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From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 7 April

Zim poll violence 'worrying'

Dumisani Muleya

Zimbabwe's blood-soaked parliamentary by-election last weekend, won by
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF amid accusations of violence and bribery,
could be a harbinger of things to come during next year's general election.
Analysts said the election, which was also marred by coercion and the
inducement of people to vote through "gifts" or "donations", proved Mugabe's
regime was still rigidly determined to cling to power by fair means or foul.
Voters were allegedly bribed with, among other things, free medication. A
number of voters who reportedly requested help from polling officers to cast
their ballots, claiming to be either illiterate, sick or suffering from
"blurred vision" or "unsteady hands", were allegedly part of the Zanu PF
strategy to ensure they voted as instructed. An opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) supporter, Francis Chinozvinya, was shot and killed
on Sunday, allegedly by a senior Zanu PF official and minister. The Zanu PF
candidate in the by-election, Chris Chigumba, won the poll by 8 447 votes
compared with 6 706 votes for the MDC candidate, James Makore. Zanu PF
spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira said the result heralded the end of the MDC.
"It signals the end of the MDC's dominance in urban areas. It's a turning
point in the political system in this country," he said. "We are now ready
to challenge the MDC and romp to victory in the 2005 general election."

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said the poll showed that elections remain a
"bloody affair" in Zimbabwe. "We condemn the continuous descent into
thuggery, lawlessness and mayhem in the general body politic in Zimbabwe,"
he said. "Elections, which should reflect the exercise of our sovereignty in
the selection of our leaders, should never become open season for murder,
torture, beatings and violence." Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe should revamp its
electoral system to ensure legitimate polls. The MDC has produced a list of
15 electoral reform demands that include the need for independent electoral
agencies and equal access to the public media. Mugabe currently appoints
members of election agencies such as the Electoral Supervisory Commission,
the Election Directorate and the Delimitation Commission. A flood of
condemnation followed the by-election. University of Zimbabwe political
scientist John Makumbe said the Zengeza by-election was a precursor of
things to come in the general election, scheduled for March next year. "It
means next year's election will be characterised by bloodshed unless there
are dramatic changes in the electoral system and political climate," Makumbe
said. "The by-election also proved that Zanu PF has now really perfected the
art of electoral fraud." Makumbe said that without a fundamental overhaul of
the electoral system Zimbabwe would continue to hold fraudulent elections
that subvert the popular will and produce illegitimate regimes. "Unless
there are radical reforms to the Electoral Act and the management of
elections in this country, it would be futile for any opposition to think it
can win," he said.

In its reaction local election monitoring body, the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network (ZESN), said Zanu PF secured its victory through coercion by
youth militias. ZESN head Reginald Matchaba-Hove said the poll was badly
marred by widespread irregularities and intimidation. "Free and fair
elections can only take place in a tolerant political environment," he said.
"It is also worrisome that lawenforcement agents are mentioned among the
perpetrators of violence." ZESN said Zanu PF was accused of paying Z$10 000
each to thousands of people in exchange for votes. Crisis in Zimbabwe, a
coalition of civic groups, slammed the entrenched culture of electoral
violence, saying it was "perturbed by the continued killing of innocent
citizens during election times." The United States State Department
condemned "violence, intimidation, and irregularities" during the

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From The New Statesman (UK), 8 April

This man has been called Zimbabwe's Che Guevara. Did Mugabe have him

Mark Olden

In a divided land, Josiah Tongogara is a hero claimed by both sides. Mark
Olden traces an inspirational life and mysterious death

You have probably never heard of Josiah Magama Tongogara, but he is
Zimbabwe's Che Guevara, a liberation icon with streets named after him in
almost every town in the country. Tall, bearded and charismatic, it was he
who, as commander of the guerrilla army Zanla, towered over the Lancaster
House conference that led to Zimbabwe's independence and the end of white
minority rule. Many expected him to be the first president of the free
Zimbabwe, with Robert Mugabe, head of Zanla's political wing, Zanu, as prime
minister. But six days after the Lancaster House agreement was signed,
Mugabe, on the Voice of Zimbabwe radio station, conveyed "an extremely sad
message" to "all the fighting people of Zimbabwe": the 41-year-old Tongogara
was dead, killed in a car accident in Mozambique on Christmas Day 1979. Two
questions have haunted Zimbabwe ever since. How different would the nation
have been had Tongogara lived? And did Mugabe have him murdered?

As a child, Tongogara worked on the farm owned by the parents of Ian Smith,
Rhodesia's last prime minister and the man whose racist regime he took up
arms against. When he couldn't get a secondary school place, he left for
neighbouring Zambia, where he later abandoned his job as bar manager at a
white amateur dramatics club to join the struggle. His people's need for
"land, land, education, land" was what drove him, he said in his last
interview. In 1966, he led a group to China for military training. Zanla's
first Rhodesian prisoner of war, Gerald Hawksworth, said after he was
released that Tongogara was always smiling, referred to him as "Comrade
Hawksworth" and plied him with cigarettes during his captivity. He was
fighting the system, he told Hawksworth, not a racial war.

In Harare last month, I met Wilfred Mhanda, a former high-ranking Zanla
commander who knew Tongogara and who today heads the Zimbabwe Liberators'
Platform (ZLP), a group of ex-guerrillas who claim that the struggle's
ideals have been betrayed. Tongogara, he says, was "a very strong
charismatic leader" and "the epitome of a freedom fighter, with all the
recruits aspiring to be like him. You felt safe and secure under his
command. He believed in the empowerment of his junior officers, and allowed
them to implement policy as they saw fit." He was also highly ambitious. "By
the eve of independence, he'd manoeuvred himself into a very powerful
strategic position, where he could say: 'This is what the fighters want' to
the Zanu leadership and 'This is what the leadership want' to the fighters.
He had the best of both worlds and took advantage of it." At Lancaster
House, Tongogara was a crucial "moderating" force, according to Lord
Carrington, the then British foreign secretary, who chaired the talks. On
the first day of the conference, he surprised Ian Smith by revealing how
Smith's mother gave him sweets on their family farm as a child. "If I get
home and the old lady is still alive that would be one of the greatest
things for me - to say hello, ask her about the sweets and whether she has
still got some for me," he later told an interviewer. And at a press
conference when the taciturn Mugabe started telling Carrington to "go to
hell", Tongogara reached over and calmed his diminutive colleague down.

By then, Tongogara was openly favouring unity between Zanu and Zimbabwe's
other nationalist movement, Joshua Nkomo's Zapu. He reportedly had private
meetings with Nkomo during the conference. But Mugabe was opposed. "[Mugabe]
referred to unity with Zapu as sharing the spoils with those who had not
shouldered the burden of fighting," says Mhanda. As Lancaster House
concluded, Tongo-gara returned to Mozambique, where Zanla was based, to
inform his soldiers of the ceasefire. Margaret Dongo was among them. At 15,
she had crossed into Mozambique to join the guerrillas, adopting the
chimurenga (liberation war) name of Tichaona Muhondo ("prepared to face
trouble"). Once a ruling Zanu-PF MP, she later became disillusioned with the
party. Now she is president of the small opposition Zimbabwe Union of
Democrats and a thorn in the sides of her erstwhile comrades. "Tongogara was
principled," she says. "He was unwavering in knowing what he was fighting
for and could not easily be driven into corruption. I believed in him."
Dongo was one of the last people to see him alive. "We were 18 girls who
were having a function and he came to say a few words to bless the
occasion." But did Tongogara die as Mugabe claimed? There are several
mysteries. He actually died on 26 December, not 25 December. His body took
two days to reach a mortuary. And though Zanu released an undertaker's
statement saying his injuries were consistent with a road accident, no
autopsy results or pictures have ever been released.

The CIA and US State Department reports from the time, which I obtained
under the US Freedom of Information Act, add to the doubts. "There will
inevitably be speculation that Tongogara was killed either by enemies within
Zanu or by the Rhodesian security forces," states the CIA intelligence
briefing of 28 December. "In addition to [Tongogara's] military command, he
was a political force behind the scenes and a potential political rival to
Mugabe because of his ambition, popularity and decisive style." On the same
day, the US embassy in Zambia reported: "Almost no one in Lusaka accepts
Mugabe's assurance that Tongogara died accidentally. When the ambassador
told the Soviet ambassador the news . . . yesterday evening, the surprised
Soviet immediately charged 'inside job'. His capsule reaction parallels the
opinions of the great majority of the diplomatic corps." Ian Smith,
admittedly hardly an impartial source, also insisted in his memoirs that
Tongogara's "own people" killed him, and that he had disclosed at Lancaster
House that Tongogara was under threat. "I made a point of discussing his
death with our police commissioner and head of special branch, and both
assured me that Tongogara had been assassinated," Smith wrote. Then there
are the claims that surfaced in the Zimbabwean magazine Moto a few years
ago. Four of Tongogara's former bodyguards had died in suspicious
circumstances since independence, it alleged. One was said to have been hit
by a car outside a Harare hotel after telling friends that when he retired
from the army he would "sell the BBC the true story of Tongogara's death".

One woman professes to know the truth: Oppah Muchinguri, a former cabinet
minister in Mugabe's government, whose close relationship with him - and
fractious relationship with his wife Grace - has long been the subject of
local rumour. She was a 21-year-old Zanu secretary when Tongogara died, and
it was only years later that she announced - not entirely convincingly -
that she'd been in the car with him when it had crashed into the back of a
truck. I called her. "I don't give interviews to UK journalists," she said.
"Tongogara is a Zimbabwean and as a Zimbabwean I am not interested in
colonialists." Then she hung up. But while the facts of Tongogara's death
remain obscure, its meaning in present-day Zimbabwe is clear, with both the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change and ruling Zanu PF claiming his
legacy, and legitimacy, for themselves. Three years ago a report claimed
that Mugabe believed he was being haunted in his presidential home by an
angry Tongogara, who berated him for destroying the revolution. As in
Macbeth, the popular (in Tongogara's case, future) king had been supplanted
by his killer, who became steeped in greater bloodshed as he rose to power,
and was now haunted by the ghost of his deeds. Mugabe, it was said, had even
taken to having a place laid for Tongogara at his dinner table.

In the poor township of Mabvuku East, ten miles from Harare and surrounded
by lush countryside dotted with spectacular granite rocks, they sing:
"Tongogara is dead/Don't cry/You killed him." Tonde, a local MDC activist
who has been arrested 19 times and tortured three times, says: "We call
Mabvuku a liberated zone because we've got networks in every corner. As soon
as the police arrive, the people inform us and we can move." Liberated zones
were part of Tongogara's strategy. "He was the true leader," says Tonde.
"The current ones are thieves." Meanwhile, almost every hour on ZBC, the
government-owned, propaganda-swamped television station, a different story
is being pumped out under the slogan: "The land is our prosperity." Footage
of Zimbabwe's great heroes, Mugabe and Tongogara, is intercut with joyful
people dancing on their newly acquired land and pictures of the country's
enemies, Tony Blair and the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The message is
that Zanu-PF is the true custodian of Zimbabwe's sovereignty and revolution.
Churchill High School in Harare was recently renamed Josiah Tongogara High.
War veterans who invaded a farm on the edge of Harare renamed it Tongogara.
Maybe Tongogara was not quite the paragon that many now believe: as Mhanda
acknowledges, he was ruthless at settling internal disputes. But he is a
symbol for both sides in Zimbabwe's struggle. "We got hold of political
power," says Mhanda. "But we failed to transform the instruments of power to
serve the people rather than the elite."
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Zim Independent

Errant banks get amnesty
Vincent Kahiya
CENTRAL bank governor Gideon Gono has granted banks caught dealing in
foreign currency on the parallel market amnesty on condition that they do
not commit a similar offence this year, the Zimbabwe Independent learnt this

The amnesty was offered in January to build trust between banks and the
Reserve Bank, as enunciated in Gono's monetary policy statement in December
last year.

This revelation comes as three more banks are in trouble for dealing in
foreign currency and are set to appear in court, the police said. The banks
affected are Barclays, Kingdom and Interfin.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said the three financial institutions
were set to appear in court soon.

"We are charging them with dealing in foreign currency. However, we will not
be charging the directors but the companies themselves," he said.

"They were supposed to appear in court yesterday (Tuesday) but there was a

The banks' representatives should appear before a regional magistrate today
or after the Easter break.

Banking sources yesterday said the provision of the amnesty would be a key
defence for the banks against prosecution.

A letter to one commercial bank from Reserve Bank director in the
supervision and surveillance division, Stephen Gwasira, stated the
conditions of the amnesty.

"Consistent with the approach taken by the review authority, we are now
granting your bank a qualified and conditional amnesty from payment of the
loca1 currency financial penalty," Gwasira said.

"This means you are relieved of the necessity to pay us the local currency

financial penalty. The condition attaching to this is that your bank should
not, within any period of 12 (months) reckoned from 13 January 2004,
contravene provisions of any exchange control legislation in respect of
which a further direction is imposed to cease dealings in foreign currency
for a period in excess of six months," he said.

Banks which had been fined for selling foreign currency on the parallel
market were subsequently refunded the principal penalty.

"Please note that the granting of this conditional amnesty does not amount
in any way to a pardon, and your guilt status still stands," Gwasira said.

The Independent established yesterday that when the latest batch of banks
were charged with dealing in foreign currency this week, they immediately
responded by informing the police of the amnesty. Sources said government
lawyers at the Attorney-General's office on Tuesday told the police that it
would be difficult to prosecute the cases because of the RBZ amnesty.

The lawyers said they would ask officials from the central bank to explain
the nature of the amnesty and how it would relate to the cases at hand.

Last week mobile telephone service provider Telecel was fined $375 million
by the courts for dealing in foreign currency.

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Zim Independent

New twist in Paradza case
Staff Writer
THE trial of High Court judge Justice Benjamin Paradza by an international
tribunal took an unexpected twist this week when the accused jurist sought a
court order to halt proceedings of the tribunal on grounds that his rights
had been violated.

The application threatens the hearing of the case by a three-member team of
Supreme Court judges from Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi.

Justice Lavender Makoni, who heard the application, yesterday reserved
judgement until today when she will decide whether or not the tribunal
should reconvene. Cited as respondents in Paradza's application are the
three judges, Justice minister Patrick Chanamasa and President Mugabe.

The tribunal, which was sworn in by Mugabe two weeks ago started work on
Monday at the Sheraton Hotel, albeit in camera which Para-dza's lawyers
immediately challe-nged. The lawyers led by Jonathan Samkange also expressed
disquiet over the manner of the appoint-ment of the tribunal led by Justice
Dennis Kamoni Chirwa of Zambia.

The other two jurists are Justices John Mroso and Isaac Mtambo of Tanzania
and Malawi respectively. Members of the tribunal have agreed to adjourn
temporarily pending the High Court ruling.

Court documents show President Mugabe originally (February 12) issued the
advice that the case should "not be held in public". However, the
Independent heard yesterday that Mugabe has now amended the advice to ensure
the trial is open to the public.

On Tuesday Chinamasa told the Independent that "the government had no
problem allowing the case to be opened to the public".

On Monday the defence lawyers indicated that they wanted to file an
application challenging the constitutionality of the tribunal and the
presidential advice. The judge is also challenging the method used by the
state to gather the evidence that the tribunal was set to use. The state's
evidence-in-chief is a transcript of a taped conversation between Paradza
and another High Court judge, Justice Mafios Cheda.

On Tuesday Paradza's lawyers filed papers in a High Court application
seeking to halt the tribunal from hearing the case pending an application in
the Supreme Court where they want to raise constitutional arguments.

Paradza's lawyers said corres-pondence between Chinamasa and the governments
of Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania showed that the minister had exercised the
powers of the president in appointing the tribunal, which they aver was

He would also like to challenge the secret recording of the con-versation
with Cheda, which he said infringed on his rights as it was
"unconstitutionally obtained".

In the recording Paradza alle-gedly sought to influence Cheda to make a
ruling on his business partner Russell Labuschagne whose passport had been
seized by the state as part of bail conditions in a murder trial.

The state alleges that Paradza wanted Cheda to alter Labuschag-ne's bail
conditions so that he could get his passport back and travel to Europe where
he was set to collect hunters for a safari.
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Zim Independent

Byo's death toll shoots up to 63
Loughty Dube
THE number of people who have succumbed to hunger in Bulawayo has shot up to
63 in the month of March alone.

The new figure is a sharp increase from a conservative 27 people who died
from hunger in February.

Bulawayo Health Services director, Zanele Hwalima, explained that poverty,
food shortages and inability to access nutrients contributed to malnutrition
and the subsequent deaths.

The worst-hit age group are those under four, where a total of 48 children
died due to malnutrition compared to 20 the previous month.

According to figures from the City Health department, a total of five
children in the five to 14 age group died of malnutrition while three people
between the 20 to 49 age group also succumbed to hunger.

Three adults in the 50 to 59 category also died of malnutrition while
another four elderly people in the 70-plus age group died.

These are not the first deaths in the city due to malnutrition. Late last
year, 43 people died in Bulawayo while a further 27 deaths were recorded
earlier this year.

The majority of Zimbabweans in rural areas survive on food handouts from
international food agencies while people in urban areas have been left out
of major feeding programmes.

A survey conducted by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee late
last year indicated that a large number of people in the urban areas were in
dire need of food aid.
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Zim Independent

Milk shortages resurface
Shakeman Mugari/ Rodwin Chirara
SEVERE milk shortages that hit the country last year have bounced back with
news that the retail sector has not received the product since last week.

Retail outlets in Harare have started rationing milk to customers. A snap
survey carried out by the Zimbabwe Independent revealed that there is no
milk in most outlets in the city. The few outlets that have the product have
started strict controls on the amount of milk available per customer.

Dairibord, the largest milk processor in the country, blamed the shortage on
erratic supplies from dairy farmers. Total milk output from dairy farmers
has been in decline since the land redistribution exercise started.

The land reform, which started four years ago, led to a serious plunge in
milk production as farmers went out of business. Dairibord reported that its
milk intake slumped by 31% last year.

Dairibord chief executive Anthony Mandiwanza attributed the milk shortage to
a fall in supplies from dairy farmers.

"The shortage has nothing to do with the Dairibord. We are only processors.
We are just not getting enough milk from the suppliers," said Mandiwanza.
"Milk production has been drastically reduced. The volumes of milk we are
receiving for processing have gone down.

"It is important to note that there is a cyclical reduction in milk supply
this time of the year due to calving and the very wet and humid conditions
that affect lactation in the milking herd."

The number of dairy cows has been reduced by over 50% in the last four years
due to culling which occurred as commercial farmers were pushed off the
land. New farmers who have taken over dairy farms do not have the skills
required to manage dairy herds.

The Agricultural Rural Development Authority (Arda) has started to move into
the milk industry. It has already begun an evaluation of some dairy farms.

Meanwhile, Dairibord has confirmed that it is facing viability problems in
its export ventures due to the foreign currency exchange regulations.
Mandiwanza said the problems affected all exporters.

"Every exporter is facing viability problems," he said "We are getting 25%
of our forex at US$1:$824 but we are expected to buy our imported inputs at
the auction rates."

He said industry had already made representations to Reserve Bank governor
Gideon Gono to address the plight of the exporters.
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Zim Independent

Eight political parties demand new constitution
Itai Dzamara
EIGHT opposition political parties yesterday submitted a petition to
President Robert Mugabe demanding a new constitution before next year's
general election.

"We demand a homegrown people-driven democratic constitution as a
precondition for the holding of the March 2005 general election in
Zimbabwe," the parties said.

The petition was signed by the National Alliance for Good Governance, the
Zimbabwe African People's Union-Federal Party, Multiracial Open Party
Christian Democrats, the Zimbabwe African National Union, United Parties,
Zimbabwe African People's Union, Democratic Party (DP), and the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

The parties drafted the petition under the auspices of the political parties
liaison committee, which falls under the structures of the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and other civil society sectors.

"We state strongly that the amended Lancaster House Constitution,

currently in force in Zimbabwe, is colonial and illegitimate. The continued
use of this illegitimate foreign constitution by you and your government is
by default and needs to be terminated forthwith," the petition to Mugabe

"Its use has caused, and is still causing, untold misery and suffering among
the people of Zimbabwe."

The political parties proposed a roadmap "to a homegrown people-driven
democratic constitution in Zimbabwe by March 2005".

The submission of the petition yesterday was seen as a first step, to be
followed by the dissolution of parliament. Public consultation would follow
to gather people's inputs which would culminate in a draft document. A
referendum would then follow before the election.

Chairman of the political parties' committee Wurayayi Zembe said they were
waiting for Mugabe's response. Zembe said they could not rule out protest
action to pressure Mugabe into constitutional change.

A Zanu PF-backed draft constitution was rejected by Zimbabweans at a
referendum in February 2000 and was followed by farm invasions.

In a televised Independence day interview last year, Mugabe dismissed calls
for constitutional change citing the rejection of his government's draft in
2000 as evidence that the issue was not among the country's priorities.

Debate has dominated the political scene over whether opposition parties
should contest next year's election under current electoral laws.
Differences have emerged among opposition parties and civil society with
some calling for electoral amendments whilst others demand a new

The MDC leadership is also divided over participating in elections under the
current framework. The dilemma has been worsened by its defeat in the recent
Zengeza by-election marred by violence and intimidation.
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Zim Independent

Govt grabs 49 Hippo Valley properties
Augustine Mukaro
FORTY-NINE properties that form part of the Hippo Valley Estates have been
listed for compulsory acquisition as government begins to put into force its
latest amendments to the Land Acquisition Act.

A preliminary notice for compulsory acquisition published by the Herald on
Wednesday placed the 49 individual properties under Section 5. The
properties constitute about 24 838 hectares of the 60 165 hectares which
make up the Hippo Valley Estates.

The original Hippo Valley Estates agreement was drawn up in 1964 between the
Rhodesian government and Sir Raymond Stockil representing the company. The
government, through a Crown Charter, ceded 70 872 morgen of land to Hippo
Valley to develop an irrigation scheme.

A Dutch morgen is about 0,85 hectares.

In the agreement, Hippo Valley was to pay the government £286 425 for 14 321
acres of irrigable land. The Act also gave the company water rights in the
Kyle (now Mutirikwi) and Bangala Dams.

Government earlier this year repealed the Hippo Valley Act and empowered
itself to acquire the land and processing infrastructure and equipment on
the farms.

The company is already involved in a dispute between resettled A2 farmers
and commercial farmers over payment for the sugarcane delivered to its mill.

Both parties are claiming ownership of the sugarcane resulting in the
company instituting interpleader proceedings in the High Court.

The company is currently depositing proceeds for the disputed sugar at the
High Court.

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Zim Independent

Police hunt Zvakwana
Itai Dzamara
POLICE have launched a massive hunt to locate Zvakwana, a pro-democracy
group that is calling for the removal from power of President Robert Mugabe,
the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvu-dzijena yesterday said they were worried about
the activities of Zvakwana.

"I can't speak about the hunt for them off hand. I will have to confirm,"
said Bvudzijena.

"These people (Zvakwana), whoever they are, have been hiding and spreading
material and literature aimed at inciting members of the public to
lawlessness. We would be interested in talking to them."

Sources revealed that a team of senior investigators from the Criminal
Investigation Department's Law and Order section was assigned to track down
Zvakwana in January.

The team has however failed to establish the whereabouts of the group
despite having raided opposition party offices as well as interrogating
civil society members.

There has been political pressure on the investigating team to produce
results, sources said.

Zvakwana last month released a 14-track music CD with songs critical of
Mugabe and his government.

Police raided Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and National
Constitutional Assembly offices in Harare and Bulawayo in February in the
hope of tracing the group's roots.

MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi yesterday said his party was not linked to
Zvakwana but supported its calls for political change.

"We are not linked to Zvakwana. But to the extent that the group fights for
political change, democracy and human rights, we share the same values and
we support its efforts," Nyathi said.

"Police have raided our offices hunting for Zvakwana because they believe
that any group that advocates change and democracy is linked to the MDC."

Zvakwana or Sokwanele, meaning "it's enough" in Shona and Ndebele
respectively, has been distributing pamphlets across the country with
anti-Mugabe messages. Graffiti such as "Mugabe Zvakwana - It's Enough" or
"Zvakwana to human rights abuses" now dominate bus termini and walls in
towns and cities.

A Zvakwana monthly news-letter circulates in Zimbabwe inaddition to a
website (
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Zim Independent

Moyo challenged to take paternity test
Staff Writer
WOMEN'S organisations and human rights groups have deplored the arrest of a
woman who claims she had a son with Information minister Jonathan Moyo and
have challenged the minister to take a paternity test to prove that he was
not the real father of the child.

The civic groups this week challenged Moyo to go for a DNA test that would
prove whether he is the father or not of the 22-year old man, Ntuthuko
Mwendini, who a Kadoma woman, Irene Ali, claims was fathered by Moyo in the
early 1980s.

Moyo has denied the claim pointing out he was in the United States at the

The civic groups accused the police of overzealousness and of being used to
advance the interests of Moyo in a case where recognised channels of solving
the matter were available.

"The police had no right to arrest the woman and the question that needs to
be answered is would this woman have been arrested if the man involved was
not a minister?" said Qonda Moyo, Co-ordinator of the Federation of African
Media Women Zimbabwe (FAMWZ).

She said the minister should have been asked to take a paternity test that
would prove he was not the father of the child.

"Even if the test proved that Moyo was not the father of the child, I do not
see under which laws the woman could have been arrested," said Qonda Moyo.
"What Moyo can only do in those circumstances is to sue for defamation if he
feels that the allegations raised have injured his reputation," she said.

Ali was arrested on Saturday and is facing charges of criminal defamation
arising from allegations she made against Moyo.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights executive director Arnold Tsunga said
police jumped the gun on the matter.

"The police jumped the gun by arresting the woman and this sends a wrong
message to the community," he said. "What the police have done says you
cannot make such claims against ministers and powerful politicians and we
are saying that is wrong."
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Zim Independent

Tourism industry remains subdued
Staff Writers
DESPITE the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA)'s claim this week that tourist
arrivals have increased, hotel occupancies, one of the major indicators of
tourist arrivals, have remained largely depressed.

Figures from Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) and Zimsun Leisure, two of the
country's leading hotel groups, show that the tourism industry remains

Zimsun Leisure chief executive officer, Shingi Munyeza, said occupancies had
remained depressed at around 41% in most of the hotels over the past two

"They have not improved (hotel occupancies), contrary to some statistics we
are getting," said Munyeza.

"The data capturing technique is just not right. That is why we as an
industry donated computers to the immigration department. We want to improve
the statistical generation method."

RTG said although business was getting better in their city hotels,
occupancies in the resort hotels had remained static. Occupancies at RTG
resort hotels are currently at 30% while city hotels have a 60% rate.

This is in stark contrast to the ZTA figures released last week indicating
that the ailing tourism sector was on a recovery path.

The numbers from the hotels have thrown into doubt the ZTA's figures, which
show a marked rise in tourist arrivals in the country.

ZTA was quoted in the state media as saying tourist arrivals in Zimbabwe had
increased to 2,2 million last year from 2,041 million in 2002.

ZTA chief executive Tichaona Jokonya said he could not comment as he was in
a meeting.
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Zim Independent

Councillors bribed to resign claims MDC
Munyaradzi Wasosa
THE Movement for Democratic Change has accused the ruling Zanu PF of
offering opposition councillors in urban areas "huge bribes" to induce them
to resign, the Zimbabwe Independent has been told.

In a statement last week, the opposition party said Zanu PF was bribing its
councillors so they would resign from the party.

"The MDC has established as fact that the Zanu PF regime has put in place
packages that include housing stands and cash amounting to as much as $10
million each in an effort to bribe MDC councillors to resign from the
party," said the statement signed by MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi.

In an interview with the Independent, the MDC's secretary for local
government, Jobert Mudzumwe, who is investigating the matter, said Zanu PF
wanted to discredit his party before next year's general elections.

"This is clearly Zanu PF 's strategy to tarnish the image of the MDC ahead
of the 2005 elections so that the urban electorate votes against the party,"
he said.

The MDC claims to have "irrefutable evidence" that some of its councillors
have received bribes.

"We have irrefutable evidence that some councillors are now on Zanu PF's
payroll," Mudzumwe said. "We cannot reveal the names of the corrupt
councillors because it will jeopardise on going investigations."

However, the MDC has to date not provided any of the "irrefutable evidence"
it claims to possess.

It claims bribery of its councillors has spread to the MDC-led Kariba and
Gweru town councils.

"Zanu PF, through a CIO agent whose name we have, offered to pay a monthly
income of $400 000 and in addition pledged to pay rent and other service
charges to one of our councillors (name supplied) in Kariba," said Mudzumwe.

The councillors do not get a salary but receive monthly allowances which the
MDC says have made some of them get "tempted to accept bribes."

Harare city councillors are given monthly allowances of $70 000, Kariba
councillors get $10 000 while Gweru councillors get a paltry $6 000 a month.

The MDC criticised Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo for refusing to
approve an increase in the councillors' allowances.

"As long as Chombo does not review the councillors' allowances, they will
remain vulnerable to bribes, which suits the regime well," Mudzumwe said.

Chombo could not be reached for comment.

The MDC has lost three councillors in the past few weeks. Tapfumaneyi Jaja
(Ward 38, Kuwadzana), Grandmore Hakata (Ward 4, Mbare), and the
controversial deputy mayor, Sekesai Makwavarara (Ward 21, Mabvuku) have quit
the party and are now serving the Harare City Council as independent

Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira could not be reached for comment as he
was said by his secretary to be out of his office.

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Zim Independent

Govt to move settlers from game parks
Augustine Mukaro
ENVIRONMENT minister Francis Nhema has reaffirmed his ministry's position
that people should not be resettled in game parks.

Responding to questions in parliament last week, Nhema said government held
a stakeholders' workshop where a lot of suggestions were made on how best to
run conservancies or private land where animals are kept.

A document titled "Wildlife-based Land Reform Policy" produced by the
government states that the government would like to take control of all
private game farms. However, in parliament last week Nhema said his ministry
was yet to come up with a policy document.

Nhema said government would soon evict all people who occupied national
parks and conservancies.

"The policy of government is that there is no resettlement in either
national parks or conservancies," Nhema said.

Responding to a question from Edwin Mushoriwa (MDC) on what the government
was doing about the Chitsa people who had settled in Gonarezhou National
Park, Nhema said they would be resettled.

"The provincial leadership is working with the Chitsa people including any
other people that might have moved into Gonarezhou with a view of resettling
them where we think it is appropriate and not in the national parks."

The Chitsa people invaded Gonarezhou at the peak of fast-track land reform
and have since destroyed an estimated 20 kilometres stretch of game fence.
The people have apparently received support from senior government officials
in the area. Their activities threaten the Gonarezhou-Gaza-Kruger
Transfrontier Park.

Nhema's comments come at a time when an estimated 85% of Zimbabwe's
registered game farmers have been forced off their properties since the
inception of the chaotic land reform programme four years ago.

An Action Forum lobbying to resist government plans to natitionalise all
wildlife and game ranches said the land reform programme, which kicked off
with violent farm invasions in the year 2000, saw an estimated 90 registered
game farmers being reduced to around 12.

"Most of the game farmers were forced to leave their farms to pave way for
mostly the ruling party leadership," one of the farmers said this week.

The Commercial Far-mers Union has been forced to close its wildlife division
as all its members were forced off their properties.

"The person who was in charge of our wildlife production section has since
left the country," a CFU official said. "Virtually all members in wildlife
production have been affected by the land invasions and have found it
difficult to operate."

The farmers said the chaotic land reform programme has resulted in an
estimated 90% of the animals in privately owned ranches being lost to
poachers. The newly resettled farmers re-sorted to poaching to supplement
their food when they failed to produce enough food.

One of the farmers who spoke to the Independent said government had already
started visiting provinces to correct the serious damages caused by the

"Last weekend a group of MPs together with Special Affairs minister
responsible for land reform John Nkomo were in Chiredzi to access the
damage," one of the farmers said.
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Zim Independent

Zanu PF's firms under spotlight
Dumisani Muleya
THE current probe of Zanu PF's business empire is expected to lift the veil
of secrecy over the party's murky corporate affairs.

A report published in 2000 by South Africa's Helen Suzman Foundation says
Zanu PF has over the years not only become a strong political party but also
a vast conglomerate controlling a chain of companies.

However, the ruling party's business activities have been as opaque and
controversial as its dictatorial rule has been repressive, the report says.

It points out that Zanu PF has never produced audited books for the past 20
years, except for one announcement in 1992 to the effect that its assets
then were worth $486 million.

It says the men at the heart of the Zanu PF business empire have been the
party's current secretary for administration and Speaker of Parliament
Emmerson Mnangagwa and Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi.

Mnangagwa in particular is identified as the key figure in the party's
business concerns. The report says he wielded influence as chairman of M&S
Syndicate until the end of 1990.

It also says he was a director of Oporto Investments, Galant Distribution,
Galhold Investments, Treasure Holdings and National Blankets.

The report says as treasurer of the party, Mnangagwa is said to have enjoyed
considerable influence over other Zanu PF firms that include Zidco Holdings,
Treger Holdings, Ottawa (a property management firm), Catercraft, Zidlee
Enterprises, and First Banking Corporation.

The report also says the key figures in Zidco included members of the Joshi
family. The Joshis, who reportedly fled the country last week after Zanu PF
announced an investigation into its own companies' finances, were said to
have been brought into the party's business network over 23 years ago.

The report says they were given a free rein to run Zanu PF businesses
together with Mnangagwa because they had supported the ruling party in the
struggle for Independence during the 1970s.

The report says Jayan Joshi gave Zanu PF financial assistance and
scholarships to Britain from the guerrilla camps in Mozambique.

"After Independence (then Prime Minister Robert) Mugabe invited Jayan and
his brother Manoo to run Zidco," the report says. "Through their offices
Rambhai Patel, a Kenyan Asian who now lives near Chislehurst in Kent, put up
the equity capital for Zidco, of which he still owns 45%."

The report says Patel owned the London-based Unicorn Export-Import which has
shares in Zidco.

In 1984 he visited Zimbabwe and made a US$50 000 contribution to Zanu PF
funds, the report says. Jayan Joshi's daughter Heena is a close friend of
the president's wife, Grace, and sits on the board of Grace's pet charity,
the Children's Rehabilitation Trust, the report says.

Having played a key role during the construction of the Harare International
Airport, a project plagued by controversy, Heena left to join Oryx Diamonds.

This firm was formed in 2000 after Oryx Natural Resources bought Petra
Diamonds and re-named it Oryx Diamonds - in which Zidco holds 237 000
shares, according to the report.

Efforts to contact Mnangagwa for comment this week were unsuccessful.

The government press announced on April 1 that Zanu PF's politburo had set
up a high-powered committee headed by the party's secretary for finance
David Karimanzira to take stock of the party's portfolio of companies,
investigate their financial operations, directorships, shareholding
structures, business performance and benefits.

"The work of the committee is likely to spill beyond Zimbabwe's borders as
some of the companies are said to be international and registered
elsewhere," the official press said, pointing out that the move came against
the background of a shake-up in the financial sector "in which a number of
companies had been found on the wrong side of the law."
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Zim Independent

Youth training centres slammed
Augustine Mukaro/Shakeman Mugari
THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Gender and Employment
Creation has slammed living conditions at national youth training centres
which they describe as a health hazard.

Presenting its report to parliament last week, the committee said it found
the living conditions of the trainees deplorable, especially at Guyu
Training Centre near Gwanda.

The committee visited three training centres - Border Gezi in Mt Darwin,
Mushagashe in Masvingo, and Guyu.

The tour was prompted by allegations made by the Panorama documentary made
by Britain's BBC.

The report revealed that the trainees at all government-run youth training
centres were living in squalor.

"The living conditions of trainees leave a lot to desired, especially at
Guyu," the report said.

"The committee found that the trainees had no training kit or uniform. The
diet of the trainees does not reflect a balanced diet as there is no variety
and in some cases, the amounts are inadequate."

The committee also said that there were problems with the provision of clean
water and the girls were not adequately provided for in terms of sanitary

"The water for Guyu is a cause for concern to your committee. The drinking
water is from a dam and is stored in a reservoir tank. The water needs to be
boiled first before use and the trainees indicated doubt as to whether the
water is fit for human consumption," the report said.

The committee was distressed with the conditions at Guyu Training Centre
where the barracks did not even have doors.

"The roof on one of the male dormitories was blown off by wind, and it has
not been repaired. Your committee toured the toilets and found them very
dirty and a health hazard to the trainees," the report said.

During the tour it was also discovered that the curriculum was a mere
duplication of the vocational training centres and there were no uniform
qualifications for the lecturers.

One of the committee members, Evelyn Masaiti (MDC), blasted the programme as
one designed for the poor, used to oppress people and a tool to force
loyalty to the state.

"Let me say the principle of national youth service is a noble idea in
countries where there is democracy, for example, in Switzerland," Masaiti

"However, here in Zimbabwe the way it is used is that of oppressing people."

The committee could not find enough information to dismiss allegations made
by the BBC Panorama documentary of sexual abuse of girls and the high
prevalence of STD and HIV in the centres.

"I would like to inform the august House that it was difficult for us as a
committee to get the truth because by the time we got to the training
centres it was only a month after enrolment of the students, so it was
difficult to ascertain the allegations," Masaiti said.
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Zim Independent

Electoral reform debate not for MDC alone

Vincent Kahiya

OF all social-movement tactics, the most successful and powerful is mass
organisation. Not only does it improve the chances for accomplishment but
also it multiplies success by the number of participants. Large movements
grow most easily where large sectors of the population feel an identical,
pressing need.

The current debate within the opposition Movement for Democratic Change on
whether or not to contest  the 2005 general election under the current
electoral law brings into focus the role of civic society to mobilise and
debate a subject of key national importance.

There have been complaints from the MDC leadership that the general public
and other social players believe that the push for democratic electoral
reform is an agenda for the party, hence they have sat back while
politicians have their say.

Groups led by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) last month came
up with a draft electoral law bill, which encompasses the 15 MDC demands.
The MDC wants Zimbabwe's electoral law to conform to the 2001 Sadc protocol
on electoral standards. This would entail radical amendments to the current
Electoral Act, which Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa has ruled out.

ZESN would like to push its white paper as a private member's bill before
the election but this could turn out to be an exercise in futility as
government has already tabled another bill to effect cosmetic changes to the
electoral law.

Voting only takes two days but those are crucial as they determine the fate
of the nation for the next five years and beyond. There is the feeling
within the MDC that it has been let down but on the other hand there are
those who believe that it is the role of the party to cultivate public
support for its policies.

Writing in the Independent last year political commentator Wilbert Mukori
said vote-rigging was above party politics. "It was not only Morgan
Tsvangirai who was cheated by Mugabe but the whole nation," said Mukori.

"It is in the interests of even the most passionate Zanu PF supporters that
Mugabe should not be allowed to rig elections. If the ruled cannot hold the
rulers to account - and elections are the ultimate expression of democratic
accountability - then those rulers are free to do as they please
irrespective of the suffering and death their acts are causing on the ruled.
The MDC should have sought the active participation of civic society, other
political parties, those who voted for them as well as those who voted for
Mugabe," he said.

In an interview with the Independent in February, MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai said he was leaving options open to either contest the election
or drum up popular resistance to the undemocratic electoral laws. Direct
action as an option to force Mugabe into effecting reform has been tried
before and the results were predictable.

The MDC tested that route last year in the "final push" but this turned out
to be a huge failure which exposed the enervated political attitude of the
populace wrought by government brutality and intolerance as well as falling
living standards. The MDC's plan was a simple enough call for mass
demonstrations. Armed with the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and
spurred by its history of crushing dissent the government deployed hundreds
of police and party thugs armed to the teeth with instructions to deal with
the "insurrection".

This brutal machinery even followed victims to hospitals to inflict more

Political scientists say direct action creates a history from which future
movements can learn. They also believe that it demonstrates the power of
united action. When successful, it inspires new movements and encourages
authorities into earlier or even preemptive concessions with civic society.

The Zimbabwean story at the moment is different, as popular discontent has
not translated into judicious organisational aptitude by civic society to
resist unpopular policies. There have been successes though in the past but
this was before the emergence of the strong political opposition to Mugabe's

For almost two weeks in mid-1996, a strike by civil servants paralysed the
government. Current MDC leaders Tsvangirai and Gibson Sibanda, as secretary
general and president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions respectively,
threatened a general strike in solidarity with the civil service. Nearly 100
000 private sector workers were involved in strike action in mid-1997, even
extending to poor agricultural workers. Well-organised general strikes and
demonstrations in December 1997 and March and November 1998 won nearly
universal worker support.

In the high-density suburbs, days of rioting over food and petrol price
hikes left several people dead in both January and October 1998.

Amidst these events, other political voices rose. In February 1998,
university students inspired by their Indonesian counterparts, also took to
the streets, prematurely predicting a Suharto-type endgame for Mugabe. But
there was no semblance between the anti-Suharto marches and local students'
protests, which were centred mainly on the demand for bigger grants. The
general public did not join the marches and protests, which were crushed by
riot police

The further degeneration of the economy and ill-thought-out political
policies gave birth to a cross-class alliance composed of organised labour,
the constrained petit-bourgeoisie, church-based critics, students,
sympathetic business leaders, academics and various other activists. The
alliance, which became the MDC, emerged around issues of accountability and
abuse of public funds. It fuelled a growing sentiment that after two decades
in power, Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF could quite possibly be voted down
in the 2000 general election.

"An uneasy blend of divergent ideologies might coalesce to (at least)
threaten such a feat, though most likely without an ideology sufficiently
influenced by a broader, deeper constituency of workers and the poor," wrote
leftist political scientist Patrick Bond in 1999. "Nor would it have much
prospect of either denting the state-owned broadcast and daily press
monopoly's hackish support for Mugabe or breaking the apparent lock Zanu PF
enjoys on traditional rural loyalties."

He added: "President Robert Mugabe, after all, has hunkered down in an
extremely defensive mode, replete with the fierce tools of repression he
inherited from white Rhodesia (supplemented during the early 1990s by US
military cooperation) and his own brand of opposition-bashing, in which
radical rhetoric (regular, paranoid accusations of counterrevolution, and
even a promise in late 1998 to resurrect "socialism") features but no longer
confuses quite so much."

He was right. Since the disputed 2000 general election won by Zanu PF and
the 2002 presidential poll  won by Mugabe unemployment has soared to over
70%, mass retrenchments and joblessness have increased while an estimated
75% of the population now live below the poverty line. But this has not
spurred any mass mobilisation against President Mugabe's government.

The deterioration of the economy and the degeneration of governance have
corresponded inversely with the increase in repression and bigotry by Mugabe
's government. As elections draw closer the machinery of subjugation and
coercion is being oiled to deal with any perceived rebellion.

Political commentators have also said any mass action now could be used by
Mugabe to obliterate the opposition on the pretext that it is trying to take
over power through unconstitutional means.

The MDC will find it difficult to rally support for its push for electoral
reform before next year's general election as long as government uses Posa
to stop people from gathering, meeting and organi-sing.

In the absence of critical mass, the opposition will have to devise other
means of mobilising its followers but nobody seems able to articulate what
these should be.

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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Zesa's war against economic survival

 ZIMBABWE'S economy has been very severely bruised, battered and beaten over
the past seven years. The economic assailants have been many, including
government's destruction of agriculture, rampant inflation primarily driven
by excessive spending by the state, pronounced scarcities of foreign
currency, and numerous other enemies of economic wellbeing. However, in the
last six months, the foremost assailant, clearly bent upon total economic
destruction, has been the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa).

So vigorous are Zesa's endea-vours, to bring mining, manufact-uring,
horticulture and other economic sectors to their knees, that notwithstanding
that a portion of this column was devoted to recounting some of Zesa's
misdeeds only a few weeks ago, it is necessary to do so yet again, and in
greater detail.

That necessity is detailed partially by the very parlous situation to which
Zesa has reduced its major customers, and in addition by Zesa's continuing
arrogance whereby it  fails to extend even the common courtesy of a response
to correspondence. In like manner, it contemptuously disregards
representations by economic representative bodies such as the Chamber of
Mines, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce and others, ignores appeals from entities such as the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe, and accords the same treatment to government, despite its
supposed accountability to the state.

The harsh fact appears to be that Zesa is so determined to concert the
magnitude of its fiscal and operational mismanagement over recent years that
it is resolutely set upon extorting unsustainably great sums from all major
consumers of electricity to fund the vast debts accumulated from what can
only be assumed to be managerial incompetence or profligacy (or a
combination of both!).

The fact that in so doing it is destroying the very customer base that would
be its future support is apparently irrelevant. So too is the fact that its
actions are forcing the cessation of operations and closure of many
enterprises, with consequential massive creation of unemployment, product
shortages, and economic collapse. And Zesa cannot possibly be oblivious to
the catastrophe which it is causing, for there have been repeated attempts
by many to make Zesa aware thereof. But there are none so deaf as those who
will not hear, and Zesa is very evidently determined not to hear.

That this is so is evidenced by its continuing actions of withdrawal of
services to consumers whose circumstances are identical to others who have
obtained High Court injunctions against Zesa disconnecting them. That this
is so is further evidenced from its disregard for representatives so high as
from the President's Office.

I am indebted to Ian Saunders, president of the Chamber of Mines, for some
comprehensive research which demonstrates the magnitude of Zesa's
escalations of charges, totally disparate from charges elsewhere in the
region, the consequences thereof, and its unwillingness to interact
constructively with its consumers.

In a letter written by him, widely distributed to members of the chamber, to
government and others, he drew attention to information received from the
Reserve Bank that Zesa had advised the Foreign Currency Auctions' advisory
board that its tariffs were regionally benchmarked, and that any producer in
distress "could come and talk to Zesa and they would receive a sympathetic

Saunders' letter then proceeds to record how false those representations had
been. His very informative letter states that "We understand that Zesa has
repeatedly insisted that the power tariffs that they charge are the same as
our regional partners. They also contend if they did not charge such tariff
levels, they would be non-viable and unable to continue to supply the
country with power. Over five neighbouring countries with which we should be
benchmarked, as they are demographically similar in terms of geography,
infrastructure, manpower skill etc are probably South Africa, Namibia,
Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana." He continues by recording the electricity
tariffs for these countries, based upon a peak-demand of 2 500 kva and a
load factor of 80%. In February 2000 the tariffs (in US cents/kw hour) were
2,2 in South Africa, 2,5 in Namibia, 3,3 in Mozambique, 1,9 in Zambia, and
3,5 in Botswana, yielding a regional average of 2,7. Zimbabwe then compared
favourably with that average, with a tariff of 2,3, and with the third
lowest tariff in the region, well below the average, Zesa attained a pre-tax
profit of Z$723 million.

However, by April 2003 the situation had changed markedly, insofar as Zesa
was concerned. With four of the five regional tariffs having declined, and
the regional average having fallen sharply, Zesa's tariff virtually doubled.
At April 2003 the comparable tariffs were 1,7 in South Africa, 1,8 in
Namibia, 2,1 in Mozambique, 2,2 in Zambia and 2,6 in Botswana. The regional
average was 2,1. In contrast, as of February 2004, Zesa's comparable tariff
was 4,5, or more than twice the regional average. It is incontrovertible,
therefore, that there is no substance to Zesa's contentions that its tariffs
are regionally benchmarked. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Saunders comments: "Zesa is not setting its current tariff ratings based on
the average regional charges for a similar consumption in a particular
industry. This unreasonably high tariff that Zesa is now charging is having
a material and damaging effect on the short, medium and long-term viability
of our industry in particular, and all consumers of power in Zimbabwe in

He continues by querying: "If Zesa was able to make a profit in the year
2000, based on an average tariff rating of USc3,21/kwh. why now does it
require USc4,5/kwh? He suggests that as Zesa has substantially restructured
over the last four years, in preparation for privatisation, it should be
more cost-effective than in 2000, and therefore "should be able to make more
profit at the same tariff rating, or should be able to reduce the tariff
ratings to make the same profit."

He further states that: "We believe that the cost of imported power, as of
April last year was... (a weighted cost average) of USc2,6/kwh - some 42%
lower than the USc4,5/kwh Zesa is claiming they require to maintain
viability. In Zesa's discussions with the (mining) industry, they indicated
that we could not use South African tariffs to determine where Zimbabwe
should be as. the SA electrical system is also relatively well developed and
maintained, resulting in lower cost of supply."

Such a justification for higher Zimbabwean tariffs is blatantly fallacious
for, on the one hand, the Zimbabwean tariffs are not only markedly higher
than South Africa's, but are also very considerably higher than those of all
other countries in the region. And, on the other hand, using such an
argument or justification is an outright admission that the Zimbabwean
electricity supply system is not well developed and maintained. Whose fault
is that? It can only be the fault of Zesa, but it is the economy which is
being forced to bear the brunt of Zesa's impliedly admitted inefficiencies!

At the end of his letter, Saunders highlights the impacts of Zesa's
horrendous charges upon the mining industry (and the same is applicable to
most other economic sectors). He says: "The continued survival and indeed
growth of the industry require the continued access to relatively low cost
power. The cost should at the very most be equal to what our regional
neighbours are paying. Not the current, almost double rates we are being
hampered with. If we do not have this, the industry will not be able to
contribute fully to the economic recovery we are all currently working
towards. If our power costs are not rationalised soon our industry will
continue to falter, whilst our neighbours will see investment and growth
within their industry."

Zesa needs to be held accountable for the destruction it is inflicting upon
much of the economy. It needs to be held accountable for a near-doubling of
tariffs, in US dollar terms (which substantially compensate for inflation),
whilst ceasing to generate profits previously achieved, lowering its
service, and dispensing with any sense whatsoever of "customer care". It
needs to be held accountable for its disdainful dismissal of all
representations, for it's jeopardising the wellbeing and health of thousands
of the population, and for its indisputable abuse of its monopoly.
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Zim Independent


      Why is the Herald angry on Moyo's behalf?

       Muckraker is surprised at the interest the Herald has taken in
fighting what on the surface looks like a personal problem for Professor
Jonathan Moyo. On April 3 the paper ran a front-page story headed "Knives
out for Prof Moyo" in which it was claimed there were "some detractors"
trying to "soil" Moyo's name ahead of the parliamentary election next year.
There was a "smear campaign" by politicians who did not want Moyo to win the
Tsholotsho constituency, the paper claimed.

      So what could these "detractors" have done to warrant all this
attention, readers must have wondered? They had found an "illegitimate
 child" for the professor, it transpired.

      In typical empty-headed fashion, the Herald was quick to find
"political analysts" who specialise in "illegitimate" children to comment on
the discovery of what these "detractors" claimed was Moyo's 22-year-old son,
one Isaac Ntuthuko Mwedini.

      "Political analysts say this is part of a spirited attempt to derail
Professor Moyo's campaign in Tsholotsho," the Herald helpfully explained to
its readers.

      The comments stem from the mere fact that somebody had helped the
young man travel to Moyo's rural home in Tsholotsho. It is not obvious how
this private matter turned out to be a campaign strategy to elicit the
comment of any self-respecting political analyst. Whether Moyo is the father
or not remains a family matter. At the very most, this can only be a civil
case between Moyo and the woman making the claims.

      When he was contacted for comment, Moyo had a good alibi.

      "The time they are talking about (when the child was conceived) I was
in America. They should go to Los Angeles and come up with some woman who
will claim that I fathered her child, not Silobela or any part of Zimbabwe,"
he said. "They must find a barrack near Disneyland."

      How this became Las Vegas in the Sunday Mirror's Behind the Words
column we are not sure. But the story has certainly travelled.

      Perhaps Tazzen Mandizvidza could tell us the "story behind the story".
And why is the Herald angry on Jonathan Moyo's behalf? Indeed, why was the
nation's police force mobilised on the minister's behalf with Wayne
Bvudzijena saying criminal defamation charges were being considered against
the boy's mother. Do the circumstances warrant any of this and will other
candidates confronted with spurious reports about them be afforded the front
page of the Herald to rebut them?

      But what intrigued us most was the Herald's claim that this was "the
latest stunt in a chain of smear campaigns against Prof Moyo" with "some
politicians" cooking up the latest.

      Why are we not told the identity of these "politicians"? And what
previous "stunts" have there been? The Herald didn't tell us.

      President Mugabe was in a confident mood when he addressed the Zanu PF
Central Committee last Friday.

      "They (MDC) now fear elections and are giving all sorts of lame
excuses for boycotting elections. We dare them. Boycott or no boycott, well
you are ripe for burial and we will put you to eternal sleep in March next
year.," he declared ominously.

      What shocked Muckraker of course was that Mugabe was not reported as
condemning the violence that claimed one life in the constituency. While he
was talking about burying the MDC, the Chinozvina family was still preparing
to bury their son, Francis, a victim of the violence that accompanied the
Zengeza election. Francis was buried at Granville cemetery on Sunday.

      In a graveside address, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he was
saddened that people were being killed because of power. "The culture we now
have in the country where a black brother is now killing another brother
just because of political power is a sad situation," said Tsvangirai. "We
wonder what lessons our youngsters will learn when people are just being
killed because of power."

      It is a serious indictment of our politics that Zanu PF spokesmen,
writing in the Herald, can blithely claim that "violence in such highly
contested elections is inevitable."

      The Prince Edward geography teacher Caesar Zvayi would do well to
stick to what he knows. In Monday's Herald he claimed people were
"subscribing to Zanu PF policies". Apart from violence and intimidation, he
didn't say what those policies were.

      Zanu PF spokesmen like Zvayi, elated that their Apostolic Faith voters
and "assisted" youths managed to fix things for them in Zengeza, now claim
that "at this rate" Zanu PF is bound to score a "landslide victory" in next
year's general election.

      "Analysts point out," Zvayi suggested, "that the 2005 polls will prove
to be the Waterloo of the opposition which has managed to retain seats in
only one city, Harare, where the electorate is notorious for politics of the

      Significantly no analysts could be found to point out any such thing.
And describing voters who you seek to attract as "notorious" is not a good
electoral ploy, Zvayi should be told.

      Zanu PF's claim that voters should not be influenced by hunger is an
extraordinary one. Should they not judge governments by their capacity to
create conditions for economic growth and employment? Why is this assumed to
be an unacceptable dimension to electoral politics when the world over
people vote according to whether governments have raised or diminished their
standard of living?

      If the voters of Harare find Zanu PF to be tall on promises but short
on delivery, are they not allowed to express their dissatisfaction? Perhaps
Zvayi, who is evidently easily persuaded of many things, seriously believes
that voters can eat sovereignty!

      Meanwhile, we all have a clear record of why Zanu PF won the Zengeza
by-election. MDC supporters might have been angered by the alleged
imposition of a candidate by the leadership. But why did Zanu PF deploy its
youths near polling stations? Why were they taking down the names of voters?
Why did we discover a free medical centre just before the polls?

      Why are the likes of Zvayi not keen to talk about the shooting
incident at the home of MDC candidate James Makore in which one person was
killed and two others injured? It took up to Monday this week for the police
to find a suspect.

       Brickbats are flying dangerously between Ibbo Mandaza's office and
that of the Information department. It's all about the Daily Mirror exposing
delinquent cabinet ministers who don't attend parliament to answer
legitimate questions about government policies.

      The Department of Information felt it was impertinent for the paper to
chide ministers for truancy. The Information department claimed the Mirror
story was full of distortions and misleading assertions. They were sent a
statement, perhaps to make them quail in their boots and run it in full as
an apology.

      Muckraker is happy that the Mirror stood its ground against a haughty
and almost imperial department that claims to know everything simply because
it makes ZTV reread its nauseating tirades without editing.

      The Mirror responded to the department's bullying with a resounding
smack on the nose: "Why should party meetings compromise parliamentary
business which is more national in scope anyway?" retorted the Mirror
through its Behind the Words column.

      "We find the department's attempt to seize the exclusive right to
define the parameters of 'professional' and 'acceptable' journalism quite
disturbing. May we remind the department that it is not the final authority
on journalism, nor is it the exclusive bastion of defence for the national
interest in this country. There are many other factors and its failure to
recognise and accept this is quite unfortunate. We will therefore not be
proscribed into a little circle of 'acceptable' journalism by the
department, and let that be clearly understood."

      The message was long overdue.

       Meanwhile, the Sunday Mail reported what it called a scam involving
looting of farm equipment and abuse of tractors across the country by civil
servants and politicians. It said equipment being looted from farms, instead
of being surrendered to government, was being converted to own use by
corrupt politicians and civil servants using fake documents.

      Muckraker's instinctive response was almost to say "but haven't we
been saying the same thing"? Along with the grabbing of productive farms
went the looting of property from cattle to tractors and irrigation
equipment to force farmers off their land. But more than that, it was
reported that there were greedy Zanu PF politicians conniving with civil
servants and taking more farms than even the party itself could tolerate.

      When this was reported the rehearsed response was always "they want to
derail the land reform". So long as one repeated that mantra and chanted a
Zanu PF slogan, it was open season. That was how corruption was allowed to
ravage the War Victims Compensation Fund and the Pay for Your Home Scheme.

      Have those who stole more than one farm during the fast track land
grab returned them despite all the noise about fighting corruption? Why are
so-called "top politicians" involved in gold scandals being protected if the
anti-corruption jihad is not meant as selective punishment for wayward small
fish? As both the Herald and ZTV have repeatedly reported, illegal gold
panning has caused serious damage to schools, homes and the railway line in
Kwekwe. Would this be possible without the involvement of these "top
politicians", whatever top means?

       Has Zanu PF finally severed its umbilical ties to the Joshi family?
Despite talk about indigenisation and the fight to have locals assume
leadership in foreign-owned companies, we are surprised Zanu PF would have
none of that. Almost 24 years into Independence, it now emerges that the
leading Zanu PF holding firm, Zidco, was still headed by Jayant Joshi whom
the Herald now tells us didn't even have a Zimbabwean passport.

      It was announced last week that the party's politburo had decided to
take full stock of its business empire, "investigate its financial
operations, directorships, shareholding structures and benefits to the party
in the last five years". That reportedly alarmed the low-profile managing
director of Zidco Jayant Joshi who quickly boarded the next plane to the UK.
Which is to say nothing of substance will come out of the investigations now
that slippery Joshi has vanished.

      According to the Sunday Mirror, the only other person who knows
anything about the benighted Zanu PF corporate empire is the party's
secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa. Let the game begin.

       Joke of the week? Tafataona Mahoso calling somebody else senile!

      In his rambling weekly column in the Sunday Mail he reverted to an
evidently sore point. The reception he got  last year when he appeared on
ZTV's US/UK Invasion of Iraq. MDC activists called the programme, Mahoso
complained, to "make arguments which demonstrated their belief that they
were progressive merely because they had abandoned and even criminalised
African nationalism".

      Imperialism wasn't the enemy, the callers were reported to have said.
It was "only a Zanu PF conspiracy and invention meant to detract (sic)
citizens of Zimbabwe from daily problems."

      These are no doubt the people Mahoso regards as "born senile" because
they declined to swallow the redundant effluent he churns out.

      "African stooge movements are born senile because they must also live
in denial," he charged. His evidence for "the reality of imperialism"? The
arrest of the 70 mercenaries. The role of ZDI was of course nowhere to be
found in this shallow analysis.

      It's just as well he didn't invite us to identify any other stooges -
such as those regurgitating the state's threadbare propaganda when called
upon to do so, busy attributing to "imperialism" the evidence of economic
and social devastation all around them!
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Zim Independent

Vindictive action against banks ill-advised

NEWS yesterday that government was now moving in on the country's largest
financial institution, Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe, accusing it of dealing in
foreign currency, will provide another shock to the already battered

From the look of things every bank and business which has been involved in
the country's economic life over the past few years could be dragged before
the courts soon.

Kingdom Financial Holdings and Interfin are also due to appear in court
accused of trading on the parallel market. This comes despite an amnesty
offered to banks by the Reserve Bank in January.

Others already named for allegedly breaching the Exchange Control Act
include NMB Holdings whose directors Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Otto
Chekeche and Francis Zimuto skipped the country before they could be

Last week, however, prominent lawyer and former Minister of Justice Advocate
Chris Andersen raised some interesting points when he told a court, while
defending Telecel Zimbabwe, that it should take into account the
circumstances which led the company into dealing on the parallel market.

He pointed out that the current situation in Zimbabwe had been caused by the
state which until recently had cast a blind eye to the parallel market and
also benefited heavily through revenue which was being paid by Telecel

"The state benefited by the sum of $24 billion and after this is now asking
for a mandatory sentence to be imposed. How can this be justified?" Andersen

He submitted that Telecel's dealings on the parallel market were entered
into because of necessity.

Zesa, Air Zimbabwe, Noczim, and even the Reserve Bank had been obtaining
hard currency on the parallel market, Andersen pointed out.  People would
have lost their jobs and there would have been all sorts of problems in the
business sector if companies had not obtained foreign currency from the
parallel market.

Andersen asked the court how it could be moral to impose a mandatory
sentence on Telecel while Zesa, Noczim and other companies in both the
private and public sectors were not being prosecuted?

Zesa has denied any involvement in such transactions.

It is common cause that for the past three years Zimbabwe has faced an acute
foreign currency shortage. The country's balance-of-payments position has
remained precarious largely as a result of poor export performance coupled
with the absence of external capital inflows.

Exports of goods and services are estimated to have fallen by 3,9% from
US$1, 6 million in 2002 to US$1,5 million in 2003.

The capital account deficit is estimated to have declined from US$345
million in 2002 to US$309 million in 2003.

Against the background of the weak balance-of-payments position, gross
official foreign currency reserves for 2003 are estimated at US$175 million,
which represent approximately one month of imports, while usable reserves
were much lower at just under US$40 million.

Zimbabwe now has a very poor credit rating so companies are finding it
extremely difficult to source foreign currency for imports. Many have
resorted to keeping their earnings in offshore accounts so that whenever
they need spares they simply utilise these funds.

The RBZ's new monetary policy statement in December however introduced
significant changes in the foreign currency market.

It also ushered in the new offence now known as "externalisation".

The Exchange Control Act lays down as a mandatory penalty a fine equivalent
to the currency involved unless the court finds special circumstances.

During the period of drought the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) was allowed to
import grain from neighbouring South Africa using parallel market rates.

During the fuel crisis the cash-strapped Noczim also benefited from parallel
market rates as fuel was secured using those rates. The country would have
ground to a halt had it not done so.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono must be aware of the
parallel market deals at Noczim because he was at the centre of fuel
negotiations. Andersen cited the RBZ itself as having been a major player on
the parallel market.

NRZ, Air Zimbabwe and Zupco are no strangers to the parallel market either.

While we don't doubt that many deals on the parallel market enriched
individuals making them, it would be instructive to calculate how the
country would have survived in its daily needs without these deals.

As Andersen remarked of Telecel: "Even though they dealt on the parallel
market they did not willfully do so. They did it because of the situation
that was prevailing."

He made the point that there would have been company closures and that
people would have lost their jobs. That is happening now that companies
cannot access external funds without the axe of state retribution hanging
over them. We can expect to see new shortages and the black market those
shortages will spawn.

Meanwhile, so long as there is a failure to acknowledge government's role in
encouraging state companies to survive as best they could, on whatever
market they could find, in the first three years of this decade and allowing
the private sector to do the same, the current purge will appear unfair and
even vindictive.

That is not calculated to restore confidence in the country's financial
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Zim Independent

Judicial system under siege
By Beatrice Mtetwa
Judicial system under siege By Beatrice Mtetwa I READ Alex Magaisa's
excellent article in the March 12 businessdigest on the effect of manifestly
unconstitutional laws being used to deal with persons who are alleged to be
economic saboteurs and I agree that such laws should not be selectively used
to instill good corporate governance.

However, I think he left out one of the crucial reasons why the majority of
people who are suspects will feel anxiety about being subjected to the legal
system as presently constituted.

I believe that one of the main reasons why suspects are reluctant to subject
themselves to the country's legal system is the perception that they won't
get a fair trial. The operations of the judiciary have been compromised in a
number of respects in the past four or so years to an extent where basic
administrative rules have been changed without the formal rules of court
being amended. This includes the process by which cases are allocated.

The control of the judicial process by a few has affected such mundane
things as the entry into the High Court building after normal court hours.
Lawyers and court staff are no longer allowed to enter the High Court
building when bringing urgent applications after hours unless they have been
cleared by the President's Office.

A colleague and I recently had to spend hours sitting outside the High Court
building whilst awaiting clearance from the President's Office and the
arrival of a clerk who was to issue and stamp the papers that we were
bringing in an urgent application. When the clerk finally arrived that
Saturday morning, he was equally not allowed into the court building and was
instead taken across the road to the President's Office for "clearance".

No one knows what such "clearance" consists of. Does it include being told
which judge to call for the particular case? Does it include instructions to
pretend that no judge can be found?

It is equally difficult to understand why a duly registered legal
practitioner, who holds a valid practising certificate, must be "cleared" by
the President's Office each time he or she brings an urgent application
outside court hours. This is particularly so as none of the laws relating to
the administration of justice fall under the President's Office. It is
therefore generally perceived, rightly or wrongly, that these "clearances"
are meant to influence the choice of judge in the particular case, and that
such influence may have a bearing on the result at the end of the day.

I believe that all of these elaborate rules have been introduced to
interfere with the judiciary's right to fairly and impartially discharge the
functions of an independent judiciary. It is in such light that the actions
of those suspects who have taken flight must be considered. I have no doubt
that regulations such as the ones under which James Makamba was detained,
coupled with the judiciary's apparent reluctance to openly declare them
unconstitutional, could influence a suspect to flee rather than face the
uncertain prospect of being shunted from one court to another without one's
basic rights being considered. We have already seen a Supreme Court judge
expressing an opinion that the regulations are "patently unconstitutional",
yet no steps have been taken to restore the suspect's fundamental right to
liberty and freedom of movement.

One would expect that once a Supreme Court judge has expressed an opinion
that the law is patently unconstitutional, the judiciary would take
immediate and urgent steps to ensure that rights that are being violated
under such a law are immediately restored. Indeed, one would also expect the
state to take steps to ensure that persons whose rights have been taken away
under such a law have them restored.

Even where the courts order the release of accused or detained persons,
there is of course the now all too familiar disregard for court orders. Even
before the latest regulations were gazetted, we all know that court orders
are routinely selectively enforced. The police and prison authorities no
longer consider the courts as final arbiters of basic rights: politicians
and the police now determine which court orders are to be respected and
which are to be ignored. The courts have regrettably shown a reluctance to
have those flouting court orders locked up for contempt.

How many of us would want to submit ourselves to a system without rules
which would result in the accusers ultimately deciding one's fate and having
the final word? Why go through the charade of a legal process that is unable
to enforce its own decisions? If the policeman who effects the arrest in the
first place is the one whose opinion counts at the end of the day, why go
through the pretence of court proceedings?

I believe that the perception that the courts, especially the superior
courts, are now there largely to rubber stamp executive decisions, has
contributed to the fear that once one is arrested, he will serve a
"sentence" for as long as the authorities want him to remain in custody.
Indeed, the fact of one's arrest is now interpreted as meaning that the
establishment wants you in custody for as long as possible. We have seen how
many of those who were arrested and locked up for long periods of time
without bail hardly ever face trial in the courts at the end of the day.

It has also become common practice to subject judgements that are not in
favour of the government to vilification by the state media. The criticism
of such judgements is normally directed to the judicial officer in language
that is not only intemperate, but is meant to belittle, humiliate and
intimidate the judicial officer.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with criticising the reasoning of a court
in a particular judgement so long as this is done in language that is not
personalised and is not seeking to attack the person of the judicial

The attacks and vilification by the state media are always justified as
these being the opinions of legal "experts" or people who claim to be
lawyers but who are at all times anonymous. If a lawyer believes he is
castigating a judgement on sound legal basis, I have difficulty in
understanding why he cannot put his name to his beliefs and opinions. The
perception that the "legal experts" that are routinely quoted by the state
media are in fact politicians masquerading as lawyers becomes reinforced
when such legal experts routinely give their views not only anonymously, but
in a one-sided manner.

But what does the public bashing of judicial officers do, not only to their
confidence, but to their constitutional right to interpret the laws of the
land without fear, favour or being called names in the state media? There
can be no question that the state media bashing of judicial officers is
meant to intimidate them into making judgements that are favourable to the

We saw clear attempts at intimidating judicial officers in the
Administrative Court in the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe case, and we
have once again seen it in the Makamba case where judicial officers have
been castigated for making a decision in favour of the accused person. What
is most unfortunate in the bashing of judicial officers is the behaviour of
government lawyers who immediately don political garb and make statements
that are meant to please the politicians.

Once a judgement is made against the state and the politicians criticise it,
the Attorney-General's office immediately issues statements that it will
appeal against the judgement and it then invokes every other law to ensure
that the suspects remain in custody. These protestations are rarely followed
by appeals that are argued in court, as most of the so-called appeals are
not proceeded with.

Whilst one understands that officers in the Attorney-General's office also
operate under difficult conditions characterised by a lack of independence
and fear of the political consequences, law officers must be reminded that
they are officers of the court who have a duty to represent the rights of
all the people of Zimbabwe. Law officers have as much a duty to secure the
liberty of an individual against whom there is no reasonable suspicion, as
the lawyer representing that individual. Law officers must therefore be
encouraged to exercise the right to have the ultimate say on whether or not
a case should be taken to court, which right they are now perceived to have
surrendered to members of the ZRP and politicians. It is the duty of every
law officer to take to court only those cases that deserve to be taken to
court, regardless of political considerations that might exist. It is
equally the duty of every law officer to ensure that state officials comply
with court orders, even if the politicians do not like such court orders.

On March 10, one of the state newspapers carried a most scurrilous attack on
judges alleging that they are corrupt and that they are taking bribes from
members of the public. Despite the article being factually baseless, no one
has pointed out that no judge has been convicted of a crime of corruption
and that no judge is in fact accused of taking a bribe. The failure to
protect the integrity of judges can only serve to intimidate judicial
officers into making judgements in favour of the state for no other reason
than to avoid being publicly attacked. If there have been any inducements at
all, these have arguably been from government as we have seen judges being
allocated farms in circumstances where it might be perceived, rightly or
wrongly, that such allocations are meant to induce judges to make judgements
that are in favour of the state.

In my view, it is these perceived irregularities and uncertainties in our
legal system that will persuade suspects to leave the country as the legal
system is so compromised as to offer little justice to members of the public
once politicians have determined that a particular individual must be locked

-Beatrice Mtetwa is a practising lawyer. This article was written in a
personal capacity.

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Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 2004 3:23 PM
Subject: Paul laughed.

Paul Laughed.

Paul Temba Nyathi is a tall, impressive man, he was in the Rhodesian war
working with Zipra and Zapu in the 70's and is now in the MDC National
Executive. He sits as an MP in the standing committee on local government
and was telling me at a recent MDC Executive meeting, that he had been in a
meeting of the committee in Parliament when the Civil Servants declared that
they were going to open up housing stands for 2 million families in the next
12 months. Paul thought this was so ridiculous, he laughed.

As this government has developed less than 30 000 housing units in the urban
areas in the past 5 years, his immediate reaction was perfectly
understandable. But underneath this bald statement by the civil servants is
a sinister and stunning intent.

When we examine the actions of post transition governments in Africa we
should never underestimate the lengths to which they will go to hold onto
power. In their eyes, they fought for that right and they would only
relinquish this if they absolutely have to. Look at Angola and Mozambique.
There, the political minority that effectively controlled the new
governments are still in power 30 years on and are now wealthy beyond the
imagination of the ordinary people of those countries. It has worked for
them - if no one else and that is what matters.

In Zimbabwe we first saw this when the Mugabe regime decided in 1983 that it
could not tolerate the political opposition represented by Zapu. Zapu was
predominately Ndebele and in a no holds barred campaign against them up to
30 000 people were murdered and hundreds of thousands injured. Thousands
fled the country to South Africa where they are now settled. (This is
thought to be double the casualties that occurred in the 8-year military
struggle against Ian Smith.) Eventually Mugabe got his way - Nkomo gave in
and accepted a minority roll in a unity government. Zapu disappeared and
Mugabe got his "one Party State" for a short while.

Then came the MDC and for a while the Mugabe regime thought that this was
just another upstart attempt to threaten the status quo and could be dealt
with just as they had in the case of several other earlier attempts to mount
an effective opposition. But the MDC is made of sterner stuff and when Zanu
was defeated in the February 2000 referendum it suddenly appreciated that it
had a real fight on its hands.

Ever since this event, Zanu has thrown everything it has in its armory at
the MDC. It has killed 400 activists - not one of these murders has been
investigated and brought to trial, even when the perpetrators are known and
have been publicly identified. They have closed down all access to the mass
media leaving only a token element of the independent press for the sake of
claiming that they allow press freedom.

Democratic space has been progressively restricted until today it is
virtually impossible to win an election run against a Zanu candidate.
Electoral violence is endemic and conducted by State agents with impunity.
The electoral process itself is controlled by the military and is totally
manipulated to produce a desired result. Not a single principle in the SADC
Convention on electoral process is being adhered to.

When they discovered that commercial farmers held the middle ground between
the MDC (urban) vote and the Zanu PF (peasant sector) vote, they simply
wiped out the commercial farming industry. This represented half of all
exports, 60 per cent of food supplies and over 65 per cent of all industry
and a third of all employment. It made no difference - the farmers were
driven off their land, their assets confiscated and their staff dispersed so
that they could not vote or influence elections.

Now they are preparing for yet another electoral challenge - the March 2005
parliamentary elections. In addition to intensifying all the measures
already in place they are now also planning massive social engineering which
will change the face of our urban areas dramatically.

It first came to my attention when a small team of us from the MDC visited
every MDC controlled town in the country. That is no small task as we now
control (technically at least) 85 per cent of all urban areas. We found that
Zanu was carefully planning an exercise which would involve taking the
commercial farms (now abandoned by and large) on the outskirts of the main
urban areas. On each of these properties they are establishing a control
point and manning this with Youth Militia and War veterans (many are not
real war veterans - this is just a cover for Zanu thugs).

Now back to the Parliamentary Committee on Local Government. Clearly what is
intended is to open up these abandoned farms for illegal, informal squatter
camps which will be made up of stands allocated to homeless urban families.
Some 40 per cent of all urban dwellers are homeless - they live in crowded
tenements as lodgers. In many cases living in one room crowded with up to 6
people. This accommodation is not cheap - people are paying high rentals to
landlords and others. Many of these people are also now unemployed - 500 000
workers have lost their jobs in the past 5 years.

So to this target population - some 3 million people, the offer of free
vacant land on which to build a shack and live rent-free is very attractive.
But to do so they will have to join Zanu PF and attend Zanu meetings and
vote for Zanu in carefully controlled elections next year. This will drain
out of the urban areas millions of people who would otherwise vote MDC. Zanu
will register all these new urban settlers on the voter's roll at the same
time as they take their details for the purpose of Zanu PF membership. This
will then also give justification for the massive reduction in genuine urban
seats that is being planned - the Governor of Harare has already intimated
his goal is a 50 per cent reduction in the number of seats in the Harare
metropolitan area.

Far fetched? Not at all - it may be ambitious but we have learned never to
underestimate the people who run Zanu PF. They may not be able to run a
country, but they sure know how to run an election and how to destroy all
vestiges of political opposition in the process - ask any former member of

So how do we deal with this situation? This week Mugabe again stated that he
would not talk to the MDC. Ignore his public rationale - he knows full well
that talks will be about creating conditions for free and fair elections and
that would be suicide for Zanu PF.

There are two ways of achieving change in this situation - someone launches
an armed struggle against Zanu PF - and in the process does even more damage
to the country and its battered economy, or the international and local
community combine forces to engineer a free and fair election.

That would not be difficult - we all know what is needed, an independent
electoral commission, a free and independent media. A halt to state
sponsored violence and a voting system that will be secret, allow all adult
Zimbabweans to vote wherever they live and a counting system that is
transparent and reliable.

An outlandish demand? An unachievable goal? Not at all! Why is Zanu so
afraid of such an event? I think it is obvious, they would be buried alive
by the people of this country. The impossible would happen - they would lose
power, privilege and protection. For Zanu, that is no laughing matter, for
the rest of us, it would mark the start of a new beginning and for the
majority, a better life. Then we could all learn to laugh a little again.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, April 5th 2004.

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