where the 65 cars
were parked inside the auction yard. Auctioneers were making last-minute
preparations to dispose of the vehicles.

      "We are expecting more vehicles from these firms to come this week. We
are going to sell the vehicles on October 2 2004. We have received many
inquiries from interested buyers," said one of the workers at the auction
firm who declined to be named.

      The vehicles include the latest models Mercedes Benz S-Class, E-class,
C-class and a BMW, Scania trucks, Mazda Familias, Pajeros, Toyota 4x4s,
Nissan Wolf double cabs, Nissan Hardbody SE, VW Golf vehicles with an FMAM
logo, Hyundai, Peugeot 306s and 406s, VW Jettas and several Nissan Sunny
latest models.

      FMAM had its vehicles attached in July this year by the Messenger of
Court over a $30 billion debt it allegedly owes Syfrets Corporate and
Merchant Bank.

      FMAM's problems started when unauthorised deposits amounting to $29.6
billion placed with the collapsed ENG Asset Management sank with the firm,
which had advanced $4 billion to Capital Alliance, the controversial
investment vehicle used by FML executives to gain control of the firm.

      The liquidation of FMAM is expected to expose the shady deals
pertaining to the financing of Capital Alliance.

      Some of the vehicles to be auctioned belong to Intermarket Asset
Managers (IAM), a 100 percent owned subsidiary of Intermarket Holdings
Limited, which was disbanded this month after failing to secure an operating

      This paper could not however establish the exact numbers of vehicles
attached from each of the firms by the time of going to press.

      IAM, formerly Southampton Asset Management Company, linked to
embattled fugitive businessman Nicholas Vingirai, was established in 2000.
The firm was denied a licence by the regulator as a result of problems
besetting its sister subsidiaries.

      Intermarket Banking Corporation, Intermarket Building Society and
Intermarket Discount House were placed under curatorship earlier this year
after the financial group experienced serious liquidity problems as well as
the unearthing of financial impropriety in the companies.

      IAM was one of the biggest asset management firms in the country and
had an investment portfolio worth billions of dollars.

      Kondozi farm, one of the country's largest horticultural exporters
situated in Odzi, was seized by the government from its owners the De Klerk
family under the land reform programmes.

      The firm that ran the farm has since bowed down to political pressure
and relocated to neighbouring Mozambique.

      Two Scania trucks, Isuzu twin cabs and a Toyota truck belonging to
Kondozi at the auction yard were positively identified at the auction yard.

      Officials said more vehicles would be impounded from the farm this
week ready to be auctioned to off-set more than $5 billion the farm owns
various creditors. Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe is owed billions of dollars by
the former owners of Kondozi.

      The property has since been given to the Agriculture Rural Development
Authority (ARDA).

      Vehicles belonging to Barbican Asset Management have been attached to
raise more than $45 billion owed to thousands of creditors. On April 6, 2004
the high court granted a provisional order for liquidation of the firm.

      The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said BAM was funding Barbican Asset
Management South Africa, Barbican Holdings Botswana and Barbican Capital
Partners, which posted losses since inception and were technically

      BAM is a subsidiary of Barbican Holdings Limited founded by fugitive
banker, Mthuli Ncube.
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      New twist to battle for Masvingo seat

      Njabulo Ncube
      9/23/2004 7:13:42 AM (GMT +2)

      THE tussle for the Masvingo South constituency took a new twist this
week with John Nkomo, the ZANU PF national chairman, summoning the chairman
of the Provincial Disciplinary Committee (PDC) for a meeting to discuss the
political strife and discord in the province.

      It emerged the ZANU PF national leadership is eager to come out with a
clear candidate for the seat left vacant following the death last month of
Eddison Zvobgo. This comes in the wake of reports of intense infighting and
back-stabbing among aspirants for the constituency.

      Information obtained by The Financial Gazette indicate that top on the
agenda of the meeting scheduled to be held at the ZANU PF headquarters in
Harare tomorrow (Friday) are the circumstances surrounding the suspension of
Walter Muzembi from Masvingo's provincial executive.

      This development comes as it also emerged that the Masvingo PDC had
concluded the hearing into allegations raised against Muzembi, which should
reach the Masvingo Provincial Council within the next two weeks.

      Sources said Muzembi's case had taken longer to conclude because the
Agro-dealers Association of Zimbabwe chairman had been questioning the
procedures used in conducting the case and had interfered with the
disciplinary process.

      Muzembi, who was suspended from the post of district coordinating
chairman, is coveting the seat and has publicly stated his interest amid
concerns that he might have violated his prohibition order by continuing to
campaign for the seat while still undergoing the disciplinary process.

      "This letter serves to advise you that the Chairman of the National
Disciplinary Committee and the Party's National Chairman, Cde J.L. Nkomo
invites you for a meeting on Friday 24 September 2004 at his Party Offices
at 1000 hours," reads part of letter to Tinos Rusere, the Masvingo
disciplinary committee chairman who also doubles up as the party's
legislator or Zaka East.

      "You will be required to update the National Disciplinary Committee
case against Cde Walter Muzembi," said the letter signed by Dickson Dzora,
the ZANU PF national disciplinary committee secretary.

      Speculation swirled this week that Nkomo may invoke Article 10,
Section 64 of the ZANU PF constitution to clear the way for Muzembi to stand
in the Masvingo South by-election.

      Article 10, Section 10 of the ZANU PF constitution states: "The
National Disciplinary Committee may confirm, amend and reverse the decision
of any lower disciplinary committee and may direct that any disciplinary
proceedings shall be transferred to it without being completed or commenced
by any subordinate disciplinary committee."

      Muzembi, suspended by his colleagues for alleged gross
insubordination, is reportedly facing stiff opposition from Masvingo
provincial chairman Daniel Shumba and some members of his executive who are
reportedly rooting for Steven Makwarimba, the Masvingo Rural District
Council chief executive officer.

      Charge against Muzembi, the ZANU PF district coordinating committee
chairman, were that he openly attacked the party's provincial leadership,
allegations the aspiring legislator has in the past flatly disputed.

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      Govt tightens grip on public media

      Njabulo Ncube
      9/23/2004 7:14:07 AM (GMT +2)

      IN what is widely seen as a bid to maintain its grip on the public
media, the government has foistered state print media editors onto the
boards of Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) subsidiaries.

      Also joining the government-run electronic media boards is a coterie
of state apologists who double up as columnists in some independent and
state-controlled publications.

      Rino Zhuwarara, a media studies lecturer at the University of
Zimbabwe, heads the new-look ZBH board and is deputised by Justin Mutasa,
the chief executive of the state-owned Zimbabwe Newspapers (Zimpapers).

      Mutasa is also a board member of the Southern Times, a joint venture
newspaper between Zimpapers and New Era of Namibia formed to counter alleged
Western propaganda in some regional publications.

      The government claims that some regional newspapers are being used by
its perceived enemies in the West to undermine the country's "sovereignty".

      The four state editors on the ZBH board are Brezhnev Malaba, the
editor of the Bulawayo-based Sunday News, William Chikoto, the editor of The
Sunday Mail, Stephen Ndlovu, the editor of the Bulawayo-based daily
Chronicle, and Makuwerere Bwititi, the editor of the Mutare-based Manica

      All the four state editors are Mutasa's subordinates.

      Notable newspaper columnists now rewarded with an opportunity to serve
on the ZBH board include Tendai Chari, a media studies lecturer with the
Zimbabwe Open University who writes for The Sunday Mirror, Joyce Makwenda,
who has written for The Herald. Aaron Chiundura-Moyo, an author and
playwright who has penned a number of television drama programmes for the
public broadcaster, will also be a member of the board.

      ZBH operates nine subsidiaries, namely ZTV Sisonke, National
Television (NTV), On Air Systems, Radio Zimbabwe, Power FM, National FM,
SFM, Newsnet and Channel C.

      "On Air Systems, NTV and Channel C are phantom companies. They exist
on paper, otherwise we know nothing about them. We were surprised to see the
appointment of board members to serve on these shelf companies," said a
government source closely following the developments at the state-controlled
broadcaster that has enjoyed a monopoly of the airwaves since independence
in 1980.

      It is understood NTV will be broadcasting in the country's indigenous
languages from Montrose Studios in Bulawayo while Channel C will be a
musical channel, an idea insiders said was borrowed from South Africa's
popular Channel O.

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      Special envoy for Zimbabwe crisis

      Staff Reporter
      9/23/2004 7:14:58 AM (GMT +2)

      A CANADIAN civil society delegation has recommended that its country
appoint a special envoy to help break a two-year diplomatic standoff with

      In a 31-page report released this week, the five-member delegation,
which spent about a month in the country, said it was crucial for Canada to
intensify its diplomatic efforts, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to
solve the Zimbabwe crisis.

      The delegation wants the Canadian government to designate Zimbabwe as
a "source country" under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. This
would give the local Canadian embassy powers to resettle Zimbabweans
considered to be in situations of risk.

      Ottawa cut off bilateral financial assistance to Harare soon after the
disputed 2002 presidential election. Since then, its contribution to
Zimbabwe has been confined to giving aid to non-governmental organisations.

      "Working in conjunction with the Canadian embassy in Zimbabwe, the
special envoy should build contacts and relationships within Zimbabwe,
allowing him/her to both speak out about human rights concerns and play a
role in seeing resolution to the current crisis.

      "Canada should develop a comprehensive Africa-wide Zimbabwe strategy,
working within and taking advantage of the influence Canada has within the
Southern African Development Community and the Nepad (the New Partnership
for Africa's Development) Secretariat, and the African Union and the
Commonwealth," reads part of the report made available to The Financial

      The delegation further recommended that the candidate for the post of
special envoy to Zimbabwe be an individual whose profile, background and
reputation would stand up to "anticipated" criticism from President Robert
Mugabe that "he or she has colonial interests and bias".

      Titled Zimbabwe Under Siege: A Canadian Civil Society Perspective, the
report has also been submitted to Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.

      "Canada should clearly convey the urgency of decisive and effective
action on the part of these bodies to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis and to
ensure the respect of international law, of Southern African Development
Community principles and guidelines governing democratic elections and of
the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. The special envoy should
play a central role in this strategy."

      The delegation, which met a host of local civic society and church
leaders, as well as journalists, said Canada should also press for an
immediate and independent review of the United Nations' response to the
Zimbabwe crisis.

      The UN, which recently sent a special envoy to gauge the political
mood in Harare, has thwarted several efforts, mostly by the United States
and Britain, to take stern measures against Zimbabwe, viewed by most
European Union states and Washington as a rogue state.

      "This review needs to include a comprehensive contingency plan and
analysis of the entire UN mission in Zimbabwe and lead to concrete
recommendations for UN action."

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      A long, winding pipe dream

      Mavis Makuni
      9/23/2004 7:16:49 AM (GMT +2)

      In the 1990s, an official who was saying all the right things in
public about the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) once confessed in
private that he believed the scheme was an idea whose time would not come
for a long time.

      Asked whether he knew something everyone else did not know, he replied
with a glint of mischief in his eye: "It is just a hunch, but mark my

      Given the hype surrounding the project at the time, one would probably
have concluded that by a long time, the cynical official perhaps meant about
five years at most.

      But today, a decade later, if he were still around, this now deceased
insider would probably say: "What did I tell you?"

      Not an inch of the 450km pipeline to draw water from the Zambezi River
has been laid.

      However, at the time, the official's scepticism was puzzling,
particularly because the government had just made a move signalling its
readiness to play a leading role to ensure expeditious implementation of the

      The state had just set up the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT)
under the chairmanship of former PF ZAPU heavyweight Dumiso Dabengwa, who
was then Minister of Home Affairs. The then Minister of Local Government and
National Housing, John Nkomo, served as patron of the trust.

      But instead of being greeted enthusiastically as a positive
development that would speed things up, the government's motives were widely

      Cynics described the setting up of the MZWT as a ploy by the state to
hijack the MZWP, which had captured the popular imagination, so as to gain
political mileage. To put it bluntly, the state was accused of setting
itself up to reap where it did not sow.

      Spurred into action by successive severe droughts in the 1980s and
early 1990s which had necessitated the introduction of stringent water
rationing, a group of Bulawayo residents had organised themselves as the
MZWP to lobby for the construction of a pipeline from the Zambezi River to
meet the needs of Zimbabwe's second largest city, which was at the time also
the nation's industrial hub.

      When the original visionaries who established the MZWP, after deciding
that "God helps those who help themselves", came together, there was a
widespread perception that Matabeleland was being marginalised in terms of
the allocation of national resources for development projects. Indeed, since
assuming power in 1980, the government had not shown any commitment towards
addressing Bulawayo's water woes.

      But last month, a Malaysian company was awarded a US$600 million
contract to begin construction work. The deal was signed by no less than
President Robert Mugabe himself while he was in Asia to attend the Langkawi
International Dialogue.

      After numerous false starts, does the signature of the head of state
along the dotted line mean that, finally, the MZWP is an idea whose time has

      That may very well be the case, but based on the track record of
similar deals signed in the past, some cynics may very well choose to take
the latest development with a pinch of salt.

      The proposed pipeline has variously been described as Zimbabwe's most
ambitious project, a "pipe dream" or a "carrot dangled before the people of
arid Matabeleland" before elections and at other politically expedient

      The pipe dream pun conveys the fact that the idea has been on the
drawing board for almost a century since first being mooted in 1912.

      Successive colonial governments kept the proposal in mothballs for
about 70 years because the project was considered too expensive. There was
never any pretence during the colonial era that the government was about to
act on the initiative.

      Over the last 10 years since the present government "discovered" the
project, however, a heightened sense of expectation that the scheme would
get off the ground any day has been maintained through regular official

      Shortly before the 2002 presidential election, for example, it was
announced at a rally addressed by President Mugabe that implementation of
the project would begin in a matter of days after the polls.

      The nation was told that a Malaysian team was to embark on the
construction of the Gwayi-Shangani dam, the first phase of the scheme. But
following President Mugabe's controversial victory in that disputed
election, nothing happened.

      A year later, a headline in a government newspaper, which announced:
"US$50m to kick-start MZWP", highlighted the continuing stagnation.

      On that occasion, the Minister of Rural Resources and Water
Development, Joyce Mujuru, announced the formation of a company by MZWT and
a Malaysian partner, ZimMal Holdings, to facilitate the release of the
funds. She said work on the long-awaited project would begin in June last
year. No prizes for guessing, as nothing came to pass.

      In March this year, another headline in the official press declared:
"Government takes full responsibility for MZWP".

      Seven years earlier when the MZWT was set up, the story was headed:
"Zambezi Water Pipeline now national project".

      It can be very confusing for an observer to follow what is happening.

      Last month, after acknowledging that the MZWP had been characterised
by numerous false starts, MZWT chairman Dabengwa said the Export and Import
Bank of Malaysia had not honoured a pledge to release funds in 2003. He then
announced the clinching of the latest deal, signed by President Mugabe a few
weeks ago.

      The timing of the signing of this latest deal will no doubt revive
debate about the "dangling of a carrot" before the electorate in
Matabeleland, coming as it does as momentum gathers pace towards next year's
parliamentary poll. Is it a coincidence that this deal was wrapped up at
this stage?

      The MZWP is one of the most widely reported initiatives in Zimbabwe,
and has been analysed from every conceivable angle. But after all the
attendant problems that could have hampered implementation have been
addressed, the question to ask now is: when will the initiative make the
giant leap from semantics into reality?
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      ZANU PF/MDC battle for heart of SADC

      Nelson Banya
      9/23/2004 7:17:28 AM (GMT +2)

      IN what is shaping up to be an unlikely prelude to next year's
parliamentary elections, the country's biggest political parties, the ruling
ZANU PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), are
battling for the heart and soul of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) of states.

      The regional bloc has of late been seeking to assert itself on
democracy and governance issues.

      While political temperatures were always going to rise in the country
in the run-up to next March's polls, events in recent weeks have shown that
while a tepid atmosphere, wrought by pervasive uncertainty, currently
envelopes the country, the two bitter adversaries have raised the ante in
courting regional states.

      From the ZANU PF point of view, SADC endorsement of both the electoral
reforms and the voting process itself is key to retaining legitimacy,
following the hotly contested results of the 2000 parliamentary poll as well
as the presidential plebiscite two years later.

      There were 39 contested results from the 120 constituencies, while the
result of the presidential election is also being contested in the courts.

      The MDC, on the other hand, is eager to have regional pressure bear on
President Robert Mugabe's government to even the playing field before next
year's election, knowing full well that another defeat will further compound
the pessimism among the ranks of its supporters.

      A recent Afrobarometer survey conducted by the Institute for Democracy
in South Africa, in conjunction with Ghana's Centre for Democratic
Development and Michigan State University, found "evidence of popular
resignation to ZANU PF's dominance", as opposed to the euphoria of four
years ago when regime change via the ballot box seemed inevitably imminent.

      Further, the survey found that more prospective voters were inclined
to trust the incumbent government and ruling party more than the opposition.

      It is against this background and for the different reasons that the
MDC and ZANU PF have gone on a concerted regional onslaught - the former by
actively engaging SADC heads and diplomats and the latter through granting
concessions, in the form of the proposed electoral changes, which got the
bloc's approval at the Mauritius summit last month.

      A team of high-ranking MDC officials - vice president Gibson Sibanda,
secretary general Welshman Ncube and his understudy Gift Chimanikire - were
in South Africa over the weekend to meet President Thabo Mbeki, whose
position as a regional power broker was dealt a body blow by the failure by
the Zimbabwean political parties to respond positively to his much-maligned
quiet diplomacy and reach an entente.

      MDC teams have regularly met the South African leader, meetings which,
despite not bringing much tangible progress, have not done their diplomatic
standing any harm.

      Ncube was quoted in the media as saying the MDC was considering mass
action to push the Harare officials to enact genuine electoral reforms that
would ensure fair polls.

      Party president Morgan Tsvangirai also recently met SADC diplomats
accredited to Harare and told them that disputed elections were at the heart
of Zimbabwe's crisis, which has caused fears in neighbouring states of a
full-blown humanitarian and refugee disaster.

      "For the SADC region, you have a responsibility to ensure all member
states, Zimbabwe included, adhere to the latest protocols. The future of the
region rests on how seriously agreed positions are implemented and seen as
binding," Tsvangirai told the diplomats.

      ZANU PF, on the other hand, sorely needs SADC approval of the
electoral process.

      The ruling party has always harped on about African institutions
giving the hotly contested elections in 2000 and 2002 the thumbs-up.

      SADC itself has recently warned that not only will it withhold its
seal of approval from irregular elections, but, according to Mbeki, will
expel states that failed to adhere to the recently adopted common norms.

      As a result, the SADC mark of approval is indispensable to ZANU PF,
which, however, has sought to appease the regional bloc by making
concessions, which only a few months ago appeared outlandish on the
Zimbabwean political terrain.

      The electoral reform Bill the government is currently pushing in
Parliament will see the establishment of an independent electoral
commission, although this is one of the major bones of contention, as the
opposition says it cannot be independent if the executive, and not
Parliament, makes key appointments to the body.

      Other changes would see the holding of polls in a single day at
neutral centres and the use of translucent ballot boxes, among other

      The MDC has, however, dismissed these proposals as cosmetic changes
and challenged ZANU PF to make further far-reaching reforms such as
repealing the notorious Public Order and Security Act and the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which have been used to close
down democratic space to the detriment of the opposition and the benefit of
the ruling party.

      The leading opposition party recently suspended taking part in any
election until the government enacts reforms paving way for a fair contest.

      Political commentator Heneri Dzinotyiwei said the diplomatic overtures
by the MDC would ensure constant monitoring, by the SADC, of developments
unfolding in Zimbabwe.

      "It is only a few weeks after the inter-state body adopted the
electoral standards . . . they will continue to watch the developments.

      "The MDC is concerned about the environment prior to and during
elections and they will do anything they see as feasible to see that
elections are held in the right environment. It is part of the campaign,
actually," Dzinotyiwei said.

      SADC will certainly keep its focus trained on Zimbabwe in the next few
months to see if the country, a fading regional giant in terms of economic
performance, bucks the trend which has seen it regress into yet another
African nightmare.

      Multinational development agencies have repeatedly warned of negative
spillover effects on Zimbabwe's neighbours should the crisis remain
unresolved or deteriorate further.

      In the meantime, the major protagonists in Zimbabwe's political game
will have to look back in and confront an electorate that has gone through
virtually all the phases of disenchantment.

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      Dangerous patronage

      9/23/2004 7:45:46 AM (GMT +2)

      WE have warned before, hoping on the off-chance that we could be
heeded, about the far-reaching implications of Zimbabwe's deeply rooted
political patronage system.

      Zimbabwe will count the costs of the corruption spawned by this for
years to come. This disease has poisoned the very fabric of our society and
is visible across all sections of the Zimbabwean community. Suffice to say
that the warnings about the disastrous effect of political patronage fell on
stony ground. And now corruption has become institutionalised in Zimbabwe.

      We have now seen how crony capitalism, itself a product of political
influence peddling, where banks pumped funds to politically well-connected
"business people" who ran up large debts in misguided expansion plans, not
only left many banking institutions twisting in the air but threatened the
very existence of the whole sector previously seen as the only seaworthy
vessel in an otherwise sagging economy. It is an open city secret that some
of these perennially struggling banks were granted their licences on the
basis of political considerations and connections.

      As if that was not enough, only two weeks ago we got another stark
reminder of this national curse when the deep-seated rot in the fuel sector
threatened to plunge the country into yet another crisis. Indeed the
situation could have gone out of control had the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
not had a firm hand on the tiller. Still that was a straw in the wind - a
sort of wake-up call that all is not well in the fuel sector. Of course with
the situation in the sector looking distinctly more hopeful, some might be
tempted to think that it is now water under the bridge. We however do not
think that we are out of the woods yet.

      While the powers-that-be have not yet publicly given a breakdown of
who owns the plethora of fuel companies implicated in abusing the scarce
foreign currency allocated to dealers by the RBZ through the auction system,
which we feel they should do, our hunch is that most of the dealerships are
held by influential politicians. This they do either directly or through
proxies just like they did with the land reform, which they have turned into
a despicable land grab orgy.

      It is such uncouth operators in the fuel sector, who have always been
bent on deception and are not ashamed of betraying and sabotaging their
country at its most desperate hour, who caused the nation a huge scare when
fuel queues re-emerged two weeks ago. Unfortunately for them, a smoking gun
was found in the incriminating figures released by the central bank. The RBZ
availed, both to NOCZIM and more than 60 other independent operators, US$268
million for fuel procurement up to August - giving a monthly average
allocation of about US$34 million. If Zimbabwe, as reported by the RBZ,
requires about US$30 million for fuel procurement every month how then did
the country run dry? That is the question.

      In the court of public opinion this is corruption and downright
sabotage in all but name. The economic disruptions brought about by the
short-lived but costly fuel problems came at a particularly irksome moment
given the fragile state of the economy. This is why we feel that the
government should move with speed as pressure to clean up the fuel sector
intensifies. It is time to grasp the nettle and get to the bottom of this
mess. How did those companies that are failing to deliver get their
dealerships in the first place?

      Since it recently rolled out an armoury of anti-graft measures,
government should underline its commitment to rid the country of corruption
by ensuring that laws are enforced and wrongdoers brought to justice, their
licences revoked and companies liquidated. This also provides President
Robert Mugabe, who has taken great umbrage to pervasive corruption if his
public statements and their elaborate tones are anything to go by, with a
perfect opportunity to make good his pledge to take the anti-graft crusade
to its full expression.

      No one should be immune despite their political and social standing.
President Mugabe, whose government has taken a licking from critics for at
worst nurturing graft and at best sitting on the fence in the face of
corruption, has acknowledged as much. The law should not be applied
selectively like the proverbial spider's web which catches only the smallest
of insects and lets through the big ones. We see this as the sine qua non of
success in the war against corruption.

      Even though in Zimbabwe for the rich, justice has not only been cheap
but blind, the generality of the people is clearly fed up with the mystique
of those who are seemingly above the law. It was time Zimbabwe made an
example of those whose businesses and political careers are based on
corruption, hypocrisy, arrogance and contempt for the people.

      As for the state fuel procurement arm, NOCZIM, government should now
go back to the drawing board to do a cost benefit analysis as regards the
relevance of this monolith to Zimbabwe. In any case, part of the blame for
the problems at the beleaguered institution should be placed squarely on the
shoulders of the government. The quasi-government fuel procurement agent is
prone to political interference and could not for a long time price its fuel
correctly for political expediency.

      Government refused to listen to the voice of reason when there were
calls for staggered fuel price increases as far back as the mid-1990s. It
decided in its wisdom to adopt the populist stance and forego reasonable
fuel price increases although this was a question of postponing the
inevitable. Like all short-sighted populist policies, this has now come back
to haunt us.

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      Obstacles to media freedom in Zim

      9/23/2004 7:40:46 AM (GMT +2)

      This is the second part in a two-part contribution. The first part
dealt specifically with issues relating to access to government information.

      This part will deal with the offences of criminal defamation; abuse of
journalistic privilege; publication of statements likely to cause fear,
alarm and despondency or to undermine public confidence in the conduct of
public affairs, or to bring the person or office of the President into

      or disrepute; and various other institutional problems that affect the
operations of the media.

      TO add to the woes of journalists, the law of defamation as it stands
is very much stacked against the media. Criminal defamation consists in the
unlawful and intentional publication of a seriously defamatory statement.

      A defamatory statement is one that diminishes the esteem in which the
person to whom it refers is held by others, or it may reflect adversely on a
person's moral character or on his capacity for his occupation or on his
professional standing. It has been held that a charge of defamation will not
stick unless the defamation is serious.

      The dividing line between civil and criminal defamation is supposed to
be drawn on the basis of the criterion of seriousness.

      In other words, if the defamation is of a serious nature, it will be
prosecutable as criminal defamation while less serious defamation will be
treated as civil defamation. The criterion of seriousness is an
extravagantly nebulous and imprecise one and thus it is difficult to
determine what makes a case sufficiently serious to elevate it from civil
defamation to defamation of a criminal nature.

      If a media institution alleges wrong-doing on the part of a public
official in the performance of his duties and the public official sues for
defamation, the only way in which the action can be successfully defended is
if the media institution proves that its allegations were true; it is no
defence for the media institution to say that it believed the facts to be
true and that it published the story because it believed that the public had
a right to know about this matter. It is not even a defence for the media
institution to establish that it took all reasonable steps to check its
facts before going ahead and publishing the story.

      There are in law a very limited number of defences to a charge of
criminal defamation such as justification, fair comment, truth, and

      The courts in Zimbabwe have generally adopted a subjective approach to
animus injuriandi (intention to injure) and the net effect of this is that
our law of defamation imposes strict liability on the press in that the
defence of absence of intention to injure can not be raised. The plaintiff
in an action for defamation is in a very privileged position because he/she
simply has to prove publication of the words complained of. It is the
function of the court and the court alone, to determine whether the words
complained of are defamatory.

      If the answer is in the affirmative, irrespective of whether the words
are true or not, the onus shifts to the defendant who must establish in law
and in fact, a number of limited defences alluded to above.

      This obviously stands in the way of the media and obstructs it from
performing its watchdog role properly. For instance, a newspaper obtains
information on a confidential basis from a reliable source within a ministry
that a high ranking official has been taking bribes. In characteristic
Zimbabwean tradition, the informant tells the newspaper that if the paper is
sued he will not be prepared to testify in court on behalf of the paper.
There is no documentary evidence that can be produced in court. The
newspaper does all it can to check the story and asks the concerned person
to comment and he simply says that if the story is published he will sue the

      If then the paper publishes the story and it is sued for defamation,
it will be no defence that it believed the public had a right to know about
the allegations of corruption and it did what it could to verify the facts
before publishing the story.

      The effect of this is that media institutions will refrain from
publishing such stories, not because they do not think the stories have
substance, but because they are fearful that they may end up paying large
amounts of damages because they may be unable to prove truth of such stories
in court.

      In any case proof of truth is an uphill task. A proper balance has to
be achieved between protection of reputation and freedom of speech.

      The law must obviously try to ensure that the watchdog does not bite
the wrong people and that when the wrong people are bitten by the watchdog,
there will be suitable legal remedies. However, all around Africa we have
glaring examples of criminal defamation being used as an instrument to
silence or punish political opponents who were merely engaging in legitimate
political activity. The criminal sanction is too drastic a method to
regulate freedom of expression and the civil law of defamation is
sufficiently well-developed to cover both serious and less serious

      In South Africa the new position is that the press will not be liable
for defamation if it publishes information which turns out to be untrue if
it was reasonable to publish those particular facts in that way at that
particular time. A newspaper would not be liable if it can establish that it
was not negligent in publishing the information. Obviously, in order to
establish absence of negligence the press will have to convince the court
that it obtained information from a reliable source and that it took
reasonable steps to check the information.

      It may be worthwhile for practising legal practitioners to take a
suitable test case to court so that we can have an authoritative decision
from the Zimbabwean Supreme Court on the matter in light of the new South
African position. It is submitted that the SA position is the better one.

      This law of criminal defamation impinges directly on freedom of
expression and of the press and it is therefore imperative to consider
seriously whether this law is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society
to protect the reputations of persons within government. It will not be
reasonably justifiable if it unnecessarily or excessively curtails the
guaranteed freedoms.

      Criminal defamation possesses an unattractively wide scope for
manipulation and oppression of opponents of government, let alone its
negative effect on freedom of expression and of the press. Its role in the
prevention of public peace in modern society is minimal and a strong case
for decriminalisation of defamation has been made by many eminent scholars.

      The constitutionality of criminal defamation is doubtful given that
any person alleging harm to his/her reputation has a right of self redress
via a civil claim for defamation. The offence may also be open to challenge
on the basis that it is so nebulous and ill-defined that it is incapable of
fair application. The criteria laid down by the judiciary are so vague as to
be incapable of sensible and consistent application.

      Another legal obstacle to media freedom relates to what is referred to
by section 80 of AIPPA as "abuse of journalistic privilege" through
publishing "falsehoods". There are also certain sections of POSA which
criminalise publication of statements likely to cause fear, alarm and
despondency or to undermine public confidence in the conduct of public
affairs, or to bring the President into hatred or disrepute.

      In effect these provisions shield the President from criticism of any
sort. The Zimbabwean Supreme Court, in a majority judgment which betrays the
judiciary's insensitivity to the plight of journalists, in a case involving
a constitutional challenge to certain sections of AIPPA by the Association
of Independent Journalists, held that what is protected by the constitution
is the right to receive and impart information and that falsehoods are not
information, a view which was not shared by Justice Sandura who delivered a
very important dissenting judgment.

      In other more progressive jurisdictions it has been held that a
statutory provision which criminalises the printing or distribution of any
false statement likely to undermine public confidence in the conduct of
public affairs contravened the provisions in the constitution protecting
freedom of speech. In a democracy, it is almost too obvious to need stating
that those who hold office in government and are responsible for public
administration must be always open to criticism. Any attempt to stifle or
fetter such criticism amounts to political censorship of the most insidious
and objectionable kind.

      At the same time, it is no less obvious that the very purpose of
criticism levelled against those who have the conduct of public affairs by
their political opponents is to undermine public confidence in their
stewardship and to persuade the electorate that the opponents would make a
better job of it than those presently holding office.

      In light of these considerations, one can not help viewing a statutory
provision which criminalises statements likely to undermine public
confidence in the conduct of public affairs with utmost suspicion. So again
the constitutionality of these crimes is very questionable and suitable test
cases need to be brought before the courts for an authoritative judicial
declaration from the Supreme Court.

      Freedom of the press affords the public one of the best means of
discovering and forming an opinion of the ideas and attitudes of political
leaders. More generally, freedom of political debate is at the core of the
concept of a democratic society; the limits of acceptable criticism are
accordingly wider as regards a politician as such than as regards a private

      Unlike the latter, the former inevitably and knowingly lays oneself
open to close scrutiny of his every word and deed by both journalists and
the public at large, and he must consequently display a greater degree of

      There are also a number of institutionalised obstacles to media
freedom in Zimbabwe. We have an undemocratic constitution which has ushered
in an undemocratic political system characterised by intolerance and the
politics of difference, thus reflecting the failure of our political system
at the moral and ethical level. These extra-legal forces are important
determinants of the shape and manner in which rights are realised and their
net effect is to create an environment where civil society is stifled and

      People become afraid to speak out as dissenting views are not
accommodated and in any case journalists practice self-censorship.

      The economy is also affecting the free flow of information as
newspapers and magazines are now beyond the means of many and are folding up
at a faster rate. On the other hand the state media, which is by far the
most dominant, continues to flourish.

      The restrictive provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) also
stifle the free flow of information by giving the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Holdings a monopoly over broadcasting services in Zimbabwe, which monopoly
has been used largely to disseminate ideological propaganda on behalf of the
government and the ruling party. There can never be a sound information
delivery system if the information conduit is controlled by one entity.
Tolerance of diversity is predicated on the existence of a multiplicity of
opinions; affording the minority the same rights and privileges as the

      The struggle for democracy has to be waged on a number of fronts and
one of these is the battle to make governments far more accountable for
their actions by giving the people a right to far more information than is
the case at present.

      A related front is the struggle against autocratic tendencies of those
in power, which in Zimbabwe is a particularly pronounced tendency. The
national agenda in this regard must be broad, holistic and encapsulated in
the demand for a new democratic constitution.
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  Noczim risks losing assets over US$61m Tamoil debt

      Felix Njini
      9/23/2004 7:19:05 AM (GMT +2)

      THE troubled National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) is still
grappling with a strangling US$61 million debt it owes to Tamoil of Libya
and risks losing assets if the debt is not immediately extinguished.

      It has been established that pressure is rising inexorably for the
debt-ridden state-controlled fuel importer to settle the outstanding debt or
risk having assets attached by the Libyan firm.

      Tamoil, which has on previous occasions been led a merry dance when it
tried to recover its funds, is said to have "lost patience over NOCZIM's
failure to expedite its contractual obligations and is mulling taking legal
action" to recover the outstanding debt plus interest, sources said.

      "If NOCZIM does not come up with a plan to offset the debt, it is most
likely that the case will soon spill to the courts," said a source.

      It has also been learnt that Tamoil had made diplomatic
representations through the Libyan embassy in Harare to recover its money
from the cash-strapped fuel procurer, which is under a state-sanctioned
probe into the alleged abuse of foreign currency obtained from the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe.

      Insiders at NOCZIM said the parastatal, which has previously been
lambasted for its glaring failure to execute its mandate, was frantically
scouting around for potential sources of funds to settle the debt.

      Sources said the company stopped servicing the debt six months ago due
to the severe shortage of foreign currency in the country.

      The financially troubled parastatal is under pressure from the
government to procure fuel for farmers, state departments and key
organisations such as hospitals.

      Previous efforts by Tamoil to recover the debt have failed to yield
any tangible results.

      In 2002 Roux Italia of Italy undertook an evaluation of NOCZIM assets
after the government indicated that it wanted to spin them off to Tamoil.
The evaluation, according to insiders, pegged NOCZIM's assets at US$52
million, falling short of the US$61 million, plus interest required as pay

      Failure to settle the US$61 million has seen Libya cutting off fuel
supplies to Zimbabwe. The country had been receiving fuel supplies from
Libya under a US$90 million facility, which was later dealt a hammer blow
when Zimbabwe failed to pay.

      Efforts by Zimbabwe to export agricultural products to Libya such as
beef, tobacco, sugar and tea among other commodities to discharge its
liabilities have come unstuck. Before the collapse of the deal, the Libyan
oil giant had supplied 70 percent of Zimbabwe's oil.

      Zvinechimwe Churu, the managing director of NOCZIM, refused to
comment, saying "issues of debt with clients were confidential".

      Churu however, intimated that NOCZIM would only settle debts to fuel
suppliers currently dealing with the parastatal.

      "We have endeavoured to pay some of our creditors but we are
prioritising those who would influence unlocking fuel supplies to the
nation," Churu said.

      "Tamoil is a potential supplier. They have not been written off yet,"
Churu said, adding that the Libyan firm had no intention of seizing NOCZIM
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      Zim life expectancy plunges to 33 years

      Staff Reporter
      9/23/2004 7:27:42 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWEANS' life expectancy at birth has plummeted from 43 to 33.9
years as the HIV/Aids pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the population, a
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report has revealed.

      With an HIV/Aids prevalence of 24.6 percent in the 15 to 49 age group,
Zimbabwe is said to be one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic in
the world.

      At least one in every four adults is suffering from the disease, which
causes more than 2 000 deaths each week.

      The country, which is in the throes of one of its worst economic and
political crises in two decades, is ranked 91 out of the 95 countries
classified under the human poverty index (HDI).

      The HDI measures average achievements along three basic dimensions of
human development - such as life expectancy at birth, literacy levels and
access to a decent standard of living.

      Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Ethiopia have the highest
human poverty levels of the countries under the HDI, according to the UNDP
Human Development Report 2004.

      Zimbabwe, classified in the low human development category, was ranked
147 out of the 177 countries with an HDI of 0.491 compared to 0.570 at
independence from Britain in 1980.

      High-level poverty in the country, which has reached alarming
proportions, has torn apart families and caused a rise in the rate of crime.

      Zimbabwe is grappling with a worsening economic and political crisis,
dramatised by acute shortages of foreign currency, fuel, food, deepening
poverty and rising unemployment.

      The crisis, compounded by the violent occupation of prime farming land
by government supporters, has spawned an unprecedented rise in company
closures over the past years, rendering thousands jobless.

      Zimbabwe's peers, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique, have
life expectancy at birth ranging from 38 years to 48 years.

      Zimbabwe's population, at 12.8 million by 2002, will reach 13 million
by 2015, by which time those with 65 years and above will only be 4.2
percent of this figure, the Human Development Report said.
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      Tanganda to venture into macadamia crop for export market

      Staff Reporter
      9/23/2004 7:26:58 AM (GMT +2)

      AGRICULTURAL concern Tanganda Tea Company intends to venture into the
growing of macadamia for the export market, according to managing director
Andrew Mills.

      "We are going to be growing macadamia on one of our plantations. An
estimated 20 to 25 hectares will be utilised for the project," said Mills,
who could not disclose the budget for the project.

      Global demand for macadamia has been firming and prices rising. The
Zimbabwean climate is ideal for the crop.

      According to Tanganda, macadamias will grow well on a wide range of
soil types from open sands, lava rock soils, heavy clay and well-drained

      Last week the tea company revealed that it was conducting hydrological
surveys in Mozambique to assess the water situation in the neighbouring
country, where 400 hectares of virgin land has been targeted for

      In its previous half-year financial statement, Tanganda said macadamia
had taken longer to establish, but the company was hopeful that planting
would start with the onset of the rains.
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      Status of Debshan Ranch still unclear

      Charles Rukuni
      9/23/2004 7:25:14 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - The status of Debshan ranch, which is owned by the
Oppenheimer family, one of the richest families in Southern Africa, remains
unclear more than six months after the government ordered settlers to leave
immediately because the farm was not designated for resettlement.

      There are now fears that the ranch has been handed back to the
powerful De Beers and Anglo-American boss, or it is being lined up for a
senior ZANU-PF official or one of his children. The fears are being
compounded by the fact that no one wants to talk about the issue.

      The manager of the ranch, who declined to give his name, referred all
questions about the status of the ranch to a James Maphosa at the
Anglo-American head office in Harare while Special Affairs Minister
responsible for Lands John Nkomo referred The Financial Gazette to
Matabeleland South governor Angeline Masuku.

      Settlers at the ranch, some of whom were officially allocated plots
way back in 2000, said they had been told privately that the issue was a
political hot potato and was now being handled by the presidency.

      Some local ZANU-PF officials, including members of the party's central
committee, however, maintain that settlers should stay put while the farm
manager, a Mr C.R. Edwards, who seems to be now in full control, has ordered
them not to prepare land for the coming season.

      The ranch is now guarded and patrolled by green-uniformed Debshan
(Pvt) Limited security guards who take details of anyone entering the ranch,
including phone numbers and the purpose of one's visit.

      The guards are reported to have been granted special constabulary
status by the Zimbabwe Republic Police and have radio equipment, which
settlers say is used to inform Debshan management about everyone entering
the ranch.

      To add to the confusion a brand new Zimbabwean flag flies at the main
entrance to the ranch alongside that of Debshan seen as an intimidatory
tactic which gives settlers and visitors the impression that whatever the
guards are doing has government approval.

      According to settlers, the flag was hoisted sometime in May shortly
after Edwards sent out a circular purportedly trying to clear the issue
about the status of Debshan.

      The letter dated May 5, 2004, reads: "There appears to be continued
confusion over the status of Debshan Ranch. It would seem that certain
individuals who are trying to fulfil their own personal agendas by illegally
allocating land to unsuspecting individuals are deliberately creating this

      "The only legal authority that may legitimately allocate land in the
Insiza District of Matabeleland South is the Insiza District Lands Committee
together with the Insiza District Administrator, based in Filabusi.

      "Anyone else allocating plots or claiming to have authority to do so,
is acting fraudulently and should therefore be reported to the relevant

      "Senior government officials in public meetings have clarified the
situation with respect to Debshan on numerous occasions. Attached is a
newspaper report on the most recent meeting held at Joseph's Block. The
situation and status has not changed at all since then.

      "Should you require any further clarification on the situation it is
strongly recommended that you contact any of the following: the Office of
the District Administrator in Filabusi, the Office of the Chairman of the
Insiza Land Committee, the Office of Insiza Ward 14 Councillor, the
Officer-in-Charge Zimbabwe Republic Police Fort Rixon, or the Office of the
Minister of Special Affairs in The President's Office Responsible for Lands,
Land Reform and Resettlement in Harare."

      The letter was signed: CR Edwards, senior manager.

      The newspaper cutting referred to was from the Sunday News of February
8, 2004. It quoted the District Administrator of Insiza, Peter Mandebvu, as
saying 70 settlers at Debshan Ranch should leave immediately as the farm was
not designated for resettlement.

      "You are ordered to leave with immediate effect as the ranch was not
acquired by the government under the resettlement programme" Mandebvu was
reported to have told settlers at Joseph's Block.

      It was not clear what Mandebvu meant because according to documents
produced by the settlers, Joseph's Block and Bulawayo Syndicate, around
which the current dispute is centred, were listed by the government on
August 13, 2003, as lot 100. They were items number 14 and 16, respectively.

      Three other properties owned by the Oppenheimer family were listed
under the same lot. These were Esmyangene Block, Farm Mbati Tiabetsi Block
and Subdivision A of Mbati Tiabetsi Block.

      One of the first settlers, Zefania Mutero Sibanda, produced documents
which showed that the District Administrator of Insiza, who happened to be
Mandebvu, had allocated him plot number 57 on 15 November 2000.

      Sibanda paid land tax of $500 for 2001 on 23 March 2001, for that
plot, leaving a balance of $1 500. The receipt, number AA 403317, was issued
by the Insiza Rural District Council and bears its official stamp. Mandebvu
resigned from the government a few months ago in unclear circumstances. Some
reports say he was forced to resign because of the way he had allegedly
mishandled the land issue. Settlers said they were fighting a losing battle
because Edwards was allegedly being backed by a senior police officer at
Fort Rixon, who at times patrolled the farm urging settlers to leave using
Edwards' vehicle. He had also been allegedly receiving support from Mandebvu
and the councillor for Ward 14, which borders with the ranch.

      When The Financial Gazette phoned Debshan it was referred to a James
Maphosa at Anglo-American head office in Harare who could not be reached for

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