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

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The Times (UK), 21 April

Soldier's family fear for safety

By Jan Raath in Harare

The parents of Private Christopher Muzvuru, the Irish Guardsman who died in
action on April 6 in the assault on Basra, have been questioned by Zimbabwe'
s secret police over their son's role in the British Army, a relative said
yesterday. He said that the family had been visited by agents of the Central
Intelligence Organisation, President Mugabe's secret police, and by
plainclothes CID officers. "Their mother is now terrified," he said. "They
are getting calls from all over all the time." Provisional arrangements had
been made to return the body this week for burial. However, the family,
fearful of the hostility that their son's participation in the war has
provoked in Zimbabwe, said that Private Muzvuru, who was 21, may be buried
in Britain, where he has some family. "It's no longer clear whether he will
be buried here or in Britain," his relative said.

Private Muzvuru has been vilified in Zimbabwe's pro-government press. The
Zimbabwe Daily Mirror denounced him as "a mercenary" for fighting for a
country that was "virtually at war" with Zimbabwe. It said that he should be
buried "in the country he preferred to die for". The state-controlled daily
The Herald portrayed Private Muzvuru in a cartoon as a "Buffalo Soldier", a
black unit in the United States cavalry described by the reggae singer Bob
Marley as a group of ex-slaves exploited by whites. His parents in the city
of Gweru have refused to speak to the press and relatives say that they fear
retribution by the Government or by ruling party vigilantes. More than 40
relatives and friends of Private Muzvuru gathered at RAF Brize Norton last
week, when his body was flown to Britain. He was the first black piper in
the history of the Irish Guards, which he joined in October 2001.There are
about 200 Zimbabweans serving in the British Army, along with other
Commonwealth subjects who are eligible to serve in the Armed Forces.
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Mail & Guardian (SA), 18 April

Double blow for Bob

David Masunda

Harare - The retirements - one after the other - of two of Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe's key civil servants during the past two weeks, are
testimony to the fact that many of the mandarins at his Munhumutapa offices
have seen that the writing is on the wall and others might soon be
clamouring to get out, say analysts. Charles Utete, chief secretary to the
president and Cabinet and a close adviser to Mugabe since independence from
Britain in 1980, announced his retirement a week ago, after 23 years in the
Office of the President. Utete, a reclusive man, was regarded as Mugabe's
closest adviser and the man who was involved in the formulation of the Zanu
PF leader's post-independence policies and cabinets. The former academic,
who lectured in Tanzania in the 1970s, was not seen at many functions of the
ruling Zanu PF party, unlike many other senior civil servants who often
drive thousands of kilometres to attend and be seen at Mugabe's political
rallies. In fact, his continuous absence from Zanu PF rallies and the fact
that he rarely made any political statements of his own in public grudgingly
earned Utete respect even among the Zimbabwean opposition. Utete was,
however, said to belong to the powerful "Chivhu Mafia" that includes some of
Zanu PF's most influential politicians, who, party sources say, have
considerable say on who gets appointed to Mugabe's Cabinet. Utete is also
related to Mugabe's wife, Grace. The measure of his importance was felt at
his farewell party when Mugabe was quoted in the state-controlled Herald
newspaper as saying that although Utete deserved a good rest, "his
retirement had left an acute sense of anxiety, wistfulness, ending, loss,
emptiness and even desertion". Utete said he had tried to retire in 1999 but
Mugabe had persuaded him to stay on. He had stayed even longer to help with
the formulation of the Zimbabwean leader's internationally condemned land
reforms and with his controversial re-election last year.

A few days after the retirement of Utete, Zimbabwe's attorney general,
Andrew Chigovera, also announced that he was calling it quits after 23 years
of service in government. The attorney general, who at times repeatedly
clashed with the media, joined Mugabe's government in 1980 and rose through
the ranks to become Zimbabwe's top law officer. It was during Chigovera's
tenure that some of the most draconian pieces of legislation, such as the
notorious Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public
Order and Security Act, were crafted. Although Chigovera sometimes appeared
too keen to please Mugabe and his ministers, he occasionally came under fire
from the likes of Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, who publicly rebuked
the attorney general's office for - according to Moyo - being too soft on
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members and journalists
under prosecution. Luke Tamborinyoka, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe
Union of Journalists, said Chigovera "was overwhelmed by politics" during
his tenure as top law officer. While Mugabe did not publicly bemoan
Chigovera's departure as he did that of Utete, their retirements may signal
the beginning of an exodus from the public service as many professionals
begin to feel that the Zanu PF leader's administration is sinking.
Meanwhile, the MDC's top executive met last weekend and resolved to continue
with its mass action strategy as a means to oust Mugabe's government from
power. The MDC was split over the decision, with one section favouring mass
action while another preferred to lure Zanu PF and its leader back to the
negotiating table.
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Parastatals Gobble Up Funds As Economy Limps

The Daily News (Harare)

April 21, 2003
Posted to the web April 21, 2003

Hama Saburi Business Editor

THE pathetic performance seen in parastatals is painfully bringing the
economy to its knees.

It has become difficult for the small economy like Zimbabwe, to sustain and
justify excessive losses incurred by public enterprises on a yearly basis.

This year alone, over $122 billion of the taxpayer's money would be spent to
ensure that these entities limp through into the coming year.

At least $60 billion was set aside to cover the Grain Marketing Board's
(GMB) trading account losses this year alone.

The $60 billion can finance the farming season and remove the burden from
Syfrets Corporate Merchant Bank, which has struggled to raise $60 billion
needed to fund A2 farmers.

As of June last year, parastatals were sitting on external arrears amounting
to US$338 million (Z$18,59 billion) and yet Zimbabwe only earned US$1,4
billion in exports last year.

Most parastatals are surviving at the mercy of creditors, who are obviously
aware of the enormous power wielded by the custodian of the assets - the

Herbert Murerwa, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, admitted
that parastatal remain a drain on the economy.

Murerwa said: "Public enterprise reform has not successfully addressed
problems of poor management, corporate governance and inconsistent pricing
of goods and services offered by these enterprises."

Almost all parastatals can be lumped into one basket in terms of their
problems despite operating in different economic segments.

They are all under-capitalised and suffer from poor management, red-tape,
uneconomic pricing and too much interference. Only on Wednesday, the
government had to raise the pump price of fuel to save the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe from collapse.

Air Zimbabwe is almost grounded, blighted by poor industrial relations, a
slow-down in the tourism sector and allegation of mismanagement.

Zimbabwe' sole coal supplier, Wankie Colliery Company (WCC), has reported a
loss above $5 billion on the back of failure to secure foreign currency
needed to import spare parts.

The cold at WCC has caught on a number of other critical sectors that are
dependent on coal.

The worst hit are cement manufacturers, namely; Circle, Portland and
Sino-Zimbabwe. Sino-Zimbabwe temporarily closed last month.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) is struggling to pay its debts.
Futile attempts by ZBC's to attract fresh funding through a $1,7 billion
bond could spell disaster for the public broadcaster.

GMB, which is sitting on mature grain bills worth $48 billion, is also
incurring heavy losses. The parastatal has been criticised for
over-burdening itself with unnecessary work. For instance, GMB has no
business in distributing seed, which could be done more effectively through
the open market.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), although it has reported a
surplus in recent years, is failing to perfect its billing system and faces
the risk of being cut off by regional suppliers whom they owe billions of

The Cold Storage Company has been virtually run down and has had to go back
to creditors owed in excess of $5 billion for salvation.

Over 18 studies have been done at the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company
(Zisco) to rescue the giant steel-maker, but none of them have been

Today, Zisco, continues to milk the taxpayer with no solution in sight. The
late director of the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, Muchaneta Nyambuya, once
remarked at a privatisation conference that he would not buy Zisco even it
was offered to him for $10.

Mthuli Ncube, the National Investment Trust chairman also attracted the
wrath of Zisco management when he told a gathering in Kadoma that the trust
does not consider the Redcliff company, as a worthwhile investment.

Flamboyant Member of Parliament and a proponent for indigenisation, Phillip
Chiyangwa once led a committee that looked into the situation at Zisco.

Chiyangwa's committee recommended the dismissal of Zisco's top management
and the re-capitalisation of the parastatal.

The situation is even worse at the National Railway of Zimbabwe,
inefficiency has already claimed a number of lives through train accidents .
The biggest question remains: When is the parastatal meltdown going to end?

Jonathan Kadzura, a local analyst,said operations in most parastatals
reflect the Leninist/socialist principles touted by the government at
Independence in 1980.

Leaders navigating parastatals had to fit into that particular ideology,
hence their management styles were not based on business principles.

The trend has persisted despite the adoption of capitalist-inspired market
reforms in 1991.

Management of public enterprises, Kadzura said, should be left in private
hands except for those considered strategic.

Kadzura said: "Government must be commended for realising that parastatals
are not doing well, but it must be pushed into doing something about it."

He said there must be cohesion in the management of parastatals to clear the
current discord where ministries seem to pull in different directions.

"If we don't do this, we will see the taxpayer's money going into a hole
that is unending.

"But we have to privatise the parastatals responsibly and we should avoid
giving them to people who will strip these entities of assets and rob the
public of their own wealth. There must be absolute transparency," Kadzura

David Mupamhadzi, the group economist for Century Holdings Limited, said
poor parastatal performance has contributed to perennial budget deficits
because the government is forced to borrow to finance their needs.

Mupamhadzi said: "If you look at some of the losses, they are a result of
structural problems in these parastatals. They (parastatals) seem not
worried about cost implications of their actions, but merely delivering the

"For example, Zesa is not worried about containing costs and efficiency, but
just delivering electricity. So, the structures are not tailored to achieve
efficiency. I think parastatals need to move from the traditional way of
doing business."

The Century group economist said the government has not bothered to turn
parastatals into commercial entities because of its preoccupation with other
social considerations.

"There are a lot of social considerations like: what would happen if we
increase the price of fuel or electricity?", Mupamhadzi said.

Some of the products that have been kept at artificially low prices have
become scare on the formal market.

For example, fuel is now found on the black market where it is fetching as
much as $1 000 per litre compared to the pump price of $450 per litre.

Efforts to turn parastatals into viable entities have made little progress.

The privatisation exercise, which saw the formation of the Privatisation
Agency of Zimbabwe Privatisation is now mired in controversy with certain
camps in government pushing for its abandonment.

Out of about 45 companies earmarked for privatisation, only a few companies
have been privatised namely Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited, the Commercial Bank
of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Reinsurance Company and Cotton Company of

Privatisation improves operational efficiency,competition, revenue
collection and often results in reduced prices.
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Zimbabwe unions call strike to protest fuel prices
Mon April 21, 2003 10:43 AM ET

HARARE, April 21 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main labour movement called on
Monday for a three-day national strike over sharp rises in fuel prices and
warned the stoppage could last indefinitely if the government did not
reverse the increases.
Lovemore Matombo, president of Zimbabwe's Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU),
said the ZCTU's general council unanimously decided to challenge a decision
by President Robert Mugabe's government to more than treble the price of
some fuels.

"The ZCTU is undertaking a peaceful three-day stayaway from Wednesday 23
April to Friday 25 April 2003," he said in a statement. "Unless the
government gives in to the above demand (to reverse the price increases),
the job boycott will be indefinite," he added.

Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis in more than two decades, with
soaring unemployment and shortages of fuel, foreign exchange and food which
critics blame on Mugabe's policies. Annual inflation hit a record 228
percent in March.

Last month, the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) staged
one of the biggest protests against Mugabe since he came to power 23 years
ago after calling a two-day strike that shut down about 80 percent of the
southern African country's businesses and industries.

The MDC accuses Mugabe of rigging March 2002 presidential elections and has
vowed to lead street protests in a bid to drive him from office. It said it
would support protests against the fuel price hikes announced last

The government said the increase, which saw petrol rocket to Z$450 ($0.55) a
litre from Z$145, was necessary to help improve fuel imports. Fuel supplies
have become scarce since Libya halted shipments last year when a barter deal

There was no immediate reaction from the government on the strike threat.
But Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was quoted by the state-owned Herald
newspaper on Monday as saying the government was working on urgent measures
to cushion workers and consumers from the fuel price increase.

A police spokesman said the proposed strike was illegal and that police were
ready to deal with any disturbances.

In a statement on Monday, the MDC called on "all progressive Zimbabweans" to
support the strike, saying they should refuse to pay for economic

"There is no doubt that this inconsiderate fuel increment is the result of
bad governance," it said.
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Business Day

Zimbabwe pledges review of wages
HARARE - The Zimbabwe government has promised to review workers' wages to
cushion the blow of fuel price hikes, in an apparent attempt to avert a
nationwide strike called by the main trade union body.
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo told the state-controlled Herald
newspaper that the government was looking at measures, including a review of
salaries, to cushion workers from last week's price hike, which saw the cost
at the pump of petrol nearly treble.

The fuel price increases prompted an outcry from the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU), which threatened a job stayaway in protest.

"We must endure the pain designed to make our living better," Moyo was
quoted by The Herald as saying in justification of the price hikes.

Erratic fuel supplies to the southern African nation over the past three
years have worsened in recent months due to a crippling shortage of foreign
exchange needed to import the commodity.

Moyo said that increasing the price of fuel was not the sole initiative of
government, but had been decided on by a national forum grouping labour,
business and government.

He said measures to cushion workers, which included a review of salaries
frozen earlier this year, would "have to be finalised and adopted as a
matter of urgency".

Last week the president of the main labour body, Lovemore Matombo, described
the fuel price hike as "illegal". The ZCTU leader demanded that the
government reverse the price increases or face mass action.

And at the weekend, Matombo was quoted by a private weekly newspaper as
saying mass action would be called this week to protest at the price hikes,
but did not give a day.

The labour body's call for a job stayaway is not directly linked to a
similar call for further mass action by the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

Last month the MDC called a job stayaway to protest at alleged misgovernance
by President Robert Mugabe's government. The strike was widely followed and
shut down urban centres across the country.

In a statement Monday the MDC said the labour body was "completely justified
and deserves the support of every progressive Zimbabwean" for its strike

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudizijena was quoted in Monday's Herald as saying
the proposed ZCTU stayaway was illegal. He said the police were prepared to
deal with any disturbances.

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Uncertainty of Zimbabwe's Food Situation Causes Planning Problems for Aid
Peta Thornycroft
21 Apr 2003, 13:30 UTC

Crop forecasters in Zimbabwe are presenting widely different predictions for
this year's harvest, making it difficult for aid agencies to plan food aid
to the country for the rest of the year.

The group responsible for warning about food shortages says the situation in
Zimbabwe will not be as bad this year as it has been for the past two years.
The Famine Early Warning System forecasters, known as FEWSNET, say the maize
crop now being harvested will be nearly 1.3 million tons. That would be
enough to feed two-thirds of the population during the coming year.

But the Union of Commercial Farmers, who have had their farms confiscated
under the Land Reform Program, says the harvest will be only about half that
amount, and that much of it is being eaten by desperately hungry people in
the countryside, while it is still green.

The Union says very few growers will deliver their dried maize to the
government's Grain Marketing Board for milling to supply retailers. The
Union predicts most of the growers will choose instead to keep much of their
crop, or sell it on the open market, even though that is against the law.

Only the Grain Marketing Board is allowed to trade in grain.

It is difficult for aid agencies like the U.N. World Food Program to sort
out the predictions and make plans. FEWSNET is relatively new, and is partly
U.S. funded, but it has been accurate in recent years. The Commercial
Farmers Union has a long history of accurate forecasts, but its members have
had their land taken, and are no longer as closely in touch with the

The Land Reform Program has been widely blamed for the current food shortage
in Zimbabwe, which has left half the population relying on U.N. handouts to

The Land Reform Program was designed to give the large, productive
white-owned commercial farms to landless blacks. But most of the land went
to supporters of President Robert Mugabe. They lacked experience and funding
to make the farms work, and were also hit by a drought, resulting in very
little production in the Land Reform Program's first two years.

The Zimbabwe government says the drought is responsible for the entire
shortage, not its policies.

The World Food Program says it will be feeding nearly five million
Zimbabweans when it downsizes its distribution program next month to
coincide with the annual harvest. The question is how to plan for the rest
of the year. The WFP could be buying cheap maize now from South Africa,
where there is a large harvest. But spokesman Luis Clemens says that without
reliable forecasts, it is difficult for the agency to raise the money needed
to make the purchases.

Mr. Clemens says the planning is made more difficult by the Zimbabwe
government's refusal to disclose how much grain it has imported during the
past year. The government has also been withholding its own crop estimates.

While maize is the staple crop in Zimbabwe, other harvests are also expected
to be low this year. The Commercial Farmers Union says very little wheat or
soybeans will be harvested, and the beef and dairy herds are now too small
to fill the country's needs.
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Zim Standard

      Blackout looms
      By Itai Dzamara

      ZIMBABWE faces a total power blackout by the end of the week unless
the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) urgently acquires foreign
currency to settle outstanding debts to regional power suppliers.

      Sources within the parastatal yesterday told The Standard that the
regional electricity suppliers, South Africa's Eskom and HydroCahora Bassa
(HCB) of Mozambique, had lost their patience with Zesa which had since last
year, failed to settle debts amounting to billions of Zimbabwean dollars due
to the critical shortage of foreign currency.

      Over the past few weeks, the suppliers had substantially reduced the
supply of electricity to Zimbabwe, forcing the local power utility to
introduce load shedding which has severely affected Zimbabwe's industry.

      Already, supply from SNEL of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
was reportedly switched off last month.

      Documents availed to this paper last week revealed that senior
officials at Zesa were holding a series of meetings with the Tripartite
Negotiating Forum (TNF) in an effort to raise hard currency from big
business and avert a looming blackout.

      It has, however, emerged that the meetings did not yield anything due
to the general unavailability of foreign currency in Zimbabwe.

      Said Anthony Mandiwanza, the president of the Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), a key organisation within the TNF: "There has not
been any progress. It has been mere talk without any tangible results. The
issue is now beyond the control of ZESA and unless something is done
quickly, we could face a blackout by the end of this week. Unless
outstanding debts are settled, and they require foreign currency which is
not available, we are in deep trouble."

      Lovemore Matombo, the president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU) said: "The suggestion raised at the TNF to have exporting
companies pay their bills to Zesa in foreign currency has not yielded
anything and has therefore rendered futile any efforts by the forum to solve
the crisis. We have a big problem which can cause a blackout any time."

      Contacted for comment last week on Thursday Zesa's executive chairman
Sydney Gata, acknowledged the gravity of the crisis but refused to be drawn
into further discussion saying a statement would be issued this week.

      Said Gata: "Indeed the problem has been with us for long time.
However, we are currently meeting with government and other stake holders
such as members of the TNF and will be issuing a statement either on Tuesday
or Wednesday."

      On Friday morning, however, Gata claimed to be in yet another meeting.
Panic is reported to have gripped the parastatal and government last week
resulting in marathon meetings-which, apparently, also yielded nothing.

      It emerged that efforts by Zesa to solve the problem by appealing to
exporters to pay their bills in foreign currency hit a snag as many business
people are questioning government's commitment to solving the crisis. Part
of the 50% in foreign currency earnings the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
receives is supposed to go towards payments for electricity.

      "Many business people feel government is not committed to solving this
problem. They want the TNF to call for an emergency meeting in order to find
an all-inclusive solution," said a member of the forum.

      Zesa is among the major economic players to have suffered the severe
effects of the economic malaise which intensified in 2000 as a result of
Zimbabwe's unplanned and violent land grabs. The souring of relations with
most of the international community exacerbated the problem as trade with
Zimbabwe became highly risky and as a result, foreign currency dried up.

      Load shedding was introduced last month as a means of economising on
limited power supplies. Industry and labour have been hardest hit by the
load shedding, which has resulted in workers being sent on forced leave
because of the significant downsizing in production.
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Zim Standard

      'Fuel increases: A tonic for uprising'
      By Henry Makiwa

      TUESDAY'S shocking fuel price increases announced by the government
will make life virtually impossible for the majority of battered Zimbabweans
already hard hit by the effects of a worsening economic crisis, The Standard
has established.

      Not even the joint Independence and Easter holidays could raise the
spirit of many Zimbabweans, some of whom chose to forlornly walk the
derelict streets and shops-and their largely empty shelves-hoping they might
come across some mealie meal or cooking oil for sale.

      Hardest hit by the fuel hikes is the Harare urban commuter, especially
the ordinary office worker or general employee in industry, who now has to
fork out as much as $1 600 a day to go to and from work.

      Many general workers in Zimbabwe earn about $30 000 a month while
domestic workers normally take home less than $10 000, and would not be able
to afford to go to work and still pay for basic necessities.

      For example, a trip to the city for a domestic worker who lives in
Mabvuku or Tafara high density suburbs now costs $450 for a single journey,
making it $900 for the round trip back home.

      In just one week, the worker would have to spend $4 500 on transport
alone, almost half a salary of $10 000.

      A domestic worker who is employed in the Avenues area of Harare but
lives in Tafara now needs at least $22 000 a month for transport alone, more
than twice the monthly salary of $10 000. And that is before they factor in
other needs such as rent, food and clothing.

      But it is not the lowly paid alone who will feel the pinch of the new
fuel hikes. A worker who takes two commuter buses to work will now need at
least $2 000 a day for transport alone. That is before adding the cost of
lunch, groceries, rent, electricity and so forth.

      Workers living in far-flung areas such as Chitungwiza and Ruwa will be
even worse off. After the new price increases, a single trip to Chitungwiza
now costs about $700, about three times its cost before the fuel price

      So what it means, say labour experts, is that an ordinary Zimbabwean
worker now needs to earn in the region of $100 000 per month to make ends
meet after the new fuel price increases and the subsequent ripple effect on
the cost of other basic commodities.

      A gloomy-faced Sarah Mhako of Crowbrough North gave a run down of her
problems which apply to many other Zimbabweans.

      "There's no bread, no cooking oil, no sugar S nothing. And now, thanks
to the government, transport costs have become unaffordable, accommodation
rentals have shot up and everything else is set to follow the same trend
because fuel prices have a ripple effect on every other commodity," she

      "But worst of all," said Mhako, "is the fact that even our employers
cannot give us a pay rise to match the skyrocketing inflation rates because
things are hard for them too."

      Despite Minister of Energy and Power Development, Amos Midzi's call on
Zimbabweans to "tighten their belts", most Zimbabweans say they can no
longer do so and many withdrew from state activities to mark Independence
Day on Friday.

      "I have nothing to celebrate but everything to mourn. These new fuel
increases are alarming to say the least, so I am forced to work. I think
this fuel increase is the last sign of the total breakdown of our economy,"
said Arnold Mutembo, of Harare's Kuwadzana high-density suburb, who said he
was busy working in his workshop.

      The recent fuel hike has had disastrous effects not only on ordinary
commuters but businesses as well. Industry and commerce have said the fuel
price increases would cripple them and some of the costs would obviously
have to be passed on to the consumer.

      On the other hand, the government has warned commuter operators
against "charging illegal fares without consultations".

      One commuter operator who refused to be named for fear of
victimisation accused the government of fomenting ill-feeling between
commuters and public transport operators.

      He said: "We have more empathy for the people than this heartless
government. How do they expect us to keep our businesses viable if we cannot
raise our fares to match their fuel increases?"

      He said besides the new fuel prices, the lot of commuter operators was
worsening because it now cost them as much as $1.5m to buy a single bus tyre
on the black market.

      Wellington Chibhebhe, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
secretary general, lamented the plight of the workers in the face of the
latest fuel increases.

      "The (fuel) increases show the extend to which the government
disregards its own people who are suffering from a crisis of its creation,"
Chibhebhe said.

      "Earlier this year, the ZCTU requested that the government peg
salaries at an average of $46 000 for workers in the industrial and
commercial sector, $40 000 for agro-based workers, $22 000 for farm workers
and at least $13 000 for domestic workers. And yet these considerations were
never effected. With these fuel increases it means that most workers cannot
even afford to live from hand to mouth..."

      Silas Mangono, the MDC Member of Parliament for Masvingo and shadow
minister for Transport and Communication, described the fuel increases as
the "repercussions of long years of the Zanu PF regime's economic
mismanagement and graft activities".

      "The Zanu PF government would want to hide behind the thin finger of
comparing our fuel prices with other countries in the region but this is
nonsense because the difference between Zimbabwe and other southern African
countries is that they have the foreign currency (to buy fuel) which we do
not have," Mangono said.

      He warned that the fuel increases were a tonic for an uprising.

      "The people are angry," he said, adding: "They want to register their
anger and many are asking the MDC to lead them in a peaceful struggle to
uproot this rotten regime."
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Zim Standard

      Zanu PF youths halt Aids relief work
      By our own Staff

      GWANDA-Over 84 000 villagers as well as home-based care patients and
Aids orphans in the drought-ravaged Umzingwane district of Matabeleland
South, are threatened with starvation following the disruption of the
Umzingwane Aids Network (UAN) relief programmes by some Zanu PF youths.

      UAN is the only non-governmental organisation running feeding, care
and HIV-related support programmes in the district.

      However, The Standard learnt yesterday that the programmes were
suspended after a gang of Zanu PF youths forced UAN co-ordinator Lucia
Malemane and senior programmes officer Bigboy Ngwenya, to flee their offices
last week.

      The youths declared the two "suspended" on allegations of corruption,
support for the opposition MDC party and decision making without the
approval of the UAN board.

      The trouble followed the termination of the contract of a Zanu PF
aligned worker. The worker reportedly informed officials of her party that
she had been dismissed because of her affiliation to the ruling party.

      "The Zanu PF leadership, which has over the past three years worked
hard to remove the two officers from the NGO, reacted by handing the matter
over to the ministry of Youth, Gender and Employment Creation. The officers
there, then took the unilateral decision of suspending the two and of
hounding them out of their offices last week," said one Zanu PF source who
declined to be identified.

      The two officers left work last week and have not reported for duty
pending the resolution of the matter.

      The UAN has been running programmes to do with Aids prevention, home
based care, communication for social change and orphan care and support for
the infected and affected.

      The suspended programmes include a feeding programme for all the
districts' children under five, the elderly, lactating mothers and at least
30 000 children between Grade One and Form Two. It has also directly
supported over 300 orphan-headed families.
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Zim Standard

      Education International slams attacks on teachers
      By our own Staff

      A THREE-member dele-gation of the global academic authority, Education
International (EI) which quietly slipped into the country last week to
assess the conditions of service of teachers, says it has noted with great
concern cases of politically motivated attacks on teachers in Zimbabwe.

      The delegation of Thembelani Nxesi, the vice-president of EI, John
Katumanga, the African region president and Nicholas Richards from the
association's headquarters in Brussels, held a series of meetings with
officials of the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (Zimta) and the Progressive
Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ).

      Their visit was prompted by increasing reports of the hardships faced
by teachers in Zimbabwe who are said to be grossly underpaid and had become
victims of political victimisation.

      Katumanga said the EI delegation had noted with great concern cases of
politically motivated attacks on teachers in Zimbabwe.

      "Zimbabweans, especially the government, should realise that this
country needs teachers of all shapes, sizes and tribes as long as they are
professional," Katumanga said.

      "Teachers should be free to perform their roles anywhere without fear.
It defeats the aim of national unity and cohesion to allow teachers to be

      Since the June 2000 parliamentary election, teachers in urban and
rural Zimbabwe have been targets of harassment and beatings by suspected
ruling party supporters and war veterans who accuse them of being
sympathetic to the opposition. Consequently, scores of teachers have fled
the country.

      Katumanga also lamented the deterioration in the lot of Zimbabwean

      He said: "Although we cannot expect Zimbabwean teachers to be paid as
much as Americans because of the economic differences, we genuinely expect
the government here to award teachers better packages. We have made it clear
to all the educational officials we have met that they need to achieve a
unity of purpose and agitate for an improvement in the teachers' conditions
of service."

      The visit by the high level delegation also exposed the shadowy
Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (TUZ) as a "dubious organisation with no
grassroots support", according to the EI officials.

      While the EI was eager to dialogue with TUZ representatives, it
emerged that the whereabouts of the union could not be traced.

      "We are really baffled by the non-availability of TUZ officials at
these important meetings. We were hoping to hear them out after they
approached us requesting EI membership but we wonder if they will still be
accorded the status now," Katumanga said.

      TUZ was reportedly formed in 2002 at the instigation of war veteran
and Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions leader, Joseph Chinotimba, to
counter the influence of other independent teachers' unions, especially
PTUZ - the union that orchestrated a successful industrial action last

      Katumanga said: "We have told all the education officials we met that
the EI will not entertain any teachers' union with political links though we
appreciate that teachers have the right to join any political party they
desire as individuals."

      The EI is a global academic authority that uplifts and assesses the
conditions of service of teachers across the world.
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Zim Standard

      Evict Zanu PF lodgers, says MDC official
      By our own Staff

      TIMOTHY Mubhawu, the Manicaland chairman for the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), has called on the party's urban supporters to evict
all Zanu PF youths and "unprofessional" members of the uniformed forces who
are lodgers, ahead of the forthcoming Mutare mayoral election whose dates
are yet to be announced.

      Mubhawu said it was only fair that the party's supporters ejected all
rogue ruling party elements in towns and cities since Zanu PF was harassing
and murdering opposition activists in both the urban areas and its "rural

      "Let's give Zanu PF its own burden. Let's evict all Zanu PF supporters
and biased army and police details who are terrorising us day and night,"
said Mubhawu.

      "It is a show of our strength and it will tell Zanu PF that the towns
and cities are ours. They cannot rape and murder our people in their
so-called rural domains and in the cities as well," the visibly emotional
Mubhawu told The Standard.

      He said the MDC's call for people to boycott businesses linked to Zanu
PF had not been as effective and hence his idea of chucking ruling party
supporters out of their lodgings.

      "This call is also extended to all MDC supporters living in towns and
cities across the country. We cannot allow Zanu PF to flex its muscles even
in our homes," said Mabhawu.

      The MDC won 57 parliamentary seats including all the urban
constituencies in Zimbabwe's major cities and towns in the 2000 legislative

      The historic June 2000 election also saw the new party wrestling 20
more seats away from Zanu PF in the rural constituencies.

      Mubhawu's sentiments come in the wake of allegations by the government
that the MDC was terrorising urban residents through a team of 23 suspected
army deserters.

      "The issue of the MDC using some military wing to cause chaos is a
clear Zanu PF ploy to hoodwink the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) task force that is expected to evaluate and investigate the situation
concerning the alarming wave of human rights abuses Mugabe is fomenting,"
Mubhawu said.

      "The MDC will not entertain members of the uniformed forces, the
police or army who are supping with the Zanu PF devil to abuse the people,
their own brothers and sisters," said Mabhawu.

      The MDC says more than 500 people were arrested, while at least 300
others were taken to hospital with injuries, after they were attacked by
suspected pro-Zanu PF vigilante units dressed in army and police uniforms
after the successful two-day mass stayaway last month.
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Zim Standard

      Mugabe harps on about land reform
      By Henry Makiwa

      With national morale at its lowest ebb due to the worsening economic
and political crisis, an embattled President Robert Mugabe on Friday chose
the 23-rd Independence anniversary to remind the people of the so-called
"successful completion" of the chaotic land reform process.

      Addressing a subdued audience, dominated by members of "VaPositori"
sect, Zanu PF youths and the top brass of the uniformed forces, Mugabe
failed to address the key issues affecting the country, dwelling instead on
the supposed glories of his land seizures and perceived Western machinations
to recolonise Zimbabwe.

      "Our land, our dear Zimbabwe, will never, never, never never again
fall into foreign hands," said Mugabe.

      The 79-year-old Zanu PF leader, now isolated from most the West and
his own people, skirted around thorny issues that are currently affecting
Zimbabwe such as the shortage of fuel and the crippling electricity power

      He simply said: "The fuel shortage that the country is experiencing
has prompted the government to review its entire energy sector. The
government is pursuing a number of options and ensure that the productive
sectors continue to enjoy a steady supply (of fuel)."

      Despite attempts by the government to downplay warnings by the
international community that the Zanu PF leader-who is accused of stealing
last year's poll-should step down and call for fresh elections, his speech
may have confirmed what might be his mind's darkest fears.

      "We abhor imperialistic machinations and iniquitous efforts by Britain
and its ally, the United States, to recolonise us and we stand ready to
resist such attempts, " he said.

      Meanwhile, Itai Dzamara reports that Nolbert Kunonga, the outspoken
Anglican bishop for Harare was at it again: this time saying reconciliation
between blacks and whites in Zimbabwe was not practical because the latter
have not returned all the land to the blacks.

      Kunonga was giving a sermon during low key celebrations presided over
by Mugabe at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.

      "Many people, especially Christians, talk of reconciliation and peace.
But you can only accept reconciliation if the other person would have given
you your things which he possessed. Otherwise, there can't be any
reconciliation," said Kunonga.

      "In our case, the same applies. Let us be wary of those who seek to
entrap us with goodies like is done to mice which are enticed into the trap
with a groundnut in order to take our independence whilst calling for
reconciliation. Independence means things should be returned back to the
rightful owners."

      Mugabe addressed the gathering of about 15 000 that included a huge
contingent of the armed forces, Zanu PF militia, school children performing
mass displays and the "VaPositori" sect.

      The young Zanu PF militants, the products of the national Border Gezi
training centres and notoriously known as "Green Bombers", maintained a
heavy presence around the stadium and occupied one whole bay while the "Va
Positori" occupied another.

      Mugabe echoed Kunonga's sentiments and claimed that there was peace in
Zimbabwe but failed to mention that his government recently arrested scores
of so-called army deserters who are being accused of trying to destabilise
the country.

      He once again said his office would instigate a new land audit after
he refused to make public a similar one that was headed by the minister of
Land Reform, Flora Buka, a Zanu PF official.

      Contents of the Buka report have however been leaked to the Press and
expose many of Mugabe's close aides, including members of his family, of
having grabbed more than one commercial farm each.

      The highlight of the day in Harare, however, was the Independence Day
soccer trophy final between Bulawayo giants Highlanders and the army team,
Black Rhinos.

      By the time of the match, the stadium-which holds at least 65 000
spectators-was almost  half full with about 30 000 people drifting in to watch the free
soccer show and witness Rhinos lift this year's trophy after defeating
Highlanders 2-1.
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Zim Standard

      Fuel hikes herald economic meltdown
      By Kumbirai Mafunda

      THE recent fuel price hike will push the economy further into turmoil
and force some companies to curtail or stop operations, it has been

      Industry and commerce said the government had "shot itself in the
foot" by hiking the price of fuel because that would spawn a boomerang
effect on the prices of commodities and push the tattered economy into
deeper catastrophe.

      Reacting to the massive increases in the price of both diesel and
petrol-by 68% and 309% respectively-captains of industry and commerce said
the fuel hike would add acid to the country's disintegrating economy and
create more poverty.

      "It is going to impact on costs not only for the materials we use
because our suppliers will have to factor in the increase in manufacturing
input costs and distribution costs. These costs will have to be passed on to
consumers resulting in price increases of many products," said a managing
director with a Harare-based manufacturing firm.

      The fuel hike, which is the second in less than two months, comes hard
on the heels of the introduction of load shedding by the country's sole
electricity supplier, Zesa, which has already reduced the production
capacity of the few companies still operating.

      Zesa is failing to meet its payment obligations to suppliers in
Mozambique, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has
resorted to load shedding during crucial production times.

      Experts say the fuel saga and the load shedding were part of a broader
energy crisis that is deepening by the day and would force Zimbabwe onto its

      They said the enormous price increases of fuel also greatly undermined
the government's own policy of trying to reduce inflation to a double digit
figure of 96,1% by December, down from its March figure of 228%.

      "That target is now unachievable considering that there is going to be
an immediate impact on the inflationary figure," said a leading commentator.

      Others said the government had bidden good-bye to the restoration of
macroeconomic stability because for macroeconomic stability to be realised,
it had to be anchored on price stability.

      Industrialists who spoke to Standard Business said they could not
absorb any more new costs at a time when overall productivity was declining.

      Former Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president and
chief executive of Surgimed Trading, Danny Meyer, said the local industry
could not continue to sustain these knocks.

      "Industry is facing challenges from all directions and with this
recent hike we are being pushed into a corner," said Meyer.

      "Industry can't operate efficiently when you have inflationary
pressures, energy and liquid fuel shortages and government trying to control
prices. The industrial base of Zimbabwe is being eroded at an alarming rate
and this means loss of jobs, exports and loss of a range of products for the
consumers," he added.

      Zimbabwe has been in the grip of a fuel crisis for the past two years
after deals with Kuwait and Libya collapsed because of non-payment of fuel

      Promises to address the energy crisis by President Robert Mugabe in
December, have yielded nothing.

      The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Wednesday said
the increases in the pump price of fuel showed that government had reached a
cul-de-sac in terms of economic policy.

      Welshman Ncube, the party's secretary general, said the fuel hikes
would "simply serve to accelerate the collapse of the Mugabe regime and that
Mugabe is learning the hard way that it was easier to steal an election than
to live with the consequences of that theft".
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Zim Standard

      Open up economy says UNDP's Angelo
      By our own Staff

      GOVERNMENT needs to revisit its economic policies in order to address
the economic crisis which has pushed Zimbabwe into its fourth year of
recession, Victor Angelo, an official of the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP), has said.

      In opening remarks at an assessment meeting of the Tripartite
Negotiating Forum (TNF), jointly convened by the Zimbabwe National Chamber
of Commerce (ZNCC), the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) and the
Zimbabwe Economics Society (ZES) in Harare, Angelo said the Zimbabwean
economy would gain tremendously from more market-based policies.

      He said the lifting of government controls would address the acute
deficits of basic commodities that have aggravated poverty and caused
rampant inflation.

      Government introduced price controls in November 2001 which later
culminated in a price freeze on all basic commodities last year.

      Since then, commodities such as mealie meal, sugar and cooking oil
have disappeared from supermarket shelves but are readily available at
exorbitant prices on the streets of Mbare, Chitungwiza and other
high-density suburbs.

      "The economy would immensely benefit from the more market-based
policies and less administrative constraints that would address the
prevailing hyperinflation, acute shortages of basic commodities and
worsening poverty," said Angelo.

      He said the most difficult challenge to the National Economic Revival
Programme (NERP), Zimbabwe's new economic blueprint, was the establishment
of a macro-economic environment conducive to the meaningful participation of
all sectors.

      Although government divorced itself from foreign development partners
that stressed thriftiness, Angelo said Zimbabwe should consider the support
of the international community if there was to be an economic turnaround.

      "We believe that there is need for the government and its social
partners to actively engage with international development assistance
providers," said Angelo.

      "The declining economic performance and the deteriorating humanitarian
situation makes it more imperative for stake holders to urgently explore
ways of enhancing consultation with the international community on programme
areas and on mobilisation of financial and technical resources," he added.

      Angelo said he was prepared to arrange discussions to ease the stand
off between Harare and the international community which had worsened in
1999 and had aggravated the economic downturn.

      Government discarded International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank
prescribed economic policies after failing to halt its appetite for spending
unbudgeted funds and instead accused the Bretton Woods institutions of
sabotaging developing countries' economies.

      The IMF responded by withdrawing balance of payments support to the
southern African nation which was already in arrears to the fund. The
Washington-based group has also earmarked Zimbabwe for possible expulsion
from the fund in June as a bad debtor.

      Other major donors who take a cue from the IMF and the World Bank have
also withdrawn funding for Zimbabwe's crucial projects while international
credit lines to Harare have been frozen.
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Zim Standard

      Fuel hikes to impact heavily on family life
      By Loughty Dube

      BULAWAYO-A leading local economist, Eric Bloch, has warned that the
latest fuel price hikes announced by the government on Wednesday will
further exacerbate the country's rate of inflation and will have a knock on
effect on the cost of commodities.

      Bloch said the increases would add a further 15 to 20% to the
country's latest inflation rate of 228%.

      "The increase would impact substantially on inflation and its effects
would be felt in the May inflation figures and we should expect inflation to
have gone upwards by a further 15 to 20% as a result of this fuel
increment," Bloch said.

      He said the direct effects of the fuel increase would be felt in
transport and on the prices of commodities but said the fuel price increases
were long overdue and inevitable.

      "The fuel price increases will have a knock on effect on the costs of
commodities as a result of the direct increase in transport costs that the
manufacturers would carry forward onto the overburdened consumers," Bloch

      The March inflation rate announced by the Central Statistics Office
(CSO) on Tuesday indicates a rise of 7,1 percentage point rise from

      The CSO said food inflation was highest at 247,9%. Zimbabwe's average
annual inflation was 22,6% in 1995.

      Famine and price controls coupled with a chaotic government land
reform scheme have contributed to food shortages which have led to
sky-rocketing prices in Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket.

      Bloch said the official inflation figure is an understatement because
it is measured according to state-controlled prices while food is sold on
the parallel market at several times the official price.

      "I think the real inflation figure should be about 260% but the figure
could surpass 300% by year end and with the fuel price increases, it could
be worse," said Bloch.

      The fuel price increases would also impact heavily on the quality of
family life whilst compromising productivity and efficiency in industry,
said Bloch.

      "What we will see happening soon is a situation whereby workers walk
to and from work and coupled with hunger, there would be less production
taking place in the industries," he said.
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Zim Standard

      'Zim's economy mirrors war ravaged economy'
      By our own Staff

      THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has equated the
damage done to Zimbabwe's economic fabric through mismanagement by the Zanu
PF government, to a post-war situation in which immediate reconstruction is
usually needed by the administration coming into power.

      Tendai Biti, the party's secretary for economic affairs, told Standard
Business that the dislocation of economic fundamentals in Zimbabwe mirrored
that of a war-ravaged economy.

      This situation, Biti said, had compelled the economic affairs
committee he heads in the MDC, to draw up an "Audit and Options" paper to
carry out an audit of the national economy as it stands right now.

      The party's Bold Realistic Innovative Development Growth and
Employment Strategy, commonly referred to as "BRIDGE", was crafted two years
ago as an economic recovery and stabilisation plan aimed at ending the
vicious cycle of poverty and job insecurity, among its other targets.

      The audit and options paper was presented to the party's national
executive last weekend and was warmly received.

      "Our economy is actually rapidly sinking into a scenario found only in
countries that have gone through war...The situation we are witnessing right
now is akin to the one that existed in Europe after the Second World War,"
said Biti.

      "You can't stabilise a situation whereby the per-capita income of a
Zimbabwean is less than US$40, compared to that of a Tswana whose per-capita
income is US$2 000. This is the real problem we face as an incoming
government," said Biti.

      Tapiwa Mashakada, the party's shadow minister of finance, added: "You
can't look at orthodox economic measures alone because they can't adequately
redress the structural distress."

      Although the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) is carrying
out an audit of the manufacturing sector, preliminary reports say more than
500 companies have closed shop during the last two years.

      Formal sector employment has declined by more than 25% over the past
two years with informal sector opportunities declining even faster. This has
been reflected in the loss of more than 400 000 jobs.

      Domestic and foreign debt continues to balloon and some multilateral
lenders such as the International Monetary Fund are now even considering
suspending Zimbabwe.

      Foreign currency inflows have dwindled to a trickle as exports have
decreased substantially due to many big companies relocating to neighbouring
countries or closing shop as a result of the harsh operating environment.
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Zim Standard

      Corrupt administration, lavish lifestyles-Zanu PF style
      Americannotes By Ken Mufuka

      ALEXANDER Kanengoni wrote in the Daily News about his 100 days with
President Robert Mugabe in Mozambique. Though I did not have the chance of
being so close to Mugabe, I was a friend of former Speaker, Nolan Makombe,
who always spoke of Mugabe as a gift to Zimbabwe and Africa. Kanengoni says
the perceptions of the man "have to do with the position where one is
standing, looking at him".

      Makombe was my father's friend and therefore of a revered generation.
In his position, he lacked nothing. He had a Mercedes Benz and never worried
about petrol in his tank. Everything was taken care of.

      However, it so happened that the good man was thrown out of the
Speaker's chair and for the first time in 10 years, he had to buy his own
petrol and drive his own Mercedes Benz. Those were the good days when a full
tank cost $200. I am not revealing any secret if I say brother Makombe died
a rather disgruntled man. It is no secret either that the day he left the
Speaker's chair and had to pay for his own petrol was the day he began to
have a different view of the world Mugabe had built around him.

      I pray that brother Kanengoni in his praise of the President has been
fair enough to realise that for the majority of Zimbabweans, who now have to
pay for their own petrol at $450 per litre, it is not the world of banquets
and fleet of government-owned cars that exists for them. I pray too that
brother Kanengoni is not one of the brothers who have grown fat from the
unfair trade practices supported by the state.

      Kanengoni asks the question: What happened since 1994 that has led the
British to demonise Mugabe, except the land reform? Let us accept as fact
that when the government was oppressing blacks-the Matabele pogroms and the
general whippings, murders and beatings of opposition members-the British
cared little about human rights. It was only when 11 000 whites of British
descent were removed from farms that all hell broke loose. This fact does
not, however, take away the mismanagement and the corruption for which the
government should accept blame.

      Here are a few examples of the mismanagement and oppression that are
daily occurrences.

      A student from the University of Zimbabwe wrote me an e-mail yesterday
stating: "The university has not opened. Most departments are at half
strength. Computer cartridges are not available, some toilets are stuffed up
and there is no toilet paper in the dorms."

      A white professor who once taught me, wrote to me saying: "Ken, the
U-Zee is in a shambles."

      A black professor passed by my house. His petrol bill was $20 000 per
month in 2002 when a full tank cost him $5 000. With a monthly income of
less than $70 000, he cannot afford to live in any decent way.

      The land belongs to the natives and we agree that it should have been
restored to us a long time ago. But it was done in a wicked and vicious way
that has become a pattern of the ruling party. Good things, in the hands of
evil men, become tainted with their wickedness. It takes a very long time to
build a reputation-businesses and countries alike, need a positive
reputation in order to function. Whatever positive reputation our country
had has since been squandered.

      It is because of Mugabe's one-man showmanship that all these problems
are intricately bound up with his leadership. When a leader has overstayed
his welcome, he becomes the problem.

      The Mercedes-Benz lifestyle of Zimbabwean ministers feeds into the
imperialist propaganda. When the imperialists effect a regime change, such
regimes have no support among the general populace. For brother Kanengoni to
ignore the facts of the matter by offering blind loyalty, is to do a
disservice to the nationalist cause and to fall into the imperialist trap.
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Zim Standard

      Why Mugabe must go
      By Chido Makunike

      PRESIDENT Mugabe has often complained about how some newspapers are
seemingly obsessive in their focus on him. Some of his dwindling number of
defenders point out how Zimbabwe's many problems will not be automatically
solved by the departure of Mugabe.

      They are right, but there are perfectly legitimate reasons why the
calls for change usually coincide with demands for the exit of Mugabe from
the seat of power.

      Power is concentrated in Mugabe the individual, far more than is the
case in most countries. Mugabe has, unfortunately, been allowed to wield so
much control over all aspects of governance that checks and balances exist
in name only. It is therefore an entirely legitimate exercise to put the
blame for so many of the ills that bedevil this country right at his door.
To talk about meaningful, positive change in Zimbabwe that does not involve
the exit of Mugabe from the political scene, is an oxymoron.

      Any talks or initiatives, local or international, to deal with the
multi-faceted crisis in Zimbabwe that does not recognise this central point,
is doomed to failure. Zimbabwe simply doesn't have a chance at getting back
to normality as long as Mugabe is president, and pussy-footing around this
issue is a waste of time.

      The shock fuel price increase this week, with petrol going up by an
unheard of 300% at one go, gives us an opportunity to reflect on some of
Mugabe's failures as a leader that have led us to the pitiful state we find
ourselves in, on the twenty third anniversary of our independence.

      In an attempt to prepare us for fuel price increases, the propaganda
press has repeatedly reminded us how our fuel prices are the lowest in the
region. Our fuel was so cheap, people from neighbouring countries would
drive in to Zimbabwe just to buy fuel, then they would drive back over the
border to resell it at home at a huge profit.

      We have also been told how our low prices were way below the cost of
importing fuel, how they contributed to the perennial problems of Noczim and
to the chronic fuel shortages of the last few years. Let us ask some
questions of Mugabe and his regime. What kind of economic model have you
been following all these years, that required you to sell fuel at a loss?
Why did you so heavily subsidise fuel all these years? When you made the
policy decision to do so, what did you know that others who charge realistic
prices for fuel did not? Why does a parastatal that has done so much more
harm than good continue to exist?

      If the answer is: "socialism, we were trying to cushion the people
from the effects of charging the real price for fuel," that only shows how
inept and lacking in foresight the Mugabe regime really is. It shows that
Mugabe never grew into his job. It is one thing to espouse populist,
pie-in-the-sky theories when you are a guerrilla leader, but it behoves a
statesman to graduate from those perhaps initially well-intentioned but
thoroughly naive theories once he has the responsibility of charting the
economic course of a nation. Voodoo economics is fine in theory and in the
bush, but it should have stayed there.

      The negative socio-economic effects of increasing the price of fuel by
such a huge percentage at one go, will far outweigh any good that might have
accrued from subsidising fuel all these years. While the need to increase
the price of fuel to more realistic levels is not at all in question, the
fact that it has had to be done in response to a crisis, rather than pro
actively and as part of the enlightened stewardship of the economy, is due
to the economic illiteracy of Mugabe and his henchmen.

      If we had been weaned off subsidised fuel gradually over the years by
regular but smaller increases, we would not be in the mess we are in now.
So, once again, we see how Mugabe makes misinformed decisions based on an
outmoded, unworkable ideology that on the surface sounds people-centred, but
which he has to back-track dramatically while causing huge suffering to
those he would want us to believe he is so concerned about.

      These disastrous about-faces have been a hallmark of Mugabe's ruinous
rule. His whole tenure has been characterised by a practice of one step
seemingly forward, then 10 steps back. That is why as we 'celebrate'
independence, we find ourselves much further back in most respects than we
were in 1980. "Oh, but at least we now have the land, we showed those whites
a thing or two!" When are we going to get real and stop being hoodwinked by
Mugabe's long list of economic blunders? It is trite to say land reform was
overdue-we all know it, yet Mugabe and his cohorts like to sound like they
almost invented the idea.

      If Mugabe's economic record of the last two decades is anything to go
by, just as we have seen with the fuel situation, we will be paying for the
folly of his method of changing land ownership for many years to come.

      Whether with regard to fuel, land or anything else, it is not enough
to enunciate a policy designed to address a problem. Good leadership, the
kind Mugabe lacks, requires you to then successfully strategise to find ways
to implement that policy for the maximum good, with the minimum harm. I
challenge anyone to show me how Mugabe's fuel strategy over the years, which
has led to this week's economically crippling increases, can be said to have
done this.

      As we struggle to adjust to the manifold implications of the massive
fuel price increase, the latest blow to a dying economy, let us remember
that it is has been necessitated by Mugabe's lack of economic foresight. We
all make bad decisions and mistakes, for which we often have to pay heavy

      What is unique about Mugabe is that he never owns up to his, and it is
us the people who have to pay for his long litany of failures. This is just
one of the many reasons why Mugabe must go, so that we can begin to figure
out how to get out of the mess he has got us into.
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Zim Standard

      In God's name, Go!

      AS we have published elsewhere in this issue, Zimbabwe has reached the
bottom of economic and social despair and people are finding it impossible
to live. It has taken more than three years to plumb that bottom. How much
practice does it take to plan a human sacrifice of your own people?

      Today in Zimbabwe, no name moves men and women, young and old quickly
to anger than that of Robert Gabriel Mugabe. You gave us hope in 1980 and
now that hope has completely evaporated.

      The fundamentals of life no longer exist. Prices of everything have
gone through the roof. The old, tedious and exclusive pre-occupation with
imperialism and the defence of Zimbabwe's sovereignty continue to sound
ridiculous and irrelevant to the pressing need to cure the country of its
political and economic malaise. People do not eat sovereignty, Mr President.

      As Zimbabweans, we are no longer proud of who we are and what we are.
The country is one gigantic mess. Zimbabweans have never seen or experienced
anything like this before.

      If you say you are governing-governing what? Assassinate this country
no further, Mr President. You have done enough. Before this society
explodes, please help the people of Zimbabwe with just one action: Step

      The moment has come and it is a moment that the majority of
Zimbabweans and the world are waiting for.
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Zim Standard

      'Courage brother, do not stumble'

      ONCE upon a time, it was one of the two brightest spots in sub-Saharan
Africa. The other was and still is South Africa. Now Zimbabwe has gone
completely off the rails-thanks to a political leadership that has
sacrificed the country on the altar of greed, power and privilege.

      Things have reached breaking point in Zimbabwe. The recent fuel
increases have shocked the country to its core. Life has become impossible
for the majority of Zimbabweans. The only people who are smiling all the way
to the bank are Mugabe's cronies, courtiers and other sympathisers who are
benefiting from his patronage, and the exploitation of acute shortages of
commodities that are stalking this land.

      At 23, there is really nothing to celebrate or to write home about.
Zimbabwe has become "a house of hunger". People are starving. The standard
of living for most Zimbabweans has plummeted to an all-time low. Even those
people who are working (let alone the unemployed) in the few companies still
open no longer can afford transport, food and many other costs. The enormous
suffering that Zanu PF has inflicted on Zimbabwe is reducing many people to

      Is it that the Zimbabwean political leadership is in sublime and
comfortable ignorance of what is going on? How is it possible that a
political party that was so admired and respected in 1980 has moved from
perfect vision to total blindness as far as the people's plight is

      In the early years of independence, the Zimbabwe government intervened
in the economy to provide a better infrastructure, better education and
better health. It invested in people and supported both domestic and
exporting industries. Zimbabweans of all races helped themselves by working
very hard in an honest and sincere manner. Now everything is gone. We are in
deep and desperate trouble.

      The tremendous progress that was registered during the eighties in the
areas of education, health, road construction and many others has been
completely reversed. It is not Western countries that have reversed the
gains made in the early years of independence but Zanu PF itself. The
President and the ruling party must accept the responsibility and
consequences of their own actions.

      It is wicked to talk about the recolonisation of Zimbabwe in this day
and age. Such scapegoating is totally unacceptable. Recolonisation of the
country by Britain? Pure fantasy! Colonisation formally ended more than 20
years ago and there is not the slightest chance in hell it will ever come

      When self-inflicted wounds start hurting, it is nonsense to turn
around and blame everything on white Zimbabweans, imperialism and other
external forces. We do concede and acknowledge that certainly we would not
be facing many of our present pathologies if it weren't for the legacy of

      But we must realise that today much of the responsibility for our
problems lies at our feet. Zimbabwe's political leadership must not be
oblivious to the reality that their actions will always have consequences
and that a terrible price has to be paid for shortsightedness and bad

      In a more open and globalised economy as we now have, it is evil and
ridiculous to talk about "Africa for the Africans" and "Zimbabwe for
Zimbabweans". It was perhaps useful during the fight for our independence
but in 2003 it is meaningless sloganeering.

      Zimbabwe cannot remain an island and a closed environment if it is to
succeed. The whole world is now open and investment goes to the best. Siege
economies have never worked in the past and will not work now or in the

      Zimbabwe is a young country. More than 50% of its population is below
the age of 15. Where will the jobs for the youngsters come from? Investment
is obviously the key but because of the anarchy and collapse of the economy,
no investment of any sort is coming our way. Little wonder that the
country's industry is operating at 30% capacity. No wonder Zimbabweans, old
and young, are leaving the country in droves in search of jobs in Britain,
South Africa and elsewhere.

      Zimbabwe is now reaping a tragic harvest due to the infectious need on
the part of the President and his cronies to cling to power at all costs.

      As we have said clear in and out of season, it is not in the interest
of any country that leaders overstay their welcome. Zimbabwe's current
crisis stems largely from this. We are entitled to ask the President why he
is causing so much suffering to the people of Zimbabwe?

      Perhaps these massive fuel hikes might just be the last straw that
breaks the camel's back. There is indeed a feeling in the air that change
must come. We know that we have been saying this for the past two years.
Yes, optimists including ourselves have been far off the mark. But we
believe that this time around, the pessimists and the skeptics might just be
proved wrong.

      Let us continue living in hope and to perennially sing the song
"Courage Brother, Do not Stumble".
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Zim Standard

      Revolutionary spirit engulfs troubled nation
      overthetop By Brian Latham

      AN enterprising businessman in a troubled central African country has
said he is soon to start moulding statues of the most equal of all comrades
simply so they can all be torn down again.

      The businessman said his novel project would begin just as soon as
someone switched on the electricity, which has mysteriously disappeared from
the industrial area that's home to his factory.

      Sadly it was pointed out to the enterprising businessman that the
electricity was unlikely to be switched on while the most equal of all
comrades was still around, mainly because the most equal of all comrades'
fiscal policy was responsible for the electricity being turned off. The
enterprising businessmen then said it wasn't a problem, he'd get the statues
made elsewhere, import them and then put them up so that they could be torn

      But then the now frustrated businessman reported that this plan had
also been foiled. He was unable to find the necessary foreign currency to
pay for the statues.

      All in all, he said, it did not bode well for the revolution.

      Recent events on television had shown that the tearing down of statues
was an important element in any successful revolution, as was an element of
healthy looting, the shredding of bank notes and arson attacks on government

      And in the general mayhem, there was also ample opportunity to set
light to the German sports car that belongs to the guy who someone said
slept with your wife.

      Meanwhile other, more reasoned, friends of the frustrated businessman
told him not to worry. Instead of pulling down statues-which has a certain
symbolic but otherwise hollow feeling-there will probably be more than
enough living ears to nail to the pavement once the revolution is over.

      And then there'd be the pleasure of watching the green-clad
Dzaku-dzaku disappearing over the southern border in search of safety and
political asylum that will no doubt be granted by the inventor of the
African Renaissance.

      The frustrated businessman's friends also pointed out that there were
other things to look forward to in the troubled central African nation.
Finding that policeman who made you perform a Zany Party dance in the middle
of the road while singing sad songs about cockerels will also provide a
certain amount of vengeful amusement.

      Actually any policeman will do.

      And as for Zany's soldiers... well, unspeakable things are likely to
happen if they're seen in certain popular shebeens in the troubled central
African nation's capital.

      Still, political analysts said all this was unlikely to happen.

      While there'd undoubtedly be a revolution spearheading the way for the
first democratic government the troubled central African regime has ever
known, analysts said it would be a peaceful revolution.

      Over The Top suggests that while a peaceful revolution may not be an
oxymoron, it would be too boring for words. What the people want is some
healthy, cathartic fun in the streets.

      And if the bishops and clerics and other fundamentalists say that
vengeance belongs to the great democratic in the sky; well, the people say
they'd rather negotiate that after the fact. There's nothing like a fait
accompli to give you the winning hand.

      Unfortunately the More Drink Coming Party backed the analysts calling
for peace and goodwill, quite forgetting it was not the troubled central
African way. The troubled central African way involves drinking lots of beer
to fire up the revolutionary spirit and then lobbing bits of pavement at the

      It's been going on since the 1950s, and there's every reason to
believe it'll carry on for years to come.
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Zim ranked 122nd in term of freedom of the press

Out of 139 Zimbabwe is ranked 122nd in terms of freedom of the press on a
list published by Reporters Without Borders.

This places Mugabe's Zimbabwe in the same company as regimes the like of
Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Nepal, Tunisia, Libya, Iraq, Vietnam, Eritrea,
Laos, Cuba, Bhutan, Turkmenistan, Burma, China and North Korea.

Not exactly the company one can be proud of keeping but these are desperate
times for the Mugabe regime as they cling to power by any means possible and
of course they must "protect" the people from the truth at all costs.
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Letter to Zim Gateway

Mugabe's gravy train heading for disastrous derailment

Shame on Tafataona Mahoso, who is frantically trying to disguise his support
for Zanu PF by pretending to be sympathetic with the Iraqi gangsters. We all
know who this disguise is serving. Shame on you and be warned that the gravy
train you are so keen to get on is headed for a disastrous derailment.

If he really feels we can make a difference and stop the imperialist
Americans and the Britons, why not send in our gallant army to teach the
Yankees and all other Uncle Sams a thing or two? We all know how our 5
Brigade dealt with the Ndebeles, and how we dealt with Renamo in Mozambique
and how successful our army was in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Come on, Bob, send our boys in to sort out the Americans - after all you
have a score to settle.

Kwanele Xolo - South Africa
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Zvakwana Newsletter #20 – Support the ZCTU Stayaway

April 21, 2003

It smashes down forests and crushes a hundred men.
But it has one defect:
It needs a driver.

(Bertolt Brecht)

People! support the ZCTU stayaway. We must make sure that zanu pf runs out of drivers. Every person and every employer that rejects the calls for action become one of zanu pf's drivers, keeping their regime in power. Let us render the regime driverless.

zvakwana - sokwanele - enough is enough

SUPPORT the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and stayaway from 23rd April - 25th April 2003
Zvakwana congratulates the ZCTU for rallying its members and the people of Zimbabwe, to show the mugabe regime that enough is enough by calling for a national stayaway. It is very apparent that a broad cross section of our society has had their fill of abuse.

It is clear to all but a select few that runaway inflation, "poverty datum line" wages and massive unemployment are due to the political crisis in Zimbabwe. Nothing can move forward without the critical issue of governance being addressed. Messing with parts of the economy, such as the panic stricken increase of fuel prices, will go nowhere in the absence of investors’ confidence.

The regime should make way for a competent government that has the people of Zimbabwe at heart and that understands the socio-economic dynamics of a developing and democratic country.

Zvakwana, who draws much of is membership from the working class, ask the employers to show support for this call to action by closing their doors. It will be assumed that those that remain open can afford to meet the burgeoning costs of running a business, including paying wages that stay ahead of inflation.

It is likely that those that remain open will be the first to be lobbied to meet a significant wage increase.

As with the previous actions Zvakwana will have activists monitoring the situation on the ground.

We are in this together.

The tiger is waiting to be tamed
Remember that things are coming to a boiling point because Zimbabweans are finally saying Enough! We will be calling for persistent civil disobedience in order to bring about some positive change.

The last successful stayaway was helped on its way by many small actions: -

- Zimbabweans having the courage to attend the Harare Mayor's Town Hall meeting in the face of riot police and teargas

- activists protesting outside the Nigerian Embassy to criticise Obasanjo's "quiet diplomacy"

- protests at the Namibian and Australian Embassies during the World Cup Cricket

- brave women gathering in Harare and Bulawayo to commemorate Valentine's Day as a day to say no to violence

- brave women marching on International Women's Day

- pastors petitioning the police in Harare

- the continued noise campaigns throughout the cities

Three Day Job Stayaway - from 23rd April - 25th April 2003
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
April 21, 2003

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) General Council called an urgent meeting on the 16th of April 2003 to deliberate on the fuel price increases.

The General Council then unanimously decided that;

The fuel price increases are not acceptable and the ZCTU demands that the government reverses the price increase with immediate effect.

The government’s continued unilateral decision making has shown that they are negotiating in bad faith and that the TNF is being turned into a playground hence the ZCTU is withdrawing from the TNF with immediate effect until the issue of the fuel price is resolved.

The TNF minimum wage of Z$46 000 has been overtaken by events and therefore the ZCTU does not recognise it any more. The Poverty Datum Line (PDL) for March before the fuel increase was $53 029.10

The ZCTU is undertaking a peaceful three-day stayaway from Wednesday 23 April to Friday 25 April 2003. Unless the government gives in to the above demand the job boycott will be indefinite.

The ZCTU urges all workers to take part in this noble cause. Do not be intimidated, it is your right to protest.

Lovemore Matombo

Say a very loud "no" to evil - how much more evidence do we need?
The Solidarity Peace Trust, comprising four Zimbabwean church leaders and two from South Africa have published a report on torture in Zimbabwe. Janah Ncube, who is the chairperson of the Zimbabwean Women's Coalition and attended Thursday's function, said there had been a dramatic increase in women being raped by youths dressed in military uniforms. "It is as if we are at war and they are using rape to get to us," she said. "In one case a grandmother was raped by 12 men, in another a woman was raped by five men. It is so dehumanising. They are trying to rob us of our dignity." A woman also had an AK47 forced into her vagina at a youth training centre where she was held for eight months as a sex slave, Ncube said. The youngest sex worker at the training centre was said to be 12 years old. Ncube said the women's movement wants to establish a rape crisis centre in Zimbabwe to assist victims of sexual abuse. "We need to get them medical care, to put them in contact with lawyers and to supply them with antiretrovirals." She said the people of Zimbabwe simply wanted to be treated with respect. "We are ordinary, uncomplicated people. We want to have families, a job, the security that comes from a job, go to soccer once in a while, be allowed to live free and without fear."

Zvakwana - Sokwanele - Enough is Enough

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