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

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Financial Times

      Zimbabwe pressed to devalue official rate of exchange
      By Tony Hawkins in Harare
      Published: August 8 2003 5:00 | Last Updated: August 8 2003 5:00

      The Zimbabwe government is under mounting pressure to devalue the
official exchange rate of the Zimbabwe dollar as the parallel market rate
has collapsed over the past two weeks from Z$2,750 to the US dollar to

      The official exchange rate has been held at Z$824 to the US unit since
the end of February, when the government devalued the currency by some 93
per cent. Last week, angry small-scale tobacco growers forced the temporary
closure of the tobacco auction floors in protest against the official
exchange rate, at which they are paid.

      They say their production costs are in effect double the revenue they
earn at the current rate of exchange.

      The growers abandoned their boycott following official assurances that
the exchange rate was under review. This suggests that the authorities are
preparing either to announce another substantial devaluation or that the
government will resurrect its export price support scheme for exports such
as tobacco and gold.

      There is no single explanation for the sudden weakening of the
Zimbabwe dollar in the unofficial market, but the country has been gripped
by a spending frenzy as individuals and businesses respond to rapidly
worsening inflation outlook.

      The year-on-year inflation number for July, due out next week, is
expected to reach 400 per cent: share prices on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
have risen some 90 per cent in the past two months as asset inflation takes

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Zim Independent

SA's Codesa experts beef up MDC team
Dumisani Muleya
OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials have met veteran
negotiators of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) to
sharpen their bargaining skills as they prepare for the resumption of talks
with the ruling Zanu PF.

An MDC technical task team on transitional issues chaired by the party's
national executive committee member Yvonne Mahlunge met seasoned Codesa
political brokers in Pretoria recently to gather information and share
experiences on transitional issues.

The Codesa process ushered in a democratic dispensation in South Africa in
1994. It was held between 1991 and 1993 in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, and
represented a variety of political players.

The MDC delegation included opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's advisor,
Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, party spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi,
Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, Isaac Maphosa, Mahlunge and a diplomat
based in Harare.

The South African group comprised former African National Congress (ANC)
secretary-general and key Codesa negotiator, Cyril Ramaphosa, United
Democratic Movement deputy president and ex-Provincial Affairs and
Constitutional Development minister after 1994, Rolf Meyer, South African
Communist Party secretary-general Blade Nzimande, and ex-ANC national
executive committee member and outgoing chief executive of the National
Economic and Labour Development Council, Phillip Dexter.

It also included Cape Town High Court Justice Dennis Davis, an ANC top
official and parliamentary portfolio committee on justice chair, Johnny De
Lange, and former South African President Nelson Mandela's legal advisor
during Codesa, Fink Haysom.

Meyer, a vastly experienced politician, was the National Party's chief
Codesa negotiator, while Haysom was also involved in advising on transitions
in Chile, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Documents to hand indicate that the teams discussed case studies on
transitional issues in relation to Zimbabwe.

The MDC used the meeting to gather "lessons, experiences, perspectives, and
ideas around the issues of talks, negotiation and transition".

Although the South Africans made valuable input, documents suggest the MDC
"controlled, determined, guided and made decisions on the intellectual
aspects of the discussion".

The opposition wanted to sufficiently understand the terrain, challenges and
complexities of talks with the aim of "develop(ing) its own suggested road
map or framework of negotiations and transition".

The MDC proposed a road map that include talks about talks for two months,
formal negotiations for two months, transitional arrangements for three
months and implementation of agreed issues for another three months before
free and fair elections are held. It also alluded to a transitional
constitution. (See local news.)

Direct informal talks are currently going on between the MDC and Zanu PF to
clear obstacles before the dialogue that collapsed last year in May
officially resumes. The parties have been meeting for sometime now over the
current crisis.

The South Africans said there was need to establish a framework and broad
objectives for talks. They also said there would be need to "respect
deadlines and avoid or prevent unilateralism" during talks.

The MDC, Codesa negotiators said, should know the first rule for
negotiations was that there were no rules. But the meeting agreed "there was
need to establish mechanisms to secure the irreversibility of the
negotiations and transition" in Zimbabwe.

"Zimbabwe must think through the process of how to secure its own
transition," the records of the meeting say. "There is need to strengthen
the resolve for internal process to ensure legitimacy is accorded it."

It was said the international community should only play a supportive role.

The June meeting concluded there was a "mutually hurting stalemate" in
Zimbabwe that must be resolved urgently. It was observed that the objective
conditions on the ground, as in South Africa towards the late 1980s, were
now ideal for talks because the balance of political forces has shifted

While Zanu PF still controls the state machinery and has some rural support,
the MDC has 54 parliamentary seats, chairs portfolio committees in the
House, sponsors four mayors, and holds sway in most urban areas. It also has
considerable international support. This represents a sea change from the
early 90s when Zanu PF was the sole political force.

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Zim Independent

Mugabe stuns worshippers
Itai Dzamara
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe visited Highfield on Sunday where he made an
unexpected appearance at the Catholic Church with his son and daughter.

Worshippers at St Mary's Old Highfield parish church were taken by surprise
when a troop of armed soldiers and police officers numbering over 100
cordoned off Jabavu Street which leads to the church just before the
beginning of the 8am service.

Mugabe's motorcade soon arrived at the church for the 79-year-old leader to
attend the service together with his first-born daughter, Bona and Robert

Father Kizito Mhembere, the parish priest, told the congregation at the
beginning of mass that Mugabe had decided to attend without prior warning.

"I received a phone call this morning from the State House with the message
that the president was coming to attend mass here with us," said Mhembere.

"When I phoned back to say that we had not prepared for him, I was told it
was too late because he was already on his way. He is not here to talk
politics, but to pray just like any other Christian."

Mugabe, who was in a pensive mood, did not address the congregation. Neither
did he greet or wave to the public in his usual way.

Save for the ubiquitous soldiers and police as well as his aides dressed in
suits, Mugabe's presence at the service was low key.

Sitting in the second row with his aides seated behind him, Mugabe sat
staring straight ahead as he listened to the sermon and dutifully responded
to prayers.

In the later stages of the mass, a woman said a prayer for Mugabe: "Bless
our president who is here and bring peace to our country," she intoned.

After the mass Mugabe spent 30 minutes at the priest's home. He later
rejoined his motorcade which left for State House.

Mugabe used to attend mass at the Cathedral in central Harare but of late
the First Family had stopped attending mass on Sundays.

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Zim Independent

Fears over Mhashu's stay in UK
Mthulisi Mathuthu
FEARS are mounting in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that
Education spokesman Fidelis Mhashu is planning to relocate to the United
Kingdom where he has been resident for the past five months.

Pressure from the party allegedly forced Mhashu to return to the country
three weeks ago but he left his family in Luton.

MDC sources told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the party was
concerned that Mhashu could choose to stay in the UK becoming the second MDC
MP to do so after Zengeza MP Tafadzwa Musekiwa.

Musekiwa skipped the country to seek employment in the UK saying he feared
for his life.

Last week Mhashu said he had remained in the UK to nurse his wife who
suffered head injuries when she was attacked by people who raided his home
in March.

Mhashu, who is the MP for Chitungwiza, has not returned to his house since
the attack. He said the people who raided his home in March had threatened
to kill him.

"I was simply nursing my wife in the UK and she will be coming back home
soon," he said. "I remained there because those people who beat her up
threatened to kill me. There are no dead heroes as you know very well."

He denied that he had taken employment at a garage in Luton saying his sons
were taking care of his family. Mhashu said he had no intention to live
anywhere out of the country.

Mhashu, who is the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on
Education, left Zimbabwe on March 17 on a programme sponsored by the US
embassy. From the US he proceeded to the UK to organise a visa for his wife
to join him following the attack.

He said he had communicated with the Speaker of parliament Emmerson
Mnangagwa through his lawyers on his decision to remain in the UK.

The MDC fears that if its members skip the country its coffers will be
further stretched through by-elections.

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Zim Independent

Misa an outlaw organisation - Mahoso
Charlene Ambali
RELATIONS between the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) and the
Media and Information Commission (MIC) further chilled this week with
commission chairman, Tafataona Mahoso, accusing Misa of operating as an
"outlaw" outfit.

In June Mahoso wrote to Misa demanding that the media advocacy group
register with his commission because it was a media organisation. Misa did
not immediately comply saying it was seeking clarity from the MIC on the
reason why it should register.

In an interview on Wednesday Mahoso said Misa did not register because it
wanted to operate as a media commission. He branded Misa an outlaw
organisation and said others were in the same position.

"The problem is the set-up of Misa and the Media Monitoring Project of
Zimbabwe (MMPZ). There is a conflict in jurisdiction and mandate," he said.

"They expected to be made the commission and they literally masquerade as
one. They should know that a private organisation cannot make a commission,"
he said.

MMPZ yesterday dismissed Mahoso's assertions.

"Whilst I cannot speak for Misa, MMPZ has no intention of taking the place
of the MIC," MMPZ coordinator Andrew Moyse said. "It sounds like he feels
threatened by our organisations, which existed long before the MIC."

Mahoso said the Daily News, which has challenged registration in the Supreme
Court, needed to register with the commission as well.

"They have defied legislation and so they too have the status of an outlaw,"
said Mahoso.

"The Daily News has the option of registering before the judgement is out.
Misa should go and register. We want to avoid going to the courts because
it's very expensive," he said.

"The last resort is to go to jail. They are seriously pretending to be
ethical and upholders of values when they violate the law," he said.

Misa in a statement said it had only sought clarification from the

"In January Misa-Zimbabwe initiated dialogue with the Media and Information
Commission to seek clarity on a wide range of issues of concern to our
membership and to us as an organisation."

"At the time, other than the promulgation of the Broadcasting Services Act
and Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, media practitioners
were being given very little information on the mandate of the Media and
Information Commission. As a result there was a great deal of uncertainty
over a number of issues," Misa said.

"Misa-Zimbabwe has a number of matters that it is concerned with as far as
Aippa is concerned. These include the work and composition of the MIC
itself. We believe some of such concerns can be addressed through engagement
with the MIC and other authorities," it said.

According to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, media
organisations which do not register with the commission can be fined up to
$300 000 or its principals imprisoned for up to two years, as well as having
their equipment forfeited to the state. Asked why the commission had not
enforced this clause, Mahoso said the process was under way.

"We are doing it step by step. But the arm of the law is very long. Nyaya
haiori (crime does not rot). It might take even two or four years," he said.

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Zim Independent

Govt thwarts Makwavarara's ouster
Staff Writer
THE government has blocked an attempt by Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) Harare councillors to remove acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara from
office by cancelling the pending election of a new deputy mayor.

In a fresh directive to town house this week Local Government minister
Ignatius Chombo said no elections should take place until investigations
into the conduct of suspended executive mayor Elias Mudzuri had been

The tenure of deputy mayor Makwavarara, who has been acting mayor since
Mudzuri's suspension three months ago, expired at the end of last month and
council was expected to choose a new deputy mayor this month.

Makwavarara has had a brush with party members over allegations that she was
executing directives from Chombo in defiance of the party's position to defy
the minister. Makwavarara has denied allegations that she is pliant to the
minister's demands.

Party insiders say MDC councillors were expected to vote in a new deputy
mayor together with chairpersons of standing committees this month.

A letter from Local Government permanent secretary Vincent Hungwe to
Makwavarara on Tuesday directed the acting mayor to cancel the pending

'The minister writes to advise you that the on-going investigations by the
committee of inquiry that he appointed to investigate the allegations
preferred against suspended mayor Elias Mudzuri, touch and relate to the
activities of the key standing and other committees of council," Hungwe

"The minister therefore directs in terms of section 313 of the Urban
Councils Act that all pending elections for the deputy mayor and
chairpersons and members of all standing and other committees of council be
suspended until the on-going investigation by the committee of inquiry has
been concluded," he said.

Hungwe also directed Makwavarara to ensure that all senior council employees
remained in their current positions for the duration of the investigation.

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Zim Independent

'Made killing agriculture'
Augustine Mukaro
COMMERCIAL farmers have blasted Agriculture minister Joseph Made accusing
him of fuelling the chaos prevailing in the agricultural sector.

Speaking at the Commercial Farmers Union's 60th annual congress at Art Farm
on Wednesday, CFU vice-president Doug Taylor-Freeme said: "Made is
responsible for the destruction of agriculture in the country and must be
made accountable.

"We have rampant foot-and-mouth throughout the country. He was warned this
would happen, and now the cattle industry is in deep trouble, huge resources
of forex are needed to control the situation and this finance could have
been better utilised to implement the land reform programme more effectively
and with some degree of success."

Taylor-Freeme said CFU members had an excellent track record of grain
production but vital infrastructure was sitting idle.

"We have massive food imports yet there is agricultural infrastructure
sitting idle such as irrigation schemes, tobacco facilities, greenhouses.
Crops are being abandoned or stolen, pedigree herds are being slaughtered,
and farmers being evicted when silos are sitting empty," he said.

He said Zimbabwean farmers were under threat of becoming irrelevant in the
region as their traditional markets were being taken over by other

"Commercial agriculture should be expanding, not shrinking as is happening,"
he said.

"Looking at the region, Zambia is about to export 120 000 tonnes of grain to
what traditionally was our market. Seed maize is being grown in neighbouring
countries when it should be produced here and exported," he said.

The agricultural sector has been in free-fall over the past three years as
government implemented its arbitrary and chaotic land reform programme.

The programme has brought the formerly vibrant commercial agricultural
sector to the edge of ruin as manifested through acute food and forex

Production in general has tumbled by over 70% over the past three seasons
with areas planted being drastically reduced.

"In tonnage terms, commercial farmers, excluding A2 farmers, this year are
expected to produce 80 000 tonnes of maize (10% of normal), 35 000 tonnes of
soyabeans (22% of normal), and 15 000 tonnes of wheat (5% of normal),"
Taylor-Freeme said.

The reductions are likely to be exacerbated by the shortages of fertiliser
and other inputs.

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Zim Independent

Donnelly digs in heels on rights abuses
Dumisani Muleya
BRITAIN will continue to speak out against oppression and human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe despite shrill official claims of colonialism and other
forms of blackmail, British High Commissioner Sir Brian Donnelly has said.

Donnelly said since he came to Zimbabwe two years ago the political and
economic situation had dramatically deteriorated and his government was
seriously concerned about it.

"Two years have now passed since I arrived in Zimbabwe. It has been a
roller-coaster ride, with plenty of ups and downs and with seatbelts
fastened most of the time," he said in the latest edition of Britain &
Zimbabwe magazine.

"Among the ups: prices - of almost everything, the number of people needing
food assistance, political violence and polarisation, violations of human

Sir Brian said the downs included "economic growth, maize, wheat and tobacco
production, fuel supplies, foreign trade and investment, the value of the
Zim dollar, standards of healthcare and education, and tolerance.

"In short, by almost any measure, Zimbabwe is much worse off than when I
arrived," he said. "Why? One school of thought is that this sorry state is
largely the responsibility of the British government (aided and abetted at
different times by the United States, European Union and Australia). For
some of it I'm even blamed personally."

Donnelly said "an alternative explanation is that the current situation is
the result of a series of calamitous policy decisions in which political
ideology and survival have outweighed economic rationality and fundamental
principles of governance and human rights".He dismisses the first
explanation about Britain's colonial ambitions as "complete fiction".

"From the standpoint of knowing exactly what the British government has and
has not done over the last two years, I know which explanation I prefer -
and it isn't the first one!" Donnelly said.

"Sovereignty cannot, and should not, be used as a barrier against
international scrutiny where civil rights are concerned. Britain has learned
this lesson over the last 40 years in Northern Ireland."

London would, he said, remain undeterred in its condemnation of tyranny.

"So 'yes' we do speak out - and urge others to do so - when we see flagrant
violations of international standards of political and human rights," he

"Yes we do support the right of the people of Zimbabwe to elect their
leaders freely and fairly. Yes we do support the efforts of regional states
to promote reconciliation. But 'no' we don't have any malign or subversive

Donnelly said Britain, which has donated more that £50 million to alleviate
the food crisis, would continue to provide humanitarian assistance despite
the political stand-off.

British Secretary of State for International Development, Baroness Valerie
Amos, writing in the same magazine, said Harare's imperialist claims against
London were ridiculous.

"Cooperation is often contrasted with colonialism and I know that in
Zimbabwe the British government is accused of wanting to surreptitiously
'recolonise' the country," she said.

"But the days of colonialism - the imposition of values and exploitation of
resources by force, and domination of one people by another - are gone."

Amos said inter-party talks between the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change, and an end to intimidation and violence,
were the only way out the current crisis.

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Zim Independent

Zanu PF caught in own legal tangle
Loughty Dube
THE amended Citizenship Act has barred ruling Zanu PF candidate David Ndlovu
from contesting the forthcoming council elections after a nomination court
ruled he was not a Zimbabwean citizen by law.

Ndlovu, the former Bulawayo acting mayor, was disqualified by the nomination
court presided over by Willard Sayenda. The presiding officer said Ndlovu, a
candidate for Ward 20, was not a Zimbabwean citizen because his parents were
born in Malawi and therefore could not contest the elections.

Ndlovu has been a councillor for Ward 20 for more than 10 years and was
acting mayor of Bulawayo for three years before the election of Japhet
Ndabeni Ncube in 2001.

The country's Citizenship Act was amended prior to the hotly contested
presidential election in March last year in a move political commentators
said was meant to bar farm workers - mainly those of Malawian and Zambian
origin - and whites from casting their votes.

The government viewed them as sympathetic to the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change.

The amendments have been challenged in the Supreme Court by local citizens
in their individual capacities. The government has since gazetted an
amendment to the principal Act to ensure some of the affected groups are
recognised as Zimbabweans by law.

The judgement by the nomination court however means that the MDC has already
secured two council seats in two wards in Bulawayo after Zanu PF failed to
field a candidate in another ward at the close of the nomination court last

The two unopposed MDC candidates are Cornelius Ncengani of Ward Four and
Kelboy Mabandla of Ward 20.

The two are expected to take office at the beginning of September after the

MDC provincial spokesperson for Bulawayo, Victor Moyo, confirmed that the
two MDC candidates were unopposed at the close of the nomination court on
Monday and said they would take office at the beginning of September.

"We have 29 candidates contesting council seats in Bulawayo and already we
have won two uncontested as Zanu PF failed to field candidates," he said.

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Zim Independent

Funds for housing projects vanish
Itai Dzamara
CONTROVERSY surrounds the whereabouts of funds contributed by war veterans
towards housing schemes in Harare, investigations by the Zimbabwe
Independent have revealed.

In 2000 Zanu PF officials led the invasion of farms around Harare
International Airport, along the Chitungwiza Road and in Waterfalls.

Prospective home-seekers were made to contribute to the new housing schemes.
Structures that had been built illegally were subsequently destroyed by
police amid promises by government that the home-seekers would be given
alternative land in Harare.

The Harare City Council, led by executive mayor Elias Mudzuri, overturned
decisions by the Elijah Chanakira-led commission to allocate stands to war
veterans in the capital. The commission had allocated stands to war veterans
in Crowborough North, Lochinvar and Warren Park.

The war veterans, who had contributed funds to cooperatives headed by party
activists in the hope of getting stands, were told to wait for the council
to allocate them, but this has been in vain. Some of them are now demanding
reimbursement of their contributions.

Zimbabwe National War Veterans Association secretary-general Andy Mhlanga
confirmed this week that most of the schemes had been abandoned but he said
he was not in a position to comment on the whereabouts of members'

"There are some schemes which were abandoned because the sites were not
suitable for housing projects," said Mhlanga. "We advised the Harare City
Council and the Local Government ministry to relocate the affected people.
We are not aware of any progress made on relocating the people."

Mhlanga said the schemes were spearheaded by housing cooperatives
independent of the war veterans' leadership. He said his association only
assisted in securing land.

War veterans who had contributed funds towards the housing schemes said they
were not reimbursed their money, which sources said run into "hundreds of

"We contributed funds which were over $20 000 per person in 1999 towards the
housing scheme near Harare International Airport," said Steven Muzariri, a
Harare a war veteran.

"The scheme failed to materialise and we haven't been reimbursed our money.
We are still waiting to hear from (Vivian) Mwashita who was the leader of
the cooperative."

When contacted for comment last week, Mwashita said she was not sure what
became of the projects.

"No I'm not sure about that (monies)," said Mwashita. "I am only aware of
one (housing scheme) that we used to run with the late (Chenjerai) Hunzvi
near Granville Cemetery but I don't know how it ended."

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Zim Independent

Zanu PF revives constitutional debate
Dumisani Muleya
ZANU PF, which ruled out a new constitution after its defeat in a referendum
three years ago, is said to be trying to revive the issue during talks with
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to accelerate the
resolution of the current crisis.

Diplomatic sources said Zanu PF wants to introduce the issue during talks
expected to resume soon and propose a new constitutional project to be
passed through parliament.

The sources said the ruling party wants new constitutional provisions
instead of an interim document to facilitate any transition because it is
anxious to secure immunity guarantees for President Robert Mugabe to protect
him from charges of human rights abuses.

It is understood the MDC wants limited constitutional reform to facilitate
the creation of an independent electoral commission that would run elections
under an interim constitution with a transitional authority supervising the

The new or revised constitution that Zanu PF wants would combine elements of
both the rejected government-sponsored draft and the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA)'s proposals.

The two existing drafts are fundamentally divergent in their proposed system
of government, although they have similarities in other areas.

The official document proffers a French-style co-habitation system of an
executive president and a prime minister, while the NCA suggests a
Westminster model of a powerful prime minister and a titular head of state.

Sources said Zanu PF legal technocrats are busy trying to distill the two
drafts to come up with a consolidated document that would be debated in

Reports of a revived Zanu PF-engineered constitutional agenda came as it
emerged yesterday that MDC officials recently met Convention for a
Democratic South Africa (Codesa) veterans to sharpen their negotiating
skills in preparation for the resumption of the collapsed talks with Zanu PF
(See Headlines)

The South Africans suggested a transitional constitution as the best route
out of the current quagmire.

Mediators at Codesa - the process that led to a democratic dispensation in
South Africa - told the MDC leaders that although problems like these in
Zimbabwe are better resolved politically, there was need for durable and
legal mechanisms to underpin agreements and political solutions.

There is now a new impetus towards a negotiated political settlement. Zanu
PF and the MDC have been in direct informal talks for sometime now to clear
contested issued before talks officially resume.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, who recently secured American support
for his "quiet diplomacy", and local church leaders are actively involved in
trying to broker dialogue.

When a new constitutional dispensation is secured, sources said, that could
be the most practical way to ease Mugabe out of power and pave way for new

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Zim Independent

Garwe to rule on Tsvangirai application
Dumisani Muleya
JUSTICE Paddington Garwe will this morning make a ruling on the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC)'s lawyers application for the discharge of party
leader Morgan Tsvangirai who is facing treason charges for allegedly
plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe.

MDC attorney Innocent Chagonda said Garwe, who is judge president, would
hand down his judgement on the application by head of the defence team
George Bizos today.

"The ruling will be made tomorrow morning at 11:00," Chagonda said

The High Court deferred ju-dgement on the case on July 28.

Garwe had promised two weeks earlier to deliver a ruling on Bizos'
application to have treason charges against Tsvangirai and others dropped on
the grounds they were allegedly trumped-up by government agents for
political reasons.

Tsvangirai is jointly charged with MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube and
secretary for agriculture Renson Gasela for plotting to assassinate Mugabe
in 2001.

The trio has denied the charges but face the death penalty if convicted. The
alleged intrigue was uncovered after Canadian political consultant Ari
Ben-Menashe accused the MDC officials of approaching him to arrange Mugabe's
murder. Ben-Menashe has produced grainy video and inaudible sound tapes
recorded at meetings between MDC members and himself in London and Montreal
as evidence.

However, MDC attorneys led by Bizos have dismissed the purported evidence as
contrived and useless after a dramatic long-running trial.

Ben-Menashe was "a notorious and demonstrable liar", Bizos said in his
application for a discharge.

A number of state witnesses have concurred that the evidence is unreliable.

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Zim Independent

Zanu PF to elect provincial committees
Loughty Dube
ZANU PF will in November hold a special conference to elect new provincial
executive committees which could be key factors in the succession saga.

Zanu PF information supremo Nathan Shamuyarira this week confirmed new party
chairmen and executive members would be elected at the end of the year or
after local government elections scheduled for the end of this month.

"The terms of all provincial chairmen are coming to an end," said
Shamuyarira. "Elections to fill these positions would be held soon and a
special conference or different conferences will be held soon after the
council elections," he said.

Shamuyarira said the elections would also fill positions in provinces that
did not have substantive chairmen. Mashonaland Central has an acting
chairman after the position was made vacant this year by the death of
Stephen Nkomo.

"There are some provinces that have acting chairmen like Bulawayo and we
want to call for elections so that substantive chairmen are found for those
provinces," he said.

Jostling for positions in various provinces, especially in Matabeleland
South and Bulawayo, has already started amid allegations that those eyeing
the party presidency are pushing for the candidacy of trusted party cadres.

The provincial leaders will next year vote into office the party president
and executive members. While other provincial leaders have remained mum on
the future of President Mugabe as party leader, Matabeleland South and North
leaders have said they would pick party chairman John Nkomo to succeed

Party sources said the jostling threatens to compromise the party's campaign
for local government elections scheduled for the end of the month.

The Zimbabwe Independent this week learnt that camps had emerged in Bulawayo
province with senior party leaders backing different people for the post of
chairman, left vacant after Jabulani Sibanda was kicked out.

Sources said names that have been thrown into the fray include those of
acting chairman Silas Dlomo and two provincial committee members, Jimmy
Nleya and Abu Basuthu.

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Zim Independent

Govt rocks Oppenheimer empire

THE Oppenheimer empire in Zimbabwe has taken another knock after the
government this week listed for compulsory acquisition six farms owned by
one of the wealthiest families in the world.

The government on Wednesday published a list of 152 farms for seizure,
including six ranches owned by the Oppenheimer family, which has huge mining
interests in southern Africa. The six ranches have a total land area of 45
330 hectares.

The six properties are Josephs Block ranch, Esmyangene Block, Bulawayo
Syndicate Block, Mbati Tlabetsi and sub-division A of Mbati Tlabetsi - all
in the Bubi district of Matabeleland South. The other one is Umgazi farm
registered under Belingwe district.

The latest development comes after government seized over 35 000 hectares of
land from the Oppenheimer-owned Debshan ranch in 2001.

The government has alleged that the Oppenheimer family owns land the size of

Vice-President Joseph Msika, accompanied by Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of
Local Government, Olivia Muchena, the late Matabeleland South governor
Stephen Nkomo, and Midlands governor Cephas Msipa, swooped on Debshan farm
to kick-start the demarcation of the property in 2001.

The Oppenheimers control two of Africa's richest companies, Anglo American
Corporation and De Beers, a diamond mining concern.

The government has said it will acquire a further 65 000 hectares from the
135 000 hectares at Debshan ranch.

This is despite the fact that in September 2000 the Oppenheimer family and
the Anglo American Corporation (AAC) offered government 40 000 hectares of
the 960 000 hectares of land they own for resettlement.

The latest listing of the Oppenheimer farms come after President Mugabe said
his government had completed its fast-track land reform. - Staff Writer.

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Zim Independent

Over $880b needed for agricultural recovery

Vincent Kahiya

THE government has finally accepted its shortcomings by admitting that it
needs donor support for its land reform programme to succeed. This is a
major departure from populist posturing over the past three years that
Zimbabwe would go it alone without external support from the international
community and claims by President Mugabe’s courtiers that the reform
exercise has been a success.

Evidence of failure is manifest in empty shop shelves and weed-covered
former commercial farms.

Last month the government issued a desperate SOS appeal to donors to finance
agricultural recovery although this was disguised as an appeal for
humanitarian aid to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The
government requires $758 billion for cereal production and $120 billion to
revive the livestock sector, which has been decimated by destocking, drought
and rustling.

Zimbabwe, which only a few short years ago was a net food exporter in the
region before the advent of fast-track land reform, wants donors to dole out
600 000 tonnes of maize and finance the purchase of drugs.

Zimbabwe admitted in the document it does not have the foreign currency to
import the food and drugs. The government attributed this to drought and
economic decline but not to its own mismanagement of the economy and
bungling of the agrarian reform.

The government, in its appeal to the UNDP, said it was committed to funding
part of the agricultural recovery initiative from the 2003/2004
supplementary budget allocation and wants donors to fill in the yawning $878
billion gap. But history points to the government’s incompetence in
mobilising local financial and material resources to finance agriculture.

In the past three years its highly politicised input support scheme has
resulted in a waste of national resources. For example last year farmers on
the maize-growing belt received fertilisers before they received seeds. The
seed was only delivered when it was too late to plant. A scheme for A2
farmers to restore looted and vandalised irrigation systems has not brought
tangible results as evidenced by the record low hectarage of winter wheat
this year. Bankers have not been keen to finance agriculture in the
smallholder sector due to lack of security.

The crop-pricing regime has not spurred agricultural production either. The
hardest-hit crop has been tobacco, a key foreign currency earner whose
output has continued to plummet due to high costs of production and a
miscued exchange rate policy.

The once sophisticated horticultural sector has also seen a dip in
productivity after farms were stripped and portions of land parcelled out.

Analysts said the new appeal to donors to fund agricultural recovery was an
indictment of a government whose policies have entombed the nation in
poverty. The analysts said it was ironic that the appeal was targeted at
traditional humanitarian aid sponsors — mainly Britain, the European Union
and United States — who openly condemned government’s chaotic and partisan
land reform exercise from inception. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s new friends in
the Far East don’t seem to be interested.

UNDP resident representative to Zimbabwe Victor Angelo in a recent interview
with Irin news agency clearly set out conditions for donor support when he

 “I trust that donors would be very supportive of a well-designed and
properly implemented survey of the agricultural situation. Before this has
been achieved, we can’t even talk about the next step. First, you understand
the present. Then you prepare for the future. But the question is not just
about donors — above all, it is about Zimbabweans taking the lead,” he said.

Angelo said the situation prevailing at the moment was different from the
circumstances of the 1998 donors’ conference held in Harare.

“Challenges are greater than ever and the call from the rural areas is for
better planning, more transparency, more resources and full implementation
of the law.

“The critical issues — sustainable resettlement, food security,
institutional strengthening, and renewed partnerships — have to be faced
head on,” he said.

The donors are likely to remind government that it lost the opportunity to
garner support for the land reform exercise when it abandoned commitments
made at the 1998 conference.

Donor countries then favoured a phased approach to land reform in which the
initial phase was expected to resettle 150 000 families. A concept paper
produced with the assistance of the World Bank before the conference
estimated that it would cost US$12 230 to resettle each one of the 150 000
farmers which translated to US$1,9 billion. The paper proposed a funding
structure where donors would provide 60% of the money, the government 36%
and the beneficiaries 4%.

The paper said the resettlement programme should focus on poverty reduction.
This meant that beneficiaries would be selected from among the poor — those
living in congested communal areas, those with farming aptitude, and
vulnerable groups such as farm workers.

It said the programme would also integrate into its activities the equitable
development of communal areas and existing resettlement areas. The paper
said the reform programme would have an inception phase of two years,
followed by an expansion phase of three to five years.

“The inception phase of the land reform and resettlement programme will be
used to implement the current government resettlement models and test out a
variety of approaches to land redistribution,” the paper said.

“During the inception phase, the key objective is ‘learning by doing’,” it
said. “Already, government is in the process of further improving the
current models, and will continue to do so during the inception phase. This
implies putting in place a strong monitoring and evaluation system, which
aims to continuously and rapidly improve upon the various approaches as they
are being implemented, and lays the basis for the expansion phase.”

This seemingly sensible route was abandoned as political expediency dictated
the ‘fast track’ model of land acquisition without due regard to resources
and budget availability. This has not only compromised productivity but has
wrecked all facets of the economy. The scenario obtaining in the country
where inflation has reached stratospheric levels of 365% and shortages of
basics reign supreme has its roots in that deeply flawed approach which
ignored specialist advice.

The policy which the government said was designed to reduce poverty and
empower the populace has to date achieved the opposite. It has enriched the
few apparatchiks and condemned the would-be beneficiaries to abject poverty.
Unemployment, which has continued to rise due to de-industrialisation, is
currently estimated at a conservative 70%.

 But this is contrary to the assertions and promises made by President
Mugabe at the 1998 donors conference.

“Government is committed to orderly resettlement and will not allow this
situation (lawlessness) to prevail as it will lead to destruction of the
environment,” said Mugabe

He said that under the second phase of the programme, government would
acquire five million hectares from the large-scale commercial farming sector
over a period of five years on which to resettle 150 000 households…

“There is ample evidence based on various studies (that it can) be
transferred from that sector without compromising national agricultural

But the cost to the nation of abandoning that approach has been enormous and
the economy is sinking deeper into the abyss.

Mugabe recently set up a land audit team to gauge the efficacy of the land
reform programme after reports that his closest followers were taking
advantage of the resettlement scheme. He said senior government officials
with multiple farms should surrender their surplus acquisitions. Mugabe has
also said parliament would amend the Land Acquisition Act to allow for
smoother expropriation of land, a clear threat to the functioning of the
Administrative Court.

The latest land audit and new legislation will see another wave of damaging
land battles at a time when the country should be focused on enhancing

Donor nations, tasked with rescuing Zimbabwe by the very government that has
sabotaged it, will continue to wait on the sidelines until sanity is
restored in the political process.
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Zim Independent
Begging and bombast don’t go together

 THERE is something schizophrenic about our foreign policy. Pre-sident
Mugabe denounces Western countries with venom yet ministers go cap in hand
to Washington and beg UN agencies to help Zimbabwe out of the mess Zanu PF
policies have spawned. Presumably Mugabe knows about Herbert Murerwa’s
supplications at the IMF and letters written to the UNDP asking them to find
$880 billion to finance the disastrous agricultural “reform” programme?

Needless to say, nothing will be forthcoming, even when the application is
dressed up as a plea for humanitarian assistance. The cabinet has yet to
understand that donors will sit on their hands until government adopts
workable solutions to the myriad problems the country faces.

The IMF last week set it out clearly enough. Zimbabwe’s economic crisis
reflected to a large extent “inappropriate economic policies”. Increased
regulations and government intervention had “driven economic activity
underground and contributed to the chronic shortages of goods and foreign

The impact of these policies had been exacerbated by the fast-track land
reform programme and the HIV/Aids pandemic, as well as drought, it said.

Meanwhile, investor confidence has been eroded by weak governance and
corruption. This included problems surrounding indigenisation in the
business sector and the selective enforcement of regulations.

In other words Zimbabwe does not provide a climate conducive to investment.
Nor are donors going to open their pocket books when multilateral aid is
rendered pointless by policies that sabotage recovery and growth.

The vast sums the government is now begging for from the UNDP will prove
illusory. UNDP representative in Harare Victor Angelo was suitably
diplomatic. “Donors would be very supportive of a well-designed and properly
implemented survey of the agricultural situation,” he said in a recent

“Before this has been achieved we can’t even talk about the next step.”

Zimbabweans themselves must take the lead in laying the groundwork, he
pointed out. Angelo spoke of the need for better planning, more
transparency, more resources and full implementation of the law.

“The critical issues — sustainable resettlement, food security,
institutional strengthening, and renewed partnerships — have to be faced
head on,” he said.

Nothing like that is happening now. Instead there will be more coercive
legislation undermining judicial adjudication, more random resettlement
according to political needs, and continued destruction of resources such as
woodland and wildlife which in many parts of the country has been reduced by

An independent land audit — ie not one run by Zanu PF which is an interested
party — is now at the top of most people’s agenda, both locally and
internationally. Until the ghastly mess surrounding land is cleaned up and
the political pillagers evicted, there will be no donor support for a
comprehensive land programme.

At the same time, multilateral lenders have made it clear they will not
release funds to Zimbabwe until the economy is placed on a sound footing.
That, as Murerwa knows perfectly well, is beyond the means of the current
crop of ministers who are accountable not to the public but to a president
and politburo locked in the mantras of a command economy. As he will have
been told in Washington, only a national consensus on economic policy based
on sound principles will see a fresh flow of funds.

But is Murerwa explaining these realities to his colleagues? It is difficult
to understand what he was doing in Washington when he clearly understands
the problem. This was a pointless mission if ever there was one. President
Mugabe has made his position on the Bretton Woods institutions plain enough.
Why is he now surreptitiously dispatching ministers to seek their assistance
when he has told the bankers to go to hell?

Quite obviously Mugabe is playing to the gallery of nationalist opinion
while privately acknowledging the need for international support. The same
applies to his land policy.

Once again we are seeing a president trying to wriggle free from the
consequences of his damaging rhetoric. But Murerwa should not have wasted
taxpayers’ money on a futile mission. There will be no money forthcoming
from any external source until the root of the problem is tackled and that
is governance.

Zanu PF is hoping that by being seen to engage in dialogue with the MDC,
doors will open to them. But it’s not as simple as that. The whole point of
dialogue is to stabilise the economy. And that can only be achieved by a
political settlement, one that sees a restoration of the rule of law,
disbandment of militias, the repeal of repressive legislation and a level
electoral landscape.

Those basics need to be spelt out to any ruling-party politician who hopes
that the semblance of negotiations is suddenly going to provide an avalanche
of donor support. It’s not going to happen.

So long as the politics of intimidation and violence persist, as we have
seen recently in Bindura, Chegutu, Marondera and Rusape, Zanu PF will have
to live with the international consequences of its misrule.

Its harassment of the opposition, misuse of the police and abuse of public
funds represent one large billboard advertising its inability to win
elections by fair or democratic means.

Meanwhile, Mugabe could at least have the courage of his convictions and
stop authorising ministerial begging from international institutions when he
feels so strongly that they have no solution to the country’s crisis.

The question is: What solution does he have? Waving his fists around and
cursing his critics is hardly a substitute for policy.
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch

The economy can, and will, get worse
A RECENT authoritative international survey has concluded that Zimbabwe’s
economy is now the third worst in the world. If one considers the very
distressed state of the majority of the economies in Africa,  many in South
America, and many others in Eastern Europe, it is a most   unenviable record
to be possessed of an economy so devastated as to have  only two others in
the world in an even worse condition. When  observing the disastrous
circumstance of the Zimbabwean economy,  President Mugabe must greatly
regret his proudly-voiced contention that no one could have managed the
economy as well as he has done.

Moreover, only a little over a fortnight ago, when opening the Fourth
Session of the Fifth Parliament of Zimbabwe, the President implied that
despite the state of the economy, it had inherent strengths which would
enable government to restore its well-being, although he also expressed
surprise and “puzzlement” at some of the economy’s characteristics.

He is right that the economy has the potential of strength. Properly
managed, in a conducive political and stable environment, the economy  could
well be one of the strongest and most virile on the continent. Although  the
catastrophic destruction of the agricultural sector cannot be speedily
reversed, that sector can be restored to viability to an extent  that would
assure Zimbabwe of food sufficiency for all its populace and a surplus for
export, whilst concurrently yielding many other high quality crops for
national consumption and export, inclusive of tobacco, cotton, wheat, sugar,
citrus and much else.

Other economic sectors can also become very marked contributors to Zimbabwe’
s economic success. The tourist potential is immense, with the international
and regional tourist being magnetically drawn (if assured of security and of
access to all needs) by the splendour of the Victoria Falls, the wealth of
wildlife (if the present mass poaching and slaughter of that resource is
speedily halted), the awesome Matopos Hills (recently accorded World
Heritage Site status), the amazing Great Zimbabwe and the Khami Ruins, and
many other desirable tourist destinations, which include Lake Kariba,
Nyanga, the Vumba and Chimanimani.

The mining sector has shrunk considerably in recent times, its viability
having been brought close to total destruction, but the wealth to be
exploited is still there, with much platinum, gold, diamonds and emeralds,
asbestos, chrome, methane gas and many more minerals awaiting exploitation.

The manufacturing sector has been brought to its knees by the
mismanagement of the economy, but still has the second-most developed
industrial infrastructure in the sub-continent and, given radical and
constructive change to economic policies, could develop into a very  major
supplier to more than 320 million people in the region.

The ability to do so is reinforced by Zimbabweans being willing, able,
conscientious labourers, anxious for employment and opportunities of
advancement, but deprived thereof by government’s obdurate refusal to
accept any guidance or advice on economic transformation, and its
determined pursuit of ill-conceived, destructive policies which have   been
proven repeatedly to be disastrous.

Even a superficial overview of the economy highlights incontrovertibly  the
monumental extent to which the economy has been destroyed. Among  the many
facets indicative of an economy verging upon the threshold of extinction

l Inflation has soared upwards to 364,5% (year-on-year) for  the year to
June 2003 based upon the official calculation using the  Consumer Price
Index (CPI). Everyone in Zimbabwe, other than government,  is clearly very
aware that that inflation rate is very considerably  understated, with the
real rate of inflation being well in excess of 400%, and continuing to rise
exponentially. There is little doubt  that, in the absence of some very
dramatic, almost impossible, immediate  reversal of the inflation trend, the
year-on-year inflation by September  2003 will, in real terms, exceed 600%;

l An estimated three-quarters of Zimbabwe’s employable population is
without gainful employment. This includes over 300 000 former farm  workers,
many thousands of miners, and tens of thousands of industrial  workers;

l Zimbabwe’s foreign debt now very considerably exceeds US$1 billion, with
the magnitude of its failure to service its debt resulting in its voting
rights in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) having been suspended, as
has all funding by the World Bank, and its credit-worthiness being
considered to be  non-existent virtually world-wide, resulting in almost all
suppliers of   Zimbabwe’s essential imports demanding payment in full prior
to shipment  of those imports;

lApproximately 80% of the Zimbabwean population  struggles for survival at
levels well below the Poverty Datum Line   (PDL), whilst at least half of
the population is subject to gross  malnutrition on incomes of less than the
Food Datum Line (FDL);

lA gargantuan cash crisis has been prevailing for months, is   intensifying
continuously, and belated actions by government to contain  and reverse the
crisis, recently announced and yet to be implemented,  having little
prospect of a speedy resolution of the nation-wide non-availability of bank
notes. So great is the inadequate availability  of those notes that
employers are unable to pay weekly wages, queues at  banks and building
societies are virtually endless, with thousands  desperately seeking,
without success, to withdraw funds from their  accounts in order to meet the
daily needs of their families and  themselves. Retail trade is steadily
shrinking, due to the  non-availability of cash, with an inevitable
repercussive negative  effect upon industrial and wholesaler suppliers to
the retail sector;

lMany essentials are in short supply, while others are totally
non-available (other than, on occasion, in a vibrant black market). The
scarcities include basic foodstuffs such as maize-meal, bread, sugar,
cooking oil and flour. Equally scarce are petroleum products, medications
and other healthcare requisites;

lSimilarly, foreign exchange is virtually wholly unavailable in the official
money market, and even outside of that market foreign currencies are only
obtainable in very limited quantities, at rates dramatically higher than
those prescribed by the Reserve Bank (acting under direction of government).
While the official mid-rate of exchange was increased from $55:US$1 on
February 27 (with promised further reviews on a basis of purchasing power
parity not having occurred up to the time of writing of this column), the
rate within the parallel market has surged from an average of about    $1
600:US$1, at the  beginning of the year, to an average of approximately $4
600:US$1 at   the end of July; and

lInvestment in new ventures, or in expansion of existing  operations, has
become virtually non-existent. Foreign Direct Investment  (FDI) is not
forthcoming, as investors are deterred by the straitened  conditions of the
economy (and the virtual absence of law and order),  and instead they look
for sound investment opportunities in neighbouring territories. South
Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Mozambique are   the principal
beneficiaries of Zimbabwe’s economic ills, insofar as  their being
recipients of FDI which would otherwise have been targeted at Zimbabwe. In
like manner, there is very little substantive domestic  investment, other
than into existing securities on an overheated Stock  Exchange and into the
money market. Few can perceive any purpose in   investment in agriculture,
mining, tourism or industry when the economic  environment can only erode
the substance of the investment, instead of  yielding a fair return on that

These are but a few of the very many symptoms of a critically ailing
economy, and despite government spuriously contending that the causes of
the economy’s near fatal illness are sanctions, internationally-provoked
economic sabotage, drought, and politically driven economic destruction  by
the government’s political opponents, the reality is that, almost  without
exception, there is but one cause. That cause is that instead of   capably
managing the economy, applying good and sound economic  fundamentals,
government continuously takes actions which can only  worsen the economy
further. It relies upon intense, but ineffective,  regulation, and does
nothing to establish an economically-conducive   environment.

It arrogantly dismisses all advice of the private sector,   although it
pretends to consult. On the rare occasions that it does try  to do something
constructive, it does so when it is too late to be  effective. Until there
is either a change in government’s authoritarian  stance, or a change of
government, the economy not only can, but will,  get worse.
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Zim Independent

Property market goes for forex
Ngoni Chanakira
LANDLORDS owning designer properties in the leafy suburbs of Borrowdale,
Highlands and Mt Pleasant are laughing all the way to the bank as they are
now illegally renting out their mansions in United States dollars.

In Zimbabwe it is illegal to charge for goods using foreign currency. It is
however permissible to peg items in foreign currency in which case the
Zimbabwe dollar equivalent is then payable.

Asked what was being done about the issue Estate Agents Council chairman
Tavenganiswa Mabikacheche said the matter was supposed to be handled by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

"We have not received any complaints from tenants and as such we cannot act
on the issue," he said in an interview.

"Unless we receive a complaint we cannot do anything. Our role is to deal
with complaints from tenants unhappy about their relationships with their
landlords. The Reserve Bank deals with foreign currency issues and would be
better placed to answer your questions."

The RBZ said questions on the matter should be put in writing.

The latest developments come as landlords, especially those living abroad,
are snapping up properties using foreign currency earned in the West.

Thousands of locals, including top professionals, have quit the country to
sometimes take menial jobs in the United Kingdom, the United States,
Australia and in neighbouring South Africa in search of elusive foreign
currency and to escape Zimbabwe's economic and political uncertainties.

The Zimbabwe dollar is struggling against the world's major currencies
making the parallel market a norm in the country.

The local currency is trading at a minimum of $2 500 against the greenback,
$3 500 against the pound sterling and about $350 against South Africa's rand
on the parallel market.

Houses are being advertised in newspapers for between US$300 to US$1 000 a
month, translating to between $800 000 and $2 million in Zimbabwe dollar

The Zimbabwe dollar is however officially pegged at $824 against the US
currency, $1 300 against the pound, $105 for the rand and $160 against the
Botswana pula. This arrangement has riled the business community especially
the mining and tobacco sectors.

Investigations by businessdigest revealed that landlords were now avoiding
registered estate agents preferring to advertise their properties and handle
their own sales.

A four-bedroomed home in the upmarket Highlands suburb along Glenara Avenue
advertised as being "very good for diplomats" was asking US$300 with the
amount payable in US dollars "only".

"We are only interested in United States dollars," said the agent. "This is
an expensive property and we are interested in diplomats who are more
responsible than locals."

He said he did not care whether it was illegal or not to charge in foreign
currency because "everybody is doing it".

"All chefs are doing it," he said. "Investigate more and you will discover a
shocking number of individuals are doing the same thing. Nothing is being
done about it. That's Zimbabwe for you so just leave me alone. It's nothing

Another property being leased out by Alex & Webb Realty in Helensvale, also
said to be ideal for diplomats, was going for US$550, the equivalent of
about $1,1 million on the parallel market. The landlord wanted six months
rentals in advance for the property.

"The owner wants United States dollars only," said an official from Alex &
Webb Realty, the letting agents.

It is reliably understood that some landlords are now requesting potential
tenants to deposit the money in their offshore accounts.

Meanwhile, four bed-roomed houses in upmarket suburbs are now being leased
for between $800 000 and $2 million monthly in Zimbabwe dollar terms.
Despite the huge figure diplomats, chief executive officers,
non-governmental organisation bosses and bank managers entitled to
million-dollar monthly perks including company houses and luxurious vehicles
are snapping them up.

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Zim Independent


Where there’s a hole, Moyo fills it

WHO is the garrulous writer of the Nathaniel Manheru column actually writing
for? Certainly not readers of the Herald.

Every week we are treated to the verbose outpouring of a commentator who,
when not advertising his literary erudition, appears intent upon denigrating
the MDC leadership which he claims is no longer of any importance. This
would suggest the writer at least appears to think it is of some importance.
Why else would he spend column inch upon column inch every Saturday, in what
looks suspiciously like an undergraduate essay assignment, heaping scorn
upon Morgan Tsvangirai and his colleagues?

“Here is a threadbare party given to illusions of grandeur,” Manheru wrote
recently, “a puny party delightfully cutting a cosmic role for itself;
indeed a political Don Quixote stabbing at the winds and dangerously
swinging between the hysteria of a takeover psychosis and the holy and
magnanimous vastness of an omniscient, omnipotent saviour, poised to redeem
a people ‘in crisis’.”

We rather thought it was the windmills Don Quixote was “stabbing” at, but
the author could be sure readers wouldn’t spot the difference! After all,
the weekly assignment is not written for the likes of them. It is designed
to impress a political coterie around the State House incumbent who, we are
asked to assume, despite the absence of economic clothing of any sort, is
not entirely threadbare!

The writer’s flights of fancy know no bounds it seems. Here is the “hapless”
Tsvangirai observing Mugabe’s address to parliament from the gallery:
“Denied the decorous image of the leader of the opposition, he could only
watch the regal enactment of offices of state from the terraces, taunted and
tormented by Zanu PF’s bearded riff-raff … What a far cry from State House
for a face-to-face meeting with the wily Bob!”

So a “face-to-face” meeting with the wily — yet regal — “Bob” is the
ultimate accolade? At least there will be none of Zanu PF’s “riff-raff”
there. But the writer, who indulges himself further with some “twisted
 warps” and “fragile woofs”, omits to examine the significance of the
circumstances he so affectedly describes.

Tsvangirai was at parliament by invitation of the Speaker, we gather. It was
part of a wider political initiative driven by the South Africans who now
appear to be involved in our affairs rather more than State House apologists
like Manheru find comfortable. The MDC has been asked to stop humiliating
Mugabe. The one thing that has upset him most, we are told, is his treatment
at the opening of parliament. If the opposition really want him to go, they
must accord him some dignity. That is all he asks. MPs have therefore been
prevailed upon, in the interests of dialogue, not to walk out on the
disingenuous and partisan posturing that passes for presidential “décor”.
For this concession to Mugabe’s battered ego they will see their political
agenda advanced.

For make no mistake, it is Zanu PF that is being obliged to accommodate the
demands of the party it loves to ridicule. Yes, the MDC has agreed not to
question Mugabe’s “legitimacy” in the forthcoming formal talks. But it will
make sure that future electoral arrangements do not provide his party with
the means to manipulate, defraud, and otherwise cheat the people of their
democratic choice. Yes, it will acknowledge him as president, but at the
same time ensure there will be no more Mugabes to tarnish this country’s
name and prejudice its fortunes.

Manheru may be able to deceive the few remaining Herald readers that Zanu PF
’s support base is “widening” with the illusory “bounteous harvests” that
nobody else can see, even from spotter planes, but the reality on the ground
is that of a regime unable to control the calamitous economic forces it has

Zimbabweans are incontrovertibly a “people in crisis”. Manheru and his ilk
may be in denial about that. But then again they are probably also in denial
about the absence of fuel and bank notes! This is the clique around Mugabe
whose political fortunes are daily declining as the nation sinks into the
abyss they have fashioned for it. Manheru may be able to divert our
attention momentarily to the “wretched life” of Chileans under Pinochet. But
all he can contribute to the wretchedness of his own people is an essay on
Don Quixote with a few “woofs” here and a “warp” there. What does this tell
us about the warped education of Zimbabwe’s elite whose woof, unfortunately,
is not worse than their bite?

 We hope Tafataona Mahoso has as much cash as he needs. We also hope the
peasants and newly-resettled farmers in his own rural area have a surfeit of
cash courtesy of his perspicacity and insight into the operations of those
who control Zimbabwe’s industry and commerce. Even our government, which has
never in the past been known for its forward planning, should have
everything in place for the next planting season. They must all be hoarding
lots of hard cash on the advice of this seer into the future.

Writing in his Sunday Mail column this week, part-time media regulator and
full-time Zanu PF publicist Mahoso blamed everybody except government for
the current cash crunch. He accused industry of sabotaging the economy by
hoarding cash as an alternative to stayaways. But he didn’t identify a
single company that has been found hoarding any such cash. Not even one such
individual. But obviously having had this insight himself that there would
be a change of strategy as part of the final push, he should have warned
those near him about these underground machinations to get ready.

A clearly confused past master of conspiracy theories, Mahoso said he was
pleased by the measures taken by government to counter the “security threat”
posed by the cash shortages “caused by the corporate sector”. He wants the
so-called ministerial taskforce to carry out thorough investigations into
these evil doers.

“The people expect scientific research to be used to prevent obvious
problems from happening,” declared Mahoso. So what did our learned professor
tell his employers in government when all media in the country were
reporting about inflation going through the roof? What advice did he give
them when it was reported most commodities were in short supply and could
only to be bought on the black market in Mbare? Or perhaps all that doesn’t
make any sense to him at all in terms of cash requirements? What preventive
measures is the ministerial taskforce carrying out?

For his own good Mahoso should compare the level of inflation today against
the interest rates given to investors and tell us how much interest he has
earned in the past two years. The government controls interest rates and the
levels of inflation by determining people’s spending patterns. After this he
should come back a sober man.

In a further display of his voodoo logic, he says the shortage of bags to
carry grain is also an act of sabotage by manufacturers because drought
allegedly reduced the amount of grain produced. Was bag-making material not
equally affected Professor? No, says the wily Mahoso. Manufacturers should
have stopped producing suits, stockings and mosquito nets and invested their
money in a drought-hit harvest.

Is there no end to these mosquito-like importunities to our lives in the
Sunday Mail?

 In his programme Media Watch on Monday this week Tazzen Mandizvidza
complained that media organisations failed to explain to the public the
causes of cash shortages. Neither were we left any wiser after listening to
him and his able colleague Nhlanhla Masuku who couldn’t justify his presence
on the programme. At least in the end he did manage to timorously suggest
the problem of inflation was the responsibility of both the RBZ and
government. He said so long as there was a serious mismatch in monetary and
fiscal policies inflation would scale new heights. But both had absolutely
no clue as to how government’s repainted so-called new $500 bill would solve
the cash crisis. Perhaps because they knew it didn’t have a snowball’s
chance in hell of success!

 Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa appears to have remained wrapped up in
the ice age of the war cabinet even at this late hour in the search for
peacemakers in the country. Last week he attacked religious leaders seeking
to foster talks between the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition MDC for not
being honest brokers because “they have denounced government and Zanu PF” in
the past. He accused Bishop Sebastian Bakare and Reverend Trevor Manhanga of
bias because they were MDC supporters. “Their interest,” declared Chinamasa,
“is out of self-interest. They are MDC activists wearing religious collars.”

Everybody must have been shocked by Chinamasa’s vitriol except those who
know that he has no popular elective constituency that he represents in
government except his own pocket. Why are religious leaders not supposed to
criticise government when it errs on issues of governance and human rights?
Is it not their mandate to speak on behalf of their followers when those who
lead the country appear to have lost the compass?

Unlike Chinamasa, at least the clergy have not been hypocritical by
pretending everything is normal when clearly it is not and, moving with the
times, they have realised that change is inevitable and it is now time to
find solutions through dialogue rather than denunciation. Whether Chinamasa
was expressing his own personal opinion or that of Zanu PF is not clear, but
the truth remains that Zimbabweans expect better from their leaders than
peevish tantrums from self-serving ministers dependent upon presidential

Chinamasa also said by withdrawing its High Court petition challenging
President Mugabe’s re-election last year the MDC would not be doing Mugabe
any favour. Nor has the MDC claimed to be doing anything like that.

“I personally feel that after the maligning of the president he (Morgan
Tsvangirai) needs to be vindicated in a court of law because we knew for a
fact that the presidential election was freely and fairly conducted and
there was nothing to hide,” he said.

As the prosecutor, judge and executioner only he can speak with such
finality. But why has the case dragged on for so long before it could be
heard in the courts if there was nothing to hide? Surely justice delayed is
justice denied. Chinamasa knows that. The MDC’s goodwill gesture is better
than Chinamasa’s preferred sterile standoff.

 Also caught in a time warp is some embed under Jonathan Moyo’s desk going
by the name Caesar Zvayi who declares the mediation efforts by the church
between the MDC and Zanu PF are futile because the two parties “are as
immiscible (unmixable) as oil and water”.

We will obviously be subjected to more scary hyperboles from those whose
sinecures are threatened by the beckoning peace dividend before they accept
that they have been jettisoned as the parasitic scum the nation needs to
discard in order to move forward.

On Sunday Munyaradzi Huni offered us a clue as to Zvayi’s identity with the
following quote purporting to come from a member of the public: “Just like
Professer Jonathan Moyo once said, these two parties are like oil and water,
they won't mix.”

Thanks for that Munyaradzi. But the terminal squeals from Mugabe’s minions
are already familiar to us.

 The Sunday Mail recently ran a long “interview” with Moyo  headed “Let’s
all rally behind Warriors”, but failed to tell us which of its staff
conducted the Q&A. If it had been the usual Moyo embed going by the title
“political editor” they would surely have told us.

We suspect that, once again, the minister interviewed himself. How else do
we explain the list of questions he was always dying to be asked?

Thankfully, incompetent subbing cut him off as he reached his bombastic
climax. He wasn’t even allowed to complete his final question to himself!

But we did agree with his admission that “the public will not take kindly to
anybody who tries to use the Warriors as a battleground for cheap or crude

He was absolutely right there. But, as if to compensate for having his
soliloquy cut off at the knees, his thoughts were allowed to suppurate in
the “Under the Surface” column below. Where there’s a hole, Moyo will always
fill it!

 Somebody trying to fill another hole is Sunday Mail columnist and Zanu PF
candidate for Harare Central, William Nhara.

The seat became vacant when Mike Auret resigned because of ill health. Nhara
is organising a march, for which we can safely assume police permission will
be rapidly forthcoming — or even dispensed with altogether — into the city
centre and then on to the Harare International Conference Centre.

But voters of Harare Central should beware of another illiterate Zanu PF
candidate in the Chinotimba tradition.

The launch of the by-election campaign, Nhara says, will be preceded by the
“procession march from Josia Tongogara/Sam Njoma into the city center”.

Perhaps the Namibian High Commissioner can help Nhara with his spelling now
that he has left the columns of the Sunday Mail!
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Zim Independent

IMF blasts Zimbabwe again
Ngoni Chanakira
RELATIONS between Zimbabwe and the Washington-based International Monetary
Fund (IMF) have taken a further plunge with the release last week of a
damning six-page report on the country's deteriorating economic and
political climate.

On June 6 the IMF suspended Zimbabwe's voting and related rights after
having determined that the country had not sufficiently strengthened its
cooperation with the Fund in areas of policy implementation and payments.

As a result of that decision Zimbabwe can no longer appoint a governor or
alternate governor to the IMF, participate in the election of an executive
director for its board, or cast its vote in decisions on IMF policy or
country matters.

On Tuesday last week the IMF issued a Public Information Notice (PIN) to
make known its views to the world about Zimbabwe.

According to PIN regulations, the action is intended to "strengthen IMF
surveillance over the economic policies of member countries by increasing
transparency of the IMF's assessment of these policies".

The six-page report was a longer version of that given out on June 6
expressing the IMF's dissatisfaction about relations with Zimbabwe.

The report was released as the country's banking system faced its worst
crisis ever with an acute shortage of banknotes and collapse of public

The IMF said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) should ensure that banks met
all prudential regulations and were adequately capitalised and fully
provisioned for non-performing loans.

They noted that strengthened banking supervision and determination in
dealing with problem institutions would also be prerequisites for the
successful introduction of the planned Deposit Protection Scheme.

Directors urged the authorities to introduce legislation to combat money
laundering and the financing of terrorism in accord with international

The IMF expressed concern about the expansionary stance of fiscal policy,
including large quasi-fiscal operations, which had weakened the fiscal
position and contributed to exchange market distortions.

They said dealing with inflation would require expenditure restraint, in
particular on low-priority items, while protecting key social services.

President Robert Mugabe and his government officials have however said they
are no longer bothered about IMF advice, mainly because the organisation had
messed up Zimbabwe's economy in the first place, they argue.

Mugabe and his officials claim Zimbabwe is better off without the
Washington-based institution including its sister organisation, the World
Bank, because their policies have become bitter pills to swallow for

The president has openly told his government to dump the Bretton Woods

In its report the IMF said Zimbabwe's economic crisis reflected to a large
extent "inappropriate economic policies: loose fiscal and monetary policies,
the maintenance of a fixed exchange rate in an environment of rising
inflation, and administrative controls".

"Increased regulations and government intervention have driven economic
activity underground, and contributed to the chronic shortages of goods and
foreign exchange," the IMF said. "The impact of these policies have been
exacerbated by the fast-track land reform programme, recurring droughts, and
the HIV/Aids pandemic.

Meanwhile, investor confidence has been eroded by concerns over political
developments, weak governance and corruption, problems related to the
implementation of the government's land reform programme, the push for an
increased indigenisation of the business sector, and the selective
enforcement of regulations."

Insiders this week said Mugabe and his government officials were extremely
unhappy about the release of such a damning report internationally,
especially coming when they are engaged in behind-the-scenes talks with the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to try and solve the current

They said government was of the opinion that the West was happy if
Zimbabwe's political and economic problems persisted resulting in citizens
considering overthrowing the 21-year old regime.

The said another issue was that IMF was riled by the fact that government
had grabbed vast hectares of fertile land from thousands of commercial
farmers who were now seeking employment and sometimes citizenship in the

"Decisive steps to restore confidence in the government's economic policies,
including enhanced governance and transparency and respect for the rule of
law, and broad ownership of the reform process, will be key to revamping
productive investment, attracting needed foreign direct investment, and
regaining the support of foreign creditors and donors," the IMF said.

"Directors considered the government's recent steps to adjust exchange and
interest rates and fuel and electricity tariffs, and ease price controls to
be steps in the right direction. They stressed, however, that the magnitude
and pervasiveness of economic distortions call for a significant further
enhancement of the scope and speed of stabilisation efforts."

The IMF directors said these efforts should be implemented within a
consistent overall macro-economic framework and complemented by the
sustained implementation of key structural reforms

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Zim Independent

      Zimbabweans too docile - Nyemba
      Ngoni Chanakira

      WHILE Zimbabweans know exactly what their problems are, all they do is
complain without lifting a finger to do anything about it, says Trust
Holdings Ltd (Trust) chief executive officer William Nyemba.

      "We know what our problems are," Nyemba said on Wednesday. "We however
do not do anything to try and solve the problems.

      Yes, admittedly there is a banking crisis but seriously, gentlemen, do
we think nobody knew that things would go this way?"

      The prominent banker made the remarks before presenting his financial
institution's sterling results at an analysts' briefing.

      In its unaudited group interim results for the half year ended June 30
Trust's net profit for the period stood at $15,1 billion in historical
terms, an increase of 150% over the performance figure for the whole of the
2002 financial year.

      In inflation-adjusted terms the group chalked up $12,6 billion.

      Compared to the six months ended June 30 2002 this represents an
increase of 817%, while in inflation-adjusted terms it stood at 176%.

      The group's total balance sheet size stood at $202 billion compared to
$44 billion as at June 2002.

      Earnings per share stood at 3 924 cents.

      Trust declared a dividend of 700 cents per share and Nyemba promised
shareholders this would double "when next you hear from us again".

      "Despite the difficult economic hardships we are going through we all
need to work together," Nyemba told analysts.

      "We are happy that the clergy, politicians and concerned citizens are
working together, sometimes behind closed doors, to try and solve what we
are experiencing. Even us as bankers are also trying to help the country get
back on track. I worked in Ghana which went through the same patch and I
have been consulting government on how we can get back to where we belong."

      Nyemba and another prominent banker Kingdom Financial Holdings Ltd
founder and deputy chairman Nigel Chanakira represent Zimbabwe on the
influential World Economic Forum (WEF).

      They meet with WEF officials at least once a month to update the
association on Zimbabwe's economic progress.

      "We just need higher bank notes full stop," Nyemba said, departing
from his prepared presentation. "With the level of inflation we simply
cannot hide behind a finger and pretend that somebody is going to help us
get out of our situation. Printing small notes just does not solve

      The banker was referring to the current cash crisis facing

      He said while the banking sector was being blamed there were more
players that needed to take responsibility about the cash problems. Nyemba
is a former deputy president of the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe.

      Trust chairman Tichaendepi Masaya said the cash shortage, a first of
its nature in the history of the financial services sector, continued to
escalate to crisis levels particularly in the latter part of the period
under review.

      He said this had negatively affected confidence and service delivery
in the sector.

      Masaya said it was imperative for authorities and industry players to
urgently put in place measures to overcome this crisis, and avert serious
dislocation of economic activity.

      During the period under review, Trust successfully concluded
negotiations to acquire a controlling stake in CAL Merchant Bank Ltd, a
leading merchant bank in Ghana.

      The group expects to assume control of operations in the last quarter
of this year.

      Negotiations have reached an advanced stage for the acquisition of a
business in Malawi, as well as the opening of a start-up project in

      Masaya said these international and regional transactions would in the
immediate future contribute significantly to the group's earnings, and
reinforce Trust's already growing position as a dominant financial services

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Zim Independent

Zim's domestic debt soars again
Ngoni Chanakira
ZIMBABWE'S domestic debt has once again increased from $446 billion in May
to $542 billion as at the end of June.

At the same time the country's savings have declined significantly from
above 22% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1995 to below 10% in the past
two years.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in its Weekly Economic Highlights for the
period ending July 18, said reduced spending on investment goods was
reflected in collapsing private and public infrastructure, deteriorating
stock of capital, as well as de-industrialisation.

The bank said during this time lending to banks declined while credit to
government increased.

However, RBZ weekly advances to government steadily declined during the
period from $50,3 billion on May 16 to $11,3 billion on June 27.

The bank said as of May 16 the government's domestic debt stood at $446 101
900 000. This shot up to $460 374 400 000 on May 23, $493 648 600 000 (May
30), $496 556 000 000 (June 6), $490 641 900 000 (June 13), $508 948 400 000
(June 20) and $542 235 300 000 (June 27).

During this time the RBZ's weekly advance to government however declined
from $50 291 200 000 on May 16 to $12 864 900 000 (May 30 and June 6), $12
258 900 000 (June 13), $5 293 200 000 (June 20), and $11 334 800 000 on June

The central bank said it was worrying that Zimbabwe's consumption levels had
risen significantly, from around 80% of GDP in 1995, to over 100% in the
last two years.

"Consumption levels in excess of 100% are particularly worrying, as they
signify that, as a nation, we are living beyond our means," the RBZ said in
its latest report. "It also implies that investment is financed from sources
other than domestic resources, which is only made possible by accumulating
balance of payments deficits."

The bank said both private and public sector consumption levels rose
significantly over the last decade.

The rise in government consumption - largely reflecting recurrent
expenditure - had been reflected in persistent fiscal budget deficits, which
had averaged 10% of GDP since 1990.

"Private consumption, representing the nation's unwillingness to forego
current consumption, also rose to over 50% of GDP, in 2001," the RBZ said.
"Regrettably, the private sector's high propensity to consume, has been
reflected in increased spending on non-essential and speculative activities,
which fuel inflation, currently at 364,5% as of June 2003."

The central bank said the decline in investment had been mirrored in
concomitant decline in real economic activity, across major sectors of the

"In particular, shrinkage in key sectors of agriculture, manufacturing,
mining and construction, resulted in a fall in real GDP growth rates, from
9,7% in 1996, to an estimated minus 12,1% in 2002," the RBZ said.

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Zim Independent

RBZ challenges govt on inflation control
Staff writer
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has come out strongly after a long time,
saying government needs to control soaring inflation if it is to restore
macro-economic stability.

Inflation has risen from 15,5% in 1990 to 364,5% in June this year.

Analysts however predict the figure will continue rising to reach 500% by

Neighbours Botswana, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia have inflation rates of
11,1%, 16,7%, 11,3% and 21,9% respectively while another major trading
partner, the United Kingdom has an inflation rate of 2,8%, down from 2,9% in
May this year.

The surge in inflation has been blamed for the current serious cash crisis
facing Zimbabwe and the decision by the RBZ to introduce the $1 000 note in

The RBZ said it would rebrand the $500 note in a bid to force customers to
send money through the financial system, which is currently cash-strapped.

Inflation has also resulted in citizens carrying around large amounts of
money just in case they come across scarce goods available on the parallel
market at exorbitant prices.

The RBZ said national economies prosper on increased domestic investment,
which required a sacrifice on current consumption, among other bold

It said against the background of declining savings and deteriorating
balance of payments in the economy, it was clear that Zimbabwe needs to
reduce the current levels of consumption, so as to free resources for

"There is also need for concerted efforts towards fighting inflation, which
has fuelled consumption spending and, discouraged saving," the RBZ said in a

"Low inflation is also critical for enhanced savings mobilisation and
increased investment - preconditions for economic growth and development."

Zimbabwe's balance of payments position remained weak last year propelled
largely by the continued decline in export receipts and the absence of
offshore lines of credit and multilateral and bilateral support.

The current account suffered from protracted shrinkage in export volumes.

Annual merchandise exports in 2002 were estimated to have nose-dived by
10,8% from US$1,57 billion in 2001 to US$1,4 billion in 2002.

Major declines were in gold (25%), tobacco (17,1%) and pure manufacturers

The tourism sector, which is one of the country's sectors with high
potential to earn foreign currency, remained subdued in 2002 registering
inflows of US$42,6 million over the nine months to September 2002 compared
with US$59,3 million over the same period in 2001.

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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

A welcome change
Iden Wetherell
RETURNING to a wintry and straitened Zimbabwe after two weeks in the United
States, where summer is at its height and everything is plentiful, can be a
depressing experience.

But this is the reality few of us with roots here can escape. Nor is it a
challenge any journalist should wish to dodge. But just for a couple of
weeks, at least, the change was as good as the holiday which keeps eluding

I was a guest of the US State Department's International Visi-tor Programme
which seeks to familiarise foreign guests with the workings of government
and civil society. It provided an opportunity to meet leaders in a variety
of fields and learn the priorities of policy-makers on "US engagement in the
post-9/11 world".

Ours was a small party of African editors but much larger groups from a wide
range of countries visit for longer periods. I bumped into MDC chief whip
and Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese on a tour of the Rocky Mountains in
Colorado. We both froze at 11 400 feet!

Alumni of the programme, I was told, include Festus Mogae, Margaret
Thatcher, John Kufuor, Mwai Kibaki, Tony Blair, Bakili Muluzi, Megawathi
Sukarnoputri, Mahathir Mohamad, Gerhard Schroeder, and Hamid Karzai. A large
number of civic players and journalists have also benefited.

While largely centred on Washington DC, our programme did provide a major
excursion to Denver, Colorado, where we visited the nearby US Air Force
Space Command and met Denver's Homeland Security chiefs. In Washington we
met with Stephen Hayes, president of the Corporate Council on Africa,
economist Dr George Ayittey who cut through much of the verbiage on African
politics with an incisive analysis of where the continent's problems really
lie (not anywhere else!), and Congressional staff members.

I was particularly impressed by Salih Booker of Africa Action whose
penetrating and fluent analysis of America's role in the world left nobody
in any doubt as to his credentials as a severe critic of his government. He
has been pilloried by Zimbabwe government spokesmen as an Uncle Tom because,
with other distinguished African American activists, he dared criticise the
Mugabe regime. I asked him what he thought of the December 12 Movement. "Be
suspicious of any organisation with a date in its name," he joked.

Briefings at the Pentagon were off the record so I cannot repeat them here.
But I was struck by the openness and readiness of political staff and
serving officers to discuss with the media the strategies and actual
workings of the Defence department as it faces a number of threats to the
security of the US. The Americans openly say that US security interests are
linked to the elimination of terrorist networks and that vulnerable states,
such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, create threats to those interests. As
in Liberia they are committed to working with sub-regional organisations
like Ecowas (Sadc isn't mentioned any more!) while at the same time
cultivating strategic port and airfield access.

This explains the emphasis on stability and combating the spread of HIV/Aids
during President George Bush's recent tour. The US conducted US$22,4 billion
in trade with Africa in 2000.

In Colorado a huge airbase hosts the US's eyes-in-space command where
satellite surveillance, in addition to providing weather, communications,
intelligence and missile-warning roles, also ensures the "friendly" use of
space through what are termed "counter-space operations". Here, every item
that it is possible to detect in space is monitored including a glove that
one astronaut lost and paint particles floating around posing a hazard to
space vehicles.

The new mayor of Denver, John Hickenlooper, had only been in office four
days when we met with him. His brewing company and chain of restaurant/bars
have done much for the city's revitalisation.

Many US cities are engaged in energetic downtown renovation. We saw the
results in Washington, Baltimore and Denver where people are moving back
into immaculately maintained city centres bringing life and revenues. Free
transport on Denver's main thoroughfare makes getting around easier. But I
don't know if the sound of lowing cattle emerging from grilles in sidewalks,
designed to evoke the city's cattle-herding past, did much for one's
appreciation of local history!

For me, user-friendly American bookstores are a treat. Armchairs and sofas
encourage browsers to relax with coffee and cookies while leafing through
the world's greatest array of books and magazines. We also saw how public
television, although comparatively tiny compared to the commercial stations,
can provide a useful alternative. Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for The
NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, gave us a fascinating glimpse of the workings of a
financially pressed but much-respected broadcaster.

I had to tell an editorial staffer at the Denver Post that members of our
party found the mainstream American press bland. Nothing invites the reader
to buy a US paper. Headings are dull, news reports are formulaic, and
preoccupation with balance often means pointless journalism. Our host agreed
and said he always asked friends returning from Britain to bring papers with
them so he could show his staff what a lively press looks like.

I raised with Homeland Security personnel at every opportunity the
contradiction of the US promoting the rule of law in Africa and then
facilitating the abduction of terrorist suspects from countries like Malawi
where they enjoyed court protection orders. The officials invariably
professed ignorance of this episode and promised to investigate. I'm not
expecting a response any day soon!

At the end of a hectic two weeks I could tell our hosts that while we were
unlikely to return home as enthusiasts of America's new world order or its
sudden discovery of Africa, we could at least comment with more insight and
depth on this amazingly diverse and energetic society that for better or
worse influences our lives in every degree.

A concluding thought for those who like to talk about American imperialism:
Americans of Hispanic origin now form a majority in several cities. Cubans
in Miami, Puerto Ricans in New York, and Mexicans in LA, they are visible
and voluble.

Spanish is virtually a second official language used extensively.

Spanish-language radio and TV stations are available in all hotel rooms. The
Latin beat can be heard everywhere.

This demographic tide is adding vitality and diversity to American society,
just as irish and Jewish immigrants did in the past. So what will the face
of American "imperialism" look like in 20 years time?

Less like George Bush, more like Jennifer Lopez?

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