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

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            African civil society groups take on Zimbabwe crisis
            August 07, 2003, 10:00

            A civil society meeting on Zimbabwe in Gaborone has condemned
human rights violations in Zimbabwe and called for intervention there by
other African governments and institutions.

            The African Civil Society Consultation on Zimbabwe called on the
African Union Commission to issue a public statement condemning the human
rights abuses. It also demanded Southern African Development Community
countries examine the compliance of the Zimbabwean authorities with the
provisions of the 1991 Windhoek Declaration on the freedom of the press. The
declaration was a United Nations initiative.

            Suspension 'should continue'
            The Botswana meeting also demanded that Zimbabwe's suspension
from the Commonwealth should continue until its government took concrete
steps to restore the rule of law, respect for human rights and held
perpetrators of human rights violations accountable.

            Civil society groups from Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa,
Zambia, Malawi, Namibia and Kenya were represented at the two-day meeting
that ended today. The event was organised by the US-based Lawyers Committee
for Human Rights and by Ditshwanelo, the Botswana Centre for Human Rights.
Among the participants were representatives of regional human rights
organisations, trade unions, church groups, women's organisations and youth

            Alice Mogwe, Ditshwanelo director, described the event as "an
extremely important occasion" for civil society groups to express their
concern about the human rights crisis in Zimbabwe. "Until now, there has not
been a meeting involving so many different civil society groups, from so
many countries in the region which has focused on the Zimbabwean situation,"
Mogwe said. - Sapa

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Zimbabwe court to rule on treason case discharge

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE, Aug. 7 — Zimbabwe's High Court will rule on Friday on an application
by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to dismiss charges that he plotted to
kill President Robert Mugabe, a defence lawyer said on Thursday.
       Tsvangirai and two senior colleagues in the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) have been on trial since February on the charges, and could
face death sentences if convicted of plotting to assassinate Mugabe in 2001.
       The three men have pleaded not guilty and their lawyers have asked
the High Court to dismiss the charges, saying the state has failed to
present a solid case.
       High Court Judge President Paddington Garwe adjourned the case in
mid-July for two weeks to consider the defence application, but the judgment
was deferred on July 28.
       ''We have been advised that the court is now ready to make a a
ruling, and that the ruling will be made tomorrow (Friday),'' defence lawyer
Innocent Chagonda told Reuters.
       The state's case hinges on a videotape of a meeting in Montreal
between Tsvangirai and political consultant Ari Ben-Menashe which it says
captured Tsvangirai discussing Mugabe's ''elimination.''
       Ben-Menashe admitted he taped the meeting to get evidence for the
government -- with which he later signed a political lobbying contract --
but denied entrapping Tsvangirai.
       The defence says the video was doctored to discredit the MDC, the
biggest political threat to Mugabe since he led the country to independence
from Britain in 1980, and has slammed Ben-Menashe and his assistant Tara
Thomas as unreliable witnesses who gave contradictory evidence.
       In his application for discharge, chief defence lawyer George Bizos
said Menashe was ''a notorious and demonstrable liar'' and the court could
not rely on his evidence to put the three men on trial.
       The prosecution said Tsvangirai and his colleagues should answer the
charges because the state had shown sufficient evidence that the MDC
defendants discussed seeking the support of the army for a post-Mugabe
transitional government. It said that alone amounts to treason.
       The MDC and several Western countries accuse Mugabe of rigging his
re-election in 2002 and blame his government for chronic food and fuel
shortages and inflation running at 365 percent -- one of the highest rates
in the world.
       Mugabe says the MDC is a stooge of Western powers and insists his
opponents have sabotaged the economy in retaliation for his seizure of
white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks.

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Feature - Last commercial farmers hanging on

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

      ©  IRIN

      Commercial Farmers Union ponders its future

HARARE, 7 Aug 2003 (IRIN) - Sixty-year-old Jo Swath has been farming maize
in the Macheke area of Mashonaland East province for the past 15 years. When
the government embarked on the compulsory acquisition of farms for
redistribution to landless Zimbabweans in 2000, Swath was spared one of his
three properties.

However, officials from the provincial land committee visited him three
weeks ago and informed him that his remaining farm had now been designated
for acquisition. They told him it would be subdivided, leaving a portion of
the property for him.

"The visit took me by surprise. I was beginning to think that things were
starting to look up for me since my other two farms were taken to resettle
some black families. I tried to point out to the officials from the
provincial administrator's office that the intended acquisition of my
remaining farm was not proper, since the government was insisting on a 'one
man, one farm' policy. But one of them rudely said I could be removed and
forced to join the queue of applicants wanting new plots," Swath told IRIN.

The government had announced that its controversial fast-track land reform
programme ended in August 2002. Swath said he therefore approached a law
firm representing the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) for legal advice and
was told to lodge a court application barring the acquisition of his farm.

But despite this, new settlers have trickled onto his property, setting up
temporary structures as they look forward to the coming raining season. The
police were informed but are not taking any action, despite a provisional
court order directing them to evict the settlers.

Swath is one of around 600 white farmers who have remained on the land.
Before land reform began, the CFU had some 4,500 members, who occupied 11
million hectares of Zimbabwe's prime agricultural land.

According to CFU president Colin Cloete, some of those who lost their land
in the initial - often violent - wave of government-backed land invasions,
have relocated to neighbouring African countries, or emigrated overseas.
However, a sizeable number have moved into Zimbabwe's towns and cities,
hoping that their court applications contesting the seizures will one day be
processed in their favour.

Those who managed to cling on to their farms were able to do so for a
variety of reasons.

Farmers like Swath struck deals, giving up some of their land for
redistribution. "I made a mutual agreement with the land authorities that
they could take my other two farms and leave me with one. A notice of no
intention to acquire the farm was issued," he explained.

"It was not easy, though. In 2001, a certain war veteran led a band of
settlers onto my farm but the provincial administrator's office intervened
and they went away," Swath said.

Other farmers were rescued because they had long-standing working relations
with influential black Zimbabweans, who used their connections to dissuade
the authorities from acquiring their land.

Stoff Hawgood, chairman of the National Association of Dairy Farmers,
acknowledged that black businessmen played a crucial role in ensuring that
most of his members remained on their farms. He mentioned Anthony
Mandiwanza, the president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, and
Thompson Mabika of Dairiboard Zimbabwe, as some of those influential

"Their efforts with government have, I believe, resulted in so many dairy
farmers still being on their farms today," Hawgood declared in his report to
the association's annual general meeting in July.

For David Connolly, a beef and dairy farmer in Matebeleland South province,
recourse to the courts was his salvation.

"I am aware that the police and some court officials, who are supposed to
the enforce and interpret the law, have been unwilling to help white farmers
for obvious political reasons. However, I remained steadfast in pushing the
courts to evict the squatters who camped on my farm in 2001, and I
succeeded," Connolly told IRIN.

A recently instituted Presidential Land Review Committee last month
acknowledged that the resettlement of land-hungry black Zimbabweans was
being hampered by court applications challenging the legality of the
gazetting and acquisition of farms by commercial farmers. This seriously
curtailed production, the committee said, as some of the farms were left

An interim report by the committee also accused some senior figures within
the ruling party of multiple farm ownership, despite the government's policy
of "one man, one farm".

Connolly, who said he enjoyed good relations with settlers on neighbouring
farms, added that his farm had not attracted a lot of attention from
would-be settlers because, being a ranch, it was not suitable for ordinary
crop farming in the dry southern province.

Others, according to the CFU, had not been so fortunate. In a number of
provinces white commercial farmers, particularly those whose farms have been
partitioned to make way for the new settlers, complain that their new
neighbours are disrupting their operations. They charge that some new
farmers steal and vandalise their equipment, snare their animals and
threaten them with eviction.

"There are still many dairy farmers continuing to face threats on a daily
basis from land occupiers, who continue to make unreasonable demands and
apply pressure in the ongoing efforts to force them to say, ‘enough is
enough’, and pack their bags and leave, as so many have already done,"
Hawgood said.

Mac Crawford, CFU vice-president, told delegates at the union's 60th annual
congress this week that farm equipment worth Zim $75 billion (US $91
million) had been stolen or vandalised.

Cloete recently announced that farm evictions continued to occur,
particularly in Mashonaland West and Mashonaland East. "These illegal
evictions have disrupted production extensively, and several wheat crops, as
well as export crops and preparations for summer food, have been affected.
The [CFU] appeals to the relevant authorities to put a stop to these
disruptive evictions," Cloete said in a statement.

He added that acquisition orders were still being issued, mainly to farms
which did not qualify for acquisition and were currently producing not only
food, but crops earning foreign currency.

An assessment by UN agencies found food production in Zimbabwe has fallen by
more than 50 percent measured against a five-year average. As a result of
land reform, large-scale agriculture produced only about one-tenth of its
1990s output.

However, Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said this week, "the CFU has
become irrelevant to what is on the ground."

The official Herald newspaper on Thursday quoted Made as saying: "There are
a few remnants of former white commercial farmers, about 200 of them, and
the tendency is to lecture to 11 million Zimbabweans about the destruction
of the economy.

"Really, if we look at how they say we have destroyed the economy, you
wonder why they don't see how they have destroyed it through their racist
view on the land issue. They started by exporting crops grown here,
retaining forex, banking it outside, growing flowers instead of food crops,
and they even slaughtered dairy cows, and now they are burning pastures,"
said the minister.

"This group has played mischief all the time, because they think they are a
special race. Anyway, I hope they had a nice congress," Made added.

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Daily News

      SA issues talks deadline

        SOUTH Africa has told Zimbabwe’s governing ZANU PF party to resume
formal talks with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
by November, diplomatic sources told the Daily News yesterday.

      The well-placed sources said Pretoria, whose ambassador to Zimbabwe
Jeremiah Ndou they said was shuttling between the MDC and ZANU PF to get the
two parties negotiating, wanted to report tangible progress on Zimbabwe at
the Commonwealth summit in Nigeria in December this year.

      South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki is expected to push for the
lifting of Zimbabwe’s suspension from the Commonwealth at the 54-nation
group’s heads of governments meeting in Abuja, according to the sources.

      "South Africa has leaned on the Zimbabwean government to ensure that
by November some concrete and formal talks are under way," a South African
government source said yesterday.

      The source, who spoke on condition he was not named, added: "At the
Commonwealth we want to merely report progress and demand that Zimbabwe’s
suspension be lifted – by then they should be a tangible and unquestioned
view that formal talks are in progress."

      The sources spoke as an initiative by Zimbabwe’s church leaders to
broker talks between ZANU PF and the MDC yesterday appeared to be faltering
with the ruling party failing to submit proposals for dialogue to the church
leaders as promised.

      Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe president Trevor Manhanga confirmed
yesterday that they had not received ZANU PF’s position paper by yesterday
when the party was supposed to have done so.

      The MDC presented its position paper earlier this week.

      Manhanga, who said he was expecting ZANU PF to make its submissions
today, said: "If we don’t receive the ZANU PF submissions (by today) we
would have to go back to them and find out what is happening, which nobody

      Manhanga, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s Patrick Mutume and
Zimbabwe Council of Churches president Sebastian Bakare, who is leading the
church initiative, met ZANU PF and state President Robert Mugabe and MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai in separate meetings over the past two weeks.

      Mugabe and Tsvangirai promised the clergymen that they were committed
to resumption of dialogue between their two parties. ZANU PF, however,
appears split over the Church-

      proposed talks with the party’s legal affairs secretary Patrick
Chinamasa accusing the church leaders of being biased in favour of the MDC.

      But, the sources said, South Africa and Mbeki – designated the
point-man on Zimbabwe by American President George W Bush – were optimistic
that dialogue would be resumed between the Zimbabwean parties and that by
next June there could be a political

      settlement between ZANU PF and the MDC.

      A South African government official said: "There will be a political
settlement in Zimbabwe by June next year. We see an arrangement where ZANU
PF and the MDC would in the interim have to form a coalition government or a
government of national unity."

      Secretary-general of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress
Kgalema Motlanthe said: "We expect a quick resolution to the impasse. The
situation in Zimbabwe is grave enough and has to force the two parties to
engage in a more meaningful dialogue immediately."

      Motlanthe the also confirmed that Ndou was actively pushing for
resumption of dialogue between ZANU PF and the MDC.

      He said: "We are involved indirectly in facilitating the talks. Our
ambassador Jeremiah Ndou is shuttling between the two parties. We hope that
his efforts will lead the parties to talk."

      ZANU PF national chairman John Nkomo, commenting on reports that
Pretoria was pushing for resumption of dialogue by November and possibly a
political settlement by June next year, said: "It is not a Zimbabwean line
(solution). I suppose it is a South African line which may have or may not
have a bearing on what goes on in Zimbabwe.

      "If people want to engage or influence discussions they must do so
without making unfounded suggestions."

     MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube yesterday said a political
settlement had to be reached now rather than in a year’s time.

      "The crisis in Zimbabwe is grave enough – it cannot wait until June.
We in the MDC believe that a settlement has to be reached now rather than
later because we are faced with a total collapse – and ZANU PF should be the
last to be reminded of this." By Sydney Masamvu and Precious Shumba

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Daily News

      ESC loses bid to amend poll material order

        JUSTICE Ann-Marie Gowora of the High Court yesterday threw out an
application by the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) seeking an order
to amend an earlier order by the judge directing the ESC to supply to the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) various documents relating to the 2002
presidential election as requested by the opposition party.

      The documents included memoranda and other papers relating to the
appointment of members of the ESC secretariat engaged to supervise the
disputed election.

      The MDC wants to use the documents in its petition seeking
nullification of President Robert Mugabe’s victory.

      The MDC contended that the personnel employed by the ESC for the
election included members of the Zimbabwe National Army and that, as a
result, the army virtually ran the election.

      Following the ruling, the ESC’s lawyer George Chikumbirike filed an
application arguing that Justice Gowora had issued her order in error and
that the ESC could not be held in contempt of court.

      Justice Gowora said in a judgment handed down by Justice Moses
Chinhengo: "An examination of the order granted does not reveal any
ambiguity, error or omission and it would appear to me that what the
applicant is seeking is not so much the correction of an order as the
substitution of the one I granted for one that would accord with its

      "To alter the order in the manner suggested by the applicant would
result in the amendment or alteration of the substance of the judgment or
order that I had initially given."

      The judge said she could not revisit her own judgment as she had
rendered "the final sentence on the matter".

      "In my view what the applicant (ESC) is requesting of this court would
be akin to the court re-examining the substance of the dispute between the
parties without having formally noted an appeal against the judgment or

      She ruled: "I am not in a position to do so neither can I review my
own decisions. The correct approach for the applicant was to have noted an
appeal on the basis of the error it alleged was created by the respondent
and compounded by the court."

     Court Reporter

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Daily News

      Zimbabwe asks for $23 bn drugs from donors

        THE Zimbabwe government has requested for essential medical drugs
worth US$28 million (Z$23,07 billion) from international donors to last the
country until the end of the year.

      The request for help is contained in a 24-page document by Harare
appealing for humanitarian help, including 700 000 tonnes of food aid, which
was presented to the United Nations last month.

      The government said HIV/AIDS was wreaking havoc in Zimbabwe with many
Zimbabweans succumbing to opportunistic infections such as pneumonia,
diarrhoea and tuberculosis.

      More than 70 percent of patients at hospitals were suffering from
HIV/AIDS-related illnesses, according to the government.

      "Drugs, such as simple painkillers and anti-micro-bial drugs effective
in the treatment of HIV complications, are required," the government wrote
in its letter of appeal.

      "The country does not have adequate foreign currency to purchase these
drugs. It is estimated that drug requirements, excluding anti-retrovirals,
for this year, will be US$25 million."

      The government said 2,3 million people were living with HIV/Aids and
were at different stages of the infection and required various levels of
care such as home-based and hospital-based care.

      The state said: "Ordinary essential drugs for management of infections
and pain in the home as well as anti-retroviral drugs are, therefore,
required for a holistic continuum of care.

      "The ministry (of Health) intends to implement an anti-retroviral
programme intended to reach at least 10 000 patients. While government will
finance the other logistical issues, funding is required to purchase
anti-retroviral drugs at an estimated cost of US$3 million."

      Among the major drugs listed as being urgently needed are
anti-diabetics, respiratory drugs, malaria drugs and anti-infectives as well
as tuberculosis drugs.

      Zimbabwe’s public health sector is near total collapse weighed down by
years of underfunding and mismanagement.

      Once the pride of President Robert Mugabe and his government’s
achievements, the public health sector has also been crippled by an exodus
of experienced staff who have left for greener pastures in the region and

      The country’s doctors went on strike in June to press the government
for higher pay and better working conditions.

      A burgeoning HIV/AIDS crisis, one of the worst in the world, has
exacerbated the crisis in the health sector.

     Staff Reporter

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Daily News

      Abandon ‘destructive’ land policy, CFU urges Mugabe

        Zimbabwe’s white farmers yesterday urged President Robert Mugabe’s
government to abandon its "destructive" policies to avert economic disaster.

      Doug Taylor-Freeme, vice-president of the white farmers’ Commercial
Farmers’ Union (CFU), told the group’s annual meeting that government
policies, including the seizure of white-owned farms, had killed the
mainstay agricultural sector.

      "Zimbabwe continues on its downward path to economic ruin with no
relief in sight," he said.

      The farmers are trying to reorganise their lives a year after hundreds
lost their farms to Mugabe’s land seizures.

      Taylor-Freeme said agricultural production had fallen more than 50
percent in the past year.

      Zimbabwe faces food, fuel and foreign currency shortages and
unemployment and inflation have risen to record levels.

      Taylor-Freeme said Zimbabwe’s foreign debt arrears had risen to $1.5
billion and the government had lost international aid over the last three
years because of Mugabe’s land seizures and controversial economic policies.

      "A reversal of the calamitous macro-economic situation just described
can only occur if current destructive policies are abandoned in favour of
rational ones, and international assistance is both sought and quickly
forthcoming," he said.

      Three years ago, the CFU represented 4 500 white farmers. Now only
about a quarter of its members are actively farming.

      Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, has become a net importer of

      Farming officials say 600 to 800 farmers remain on their farms. Most
left their land when the government seized vast tracts for a resettlement

      Between 200 and 500 others are estimated to be farming by "remote
control" from the safety of urban areas where they took refuge during the
sometimes violent invasions, often led by veterans of the country’s
liberation war against white rule.

      About 200 farmers attended the CFU conference. There were no
government ministers at the meeting.

      Last week, Mugabe ordered top officials who grabbed more than one farm
during the seizures to reduce their holdings to one property.

      Dozens of officials of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party, including
government ministers, have taken more than one farm since Mugabe launched
his land reforms three years ago.

      Critics say this shows that land reform is not being carried out to
benefit the landless black majority.

      Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s ruler since the former Rhodesia gained independence
from Britain in 1980, says his land seizures are meant to correct colonial
imbalances which left 70 percent of the country’s best farmland in the hands
of minority whites.

      Meanwhile, CFU president Colin Cloete said uncertainty had gripped
Zimbabwe’s remaining white commercial farmers. Cloete said: "There is a lot
of uncertainty in the agriculture industry. We have had our members who had
a farm each and they had them taken.

      "We have a situation where someone who was born say in Kenya or Malawi
is treated as a Zimbabwean and is allowed to have land but when when my
father and I were born here and I am not treated as a Zimbabwean. I can’t
swallow that."

      – Reuter/Staff Reporter

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Daily News

      Severe hunger stalks Zimbabwe’s prisons

        WHEN a Harare magistrate denied him bail, instead ordering him to
spend two weeks in remand prison awaiting trial for armed robbery, Kizito
Mulenga, 28, did not expect a holiday at the state prison.

      He did not expect hell either, after all he was still innocent until
proven guilty.

      But when the warder opened the heavy doors to usher him into his first
prison cell, it immediately dawned on Mulenga that the fortnight he was
going to spend inside Harare Remand Prison was going to be a tough test of

      As Mulenga this week recounted to the Daily News, the overcrowded
cell, equipped with one malfunctioning toilet which resulted in human waste,
urine and water "sharing" the cells with the inmates, was to prove the least
of his worries.

      Inmates have to learn how to survive on a single "meal" a day.
Mulenga, who is now out of prison after the charges against him were
dropped, said: "We were always hungry. The meals are not regular and most of
the time we would only have one badly prepared meal a day. That is where I
really witnessed starvation at its worst because 90 percent of my cell mates
did not have relatives that could bring them extra food.

      "If you thought people out here are starving, then you need to visit
one of these jails to get a picture of what hunger is really like."

      A shortage of basic food commodities afflicting Zimbabwe plus the
cash-strapped government’s failure to pay suppliers on time has combined to
create an acute hunger crisis in Zimbabwe’s prisons.

      But it is a crisis festering on, behind the iron gates of prisons,
unnoticed by the media or public. Mulenga, like many others who have been
through Zimbabwe’s prison system lately, talks of serious hunger stalking
the country’s overcrowded prisons.

      The food served in the country’s prisons has never been known for its
healthy or tasty quality, but Mulenga or the several other former prisoners
and prison officials interviewed by this newspaper, said there was hardly
any feeding of prisoners taking place these days owing to the shortage of

      With his relatives unaware that he was languishing in remand prison,
Mulenga had to learn the prison lingo quick enough to be able to budget for
the day’s meals.

      "When the prison wardens say 0-0-1, then you would know that the only
meal you are getting that day is supper and if he says 0-1-0 then you are
getting lunch only. We would all smile when its was 0-1-1 because at least
that would be two meals a day, never mind the quality," he said.

      Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, under whose portfolio the Zimbabwe
Prison Service (ZPS) falls, last month said that the government would build
more prisons to accommodate ZImbabwe’s growing prison population.

      Chinamasa could not be reached for comment on the issue of hunger in
prisons by the time of going to print last night. The ZPS had also not
responded to questions on the matter faxed to it yesterday.

      The country’s 42 prisons have capacity to hold 16 000 inmates but they
are estimated to be holding close to 30 000 prisoners. But prison officials,
who spoke on condition they were not named, said money allocated for
prisoners’ food fell far below what was required given the skyrocketing cost
of food.

      One senior prison official said: "From our budget allocations, we can
only use about $10 000 for food per prisoner per month and with the rising
costs of basic commodities, this is hardly enough.

      "We have had to suspend other meals to stretch the budget. We can no
longer afford luxuries such as bread or meat. We give them porridge with
salt in the morning and after that it will just be sadza and boiled

      "The same goes for clothing and blankets. They are all worn out but we
can’t afford new ones."

      Human rights campaigners have in the past called on the government to
revamp the country’s prison system by building more prisons and allocating
more funds to its prisons described by opposition Movement for Democratic
Change president Morgan Tsvangirai as a "scandal waiting to explode".

      Tsvangirai spent two weeks in prison after being arrested following
the mass anti-government protest called by his party in June.

     By Farai Mutsaka Chief Reporter

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Daily News

      ZANU PF militias step up violence ahead of polls

        THE broken-down doors and shattered window panes of House Number 13
along Mazowe Close in Marondera town’s Nyameni high-density suburb are a
constant reminder to residents here of the bitter price many Zimbabweans
have had to pay for daring support a political party of their choice.

      Visibly frightened residents steal furtive glances at the
eerie-looking house as if afraid staring too long at the house might provoke
the ire of pro-ZANU PF militias who residents say keep the house under
strict surveillance.

      But House Number 13 is also a sad reminder that efforts by Zimbabwe’s
church leaders to broker peace between the country’s feuding political
parties have not yet filtered down to the grassroots where violence and
intimidation are sadly still "acceptable means" to silence political

      In Marondera and in at least eight other municipalities, where urban
council elections are scheduled for 30 and 31 August, suspected ZANU PF
vigilantes have stepped up terror against opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) party supporters.

      This even as the leaders of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC),
Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ) and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’
Conference (ZCBC) are meeting ZANU PF and MDC leaders to pave way for a
negotiated settlement to Zimbabwe’s political crisis.

      President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai have in
separate meetings told the ZCC’s Sebastain Bakare, EFZ’s Trevor Manhanga and
the ZCBC’s Patrick Mutume that they are willing to resume dialogue which
broke down between their two parties in August last year.

      But for Deliqua Simon Musiwa, the owner of the eerie-looking house in
Nyameni or the other residents of this overcrowded suburb, the efforts of
the church leaders have not yet brought any respite from political violence.

      The provincial election co-ordinator for the MDC in Mashonaland East
province and that party’s candidate for Ward 8 in the local government
elections, Musiwa said trouble for him started much earlier, in June, well
before Bakare, Manhanga and Mutume embarked on their search for peace. He
has not stepped in his house or known peace since then.

      Musiwa this week narrated his ordeal to the Daily News: "On 1 June at
approximately 9.30 pm, a group of Zanu PF members came to my house and
started throwing stones, breaking at least 18 window panes in the process.

      "They were shouting: ‘You and Tsvangirai must go back to Britain
because it is the British that are sponsoring you’."

      A little later the suspected ZANU PF vigilantes returned to Musiwa’s
home where they smashed more windows and broke down doors before leaving.

      According to Musiwa’s neighbours in Nyameni, the vigilantes have since
that day kept his house under surveillance hoping that one day Musiwa – who
has fled to Harare with other election candidates – will return so they can
"finish him off".

      In Marondera alone the pro-ZANU PF militias have chased out of town
six MDC candidates for the forthcoming election. The militias have also
prevented at least 30 other opposition candidates in Rusape, Bindura and
Chegutu town from registering to stand in the election after beating them up
and chasing them from nomination courts.

      The MDC has already applied to the High Court seeking the court to
order Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede to accept the nomination of its
candidates for Chegutu town.

      The opposition party is also expected to apply for its candidates
prevented from submitting nomination papers in the other municipalities to
be considered for nomination.

      If the MDC wins in court then it might still be able to field
candidates in municipalities where it was prevented from doing so because of
political violence.

      And if the church leaders are eventually able to convince Mugabe and
Tsvangirai to rein in their militant supporters then residents of Nyameni in
Marondera or in other municipalities might hope for peaceful elections.

      But for now Musiwa’s colleague, Alexander Zhou, says his fear is that
until the church initiative can bring peace, the longer he and other
candidates for the MDC stay in hiding from the marauding pro-ZANU PF
militias the higher the chance they would be alienated from the electorate.

      Zhou said: "We have been unable to organise meetings with our
supporters but hope they know the truth. We are confident the people will
vote for us in the election when the polls are held.

      "But the longer we stay in hiding in Harare, the greater we run the
risk of losing touch with our supporters."

      By Ray Matikinye Features Editor

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Daily News

      AirZim refers US$4 m debt for arbitration

        AIR Zimbabwe has referred a dispute over US$4 million (Z$3.2
billion) with the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s national airline,
Lignesa Airines Congolais (LAC), for arbitration, the airliner’s managing
director, Rambai Chingwena, told the Daily News yesterday.

      Chingwena said Air Zimbabwe took up the matter for arbitration after
repeated efforts to recover the money raised through a joint route
management deal with LAC failed.

      He said: "We haven’t recovered anything from LAC and that matter is
pending for arbitration. Everything we will do to recover the money will
flow from the decision that will be reached by the arbiter."

      Chingwena, who refused to disclose further details on the matter, said
the arbitration hearing will be held in Harare.

      According to sources, the national airline entered partnership with
LAC under which an Air Zimbabwe plane serviced the Harare-Kinshasa-Brussels
route while LAC took charge of ticket sales whose proceeds were to be
deposited into a shared bank account.

      The arrangement collapsed in March 2002 allegedly after LAC repeatedly
failed to deposit revenue from the joint operation into the joint bank

      Several discussions between Air Zimbabwe and LAC officials aimed at
resolving the issue failed while the debt owed to the Zimbabweans is said to
have ballooned because of the fall of the Zimbabwean dollar against major
currencies such as the United States greenback.

      Chingwena said: "We have held discussions but that did not help us
recover our money. Any deliberations with LAC will depend on what comes out
of the arbitration process," he said.

      He said for purposes of arbitration Air Zimbabwe wanted interests
accrued on the US$4 million owed to it by LAC to be calculated at the London
interbank rate of 3-4 percent per annum for the period.

      But sources told this newspaper that the cash-strapped Air Zimbabwe
had lost all hope of recovering the money because the Congolese appeared no
longer keen on resuscitating the collapsed joint-venture deal.

      The sources also said that besides the money owed by LAC, the
Zimbabwean airliner was also owed about US$1,2 million ($988,8 million) by
individual Congolese businessmen, who flew on Air Zimbabwe planes on credit.

      Efforts to contact LAC officials in Kinshasa were fruitless yesterday.

      In a related development, Chingwena yesterday confirmed the
reshuffling of staff at Air Zimbabwe’s office in London which saw Chris
Kwenda, the airline’s area manager in London being replaced by Tesfaye
Bekele, an Ethiopian national.

      Kwenda still had two years of his contract remaining.

     Staff Reporter

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      Cabinet blocks Chombo’s attempt to dismiss council

        SENIOR cabinet ministers have allegedly blocked moves by Local
Government, National Housing and Public Works minister Ignatius Chombo to
fire the Harare City Council for refusing to take orders from him, it was
learnt yesterday.

      Well-placed sources told the Daily News that Chombo had proposed that
the government appoints a commission to run the capital two weeks ago but
his colleagues in Cabinet shot down the idea arguing it was
counter-productive given the seemingly thawing of relations between the
ruling ZANU PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,
which dominates the Harare council.

      ZANU PF and state President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai have told the country’s church leaders that they are committed to
resuming dialogue between their two parties to find a negotiated settlement
to Zimbabwe’s political impasse.

      Chombo’s colleagues are said to have also resisted moves to dismiss
the council saying it could spark riots in Harare’s discontented suburbs.

      "It was after the intervention of other senior officials and Cabinet
colleagues that Chombo backtracked on his decision, but he had resolved to
fire the whole council after it refused to take his orders," said one
source, who spoke on condition he was not named.

      He added: "It was felt that the move had security hazards as it could
spark demonstrations in the townships. The dissolution would also not serve
the government much purpose other than invite more criticism and trouble."

      Chombo yesterday denied that he wanted to dissolve the council saying
he would only take action once a committee he appointed to investigate the
operations of the council after Mudzuri’s suspension had finished its work.

      He said: "I do not want to fire them, not now. I am very clear on what
I want and that is to have the job done properly and at the moment I have no

      "But if they misbehave, of course I will take action and I won’t need
anyone’s opinion or permission. I will just do what I did to Mudzuri but for
now I will wait for the committee to finish its work before I can do

      The sources said Chombo wanted to fire the council after it voted to
resist orders by the Local Government Minister to withdraw salaries and
benefits from suspended executive mayor Elias Mudzuri.

      Chombo suspended Mudzuri, Harare’s first opposition mayor, three
months ago. He ordered that Mudzuri’s benefits be withdrawn and that he be
evicted from the mayoral mansion after the opposition mayor had defied
orders by Chombo not to perform mayoral duties until his case was resolved.

      But the Harare councillors refused to Chombo’s order and this week
filed an application at the High Court seeking the court to outlaw Chombo’s

      The sources said the Cabinet advised Chombo to identify "progressive"
councillors within the opposition council to improve relations between his
ministry and the council.

     By Farai Mutsaka

      Chief Reporter

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      Planning, transparency needed for road toll project

        THE government’s plan to introduce road tolls to raise money to
maintain Zimbabwe’s road infrastructure is a commendable move, provided lack
of planning and non-transparency – which have killed so many other
projects – do not turn it into another good, but stillborn idea.

      According to Transport and Communications secretary Christian
Katsande, toll-gates will be constructed on the country’s major highways,
with the first being operational in the next six months.

      "We have already started preliminary groundwork on the project,"
Katsande is reported to have told the state-controlled Herald newspaper. "If
we can be able to pull together the toll-gates and people pay money, we will
plough it back into maintaining our roads."

      There is no doubt that if the government is able to pull this plan
off, it will take a heavy burden off Treasury, which is unable to allocate
sufficient funds to build new roads or maintain existing infrastructure.

      Expenditure on infrastructure development has been declining steadily
in the past few years, against a background of decreasing revenues and the
government’s growing commitments and appetite for funds.

      The consequences of reduced spending on Zimbabwe’s road network have
been felt by both urban communities and rural villagers, many of whose
movements are constrained by lack of or bad roads.

      Where roads do exist, they are sometimes so badly damaged that they
have contributed to traffic accidents that have claimed several lives or
maimed many people in the last few years.

      Local business, too, has been affected by the country’s dilapidated
road network, with some companies unable to venture into potentially
lucrative markets because there is no road infrastructure.

      Clearly, the introduction of road tolls would enable the country to
get around so many of these problems. That is if the project is properly
managed and is not just another means for the government to cynically
extract money from embattled Zimbabweans.

      Toll-gates are being used in many countries as a way to build and
rebuild roads without having to resort to introducing new taxes or
increasing existing ones.

      But we must stress that in Zimbabwe, this long-overdue venture can
only achieve its objectives if it is well-planned and implemented in a
transparent manner.

      Otherwise it will end up, like so many of the government’s
fine-sounding ideas, consigned to the trash heap of history because no one
thought to determine its feasibility, how it would be implemented or its

      It is encouraging to note that the government has begun a survey along
the Harare-Bulawayo road to find out motorists’ views and their
expectations. We hope this survey is also attempting to determine the
feasibility of an ambitious project that could have far-reaching

      The government, we are told, is also considering several options on
financing and construction of the toll-gates and how the toll system will
work in this country.

      Whatever route Zimbabwe eventually takes, it is important that those
with self-serving interests are not allowed to hijack this venture for
personal gain, as has happened too often in the past.

      Because of the public’s stake in this project, it is crucial that all
processes in the implementation of the venture be subject to keen public

      It is when there is no planning and no transparency that so many of
the government’s projects are doomed to fail even before they start.

      Witness the non-implementation of the Chitungwiza commuter rail link,
the Tokwe-Mukorsi dam project, the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project and
the proposed dualisation of the country’s roads.

      All projects that were supposed to benefit so many communities, but
which seem to have died a natural death.

      Indeed, there is no better example of the consequences of inadequate
planning and lack of transparency than the government’s disastrous land
reform programme.

      Only last week, President Robert Mugabe was appealing to ruling ZANU
PF and government officials who benefited under the programme to adhere to
the government’s "one man-one farm" policy. Why? Because what should have
been a nationally beneficial programme was hijacked by the ruling elite’s
already bloated fat cats. God forbid that we should go through this again
with this new initiative.

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      The logic behind scuttling dialogue

        LAST week I argued that Zimbabwe was ripe for dialogue by presenting
the logic for dialogue. And yet, it is folly and even reckless to pretend
that the case for dialogue is uncontested.

      In this contribution, I present the logic against dialogue, from the
perspective of those who advance this position, at least as I discern it. I
still maintain that dialogue is inevitable, primarily, if not only, because
the status quo is both untenable and unsustainable.

      There are real threats to the dialogue process and to date, the
loudest and most coherent threats seem to emanate from ZANU PF circles, and
there is logic to that.

      As reported in the media, church leaders first met the ZANU PF
leadership led by President Robert Mugabe and his delegation, comprising
Vice-President Joseph Msika, the party national chairman John Nkomo, party
spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira and Cabinet Secretary Willard Chiwewe. All
these are veterans of the party – ZANU PF. Virtually all of them are
veterans of the negotiations leading to the Unity Accord of December 1987.
Chiwewe was the secretary of the Unity Committee. It is clear from the
composition of this delegation that it comprised the Old Guard of the
unified ruling party.

      The significance of this lies in that the Old Guard convinced the
party president of the seriousness of the national crisis and of the
"profitlessness" of a hard-line and inflexible position; that there is
virtue in flexibility. This is no mean achievement given the amadoda sibili
orientation of the First Citizen.

      I don’t think it was easy to convince Mugabe of the righteousness of
this course of action. It must have involved considerable secrecy and even
stealth on the part of this group, a political coup of some sort. And, as in
most coups, there is often a counter-coup, and we may be witnessing a
counter-coup in motion, that of convincing the party president of the
faultiness of the dialogue process as presently mooted.

      This brings us to the new breed of ZANU PF politicians, supposedly led
by the party’s legal affairs secretary, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa.
This group comprises the Young Turks of the party, the New Guard. It also
contains the bulk of the amadoda sibili, the core of the "War Cabinet".

      Chinamasa articulated the New Guard’s stance eloquently, though not
necessarily convincingly. He did not waste time in dismissing the church
initiative, attacking particularly the credibility of the men (there were no
women) of cloth.

      Chinamasa characterised the churchmen as "MDC activists wearing
religious collars" and accused them of being in the service of foreign
masters. The New Guard is unequivocally opposed to even the "talks about
talks" and I think the dismissive stance has a logic of its own. The logic
is most likely based on the New Guard’s assessment of the state of the
nation and its future, the role of ZANU PF in the overall scheme of things
and their own political fortunes within the party and on a national scale.

      To me, the position of the New Guard is best captured in three words:
"tenacity in turmoil" whose Shona version is Rambai Makashinga.

      Clearly there is a wide gulf between the Old Guard and the New Guard.
Both may be in search of a viable solution to the Zimbabwe crisis (the New
Guard sees the crisis more as a challenge), but seem to differ markedly on
the definition of the problem, its magnitude, the urgency of solutions to
it, the time-frames and may also differ on the prognosis of the future and
the party’s role in it.

      While for the Old Guard, tenacity in turmoil has proved foolhardy, for
the New Guard tenacity in turmoil is a virtue, the reasoning being that if
we are in darkness, light should surely be around the corner. The darker the
darkness, the nearer the light, so, rambai makashinga.

      Any fair-minded observer would easily acknowledge that the New Guard
has invested very heavily politically and emotionally in trying to rescue
ZANU PF and building and projecting its positive image both domestically and

      And the New Guard is shrewd, cunning, thorough and energetic. It has
worked overtime and tirelessly and with a single-minded purpose to salvage
the party from collapse. In its estimation, ZANU PF is on the road to
irreversible recovery and can certainly weather the storm until the next
parliamentary elections in 2005.

      The logic, therefore, is to hold on for as long as it takes to the
next elections and those elections are to be run under the present
constitutional and electoral framework. No more, no less! Elections 2005 has
become a fixation; rambai makashinga until 2005.

      Why throw in the towel to the churchmen when 2005 is so near? Why
allow a case of so near and yet so far away?

      Further, the New Guard seems to believe that the MDC is really not a
permanent feature of Zimbabwean politics; that the MDC is nothing but a
temporary political aberration that will wither away if ZANU PF remains
steadfast, unyielding and unbending combined with an integrated onslaught on
the MDC.

      Come 2005, the MDC will be neutralised, pulverised or paralysed
through various concerted and well-co-ordinated efforts to decapitate its
leadership while simultaneously scattering the sheep.

      To the Young Turks, it is argued (to Mugabe of course) that the
strategies and tactics used in the 2000 parliamentary elections and
sharpened for the 2002 presidential election can further be refined,
perfected and deployed for 2005.

      The challenge is to survive until 2005, even if it means the country
wobbling along until then. The Public Order and Security Act and the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act can be argued to provide the
legal infrastructure for a triumphant ZANU PF.

      When the party president recently threw down the gauntlet and exhorted
his party supporters to gear themselves for the 2005 elections, this
represented a triumph for the New Guard. And the New Guard is gifted with
the power of argument. The thrust of the argument is that ZANU PF does not
need the MDC, that a solo effort is both possible and desirable. Having
worked so hard since the hondo yeminda and the Third Chimurenga, why
surrender now? they ask. The dialogue process represents a silent surrender
in this perfectly plausible view. Further, the church initiative, or any
other initiative for that matter, could easily scuttle the New Guard’s drive
for the supremacy of the party. The dialogue process comes at a time when
the New Guard has not captured control within the party. The talks then can
be regarded as a big ointment in a bigger game plan. So the talks must be

      By Eldred Masunungure

      Eldred Masunungure is head of the Political and Administrative Studies
Department at the University of Zimbabwe

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      Another massive scam looms over new $500 note

        The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will shortly be introducing a new
denomination of the $500 bill. One has to ask why this decision has been
taken instead of introducing a higher denomination with immediate effect.

      In order to be as brief as possible, only the bigger objectives need
to be explained.

      The normal practice where new bills are put into circulation is for
the old ones to be destroyed immediately by the Reserve Bank upon receipt by
collecting commercial banks.

      Should this not happen and these old bills are re-introduced or are
siphoned off by unscrupulous individuals as much as $200 billion could be
gained for free and reused illegally.

      It is important to remember that this government is effectively broke
and has no cash to pay members of its security services such as the police
and army and any others requiring large pay-offs.

      There are a number of ways to circumvent this situation:

      - Once the new $500 bills become available from commercial banks in
return for old notes, ensure that the old notes to be handed over to the
bank tellers are defaced by crossing through the notes with either a marking
pen or ball-point pen and insist that you receive new notes.

      If new notes are not available, do not bank them, keep them until new
notes are made available.

      - Insist that commercial bank tellers cut off one corner of the old
notes using a guillotine immediately. (Serial numbers must be left visible
for verification by Reserve Bank.)

      Both of these features will make old notes easily recognisable should
they resurface after having been through the system and should not be
accepted as legal tender.

      I urge you all to give this situation some very serious thought before
we are subjected to another massive scam by the authorities.

      Stephen Crocco


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      Lecturer exodus threatens varsities with total collapse

        I read with interest the story about the exodus of lecturers from
the faculty of medicine at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ). Let me say that
the medical faculty is just one typical example as the situation is the same
in other departments like mathematics, physics, chemistry and pharmacy, to
mention just a few.

      In the department of mathematics at the UZ, about nine lecturers had
left by 1 July 2003 with the majority of them having left by 1 January 2003.
That figure does not include the graduate research assistants who also left,
abandoning their studies for greener pastures in the United States, South
Africa or our very own private sector, where they are working as actuarial

      As I write, one of my colleagues has just left Zimbabwe in the past 24
hours for a similar post in South Africa. Those lecturers who are still in
Zimbabwe are here because of these

      various reasons:

      -they are still processing their visas or passports;

      - they are busy looking for alternative employment elsewhere in or
outside the South African Development Community; and

      - some lecturers have business interests in the country and don’t see
any need to relocate for purposes of getting better remuneration.

      If the Ministry of Higher Education does not act now, then there is a
possibility that some departments may close down by January 2004.

      Most of the vacant posts created by this mass exodus cannot be filled
by Zimbabweans due to the scarcity of academics who meet the minimum

      The foreigners too cannot fill the vacant posts due to our poor
economy and the poor salaries that lecturers are paid. This means that most
universities are now operating with skeletal staff, which results in
overworking the lecturers.

      For instance, in the area of statistics, I don’t know any academic
remaining in the country today with a PhD in statistics. I am challenging
anyone in Zimbabwe with such a qualification and practising as an academic
to respond to this letter.

      In most cases when posts are advertised in the Press, there are two
scenarios: the first one being that there will usually be no respondent for
the advertised posts, and the second scenario is that all the applicants won
’t meet the minimum requirements for the job.

      Surely, the government should do something now before the state
universities collapse completely.

      K Mutangi

      Department of Mathematics

      Bindura University of Science Education

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      Nonsensical to replace $500 with $500

        THE Zimbabwean government last week announced that it was
withdrawing the $500 bank note from circulation and would replace it with
another $500 with a new design.

      The public was given 60 days to take the old notes to the banks.

      Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is printing new $500 and
$1 000 notes.

      The development comes at the height of a crippling shortage of money
at all the country’s banks and building societies and is described as a
remedial measure.

      The public is asked to take whatever money it has to the banks to
solve the problem.

      Replacement of the current $500 note is a way to push those hoarding
such cash to release it to the financial institutions.

      The government’s approach is that there is enough money but that it is
being held in offices and residential houses, and that if it is sent to the
banks, there will be enough cash to give to bank clients. It is difficult to
appreciate this approach in that were that to happen and new bank notes are
introduced, what will stop the public from hoarding the new currency? It is
not a fact, but mere suspicion, that the shortage of cash at banks was
caused by hoarding of $500 notes within the country or abroad. While it is
quite true that there is a lot of Zimbabwean currency in Mozambique,
Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and, to a less extent, Malawi, it is false
that the collective amount could have precipitated the present critical cash

      The real cause is that some senior national leaders have been hoarding
cash because of sheer avarice and panic. They are panicking that they may
lose their current privileged positions sooner than later, and hoarded
whatever they laid their hands on to feather their nests.

      There could be other causes, such as failure by the RBZ to print more
money to meet the needs of the public in the face of the country’s rampant
inflation, now standing at 365 percent.

      It should have been obvious to anyone, let alone the RBZ governor,
that if prices of basic commodities such as bread rise, the public would
spend more money, a development that would result in more money circulating.

      A few months ago, a litre of petrol cost about $45; today it costs at
least $1 300. That means that motorists need much more cash to purchase the
commodity than before.

      But the government decision to replace $500 with $500 is nonsensical.
It would have been much wiser and more realistic to phase out the notes of
smaller denominations and increase the $500 notes because of the terrible
rate of inflation.

      A consumers based in the rural areas goes to an urban centre to
purchase groceries, including six loaves of bread at $1 000 per loaf. He or
she would carry 12 notes of the $500 denomination instead of 60 of the $100

      If the groceries were to cost $50 000, the consumer would have produce
to 500 $100 notes instead of 100 $500 notes. It is obvious which of the two
denominations would be more convenient to carry to town, say from Mufakose,
Mbizo, Rimuka, Dingumuzi, Dangamvura, Jahunda, Dulibadzimu, Chinotimba,
Magombekombe, Mambo, Chitomborwizi, Mabvuku, Madumabisa or Makokoba, to say
nothing about remote rural areas such as Tizora, Gwaranyemba, Cesucele or

      It would appear that the RBZ did not consider this particular aspect.
Why? I am of the opinion that instead of replacing just the $500 bank note,
the RBZ and the relevant ministry should have replaced the whole currency
with something with an entirely new name and value.

      The name could have been in a local language and the value could be
based on internationally acceptable factors, among others.

      We should bear in mind that money is really nothing but a form of
receipt for goods or

      services received. There are traditionally two types of money:
fiduciary or representative money and fiat money or forced legal tender.

      Fiduciary money consists of paper issued by banks promising to pay
bearer in either silver or gold coins on demand. Fiat money is issued by a
government and its acceptance is made compulsory by law or is treated as
legal tender for the settlement of debts.

      In Zimbabwe’s case, we are in effect using fiduciary money. That is
why the notes carry the promise: "I promise to pay bearer . . ." whatever
the amount is printed on the note "for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe".

      That promise is followed by the signature of the RBZ governor. This
simply means that banks have no right to fail or refuse to pay their clients
their money. That is because they hold whatever money in their custody on
behalf of their clients on the basis of the stated promise. Their duty is to
procure the money if and when needed. That brings us to the question: Can a
government force people to bank their money? Yes, but only when the country
is at war and certainly during peacetime. Since Zimbabwe is not at war, one
wonders how its government cannot justify compelling the people to bank
their cash. That is probably why it has opted for the replacement of just
one denomination. Whatever is the reason for the decision, it is vital that
the crisis be resolved by correctly identifying its causes and dealing with
them with the utmost urgency. The problem is so serious that one would have
thought that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, as an
alternative government, should have by now analysed it and made a public
statement about it. Its silence on the matter is a shortcoming on its part.
As for the ZANU PF national administration, it is very, very surprising that
all its doctors of philosophy (PhDs) are continuously failing to solve the
country’s socio-economic problems. What is the use of one’s education if it
is not to improve the lives of the people at large by applying it
practically and selflessly so as to leave this world a better place than it
was? Can the ZANU PF leadership honestly say it has achieved or is achieving
that objective?

      By Saul Gwakuba Ndlovu

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      Logic says we should introduce $1000 notes

        So the Reserve Bank is in a "hurry" to replace the existing $500
note with a new one, which, I presume will be cheaper to make?

      But then again, the country is in a cash crisis and it appears as if
someone has got their priorities all wrong. Would it not have been a
"little" more logical to first introduce a higher denomination, say a $1 000

      After all, they are going to waste a lot of foreign currency just to
replace a note that turned out to be too expensive to print.

      It is like the man who rushes home when he remembers that he has
forgotten to water his vegetables the previous day. On arrival, he finds his
house on fire, but he proceeds to water his vegetables first before he does
anything else.

      Apparently, common sense is not so common after all!

     Marcus Cato


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Dollar Tumbles Again

August 7, 2003
Posted to the web August 7, 2003

THE Zimbabwe dollar yesterday crashed to new lows on the parallel market,
driven to $6 000 against the United States dollar by desperate demand for
foreign currency in a market where sellers continue to hold on to their
forex for speculative purposes.

The local currency nose-dived 33 percent against the greenback to settle at
$6 000 yesterday, after trading at $4 500 on Monday and Tuesday.

On the official market, the Zimbabwe:US dollar exchange rate is pegged at
Z$824:US$1. The government has not reviewed the exchange rate despite
promising in February that it would to do so every quarter.

Meanwhile, the British pound was yesterday quoted at a low of $8 000 on the
parallel market.

Foreign currency traders told the Business Daily that foreign currency
holders were now cashing in on desperate importers who were willing to pay
any price for hard cash.

But in some cases, the traders said, holders of foreign currency were only
quoting higher rates without selling their hard currency.

The dealers added that the foreign currency shortages on the parallel market
were becoming artificial because foreign currency holders were clinging to
their forex in anticipation of bigger margins when they eventually disposed
of their currency.

Yesterday, dealers were busy taking up positions in anticipation of a
continued slump in the value of the Zimbabwe dollar against the major
trading currencies.

Banking industry officials said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe yesterday
summoned bank chiefs to a two-hour meeting between 9:00 am and 11:00 am to
seek their advice on how they could help end the shortages of bank notes,
which have resulted in long queues for cash.

Dealers said despite the shortage of bank notes, foreign currency sellers
still preferred cash for their transactions, but when payment was made
through a cheque, it drew a premium.

"People are chasing too little foreign currency and whoever wants it has to
cough up a higher rate and if one deal goes through at that rate, then the
rest of the deals follow through," a foreign currency trader with a Harare
discount house said.

"Once you have a trend economy like ours, once a problem is there, the issue
of supply and demand might not work because there will be other forces at
work like we are seeing now."

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Subject: Slash and Burn

AGRIZIM. The Way Forward.

The works of R. Dasmann, L. Bromfield and J. Nkomo tend to acknowledge the
dangers of a badly planned agrarian programme. Seemingly this country was
destined to have the experiment carried out over the last three years a bit
like a Geography Practical. The results have been hardly surprising for
professional agriculturalists, no matter how painful and are likely to have
created a healthy awareness for most people in agriculture by now.

The question remains as to whether there will now be another change for the

C.L. Lundell writes about the Mexican example of 'slash and burn
agriculture' in the Mexican context - that of the Maya civilization in
Peten near the Yucatan Peninsula. "In the beginning the almost limitless
virgin forest permitted the continued clearing of land - utilizing stone
axes and fire during the centuries preceding and immediately following the
birth of Christ.

Under the milpa system, dependent upon fire as the clearing agent, surface
litter is destroyed as well as much of the humus...The uplands were slowly
denuded of soil which filled the large lake basins - today great swamps
known as bajos.

The silt layers filling these swamps is the irrefutable and tragic story of
the rise and fall of the highest civilization developed on this planet by
aboriginal man.

The disintegration of the empire could not be stemmed in a land depleted
and eroded by one of the most destructive systems of agriculture ever
evolved by man.
The story is clear for everyone to read.....even after a thousand years of

AGRIZIM supports a LEGAL and SUSTAINABLE Agricultural Policy ONLY, using
the SKILLS of all Zimbabweans, regardless of race, religion, gender or
political affiliation - as per the Freedom Charter of the Crisis Coalition.

The results of a Slash and Burn programme have been fully predictable:

To resort to the WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME handouts.

Correspondence to: P. Goosen. Facilitator. AGRIZIM.

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Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
Monday July 28th – Sunday August 3rd 2003
Media weekly update 2003-30
1. General comment
2. New bank notes: the final solution?
3. Negotiating for talks
Barely two weeks after The Daily News reported that ZANU PF supporters had destroyed copies of the paper in Mutare, the same paper (29/7) this week revealed similar assaults on Press freedom in the country. In its article, Daily News staff receive threats, the paper reported that unknown people, who claimed to be members of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) had written a letter warning the publication against “publishing abusive language and cartoons that stand to undermine the dignity of the defence forces”, saying, “Any repeat of any stupid publication and abuse of the defence forces may see action against any publisher of such rubbish. Please don’t cry foul”.
MMPZ calls on the police to urgently investigate this case and bring to justice the source of these cowardly and illegal threats to silence an important alternative source of news and in so doing restore a measure of confidence in their impartial application of the law.
Meanwhile, The Zimbabwe Independent (1/8) exposed the gross abuse of the country’s flawed electoral law when it reported the Registrar-General’s office as having recruited graduates of the infamous National Youth Service to work as polling officers for the forthcoming urban and rural council elections.
It is common knowledge that these so-called graduates are the marrow of ZANU PF’s violent election campaign machinery. As a result, their involvement in the elections will undoubtedly give the ruling party a grossly unfair advantage over its MDC rival.
Such behaviour aptly proves the extent to which ZANU PF has hijacked supposedly impartial government institutions to subvert the very core of the democratic process in order to retain their grip on power.
It is against this background that civic organizations continue to demand thorough constitutional reform, with properly constituted electoral laws guaranteeing the fair and independent management of elections. Without these checks on gross authoritarian abuse, the practice of democracy in Zimbabwe will remain an illusion.
The cash crisis, characterised by long bank queues and paltry cash rations, further exposed the government-controlled media’s partisan reporting of critical issues. While the private media gave a full picture and informative analysis of the gravity of the crisis and its origins, which they blamed on bad governance, the government media generally let government off the hook by unquestioningly endorsing its fire fighting measures to arrest the deepening crisis. Further, they shifted the blame for the shortage from government to willing scapegoats such as cross border traders, who reportedly admitted they were behind the crisis through the externalisation of “billions” of dollars in local currency (The Herald, 31/7).
When the week opened ZTV (28/07, 6pm) quoted “business people” as having said “the Zimbabwe dollar is available in other countries yet it is in short supply in the country”, as the reason for the shortages. No explanation was given as to why people in neighbouring countries would hoard a frail Zimbabwean currency. However, in its 8pm bulletin of the same day, ZTV did quote economists Godfrey Jowah and Danny Meyer citing inflation as the major cause. Meyer was quoted as saying, “The cash crisis is but a symptom. The cause is inflation and we are again pursuing this approach of rectifying problems in a piecemeal way,” adding “We have to tackle issues that are fuelling inflation such as government expenditure, such as perhaps the way the country is funding its domestic requirements by way of borrowing”.
But no comment was sought from relevant authorities on what government was doing to address such issues.
Instead, ZBC (30/07, 8pm), carried reports published earlier in The Herald and Chronicle (30/7)  in which Finance Minister, Hebert Murerwa, announced yet more incredible stop-gap measures to resolve the crisis. He was quoted as saying, “Government will introduce a new $500 note within the next 60 days by which time the current $500 note will cease to be legal tender”. Other measures included banning the externalisation of cash; the introduction of Reserve Bank travellers’ cheques; introducing legislation to prevent hoarding of and trading in cash; and that retailers and wholesalers would be required to promptly deposit their cash takings.
The government-controlled media did not question the viability of such measures, merely presenting them as the ultimate solution. Neither did they fully expose the palpable motive behind the replacement of the old $500 note with a new one, although ZTV’s bulletin quoted Samuel Undenge hinting that the move “will force people to bring that money…into the formal banking system”.
As with other controversial government contingencies, the government-controlled media then sought comments giving the plans a seal of approval. For example, ZBC (ZTV, 30/07, 8pm; Radio Zimbabwe, 1/08, 1pm) quoted ZANU PF’s Nathan Shamuyarira saying, “We think the situation is going to improve as these measures are being implemented”.
To give the impression that the latest policies were already bearing fruit, The Herald (31/7) reported that an official of a security company that delivers cash had noticed an increase in business, implying that there was an improvement on the movement of money into banks. The paper (1/8) then described government measures as “sensible”.
The private media was not gullible.
Studio 7 (30/07) quoted economist, John Robertson, as having said, “The measures announced by the government do not achieve much. The best solution will be to print 10 000, 20 000 and even a 50 000 dollar note”.
The Daily News (31/7) said even if the new notes were introduced, the cycle was likely to resume because people had lost faith in the banking system. Its comment wanted to know: “Why, if Zimbabwe has enough foreign currency to import paper and ink to print new bank notes, do we not then just print more money to improve the cash supply situation?”
The Zimbabwe Independent (1/8) quoted economics commentator Tony Hawkins describing the measures as “all nonsense…We have reached a stage where we can’t change the economic situation without changing the government.”
In fact, the private media observed that the problem was more profound and needed solutions that addressed fundamental economic issues.
For example, The Financial Gazette (31/7) quoted Robertson saying,  “The biggest problem …is that of interest rates. There are no incentives or guarantees for one to keep their money in the bank and neither is there any penalty against keeping one’s cash. Instead, there is a penalty in banking your money in that it’s a hassle to get it out.”
Despite such observations, the government-controlled media continued to find scapegoats for the crisis.
For instance, ZBC (ZTV, 30/07, 8pm; Radio Zimbabwe, 31/07, 1pm) was first to accuse cross border traders of externalising local currency. The traders’ leader, Killer Zivhu, was quoted saying, “…Most of the $500 notes are in South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique and our people are exchanging that in the black market” adding, “So we just want to be given the opportunity to bring the money back”. He was not challenged to explain why there would be a black market for an otherwise valueless Zimbabwean currency in other countries, nor was any comment made on Zivhu’s unwitting admission that members of his organisation were engaged in illegal activities.
The Herald (31/7) and the Sunday News (3/7) also quoted Zivhu confessing to his crime.
Previously, the government-controlled media blamed the MDC, the British, exporters and the RBZ for the crisis.
While the public was subjected to long queues in their efforts to withdraw the little money available, The Daily News on Sunday (3/7) revealed that the RBZ had opened a preferential scheme for ministers and senior government officials under which they could access large amounts of cash, effectively circumventing this extreme daily inconvenience. Reportedly, some officials would then trade the money with desperate people for premiums as high as 20 percent.
Even the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association (ZNLWVA), Endy Mhlanga, accused some ZANU PF officials opposed to church-brokered political settlement of being “some of the people” causing cash shortages (The Daily News, 2/8). However, he did not elaborate.
As the Church’s search for a negotiated settlement to the country’s deteriorating political and economic crisis gathered momentum, the government-controlled media used the disparaging remarks of Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa to divert attention from the substance of the talks to discredit the personalities of the clergymen involved in the initiative. However, this did not stop the Zimbabwe Council of Churches’ President, Sebastian Bakare, Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe head, Trevor Manhanga, and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s Peter Mutume from following up their discussion with President Mugabe by meeting MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Initially, the government-controlled media seemingly welcomed the initiative, but later expressed scepticism, questioning the sincerity of the church leaders, especially Bakare and Manhanga whom Chinamasa accused of supporting the MDC.
The private media, on the other hand, simply endorsed the efforts of the churchmen to bring ZANU PF and the MDC to the negotiating table as the right way forward.
But none of them seemed to suggest a fall-back plan in the event that talks between the two main parties do not take place or collapse as they did last year. They also failed to ask or investigate what exactly the church leaders discussed with the two leaders, and how the initiative complemented other efforts already started by African leaders and the South African clergy.
As a result, media stories degenerated into event reports, which lacked an informative and comprehensive insight.
The Daily News (28/7) was the first to announce that church leaders were to meet Tsvangirai to discuss the resumption of dialogue. Its comment of the same day welcomed the church’s decision saying it “offers Zimbabweans the first real chance to peacefully resolve their differences and make a new beginning”.  However, it fell short of fully explaining the source of its optimism on why the clergymen’s initiative was likely to succeed where others have failed.
The next evening ZBC (29/07, 8pm) also quoted Bakare expressing such optimism after his delegation met Tsvangirai. He was quoted as having said his delegation was “currently dealing with issues pertaining to legitimacy, deception on the MDC (sic) as a front for Western powers and the court action challenging the 2002 presidential elections”. He was not asked what had transpired during the meeting with regards those issues.
Studio 7’s (28/07) report on the meeting was equally scanty. It quoted, another member of the church delegation, Manhanga, as saying, “This is a continuing round of dialogue. It never started now. We have actually been involved in speaking to both sides for some time”.  
The following day, The Daily News, The Herald and Chronicle (29/7) reported that the brokers were now waiting for written undertakings from both political parties to resume dialogue. However, their reports did not state what exactly the two parties had promised to discuss when they meet.
Rather than pursue the issue, the government-controlled media found themselves discrediting the MDC as being confused in drawing up its agenda for the talks (The Herald and Chronicle, 30/7). The MDC secretary for Legal Affairs, David Coltart, was quoted as having said his party was “prepared to place in abeyance its High Court petition before the resumption of the talks and would ultimately withdraw the petition if the dialogue resulted in an irreversible settlement”.
Without seeking comment from the MDC itself, ZTV (30/07, 8pm) merely latched onto the misleading Herald report and quoted Justice Minister Chinamasa saying, “My own position is that the (presidential election) petition should proceed to trial”, adding, “We don’t require magnanimity from the MDC with respect to the election petition because we know they had no basis whatsoever”. Chinamasa also accused the MDC of having been forced to challenge the presidential election results by the British “in order to spoil the situation”. He did not provide any evidence to back this claim.
However, The Daily News (1/8) clarified the issue when it quoted Coltart disputing The Herald story saying, “The MDC’s position has not changed in any way and there is certainly no confusion or disagreement in this regard…the petition would not be withdrawn unless a final, binding and irreversible agreement was arrived at.”
Apart from distorting the MDC’s position on the talks, the government controlled media tried to besmirch the credibility of the church leaders as honest brokers. For instance, ZTV (29/07, 8pm) claimed that, “the church has a history of siding with Western countries on issues such as the land imbalances.”
The following morning The Herald (30/7) took the issue further accusing Bakare and Manhanga of being pro-opposition and anti-government.
As if taking a cue from ZTV and The Herald, Chinamasa was quoted in The Herald (31/7) denouncing the churchmen saying they are “MDC activists wearing religious collars” who were mediating “on behalf their foreign masters”. Chinamasa made similar remarks in The Standard (3/8).
To further discredit the clergymen, ZTV (1/08, 8pm) reported that Bakare “has been critical of government’s land reform programme and has been quoted extensively in the foreign media accusing government of violating human rights.” As if criticising government was a crime, it added, “Another member of the team, Bishop Manhanga was also arrested on an allegation of addressing an illegal gathering”.
The Daily News (1/8) however quoted an unnamed ZANU PF Politburo member revealing that such anti-church comments were an echo of some ZANU PF “hardliners” who “have a dubious history within the party and who, in any future dispensation, are not going to be of any significance”.
The article further reported that Chinamasa was actually pursuing a parallel effort and had been in contact with the MDC in an attempt to resume the talks. This was corroborated by The Zimbabwe Independent (1/8) article, Talks gather pace behind the scenes.
By the close of the week, The Standard (3/8) reported that the MDC had presented its submissions for talks to the church leaders and high on the agenda was the restoration of political liberties. However, the paper did not seek ZANU PF’s proposals. In fact, besides media reports that the ruling party is demanding that the MDC withdraws its election petition, no media has investigated any other ZANU PF proposition for talks.
While these events were unfolding, it emerged that ZANU PF still contradicted the spirit of reconciliation and the search for a solution to Zimbabwe’s problems. For instance, The Daily News (29/7) carried the latest Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum report noting that State sponsored political violence was on the rise with 113 cases of torture and assault, being recorded in June.
The Daily News on Sunday reported that MDC activist Action Shamu was murdered in what police said was a “political dispute.” The Sunday Mail carried the report but tried to mask Shamu’s political affiliation.
The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail:  
Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we will look at each message. For previous MMPZ reports, and more information about the Project, please visit our website at
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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


Letter 1: Agriculture or Bust!

Dear Agrizim

Your support for the agricultural industry is certain and I agree with most
of your beliefs, however I think that the remarks,

"In a CRISIS situation people have the option to STAND UP for what is
RIGHT, or, GET DOWN and get RICH - where do you think we should be?"

This comment only offers an option of one side or another.

What about standing up for what is right and getting rich, or getting down,
getting food out and having a decent living.

I think this agricultural debacle has highlighted one main problem for the
"white" man in not only Africa but the world. We are so clever, so
genetically individual, that a crisis of this nature fragmented our society
into splinter groups with no reconciliation apparent. Just 2 sides of who
is going to be proven right! Well, with the demise of agriculture perhaps
you two groups are after all on the same side... the losing one!

Africans have been brought up in extended families, where aunts and uncles
have cherished nephews and nieces, where the elderly neighbour is treated
as another grandfather, entire villages sorting out their lives together
with their elders, this has stood the African custom in good stead.

We on the other hand cannot address our favourite relative with an "aunt"
or "uncle", using only Christian names. Later this same disrespect for
"collective" advice is shown and today we stand isolated, unable to resolve
to stand together in our 11th hour. At least the Titanic victims went down
together, whilst we on the other hand will do so individually, frustrated,
split and angry...

Perhaps next time we will learn? Perhaps we will set some goals, perhaps
agree what to do about unacceptable limits for abuse and intolerance, and
decide what to do with our members who betray our decisions. Perhaps we
will stand together, a proud tribe, not a motley bunch of frightened

Cheers & kind regards



Letter 2: Not Much Changes It Seems

Will we humans ever learn from the mistakes of the past?  Read on.

High production per man-hour, per dollar invested, is the answer to
stabilizing the economy on a productive basis - never scarcity and high

Never forget that agriculture is the oldest of the honourable professions
and that always the good farmer is the fundamental citizen of any
community, state or nation.  Never in the history of the world has this
fact been more evident than in the disordered times in which we live.
Louis Bromfield - 'Malabar Farm' - 1949.


All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.

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