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

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Sunday Times (SA)

Kruger wildlife sows panic in Mozambique

Thursday September 02, 2004 06:56 - (SA)

By Evaristo Cumbane

MAPUTO - Lions, leopards and buffaloes are escaping from South Africa's
famed Kruger National Park into Mozambique, sowing panic among the local
population, wildlife officials in Maputo say.

Mozambican investigators found large holes in a fence spanning the border
between Kruger in northeastern South Africa and southern Mozambique, after
several people were attacked and injured by wild animals in recent months.

"The preliminary conclusions of our investigation into the origin of the
wildlife sowing panic in the Moamba region indicate that the animals are
migrating from the Kruger Park," said Afonso Madope, head of conservation at
the tourism ministry.

"The condition of the fence, built by the (South African) apartheid regime
in 1974 as a way to prevent illegal immigration is gradually deteriorating,"
he said.

Three people were seriously injured and two more suffered slight injuries in
a Maputo neighbourhood a few weeks ago when a buffalo roaming in the
Infulene suburb attacked them.

The errant buffalo was the latest wild animal on the loose in an area that
is usually home to very little wildlife, which was mostly killed off during
Mozambique's 16-year-long civil war.

Lions, buffaloes and leopards have been spotted in southern Maputo province
over the past month, causing panic among local communities.

A lion was killed near Moamba some 50 kilometres northwest of the capital
Maputo after it devoured three calves a month ago, the state-run Noticas
newspaper reported earlier this month.

It was the second lion spotted there in a month. Three buffaloes were seen
in the same area.

But the Kruger National Park in South Africa, a huge wildlife reserve
visited by more than a million tourists a year, said it was sceptical about
the reports.

"I would be loathe to suggest they come from Kruger, simply because it is
100 kilometres far. I'm sceptical," spokesman Raymond Travers said recently.
"There is a game sanctuary in the south of Maputo," he added.

South Africa and its neighbours Mozambique and Zimbabwe are in the process
of establishing a transfrontier wildlife park, joining together the Kruger
National Park, Mozambique's Limpopo park and Zimbabwe's Gonarhezou.

Most of the development is focused on Mozambique where wildlife was almost
wiped out during the civil war that ended in 1992.

Thousands of animals including elephants, rhinos, zebras and warthogs have
been moved to Mozambique as part of the project in the Super Park, which
will be bigger than the Netherlands or Taiwan at around 38,600 square
kilometres (15,440 square miles).

The first steps towards the project were taken three years ago when former
South African president Nelson Mandela opened border gates to let seven
elephants pass from South Africa to Mozambique.

Since then, parts of the fence between the Kruger and Limpopo parks have
been symbolically removed as a sign of closer co-operation between the two

Some 500 people died trying to cross the fence - electrified during
apartheid - many of them trying to flee fighting in Mozambique's civil war.

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Business Day

Zimbabwe July CPI 326.9%


Favourable base effects and slower money supply growth have resulted in
further declines in Zimbabwe's annual inflation, Standard Bank (SBK) said in
its research brief on this Southern African landlocked country.

Annual inflation declined to 362.9% y/y in July from 394.6% y/y in June
while on a monthly basis edged up from 9.2% m/m in June to 9.5% m/m in July,
following increased inflationary pressures in non-food inflation categories
of the consumer price index and suggests inflation declines may have started
to level off.

"Inflationary pressures are still evident particularly in non-food inflation
categories, however, we expect inflation to decline to below 200% by the end
of the year and average 380% in 2004 and 150% in 2005," Standard Bank
economist and author of the brief Robert Bunyi said.

"Our forecasts assume continued monetary tightening and a controlled
depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar (ZWD) throughout the forecast period.
Overall inflation levels will still be hyperinflationary and act as a source
of instability necessitating further policy action."

He said the dual interest regime remains in place with progressive narrowing
of the interest rate differential. The central bank discount rate declined
in early August to 189% for secured borrowings and 199% for unsecured
borrowings. Prime lending rates declined to 200% in August thus narrowing
the differential to 150 percentage points.

"The dual interest regime was introduced as an interim measure for 18 months
at the end of which interest rate convergence would have been attained. In
line with the stated objective we expect the policy to remain in place
through to June 2005 and the central bank will continue to focus on guiding
market rates lower," Bunyi noted.

Depreciation of the Zimbabwean currency in addition to improved flexibility
in the auction rate has partially unlocked one of the major bottlenecks in
the economy, he added.

The Zimbabwean dollar depreciated by about 4.4% to ZWD5,610.45 for US$1, in
August on the central bank managed auction market and total amounts
offered peaked at US$10mn in August. The improved daily volumes may reflect
increased export inflows through official channels and recognition by the
authorities that the market requires a higher allocation of foreign exchange
through the auction.

"We expect the Zimbabwe dollar to remain on a managed depreciation path with
the central bank balancing on the one hand an inflation target objective and
on the other, maintaining an attractive rate for exports," Bunyi said.
I-Net Bridge

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A Death Knell for Zimbabwe's Press

Julius Dawu contributing editor
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
September 1, 2004

"Here lies the private press that defended press freedom to the last drop of

A fitting epitaph for Zimbabwe's independent press should President Robert
Mugabe succeed in closing down what is left of the country's privately-owned

Ahead of parliamentary elections next March - which Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF
party is prepared to fight and even shed blood to win - the government is
hoping to cow all opponents, if not eliminate them altogether.

In 2002, Zimbabwe's infamous minister of information and publicity, Jonathan
Moyo, accused the pro-opposition press of tarnishing Mugabe's
administration. He has since repeatedly threatened to deal with all
"mercenary" journalists, a term he reserves for those who freelance for the
international press. With the closing of the Daily News in 2003, and the
Tribune last month, the threat is serious enough to warrant vigilance on the
part of independent journalists.

"We will not allow Bush's boys in our midst ... The situation in Zimbabwe
today calls for principled actions without fear or favour, and without
succumbing to any threats or intimidation. Mercenaries of any kind, whether
carrying the sword or the pen, must and will be exposed and they will suffer
full consequences of the law," Moyo thundered in a front-page story carried
by the Bulawayo-based Chronicle (March 9, 2004) adding that "No media
organization, certainly not Zimpapers, will be forced to employ Bush's and
Blair's media mercenaries whose mission is to destroy Zimbabwe from within.
That will not happen."

Zimpapers, founded in 1980, is a government-controlled company that
publishes The Herald, The Sunday Mail, The Chronicle, The Manica Post and
The Sunday News.

The pro-government Herald conducted its own witch hunt earlier this year
dismissing what it called media "mercenaries" for threatening national
security. The journalists lost their jobs when it was discovered that they
had freelanced for Studio 7, a radio station launched in 2003 by Voice of
America (VOA). This discovery only heightened the government's suspicion of
journalists, especially those in the independent press.

Writing in the pro-opposition, Financial Gazette (March 11, 2004) journalist
Brian Mangwende asked if the government was making good its controversial
pledge to deal with its perceived enemies in the media.

"And the ongoing crackdown at Zimpapers, the biggest newspaper company in
the country where heads have started rolling, dovetails with that new
thrust. While media observers were unanimous that the move at Zimpapers
could be a veiled attempt to cow media practitioners and force journalists
to toe a certain political line ahead of the watershed 2005 parliamentary
election, the government is adamant that the concerned journalists' conduct
was inconsistent with the terms of their contracts," said Mangwende.

Zimpapers also fired Matthew Takaona, acting news editor of the Sunday Mail
and president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, for allegedly addressing
reporters from the Daily News. Then it fired Robson Sharuko and Tendai
Ndemera, who were on the sports desk, and Rex Mphisa, a feature reporter,
for filing stories with VOA - an action defended by the Media and
Information Commission (MIC).

"The other serious problem is that of national interest and national
security. The VOA is an arm of the US State Department, which is on record
as seeking to overthrow the government of Zimbabwe through unconstitutional
means and (that are also) illegal under the United Nations Charter," the MIC

Mugabe's government began its assault on the independent media in 2002 with
the reshaping of the colonial Law and Order Maintenance Act - used by the
former Rhodesian government to suppress nationalists - into the now virulent
Public Order and Security Act (POSA). The law makes it an offence to
criticize the president and gives extra powers to the police. Several
journalists have been arrested for covering meetings deemed illegal under

The government also enacted the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA), which bans foreign journalists and requires local
journalists to obtain yearly accreditation from a government-picked MIC.
Unable to receive accreditation, many independent journalists have lost
their jobs in a punitive settling of old political scores.

AIPPA also makes it an offence to "spread rumours or falsehoods" or publish
"unauthorised" reports from governmental bodies. More than 30 Zimbabwean
journalists and international correspondents have been harassed, arrested
and charged for flouting various sections of the Act. Zimbabwe, unlike South
Africa, does not guarantee the freedom of the press in its constitution.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) expressed concern about how the
pro-government media was being used to vilify members of the judiciary who
made court rulings that were unfavourable to the government.

"ZLHR is also gravely concerned at the continued use of the Herald and other
state-controlled public media as instruments to attack members of the
judiciary who in the course of their duties as judicial officers make
rulings that may not be favourable to certain quarters within the state,"
the ZLHR said in a public statement recently.

The government denies that it sought to punish the independent press with
AIPPA. Instead, the government claims, the law instills media ethics and
restores the dignity of individuals, especially those government officials
long disparaged by the "unpatriotic press."

Analysts interviewed by the Financial Gazette (March 11, 2004) decried the
plight of the press in Zimbabwe, which has gradually lost its freedom ahead
of the crucial 2005 elections, where access to information is sure to be a
decisive factor.

"The media can influence public thinking so those who are against democracy
will obviously want to destroy it. The government believes anything
divergent to them should be thoroughly punished and that is what is
happening," said political commentator Lovemore Madhuku.

Mugabe's government shows little tolerance for criticism, either from the
independent press or the pro-government press. The death of free expression
in Zimbabwe draws near. So, too, does the death of democracy and

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Zim MP may be jailed for attacking minister    Basildon Peta
          September 02 2004 at 08:32AM

      White Zimbabwean opposition parliamentarian Roy Bennett faces a year
in prison.

      A parliamentary committee set up to probe his assault of Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa has recommended that he be punished by effective

      The committee, dominated by legislators of the ruling Zanu-PF, will
present its draft report to parliament when it reopens next month.

      Under the Powers and Privileges of Parliament Act, the Zimbabwean
parliament is empowered to jail people who commit contempt against it for up
to two years. People sentenced by parliament can, however, appeal to the

      Bennett floored Chinamasa during a parliamentary debate after the
justice minister had labelled Bennett's ancestors "rapists, crooks and
murderers" who stole land from blacks.

      Meanwhile, Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, in
defending his party's position to suspend participation in all elections
until President Robert Mugabe reforms Zimbabwe's skewed electoral framework,
said Zimbabweans deserved an election "during which nobody fears or even
thinks of thugs loitering around your homes with an intention to rape, to
beat you up, to loot your personal possessions and to force you to attend a
political rally".

      Commenting on the new Southern African Development Community protocol
on principles and guidelines governing democratic elections, Tsvangirai
said: "The protocol was
      a victory for the MDC as it answered our call for the restoration of
essential benchmarks for measuring a free and fair election in Zimbabwe."

      A leading Zimbabwean pro-democracy group on Wednesday called for South
Africa's help in its quest for a new constitution and a more open society.

      The National Constitutional Assembly, which handed over a petition to
the South African high commission in Harare, said: "We believe President
Mugabe will change his oppressive approach if he were approached by the
South African government in a frank and honest manner." - Independent
Foreign Service and Sapa-AFP

        .. This article was originally published on page 8 of The Star on
September 02, 2004

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      Zim duped in Congo

      Thomas Madondoro
      9/2/2004 7:04:04 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE, which played a critical role in propping up the government
of the strife-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has emerged
bruised after burning its fingers in a flopped US$300 million timber deal
sealed in 2001, The Financial Gazette can reveal.

      News of the deal-that-never-was comes after this paper revealed some
three months ago that Zimbabwe, previously seen as key to the resolution of
the DRC crisis, risked being written out of the script ahead of the
reconstruction of the war-torn diamond-rich country.

      This was after the United Nations under- secretary general for
peacekeeping operations, Jean Marrie Guehenno, visited all the other
countries considered key to the DRC problem except Zimbabwe. Diplomats and
political observers were agreed that the move by the UN amounted to a snub
and belittled the role played by Zimbabwe in the DRC.

      This week, Global Witness, an international non-governmental
organisation (NGO) privy to the secret deals doled out to allied forces that
operated in the DRC, disclosed that Zimbabwe was duped into accepting flawed
timber logging concessions worth a staggering $1.68 trillion at yesterday's
ruling auction exchange rate.

      The NGO, which probed the Harare-Kinshasa sweetheart deal, revealed
this week that the country was awarded the contract to exploit vast tracts
of Congolese forests when Zimbabwean troops were deployed to assist the late
president Laurent Kabila, who was under attack from rebel fighters assisted
by neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda.

      It said the timber concessions covered Katanga, Bandundu and

      Corene Crossin, a Global Witness official, said: ". . . Zimbabwe was
given a bit of a raw deal in terms of the quality of timber in the
concession. As far as we know the deal did not go ahead, and no logging or
exploitation of timber in the concession has taken place - thus it is
doubtful that any money has been made from it."

      Congolese Society for the Exploitation of Timber, whose French acronym
is Socebo, was supposed to execute the deal. Socebo is a joint venture
between a Kinshasa-based firm linked to the late Kabila called Comiex Congo
and Osleg, a business front for the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI).

      The deal would have enabled companies linked to Zimbabwe to log 33
million hectares of Congolese trees and produce over 150 000 cubic metres of
timber annually.

      Part of the deal was that the Forestry Company of Zimbabwe would act
as technical adviser. Among its possible financiers were Malaysian banks and
logging companies from France, Malaysia and Lebanon.

      Most of the timber was to be transported by rivers because of the poor
roads in the DRC, before being exported via Harare and Durban to markets in
South East Asia and some European destinations such as France.

      According to Global Witness, the deal was brokered by the late Kabila
as compensation to the Zimbabwean government for its massive losses in money
and human lives in the DRC war that sucked in at least seven Southern and
East African countries.

      Unconfirmed independent estimates indicate that Zimbabwe sank in
excess of Z$10 billion in its DRC adventure to save Kabila, who was under
siege from invading rebels supported by Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda in 1998.
No official figures on the cost of the war have been made public yet.

      Global Witness claimed that Kabila was keen to appease President
Mugabe after the failure of other business ventures between the two
governments. The international non-governmental organisation named some of
the failed deals as the aborted flotation in London of Oryx Diamonds and the
collapse of Congo-Duka, a joint venture between the ZDI and its Congolese
partner, General Strategic Reserves. An insider who was a board member of
some of the companies established to exploit business opportunities in the
DRC yesterday revealed that up until now, no board meeting has been convened
as yet.

      "A lot of things went wrong," he said without elaborating. "And the
deal did not succeed."

      The Minister of Defence, Sydney Sekeramayi, could not say much either.
"The defence forces withdrew from the DRC, so we do not have any operations
in that country, either commercial or military" he said.

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      Govt to appoint new commission for Harare

      Njabulo Ncube
      9/2/2004 7:04:47 AM (GMT +2)

      THE government looks set to appoint another commission to run the
crisis-ridden Harare City Council, amid revelations that Local Government,
Public Works and National Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo has since tabled
the proposal before Cabinet.

      The latest developments come after council failed to conduct normal
business in the past week due to lack of a quorum following the resignation
of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) councillors.

      Council insiders yesterday said that it was a matter of time before
Chombo, who yesterday was not answering his mobile phone, announced a full
fledged commission to run the city.

      They said Chombo had also been fully briefed by Nomutsa Chideya, the
town clerk, about the untenable situation at Town House, where yesterday
gun-toting and baton stick-wielding riot police spent the whole day guarding
the municipal offices.

      Chideya confirmed to this newspaper yesterday that he had presented a
report to Chombo on the situation at Town House following the resignation of
the councillors, a situation which he said had made it impossible for
council to function smoothly.

      Last Wednesday the MDC announced that its councillors would resign en
masse in protest against Chombo's interference in the affairs of the

      Out of 45 councillors in Harare, only 17 remain, including acting
mayor Sekesai Makwavarara, one of the three civic leaders elected on an MDC
ticket but who defected to ZANU PF recently citing discord within the
opposition party. Chombo dismissed 19 councillors for allegedly going
against government policies in running Harare.

      "We have advised central government about the current state of affairs
. . . the vacancies that have arisen with the resignation of councillors,"
said Chideya.

      "We are left with 16 councillors. One ward is vacant. It will be
difficult for council to function normally. So we are now waiting for
required guidance from the ministry on the way forward," he said.

      He said that he was not aware of any commission being appointed to run
the affairs of the city. Sources within ZANU PF were however adamant a
commission would soon be announced as Chombo had succeeded in ridding the
city of the opposition.

      "The MDC is gone. So the next thing is the commission. The issue has
been put before Cabinet," said a party source who spoke on condition of

      The sources tipped Makwavarara to head the proposed commission, adding
that the Jameson Kurasha-led committee, set up by Chombo to assist
Makwavarara in running Harare, was likely to form part of the commission.

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      Troubled finance house donates to ZANU PF

      Nelson Banya
      9/2/2004 7:05:17 AM (GMT +2)

      UNSETTLED financial institution NDH Holdings, which was dropped from a
proposed tripartite merger involving Southern African Reinsurance (SARE) and
First Banking Corporation (FBC), was among the ruling ZANU PF's foremost
donors in the party's last financial year.

      NDH, which sought recourse to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
through its Troubled Banks Fund (TBF) following a liquidity crisis, donated
$200 million to the ruling party, more than a quarter of the party's total

      ZANU PF raked in a total of $747.7 million from donations in the
period between January and September 2003, according to a report made to
ZANU PF's central committee by the party's finance department.

      "The party did exceptionally well during the year 2003 to raise more
than $747 million from well-wishers.

      "In order to maintain programmes well funded, commensurate with a
ruling party and to meet the expectations of the majority of the people, the
party should put more effort to raise money," reads part of the report.

      NDH, whose problems emanated from its exposure to the collapsed ENG
Asset Management, is yet to move out of the TBF zone, although the extent of
its indebtedness to the central bank could not be ascertained.

      At the height of the financial sector crisis earlier this year, NDH
was reported to have a net capital deficit amounting to $18.2 billion
arising from the exposure to ENG.

      A spot check by the central bank in February revealed that NDH had
placed a total of $21.2 billion with ENG, $3.7 billion directly and the
remainder through Elan Suisse, an asset management firm.

      NDH was, however, holding ENG securities in the form of Treasury Bills
worth $14 billion. Apart from the donation, NDH also advanced a $20 million
loan to ZANU PF, which has been repaid in full.

      Other corporate organisations featuring on the ZANU PF donor list
include Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited (DZL), which donated $15 000, Trust Bank
($10 million), Rooneys ($500 000), Kingdom Bank ($30 000), Commercial Bank
of Zimbabwe ($450 000), Zimoco ($1 million) and T&N Investments ($1

      Minister of State for National Security Nicholas Goche and President
Robert Mugabe topped the list of individual donors, with contributions
amounting to $5 million and $2 million, respectively.

      The report also reveals that a total of $330 million in dividend
income accrued to ZANU PF from its various investments in both listed and
unquoted companies.

      The troubled Treger group, in which the ruling party holds a 31.22
percent interest, was the major contributor to dividend income with $250
million, while ZANU PF's 16.97 percent stake in pre-merger FBC brought in
$44.5 million.

      Catercraft and Zidlee, in which the party has 50 percent and 27.5
percent interest, weighed in with $20 million and $15 million, respectively.

      The party did not get any dividend from SARE, Mike Appel and asbestos
firm Fibrolite.

      ZANU PF received $127 million in the form of a government grant under
the Political Parties Finance Act.

      Subscription income, from the sale of cards and the party's personal
data forms (PDFs), took a significant dip having peaked at $105 million in
2002 when the party posted record sales of its cards, which in many areas
guaranteed security from harassment of perceived non-adherents by ZANU PF
activists in the run-up to the hotly contested presidential elections.

      Card sales only raised $1.49 million last year.

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      ZUPCO faces court action over bus deal

      Thomas Madondoro
      9/2/2004 7:05:49 AM (GMT +2)

      PIONEER Motor Corporation (PMC) has threatened to drag the Zimbabwe
United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) to court over an outstanding US$1.1 million
payment, as more evidence emerges that a multi-million-dollar deal struck
between the two firms for the purchase of 48 luxury coaches has gone sour.

      It has also emerged that senior PMC officials met top central bank
officials last week to resolve the impasse, which saw PMC director Hamish
Rudland being arrested, allegedly for refusing to surrender part of the cash
cover provided by ZUPCO as part of the deal.

      Sources privy to the proceedings said the meeting failed to establish
a common position.

      PMC, which acted as an agent between ZUPCO and Scania South Africa,
was advanced $7.5 billion as cash cover for the transaction last year, which
was to be refunded upon the payment of US$4.5 million for the purchase of
the top-of-the-range Scania buses as the parastatal sought to revive its
depleted fleet.

      ZUPCO was supposed to pay for the buses in two transactions between
August and September last year. In December 2003, US$1.6 million was paid
using $1.3 billion from the cash cover held by PMC, leaving a remainder of
$6.2 billion.

      Sources said ZUPCO failed to meet its contractual obligations because
the first payment was behind schedule.

      "ZUPCO used the buses for more than 18 months before they cleared the
outstanding amount. PMC did not charge them interest. ZUPCO failed to stick
to the conditions of the transaction," said a source.

      The outstanding US$2.9 million was only paid to Scania South Africa in
May this year after the intervention of the central bank.

      PMC is allegedly claiming interest charged by Scania South Africa and
other costs, all amounting to US$1.1 million, from ZUPCO.

      Efforts to get an official comment from the Rudland brothers, Hamish
and Simon, proved fruitless by the time of going to press yesterday, but a
senior PMC official confirmed that a meeting was held with central bank

      PMC last week repaid the $6.2 billion cash cover it was holding after
Hamish's arrest. Previous efforts by the public transporter to recover the
money had proved fruitless, resulting in the intervention of the central
bank and the police.

      Sources said if PMC did not recover its funds, scores of people were
likely to lose their jobs because the company's cash flow position would be

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      Chiyangwa's Waterloo?

      9/2/2004 7:07:46 AM (GMT +2)

      WITH the ZANU PF primaries now around the corner, former Chinhoyi
executive mayor Faber Chidarikire has indicated that he will square up
against the party's Mashonaland West chairman, Philip Chiyangwa, in a battle
that threatens to halt the flamboyant businessman's political career.

      The race for Chinhoyi constituency, of which Chiyangwa is the current
Member of Parliament (MP), is also said to have roped in Anias Mangeya, the
leader of former freedom fighters in Mashonaland West province.

      Sources said Chiyangwa's political future now hung on a knife-edge.
Chidarikire is said to have the support of the ordinary people in the
constituency while Mangeya, who is said to have bragged to Chiyangwa that
his political future was over, has the support of the militant former
freedom fighters.

      Both Chidarikire and Chiyangwa have had a taste of prison. The former
mayor was arrested on charges of murder, while Chiyangwa faced allegations
of contempt of court, perjury and obstructing the course of justice. Both
men, however, were later acquitted.

      Chidarikire said of the upcoming ZANU PF primary elections to choose
candidates in next year's parliamentary poll: "I have been approached by the
people of Chinhoyi and I am going to stand for them."

      "I am also aware of a smear campaign which is already underway from
some of my detractors, but I have been through all that. Only time will tell
who is more popular in Chinhoyi," he said.

      The sources alleged that Chiyangwa had used his influence as reigning
MP and provincial chairman to suspend Chidarikire from ZANU PF structures
two months ago.

      Chiyangwa has also suspended Makonde MP Kindness Paradza on what the
sources said were trumped-up charges of disrespect and indiscipline.

      The provincial chairman is also said to have suspended a Mrs Chakweza,
an ally of Chidarikire, for campaigning without his authority, sources said.

      Chiyangwa insisted this week Chidarikire would not participate in any
ZANU PF elections because the provincial committee had suspended the former

      "Chinhoyi is not for sale. There is no contest. Nobody decides the
fate of my presence other than me. This is insubordination from a person who
is my junior," Chiyangwa fumed. - Staff Reporter

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      Former newspaper mogul backs Paradza

      Staff Reporter
      9/2/2004 7:08:30 AM (GMT +2)

      EMBATTLED Makonde Member of Parliament Kindness Paradza has enlisted
the services of former publisher and chief executive of The Financial
Gazette, Elias Rusike, in a bid to exonerate himself from some of the
allegations being levelled against him by some ZANU PF mandarins.

      In a desperate attempt to convince ZANU PF gurus that he was not the
author of a series of stories about the First Lady Grace Mugabe's Borrowdale
mansion and her marriage to President Robert Mugabe, Paradza last week asked
Rusike to write to John Nkomo, the ZANU PF national chairman, allegedly to
set the record straight.

      Paradza, a former journalist, has been accused among other charges of
demonising the ruling ZANU PF party prior to his expulsion.

      The embattled legislator has since lodged a bitter appeal with Nkomo
over his expulsion from the party three months ago by the Mashonaland West
ZANU PF provincial leadership.

      Some of the charges brought against the young ZANU PF legislator,
resulting in his expulsion, are that of an alleged conspiracy to undermine
the ruling party, including President Mugabe, the government and its
policies and disrespecting the party hierarchy.

      "It is known that when Paradza served as deputy editor of The
Financial Gazette, he had a feast on most political chefs including the
First Lady, Cde Grace Mugabe, whose Borrowdale house which she paid her own
money for, was nicknamed 'Gracelands' and for time immemorial, the paper
enjoyed deliberate attacks on the then minister of local government, public
works and national housing, Enos Chikowore," said a provincial disciplinary

      But in a new turn of events, Rusike has bolstered Paradza's defence
counsel by denying that the beleaguered legislator had authored the stories,
which put the first family in bad light.

      Rusike, who left The Financial Gazette in April 2003 and who has also
worked with Paradza, has since written a letter to Nkomo, which was also
copied to Vice President Joseph Msika, Nathan Shamuyarira, secretary for
information and publicity in ZANU PF and the party's provincial chairman,
Philip Chiyangwa.

      "The truth of the matter is that Paradza never coined the phrase
'Gracelands' because The Financial Gazette and Paradza in particular never
covered or wrote about the First Lady's Borrowdale house during his time at
the newspaper," read part of the letter written by Rusike.

      "The phrase 'Gracelands' was coined by journalists at the Zimbabwe
Independent newspaper, who were authors of the story," Rusike argued.

      "Concerning Chikowore, I can confirm that it was Simbarashe Makunike
and not Paradza who wrote a false story that Judge Garwe and Chikowore had
presided over a secret marriage ceremony between President Mugabe and his
current wife, Grace. That story was later found to be false and the paper
publicly apologised to all the parties concerned," Rusike explained.

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      More executives slip through anti-graft net

      Nelson Banya
      9/2/2004 7:09:29 AM (GMT +2)

      REVELATIONS that ZHL Holdings Limited chairman and prominent company
director William Mudekunye has skipped the country, with the police hot on
his heels, has given the lie to hopes that the worst was over and stability
had finally returned to corporate Zimbabwe after the upheavals that
triggered a mini-exodus, particularly by banking executives, earlier in the

      The announcement by police that they were after Mudekunye in
connection with alleged exchange control violations was followed by news
that a director at Intermarket Banking Corporation, Itai Tandi, wanted by
police in connection with the disappearance of $5.2 billion from the bank,
had also slipped out of the country.

      There is also frenzied speculation that a proprietary executive at one
of the country's leading funeral assurance companies had also taken flight
from the country, fearing the supposedly long arm of the law.

      Sound corporate governance, which has been elevated from a mere
footnote on many companies' financial statements to a hallowed catch phrase,
dictated that some malfeasant business executives bow out.

      Gone were the heady days of regulatory laxity and market distortions
created by eclectic economic policies, which gave rise to a culture of
institutionalised wheeling and dealing.

      To date, the list of executives who have left the country in
inauspicious circumstances makes uninspiring reading.

      Pioneering banking entrepreneurs Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Otto
Chekeche and Francis Zimuto of NMB Bank, Mutumwa Mawere of SMM Holdings, who
had a finger in many a corporate pie, Mthuli Ncube of Barbican Holdings,
Nicholas Vingirai of the Intermarket empire and Gilbert Muponda of ENG
Capital figure on the top-tier list.

      Several other lesser known businessmen have also taken the parachute

      Most of these executives fell by the wayside at the worst possible
time - at the height of an interest rate spike - as the authorities, led by
the central bank, pried into company cupboards and discovered corporate
skeletons in the first half of the year.

      At the time of the mini-exodus, most analysts pointed out that
anti-graft regulations, hastily put together by the government through
presidential powers and subsequently passed into law by Parliament after no
small degree of heated debate, were to blame for the panic that sent many
entrepreneurs into hiding.

      The long periods of detention without trial provided for suspected
economic criminals under the new law were, and remain, a major talking

      Most executives, accustomed to the pristine surroundings of their
offices and homes, and who could not bear the thought of spending days on
end in remand prison, took the exit option, at immense cost to their
business interests.

      Indeed, two of the highest profile court cases as the anti-graft
euphoria gathered momentum ended in huge anti-climaxes.

      Prominent businessmen and ZANU PF politicians Philip Chiyangwa and
James Makamba, who had become the faces of the anti-graft crusade, were
acquitted within days of each other.

      Chiyangwa was facing charges of contempt of court, perjury and
obstructing justice, while Makamba was acquitted on five foreign currency
externalisation counts after a six-month ordeal at Harare Remand Prison.

      The developments, coupled with the lack of success to date by the
police in bringing any one of the fleeing executives back home to face the
various charges levelled against them, raise questions over the way the
whole process has been handled and if a good number of the highly publicised
cases of people netted in the anti-graft dragnet were not, in fact, cases of
too much ado about nothing.

      The growing band of fugitive executives has left an ever-growing stack
of open-ended dockets at Police General Headquarters.

      Of all the business people in exile, the law enforcement agents only
came close to apprehending Mawere but made an unsuccessful extradition
attempt following the business mogul's arrest in South Africa, a situation
which seems to give the lie to assurances by the police that the long arm of
the law will catch up with all fugitives.

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      Mooted Parly changes dismissed

      Njabulo Ncube
      9/2/2004 7:11:20 AM (GMT +2)

      A BICAMERAL Parliament with 260-members, among other far-reaching
changes to Zimbabwe's august House, has been mooted, but analysts say the
two-chamber legislature will be "toothless" unless it assumes "real" power.

      A bicameral parliamentary system provides for two chambers and
observers say this prevents enactment of ill-considered laws by providing
checks and balances.

      Of particular interest to gender activists in Zimbabwe is the proposed
setting aside of 50 special seats for women to be brought to Parliament
through proportional representation.

      Analysts and political commentators who spoke to The Financial Gazette
were unanimous that the proposed overhaul of Zimbabwe's Parliament, though
necessary for good governance in a democracy, was not a priority at present
as long as the legislature had little authority compared to other arms of
government. The other arms of government are the Executive and the

      The analysts said constitutional reform, which among other things
should see the curtailment of the powers of the Executive, was more
paramount in Zimbabwe today than the establishment of a bicameral

      Presently, the Parliament of Zimbabwe has 150 legislators comprising
120 elected and 30 non-constituency members.

      ZANU PF has submitted to the Executive a proposal to expand Parliament
by creating a two-chamber house consisting of 260 members.

      According to a draft proposal shown to The Financial Gazette, the
ruling party proposes 150 elected legislators, 50 special seats for women
and a 60-member Senate.

      Of the proposed 60 senators, 40 would be brought to the House through
proportional representation per province, same as the proposed 50 special
seats for women.

      The President of Zimbabwe, under the scheme currently under discussion
within both ZANU PF and the main opposition circles, would have the
prerogative to appoint 10 governors and 10 traditional chiefs, bringing the
total number in the Senate to 60.

      Janna Ncube, the director for Women In Politics Support Unit, said a
bicameral Parliament would politically empower Zimbabwean women. Of the 150
elected and non-constituency Members of Parliament in the present House,
only 16 are female.

      "We have been advocating for real women representation at that level
of decision-making. It will give us a token 25 percent of the 200 elected
members. Our target for the 2005 parliamentary polls is 30 percent.

      "We believe there should be other seats for women, maybe in the
proposed Senate. Our researches have shown that women are missing out in
Parliament because mostly men use money and other unscrupulous methods to
get themselves elected as candidates to represent their parties in polls,"
said Ncube.

      She said setting aside 50 seats for women through legislation would
encourage their participation in Zimbabwean politics, especially considering
that females constituted about 52 percent of the country's population.

      "A bicameral House is meant to be a safeguard in a democracy so that
the legislature does not steamroll laws like what happened with the
fast-track land reform," said Brian Kagoro, a lawyer by profession, who
doubles up as chairman of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

      "It (bicameral Parliament) is an important device for checks and
balances. It, however, depends on how the two Houses are structured and what
power they enjoy and wield. If the two Houses are poorly structured and
filled with people to rubber-stamp laws, then there will be no magic in a
bicameral system," said Kagoro, whose pressure group consists of more than
350 civic organisations operating in Zimbabwe.

      Kagoro said while a bicameral system was an important safeguard in
other democracies, it was not a priority in present-day Zimbabwe.

      "The priority at the moment is not a bicameral Parliament but to deal
with the Presidential Powers Act. This has to be overhauled.

      "There is need to restructure the relationship between Parliament and
the Executive. Parliament needs to hold the Executive accountable. This is
not what is happening in Zimbabwe.

      "We also need to spruce up the Bill of Rights," said Kagoro.

      Opposition Movement for Democratic Change legal secretary David
Coltart said a bicameral system would not work wonders in Zimbabwe if
parliamentarians remained powerless compared to other arms of government,
especially the Executive.

      "Parliament in Zimbabwe is weak. There is need for comprehensive
constitutional amendments rather than these piecemeal reforms ZANU PF is
proposing such as a bicameral system.

      "The powers of the Executive need to be spread to other arms of
government, especially to the legislators who, to all intents and purposes,
are elected by the people. We have to make the Judiciary more independent
than is happening now," said Coltart.

      While women gender activists welcomed the setting aside of 50 special
seats under the proposed parliamentary changes, they however warned ZANU PF
not to use it to woo women into joining their ranks.

      "We deserve better if not equal representation in any type of
Parliament in Zimbabwe by our virtue of being 52 percent of the population,"
said another female activist.

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      MDC throws down the gauntlet

      Nelson Banya
      9/2/2004 7:10:05 AM (GMT +2)

      IN threatening to boycott elections at all levels, the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) did not only put a foot down but
forward as well, while leaving the ruling ZANU PF on the back foot, analysts
said this week.

      Although the government has reacted in typical fashion, insisting that
the opposition party, ZANU PF's biggest threat since it signed a unity
accord with erstwhile foe ZAPU in 1987, was threatening to pull out of next
year's elections for fear of an embarrassing defeat, analysts have noted
that the MDC's decision had thrust the ball firmly in the ruling party's

      The MDC's decision, announced last week, could have an immediate
bearing in the form of the forthcoming by-elections for the Seke
constituency, left vacant following the death of the MDC's Ben

      The nomination court sits tomorrow and the ZANU PF nominee, Phineas
Chihota, could ride into Parliament unchallenged.

      "ZANU PF will go ahead, and if they win, they will feel good and
strong, but at some point, they will have to implement the SADC (Southern
African Development Community) protocol.

      "They will have to take on board the interests of multi-party
democracy and the various freedoms - of expression, association, assembly .
. . will have to be guaranteed. They will have to do that to get
legitimacy," human rights lawyer and political commentator Brian Kagoro

      Political analyst Alois Masepe said ZANU PF, more than anyone else,
was under pressure.

      "The ball is in their court. The country is bleeding and people are
not enjoying the fruits of their independence.

      "ZANU PF should ask whether this is the dream, the vision they had
when they were fighting to liberate this country. We have been ostracised in
the same way Ian Smith and his Rhodesia were ostracised. Things have gone
wrong and ZANU PF should concede that," Masepe said.

      Kagoro said despite all this, ZANU PF would maintain its bravado in
the face of the opposition's position.

      "They will play hard ball for some time, hoping the MDC's decision is
not unanimous, but the whole thing is not about the boycott. If you are
going to introduce some reforms, you need to involve many protagonists and
stakeholders. It is pointless to pretend as if you are alone.

      "That approach is problematic and represents the old way of doing
things. It is not about winning elections; it is about Zimbabwe.
Unfortunately, politics is a game of egos and not common sense. Political
players are not necessarily reasonable," Kagoro said.

      The MDC has stated that while President Robert Mugabe signed the SADC
protocol on standard electoral guidelines for the region at the regional
bloc's summit held in Mauritius last month, the opposition party was not
convinced that his government was committed to the spirit and letter of the

      The SADC guidelines provide for full participation, by citizens, in
the democratic process, freedom of association, political tolerance and
regular elections as provided for by each state's constitution.

      They also call for equal access by all political parties to the public
media and impartiality of the electoral institutions.

      "At this moment the MDC does not believe that the government has the
desire or political will to act in the spirit of Mauritius. President
Mugabe's signing of the protocol was an exercise in political expediency.

      "If his government genuinely subscribes to the principles enshrined in
the agreement, Mugabe would have returned to Zimbabwe and announced his
commitment to comprehensive political and electoral reforms in line with the
MDC's minimum standards," MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said.

      Ncube said what had miffed his party was the decision by the
government to press on with its contentious Non-Governmental Organisations
(NGO) Bill.

      "Instead, in the immediate aftermath of his return to Zimbabwe, his
government signalled their contempt for democratic values by unashamedly
gazetting a draft NGO Bill containing provisions which continue the
government's sustained determination to crush all organised centres of
opinion at variance with that of the ZANU PF government.

      "It is this dearth of tangible evidence that the Mugabe government is
prepared to enforce the SADC guidelines and principles, in their fullest
context, that prompted the MDC national executive to unanimously agree to
suspend the MDC's participation in all forms of elections in Zimbabwe,"
Ncube said, adding that his party's demands were not "huge".

      However, Masepe said the MDC's undoing had been contesting in all
previous elections since 2000, before a proper framework had been put in

      "That was the biggest blunder the MDC made - they drank from a
poisoned chalice and participated in elections presided over by a government
which believes in a one-party state.

      "ZANU PF clearly believes in a one-party state, so what business does
it have calling for multi-party elections? What business does the MDC has
contesting with a party which believes in a one-party state?

      "ZANU PF is play acting multi-partyism when it believes otherwise and
the MDC was trying to do the impossible contesting in the circumstances.

      "However, the MDC should not boycott on the basis of
non-implementation of the SADC guidelines, nor should ZANU PF respect the
SADC protocol more than the wishes of the people as expressed in 2000 - a
constitution that clearly spells out the rules of governance and guarantees
freedom of the press, independence of the judiciary and all other freedoms.
Unless that happens, we will never be on the same wavelength," Masepe said.

      Prior to the Mauritius summit, ZANU PF had approved various proposed
changes to the country's laws, which would, among other things, provide for
the creation of a new electoral institution to run elections, ensure voting
takes place in one day and see the introduction of translucent ballot boxes.

      Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa
was expected to table a draft Bill before Cabinet this week.

      Government critics have questioned its commitment to ensuring a level
playing field, particularly where political parties' equal access to the
media and freedom of assembly, which have been curtailed through
controversial laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act and the Public Order and Security Act, is concerned.

      They charge that the law has also been selectively applied,
particularly where political violence is concerned.

      Since the run-up to the watershed 2000 poll when a burgeoning MDC
denied ZANU PF a two-thirds majority in Parliament by winning 57 seats out
of the contested 120, elections in Zimbabwe have turned into an increasingly
bloody affair that has cost lives.

      Many perpetrators of political violence have gone unpunished, breeding
a culture of impunity that gives the country a collective shiver ahead of
any election.

      "The good thing (about the MDC's boycott threat) is that there will
not be unnecessary violence," Kagoro said, tongue in cheek.

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      New weekly launches tomorrow

      9/2/2004 7:08:52 AM (GMT +2)

      THE New Sunday Times, the brainchild of the Department of Information
and its Namibian counterpart, has seemingly succumbed to objections raised
by the Sunday Times of South Africa against the use of its name and will now
hit the streets as The Southern Times.

      Attorneys acting for South Africa's Sunday Times had written to New
Era Publications of Namibia and the Zimbabwe Newspapers (Zimpapers), warning
them that the use of its name constituted an infringement of the newspaper's
rights to the trademark.

      New Era and Zimpapers jointly own The Southern Times through a company
called NamZim Newspapers (Proprietor) Limited. Impeccable sources said
yesterday that the paper mooted early this year will now be launched in the
resort town of Victoria Falls.

      A chartered plane will fly the invited guests to Victoria Falls for
the function, which starts at 7pm at A'Zambezi River Lodge owned by Rainbow
Tourism Group, which is apparently headed by Zimpapers chairman Herbert

      While observers say The Southern Times' brief would be to counter
anti-Zimbabwe propaganda, the government is adamant that the regional weekly
newspaper "will tell the stories of the two countries from an informed view

      NamZim's board members include a Mr VT Usiku, Nkala, Justin Mutasa
(Zimpapers chief executive officer), Pikirayi Deketeke (The Herald editor),
Protasius Ndauendapo (New Era chief executive officer), Archie Kuhanga (New
Era acting manager for support services) and Rahah Munamava (New Era

      - Staff Reporter

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      Moyo sets up new fresh produce firm

      Allen Chifokoyo
      9/2/2004 7:34:20 AM (GMT +2)

      PROMINENT horticulture investor Edwin Moyo has launched a new fresh
produce company called Minda Private Limited, which will be involved in
outgrower schemes to benefit new A2 farmers.

      The company was launched last month and will provide the farmers with
inputs like seed, fertiliser, chemicals and technical expertise to enable
them to produce export quality crops for the international market.

      Moyo's horticultural joint venture, Kondozi Farm in Odzi, hit the
headlines this year following its controversial takeover by the Agricultural
and Rural Development Authority (ARDA).

      The 224-hectare farm used to export produce to supermarkets in
Britain, Europe and South Africa.

      Moyo, who is also the chief executive officer of TZI Limited, which
has interests in horticulture, said the new company was trying to fill the
gap left by Kondozi on the international market in the supply of
horticultural products and had already sourced markets for their crops and
expects to earn US$15 million annually when the company is fully fledged.

      "We have sourced new markets and we will export crops to countries
like South Africa, the Netherlands and Germany," Moyo said.

      He also said the company will be mainly focused on the Mashonaland
East province and it has a packing facility in Marondera.

      Under the outgrower scheme, the farmers are growing crops like fine
beans, peas and baby corn mainly for export.

      The outgrower scheme has received favourable response from the new
farmers as judged by the numbers who attended a field day at Kelherd farm in
Marondera last week.

      Kelherd is owned by Patrick Chidakwa, who has become one of the
success stories of the new scheme and many new farmers gathered at the farm
to see the flourishing lush green crop.

      Chidakwa has three hectares under peas, one hectare under baby corn an
d another under fine beans. He has expressed intentions to increase his
hectarage by another seven hectares and make it 12.

      He said he was happy as one of the new farmers that had benefited from
the Minda scheme as their crops were guaranteed of markets.

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      Once a bread basket, now an empty basket

      9/2/2004 7:39:54 AM (GMT +2)

      ONCE known as the bread basket of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe's pride
has just vanished over the last decade. The agriculture sector, the
backbone, the engine of the economy has crumbled and is failing to get back
to its knees.

      This is an economy that has been on a free fall, characterised by high
unemployment, serious deterioration of capacity utilisation and above all
significantly reduced agricultural output, save for cotton production which
has taken a northward move.

      Far afield, there was no drought in Athens, and our own dynamite
raised our flag high. Kirsty Coventry, your determination and dedication
should be the envy of us all.

      We can also translate her achievements in our different capacities and
the same for the agricultural sector. Corruption has really derailed the
growth of this sector. It has become a cancer and we can not let it take
away the little that it has not devoured. The misuse of funds meant for
agriculture under the Productive Sector Facility should not be taken
lightly. The gap so created is equally damaging and we can not afford to
dine with such detractors of the economy. There is nothing that can be done
with the possible rain deficit but a long term solution has to be found now
for a water solution with regards to agricultural activities. It seems that
a certain syndrome has really affected the thought process. We have several
doctors and professors, but everything remains academic.

      Year in year out, either farmers are not happy or producers are not
happy. Yet the symbiotic relationship between the two parties can not be
separated. Recently, Cottco and other cotton buyers had to seek government
intervention over the producer price of Cotton. The contagion spread to
SeedCo, Sable Chemicals and Zimphos. They have been asked to revert to the
old price.

      Yet reversing seed and fertiliser prices derails the sector's recovery

      Reverting to old prices is not the solution but really damaging.
Supply of these critical inputs will be very limited because in any
business, the motive is to make profit. What is lacking is the understanding
of the pricing structure of different industries. Knowledge of the pricing
systems of different industries will provide the proper negotiating
platform, thus avoiding these ugly situations. Time is not on our side and
the farming season is fast approaching. With possibility of inadequate
rainfall, then early planting becomes the most probable strategy for

      The snail's pace at which the land resettlement exercise is taking
place slows down the momentum that has been triggered by the Central Bank.
Without a successful turnaround of the agricultural sector, which is the
engine of the economy in terms of raw material supply, exports generation,
employment creation and food security, our economic growth will continue to

      While the progress of the new farmers is being seriously hampered by
the lack of financial resources to acquire critical equipment and inputs,
there is no doubt that most of them have the necessary farming techniques.

      More worrying is a certain group of farmers who have never been in
farming before and have just bulldozed their way into this sector of the

      Farming is not an easy profession. There is much planning and
organising to be done. A lot of capital is required and there is little room
for speculation. No overnight profits. For instance, the payback for estate
farming takes some years and this definitely requires someone with a long
term view. But there is a lot of uncertainty in the agriculture sector at
the moment to take a long term view.

      Earlier on, I alluded to the fact there is gold in agriculture.
Despite contributing more than 15 percent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP),
over 50 percent of our earnings come from agriculture and a significant
number of people earn their living from the sector in one way or the other.
The sector continues to suffer from a myriad of problems as pointed out
above, which has resulted in serious decline in exports growth from a peak
of 29 percent in 1996 to the negative growth rates that we are experiencing.
Alarming, isn't it?

      Then the challenging question would be: Will Zimbabwe manage to
overcome the foreign currency problem without a strong recovery of this
sector? If I am to answer this question, I would say no. The reasons for my
answer are well articulated in my statistics.

      The most worrying aspect is the depletion of the national herd and
absence of a national herd policy. While there has been a lot of talk on
tractors, seeds, fertilisers, land and more land, the nation seems to be
silent on the urgent need to beef up our national herd.

      The importance of a national herd policy cannot be over-emphasised.
Zimbabwean beef is rated some of the best in European markets despite
grappling with outbreaks of disease over recent years. Very close to our
borders is Botswana with a strong national herd policy. Its national herd is
almost equal to the size of its population and cattle there serve a
commercial purpose.

      Driving in any direction, north, south, east or west, it is
disheartening to see fast disappearing forests, the heritage of our
grandchildren. This is compounded by the absence of a ministry directly
responsible for crafting conservation policies. This is a challenge to
policy makers and non-policy makers to seriously think about the criticality
of vegetation in the sustenance of economic growth. More so is the
scientific relationship between rainfall patterns and vegetation which is
really under threat.

      The agricultural activity in Zimbabwe is mainly split between
commercial and communal. The commercial dominance is mainly centred on cash
and export generating crops such as tobacco, tea, coffee and others while
the communal farmers' model emphasised on cotton as a cash crop while maize
was largely grown for subsistence. However, given an adequate and strictly
monitored financial support package for the communal farmers, Zimbabwe is
capable of feeding the whole region. The dosage: Adequate rainfall,
financial support, right pricing and strong marketing strategies - the
patient's survival might be guaranteed. However, survival is also guaranteed
on the will of the patient to survive. Agreed because without taking the
correct dosage, the defensive mechanisms are overpowered.

      The missing link is also the disintegration of competitive estate
farming. Everything seems to be left in the hands of the Agricultural Rural
Development Authority (ARDA). While the capability of ARDA can not be
doubted, we feel there too much pressure for the institution to deliver.
This area of farming plays an important function in the whole model.

      Stakeholders' decisions have to be guided by a certain framework.
There is no clear framework for the agriculture sector with regards to the
pricing of commodities, financing and marketing. Putting in place a clear
framework with regards to the above issues, Zimbabwe will reclaim its place
as the bread basket of Southern Africa. Agriculture is there to stay and
will never die.

      Norman Maferefa is a research analyst with Fidelity Life Asset
Management Company

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      Money laundering requires urgent attention

      9/2/2004 7:43:10 AM (GMT +2)

      THE wanton criminality and lawlessness that had buttressed itself in
the corporate world and more importantly, the financial sector, exposed our
government's inability to make an effective use of the law to curb crime.

      It has only taken the determination and economic wisdom of the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe governor to attempt to gradually uproot the criminals among
those running our economy.

      At the height of the mayhem, various laws such as the Serious Offences
(Confiscation of Profits) Act (Chapter 9:17), the Prevention of Corruption
Act (Chapter 9:16) as well as penalty provisions in numerous statutes and
the common law could not be put to good use. These laws, which are an
effective arsenal, stood beckoning for the attention of the authorities but
apathy from government was the response.

      Commentators have judged the government's response to corporate
indiscipline in various languages, but whatever their perceptions, it
appears a notable stability has ensued especially as relates to the
financial sector.

      The government must however put to fruition its promise to restore
absolute sanity in our economy, more importantly by addressing key vices
like money laundering. It is therefore the aim of this article to discuss
money laundering with a view to suggesting lasting solutions that will serve
and save our economy concretely.

      The gazzetting by the government on February 17 2004 of the Bank Use
Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Bill was a step in the right
direction. It registered the government's awareness of the need to pass laws
that respond to societal demands.

      In broad terms the phrase "money laundering" covers all procedures to
change the identity of illegally obtained money so that it appears to have
originated from a legitimate source. The common forms of laundering locally
in the recent past and to a little extent currently took various forms. The
most common were illegal foreign exchange transactions that created
monumental profits which were at times used to buy shares on the stock
exchange. These were used in setting up cover-up businesses, as well as
illegal gold dealing and hoarding of merchandise to create artificial
shortages for the purpose of creating demand for resultant resale at
exploitative prices.

      A common facet of money laundering is the internationalisation of its
proceeds as illustrated by the several cases of local business people who
were charged with the crime of "externalisation" of foreign currency.

      While it would be wrong to accuse all individuals so charged as having
been laundering money, a significant number of them rigorously and
clandestinely exported proceeds of local crime to far away lands. Some of
the culprits have since taken flight and sought refuge in the countries they
illegally exported local money to.

      The globalisation of economies and financial services has thus given
money launderers greater leverage for their criminal activities since the
origin of funds can be disguised in an international context.

      It must therefore be acknowledged that national initiatives on their
own are woefully inadequate to curb this malady.

      In addition to consolidating the legal regime targeting money
laundering, government also needs to adopt other strategies like entering
into international treaties with countries that are common destinations for
local criminals.

      This latter move is more important if one considers the recent
difficulty government and law enforcement agencies have had in having local
criminals extradited home to face the music. The diplomatic rift between our
government and Britain and the United States as well as the other western
powers has opened up easy escape routes and points of hibernation for
suspected serious offenders.

      Instead of treating these local suspects as criminals their hosts, to
spite our government, reward these fugitives with asylum as if they will be
escaping political persecution. This is unfortunate because most of the
fugitives will be outright criminal suspects fleeing normal prosecution.

      Until friendly diplomatic relations are restored with major western
powers, and until government adopts a constitutionally legitimate approach
to detaining suspects, the unfortunate perception shall be that these
fugitives are indeed victims of political harassment.

      If such a view persists, local criminals shall always be certain that
they have safe havens abroad. It is thus in the interests of justice and the
general public that has experienced extreme misery at the hands of corporate
criminal syndicates that government re-examines its foreign policy.

      It is internationally accepted that dirty money has an extremely
dangerous impact on the financial sector. The happenings in our own sector
recently can provide a stark illustration of the hazardous nature of
laundering syndicates. Were it not for the robust work of Dr Gideon Gono,
our economy would have disintegrated and sunk into the oblivion.

      It is also obvious that public confidence in banks, and hence their
stability, can be gravely undermined by adverse publicity as a result of
inadvertent association of banks with criminals. In addition, banks may lay
themselves open to direct losses from fraud, either through negligence in
screening undesirable customers, or where their own officers steal or their
integrity has been undermined through association with criminals.

      Rather than concentrate on local crooks alone, the government must
also cast its net wider and monitor the activities of foreigners, especially
those of West African origin.

      Without sounding xenophobic, it is commonly accepted that some West
Africans are generally criminal minded and a host of them have been
prosecuted for serious economic crimes. Zimbabwe, if it is seen to be lax,
might become a destination of laundered money and a playground for
international criminal syndicates.

      A multi-faceted approach to arresting the proliferation of money
laundering is required. Such an approach must commence and take shape
through the strengthening of our criminal law. It must then be concretised
by a firm commitment on the part of the government without being selective
to deal with all suspected criminals without regard to rank or status.

      The capacity of the Reserve Bank Money Laundering Unit and the police
must be strengthened and sustained. In addition, the participation of the
public, through encouraging whistle blowing and a strict monitoring of the
flow of funds by financial institutions must commence. Such measures, among
a host of others, will certainly curtail the influence of illicit financial

      lVote Muza is a legal practitioner with Gutu & Chikowero law firm.

      He can be contacted on e-mail:


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From The Daily News Online Edition, 1 September

SA urged to tighten screws on Mugabe

Pretoria - Sweden wants the South African government to tighten the screws
on President Robert Mugabe to ensure that conditions for a free and fair
election exist before next year's parliamentary polls. Swedish foreign
minister Laila Freivalds told journalists here yesterday after meeting her
South African counterpart Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma that Pretoria should do
more to rein in Mugabe. Mugabe has said that Zimbabwe's sixth parliamentary
polls will be held in March. Freivaids said the withdrawal of the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) from the elections was "bad news". Hence South
Africa needed to pressure Mugabe to hold elections under conditions that
were acceptable to all political players in the country. "Democracy needs
pluralism and an open debate. As neighbours you have an important role to
try to change the negative development in Zimbabwe," she said. Human rights
abuses and election rigging in Zimbabwe, she said, had reached alarming
levels. "We are very worried, not only about elections but also the human
rights abuses in Zimbabwe," Freivalds said.

The MDC last week announced that it would not participate in all future
elections unless the government made sweeping changes to the current legal
and political framework. The opposition party said it wanted the government
to implement electoral guidelines agreed to by Southern African Development
Community (SADC) recently. These include equal access to the public media by
all political parties, the setting up of independent bodies to run
elections, a transparent electoral process, free electioneering for all
parties and the upholding of the rule of law and of human and individual
rights in the run-up to and during elections. The MDC also wants a stop to
political violence and the repealing of repressive legislation which has
been used to close down newspapers and stop opposition political campaigns
by the government. But the ruling Zanu PF party has bluffed the MDC election
boycott threat saying that the election would go ahead, even if the
opposition party boycotted the process.

The opposition has accused Mugabe of using a flawed electoral process to rig
previous elections. Mugabe denies the charge. Freivalds shot down assertions
by Zuma that South Africa would pursue its quiet diplomacy policy on
Zimbabwe. "Her (view) is that silent diplomacy is the best way. We would
agree if we saw results from that diplomatic approach. But we don't, and so
we are worried. It's important to have patience when putting pressure on a
country but there are limits to that patience," she told journalists. South
Africa has insisted that it would not publicly lash out at Mugabe for the
last five years. Freivalds said the European Union, which has slapped travel
and economic sanctions on Mugabe and members of his ruling elite, was
pursuing other methods to squeeze Mugabe to accept reform.
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Enough is Enough



We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!

Sokwanele reporter

29 August 2004

It was none other than Robert Mugabe who once remarked that “absolute power is when a man is starving and you are the only one able to give him food”.   Zimbabwe and the world should take note that he and his party are in deadly earnest about demonstrating the truth of this maxim.  The suffering which will be inflicted upon millions in the process does not deter him – or them – for one moment. It is a price they are more than willing to pay in pursuit of that hold on absolute power.


With the looming 2005 parliamentary poll already casting a deep shadow across the nation, ZANU PF has positioned itself to take total control of the food procurement, storage and distribution process.  To this end the massive famine relief operation of the World Food Programme – to which over six million Zimbabweans already owe their lives – has been closed down summarily by ministerial decree, and  NGO’s ordered to cease their feeding schemes with immediate effect.  And all this despite the dire state of the country’s own agricultural industry, now reeling under the effects of the chaotic fast-track land resettlement programme,  and clearly unable to provide for the nation’s food requirements.


In order to hide from its own people and from the world the enormity of what it is doing, the regime has been forced to stifle the free flow of information about the food situation. Hence the abrupt termination of the WFP food security survey and hence the deliberate plan of disinformation put into effect by the regime’s own propaganda agents. This policy of disinformation was launched with the biggest lie of all, broadcast to the world by Robert Mugabe himself, that Zimbabwe was on its way to producing a bumper harvest this year – a grain surplus which would render any further food aid unnecessary.  Mugabe’s lie has thus become the benchmark to which those colluding with him in this massive deception, notably Joseph Made and Jonathan Moyo, have to work.  Their task, to which they have devoted themselves with the usual enthusiasm, is to produce the “smoke and mirrors” which distort the appalling reality and justify the decision to send the international food donors on their way.


Zimbabweans surely have a right to know the true position concerning the food security situation on which their lives ultimately depend, but that information is now being deliberately suppressed. In the past information about the food supplies was freely available, but as Zimconsult, a group of independent economic and planning consultants, say in their report entitled “Famine in Zimbabwe” (April 2004)  “in the current situation of policy-induced food scarcity and the militarization of the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), the public is deliberately denied access to information”. Hence the nation has not been informed how much food was produced in the 2002/3 season, what quantities the GMB purchased, or the current status of cereal stocks in the country.  And when the official records of Bulawayo City’s Health Department show that already this year more than 150 people have died as a direct result of food shortages in this urban area alone – surely the tip of the iceberg – the regime’s propaganda machine goes into overdrive to rubbish the story.


Yet as Abraham Lincoln once so wisely remarked “you cannot fool all the people all the time”.  No matter what efforts are made to suppress the truth it has a habit of coming out eventually, and in this case sooner rather than later.  Already there are clear signs of where the truth lies, and that truth is far removed from the complacent picture painted by Messrs Made and Moyo.  Zimbabweans therefore will not have to wait until Robert Mugabe and his partners in crime (in the full literal sense) are dragged before an international tribunal to face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, before the appalling reality is revealed for all to see.  While the full story may only emerge later and in such a scenario, already Zimbabweans are beginning to see through the  labyrinth of ZANU PF’s lies and deceptions.


There is a broad consensus among all concerned that the baseline figure for Zimbabwe’s minimum cereal requirements is 1.9 million metric tonnes.  This figure includes human consumption, stockfeed, industrial and other uses but does not include any provision for strategic reserves. But it is the likely size of the country’s own cereal harvest which is in contention.  The figure of 2.4 million mt touted by the regime would indeed provide a significant surplus, but this figure has not been accepted by any of the other major players.  Indeed while the regime has provided nothing of substance to back its wildly optimistic forecast, others have given the most cogent reasons for discounting it.


We may begin with the report of the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZIMVAC).   This team comprising  the United Nations, the relevant aid agencies and some of the regime’s own officials, concluded that there would be a cereal deficit of 177,681 mt for the year to March 2005.  In a summary of their findings they state unequivocally that “a total of 2.3 million people will not be able to meet their minimum cereal needs during the 2004/5 season. This represents about 29.5 per cent of the total population”.   A stark warning indeed, which would surely jolt all but the most uncaring or heartless regimes into instant action.   


The ZIMVAC report, completed in April this year, is both professional and objective. If anything it is regarded among aid agencies as erring on the conservative side in assessing present and future food deficits. The amount of detail provided is impressive. Across the country, district by district, it gives the numbers expected to be in food deficit, for the periods April to June, July to November and December 2004 to March 2005. The figures show a progressive increase in absolute and percentage terms and also provide some interesting comparisons – for example the range between a 13.8 per cent of the population in food deficit in the Zvimba District (December to March 2005) and a whopping 53.4 per cent in Hwange District for the same period.  A carefully researched and balanced document therefore to which those responsible for ensuring adequate food supplies for the nation should surely pay the closest attention.  Yet once again the regime has responded with denial. When they could not suppress the report they chose to ignore its findings, holding blindly to the official line that a “bumper harvest” was around the corner which would supply all the nation’s needs.  (One’s mind goes back to the loyal Communist Party cadres in China who did the same in the late 1950’s and early 60’s, sending in glowing - and completely fictitious - reports about a record harvest rather than daring to acknowledge the failure of Mao Zedong’s “great leap forward”.  And they continued to do so even as the catastrophic famine, that was to claim over 14 million lives, was beginning to take its terrible toll).


In order to produce their report, “Famine in Zimbabwe”, the Zimconsult team conducted their own field observations in Mashonaland, East, Central and West and in the Manicaland, Midlands and Masvingo provinces. They also consulted the various farmers’ organizations and drew on information provided by such reputable sources as Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) and the SADC Early Warning System. Their study looks at the factors determining the likely level of production, including the areas under cultivation and average yields – the latter being determined in turn by the availability of seed, fertilizer and tillage, as well as rainfall.  In each case, with the exception of rainfall which is a “given”, the consultants found a chronic lack of planning on the part of the government which resulted in major shortfalls.


Contrary to the ruling party’s own official dogma, seed growers were evicted from their farms in the chaotic scramble for land, resulting in only 40 per cent of the seed required at the start of the season being available to farmers.  The lack of foreign currency to import raw materials for fertilizer production and the unrealistic price controls imposed on the products, kept fertilizers in chronic short supply.  And tillage was severely restricted by such factors as the acute shortages of diesel, the cost of ploughing, and the lack of spare parts which grounded 50 per cent of the DDF tractors.


Combining the effects of these adverse “human” factors together with the unusual rainfall pattern and failure of the early planted maize, the consultants predicted  a maize harvest of between 650,000 and 850,000 mt.  Allowing for a crop of small grains of between 100,000 and 200,000 mt and also making allowance for the 250,000 mt maize purchased by the GMB last year (and retained in storage despite the severe shortages of mealie meal in the country), they envisaged  a national cereal deficit in the current season of between 600,000 and 900,000 mt.


“Whichever way one looks at the situation”, the consultants conclude, “there will be a huge shortage of food in the country, caused by a potent combination of chaotic land reform and destructive macro-economic policies”.


Nor are these predictions out of line with those of FEWSNET which, with a slightly more optimistic appraisal of likely maize and small grains’ yields, comes up with a shortfall of between 500,000 and 800,000 mt.


In summary, it is only the regime’s own apologists who are holding to the line that Zimbabwe will produce enough food for all in the current season, or to the ridiculous fiction that a bumper harvest is on its way.  Every other reputable authority is predicting a massive food deficit.  The most conservative estimate of that deficit (ZIMVAC’s)  leaves 2.3 million people, or nearly 30 per cent of the population, unable to meet their basic cereal needs – in short a catastrophic famine which is already under way. 


The pain is already severe and it is becoming more intense with each week that passes. None are more aware of this pain, nor so frustrated by their inability to respond to it, than the NGO’s and donor agencies which have been told to shut down their life-saving operations.  World Vision is one of the big players which have been ordered to terminate all food distribution operations, though “not to go away” at least for the time being. With the result that while their warehouse in Bulawayo, with a capacity of about 6,000 mt, stands full of grain, they cannot use any of that food even to continue their feeding programmes for the terminally ill, pregnant women and lactating mothers and malnourished children under 5 years of age.  World Vision’s own careful research, completed before the ban on information gathering, shows an alarming trend of increasing food shortages in the rural areas where they were operating. For example the cereal supply of 48.5 per cent of the population in the Insiza area was expected to run out altogether by the end of August, and of 70.5 per cent of the same population group before the end of October.  (The corresponding figures for Gwanda are 33.8 per cent and 55.1 per cent and for Beitbridge 22.2 per cent and 50.2 per cent respectively)


Even within ZANU PF the strain of holding to the official line against the increasing weight of evidence to the contrary is beginning to tell, with three provincial governors requesting food aid from central government and asking for NGO’s to be allowed to continue distributing food aid in their drought-stricken areas. Their intervention must surely explain the recent, reluctant about-turn of the Social Welfare Minister, Paul Mangwana, who has now said that NGO’s can resume their schemes targeting specific groups such as orphans and HIV/AIDS victims. At the same time, in what must surely rank as one of the most ridiculous understatements both of the current national crisis and of the contribution of international donors in saving millions of Zimbabwean lives, Mangwana added that NGO’s will be “allowed to chip in when there is an emergency”.  


Contradictions are also apparent within the regime’s own figures, for example between their statistical forecasts of a national harvest of 1.2 million mt and the mythical 2.4 million mt put about by Jonathan Moyo’s propaganda machine. Consider also the importation of grain from Zambia through Chirundu and from America, Argentina and South Africa through Beit Bridge, a reality the regime has done its utmost to conceal but which is now well documented.  For example the South African Grain Information Service records 168,000 mt of maize and 50,000 mt of wheat being shipped to Zimbabwe so far this year.  Hardly necessary if a bumper harvest is expected.  No doubt this imported grain is destined to be lodged in the GMB silos, now effectively under military control, and used, not to feed the starving today, but rather as a part of what one might call Mugabe’s strategic election reserves.


What we are looking at here is not simply an appalling failure of planning, as serious an indictment of the regime as that would be in itself. True there have been the most dismal failures in this regard which provide ample evidence that  ZANU PF is unfit to govern. But the most serious charge to level at Robert Mugabe and those who follow him blindly, is not what they have left unplanned but what they have planned with the utmost precision and the most diabolical cunning – and that is a scenario in which they can exploit to the full a national catastrophe. The conclusion is inescapable, that Mugabe closed down the WFP feeding programme and ordered NGO’s to cease their humanitarian assistance because he feared, first, that they would dilute his power  and second, that they would have direct access to the facts which would blow his fiction of a bumper harvest out of the water.  Mugabe welcomes a famine as the ultimate means of political control and absolute power. Whatever the appalling cost to his own people, he will not permit anyone or anything to undermine that hold on power.          




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Parched residents say water crisis is looming
          September 02 2004 at 08:31AM

      Harare - Large swathes of Harare and adjoining towns have gone without
water for weeks.

      This has forced residents to store water in often unhygienic drums
borrowed from elsewhere in the city.

      Worst affected are the four-million-strong middle-class eastern
suburbs, where one resident said on Wednesday he "could not remember when he
last had water".

      Harare City Council public relations manager Leslie Gwindi blamed
neighbouring towns for the problem, saying the council did not have enough
water to supply everyone. - Sapa

          .. This article was originally published on page 8 of The Star on
September 02, 2004

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Squatters clash with Zim cops
02/09/2004 20:15  - (SA)

Porta Farm - Scores of residents of a squatter camp outside Harare on
Thursday fought running battles with municipal workers and police during
what the residents said was an attempt to evict them, witnesses said.

The government has in recent weeks been trying to evict the several
thousands of Port Farm residents to a new location saying it has earmarked
the area for a water treatment plant for the capital city.

But the 1 500 families on Wednesday won a High Court order temporarily
barring government from either demolishing their dwellings or evicting them.

Several houses were burnt during the skirmishes in which teargas was fired
into the settlement, established in 1991.

One man showed AFP a flesh wound he claimed was caused by a stray teargas
canister that hit his head.

The residents were settled at Porta Farm, 32km from the capital, after they
were rounded up from the city's streets and slums during a clean-up exercise
ahead of the 1991 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in

Residents claimed that four truckloads of mainly municipal workers,
accompanied by police descended on the farm, west of the capital, armed with
axes, picks and lighters to torch houses.

"They fired teargas and destroyed these houses you see here.

"We showed them the court order, but they ignored it," said one resident
George Mapise.

"We are not going anywhere, we are prepared to die here," vowed a woman who
refused to give her name.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said local council workers had gone to
the camp to demolish houses of those settlers who had left voluntarily,
heeding an earlier government call.

"But for one reason or another the residents turned on the council
employees, necessitating the police to fire some teargas," said Bvudzijena.
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Western media is 'negative'
02/09/2004 10:37  - (SA)

Harare - Africa's story should be told by African journalists, not by
foreigners who have a tendency to set their own agendas, Zimbabwe's
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said on Wednesday.

"Our stories continue to be told by others," he was quoted by the state news
agency Ziana.

"When we don't discuss certain stories about ourselves, others set the
agenda for us and give us issues to preoccupy ourselves with," said Moyo
during a meeting of representatives of public media institutions of Zimbabwe
and Namibia.

Moyo told the meeting that the current situation "where the world relied on
foreign news agencies for stories about the region was not conducive as
there was the risk of distortion".

Namibia's Information and Broadcasting Minister Nangolo Mbumba told the same
meeting that the African public media must counter the "negative" reporting
on Africa by the Western media.

"We should counter what the enemy is trying to smear on us," he said.

A regional weekly Sunday newspaper to be published by the country's two
state- run printing houses will be launched on Saturday in the north-western
resort town of Victoria Falls.

Zimbabwe's press laws, introduced shortly after President Robert Mugabe won
a second term in office in 2002, have been condemned by rights activists as

Conditions for the foreign media have also been tightened in recent years,
including paying thousand of dollars in accreditation fees.

The government's Media and Information Commission also closed down three
independent newspapers in the past year.
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      MDC's double-edged sword

      9/2/2004 7:39:04 AM (GMT +2)

      THE announcement last week by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
that it will, to the delight of the party's hardliners, who have the
temperament characteristic of their party, boycott any future elections in
Zimbabwe unless the government adopts the SADC guidelines and principles on
free and fair elections provoked a depressingly confused reaction from
frustrated Zimbabweans.

      Swayed by the MDC which was hoping to benefit from voter anger and the
deep well of disenchantment in the face of socio-economic difficulties, most
of the people hoodwinked into believing that the socio-economic and
political crisis was the last convulsion before deliverance are still
weighing what will inevitably be far-reaching implications of the move on a
further democratisation and expansion of pluralism in the country's
politics. Even those who had kept their powder dry ahead of the 2005
Parliamentary poll but still felt that the MDC has the moral authority, nay
mandate, to speak on behalf of millions must have been taken aback by the
latest development.

      The alliance that is the MDC must itself also have been put under
severe strain. This is likely to trigger off a lengthy period of splits,
resignations and expulsions over this ill-conceived decision. Not to mention
the crisis of public confidence the blundering party now faces. Already,
despite desperate but futile eleventh-hour damage control antics, there are
murmurs of discord with the party executive being accused of taking a
unilateral decision over the issue, underlying the potential for fissures
within the loose coalition. That is, however, the least of our concerns.

      The boycott (a word that now appears with unprecedented frequency in
the Zimbabwean political lexicon since the emergence of the MDC) is a
culmination of what all along had been more than whispered rumour and
speculation in the corridors of power at the attention-seeking MDC which
gave away a glimpse of its intentions in July following the establishment of
the Broad Alliance to assess the mood of the electorate on whether or not to
boycott elections.

      Admittedly the MDC, a cluster of different political persuasions and
convictions which are often contradictory, has a compelling case in
agitating for electoral law reforms because except for those in power, who
could easily exploit the power of incumbency, most Zimbabweans have been
urging the powers-that-be to level the playing field.

      At the risk of stating the obvious however, we dare hasten to say that
while in matters of opinion debate is usually pointless and the MDC might
feel that it had to do this to bring pressure to bear on government to
expedite the adoption of the SADC guidelines, boycotting elections should
never have been an option. This is moreso given not only the uncertainty
this breeds among the generality of the party's membership who will feel
hard done by but also the extent to which it will stiffen the hand of the
increasingly paranoid authorities who do not take kindly to political
blackmail. The decision to announce a boycott of the poll, which we feel had
more to do with thinking aloud, is therefore self-defeating because it is
almost a certainty that the party will participate in the 2005 parliamentary
poll. A lot is said by the unsaid in politics and the vibe on the ground
points to the MDC participating in the March poll, their political posturing

      While the general benefit-of-the-doubt belief might suggest that the
MDC was unlikely to stir such controversy without knowing where it would all
end, we feel that the latest twist to the election saga was a gross error of
judgment that not only bodes ill for the opposition party but is also a
monument to the MDC's political ineptitude and naivete underlined by
inconsistent, conflicting and confusing messages to the electorate. This is
how the debacle will be seen and claims that the MDC wanted to gain
political leverage to pressurise government will be a hardsell.

      It is the timing of the boycott, which the intransigent ruling ZANU PF
government will predictably dismiss as nothing short of political blackmail,
that is not only puzzling but bizarre especially with government having
mooted changes to the electoral laws even before the SADC meeting in

      The MDC, through its leader Morgan Tsvangirai, continues to play
hardball insisting that it will not accept half a loaf, exposing the
opposition party's birthmark of Zimbabwean politics - intolerance and hatred
for compromise. They maintain that the suggested reforms are nothing but a
camouflage. However, as we said last July, the attitude that it will have to
be either the whole loaf or nothing at all is, quite frankly, a pie in the
sky. This spoilt-brat mentality sadly does very little to ease the dangerous
tensions tearing the nation apart. But this is not to suggest that the
violence endured by Zimbabweans in the run-up and during elections can be
admissible for the sake of drastic social and political change.

      The point is, in its initial foray into the country's politics in the
2000 Parliamentary elections, how did the MDC manage to do so well, winning
57 seats in that poll? This was by any definition a triumph for democratic
forces given that the election was allegedly tainted by unfair campaigning,
systematic bullying, intimidation and savage and brutal murders. One would
have presumed that the opposition's scores at the last elections under a
regime of undemocratic electoral laws could have led to tragic consequences.

      Why then boycott now when the government is seemingly yielding to
popular demands and is, to all intents and purposes, making concessions?
Indeed why now when the democratic forces which the MDC claims to represent
have gone thus far in pushing the stone uphill - which might however slip
from their grasp and start rolling down, crushing everything they ever
worked for? Those familiar with an avalanche will know that there is no
stopping a rolling stone.

      Or is this the clearest sign yet that deep down the MDC knows that,
with expectations exceeding reality, it has no chance in hell of winning
elections and is now nervous about going all the way? If the government
refuses to budge, then what? Will this be the beginning of the end for the
MDC? If the intention was to make the world aware of the crisis in Zimbabwe'
s political system and paint the country black, then the MDC is wielding a
razor-sharp double-edged sword, which is emblematic of everything wrong with
its strategy. And this will cost it not only the confidence but the vote of
its supporters. What has this tactic of attempting to globalise Zimbabwe's
crisis achieved before anyway? Can't the MDC see the futility of it all?

      Lastly but not least, isn't it curious that the MDC is seemingly
obsessed with the adoption of the SADC guidelines on elections and is
seemingly non-committal on the need for a new constitution, freedom of the
press, the accountability of executive power to legislative power and the
permission to form trade unions without any hindrance among others, all
which have been reduced to the peripheral? What should we read from this?
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