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

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Zimbabwe Farmers Pessimistic as Planting Season Opens

07 September 2005
Interview with Dzarira Kwenda
Listen to Interview with Dzarira Kwenda
Interview with Nyika Musiyazviriyo
Listen to Interview with Nyika Musiyazviriyo

Zimbabwe’s agricultural community is concerned shortages of seed, fertilizer and fuel pose a serious threat to the planting season now at hand, while aid organizations are worried that Harare is not responding fast enough to a looming food crisis.

The planting season for tobacco – traditionally a key cash crop for Zimbabwe – has just started, while those for maize and other staple crops begin next month.

But agricultural experts say that with critical inputs in short supply and in some areas unavailable, there is no guarantee that food production in 2005-2006 will meet the country’s needs and could be even more disappointing than last year's yields.

This week farming organizations, seed growers and fertilizer manufacturers met with the parliament’s committee on agriculture. One member of the committee told VOA that the main concern for all parties a critical shortage of foreign exchange, without which the sector cannot secure essential materials to get its crops in the ground.

Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Dzarira Kwenda, executive director of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union for his assessment of the coming agricultural season under the current difficult circumstances.

Humanitarian agencies and organizations, meanwhile, say the government must take urgent action to fend off a looming food security crisis.

The World Food Program said in July that it might need to provide food to about 4 million people in Zimbabwe next year, while the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee estimates that nearly 3 million people or 36% of the country’s rural population will need outside food aid.

The government has announced its intention to import 1.2 million metric tons of maize, Zimbabwe’s staple food. But deputy director Nyika Musiyazviriyo of Christian Care, the country’s main local aid provider, says the population’s need is already urgent.

On a brighter note, Mr. Musiyazviriyo told Studio 7 reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyele that 37 tonnes of maize and other food donated by the South African Council of Churches is finally on its way to Zimbabwe after being held up for a month by red tape imposed by Harare officials, including the testing of maize for genetic modification.

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The Scotsman
Zimbabwean harvest crisis looms


ZIMBABWE is facing its worst agricultural season since independence in 1980, farmers and other experts are warning.
Critical shortages of seed, fertiliser and other agricultural goods are threatening next year's harvest before it has even been planted, according to evidence presented to parliament's agriculture committee. Fertiliser companies have reported empty warehouses, while the Zimbabwe Seed Traders Association said there were only 26,000 tons of maize seed in the country, just over half what is needed.
The Agricultural Dealers and Manufacturers' Association has run out of some types of ploughing equipment for the first time in its history and there are key shortages of irrigation piping, pumps, pesticides and other chemicals.
Walter Mzembi, chairman of the agriculture committee, said: "The information given simply shows that there is no season."
The seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans, combined with years of drought, have crippled the country's economy. The United Nations estimates that about four million people will need food aid before the next harvest.
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'Millions lacking food' in Africa
Oxfam starts delivering food to Malawi this week
Ten million people are facing food shortages in southern Africa later this year, the charity Oxfam has warned.
Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe are among the countries threatened after the poorest harvest in the region since 1992.
The charity says urgent action is needed to avoid a repeat of the famine in Niger, which was foreseen but warnings about which were ignored.
Oxfam called on rich countries to act now to avert another crisis.
"Niger was forecast six months in advance, yet rich countries did almost nothing until the 11th hour, " said Neil Townsend, Oxfam's regional humanitarian co-ordinator for southern Africa.
"People died as a direct result and now there is an impending crisis in southern Africa.
"The situation is very different, but the principle is the same - if rich countries wait, once again, until TV crews arrive before giving enough money, people in southern Africa will pay the price of their neglect."
Additional aid
The charity, which is beginning food distribution in Malawi this week, is calling for UN member states to commit an additional $1bn into an UN emergency reserve fund, on top of their existing aid, so that when a country needs assistance, money would be available immediately.
A spokesman for the Department for International Development said minister Hilary Benn was writing to other EU countries to urge them to respond promptly to any developing crisis.
"We are aware that up to 10.7 million people in Southern Africa are vulnerable to severe food shortages between now and the harvest in March 2006.
"The DFID has already provided over £40m of humanitarian relief to Southern African countries this year and is monitoring the situation closely."
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SA loan for Zimbabwe not set in stone - Erwin
    September 07 2005 at 04:59PM

Cape Town - No agreement has been reached on South Africa's proposed $1-billion in financial assistance to Zimbabwe, Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin said on Wednesday.

Erwin said that Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni were involved in "difficult discussions" that also involved the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Erwin told reporters at a financial cluster briefing in Cape Town that the two countries were still negotiating. The meetings were being held in Pretoria and Harare.

"However, it is not something South Africa has to drive," Erwin said.

While it would not be in South Africa's interest to have a collapsed economy on its borders, he said the initiative in these talks had to be left to Zimbabwe.

He said if and when an agreement was reached the basic conditions would be made public, but as in all agreements certain aspects would be kept secret. He said this was in the interest of market security.

During another briefing earlier in the day, Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said as far as she was aware the issue of financial aid to Zimbabwe had not been finalised.

"As you know, Zimbabwe has since paid some of the outstanding money (to the IMF). Perhaps this has altered the situation."

Asked whether South Africa was prepared to intervene with the IMF on Zimbabwe's behalf, Dlamini-Zuma said it was not possible to intercede on behalf of a sovereign country, without an agreement from that country.

"Zimbabwe is a sovereign country - it is not the tenth province of South Africa," she said. - Sapa
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Rich countries ignoring lessons of Niger as southern Africa faces severe food shortages

Rich countries are failing to learn the lessons of the Niger food crisis as up to 10 million people in southern Africa face severe food shortages, said Oxfam today.

Oxfam started distributing food in Malawi this week. An estimated 4 million people in Malawi, 4 million in Zimbabwe, 1 million in Zambia, 400,000 in Mozambique, 500,000 in Lesotho and 200,000 in Swaziland will not have enough food to eat over the next six months unless help is provided quickly.

The crisis, expected to peak between November and February, is triggered by lack of rain, but the HIV/AIDS epidemic, enforced economic liberalization and government policies are among the root causes, according to Oxfam.

Money is desperately needed now from rich countries so that charities, governments and the UN can prevent the crisis from worsening. Some donor governments have made significant contributions, however there is still a huge funding gap.

“Niger was forecast six months in advance, yet rich countries did almost nothing until the 11th hour. People died as a direct result. Now, there is an impending crisis in southern Africa. The situation is very different, but the principle is the same. If rich countries wait, once again, until TV crews arrive before giving enough money, people in southern Africa will pay the price of their neglect,” said Neil Townsend, Oxfam’s Regional Humanitarian Co-ordinator for southern Africa.

Southern Africa is caught in a cycle of deepening poverty. People in the region are used to coping when rains fail, but are increasingly unable to do so because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other economic factors. A similar crisis happened in southern Africa in 2002-2003.

“Up to 10 million people are facing severe food shortages in southern Africa. Some people are already being forced to take their children out of school so that they can help find food for the family,” added Townsend. “Unlike Niger, this crisis is about HIV/AIDS as much as drought. Food is needed now, but the root causes of the crisis, HIV/AIDS and poverty, must also be tackled.”

Oxfam is also calling today for UN member states to commit an additional $1 billion into an UN emergency reserve fund on top of their existing humanitarian aid levels, so that when a country such as those in southern Africa needs assistance, money would be available immediately.

The emergency fund is on the agenda of the UN Summit in New York starting on 14 September, which is billed as the biggest meeting of world leaders in history.

“Rich countries spend $1bn every day on supporting their farmers. If they pledged the same amount every year to a permanent emergency fund at the UN, preventable crises like Niger and southern Africa would not happen because money would be available as soon as a country needed it,” said Townsend.


Editor’s notes

Oxfam International plans to work in the four most affected countries: Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique. In Malawi, Oxfam will help 330,000 people. Food distribution is starting in the country this week. In Zambia, Oxfam plans to help 80,000 people with food vouchers, drinking water and help to buy seeds and tools. In Mozambique, Oxfam’s interventions will include short-term livelihoods support, access to clean water and support to farmers. In Zimbabwe, Oxfam’s response will start in October, helping 330,000 people through distributing food, providing seeds and fertilizer, buying new animals and improving irrigation and drinking water systems.

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Business Report
Zimbabwe anxiously awaits IMF decision
September 8, 2005

Harare - Zimbabwe is waiting "with bated breath" to see if the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decides to expel it this week, the state-controlled Herald reported on Thursday.

In an editorial on its business pages, the Herald - which usually reflects the government line - said Zimbabwe hoped its surprise payment last week of $120 million towards its debt arrears would persuade the IMF's executive board not to expel Zimbabwe.

The board is due to meet on Friday.

"We paid. Now we wait," the Herald said.

"Zimbabwe put aside other beckoning obligations such as the procurement of fuel and other critical imports to raise money for the IMF. This should say something to the fund as far as our commitment to reducing our arrears is concerned," it added.

The struggling southern African country, which is facing critical shortages of fuel and foreign currency, owed a total of nearly $300 million in arrears to the IMF before last week's payment. - Sapa-dpa
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Mail & Guardian
Zimbabwe doubles petrol, diesel prices

Harare, Zimbabwe

08 September 2005 08:15

The Zimbabwe government more than doubled the price of diesel and petrol on Wednesday as critical fuel shortages persist, state radio reported.

"The pump price of both petrol and diesel has been increased by more than 130% with immediate effect," the radio report said.

Petrol will now sell for Z$23 300 (R6,01) a litre, up from Z$10 000 (R2,50) a litre, while diesel will cost Z$20 800 (R5,31) a litre, up from Z$9 600 (R2,27).

This latest hike may not, however, be enough to ease the country's chronic fuel shortages, as the new price remains well below that being charged on the black market. Petrol sold on the unofficial market fetches up to Z$45 000 (R11,58) a litre.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of its worst fuel crisis to date. Many fuel stations have not received supplies for weeks, and dusty cars wait outside garages in parts of the capital, Harare. -- Sapa-DPA
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Mail & Guardian
Police raid Hillbrow immigrants

Stuart Graham | Johannesburg, South Africa

08 September 2005 07:48

Dozens of bleary-eyed immigrants were marched out of their bedrooms by the police early on Thursday morning in a raid on what was once an upmarket hotel in Hillbrow.

The immigrants, who were from countries such the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, were herded on to O'Reilley Street outside the Coronia Gardens building at 3am.

First they were fingerprinted, and then they were loaded into police vans, headed for the Hillbrow police station.

"We checked their fingerprints on the electronic database to see if any are wanted criminals," police spokesperson Inspector Kriban Naidoo said. "Once that is done, they will be charged and taken to Lindela [the repatriation centre near Krugersdorp for illegal immigrants]. There are about 34 nationalities living in Hillbrow."

The raid came a day after officers from Booysens police station were shown on a television programme taking bribes to free illegal immigrants.

Naidoo said the raid was not a public-relations job in reaction to the footage.

"This raid was planned a long time ago," he said.

The head of the Hillbrow police station, Director Danie Louw, said before the raid that gangs are making R345 000 a month from collecting rents from the building's tenants. The new owner of Coronia Gardens, he said, wants to bring the building under control.

"This is a lot of money. These guys aren't going to give up easily," he said.

Two Hillbrow building managers were assassinated in July by alleged building hijackers.

Louw also warned the police to be on the lookout for a squint-eyed murder suspect.

Police stormed throughout the building, kicking down doors and searching rooms. In one of the rooms, dozens of cockroaches were inside the fridge and on the walls.

Many of the immigrants, who did not have documents, voluntarily walked down to the building's lobby. Some carried babies and young children.

One man escaped after jumping out of the first floor of the building on to a mattress on a roof. Another tried to run past the police, but was tackled on to the ground and tossed into a police van.

The parking lot of the building, which smelled of urine and had a mountain of trash in the middle, was also searched. A mattress was stuck in one of the trees outside of the building.

Around the corner, a young man climbed a tree to hide from the police.

"What is he doing?" a police officer asked.

"He is from South Africa, but he is scared of the police," a passer-by said.

Drug den
A few blocks away, the police followed up on an intelligence tip-off about a drug den at the Prospect Place building. Armed with automatic rifles, police officers climbed several flights of stairs and burst into a flat.

The flat was empty, but on the floor were hundreds of packets, razor blades and glass bottles, used when selling cocaine. There were also bags of bicarbonate of soda and washing powder, which the police say is used to add quantity to pure cocaine.

Outside, a car hooted repeatedly.

"That's the warning car," one officer said. "There is a strong communication network here. Information is power in Hillbrow."

Outside the building, the police arrested a Zimbabwean man who was wearing blood-stained denim pants and carrying a revolver.

They believe he was involved in a robbery at a supermarket.

Throughout the night, the police arrested more than 100 illegal immigrants. They confiscated three unlicensed pistols, a bag filled with Ecstasy, Mandrax and eight cocaine rocks.

Four men were arrested for dealing in heroin and marijuana. The squint-eyed murder suspect was not arrested.

Two South African men, who pay R18 a day to live at the nearby African Sun building, stood on a street corner watching the events unfold.

"The police are doing a good job here," one of the men, named Sipho, said. "These days there aren't as many gunshots in Hillbrow as there used to be." -- Sapa
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Gazette and Herald
Pub's rescuer is toast of village

TO THE RESCUE: Cyril Weinman
TO THE RESCUE: Cyril Weinman
Villagers of Everleigh, near Pewsey, are cock-a-hoop after the Crown Hotel was saved from conversion to housing.

Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur Cyril Weinman has taken over the derelict hotel/restaurant and is in the process of returning it to its former historic glory with the help of his wife Dawn, sons Wayne and Lance and daughter Tracy.

He said: "It is a lovely old hotel and we want to keep it as a hotel. The place has had its ups and downs over the years but we want it to become the centre for community activity as well as attracting passing trade."

Mr Weinman will introduce some Rhodesian cuisine, including the famous braai, or barbecue.

The restaurant will be called the Flame Lily, Zimbabwe's national flower.

The Weinmans are holding an open evening at the Crown on September 15, from 6pm, and hope that local people will have a look around and tell them what they are looking for in a local pub.

Mr Weinman said: "We don't want to do anything that will upset anybody. So, if people want live music, we will have it, but if that will annoy the neighbours it won't be on the menu."

Parish council chairman David Beaton said he and his fellow councillors were over the moon to have their village pub back.

He said: "We fought very hard against the application for change of use to housing and had everyone on our side. So we were aghast when the application was passed at Kennet, by just one vote.

"If this chap's going to make a go of it, he'll get every support from the local community. It is very good news for Everleigh."

Former proprietor Gary Marlow sued rock star Van Morrison after the Irish musician cancelled a concert at the Crown at very short notice in August 2002.

The case was dealt with out of court, but the experience led Mr Marlow to apply for change of use so the pub could be redeveloped for housing.

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FInancial Mail
Zimbabwe, SA relations in perspective (Part 3)

Isaya Muriwo Sithole
9/8/2005 8:55:02 AM (GMT +2)

AS the discussion continues, this week I look at the general strategies and tactics used by apartheid South Africa to ensure continued economic dependence by Southern African states.

Perhaps I should remind my audience that we are still trying to understand the dynamics at play in the proposed SA loan to Zimbabwe in the context of the political economy of the region and the historical strategic struggle for regional hegemony between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
SA's regional objectives, as identified in the first part, are interlocking and therefore require a strategic approach to achieving them, and not an episodic tackling of one incident without regard to the broader picture. SA has traditionally used several tactical strategies simultaneously or in sequence to achieve its goals in relation to particular countries or sectors and it has traditionally employed multi-purpose strategies suitable for furthering several elements of its strategic goals simultaneously or in sequence.
Historically, and now, SA does not act in an identical way towards countries in the region. Dominant strategic elements and tactics differ markedly, and are used in different combinations. Apartheid SA used a policy of destabilisation which was often violent as, at its best, it involved use of the military. It is important to note that not all tools used to preserve politico-economic hegemony were necessarily violent. The customs union, export credits, and discount rates on rail traffic are in any normal sense non-violent. But they are all instruments used to maintain an exploitative regional economic supremacy.
As noted in the second part to this series last week, the bottom line in blocking the implementation of SADCC's transport liberation has always been sabotage. Both SADCC and SA perceived transport to be vital. For SADCC countries, transport was the key to liberation; to SA, it was a tool for continued domination. SA has used sustained violence, as well as direct economic means, to ensure that the transport links to Lobito Bay, Maputo, Beira and Nacala have been intermittently available, limited in capacity, or closed entirely. The war on the Beira-Zimbabwe transport links was a manifestation of a war about economics as well as about politics.
South African political dominance was linked to economic hegemony in a dual relationship_ at least in the sense of ensuring that independent states do not seriously pursue economic liberation, successfully mobilise international pressure on apartheid Pretoria, or provide effective external support to the SA liberation struggle. Since disengagement was costly in the short term, it could only be carried out by a government with a clear political programme.
It was apartheid South Africa's strategy-using whatever means possible from economic incentives through sabotage deterrents- to ensure that such programmes are not pursued on a sustained basis. Thus influential groups in neighboring countries had to be convinced that disengagement from South Africa was not in their interests so that such programmes would lack a firm national base, and would even cease to be canvassed seriously.
Apartheid SA used at least five strategic elements and these were not totally consistent in the abstract: economic incentives, economic threats and penalties, a dual outward-looking approach involving a forward or "strike kommando" policy coupled with one of "constellation" or politico-economic domination, and an inward-looking "laager" approach.
The strike kommando policy involved the destabilisation of SADCC economies. It made use of economic sabotage against targets such as bridges, dams, railroads, pipelines, mines and oil installations; and it also made use of general economic destabilisation through direct actions by the SA Defence Force (SADF) combined with surrogate activity. Thus, the cost of this policy to the target states and their people was very high, in both military and economic terms.
The other aspect of the outward-looking approach was politico-economic , that is, complete South African regional hegemony as articulated in P.W Botha's 1979 Carlton Centre presentation of the "constellation plan". This strategy sought a "co-prosperity sphere" with common economic policies, coordinated security, and at least tacit acceptance of SA political leadership in a region stretching from the then Zaire through Mozambique and from the Cape to the Ruvuma and Congo rivers. Could this have influenced Mbeki's conception of NEPAD?
The Southern African Customs Union (SACU) where railway income, import duty, and other related charges are collected jointly and distributed by South Africa to other members (Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and now Namibia) was a by-product of the constellation plan. So were the various arrangements providing locomotives, wagons and technical assistance to southern African state railways; and preferential rail rates offered to exporters and importers using South African Transport Services (SATS) railways and ports. The provision of rolling stock and technical assistance to railways also serves South African interests in that it creates an incentive to, and a body of lobbyists for, using South African routes, and it improves the efficiency of the Southern African railways using SATS (now South African Rail Computer Corporation Ltd).
Export credit was another "carrot" used against SADCC countries by apartheid SA. It should not be assumed, however, that the incentive element of the overall strategy was benign. In the first place, benefits to one southern African country could be highly damaging to the economic interests of others and could increase the difficulty of operating a regional project of politico-economic liberation. The customs union, for instance, protected SA exports to Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland from competition from other SADCC states (except for Zimbabwe and Malawi). South African credit facilities greatly hampered Zimbabwean exports to Zambia even when they were substantially lower in cost. The contract rates on external traffic were carefully tailored to under-cut those of the Mozambican rail and port system.
These "positive" incentives have always been combined with "negative" aspects, such as penalties and deterrents. The threat or reality of the withdrawal of the incentives was in itself a powerful "stick", as typified when in 1980-81 SATS withdrew locomotives loaned to Zimbabwe. As with incentives, deterrents were varied. Cutting back on the hiring of migrant labour or reducing the terms of transfer of earnings are weapons which have been used against Mozambique and, less systematically, against Lesotho.
Selective interruption of the flow of key goods_ especially petroleum products, fertilizers and grain_ to SADCC states assertedly for "technical" reasons has in fact been linked to political and security demands. All of the SADCC states, except Angola and Tanzania (which do not import via South Africa), have been beaten with this stick more than once since the formation of SADCC in 1980. "Technical problems" in relation to moving exports, such as Zimbabwe steel and Botswana beef were the complement to similar import delays. A variety of other tactics have been used  such as "fighting rates", or cut-price contracts, designed to off-set the advantages of Mozambique rail and port routes.     This was a particularly potent weapon in relation to Zimbabwe. 
The emergence of fighting rates had been facilitated by SATS's increasingly commercial orientation and by the increasing over-valuation of Mozambican meticais and undervaluation of the rand.
In late 1985 and early 1986, as the Mozambique government moved to offer counter-rates, the rand rose from US$0.35 to US$0.46, under-cutting the SATS campaign.
One of the major tactics in the transport sector was a less evident one — clearing and forwarding. Renfreight, a South African company, dominated not only SA clearing and forwarding but also that of the landlocked SADCC countries and of Mozambique. This is still the case.
Renfreight is a multi-purpose instrument. At the simplest level it earns profits and foreign exchange because clearing and forwarding are lucrative. It is also in a position to route freight via SATS because, in practice, shipping agents have wide latitude in recommending and choosing routes for their clients.
The internal commercial logic of a regional clearing and forwarding company meant that data on cargo by nature, bulk and weight, value, source and route must be on a computer in Johannesburg. Effectively, this meant it could be available, through one means or another, to SA authorities for analysis and, when desired, as a means of implementing selective delays and/or sabotage.
The last strategic element was the inward-looking or "into larger" approach. This element sought to concentrate SA strength within its borders, behind strong defences and with minimum dependence on external sources of supply.
In conclusion to this part, I wish to emphasize that the tactical instruments used to implement apartheid South African strategy are numerous and varied. Even at present, tactics vary in channels of operation and therefore in degree of co-ordination and control. For instance, the customs union arrangements are government to government, regularly reviewable and instantly terminable. In contrast, a significant proportion of existing SA investment in other African countries is historically determined and owned by private enterprises whose interests may or may not be consistent with present day Pretoria's strategic concerns.
lIsaya Muriwo Sithole is a lawyer, independent political consultant as well as a human, civil and political rights activist. He can be contacted on:

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Fin Gazette
Britain sends pobe team to Zimbabwe

Nelson Banya
9/8/2005 8:33:26 AM (GMT +2)

THE British government, whose diplomatic relations with the Zimbabwean government have broken down over the past five years, has sent a team to assess the political situation in the troubled southern African country.

Sources told The Financial Gazette that the assessment by officials drawn from the Home and Foreign offices in the British government would form the basis of a decision on the planned deportation of over 100 failed Zimbabwean asylum-seekers.
Apparently, the government has kept the visit low-key, raising suspicion Harare might quietly want to mend its relations with the former colonial master.
British embassy spokesperson Gillian Dare confirmed the development yesterday, saying it was a "routine visit."
"I can confirm that officials from the British government are currently visiting the British Embassy in Harare. This is a routine visit by officials from the Home and the Foreign Office. The visit is concerned with a range of immigration and nationality issues," Dare said.
The British government yielded to pressure and suspended the deportation of the failed asylum-seekers last July after judges, legislators, opposition parties and pressure groups lobbied against the move, citing Zimbabwe's chequered human rights record.
The detained asylum-seekers went on lengthy hunger strike in protest against their impending deportation, alleging that they would be persecuted upon their return to Harare.
At the height of the debate, Home secretary Charles Clarke said there had been "no substantiated reports of mistreatment" of repatriated asylum-seekers, drawing the ire of opponents of the government's asylum policy who accused Tony Blair's administration of double standards.
The Blair government has been one of the most strident critics of President Robert Mugabe's government, accusing it of a seri-ous democracy deficit and human rights abuses and has put in place targeted sanctions against the ruling ZANU PF elite.
President Mugabe, on the other hand, accuses the British government of plotting to oust him from power for redistributing previously white-owned prime farmland to landless blacks.
Dare said the touring party would meet Zimbabwean government officials before leaving at the end of the week.
"They will be calling on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," Dare added.
The team is also expected to meet members of the Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) community among other contacts.

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Fin Gazette
Fresh war vets threat

Njabulo Ncube
9/8/2005 8:32:22 AM (GMT +2)

Party heavyweights see sinister agenda in new force

ZANU PF's supreme decision-making body, the politburo, is sharply divided over a proposal by former ZANLA and ZIPRA commanders to transform the legion of war veterans into a militarised reserve force amid fears that its proponents might want to use the boisterous former liberation fighters for sinister agendas.

The latest twist in the dilemma facing ZANU PF in taming the vociferous war veterans, whose total number runs into tens of thousands, confirms the deepening mistrust within the party as heavyweights fight to succeed President Robert Mugabe who might retire from active politics at the expiry of his sixth term of office in 2008.
A three-member committee led by ZANU PF politburo member and former ZIPRA intelligence supremo Dumiso Dabengwa has proposed roping in the former liberation war fighters into a reserve force to instil discipline and rein in the sometimes rogue group that masterminded the violent farm seizures of 2000.
The committee, put together by President Mugabe late last year to look into the restructuring of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), recommended that the freedom fighters be placed under the control of the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), as opposed to elected chairpersons, who have assumed great influence in recent years.
Members of the reserve force, to be paid an unspecified call-up allowance, would be expected to report to command centres on a quarterly basis for a period of five days "for the purposes of training or briefings when necessary." They would be provided with special uniforms for use during call-up periods as well as during district, provincial and national ceremonies, it was recommended.
Documents in our possession indicate that the proposals sparked mixed reactions within the powerful ZANU PF politburo early last month with some senior members expressing discomfort at the idea crafted by the former ZANLA and ZIPRA commanders - Dabengwa, retired army general Solomon Mujuru and former ZDF commander Vitalis Zvinavashe.
Sources noted that Mujuru, Dabengwa and Zvinavashe belong to the same camp that clashed with the Emmerson Mnangagwa-led faction in the fierce battle to fill the second vice president's position left vacant by the death of Simon Muzenda.
Senior ZANU PF politicians opposed to the proposal fear that the trio could be looking to consolidate their faction's position by building a strong constituency of war veterans ahead of what is shaping up to be a messy succession battle in the party.
ZANU PF heavyweights such as Mnangagwa, Vice President Joice Mujuru, ZANU PF national chairman John Nkomo, State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa and former finance minister Simba Makoni are touted as possible candidates to succeeed President Mugabe once he retires.
Nkomo, who is also the Speaker of Parliament, expressed concern over the political implications of the proposed structure, adding that precautions must be taken to avoid establishing a structure that would work against ZANU PF's interests.
"The national chairman observed that some war veterans were involved in opposition politics and wondered whether there would be a mechanism to ensure that these undesirable persons were not included in the reserve force," impeccable politburo sources revealed
Questions were also raised over the motive behind setting up such a force whose structures would be linked to those of the ZDF.
"The deputy secretary for economic affairs (Makoni) inquired whether the key proposal of the report was the establishment of the reserve force. He further observed that the report of the committee offered a civilian structure and a political military structure of the war veterans' organisation."
Makoni is said to have further noted that the plan was not explicit on the description of the structure and the "day-to-day activities and roles therein."
Under the late controversial ZNLWVA chairman Chenjerai Hunzvi, the war veterans had become an indispensable and powerful constituency that first demonstrated its influence in 1997 when the Polish-trained medical practitioner led the former combatants in demanding $50 000 gratuities and $2 000 monthly pensions from the government.
Having cowed the government, the war veterans proceeded to make all sorts of demands and proceeded to launch an aggressive land redistribution programme, which is largely blamed for the current economic crisis.
According to ZANU PF insiders, the war veterans had become difficult to control, especially under deposed ZNLWVA leader Jabulani Sibanda, a former personal bodyguard of the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo.
The Dabengwa committee has also proposed structures at lower levels, that is, Provincial War Veterans Command Centres, District Command Centres and Provincial and District Projects. All command levels of war veterans, it has been proposed, should be filled with selected members to be appointed by the War Veterans Board.
It was further proposed that the Defence Act be amended to include members in the war veterans' register that did not serve in the ZDF so that they could be accommodated in the Reserve Force.
"All the command levels would be filled by selected members. A War Veterans Board shall be appointed by the Minister of Defence on approval by the President and First Secretary and should ideally be made up of senior retired generals and some selected ex-combatants," the committee said.
Dabengwa has also proposed further amendments to the Defence Act to make it compulsory for any retired members who were involved in the Liberation Struggle from 1992 to 1979 to join the Reserve Force.
"Those members who were never attested into the ZDF but are required to serve the war veterans organization as full-time employees should be mobilized into active service under the Ministry of Defence as Reserve Force members on active service."
The establishment of a separate vote to bankroll projects of war veterans has also been proposed. The committee added that the fund should fall under the Ministry of Defence and shall be superintended by a projects officer to be allocated within the war veterans organizations' headquarters and reporting directly to the Director of the War Veterans Organisation.
In his report to the politburo, Dabengwa said it was envisaged that some of the negative activities associated with the war veterans could be minimized if all the war veterans were involved in meaningful projects and or call-up activities.

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Fin Gazette
The sheer genius of selling fuel in forex

Denford Magora
9/8/2005 8:50:55 AM (GMT +2)

WHEN you are freezing to death, it matters not whether the fire that warms you is of wood or car tyres. So, what is this nonsense from the state media against fuel being sold in United States dollars? Perhaps those who are making these noises fail to recognise the sheer genius of this scheme.

The advantages to the state of this no-questions asked facility are enormous, the implications for the economy truly staggering.
The US dollars that the central bank buys at service stations selling fuel in foreign currency costs the government no more than $10 000 per US dollar. That is the current cost of a litre of fuel in Zimbabwe. By selling the same litre for one US dollar, the Reserve Bank is, then, essentially getting the forex cheaper than it can even at auction, never mind the black market.
This state of affairs is even more attractive when you consider the following: The central bank is getting speculators to spend their own Zimbabwe dollars buying foreign currency on the black market. The forex is bought by these speculators at anything up to $60 000 (perhaps more now) per US dollar. This foreign currency is then surrendered to the service station by the speculators for "goods" worth $10 000, meaning that the speculator surrenders each US dollar he has to the Reserve Bank for the price of a litre of fuel. Is that not genius?
Look, no matter what the market (speculator) does to or with that US dollar, no matter what he or she does with that litre of fuel, that US dollar will always end up in the hands of the RBZ for no more than Z$10 000 per US dollar. Even if the price of fuel goes up in Zimbabwe, it is unlikely to ever reach the same level as the price of a US dollar. Already, at US$1 per litre, our fuel is more expensive than South Africa. But that is the genius of this scheme. Those who have forex and are unwilling to hand it over to the central bank at auction, thereby undermining economic recovery, now essentially pay dearly for their short-sightedness and greed.
If the RBZ sticks with this genius of a concept, it may prove more beneficial than anyone ever thought, especially the shrill, jealous voices coming from the state media houses. The RBZ may actually end up filling our coffers with enough forex for some form of crude economic order to return to Zimbabwe. With, obviously, the added bonus that this forex will come into government possession at a discounted price of Z$10 000 per US dollar.
The implications are staggering. The government could, through this measure, collect a huge amount of grey money at a more than 50 percent discount. Money saved. The savings can then go to other worthier causes.
We should all be rejoicing in this state of affairs because we are shareholders in Zimbabwe Inc. Any government should ideally behave like the executive management of our company. If their actions and decisions save the company money in operational expenses, then more power to them.
All things being equal, every government should also distribute dividends to its shareholders (you and I) at the end of each year, or even half-yearly. This they do through tax breaks, building and maintaining an excellent infrastructure and encouraging as much capital expenditure as possible.
So perhaps we can stop the whining already. It's a good thing for you and I if government buys forex cheaply from speculators who would have paid much more for it on the black market. Those buying fuel at one US dollar per litre do not feel hard done by. This is important for psychological reasons. Because it is when a person is forced to sell his or her forex at Z$825 to the US$ that they turn against the system. They can withdraw their foreign currency from the formal market because government is not the only entity able to pay Zimdollars for the forex.
Fuel is a different matter altogether. It is only the government and the Reserve Bank at the moment with a ready supply of the commodity. If a speculator with foreign currency wants, they can access the commodity at the quoted price. If not, they can go off and sell their foreign currency on the black market.
Either way, the way the fuel situation is at the moment (and for the foreseeable future) is such that, eventually, that US dollar will end up with the RBZ through these filling stations selling fuel in forex.
Better then for the state media to abandon its hysteria and jealousy and look on the brighter side of the whole business.
If anything, the RBZ should designate more service stations to sell fuel in foreign currency. They should continue taking the Z$60 000 US dollar and paying an effective Z$10 000 for it to the speculator.
In addition, the central bank should also publish monthly figures of takings from these designated service stations to offer hope and transparency to the nation, because buy-in from the population is an integral part of how this nation will perform economically in future.
Above all, the bitter and twisted voices that are railing against this facility should bear in mind that the foreign currency from fuel sales is bonus foreign currency.
Were it not for the sale of fuel in foreign currency, this money would never have found its way into government coffers.
It is also particularly satisfying to note that the RBZ is using Zimbabwean speculators' short-term and blinkered thinking against them. The speculators' minds in Zimbabwe is such that, having given over the foreign currency to buy fuel, they fail to realise that they are digging their own graves.
Eventually, government will cobble together enough foreign currency to meet the demand for such commodities as fuel and other imports. When that happens, fuel will be freely available and anyone still holding on to foreign currency or even to coupons from the Reserve Bank will find that their speculative days are over.
For this reason, government must continue. Get the speculator to use his own money to buy foreign currency at an inflated price. Keep the pressure on the fuel supply side as long as possible so that those private citizens willing to travel as though everything is normal in the country will have no option but to pay the high price for foreign currency, which they have no option but to willingly surrender to the RBZ at the service station for no more than Z$10 000 per American dollar.
We need every US dollar we can get and the state media should see this. Campaigning for government to "do something" about alleged illegal activities in the sale of fuel in forex will only lead to the country sliding ever backwards.

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Fin Gazette
Battle for control of state media

Felix Njini
9/8/2005 8:32:55 AM (GMT +2)

INFORMATION chiefs Nathan Shamuyarira and presidential spokesman George Charamba could be headed for a clash in a fierce tussle to control public media outlets - Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) and the Zimbabwe Newspapers (Zimpapers) Group.

Sources confided in The Financial Gazette this week that there was bad blood between Shamuyarira, ZANU PF's spokesman, and country's first information minister and gatekeepers at the Information Ministry over the impending overhaul at state media institutions, particularly ZBH, following the inglorious exit of former government spin-doctor-in-chief Jonathan Moyo about six months ago.
They said irreconcilable differences had emerged between Shamuyarira, who retired from government and active politics in 2000 and Charamba, the Information and Publicity Permanent Secretary, over planned changes at the state-run broadcasting monopoly and Zimpapers.
Shamuyarira - backed by some senior ZANU PF heavyweights - is reported to be agitating for the return of veteran broadcasters elbowed out of the loss-making parastatal during Moyo's reign, while Charamba, who has previously voiced concern over the laissez faire attitude at ZBH, is believed to be pushing for reorganisation with minimal upheaval.
A slanging match between Charamba, unmasked by Moyo as the author of the vituperative Nathaniel Manheru column in the government-controlled Herald and the Voice editor Lovemore Mataire that spilt into the newspaper pages last week, became the first clearest sign of the simmering tug-of-war between the information Tsars. Mataire reports directly to Shamuyarira and is widely perceived to reflect the veteran journalist-turned-politician's views.
Last week, Charamba laid into Mataire for what he termed a "dozing editorial tradition" in an indirect attack on Shamuyarira, who was instrumental in the appointment of the former Zimpapers scribe to the post of editor of the ZANU PF mouthpiece in 2004.

"He (Mataire) is one who makes a headline out of sunrise on a dry savannah spring," said Charamba in a scathing attack on the editor of the Voice. Before being appointed editor of the Voice, Mataire used to work for the Herald as chief reporter.
During his tenure at the state-owned Herald, Mataire also used to enjoy cordial relations with the department of information in the president's office. His fallout with Charamba started soon after he assumed the editorship of the Voice.
Charamba also made a startling revelation of how ZANU PF covered up crimes allegedly committed by some of its functionaries.
Charamba alleges that the party covered up a homicide case in which Mataire was involved in a fatal accident which claimed the life of a member of the Central Intelligence Organisation and cost Mataire's lady companion an eye last year. Mataire is also alleged to have wrecked a brand new party vehicle.
"You recall the fatal accident you were involved in which claimed an innocent motorist? And cost a lady companion and eye? And cost the party a brand new vehicle that was a complete write off?"
Sources said the war of words had escalated after the Voice alleged that the former information department abused public funds.

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Fin Gazette
It's all doom and gloom

9/8/2005 8:52:23 AM (GMT +2)

WILL we ever get it right? That is the question as regards agriculture, the erstwhile backbone of the economy. We have had to ask this pertinent question time without number. And not without reason.

Far from questioning neither the rationale nor the need to address the historical injustices and inequality through land reform which government itself admits has been fraught with abuse by uncouth politicians with bloated self-interests, ours has been genuine concern for the previously robust agricultural sector, which anchored a reassuringly resilient and stable economy. We are frightened, as indeed are most Zimba-bweans, by what seems to be the imminent collapse of Zimbabwean agriculture because the repercussions would be incalculable.
It is an open secret that the scandal-tainted land reform programme, packaged by the country's political leadership as a successful way of intervention for guaranteed food security and economic empowerment, has a terrible aura. Its goals have largely remained a pipe dream. Instead, the back-to-the-land idealism has spawned bewildering complexities that have seen the critical agricultural sector which fires the local economy slip on so many banana skins. This is primarily a function of lack of critical forward planning, upside down priorities and certain government policies that have no basis in reality whatsoever.
And now we find ourselves having to return to this topic again because the country's economy, already pushed into historic contraction, cannot afford another failed agricultural season. The economic fall-out of such a worst-case scenario would, for want of a better expression, be too ghastly to contemplate. It would aggravate the accelerating economic decline, not to mention a human crisis of catastrophic proportions.
Yet leading seed producer Seed Co only last week warned about imminent seed shortages. This would be an embarrassing and disturbing debacle considering that government has been pushing the line that in agriculture lies the seed of economic prosperity and self-sufficiency. What is worse is that there is no telling what the situation is as regards the availability of other inputs such as fertilisers and critical chemicals given that the responsible minister's word cannot be trusted. Add biting fuel shortages, lack of tillage facilities and financial wherewithal for most of the newly resettled farmers as well as government's eleventh-hour crisis management approach and it is all doom and gloom.
But it is not as if government was not warned about this disaster. Much as it is not our intention for this comment to be underlined by the we-told-you-so gibe, it should be noted that about two months ago we published an editorial entitled "Sense of déjà vu" which not only emphasised the overriding need to prioritise agriculture but also warned the government about the looming shortages of vital inputs. Our comment was premised on concerns from various key stakeholders.
That the agricultural sector has been plunged into an unprecedented crisis points to the fact that Joseph Made has dismally failed the nation. If what is happening in agriculture today is anything to go by, then the minister does not seem to have a guiding vision and he lacks that all-important sense of purpose which generates passion for accomplishments.
And therein lies the problem. This only means that the agricultural sector is in desperate need of hard-nosed spark plugs with clarity of thinking and vision. We say so because in our own estimation, the sorry tale of Zimbabwean agriculture, mirrored in the shrunken state of the economy to which the sector made the single biggest contribution, should be blamed squarely on the unsophisticated rhetoricians who are supposed to run the country's agriculture.
Nowhere is this more tellingly demonstrated than by the recurring shortages of critical farming inputs for which there is no excuse whatsoever. Why does this unacceptable and unforgivable situation keep on recurring if those responsible for running Zimbabwe's agriculture have been doing what they are supposed to do? The mind boggles. If the land is indeed the economy and vice-versa as the authorities claim, why didn't the government invest in capacity building in terms of seed production? Or is this the best Made can possibly do? Then God help us because no one else will!
We have said it again and again: with the persistent agricultural input shortages that have been with us since the fast-track land reform commenced some five or so years ago, what the new farmers gained on the swings, they lost on the roundabouts. They are neither improving their individual economic standing nor adding value to the national economy. That is hardly cause for celebration. But this is Zimbabwe and it is no surprise that ZANU PF politicians have endlessly engaged in an orgy of self-congratulation about the supposed success of the most radical change in land ownership on the African continent. It would have been a pleasant surprise if they had not.

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