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Probe ordered into Mujuru party plane

Zim Standard

By Vusumuzi Sifile

THE Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) confirmed last week it
was investigating the circumstances in which a plane chartered by retired
former army commander General Solomon Mujuru, to fly himself and his guests
to his daughter Nyasha's wedding last month in Victoria Falls, was allowed
to take off with some of its panels open.

The plane, a Boeing 737 chartered from Air Zimbabwe, flew back to the
Harare international airport a few minutes after take-off after the
discovery of the open panels.

The general had paid US$10 000 for the hire of the aircraft, reported
to be 20 years old.

CAAZ chief executive officer, David Chaota said on Friday while they
were indeed investigating the incident, he would not elaborate.

"Normally, when such an incident happens, an investigation is
launched," he said.

CAAZ keeps records of all flights - including aborted take-offs - at
all the airports it operates.

Top-level sources told The Standard that on 11 August, Mujuru,
Vice-President Joice Mujuru's husband, and over 80 guests boarded the
chartered Boeing 737.

Other high profile passengers included the Minister of Water Resources
and Infrastructural Development, Munacho Mutezo, Minister of Economic
Development, Sylvester Nguni and Phineas Chiota, the deputy minister of
Industry and International Trade, the permanent secretary in that ministry,
Christian Katsande, and Karikoga Kaseke, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority
(ZTA) chief executive officer, were also on the plane.

Reports say they were hardly airborne when the plane aborted its
take-off after the captain noticed that some of the panels had not been

"Everyone was surprised to see the plane returning to the runway and
landing," said a source. "The captain then informed us that there were some
panels that had not been closed."

The panels, also known as cowlings, are used to access all critical
areas of an aircraft. They help the pilot monitor and regulate engine

Aviation engineers said an open panel increased pressure against the
flight, "and this may lead to a short circuit and cause fire on the plane".

One engineer said: "That was a very dangerous mistake: imagine what
would have happened if the mistake had not been discovered earlier.
Something terrible could have happened. An open panel would have disturbed
the airflow in the engine, and that would have been disastrous."

For the return flight, the plane was to have left the Victoria Falls
at 7PM on 12 August, but it only left the following day at 3AM - eight hours

Mujuru, who served as Josiah Magama Tongogara's deputy in the Zimbabwe
National Liberation Army (Zanla) during the struggle, decided against using
the plane.

The other guests flew back on the chartered flight.

Vice-President Joice Mujuru confirmed her husband did not travel back
to Harare on the chartered plane but joined her in a scheduled ordinary
flight to Harare.

But other guests who attended the party insisted he returned by road.

The Vice-President said she could not comment on the incident as she
did not use the chartered plane.

"I used the normal flight which left earlier. Why don't you call those
who were in the flight?"

Attempts to contact the retired general over the past two weeks have
been fruitless. He was said to be at his farm and no one, including the
Vice-President would give his mobile number.

Commenting on the delayed return flight, Air Zimbabwe spokesperson
David Mwenga yesterday said the aircraft scheduled to make the flight
delayed by one hour from another destination.

When it finally arrived in Harare, it had developed a technical fault
that took 45 minutes to repair.

"We were supposed to pick up that party around 8PM, but the flight was
delayed by two hours," Mwenga said.

About the aborted take-off, he said there was no way a plane would be
allowed to fly all the way to Victoria Falls with open panels.

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Demand for hefty perks derails graft probe

Zim Standard


OFFICIALLY, a US$800 000 corruption study commissioned by the
government in February should have been concluded last week.

But it wasn't. The subject is one which gives most people in
government the jitters. It is said they ensured the project would be
still-born. The Pandora's box it would have opened would have ruined most of
them with one stroke of the pen.

Moreover, they must have feared a few of them would end up behind
bars, perhaps as sacrificial lambs for a government keen to present itself
as squeaky clean before elections it knows it cannot win without some
electoral jiggery-pokery.

The government claimed the report would have established the
occurrence of specific types of corruption prevalent in Zimbabwe, as if that
was a great secret.

It was expected to identify the causes of corruption which many cynics
thought sounded as dumb as investigating why women become pregnant.

The Standard's investigations have established the much ballyhooed
study remains just that - a proposed study seven months after the government
announced it would start.

The reputation of the government for being absolutely economic with
the truth inhibited donors from rushing in to help.

Most would-be donors doubted their money would be put to good use.

There was another problem, not unfamiliar in Zimbabwe: members of the
corruption commission demanded hefty allowances. Some wanted to take up
positions of paid researchers to the commission, even while they were being
paid to be commissioners.

"As you know, this thing was not budgeted for," said a source. "The
government hasn't got that kind of money. It wanted donors to pour in all
the money. But what infuriated donors most of all were the demands of the

In February, the government announced that it was embarking on an
eight-month baseline survey to study corruption, at an estimated cost of
about US$800 000.

It pledged to provide US$450 000 while the African Capacity Building
Foundation (ACBF) had been asked to chip in with the remaining US$350 000.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was supposed to
provide the survey's technical expertise and also give the definition of
corruption in the Zimbabwean context, as well as analysing the existing
anti-corruption legislation.

Professor Claude Mararike, who chairs the 15-member steering committee
spearheading the corruption baseline survey, confirmed the project was
virtually moribund.

"The government and other partners are still working on the
modalities," he said. "They need to sort out a few things first. It was our
wish to have the project up and running but that has not been the case."

He said his committee was "still waiting" and would start work as soon
as the funds were available.

"Unfortunately, I don't have the mandate to talk to the media,
otherwise I would have given you all the details," said Mararike, declining
to comment on reports that the commissioners' allowance demands had so
outraged intending donors that they had pulled out.

The chairperson of the African Parliamentary Network against
Corruption (APNAC), Willias Madzimure, whose network monitors corruption in
Africa, said last week, from what he had gathered the researchers were
demanding exorbitant allowances, flashy motor vehicles and mobile phones.

That apart, he said, some of the commissioners wanted to become both
commissioners and researchers, which clearly showed that they wanted to line
their pockets.

"This turned away prospective financiers because it clearly showed the
project would not succeed," he said.

A spokesperson for ACBF, which was supposed to be the main financier
of the graft study, said the organization was still committed to the
project. But he declined to comment further.

No comment could be obtained from the United Nations Development
Programme. (UNDP).

The Minister of State Enterprises, Anti-monopolies and
Anti-Corruption, Samuel Undenge, claimed he was attending meetings and
promised to call back.

He never did.

Last year, the government established an Anti-Corruption Commission,
headed by Eric Harid, the former Comptroller and Auditor-General. Critics
say the commission has done virtually nothing to fulfill its mandate.

Harid claimed last week the commission had made significant progress.

"We tabled the 2006 annual report and this year's report is with the
printers," he said. "I cannot give the details because it has not been
tabled in Parliament. If you like you can get the 2006 report from

Analysts say commissioning baseline surveys and establishing
commissions "without any teeth or political will" to tackle rampant
corruption in both the public and private sectors would not help the

There have been a number of commissions to investigate corruption
since 1980, and most of their findings have never been made public.

Several senior government officials were named in the Willowgate
scandal, the Pay-for-Your-House scheme and the War Victims' Compensation
Fund, but their cases were either dropped or left hanging.

One person jailed over Willowgate was hastily granted a presidential
pardon and released.

The First Lady, Grace Mugabe, was among those named in the
Pay-for-Your-House scheme, while police commissioner Augustine Chihuri,
Vice-President Joice Mujuru, her husband retired General Solomon Mujuru,
among others, were named in the War Victims' Compensation Fund hearings.

It is now widely believed senior politicians and businessmen seen as
transgressing are hauled before the courts on allegations of corruption. But
once they "repent", the charges are either dropped or left hanging for
future use.

According to Transparency International (TI) corruption perception
index 2006, Zimbabwe is ranked 130 out of the 163 countries, closer to
Africa's most corrupt nations - Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Kenya, all on 142.

But Madzimure believes corruption levels in Zimbabwe have surpassed
the TI benchmark, especially in the wake of serious shortages of basic
commodities precipitated by the government's directive to slash prices by

To access a basic commodity, the MDC MP said, poverty-stricken people
have to pay "someone in the system".

"The level of corruption now is unacceptable. I think it is higher
than the TI Index, especially with the current shortages," Madzimure said.

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We'll fight 'satanic' wage freeze: ZCTU

Zim Standard

  By Vusumuzi Sifile

TWO of the country's leading civic society organisations have warned
President Robert Mugabe his announcement of a wage freeze last week was
"satanic", illegal and "hopelessly unconstitutional".

Last week, Mugabe invoked the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures)
Act to freeze all wage and salary increments.

But the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the National
Constitutional Assembly said the decree smacked of government hypocrisy, as
it rendered useless ongoing dialogue through the Tripartite Negotiating
Forum (TNF).

Legal experts have noted that although the government could use the
decree to control rentals and other charges, the same measure could not be
used for wages and salaries as these fall under the Labour Act, which has
not been amended.

In a statement, ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibebe, said the
measures were "satanic, economically wrong and morally suicidal".

He said the announcement was an indication Mugabe was out of touch
with reality, and should brace himself for a showdown with with the workers.

"There is no rationale in freezing salaries when only last week prices
of commodities were reviewed upwards - what hypocrisy!" said Chibebe. "The
move by the State means that battlelines have been drawn between the ZCTU
and government . . . This means that we keep going round in circles and
never stick to agreed programmes of action to finding lasting solutions to
the crisis in Zimbabwe."

Chibebe said the measures were "unacceptable in a democracy" and
"tantamount to condemning all Zimbabweans to poverty".

"President Mugabe, it would seem, is not in touch with the reality on
the ground and we wonder on what planet he lives. It is no secret at all
that he is well catered for - he has never slept on an empty stomach, he has
never walked from State House to his Munhumutapa offices, his children have
never been chased away from school because they had not paid fees, and he
has never experienced water and electricity cuts. Freezing wages and
salaries, when an average wage in the industry is $1 million is tantamount
to condemning all Zimbabweans to poverty."

Yesterday, NCA chairperson Lovemore Madhuku said the decree was
"hopelessly unconstitutional".

"Wages and salaries cannot be dealt with under a presidential decree,
they fall under the Labour Act. The Labour Act has not been amended, and
unless it has been amended, the decree on wages and salaries cannot be
effected. Obviously, they should realise this mistake, a wage is not a
price," Madhuku said.

Economic commentator John Robertson said yesterday the new measures
were an attempt by the government to find excuses for not reviewing civil
servants' salaries.

"This is only going to make things worse," he said. "The government is
trying to protect itself from the demands of civil servants. They now have
an excuse for not reviewing their salaries upwards and want to get everyone
under their umbrella.

"They cannot talk of a price freeze when the goods are being sold on
the black market. The real price at the moment is the black market price,
and this will only worsen the situation."

Robertson predicted that like the July price blitz, the new measures
would backfire.

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UK says to remain steadfast on Zim policy

Zim Standard


BRITAIN yesterday said despite a vicious attack on its government from
the State-run media last week, it would not change its policy towards

The British Embassy's head of press and public affairs in Zimbabwe,
Gillian Dare said if Harare thought that Britain would soften its stance
because of the change in Prime Minister it was wrong.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair - who has been hard on
President Robert Mugabe's administration - was replaced by Gordon Brown in
June this year.

"If the government of President Mugabe believed that there would be a
change in British policies because of the change in Prime Minister, they
were mistaken," Dare said.

In a comment last week, a State-run newspaper viciously attacked
Britain for unveiling a statue of former president of South Africa Nelson
Mandela in London and describing him as the world's most revered statesmen.

The paper accused Brown's government of making "political capital" out
of Mandela's stature and described the move as racist hypocrisy.

It claimed that Britain rewarded Mandela because he did not disturb
the interests of white capital when he was President.

"He preached reconciliation instead of justice."

It is unlikely that such a vitriolic attack on Britain could find its
way into the paper without approval from government, as has been the norm.
It is suspected that the comment is a pre-emptive action of what is to

Efforts to get a comment from Mugabe's spokesperson, George Charamba,
were unsuccessful yesterday.

Mugabe's administration, analysts say, hoped that Brown would give it
a sympathetic ear, unlike Blair.

The 83-year-old Zimbabwean leader has been careful not to rubbish
Brown since he assumed office, presumably hoping for a change of policy in
London. But that approach has evidently been discarded.

The fuss that Harare has made over Mandela's statue is ironic. In
1994, the British government conferred Mugabe with an honorary Knight
Commander of the Order of the Bath by Queen Elizabeth II which he gleefully

Then he was a darling of the West and enjoyed receiving the same type
of reception in London that Mandela is getting.

Now that the tables have turned and there are moves to strip him of
the Knighthood, Mugabe's spokesmen are livid.

Mugabe fell out of favour following allegations of gross human rights
violations against his fellow countrymen and orchestrating the country's
economic decay that has impoverished more than 80% of the population.

Britain is ready for a more productive relationship with Harare and to
assist in the country's economic recovery, Dare said.

"But we cannot do this unless we see Zimbabwe remove draconian laws,
restore respect for fundamental freedoms, human rights and the rule of law,
and embark on the economic and fiscal reforms set out by the International
Monetary Fund."

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Shortages dilemma as children return to school

Zim Standard

  By Kholwani Nyathi

BULAWAYO - The opening of the third school term could plunge the
education system into fresh crisis because of the continuing shortage of
basic commodities.

In the aftermath of the government decree on prices, basic
commodities - including school uniforms and stationery - have disappeared
from the shops.

Tertiary institutions have not been spared: the National University of
Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo has postponed the start of its
first semester by a month, to 24 September.

A survey of government and private schools, especially boarding
schools, revealed that most were not prepared for re-opening as they could
not guarantee enough food for students.

They said delays by the Cabinet Taskforce on Price Monitoring and
Stabilisation in announcing a new school fees structure for the term had
stymied planning.

Last week, the Minister of Industry and International Trade, Obert
Mpofu, chairman of the taskforce, insisted the "government will announce the
new fees structure before the schools open because we cannot allow a
situation where education is priced beyond the reach of the people" .

But the Roman Catholic Church, which runs a number of mission schools
across the country, has warned it might be forced to close them down if it
was forced to charge sub-economic fees.

Although the Association of Trust Schools (ATS), representing a number
of private boarding schools, on Thursday said it would only be able to
assess the situation this week, parents have said they fear mass starvation.

They said children should only be allowed to return if schools were
assured they would be provided with basics such as maize-meal and meat.

The southern parts of the country have gone for a month without
maize-meal while the closure of private slaughterhouses during the price
blitz caused a severe shortage of beef in urban areas across the country.

In Matabeleland South, there are already serious doubts that Mzingwane
High School would reopen as usual: it closed its last term prematurely after
students rioted over food shortages.

In Bulawayo, the situation has been exacerbated by the water crisis,
with some suburbs going for a month without it. The city has 127 primary
schools and 47 secondary schools, all affected by the water cuts.

Council spokesperson, Pathisa Nyathi, said the United Nations Children's
Fund (UNICEF) had committed itself to supply schools with 5 000-litre water
tanks to alleviate the crisis.

But he admitted the council, battling against fuel and water bowser
shortages, was racing against time to acquire and install the tanks before

Education, Sport and Culture minister, Aeneas Chigwedere could not be
reached for comment as he was said to be out of his office last week.

Meanwhile Rutendo Mawere reports from Gweru that parents were worried
that they would not be able to buy anything for their children.

Jessica Mombeshora said she had tried almost every shop in the city
centre but had not found anything to buy.

"I am very worried about my two children who will be returning to
Loreto in a few days," she said. "I can't imagine how I am going to be able
to get supplementary food for them. It has always been the case that I buy
them tinned foods, drinks, cereals and snacks but these things have
completely disappeared from the shops."

Mavis Zano, a boarder, said she was afraid to go back to school
without any food. "Most boarding schools have never been able to provide
adequately for boarders, even under normal circumstances," she moaned. "Now,
with the current scarcity of food, we will face a double tragedy and we are
likely to starve."

Some parents and schoolchildren said chances were high the children
would starve. "Even the schools may not be able to source enough food for
our children," said Onias Zhanje. "There is no maize-meal, sugar, milk,
meat, beans, rice, eggs, bread and several other things that boarding
schools require to function normally."

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. . .while teachers plan 'go slow' over pay

Zim Standard


TEACHERS will embark on a go-slow industrial action from Tuesday, when
schools open for the third term, to press for a 400% pay rise, one of their
unions said last week.

Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general,
Raymond Majongwe said from that day teachers would conduct lessons only with
examination classes.

After 14 days, the teachers would then embark on a fully-fledged work

Majongwe said the teachers, regardless of their trade union
affiliation, had agreed on industrial action to press for better pay and
working conditions.

But there was no immediate confirmation of participation from Zimbabwe
Teachers' Association (Zimta) president Tendai Chikowore or CEO Peter
Mabande as their phones went unanswered.

Majongwe said: "If the government does not review our salaries
meaningfully by 18 September, teachers will sit in schools and stop teaching
the examination classes."

He said the teachers were legally obliged to give a notice of 14 days
before going on strike.

The teachers are demanding a monthly salary of $15 million, $5.2
million for transport allowance and $3 million for housing.

Majongwe said the lowest paid teacher earned just above $1.6 million a
month as well as transport and housing allowances of $1 076 275 and $300 000

The figures fall way below the poverty datum line (PDL),
conservatively estimated to be around $5.5 million.

"Teachers are finding it difficult to survive on these slave wages,"
Majongwe said. "They cannot clothe and feed their families, send their
children to school and attend to social gatherings in their immediate
families, such as funerals. The teachers' social decency has been eroded."

He said historically teachers used to be the torch-bearers and even
paid school fees for vulnerable children in the communities they taught.

Today, they spend most of their time selling basic commodities to
students, instead of teaching.

The PTUZ leader urged parents and students to bear with the teachers.

"The ultimate victims of this unfolding social phenomenon are the
students," he said. "Therefore, a struggle by teachers to be adequately
remunerated is a struggle for every Zimbabwean."

This would be the third time this year that teachers have gone on
strike, if the government fails to address their grievances.

Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Education, Sports and
Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere, were unsuccessful as he could not be reached.

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Cane cutters fume over 'slave' wages

Zim Standard


MASVINGO - Workers with blackened faces carry huge bundles of burnt
sugar cane in the scorching heat of the Lowveld sun.

Their clothes are tattered and their buttocks exposed as they go up
and down the fields barefoot and with little food to eat.

Ironically, their new employers sit relaxed, wining and dining on the
verandahs of the mansions they grabbed from former owners of the land.

Welcome to Hippo Valley in Chiredzi where memories of the slave trade,
when Africans were subjected to forced labour on white-owned plantations,
easily come to mind.

Farm workers employed by the newly-resettled farmers in the sugar cane
industry in the Lowveld claim they are getting a raw deal from their new
paymasters - a paltry $200 000 a month.

The cane cutters say they have been reduced to destitution as their
meagre pay is not enough to buy a two-litre bottle of cooking oil, at $800
000 on the black market.

They spend the whole day in the fields in the scorching sun, battling
to reach their targets: ten tonnes of cane a day which fetches $360 million
for the new farmers.

Disgruntled cane cutters say they were better off under their previous
employers, the white commercial farmers.

"We are living in poverty since these war veterans took over the
farms," said Justin Chauke, who works for a war veteran known as Comrade
Satan. "They pay us a meagre $200 000 a month, and we do not know how they
expect us to survive."

Chauke said: "This is tantamount to slavery. We have nowhere to go
since some of us are not educated. Our former employers, though white, paid
us handsomely and we and our families could afford a decent life."

The Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Industry Workers' Union said they were
aware of the pathetic plight of cane cutters.

Secretary-general Admore Hwarare said they had engaged the new farmers
to review their workers' pay in compliance with government regulations.

Hwarare said: "As a union, we are proposing $1 million as the minimum
for a worker to afford a decent living."

A number of the cane cutters said they could not afford even a bucket
of maize-meal, now $350 000.

"I failed to pay school fees for my children," said another cane
cutter, "and had no option but to have them join me as farm labourers, so
that we could get more money for our upkeep.

"Instead of getting $200 000, my three children and my wife and I get
$600 000: we combine the salaries so that we are able to buy enough food."

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Human rights group sues police

Zim Standard


LAWYERS acting for a human rights organisation are suing a senior
police officer for barring them from attending a memorial service for the
late Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) national chairman Isaac Matongo.

The memorial was abandoned when armed police dispersed MDC activists
and villagers at Mushayavanhu village, 15km east of Mupandawana.

Officials from the Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe (ROHR) were on
their way to donate soccer balls at the memorial when police, mounting a
surprise roadblock at the intersection of Buhera-Gutu Mupandawana roads,
stopped them.

Among the officials was Stendrick Zvorwadza, the vice-president of the
organisation who was threatened by the heavily armed police with unspecified
reprisals if they proceeded to Matongo's home.

The activists, including several other people, waited for hours at the
roadblock before returning to the growth point.

ROHR Zimbabwe's lawyers, Mbizo, Muchadehama and Makoni, said ROHR
Zimbabwe was a lawful organisation and his clients were demanding an
explanation from Loveness Matapura, cited as the officer-in-charge, Bikita
police station.

"Could we please hear from you on or before the 31st of August 2007,
failing which our instructions are to make a High Court application
declaring your actions unlawful? Thereafter other remedies available to our
clients will be pursued without further recourse to you," said the lawyers
in a letter dated 21 August 2007.

It was not clear if Matapura, who was reportedly giving instructions
to the police, had responded to the letter by the end of day on Friday.

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Public anger mounts over Zinwa 'incompetence'

Zim Standard

  By our correspondent

ANGER is growing in Harare's eastern suburbs over the inability of the
Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) to supply water to the area, where
most homes and business operations have been without the commodity since
early July. There are fears that the water shortage could last for months,
even years.

Private meetings are being held to gather interest in drawing up a
petition for responsibility for Harare's water supplies to be removed from
Zinwa and restored to the City of Harare. Legal opinions are also being
sought on action to revoke the mandatory minimum charge on Zinwa bills and
to compensate residents and businesses for having to draw water from other
sources such as boreholes, wells and supply by tanker trucks.

Health concerns are key to the growing discontent, but consumers are
also feeling greatly inconvenienced by what has become a chronic inability
by the water authority to fulfil its mandate.

Contacted for comment last week, a clearly overwhelmed Zinwa official
said he was at a loss, adding the list of requirements for the authority to
function properly were just "too much".

They expected, he said, the plight of residents in Harare's eastern
suburbs would have been addressed by this weekend.

"Added to the insult of having no water is the fact that we are
charged bills for no service," said a Chisipite resident, "and Zinwa has
been disconnecting people who do not pay bills, which includes a standard
minimum charge that must be paid irrespective of whether or not the service
is provided."

Zinwa call centre staff provide a range of "explanations" for callers,
advising that the fault lies, alternatively, with electricity supplies,
broken pumps, problems at Morton Jaffray water works, fuel shortages, lack
of capacity within pipes and other problems.

"We are often told that water supplies will be resumed 'tomorrow',"
said the Chisipite resident, "but tomorrow never comes."

Although water supplies to the eastern suburbs have been erratic for
the past few years, the problems have intensified since Zinwa took over the
responsibility from the City of Harare and the view among many residents of
the area is that Zinwa considers itself beyond reproach.

"One call centre staff member advised me privately that Zinwa
management does not consider the welfare of its customers of importance,"
explained a resident from Greendale. "Management has said to call centre
team members that they should give 'any old answer' because customers' views
are to be disregarded.

"This person also told me that it was unlikely that we would have
water again in the foreseeable future and that we had better gear ourselves
for a prolonged dry spell that could last years."

The call centre staff member's views are corroborated by a lack of
communication to customers by Zinwa, either directly or through the media.

"Occasional statements are made apologising for a day's shortage here
and a night's shortage there," said the resident from Chisipite, "but there
has to date been no statement on the general position on the eastern suburbs
and why there has been no water pumped into the area for almost two months,
apart from a few hours one night in early August.

"The current position regarding water is appalling and must be
addressed immediately. The government, especially the minister responsible
for water, must take responsibility for this situation and do something,"
the Greendale resident said. "Even in Bulawayo, where there is a genuine
crisis, there is an effective system that works well and keeps customers
supplied on a downscaled basis. How absolutely disgusting that this does not
happen in Harare!"

He compared this to the position regarding electricity supplies, which
were handled in a professional manner by the authorities responsible for
this commodity.

"Electricity is rationed on a planned basis and even when there are
faults these are attended to, and the staff at call centres is able to
advise status of supply and what is being done to resolve it," he said.
"Zinwa is a disaster and I can assure government that Zinwa will cost them
votes in the next election."

He castigated the Harare City Commission for a "complete lack of
interest in the situation" and also said the state media had been instructed
not to allow coverage for the water problem "beyond saying what wonderful
things were being done by Zinwa to keep water flowing, even though it is

The Greendale resident said the call centre staff member who had
confided in him had said the water shortage would spread and that the
chronic absence of water would probably affect the northern suburbs of
Borrowdale, Greystone Park, Mount Pleasant and Vainona within a few weeks.

"The silence surrounding this issue is even more appalling than the
water crisis itself, he said. "Something must be done and the media must
draw attention to yet another failing on the part of central and local
government and yet another result of the mismanagement of the country."

The Combined Harare Residents' Association (Chra) said the water
problems were a result of acute incompetence on the part of Zinwa.

"The water crisis has worsened since Zinwa came onto the scene. The
fact that nothing has improved since introduction of Zinwa shows that the
solution is not to be found in Zinwa," said Chra. "Water management should
be returned to the city authorities and by city authorities we mean a
properly elected council that is answerable to residents and not the

A Harare lawyer said the take-over of the functions and assets of
local authorities by Zinwa was beyond the legal power of the Zinwa Act.

"If it were felt that urban local authorities were failing to manage
water and sewer effectively," he said, "and that Zinwa had the capacity . .
. rather than Zinwa taking over entirely local authorities could have been
encouraged to enter into co-operative agreements in terms of Section 223 (1)
of the Urban Councils Act."

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Prisons run out of food

Zim Standard

  By Nqobani Ndlovu

BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) has reportedly stopped
feeding remand prisoners amid reports of worsening food shortages in prisons
across the country.

This comes at a time when the country is in the grip of crippling
shortages of basic commodities, including the staple maize-meal.

The prison service has been under scrutiny from parliamentary
committees and human rights activists for overseeing deteriorating
conditions at prisons.

The service has reportedly ordered relatives of inmates to bring food
for remand prisoners, citing failure to source fresh supplies.

Authoritative sources told The Standard the situation deteriorated
when major suppliers gave the service an ultimatum: pay up or no more

The suppliers claim they are owed "billions of dollars".

Senior prison officers at Khami and Grey prisons in Bulawayo reported
food supplies were fast running out after two major city wholesalers
abruptly stopped deliveries over non-payment.

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No amnesty for exiled bankers, rules minister

Zim Standard

  By Jennifer Dube

THE government will not grant amnesty to exiled businesspeople,
including bankers, to implement its planned national indigenisation
exercise, a cabinet a minister said in Harare last week.

Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana said
the government was determined to have all exiled businesspeople put on trial
on their return into the country.

Mangwana has in the past invited Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to
participate in the government's planned National Indigenisation and Economic
Empowerment exercise.

His calls sparked speculation the government was trying to lure back
exiled businesspeople who skipped the country after accusations they had
committed economic crimes for which they could be arrested and charged.

Economists have in the past said exiled businesspeople, among them a
number of high-profile bankers, would not return to the country if the
government did not undertake political reforms ensuring respect for property
rights, among other conventional pillars of democracy and free enterprise.

"The government will not use the programme to give amnesty to
criminals who ran away," said Mangwana. "When they come back, they will face

He said the government was only interested in doing business with
honest people from the Diaspora.

"When we talk of our people in the Diaspora, we are not talking of
those criminals. We are talking of honest black Zimbabweans who are all over
the world and we have received several enquiries from some who are eager to
participate in the exercise," he said.

Even those who could only spare very little of their monthly incomes
could still participate in the exercise through consortia or buy shares
through a government trust to be set up for that purpose, Mangwana said.

In a week's time, the government will bring before Parliament a
controversial Bill that will force all foreign-owned companies to cede
majority ownership to "indigenous black" Zimbabweans.

The Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill, which has generated much
anxiety among the few foreign investors who remain in the country, was
recently submitted to the parliamentary legal committee, which assesses
proposed Bills which may be deemed to violate Zimbabwe's constitution.

Last April, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono
proposed that the government grant amnesty to exiled businesspeople through
his tottering proposed social contract.

Most memorable to Zimbabwean economic sector is the 2004 financial
services sector fiasco which saw a good number of businesspeople skipping
the country in the wake of what they perceived as government persecution on
allegations of improper dealings.

Among them were bankers Otto Chekeche, Francis Zimuto, Julius Makoni
and James Mushore.

Trust Bank Holdings chief executive officer and founder William
Nyemba, Barbican Bank boss Mthuli Ncube and Intermarket chief executive Nick
Vingirai, and Africa Resources Limited head Mutumwa Mawere also left the
country in unclear circumstances.

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Zinwa's incompetence will cost government  next year's election

Zim Standard


THE next time a politician stands before voters telling them how good
the ruling party is and deserves another chance, voters should have the
courage to ask: How many more people have to die for government to be
convinced Zinwa is not up to the task?

Which is more important, protecting the lives of people or pushing
ahead with the takeover of water and sewer services by a bunch of people
that have brought a new meaning to the word incompetence?

It is clear that the government cares little about what the people or
what even its own legislators say. It ignored a parliamentary portfolio
committee which found that Zinwa did not have the capacity or competence to
take over the running of the water and sewage functions from local
authorities. The committee advised the takeover be scrapped.

But the government has vowed it will go ahead with the project even as
health officials show that recent deaths are due to the incompetence of
Zinwa and that whole urban areas are threatened because Zinwa cannot be
relied upon to provide water regularly.

The emergence of Zinwa has brought greater hardships to the poor
throughout the country as they are required to travel long distances in
order to settle their bills. Just how this improves the lot of the majority
is beyond comprehension.

MPs and government take an oath of office to serve this country and
the interests of its people. The government has failed to convince citizens
of this country how the transfer of the water and sewage functions to Zinwa
will serve their interests because it is staggering from one disaster to the
next. The government has not heeded repeated objections to the takeovers and
the only way to deal with someone who is recalcitrant is to send them

One of the myths that have been promoted - though without any evidence
to prove it - is that Zanu PF is a people's party and that the government
governs in the interests of the majority. When it speaks of the "people" it
refers to the card-carrying members of the ruling party. Zanu PF is
contemptuous of the majority of Zimbabweans. Its view is that Zimbabweans
are incapable of thinking for themselves. It is for this reason that
whenever the people try to reassert themselves, Zanu PF and the government
rush to conclude they are someone's puppets. Zanu PF's view is that the
majority of Zimbabweans cannot think for themselves, therefore they need to
have someone planting ideas in their heads and inciting them.

If the government persists with the imposition of Zinwa, the people
must make a stand and demonstrate that they will not allow their lives to be
endangered because the State will not listen to professional and
parliamentary advice.

Two weeks ago the City Health Department warned cases of diarrhoea
were so bad in the capital they were treating 900 cases daily. There have
been outbreaks of cholera in Kadoma and Chegutu, while in towns such as
Chinhoyi, Gweru, Marondera and Karoi residents have gone for months without
water. Just how many more people must die in order to convince the
government that this is a man-made catastrophe?

Heads should roll. The government has caused enough damage and is
endangering lives. When it does not wish to listen, it should pay the price
for its arrogance.

Voters should mobilise themselves and speak to the government and the
ruling party in the language they understand: a good kick in the teeth and
show it the door during next year's election, for its refusal to shelve the
takeover and its arrogance in ignoring advice.

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Up close, personal . . .in agony

Zim Standard

  sundayopinion by Bill Saidi

AFTER a long-distance relationship spread over nearly seven years, we
were finally face-to-face, in the reception area of The Standard offices.

The greetings were effusive, of old friends reuniting after a long
spell. He had my image from the picture that accompanied the column in The
Daily News.

I had no idea, until now, what he looked like: an affable Asian, with
a ready smile, white-haired, short, sprightly, a hard-working man.

We had talked on the telephone since 2000 when the crisis which has
brought us to this final stretch to Apocalypse was born out of the murderous
land invasions.

He always asked me why I was such an incurable optimist: didn't I see
there was no light at the end of the tunnel, not a flicker of hope in this

He was so persistent at one time I thought perhaps he was right. What
was the use? Nobody had the courage to call Zanu PF's bluff.

I knew I couldn't give in so meekly. Africa, no, the world would not
countenance that. Dictators had been overthrown all over. No, I said to him
many times, just hang in there.

Earlier this year, he had telephoned me to say most of his workers had
not turned up for work: there were only a few who could afford the bus fare
into town. He was thinking of selling the factory - what was the use of
flogging a dead horse? Hadn't he told me this over and over again over the
years we had kept contact?

WEhen we met in July at The Standard offices, the conversation was
almost the same; why did I think there was still any chance?

A few weeks later, in August we met at the lifts of a skyscraper along
Third Street, the offices of the largest property and insurance company in
the country.

We were almost as excited as we were at our first meeting ever, after
speaking to each other on the telephone, from 2000.

"It's all done," he said to my unuttered question, he was waving a
piece of paper, with the finality of a rifle barrel pointed at the condemned
man in a firing squad. "It's finished!"

There was such a ring of profound triumph and relief in his voice; I
knew his relief had to be equivalent to the exuberance of the first man to
exclaim "Eureka!" during the Klondike gold rush.

It had been a long, bitter struggle for him, a version of his own
Chimurenga, against odds almost as overwhelming as those confronted by the
Patriotic Front soldiers during the 15-year liberation struggle.

For him, as for many other entrepreneurs after the nightmare of 2000,
it had the futility of staggering barefoot, in tattered clothes and battered
spirit, to a mirage, an oasis seen in the haze which would solidify into a
pile of sand as he reached it.

Finally, he was signalling to me as the lift doors closed with a soft
hiss, he had sold the factory, would get his money and would fly out of this
country on the fastest plane he could find . . . to any other place on

Millions of other Zimbabweans had done that, some on foot across the
Limpopo, to be turned into lunch, dinner and breakfast by crocodiles or

Before the ANZ titles were finally silenced by the heavy anvil of
intolerance that is wielded by AIPPA, I had for years talked to two men on
the telephone, two men I had never met - until I met one of them this year.

There was comfort, for them, in the anonymity. They poured out their
hearts to me: why did I insist that all was not lost? Didn't I see "The Man"
for what he was - he would destroy everything in his path until he achieved

We laughed a lot, at each other, at ourselves, for daring to believe
this nightmare would end in our favour, in the people's favour, that Evil
would not triumph over Good.

The other person was white and said he was terminally ill - I could
hear his painful cough some times, but he said he was pleased to speak to a
"totemless" Zimbabwean - like himself.

As a columnist I have talked to and been touched by many people, but
never as tenderly or as menacingly as by these two men: why did I believe
they ought to believe me in persisting that all was not lost?

Today, I can imagine my Asian friend and his family flying off into
The Unknown, across the Indian Ocean.

Yet still I remain optimistic. There are Zimbabweans I know who will
endure the shortages, the insults and the kicks and even the murder of

I know there is a glint in their eyes, a perennial grim, rueful glint:
you should have left when you had the chance, my old friend.

Now, we have to do the unthinkable: reject one who thought was our

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Inside Fiddler's bunker

Zim Standard

WHAT a valiant fight we put up! Even as the enemy
advanced in massive numbers on our last bolthole, our heroic troops could be
heard singing defiantly: "To dream the impossible dream." They refused to
surrender and fought to the last soldier. The same could not be said of
Fiddler's treacherous courtiers. They constantly planned palace coups or
collaborated with the enemy. But The Fiddler outsmarted and outlasted them

It had been a titanic struggle against the forces of evil. (Note
titanic with a small 't', not the ship that had a one-sided quarrel with an
iceberg.) Good should always triumph over evil but our evil enemy was
inexorable. Not only had they found ways to proliferate themselves -
probably by using cloning techniques supplied by George Bush - but they were
constantly changing their form. We came to refer to those barbaric hordes as
the army of "regime shift shapers", also known as "transformers". One day
our foes would be dressed up in smart business suits and the next they would
have lightened their skins and would be wearing khaki shorts and veldskoens.
Sometimes they assumed the form of totemless opposition supporters sponsored
and provisioned by the West. We would eliminate one political party and
absorb residual elements into an army of national unity, only to find that a
new opposition party had sprung up from nowhere or had been manufactured at
an underground robotics company. Other times the enemy would be pretending
to be informal traders, slum dwellers, clergypersons, trade unionists or one
of the endless stream of extravagantly foreign funded NGOs. They even
recruited termites to undermine our sovereignty. We considered taking legal
action against the termites using the precedent of a Brazilian case in 1715
in which monks sued some termites who were destroying their food and
furniture. The lawyer for the termites pointed out that the termites had
been there first and, in any event, the termites were far more industrious
and productive than the monks. Despite this argument, the court ordered the
termites to move to another area where they could live and work undisturbed.
The termites complied with the court order and marched out of the monastery
to their new home.

Our enemy has behaved appallingly by flouting every single Geneva
Convention. On one occasion they dispatched a monkey on a suicide mission to
take out our electricity supply. On another occasion they dispatched an
ex-Agriculture Minister to ensure no crops would be grown so that we would
starve. Whereas we occasionally treated all captured combatants most
humanely, our brave soldiers when captured were subjected to the most
bestial forms of torture, for instance, by being made to read only the
column of the Chairman of MIC.

One day the enemy appeared in the guise of an endless queue. The
Manica Post did an excellent job of exposing this crude propaganda ploy.
Clearly the queuers had been rented for the day to create the impression
that people had to queue for everything, even war.

So the game was up. As the song goes: "It was just one of those
things/Just one of those marvellous flings/ It was great fun/ But it was
just one of those things."

Fiddler's remaining adjutants took the easy way out by projecting
metal objects into their heads. The Fiddler, of course, would never resort
to such a cowardly act. After all, his external accounts would be very
lonely without him. Like a good golf player he would skilfully extricate
himself from the bunker. Now how exactly do you get to Equatorial Guinea?

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Tracing back the last days of Lookout Masuku

Zim Standard

  sundayview by Judith Todd

IN mid-March, my parents invited the Shamuyariras to dinner. Halfway
through, Nathan said: "Judy, I hope CIO is not still interfering with your
mail?" I had to think on my feet, as it were, although I was sitting down.

What worried me was any possible fright to my mother, so I tried to
pass his question off as a light-hearted matter and said: "Minister, I haven't
told my mother about this, but everything seems to have led to vastly
improved relations with the CIO, and Mr Stannard and I are even due to have
lunch with each other."

The minister seemed amused, and my mother and the two New Zealand
visitors seemed unperturbed. I supposed, sitting warmly around the table,
the possibility of the CIO opening my mail seemed unreal to everyone but the
minister, my father and me. But of course, whatever I hoped, my mother would
have known exactly what was happening. Her sensitivity was ultra acute.

Now and again, I thought I had reached the age and the condition when
nothing was so bad that it could shock me. That particular thought was in my
mind on Monday 24 March when Michelle Faul rang to say that we must meet,
which we did high above Harare on the Meikles Hotel pool deck at lunch time.
She worked for Associated Press and was a stringer for the BBC.

Four days earlier, Michelle had been instructed to meet Nathan
Shamuyarira. She was told that "we" are tired of her reporting; she would
have no further assistance from the ministry - which meant she would lose
her accreditation. She couldn't be deported, as she was a citizen by birth
of Zimbabwe, so the only way to deal with her was detention at Chikurubi.

She was rightly very frightened, and at the same time ashamed of being
scared. She was leaving Zimbabwe within the next 48 hours, deprived of her
home, her right to work and, basically, of her citizenship.

After our painful lunch, I got back to the office to find a white
woman of about 60 who asked if I could spare a few minutes. Between Michelle
and now this lady, I realised that there were still things that could
profoundly shock me.

She sat down, introducing herself as Margie Schwing, and although she
never actually wept, she was on the verge of tears and struggling for
control throughout the awful story she told me. She had been in Park Street
in November, and all of a sudden was surrounded by five men who said they
were from CIO and took her off to Harare Central police station. From there
she was moved to Chikurubi Women's Remand Section. She appeared once in a
magistrate's court and the CIO opposed bail because they said they were
still investigating fraud.

From what Mrs Schwing said, it was CIO throughout, and not the fraud
squad. She said she still didn't know why she had been held. She was
released at the end of February, suffering from pneumonia, and was taken to
Parirenyatwa Hospital outpatients. Due to one of those strokes of good
fortune, Mrs Schwing had been alone when a member of her church saw her and
came to ask what was wrong. She was accompanied by two CIO agents, one of
whom had gone to get her prescription filled, while the other had gone to
the toilet.

The friend was extremely practical and whipped out a notebook, and
took down the name and address of Mrs Schwing's son, who apparently worked
for Tabex in Malaysia, and then darted off before CIO reappeared.

The conditions she described were terrible: women not knowing of any
rights they might have; beatings by wardresses; people having their hair
torn out; a woman having teeth punched in; the use of hosepipes on prisoners
by the wardresses; malnutrition among toddlers and babies picked up with
their mothers. She said that on New Year's Day as the women came out of the
cell blocks, they each received a blow with a hosepipe and the accompanying
greeting: "Happy New Year!"

Mrs Schwing also said something that I thought might be the truth of
the matter, although she apologised for saying it, because, she said, it
sounded so unreal. She had been at a party before her detention, and Simon
Muzenda was there. He had been very nice to her, and introduced her to a lot
of people. Mrs Schwing heard a young man, who seemed to stay close to her
all the time at the party, saying to someone else: "It's just not fair! I'm
also in business. Why doesn't Muzenda introduce me to all these people?"

So, she said, it may have all started with jealousy. To me, that didn't
sound unreal.

On Tuesday 1 March 1986, Lieutenant General Lookout Masuku and the
veteran PF Zapu politician Vote Moyo were officially released from
detention. As was the case under the Smith regime, the names of detainees
could not be published, so there hadn't been news of them in the papers for
the four years they had been imprisoned in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe. Now
their freedom was headline news.

Lookout's wife Gift managed to get permission for me to see him on
Sunday 9 March from 3.30PM to 6PM at Parirenyatwa Hospital. There were four
heavily armed soldiers outside his room. I sat down with them, and said I
gathered they had a permit for me to see Masuku. They were perfectly
pleasant and said that was fine, so I walked into the private ward.

Lookout was attached to two drips but sitting up in bed, and he gave a
small scream when he saw me, jumped up and hugged me hard. The drips were
suspended from a wheeled stand, so he was mobile.

There was no awkwardness. It was as if we had known each other for
years and had seen each other yesterday. But the joy was precisely because
we hadn't seen each other for more than four years, and because it was so
wonderful to see one another again. I couldn't begin to fathom the hell of
uncontrolled suffering he had been going through. There were some days he
had no memory of, which was probably just as well. The full story would
probably never unfold, but if it did, it would be bleak. For example, it
turned out that the "specialist" the prison authorities had told his lawyer
he had seen in December was neither a specialist nor even a registered

I wondered, too, about the doctor at Chikurubi. I had learned he was a
Russian Jew on contract, that he had worked previously in Israel and that he
was very timid. I wondered if he had ended up in his position because he had
such good qualifications.

We talked non-stop, an interested guard listening in the corner, until
after six, when the soldiers very reasonably asked me to leave, as visiting
hours were over. That was sad, because we didn't then think we would be
seeing each other again in the foreseeable future.

I rang Gift the next day to thank her, and to say I'd had a wonderful
time. Of course, "wonderful" was the wrong word. Lookout was skinny and his
arms were very swollen from trying to find veins for the drips, and he was
very, very sick. But he sat up all the time I was with him and was mentally
as bright as a button. There was a heart-rending moment when he said: "But
what of the future? When I went to prison I got high blood pressure. Then I
got kidney troubles. Now I have this. What is going to happen to me next?

I said: "Oh Lookout!" as though, how could he ask such a question?

But he said: "No, Judy, I mean it. Let's be practical about the whole

I feared he was absolutely right. I had been consulting Professor Noel
Galen, who was very gloomy about Lookout's future.

Late on Monday night I returned a call from Gift.

"Have you heard anything?" she asked.

I said I had heard a rumour that Lookout was to be released. She said
it was true. I said: "How do you know? Who told you? Is there a piece of

She laughed and said the fact that she was telling me meant that it
was true.

She travelled up the next day from Bulawayo, and I spent half an hour
with her and Lookout at Parirenyatwa. As he was now a free man, no permits
were required to see him and the armed guards had been withdrawn.

At about six that Tuesday evening, an unknown man walked in and stood
by the bed. Lookout was polite but cool. I kept thinking, what an odd
doctor. He didn't ask how Lookout was feeling - he just kept informing him
that he would be seeing him again, the next night, in hospital, in Bulawayo.

When he left, they simultaneously said: "CIO." Then I remembered him.

*Excerpt from Judith Todd's latest book, Through the Darkness; A Life
in Zimbabwe, available from

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Zim Standard Letters

 Zinwa: an unmitigated failure

THE Ministry of Water Resources and Infrastructural Development has
had as its responsibility, the construction of water conservation facilities
in the country. In fulfilling that mandate, over the years, many dams were
built. The dams were built either for irrigation or for portable water
supplies, including making sure towns and cities never run out of water.
During periods of drought, the government always tried to rise to the

I can give three examples of proactive action by the government in the
past. During the 1991/2 drought, the government moved in Bulawayo and
drilled many boreholes in the Nyamandlovu aquifer and connected the water to
the city. In Chegutu, when the town was running out of water, a canal was
built which enabled water to be pumped from Darwendale into Serui River and
then the water flowed down to the reservoir serving Chegutu.

In Mutare, water was pumped from Pungwe River to Smallbridge dam in
order to supply the city. These measures were carried out by a government
which at that time was a caring government.

In its wisdom, the government decided to abrogate its responsibility
by handing over the water conservation and maintenance to Zinwa. One would
probably understand if the matter ended there. The function of Zinwa is to
build and maintain dams. Local authorities that are big would then buy water
from Zinwa. Small water consumers were always supplied by the ministry of
water and later by Zinwa.

I know for certain rural people experience huge transport problems
going from wherever they are to pay for water at Zinwa offices. For example,
people in Lower Gweru, because they fall under the Shangani Catchment area,
had to go to Bulawayo to pay for water when there are Zinwa offices in

The government has now decided that no, the suffering of people must
increase by directing that Zinwa must take over the distribution and selling
of water in all cities. Harare city council, like a sheep to the slaughter,
meekly agreed to hand over. Gweru also agreed without raising an eyebrow.
Only Bulawayo and Masvingo resisted.

What has happened to the water supply in Harare and Gweru? Is there
any improvement at all? In Harare the situation is worse with Zinwa; as for
Gweru, it is pathetic because even restaurants serve food while their
customers cannot use toilets as there would be no water. The toilets would
be locked. In short, Zinwa has been an unmitigated failure.

The water problem of Bulawayo is well known and documented. Like
Masvingo, they are refusing to hand over water supply to an organisation
that has a history of failure.

The Chronicle of 23 August 2007 had a report that the minister
responsible for Zinwa, Engineer Munacho Mutezo said government would not
intervene in the water crisis of Bulawayo until the council agreed to hand
over to Zinwa. Zinwa is supposed to maintain the boreholes drilled in 1992
but has failed.

There is water in Mtshabezi dam, which Zinwa should ensure is made
available to the people but no. Now we have a whole minister of a government
that used to care, showing the true intentions of his government.

There can never be a clearer message to the people of Harare, Gweru,
Masvingo and Bulawayo than that provided by minister Mutezo.

Renson Gasela

Secretary for Lands and Agriculture


 Zhing-zhongs exposed

     FOR some time now ordinary Zimbabweans have complained about the
quality of Chinese imports. Some within, and in other nations believed
Zimbabweans were being pesky.

However the recent recall of more than 20 million toys made in China
for the world market has brought home the truth about the quality of Chinese
products. The question I would want answered is how many of these were
recalled from this country? Obviously none! So we are happy to endanger the
lives of innocent children in the name of the Look East policy and
solidarity with the Chinese?

If the toys are of questionable quality, what is this likely to tell
us about the rest of Chinese imports - machinery, fertilisers, chemicals,
clothes and footwear, food and drugs?

It is regrettable that we can put solidarity ahead of the safety and
well-being of our citizens. I can't think of an instance in which the term
sell-out is more appropriate, in describing the conduct of our government
when it comes to the flood of Chinese goods to the detriment of local

Dumisani Mpofu


 We can do it all by ourselves

WITH ministers of the calibre of Obert Mpofu, the Minister of Industry
and International Trade, who needs sanctions to muck up the economy?
Certainly, only the extremely naive believe the lie that international
sanctions are solely to blame for Zimbabwe's demise.



 Improving Zimbabwe's chaotic voter registration

THE government has always
handled the voter registration in a very dishonest manner.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is, in reality, a smokescreen
to hoodwink the world into believing in the legitimacy of the elections. The
ZEC has been working with a grossly outdated electoral register and they
have never done anything to ensure this is updated. It is also working from
a position of weakness because their results and findings may be ignored by
the current government at any given time.

The government should have empowered the ZEC to enlist the services of
all our media organisations -- radio, television and newspapers - to spread
information on voter registration.

When this type of media is used only by government, the general public
usually takes everything said as nothing but propaganda. This is evidenced
by Zimbabweans who no longer trust what they hear and see on radio and
television, and what they read from government-controlled publications.

The education system of the country should be harnessed to help
educate the citizens of this country about their right to vote. Since every
youth intending to sit for a national examination is now compelled to obtain
a national registration card, the same should be the case where voter
registration is concerned. Every youth planning to write a high school
examination should first obtain a voter's card. This way, every high school
candidate will get a voter's card earlier on in life, thus eradicating
future hassles of registering as a voter.

Now that we live in the age of computer technology, all or most
registrations can be done at birth. The newly born is supplied with a birth
certificate, an identity card, a voter registration card and even a
passport. These can be renewed as the citizen grows older. No prospective
voter will be missed by this way of registering a country's citizen because
99% of a country's citizens will have to pass through the registrar's

The use of soldiers, police and militia is counter-productive because
once they notice these government servants, Zimbabweans lose interest and
trust. The youths, irrespective of their political affiliations, should be
given time on radio and television to debate voter registration. Piecemeal
and hurried registration of voters will only bring out a skewed result.

It must be admitted that a few officers have been trained to conduct
the voter registration exercise but this is too little too late.

The ideas listed here are not from a rocket engineer but I hope that
somebody in authority will take them up and think carefully about them.



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