The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Mugabe's ruling party happy with opposition talks


Thu 6 Sep 2007, 7:13 GMT

HARARE, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's ruling party said it was satisfied
with talks with the opposition and wanted unspecified changes to a
constitutional bill which would allow President Robert Mugabe to pick a

Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) have been holding talks after a push in March by the Southern African
Development Community to end Zimbabwe's political turmoil.

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki is mediating the talks.

The ruling party's politburo was briefed on Wednesday by Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa -- one of two ZANU-PF representatives at the talks -- and
was satisfied with the process, the official Herald newspaper said on

"The politburo ... noted with satisfaction the progress that has been made
in the dialogue with the opposition," the newspaper said, quoting a
statement from ZANU-PF's information department.

Western diplomats have said there has been little progress on the talks.

The two parties had held another round of talks in South Africa on Saturday,
the paper said.

The MDC has previously accused ZANU-PF of trying to undermine the talks by
failing to turn up at two meetings and planning to change the constitution
ahead of 2008 elections.

The changes include giving powers to parliament to elect a new president
should the incumbent fail to serve a full term. Analysts say Mugabe could
use the law, if passed, to step down mid-term after nearly three decades in
power and anoint a successor.

ZANU-PF's politburo wanted changes to the Constitutional Bill, which would
be presented in parliament on Sept. 18 but it did not say what amendments it
sought to make.

"The politburo ... has approved the introduction through parliament of
committee stage amendments to the bill," the Herald said.

The MDC is pressing for a new constitution and says amending the
constitution was in bad faith as this was one of the sticking points in
talks between the opposition and ZANU-PF.

Critics blame Mugabe's policies, such as his seizure of white-owned farms
for blacks, for hurting the economy, which is reeling under the world's
highest inflation rate and food shortages.

But the 83-year-old leader says Zimbabwe has been unfairly punished by the
West over the land seizures.

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Crumbling Zimbabwe ripe for corruption: watchdog

HARARE, Sept 6 (AFP)

Zimbabwe's failing economy and collapsing services have provided an
environment ripe for graft, with the impoverished country's woes
facilitating an ever-worsening slide towards corruption.

Despite setting up a local graft-busting body in 2004, Zimbabwe appears to
be losing the battle against corruption, with President Robert Mugabe's
economic policies seen to promote corrupt behaviour, according to a leading

In 2003 Transparency International, an organisation monitoring global
corruption, ranked Zimbabwe 77th most corrupt out of 130 countries
evaluated. By 2005, Zimbabwe had slid to 130th of 163 countries.

"Zimbabwe is ranked 130th amongst 163 countries and it has become very
corrupt compared to others," Killron Dembe, executive director of TI in
Zimbabwe, told AFP.

The most recent corruption index did not bode well for foreign investment in
the crisis-ridden country, Dembe said.

He said the country's "economic malaise" had increased levels of corruption
among a population burdened by steep prices of essentials and food

"When you have people who have become billionaires overnight and are
considered as role models, you have a challenge because this becomes part of
the country's culture," he said.

Dembe said Mugabe's economic policies were exacerbating the situation,
despite his anti-graft crusade yielding arrests of senior government

"Zimbabwe needs proper policies to end corruption. Distorted policy regimes
tend to promote corruption," Dembe said.

"When you have different exchange rates and different fuel prices, that
promotes corruption."

Since August last year, the authorities have kept the local unit at 250
Zimbabwe dollars against the greenback, yet on the parallel market it has
slid to 23,000 dollars.

Zimbabwe is facing an economic meltdown with inflation of over 7,500 percent
and unemployment above 80 percent.

In a 2006 meeting of the ruling ZANU-PF Mugabe acknowledged corruption had
reached the party's upper echelons, saying he wanted to cleanse the central
committee amid "many cases" of abuse of authority.

However the country's Anti-Corruption Commission, set up with the assistance
of TI, has little to show from its fight against corruption.

"They have done nothing tangible. There is nothing visible," Dembe said of
the commission, whose chairman is appointed by Mugabe.

"The commission is answerable to the executive ... It's limited in terms of
independence and its major challenges are resources and capacity," Dembe

"The question is what is happening on the ground... there is no visible
action taking place?"

One of the few to be convicted was Charles Nherera, chief executive of
public bus company ZUPCO, who was jailed for accepting a US 85,000 dollar
bribe from a Harare businesman whom he awarded with a contract for 75 buses.

Former finance minister Chris Kuruneri was acquitted in July after being
accused of smuggling money abroad to build a house in South Africa.

Johannes Tomana, deputy chairman of the commission said the public had
reported 9,000 graft cases since 2006.

Of these the commission was probing 5,000 cases, out of which only 27 had
been tried in court "and we secured 22 convictions," state media quoted
Tomana as saying.

"Nobody is immune," he said, urging whistle-blowers to report corruption as
the public was protected by law and would not be victimised by those under

But the opposition remains sceptical, with Movement for Democratic Change
spokesman Nelson Chamisa saying the graft battle was a "big joke".

"Just look around, corruption is being administered from various centres of
power. All state institutions are oozing with corrupt tendencies." he added.

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Long-lasting aid extends beyond food in Zimbabwe

Vancouver Sun

Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun
Published: Thursday, September 06, 2007
Tales of death by starvation, accusations of genocide through the
government's neglect of people's urgent needs and dire warnings of imminent
economic collapse -- the news out of Zimbabwe has been awful for years and
it just keeps getting worse.

So I was astonished to get an upbeat phone call from Stephen Gwynne-Vaughan,
a Vancouver-born, New Westminister-raised guy who lives there. And who likes
it -- sort of.

Gwynne-Vaughan is the country director for CARE, and he's heavily involved
in food aid -- the only thing, according to many reports, standing between
life and death by starvation for about four million of Zimbabwe's 12 million

Many agencies are involved in distributing food in the country which, under
the economic mismanagement of President Robert Mugabe, can produce only a
small fraction of its needs. CARE is one of the largest; two years ago it
was distributing bulk food to nearly a million recipients, plus a daily
feeding program for 600,000 children.

Today, as other agencies take over in some regions of the country once
served by CARE, the agency's beneficiary base is down to about 900,000.

This means, Gwynne-Vaughan said, his agency can go well beyond food aid for
the people it's working with.

"Our livelihoods approach is doing really well here," he said.

"Despite what everyone says is the story, we're building resilience.

"We don't need to see another Ethiopia with stick people walking around
starving. So for us, food aid is not enough, just one part of a package.

"Someone with a very limited income here in Zimbabwe can produce maybe three
months of their food needs, and we kick in another two or three months.

"But we also do income-generating projects. We do seed-multiplication. We do
irrigated farming. We do conservation farming to adapt to climate change. We
do agro-forestry. We do a range of things with these communities so that
food security and livelihood security can both be done.

"We've measured this. And we know that when we have multiple interventions,
people build assets. They build productive capacity. They build their social
capital. They are able then to withstand the shock.

"But if you just give food aid, people don't move upward. They're still as
vulnerable to the next drought or whatever."

In personal terms, Gwynne-Vaughan said he and his Brazilian-born wife saw
their move to Zimbabwe as a welcome one in comparison to their last posting
in northern Colombia. It's both safer and more comfortable, he said -- 
though he noted that, as a representative of a big and much-needed aid
agency he and his family are made more welcome than most foreigners would

And, he added wryly, CARE field staff only ever get to live in the difficult
parts of the world --"if they weren't so bad, we wouldn't be there."

I found his unexpectedly optimistic view to provide an interesting insight
for those of us who are perplexed about what to do to help people in the
worst-off places in the world.

Research makes it clear that intelligent aid does a lot for countries with
good policies. But the worst places are inevitably countries that -- almost
by definition -- don't have good policies. In fact, they usually have
appalling ones -- misguided at the very least, and probably corrupt as
well -- which is why they're in such a bad state.

Must we, I've often wondered, condemn a nation's people to penury and early
death because their leaders are crooks and fools?

Gwynne-Vaughan's experience suggests there's considerable merit in bypassing
bad governments and dealing directly with poor people.

His main criticism of Canada's involvement in direct aid to poor people is
that our government is too rigid and too bureaucratic. Its allotments of
food, for example, are set far in advance and often can't be increased fast
enough to meet new, urgent needs.

"And the more accountability and transparency that's required, the more it
costs to distribute.

"So the fact that we need signatures and fingerprints for all the
beneficiaries, and need to report back on each kilo and where it went, and
so on -- this makes Canadian food an expensive prospect to distribute."

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Tsvangirai summoned after shop tour


   September 06 2007 at 02:07AM

Harare - Zimbabwe's police have summoned the main opposition leader
for questioning on Thursday on his tour of shops to assess the impact of
President Robert Mugabe's controversial price freeze, his lawyer said on

Morgan Tsvangirai, the main Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader, visited shops in Harare on August 1 in the company of journalists to
find out how businesses were coping with the measure, which he said was
unsustainable and had left inflation-battered consumers worse off.

Zimbabweans have struggled to buy basic goods since Mugabe's
government ordered businesses to slash their prices to mid-June levels in a
bid to rein in the world's highest rate of inflation, officially running
above 7 000 percent.

On Wednesday, Tsvangirai's lawyer Alec Muchadehama said police had
indicated that the opposition leader's conduct during the tour had
"compromised security arrangements" at the shops he visited.

"He has been called to appear before the police for questioning on
Thursday and he may possibly be asked to sign a warned and cautioned
statement," he told reporters.

"The police are saying that Tsvangirai had a team of his reporters who
were taking pictures without the consent of the shop managers and that
constitutes disorderly conduct," said Muchadehama.

Tsvangirai has been arrested several times by Mugabe's government,
including at an aborted prayer vigil in March, when he said he and other
opposition figures were assaulted and seriously wounded in police custody.

Zimbabwe is grappling with a severe economic crisis that is also
marked by shortages of foreign currency, food and fuel, unemployment above
80 percent and rising poverty which has left many people unable to feed
their families.

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Zimbabwe on the Brink of Collapse


By Aida Akl
Washington, D.C.
30 August 2007

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe remained defiant this week as he accused
the West of trying to push his ailing nation into collapse. The southern
African country's economy has been in a free fall as inflation in July hit
an official rate of 7000 percent a year and unemployment topped 80 percent.
Nearly one-third of the country's 13 million citizens have fled to
neighboring states to escape hunger and poverty.

President Mugabe has blamed Britain, the United States and other western
countries for trying to bring down his government. The West imposed targeted
sanctions against Zimbabwe in response to what have been seen as widespread
human rights abuses, political repression and rigged elections.

International relations professor Robert Lloyd of Pepperdine University in
California says the sanctions place travel and financial restrictions on
senior government officials but have not caused the country's economic woes.

"Sanctions are really designed to create a situation [for] expressing
disapproval of President Mugabe and his policies. In that sense, there is
sort of a moral impact. In terms of an actual economic impact, the sanctions
are not designed to cause Zimbabweans to starve. That's caused by internal
policies," says Lloyd. "But President Mugabe has been making the point that
the reason why Zimbabwe is doing poorly is because it is standing up to the
West and because the West is trying to punish him. However, it is difficult
to see what specific policies the West has adopted which would be causing
massive inflation and a collapsing economy."

Who is to Blame?

Most analysts agree that Zimbabwe's crisis is a combination of bad
political, economic and land redistribution policies instituted by Robert
Mugabe. His military involvement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's
civil war a decade ago drained Zimbabwe's economy. And his seizure of
white-owned farms starting in 2002 to gain political support brought the
country's agricultural sector to a halt.

Georgetown University's Chester Crocker, who served as Assistant Secretary
of State for African Affairs during the Reagan administration, says Mr.
Mugabe used the land ownership issue to build what he calls "ideological

"It started with the government trying to blame the colonial power [i.e.,
Britain], trying to blame white farmers, trying to claim that the land
belonged to the people and redistributing the agricultural land that was in
commercial production. So they've destroyed the commercial farming sector,
basically," says Crocker. "And so the government is giving land to its
friends, who generally speaking are not farmers and don't know how to farm.
Then what they've done is to just hollow out the agricultural sector of the
economy. Zimbabwe used to feed lots of southern Africa. Zimbabwe can't feed
itself anymore."

Zimbabwe's economy has contracted nearly 40 percent in the past decade. Its
currency has lost most of its value since last year, when the government
printed trillions of local dollars to repay overdue debts to the
International Monetary Fund. The crisis was compounded in June when the
government slashed prices to lower inflation. The measure backfired and
forced the country to stop producing. Shelves went empty and hunger spread.

Donald Steinberg, the International Crisis Group's Vice-President for
Multilateral Affairs in New York, says millions of educated professionals
have left Zimbabwe to escape hunger and unemployment.

"Many of the producers are exiting. Huge numbers of other Zimbabweans are
fleeing the country. The capacity to produce from the agricultural sector,
from the manufacturing sector and from the services sector is disappearing,"
says Steinberg. "The inflation rate could reach ten-thousand percent, which
is virtually unheard of in modern economies. And it really even challenges
the basis of money because if you can't depend upon the currency, then it
ceases to be a relevant exchange medium."

Steinberg says cronyism and the politicization of various state institutions
have added to Zimbabwe's economic problems. "We're seeing massive
corruption. The government continues to give preferential access to
contracts, to jobs, to farms and to businesses to its friends. Foreign
reserves have been stolen or shipped out of the country. The result of all
of this is a tremendous decline in the socio-economic standards of the
country and massive poverty."

Little Regional Pressure for Change

Many analysts say it is tragic that Robert Mugabe, who fought apartheid and
was seen in Africa as a freedom fighter, should leave such a legacy. Roger
Bate, an economist at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute,
suspects that this perception is the reason why neighboring states have not
done more.

"What I think has happened is that Mugabe is seen as a hero in Africa as one
of the leaders of opposition to colonial rule. And frankly, I don't think
that the African nations, the other countries, are prepared to do anything
because they don't want to upset the way that Mugabe is viewed. And I am
surprised that they are allowing a country to entirely collapse internally
because it is going to cost them," says Bate. "But ultimately, not breaking
ranks with an anti-colonial freedom fighter leader seems to be more
important than whether the country in question is absolutely collapsing."

Some southern African countries, in particular South Africa, are trying to
mediate a resolution to the crisis. But most economists say there has been
little progress. And some speculate that African states are hoping that Mr.
Mugabe will step down ahead of his country's presidential elections slated
for next March, thereby opening the door to political and economic reform.

But Georgetown University's Director of African Studies Scott Taylor isn't
hopeful. "Whether Mr. Mugabe decides to transition power over in the
elections remains to be seen. For a man in his early eighties, he is a very
vital person. He is a shrewd politician, very intelligent. And he may well
not do the transition to a successor that some people hope for. So I suspect
we'll see business as usual for the foreseeable future until the entire
political economy simply grinds to a halt. And when that is - - it's
anyone's guess."

President Mugabe has clearly stated that he will not be forced into exile.
Many analysts say he fears prosecution should he step down and likely will
think twice before making a graceful exit.

This story was first broadcast on the English news program, VOA News Now.

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Huge strikes loom over salary freeze


Njabulo Ncube and Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporters

THE country faces a crippling civil service and private sector strike as
anger mounts over the government's ban on salary increases amid indications
that the army has already been deployed to quell rising tensions over a
sharp deterioration in the food situation and general service delivery.

Labour unions, key among them the Public Service Association, which
represents the country's civil servants, have been holding crisis meetings
in Harare throughout this week planning a reaction to the salary freeze
decreed last week.
Prior to the decree, employers, including the government, were already under
immense pressure from impoverished workers to pay them a living wage, which
they could not after a recent price blitz left companies on the brink of
closure while depriving the state of billions of dollars in tax revenue.
Controls on basic commodities such as maize meal, beef and cooking oil have
emptied supermarket shelves and fridges. Desperate consumers have to source
basics on the black market where they are selling at exorbitant prices.
Yesterday, army personnel patrolled hotspots throughout Harare, looking to
put down any signs of unrest.
A Financial Gazette reporter witnessed an army unit beating up people in a
queue at a shopping mall in a high-density suburb of the capital city.
Last week, President Robert Mugabe invoked the Presidential Powers
(Temporary Measures) Act to effectively ban all further wage and salary
increments for six months.
The new regulations bar employers, retailers, professional bodies and
schools from pegging any future increases of prices or wages on the Consumer
Price Index.
All further increases are to be authorised by the National Incomes and
Pricing Commission, which has been handed sweeping powers that give it more
authority than government ministries or the Cabinet Taskforce on Prices led
by Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu.
Union leaders in the civil service and the private sector told The Financial
Gazette yesterday that a nationwide strike was imminent over the salary ban.
The general council of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) meets
this weekend to decide on what course of action to take. The ZCTU has
condemned the salary ban, calling it a "satanic" move.
"The workers are tired of being made sacrificial lambs and bearing the brunt
of bad governance and bad economic policies," said Wellington Chibebe,
secretary general of the ZCTU. "The ZCTU will mobilise the workers to resist
this satanic move, which is not only economically wrong but also morally
Chibebe said the use of the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act was
unacceptable in a democracy and flew in the face of the recently signed
Incomes and Prices Stabilisation Protocol that sought to link wages and
salaries to the Poverty Datum Line.
As schools opened this week, representatives of teacher unions reported a
sizeable number of teachers failing to report for duty around the country.
Many were Maths and Science teachers, whose skills are badly needed in South
There was no comment from the Zimbabwe Teachers Union, the country's largest
teachers' union.
But Raymond Majongwe, secretary general of the Progressive Teachers Union of
Zimbabwe, said teachers were already on a go-slow, and that a full strike
was imminent.
"As we are talking, I am in meetings to try and see what we can do for our
members who are agitating for a nationwide strike," said Majongwe. "We have
given the government 14 days to adjust teachers' salaries. The ultimatum
expires on Monday next week."
Teachers currently gross $2.4 million, but unions are pushing for a basic
salary of at least $15 million, a transport allowance of $5.2 million and a
housing allowance of $4 million.
Representatives of government employees, speaking anonymously for fear of
victimisation, said industrial action was imminent.
"We are in touch with other sectors and action is imminent. We cannot go for
six months without salary adjustments when things are either expensive or
not available at all," said a senior civil servant representative.
Government's price war has turned into a nightmare, both for those behind it
and consumers.
Officials confirmed yesterday that government had now sent in the army.
Army spokesman, Simon Tsatsi, said soldiers had been deployed as part of the
pricing and stabilisation crack units.
He said soldiers involved in yesterday's beatings were only being
"Our officers do not operate any programmes alone, they are always with the
police officers. This is a combined operation by the army and police under
the price and monitoring taskforce. Those officers who are assaulting people
are just being mischievous."
Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka also confirmed reinforcements from the
"The officers are conducting raids on these black market traders who are
buying commodities with the aim of selling them on the parallel market."
Critics say a worsening food crisis will heat up tensions ahead of elections
next year.
Yesterday, Kevin Farell, Zimbabwe country director for the World Food
Programme, receiving US$3.5 million in aid to the country from Canada, said
up to 4.2 million people would need assistance by the end of the 2008 first

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Honeymoon's over for Mumbengegwi


Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter

FINANCE Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi is under pressure to put together viable
strategies that can rescue both ordinary citizens and businesses from the
effects of a worsening economic crisis when he presents his maiden fiscal
policy statement and a supplementary budget today.

But few expect any real changes or reforms.
Mumbengegwi has to start all over again, because the $4 trillion national
budget presented by his predecessor, Herbert Murerwa on November 30 last
year was exhausted in the first three months of the year.
The budget is understood to have ballooned to well over $30 trillion in the
first six months of 2007, larger than the $6.5 trillion envelope issued by
Murerwa to finance government expenditure.
But analysts said this week that while the Finance Minister still has a
complex jigsaw puzzle to solve on matters such as managing the burgeoning
budget deficit, it is in the rehabilitation of crumbling social services, at
both central and local government level, where he needs to get his
priorities right if he is to make any dent on rising poverty.
Mumbengegwi will also need to plan for grain imports, with government having
written off the winter wheat crop and the Grain Marketing Board admitting
recently that it had taken delivery of only a small fraction of the national
maize requirements.
He will have to come up with innovative financing strategies to broaden the
sources of government finance, without putting extra weight on the already
overburdened taxpayer. A government blitz on prices has already robbed the
fiscus of substantial revenue, which Treasury must recoup elsewhere.
"The improvement of funding for medical drugs and supplies, and hospital and
clinical equipment, remains critical in today's supplementary budget," says
an economist with a leading commercial bank.
In November, the Ministry of Health was allocated $590.1 billion, but as
evidenced by the collapse of the country's health delivery system, the vote
was far from enough.
The World Health Organisation recommends that governments must allocate
US$23 per citizen in the health budget, an unlikely scenario given the
parlous state of the fiscus.
Immunisation, tuberculosis and malaria programmes, allocated 14.5 percent of
the health vote for 2007, have exploded at alarming rates because of an
acute shortage of drugs.
But the social crisis is much broader than the health crisis.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority has shown it does not have the
financial capacity to replace ageing pipes or to ensure a reliable supply of
water to industry and residents.
National power supplier, ZESA Holdings is suffering from serious capacity
constraints because there is no money to import spares.
At the same time, the transport crisis, which blossomed at the beginning of
the year, has worsened and workers in most cities are enduring endless
queues because fuel is not available.
The public school system is crumbling, and experts say there is need for a
new system of funding, especially one that would allow quicker access to
resources for education facilities.
During his 2007 budget presentation, Murerwa had proposed the allocation of
$3 billion for schools. But with inflation now at 7 600 percent, that
allocation would not suffice to keep a single school running.
What option does the parents of the children have?
They are already heavily taxed, with 50 percent of their salaries consumed
by the state through various taxes.
Murerwa had raised the tax-free threshold from $20 000 to $100 000 per month
and spread the tax bands to end at $1 million, above which income would be
taxed at 35 percent, starting January 2007.
"Inflation has remained high, thereby making further reviews necessary," he
This relief never made an impact, because by the time January came, prices
had raced ahead of incomes.
Mid year, government announced another tax review - the first outside of a
budget statement - with the thresholds rising from $100 000 to $1.5 million.
This was seen as largely symbolic, with little real impact on real incomes.
This week, many families failed to pay for uniforms, groceries and fees as
the third term opened.
And last week's decree to freeze salaries can only worsen the crisis,
because employers were already rejecting pleas for "living wages", with
profits wiped out in the price blitz.
After the wage freeze, it is unlikely that Mumbengegwi will give any
significant tax concessions.
The exchange rate will also come under scrutiny, especially after a sharp
recent decline in the value of the Zimbabwe dollar in recent weeks.
"There is a huge increase in the parallel market. So the question is, do you
price your products on the actual cost of production, or the anticipated
parallel market rate?" asked Andy Hodges, head of treasury at ZABG.

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Olivine sale jigsaw puzzle: missing pieces


Rangarirai Mberi News Editor

THERE still appears to be loose ends to be tied in H.J. Heinz's US$6.8
million sale of a 49 percent share of Olivine Industries, the country's
largest producer of basic goods.

Remarks made by a senior government official this week, which appeared to
suggest the sale might not yet be a done deal, have added to the mystery
surrounding the finer details of the transaction.
Heinz paid US$15.2 million when it acquired the stake in 1982, but had
valued the share at US$111 million by the time it decided to sell, according
to its latest annual report.
This means the US$6.8 million agreed by the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe
(Cottco) is a huge discount.
The Heinz annual report says the company had "deconsolidated its Zimbabwean
operations and classified its remaining net investment of approximately
US$111 million."
The investment was written down in the fourth quarter of last year, and was
the largest impairment booked on Heinz's 2006 accounts.
The Financial Gazette was the first to report the sell-off in January. The
paper also reported in March that the Industrial Development Corporation
(IDC) had valued the Heinz stake at US$6 million.
Cottco's announcement on Sunday surprised many, as it had been the IDC that
had earlier confirmed direct negotiations with Heinz for the stock.
Businessman Kenneth Musanhi had also showed interest.
Cottco said it acquired the stake through IDC, but gave no details of what
the corporation itself would get for its role.
Now George Charamba, government spokesman, has clouded matters by saying
that "we have not got there yet," and that "exploratory discussions between
IDC as government agent and the Heinz people" were continuing.
Charamba's surprising comments could be taken as showing differences within
government over how the deal was structured.
There are suggestions that some in government could have wanted IDC to take
direct control of the Heinz stake, but it is likely that IDC did not have
the foreign currency that Cottco, the country's largest cotton exporter,
Cottco has also put down a separate bid for textile company David Whitehead.
Heinz's own valuation of its share of Olivine would value the entire company
at US$220 million, making it very attractive for buyers, considering the
discounted price at which Heinz is willing to sell.
But Heinz's Olivine valuation, compared to the US$13.6 million implied by
the Cottco deal, could also attract the attention of government hardliners
who would be opposed to a private company gaining control of a major food
Although reports have suggested government controls Cottco, the company is
18 percent owned by the National Social Security Authority, with Old Mutual
the number two shareholder, with 16.87 percent.
Private investors, among them TA Holdings and two British companies, hold
the remainder.
Another missing piece of the puzzle is an outstanding two percent stake in
Olivine. Heinz held a 51 percent share, but Cottco is only buying 49
There are also questions as to whether the deal allows Olivine to continue
distributing Heinz brands in Zimbabwe.
Olivine is being touted mostly as a producer of cooking oil, but it also
sells a range of products under the US$3 billion Heinz brand such as canned
foods and tomato sauce. Heinz products have a huge share of the local food

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Govt sends mixed signals


Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter

GOVERNMENT continues to send mixed signals regarding its policy on private
investment in diamonds, with a top Mines Ministry official saying Zimbabwe
is now seeking foreign partners to develop Marange and another diamond field
in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North.

In May, Mines and Mining Development Minister Amos Midzi said the government
would not bring in any foreign capital to partner it at Marange.
The Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), the state arm that
controversially seized the Marange diamond fields from Africa Consolidated
Resources (ACR) "would go it alone", he said.
But Midzi's stance on foreign participation in diamonds was contradicted by
the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines, Environment and Tourism,
which said in a report that the ZMDC did not have the capacity to viably
extract diamonds.
Now a letter annexed to High Court papers in the ACR dispute shows that the
Ministry has in fact directed the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe
(MMCZ) to look for foreign investors.
In that letter, Titus Nyatanga, director of Mining Promotion and Development
in the Ministry of Mines, also discloses that diamonds have been discovered
in Tsholotsho.
Nyatanga says the government declared the Marange and Tsholotsho areas where
the diamonds have been found protected areas to forestall illegal
activities. "While these measures are in place, the ministry has requested
MMCZ to offer protection of the areas and facilitate investment
opportunities with local and foreign organisations for diamond exploration,"
Nyatanga said.
He said the Exclusive Prospecting Order for the Tsholotsho area was held by
a company called Canister Resources. The Financial Gazette has since learnt
that Nick Graham is the majority shareholder of the company.
He was not available for comment this week.

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Bakers to lay-off ten thousand workers


Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter

THE baking industry is to retrench about 10 000 workers, almost half of its
current workforce, as the full impact of the price crackdown and wheat
shortages begins to take its toll.

The National Bakers Association (NBA) has sent a distress call to
government, saying the sector faces collapse because of viability problems
brought about by government policies.
In a letter addressed to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Industry
and International Trade, Christian Katsande, dated August 30, bakers said
since the price cuts, they have suffered serious losses, forcing many to
send huge numbers of workers on unpaid leave.
The country's major baker, Lobels Bread, is said to have told its workers
that it could no longer finance its operations.
The association said it would be forced to take further "drastic measures"
with regard to its workforce if the situation did not improve soon.
In the letter to Katsande, the bakers pleaded for a review of the retail
price of a standard loaf of bread from the current $27 000 to $73 000.
"Our industry has been double-hit by a serious shortage of flour and an
unviable price. Because of that, we cannot survive," they said.
"Most bakeries are not baking and workers have been seriously affected. The
industry cannot review salaries upwards (so) workers are being sent on
unpaid leave in large numbers."
The industry is unable to repair or replace plant and equipment, and
officials warn that once it collapses, it will be "very difficult" to revive
the sector.
The dire situation, the letter says, has been compounded by tight state
controls on the price of bread, while key inputs are sourced on the black
Although the gazetted price of flour is $6 million per tonne, it is only
available on the black market at $15 million.
"In reality, (state fuel importer) NOCZIM has not performed at all, as most
bakers have never got diesel from NOCZIM. They are getting fuel from the
open market 100 percent," the association said.

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ZINWA sued over 'deadly hole'


Njabulo Ncube Political Editor

A HARARE company is suing the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) for
more than $2.5 billion in damages after one of its vehicles plunged into a
gaping, unmarked crater dug by the troubled water authority.

Westwing Investments (Private) Limited is suing ZINWA for negligence, the
company's lawyer Martin Makoni said.
"We are instructed that on or about 19 July, 2007, and at around 2000hrs, a
road accident occurred in which our client's motor vehicle, a Freightliner
lorry borehole rig, registration number 842-807T, overturned along Prince
Edward Road," reads part of the letter to ZINWA.
"The said accident occurred solely as a result of the negligence of your
servants, in that your servants or employees excavated a large hole in the
middle of the carriage way with a diameter of about two-and-a-half metres,
and a width of about one-and-a-half metres, in order to deal with a water
leakage from the underground water main pipes along Prince Edward. They left
the hole uncovered and unmarked, creating a deadly hazard; especially at
night as that portion of the road is not well-lit."
ZINWA employees had not covered the "deadly hole" for a month without
erecting warning signs.
The case is almost a replica of one in which prominent banker Pindie
Nyandoro successfully sued the Harare City Council for damages caused on her
Mercedes Benz after it drove through a porthole along Enterprise Road.
The lawsuits reflect growing public concern about
the general deterioration in infrastructure under the noses of the country's
municipalities and ZINWA.

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Mudede: I'm under pressure


Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter

REGISTRAR General (R-G) Tobaiwa Mudede has for the first time complained of
pressure from politicians with regard to the voter registration exercise,
which the opposition claims has been used to disenfranchise its support

A report by the Defence and Home Affairs Parliamentary committee also
disputes the R-G's view that the Citizenship Act requires that people born
locally to parents of foreign descent must first renounce their "potential
foreign citizenship" before they can be recognised as Zimbabwean citizens.
Failure to renounce their foreign title, according to the Registrar General,
results in forfeiture of Zimbabwean citizenship.
Mudede has used this interpretation of the law to deprive millions of
Zimbabweans of the right to vote.
But quoting the Government Gazette General Notice 584 of 2002, under the
subheading Renunciation of foreign Citizenship, the committee said a person
who is a citizen by birth cannot be deprived of his or her citizenship, and
cannot be asked to renounce foreign citizenship he or she never acquired.
"It is recommended that the R-G should abide by the rulings and
interpretation of the courts and Cabinet, as given in the Zimbabwean
Government Gazette General notice 584 of 2002," reads part of the committee's
The committee undertook the probe on citizenship after the Zimbabwe Lawyers
for Human Rights told Members of Parliament that Mudede was unlawfully
withdrawing citizenship from people with rightful title to citizenship,
resulting in a flood of lawsuits that his department was losing.
The report shows that in his evidence before the committee Mudede claimed he
was under pressure from politicians to register certain groups of people to
vote in next year's elections.
Although the report does not identify the politicians, ZANU PF summoned
Mudede in May to appear before its caucus for a hearing for which the sole
item on the agenda was "Citizenship problems."
Sources who attended that meeting, which also discussed the looting of
diamonds in Marange, told The Financial Gazette at the time that ruling
party legislators had pointed out to Mudede that they risked losing the
support of millions of potential voters, mainly farm workers, who were
affected by laws compelling them to renounce foreign citizenship.
The Parliamentary report says: "The R-G gave the following evidence: due to
forthcoming elections, some politicians are campaigning to increase their
support base using services provided for by the Government. The resistance
to dual citizenship has been an ongoing battle fought in various fora."
Contributing to the report, ZANU PF Senator for Highfield-Glen Norah-Glen
View, Charles Tawengwa, said based on the cases that the R-G had lost in the
courts it appeared that the Government was victimising its citizens.

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Mugabe left out of greats list


Njabulo Ncube Political Editor

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, admired across Africa for his liberation
credentials, has been omitted from a list of 76 black "Great Achievers" in
the world, which has former South African president Nelson Mandela at the

The list was compiled by the International Slavery Museum of Liverpool.
President Mugabe and Mandela's ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, lauded
for her role in the struggle against apartheid, are the two most notable
names removed from the list.
The compilers of the list, released in London last week and widely
circulated in African media, said they excluded President Mugabe and
Madikizela because their greatness had been "compromised by later actions".
Despite fervent western and domestic opposition to his rule, President
Mugabe still enjoys considerable support across Africa and in the African
Diaspora, having cast himself as a fighter against western imperialism.
Last month, he received loud applause at the Southern African Development
Community Summit in Lusaka, which has ignored calls to censure him publicly
for his governance record. President Mugabe's critics accuse him of human
rights abuses, citing the bashing of political opponents, and are critical
of his management of the economy.
The veteran politician has scoffed at critics, accusing them of amplifying a
regime change agenda, sponsored by Britain and the United States, among his
perceived enemies.
President Mugabe alleges his government is being villified for
redistributing land from minority whites to the landless blacks.
The list, based on names
submitted by Britons and through research, has sparked controversy as many
international heroes were overlooked for the likes of US talk-show host
Oprah Winfrey and little known slave rebel Gasper Yanga and several British

Other notables recognised

l Muhammad Ali: Boxer, born 1942
l Steve Biko: Anti-apartheid activist, 1946-77
l Viv Anderson: first black international footballer for England, born 1956
l Kofi Annan: former UN secretary general and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, born
l WEB Du Bois: sociologist, activist, 1868-1963
l Patrice Lumumba: politician, activist who won independence for the Congo,
l Kwame Nkrumah: first president of Ghana, 1909-72
l Jesse Owens: athlete, 1913-80
l Frantz Fanon: writer, psychiatrist, anti-colonialism campaigner, 1925-61
l Marcus Garvey: civil rights activist, 1887-1940
l Archbishop Desmond Tutu: South African clergyman born 1932.
l Malcolm X: civil rights activist, 1925-65

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Farmers seen meeting tobacco target


Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter

AHEAD of the close of the tobacco-selling season tomorrow, industry players
were yesterday optimistic they would reach this year's target of 77 million
kilogrammes despite declining deliveries to the auction floors.

According to figures obtained from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board
(TIMB) 67.2 million kilogrammes of tobacco had been delivered by August 31,
earning US$158 million.
Daily deliveries that averaged 1.25 million kilogrammes in May and June had
fallen to 600 000 kilogrammes last month and 400 000 kilogrammes this week.
The average price also firmed this week to an average of US$2.43/kg, up from
last month's US$2.34 average.
Deliveries have fallen due to a range of problems, mainly fuel shortages and
worsening power cuts.
"There are farmers who are yet to deliver a single kg to the auction floors
owing to a number of problems, including labour shortages. We, however, held
a stakeholders' meeting recently and all members agreed that we will achieve
the target," TIMB Chief Executive Andrew Matibiri said.
Mop-up sales will be conducted three weeks after the official closure of the
season to accommodate late deliveries.
The government has so far injected $4.2 trillion to fund the tobacco support
price of an average $62 500.40 per kg.
This year's targeted 77 million kilogrammes would be a slight rise from the
55 million kilogrammes sold last season, and would reverse a pattern of
steady decline in output that began seven years ago.
Tobacco production, which peaked at over 200 million kg in 2000, has slid
over the last seven years to 160 million kg in 2001/2, 85 million kg in
2002/03 to 68 million kg in 2004.

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MDC faces poll humiliation


Njabulo Ncube Political Editor

WITH no prospects for the unification of the fractured opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) with only six months to go before next year's
elections, there are growing fears that the party could be annihilated in
the landmark polls.

The MDC marks its eighth anniversary next Thursday, but political analysts
and observers said this week that the party is at its weakest point since
its formation, despite growing anger with President Robert Mugabe's
government over the escalating economic crisis.
The analysts said while the electoral flaws the MDC blames for its previous
electoral failures are real, the party had done more harm to itself by
failing to present a united front against ZANU PF.
The opposition could have capitalised on the reported divisions within ZANU
PF and anger over the economic meltdown. But instead, the MDC factions
devoted their energies to mudslinging in the last two years following the
October 2005 split.
Consequently, the opposition has failed to devise new strategies to
consolidate support in urban areas, from which it evicted the ruling party
in 2000.
In addition, the party has failed to make inroads into ZANU PF strongholds.
In 2000, the MDC, riding on a wave of public disillusionment with
government, won 57 of the 120 contested seats, only six months after its
But the party was already losing momentum ahead of the November 2005 split,
shedding a large number of its seats in general elections in March that
With discord deepening after the split, which party insiders interestingly
still attribute to the Central Intelligence Organisation, President Mugabe
has a chance to win the polls convincingly, and not narrowly as in the past.
"They (MDC) are in a diminished position to win the electoral contest in
2008," said Eldred Masunungure, a respected political science professor at
the University of Zimbabwe. "There are internal and external limitations
that make the opposition very weak as we approach the polls in 2008, and
unless these are addressed, their chances of upsetting a battling ZANU PF
are very slim," said Masunungure.
He said the split has been caused as much by internal rivalries as by the
political environment.
Both factions believe that electoral reforms would help them perform better
in the polls, and have told South African President Thabo Mbeki, who is
mediating in the Zimbabwean crisis that a new constitution was a
pre-requisite for the staging of future elections.
Although Mbeki believes it is too late for constitutional reform, President
Mugabe has indicated there could be some sort of electoral changes prior to
the polls, such as the setting up of a truly independent Electoral
Commission that Mbeki has insisted on. But even such changes may not be a
guarantee that the opposition would get more votes.
"Even if these (changes) are delivered, they might not be a godsend for the
opposition if their house continues to be in disarray. I am afraid the
opposition might fail to retain some of the seats they won previously, or
win a sizeable proportion of the seats to be contested," Masunungure said.
In the past week, confusion has reigned within the ranks of the opposition
over the MDC's strategy for the polls.
Morgan Tsvangirai's faction had planned to launch its 2008 election campaign
in Masvingo at the weekend, but the event was postponed. It is believed the
faction is awaiting the outcome of the Mbeki talks before making a decision.
A new round of talks was expected at the weekend, and insiders say all sides
involved could report to their parties by next month.
In contrast, President Mugabe last week rallied his most aggressive
campaigners, war veterans, galvanising them for the polls.
By driving the war veterans, feared for leading ZANU PF's violent campaigns
in the past, through central Harare, President Mugabe was looking to cow the
MDC's own urban campaigners, critics say.
President Mugabe told the boisterous war veterans that they would be the
"torch-bearers" of his campaign, suggesting a major role for them in the
run-up to the crucial elections that would for the first time bundle
together presidential and parliamentary elections.
Political commentator Ernest Mudzengi agreed with the view that the MDC has
eroded its own fortunes by failing to end internal rifts.
"It will be impossible to approach the polls with a divided opposition. It
will be lucky if the opposition still has sizeable seats in parliament in
2008," Mudzengi said.
Gabriel Chaibva, spokesman of the Arthur Mutambara camp, said his party
would not allow ZANU PF to easily retain power.
"We hear some people want to boycott the elections, but we will not just
give up like that. We are going to match (President) Mugabe bruise for
bruise," declared Chaibva.

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World Cup team seeks $1trillion


Staff Reporter

THE government team leading Zimbabwe's preparations for the 2010 World Cup
tournament has asked Cabinet to approve the immediate release of $1 trillion
for the completion of several projects, including the refurbishment and
upgrade of airports and roads.

In a memorandum presented recently to Cabinet by Environment and Tourism
Minister Francis Nhema and Education, Sports and Culture Minister, Aeneas
Chigwedere, the Ministers said the $10 billion Tourism Fund allocated by the
central bank was inadequate for the completion of the projects which are
running behind schedule Zimbabwe projects that it will capture a 30 percent
share of the expected revenue from the World Cup. Some official estimates
put potential earnings for Zimbabwe at US$50 million.
"Estimates indicate that a minimum of $1trillion may be needed, with an
initial tranche of $500 billion immediately for quick impact," Nhema and
Chigwedere said wrote in the undated memorandum to cabinet.
"The recently announced revolving Tourism Development Fund of $10 billion is
a good beginning. However, the remaining time and the scope of the challenge
may require that the Fund be boosted to allow many projects to take off
simultaneously. A bigger revolving Tourism Fund is thus recommended," reads
the memo.
Ministry of Finance officials told The Financial Gazette this week that the
proposals could receive a significant vote in the supplementary budget to be
presented today.
They said much of the pre-budget presentations made by the Zimbabwe Tourism
Authority (ZTA) and the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism to government last
month revolved on the issue of funding the 2010 project.
The country is desperate to spruce up its soiled image and take advantage of
the expected rise in tourist arrivals to the region. About one million
visitors are expected during the tournament. One billion more fans are
projected to watch the event on television worldwide.
The memo says Zimbabwe also plans to revamp its road network.
"While the ideal is dualising Zimbabwe's main trunk roads, both time and
resources make this goal hard to attain within the remaining three years,"
the Ministers say in their memo.
"It is being proposed that the Beitbridge-Harare highway,
Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls, Harare-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls,
Harare-Kariba-Chirundu, Harare-Rusape-Nyanga, Mutare-Birchenough-Chipinge
and Masvingo-Mutare roads be repaired and resurfaced."
Work on the Beitbridge to Harare and Bulawayo to Victoria Falls roads was
particularly "urgent", they said, also urging faster work on toll gate

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Witness in Mutasa case goes mum


Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter

THE key witness in a political violence case linked to State Security
Minister Didymus Mutasa and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday
declined to testify, saying he now believed the issue must be resolved
amicably within ZANU PF.

War veteran James Kaunye, whom the state alleges was pressured by the head
of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) in Manicaland, Innocent
Chibaya, and five others, to withdraw violence charges against Mutasa's
supporters, said he could not testify because he believed the matter should
be resolved at party level.
Chibaya, the CIO's head in Rusape, Denford Masaya and three others who are
facing obstruction of justice charges appeared before Harare High Court
judge Justice Anne-Marie Gowora yesterday.
The charges against the CIO bosses and the other accused persons stem from
allegations that they approached Kaunye and ordered him not to testify
against Mutasa's supporters.
Kaunye had claimed the group assaulted him in 2004 when he stood against
Mutasa in party primaries.
Kaunye had given evidence against Mutasa's supporters, who include ZANU PF
Makoni North District chairman Albert Nyakuedzwa.
The supporters were jailed in 2006, only to be released three months ago.
Chinamasa was also accused of pressuring Kaunye, but was latter acquitted by
the Rusape magistrates' courts.
The Attorney General withdrew an appeal against Chinamasa's acquittal in
May, but gave no explanation.
One of the lawyers representing the accused persons, Charles Warara,
confirmed to The Financial Gazette yesterday that after Kaunye had declined
to testify, the state came up with another witness, who then said he did not
know anything about the case.
"After Kaunye declined, the other witness said he did not know anything. He
(the new witness) is continuing with his testimony," said Warara.

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Cape to Cairo: Right to know under attack


Mavis Makuni

Current events indicate that newspaper editors are under siege from Cape to
Cairo for defending the people's right to know in the face of state attempts
to muzzle the media.

In South Africa, the young editor of the Sunday Times, Mondli Makhanya, has
stirred a hornet's nest by making a bold decision to expose scandalous
incidents involving the country's health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.
At the other end of the continent , in Cairo, the editor of an independent
daily newspaper is to be prosecuted for publishing reports on the state of
the health of Egypt's 78-year president, Hosni Mubarak, who has been in
power since 1981. In East Africa another editor, albeit of a foreign
newspaper, is to be taken to court for reporting on the theft of US$2
billion from state coffers during the 24-year rule of Daniel Arap Moi.
The former Kenyan president's eldest son, Gideon Moi, is reported by the
Sunday Times to have threatened to sue the British newspaper, The Guardian,
which reported how a risk consultancy firm, Kroll, had exposed "a web of
shell companies, hidden trusts and frontmen "used by the Moi dynasty to
"funnel vast sums of money abroad". The Guardian reported that the stolen
funds were used to buy opulent properties in New York, London and South
Africa and that "hundreds of millions" were stashed in foreign bank
Reacting angrily to the report, Gideon Moi is quoted in the press as saying,
"None of us has seen this so-called report but the allegations contained
there are untrue and highly libelous. To accuse someone of corruption, which
the report purports to do, at this time is very damaging and I intend to
take action." The reference to the time of the year is an allusion to the
general elections to be held in Kenya in December ahead of which Daniel Arap
Moi has endorsed his successor, Mwai Kibaki, whose government has continued
to be mired in rampant corruption.
But despite Gideon Moi's rage against the British newspaper, he and his
younger brother are reported to be worth a combined 930 million pounds
sterling, an obscene level of wealth by the standard of any African country
where the majority live below the poverty datum line.
Ibrahim Eissa, editor of the daily newspaper Al-Destur is reported to have
offended Mubarak by publishing reports about the president's health. This
followed persistent speculation in the country that Mubarak had been
hospitalised and had travelled abroad for treatment. The editor, whose paper
was once banned for five years, has had previous run-ins with the
presidency. He is reported to have been convicted last year for insulting
Mubarak in an article published in his, newspaper.
His current troubles will re-ignite debate on whether details about the
health of Africa's long-serving but still mortal presidents should be a
state secret to be kept away from the people they govern. At 78, Mubarak is
not a young man and in addition to the natural and inevitable march of time,
26 years at the helm will also have taken their toll. It should not be a
punishable offence to report on these realities.
The Sunday Times and its editor Mondli Makhaya were taken to court for
publishing details of Tshabalala-Msimang's alcoholism and criminal record
involving a theft case for which she had been convicted in Botswana while
serving as a medical superintendent. Msiman-Tshabalala underwent surgery for
a liver transplant a few months ago. Her liver needed to be replaced
allegedly because it had been damaged by years of heavy drinking.
The Sunday Times claimed that under normal circumstances the 66-year old
minister would not have qualified to get a donated organ but had used her
influence to jump the queue ahead of more deserving cases. The paper
believed that it was immoral for the minister to continue drinking after
getting this new lease of life and that it was hypocritical for her to
campaign against alcohol abuse in her official capacity as the steward of
the nation's health when she could not practice what she preached.
Predictably, Makhanya was crucified by the administration of Thabo
Mbeki,which accused him of conducting a vendetta against Tshabalala-Msimang
and tarnishing the image of the government. Encouragingly, however, in a law
suit instituted by the minister against Makhanya and the Sunday Times, the
editor was vindicated. In an outcome hailed as a victory for the freedom of
the press, High Court Judge Mahomed Jajbhay upheld the public's right to
know and the paper's right to publish, although Tshabala-Msimang's lawyers
had argued that the Sunday Times had obtained the information illegally.
"The information, although unlawfully obtained, went simply beyond being
interesting to the public; there was in fact a pressing need for the public
to be informed about the information contained in the medical records", said
Jajbhay. "The publiction of the unlawfully obtained controversial
information was capable of contributing to a debate in our democratic
society relating to a politician in the exercise of her functions.
The Sunday Times lawyers had argued that there was debate in South Africa on
whether or not Tshabalala-Msimang was fit for high office. There were many
reasons for questioning the minister's fitness for office and ordinary South
Africans were entitled to any information bearing on that aspect. The
minister had publicly crusaded against alcohol abuse and pointed out its
social and economic costs. "In order for this important message to resonate
with the appropriate authority and persuasiveness, the first applicant (the
minister) must both live her life consistently with the message and be seen
to do so. Anything less would suggest both hypocrisy and seriously undermine
the message."
The judge upheld these arguments, declaring; "This is a case where the need
for the truth is, in fact, overwhelming. Indeed in this matter the
personality involved as well as her status establishes her newsworthiness."
One of the bizarre aspects of the case was the "dog-eat-dog" reaction of the
South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to the controversy. Describing
the press as "the enemy of the people", SABC chief executive officer, Dali
Mpofu complained, "We cannot remain quiet when our mothers and
democratically chosen leaders are stripped naked for the sole reason of
selling newspapers."

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Mr President, the people are starving


Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni

THIS past weekend I came face to face with a gruelling sight - a man lying
dead on the street. I was walking along Mbuya Nehanda Street in Harare last
Saturday when I saw a huge crowd ahead.

Thinking it was a disorderly formation of the ubiquitous queues that are now
part of the landscape of every urban centre, I was not particularly alarmed
or surprised.
It was only as I was about to pass the scene that I established the horrible
truth. A man had literally dropped dead on the pavement as he walked along
the street. The tragedy had occurred early that morning but this was about
lunch time and police had still not turned up to collect the body. The
people milling around speculated that the man, who was said to be about 60
years of age, had died of hunger. A man who was standing near me shook his
head saying, "I never thought things would come to this - a human being
dropping dead on the street and his death not giving the police any sense of
As I dragged myself from the scene, I felt profoundly saddened. Someone
else's death has always reminded me of my own mortality in the past but this
experience made me realise more than ever before, that when a human being
cannot have dignity even in death, things are pretty bad. Here was somebody
who had lived and felt all the emotions that the rest of us feel such as
sadness and happiness. Most of all, he must also have experienced that
feeling that springs eternal in the human heart - hope. Hope that no matter
how bad things are at a given moment, they could always be better.
However, as I proceeded on my mission to buy any basic commodities I could
bump into that day, my own sense of hope deserted me. Every shop and
supermarket I entered displayed empty shelves instead of goods. Outside two
adjacent supermarkets two long queues snaked around the block, making it
confusing for new arrivals to identify which was which and for what
commodity. I established that one was for bread and the other was for pasta.
Yes, scores of men and women were pushing and shoving to get a packet of
noodles just as long as it was something to eat! After deciding my chances
of getting anything were remote, I moved on but the story was the same
everywhere - long queues for items that were too few to go round to cater
for the hungry multitudes.
When the government first declared its "price war" against the business
sector, the explanation given was that this was being done to rescue the
people from exploitation by unscrupulous businesspeople. The business sector
was accused of being partners with foreign interests in a regime change plot
to topple the government of President Robert Mugabe. The President told the
ruling party's mouthpiece, The Voice, "We have taken steps on prices, the
prices were increasing as a result of pressure by the machinations of the
British who wanted to undermine our economy so that the people go against
the government because prices would be high and unaffordable."
He was cheered by party supporters when he announced that the government was
moving in to force manufacturers to produce goods and they risked losing
their factories if they refused to play ball. The government would take over
and produce the goods. "They are saying it's illegal, it's illegal, illegal
when people are suffering ."
The head of state spoke in the same vein during ceremonies to mark Heroes'
Day and Defence Forces' Day. In a report published in a state-controlled
paper on August 15, he was quoted as saying, "More recently we witnessed
unprecedented increases in the prices of basic commodities as part of
efforts to increase the feeling of extreme hardship and suffering among the
general populace, Thankfully, government moved in to stem the price
increases and thus neutralise the objective, which was meant to cause
unbearable suffering on our people."
In view of subsequent developments such as those described above, I wonder
whether the President is aware that the price blitz has had some of the
unintended consequences that the Reserve Bank warned about. While official
rhetoric at the beginning of the price blitz cast the business operators as
the villains fuelling the suffering of the people, the government's
intervention has exacerbated the people's plight to shocking levels. Is he
aware that the absence of the same sense of urgency to restore normalcy now
that the people are starving casts his government as the real instigator of
the people's suffering?
It may or may not be true as speculated that the man whose body I saw on the
street last weekend succumbed to hunger but stories of other deaths related
to the critical shortages of food have been reported. These include
incidents of people dying in stampedes for basic commodities at retail
outlets and even at the recent agricultural show. In addition to these,
there must be numerous other related deaths going unreported. Just imagine
what happens to someone who has a medical condition that requires him or her
to eat prescribed meals at stipulated intervals. Where are such people
expected to get the right foods when there is nothing in the shops?
And even when certain foods become available sporadically, how can the
terminally ill, the disabled, the elderly and people suffering from other
infirmities be expected to push and shove in the now ubiquitous queues when
spending long hours in these lines is not even a guarantee that the effort
will be rewarded. There are also people on life-long medical regimes who
cannot take their drugs on empty stomachs. Their lives must be a nightmare
No one disputes that things were bad when the prices were going up
constantly but the government's intervention made things go from bad to
untenable. The government's confrontational approach and its belief that the
introduction of every new policy or dispensation has to be a "war" is
misguided. The people are weary from living in a war zone all the time. When
everything is done by decree as happens in totalitarian states, individuals
are powerless against the might of the state. Definitely not the Zimbabwe we

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Life twice as tough for the disabled


Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter

GETTING a loaf of bread is now a feat only for the fittest. And amid the
commotion, there is a forgotten group of Zimbabweans who, through no choice
of their own, can never be expected to have such physical prowess. The
prevailing economic crisis has hit them very hard.

The meltdown is creating many new poor people everyday. It is pushing the
country's already disadvantaged groups deeper into destitution.
Elijah Mutiwokuziva, a disabled vendor who used to work at a brick-making
factory near Harare, tells the sad story of how he and his fellow disabled
colleagues are struggling to keep pace with the demands of survival.
"I had no option after being relieved of my job but to go into the streets.
For three years I have been selling sweets and cigarettes to look after my
wife and four kids. But now that we have these shortages, we have nowhere to
get the goods that we sell," Mutiwokuziva said, rocking uneasily in his
"When we try to have our own queue as disabled people at supermarkets, the
police insist on a single queue."
He moaned: "Sometimes we wonder if we are citizens of this country."
The life of another disabled vendor who also used to get by through vending
on the streets now revolves around drowning his sorrows in opaque beer. But
even beer is in short supply, so he is increasingly abusing other substances
such as glue and mbanje.
"I have always felt so angry when people looked at me as a disabled person,
I know I can do something for myself," he says. "But now I do need help
because I cannot be pushing and shoving in the queues."
He grew up at the Jairos Jiri Centre for the disabled in Southerton, but had
to leave the centre to make way for others. Now all he thinks of, he says,
is going back, even though friends he left there tell him there is nothing
to eat at the centre.
"We are trying our best to help, but most of the people who have been
offering us help have since left the country or have withdrawn their support
due to the current economic situation in the country," said an official at a
disabled people's home.
Dominic Tengane is a member of the Zimbabwe Spinal Injuries Association. The
former taxi driver became crippled after he mysteriously woke up one morning
with serious back pain from which he never recovered.
"Life is tough. I just got sick one morning and could not get up. Since
then, I have not been able to walk. I have accepted that as part of life and
since then have tried to get a job but nothing has worked out for me."
During this interview Tengane spoke of how he has to roll his wheel chair to
Rezende bus station, which has the only toilet for the disabled in the whole
of Harare's central business district.
If transport is a nightmare for able-bodied people every morning, it is
close to impossible for the disabled to scramble onto a bus.
"For me it is better to sell sweets on the streets than to get formal
employment where I suffer discrimination. But I face a lot of problems with
transport because most public transporters are reluctant to ferry disabled
people into town," said Tengane.
Other disabled people said they have not received any government payouts
over the last two years.
But even when they are accessible, the payouts cannot meet the most basic
needs. In January, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare
said it was giving out a monthly grant of about $8000, barely enough to
cover fares for the trip into town to collect the cheques.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the first UN Convention to
protect the rights of the disabled in December last year. The convention,
seeks to protect the rights of more than 600 million disabled persons and
requires countries to adopt laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of
any disability ranging from blindness to mental illness.
The government of Zimbabwe is yet to ratify the convention.

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How about the truth, Minister?


Rangarirai Mberi News Editor

SO what is Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi to do?

He has no tax base to lean on, so everybody knows whatever money he doles
out today is hot off the printing press.
Government has decimated margins over the past three months, as previously
reported by this paper, so tax from corporates will not be much. The other
cash cow, income tax, has dried up too.
Mumbengegwi could well choose to make up for this by doing what Herbert
Murerwa, his predecessor, did two years ago.
Sitting on a thin wallet, Murerwa signed off on a raft of taxes.
He raised Value Added Tax, increased stamp duty, announced a 22.5 percent
surtax on mobile phone airtime, slapped quarterly taxes on commuter
transport operators, introduced a 15 percent sin tax on cigarettes, beer and
luxury goods, a five percent tax on small-scale miners, raised surtax on
imported used vehicles, introduced tollgates, and imposed a 10 percent
withholding tax on listed marketable securities.
It didn't work.
In fact, the last tax stopped trade on the stock exchange for weeks and
government ended up with egg on its face
and an even bigger hole in the pocket.
But this means that, in his debut statement, Mumbengegwi is in a good
position to make his mark.
He could choose to stick with the old, boring routine; the old pose with The
Briefcase for the cameras, the stroll into Parliament, and the speech, made
up of all that economics mumbo jumbo - like deficit, quasi-fiasco and all
that. Mumbengegwi might want to avoid it all.
Everybody knows how broke government is. Yet Mumbengegwi could use this to
his advantage.
He could change the entire budget tradition. Central bank governor Gideon
Gono took the lead in January, declining major policy moves and using his
statement to rally support for broader reform.
Mumbengegwi is under no pressure, whatsoever, to pull out a miracle cure.
So, instead of trying to present a "real" budget that can only be a real
sham, here are a few suggestions on how he could better fill the hour or so
allocated to him this afternoon.
First, Honourable Minister, you could tell the nation that these budget
statements, whether annual or supplementary, have become rather pointless.
If government was broke
by March, then perhaps it is time to ditch this whole budget charade.
You would, then, announce a new plan. After every three months, government
will announce how much more money would be printed for the next quarter, and
how this new lot is to be allocated.
And, to jazz it up, you would let the taxpayers know who among your cabinet
colleagues has spent the most of your money in the previous quarter, and on
A roll call of shame, Minister, if you will.
Is it at Environment and Tourism, so that Karikoga Kaseke and Francis Nhema
can invite more of those "travel writers" from godknowswhere, Tibet maybe,
and have more of those endless tourism parties at the Rainbow, trips to the
Falls, or fund more seedy beauty "tourism pageants"?
Or was it Chen Chimutengwende at Public and Interactive Affairs;
just some money to keep the
people at his cobweb Ministry awake?
Or perhaps Samuel Undenge at the Anti-Corruption Ministry, so his
Anti-Corruption Commission can hold more of those corny road shows and print
more "fight corruption" T-shirts?
Or could it be Ambrose Mutinhiri, at Youth and Employment Creation, so he
can disburse wads of cash to some of those self-employment "projects" - goat
herding consortiums at Ngomahuru or somewhere?
Then you could also get the following Ministers to stand in Parly and let
you know how, apart from salaries and perks, they used whatever allocations
you gave them: Webster
Shamu, Minister of Policy Implementation, Small Enterprise Minister
Sithembiso Nyoni, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana of Indigenisation and
Empowerment, Undenge, Chimutengwende and Elliot Manyika, the government
utility guy.
The public needs to know who has spent how much,
and on what, so they know
who to boo and jeer at as Ministers leave Parliament, or when they see them
at traffic intersections.
The truth hurts.
Especially for ZANU PF. But at least you need to be realistic if you are to
take a shot at forecasting.
One of the reasons, apart from free spending, that this year's budget had
been spent by March is because it was premised on a 2007-end inflation
forecast of 400-500 percent and growth in mining and agriculture.
Mumbengegwi obviously comes highly rated. Why else would he be the only
Minister in President Mugabe's Cabinet without a deputy? He has a chance to
show that today.
Samuel Mumbengegwi, they would sing in hymns in forty years' time, the
Minister who finally told the truth.
How about it then Minister?

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Economic turnaround or creating a new economy?


Economic Viewpoint with Simon Bere

TALKING about economic turnaround implies that the economy had taken a wrong
turn and therefore requires to make a u-turn and then travel along a desired
path from which it previously deviated.

We need to think seriously about what me mean by economic turnaround because
it is that meaning that carries the answers we have to our economic
The answers that we have determine our economic realities both at present
and in the future.
In strategic terms, we need to assess and quantify what has been lost. This
assessment of what we have lost must include all components, tangible and
intangible, that are critical for long term economic success.
Then we must assess what we have gained over the period starting from a
specific economic baseline (for example, our economic value in 1996).
The difference will give us our national net economic value, which is the
sum total of resources we have that we can use as a basis for making bold,
long term economic decisions for stepping into the future.
In my view there are two possible directions for our economic success into
the future: The economic turnaround approach and the economic recreation
approach. Our national net economic value will determine what direction to
In my view, economic turnaround implies a restoration of the economic value
that we have lost. It implies putting back pieces together to restore what
was already there. It implies using the past as a model to create the
future. It implies going back to the past in order to move into the future.
It implies revisiting the good old days.
Economic recreation, on the other hand, implies using our net economic value
to create a new economic system. It implies creating a completely new
economic vision and then using our current net economic value to create that
new economic vision. In the extreme it implies creating a new economy
completely different from what existed before.
It implies using human imagination rather than memories of the past as our
mental springboard into that economic future.
It implies being comfortable with bold changes and the courage to rewrite
our economic blueprint and even challenge our current economic beliefs and
adopting new ones. It implies being comfortable with spending more of our
mental time in the future rather than in the present and the past. How do we
decide which direction to take into a better economic future?
In my view, our net economic value provides the answer. If our net economic
value is so high that what economy we have lost is marginal, then an
economic turnaround approach is ideal because it means that the distance we
have deviated from our ideal is short enough for us to go back and reconnect
with our ideals.
This means the resources we need to reconnect are relatively few and the
pain we will experience during the process will be small and short enough
for us to endure. Victory will be relatively quick. It is also less risk an
economic operation to undertake and we will be able to preserve our net
economic value.
If our net economic value is very low, it means that the distance we have
travelled from our ideal past is very long and going back to that past is an
arduous task that will take an enormous amount of time and resources. In
most cases, our resources are likely to be depleted before we can reconnect
with the ideal past. At the same time, the small net economic value means
that we are reaching the point where recreating a completely new economy is
an easier task.
At this point of recreating a new economy, the future drives all economic
The net economic value is used to kick-start a new creative process that
begins with a completely new vision and the strategies we need to achieve
that vision. This process requires increased application of mental resources
including human imagination, strategic thinking and emotional intelligence.
Do we need a turnaround road or the economic rebirth route into the future?
A collective decision is required.
The first question to ask is "What is our present net economic value?" After
determining our net economic value, we then need to use the result to make a
directional decision. Second we need to ask: What economy do we desire for
our future?
In my view, we are within a major economic discontinuity that separates the
future economy from the past economy.
We must let go of the past. The starting point is to let go of the concept
of an economic turnaround and embrace the idea of economic recreation. Then
we need to create a new vision for our economy, based on the resources we
already have, our aspirations and desires. Then we need to focus our
thoughts, feelings and energies on turning this new vision into reality.
It takes great effort to build a new economy and turn it into reality. Of
the different efforts required, the most challenging effort is emotional
effort. It requires the development of strong positive emotional bonds among
all Zimbabweans.
We must be prepared to shift our mindsets and embrace new ways of thinking
and feeling. Faith and hope are important resources in this economic
recreation effort.
For without hope and faith, even the most promising dreams will die a
natural death.

Simon Bere is a member of the Zimbabwe Economics Society. The Zimbabwe
Econ-omics Society articles are coordinated by Lovemore Kadenge and he can
be contacted on e-mail:
Cell 091 2 980 016

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The evident failure of Zim's education system


Takura Zhangazha

WHEN we talk about the future of Zimbabwe, we are essentially talking about
our present and our past both as observers and participants.

In these conversations we remember past hopes, aspirations and dreams, we
commiserate about the present and what its circumstances mean for the
future, and in this, what the future means for our children, the children of
others and the children of the country.
Zimbabwe's schools have resumed their academic calendar for the last time
this year with many a parent/guardian bordering on despair about what it is
that they can expect of their children as they send them off to school in
this, an examination term, a transitory term to the next grade/ level
because it has not only been a trying time just to purchase the basics
needed for education and pay school fees, but also that they also have a
tacit, if not fearful knowledge that for their children, the future is laden
with difficulties that make it almost impossible to imagine every dark cloud
as having a silver lining.
And it is this 'impossibility' of imagining the full import of the current
state of Zimbabwe's education system that I wish to interrogate for a number
of reasons.
The first reason revolves around the fact that ever since the implementation
of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) in the 1990s, it was
never a public secret that Zimbabwe's education system was taking a turn for
the worse. Those who had access to wealth or the benevolence of mission
schools were always bound to be better off, because they could afford the
evident withdrawal of state funding from education.
In many a critique of the education system stemming from the same years to
the present, the general argument was state centered, arguing about where
the state had gone wrong, while the same said state was still churning out
high school graduates who, because of the bottle neck nature of the system
in place, would either squeeze through to tertiary education or be in a
majority that begins the arduous process of engaging with the informal
In other words education was and has always been treated in Zimbabwe as if
it was a flawed production industry, producing school leavers whose skills
and understanding were more reliant not only on what the curriculum had to
offer but how more significantly on how hard they burnt the midnight candle
in order to get into the 'better 'O' and 'A' level schools that were the
gateway to climbing Zimbabwe's near impossible social ladder.
This unwritten rule of there being better schools than the rest was a clear
testimony to the failure of Zimbabweans as a whole, to imagine beyond their
own individual family's children's future and start being responsible for
the future of all of the country's children. Of course, the taught children
both then and now, would boast of how the schools that they had been
enrolled at were better than those of their less fortunate street/village
football or netball colleagues. But this was only a matter of consequence
because education in its nature tends to bring out not only the best or
worst in people but most significantly, a competitive edge to those that are
being taught. The critical point of interrogation is how we, as Zimbabweans,
allowed education to become as selective as the depths of a parent's pocket
in order for it to meet what should be universally recognised standards. The
better schools were always the preserve of the rich (never mind the academic
capacity of their children) or those that have been founded by missionaries
that have also increasingly found themselves courting the rich in order to
stay afloat while occasionally letting in the religious poor through the
gates of assumed opportunity.
So as it is, and as it was since the 90's, education, with the evident
approval of the ministers responsible for all levels of education as well as
social welfare, has become as elite as owning a used Japanese car and as a
result become meaningless and a mockery to those that cannot begin to
imagine how they became so poor as to be unable to at least send their
children to school.
This brings me to my second interrogation of the current state of education
which still hinges upon issues concerning imagining the country's future in
tandem with the present. On numerous occasions, any citizen with an inkling
of national concern about the future of the country will, for a moment,
catch a glimpse of school kids walking from a primary or secondary school
around lunch time and ponder as to what the future holds for these young
Zimbabweans. The concern shown in such instances is as noble as it
impractical. Because most of my generation (just a few years before
independence) had a little bit of a better time (comparatively) in terms of
quality education in the 80's until just before ESAP was brought to the
universities in the mid to late 90's by Ignatious Chombo, we have tended to
wish that the young comrades will, like some of us managed to do, scramble
from the doldrums to at least make the most of what is a deplorable reality.
This is no longer adequate.
Within the faces of the young comrades that we teach, meet, bring up or
simply occasionally observe, there is a dying hope, and this hope is dying
because the present is meaningless. The meaningless is derived from the poor
education facilities, the absentee teachers, the disjuncture between the
student movements at tertiary levels with those at secondary and above all,
the inability of adult Zimbabweans to challenge the government on this, the
most important testimony of legacy and posterity that one generation can
bestow another.
It has to be made apparent to those that claim to be a government of the
people and those that claim to represent the progressive oppositional forces
within Zimbabwe that education should not and cannot be allowed to be
elitist. The tricky position of the Zimbabwe Association of Trust Schools
needs to be considered in this regard. Their protectionism not only of the
elite schools and their rich Parents Teachers Associations but
simultaneously of the children of those that have so abused the education
system cannot be viewed as anything other than a betrayal of not only the
masses but a complicit undermining of the future of Zimbabwe for the benefit
of the few.
In order for the country to move towards a better future, we have to take
into account that which we are allowing our children not only to learn from
the confines of classrooms but also that which we have been allowing them to
experience since independence, that inequality at home immediately connotes
to inequality in education standards at the various learning institutions
they attend.
This is then exacerbated by the manner in which the social welfare system
has completely abandoned those children that come from the poorer families
that are a veritable majority in both rural and urban Zimbabwe, where the
worst education is linked to hunger, deprivation and staying within the
confines of the same even if one is lucky to reach the legal age of
As is it is, all those children that have resumed their schooling this week
have a right to feel betrayed not by any spectacular revolution, but by the
parents that have allowed this state of affairs to prevail, even if it is
against their better wishes. They have a right to remind us, as adult
Zimbabweans of the necessity of planning for the future through a continual
engagement with its present manifestations embodied by them, and ask of us
to view their education not as a selfish individual family endeavour, but
that of a nation, a people and a future.

lTakura Zhangazha is a senior programme officer with Misa-Zimbabwe

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Ruling by decree



A FLURRY of legal instruments introduced by the government in recent months
to defuse a potentially explosive economic crisis sticking out like a sore
thumb in the sub-Saharan region has kept lawyers and laymen alike busy.

Not out of the desire to exercise their minds or to keep informed, but
because of their far-reaching effects on the way they live.
At a time when people are beginning to familiarise themselves with the
National Incomes and Pricing Commission Act, a raft of other new laws and
amendments they can hardly make head or tail of, are rushed through out of
the woodwork.
The latest in a series of new laws to hit them are regulations gazetted last
week, which have the effect of freezing salaries and prices for six months,
thereby severely restricting collective bargaining.
Except with the National Incomes and Pricing Commission's approval, the
amended law prohibits anyone from adjusting salaries, wages, rents, service
charges, prices and school fees on account of increases or anticipated
increases in the consumer price index (CPI). It also outlaws the indexing of
salaries and prices to the exchange rate (official or unofficial) that had
become a necessity for planning purposes.
By freezing salaries and prices, the government is hoping to stabilise
prices and rein in inflation, which, at over 7 600 percent is the world's
highest. Not that anyone doubts the sincerity on the part of government in
wanting to cushion consumers from the harsh effects of inflation. But in as
much as one cannot dispute the fact that the CPI, in particular, had become
the source for inflationary expectations through indexing, it is outlandish
to think that freezing salaries and prices is the panacea for the country's
problems. Far from it.
It is pertinent to note that the inflationary expectations were created by
government's failure to prescribe correct medication in order to resuscitate
the ailing economy. The perennial fiscal deficits, which are widening
year-in, year-out, are a major component of the country's inflation.
Gideon Gono and his team at the central bank have worked tirelessly to
remedy the crisis, but their monetary policy responses lack support from the
fiscal side, where lip service is paid to issues of trimming the bloated
civil service and privatisation of loss-making parastatals, among other
things. Nothing short of a radical fiscal policy shift, of which Finance
Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi will today have the opportunity to set the ball
rolling, can ease the suffering among the country's poor.
A parallel market has emerged where consumers are buying their groceries,
fuel, meat, drugs, etc, which have disappeared from supermarket shelves.
Consumers are paying as much as $700 000 per kg of beef and $350 000 per
litre of petrol and yet the powers-that-be would want the public to believe
that the Cold Storage Company's retail price of $238 000 per kg of super
beef and the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe's $60 000 for a litre of
petrol is what they should pay.
The parallel market is now a reality. Pretending otherwise will condemn
everyone accessing products on the parallel market deeper into abject
poverty, deprive the fiscus of the much-needed revenue and destroy the few
enterprises still doing business in the formal sector.
Inadvertently, workers would be forced to strike to press for realistic
salaries, otherwise the only other alternative left would be to join the
great trek into the diaspora. The brain drain has already cost the country
at least three million people and there is no way the economy can recover
quickly without a solid skills base.
The tightening of the lid on school fees is the last thing the government
can do if it is serious about saving the crumbling education system, which
has been crying out for more funding and economic fees. Putting a cap on
rentals will also deny the country new investment in real estate and
contribute to the deterioration of existing properties. By freezing salaries
and prices, the government has also made it crystal clear that it has lost
interest in the social contract and is now ruling by decree.
All this demonstrates the lack of consistency in government policy, a fact
noted by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other
multilateral lending agencies that have since turned their backs on Harare.
Only recently, the Southern African Development Community made similar
observations, and recommended consistency in government policy, but before
the ink is dry on the regional grouping's secretary-general's report, the
government has made another policy U-turn.
A free market system, which the government is so much afraid of, rests on a
highly complex interplay of human decisions and it cannot be reduced to
simple formulae like freezing prices.
Perhaps the powers-that-be should take a leaf from author, Andrew Sandlin,
who noted, "In the economic sphere, the victory of simplicity almost always
necessitates the deprivation of liberty."

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FinGaz Letters

 Lock them all up

EDITOR - One thing that frightens me about the opposition is that the
majority of them do not have a job, have never held a job, and have never
run a successful business in their lives. They have no work culture yet
almost all of them live a posh lifestyle. Where do they get money to buy
houses in posh neighbourhoods and drive the latest model cars?
I am afraid to say that I have not yet found the answer to that question.
But as I continue to analyse the situation, it looks clearer to me that most
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials would want President Robert
Mugabe to stay in power as much as possible. Why?
First, the government does not bother to ask where these officials are
getting their money from. Work culture is not one of their values and
becoming the ruling party would require transparency. To me that is a lot of
freedom to give up.
Secondly, these officials will be forced to live normal lifestyles. Today,
most of them can afford to travel the world over and live like kings and
queens. Who in this world would like to forego such comfort?
When Morgan Tsvangirai maintains his rhetoric about amnesty for President
Mugabe, what he is actually saying to him is, do not step down because we
will be forced to forego our luxurious lifestyles. The best thing for you
and us is for you, Mr President, to stay on.
In my opinion, both the MDC and ZANU PF officials must be scrutinised slowly
and carefully. These people are misusing our country's wealth for personal
gain and they must face prosecution. All the wealth held in their person,
relatives, and animals must be thoroughly scrutinised and recovered for the
benefit of the country.
There should never be a question of amnesty. To me, offering an amnesty is
purely a quest for political power. I understand Tsvangirai did his part but
it sounds more and more to me that he has reached his limits. It is time for
fresh leadership and ideas if we are to improve the lot of Zimbabweans.
My solution is to jail all ZANU PF and MDC officials. The only condition for
release is full payment of looted wealth. Institute a real land
redistribution exercise that involves all stakeholders. We cannot waste time
and more money by setting up land review committees to audit the land
redistribution exercise.

Denford Madenyika
United Kingdom
 Laws of nature cannot be changed by decree

EDITOR - So the President thinks that if he orders prices to stabilise then
market forces will listen to him. Market forces are driven by natural human
behaviour and the laws of nature cannot be changed by decree. Political
authority does not change the laws of nature.
I think what the government has just realised is that when you order prices
to go down you are basically ordering your revenues to go down as well.
Secondly you cannot order people to produce at a loss. The only people who
do that are slave traders and those who practiced forced labour (chibharo).
Unless the Zimbabwean government plans at some stage to introduce slavery or
forced labour, the route they are following will lead to economic collapse.
The government must learn that you cannot have your cake and eat it at the
same time. You cannot order a price freeze in a way which damages production
and hope to get revenue for regular expenditure as well. After all,
government revenue is mostly derived from taxing transactions. So without
high value transactions, the governemnt will not have revenue and without
revenue it will eventually collapse.
The only proven method of having a stable economy in the modern era is the
free market system.

Jupiter Punungwe
 What any sensible govt would not do

EDITOR - Any sensible government tries to maximise transactions that take
place within its economy. It is from taxing those transactions that
government gets money. If a government forces people to curtail
transactions, the result is very obvious. Its own revenue is going to
decline. Printing money will only worsen inflation.
The experiments that the Zimbabwean government is trying have been tried
before, as far back as the days of the Roman Empire.

United Kingdom
 Give us freedom train at the UZ

EDITOR - I am very upset with the way Levy Nyagura and his cronies are doing
their work at the University of Zimbabwe. I cannot help but wonder how they
can close all halls of residence on the pretext that the city council said
that the halls were unsuitable for students to occupy.
I cannot imagine ZUPCO, with its depleted fleet of buses, ferrying 8 000
students on a daily basis. If they do not want us to stay on campus, it's
fine, but what we will need is a freedom train to transport us daily because
we cannot afford the fares being charged by the private commuter omnibus

David Chikoni
 This would be a humanitarian crisis

EDITOR - A recent story in your newspaper recycles an often cited figure of
three million mostly illegal Zimbabweans in South Africa. I have often
thought that this figure is meant to suggest that the deterioration in the
economy has made Zimbabweans move in their millions to South Africa. Really.
First, such a massive movement of people across the Limpopo would constitute
a humanitarian crisis of such proportions as to bring all known humanitarian
agencies flocking to the region to help.
Secondly, people who are now known as Zimbabweans, an ancient people, from
the time of the Great Zimbabwe civilisation to date have moved to lands
across the Limpopo and back for economic, political and cultural reasons or
just to visit friends and relatives. Few Zimbabweans will not know of a
family member who has resettled in South Africa in the past 50 years.
Thirdly, the current economic deterioration set in only after the unbudgeted
disbursements to war veterans and the yet to be fully appreciated impact of
the Congo war. The economic indices at the time - inflation and the exchange
rate - exhibited a marked escalation and depreciation respectively. Any
economic analyst worth their salt will understand that the more recent IMF
withdrawal of balance of payments support to the country only exarcebated
the effects of a malignant central government profligacy.
Nonetheless, clouded in all this statistic peddling is the indisputable fact
that the economy of the country now known as Zimbabwe from the time it was
Southern Rhodesia has never enjoyed a growth rate sufficient to generate
enough jobs to absorb the natural growth in employable adults. A substantial
proportion of the jobs sometimes touted as lost in the current economic
malaise are low paying slave like jobs on the tobbaco farms persistently
shunned by locals.
Three million mostly illegal Zimbabweans in South Africa. Not a chance. Is
this letting the government off the hook? In this case maybe so. I cannot
recall who it was who said 'I may not agree with what you say but I will
fight for your right to say it'.

Jacob M Mungoshi
 Zimbos are indeed a desperate lot

EDITOR - I feel that as Zimbabweans we are a desperate lot to let a person
like Thabo Mbeki mediate in the political impasse we have. Of course we
would welcome any action designed to change the status quo but should we let
a person whose credentials are suspect or one who questions the link between
HIV and AIDS mediate for us? The MDC should understand that Mbeki is not a
reliable broker because of the following reasons:
lHe sides with the ZANU PF government;
lHe always says only Zimbabweans can solve their problems so technically he
has no role to play;
lHe allows ZANU PF to use fabricated and doctored stories about terrorism
and political violence in the talks even though these have been found by the
courts to be unfounded.
Even though this has no links to Zimbabwe, Mbeki retained a minister who
believes in using beetroot to treat HIV patients and fired a deputy health
minister for questioning the unscientific basis for the rejection of ARVs in
favour of beetroot. All this puts his credibility in doubt.

 Pius Ncube: My story was above board

EDITOR - I have noted the coverage of the alleged sexual scandal by the
Archbishop of Bulawayo Diocese, Pius Ncube in some sections of the media. In
all articles, several fabricated and libellous allegations have been made
about my conduct in covering the story.
Let me put it on record that the allegations are malicious and designed to
tarnish my reputation as a professional journalist. I view these allegations
as part of a wider campaign by reactionaries - who see any exposure of
scandals by opposition and pro-opposition individuals or groups - to rid the
international media in Zimbabwe of any balanced and objective journalists.
I was never involved in any sting operation against Archbishop Ncube neither
did I go to interview him in the company of Tazzen Mandizvidza and Happison
Muchechetere of the ZBC as alleged by some media reports. Allegations that I
gave these two SABC jackets so that Archbishop Ncube could see them as SABC
journalists are therefore ridiculous. I have no SABC jacket and have not
seen one in my term as an SABC journalist in Zimbabwe. A check at the SABC
offices in Auckland Park would have also revealed that there are no such
jackets and if at all there are there, none has ever been issued to me.
The Archbishop, who as a Zimbabwean would definitely know Mandizvidza and
Muchechetere, can confirm that none of those people were present at the
interview. Allegations that I "quoted" the Archbishop out of context are
also ludicrous. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nowhere in the
interview did I ever ask Archbishop Ncube on the goings-on in the USA
regarding Roman Catholic bishops who were facing allegations of abusing
young children. An unedited copy of the interview is available from my
office ( for anyone interested in watching my
entire 25-minute interview with the Archbishop.
It is appalling that some journalists have jumped onto the bandwagon of
repeating propaganda spewed by anti-Zimbabwe government websites, which have
no respect for the basic tenets of journalism (balance, objectivity and
fairness), without even checking with me for my side of the story.
I perceive this as the lowest point of media polarisation in Zimbabwe. It is
so sad that anybody seen to be writing anything critical of the government
is seen as an enemy. In equal measure, anyone writing critically of the
opposition or those opposed to President Mugabe is called names, not least
that they are members of the Central Intelligence Organisation.
This is the sorry state that Zimbabwean journalism finds itself in and I
think that some of the guilty publications must take a position to end this
kind of polarisation. Only by tackling issues and not people, will our
country move forward. If the media needs to play a meaningful role in
positively changing Zimbabwe, it must move from being a vehicle of hate
propaganda. It must stop character assassination of fellow professionals as
is being done to me. I have not done anything wrong except to do my work.
Tough if anyone has found the story unpalatable but my facts are intact and
it is undeniable that any allegation of sexual conduct by a Roman Catholic
archbishop would make headlines anywhere in the world. In Zimbabwe, the
story is even more interesting because it has a political angle as well.

Supa Mandiwanzira

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State aims to bankrupt business

Mens News Daily

September 5, 2007

Statutory Instrument 159A of 2007, issued by Presidential Decree last week,
is an astonishing piece of legislation. It clearly reveals the full
intentions behind the price control operation and the indigenisation

1. The State is systematically bankrupting all independent business. They
are doing so by denying them the right to produce and market their products
at a profit.

2. They are fully anticipating wholesale company closures and collapse
across the country. No distinction is made for local and foreign controlled

3. As soon as a company folds they will move in through the IDC and the
State Trading Corporation to take control. Resources will be made available
to fund the operations and then price controls will be relaxed and the
companies allowed to resume production.

4. A process of transferring control to local Zanu PF individuals and
companies will then ensue in a similar fashion to the Olivine take over.
This was effected by a payment of US$6,8 million by Cotco - working with the
IDC. The company will warehouse the shares until it is decided who will get
this plum.

5. The great danger of this process is the same as was the case in respect
of the farm invasions. The loss of skills and experience that takes place
during the transition might actually render the enterprise unmanageable. The
loss of skills will be permanent because most will leave the country.
The scale and audacity of this exercise is mind boggling. They are clearly
in a hurry to do this - I call it the Neutron Bomb exercise - you kill the
enterprise without destroying the infrastructure which you then take over.

6. The private sector are not fools - they know what is going on and many
are now asset stripping their operations - the financial cost of this
operation will place a huge new burden on the State (Reserve Bank printers)
and will drastically reduce all form of State revenues. We can therefore
anticipate that this will further exacerbate inflation.

Nearly all the companies known to me are vunerable to this operation - no
matter how large. Its side effect wil be to drive at least 2 million
Zimbabweans out of the country into South Africa, the only destination that
is close enough and large enough to absorb this number of people in a short
period of time (three to six months).

Eddie Cross

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