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

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Zim Online

Thurs 9 September 2004

      HARARE - Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader
Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday told southern African diplomats accredited to
Zimbabwe that his party was boycotting elections to push the government to
uphold electoral standards set by the region last month.

      Tsvangirai told the diplomats that his party boycotted last week's
parliamentary by-election in Seke constituency because the government wanted
to hold the poll under Zimbabwe's old and controversial electoral laws.

      He said: "Our decision to suspend participation in all forms of
elections was informed by the prevailing circumstances on the ground and
certainly in support of new Southern African Development Community (SADC)
principles and guidelines.

      "As you are aware, barely 48 hours after the adoption of the
guidelines and a renewed spirit of optimism in Mauritius, the regime
announced that it was going ahead with the Seke by-election under the old
and discredited electoral conditions."

      SADC leaders including President Robert Mugabe agreed at their annual
summit held in Mauritius last month on new norms and standards for elections
in the region. The standards require the setting up of independent
commissions to run elections.

      The regional leaders also undertook to ensure that the electoral
process was transparent while the rule of law and human rights were observed
during elections.

      Tsvangirai said failure by Zimbabwe's judiciary to resolve petitions
filed by the MDC and himself challenging ZANU PF's victory in previous
elections had also caused his party to stop participating in elections.

      The MDC challenged ZANU PF's victories in 37 constituencies in the
2000 parliamentary election while Tsvangirai has applied to the High Court
to have Mugabe's re-election in 2002 overturned. The election petitions are
still pending at the courts. ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Breakdown at SA oil refinery halts fuel supplies
Thurs 9 September 2004

      HARARE - South Africa's oil giant, Sasol, is unable to supply fuel to
Zimbabwe for the next three weeks because of a breakdown at its refinery,
according to the Petroleum Marketers Association of Zimbabwe.

      Association chairman Steven Mpofu, who spoke as a resurgent fuel
crisis worsened across the country, said a stoppage of supplies from Sasol
would severely reduce the amount of fuel imports into Zimbabwe.

      Sasol is one of the biggest suppliers of fuel to Zimbabwe. Mpofu said:
"This will obviously affect our fuel stocks going forward as it takes time
to transport the product from South Africa even after Sasol resumes exports
after the three week period they have indicated."

      Mpofu said oil companies were going to release 12.4 million litres of
diesel and 13.2 million litres of petrol before the end of the week in
response to a call by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to unlock reserves and
normalise supplies.

      Meanwhile, Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono on Tuesday released US$10
million to oil companies to pay for fuel imports. Gono said: "Other measures
to ensure sustained availability of fuel across all sectors of the economy
were under consideration."

      He did not elaborate.

      A fuel crisis has gripped Zimbabwe since 2000 chiefly because the
country has no foreign currency to pay for imports. ZimOnline

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Zim Online

National Constitutional Assembly boss released
Thurs 9 September 2004

      HARARE - National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore
Madhuku was last night released from police custody without charge after he
was picked up from his home in the early hours of the morning.

      The police went on to ransack the NCA's offices in search of
subversive material and weapons of war.

      Madhuku's lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, said the police would proceed by
way of summons. "They wanted to charge him under POSA (Public Order and
Security Act) for organising a demonstration which the police had not
sanctioned," said Muchadehama.

      "To me that does not sound illegal as POSA does not require the police
to sanction a demonstration. All an organisation has to do is to notify the
police about their demonstration. Anyway, we will see when they summon him."

      An exhausted Madhuku said he did not feel intimidated by the police
action. "Obviously, the tact was to intimidate me but the NCA will continue
with its demonstration until we have a new constitution."

      This was the sixteenth time that Madhuku was arrested under POSA since
the law was enacted in 2002.

      The NCA, which is fighting for a new and democratic constitution,
brings together Zimbabwe's churches, labour, opposition political parties,
civic and human rights bodies. The assembly last week held public
demonstrations in Harare and petitioned South Africa to throw its weight
behind the search for democracy in Zimbabwe.

      Alliance spokesperson Jessie Majome yesterday condemned Madhuku's
arrest. She said: "We strongly condemn the manner in which the police
arrested our national chairperson (Madhuku) in the infancy of this morning
(yesterday) and the subsequent ransacking of the NCA offices without a
search warrant."

      Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka yesterday told ZimOnline that they
had not found any offensive material at the alliance's offices. But he said
the police were still investigating the matter.

      "It would be too early to comment on the matter. We still have some
inroads we are pursuing so, I will not say much as that would affect our
investigations," Mandipaka said.

      Meanwhile, the country's main opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party said more than 30 policemen raided its offices in
Zimbabwe's second largest city of Bulawayo.

      The party said in a statement: "They were searching for what they
claimed to be subversive material or any other offensive material likely to
incite public disorder or public violence."

      According to the MDC, the police failed to find any weapons at its

      The MDC poses the most potent threat to President Robert Mugabe and
his ruling ZANU PF party. But the opposition party has said it is will not
participate in next year's crucial election unless Zimbabwe's electoral laws
were sufficiently democratised. ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Children walk 40 km to attend classes in Binga
Thurs 9 September 2004

      BINGA - School children in some areas of Binga district, more than 300
km west of Harare, are walking up to 40 km to attend classes because of a
shortage of schools in the area.

      Local Member of Parliament Joel Gabuza and villagers told a ZimOnline
news crew that toured the area last week that parents were now delaying
sending children to school until they were strong enough to walk the long

      Ignored by the country's former white rulers, Binga appears to have
also missed out on the massive education expansion programme undertaken by
President Robert Mugabe and his government immediately after independence.

      In Siasundu ward, there are only two primary schools and one secondary
school catering for children from several villagers, the nearest of which is
20 km away.

      Gabuza said: "Schools are in short supply. The few that are there are
far away from each other such that even the Ministry of Education's policy
of each child walking a maximum of seven kilometers to the nearest school
doesn't work here because the nearest school is 15 to 20 kilometers away."

      At Mangani village, headman, Julius Siavhurandu, said parents were
only sending children to school when they were eight or nine years, at least
three years older than the age at which most children across the country
start their schooling.

      "There is a big problem with schools. Grade one pupils cannot walk
that far so we delay sending them to school. That is why most children here
start school at eight or nine years," said Siavhurandu.

      Besides the long distances, the children also have to contend with
poorly equipped schools that are short of both teachers and textbooks.

      According to Gabuza, most schools in the area on average had only
three qualified teachers out of the normal staff complement of about 25

      "Sometimes children are told to go out and spend the day counting
stones because there would be no teachers to take them through lessons,"
said David Fulawu Mdenda, a parent from Sonko village in the area.

      Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere could not be reached yesterday to
find out what the government was doing to ensure there were more and better
staffed schools in Binga. ZimOnline
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South Africa accused of asylum bar on Zimbabweans

Andrew Meldrum in Pretoria
Thursday September 9, 2004
The Guardian

The South African government is denying thousands of Zimbabwean refugees
their right to political asylum, says a report published today by Refugees
"Genuine refugees are prevented from getting asylum," said Andrea Lari, a
researcher for the organisation. "In many cases, Zimbabweans cannot even get
into the appropriate office to apply for asylum. These people are being
denied their rights."

Mr Lari said up to 50,000 Zimbabweans were eligible for asylum. "Of the
5,000 applications filed by Zimbabweans to date, fewer than 20 have actually
received political asylum in South Africa," he said.

"Even more troubling is the fact that few Zimbabweans are able even to apply
for political asylum."

More than 2 million Zimbabweans are currently sheltering in South Africa -
about 15% of their country's population of 13 million.

Although Zimbabweans have sought work in South Africa for decades, the
numbers have swollen greatly in recent years since the economic collapse
presided over by President Robert Mugabe.

Most of those in South Africa are economic migrants, without claims to
refugee status. But thousands have fled because they are victims of state
violence and torture and they fear more persecution.

South Africa is obliged by law to grant political asylum to those who have a
reasonable fear of such violence.

But Refugees International says South African officials are preventing
Zimbabweans from gaining their rightful status.

Several Zimbabwean refugees told the Guardian that they were often chased
away from refugee reception centres by guards with whips. "The guards say,
'We don't want to see you Zimbabweans here. Go away!' They whip us and beat
us until we run away," said one man, who said he had been tortured in

Refugees International is also critical of the office of the United Nations
high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) for "failing to advocate for
Zimbabweans' right to protection". It adds: "UNHCR staff in South Africa
downplay the political crisis in Zimbabwe and show a marked tendency to
dismiss the legitimacy of Zimbabweans' overall case for asylum, making a
minimal effort to provide direct protection."
A regional UNHCR official said: "We know there is work to be done to make
sure all Zimbabweans can access the refugee procedure. That is true for
people of other nationalities seeking asylum here, too."

A senior South African immigration official admitted there were problems in
the way the government dealt with the flood of Zimbabwean refugees. But
steps were being taken to improve the situation. "We agreed with the UNHCR
to catch up with the backlog of cases of Zimbabweans seeking asylum," said
Barry Gilder, director general of South Africa's department of home affairs.

"We are taking steps to counter corruption, and we have just agreed to set
up new refugee reception centres, including one in Musina, near the border
with Zimbabwe."

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Mugabe accused of plan to rig election
By David Blair, Africa Correspondent
(Filed: 09/09/2004)

Zimbabwe's opposition yesterday accused President Robert Mugabe of preparing
to rig the next election after a law was published giving him the power to
appoint key figures overseeing the poll.

Critics say he has begun a campaign to guarantee victory next March while
giving African nations that support him enough grounds to declare the
contest free and fair.

The stated purpose of the electoral commission bill is to meet international
standards. One of these is for elections to be supervised by an independent

But the draft law gives Mr Mugabe the power to appoint every member of the
commission, including its chairman.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change denounced the law as
"cynical". David Coltart, the shadow justice minister, said the proposed
reforms were an "attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of Zimbabweans and
the international community".

The MDC has announced that it will boycott all elections unless the regime
ends the political violence that has plagued Zimbabwe for the past four
years and introduces genuine reforms.

. A prominent figure in the opposition, Lovemore Madhuku, leader of the
National Constitutional Assembly, was arrested yesterday and charged with
organising an illegal demonstration.

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Zimbabwe scandal a blight on ICC
By Simon Briggs
(Filed: 09/09/2004)

As Zimbabwe's boy soldiers prepare to be mown down by England in tomorrow's
Champions Trophy opener, Heath Streak, their former captain, will be
settling himself behind a microphone in Sky's commentary box.

It's hardly the best way for the International Cricket Council to get their
cherished tournament off the ground. To lose a player as good as Streak
would be a blow for any side, let alone a side as flimsy as Zimbabwe. Yet
that is only the tip of the iceberg. Another 13 leading white players went
AWOL after an acrimonious dispute with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union in May,
including such key figures as Ray Price, Grant Flower and Sean Ervine. Now
it seems increasingly likely that none of them will play for their country

Despite the acid fall-out of the row, which came to a head when all 14 of
the rebels refused to take the field against Sri Lanka in a one-day
international, hopes were high that an ICC-sponsored arbitration process
could bring all parties back to the table. If blame could be allocated,
perhaps rapprochement might not be far away.

Unfortunately, Streak now feels it is unlikely that the hearings will go
ahead, simply because he and his comrades cannot cover the costs of between
£15,000 and £20,000. The ICC, who originally asked for the whole process to
be completed by Oct 5, say they will not foot either side's bill. Instead,
they have set up a separate Racism Enquiry into claims that black ZCU
officials discriminated against white players.

"Arbitration would be a better process," Streak said yesterday, "but
realistically we are going to have to take a raincheck and rely on the
Racism Enquiry." That is set to be heard by India's solicitor-general,
Goolam Vahanvati, and South African judge Steven Majiedt at the end of this

"The sad thing is that the longer this goes on, the tougher it is to see
people playing for Zimbabwe again," Streak added. "Some of the guys have
taken up contracts elsewhere, and others are unemployed, which means they
don't have spare cash."

Streak says that when the Zimbabwean rebels toured England in July as the
Red Lions, they forwarded all the proceeds to charity, not realising how
expensive their legal bills were likely to be. Two months later, it seems,
they have become a charity case themselves. So if you know any wealthy
cricketing philanthropists, give them a nudge, because there are some dark
corners here that could do with a jumbo-sized Maglite.

It may be that the rebel players are not as spotless as they like to make
out. They do seem to have kept the goalposts in constant motion. But what we
can be sure about is that something is very rotten at the Zimbabwe Cricket

During the ZCU's last AGM in August, it emerged that the present board had
changed the constitution to make it impossible to sack them. "If Peter
Chingoka wants to stay on as chairman for the rest of his life, there is
nothing we can do, as the provinces and the players have lost their voting
rights," said Ray Gripper, a former national captain.

At the same meeting, Chingoka was harried into admitting that he had
received a £50,000 honorarium early in the year. The existence of this gift
was apparently among the grievances raised by the players in May, along with
the vast travel and accommodation expenses incurred by all 12 board members
and their wives when they accompanied the team on a tour of Australia.

There is nothing inherently wrong in the concept of honorariums, which many
cricket boards use to remunerate otherwise unpaid officials. But with
inflation sky-rocketing in Zimbabwe, £50,000 is an enormous amount.

In his AGM speech, Chingoka described the past year as "exciting and
challenging" and added that "the future for Zimbabwe cricket has never been

But Charlie Robertson, the chairman of Mashonaland County Districts, was not
convinced. After being allocated £1,000, a third of what he needs for a
year's ground hire, Robertson offered a more persuasive verdict: "The future
looks bleak."

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New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe newspaper set for launch in the UK

By Staff Reporter
Last updated: 09/09/2004 09:14:35
A ZIMBABWEAN paper is set for launch in Britain on Monday next week, New has learnt.

The free monthly subscription newspaper to be called the Fusion Voice is
edited by Masithokoze Maphenduka-Moyo, a Zimbabwean businesswoman who owns
an employment agency in Leeds.

In an interview with this website on Wednesday evening, Moyo said the first
issue will be out on Monday 13 September, before switching to the 21st of
every month.

She said the newspaper would be biased towards the African and black
communities in the Midlands and the North where the newspaper will be first

The first print run will be 10 000 copies.

"For our first issue, we have an exclusive interview with Emma Nhamburo, a
young Zimbabwean singer who is a member of dancehall sensations FYA. We also
have an interview with former South African and Leeds captain Lucas Radebe,
among the many stories to look forward to," she said.

"The idea is to keep all Africans, Zimbabweans in particular, up to date
with current affairs," she said. "We are paying a lot of attention to
sports, celebrity, gossip and politics. But we also have advice and
information on immigration and asylum issues."

She said the paper will be circulated mostly in the Midlands and up North
stretching to Scotland. It will be available at African retail shops,
restaurants and employment agencies.
For subscription details and advertising please e-mail: or call 08707506303 or 01132489911

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On Tuesday several hundred Zimbabweans took the time to make a stand against

In the face of an onslaught by the mugabe regime, such a demonstration of
the collective voice of the people was uplifting and reinvigorating. It
doesn't matter that the hearing was a waste of time and that the regime will
go ahead to push its latest 'legal' weapon through parliament. That is only
to be expected in our debased and subverted political system. We will not go
out without a very large amount of noise.

But I was saddened to see the composition of the crowd was restricted
seemingly only to those who felt that their organisations would be directly
affected. Where were the SPCA, Environment Africa, Wildlife Society,
community theatre groups and many other NGOs who are concerned with
Zimbabwe's well-being? Do they think they are not affected by this bill? Do
they think they are non-political and therefore immune to its threats? They
should think again and read section 24. Every NGO is subject to total
control through these mechanisms. Within a few years, the regime can exert
its control to replace the entire managements of NGOs and install officials
of its own choice. When the "non-political" civics wake up, who will speak
out for them?

This is not a fight about ideology. It is certainly not about the land or
the liberation struggle. The tyranny has pared the debate down to the core.
This is about the very ability to engage in any debate in the national
discourse. The NGO Bill aims to do to our collective voices articulated
through civics what AIPPA did to our print media and the BSA did to the
airwaves. To silence those who speak out.

We are seeing the deja vu replay of the situation with commercial farmers
from 2000 on when many white farmers said "no we are not political, we can
accommodate the settlers, we have ZIJIRI, we can do a deal with the
minister, the DA, the warlord" and who gave up a quarter, a half of their
farms, ploughing and planting the fields of their new neighbours in a naive
desperation to retain something of their life's work. No surprise of course
that in the following years (usually at harvest-time), the neighbours took
over the balance of the land. If a crocodile has you by the foot, giving it
your arm as well will not make it go away! When a pack of rabid dogs invades
the village, hiding indoors while it devours your neighbours is not an

It is perhaps unfortunate but pretty much everything in life is political,
especially in our country, and those who say they are not political do so
because they wish to avoid their political responsibilities in society. Such
denials are acutely political and those that issue them can effectively be
counted as supporting the status quo. We can do as much damage by our sins
of omission as by our sins of commission. Failing to speak and act against
injustice to our fellow humans is a culpable sin and those that keep silent
may as well wield the cudgels.

The comments below by Dave Coltart and Ben Freeth should be a clarion call
to all of you who have been silent too long: the beast will come for you
after he has finished with us.

regards and sleep well

Mike Davies

Dear Friend,

On the eve of the Parliamentary Committee hearing on the NGO Bill it is apt,
I believe, to remember the words of Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), the German
theologian who opposed the Nazis: "When Hitler attacked the Jews I was not a
Jew, therefore I was not concerned. And when Hitler attacked the Catholics,
I was not a Catholic, and therefore, I was not concerned. And
when Hitler attacked the unions and the industrialists, I was not a member
of the unions and I was not concerned. Then, Hitler attacked me and the
Protestant church - and there was nobody left to be concerned."

In the Zimbabwean context that should read:
"When Mugabe attacked the people of Matabeleland between 1981 and 1987 I was
not from there, therefore I was not concerned.

And when Mugabe attacked the students in 1989 I was not a student, and
therefore I was not concerned.

And when Mugabe attacked Enock Dumbutshena in 1993 I was not a member of the
Forum Party, therefore I was not concerned.

And when Mugabe attacked the unions in the 1990s I was not a member of the
unions and I was not concerned.

And when Mugabe attacked white farmers and their workers between 2000 and
2003 I was not either and therefore, I was not concerned.

And when Mugabe attacked Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC between 1999 and 2004
I was not in the opposition and therefore I was not concerned.

And when Mugabe attacked Archbishop Pius Ncube I was not a Catholic, and
therefore I was concerned.

Then Mugabe attacked me and the Protestant church - and there was nobody
left to be concerned."

The Church and many others in Zimbabwe have, to put it mildly, been largely
pathetic in its opposition to tyranny. Some even as late as this year have
given huge monetary donations to Mugabe. This inaction, at best, and active
collaboration, at worst, has culminated in one of the worst attacks on the
independence of the Church in the form of the NGO Bill. I hope that you will
not be found wanting in your opposition to this appalling piece of
legislation. Now is the time for ALL to speak out boldly and  unequivocally
in condemnation of and opposition to this legislation.

David Coltart
6th September 2004
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      NOCZIM botches up

      Felix Njini & Njabulo Ncube
      9/9/2004 7:28:35 AM (GMT +2)

      THE National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM), where executives have
in the past been known to push the envelope too far, is under investigation
over suspected abuse of part of about US$121 million obtained from the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to procure fuel.

      The probe, which is centred on US$20 million secured from the RBZ two
months ago ostensibly to replenish government's depleted fuel reserves,
comes after the re-emergence of fuel queues last week. It emerged this week
that NOCZIM, which was given US$20 million by the RBZ, outside the auction
system, has been sitting on the funds while fuel reservoirs were running

      The state fuel procurement agency has over the years suffered the
consequences of influence-peddling, top management ineptitude and
malfeasance that have sometimes spawned biting fuel shortages which peaked
in 2002.

      Government sources this week revealed that the debt-ridden fuel
procurement state company was under the microscope for alleged misuse of
funds obtained from the RBZ.

      Revelations of the probe at NOCZIM comes amid similar investigations
into more than 67 private oil importers allocated US$112.5 million by the
RBZ to procure fuel but which have mostly failed to deliver.

      Impeccable industry sources yesterday said that investigators on
Tuesday visited all banks that sourced foreign currency from the auction
system on behalf of the fuel companies.

      Riled by the re-emergence of fuel shortages, despite availability of
foreign currency through the auction system, the state is reported to be
wielding its axe at NOCZIM, where fuel reserves are said to have completely
dried up, forcing some government departments and farmers to source fuel
from private companies.

      It has been established that the RBZ has requested the ministries of
Energy and Power Development and Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies to get
to the bottom of the mystery surrounding NOCZIM's failure to procure fuel
despite funds being made available.

      Sources have also pointed to the possibility of NOCZIM using the
foreign currency obtained from the auction system to retire its
long-standing debt of US$61 million minus interest with Tamoil of Libya.

      The North African country at one time supplied 70 percent of
Zimbabwe's fuel requirements under a revolving US$90 million facility. The
facility was however dealt a hammer blow when Zimbabwe failed to pay US$61
million for fuel that had been supplied. This stiffened the hand of the fuel
supplier, which immediately halted fuel supplies to Zimbabwe.

      At one time Zimbabwe said it would discharge its liabilities through
the export of agricultural produce to Libya and the disposal of some NOCZIM
assets to Tamoil. Both deals did not, however, materialise.

      The asset sell-off flopped after the two parties haggled over the true
value of the assets. This was after an evaluation of NOCZIM assets by
Italian consultants, Roux Italia, towards the end of 2002 had indicated that
the assets were worth US$52.3 million. The government felt that this figure
was too low.

      NOCZIM is responsible for meeting all government departments' fuel
requirements. The parastatal was also tasked by the government to supply
farmers countrywide with fuel at concessionary prices. This was a deliberate
policy to give impetus to the ongoing land reform programme.

      At a meeting with government officials this week, NOCZIM is reported
to have failed to account for the funds, prompting the investigations.

      "NOCZIM got 41 percent of total foreign currency availed to all fuel
importers including the private sector. They have to account for the money.
They have to show transparency. Heads must roll at NOCZIM," said a well
placed government official.

      "This is outside the US$20 million they have been sitting on for three
months. Let them account for the money and if they fail, somebody will be
arrested. We are not sorting out the mess in the financial sector only, we
are now in the oil sector," the source said.

      Statistics from the RBZ reveal that NOCZIM alone got US$135 million
compared to US$112.5 million allocated to 67 private fuel importers since
January this year to end of August.

      The US$135 million excludes the US$20 million, which state officials
claim has not been put to its intended use, raising suspicion of abuse for
personal and selfish gains.

      Addressing a press briefing this week, RBZ governor Gideon Gono hinted
that government was not happy with erratic fuel deliveries at NOCZIM despite
the foreign currency being made available to the parastatal.

      "We sought clarification from NOCZIM why they have been sitting on
some funds. We also asked them where the fuel was from the monies they
obtained from us. They said it was at high seas," said Gono, who also
expressed dismay at the operations of private sector in fuel procurement.
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      Mnangagwa emerges unscathed

      Hama Saburi
      9/9/2004 7:31:06 AM (GMT +2)

      EMMERSON Mnangagwa, the shrewd political schemer widely seen as
President Robert Mugabe's heir apparent, has been let off the hook after a
five-member team investigating the ruling party's secretive investments
failed to find anything that sticks against the Speaker of Parliament.

      It has always been suggested that, despite protestations from the
ruling party, the investigations were, to all intents and purposes, targeted
at Mnangagwa as the ruling party's immediate past finance chief. Political
observers were convinced that there was a much more complex story behind the
twisty investigations into the ruling party's assets.

      They claimed that the probe that took well over four months masked a
simmering internal succession struggle that at that time had not broken into
the open. This touched off an orgy of speculation about the political future
of Mnangagwa, the erstwhile unshakable quiet man of ZANU PF politics seen as
the front-runner to succeed President Mugabe, who has since indicated that
he could be seeing out his last term in office.

      The Speaker of Parliament was key to the ruling party's investments
and it was believed that his opponents were determined to bury his political
career through the probe. But the 64-page report, discussed at a politburo
meeting a fortnight ago, dismally failed to lift the lid off the complex and
secretive operations of the ZANU PF companies or uncover any imprudent

      There is nothing incriminating in the report against any of the party
bigwigs either - a development that has sparked suggestions from within ZANU
PF that the report was deliberately watered down to avoid spawning discord
within the party. Since the findings would inevitably spill into the public
domain, the ruling ZANU PF, which is currently riven with factions, might
have wanted to avoid washing its dirty linen in public.

      ZANU PF bigwigs hauled before the committee during the investigations
include Mnangagwa, who was interviewed twice, Nicholas Goche, the Minister
of State for Security, Enos Chikowore, the former Public Service and
National Housing Minister, Frederick Shava, the director for ZANU PF, Sydney
Sekeramayi, the Minister of Defence, Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of
Anti-corruption, Nathan Shamuyarira, the ZANU PF information chief.

      Top business executives with links to ZANU PF companies - Chris Gomwe,
the managing director of Southern African Reinsurance and Livingstone Gwata,
the managing director of First Banking Corporation among others - were also

      During the interviews, Goche, who seats on the M & S Syndicate board,
said he received a letter of appointment in 2001but has never been invited
for a board meeting since then.

      The much-awaited report, a copy of which is in the hands of The
Financial Gazette, has however exposed serious corporate governance issues.
It said the way ZANU PF companies were being run left a lot to be desired.
Some, the report said, had gone for several years without board meetings and
audited accounts. Dividends were not paid timeously either.

      In its recommendations to the ruling party's supreme decision-making
body, the Politburo, the committee said the police should launch further
investigations to establish any prejudice in terms of revenue to all ZANU PF

      The investigations, said the committee, should rope in M & S
Syndicate, the ZANU PF investment vehicle, registered on December 7 1979 and
chaired by Mnangagwa.

      It was also further recommended that police investigations should also
target Catercraft, Fibrolite (an asbestos manufacturing company situated in
Kwekwe), and shelf companies housed under the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed
Southern African Reinsurance (SARE) namely Segmented Investments,
Hutsonville, Amelia Properties, M & S Investments and Smoothnest

      "It is recommended that the investigations should include all the
directors who fled the country, including their associates/accomplices," the
committe said in apparent reference to the three directors of ZANU PF
companies, Dipak Pandya, Jayant Joshi and his brother Manharlal, who skipped
the country when the investigations started.

      "Investigations should include the linkage between the party's local
investments and external investments of the party's partners in order to
establish whether or not the party has been prejudiced in terms of foreign
currency," read part of the committee's recommendations.

      David Karimanzira chaired the five-member committee whose other
members included retired General Solomon Mujuru, Matabeleland North Governor
Obert Mpofu, former Finance Minister Simba Makoni and Thoko Mathuthu, the
ZANU PF deputy secretary for transport and welfare.

      The report titled "The ZANU PF Politburo Report of the Committee on
Party Investments July 2004", said that most of the ruling party investments
were made through M & S Syndicate, which has over the years acquired shares
in Treger Holdings, Mike Appel, Catercraft, Fibrolite, Zidlee Holdings,
SARE, First Banking Corporation and ZIDCO Holdings, formed in 1980.

      M&S Syndicate directors include Mnangagwa, Sekeramayi, Goche,
Karimanzira, Jayant Joshi and his brother Manharlal.

      ZANU PF also owns ZANU PF Headquarters, a library at Number 130
Enterprise Road, Highlands, a warehouse in Ruwa and offices at 88 Robert
Mugabe Avenue. Other party investments include Jongwe Printing and
Publishing Company, Jongwe Farm and Nyadzonya Farm.

      The committee however failed to gather evidence pertaining to the sale
of Ottawa House, which was bombed in the 1980s as it used to accommodate
African National Congress members.

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      Govt promises crisis-ridden

      Harare City Council $50bln
      9/9/2004 7:31:39 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Harare City Council (HCC), facing operational snags following the
mass resignation of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) councillors, has
been promised $50 billion by the government for the refurbishment of the
obsolete Morton Jaffray water works.

      Part of the money, expected at the crisis-riddled Town House in the
next few weeks, will also be channelled towards the upgrading of the capital's
overwhelmed and clogged sewerage system.

      Nomutsa Chideya, the town clerk, told The Financial Gazette last week
that despite the political problems bedevilling the capital, the government
had pledged to bank-roll the municipality to resolve some of its problems
such as the replacement of obsolete water works.

      Of late, the city has been experiencing erratic water supplies and
burst sewage pipes, blamed on the old water reticulation system.

      Already, $10.7 billion had been made available to council by the
government under its Public Sector Investment Programme for the rebuilding
of the water works treatment plant at Morton Jaffray and the replacement of
damaged sewage pipes, according to council officials.

      The Morton Jaffray Water Treatment Plant was built in 1953 when Lake
Chivero was commissioned but has not been refurbished since then.

      "We are getting some sympathy from the government despite what is
happening," said Chideya, in apparent reference to the resignation in the
past few weeks of MDC councillors.

      Two weeks ago the MDC executive resolved to boycott all future
elections in Zimbabwe and withdrew its councillors from the HCC, greatly
crippling operations of the city.

      Since the MDC pullout from the council, the city fathers have failed
to meet since they cannot make a quorum.

      "We have been given $10.7 billion for the refurbishment of Morton
Jaffray and the upgrading of the sewerage system.

      "We expect an additional $50 billion and hopefully we will get it in
the next few weeks, but before the end of the month," said Chideya.

      "When this progra-mme (to refurbish the water works) is complete, we
hope to augment our water supply capacity to about 620 mega-litres a day
from the present 500 mega-litres a day. This we hope to be complete by the
middle of October," he added.

      The water treatment plant has the capacity of producing 614
mega-litres a day while the smaller Prince Edward Dam plant chips in with a
daily supply of about 60 mega-litres.

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      Civil servant Churu takes over the reins at NOCZIM

      Staff Reporter
      9/9/2004 7:32:41 AM (GMT +2)

      A FINANCE Ministry official, Zvinechimwe Churu, has been appointed
managing director of the beleaguered National Oil Company of Zimbabwe

      Churu, a civil servant for 20 years, takes over from Tendai Mangezi,
who has been the acting managing director since the departure of Engineer
Webster Muriritirwa last year.

      The 44-year-old Churu spent nine years in the Industry and
International Trade Ministry before moving to the FinanceMinistry, where he
has been director until his departure.

      Mangezi, who had been heavily tipped to take over the reins at the
troubled state-run oil importer, is said to have been sidelined to the
lesser important post of company secretary because of her legal background.

      The appointment of Churu as substantive managing director, which the
government has been dithering on since the departure of Muriritirwa, is seen
as a fire-fighting measure as fuel shortages resurface.

      Churu's appointment also comes at a time when fresh allegations of
financial impropriety at the corruption-riddled NOCZIM are surfacing.

      Churu, who assumed his new post this week, refused to reveal his
future plans but confirmed to The Financial Gazette that he was now the
NOCZIM boss.

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      Clash looming over new seed prices

      Thomas Madondoro
      9/9/2004 7:33:11 AM (GMT +2)

      SEED producers are headed for a clash of the titans with the
government over the new maize seed prices, raising fears that the fast
approaching 2004/2005 agricultural season may turn out to be another
disaster owing to anticipated shortage of inputs.

      The Zimbabwe Seed Trade Association (ZSTA) disclosed to this paper
yesterday that seed houses might close shop because the maize seed prices
unveiled by the Industry and International Trade Ministry on Tuesday were
not realistic.

      Vincent Gwara-dzimba, a senior ZSTA official, warned that the state
could be forced to import maize seed if it presses ahead with the controlled
prices. This will put another strain on the little foreign currency

      The Industry and International Trade Ministry claimed in a statement
released on Tuesday that the new prices were agreed on following "extensive
consultations with seed houses, farmers' unions and other interested

      "Next year we are going to import seed because all the companies will
have closed.

      "We are really concerned with the future of this country because if we
are not careful the land reform programme will collapse," said Gwaradzimba.

      "I am not sure whether they will sell their seeds, but the truth of
the matter is that the prices are not viable.

      "Nobody will survive with those prices. Labour, transport and
packaging have all gone up and you expect companies to survive selling at
that price."

      A 25kg bag of maize seed will now cost between $137 000 and $144 231
depending on the hybrid variety.

      The wholesale price of a 5kg bag would range from $26 000 to $27 390
and a retail price of between $28 000 and $30 00, depending on the variety.

      Seed growers will now receive $3 million per tonne from Seed Co, $2.5
million from Pannar Seed and $2 million from Pioneer Seed.

      Seed manufacturers this week said the prices cannot meet the high
production costs incurred by players in the industry, adding that farmers
have to brace for another steep price increase in the coming few weeks.

      Preparations for the coming season are likely to be disrupted as
farmers are failing to get seed on the market.

      The country requires about 300 000 tonnes of seed each season.

      Earlier, the government had ordered seed houses to revert to old
prices, but the manufacturers withdrew their stocks arguing that the prices
were no longer viable to keep them in business.

      A senior SeedCo official, Dennis Zaranyika, who had a meeting with
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made yesterday, said seed houses were engaging
the relevant ministries to solve the problem.

      He said: "We have pointed out that we are engaging various ministries
to solve the problem."

      SeedCo, one of the country's leading seed producers, has indicated
that seed prices could go up by almost 200 percent if it fails to access
cheap funds under the productive sector facility.

      Some of the major seed houses in the country include Pannar Seed,
Pioneer Zimbabwe, National Tested Seeds and Agpy.

      The government has indicated that it is reviving the Tripartite
Negotiating Forum to come up with a pricing and incomes protocol for the
management of prices and incomes.

      The models are expected to ensure affordability of the products by
consumers and also viability of manufacturers.

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      Succession issue takes new dimension

      Njabulo Ncube
      9/9/2004 7:34:09 AM (GMT +2)

      THE ZANU PF succession issue, an erstwhile political hot potato which
is likely to dominate the ruling party's congress in December, has taken a
new dimension with complications posed by the likelihood of a female cadre
emerging as one of the vice presidents.

      Party insiders told The Financial Gazette yesterday that jostling and
back-biting had reached a new crescendo within the ruling party as ZANU PF
gurus positioned themselves for top posts ahead of the congress, to be held
during the first week of December in Harare.

      They indicated that with John Nkomo, the party's national chairman,
tipped to replace Vice President Joseph Msika in December, the female cadre
sponsored by the powerful ZANU PF Women's League faced a fierce and bruising
duel from top male party gurus eyeing the other post of vice president.

      The post was left vacant following the death of Simon Muzenda last

      It also emerged this week that all the top guns coveting the
presidency were "uncomfortable" with President Robert Mugabe's indications
at the ZANU PF Women's Congress that women should be elevated to top
leadership positions. This was taken to mean that the Zimbabwean leader was
amenable to the idea of a woman vice president.

      The ZANU PF Women's Congress, as one of its recommendations at the
close of their gathering, said they would push for ex-liberation war soldier
Joyce Mujuru to be considered for the post of vice president.

      Mujuru is the wife of influential retired army General Solomon Mujuru
who commands respect among his peers.

      Emmerson Mnanga-gwa, the ZANU PF secretary for administration who also
doubles-up as the Speaker of Parliament, and Didymus Mutasa, the secretary
for foreign affairs, have been mentioned as the other two top senior
candidates eyeing the top job.

      Jonathan Moyo, the government's top spin doctor, has also had his name
mentioned as one of the Young Turks likely to spring a surprise at the
congress for one of the top posts in ZANU PF.

      Sources confided to this newspaper that the female dimension had
caused consternation among aspiring candidates for the country's top jobs
and that it had greatly complicated the succession debate.

      "There is uncertainty among the top contenders for the presidency.
President Mugabe's support for a woman to be elevated to one of the top
posts has been uncomfortable and disappointing for some people eyeing the
job," said an insider. "What it means is that it is no longer a walkover as
the women have entered the fray. The women, who in fact are the majority in
the party and have stood with us since the war of liberation, want to be
recognised. There is no other way for the party to repay them for their
support other than giving them one of the vice presidencies," said the

      Insiders said what is left is for the party to tamper with its
constitution to accommodate the women's resolution.

      Although the final agenda for the congress is yet to be finalised,
firm indications were that Vice President Msika would be retired in December
2004, paving the way for the affable Nkomo.

      Nkomo's stepping into the shoes of Msika, affectionately known as
Bruno among his coterie of political friends and foes, is courtesy of the
historic Unity Accord signed between the old ZANU PF and PF ZAPU then led by
the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo.

      If Msika goes and Nkomo steps into his shoes, the post of national
chairman would also generate a lot of intrigue because whoever lands it
would be the third most powerful politician in ZANU PF.

      "Because of the quota system, Mujuru or whoever the women push for has
an advantage over those wishing to replace Muzenda," said another source.

      Patrick Chinamasa, the party legal guru whose department helps with
preparation of the agenda for the congress, said he was waiting to be told
to do the papers for the congress. "I don't do the agenda. I am only
instructed to do the papers. I am waiting for those instructions. Talk to
the secretary for administration (Mnangagwa)," said Chinamasa.

      It is understood, however, that the issue of succession will not be on
the agenda but the sources said because party members who were anxious to
know who will succeed President Mugabe might raise it under Any Other
Business (AOB), as the next congress would only be held in 2009.

      President Mugabe has indicated he is serving his last term, which ends
in 2008. A special congress might be called before 2008 if President Mugabe
decides not to complete his term of office, according to party insiders.

      "If Mnangagwa fails to get the vice presidency at Congress he might as
well kiss the presidency good-bye unless he is parachuted to the post
through appointment by President Mugabe. There is no way he can just come
from being secretary of administration, jump over the two vice presidents
and the national chairman to be president. So it's a dog-eat-dog situation
to attain the post left by Dr Mzee," said another insider.

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      Madhuku arrested, NCA offices searched for arms

      Chief Political Reporter
      9/9/2004 7:34:34 AM (GMT +2)

      POLICE yesterday arrested Lovemore Madhuku, the chairman of the
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), before ransacking his organisation's
offices allegedly in search of "dangerous" weapons.

      Madhuku, whose NCA is campaigning for a new constitution, was
allegedly arrested in the early hours of yesterday and at lunchtime was
brought in handcuffs to the NCA offices by armed police.

      The police then proceeded to search the premises but failed to unearth
any dangerous weapons, according to NCA officials.

      Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the arrest of
constitutional lawyer Madhuku, whose organisation has been at the forefront
in vehemently opposing the proposed Non-Governmental Organisations Bill due
to be passed into a law to monitor the operations of NGOs.

      "We (NCA) condemn the manner in which the police arrested our national
chairperson in the infancy of this morning and the subsequent ransacking of
the NCA offices without a search warrant.

      "What makes it worse is that the police have even denied Madhuku's
friends and relatives access to him at the Harare Police Station where he is
detained. No charges have been preferred against him yet but sources within
the police have indicated that the ZRP is seeking a warrant to go and
ransack his house in search of so-called dangerous weapons and subversive
materials," said Jessie Majome, an NCA official.

      Last week the NCA, working together with other NGOs opposed to the
Bill which critics say is meant to further close democratic space in
Zimbabwe, staged a demonstration against the proposed law.

      However, police moved with speed to thwart the NCA demonstrators from
marching into the city centre, arresting several protestors in the process.
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      Phoney oil firms give liberalisation a bad name

      Nelson Banya
      9/9/2004 7:35:38 AM (GMT +2)

      THE unwelcome return of fuel queues, a persistent eyesore in the past
three years that Zimbabweans thought they had finally been rid of, has
exposed the government's failure to follow its policies through.

      Whereas past fuel shortages have been as a result of lack of foreign
currency to import the commodity, it has been established that the current
shortage has been caused by lack of adequate supervision of the oil firms
that have proliferated since the deregulation of the sector.

      The government liberalised the fuel sector last year after relentless
pressure from industry following the virtual collapse of the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) due to mismanagement and deep-seated

      It emerged this week that the erratic fuel supplies experienced in the
past couple of weeks had very little to do with rising oil prices and the
weakening domestic currency but more to do with the abuse of foreign
currency allocated to fuel dealers by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

      China's overheating economy, as well as increased consumption in the
populous Asian region, has pushed oil prices to a 23-year high of US$50 per
barrel in recent weeks.

      China, whose economy is growing at close to 10 percent per year, has
increased its oil consumption by 41 percent, while India's intake has grown
by 14 percent.

      The heightened demand has had the effect of pushing oil prices up.

      This, coupled with the weakening local currency, had been advanced as
plausible reasons for the tenuous fuel supplies.

      That was until the RBZ released figures of foreign currency allocated
to fuel dealers, numbering more than 67, through its foreign currency
auction system, charging that there was a clear pattern of abuse.

      The central bank has, since January, availed as much as US$268 million
for fuel procurement, an average of US$34 million per month.

      "Submissions by the oil industry, as well as empirical assessments of
the supply chains of the economy, suggest that on average, the country
requires around US$30 million per month for fuel procurement, excluding debt
service, to meet fuel requirements of all sectors.

      "The Reserve Bank, however, has noted with grave concern the
increasing abuse of foreign exchange meant for fuel procurement by operators
participating on the auction system," RBZ governor Gideon Gono revealed this

      He said of the 70-odd fuel-importing companies - mostly
indigenous-owned - currently participating on the auction, only 10 had
distribution networks, a situation that would obviously create costly
inefficiencies in the system.

      The governor came short of indicting the Ministry of Energy and Power
Development for laxity in policing the firms, which emerged after the
blundering Noczim's monopoly was effectively broken last year.

      The government last year promised to set up an independent regulatory
commission to come up with a framework within which fuel industry players
would operate.

      A year on, no such framework has materialised and some firms are
capitalising on the government's lethargy, at a huge cost to the crisis-hit

      Gono said the mushrooming of oil firms that did not have distribution
networks or any other supporting infrastructure had seen a "disproportionate
number of fuel importers continuing to operate as briefcase middlemen, with
some electing to make money out of disposal of foreign currency accessed on
the auction, instead of importing fuel".

      Although Gono pronounced measures to restore sanity to the fuel
procurement system, it would seem that nothing short of a proper regulatory
environment would curb the excesses of "oil" firms that have given
liberalisation a bad name.

      Among measures taken by the central bank, all future allocations of
foreign currency through the auctions will be made via a special purpose
vehicle (SPV), which will pool resources required by bona fide fuel

      "The oil industry is, therefore, expected to self-correct and re-align
their processes for smooth operation of the SPV," Gono said.

      While the private players in the fuel procurement business will come
under greater regulatory scrutiny in coming weeks, with some unwelcome
entrants into the system inevitably flushed out of the pipeline, Noczim's
strategic role also looks set to be examined.

      The parastatal, whose history is littered with bungling and
corruption, got the lion's share of funds through the RBZ's auctions -
US$101 million (40 percent) since February, with an additional US$20 million
having been injected in recent weeks as the RBZ sought to avert another fuel

      Gono could scarcely mask his frustration with Noczim over the less
than resolute execution of its mandate - to ensure the country has strategic

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      Navigating Zim's treacherous political waters

      Nelson Banya
      9/9/2004 7:36:41 AM (GMT +2)

      WHEN Zimbabwe's official opposition party, the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), which turns five on Saturday, was launched amid high hopes,
ZANU PF spokesperson Chen Chimutengwende peremptorily dismissed the party as
yet another political fledgling that would not grow a stern beak.

      Half a decade on, Chimutengwende, the former information minister, has
been cast to the periphery of local politics while the MDC has not only
established a foothold on Zimbabwe's body politic, but is giving ZANU PF -
in power since independence in 1980 - a run for its money.

      If a week is a long time in politics, then it would appear as if the
MDC has been around since primordial times.

      The entrance of the MDC into Zimbabwe's treacherous political field
has coincided with enough developments and incidents to fill a generation,
as the country has sunk deeper into an economic and political bog.

      For instance, at the time of the launch, the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions, which played midwife in the MDC's formation, was pushing for a
$4 000 minimum wage.

      The breadline currently stands at $1 million.

      Year-on-year inflation was around 50 percent at the time, but it is
currently slowing down and stood at 363 percent in July, having peaked at
623 percent in January 2004.

      The MDC has since contested in a parliamentary election (in 2000),
where it won 57 of the 120 contested seats, and a presidential plebiscite
(in 2002) where its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, came within a whisker of
sending President Robert Mugabe into retirement.

      The MDC has also contested in local government elections and dominates
in most urban councils - Harare and Bulawayo elected MDC executive mayors in
2002, while other municipalities are under MDC administrations.

      Born out of increased public disenchantment with an increasingly
distant and complacent ZANU PF government, most who underestimated the
ruling party's survival instincts expected the MDC to ride into power on the
back of the worsening economic crisis.

      When the MDC and most like-minded civic organisations inspired the
ZANU PF government's embarrassing defeat in the February 2000 constitutional
referendum, a victory of similar proportions in the parliamentary elections,
which would follow in June, was just a matter of time.

      So when the MDC won 57 seats, having fought a bitter and blood-stained
campaign with ZANU PF, characterised by deaths and intimidation, the
populace, while acknowledging that the MDC had entered into the contest just
nine months after its inception, took it with a hint of disappointment.

      The presidential poll which took place two years later was also
incendiary and its results are still being contested in court, as are those
of some 30-plus parliamentary contests of 2000.

      In spite of worrying signs of disillusionment among the electorate,
underlined by creeping apathy, Tsvangirai insists his party will hold its
own at the easel where Zimbabwe's political history is being painted.

      "At the weekend, we shall celebrate the fifth anniversary of the
Movement for Democratic Change - a major force that has changed the
political landscape of Zimbabwe and ushered in an era of active, multi-party
politics in this country.

      "September 11 1999 shall remain permanently engraved in our memory as
the day that changed Zimbabwe. On this day, the people took a bold and
unprecedented decision to position an alternative political formation, an
alternative political movement that represents the future. We are the agents
of change and our victory is around the corner," Tsvangirai said this week.

      However, as the MDC celebrates its fifth anniversary, the dominant
feeling of its rank and file is not quite that of imminent victory or, as
Tsvangirai calls it, "colossal change", but growing apprehension.

      The opposition party, which has lost a string of parliamentary
by-elections held since 2000 under contentious electoral laws which have
been bolstered by even more contentious legislation such as the Public Order
and Security Act and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(ominously acronymed AIPPA), has decided to boycott al future elections
until the government puts in place electoral procedures agreed on by all
Southern African Development Community states at a recent summit in

      In the aftermath of the MDC's decision, which has received as much
approval as it has drawn criticism even from sympathisers, ZANU PF bagged
the Seke constituency - previously held by the MDC - without going to the

      While the euphoria which accorded the party an outward appearance of
strength might have subsided somewhat, the MDC does appear to be stronger
than it was in 2000.

      Officials say the party's database reflects about 3.5 million members,
while the temporary structures the party put in place before the 2000
election have since been replaced by robust ones.

      The MDC now has solid structures in all 12 provinces and a 200-strong
staff complement.

      There has been a downside too, with the lowest probably being the loss
of one of its leading lights - firebrand former party spokesperson and
Kuwadzana Member of Parliament Learnmore Jongwe, who was facing charges of
murdering his wife and died in remand prison in 2002.

      There have also been blunders and questionable decisions, but the MDC
will argue that, in comparison to the bleeps on the other side of the
political divide, its sins surely pale into insignificance.

      What remains a fact, though, is that the party's naysayers, who
thought the its political fortunes "were between slim and none", have been
confounded and, according to the law of averages, the MDC could yet rule one

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      Blackmail at private schools: a personal experience

      Charles Rukuni
      9/9/2004 7:37:12 AM (GMT +2)

      I HAD to withhold tears as I watched my eight-year old daughter sob
when I told her I could not fill her raffle form. Her teacher wanted it that
day. She had been given the form almost a month back, but I had not been
able to get sponsors.

      She had brought several raffle forms before and I had filled them
promptly, giving her the amount that was required. I had not sought outside
sponsors. My wife had, however, occasionally sought sponsorship from her

      But this raffle was different. It was not even a raffle. It was a
devious way by my daughter's school to get me to pay increased fees that had
been turned down by Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere.

      I was broke and had even made a request to pay the school fees in
instalments. The fees had gone up by nearly 170 percent in the first term
and now the school wanted to double the first term's fees.

      I could not afford to pay the additional fees both physically and on
moral grounds, but as I watched my daughter sob, not understanding my
financial problems or what I was going through, I felt cheated and robbed at
the blatant extortion the school had resorted to.

      While I was prepared to pay any fees that the school charged, because
I had made a personal choice to send my children there, I was not prepared
to be used as a pawn either by the school or the minister. The two had to
come clean and settle their scores without sandwiching me in between.

      The way things were, I would be a loser either way, but what disturbed
me most was how the school was using me, as a parent, to fight its battle
with the minister, lying that I had approved the fee increase.

      The school was quite aware that under the Education Act it had to have
the approval of parents to increase fees, but apparently it had been doing
so for some years without my approval because of lax controls in the

      Even the Association of Trust Schools, which represents private
schools, had admitted in a circular to parents that: ". . . it must be
acknowledged that several of the Trust schools were grossly irregular in
their non-observance of the Act and there is need to apologise

      Though the schools were quite aware, according to the circular, that
under the Education Act, no responsible authority "shall charge any fee, or
increase the same by more than the prescribed amount or percentage in any
period of 12 months unless such increase has been approved by the Secretary
(of Education)" from as far back as 2001, everyone had been doing his or her
own thing.

      "In 2002," the circular went on, "the Permanent Secretary delegated
authority to receive, assess and decide on applications to regional
directors and since then difficulties have arisen with increased frequency,
including: lack of acknowledgement or response; applications 'lost" etc.

      "Given such frustrations, the rapid acceleration of inflation and the
need to send out fee invoices to ensure that schools opened on time and had
sufficient operating income; schools had increased fees without approval on
the assumption that 'no refusal' was a tacit approval."

      To me, it appeared Chigwedere had merely stepped in to restore sanity,
just like central bank governor Gideon Gono had clamped down on the
financial sector to restore order.

      His methods may have been crude, but it was probably because of the
arrogance displayed by the private schools, which continued to defy his
directives through various methods that they were employing to ensure that
parents paid the fees they wanted.

      I do not like to be misunderstood. I am prepared to pay any fees the
school charges, but what I will not stomach is to be forced to accept that I
agreed to the fees when I did not and was not consulted, but merely told
that this was what I had to pay.

      My daughter's school first sent out circulars advising me about the
proposed fee increases and asked me to agree to or reject the fee increases.
It looks like it received a very poor response because the school board
called a parents' meeting at which it wanted the parents to endorse the fee

      Some parents argued that the school could not just increase fees at
will, especially since the budget it had presented only had the expenditure
without revenue which parents believed the school had made from its
investments because of the high interest rates that prevailed towards the
end of last year and during the first term.

      Though 75 percent of the expenditure was on teachers' salaries,
parents were more concerned about whether the fee was justified or the
school merely wanted to screen the poor. The meeting almost broke down when
one of the parents said those who could not afford the proposed fees should
withdraw their children.

      Parents were, once again, asked to fill slips asking them whether they
agreed to the new fees or not. It appears the school did not get the
response it wished for, because it called for another parents' meeting, but
this time, parents were asked to meet in small groups.

      With three children at the school, it meant I could not attend three
meetings at the same time. I did not attend any of the meetings because it
was now evident that the school was trying to use a divide-and-rule tactic.

      Parents could not take advantage of their numbers to gauge the
majority view. And without anyone taking count of who voted for what in each
small group, parents were, once again, at the mercy of school authorities.

      It was after these meetings flopped again that the school introduced
the raffle. Though it was titled: "Fund Raising Raffle" with the first prize
being 100 percent discount for third term fees or 50 percent cash equivalent
and the fourth prize being a 25 percent discount, the raffle had a minimum
sponsorship of $10 000 per line.

      One had to fill in all columns. Interestingly, the columns on the
raffle forms were equivalent to the balance parents were supposed to pay to
meet the new fees turned down by the government. Children whose parents had
paid the new fees were not given raffle forms.

      For me, this was the last straw. Why did the school not just come
clean, and say "pay the new fees or else". But what was even more disturbing
was the frequency with which teachers demanded the raffle forms back from
the children and the number of circulars that I started getting.

      It also appeared that some people were trying to settle old scores
through the fee issue. One circular, for example, had this to say:

      "On the surface it may seem right for the government of the day to
protect its citizens from unwarranted increases in school fees. Closer
examination however reveals that it is not as simple as this. The fact is
that the schools are not shielded from economic realities of our time, such
as wage increases and the escalating cost of consumables and school
maintenance in an environment of hyperinflation.

      "It is our observation that it is not the private schools which are
responsible for making bad economic decisions but rather those charged with
the governing of our country. Most private schools are run on a non-profit
making basis and are content simply to balance their expenditure against
their fee income.

      "No, the real issue here is the failed economic policies of this
regime. If the economy was sound and inflation was kept at manageable
levels, then schools would not need to increase fees significantly. It is
the collapse of the national economy which has necessitated the increases in
school fees term on term.

      "The unpalatable but inescapable truth is that the cause of our
present predicament is bad governance. A failed administration is now
desperately trying to find scapegoats to divert attention from its own
manifest failures. Any school worth its salt is bound to increase its fees
to the level required to maintain hard-won standards."

      Having grown up in the colonial era, my stomach turned whenever
someone mentioned "standards" because the so-called maintenance of standards
was used to shut blacks out of the economy for almost a century.

      "What is the regime's motive, we ask, for the unlawful forced closures
of the private schools at the beginning of the second term?" the circular
went on. "Is it simply a measure of their success in providing quality
education which government schools have generally failed to do - another
embarrassing reminder of bad governance?

      "Another more sinister interpretation of the regime's motive is that
the forced closure of the private schools is a part of a larger plan to
destroy all pockets of independent thought. The private schools have become
in our time icons of free and liberal thinking, which the regime is no
longer willing to tolerate.

      "By the same token they are perceived by an authoritarian regime as
places in which dissent is encouraged, together with an alternative vision
for the nation. The irony is of course that Mr Mugabe himself went to a
Catholic mission school, Kutama, where he was given the opportunity and
encouraged to think freely. Since he sends his own children to private
schools we must assume that he still values this quality.

      "On this interpretation the regime's motives are downright evil. They
imply a deliberate intention to destroy the urban middle class, black and
white, in order to create a totally dependent and subservient population of
peasants, to whom the idea of independent thought would be taboo . . . "

      As I watched my daughter sob, I began to wonder, who was using the
children as pawns? But I had no choice. I had to pay the fees. What I was
doing was morally wrong, but my daughter's welfare came first.

      I had had a bitter experience before. In the eighties when I was with
the Chronicle, I was assigned to do a story about doctors who gave workers
"sick letters" to get time off work when they were not ill at all. I was
asked by my editor to name the doctors and was given a by-line though I had
insisted that my name should not be used.

      This must have irked the doctors because one of them, one of the few
that worked on Sunday, refused to treat my son six years later. I don't want
the same to happen to my children now.

      But, one could rightly ask, if I am so concerned about my children,
why did I write this story? I had to get this out because, according to Alex
Molokoane of Alex Hair in South Africa, blacks have been indoctrinated to
expect appalling service for so long that they still have to be educated to
expect good service.

      Molokoane, who is quoted in the book: "Revelling in the Wild -
Business lessons out of Africa" says: "It's a terrible thing, but in the
past they have been made to feel as though the service provider of the
product or service was doing them a favour by serving them . . .

      "The one thing that I've realised about black people is that if you
give them good service, they'll come back to you. But if you give them bad
service, they won't complain, they'll just walk away. The only time I
realised that we black people complain is when we are already fighting, like
when we believe we have been really wronged?"

      The truth is I want my children to get a good education. But I do not
want to live my neighbour's life by pretending that I can afford it, when I
am borrowing left, right and centre, just to keep my children at school -
and probably protect my ego as well.

      The new fees are just too much for me. While the Central Statistics
Office, which calculates inflation, weighs education fees at only 3.4
percent, the current fees consume 62 percent of my monthly income.

      Though this is my choice, I don't want to live a lie.

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      ZANU PF sneaks back into Byo council

      Charles Rukuni
      9/9/2004 7:37:51 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - ZANUPF slipped back into the Bulawayo City Council through
the back door when its candidate, Ernest Msipa, stood unopposed when
nominations for a by-election in Ward 7 closed on Friday because the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which is boycotting all pending
elections, did not field a candidate.

      The seat was declared vacant after the councillor for the area, Albert
Ndhlovu of the MDC, failed to attend six consecutive council meetings.
Ndhlovu was reported to have left the country in September last year to seek
medical treatment in South Africa but never came back.

      The by-election was initially scheduled for September 18, but
Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede had postponed all local government
by-elections scheduled for that date to September 25.

      The MDC held all 29 seats in the council until the recent development.

      The MDC's national executive council decided to boycott all pending
elections two weeks ago saying it will only participate when the government
adopts electoral reforms that are in line with the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) principles and guidelines for democratic

      The SADC guidelines say member states should ensure full participation
of their citizens in the political process. There should be freedom of
association, political tolerance, equal opportunity for all political
parties to access the state media, equal opportunity to exercise the right
to vote and be voted for, voter education, an independent judiciary and
impartiality of the electoral institutions.

      Though the government has conceded to some electoral reforms such as
the setting up of an independent election commission, observers say these
reforms fall far short of those required by the regional body.

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      Ncube misses the point

      9/9/2004 8:06:23 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE'S less-than convincing self-appointed moral authority, one
Archbishop Pius Ncube, ostensibly a man of exceptional personal
responsibility, is writing a bizarre episode in his book of Zimbabwe's
tragi-comic political history.

      With the initial good deal of adulation where his stance was viewed as
an act of civil bravery to criticise government excesses getting into his
head and oblivious of the fact that the admiration is increasingly turning
to scepticism, the Archbishop was at it again last weekend.

      Exhibiting unconcealed satisfaction, the globe-trotting and
politically excitable cleric bragged in a weekly publication about how he
apprised the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, of how politically,
the pendulum has swung too far the other way in Zimbabwe. Other key issues
discussed with the man destined to one day become king, as told by Ncube,
were runaway inflation, the AIDS scourge, the hunger which he claims is
stalking the nation and the ugly face of the ZANU PF attack machine, among

      "I told him about the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe but he was
well informed. He expresssed his sadness and stated that he was the one who
handed the leadership to Mugabe at Rufaro Stadium in April 1980," revealed
Archbishop Ncube, who not long ago was economic with the truth when he
appeared on Sky TV saying that inflation in Zimbabwe was 1 000 percent! For
all we know inflation peaked at 623 percent in January this year.

      In short, what the unashamed self-publicist whose Achilles heel is
playing to the gallery told Prince Charles in no uncertain terms was that
there was gnashing of teeth in the God-forsaken country called Zimbabwe.
That is not our bone of contention because one can literally cut the
disillusionment among the generality of Zimbabweans with a knife. More than
anything else however, the trip to Great Britain exposed the cleric, whose
crusade in defence of individual liberty and standards of living we doubt is
completely altruistic, as someone still holding on to the illusion that the
United Kingdom is relevant to the political situation in the Southern
African country - a Zimbabwean obsession or national curse!

      Although he did not say it, we are hard-pressed not to feel that the
Archbishop's discussion with Prince Charles was an unconscious indicator of
his sub-conscious intentions - that the British government should tighten
the noose around the government of Zimbabwe, which he is on record as having
implied ranks among the most despotic regimes in the world. This, the
Archbishop believes, will raise the pressure on President Robert Mugabe, who
himself has never hidden his dislike of Ncube for allegedly betraying his
country in its most desperate hour.

      The "crusading" man of the cloth, with whom the Zimbabwean authorities
he accuses of a huge democratic deficit have shown a flush of impatience,
claims that he is doing this because he is concerned with the rights of the
common people, hence the oft repeated " . . . I can't stop talking because
it is a God-given duty that the Church must talk when people are suffering .
. . "

      We know only too well that when the system crumbles, the rights of the
common people would be the last anyone remembers, which is why we would
support the Archbishop, were it not for this mentality of his poisoned by
the noxious fumes of the once blazing but now smouldering colonial fires,
that the UK is a factor in the Zimbabwean political crisis. This is moreso
when it has something to do with outworn shibboleths of the monarchical and
feudal institutions whose relevance even in the UK is not only increasingly
being questioned but is also now a subject of heated debate.

      The Archbishop, who it would not be too far-fetched to say might be
using this to buy influence and stitch together a political power base, has
obviously lost contact with reality. There are new and complex political
realities in Zimbabwe and the thinking that the UK still has the diplomatic,
political or economic clout to influence developments in the country is not
only erroneous but also bereft of realism, so to speak. The UK's influence
collapsed with the rupture of the ties that held for several decades. If
anything there hasn't been any hope for rapprochement and both countries
seem to have written each other off as net losses. This is a tacit admission
from both sides that the fences have irretrievably broken down.

      That is why the seemingly patronising Prince who reportedly expressed
sadness over the events unfolding in Zimbabwe since he is the one who handed
the leadership to President Mugabe - as if Zimbabweans, who sacrificed so
much in the war of liberation, achieved the right to self-determination on a
silver plate - skulked. Whatever they discussed with Ncube should have, were
it for the Prince's wish, remained within the confines of the four walls of
some dark room in London. He knows only too well the irrelevance of his
country to the internal politics of Zimbabwe of today.

      As a matter of fact there is consensus that the solution to the
country's crisis should be internal. Such reforms will only take root if
they are backed by a durable political sentiment at home. But this is
obviously lost on the Archbishop who still finds it difficult to overcome
the inertia of Zimbabwe's encumbering historical ties. Little wonder the
cleric's behaviour is beginning to provoke growing concern and the public is
now looking at him with a magnifying glass after the initial uncritical
admiration and praise.

      Indeed, this is why those perplexed by the cleric's behaviour are
wondering when Archbishop Ncube and those of his ilk are going to
acknowledge the historical validity and sustainability of home-grown
political reform and the hopelessness of seeking recourse to exogenous
forces who might have their own agendas. Otherwise it is difficult to escape
the impression that whatever he has been doing as regards Zimbabwean
politics is guided by vain and groundless hope. It is not in fact based on
the calculation and understanding of political events unfolding in the

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      ...and now to the Notebook

      9/9/2004 8:04:01 AM (GMT +2)

      News from Lilongwe is that our national son-in-law, Bingu wa Mutharika
(or is it Bingu wa Muluzi?) is getting closer and closer to fire.

      He is increasingly irritating opposition members in that country by
his habit of finding it difficult to tell the truth. We are told that the
new man just don't want to tell the truth.

      For the uninitiated, the nickname Bingu wa Muluzi comes from the fact
that the man was handpicked by Bakili Muluzi when the latter's term of
office was cruelly coming to an end and he desperately needed someone to
protect him from prosecution for any wrongdoing during his days in power.

      Yes, days in power, not days in office, because in Africa leaders come
into power, not into office!

      It was interesting that when Muluzi, 60, was selling wa Mutharika, 71,
throughout Malawi, his slogan was that Malawi needed young blood . . . and
that young blood came in the form of someone more than a decade older than

      Back to wa Mutharika. Malawians have been questioning wa Mutharika's
background . . . from the fact that he has lived in exile for almost all his
life, why he is using a pseudonym and where his wife comes from.

      Although it has now emerged that his wife Ethel is Zimbabwean, all
along he has been maintaining that his dear wife is Malawian by birth,
having been born around Mwanza.

      But this was not the truth and we wonder why he was ashamed of the
truth about her. And as the truth is coming out, members of the opposition
are wondering what else the president has been lying about. They suspect he,
himself, might be either Tanzanian or Kenyan.

      Wa Mutarika claims he changed his name to protect himself from
assassination by agents of the late Malawian dictator Kamuzu Banda.

      When wa Muluzi came to open this year's Harare Agricultural Show, and
then extended his stay here ostensibly to witness the burial of Eddison
Zvobgo, he in fact wanted to visit his in-laws here, as well as to visit his
farm in Kadoma. Yes, wa Mutharika has a farm here, and it is at that farm
that he spent the Saturday before Zvobgo's burial.

      Don't ask CZ whether it is proper to give land to non-citizens when
our own people are not yet satisfied, but the truth is that wa Mutharika is
our son-in-law, and he has a farm here.

      CZ and all other patriotic Zimbos hope against all hope that our sexy
warriors, whom we are told spent more time entertaining prostitutes than
preparing for the tie against Nigeria, learnt something from the west

      CZ has always been curious about those so-called preparatory
friendlies against Botswana, Zambia and Uganda in which what was playing was
a ghost national team, not the real team. What was the purpose of these
matches? To waste money?

      Or can we blame the British for the defeat since there are official
allegations that the west African country is one of those being used by the
former colonial masters to try and destabilise our dear country?

      A story goes like this: A man was sick and tired of going to work
every day while his wife stayed home. He wanted her to see what he went
through so he prayed: "Dear Lord, I go to work every day and put in eight
hours while my wife merely stays at home. I want her to know what I go
through, so please allow her body to switch with mine for a day. Amen."

      God, in his infinite wisdom, granted the man's wish. The next morning,
sure enough, the man awoke as a woman. He arose, quarrelled with his
partner, cooked breakfast for her, awakened the kids, bathed them, set out
their school clothes, fed them breakfast, packed their lunches, drove them
to school, came home and picked up the dry cleaning, took it to the
cleaners, and stopped at the bank to make a transaction, went grocery
shopping, then drove home to put away the groceries.

      He paid the bills and balanced the cheque book. He cleaned the cat's
litter box and bathed the dog. Then it was already 1: 00 pm and he hurried
to make the beds, do the laundry, vacuum, dust and sweep and mop the kitchen

      He rushed to the school to pick up the kids and got into an argument
with them on the way home. He set out milk and cookies and got the kids
organised to do their homework, then set up the ironing board and watched TV
while he did the ironing.

      At 4:30 he began peeling potatoes and washing vegetables for salad,
roasted the pork chops and snapped fresh beans for supper.

      After supper, he cleaned the kitchen, ran the dishwasher, folded
laundry, bathed the kids and put them to bed. At 9:00pm he was exhausted
and, though his daily chores weren't finished, he went to bed where he was
expected to make love, which he managed to get through without complaint.
Then he quarrelled with his partner again before falling asleep.

      The next morning, he awoke and immediately knelt by the bed and said:
"Lord, I don't know what I was thinking. I was so wrong to envy my wife's
being able to stay home all day. Please, oh please, let us trade back."

      The Lord, again in his infinite wisdom, replied: "My son, I feel you
have learned your lesson and I will be happy to change things back to the
way they were before. You'll just have to wait nine months, though. You got
pregnant last night."

      Good one, isn't it?
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      Batoka power project put on ice

      Felix Njini
      9/9/2004 7:38:44 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has shelved its
US$1.2 billion Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric Scheme, heightening fears that
government policy on power generation is at sea.

      It has been established that the Batoka Gorge power generation
project, the approved least-cost expansion scenario in power generation, had
been shelved due to a shortage of funds.

      The first unit for the envisaged project, situated along the Zambezi
River, had been targeted to be in place by 2010. Expectations were that
powerhouses on the north and south bank of the river, each with a capacity
of 800 MW, would have been developed with private sector participation.

      Zimbabwe has a peak power demand of 2 100 MW while local generation
stands at 1 200 MW, giving a supply imbalance of 900 MW which is imported.

      ZESA, which owes three regional power suppliers US$51 million, imports
250 MW from Hydro Caborra Bassa (HCB) of Mozambique, 150 MW from Eskom of
South Africa and 150 MW from Snel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

      Sources said the Batoka project had been stalled for some time owing
to the country's political and economic difficulties.

      Initially the project had been intended as a joint venture with
Zambia, which has since lost interest as it has adequate power supplies and
has indicated that the project was not a priority.

      Obert Nyatanga, ZESA general manager corporate affairs, confirmed to
The Financial Gazette that the project, scheduled to be completed in seven
years, had been shelved due to shortage of funds.

      Nyatanga said ZESA was diverting full attention to enticing investors
to develop the Hwange and Kariba South Power stations.

      The cash-strapped ZESA requires a US$600 million outlay to develop its
two power projects and has been desperately trying to lure investors.

      Energy experts have noted that economic growth could not be sustained
without adequate investment in the power sector.

      The government has also abandoned a proposed greenfield project to
build a 1 400 MW coal-fired plant in Gokwe North.

      Industry has become jittery, saying government's signals are not

      There are long lead times to building power stations, they say, and
delays in making decisions could lead to total blackouts in the coming

      Sidney Gata, ZESA executive chairman, last month blamed government for
delaying the awarding of coal concessions to international investors
intending to develop Hwange and Kariba South Power stations.

      ZESA has already signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China's
National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC), but Gata
said the deals have come unstuck after government refused to bow to the
investors' demands that they be granted coal concessions.

      "The Batoka power project is a seven-year long project and requires a
huge capital outlay. At the moment we are concentrating more on Hwange and
Kariba south power stations, for which we are trying to raise capital to
develop the projects in the coming three years," Nyatanga said.

      Nyatanga said government has not even reached an agreement with the
Zambian government, which has already indicated that it will not cooperate.

      The supply for coal is not adequate and that is why investors want to
do their own coal mining to supply the power plants, Nyatanga said.

      "They want assurance that the power stations will be running without
interruptions such as coal shortages," Nyatanga said.

      "Investors will get their returns from selling the power but they also
want to export some of the coal they will be mining," he added.

      The country has enough coal to feed into the power generation plants
and to export, Nyatanga said.

      Zimbabwe, whose power supply situation has never been stable, is
desperately trying to find a solution to an imminent supply gap the region
is likely to face, beginning in 2007.

      Regional suppliers might fail to have surplus power in 2007.

      The only short-term solution, according to Gata, lies in the speedy
development of the Hwange and Kariba South power projects.

      In the long term, the cash-strapped government would be expected to
start the ball rolling in developing some of its long stalled power
generation projects such as the Batoka Gorge among others, energy experts
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      Last-ditch attempt to resolve seed crisis

      Thomas Madondoro
      9/9/2004 7:58:46 AM (GMT +2)

      THE government this week engaged seed producers in a desperate attempt
to resolve the long-simmering issue of seed prices and ensure availability
of seed ahead of the fast approaching 2004/2005 farming season.

      The move, intended to ensure seed availability in the country, which
has been suffering from seed shortages in previous years, is also meant to
placate the farming community, which has been blaming government for its
failure to provide adequate seed.

      Joseph Made, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, said he was
meeting seed producers this week but could not be drawn into disclosing the
deliberations of the meetings.

      "I have representatives of seed houses in my office right now.

      "The season is here and there is every reason for farmers to be
worried because of the unavailability of seed. We will announce the outcome
of the meeting in due course," Made said this week.

      Seed manufacturing firms are pushing for increases in seed prices
citing mounting production costs.

      The government had ordered seed houses to revert to old prices but the
manufacturers withdrew their stocks, arguing that the prices were no longer
viable to keep them in business.

      Farmers have to brace themselves for another steep increase in the
coming few weeks.

      SeedCo, one the country's leading seed producers, has indicated that
seed prices could go up by almost 200 percent if it fails to access cheap
funds under the productive sector facility (PSF).

      A senior SeedCo official, Dennis Zaranyika, said seed houses were
engaging relevant ministries to solve the problem.

      He, however, could not be drawn into disclosing the concerns of seed
houses, saying he was in a meeting with Made. The government is considering
proposals on seed pricing submitted by all seed houses in the country.

      The price of maize seed has gone up in recent months, with a 10kg bag
now costing more than $130 000, up from $21 000 last season.

      Some of the major seed houses in the country include Pannar Seed,
Pioneer Zimbabwe, National Tested Seeds and Agpy.

      The country requires about 300 000 tonnes of seed each season.

      Apart from the ongoing negotiations, the government has indicated it
is reviving the Tripartite Negotiating Forum to come up with a pricing and
incomes protocol for the management of prices and income.

      The models are expected to ensure affordability of the products by
consumers and also viability of manufacturers.
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      Anti-monopolies minister's monopoly on violence

      9/9/2004 7:54:06 AM (GMT +2)

      The Minister of Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies, Didymus Mutasa,
paradoxically seems to enjoy upholding a monopoly of his own as far as
getting involved in violent incidents is concerned.

      Not long ago, Mutasa got more than he bargained for when he tried to
poke his nose into a matter that did not concern him. This was when he got
caught up in the crossfire in a fracas in Parliament involving Chimanimani
Member of Parliament Roy Bennett and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa.

      Mutasa apparently thought he could gang up with Chinamasa against the
Chimanimani MP but both government ministers ended up lying prostrate on the
floor of the august House.

      Since then, the justice minister has been noticeably more subdued in
his public demeanour and pronouncements.

      But according to press reports last week, Mutasa is once again
embroiled in another controversy involving violence.

      This time, the violent clashes took place in Mutasa's parliamentary
constituency of Makoni North, which he evidently regards as his personal

      My dictionary defines constituency as "the whole body of voters who
elect one representative to a legislature "or "all the voters represented by
one deputy" or "a district that sends one representative to a legislature".

      This definition does not in any way suggest that a legislative
representative has exclusive claim and authority over a constituency or that
it is a no-go zone for other politicians.

      But Mutasa's supporters are alleged to have assaulted a former freedom
fighter, Major James Kaunye, precisely because he expressed an interest in
contesting ZANU PF primary elections in Makoni North. Major Kaunye was
reportedly left for dead.

      But despite this, Mutasa is said to have gloated that the war veteran
had got what he deserved. Media reports quoted Mutasa as saying: "What was
he doing at my meeting . . . We have not been friends since Kaunye declared
his desire to contest me."

      He is reported to have added for good measure that he would not
tolerate anyone who dared to challenge him in Makoni North.

      Mutasa's stance is a disturbing sign of the level of intolerance now
poisoning political discourse in Zimbabwe. If Mutasa can be so intolerant of
a fellow ruling party cadre presenting himself to the electorate in Makoni
North, what hope is there for candidates from opposition political parties
to campaign in that constituency ahead of next year's parliamentary

      Mutasa has reportedly declared Makoni North a no-go area for the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change in past elections. One wonders why
it is necessary for him to resort to such crude bullying if he is confident
of his popularity and the support he enjoys?

      One does not need rocket science to figure out why Mutasa is afraid of
competing for votes on a level playing field even in respect of ZANU PF
primary elections.

      It is even more telling that Mutasa had to go as far as slapping a law
enforcement official, Assistant Inspector Tomukai of Rusape Police Station,
for trying to quell the bloody clashes in Makoni North.

      It is deplorable that the culture of impunity is so deeply ingrained
in official circles that a government minister can behave so abominably and
boast about it without a hint of irony or a pang of conscience. What kind of
example are government officials like Mutasa setting by exhibiting these
brutish tendencies?

      Interestingly, for the first time since the spiral of political
violence began about four years ago, President Robert Mugabe has ordered a
probe into the goings-on in Makoni North. Press reports last week said that
a team from the President's Office had been tasked to investigate Mutasa's
role in the disturbances.

      While this is a step in the right direction, I am distressed by the
fact that the President has only been stirred to act because the alleged
perpetrators and victims of the Makoni North violence are ruling party

      Over the last four years, hundreds of Zimbabweans have allegedly been
abducted, tortured or killed in politically motivated violence. Newspapers
have published gruesome pictures of some of the victims of this madness. But
in all that time all we have heard is thunderous silence from the head of
state, to whom all Zimbabweans regardless of political affiliation look for

      Political violence is barbaric and unacceptable in a democratic state
and should be consistently condemned regardless of the political orientation
of the culprits.

      It is when there are double standards that Zimbabweans become
sceptical of the government's commitment to introducing genuine reforms to
level the playing field before next year's poll.

      If greater political will is not demonstrated towards ending political
violence once and for all, most ordinary people could continue to regard the
parliamentary election next year as a dreaded prospect not worth risking
their lives for.

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