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Prisoners in Zimbabwean jails go naked

Zim Online

Mon 3 April 2006

      HARARE - Prisoners in some of Zimbabwe's overcrowded jails have to
stay naked because of a shortage of uniforms that highlights deteriorating
conditions in prisons as the cash-strapped government struggles for
resources to maintain the institutions, ZimOnline has learnt.

      Prison officials and some former inmates told ZimOnline that the
Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) was unable to provide adequate uniforms for
the ever increasing number of inmates resulting in prisoners having to share
the available uniforms.

      Inmates on remand and who would be attending court are the first
priority to get uniforms while those not going to court have to stay naked
or use prison blankets to cover themselves, a senior official at Harare
central prison said.

      Prisoners in Zimbabwe are banned from wearing their own clothes and
must wear prison-issued uniforms.

      The prison official, who did not want to be named because he is not
authorised to disclose such information to the Press, said: "There is a
serious shortage of uniforms for prisoners that they have to share.

      "Priority for uniforms is being given to suspects in remand prison who
would be attending court. Some of the prisoners have to stay naked but it's
kind of rotational."

      A former prisoner at the notorious Chikurubi Maximum Prison, just
outside Harare, Elton Mandiro, said it was "most humiliating" when he and
other inmates had to hang around the prison naked because there were no

      Mandiro, who was released from Chikurubi last month, said: "We were
told to remove our uniforms and hand them over so that the guys going to
court appearances could wear them. We would stay naked or sometimes we would
wrap those torn prison blankets but then again they are not enough."

      ZPS Commissioner Paradzai Zimondi was not available for comment on the
matter while Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, under whose portfolio
prisons fall, said he was not aware of the uniforms shortage and promised to
investigate the claims that inmates sometimes had to stay naked.

      Chinamasa said the government has tried to ensure conditions in jails
met international standards but admitted it had in some cases failed to do
this because of lack of money.

      He said: "That's (prisoners staying naked) news to me. We try to
provide dignified conditions for our prisoners according to international
requirements. To a large extent we have managed, although in some cases
funding affects us."

      The uniforms shortage is only one of several problems affecting the
poorly funded state jails. There is also serious overcrowding with the more
than 40 prisons holding more than 22 000 inmates which is way above their
designed carrying capacity of 16 000 prisoners.

      Overcrowding plus a shortage of medical drugs in prison hospitals has
seen the spread of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis in prisons.

      Food is also in short supply with numerous reports in the past of
inmates, for example at Chikurubi prison, going for months without running
water or spending weeks on a diet of dirty cabbage soup and maize-meal

      A poor diet has resulted in a higher incidence of malnutrition-related
illnesses among prisoners.

      In a confidential report to President Robert Mugabe last February,
Zimondi said conditions in the country's prisons were so bad, with prisoners
dying regularly that every inmate was virtually on death row.

      Most of those dying in prison or just after being released were dying
of treatable diseases, the country's chief jailer said in the report.

      Describing the mortality rate in prisons as a "cause for concern,"
Zimondi said at one of the country's jails, which he did not name in the
report, 127 prisoners had died over a period of 12 months.

      The Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) in 2004 described conditions in
prisons as hazardous and said the country's jails were virtual death traps.
The LSZ, the representative body for the legal profession in Zimbabwe, was
speaking after touring prisons.

      The government is hard pressed for resources as it grapples an acute
food shortage affecting a quarter of the 12 million Zimbabweans and a severe
economic crisis that has spawned shortages of fuel, electricity, essential
medical drugs among other key commodities. - ZimOnline

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Tsvangirai says willing to pay ultimate price to oust Mugabe

Zim Online

Mon 3 April 2006

      HARARE - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday vowed
to press on with plans to call mass anti-government protests, declaring that
he was prepared to pay with his own life to remove President Robert Mugabe
from power.

      Unfazed by a chilling warning by Mugabe that street protests were a
dice with death, Tsvangirai told about 5 000 supporters of his Movement for
Democratic Change party to brace up for the protests which he said he shall
"lead from the front".

      "We are going to engage in mass protests and ultimately remove Mugabe
from power," Tsvangirai said, to wild cheering and applause from the crowd
that had gathered to hear the opposition leader speak at Masvingo's Mamutse
sports stadium.

      "I will be leading you in that protest, if it means Tsvangirai has to
die while liberating the people - so be it," he said in clear reference to
last Friday's warning by Mugabe that his government would crush any street
protests by opposition supporters.

      Speaking at the burial of his former chief body guard at the National
Hero's Acre shrine, Mugabe told Tsvangirai that he and his ruling ZANU PF
party were battle-hardened and would not be removed from power by mere

      Mugabe, who has in the past deployed anti-riot police and the military
to crush street protests, told the opposition leader to focus his efforts on
fighting elections and not "dice with death" by attempting to unseat the
government through mass protests.

      But Tsvangirai, who on Saturday held another rally in the central town
of Gweru also to mobilise support for mass protests, told his supporters
that they could never unseat Mugabe and his government through the ballot
because the government rigged elections.

      Tsvangirai, whose MDC has split leaving him in charge of the larger of
the two factions of the opposition party, said: "We have seen that elections
alone will lead us nowhere. ZANU PF has rigged elections since 2000 and
therefore it is our conviction that elections alone are not a solution."

      The MDC and Western governments say Mugabe and ZANU PF used only
retained power in 2000 and 2002 by rigging and downright fraud.

      Mugabe, who accuses the MDC of being a puppet of the West, denies
rigging elections and accuses the opposition party of being a sore loser.

      Tsvangirai's wing of the MDC resolved at a congress last month to
engage in mass action to force Mugabe to embrace democracy and agree to a
new constitution that would ensure free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

      But political analysts say the MDC's splitting into two rival parties
weakened the opposition against Mugabe, who still enjoys solid support from
the military despite a worsening economic crisis.

      Mugabe, the only ruler Zimbabweans have ever known since independence
from Britain 25 years ago, has heavily relied on the security forces and
tough legislation to keep the opposition in check. -  ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe central bank governor goes on charm offensive in Russia

Zim Online

Mon 3 April 2006

      HARARE - Reserve Bank for Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono is
scheduled to meet Russian bankers and investors in Moscow on Tuesday to try
and persuade them to help revive the southern African country's ailing
state-owned firms.

      Gono, tasked by President Robert Mugabe to mend Zimbabwe's limping
economy, is accompanied by Transport Minister Christopher Mushowe.

      ZimOnline was unable to reach both Gono and Mushowe for comment on
their mission while RBZ spokesman Kumbirai Nhongo was also not available for

      But officials at the RBZ said among non-performing parastatals that
Gono will attempt to market to the Russians was the National Railways of
Zimbabwe (NRZ) that operates the country's crumbling rail network.

      The central bank chief will also try to convince the Russians to
invest in the state's fixed telephone company, Tel One as well as the
country's second largest mobile phone operator, Net One, which is also owned
by the government.

      NRZ and the government telecommunication firms are among seven
parastatals short-listed by the government last December for complete
privatisation or joint venture projects with foreign investors.

      Gono will also use the Moscow trip to try and raise cash for the
foreign currency-short Harare government, sources said.

      The government last month concluded a deal with Indian steel maker
Global Steel Holdings Limited (GSHL) for the Asian firm to invest US$400
million in the state-owned Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (ZISCO).

      Under the deal, GSHL - which has a capital base of US$8 billion - will
refurbish ZISCO and operate the steel plant and will only hand it back to
the Zimbabwe government after 20 years. - ZimOnline

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Swedish ambassador attacks Zimbabwe's press laws

Zim Online

Mon 3 April 2006

      BULAWAYO - Swedish ambassador to Zimbabwe, Sten Rylander has rejected
comparisons by a state media body suggesting Zimbabwe's tough press laws
were modeled along Sweden's media legislation.

      Addressing students at the National University of Science and
Technology in Zimbabwe's second biggest city of Bulawayo at the weekend,
Rylander said Zimbabwe's media laws cannot be compared with Sweden's since
Sweden "has an admired tradition of freedom of the press in the world."

      "In Sweden, the objectives of the media policy are clearly formulated.
The aim of media policy is to support freedom of expression, diversity and
the independence of and accessibility to mass media.

      "There has never been an agenda in Sweden to shut down newspapers, big
or small, because they cannot raise the required capital to publish nor for
the simple reason that they have changed their shareholding structures
without informing government," Rylander said.

      The Harare authorities have often cited Sweden's press laws to justify
its much criticized Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA) which has been used to shut down four newspapers over the past three

      But the Swedish ambassador said "the source of this lurid comparison
remains unclear." Ryder also said there was no legitimate reason for the
continued ban of the Daily News and its sister paper the Daily News on
Sunday after the paper complied with the law.

      The Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday, including two other
privately-owned newspapers, were shut down over the past three years for
violating certain sections of AIPPA.

      The World Association of Newspapers ranks Zimbabwe among the three
worst countries for journalists. The other two are the former Soviet
Republic of Uzbeskistan and the Islamic republic of Iran. - ZimOnline

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Rural communities in Zimbabwe urged to boost incomes

People's Daily

      Zimbabwean Vice President Joice Mujuru has urged rural communities to
initiate projects that generate substantial income and contribute to the
development and maintenance of infrastructure.

      Speaking at a rally in Mashonaland East Province on Saturday, Mujuru
said it was time for rural communities to start contributing taxes that
would lead to the development of infrastructure.

      "The only way to ensure rural infrastructure development and
maintenance is for communities to embark on income-generating projects that
will lead to payment of taxes to government which will in turn be used for
such," said Vice President Mujuru.

      She said the government was working towards improving rural
communities so as to attract investment and development in these areas to
discourage rural-urban migration.

      Mujuru said she had embarked on a nationwide tour of rural
constituencies with a team of senior civil servants and ministers whose
ministries are community development-oriented with the task of identifying
and implementing development programs.

      "Let's have empowerment programs here in rural areas and avoid the
rural-urban migration. Our people should now be moving to rural areas but
they can't do that if there is poverty. We need to improve the standard of
life here to encourage this movement," she said.

      She said the government had to embark on Operation Murambatsvina
because of the increased number of social ills and vice that had become
prevalent in some of the illegal structures.

      "It was in these illegal structures that AIDS, rape and robberies were
thriving," she said.

      Responding to the residents' complaints over the poor maintenance of
the road network in Chikomba, she said villagers should engage in projects
like horticulture, poultry production and farming to generate wealth and
eventually pay taxes.

      She said the government was encouraging the empowerment of rural
communities, particularly women, through poultry and piggery projects to
ensure the sustainability of families and ultimately the whole nation.

      "The poultry project should be taken seriously and we expect it to
eventually lead to a poultry processing plant here at Sadza growth point,"
she said.

      Source: Xinhua

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Zimbabwe embarks on new tobacco farming techniques

People's Daily

      The Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers' Association (ZTGA) has embarked on a
training program to equip farmers with modern methods of tobacco cultivation
and gradually phase out the use of methyl bromide pesticide.

      ZTGA President Julius Ngorima was quoted by Sunday News as saying that
the program is aimed at equipping new farmers with advanced technical
expertise such as using float trays and other modern farming methods which
would not require the use of methyl bromide.

      "This follows indications by the World Health Organization that the
traditional methods that promote the use of methyl bromide commonly used in
Zimbabwe will be phased out in 2009," he said.

      A donor organization has offered to buy float trays and plastics that
will benefit tobacco growers who cannot afford to access them.

      "The price of float trays is beyond the reach of most new farmers and
this assistance by the donor organization will go a long way in improving
the technical expertise of tobacco growers," he said.

      He said training will be available for farmers.

      Assessments conducted by atmospheric scientists under the authority of
the World Meteorological Organization indicate that methyl bromide
contributes significantly to the destruction of the earth's stratospheric
ozone layer.

      The chemical is used primarily in the growing of crops such as
strawberries, tomatoes and tobacco seedlings.

      The pesticide has been found to be toxic and exposure to this chemical
is suspected to affect not only the target pests but non- targeted organisms
as well.

      "Because methyl bromide dissipates so rapidly to the atmosphere, it is
most dangerous at the actual fumigation site itself," said Ngorima.

      Human exposure to high concentrations of methyl bromide can result in
central nervous system and respiratory system failure, as well as specific
and severe deleterious actions on the lungs, eyes, and skin. Common initial
symptoms include weakness, despondency, headache, visual disturbances,
nausea, and vomiting.

      Source: Xinhua

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Zimbabwe, E.Guinea sign comprehensive agreement

      April 2, 2006.

      By ANDnetwork .com

      Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea yesterday signed an agreement that
covers trade, economic, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation that
will pave way for greater collaboration between the two countries in various
areas, including the petroleum sector.

      "What we have agreed is how our relations could transform in various
ways in the future," President Mugabe told journalists at a Press conference
he jointly addressed with Equatorial Guinean President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo
before his departure at the Harare International Airport.
      Zimbabwe, Cde Mugabe said, would be very grateful to the West African
country if it were to be with petroleum products.
      He said there would be further discussions between the two countries
on how to strengthen economic and cultural ties.
      The visit by President Mbasogo, he said, had enhanced relations
between Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea.
      "The visit has been beneficial and on your part (President Mbasogo) we
hope it has opened a new area of cooperation. We are one people and all of
us are sons of the soil.
      "I want to assure you that the agreement which we have signed will be
honoured. When we make promises, we will fulfil them," Cde Mugabe said.
      The President said there was need for African countries to develop
their economies using their own resources and not for outsiders to exploit
the resources of the continent.
      "Only with our agreement shall outsiders have a share of our
resources," President Mugabe said.
      Speaking through an interpreter, President Mbasogo
      said there should be a followup to the agreement signed for it to come
to fruition for the benefit of the people in the two countries.
      "We now leave it to the technocrats to deal with the issues we have
put on the table," he said.
      The Equatorial Guinean leader said there were vast opportunities for
cooperation between the two countries and this included the area of human
resources development.
      Zimbabwe, he said, had a strong human resources base that could
immensely benefit the West African country.
      President Mbasogo said it was in the interest of African countries to
have exchange programmes on human resources development taking into account
that some African students who had studied in the West had become
indoctrinated with European culture.
      He said Zimbabwe and the oil rich country could also cooperate by
trading in finished products as opposed to relying on the European market.
      President Mbasogo, who was accompanied by his wife Madame Constancia
Mangue and several ministers and officials, left Harare yesterday for
Equatorial Guinea at the end of a threeday official visit.
      Foreign Affairs Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Equatorial
Guinea Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Mr Pastor
Micha Ondo Bile signed the agreement on behalf of their respective
      The signing was witnessed by President Mugabe and President Mbasogo.
      Cde Mumbengegwi told the two leaders that the agreement was a
framework document that opened up cooperation between the two countries in
different areas.
      Earlier on, President Mbasogo and his delegation were shown around
ZanuPF headquarters by President Mugabe and First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe.
      Soon after the tour of the party headquarters, President Mbasogo
addressed the Central Committee of the ruling party.
      He said the signing of the agreement of cooperation between Zimbabwe
and his country marked the beginning of a new longlasting relationship and
opened doors for them to start working jointly in different areas.
      He said Equatorial Guinea's doors were open to Zimbabwean investment
and viceversa.
      President Mbasogo paid tribute to the gallant sons and daughters of
Zimbabwe who fought in the liberation struggle to free the country from
colonial bondage.
      "The fight for liberation and independence of a country belongs only
to that nation. Therefore, any son or daughter of this nation who might
attempt to undermine the objectives of that struggle would be easily named a
traitor," said President Mbasogo.
      He said the independence of a country must be exercised practically
and he saluted President Mugabe for leading the liberation struggle and then
returning land to its rightful owners.
      Africa belonged to Africans, he said, amid applause from Central
Committee members and Government officials.
      He said in 2004, a group of people met and planned to come to
Equatorial Guinea to destabilise and overthrow its government but, thanks to
the swift reaction by Zimbabwe, the plot was abortive.
      "If Zimbabwe was otherwise, it could have allowed them to go ahead and
destroy Equatorial Guinea. We have thought it appropriate to come to you and
express our gratitude for what you did," he said.
      The simultaneous arrest of the mercenaries hired to stage the coup by
Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea, he said, was due to providence.
      "It was divine intervention that you arrested the mercenaries as we
also arrested them in Equatorial Guinea.
      "The legacy we leave for our children should be of brothers and
sisters," said President Mbasogo.
      Zimbabwe intercepted 67 mercenaries at Harare International Airport in
March 2004 who were on their way to the oilrich West African country to
stage a coup.
      The mercenaries were tried and jailed. They were deported shortly
after completing their terms, with the exception of British national, Simon
Francis Mann, who remains in prison after being given a longer sentence for
his role as ringleader.
      Speaking about the concept of democracy, President Mbasogo said it was
not a tool that could be imported.
      "You are the ones to choose these charismatic people you recognise to
lead you to attain your goals. It's true that it is foreigners and other
nations whose interests are always imposed on us and I wonder why Europeans
think that their own ways should be our ways too," he said.
      Most Western countries, he said, were eager to come and supervise
elections in Africa but when they conducted theirs, they never invited
African countries to do so.
      Said President Mbasogo:"Who gave them the right to pass judgment on
African leaders and call them dictators? Are they not dictators themselves?
We have to be very watchful of what they say about us."
      Equatorial Guinea, he said, was opposed to the illegal sanctions
imposed on Africa and Zimbabwe in particular because the Southern African
country was managing its affairs well.
      He said the political ideals of the ruling party were the ones that
were appropriate to Zimbabwe.
      "The nationalistic activity being carried out by ZanuPF should
continue in this regard," said President Mbasogo.
      He invited President Mugabe to pay another visit to Equatorial Guinea
and meet with the people so as to learn about the country's culture.
      Speaking at the same occasion, Cde Mugabe said President Mbasogo's
visit was important in respect of the ties that now existed between Zimbabwe
and Equatorial Guinea.
      "The visit has also made it possible to discuss relations that we
believe will strengthen cooperation between our countries.
      "This is, indeed, a demonstration of commitment by our countries to a
process of forging the relations of our countries," said Cde Mugabe.
      He said the agreement on cooperation in different sectors signed by
the two countries was a good start but hoped more would come in the future.
      Cde Mugabe said it would also be ideal if the two countries' ruling
parties forged ties to interact.
      Giving a vote of thanks, VicePresident Cde Joice Mujuru said
Zimbabweans had been challenged and should not ignore the wise words by the
two leaders.
      She said it was now up to both nations to stand on their own in
whatever they would be doing.
      "We should not be forced to adopt foreign problems, but be resilient
and persistent to come up with programmes that suit our expectations," she
      Cde Mujuru said Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe were far from each
other geographically and yet so close to each other in outlook and spirit.
      "I say 'bon voyage', safe journey and please

      Source : Chronicle

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EU, Zimbabwe in talks

      April 2, 2006.

      By ANDnetwork .com

      Zimbabwe and the European Union (EU) are working to foster
co-operation in areas of common interest as the two parties move to thaw the
frosty relations between them, the Speaker of Parliament, Cde John Nkomo,
has said.

      As part of this commitment, the European Commission will soon release
one million euros through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to
help facilitate the country's parliamentary reforms.
      Speaking to journalists soon after meeting the commission's head of
delegation, Ambassador Xavier Marchal, who had paid him a courtesy call last
week, Cde Nkomo, who is also the national chairman of the ruling Zanu-PF,
said they had agreed to engage in dialogue on areas that require common
      Although the key areas would still be considered, emphasis would be
shifted away from the differences between Zimbabwe and the European bloc.
      "We spoke about our relations including the imposition of sanctions
and the EU's decision not to cooperate with Zimbabwe. We then agreed on the
need to engage in dialogue on areas that need common focus," said Cde Nkomo.
      Relations between the EU and Zimbabwe have been frosty in the past six
years following the implementation of the fast-track land redistribution
      Although the Government maintains the people embarked on the land
reform programme to correct the racially-skewed land ownership pattern in
the country, differences over the issue saw the EU, at the instigation of
Britain, imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe.
      The European bloc also recently revised its sanctions list,
reinforcing its stance against the country.
      Cde Nkomo, however, said land was "no longer an issue", pointing out
that focus should now be on co-operation.
      Ambassador Marchal said it was important to work towards improving
relations between Zimbabwe and the EU, a situation that could only come by
if both parties are committed.
      "Sanctions were imposed because we felt the circumstances did not
permit us to take another position other than that. But I think the
important issue is for us to dialogue because there is no fatality to
EU/Zimbabwe relations.
      "The relations will only improve if both parties work on it and that
is what we should work towards," said Ambassador Marchal.
      The commission representative's courtesy call was one of a series of
meetings that he has lined up with local stakeholders since his posting to
Zimbabwe in October last year.
      He said the commission would soon avail funds towards the enunciated
parliamentary reforms.
      Among the reforms are the establishment of remaining Parliament
Constituency Information Centres, improving their effectiveness, purchase
and installation of cameras and ancillary equipment to facilitate live
coverage of plenary sessions and media coverage of committee meetings.
      So far, the UNDP, which has allocated US$2 million to assist with the
reforms, is finalising the budget and mobilising resources for the project
while Parliament has set up a steering committee to focus on the immediate
concerns of the initiative.

      Source : Sunday News

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Mawere in MDC crusade

      April 2, 2006

      By Andnetwork .com

      FUGITIVE businessman Mr Mutumwa Mawere is allegedly playing a pivotal
role in raising funds for the beleaguered MDC amid revelations that he
financially assisted some opposition candidates to contest in the March 2005
parliamentary elections.

      It is understood that Mr Mawere, who is now based in South Africa and
has been on a crusade demonising the Government, uses his fund-raising role
in the MDC to get visas to travel around the world.

      Documents made available to The Sunday Mail show that on July 22 last
year, the leader of the anti-Senate MDC faction, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai, wrote
a letter to a Mr W. Bucknam at the US embassy in South Africa asking the
embassy to grant the disgraced businessman a visa to travel to the US.

      Said Mr Tsvangirai in the letter: "This letter serves to confirm that
in December 2004, I corresponded to (sic) the United States ambassador in
South Africa clarifying the political status of Mutumwa Mawere, the
proprietor of Africa Resources (Pvt) Ltd.

      "The relationship between myself, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions and the party MDC dates back to the formative stages of the party
prior to 1999.

      "Mutumwa Mawere worked with the ZCTU on investigations into corrupt
practices in the pension fund industry in Zimbabwe, including the
Government-administered National Social Security (Authority), to which ZCTU
seconds board members. I confirmed in the correspondence that Mutumwa Mawere
is not a member of the ruling party Zanu-PF and that he is an entrepreneur
who is being victimised by the ruling party structure in Masvingo province.

      "He is playing a pivotal role in raising funds for my party and also
assisted a number of candidates in my party in the March 2005 election

      "Therefore his role as a fund-raiser would be enhanced if he were to
secure travel documents to the United States on a similar mission. Any
assistance you may render in this issues (sic) would be most appreciated."

      However, when asked to comment on the allegations, the spokesperson
for the anti-Senate faction, Mr Nelson Chamisa, who was with Mr Tsvangirai
at a rally in Gweru yesterday, said: "We have no information to that

      Contacted for comment yesterday, Mr Mawere, who was speaking on the
phone from South Africa, also denied the allegations, saying he is neither a
member of the opposition party nor is he affiliated to it. He said his main
preoccupation was to seek recourse through the courts over his assets, which
he claimed Government had "expropriated".

      Said Mr Mawere: "It is inappropriate for me to be fund-raising for the
MDC. I am not a member (of the MDC), so in what capacity would I be doing

      "I am not sure where the allegations are coming from but I am in
court, fighting Government over my assets. Unless there is evidence, I
cannot be seen to be a ghost financier."

      It is understood that Mr Mawere financially assisted the MDC MP for
Kwekwe, Mr Blessing Chebundo, and Mr Elliot Pfebve, who stood for the
opposition party in Bindura.

      It is understood that Mr Mawere was later granted the US visa and he
was in Washington DC from January 17 to 23 2006, where he lobbied for
Zimbabwe's expulsion from the International Monetary Fund. His meetings in
Washington were meant to influence the IMF executive board ahead of its
meeting on March 8 2006.

      Source : Sunday Mail

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GMB suspends selling maize meal directly from its depots

      April 2, 2006

      By Andnetwork .com

      HARARE - The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has, with immediate effect,
stopped selling mealie-meal directly from its depots amid revelations that
the parastatal was losing its share of the market as the product was no
longer readily available in retail shops.

      GMB, which had hitherto allowed individuals and institutions to
purchase maize meal directly from its depots, discovered that its Silo
mealie-meal brand was now playing second fiddle to other brands because it
was no longer visible on supermarket shelves.

      GMB marketing director Mr Zvidzai Makwenda last week confirmed that
the parastatal was no longer selling mealie-meal to institutions and
individuals from its depots.

      He said it had come to GMB's attention that there were some syndicates
that were buying mealie-meal in bulk from GMB depots resulting in the
product disappearing from shops.

      In some instances, the mealie-meal would be diverted to the black
market where it was sold at exorbitant prices.

      Mr Makwenda said only a few organisations would continue buying the
product directly from GMB depots.

      "We will continue selling mealie-meal to farmers for their workers as
farm workers cannot afford to leave farms looking for mealie-meal.

      "Other organisations that will be allowed to buy directly from us are
hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, training centres and boarding schools,"
said Mr Makwenda.

      "The bulk of our Silo mealie-meal was no longer available in
supermarkets despite the fact that production is at its peak in most depots.

      "As a result, the brand was losing popularity with consumers," he

      Some organisations affected, however, expressed concern at the move
saying the price of the product was likely to treble as supermarkets were
free to charge their own prices.

      Grains and Cereals Association chairman Mr Denford Chimbwanda said the
move by GMB is welcome as its depots were being congested with people
pretending to represent disadvantaged members of the public to access
mealie-meal at subsidised prices.

      He said some councillors were being allowed to buy the product for the
wards they represented but the product never reached the intended

      Meanwhile, Mr Chimbwanda has lamented the delay in the announcement of
producer price of maize saying some farmers will be reluctant to deliver
their crop to the GMB.

      "Most farmers are harvesting now and yet no price has been announced.
This dampens the spirit of farmers and there is a possibility of them
selling the crop in small quantities to individuals at prices viewed as
viable," he said.

      As an association, they are proposing between $30 and $40 million per

      Source : Sunday News

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