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

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Zim Independent

Mugabe to extend term
Dumisani Muleya
RULING Zanu PF leaders are contemplating extending President Robert Mugabe's
current term of office by two years through a constitutional amendment to
hold general and presidential elections concurrently in 2010.

Official sources said a ruling-party clique close to Mugabe was mulling the
issue which could be part of Zanu PF's legislative agenda during the course
of the new parliament.

If Zanu PF manages to railroad this initiative through, it means the 2008
presidential poll would be moved to 2010.

Mugabe said after the recent hotly disputed election results he would favour
having the two main elections held simultaneously. He said his party would
initiate constitutional amendments to reintroduce the senate among other

Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said his party would
pursue its legislative programme as soon as possible. He said changes were
coming but referred queries to Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, who
declined to comment on the latest proposal.

Mutasa said the idea of concurrent elections could be one of the issues
considered. Asked how it would be done, he said Mugabe's term could be
extended by two years.

"The easiest way of doing it would be to delay the presidential election
until 2010," he said. "If we hold the parliamentary election early in 2008
that would be costly."

A column in the state-controlled Herald, The Other Side by "Nathaniel
Manheru", believed to be written by Mugabe's press secretary, George
Charamba, hinted at the issue on Saturday.

"Zanu PF now wields the democratic wherewithal to write the rules and call
the tune of governance for the next five years," Manheru said. "The ruling
party seems clear on the legislative agenda which no doubt will consolidate
its electoral grip in anticipation of both the presidential poll three years
hence, and of course the parliamentary one in a remote 2010.

"That of course assumes there will still be a presidential poll in 2008,"
Manheru continued, "and the MDC can only hope and pray Zanu PF suffers a
giant seizure of political silliness to countenance it in 2008."

Zanu PF is also planning to amend the constitution - already amended 17
times - to scrap the Electoral Supervisory Commission and replace it with
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), mandated to conduct all elections
and referendums.

It failed during the last parliament to make ZEC, now under attack for
bungling the running of the recent poll, a constitutional body because it
did not have a two-thirds majority.

l Meanwhile, sources said Zanu PF's central committee on Sunday decided to
amend the constitution to make Harare and Bulawayo administrative provinces.
This would bring the number of provinces officially to 10.

However, there was an embarrassing episode on Tuesday when the two Harare
and Bulawayo resident ministers, David Karimanzira and Cain Mathema,
respectively, pitched up at Parliament Building hoping to be sworn in as
MPs, only to be told they were "strangers in the House". The two had to
leave the function with red faces.
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Zim Independent

      $5 trillion diverted to maize imports
      Conrad Dube/Shakeman Mugari

      GOVERNMENT plans to divert $5 trillion from the 2005 budget towards
maize imports after failing to sustain initial claims that the country had
enough grain to feed itself until the next season.

      The money was originally earmarked for infrastructure development.

      Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira confirmed in an interview last
week that government would divert resources for infrastructural development
to feed starving Zimbabweans.

      "We are looking forward to turning around the economy but we have a
major setback due to last year's drought. We will therefore divert resources
for infrastructure development to feeding the people," Shamuyarira said.

      "We will make sure that no one starves," he said.

      This is a major climb-down by government which before the election
insisted the country had enough maize reserves to meet national
requirements. An estimated 4,2 million people are in urgent need of food,
donors say.

      President Robert Mugabe and senior government officials have in the
past insisted the country has enough food. Agriculture minister Joseph Made
is on record as having said the country had produced 2,4 million tonnes of

      His claims were buttressed by Mugabe who immediately used the unproven
figures to bar non-governmental organisations from distributing food aid.

      Zimbabwe requires 1,8 million tonnes of maize annually for human
consumption and for stockfeed. Currently the country is estimated to have
less than 30 000 tonnes in its depots imported from South Africa.

      Government needs to import 1,2 million tonnes of maize at a total cost
of about US$156 million (almost $1 trillion) to make up for the shortfall.
The country consumes just under 5 000 tonnes of maize a day.

      Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent this week revealed that the
sole grain-acquiring authority, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), has about
20 000 tonnes - less than a week's supply of grain - in Bulawayo destined
for Harare.

      Depots in Harare, Mashonaland West, East and Central and in Manicaland
are reportedly empty. An official at the GMB HQ in Harare said there was no
food at the main depots in Harare. The few tonnes of maize supplied to
Harare's Aspindale depot last week were immediately distributed to millers.

      As of yesterday the GMB HQ was turning away millers who had applied
for grain. The GMB told millers that it was waiting for supplies from
Bulawayo by rail. It said the maize was likely to arrive in Harare by today.

      The Independent, however, understands that the train referred to by
the GMB can only carry 500 tonnes, not enough to feed Harare for one day.

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Zim Independent

NCA to ratchet up protests
Ray Matikinye
THE National Constitutional Assembly has begun ratcheting up pressure on
government to draw up a new constitution that opens up democratic space.

NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku told a press briefing in Harare yesterday that
their taskforce had resolved to convene a stakeholders' conference to chart
"the means and strategies by which Zimbabweans can craft their own
comprehensive and democratic constitution".

The civic organisation will soon convene an all-stakeholders' conference to
map the way forward.

Madhuku said the NCA would intensify pressure for a new homegrown
constitution despite threats by government to crush any protest. President
Mugabe promised to crush any mass action by those who were not happy with
his party's victory in the March 31 parliamentary election.

Madhuku said he was confident government would accede to his organisation
and the people of Zimbabwe's demands. "Our protest are different in that we
are not protesting to remove a government. Unlike political parties, we are
mobilising Zimbabweans to demand a new constitution," Madhuku said.

Madhuku said the NCA was opposed to President Mugabe's intended use of his
party's parliamentary majority to tinker with the constitution. "We do not
want a constitution crafted by the Zanu PF central committee because the
constitutional amendments Mugabe envisages include packing the proposed
Senate with compliant Zanu PF members who will endorse whatever he says,"
Madhuku said.

The NCA was prepared to incorporate democratic reform elements suggested in
the Chidyausiku constitutional draft that was rejected in a referendum in
2000 and the NCA's own draft.

"What is fatally wrong with the Chidyausiku constitutional draft is the
concentration of powers in the president. There are good elements in that
draft but those democratic elements come unstuck and are grossly
overshadowed by powers vested in one individual," Madhuku said.

The NCA has railed against Sadc and AU's endorsement of flawed elections
last month saying this was a serious indictment on the competence and
integrity of the two organisations.

It accuses both the Sadc and AU observer missions of dereliction of duty in
failing to appreciate that the election results are the whole point of an
election and that the serious discrepancies in results announced by the ZEC
totally discredited the whole process.

"All that the so-called election has achieved is leave in its wake a sorry
mess characterised by improbable and contradictory results as well as a
nation divided along rural and urban as well as tribal lines," Madhuku said.

"Zimbabwe is yet again left with a parliament that is impotent in resolving

country's political and economic stalemate," he said.
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Zim Independent

China route too costly for Airzim
Shakeman Mugari
AIR Zimbabwe continues to suffer heavy losses on its Asian route and plans
to introduce changes to its flight schedule to cut costs.

The national carrier is battling to sustain its Beijing route which was
inaugurated by the airline last year as part of government's "Look East"

Air Zimbabwe is unable to break-even on its Far East schedule due to fierce
competition from other airlines on the route. There is also insufficient
business between Zimbabwe and China to justify the carrier's twice weekly
flights to China.

Sources say Air Zimbabwe's Boeing 767 has been flying to Beijing with less
than half its passenger capacity. The plane has a capacity of 197 passengers
(167 economy class and 30 business class).

In a bid to sustain the route the airline plans to make changes to its Far
Eastern schedule. Currently the airline flies to China via Singapore twice a
week, on Mondays and Fridays.

However, from next month it will drop Singapore from its Friday trip and
instead fly to China via Thailand's capital, Bangkok, a move an official at
the reservations office said was caused by "operational problems" in the
current routing.

Sources say the troubled airline has been forced to drop Singapore from the
Friday trip because of stiff competition. They say the route is already
dominated by Singapore Airlines which flies daily from Johannesburg and
operates a direct flight from Cape Town. It is said Airzim intends to make
up for its Beijing losses by flying via Bangkok.

The airline has also slashed its fares on the Asian route as it battles to
lure passengers in light of the fierce competition to the Far East,
particularly from Kenya Airways.

Fares for a trip from Harare to China have been cut to $6 140 000 from the
initial $8 781 200. The rates for a trip to Singapore from Harare have been
cut by almost 40% from $8 051 350 to $4 976 150.

The airline has also introduced new routes to Asia to make up for
unsustainable losses on the China route. Another new route will see Airzim
flying from Harare to Beijing via Entebbe, Uganda.

There are also proposals for a Dubai flight to be launched on May 16, four
days before the Bangkok route is due to be inaugurated
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Zim Independent

Shake-up looms at Zimpapers
Loughty Dube/Conrad Dube
ZANU PF's information department plans to overhaul the state media,
including Zimpapers, to introduce a new order that will replace the one
created by former minister Jonathan Moyo.

Reliable sources in the Zimpapers group said disgruntled staffers,
especially from the Herald, met Zanu PF information department officials
last week over the state of the editorial structure in the media company.

The sources said Zanu PF officials had been receiving submissions on how
Moyo allegedly re-engineered the group to serve his own interests.

The staffers alleged at their meetings with ruling party officials that

Herald staffers were involved in clandestine business deals with officials
in the information department.

It was also claimed that Herald editor Pikirayi Deketeke was involved in
Media Unlimited, a media consultancy being run by his brother.

However, Deketeke accused suspended Herald journalists of "peddling malice".
He said Media Unlimited was his younger brother's company and he had no
interest in it.

On accusations that he promoted cronyism by selecting his "yes men" to cover
presidential and diplomatic beats, Deketeke said it was common practice for
editors to send their "best reporters" to accompany the president to avoid
cases of the president being misquoted.

Meanwhile, panic has gripped beleaguered Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings
staffers after management ordered workers to furnish details of their
employment history to the Department of Information.
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Zim Independent

Corruption gnaws away at body politic
Ray Matikinye
NO other evidence of petty corruption can beat the admission by a long
haulage truck driver who openly declared in the glare of television cameras:
"I would rather bribe a policeman at a road checkpoint than pay a million
dollars for a traffic offence. My boss will reprimand me and take me for an
idiot for failing to part with $100 000 to avert a million dollar fine."

That admission is a microcosm of endemic corruption that pervades Zimbabwe

The police have become past masters at extracting bribes. A driver that
insists on being ticketed for a traffic offence courts a thorough inspection
for every fault they can come upon rendering the vehicle a perfect contender
for impounding.

For more than a quarter of a century President Robert Mugabe has ignored
advice never to put a loaded cannon on stage if no one on the set is
thinking of using it.

During the early years of his two decades of unbroken rule, Mugabe had a
useful advisor in party secretary-general Edgar Tekere, whom he chose to
punish and banish for daring to warn him against surrounding himself with
avaricious and corrupt lieutenants.

"He accuses others of corruption in public without first letting us know.
When we ask him to name the individuals he does not do so," Mugabe explained
to justify Tekere's expulsion in 1994.

Neither has Mugabe heeded calls in the past by student unions that routinely
paraded the streets in protest against corruption in high places. Instead,
he has given a free rein to baton wielding riot police, unleashing them on
the students for daring show him publicly their disdain for commonplace

Of all the weaknesses inherent in the Zimbabwean strongman, allowing crony
capitalism to flourish appears to be the most obvious. That weak trait has
nourished a retinue of party hangers on and other petty government officers
whose pet whim has been to abuse their authority and swindle
well-intentioned government programmes.

The long list of instances of graft involving bureaucrats, among them the
abuse of the VIP Housing scheme and the War Victims Compensation Fund,
proves a serious indictment of Mugabe's weakness in stamping out graft.

Culprits have often been let off the hook with just a slight slap on the

Since the Willowgate motor vehicle procurement scandal in 1988 that claimed
the life of the then third most powerful man in the Zanu PF hierarchy,
Maurice Nyagumbo, and the resignation of a handful of ministers followed by
the subsequent pardoning of the likes of Frederick Shava hours after his
conviction for graft, Mugabe's henchman and cronies have taken his threats
and pledges to stamp out corruption as merely putting a loaded gun on stage
that he does not intend to use.

Five years into the land redistribution programme, Mugabe is still wringing
his hands in frustration over some of his close henchmen who have taken more
than a fair share of the land and still cling to it.

The agrarian reform can easily be likened to a revolution that has lost its
way for the corruption and abuse by high-ranking officials that it has
become associated with. Apart from calling them "gomandisers" at a public
rally recently, Mugabe still has to grapple with institutionalised
corruption and show he means what he says.

Studies indicate that governments lacking a strong framework of good
governance, the rule of law and adequate banking regulations while clinging
on to unsound investment decisions, provide fertile grounds for corruption
to thrive.

Currently, Zimbabwe has all those ingredients.

A systematic policy of creating self-serving quasi-governmental
organisations headed by well-connected acquaintances has also accelerated
the rot.

Corruption scandals have rocked the Grain Marketing Board and the National
Oil Company of Zimbabwe as well as the private sector. The seemingly
flourishing banking sector has been hobbled by corruption scandals which
misdirected vital black empowerment resources essential for economic growth.

Director in the Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies ministry in the Office
of the President, Patrick Machaya, said his department was contemplating
conducting a corruption survey nationwide to come up with an index to
determine its levels.

"We want to find out what our people's perception of corruption is as they
have done in Mauritius, Zambia and Tanzania and come up with data which we
can use as benchmarks to validate our findings rather than depend on index
from organisations such as Transparent International," Machaya said.

The annual corruption perception index published by Transparency
International, a leading international NGO devoted to fighting corruption
worldwide, reflects the perceptions of business people, academics and risk
analysts, both resident and non-resident. It rates Zimbabwe at 106 out of
133 countries while its neighbours, Mozambique and Malawi, rank 86 and 83

Machaya says the survey will be conducted as soon as an Anti-Corruption
Commission has been sworn in following the enactment of the Anti-Corruption

Other countries in the sub-region have not only put loaded cannons on stage
that no one intends to use. The have used it to blow holes in corruption
syndicates and nip the scourge in the bud.

The anti-corruption drive in South Africa, involving, for instance, abuse of
the black economic empowerment programme has witnessed high ranking
officials in both national and provincial government quit their posts in

Twenty sitting MPs have appeared in court over a travel allowance scam.
Although a similar swindle involving MPs inflating travel allowance claims,
netting up to 2 000% of their monthly salaries was exposed by the media in
Zimbabwe, nothing was ever heard of its outcome.

That aside, prominent South Africans such as deputy President Jacob Zuma,
former transport minister Mac Maharaj, head of Hyundai South Africa Billy
Rautenbach, Jeff Levenstein, Regal Bank CEO, Irvin Khoza chairman of South
Africa 2010 World Cup bid, among others, have been taken to task about
suspected shady deals.

Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki put a loaded cannon on stage. But John Githongo
resigned in frustration when he realised Kibaki did not have the nerve to
allow someone to use it.

In Botswana, the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime has dealt with
more than 4 200 cases in a period of four years owing to government belief
that the fight against corruption advances national interests and economic

But Zimbabweans still hope the creation of a ministry to deal with
corruption was not merely putting a loaded cannon on a set when no one is
going to use it.

They wait the overdue swearing in of an Anti-Corruption Commission hoping to
see positive action taken against miscreants.
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Zim Independent

Bloch gives roadmap to economic revival
Susan Mateko
THE disputed result of the recent parliamentary election will not have any
material effect on economic recovery if government addresses fundamental
economic issues, a leading economist has said.

Economic consultant Eric Bloch said in an interview last week the revival of
the country's economy lay in sorting out the land reform programme, creating
a conducive environment for investment and providing meaningful incentives
for the export sector.

"Government needs to restructure the land reform programme in a way that
will restore viability, development and a co-operative relationship between
white commercial farmers and the new farmers to ensure that there is tenure
to the land and farmers have the collateral and capital they need," Bloch

"Linked with that, the government should introduce meaningful investment
incentives and a general facilitation of investments to create new economic
activity that will create new jobs and foreign currency generation."

Bloch said government needed to show that there was land tenure and
democracy in the country in order to restore investor confidence.

"Government needs to show that there is land tenure and democracy in the
country, which means that they must repeal legislation like Aippa (Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act) and Posa (Public Order and
Security Act)," he said.

"We must put in place a truly free and independent judiciary and a
restoration of law and order."

Bloch said furthermore, the government should restore good relations with
the international community while at the same time cultivating a genuine
working relationship between government itself, business and labour.

"We need to reconcile with the international community and to do so we need
to stop this confrontational approach to our foreign relations," he said.

Bloch said there has to be an ushering in of "a genuine social complex of
enterprise and labour in terms of which over a period of time there will be
a freeze of all prices and incomes, whilst other economic measures are put
into place".

"Foreign currency will increase when we start doing other features such as
the lowering of the exchange rate to realistic levels so that we restore
export viability," he said. "We need to have increased exports and for that
to happen, we need a significant exchange rate relaxation."

Bloch said failure to implement some of these measures would result in gains
on inflation being lost.
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Zim Independent

Zimpapers faces $50m suit
Conrad Dube
FORMER Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) corporate affairs director
and lawyer Gugulethu Moyo is pursuing her case for damages against Zimpapers
over an allegedly defamatory article published in the group's flagship
dailies, the Herald and the Chronicle.

Moyo has sued the Herald and Chronicle and former Chronicle editor, Stephen
Ndlovu, in his personal capacity, for claiming she had urged an invasion of
Zimbabwe by foreign powers at a media seminar in Namibia last year.

A senior Scanlen & Holderness lawyer said on Wednesday the case filed last
year was being pursued. The law firm is representing Moyo and Luckson
Chipare, Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) regional director, in the

The attorneys said the Herald and Chronicle "unlawfully, falsely and
intentionally published information to the effect that Moyo was hand-picked
to spearhead a campaign to demonise Zimbabwe from all fronts".

The article alleged that Moyo "ran away to join Idasa (Institute for
Democracy in South Africa) leaving the embattled ANZ and hundreds of Daily
News workers with no legal representative only to reappear as a messiah".

But Moyo's lawyers said this was false as their client worked for Misa in
Namibia before she went to the United Kingdom.

The Herald and Chronicle alleged in the article that Moyo had abandoned a

sinking ship at a time when she was needed most, in reference to the
termination of her contract with the ANZ when it was closed by the Media and
Information Commission.

The papers also alleged Moyo urged the international community to put more
pressure on Zimbabwe even if it meant taking the Saddam route, meaning
military invasion. She called for more or less another war, the papers
alleged in the articles in question.

"The said unlawful, false and intentional publication portrayed the first
defendant (Moyo) as a reckless, unprofessional, irresponsible, unpatriotic,
subversive, seditious, deceitful, treacherous and irresponsible
 opportunist," court papers say.

Moyo's lawyers said that "as a consequence of the said unlawful, false and
intentional publications by the defendants, the first plaintiff (Moyo) has
suffered considerable loss of her good name and reputation".

They said Ndlovu and the newspapers concerned aggravated their defamatory
conduct by repeating their allegations, and describing her as an errant
lawyer, and by refusing to respond to a written demand that they retract the
defamatory allegations and publish an apology.

Moyo is claiming damages for injury to her "good name and reputation" in the
sum of $50 million including interest.

Chipare is also claiming damages of $50 million, including interest, against
the defendants for alleging that he had suggested that there was a need for
countries like South Africa to follow the route of allowing pirate radio
stations to beam anti-Zimbabwe propaganda to oust President Robert Mugabe.

Zimpapers, Chipare said, alleged that he had suggested that Misa had no
money to fund such radio stations but was encountering difficulties in
obtaining countries willing to allow such broadcasts.

"The false, defamatory and intentional publications regarding Chipare have
injured his name and reputation by suggesting that he is unpatriotic,
reckless, indiscreet, unprofessional, irresponsible, seditious (and) engaged
in clandestine and dishonest arrangements to cause hostile propaganda
against his own country," the court papers say.
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Zim Independent

Zanu PF's past glory brings no joy
Dumisani Muleya
WHILE Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF mandarins celebrate their disputed triumph
in the recent general election, their Pyrrhic victory has thrown the country's
economic recovery agenda into disarray.

It is now clear to everybody - except perhaps President Robert Mugabe - that
Zimbabwe's structural economic problems cannot be resolved without
fundamental political reform.

Although in theory the border between politics and economics is open, the

reality is that politics and economics overlap. Often bad politics breed
economic failure. Politics affects economics big time and vice-versa.

Zimbabwean leaders are either off message or are deliberately ignoring this
reality. That is why Mugabe seems to entertain the delusion that he can
resolve the economic crisis without cleaning up the political mess first.

Whatever achievements Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono has
managed to chalk up, in particular on the inflation front, they count for
nothing without being linked to the broad political equation.

Gono's attempt to deal with the economic crisis outside its political
context has exposed either his naivety or an attempt to do the impossible.

His claims that the economy is recovering and is set for positive growth -
after a cumulative real gross domestic product shrinkage of 30% over the
past five years - further show that he has a shallow appreciation of the
broad structural problems the country is facing.

This perfunctory approach was revealed in the banking sector crisis. An ad
hoc, inconsistent and politically driven line of attack of the problem
failed to save the banks, except weakening the whole sector, precipitating
the decline of companies, impoverishment of depositors and magnifying the
country's political risk.

Gono and his government colleagues must not seek to bury their heads in the
sand and seriously hope to come up with an economic miracle on the basis of
political delusions.

The political problems in Zimbabwe are clear. The country has a ruling party
suffering from the malaise of a highly repressive former liberation movement
that has failed to renew itself and is now unable to cope with new political
and economic dynamics.

Analysts generally agree Zanu PF needs to open up and renew its closed
leadership structure, repackage itself, and catch up with a society that has
moved ahead of it.

But the party appears unable to adjust to the rapidly changing political and
socio-economic conditions. It has resorted to coercive measures to maintain
its faltering grip on a society rejecting its antiquated philosophy and
discredited ideological dogmas.

Zimbabwe's institutional failures, as well as shifts in the global political
economy, largely created the current crisis. This led to the emergence of a
new political formation which managed to rope in most other social forces
gathering against the ruling elite.

The socio-economic conditions and attendant political instability created a
number of key social formations that later coalesced into the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The main labour movement was
instrumental in this and that is why most MDC leaders came from it.

The present political impasse was caused by the three disputed elections -
including the recent one - since 2000. While Mugabe still claims the MDC is
a front for Western powers, his argument has long lost credibility and no
longer sells - even to his closest allies in South Africa.

This means Mugabe must get real and recognise he cannot wish away the MDC
unless he performs an economic miracle to eliminate the conditions which
brought it into being.

Mugabe's threadbare argument against the MDC is riddled with fundamental
contradictions built into it by his anti-intellectual attempt to reason
through conclusions.

On the one hand, he says the MDC is driven by protest votes, meaning he
appreciates the local environment that created it, while on the other he
claims it is by definition a British-sponsored creature. This leaves a
yawning credibility gap. Still, he has used this flawed reasoning to reject
talks on political reforms with the opposition.

The reality is that without political consensus, fashioned out of a
negotiated political settlement, economic problems will remain. The
international community will continue to isolate Zimbabwe and desperately
needed bilateral and multilateral aid will not come.

Diplomats have told Gono there will be no balance-of-payments support
without a political settlement.

This is the grim reality Mugabe appears reluctant to face. The past week
demonstrated that Mugabe and his government are either unwilling or simply
unable to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis.

A few days after the contentious election, shortages of basic commodities -
including bread, milk, sugar and maize meal - resurfaced. The fuel crisis
also returned.

Other problems, the distorted economic fundamentals, mounting debt,
de-industrialisation, disinvestment and capital flight, increasing
emigration, and foreign currency shortages remain and they will continue
unless there is a dramatic intervention by all stakeholders.

But Mugabe and his government's reaction to the situation was, to say the
least, inadequate. Instead of moving with calculated urgency to ease the sea
of troubles, they resorted to populist excuses and threats.

They took refuge in the failed command economy building block - price
controls. This shows that government does not learn from past mistakes.
Price controls were tried in the 1980s and three years ago with disastrous
consequences, but official proclivity is to resort to them in times of
political desperation.

Zanu PF met last Wednesday and on Sunday, but the economy did not feature in
its proceedings. The party is preoccupied with trivial pursuits such as
piecemeal constitutional amendments.

The Zanu PF old guard is retreating into the certainties of the past and
digging in, while reciting slogans -- such as "Look East" - and demagoguery
as a substitute for a sound economic policy.

This reactionary posturing and bankruptcy in terms of ideas will not help
anybody or change anything, except for the worse.
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Zim Independent

CZI meets over price controls
Godfrey Marawanyika/Roadwin Chirara
THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI)'s highest decision-making
body, the National Council, on Tuesday met to debate the contentious
decision by government to reverse price increases for basic commodities.

The National Council is composed of the country's captains of industry.

Prices shot up by as much as 100% after the March 31 parliamentary election
in which Zanu PF defeated the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC). The government swiftly moved in, ordering businesses to reverse the
increases, which it claimed were politically-motivated and meant to sabotage
the economy by the ruling party's enemies.

The order to reverse the price increases in turn resulted in shortages of
the same commodities.

Industry officials said the shortages are not artificial as alleged by
government, arguing that production is declining largely because of
unrealistic pricing structures.

Goods such as the staple maize-meal, sugar and cooking oil have disappeared
from most shop shelves in Harare.

Maize-meal supplies have been erratic in the country in recent months with
supermarkets out of stocks for days on end and long queues quickly forming
where the commodity is available.

CZI president Pattison Sithole confirmed the meeting but refused to disclose
details or their recommendations to government.

"The decision by the CZI National Council was that we will be taking the
issue of price controls and shortages to the minister," Sithole said.

"We also agreed that we cannot say anything about the meeting to the press,
so I cannot say anything."

Of concern to government is the fact that price hikes could trigger
inflationary pressures.

Currently, Zimbabwe's inflation is at 123,7% with the central bank having
set a target of between 30-50% by year-end.

At its peak the country's inflation reached 622,8% in January last year.

Industry and Trade minister Samuel Mumbengegwi on Tuesday could not be drawn
into commenting on the issue of price controls.

"There is nothing I can say on the issue as there is bound to be a new
minister soon. So why should I comment on something that can be changed by
someone new when the appointments are made?" Mumbengegwi said.

"Maybe talk to Mr (Kenneth) Manyonda."

Manyonda, the deputy minister, could not be reached for comment this week.
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Zim Independent

Post-poll monetary policy review this month
Godfrey Marawanyika
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono is set to announce the
fifth review of the country's monetary policy before the end of this month.

The review is expected to take into account the post-election scenario and

The last review for 2004 was announced on January 26.

The monetary policy review will take into account the challenges which the
country is facing in terms of food import requirements. In his 2005 national
budget, acting Finance minister Herbert Murerwa projected economic growth of
between 2 and 3,5% on the back of a 28% agricultural recovery.

This has turned out to be a mirage.

The drought which has swept across the region has forced Zimbabwe's northern
neighbour Zambia to stop maize exports.

Independent forecasts have since put the food import bill at $3 trillion.

One of the major challenges will be the containment of inflation at
manageable levels in the face of sharp food price hikes and rental increases
which were effected this month.

Zimbabwe's inflation reached a peak of 622,8% in January 2004. It has since
declined to about 123,7%. There are fears the trend could be reversed by
negative economic fundamentals.

Despite the crisis, Gono has remained upbeat that he will be able to meet
his US$3 billion foreign currency target inflows for this year.

Last month the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) produced a report on
Zimbabwe focusing on the post-election scenario.

The EIU said it expected the country's rate of economic decline to slow as
it achieves a new equilibrium with a much lower level of income compared
with levels prior to 2000.

"In particular, although many firms have now scaled down their operations to
adjust to lower income levels, the collapse of commercial farming and
falling government capital spending, and ongoing foreign exchange shortages
will continue to create a difficult operating environment," the report said.

"The adverse impact of the country's HIV and Aids pandemic will also start
to be felt in many sectors of the economy in coming years -notably farming
and will constrain recovery," it said.

The other challenge which the central bank will be facing is how to make
underperforming parastatals contribute positively to the country's economic

In January, Gono announced a plan to restructure non-performing public
firms. He announced a $10 trillion Parastatal and Local Authorities
Reorientation Programme, which will run for a period of 18-24 months.

The EIU attributed the poor performance of parastatals to "political

appointments of incompetent executives, through to blatant corruption and
incorrect pricing".

The acute shortage of foreign currency is having a telling effect on
importers across the whole economy and the Homelink initiative launched by
the central bank in January last year has woefully failed to generate
significant inflows.
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Zim Independent

Agric production estimates up in smoke?
By Admire Mavolwane
THERE is a maxim, popularly referred to as Murphy's Law which says: "If
there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will
cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong."

A corollary normally appended to the famous adage reads: "If there is a
worse time for something to go wrong, it will happen then".

Whether the above law could be said to apply to the Zimbabwean situation or
not, evidence on the ground seems to suggest so.

Official real GDP growth is forecast between 3,5 to 5%, predicated upon a
28% growth in agricultural production.

The working assumption and the attendant efforts were all directed towards
the achievement of a flue-cured tobacco crop size of 160 million kg.

Everything that could go wrong did, and the target had to be revised down to
between 100 and 112 million kg.

Even then, private opinion is of a crop size of between 80 and 85 million
kg. A wide spectrum of factors including late planting, disease,
insufficient inputs, reduced reaping, and curing capacity, meant the guess
estimate figures had to be scaled down.

However, a problem which had been foreseen by many in the sector and seems
to have caught the authorities with their pants down is the issue of pricing
at the auction floors.

As early as January this year, it was known that international prices would
not be favourable as a result of relatively poor quality local crop and
international market oversupply due to an above average Brazilian crop.

This would in turn impact negatively on the auction prices, thus threatening
the viability of growers. Surprisingly, and maybe not so, no measures had
been put in place to insulate the tobacco farmers from the ravages of the
international markets. Although we have in the past been against subsidies,
international events like this at least warrant interventions through
stop-gap measures in the form of quantified subsidies.

At the moment, merchants are said to be offering US$0,90/kg, against last
year's average of US$2,11/kg whilst the growers would require a price of at
least US$3 to break even, before talking of making the whole exercise
worthwhile to them.

The other important foreign currency earning crop, cotton, has seen
production targets being revised downwards several times. Initially
estimates of approximately 400 000 tonnes were being thrown around; by the
end of December 50 000 had been debited from that figure and by mid-February
the numbers had come down to between 250 000 and 310 000 tonnes.

An unfavourable rain distribution pattern characterised by prolonged dry
spells, shortages of top dressing fertiliser, ammonium nitrate and reduced
funding all impacted negatively on yields.

A similar pricing dilemma exists in the "white gold" industry with merchants
proposing to reduce their producer price from the $1 800/kg in 2004 to $1
040/kg, whilst the farmers are looking for a minimum $4 200/kg.

The stand-off is a result of a significant softening of international lint
prices now trading at around US$0,56/lb compared with the lofty levels of
US$0,80c/lb last year. Reduced demand from major producer and consumer
China, resulting in a market oversupply, has been cited as the major reason
for the softer prices. Negotiations for a support price are ongoing.

The situation becomes critical, if one considers the impact this will have
on the farmers and the agriculture industry. Unviable prices are likely to
push farmers off the fields as many of them have debts and inputs to repay.
At the end of the day, the farmers are not likely to get a profit from their

Although tobacco growing areas are not necessarily the same as cotton
growing areas, the impasse between growers and merchants is likely to lead
to a switch into other crops. However, this may not happen given the fact
that alternatives are limited.

It comes as a welcome relief to many economic watchers that figures and
estimates are at least available for important commodities like tobacco and
cotton. Impact on economic variables can be assessed and evaluated.

What is worrying, however, is that when it comes to commodities that have to
do with bread and butter issues, no official figures or even estimates,
accurate, reasonable or otherwise, are forthcoming from the authorities.

The country is still waiting with bated breath for confirmation of the 2,4
million tonnes of maize produced in the 2003/4 season.

With the 2004/5 harvesting season of cereals, particularly maize that made
it to maturity already underway, it appears as if no assessment of
production has been done, and if it was indeed done, the figures are not
publicly to hand. As a result, no estimates have been put forward of what
the country is likely to produce, how much it would need to import and from
where, given the fact that the whole region was affected.

Zambia, from where we were reportedly importing our grain, has since
suspended exports. We will not dwell on the issue of wheat at the moment;
suffice to say bread shortages have started to be experienced in some parts
of the country.

The other major crop and foreign currency earner that was projected to
record an increase in production was sugar.

Recent developments regarding the listing of major sugar cane producing
estates for compulsory acquisition and the unresolved illegal occupation of
portions of cane land are expected to see cane deliveries being
significantly lower than in 2004.

Out-growers' cane production has been constrained by shortages of ammonium
nitrate and consequently sugar production is estimated to remain at last
year's levels.

As the collary to the law implies, this could be the worst time for the
economy. The unfavourable international tobacco and lint prices could well
mean reduced foreign currency inflows.

One can safely conclude that given what has happened, the 28% growth in
agricultural production, which contributes 17% to the GDP and accounts for a
third of the foreign currency earnings may not be attainable and hence the
real growth in GDP estimate is beginning to look a bit over-optimistic at
this point in time.
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Zim Independent

Zim crisis could blight Makoni's chances
Godfrey Marawanyika
THE diplomatic stand-off between Zimbabwe, the European Union and the United
States could affect Dr Simba Makoni's bid for the powerful post of president
of the African Development Bank.

Makoni is the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) candidate for
the post.

Makoni is facing stiff challenge from current ADB vice-president Bisi
Ogunjobi, backed by five nations - Ghana, Egypt, Gabon, Rwanda and Cameroon,
in the May election.

Ogunjobi was last week in the country on a tour of Sadc where he is

understood to have been lobbying for support.

Before his appointment to the ADB, Ogunjobi, who has more than two decades
in banking, worked for the Zimbabwe Development Bank for seven years.

Makoni was once Zimbabwe's Finance minister and was the first executive
secretary of Sadc.

During his visit, the Nigerian met central bank governor Gideon Gono.

Officials privy to the goings-on at the ADB noted that although Makoni had
strong credentials for the post, there were concerns from both the EU and
the US on the way Sadc had failed to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis when
compared to the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas)'s
handling of the Togolese crisis.

Both the EU and the US finance the ADB to an extent.

Earlier this year, Ecowas managed to fend off a diplomatic and political
impasse when it refused to recognise the son of the late Togolese president
Faure Gnassingbe as its leader.

Gnassingbe had been imposed by the army following his father's death.

Ecowas is a regional group of 16 countries founded in 1975 to foster
economic integration in West Africa.

According to Ecowas' profile, there were 16 nations in the group until
recently when Mauritania withdrew its membership.

The organisation says its main objective is to achieve economic integration
and form a unified economic zone in West Africa.

Its scope was broadened later to include socio-political interaction and
mutual development in related spheres.

Ogunjobi acknowledged that he would be facing stiff competition from the
other aspiring candidates - including Makoni.

"Yes, there will be competition but I know that I will bring wonders to
Zimbabwe for both government and the private sector," he said.

"This is not a question between Makoni and me."

Relations between Harare and the West have hit their lowest ebb since the
disputed presidential election of 2002, which resulted in President Robert
Mugabe retaining power.

Since then, Mugabe and senior members of his party have been slapped with
travel restrictions and targeted sanctions by the EU and the US.

However, Mugabe argues that the targeted sanctions have seriously affected
the country's economic performance and denies rigging his way back into

Makoni could not be reached for comment this week, but the League of Arab
States is expected to endorse Makoni as the candidate for the ADB post.
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Zim Independent

Harare city pleads for cheap forex
Eric Chiriga
THE cash-strapped Harare city council wants the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) to allow it to access foreign currency at the lower rate of the
auction floor.

The council is battling to raise money to import essential chemicals and
spare parts.

The Commission-led council also wants to be exempted from paying Value

Added Tax.

Currently at the auction floor the American dollar fetches $6 086,78, whilst
the South African rand is $975,05 and the British pound is $11 416,06.

According to the 2005 budget proposals by the acting chairman for Harare,
Priscilla Mupfumira, the city's finances continue to deteriorate because of
a severe cash-flow problem.

"Your council's operations have been greatly compromised by shortages of
foreign currency. The city has not been able to acquire any plant and
equipment, spares for road maintenance vehicles and refuse trucks as forex
problems persist," she said.

She said council wanted to negotiate with the RBZ with a view to obtaining
foreign currency at the lower official rate. The commission also wants the
Ministry of Finance to exempt it from paying duty and VAT on water treatment
chemicals and related equipment.

Mupfumira said most of the credit facilities with various suppliers had been
closed and council was now paying cash upfront, noting that the price of
general commodities rose by about 150% resulting in increased operational
costs by the same percentage.
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Zim Independent

The time is now to indict Mugabe
By Mark S Ellis
THE recent United Nations Security Council's resolution authorising the
International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Sudanese war crime suspects
is a significant advancement of international law. It is the first time that
the UN Security Council has used the "trigger mechanism" to initiate
proceedings before the ICC for the prosecution of international crimes.

The resolution also marks a fundamental shift by the United States in
acknowledging the ICC's potential role in maintaining international peace
and security. The United States, which has vehemently opposed the ICC, took
the extraordinary step of dropping its opposition to the resolution in order
to ensure that the perpetrators of the atrocities in Sudan's western Darfur
region are brought to justice.

The UN Security Council should now turn its attention to Zimbabwe in order
to end the government's policies that sanction systematic human rights
abuses. It should request the ICC to investigate President Robert Mugabe for
committing crimes against humanity.

The ICC was established on July 1 2002 as the first permanent international
court to investigate and try individuals for the most heinous violations of
international humanitarian law, including genocide, war crimes and crimes
against humanity.

Under the UN Charter, the Security Council can decide what measures should
be taken to maintain or restore international peace and security. Ending
crimes against humanity has long been considered a crucial step in
maintaining this peace and security. Thus, the referral to the ICC to
immediately investigate the crisis in Zimbabwe would fall squarely within
the powers of the Security Council.

Furthermore, in the exercise of its wide discretionary powers under the UN
Charter, the Security Council could specifically name Mugabe as per se an
ongoing threat to the peace and security of the region and authorise an ICC
investigation. This request for an investigation of the crimes committed by
Mugabe could occur even though Zimbabwe has refused to acquiesce to the
jurisdiction of the ICC.

It is the right time for the UN Security Council to instruct the ICC to
initiate a preliminary investigation against Mugabe for crimes against
humanity. The recent flawed parliamentary election in Zimbabwe means that
the country will languish in crisis and Mugabe's flagrant violations of
international law will continue unabated.

It would be decisively straightforward for the ICC prosecutor to show a
prima facie case that Mugabe has committed crimes against humanity. It
requires showing that the general policy of the government is to commit
multiple crimes that are part of a widespread and systematic attack against
any civilian population.

The crimes could include, among others, murder, enslavement, torture,
imprisonment and rape. The well-documented and mounting evidence of these
same crimes committed by Mugabe's regime is both staggering and

However, Mugabe's atrocities are not limited to inflicting egregious
physical pain on his own citizens. Under the ICC statute, Mugabe can be held
accountable for other inhumane treatment perpetrated by his government that
causes severe mental or physical suffering.

This would include the deprivation of access to food through Mugabe's
widespread and systematic policy of using food as a political weapon. It is
widely acknowledged that those Zimbabweans who support Mugabe's Zanu PF
party have access to the dwindling supply of government food aid. However,
if you are in opposition to Mugabe, you will be refused even a single morsel
of this life-sustaining maize.

This nefarious government policy is particularly deadly in the current
drought that is prevailing in the country. Zimbabwe's agricultural output
had already been so ravaged by the government's policies that the country
now has the highest number of citizens starving in Africa.

Zimbabwe is a country in ruin. Its people are destitute. Zimbabwe's demise
has been long and painful. Since 1998, annual foreign investment inflows
have dropped from US$436 million to less than US$5 million today. The
unemployment rate exceeds 80%. Zimbabwe is experiencing hyperinflation that
is over 100%, and climbing.

The country's pandemic Aids crisis means that one in four Zimbabweans is
HIV-positive. Life expectancy has plummeted from 61 to 34 during the last 15
years. Primary school completion rates in Zimbabwe have dropped by 20%
during the last 13 years. Unicef has estimated that over one million
children are orphaned; this number will dramatically increase during the
next year.

The people of Zimbabwe have been courageous in their struggle to defeat
Mugabe, and, in turn, regain their liberty and their country. However,
Mugabe's state machine is simply too powerful and too corrupt to be defeated
by a weakened and demoralised citizenship. The citizens of Zimbabwe need to
hear a stronger international voice for holding Mugabe accountable for his

A request by the UN Security Council for the ICC to investigate Mugabe for
crimes against humanity will provide an enormous boost to the people of
Zimbabwe. Those who have been victimised by Mugabe's policies will know that
justice is not expendable.

An ICC investigation will also send an unmistakable message to Mugabe that
he can try to manipulate and evade domestic justice, but he will not escape
international justice. There is no impunity for those who commit crimes
against humanity.

*Mark Ellis is executive director of the International Bar Association,
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Zim Independent

Zim unacceptable as long as Mugabe rules
By Denford Magora
IT is always dangerous to personalise issues. It is dangerous to swallow the
tripe that one man and one man alone can bring an entire country to its
knees. Very rarely is this accusation justified or true.

In Zimbabwe's case, there are people who have been trying to tell us that
President Robert Mugabe alone is the cause of the country's state of
disarray. No one else, we are told, has contributed anything to the demise
of this country.

It matters not what the West has done. It matters not there are people
outside Zimbabwe so miffed at the treatment of white farmers that they would
gladly see this country reduced to ashes.

It matters not that tourism to this country is discouraged by vigilantes who
have taken it upon themselves to tell South Africans, the British and
Americans that it is "immoral" to visit the country and leave foreign
currency behind to "prop up the Mugabe regime". (Ordinary Zimbabweans
working in the tourism industry who suffer as a result are not considered
part of the equation.)

There is no doubt that Mugabe himself has done some damage. This man, who
was so renowned for his diplomatic skills that he convinced Zimbabweans for
a long time that he himself was a "reasonable fellow let down by his
ministers", certainly went astray in recent years. That is beyond doubt.

The reaction of the "white world" to Mugabe, which the president says is
informed by "racism", certainly makes sense when viewed against the
following background:

Upon returning from one foreign trip or the other a couple of years back,

president was greeted at the airport by buttock-waving members of the ruling
party's Women's League. The president made what I still consider one of his
most glaring gaffes during the little speech he gave to the women

"We must make the white man tremble," he thundered. Note that the comment
was directed at "white man". Not the "racist Rhodesian white farmer", not
the "racist Tony Blair", but "the white man" in general.

It was a comment that was certainly ill-advised and it did more to damage
the president's image than anything else he has done since then. It allowed
the world to realistically portray Mugabe as a racist himself, full of
hatred for all white people. If Blair was to make a comment asking his
supporters to "make the black man tremble", I think he would be out of
office faster than he could blink. He would be reviled by every black man
alive today.

Why then does it surprise the president that the white world is nakedly
ranged against him? I have heard that comment played back every time a white
man wants to justify why they think Mugabe's land crusade is nothing but
"genocide" and "ethnic cleansing".

These were charges levelled against Mugabe as Zimbabwe's problems started.
They have since taken a back seat now because his critics have realised that
there is little sympathy for the Zimbabwean white farmer even in
traditionally conservative British newspapers like The Telegraph.

It also bears keeping in mind that, although this comment from Mugabe was
clearly wrong primarily because it was a generalised comment that seems more
racist than anything else he had said before, he still has not apologised to
"good white people". This has given rise to the British urban legend
currently circulating which says that Mugabe told a rally in 2002 that "the
only good white man is a dead white man". I know that the president never
said this, but it becomes credible because of that comment at the airport,
which practically every television news organisation in the world still has
on file.

The white man, therefore, fails to understand it when Mugabe is elected into
power by the people of Zimbabwe. It has now become a case of if you can
support such a nakedly racist man, a latter-day Hitler, then you do not
deserve our help or our support.

Which in turn explains why the white world has no qualms about ensuring the
suffering of the people of Zimbabwe. If they get cheated at elections and
accept it without protest, without marching in the streets, then they are no
better than "the racist who wants all whites to tremble simply because of
their skin colour".

If, on the other (unthinkable) hand, they are actually voting for this man,
then they are all racists as well, for they support his call to make whites
suffer. So the attitude then becomes: "To hell with Zimbabwe and its
 people." Why would you want foreign currency from countries that are
populated by the very same people you want to suffer?

This, in my view, is how our suffering has become a product of the actions
of not only Mugabe, but his detractors as well. His international (white)
opponents seem not to be making any distinction between Mugabe and the
people of Zimbabwe.

Despite all the talk about the world "feeling for the oppressed people of
Zimbabwe", one thing is certain: should the people of Zimbabwe actually vote
for Mugabe freely and fairly, they would still not get any balance of
payments support. The West would still be urging each other to boycott
holidays in Zimbabwe because they are "immoral".

This explains, quite rationally, in my view, why it is correct to say
Zimbabwe will only be accepted by the West if Mugabe is no longer president,
regardless of whether the people of Zimbabwe want him or not. As long as
Mugabe is in power, no matter how fairly that power is achieved, Zimbabwe
can consider itself a pariah as far as the West is concerned.

* Denford Magora is a marketing executive and freelance writer.
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Zim Independent

Poll statistics stir familiar dispute
Ray Matikinye

ZIMBABWE'S election results in the 21st century have broken their own
record. Two general elections and a presidential poll in the past five years
raised the losing contestants' hackles and generated intense disputes that
the nature of their outcome appears cloned from a prototype.
Investing so much faith in translucent ballot boxes and the new arrangement
of one-day voting, followed by counting of ballots at each polling station,
did not guarantee transparency as many Zimbabweans believed.
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has rejected the results
of last Thursday's polls outright while the ruling Zanu PF is basking in the
glory of having handed the opposition party a crushing defeat, garnering the
elusive two-thirds majority it needs for constitutional change.
Mugabe direly needed the required majority to consolidate his grip on power.
The ruling Zanu PF had predicted a landslide even before the final vote
count was announced.
"We are going to win. By how much is what we are going to see," President
Robert Mugabe beamed after casting his vote at Cyril Jennings Hall on
Thursday before discussing his party's intention to make constitutional
changes after garnering the required two-thirds majority.
Pollsters have remained unsurprised by the source of dispute - statistics.
Political pundits have often described statistics as the most vulnerable and
unreliable form of determinant, particularly because these are susceptible
to manipulation and easily convert into counterfeit data, often employed to
achieve an end.
Zimbabwe's bureaucracy has become a master at using counterfeit data to
prolong the lifespan of a moribund regime.
Oddly enough, the MDC, which said it had reversed its decision to boycott
the election in response to pressure from 95% of its members and took the
decision with " a heavy heart", fully aware that the odds were heavily
skewed in their opponent's favour, came out of the poll battle with an even
heavier heart. The election outcome inflicted on the opposition party untold
heartaches and left it wondering whether it was worth all the effort.

Voter figures released by the newly constituted Zimbabwe Election Commission
(ZEC) appear at variance with those announced as polled by Zanu PF
candidates in several constituencies.
But the African Union (AU), the 13-member regional Southern African
Development Community (Sadc) and government delegations from Zambia,
Mozambique and Malawi joined economic powerhouse South Africa in saying the
poll was free, credible and reflected the will of the people.
For the South African observer teams giving the election a clean bill of
health seems to be a clone from a prototype too. When polling day came,
about a tenth of the voters were turned away from polling stations for
various reasons.

One constituency, in which 14 812 people voted, according to ZEC, was
announced the next day to have awarded more than 15 000 votes to the
president's nephew, Patrick Zhuwawo.
Bulawayo South MP David Coltart, who is also an attorney, said the party was
preparing a report on election fraud. He said it would document "major
disparities" in the vote, including an unexplained 244 000-vote increase in
the turnout, hours after the official vote had been announced.
Although MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai ruled out taking legal action to
contest the results on the back of past experience of the 35 contested cases
whose outcome had been stayed by the Supreme Court since 2000, Coltart said
the party may consider contesting as many as 10 individual races to document
the poll abuses.
An analysis of the election results indicates that in a number of districts
where Zanu PF candidates won narrowly, the number of people who tried to
vote but were turned away on technical grounds exceeded the margin of the
opposition candidates' defeat.

According to the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), in Makoni East
for instance, where Zanu PF won by 9 201 votes compared to the MDC's 7 708,
a total of 2 223 voters were turned away. In addition, in Mutasa South,
where Zanu PF got 9 715 and MDC 9 380 votes, a total of 1 460 voters were
turned away. In both cases, the number of voters turned away was higher than
the margin of victory.

This contravenes Sadc principles and guidelines which oblige all states to
allow all citizens the right to participate in the political process and
afford them equal opportunity to vote.
Tsvangirai told a media briefing that among the irregularities his team had
uncovered was subjective use of postal votes, citing 800 party militia he
said had been deployed into one constituency to bolster Zanu PF support.
Glaring variances are evident in the Beitbridge constituency where 36 821
people had voted by close of voting, according to announcements by the ZEC.
But the winning Zanu PF candidate polled 14 305 votes while his opponent
garnered 6 297 votes, giving a total of 20 602 votes. The total leaves 16
219 votes unaccounted for. Five years ago only 21 680 people voted in the
constituency, pointing to a phenomenal increase of 15 141 more registered
voters this year.
By contrast, Mutare South recorded 8 558 less voters than those who voted in
2000. This time the constituency had 14 054 ballots cast last Thursday
although the final result showed the total votes were 19 772, with 11 552
going to the ruling party.

The discrepancies in the number of people who cast their votes in six of the
13 constituencies as announced by ZEC exactly equals the number of voters
turned away in the whole province. These discrepancies are in Chegutu (8
221), Hurungwe East (3 227), Hurungwe West (2 789), Manyame (8 948), Zvimba
North (7 931) and Zvimba South (4 447). ZEC announced that 250 806 voters
had cast their votes in Mashonaland West province with 35 267 voters turned

When an election official in Harare South constituency heard election
figures announced over national radio, he was taken aback: "Those are not
the total votes our team agreed with the contesting parties as the final
figures for the election," he remarked.
With the European Union (EU) condemning the election and the US damning it
as a "sham" for its inconsistencies, Zimbabwe is set for a long haul of
economic stagnation. The cost of a landslide victory could be a worsening of
economic prospects for a country that desperately needs
foreign direct investment to survive. It could prolong Zimbabwe's isolation
from the international community.

While the poll outcome has entrenched Mugabe's grip on power, the chorus of
condemnation about his manner of victory from important international
quarters is only likely to worsen Zimbabwe's isolation.

University of Zimbabwe head of political and administrative studies Eldred
Masunungure says more targeted European and American sanctions are likely to
follow Mugabe's victory.
"Some of the EU countries and America will contemplate stiffening and
broadening the sanctions unless there is a fundamental policy shift by the
government. There has to be a serious paradigm shift and Mugabe must make a
conscious decision to change his domestic and foreign policies if he expects
a reprieve from the international community," says Masunungure.

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Zim Independent


Zanu PF's triumph a Pyrrhic victory

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's "landslide" election win last week may turn out to
be less than that. Once the self-congratulatory euphoria has died down, Zanu
PF will wake up to the cold reality that it won a Pyrrhic victory.
Not a single urban constituency fell to the ruling party.

Harare South is a mixed rural/urban seat which has been the location of
intensive resettlement, not to mention gerrymandering. But elsewhere Mugabe's
threats and blandishments made no impression on the country's most important
concentrations of population where a younger, more educated generation - the
nation's future - resides.

At the end of last week, Mugabe remained what he had been before: the ruler
of rural Zimbabwe where voters, in the absence of independent newspapers and
alternative voices on the radio, were denied their right to make an informed

This is hardly the unambiguous declaration of support he said was necessary
to confront Tony Blair and George Bush. They will have seen a failed
autocrat unable to carry his message to Zimbabwe's teeming towns and cities.
They will have seen the scepticism of a younger generation who know
perfectly well who is responsible for their unemployment and growing
Mugabe's electoral deceit worked only where there was nobody to expose it.
Similarly, his racist pursuit of a handful of whites left in the country
failed to do the trick in Harare North or Bulawayo South.

Trudy Stevenson and David Coltart were retained with large majorities. Even
in the ruling party's rural heartland, seats such as Chinhoyi, Kariba,
Makoni East, Manyame, Bikita East, Gutu South, and Zhombe showed significant
support for the MDC. So did large parts of Manicaland while the MDC held on
to eight of its Matabeleland constituencies in situations where voters were
susceptible to threats to their food supplies.
The MDC won back Lupane which had been lost to Zanu PF in a by-election and
which we were told at the time had been restored to its "natural"

Far from being the "flash in the pan" of Zanu PF's propaganda, the "fluke"
winner of 57 seats in 2000, the MDC has emerged from this battle intact and
with its core support base in good order. Zanu PF's fiction that 2000
represented some aberration has been exposed for the lie it is. Zanu PF is
the aberration, an anachronism in modern Africa still clinging to the
mantras of the liberation war.

Meanwhile, Mugabe will have difficulty selling himself as the unchallenged
voice of Zimbabwe. He does not speak for the cities, for the youths, or for
commerce and industry. And when the blatant cheating is taken into account,
there are many rural people he manifestly doesn't speak for.
Mugabe's legitimacy remains in doubt so long as the many discrepancies in
the final figures are open to challenge. How does the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission explain the huge gap between its totals for those voting and the
votes won by the individual candidates?

Apart from these anomalies, the institutional framework remains defective.
Military and intelligence officers continue to serve on the Electoral
Supervisory Commission which is appointed by and answerable to Mugabe. The
National Command Centre is a gaping black hole. And the ZEC is anyway
fatally compromised. It appears not to have found a single problem in last
week's poll!

The state media, while allowing the occasional appearance of MDC spokesmen
in the final weeks of campaigning, churned out a diet of Zanu PF propaganda
and hate speech - not to mention transparent lies - directed at the
Zimbabwe does not have a democratic system that permits voters access to
differing views. It remains essentially a dictatorship manipulating the
levers of state power. Perhaps the worst dimension of this is a suborned
judiciary unwilling to uphold rights enshrined in the constitution.
The fact that MDC court applications against violence and fraud in 2000
remain outstanding underlines this point.

At the end of the day the country remains as divided as ever between those
struggling for freedom because it can improve their lives and the rest who
have no idea what it means and for whom hunger is the price of political

Mugabe is either unwilling or unable to bridge this chasm. Nothing will
change until he goes. That much must be obvious to even his closest
associates who thought, until recently, their loyalty to tyranny was a
ladder to power.
What do they say now?

Meanwhile, the MDC should stop licking its wounds and instead congratulate
the hundreds of thousands of voters who successfully defended its turf
against a predatory ruling party which, as this election has proved, is
incapable of winning a free and fair poll and long ago lost its national

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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Another chance for economic revival

DESPITE the government's vociferous contentions to the contrary, few will
agree that last week's parliamentary elections were truly free and fair.
Even if there had been no ulterior motives for the Delimitation Commission's
revision of constituencies, and even if there had been no tampering with the
registration of voters, and even though there was evidently no "stuffing" of
ballot boxes, the elections were not wholly free and fair. Admittedly,
various regional observer teams gave the "thumbs up" to the conduct of the
elections, but they were clearly duped or unaware of certain realities.

Although the state-controlled media pretended to give equal time or space to
all contenders, that did not happen in practice. That applied only to paid
advertising and to so-called party political broadcasts. But for months
there was not a day when the news reports, commentaries and articles did not
focus exclusively upon promoting Zanu PF and castigating the Movement for
Democratic Change. While the elections were relatively peaceful and without
the violence that had characterised previous polls, nevertheless there was
intimidation, even though the government denies it.

On the one hand, many constituencies having been the victims of intimidation
in 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 1996, 2000 and 2002, there was an entrenched fear
that if any constituency failed to elect the ruling party candidate, there
would be retribution in due course.

On the other hand, the president, addressing a Tsholotsho rally, threatened
that if Zanu PF did not win that constituency there would never be further
development there. That made many in other constituencies fear similar
Be that as it may be, Zimbabwe needs to accept the result, for every
attention should now be directed vigorously to achieving the
long-talked-about economic turnaround, for the ever greater slide into the
depths of poverty for most of the population must be halted.

And Zanu PF's resounding victory, howsoever attained, makes it possible for
the government to concentrate intensively upon bringing about the
desperately needed, long overdue economic recovery. Inclusive of the 30
president-appointed members of parliament, Zanu PF will have 108 seats in
parliament out of 150, or almost three-quarters of the legislature. With
that strength, the government can afford to abandon past destructive
policies and to embark upon others which can restore the Zimbabwe economy to
its 1997 levels, and then build thereon.

The first focus should be upon the dismal failure of the land reform
programme. Few can deny that, for the greater part of the 20th century,
Zimbabwe had appalling, racially discriminatory land policies, and that
reform was needed. But if there had been a deliberate attempt to destroy
agriculture - the foundation of the economy - the government could not have
done so more effectively than it did with its unjust and ill-conceived
programme of land acquisition and redistribution.

That programme displaced over 4 000 successful farmers, 300 000 farm workers
and more than a million of their dependants. It reduced Zimbabwe from
self-sufficiency in food to a nation of under-nourished. It lowered
agricultural production by almost two-thirds. The government attributed the
collapse of agriculture to drought. But the government, the populace and the
world know otherwise.

Only two weeks before the election, Vice President Joseph Msika appealed to
new farmers to cooperate and work with white commercial farmers. That appeal
should be progressed, in the interests of the white farmers, the new farmers
and the Zimbabwean economy. At the outset, the government should make a
sincere endeavour to attract the former white commercial farmers back to
their farms or, in the case of larger farms, to parts thereof.

Concurrently, it should implement a genuine compensation for those lands not
returned, for the improvements thereon, the vandalisation and looting that
has decimated many of the farms, and for years of loss of income.

While doing so, the government must unhesitatingly, although belatedly,
return all farms as were protected by international bilateral investment
agreements, such as exist between Zimbabwe on the one hand and Germany,
Italy and the Netherlands on the other, among others. Failure to do so is
not only to the prejudice of agriculture, but also an overwhelming deterrent
to procuring foreign direct investment, although the president has declared
2005 as the year of investment.

The second key task is to intensify the war on inflation. The Reserve Bank
has done much to reduce inflation from its January 2004 all-time high of
622,8% to 127,2% for the year to February 2005.

But rising world oil prices, an inevitable need to import food, declining
industrial productivity and significant real depreciation of the Zimbabwe
dollar (within the unlawful parallel market which fuels much of the country's
imports) are all likely to force inflation upwards once more.
That is unless the government does something about it. Its actions must be
to reduce its own spending very considerably. Perhaps the first step would
be to abandon the intent to establish a senate to complement parliament.
Zimbabwe cannot afford to create "more jobs for the boys"! Foreign
Zimbabwean embassies in excess of real need should be closed, parastatals
privatised, the number of state residences reduced, provincial governorships
dispensed with, presidential entourages cut in size and the budget of the
Information and Publicity department substantially slashed.

Motivating investment is critical, in order to achieve job creation, access
technologies, source new markets, generate economic activity and source
foreign exchange. But attracting investment is not easy when an economy is
derelict, and especially so when potential investors are given grounds to
doubt the future security of their investments.
The blatant disregard for bilateral international investment protection
agreements was a major nail in the coffin of investment promotion. Then the
government hammered in another big nail when the president first stated that
at leas 50% of all mines must be owned by Zimbabwean blacks (which is how he
defines "indigenous"), subsequently modifying the demand to 20%, and more
recently there have been statements that the countries of the region intend
"to repossess the mineral wealth bequeathed to them by Cecil Rhodes".

And recurrently the government makes statements demanding indigenous
participation in all enterprises. It is time that it learned that coercion
is counterproductive. Motivation, incentivisation and facilitation is more
effective. Who will invest, be they residents or non-residents, when they
must live in continuing uncertainty as to whether they will, at some stage,
be forcibly deprived of some or all of their investments, particularly
without even receiving fair compensation?

To motivate foreign investment, Zimbabwe must also demonstrate that it is a
genuine democracy. The government will argue that the recent parliamentary
election is the proof of that democracy, but many will remain unconvinced.
However, were the government to repeal the oppressive, iniquitous and
undemocratic Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the
Public Order and Security Act and facilitate the re-establishment of a free
and independent daily press, it will go a long way towards conversion of the

That would be strengthened if, concurrently, a genuine independent, free and
fair judiciary and judicial system would once again come into being. And
that should be further augmented by demonstrating real intent to
re-establish law and order throughout Zimbabwe.
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Zim Independent


This is not a victory

HOW can Zanu PF celebrate a "victory" in which they failed to win a single
urban seat and lost several they had flagged as marking their return to
national ascendancy such as Zengeza, Kadoma and Lupane
Turning a blind eye to their failure to make any inroads in the MDC's core
constituencies, the ruling party's propagandists tried to turn this
disappointing outcome on its head.
"What stronghold can the MDC talk of when Zanu PF has won Harare South,
Bubi/Umguza, Manyame, Gwanda and many other seats that opposition myths
branded as untouchables.?" one gloating commentator asked in the state
The answer to that is obvious: the cities and towns of Zimbabwe. That
stronghold populated by the people who were able to make an informed choice,
unlike their country cousins!
Harare South, as the Herald pointed out in its remarkably sober account on
Saturday, is a mixed urban/rural constituency. Zanu PF candidates were
utterly crushed in Bulawayo, Harare, Kadoma, and Mutare. Only in Masvingo
was it a close-run thing.
What did poor old Victoria Chitepo do to deserve being humiliated in this
way (4 648 votes to Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga's 14 841) in Glen
Norah? And why couldn't Zanu PF manage more than a pathetic 5 555 in
Kambuzuma to the MDC's 17 394?
Now let's hear Zanu PF claim the MDC is only a "flash in the pan"! It was
Zanu PF's capture of Zengeza and Lupane that were the flashes in the pan.
Trudy Stevenson's core vote came from the Hatcliffe Estate. Evidently,
President Mugabe's pernicious message about whites failed to travel there.
And does anybody for one minute doubt that Heather Bennett would have won
Chimanimani in a free and fair poll?
And what of Emmerson Mnangagwa? How come there hasn't been a single mention
in the government media of his fate?
Didymus Mutasa said the MDC would win a maximum of 15 seats. What can we say
now of his analytical powers? And Mugabe, speaking of Jonathan Moyo in
Tsholotsho, said "the real Tsholotsho doesn't belong to this man - the
chiefs don't even know him".
They don't know Mugabe either, it would seem. He clearly miscalculated in
the inducements offered to chiefs and headmen. The real Tsholotsho placed
the president's party third in its list of loyalties. And Binga, Hwange
East, Hwange West, Nkayi, Bulilima, Mangwe, Matobo and Umzingwane remained
loyal to the opposition.
Hardly a Zanu PF clean sweep even in rural Zimbabwe!
Meanwhile, Zanu PF apologists did their best to make the best of a bad job.
We particularly liked the report on election day from the ZTV man with the
helicopter rotor blade churning in the background. He was completely drowned
out and so was Augustine Chihuri. But ZTV ran the clip anyway!
Then there was the Zimbabwe/Mozambique music festival filler interspersed
with a very old cricket match that popped up in the middle of it.
ZTV must ensure when recording over old tapes that we don't see the original
footage in the middle of a concert!

President Mugabe, voting in Highfield, said "the people are behind us".
Indeed they were. He had jumped the queue. But alas, when it came to the
count, the people were no longer behind him. His party managed only a
miserable 4 296 against the MDC's 12 600. And this was the cradle of the
revolution we are always being told!
Somebody else the people were behind was land-recipient Reuben Barwe.
He referred to the long line of voters behind him. Unfortunately it was
rather difficult to see behind Reuben as he occupied most of the screen.
And let's hope in his final term as president that Mugabe mellows a bit.
Every time he was asked an awkward question by Western journalists he
appeared to be on the verge of losing it, then caught himself and calmed
down. But he shouldn't be so disconcerted by every question put to him by
Sky and others. It's all part of the business of politics and he should be
able to handle that by now.
Asked about the MDC's response to defeat, Mugabe said: "History has shown us
that (the MDC) are a very violent people."
We recall him saying the same thing when Cain Nkala's body was found in
November 2001. We now know that information was false. So does he - but he
repeats it.
Why wasn't he asked where Joseph Mwale was hiding? That was a perfect
opportunity while he was claiming that Tony Blair was lying when he said
there was no rule of law in Zimbabwe. If there is rule of law why do
political killers and bombers continue to run loose? He should answer that.
We liked the Sunday Mail's commentary on Zanu PF's defeat in Masvingo
Central. Governor Josiah Hungwe said Mugabe had wanted the party to win the
seat back. Hungwe said he had wanted to deliver the seat back "but failed
because of circumstances".
And Dr Joseph Kurebwa appears to think "Harare is unique because it is a
city of government, hence voters in this area tend to be polarised".
What is he talking about? The message to the president from Harare was the
same as that from Bulawayo, Mutare, and every other urban centre. It was
unambiguous: "We don't want your lame excuses here."

The Sunday News published a set of six pictures on its front page. The top
three were winners: Obert Mpofu, Bright Matonga, and Samuel Udenge; the
bottom three were losers: Renson Gasela, Paul Themba Nyathi and Amos Midzi.
Now, wasn't there somebody who should have been in the bottom row ahead of
the other losers; somebody who has now lost three elections, one in 1999,
the other in 2000, and the latest last week?
Strange how the Sunday News didn't find that noteworthy.
The newspaper told us the election outcome was "a moment to savour". Indeed
it was in many constituencies!
While the state press was congratulating itself on a free and fair outcome,
the government was busy arresting and deporting journalists whose reporting
proved inconvenient. A Swedish journalist was deported for "stage-managing
an incident". And what was this incident? He tried to interview former farm
workers in Norton about their plight. He was arrested after a complaint by
the farm owner, Chester Mhende who had taken possession from Mr Whaley. Free
speech has it limits, it would seem, especially when it comes to ex-farm
The Department of Information should understand that any goodwill built up
by allowing so many journalists in during the election would have been
dissipated at one stroke by the deportation of the Swedish journalist - who
was accredited and therefore free to ask whatever questions he liked - and
the detention without bail of the two Telegraph journalists who will tell
the world about Aippa and our prison system. Another own goal!
Meanwhile, the Herald thought we would be impressed by the news that Zvimba
MP Sabina Mugabe had scored a first in the region by being the only mother
to sit in parliament with her two sons.
The paper seems blissfully unaware that having the head of state's relatives
occupying seats in parliament is not something most countries - except
perhaps Swaziland - like to boast of!

Should Tafataona Mahoso be getting himself into a messy media spat with the
Law Society over Aippa? He was responding to an LSZ statement on electoral
Mahoso seems to think he is obliged to leap to the defence of this
thoroughly bad law - and Posa for good measure - every time it is
criticised, or in this case, because the legislation impinged on a free and
fair electoral outcome. He called the LSZ statement an "absurdity".
Not content with this maladroit foray, he goes on to defend his Media Ethics
Committee's survey that long ago sunk into oblivion and deserves to remain
there. Did anybody, apart from Mahoso himself, take its conclusion seriously
that the "overwhelming majority of Zimbabweans" wanted statutory regulation
of all mass media services?
Can you imagine thousands of Zimbabweans out on the streets carrying
placards saying "We demand statutory regulation of all mass media services"?
The Supreme Court has already commented on Mahoso's alleged bias emanating
from his newspaper articles. Many would say he is well qualified to comment
on "absurdity" when he finds it in others. But he should understand there
are times when silence is golden if he hopes to earn public respect. This
was one of them.

We must thank presidential spokesperson George Charamba for setting the
record straight about Aippa. According to the Daily Mirror, Charamba let it
be known last week that he was the brains behind Aippa and was proud of his
This could explain why it was so sloppily drafted, not to mention malignant.
Eddison Zvobgo described it as the most serious assault on civil liberties
he had ever seen in his career in parliament.
Charamba told reporters in Harare: "Aippa was an attempt to have a rule that
manages the media. It has gone a long way in doing that and I am proud of
He claimed to have done a lot of research into the law. We all know the
result of that law was the closure of four newspapers in two years. One
proud promoter of that legislation was his former boss who now wants to
seize every opportunity to get coverage from the same media he sought to
close down. We hope Charamba is learning something from Moyo's folly instead
of indulging in braggadocio.

Muckraker was amused to read the silly article in the Herald on Tuesday
saying "some" manufacturers and the MDC were in cahoots to push up food
prices in order to "cause unrest".
This is the sort of childish conspiracy-theory economics that has caused so
much damage in the past. The reality is of course that the government
artificially held down prices in order to buy votes and is now facing the
consequences of its populist policies.
One of the things MDC youths were accused of in their fliers this week was
saying there would be petrol shortages. We recall the head of the fuel
marketers association before the election telling his members how
unpatriotic it was to charge realistic prices. This could sabotage Zanu PF's
chances in the poll, he helpfully said.
He should be held accountable for partisan collaboration and subsequent fuel

Has Lowani Ndlovu undergone a sudden transformation or has he left the
Sunday Mail? This week's contribution was remarkable for its lack of the
usual venom and use of profane language. Instead, there was a call for unity
of purpose among all Zimbabweans for the country to move forward. Is this
the same fellow who before the election was seeing running dogs of
imperialism at every turn?
But he appears to take President Mugabe's offer to talk to the MDC too
seriously. He has given us no precedent for fair-dealing with the
opposition. Those who are in doubt can check with former PF-Zapu leaders who
negotiated the 1987 Unity Accord. The result was complete capitulation.
Lowani said: "Constructive engagement between Zanu PF and the MDC is the
best and shortest way forward for Zimbabwe ." to limit the pain that people
are going through. This has been evident to all Zimbabweans and foreigners
of goodwill since the 2000 election. It is only Zanu PF, Mugabe and the new
Lowani who are making the discovery now!
Soon after the February 2000 constitutional referendum Mugabe made similar
unctuous remarks about peace and accepting the people's verdict. Many are
still licking their wounds from the retribution that followed. There were
similarly half-hearted overtures about talks after the presidential
election. But that was only up to a time when Mugabe started setting his own
terms of trying to swallow the MDC which he routinely attacked as an
imperialist outfit.
Why should we trust him now to honour his word? Why does Lowani believe
Mugabe now means it, although in truth everybody knows that is the best
option for Zimbabwe?
For the painful truth for Mugabe and his Zanu PF is that their victory is as
hollow as a tunnel echoing to itself. It cannot bring together the key
stakeholders that the country needs to move forward. It has spawned a
debilitating national depression and cynical disillusion about the entire
electoral process. Nobody takes the rural result seriously. Not even Mugabe
himself can be proud of the so-called electoral mandate he has got.

This is in sharp contrast to the delusional Mzala Joe of the Sunday News.
Still pursuing the discredited line that British prime minister Tony Blair
wants to colonise Zimbabwe, Mzala Joe asserted this scheme had been thwarted
by his party's victory. The landslide victory, proclaimed Cde Joe, would
enable Zimbabweans to focus their energies on socio-economic development and
"get on with life as we know it".
If Mzala Joe is not a Martian he will know that the last five years have
been the darkest part of the Zanu PF nightmare and political stalemate.
Nobody would want to get on with life as we have known it in past few years.
In fact Zimbabweans were praying for a break from their misery and have no
illusions about the causes.
But we enjoyed the macabre irony in the heading of his article: "Zanu PF
tsunami buries MDC." Unfortunately, in his short-sighted euphoria he could
not realise it was more than the MDC that has been hit by this Zanu PF
calamity. Only irredeemable idiots would see a positive result out of a

And what could be more alarmist than the Herald lead headline on Tuesday:
"MDC unleashes violence"? The self-serving story then claimed rowdy MDC
youths had "rampaged" in the Harare city centre in the afternoon "beating up
people and stoning shops" in order to "misinform and confuse" the public
about the situation in the country.
The alleged rowdy youths were moving in "several groups" across Nelson
Mandela Avenue when they were spotted by the alert Herald reporter who was
standing in a bank queue. The reporter claims to have been "kicked all over
the body" before the youths disappeared. Police at the time managed to
arrest only two of the youths from the "several groups" terrorising people
in the city centre in broad daylight!
One wonders what the situation is like in the rural areas if it's so easy to
cause mayhem in the city centre and police can only apprehend two offenders.
Where was Newsnet to capture the horror as it unfolded we wonder?

Finally, now Tony Blair has announced an election date in the UK, will it be
an anti-Mugabe poll?

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Zim Independent


Advice on domestic workers' wages

THE recent announcement of wages for domestic workers has created near panic
in many homes.

The new wages are so outrageous that the general expectation is that they
will be revised shortly. We understand that the new wages are as follows:

Garden worker $800 000 per month;

House worker $850 000 per month;

Child minder $900 000 per month;

Qualified disabled minder $950 000 per month.

Allowances if workers live off the property:

Accommodation $100 000 per month;

Transport $140 000;

Lights $60 000;

Fuel $86 600;

Water $20 000.

The Government Gazette notice says these new wages apply from March 1.

However, legal advice is that they cannot be applied retrospectively and we
suggest that you ignore this aspect and simply pay your domestic workers
their normal salaries and allowances for March at the old rates.

As regards the application of the new rates, it is clear that these are
beyond the ability of most people to pay. We suggest, if these new rates
exceed 20% of your take-home income after tax, that you write to:

The Permanent Secretary, The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social

P Bag 7707,



In your letter you should state your address, the staff you employ as
domestic workers, their salaries and allowances, and that your take-home
income after tax does not enable you to afford the salaries listed in the
Statutory Instrument Number 15 of 2005 published on March 25.

The actual minimum wage agreed by the board that deals with these matters
was half the salaries shown above.

If you can afford this then you should state that in your submission. If
not, you should indicate what you can afford and state that with effect from
April 1 you will pay your staff at this rate.

You should then tell the secretary that you wish to formally apply for
exemption from the regulations on the grounds that you cannot afford the
wages shown in the Statutory Instrument.

Written proof of your income after tax would be essential and should be
included as an attachment to the letter.

Inform your staff of what you have done and if you feel comfortable with
this, give them a copy of your letter. Keep a copy of the letter and any

If you are subsequently visited by the trade union officials do not discuss
this issue with them - simply direct them to the ministry where your appeal
will eventually be heard.

Human Rights Trust

of Southern Africa,

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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

Where's Plan B?

PITY the poor urban voter. President Robert Mugabe was this week full of
praise for his loyal rural electorate. But he didn't have kind words for the
"habitually fickle" urban voters who do not share his revolutionary zeal
amid poverty and general deprivation.

Worse still for the urban voter who punctured the Zanu PF myth that it had
made significant inroads into towns and cities, there was no heartfelt thank
you from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. A few feeble adverts
appeared almost a week later, all complaining about how "we woz robbed", not
praising the electorate who saved the party from a Zanu PF avalanche, and
hoped for change at last.

While noting that rural support for Zanu PF was most "consistent, reliable
and a formidable defence for our revolution", Mugabe conceded his party's
"appeal" in urban areas was "limited and mixed" in a constituency that is
more discerning and has clear needs such as accommodation, employment,
transport, housing, health and affordable education.

He didn't say how his party managed to appeal to voters in rural areas short
of using discredited coercive methods such as violence or threats of it,
denial of food and use of traditional leaders to marshal terrified villagers
into polling stations. Most villagers were told it was very easy to discover
who they voted for. In rural areas it's a believable lie. Not once did
Mugabe say "Your vote is your secret".

Still those who voted got a presidential thank you.

What we couldn't understand was the MDC leadership's reaction to the
election outcome. It is not about rigging or not. When they were asked by
the Sadc observer mission to produce evidence of rigging, they could not.
When foreign media organisations wanted to interview party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai at his home, we understand he slammed the gate in their face. He
didn't want to take advantage of the media publicity to make his case.
Supporters and voters felt let down in a big way. There was clearly no
leadership to articulate their frustrations and concerns about the result of
the vote. Instead MDC leaders chose to hold a press conference in
Johannesburg first.

The MDC leadership appeared thoroughly devastated by the result as if it was
unexpected. It was as if they had expected to win, which would be naïve in
the extreme.

The issue is not anymore about whether the party should have participated in
the election or not. That decision was taken and the MDC lost so to speak.
They have given legitimacy to a fraudulent process and made South African
president Thabo Mbeki's job of defending his "quiet diplomacy" that much
easier. The issue is about leadership paralysis in the MDC, lack of Plan B
when it was most urgently needed. Forty-one seats is not a small number and
the MDC should have shown gratitude to the urban electorate while protesting
the alleged "theft".

It is one thing for the party to allege irregularities which it may fail to
prove but quite another to examine its own shortcomings objectively. We all
know that they were given only a few appearances on TV and on national radio
to campaign. We know that Posa and Aippa were always going to militate
against their campaign strategies. Then there was the massive onslaught by
the very media that denied them the right of reply. That appears to be

In fact, you would think the MDC had nearly won the election given the abuse
the state media is heaping on them.

But the opposition party's effectiveness on the ground is now compromised
given its loss of heart. In addition to electoral manipulation, Zanu PF has
a built-in majority when the 30 presidential appointees are weighed in the

Another big drawback reinforced by the current leadership paralysis is the
MDC's inability to take swift decisions. We warned towards the end of last
year that the party was taking too long to make up its mind about whether or
not to take part in the election. We said voters would need time as well to
make up their mind once the MDC decided to participate.

Even after President Mugabe announced the March 31 date, the party remained
encumbered by a ponderous decision-making process until the very last

When the decision was finally made, the party took its "heavy heart" to the
voters when it was too late in the day, as if it had limitless resources and
capacity to reach all corners of the country. Yet its advertising reach was
less than adequate.

Its tug-of-war with the National Constitutional Assembly about whether to
vote or not could only have made matters worse. Even those who were
registered were caught in a web of conflicting signals about what they were
supposed to do.

Instead of galvanising potential supporters with the beauty of its
programmes, the MDC adopted the same blame strategies that Zanu PF has
perfected over the years.

Mugabe is wrong to blame all the country's problems on a treacherous
opposition and imperialist machinations, but he may well be right in his
assessment that his party's poor performance in the cities was due "more to
our weakness than to opposition strength".

Never mind what the Sadc protocols say, the political playing field will
never be even when you have a flawed constitution and government has
overwhelming influence on what constitutes voter education and by whom. It
is a cliché that no government will legislate itself out of power. Politics
would have lost its fatal allure.

Yet the MDC went into the electoral race as if victory was guaranteed.
People may not love Zanu PF, but they hate an alternative that is indecisive
and cannot be trusted to provide leadership when this is sorely required.

What party supporters now want to know is what the MDC plans to do next.
Zimbabweans have been on tenterhooks for far too long. The country cannot
endure another five years of enervating political stalemate between the MDC
and a visionless Zanu PF.

The MDC will also need to sort out the evident division between its hawkish
"no to voting, no to talks, no to compromise" camp and those who feel there
are no absolute victors in political games. Otherwise the party risks
political oblivion.
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