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

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Zim Online

      HARARE  - The Zimbabwe government is deploying trainees in its
controversial youth training programme at all public schools, ZimOnline has

      The Youth Training Programme was introduced two years ago with the
objective "to inculcate discipline and patriotism in young people".

      Several teachers across the country said they were afraid the youths
might be supposed to spy on teachers suspected of backing the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ahead of next year's parliamentary
election. They also expressed fear the youths might seek to influence senior
students, most of whom are of voting age, to back the ruling ZANU PF.

      In circulars to school heads asking them to accept the youths at their
institutions, the Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and Employment
Creation says the youths are on community service and will perform whatever
duties they are assigned by school authorities at no cost. The schools have
not requested such help from the ministry.

      In one such letter dated June 8, 2004, the ministry's provincial staff
officer, a Mr. J.M. Maveve, writes to the head of a state High School in
Harare: "Your good office is requested to assist (name of recruit omitted)
with a place of attachment to do community service for a period of one

      "Feel free to assign the youth/youths any possible lawful duties in
your organisation. It is part of our training curriculum. Please note that
it is a free service to the community and the nation at large, so your
organisation will not pay the youth/youths for the period of attachment."

      Both Youth Minister Ambrose Mutinhiri and Maveve could not be reached
for comment yesterday. Mutinhiri has in the past denied allegations that the
youths trained by the programme are committing violence against opposition
supporters. He insists the programme teaches discipline and patriotism among
the youths.

      Teachers, who spoke on condition they were not named, expressed
discomfort over the presence of the youths at schools. Especially those
teachers serving at schools in rural areas were among the worst affected
victims of political violence during the run up to and after the 2002
presidential election.

      Suspected ZANU PF militants, allegedly also including youths from the
national service programme, harassed and beat up teachers whom they accused
of influencing voters to back the MDC.

      Summing up the fears of most of his colleagues interviewed by
ZimOnline, a school teacher in Masvingo (about 300 kilometres south of
Harare) said: "The idea of placement of youths at schools is that they can
get information on who among school staff supports the MDC."

      "Clearly the government fears that teachers, being community leaders,
are able to influence people especially in remote rural areas. And do not
forget that these are the same youths who worked with war veterans attacking
and beating anyone they suspected of not supporting ZANU PF. We are very
afraid." ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Mercenaries' deny charges of illegally acquiring weapons of war
Thu 19 August 2004
      HARARE -- 66 suspected mercenaries held in Zimbabwe yesterday denied
charges of plotting to illegally acquire weapons of war from state arms
manufacturer, the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI).

      The alleged mercenaries were arrested in March this year when their
plane landed at Harare International Airport. The state alleges the men had
stopped over to pick up firearms meant to be used to topple Equatorial
Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo.

      The group, made up of mostly South African citizens, claims they were
on their way to guard a mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

      The men, who have already admitted to lesser charges of breaching
Zimbabwe¹s immigration and aviation laws, yesterday denied they wanted to
illegally acquire arms of war from the ZDI.

      The leader of the alleged mercenaries, Simon Mann, a British national,
has already admitted to attempting to acquire weapons from ZDI.

      Addressing a makeshift court at Harare¹s Chikurubi Maximum Security
prison, where the men are being held,  lawyer Jonathan Smakange said:  "The
accused persons will deny the allegations. Up to today they have not even
seen the weapons they are being accused of acquiring. How can they possess
something that they didn't even know existed?"

      Another 15 men, who were allegedly working with the 67 held in Harare,
are awaiting trial in  Equatorial Guinea's capital Malabo. ZimOnline
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Zim Online

Sheraton Hotel Harare loses its shine
Thu 19 August 2004
      HARARE - The Sheraton Harare Hotel is in danger of losing its
franchise and thus its name.

      One of the three biggest and most prestigious hotels in Zimbabwe, the
Sheraton Harare is managed on contract by United States of America-based
Starwood Hotels, the owners of the Sheraton brand. It has failed to pay
management and franchise fees and Starwood is threatening to pull out.

      The five-star hotel is owned by Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG), a company
in which the government of Zimbabwe has 17 percent stake. A Libyan
investment firm, Lafico-fca,  holds 14.1 percent and French hotel operator,
Accor-Afrique, controls 34.61 percent of the Group. Local investors own the

      Starwood Hotels' management contract was signed in 1993 and expires in
December 2005.  Tourism industry sources said the company was not likely to
renew the agreement.

      In a statement conceding the troubles at its flagship hotel, RTG chief
executive officer Herbert Nkala said, "RTG had deferred payment of some
management fees accrued due to the recession experienced in the tourism

      "Since the decline of the tourism industry in 2000, RTG, which has
been operating under international brands and franchises, has experienced
difficulties in generating both local and foreign currency to pay management
fees for the brands."

      Nkala did not say how much Sheraton Harare owed Starwood Hotels and
what arrangements had been made to settle the debt.

      Nkala said the hotel has suffered from low occupancy rates and reduced
revenues since recession gripped the local tourism industry four years ago.
Once the fastest growing economic sector, tourism nosedived as foreign
visitors cancelled bookings fearing political violence and lawlessness in
the country.

      Nkala expressed the hope that RTG would resolve its financial
difficulties, saying the company had sought help from top authorities: "We
have engaged the highest levels of monetary policy authorities and
government who are assisting us to deploy solutions which are sustainable
and mutually acceptable to all concerned."

      Pleading with international creditors to be patient with defaulting
Zimbabwean companies, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono
said in a separate statement:  "My appeal to creditors is that they should
give these companies sufficient time to pay their obligations without taking
actions that might in the end disadvantage both parties."

      Gono has led efforts to pursuade millions of Zimbabweans living and
working abroad to send home hard cash, which is needed to help companies
such as Sheraton Harare meet their foreign debt commitments. But the
governor last month admitted that his efforts have so far failed to yield
much. ZimOnline
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Business Report

      Zimbabwe will seize Conafex estates
      August 19, 2004

      By Dirk van Vynck

      Cape Town - Conafex Holdings, the agriculture resource group listed on
both the JSE Securities Exchange and the Luxembourg bourse, has received
notice from the Zimbabwean authorities that its agricultural estates are
going to be seized.

      The company said: "The government of Zimbabwe has advised Conafex's
Zimbabwean subsidiary, Zimcor, that all its agricultural estates are to be
compulsorily acquired with immediate effect. The implications of this action
and the matter of compensation are not yet clear."

      Chris Jousse, Zimcor's chief executive, could not be reached yesterday
to comment on the impact the seizures would have on Conafex's overall

      But according to Reuters, staff at the company's Harare office said
Conafex had "substantial" investments in Zimbabwe.

      Fortunately the group has been diversifying its operations into other
areas in the region in order to free it from reliance.

      This has led to the company selling Barato Holdings, its wholly owned
subsidiary in Zimbabwe, and acquiring a 17.5 percent stake in JSE-listed
Intertrading, which specialises in the procurement and international
marketing of fruit.

      There was no trade in Conafex's shares yesterday with the price
unchanged at R10.50. The food producers and processors index as 0.08 percent

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New Zimbabwe

Strange popularity poll favours Mugabe

Staff Reporter
Last updated: 08/19/2004 09:31:21
A BIZARRE "independent poll" released Wednesday claims Zimbabwean tyrant
Robert Mugabe still has the trust of the Zimbnabwean populace.

The poll says forty-six percent of Zimbabweans say they trust Mugabe,
compared to just 18 percent who see opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as
the most trustworthy politician.

The bizarre poll's conclusions come despite inflation hitting record highs
of 650 percent, wanton violence against Mugabe's opponents, unemployment
reaching 70 percent and a collapsed economy.

The poll by an organisation calling itself Afrobarometer immediately
suffered a credibilty crisis when it also revealed that 83 PERCENT of
Zimbabweans said they lived in FEAR.

The conclusions loooked even more ridiculous as the same poll further
claimed that on the economic front, rates of persistent hunger were higher
in Zimbabwe than in 15 other sub-Saharan African countries.

It also suggested that Zimbaweans said they were disillusioned, with 83
percent of them saying they "must often or always be careful about what they
say about politics," the poll said.

It goes on to say "while hardly a strong endorsement of presidential
popularity, trust in the president has risen since the dismal showing of
1999 when Mugabe enjoyed 20 percent support in a previous poll, the
Afrobarometer survey said.

No comment was immediately available from the MDC last night. Efforts to
contact either the MDC secretary general Professor Welshman Ncube or the
partyn spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi proved fruitless as their mobile phones
were unreachable.

A total of 1 104 Zimbabweans were polled in May in several local languages.

According to the poll, three out of four Zimbabweans - 75 percent - say they
have lost faith in political party diversity and feel that "party
competition frequently leads to conflicts," the survey said.

About 82 percent of Zimbabweans said they were deprived of food at least
once in the past year while more than half - 54 percent - said they felt
economically deprived.

"The present generation thinks that they are materially worse off than their
parents," said the survey.

Once the breadbasket of the region, Zimbabwe has been in the throes of
economic collapse over the past five years and some two million Zimbabweans,
out of a population of 12 million, are expected to be in need of food aid by

The hardships faced by Zimbabweans have been blamed on drought and on land
reforms launched by Mugabe, under which land owned by whites has been seized
and redistributed to blacks.

In contrast to government claims, the survey found that only four percent of
Zimbabweans saw land reform as a national priority.

Meanwhile, 76 percent of Zimbabweans think that land acquisitions should be
done by legal means, with compensation for owners.

The survey was conducted by the Institute for Democracy in South Africa,
Centre for Democratic Development of Ghana and Michigan State University.
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College Sports

Living Her Dream

Auburn's Kirsty Coventry checks in from the Athens games

Aug. 18, 2004

By Kirsty Coventry
Special to
From Auburn Athletics

It's great to be an AUBURN TIGER!!! It is extremely hard to put my feelings
into words. It is amazing to have set goals and had dreams of certain
accomplishments and then achieve them! Winning two medals now is absolutely
a dream come true and I must thank all of my Auburn Family for helping me do

The 100 back medal was not something I was as confident about, but instead
more dreamed about. I was in lane one for the finals and I thought I have
nothing to lose so why not just go out after it. I went out strong on the
first 50 and with my training for my 200 events this summer I was able to
hold my speed over the last 50. I couldn't see anyone because of my position
in the pool so I just raced as hard as I could. It was amazing to turn up
and look at the scoreboard and see a '2' next to my name! I had the biggest
smile ever and I could see my Auburn teammates going crazy for me in the
stands. I was also very happy when I finally noticed my time. It was a
little over a two second drop from my previous best! Getting on the awards
stand was so cool.

Again, I had fun chatting with Natalie Coughlin; she showed me all of her
family in the stands! Getting the medal put around my neck was so cool. And
the wreath.... wow! I love the wreath! It is made from Olive branches and
totally symbolizes Greece. The medal has the Goddess Nike on it. I have been
told she is the Goddess who awarded the medals in ancient Greece - very
cool. We did the walk down the deck where all the photographers take
pictures, which was of course really cool too! Kim just got her pictures
back of the ceremony and it got me excited all over again. We both said we
need to watch the whole thing on TV to make it really sink in.

After the medal ceremony for the 100 back I had to immediately get ready for
my 200 IM semifinal. I had about 1 hour form the end of my first race so we
were a bit rushed. I felt really good about that race. I was very controlled
on the first 150 of it, especially my backstroke, and then I really just
pushed the freestyle. Kim said I got her a bit nervous! I qualified for
finals in fourth place, which I thought was a very good position for me.
After warming down again I had drug testing then off to the Village. I got
to speak with my parents who were so excited and proud. It was great to hear
their voices. My mom was upset during the live broadcast of the 100 back
because at the finish they only focused in on Natalie's win and the had no
idea who finished 2nd. After cursing the TV, she screamed and jumped around
with all my other family when they saw I had finished second! I wish so
badly they could be here but I am glad they are broadcasting live coverage
at home. I hear they stopped the TV programs to announce my finish to the
country, which made me very proud. Zimbabwe has been so supportive of my
swimming here at the Games and I am so thankful for that as well.

So, on Tuesday I got to sleep in and we went for a training session here at
the Village. I tried to relax the rest of the afternoon but it is hard to
keep my mind of my races to come. I've been getting my daily rub from our
physio Dorkas and taking a mid afternoon nap. We went to the pool that
night - business as usual. I felt pretty good and my goal again was to swim
for a medal. I knew my competition, Yana Klochkova of the Ukraine, and the
two Americans, Amanda Beard and Katie Hoff, are all very good and were ready
to race. I just tried to stay in my own race and not go out too hard in the
first 50, which is butterfly. I had a good backstroke split and felt strong
in the breaststroke I just didn't finish the free as well as I would have
like. I am so happy with my finish but like a lot of athletes I am not
satisfied! I love that event and really want to continue to train to be
faster in it. The awards ceremony was great again. Not as much chit chatting
this time because I don't know Amanda as well as Natalie but still we had a
good time! This time I gave my wreath to Kim and I hear she wore it around
for the rest of the evening and was quite popular because of it!

Our Auburn crew also did well. Fred (Bousquet), Romy (Barnier) and George
(Bovell) all had good morning swims and made it back to semis. It was fun to
watch them race. Unfortunately, they didn't make it back to finals but we're
super proud of them and look forward to Fred and George's best events which
are to come!

Today I had a wonderful day! I got to go downtown to have lunch with my best
friend Alessandra (Lawless) and her mom. We had a nice long lunch and
giggled a lot. I had a light training session and will go back to the pool
to watch finals tonight. I am really looking forward to tomorrow. I can't
wait to race with Margaret (Hoelzer). We always push each other so well and
bring out the best in one another.

Today George and Jeremy (Knowles) swam the 200 IM. Jeremy had a solid race
but just missed semis. George had an awesome morning swim winning his heat
to qualify third for the semi finals. Looks like his strokes are on! The
girls finally got to get in and race! Jana (Kolukanova) and Eileen
(Coparropa) had the 100 free. Neither made it back and I am sure they aren't
extremely thrilled with their swims but it is so hard to keep your nerves
intact, especially in your first race. Eileen still has the 50 free so now
with this race under her belt she can let it rip!

Tonight we'll go back to watch George in the IM and my South African friends
in the men's 100 Free. Hopefully everyone will be great!

War Eagle until tomorrow!
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      Moyo's future in limbo

      Brian Mangwende and Thomas Madondoro
      8/19/2004 7:34:13 AM (GMT +2)

      FIREBRAND Information Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo could be
sitting on political knife-edge as it emerged this week that ZANU PF has
formed a special committee to look into complaints against his alleged
vitriolic attacks on senior party officials in the public media.

      President Robert Mugabe, the ZANU PF strongman seen as performing a
delicate balancing act to keep the party intact, Vice-President Joseph Msika
and John Nkomo, the ruling party's national chairman, make up the committee
set up by the ZANU PF supreme decision-making body to look into Moyo's

      Political observers, who have always warned of the potential for
cracks prising apart the tie that binds ZANU PF, said that the formation of
the high-powered committee comprising the party's presidium indicated that
the ruling party had been noticeably shaken despite protestations to the
contrary by the party leadership.

      They said that the issue of Moyo, politically considered not only a
loose tongue but a provocative one too, which underlined the internal
disputes between the so-called new generation of young hardliners and the
old guard in ZANU PF, had stirred up so much discord that threatened to
split the ruling party. Unnamed party members were also deliberately
stirring up feelings over the issue.

      According to key politburo members who cannot be named for fear of
breaching their party standing rules, the committee was set up at a
politburo meeting a fortnight ago, where Nkomo, who also is the Minister of
Lands, Land Reform and Rural Resettlement, protested against Moyo's alleged
diatribe on his person and ministry in the public media.

      They said this touched off a chorus of angry voices from several
members of the politburo, especially the old guard, with Moyo being the
target of the bitter attacks. Moyo drew the sharp attacks from the old
guard, which in a certain sense aims to lose as little as possible

      Retired army general Solomon Mujuru, Vice-President Msika and ZANU PF
information chief Nathan Shamuyarira are said to have taken turns to attack
Moyo, who the sources said remained calm throughout the attacks.

      Mujuru, seen as the king-maker in the succession debate, challenged
Moyo, who controls the information levers of the public print and electronic
media, and the other so-called "young turks" he mentioned by name to explain
how they had come into the party.

      He also pushed for the expulsion of Moyo, formerly a fierce critic of
President Mugabe and his government, from the public service; something
sources said was highly unlikely.

      They said the presidency might opt to reprimand the information
minister, who could not be reached for comment at the time of going to
press, to avoid plunging the ruling party into further divisions.

      Mujuru and other senior ZANU PF officials, said the sources, also
attacked Moyo for abusing the public media by denigrating his colleagues in
ZANU PF, who were now resorting to the private media to hit back.

      But the alternative private voice has also been under serious threat
as a number of newspapers, namely The Daily News, The Daily News on Sunday
and The Tribune, have been closed over the past 12 months under the
draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, crafted by

      The sources said Moyo's attacks threatened to cause mayhem in the
ruling party at a time when ZANU PF should speak with one voice if the party
is to wither a serious challenge by the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change in the 2005 plebiscite.

      Speculation has also swirled that key party members have since
threatened not to attend the ruling party's crucial congress in December if
the presidency fails to deal with Moyo.

      "On that one, phone Shamuyarira . . . he is the spokesman of the
party, or Moyo himself," said Mujuru when contacted for comment this week.

      Shamuyarira also declined to comment. He said: "I cannot comment on

      Moyo, who joined President Mugabe's government after performing
exceptionally well in the constitutional commission in 2000, has had stormy
relations with a number of ZANU PF bigwigs who have been openly attacked in
the public media, where he wields a lot of influence.

      But the proceedings at the politburo meeting two weeks ago signalled
the real baptism of fire for Moyo, who probably for the first time saw tough
criticism replacing the initial praise he might have received from certain
ZANU PF quarters as the most effective government propaganda chief since

      The information minister has had a showdown with Vice-President Msika
over the Kondozi Farm saga, where 15 000 workers were made redundant after
the farm was forcibly acquired and parcelled out to the Agricultural Rural
Development Authority.

      He has also clashed with his immediate boss at ZANU PF, Shamuyarira,
over the Sky Television news crew, which he claimed had entered the country
illegally. The Sky TV crew was later allowed to work, but Moyo came out
attacking its handlers after the British television network flighted an
unimpressive interview with the President.

      As if that was not enough, Moyo has also had a war of words with
Nkomo, the ZANU PF chairman, over the issuance of withdrawal letters in the
ongoing multiple farm ownership saga.

      "There is confusion in the party because of lack of understanding of
what is happening. It is taboo within ZANU PF for junior members to publicly
denigrate senior party cadres," one well-paced source said.

      There are heightened fears that the party's old guard could be out to
purge young turks. There is also suspicion that the ZANU PF bigwigs might
have a bigger plan to elbow Moyo out of the ruling party primary elections
and have him replaced by one of his superiors.

      The information minister has made significant strides in gaining
control of the Tsholotsho constituency, which is reportedly also being eyed
by Nkomo.

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      Crisis Cabinet team for troubled SMM

      Nelson Banya
      8/19/2004 7:35:18 AM (GMT +2)

      PROBLEMS continue to mount for Mutumwa Mawere's besieged empire, amid
reports that the government has appointed a three-member Cabinet team to
oversee the turnaround of the troubled Shabanie Mashava Mines (SMM).

      The team, made up of July Moyo, John Nkomo and Patrick Chinamasa,
ministers of Energy and Power Development; Lands and Resettlement; and
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs respectively, has been tasked to
oversee SMM's frantic efforts to turn around its fortunes as the government
steps up its efforts to exert control over Mawere's assets.

      SMM now owes the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) almost $60 billion
after it emerged yesterday that the mining house, whose operations have been
sustained by regular disbursements of funds from the central bank's
productive sector facility (PSF), got a further $10 billion loan this week.

      SMM chief executive officer Obert Dube, who professed ignorance of the
taskforce, confirmed that the company had received more funds from the
central bank.

      "We have received another tranche of $10 billion under the productive
sector facility," Dube said, indicating that the mining firm's PSF debt now
stood at $58.8 billion.

      Although it could not be immediately established what the Cabinet
taskforce's terms of reference were, the move has fed into the speculation
that the government, which unsuccessfully sought the extradition of Mawere
from South Africa over alleged exchange control violations, had trained its
sights on taking over the embattled mogul's assets.

      To further compound Mawere's woes, Zimre Holdings Limited (ZHL), a
diversified financial institution in which he has a major interest, is
heading for a collision course with regulators over problems surrounding its
insolvent South African subsidiary.

      ZHL is currently under an RBZ probe for suspected exchange control
violations, while the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange was reported to be mulling
suspending trade in the stock, citing non-disclosure of price-sensitive
information pertaining to the South African subsidiary.

      However, it is the state of affairs at SMM, which launched Mawere into
Zimbabwean corporate lore when he took over the lucrative Mashava and
Shabanie Mines in the mid-1990s, that mirrors the radical change in

      The mines, which formed the basis for Mawere's expansion into
virtually every other sector of the economy, have the capacity to earn about
US$40 million from exports.

      But now they can hardly sustain their operations.

      Dube said despite the RBZ loans, targeted at providing working capital
for the mines which employ over 5 000 people, SMM was fast losing its market

      "Production is still subdued because we have gone through a bad spell
and are pursuing recovery.

      "We are very short of meeting demand from our customers and our
competitors have capitalised on that," Dube said.

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      Nhema named in graft case

      Njabulo Ncube
      8/19/2004 7:37:11 AM (GMT +2)

      A HWANGE safari operator has grabbed the bull by the horns and dragged
Environment and Tourism Minister Francis Nhema to court on allegations of
corruptly awarding a lucrative hunting concession to a company whose
director is reportedly linked to the minister.

      Nhema, the son-in-law of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, the
Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and Harare-based firm Asitroc
Investment (Private) Limited were last week served with High Court papers to
rescind a hunting concession awarded to Marble Dete, one of the directors of

      Headman Sibanda, a safari operator in Matabeleland North, wants the
High Court to cancel and set aside the lease agreement the Environment and
Tourism Minister allegedly awarded to Asitroc in Matabeleland North.

      Sibanda's decision to seek High Court intervention comes at a time
when President Robert Mugabe and his government are battling to counter
accusations that the chaotic and controversial land reform pioneered by the
veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle has mostly benefited leading
politicians and their cronies.

      President Mugabe has cracked the whip on graft, with the corruption
dragnet claiming the notable scalps of Finance Minister Christopher Kuruneri
and ZANU PF central committee member, James Makamba, who are battling to
secure their freedoms since they appeared before the courts in February and
April this year.

      It also comes against the backcloth of the arrest and subsequent
suspension of Vitalis Chadenga, a director at the Parks and Wildlife
Management Authority, following allegations of corruptly capturing wild
animals for re-sale at the country's major wildlife parks.

      There have also been allegations of rampant poaching of animals at the
national parks.

      Nhema, who emerged the major shareholder of the Zimbabwe Building
Society (ZBS) a few months ago, has in the past categorically denied
allegations of corruption and favouritism in the awarding of lucrative
hunting concessions in Matabeleland.

      However, Sibanda alleges in documents, copies of which are in the
possession of The Financial Gazette, that Nhema and his ministry officials
corruptly awarded the concession to Asitroc without going to tender, charges
vehemently denied by the minister.

      The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority is listed as the first
respondent in the matter, Nhema, the second respondent and Asitroc as the
third respondent.

      The High Court application seeks to nullify the lease agreement signed
on June 13 2003 between Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and Asitroc.
The documents state that Nhema approved the agreement in his capacity as the
Minister of Environment and Tourism.

      "The first (Parks and Wildlife Management Authority) and second
respondent (Nhema) be and are hereby directed to invite tenders for the Deka
Pool Safari area, in terms of standing tender procedure after which an
independent adjudication committee should be appointed to process the
tenders," reads part of the draft order lodged with the High Court.

      Officials at the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority confirmed
receiving the High Court papers but refused to comment, saying the matter
was before the courts.

      The granting of lucrative hunting and photographic concessions to ZANU
PF associates sparked off controversy early this year amid revelations that
Nhema's ministry doled out long leases to top officials outside Matabeleland
at the expense of locals.

      In his affidavit, Sibanda alleges that Nhema abused his ministerial
position by ordering that the Deka Pool Safari Area and Sengwa Safari Area
concessions be granted to Asitroc Investment and Tent Peg consortium

      "I respectfully submit that this was unprocedural and irregular and
second respondent knew that. Indeed on the 29th of January 2004, my legal
practitioners gave second respondent (Nhema) notice in terms of the State
Liabilities Act, of my intention to bring this application before this

      "When the second respondent (Nhema) saw that letter, he sent a leading
political figure in Matabeleland North, Mr Jacob Mudenda to come and talk to
me to try and resolve the matter on his terms and without reversing the
irregular Deka concession. I refused to accede to his request and nothing
came out of the discussion.

      "I respectfully submit that I have made out a good case for the
quashing of the Deka concession, the cancellation of the agreement of lease
with the Third Respondent (Asitroc Investment) on the basis of impropriety
and breach of tender procedure and the ordering of the commencement of
proper tender procedure for all to participate in a transparent and fair
manner," reads part of Sibanda's affidavit.
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      ZAPU leader's freedom hopes dashed

      Njabulo Ncube
      8/19/2004 7:37:44 AM (GMT +2)

      THE courts have declined an application for discharge by Paul Siwela,
the president of the fringe opposition political party ZAPU, and political
activist Jethro Mkhwananzi who are facing charges of violating a section of
the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

      Siwela, who participated in the disputed 2002 presidential election
and fared dismally, and Mkwananzi, a fierce critic of President Robert
Mugabe, allegedly incited people in Matabeleland to rise against the
Zimbabwean leader whom they accused of sending the Fifth Brigade to murder
the Ndebele people.

      Lawyers representing the duo yesterday told The Financial Gazette that
the state had refused to discharge their clients on charges of inciting
violence when they addressed a political gathering in December 2002 convened
by a non-governmental organisation to discuss a document fanning tribalism
that had been circulating both locally and internationally.

      The lawyers had applied to have their clients discharged on the
grounds that the state had no sufficient evidence to pin Siwela and
Mkhwananzi, but a regional court in Bulawayo this week threw out the
application and directed that the duo be put on their defence.

      "The court has refused the application for discharge at the close of
the state case and ordered that they be put on their defence on the basis
that the magistrate believes that the state has shown that they have a case
to answer," said Nicholas Mathonsi of Bulawayo-based law firm Coghlan and

      "As defence, we are disappointed because we thought we had put up a
good case for the application for discharge that we were seeking," said
Mathonsi, adding that his clients had been remanded to September 22 2004.
"This is the date we will start the defence," said the lawyer.

      Siwela and Mkhwananzi were arrested on December 6, 2002 for allegedly
making subversive statements during a public meeting. The ZAPU leaders
allegedly told the public gathering that the Ndebele people were
marginalised and should stand up and fight using spears.

      According to the court documents, Siwela allegedly accused President
Mugabe of causing unnecessary suffering to the Ndebele people and further
urged the people of Matabeleland to demand compensation for atrocities
allegedly committed by the Gukurahundi.

      It is also alleged that Siwela called on the people of Matabeleland to
eject all Shona-speaking people from the region, accusing them of occupying
influential positions at workplaces.

      Mkhwananzi, who also addressed the same meeting, is alleged to have
said that President Mugabe scored a diplomatic coup against the late Vice
President Joshua Nkomo by "slaughtering" six tourists along the
Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway and shifted the blame to dissidents largely
believed to have been backed by PF ZAPU. The tourists were from Europe.

      Mkhwananzi, according to court documents, alleged the "slaughter" of
the tourists was meant to deceive the world into believing that the
Gukurahundi in the early 1980s was a just war against the Ndebele people.
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      ZANU PF woos female MDC legislators

      Njabulo Ncube
      8/19/2004 7:38:14 AM (GMT +2)

      ZANU PF, which is pressing for the introduction of a 260-member
bicameral parliament, is lobbying female legislators in the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) to support the proposed constitutional amendments,
expected to be tabled in parliament in the next few weeks.

      ZANU PF officials were this week tight-lipped on the details of the
proposed amendments, envisaged to take root after the March 2005
parliamentary polls.

      MDC insiders told The Financial Gazette that female legislators were
inundated with calls from ZANU PF officials to fully endorse the proposed
amendments to the constitution to allow the ruling party to increase the
number of contested seats to 150, as well as to pave way for the
introduction of a 60-member senate.

      Of the 60-member senate, 40 senators would be brought to the august
House through proportional representation from 10 of the country's political
provinces. President Robert Mugabe would have the prerogative of appointing
10 governors and 10 chiefs to sit in the senate, bringing the total number
of people in the proposed senator to 60.

      The Financial Gazette has it on good authority that there are also
proposals to have 50 special seats for women, again to be determined by
proportional representation, to be drawn per province through out the

      A draft document on the proposed constitutional amendment to alter the
present parliament with 120 elected and 30 non-elected legislators has been
presented to the executive. It is being circulated among the members of the

      MDC female legislators who spoke to this newspaper this week confirmed
that they had received overtures from ruling party legislators and other top
party officials to fully support the proposals to overhaul the parliamentary

      "What ZANU PF is saying is that it is for the good of female
legislators in the MDC to support the proposed amendments when they come to
the House soon," said an MDC female legislator who spoke on condition of

      "The lobby is serious because ZANU PF needs at least four legislators
from our ranks to have the required two-thirds majority to tamper with the
constitution," she added.

      The MDC legislators were adamant they would not be bullied or coaxed
into supporting piece-meal constitutional reforms.

      "This latest proposal to tinker with the parliament, just like the
proposed electoral reforms, will only benefit ZANU PF. There is no way we
can embrace this latest one even though they are proposing 50 special seats
for women," added another female MDC legislator.

      David Coltart, the MDC legal secretary, said his party's position
regarding constitutional reform had not changed.

      "We have not shifted our position as a party. We want constitutional
reform but this process should not be piecemeal as is being suggested by
ZANU PF. We as a party want and will support comprehensive reforms," said

      The proposal to introduce a bicameral parliament comes at a time when
the Zimbabwe Parliament is itself undertaking a reform process, which kicked
off in 1997.

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      Minister's antics disconcert industry

      Nelson Banya
      8/19/2004 7:39:35 AM (GMT +2)

      INDUSTRY and International Trade Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi's
hardline stance against re-engagement with the international community,
particularly the Bretton Woods institutions, has further attenuated
industry's confidence that the government is going all out to resolve the
economic crisis.

      The consensus is that Zimbabwe, which has largely remained a pariah
state with friends few and far between, should mend fences with the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), its sister institution the World Bank and
the greater international community.

      Critical funding from the international monetarists has been on ice
since the mid-nineties. Other donors and financiers who take their cue from
the IMF have also been sitting on the fence, maintaining the wait-and-see

      Observers were this week unanimous that although what the country
would get from the IMF as balance of payments support amounted to the
proverbial drop in the ocean considering its external support requirements,
it could trigger a flurry of international financier support for the

      In line with this, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which has taken
a lead role in the economic revival process, has gone all out to engage the
development partners from whom the country has been estranged for close to a
decade now.

      But the divergent voices emanating from the government have
disconcerted industry and commerce.

      Analysts have previously cautioned that as the country draws towards
another election next year, economic pragmatism was likely to take a back
seat between now and the first half of 2005, when populist posturing is
expected to take centre stage.

      Amid the uncertainty wrought by mixed signals emanating from the
corridors of power, it has also emerged that scepticism has crept in among
captains of industry and trade.

      "We do not believe the minister's position is shared across the board,
but then he is a government minister and what he says carries weight quite
naturally. So although some of us have ceased to take him seriously, having
been exposed to some of his antics, we are not sure if the international
partners also disregard him.

      "For the most part, though, we switch off when he takes to the
podium," one banking executive who attended the Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries (CZI) congress in Victoria Falls, where Mbengegwi, once again,
lambasted industry for its supposedly narrow view of what amounts to an
international community.

      Prior to the CZI congress, the minister also clashed with prominent
economic commentator Eric Bloch at a Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce
(ZNCC) meeting held in Kadoma two months ago, over the issue.

      Moses Chundu, an economist with CFX Financial Services who was also in
attendance at the CZI congress, said it was imperative that the country gets
the support of international partners if the economic turnaround effort was
to bear fruit.

      "We need to speak the same language, but as far as some of us can see,
there is a rift between the central bank and the government over engaging
the international community.

      "While we take note of our history, we also need partnership that is
fair and smart. We can say no to certainly conditionalities, but there is no
need to remain disengaged," Chundu said.

      Bloch said the stance taken by the likes of Mumbengegwi seemed to have
been buttressed by President Robert Mugabe, who is also on record as having
said Zimbabwe could go it alone.

      "It should be noted that the President has himself said that we can go
it alone, like Malaysia, forgetting that Malaysia's circumstances are
different from ours.

      "I will not go so far as to say that is the common position in
government, but I know even those who see differently do not dare say so,
which is why it is commendable that the (RBZ) governor has shown courage to
publicly disagree. This has, in turn resulted in headway being made,
especially where the International Monetary Fund, which was considering
expelling us but has deferred the decision, is concerned," Bloch said.

      The RBZ has, in recent months, moved towards a détente with the
Bretton Woods institutions following a protracted impasse.

      On its part, the government has also committed to making token
repayments to the multinational development institutions owed several
billions of dollars by Harare.

      The IMF last year initiated moves towards terminating Zimbabwe's
membership, a decision which has been deferred for six months as officials
in Washington watch the economic turnaround programme being spearheaded by
the RBZ.

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      From Mutapa . . . then back to Mutapa

      Nelson Banya
      8/19/2004 7:40:39 AM (GMT +2)

      WHEN Aeneas Chigwe-dere, celebrated historian, author, teacher and
school head, ascended to the helm of the Education Ministry, few would have
thought that his tenure at Chester House would coincide with a startling
decline in the standards of Zimbabwe's education system, once feted as
peerless on the continent.

      Critics say Chigwe-dere, whose first published work - From Mutapa to
Rhodes - chronicled the history of the Shona empire that straddled what is
now modern southeastern Zimbabwe and parts of Mozambique up until the advent
of the colonial era, has virtually turned back the hands of time towards
those 15th century days when the Munhumutapas established the empire.

      Chigwedere's appointment as deputy minister in the Education Ministry
in 2000 followed the conclusion of the Nziramasanga Commission into
Zimbabwe's education system. As a result, it was greeted with much optimism.

      Indeed, the new appointee himself remarked: "I feel I have come at the
most opportune moment for one main reason, that the Nziramasanga Report
which contains radical changes in education is being considered for

      "I have been clamouring for changes in the education system. I feel I
will assist the minister to forge the education system so that the youths
will benefit."

      At the time, nothing could have prepared the nation for the "radical
changes" that Chigwedere, who was to be appointed head of the ministry
within the year, would ring.

      Among them was the crusade against colonial names, similar uniforms
for all schools, the proscription of foreign syndicated examinations, and a
clampdown on "excessive fees" as well as on extra tuition over holidays.

      Four years down the line, Caiphas Nzirama-sanga, who led the
commission, expressed dissatisfaction with the manner and pace of
implementation of the commission's recommendations.

      "This is the fourth year since the report was completed and one would
have expected half the recommendations to have been implemented,"
Nziramasanga said last year.

      Instead, the ministry has gone on an all-out assault to break the
spirit of private schools, where most black professionals now send their
children, eschewing public institutions that have been run down by years of
maladministration and chronic underfunding.

      Chigwedere, combative right through the unfolding crisis, has come out

      Private schools are the last bastion of colonial privilege, he
charged, despite the fact that most of the children enrolled there are

      The claim was made all the more ridiculous this week when Kirsty
Coventry, a product of the very same school system Chigwedere is trying to
destroy, won Zimbabwe's first individual medal at the Athens Olympiad,
thereby raising the country's flag high above politics, religion and creed.
Coventry is a former student of Harare's Dominican Convent.

      Ironically, Chigwe-dere was barred from Greece as the Olympic hosts
enforced a European Union ban on Zimbabwe government officials, slapped
after the country descended into deep-seated political and economic crises.

      However, a cursory look at Chigwedere's history betrays an underlying
desire to annihilate what he perceives to be the remnant of European

      Debating in Parliament in 1995, the Wedza legislator argued that
Zimbabwe's education "should be prefaced by a clear national education

      "As we stand here now, I have never known for 15 years what our
national aims and objectives are in education," Chigwedere argued.

      Later that year he moved a motion calling on the government to
designate "under-used" mission farms. Most mission schools, many of which
produced the country's leaders, including President Robert Mugabe, were
built on missionary farm land. The ZANU PF-dominated Fourth Parliament shot
the motion down.

      Chigwedere's report card as far as his ministry is concerned cannot be
flattering. The public education system is in a state of decay - basic
teaching aids are not available, morale has hit rock bottom among teaching
staff, the public examination system has lost credibility and the onslaught
against private schools has sounded the final death knell.

      Incidentally, at the time of the presentation of his commission's
report, Nziramasanga alluded to the sad reality of illiteracy among the
ranks of Zimbabwe's school children.

      "There is no doubt that our educational content is deteriorating.
There are children who cannot read or write. At Form 2 they could not read
or write.

      "We found children at Form 4 who could not write their names," the
veteran educationist said at the time.

      He certainly could not have guessed, in all his sagacity, that a few
years down the line, custodians of the country's revolutionised examination
system would not be able to distinguish one candidate from the other.
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      Redefine patriotism, say analysts

      Charles Rukuni
      8/19/2004 7:41:10 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - As Zimbabwe approaches its first quarter century as an
independent state, some political commentators have called on the country to
redefine patriotism to reflect the generational transformation that has
taken place since 1980 when the country attained independence after a
14-year bitter armed struggle.

      The commentators were concerned about statements by ruling ZANU-PF
leaders which continued to bind the nation to one's participation in the
liberation struggle, something they argued inferred that anyone who did not
participate in that struggle was not patriotic enough to lead the country.

      President Robert Mugabe was recently quoted as saying that he looked
forward to being replaced by someone with a political record of
participating in the liberation struggle.

      Although it could be argued that he was talking about someone
succeeding him in his own party, ZANU PF, there are fears that he could have
been referring to the nation, as he is currently president of the country.

      "I look at one who will appeal to the people and who the people will
have chosen naturally as having the qualities of a leader . . . We must have
honest leaders and that comes first," he was quoted by The Voice, ZANU PF's
official newspaper, as saying.

      While political commentators agreed with President Mugabe on this
because he was giving the people the right to choose their leaders, they
differed when he went on to add: "One naturally with a record of
participation in the struggle and one who cherishes the principles and
objectives of ZANU PF and who is people orientated and knowledgeable in
other ways."

      President Mugabe's sentiments were a sad reminder of what former
Defence Forces chief Vitalis Zvinavashe said in the run-up to the crucial
2002 presidential elections.

      He said the defence forces would not accept anyone who had not fought
in the liberation struggle to lead the country.

      Most people felt this was outright intimidation to cow the electorate
not to vote for Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai who
was widely tipped at the time to pip ZANU PF leader President Mugabe.

      Asked what he understood patriotism to mean in view of the prevailing
attitude within the ruling party, political commentator Heneri Dzinotyiwei
said patriotism meant "having a genuine emotional attachment to the goals of
interest to one's country and taking positions that are always seen to give
priority to such goals".

      He said the goals were broad ones aimed at developing the people of a

      They had to be nationally acceptable and, though they could be set by
the government of the day, if it was an acceptable government, they
transcended the political divide.

      "In other words these are goals that can withstand a change of

      "All that changes when there is a change of government is the method
or pace of implementation," he said.

      Dzinotyiwei said while there was nothing essentially wrong with
looking at those who participated in the liberation struggle, there was a
need to redefine what people meant by participation in the struggle.

      "We fought a people's war. Everybody, except a few sellouts,
participated in one way or the other, so the question of who participated
must be looked at carefully," he said.

      The same sentiments were echoed by Bulawayo historian and
educationist, Pathisa Nyathi.

      "If we continue to link patriotism and participation in politics to
those who fought in the liberation struggle, what are we going to do 50
years from now when they are all dead?" he asked.

      Nyathi said patriotism should simply be confined to love of one's
country, dedication to that country, commitment to the nation and conviction
for what the nation stands for.

      "I am not saying people should agree all the time, but where there are
differences you do not shoot down your country or denigrate it," he said.

      "This does not mean to say you should not criticise the leadership.
You must do that instead or letting outsiders do it.

      "You criticise to build the nation, to make sure that the leadership
is answerable to the people. You do that out of love for your country just
like you would criticise a friend or a colleague, out of love."

      Nyathi said it was very unpatriotic to keep silent while the nation
crumbled, adding that linking patriotism to participation in the struggle
was too narrow a definition of patriotism.

      "You have to leave that to the people.

      "People will define what patriotism is and who they want to lead them.
What is important is not what you were carrying, but people standing for

      "You need to stand for your nation, defending what is good for your
country. Some struggles are not political, they are ideological. The
greatest weapon on earth is the mind, and fighting minds will always be

      Gorden Moyo, executive director of Bulawayo Agenda, a trust that
promotes dialogue, debate and discussion on topical issues affecting the
nation, said patriotism should be redefined to reflect new thinking on
democracy and respect for human rights.

      He said as far as he was concerned there were two levels of
patriotism, one shared by the "passing generation" and the other by the new

      "For the passing generation of current political leaders, who started
as nationalists, patriotism means commitment to each other, commitment to
collecti-veness, commitment to the common good, commitment to people who
share the same history and culture," Moyo said.

      "It means commitment to the values and virtues of the liberation

      "These people had a vision of liberating the African continent and
patriotism meant that one had to identify oneself with this vision.

      "This did not just apply to Zimbabwe but to the African continent as a
whole," he said.

      Moyo said things had changed. There was a new generation and a new
crop of leadership.

      To these people, patriotism meant commitment to the values and virtues
of democracy, and commitment to civil liberties of both individuals and

      "While it is good to refer to our past so that we can look at our
mistakes and map out the future, we should not dwell too much on the past,"
Moyo said.

      "Patriotism should be above mere utterances and observation of past
rituals and past victories. The past needs to be challenged and to be
scrutinised whether it was good or not.

      "Patriotism should include listening, sympathetic listening, to the
people, the poor, the middle class, listening to the concerns of the people
and bundling them up into a vision for the future."

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      Bennett, Chinamasa scuffle probe complete

      Brian Mangwende
      8/19/2004 7:41:52 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Parliamentary Privileges Committee is understood to have finalised
its probe into the scuffle between opposition legislator Roy Bennett and two
Cabinet ministers and the findings are expected to be presented to the House
next week.

      Chairman of the committee and Minister of Public Service, Labour and
Social Welfare Paul Mangwana told The Financial Gazette this week that the
inquest had been completed and he was currently working on the final draft
of the outcome of the probe.

      "We talked and talked with members of the committee, coming up with
various suggestions on the way forward," Mangwana said.

      "But after the discussions we made a decision. I am currently drafting
the report, which I will then hand over to members of the committee for
approval before they give me the green light to table it in Parliament."

      However, Mangwana, a lawyer for the past 19 years, refused to disclose
the committee's decision, saying he was gagged by parliamentary rules.

      "Our decision will come through Parliament. I am gagged by
parliamentary rules, so I am not in a position to disclose that information.
But our decision is going to be tabled in Parliament next week, if the
committee is satisfied with my report."

      Other members of the committee include Chief Jonathan Mangwende, the
Minister of Water Resources and Infrastructural Development, Joyce Mujuru,
and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MPs for Harare East and Bulawayo
North East Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube respectively.

      Bennett lost his cool after he was verbally attacked by Justice, Legal
and Parliamentary Affairs Minister and Leader of the House Patrick Chinamasa
while discussing the Stock Theft Bill.

      Irked by Chinamasa's vitriolic attack, the Chimanimani lawmaker stood
up, charged at the minister and floored him.

      Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of Anti-Corruption and Anti Monopolies in
the President's Office, was also involved in the brawl.

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      Fresh panic on the farms

      Felix Njini
      8/19/2004 7:42:26 AM (GMT +2)

      ALARM bells are ringing once again in the agriculture industry
following moves by the government to target estates owned by South African
horticultural firm Conafex Societe Anonyme Holdings for expropriation.

      The government has notified Conafex's Zimbabwean subsidiary, Zimcor
Limited, that it will effect immediate seizure of its entire agricultural
assets in the country.

      This comes barely three months after the government, whose land reform
programme has torn the country's once thriving agricultural sector apart,
expropriated Kondozi farm, where a lucrative horticultural project was run
on a joint-venture basis.

      Reports from South Africa indicate that notices extending to all of
Zimcor's agricultural assets have already been served on two of Zimcor's
most productive estates, Trelawney in Banket and Hybury in Chinhoyi.

      Conafex is listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange and the
Luxembourg Stock Exchange.

      In a cautionary statement issued this week on the JSE, Conafex
notified shareholders that all its agricultural assets had fallen victim to
the Zimbabwe government's seemingly unending disruptive land reform

      "Conafex Holdings Societe Anonyme wishes to advise shareholders that
the government of Zimbabwe has advised shareholders that all its
agricultural estates are to be compulsorily acquired with immediate effect.
The implications of this matter and the matter of compensation are not yet
clear," read part of the statement.

      The firm is reported to have been making diplomatic representations
through the Luxembourg embassy in Zimbabwe in a vain attempt to fight the
compulsory annexure.

      Conafex depends solely on its Zimbabwe operations, which are worth
US$8.5 million, the larger chunk of the company's total US$13 million
assets, according to its 2003 financial accounts.

      Conafex, which has been writing down its portfolio in light of the
risks associated with the disruptions on the farms in Zimbabwe, last year
made a Z$1.1 billion profit, up from Z$165 million.

      Zimcor employs about 963 workers.

      The group has been shifting its regional headquarters to South Africa,
where it has acquired a 50 percent stake in Cape Town-based Coffee Tea &
Chocolate Company, while selling its stake in the Zimbabwean company Barato
Holdings Limited for US$1.1 million.

      Barato's sole asset was an 18 percent pole-positioning shareholding in
leading horticultural group Ariston Holdings, which is listed on the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

      Conafex has however long stated its desire to shift investment from
Zimbabwe to elsewhere in the region.

      The latest move by the government has sent jitters down the spines of
South African agro-investors, who include Anglo American, which owns Hippo
Valley sugar estates and 50 percent of Triangle Sugar. Diversified resource
group Tongaat-Hullet owns the remaining 50 percent.

      Triangle, Zimbabwe's largest sugar producer, has not been served with
acquisition notices, while Hippo Valley sugar estates' future hangs in the
balance since January this year when Anglo American was served with
expropriation notices by the government.

      Disruptions in the horticultural sector have seen exports shrink by 23
percent since 1999.

      The sector contributes six percent of total agricultural output and
eight percent of foreign exchange earnings.

      Export earnings have shrunk from US$142 million in 1999 to US$110
million in 2003.

      Output from the horticultural sector, which for 10 years before 1999
had registered average growth rates of 15 percent annually, is expected to
fall by 50 percent in 2004.

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      Mumbengegwi's antics a drag

      8/19/2004 8:07:46 AM (GMT +2)

      Industry and International Trade Minister, Samuel Mumbengegwi, known
for his antics and fits of temper, was at it again a fortnight ago. Clearly
incapable of being serious the minister waxed enthusiastic and lyrical about
how he had been able to bust so-called targeted sanctions to attend meetings
in Brussels, the seat of the European Union.

      According to the minister, Zimbabwe is doing just fine in isolation
(Please God help us) and captains of industry attending the Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries annual congress in Victoria Falls were wrong to say that
the country has suffered breathtaking losses because of the ostracisation
which has aggravated the unprecedented economic meltdown.

      Instead of being concerned with constructive engagement, the
self-absorbed, conceited and arrogant Mumbengegwi displayed his unbelievable
crassness when he started off by saying since he is a government minister
whatever he was going to say should not be questioned. Business leaders were
all of a sudden reduced to children of kindergarten age. Only to be seen and
never to be heard! He then had the temerity to insult the business community
further by telling them in no uncertain terms that they "have an obscure
notion of what consists of the international community". That the business
community could draw sharp attacks for such a logical and inescapable
conclusion speaks volumes about the calibre of our ministers.

      The statement by Mumbengegwi not only worsens and adds to the
sharpness of the Zimbabwean crisis. It also gives food for thought. To what
extent do Zimbabwean government ministers take their jobs seriously? Such
questions are inevitable because sometimes one cannot help but wonder to no
end how President Mugabe chooses some of his ministers. They are only good
at pressing the lid tight on the steam-boiler but retreat into a
scapegoating mode when insuperable problems arise!

      Business, which is feeling the sharpest edge of the knife in this
isolation, had said and rightly so, that no country is, metaphorically
speaking, an island and Zimbabwe could not therefore continue on this
isolationist path. It has to re-engage the international community. But in a
response that obviously must have provoked a sharp intake of breath among
the business leaders, Mumbengegwi, like the proverbial birthday skin naked
emperor who sees nothing wrong with it despite a cacophony of shouts to
alert him to his nudity, insisted Zimbabwe is doing fine. Really! From what
planet is Mumbengegwi from?

      That the country is caught up in a lengthy economic crisis is
inconsequential. So is the fact that foreign direct and portfolio investment
have plummeted by 95 percent and 83 percent respectively over the past eight
years. Added to this, the country is facing a serious crisis of confidence,
its credit rating has been reduced to junk status, critical
balance-of-payments support to stabilise public finances has evaporated, the
trade deficit has widened, industry is laden with gloom and jobs are being
shed everyday. And worse still Zimbabwe is now widely seen as a pariah state
although government has protested this as unjustified hostility, contempt
and ostracism, seemingly oblivious of the fact that in such circumstances as
Zimbabwe finds itself in perception is largely taken as fact. And, according
to Mumbengegwi, this is nothing to lose sleep over. It is a normal situation
despite telling and luminous evidence of a nation in distress. If this is
not a profound insult to Zimbabweans for whom the continued ostracisation
evokes a desperate sense of trepidation, then we don't know what is.

      Now, we understand that the Zimbabwean government has its back against
the wall. Clutching at straws for political survival, it is bound to react
like a cornered animal. We also appreciate that contrary to the laws of
physics, any pressure in politics spawns a strong reaction. But given that
the present state of the relationship between Zimbabwe and the international
community leaves a painful impression, the temperamental Mumbengegwi is, for
want of as better word, wrong to pretend that the consequences of the
isolation are not being felt.

      The minister's tragi-comic posturing should be dismissed with the
contempt it deserves. The angry-sounding minister is a clown whose antics
have long ceased to be funny if ever they were. Such unfortunate posturing
by someone who should, as the head of the all-important Ministry of Industry
and International Trade, be a symbol of the Zimbabwean economic
pre-eminence, could be laughable were it not for the gravity of its
implications. What signal is he sending to the international community? Wake
up and smell the coffee minister. No matter how much of a bitter pill it
might be, we need the international community. But it does not need us nor
does it owe us a living.

      True, we have been in isolation for some time now. But have we fared
any better, as Mumbengegwi would like to make us believe? Unfortunately no.
This is why we feel that re-engaging the international community as already
advocated by the more sensible and practical arms of government such as the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will be a victory for pragmatism. Together with our
own home-grown efforts to put a fresh heart into the stricken economy,
herein lies the main direction of maintaining stability and sustainable
growth in the economy based on the calculation and understanding of events
taking place in the global village that the world has become.

      It is indeed a tragedy that Mumbengegwi, under whose stewardship
Zimbabwean exports have hit an all-time low, is clearly lacking in strategic
vision and clarity of thinking which could help bolster the country's
faltering economic fortunes. He ignores reality, basic economic laws and
common sense. That is why he speaks so glowingly of the look-east policy,
which at most has brought very little from the limping Asian tigers and at
worst nothing!

      The fact is that there is a fork ahead on this road of
Zimbabwe/international community relationship. It is either a deeper
rapprochement with the greater community of nations or deeper conservatism
and isolation, being advocated by the likes of Mumbengegwi, which will be
ruinous for the country.

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      8/19/2004 7:56:18 AM (GMT +2)

      EDITOR - I would like to forewarn fellow Zimbabweans about the coming
of a second gukurahundi, or episode of mass murder, to Zimbabwe.

      Once again, I am afraid, Zimbabweans could be mercilessly subjected to
torture, maiming and killings for the political survival of a few people.

      I warn my fellow Zimbos to be on guard and be vigilant. Stay indoors
and don't invite trouble.

      It is rather sad that we are having to do this in our "homeland", but
we have no choice!

      James Matavire,


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      Budget for coffins:elections are close

      8/19/2004 7:52:59 AM (GMT +2)

      EDITOR - I have nothing for or against the West. And when there
      is something to emulate, even in an enemy's deeds, those who are wise
do so without being blinkered by foolish emotions.

      I am talking about a civilised way of campaigning for and holding

      As I write, Americans John Kerry and George W Bush are locking horns
in a political battle for the White House. When I watch their election
campaigns, it is as if I am watching a debate between brothers. It is a
fierce battle without swords, no words of hatred, no violence, no blood.

      They do not attack each other's person: they focus on issues.

      The other time I watched Kerry, with a large bus clearly labelled John
Kerry, on a campaign crusade and I wondered what would happen if Morgan
Tsvangirai did the same in Zimbabwe. He would not move half an inch before
the petrol bombs rained.

      My heart bleeds at the culture of political violence promoted directly
and indirectly by those who are
      supposed to sow seeds of peace, progress and prosperity in our
country. Every election time innocent people have to make an extra budget
for tears, coffins and food in anticipation of death and suffering.

      Why can't we Zimbabweans tolerate each other and work for the progress
of our country? Why do our
      leaders continue to torment the souls of the brave men and women who
lost their lives fighting for peace for
      everyone in Zimbabwe regardless of colour, political orientation and

      Why do our leaders turn their
      attention away from addressing bread-and-butter issues and instead
waste precious energy singing
      stories of Western conspiracies as if that would bring progress to our
people? Could someone give me an answer?

      Simon Bere,

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      ...and now to the NOTEBOOK

      8/19/2004 8:10:55 AM (GMT +2)

      Zimbabweans, that schizophrenic southern African people that the whole
world is struggling to understand, are at it again . . . this time they are
going to throw the longest kongonya dance party that will land them in the
Guinness Book of Records, one more time!

      Believe me, some 60-plus sybaritic Zimbos calling themselves The
Neighbourhood Crew are planning to throw the longest of all dance parties
the world has ever seen . . . a dhindindi that will run for a cool five days
and four nights at the Harare Gardens from August 26 to August 30.

      About nine medical doctors have already been engaged to ensure that
Neighbourhood Crew's kongonya dance party surpasses the 52-hour record set
by some Americans in Ohio last year.

      Killjoys at ZESA have been warned against any power-cut mischief. And
besides, a generator will be on standby to ensure Zimbabweans feature again
in the world book of abnormals.

      At least this augurs very well with the culture of "official" galas
that is being inculcated among us.

      After our Jonah Mungoshi narrowly missed being entered for giving the
longest speech in the world, we can still boast that we are current holders
of the longest lecture and, at one time, if not until now, holders of
another record - that of producing the youngest university lecturer.

      Besides, we have several other dubious world records that are not yet
official . . . we are the only country in the world that can insult the
British and their American cousins and get away with it. We are proud that
our own Great Uncle is the most travelled statesman in the whole world . . .
and we are also the only poor country in the world that gives donors
conditions under which they can help us.

      A Cabinet minister, now dismissed, once built a nine-roomed house in
one day at his Guruve home when his father died just to save very senior
party members who were going to attend the funeral from suffering heart
attacks! Isn't this enough for Guinness?

      And the war veterans last week decided to lock the ZANU PF offices in
Masvingo, unhappy with the way Daniel Shumba is running (down) the party
business in the province. The rambunctious former freedom fighters charged
that they were not too happy with the leadership style of the former
army-man, who they claimed did not want to address some pertinent party

      We are not sure whether these allegations are true but what we are
sure of is Cde Shumba's response: "I don't have time to attend Kangaroo

      Such arrogance! We wonder where he derives his power from.

      And by the way, what is the latest on that stillborn project called
Telefone Access (TeleAccess)? What happened to the claptrap about COMESA
projects and all that noise?

      At the weekend, Comrade Shuvai Mahofa announced that she had set up a
trust fund to fundraise billions for the Zimbabwe women's national soccer
team, the so-called Mighty Warriors, who will be participating in a
continental soccer tournament in South Africa in December. That is not much
of a bad idea at all . . . if only it was not for the timing.

      But Mahofa and her equally well-meaning colleagues should be reminded
that an investigation is currently underway at ZIFA House to take care of
serious accusations of a mighty sexy scandal allegedly going on in the
Mighty Warriors' camp.

      We are told that the sex scandals have been rampant for a long time
now - almost as old as the Mighty Warriors itself - and also that cases of
lesbianism are rampant in this outfit . . . a lot is reportedly happening
there. Anyway, this should not be surprising at all, especially in cases
where some male adults pretend to be donating their services to the women's
team under the name of patriotism and national duty!

      So, Cde Mahofa, what if we make generous donations to the trust and
after that it is established that the whole team is made up of homosexuals
and other sex perverts? Would we not feel fleeced by creatures "worse than
pigs and dogs" so that they can perform their perverted sexual act in poshy
South African hotels under the guise of a soccer tournament?

      Although Cde Mahofa is herself also not a stranger to canal scandals,
CZ doesn't think that it is the right thing for her and her colleagues to
involve themselves with this scandal-tainted Mighty Warriors at this time.
GALZ might be very happy to chip in!

      And CZ wonders whether the on-going investigations at ZIFA will also
involve outsiders as well because a number of sports journalist colleagues
are rumoured to be heavily involved in this sex scandal!

      Media consumers can now please look forward to the Candid Brief from
the Editor column in ZANU PF's refurbished mouthpiece, The Voice, which is
threatening to make their Sundays very good ones. Here the combative young
editor is showing that he will not be intimidated by other men in the party,
moreso those in the Department of Information and Publicity in the Office of
the Great Uncle and his Cabinet who seem to have a propensity to create
enemies even with their own grandmothers!

      This week's Candid Brief was one good one. During the editor's recent
interview with the Great Uncle, it emerged that all the five copies of The
Voice intended for his office were never getting to him and everyone
wondered who might be this person playing the unsavoury role of saboteur.

      "Indeed who is the saboteur? Your guess is just as good as mine and I
shall not say anything more for I will be accused of all sorts of names
(sic)," said the editor who was recently dismissed by the Department of
Information as "ideologically confused".

      He added: "There is nothing more exhilarating and reassuring for an
Editor to (sic) realise that the President and First Secretary of the Party
is supportive of your efforts. I am quite aware that there are others who
have cast aspersions about (sic) the Editor in an effort to discredit him,
my message to them is that I was born in the struggle, grew in the struggle
and I am still in the struggle. This is my identity, I can not reinvent
myself. I am not like others whose history in the party does not go beyond
the media institutions they are working for . . . "

      There you are. A man asserting his authority.

      We all hope against hope that at the December congress, one professor
will not emerge full-blown as ZANU PF's secretary for information . . .
there could be gnashing of teeth at Shake-Shake Building. Don't say we didn'
t warn you!

      About the good pictures that appeared in the Brief, especially the one
in which the editor is holding the Great Uncle like his "small-house",
colleagues in the fraternity tell CZ that although his is a party paper,
that habit is not encouraged in the noble profession.

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      Obstacles to media freedom

      8/19/2004 8:17:50 AM (GMT +2)

      Information is the lifeblood of a democracy and it is also the
lifeblood of journalism.

      The free flow of information is crucial to the enjoyment and
protection of a whole range of other rights and freedoms and that is why
freedom of information is often described as the touchstone of all freedoms.

      Much stress is justifiably laid these days on government transparency
and accountability.

      Without access to adequate information about government, it is not
possible for people to participate in any meaningful way in social
interaction and development activities.

      An open style of government allows Parliament, civil society, the
media and interested members of the public to participate in the formulation
of policy and in decision-making in general at all levels.

      A result of openness in government is that the quality of
decision-making may be improved because more discussion and debate will go
into it.

      In order to ensure accountability of government officials, information
relating to government activities must be freely and easily accessible.

      Only exceptionally should government be allowed to keep official
information secret.

      History clearly shows us that abuses of power and corruption thrive
when power holders are able to carry out their activities in secret.

      Yet the dominant culture in government systems and the private sector
is one of secrecy.

      Most governments hide information in their possession which will show
them in bad light.

      The more a government has to hide, the more it will resist moves to
have a functional system of easier access to government information.

      For media practitioners the perennial problem is how to gain access to
information that governments do not want them to know about.

      Corrupt and inept governments will seek to conceal all information
which will expose their incompetence and corruption.

      The same applies to information about private corporations.

      Globalisation has vested too much power in private corporations and
there is now greater need for accountability and transparency on their part.

      The rule should be that people have a general right of access to
official information and access should only be denied where there are
compelling public policy reasons for doing so on the grounds of necessary
protection of genuine and essential public interests or legitimate private

      In other words, public officials should be legally duty-bound to
disclose information except that which falls under the exemptions and the
exemptions must be precisely and clearly defined.

      This is the position in Sweden, Australia, Germany, Norway and the
United States.

      Unfortunately concepts of public order, security and interest,
etcetera, are nebulous and elusive and can be manipulated and abused by
government officials to cover scandals, for example, in the awarding of
government tenders.

      If the media is unduly constrained from supplying information to the
public by repressive, vaguely worded laws shielding public officials from
criticism such as laws on so-called subversive statements, seditious libel,
defamation and contempt of Parliament, the democratic process suffers
because the public does not have access to information, and so cannot make
any meaningful contribution to the public discourse as is expected in any
participatory democracy.

      The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act undermines the
right of citizens to government information.

      Modern ideas emphasise the duty of government to allow the media and
the citizenry in general reasonable access to information held by government

      This duty, though, is subject to certain exceptions which must be
reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.

      As presently formulated, AIPPA and the Official Secrets Act (OSA) go
way beyond what would be accepted as legitimate and justifiable protection
from disclosure of government information.

      The exemptions in AIPPA are exceedingly and frighteningly wide in
scope to the extent that the legislation just gives a theoretical right to
information but the exemptions have the effect of effectively watering down
that right.

      It is not very clear from the Act but it would appear that only
journalists accredited in terms of the Act, and not the general public or
any other person, can apply for access to information held by public bodies.

      The rationale for the compulsory licensing of journalists and of
making a distinction between a professional journalist and any other citizen
in terms of the right to access to government information is difficult to

      The practice of professional journalism cannot be differentiated from
freedom of expression.

      On the contrary, both are obviously intertwined, for the professional
journalist is not, nor can he be anything but someone who has decided to
exercise freedom of expression in a continuous, regular and paid manner.

      So the main problem with AIPPA is the breadth of the exemptions, which
are wide and vague, and the fact that with many of these exemptions there is
no independent check to ensure that government officials do not use these
exemptions to conceal government abuses.

      The legislation fails to statutorily create, institute and entrench an
appeal process or review mechanism which is independent of government to
determine whether or not privilege is genuinely claimed, save for a further
appeal to the Administrative Court.

      In order to extract information about matters of public administration
the media has to go through lengthy bureaucratic procedures and officials
are able to cover up illegal and unacceptable conduct by simply refusing to
allow the press access to relevant information.

      Where the media have little access to official information, there is a
danger that it will end up publishing stories based on rumour or speculation
and these stories may turn out to be fallacious and badly misdirected.

      Journalistic experience reveals that generally, persons in public
office in Zimbabwe are barred, as a matter of practice, from giving
information to the media unless authorised by their superiors.

      Journalists are hampered by this secretive style of public

      A reporter wishing to get information from a government official or a
quasi-governmental body is often met with a curt "no comment" or asked to
submit his questions in writing to the "appropriate authority" but not
infrequently a written request for information receives no reply or the
information supplied is too little or it may be supplied after a very long

      The result is that official information to the press is entirely
dependent upon official discretion.

      Another shortcoming in our access to information legislation is that
there is no whistle blower provision to give government officials immunity
from legal and disciplinary action when these officials act in the public
interest by revealing corruption, dishonesty and maladministration on the
part of other government officials.

      OSA, and in particular section 4 thereof, specifically makes it an
offence for any person employed in government to give out information to the
press without specific authorisation, including the receipt of such
information where such receipt is with the knowledge that the information is
being provided in contravention of the Act.

      The catch-all provisions of the section and the Act in general are
absurdly broad in scope, rendering criminal all unautho-rised disclosure of
information from official sources, regardless of whether the public interest
demand secrecy or not.

      Such indiscriminate legislation is a fertile breeding ground for abuse
by government.

      The fact that this Act is rarely invoked does not make it any less
offensive because its mere existence on our statute books poses a potential
danger to our liberties.

      In any case, it can actually be invoked in the run up to next year's
elections as what happened to the Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA),
which is now POSA.

      However, the constitutionality of many of the offences under OSA is
highly questionable because many of the provisions restrict the right to
receive and impart information guaranteed in section 20 of the constitution
and they go very much further than is reasonably justifiable in a democratic
society to protect interests such as defence, public safety and the economic
interests of the state.

      Zimbabwe needs to transform the whole information order from a closed
one to a far more open system so as to counter obstructionist tactics by
government departments and private corporations.

      It is difficult to see how a closed system of government can be
labeled democratic, with contemporary emphasis on participatory democracy.

      In the legal arena, the fundamental issue in transforming the
information order is to include in the constitution a specific guarantee of
access to information as with the Namibian and South African constitutions.

      By including such a constitutional guarantee, together with an
explicit guarantee of the freedom of the press, the courts will then be able
to interpret and measure all existing laws against the guarantees and strike
down any laws inconsistent with the constitution, to the extent of their

      Isaya Muriwo Sithole is a Harare-based legal practitioner.

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      Tourism's GDP contribution shrinks to 2%

      Staff Reporter
      8/19/2004 7:44:45 AM (GMT +2)

      THE tourism industry, which took a heavy battering at the height of
the government's chaotic land reform in 2000, will this year contribute two
percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

      Industry players said the industry, which at its peak in 1999 earned
the economy US$770 million, will contribute a mere Z$3.4 billion this year.

      Direct employment in the sector has also fallen from 128 244 in 2003
to 42 748 workers in 2004.

      According to the World Tourism Council, Zimbabwe's industry has a
potential to contribute more than 12 percent of GDP, which is the total
value of goods produced by a country.

      The sharp drop in tourism industry earnings comes amid revelations by
players in the sector that the much-touted "Look East" policy would need
more than 12 months to bear fruit.

      It has been established that tourists from Asia, mainly China, which
the Zimbabwe government has targeted as one of its potential source markets,
were coming at concessionary rates.

      Chinese visitors, whose spending patterns are far much lower than
those of tourists from Europe and the United States, also travel in groups
of 12 to 16 to get discounted rates.

      Players in the tourism sector said on average, a single Western
tourist spent about four times the amount of money a Chinese visitor would

      Zimsun Leisure chief executive officer Shingi Munyeza said Chinese
tourists were being charged US$30 per room while other visitors from around
the world were being charged at rates more than US$60 per room.

      This was mostly because the Chinese, who are not big spenders, had
been complaining about punitive rates in Zimbabwe.

      Average expenditure per Chinese tourist is about US$1 350 per
eight-day trip, tourism industry players said.

      "The Chinese market is getting the rates they want. We also look at
which hotels would be suitable for them, depending on their own values.
Since these people come in large numbers, the yield will just be the same
with tourists from our traditional markets," Munyeza said.

      Munyeza said it would take more than 12 months for the Chinese market
to start making meaningful contributions to the economy.

      The government has been harping on about the award of approved
destination status (ADS) by China to Zimbabwe.

      But the benefits could elude Zimbabwe, widely perceived unstable,
because China has also approved ADS to other African countries such as
Egypt, South Africa and Zambia.

      "Arrivals from the traditional source markets such as the United
Kingdom, America and Australia continue to decline as the hostility between
these countries and Zimbabwe continues," Munyeza said.

      Africa enjoys a 0.5 percent market share of more than 12.1 million
travellers from China.

      Analysts pointed out that the much expected Chinese tourist source
market was failing to make an impact mainly because of travel logistics.

      Whereas most international airlines are flying into South Africa,
Zimbabwe is only being served by two.

      This has also seen the multi-billion-dollar Harare International
Airport being reduced to a white elephant, observers say.

      "Direct flights to tourist destinations such as Kariba and Victoria
Falls are not available from Harare. Victoria Falls airport needs
lengthening, while the Hwange airport is in need of refurbishment," said

      The cash-strapped Zimbabwe government has allocated a paltry $20
billion to the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe to revamp international
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      'Hyperinflation to remain entrenched in Zim economy'

      Dumisani Ndlela
      8/19/2004 7:45:31 AM (GMT +2)

      A SOUTH African bank has warned that Zimbabwe would remain in the
hyperinflationary zone next year, despite the slowdown in inflation prompted
by an aggressive monetary policy by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

      In a report issued last Friday, Standard Bank said the country was
likely to see inflation, which had been heading towards the 1 000 percent
territory before RBZ governor Gideon Gono's monetary policy measures sent
tremors in a market that had become largely speculative, settling below the
200 percent range by the end of the year.

      This is in line with Gono's forecast made in his first monetary policy
statement as the new RBZ governor last year. The bank said that Zimbabwe's
inflation was showing early signs of levelling off, but hyperinflation would
remain entrenched in the economy despite the downward spiral.

      The year-on-year inflation rate for July slumped to 362.9 percent from
394.6 percent in June, although it edged up month-on-month to 9.5 percent
from 9.2 percent in June, spurred by increases in non-food items in the
consumer price index.

      Food inflation declined 378.4 percent year-on-year for the month of
July, from 430.6 percent in June.

      "Inflation pressures are clearly still evident, particularly in
non-food inflation categories. However, we expect inflation to decline to
below 200 percent by the end of the year and average 380 percent in 2004 and
150 percent in 2005. Inflation will still be at hyperinflationary levels and
will necessitate further monetary tightening," the bank said in its research
report on Zimbabwe.

      Zimbabwe is battling its worst economic crisis in history, and the RBZ
has targeted high inflation levels in its fight to bring sanity to a market
that had been haunted by speculative behaviour.

      While much of the speculative behaviour was a result of the
uncertainties created by the highly inflationary environment, much of it was
a result of greed and poor corporate governance as evidenced by the crisis
besetting the financial services sector.

      At least four financial institutions have closed down since Gono's
appointment last year and a fifth has been placed under curatorship.

      The insurance industry, long held to be a bell-weather sector, has
been caught up in the economic shake-up precipitated by the RBZ's tough
monetary policy.

      Insurance giant, First Mutual Life, is teetering on the brink of
collapse and is under a government-appointed probe, which has resulted in
the institution being barred from writing new business.

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      Minister vows to crack the whip at troubled NRZ

      Staff Reporter
      8/19/2004 7:46:01 AM (GMT +2)

      VICTORIA FALLS - Transport and Communications Minister Christopher
Mushowe has said he is going to wield the axe at the crumbling National
Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), which he said was stuffed with "little devils
which need to be exorcised".

      Mushowe, who also said he was working on a turnaround plan for the
national rail operator, which is currently "off rail", blamed management for
some of the operational constraints at the state controlled company.

      The NRZ has been operating at less than 40 percent of capacity,
resulting in its failure to service various sectors of the economy. The net
effect has been that industry has resorted to using road transportation,
which is four times more expensive.

      The serious operational and financial problems are being experienced
despite the fact that NRZ's wage bill gobbles up 140 percent of the
company's revenue, Mushowe said.

      "The NRZ is sick. It is on a life-support machine. But how do you
explain the wage bill of a poorly performing company taking up 140 percent
of the revenue base?" queried Mushowe.

      For the past three months, the NRZ has been paying its workers mid-
month and Mushowe said the company was the last to be paid after all other
creditors had been paid.

      The firm, which used to transport more than 12.3 million tonnes of
goods in 1999, now ferries just 5.8 million tonnes.

      NRZ's local debt has also ballooned to more than $50 billion.

      Mushowe said management at the firm was the major culprit in running
down a once vibrant organisation.

      "There is a combination of little devils, which need to be exorcised,
such as ageing infrastructure and lapses in management. In fact management
is the major culprit," Mushowe charged, adding there would be a complete
overhaul in all NRZ operations.

      Mushowe, whose ministry is said to have embarked on major turnaround
programmes at more than 11 state-controlled firms under its ambit, warned
that it would no longer be business as usual at NRZ, whose chaotic state was
underlined by yet another accident involving two commuter trains, which
collided and injured scores of people.

      The company is casting around for resources to be able to transport up
to six million tonnes of goods by the end of 2004 and nine million tonnes by
the end of 2005.

      Observers point out that the government lacks the resources to effect
a momentous change and its turnaround framework risks being thrown into the
trash can as has previously been the case.

      Business, which has been hit hard by the incapabilities of the rail
utility, accuses the government of paying lip service to the need to revamp
the ailing parastatal, saying that a lot needs to be done to staunch the
bleeding at NRZ.

      Industry players advised the government to consider shedding some
equity in return for fresh capital injection.

      The government has been calling on local industry to partner the NRZ
in the refurbishment of some of its wagons and locomotives.

      The Zimbabwe Mining and Smelting Company (ZIMASCO), a local
ferrochrome mining firm, last year assisted the NRZ in refurbishing 755
wagons and 13 locomotives, Mushowe said.

      Industry, which is reeling from the effects of the ailing economy,
could only chip in with resources if the government pledges non-interference
in management at NRZ, that the firm will be run on a commercial basis and if
NRZ management produces externally audited accounts, said a local industry

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      Is the Byo coin mint a white elephant?

      Charles Rukuni
      8/19/2004 7:47:09 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - The mother of an eight-year-old girl at a private school in
Bulawayo will never forget the day when she ran out of smaall change and
gave her daughter a $5 000 bearer's cheque.

      The little girl, who usually got a daily allowance of $500 or $1000,
depending on her mother's mood, discovered that with the bearer's cheque,
she could buy ice cream, snacks and a drink, and remain with some change.

      When her mother gave her the usual $500 the following morning, she
rejected the money insisting she wanted a bearer's cheque. Her hard-up
mother had to give in after the little girl went into a tantrum.

      Zimbabwe's currency, which until the end of 1982 was stronger than the
United States dollar, the rand and the pula, has lost so much value that
some Bulawayo residents are questioning the rationale for the continued
existence of the coin mint factory in the city, which the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe refuses to acknowledge is now a white elephant.

      Launched with pomp and ceremony on August 31, 2001 when the government
introduced a new $500 note and $5 coin, the aluminium and glass fronted
building along Jason Moyo Street is too quiet for comfort.

      When the $500 million mint was commissioned by President Robert
Mugabe, it was argued that it would save the country $50 million in foreign
currency because it was costing the country 150 cents to import a 10-cent
piece, for example.

      The mint, which had six presses, could churn out 240 million pieces a
year when the country's annual consumption was only 130 million pieces. The
mint could, therefore, be used to mint coins for other countries.

      Less than three years down the line, both the $500 note and the $5
coin are virtually useless. While, according to the Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe (CCZ), a $5 coin could buy a packet of tomatoes to feed a family of
six in October 2001, a child will not even pick up the coin today.

      He or she would even consider it an insult to be given anything less
than $500 as this is not enough to buy a sweet.

      The central bank, which is spearheading the country's economic
recovery programme, insisted that the mint was manufacturing coins "as per
demand" because coins were still legal tender and were in circulation.

      The bank said although it had stopped producing one cent and five cent
coins, they were still legal tender.

      Those who had problems disposing of them could have them exchanged at
the central bank for other denominations without loss of face value.

      Most shops no longer accept coins. Some building societies do not even
accept $20 and $50 notes, even for banking. The central bank declined to
disclose whether it was minting coins for other countries to sustain the
factory only saying "the mint will continue to compete with other mints
worldwide for business".

      "Currency is a security item and therefore it would not be prudent to
publicise any information relating to any of the mint's customers," it said.

      The only countries in the region where coins are still of any value
are those in the Southern African Customs Union, which comprises South
Africa which plays a central role, surrounded by the satellite states of
Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.

      There has been a run on the Zimbabwe dollar over the past three years
which has sent the currency tumbling as inflation soared from 76.1 percent
when the mint was commissioned to 363 percent last month, having peaked at
623 percent in January.

      Although inflation is declining, prices have continued to escalate.
For example, one needs $41 319 today to buy goods one would have bought for
$847.70 in August 2001.

      According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, a family of six
comprising a father and mother and four children, required only $21 503.11
in October 2001 for their basic requirements. Today the family requires $1.3
million for the same commodities.

      The CCZ monthly basket comprises 2kg of margarine, 40 kg of roller
meal, 6 kg of sugar. 500g of tea-leaves, a pint of milk every day, 4.5
litres of cooking oil, a loaf of bread every day, 2 kg of flour, 2 kg of
salt, vegetables everyday and 8 kg of meat.

      It also includes the cost of transport for 23 working days, 4 tablets
of bathing soap, 4 bars of washing soap, 4 packets of washing powder, rent
for a three-roomed house and provision for household goods, heat and
maintenance, health and education, and clothing and footwear.

      While the food items cost the family only $6 463.11 a month in October
2001, the same food items now cost the family $696 400.

      Non-food items, which cost the family $15 040 in 2001, now cost the
family $635 680.

      The CCZ basket is, however, for someone living at the poverty line
because, a loaf of bread for example, is hardly enough for six people,
especially the quality that is being baked today which crumbles as one
slices it.

      The escalating poverty line makes a mockery the tax concessions
recently made by acting Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa which will be
effective from next month.

      While they will provide some relief because the tax threshold was
raised from $200 000 a month to $750 000, the threshold is barely enough for
the food needs of an average-size family, which stood at $696 400 in July.

      The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions had recommended that the tax
threshold should be raised to $1 000 000. Using its argument that the tax
threshold should not be below the poverty datum line, the tax threshold
should now be $1.3 million.

      The ZCTU had also recommended that no one should be taxed at 45
percent as this was too much. It said the highest rate should be 30 percent
and should apply to those earning above $4 million a month.

      At the moment anyone earning more than $375 000 a month is taxed at 45

      With the continuing decline of the dollar, it will become increasingly
difficult to justify the existence of the coin mint unless it starts
manufacturing high denomination coins, replacing the present $10, $20, $50
and $100 notes with coins.

      Other countries in the region with high denomination notes, such as
Zambia and Tanzania, have stopped printing notes below K500 and TSh500.

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      Mozambique plans to ban Zim fuel tankers

      Felix Njini
      8/19/2004 7:49:01 AM (GMT +2)

      MOZAMBIQUE is considering banning Zimbabwe-bound fuel tankers passing
through its borders as they are damaging that country's roads and posing an
environmental hazard.

      The ban would be a serious blow to the country, which is still to
fully address the national fuel shortage. The fuel crunch, dating back to
1999, is one of the most visible signs of an economic crisis squarely blamed
on the government's mismanagement.

      The government, which has not taken kindly to the intended move by
Mozambique, has been holding marathon meetings with Mozambican Transport
Minister Andrew Langa, who made the startling announcement.

      While admitting that Mozambique, which is recovering from a
decade-long civil war, had a right to ban Zimbabwean tankers from using its
roads, July Moyo, the Energy and Power Development Minister, said the
intended move would have disastrous effects on Zimbabwe's precarious fuel
supply situation.

      Moyo last week urged fuel importers to use the Beira pipeline but the
pipeline has not been used for more than a year because of the huge debt
Zimbabwe owes the Mozambique-Zimbabwe pipeline Company.

      Fuel shipments have remained erratic despite a government move in
August last year to relax regulations and allow private oil companies to
import the commodity, ending the monopoly of state-importer, National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe.

      Zimbabwe consumes more than 70 million litres of fuel a month, which
it has to import at a total cost of more than US$50 million.

      Most of the petroleum, apart from that transported by rail, is ferried
by road.

      "Mozambique has said it is going to ban road tankers in its country.
They are damaging their roads, hence the need for us to use the pipeline,"
Moyo said.

      "Mozambique has a right to ban Zimbabwe-bound fuel tankers," Moyo

      Transporting fuel by road also poses a major environmental hazard,
players in the industry said.

      Masimba Kambarami, Petroleum Marketers of Zimbabwe chairman, said the
country has to find alternative well-coordinated ways of transporting fuel.

      He said the pipeline was a cheaper means of transporting fuel compared
to road haulage, which costs US3 cents per litre more than the pipeline.

      "Road haulage damages infrastructure and the leaks also pose an
environmental hazard," Kambarami said.

      "We have to use the pipeline, which is being partially utilised at the

      "The decision on road haulage can only be resolved at government
level," Kambarami said.

      Zimbabwe is in the throes of a crippling fuel shortage spawned by
swingeing foreign currency shortages, which have rocked the country for the
past four years.

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      NGOs have critical role to play in development

      8/19/2004 8:07:07 AM (GMT +2)

      NGO Bill has no place in a democracy: Recent announcement in the press
about the intentions of Government of Zimbabwe to enact a piece of law that
will make it difficult for NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to operate
must be viewed with worrying spectacles.

      Commenting on the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Bill, in 2001, the respected ZANU PF Member of Parliament for Masvingo South
and chairman of the Parliamentary Legal Committee, Eddison Zvobgo said
something to the effect that:

      "The Bill in its current form, represents the most calculated assault
on our liberties."

      When Zvobgo said this in the House of Assembly, the meaning of his
statement had far reaching effect; timeless in effect and very reasoned. A
couple of years down the line, another Bill is in the offing. Its net effect
is to do what AIPPA did to the Daily News and the Tribune as well as subject
NGO activists to the same culture of harassment that AIPPA subjected
journalists from the private press.

      A closer look at the intentions of the government in this Bill betrays
the very sinister motives by some members of the ruling elite. The desire to
enact a one-party state, or in the words of prominent human rights lawyer,
Brian Kagoro, "the attempt at reenacting Rhodesia" is evidently demonstrated
in the intentions of this Bill. The NGO Bill as presently constituted must
be closely analysed and then rejected. It is clearly anti-development,
unhelpful, and will complicate the current multi-layered and multi-pronged
crisis in Zimbabwe.

      The government needs to be collectively seized with the preoccupation
of recovering the economy, not undermining it, mobilising not alienating its
citizens, integrating not marginalising its people, rebuilding not further
destroying the national fabric and generally promoting national

      It can only do this if it gets its priorities right, creates an
enabling environment to energise the population so that the creative
potential of Zimbabweans can be unleashed for national development. Human
beings, if left free, can be innovative and enterprising. The culture of
achievement is very Zimbabwean and the government as an executive authority
must create the bridges for national innovation, freedom and enterprise.
That is the sole responsibility of government. It is not to police people
and their units, families and associations as if they were school kids and
the government was a collective headmaster.

      Laws such as AIPPA, POSA, the Broadcast Services Act and the upcoming
NGO Bill have no place in a modern society seeking to develop its people to
compete with other countries in the region and on the globe. Spending time
trying to enact a Bill which runs counter to both the national constitution
and civilisation at this juncture in the history of modern Zimbabwe is
clearly a demonstration of priorities that are wrong. Zimbabwe faces real
challenges that need to be urgently addressed. Available data indicate that
upward of two million people will need food aid this year.

      Zimbabwe faces many other challenges needing urgent attention from the
government. Unemployment is estimated at around 80 percent. Poverty levels
rose from 62 percent of the population living under the poverty datum line
in 1996 to about 85 percent in 2003. A quarter of the population is HIV
positive, while a million orphans are in the midst of the nation and the
numbers are rising. The economy has declined by 25 percent in the last five

      Notwithstanding self celebration antics that tend to overemphasise the
fact that inflation is going down, mothers still buy the same bar of soap at
a price much higher than the time when inflation supposedly started going
down. There is no correlation between the so-called inflation climb-down and
the power of disposable income.

      Many families cannot afford three meals a day. Many school leavers
cannot get jobs. They are flooding the bursting river of unemployment.
Companies are closing down.

      According to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries in a study of
the State of the Manufacturing Sector, in 2001 alone 400 companies closed
down in the manufacturing sub sector, a development that negatively affected
10 000 jobs. This trend has not improved in the successive years.

      Clearly Zimbabwe faces challenges that require attention of government
on solving economic problems, restoring a culture of the rule of law,
respect for citizens' rights, a constitutional order, a free press, free
judiciary and an engaged private sector.

      At this stage, Zimbabwe needs confidence building measures. It needs
critical leadership that harnesses the energies of the population and not
divisive pieces of law that resemble Rhodesia.

      NGOs are, as the name suggests, non-governmental entities ranging from
small women's savings clubs, banking clubs, small cooperatives, youth
groups, to middle and larger entities such as development associations,
credit units and associations, environmental groups, landless groups, human
rights and governance watchdogs, anti-corruption watchdogs, residents'
associations, women's groups, economic think-tanks, business associations,
para- church institutions, lawyers' groups, engineers, doctors, nurses,,
teachers' associations among others.

      The non-governmental sector is almost a stand-alone pillar responsible
for coordinating, marshalling and mobilising resources that governments and
the private sector are unable to have for the benefit of the people.

      NGOs have access to people in the community that government is unable
to reach. We have seen in Zimbabwe that NGOs have been historical partners
of government in the enterprise of development.

      From the colonial days, NGOs' contribution to human welfare, charity,
education, health and development can not be underestimated. Reconstruction
efforts at independence were led by government, but with immense support
from the non-governmental community. The churches, development trusts,
international NGOs and trade unions played an important role in
reconstruction, education and training.

      Funding from foreign governments and sources played an instrumental
role. It is common cause that even the liberation movement benefited
immensely from Scandinavian dollars, not just in Zimbabwe but in South
Africa and Namibia to mention but a few countries.

      With the advent of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme and
its failures in the 1990s, NGOs began to articulate rights-based discourse
and approach to development. This discourse naturally challenged the
intellectual basis of governance, policy- making by government, and
naturally mobilised people around a critique of government policy- making
processes and policies themselves. The period saw an emergence of a new kind
of NGO calling for participation of citizens in economic and political
decision making.

      Women's groups, environmental, organisational, youth and civic
education types of organisations emerged. Their contribution to
democratisation debate, accountability and good governance was immense. This
is important to a democracy and to economic development. Societies are not
monolithic. They are diverse, and to the extent that this diversity is
displayed, citizens and nations will prosper.

      To be continued next week.

       Tongai Muchena is an independent writer and member of the Zimbabwe
Economics Society. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the

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