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Zimbabwe bank governor begs Mugabe to save nation from catastrophe

Zim Online

Wed 14 December 2005

      HARARE - Zimbabwe central bank governor Gideon Gono has written to
President Robert Mugabe to tell him the country - already grappling severe
food shortages - is headed for "catastrophe" next year unless he acts
urgently to stop farm invasions and allow farmers to grow food.

      In a confidential memo a copy of which was shown to ZimOnline
yesterday, Gono passionately pleads with Mugabe to intervene, telling him
the situation is "reaching dangerous levels" and warning that failure to
grow enough food this farming season would come back to haunt the 81-year
old President and his government.

      "Your Excellency, we are reaching dangerous levels in the agricultural
sector. There is nothing on the ground to show that we are a nation that
feeds on agriculture. Farms are derelict, farmers have no access to inputs
and disturbances on the farms continue, yet the rains are already upon us,"
wrote Gono in the memo dated December 5, 2005.

      "Your timely intervention is needed to save the situation. It is still
within our realms to save this nation from the impending crisis, which
indeed could become catastrophic if we all don't pull in the same
direction," wrote the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), who
has been tasked by Mugabe to revive the country's comatose economy.

      Both Gono and Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, could not be
reached yesterday for comment on the matter.

      But sources close to Gono said he had written to Mugabe as a last
ditch attempt to get the President to act to rein in Cabinet ministers, top
army generals, government and ruling ZANU PF party officials leading a fresh
drive to evict the few white farmers still remaining in the country.

      The RBZ chief also wanted the President to crack the whip against
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made who many feel has failed to ensure timely
availability of seeds, fertilizer and other farm inputs ahead of the rainy
season that began last month.

      Gono has since his 2003 appointment as RBZ governor spoken strongly
against farm invasions and under-utilisation of land by black farmers
resettled on former white farms. He has received support from Finance
Minister Herbert Murerwa but has had little support from other senior
government officials.

      Made and powerful State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who is also
in charge of land reform, have openly disregarded Gono's calls for farm
invasions to stop, instead urging militant government supporters to seize
more land with Mutasa at one time said to have publicly called white farmers
"filth that needs to be cleaned away".

      Made was not available for comment on the matter yesterday but Mutasa
denied he was at loggerheads with Gono over farm invasions and land reform.
Mutasa said that he had met Gono "recently" and that the two were of the
same mind on the need to produce more food this farming season.

      He said: "I have held meetings with Dr Gono very recently and we are
of the same mind. And as I speak to you now, we are redoubling our efforts
to make sure that we have a successful season."

      But Gono boldly hinted at his displeasure with Made and Mutasa in his
memo to Mugabe. He wrote: "Esteemed ministries handling land reform and
agriculture need to be equipped with knowledge and skills to appreciate that
their roles are matters of life and death.

      "Figures have been presented to your offices as well as those of other
government arms and there is no need for amplification. But what is on the
farms, the routine disturbances, the failure to farm will haunt us. Indeed
we might lose this sector forever."

      Mugabe admitted for the first time during a conference of his ZANU PF
party last weekend that his chaotic and often violent land redistribution
exercise contributed to severe food shortages in Zimbabwe.

      The farm seizures, which Mugabe launched a year after the
International Monetary Fund withdrew balance-of-payments support to his
government, knocked Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy completely off the
rails, triggering a severe recession that has been described by the World
Bank as unprecedented in a country not at war.

      The United Nations (UN) World Food Programme says by end of January it
will be providing food aid to about three million Zimbabweans or a quarter
of the country's 12 million people. - ZimOnline

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Harare seeks to strike out-of-court deal with newspaper publisher over seized passport

Zim Online

Wed 14 December 2005

      HARARE - Authorities in Harare are considering negotiating an
out-of-court settlement with newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube whose passport
they impounded apparently after realising that they have no legal authority
to seize citizens' travel documents, sources told ZimOnline last night.

      According to the sources, senior officials from Attorney General (AG)
Sobuza Gula-Ndebele's office yesterday held several meetings over the matter
with officers from Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede and Chief Immigration
Officer Elasto Mugwadi's departments.

      The AG's office is said to have told the registry and immigration
departments that the seizure of Ncube's passport could not be defended in
court chiefly because there was no law yet allowing the government to seize
passports from citizens.

      Although the government controversially amended Zimbabwe's
constitution to allow it to withdraw passports from citizens it deems may
harm the "national interest" if allowed to travel abroad, it has not yet
passed an Act of Parliament stipulating specific reasons and conditions
under which passports can be impounded.

      A source, who took part in yesterday's meetings between the AG's
office and the registry and immigration departments, said: "There is no law
to justify the seizure of passports and therefore we cannot sustain the
state's action in a court of law. We want the case withdrawn from the court
. . . unless regulations are amended, we cannot sustain this action."

      Neither Ndebele, Mudede nor Mugwadi could be reached last night for
comment on the matter.

      Immigration officials impounded Ncube's passport on Thursday last week
saying his name was on a list of people whose travel documents should be
seized. Ncube earlier this week filed an urgent appeal at the High Court
challenging the seizure of his passport by the state.

      Ncube publishes the Zimbabwe Independent and the Standard newspapers
from Harare while from Johannesburg he publishes the Mail and Guardian. His
Harare papers are among the few remaining independent newspapers in Zimbabwe
and have constantly criticised Mugabe's rule. Ncube's acclaimed South
African title is also a leading critic of the Harare government.

      Top Harare lawyer Sternford Moyo, representing Ncube in the matter,
said he was not aware of plans by the state to opt for an out-of-court
settlement but nevertheless said he would not be surprised if the state were
to make such a move.

      He said: "I would not be surprised at all that they want a negotiated
settlement because they have no legal standing to confiscate passports.
There is no law in Zimbabwe which justifies that so even if we proceed to
court they cannot sustain the seizure."

      Lawyers for main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party
politician Paul Themba Nyathi whose passport was also seized a day after
Ncube's was taken by the immigration department said they were awaiting the
outcome of Ncube's court appeal before deciding their next move.

      "We are preparing a court application but we will wait until there is
movement in Ncube's application since we are raising the same concerns. But
the action by the state is in serious violation of the rules of natural
justice," said Nyathi's lawyer, Nicholas Mathonsi.

      Political analysts have said the seizure of passports of critics and
political opponents suggested Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party, who
boosted their hold on power with a landslide victory in a controversial
election last month, were panicking in the face of swelling public
discontent because of worsening economic hardships. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe white farmers win court battle to reclaim seized equipment

Zim Online

Wed 14 December 2005

      HARARE - White commercial farmers in Zimbabwe's southern Masvingo
province have won a court battle in which they were contesting the illegal
seizure of equipment from their properties, the largely white-member
Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) said on Tuesday.

      The CFU said in a Press statement that seven of its members had
successfully petitioned the courts to force the Masvingo Farm Equipment and
Materials Committee (MFEMC) to return all equipment arbitrarily taken from

      "This committee has been randomly seizing equipment from farmers in
this region, regardless of whether or not they are still farming. The Court
ruled in favour of these seven farmers, and they were requested to report to
their respective police stations and collect their equipment," said the CFU.

      It was not clear at the time of going to print yesterday if the MFEMC,
one of the structures formed under President Robert Mugabe's chaotic land
reform programme, had complied with the court ruling.

      Mugabe has in the past said his government will not abide by court
orders it does not agree with.

      But the CFU said it was confident the court ruling would set a
precedent for other members who had had equipment seized from the farms, but
were yet to take legal action.

      Mobs of supporters of Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party have taken
advantage of the chaos created by the government's chaotic land reforms to
wantonly seize property from white-owned farms. While the government itself
has set up loot committees - such as the MFEMC - in every province to scour
white farms, grabbing whatever movable equipment from there.

      The seizure of equipment as well as farmland from whites has
destabilised the mainstay agricultural sector, knocking down food production
by about 60 percent to leave Zimbabwe dependent on food aid.

      An estimated three million out of the 12 million Zimbabweans require
food aid between now and the next harvest around March/April 2006 or they
will starve.

      Meanwhile, an international economic think-tank has warned that
Zimbabwe's key agricultural sector was unlikely to grow by more than three
percent in the 2005/6 season despite prospects of normal rains this season
and said Harare should as well start looking for other avenues out of the

      Warning that economic prospects were no better in 2006 than they were
this year, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said that at best
Zimbabwe's agricultural sector would only grow by three percent and that its
performance would largely be determined by the availability of foreign
currency to buy inputs.

      "Good rains are unlikely to be sufficient to outweigh the
non-availability, high cost and late delivery of inputs like fuel, seed and
fertiliser," said the EIU in a commentary on Zimbabwe.

      The country is facing acute shortages of agricultural inputs like
seed, fertiliser and fuel.

      "Plantings for most crops are well down, and if output does rise -
which is far from guaranteed - it (agriculture) will increase by no more
than three percent," noted the EIU.

      In its 2006 national budget, the Zimbabwean government is forecasting
that farm production would rise by 14 percent next year, driven by increases
of up to 33 percent in cotton and maize output.

      Another poor harvest would compound problems already faced by ordinary
Zimbabweans who are among the highest taxed in the world and can barely
survive on their meagre salaries. - ZimOnline

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ZANU PF hijacks Warriors

Zim Online

Wed 14 December 2005

      HARARE - The ruling ZANU PF party has hijacked the Zimbabwe national
soccer team after government yesterday appointed a committee dominated by
top party officials to raise funds for the Warriors' preparations and
participation at the 2006 African Cup of Nations final in Egypt.

      The committee, announced by Acting President Joseph Msika, is chaired
by Tendai Savanhu, a ZANU PF apologist who holds senior several positions in
the party.

      Savanhu is deputised by Transport Minister Chris Mushowe. Other
members of the committee are Delma Lupepe, suspected spy Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operative Henrietta Rushwaya, Jabulani
Nkomo, Phathisani Moyo and Zimbabwe army Brigadier Mashingaidze.

       Even Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) officials yesterday
appeared taken aback by the government's move to virtually take over
preparations for the Warriors' continental soccer showcase.

      The Warriors were given $10 billion by Finance Minister, Hebert
Murerwa when he presented his budget to for 2006 to Parliament last
Thursday. But the ZANU PF-led committee has been tasked to look for a
further $55 billion to cater for the team.

      The development has already sent shivers down the spines of many
company executives who are only too aware of  the ruling party's habit of
arm twisting the corporate world to donate funds to its projects. -

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Army General's threats signal fear of army revolt

      By Violet Gonda
      13 December 2005

      The Defence spokesman in the opposition, Giles Mutsekwa, has said
things are falling apart in Zimbabwe's army. He was responding to threats
made by senior Army General Martin Chedondo, who told graduates at a pass
out parade in Gweru that it was "treasonous" for any true Zimbabwean soldier
to support Morgan Tsvangirai.

      Mutsekwa alleges senior army officials and their Commander in Chief
Robert Mugabe may have picked up on the amount of work the MDC is doing in
the defence forces. He said the regime is trying to stave off revolt,
especially as "the national cake cannot support the defence forces,
resulting in members being poorly paid, poorly equipped and morale at its
lowest ebb."

      Major General Martin Chedondo denounced the MDC, describing the party
as an agent of Western imperialism. He said the military would not accept
for or salute the country's main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. The
Major warned privates that it is treasonous to support Tsvangirai and his
party. Former Zimbabwe Defences Forces commander Vitalis Zvinavashe uttered
a similar statement just before the country's 2002 presidential elections.

      The MDC Defence Spokesman said the Major is aware that the army
recruits are mostly people who have no experience of the past and not
involved in the liberation struggle. They are educated and can make informed
decisions. Mutsekwa claims the MDC has support from the majority of the army
privates. He said the opposition has made many inroads into the defence
forces, the police and the CIO, and that apart from the ranks of the major
general and above, the remainder of the ranks in the security forces are

      The opposition president recently called for a united front to remove
the Mugabe regime, and Mutsekwa believes that the stance taken by the major
general is to threaten the soldiers before they go out in the field.

      Mutsekwa also believes Major Chedondo was probably trying to place
himself close to Robert Mugabe so he can be promoted adding, "Chiwenga (army
commander) and the other lot should be due for retirement and if Mugabe was
doing his homework he would now be thinking of a replacement."

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Zimbabwean agents protecting Malawi president and his Zimbabwean wife

      By Tererai Karimakwenda
      13 December 2005

      Robert Mugabe appears to be strengthening his alliance with the Malawi
president Bingu wa Mutharika, and Malawi is rife with rumours that 8
security agents from Zimbabwe have been hired to guard the presidential
palace and other properties in Lilongwe. Our correspondent Simon Muchemwa,
who is currently in Malawi, says the deal came about when Mutarika's
Zimbabwean wife Ethel fired her guards after a major disagreement. It is not
known exactly what caused the dispute. He said 15 Malawians have already
been sent to Zimbabwe to train with the army and the Central Intelligence
Organisation, and Zimbabwean cooks are preparing meals at the state house in

      Muchemwa reports that the press in Malawi has avoided tackling the
issue. MP Lucius Banda, of the opposition United Democratic Front, told us
on Tuesday that the human rights situation in Malawi has deteriorated in the
last year. He said there are strong rumours about the Zimbabweans at state
house, but people are too afraid to speak freely. He described how they are
looking both ways before saying anything. Banda believes the press is also
too scared to run some stories but confirmed that The Chronicle and The
Dispatch in Malawi had reported that Zimbabweans were working at state house
as guards and cooks.

      Muchemwa told us there have been arrests that have contributed to the
paranoia, and local residents are complaining that the money being used to
rent the Zimbabwean agents is too much for a country that is poor. Ethel
Mutharika has been compared to Grace Mugabe by Malawians. There was a recent
outcry in the country when she ordered a local newspaper to retract a story
that alleged she had gone on a shopping spree in Scotland while her husband
was asking for aid. Muchema said the locals believe Ethel Mutharika
influenced the Malawian president to attach Zimbabwean CIOs to their
National Intelligence Bureau (NIB).
      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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ZBC and the bogus student leader

      By Lance Guma
      13 December 2005

      Student leaders at the University of Zimbabwe are up in arms over what
they allege was a deliberate ploy by state broadcaster (ZBC) to give 10
minutes airtime on the main news bulletin to a bogus student leader who
criticised UN envoy Jan Egeland. In a press release sent to media groups
around the world, Secretary General of the Students Executive Council,
Mfundo Mlilo said the entire student leadership at the university
'disassociates itself from the statements made by an unknown
individual.purporting to be the Vice President of the SEC'.

      Collen Chibango who holds the position in question told Newsreel they
are shocked at the latest tactic from Robert Mugabe's government.
Authorities were clearly abusing the monopoly they hold over the airwaves
and the students are demanding an apology from the state broadcaster for
misrepresenting their position. Chibango believes the government is incensed
by a petition they sent to the European Union calling for travel sanctions
on the Vice Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura and they view the latest move
as retaliation.

      The student body has put their weight behind the UN report by special
envoy Anna Tibaijuka and fully support the recommendations of Jan Egeland,
another envoy that recently visited Zimbabwe and criticised governments
housing plans. Robert Mugabe meanwhile spared no punches and called Egeland
a liar for coming up with damning recommendations after his visit.

      The entire student body at the University is under suspension despite
a high court order nullifying it. Their lawyers have given the UZ
authorities up to the 6 th of January 2006 to allow the students to sit for
their supplementary exams and also allow the expelled President of the SEC,
Herntel Mavuma to re-register for the next semester. The matter might go to
court if an out of court settlement is not worked out.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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MDC slams Chombo for the deteriorating situation in Harare


13 December 2005

The Movement for Democratic Change deplores, in the strongest terms, the
decision by the Robert Mugabe dictatorship, through the failed and
discredited local government minister Ignatius Chombo, to extend the life of
the so-called Commission running the City of Harare.

It is common cause that Harare has become an extremely dangerous place to
live in. Burst sewers disgorge raw contents onto the streets and remain
unattended to for months.

The quality of the water has deteriorated to a level where residents escape
disease by sheer luck. In many suburbs, even that grimy water is not even

Traffic lights no longer work. The roads are in a state of permanent damage
with pool-size potholes at every turn, even in the city centre. Sanitary
lanes have been filled up with uncollected rubbish.

Public amenities, neighbourhood parks, park benches and rest havens for
senior citizens, swimming pools, libraries and ablution facilities and
public conveniences have long collapsed - many beyond repair. The scale of
the damage eludes comprehension and defies description. Yet Zanu PF and
Chombo see nothing amiss with the status quo!

Harare is Zimbabwe's window to the world and houses the nation's prime
intellectual minds. Harare epitomizes the dictatorship's complete failure to
allow democracy and political space to mature in Zimbabwe.

The decay reflects and mirrors a deepening national crisis of governance and
a serious political emergency, with roots firmly stuck in a 25-year Zanu PF
culture of patronage and misrule.

Since the dismissal of Engineer Elias Mudzuri, the last democratically
elected mayor of Harare -- for as yet to be explained reasons - Harare has
progressively failed to provide essential services and comfort to its
estimated three million residents. Mudzuri's record as Mayor is clear to

All indications are that Mudzuri and his council could have cleaned up the
city had it not been for Chombo's constant interference in local government.
Undaunted and without shame, Chombo has moved into Chitungwiza, Mutare,
Chegutu and other cities, leaving a trail of destruction and mayhem - simply
because these urban centres are in the hands of the MDC councils.

The appointment of Sekesai Makwavarara -- Zimbabwe's notorious political
speculator who defected from the MDC -- to chair a regime-designed
Commission to run the city, has backfired. Aided by Zanu PF and Chombo's
minions, Makwavarara has presided over the demise of Harare and finished off
the little that remained of the sunshine city while at the same time
increasing rates and supplementary charges for non-existent services.

Zanu PF and Chombo argue that Makwavarara and her associates have a turn
around strategy for the city, hence the extension of their mandate as a
Commission. This is far from the truth.

No turn around strategy is possible either locally or at a national level
without embracing a radical paradigm shift in the way Zimbabwe is governed.
We need a new beginning. We need a new Zimbabwe. We need food and jobs. We
need to create an investor-friendly climate to strengthen our revenue base.
We need to revive commerce and industry and to re-join the international
community. We must respect people's basic political and human rights. We
must restore our dignity and self-esteem.

With Zanu PF and people like Chombo imposing Makwavarara and her associates
as a Commission running cities, we can easily forget about prospects for any
regime-inspired turn-around strategy for the City of Harare.

The people must resist the direct threats to life imposed by the actions of
this regime and its political minions. Our democratic resistance thrust must
be part of a holistic struggle for a new dispensation. We have had enough of
this dictatorial squeeze. We must determine our own destiny. We must reclaim

Zanu PF and Chombo must explain the extension of the Commission's mandate to
the people of Harare. Zanu PF and Chombo must explain to the extension of
the Commission to the people of Zimbabwe. Zanu PF and Chombo must be made to
account for imposing their favoured Commission when nothing, absolutely
nothing, stops the regime to grant political space to the people of Harare;
and allow the people to elect leaders of their choice.

Nelson Chamisa, MP
Secretary for Information and Publicity.

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Zimbabwe releases S. African spy

Xinhua 2005-12-14 02:07:09

          HARARE, Dec. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- A South African intelligence
agent,arrested in Zimbabwe last year at the height of a spying scandal
involving a number of politicians, diplomats and business executives, was
released from detention on Tuesday.

          Minister of State for National Security, Didymus Mutasa, said
Aubray Welken was released under a bilateral defense and security
cooperation agreement between the two countries.

          "Yes, I can confirm that he (Welken) has been released," he said.

          The South African spy was nabbed together with a group of
localpoliticians, diplomats and business executives including former ruling
party legislator, Philip Chiyangwa on suspicion of spying.

          Chiyangwa was subsequently cleared of the spying charges, but his
co-accused ambassador-designate to Mozambique, Godfrey Dzvairoand
businessman Tendai Matambanadzo were convicted and given lengthy jail terms.

          Welken was suspected to be the handler of the ring of Zimbabwean
spies, and is thought to have been arrested in VictoriaFalls.

          Mutasa said the South African spy had cooperated with
investigators into the case, which deeply shocked the nation at the time.

          "He cooperated fully and assisted with investigations," he

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Relations unaffected by spy scandal, says official

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

JOHANNESBURG, 13 Dec 2005 (IRIN) - The arrest a year ago of a South African
spy for running an espionage ring in Zimbabwe has not affected relations
between the two countries, an official told IRIN.

Andrew Welken, a member of the South African Secret Service, who has been in
prison in Zimbabwe for the past year, was escorted back to South Africa by
Minister of Intelligence Ronnie Kasrils on Tuesday.

"The minister had been involved in talks with his Zimbabwean counterparts
for a long time to negotiate Welken's release. It has not had an adverse
affect on the relations between Zimbabwe and South Africa ... they [the
Zimbabweans] were very cooperative," said Lorna Daniels, a spokeswoman for

Welken was arrested on 10 December 2005, when he was apparently planning to
meet a senior Zimbabwean contact in Livingstone, in neighbouring Zambia.

"He [Welken] will, however, have to return to Zimbabwe next year for his
trial," Daniels added.

The controversial spy scandal was viewed as an attempt by the South African
government to access information on the internal dynamics of the government
and ZANU-PF, Zimbabwe's ruling party.

After Welken's arrest, six ZANU-PF party members were reportedly also
arrested and accused of being part of a South African espionage ring.

"Governments spy on each other all the time - it was unfortunate that the
South Africans got caught," commented Professor John Stremlau, head of the
department of international relations at South Africa's University of the

He noted, however, that Welken's release was significant because it
indicated that, at a time when "Zimbabwe was isolated from the rest of the
world, the South Africans still had a channel of communication open to pull
a deal".

Daniels said Welken was treated well and was not tortured while in custody
in Zimbabwe.

According to Daniels, the ministry will send Welken and his wife on an all
expenses-paid holiday.

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UN reports serious concern over food situation in southern Africa

UN News Centre

13 December 2005 - Nearly 12 million people in southern Africa, mainly in
Zimbabwe and Malawi, are still in need of emergency food assistance despite
a record maize harvest in South Africa, according to the new Africa report
published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

South Africa has harvested a bumper maize crop of 12.4 million tonnes with a
potential export surplus of about 4.66 million tonnes, more than enough to
cover the sub-region's import requirements.

In Zimbabwe, there are shortages of seeds, fertilizer and draft power and
access to food in many areas is severely hampered by scarcity of grain and
high inflation, with fuel and transport problems exacerbating the situation.
Some 3 million people will receive monthly rations of cereals and pulses
from the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

In Malawi, food insecurity is worsening as maize prices continue to rise. So
far, commercial imports and food aid deliveries have been meagre in spite of
the significant amounts pledged by international donors.

In eastern Africa, the 2005 harvest is generally better than last year and
food availability is expected to improve in most countries, but the overall
situation remains precarious with high malnutrition rates in several
countries due to the effects of war, displacement and past droughts.

In Somalia, the situation continues to be of concern, with more than 900,000
people in need of urgent aid. It is further aggravated by upsurges in
hostilities in southern areas and deteriorating security is hampering the
distribution of relief assistance.

The situation in Sudan is also alarming due to continued conflict and
population displacement that have resulted in serious food insecurity,
especially in Darfur and Southern Sudan.

In Eritrea, despite a higher crop production, some 1.4 million people are in
need of assistance, while in Ethiopia, crop prospects are favourable in the
main producing regions. But household food availability is poor and high
malnutrition rates, particularly for children, are of serious concern in
some areas. The number of people in need of emergency food assistance is
estimated at 3.8 million.

Good harvests are expected in the Sahel region border the Sahara after
generally favourable weather conditions throughout the growing season, but
the severe food crisis of 2004/05 had serious income, livelihoods and
nutrition effects and led to depletion of assets including loss of animals
and high levels of indebtedness, notably in Niger, parts of Burkina Faso,
Mali and Mauritania. In Côte d'Ivoire, insecurity and the de facto partition
of the country continue to disrupt agricultural production and marketing

In Central Africa, crop prospects are unfavourable in several countries due
mainly to civil strife and insecurity. Burundi has warned that a serious
food crisis is looming in the northern and eastern provinces due to the
unfavourable prospects for the 2006 first harvest.

Cereal import requirements in sub-Saharan Africa in 2005/06 are expected to
remain high, the report said. Total food aid requirement in 2004/05 is
estimated at about 3.3 million tonnes, similar to 2003/04.

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Why African "land reform" is bad for everyone

The New Republic

      State Farm
      by Joshua Kurlantzick

      Post date 12.13.05 | Issue date 12.19.05

Blantyre, Malawi

Inside Newlands, a gated community in Blantyre, the largest city in the
southern African nation of Malawi, it's as if the colonial era never ended.
In a small cottage, elderly British couples--the men in Out of Africa khaki
short-shorts and knee socks--sip milky afternoon tea brought by Malawian
attendants in white frocks. Most residents are retired farmers of tea,
tobacco, and coffee, Malawi's traditional exports. During the colonial
period, these commodities were grown on large estates owned by the British
crown. When Malawi became independent in 1964, some estates stayed in the
hands of British citizens, a tiny white land-owning minority in a country
whose population has swelled to twelve million.

One might think that Newlands residents would be worried. Over the past five
years, as white landholders have been violently pushed off their farms in
neighboring Zimbabwe, Malawian politicians have praised Robert Mugabe's land
expropriation. Poor Malawian workers have begun encroaching on tea and
coffee estates, sometimes even attacking farm managers. But no one at
Newlands seems concerned that Malawi could come to resemble Zimbabwe. Dick
Buckingham, a former tobacco estate manager who has lived in Malawi for 60
years, leans back in a porch chair, sipping whiskey on ice. "There are even
some [white] Zimbabwean farmers who've come here to work," Buckingham says.
"Only the extremists would like to see the estates closed down [in Malawi]."

Outside the gated community, though, the situation is bleaker: Spotless
Newlands cottages give way to Blantyre's tin-roofed shacks. Malawi has one
of the highest population densities in Africa, and per capita income
averages about $200 per year. Emaciated children wander the roads, begging
drivers for five kwacha, less than a nickel. Outside Blantyre, in the rural
Thyolo region, Malawians grow scraggly ears of maize or forage for food in
the few remaining woodland areas, already almost completely denuded by

The crisis in Zimbabwe has focused media attention in southern Africa--in
Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, and South Africa--on the plight of white farmers
like those from Newlands. But, in truth, it is poor blacks who most often
are the victims of corrupt land reform. Indeed, in African countries
undergoing land reform, the greatest threat may not be Mugabe-style
expropriation of white farms, but a less understood part of the Mugabe
strategy: stealing land from poor blacks and handing it to political elites,
most of whom know little about farming, a situation that has led to a
horrific famine in Zimbabwe. "I'm always highly suspicious of land reform
acts that give more [connected] people the possibility of taking more land,"
says one land expert in Blantyre. Unfortunately, Malawi's land reform may do
just that.

Across southern Africa, where agriculture often remains the only viable
occupation, land retains enormous economic and psychological value. Most
southern African states are also young democracies, and, over the past
decade, their governments have vowed to promote land reform--the process of
handing over land to the landless. But, faced with numerous challenges--from
holding free elections to combating HIV--most have stalled on land reform.
In Malawi, major land reform did not begin until 2002. In South Africa,
whites, who comprise roughly 10 percent of the population, owned over 85
percent of farmland in 1994; yet, since then, the government has transferred
less than 5 percent of it to new owners. The slow pace of reform, combined
with high unemployment, has sparked populist outcries. In January 2004,
Joseph Kauandenge, then-head of the National Unity Democratic Organization
party in Namibia, announced that "silence over [land reform]" could prompt
invasions of white-owned land. In November 2004, some 10,000 people marched
on the offices of South Africa's largest commercial farming organization.
One march leader told reporters, "Land must be returned to the people ...
and the government must expropriate it if necessary."

The foreign media has played up this tension: "mugabe 'experts' spark fear
of land grab in namibia," thundered one Guardian headline. But the media
focus is misplaced--Namibia, South Africa, Malawi, and Zambia are unlikely
to face a racial crisis anytime soon. Outside Zimbabwe, white farmers,
backed by powerful commercial unions, have reached a reluctant accommodation
with land reformers. "In Namibia, soon after independence [in 1990], there
was a national conference on land reform that led to some consensus, and all
stakeholders, blacks and whites, could give input," says Sakkie Coetzee,
executive director of one of the country's large farming organizations. In
fact, one head of Namibia's white farmers' union told members that they must
"face reality" and proactively take part in the land reform process. What's
more, most southern African nations are highly dependent on foreign
investment and need to project an image of stability. "The Namibian
government is concerned, aware of the country's international standing,"
says one Western diplomat posted in Windhoek, the capital. In South Africa,
the continent's biggest draw for foreign companies, the government has
repeatedly called on the police to evict squatters from white land.

Ironically, when it comes to land held by poor blacks, or traditional black
chiefs, many southern African governments have acted far differently. In the
Thyolo region, southeast of Blantyre, rolling hills layered with palm fronds
give way to steeper peaks covered in scrubby trees. On one local mountain,
many families had built small huts and, for generations, raised corn and
small animals to survive. Like most poor people in Africa, they had no title
to their land, which was communal and overseen by traditional chiefs. Over
the last five years, the Malawian government seized the land and handed it
to supporters of former President Bakili Muluzi, who remains powerful.
"Local communities were just pushed off their land," says one person who
followed the Thyolo incident. "When I asked one minister why ... he just
mumbled something."

This type of expropriation is all too common. In Zimbabwe, "the biggest
losers of the land program have been black Zimbabweans," International
Crisis Group special adviser John Norris told reporters in 2004. In Malawi,
the new land reform policy, approved in 2002, concentrates an extraordinary
amount of discretion in the hands of the land minister and other top
bureaucrats and allows the government to take communal land--where the
poorest live--without consulting traditional leaders. Meanwhile, in Namibia,
leading ministers have become gentleman farmers, traveling to the farms they
have obtained on weekends and using them as status symbols. "Big politicians
already have affirmative action loans to buy farms ... and government will
just keep subsidizing those big politicians," says Robin Sherbourne, a
Namibian land reform expert. In Zimbabwe, Mugabe has seized nearly eleven
million hectares of land, much of which has gone to his political
supporters. One study of Malawian land reform shows that some 28 percent of
the nation's total land area currently lies idle, suggesting that the arable
land is being taken by wealthier interests who don't know how to use it or
don't want to.

Unlike white farmers, poor blacks have few unions to protect them, matter
little to foreign investors, often don't understand the judicial process,
and receive far less press coverage. "Average people don't know about land
reform.... When you go out to communities, they'll tell you they don't know
about the policy," says one Malawian land expert who works closely with the

Strong opposition parties might expose the corruption inherent in many land
reform policies. Yet, even in South Africa, no opposition party garners more
than 13 percent of the vote. Southern Africa also hasn't yet developed a
vibrant nonprofit culture. "Without NGO pressure, you have a greater chance
of land just going to politically connected people," says Oxfam's Robin

Across Blantyre from Newlands, in the gritty industrial suburb of Limbe,
Robert White is hardly as relaxed as the old British farmers. The advocacy
director for Oxfam's project in Malawi, White is an idealistic young
Malawian with a long face and a slick, shaved head. His eyelids droop, and,
at times, he seems ready to collapse at his desk. He has reason to be tired:
Oxfam Malawi is one of the few organizations battling for the poor's land
rights in a society where colonial rule, followed by post-independence
dictatorship, eviscerated civil society. He is essentially alone. "Oxfam
basically pushes ... the government to listen more to the people in the
process of land reform," says White, noting that he hasn't found many

Donors, who contribute mightily to government budgets, can exert pressure to
ensure that land is not given to political elites. (In Malawi, aid money
accounts for nearly half the state budget.) Unfortunately, many donors
aren't stepping up to the plate. For instance, the German government, still
the largest aid donor to Namibia (its former colony), seems to be stalling
on playing a financial and advisory role in that country's land reform, says
Rogier van den Brink, of the World Bank in Pretoria.

The result of these land grabs is disaster. Handing land to people who don't
know how best to farm it decreases crop production in an already
famine-prone region. In Malawi, after the land in Thyolo was handed to the
new inhabitants, many couldn't farm the rough soil, contributing to serious
hunger and violent unrest in the area. "It's been a disaster," admits one
land reform specialist. Across Malawi, a combination of poor weather and
ill-trained farmers taking over land has led to the worst maize harvest in
more than a decade. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that
40 percent of Malawians, some five million people, may be at serious risk of
hunger this year; the World Food Programme has issued an emergency report
and an appeal for aid to Malawi. In Namibia, meanwhile, Jane's Intelligence
Review reports that the handing over of former commercial farms has been
disastrous, with land "degenerating back to subsistence existence."

The worst-case scenario can be outright famine. In Zimbabwe, large tracts of
land were handed to so-called "cell phone farmers"--members of Mugabe's
party who continued to live in the capital. The handover to these new,
unskilled landlords cost some 90,000 Zimbabwean farm workers and small-scale
farmers their jobs and ruined what was once Africa's breadbasket. Since the
land-grabs began, the amount of land under cultivation in Zimbabwe has
fallen by half, and the United Nations has warned that, during Zimbabwe's
bleakest periods, some seven million people in the country are susceptible
to famine. Now, even Mugabe's government admits it will have to import more
than one million tons of grain this year. And Zimbabwe's famine could
destabilize the rest of the region. Two million Zimbabwean migrants have
already poured into South Africa, and Zimbabwe's famine adds to a regional
food crisis that is severely stretching donor resources.

Even these statistics don't tell the whole story on the ground. As one BBC
reporter found in Zimbabwe, "Hungry people queue for the meager rations
offered by church workers, their children's hair already changing color from
malnutrition ... [S]ome compete with wild animals for what they can
scavenge." This, not the end of the white farming culture embodied in places
like Newlands, is the real harvest of land reform in southern Africa.

Joshua Kurlantzick is the foreign editor at TNR.

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What to do about Zimbabwe?


13/12/2005 08:50  - (SA)

Zimbabwe is a country in collapse. So is it any wonder that other elements
of society are in a similar state... like cricket?

It's hard to figure out just what is at the root of the problem in
Zimbabwean cricket.

Those of us on the outside can only guess at, and gauge from what we see on
television - and it's not good.

The Zimbabwean national team, once pretty competitive at international
level, now looks as if it would struggle to hold its own in a good club

The International Cricket Council, much like the United Cricket Board of SA
and Thabo Mbeki, has practised the art of quiet diplomacy towards Zimbabwe.

It appears not to have helped much, but the picture is probably a lot more
complicated than the easy options offered by all the kneejerkers we have
heard over the past few weeks.

What seems clear, however, is that after independence in 1980 - and
following some conciliatory remarks by Robert Mugabe (which he quickly
forgot) - cricket conducted itself as very much a white man's preserve, with
only a token nod to transformation.

It took the Zimbabwean team a long time to transform and this delay
postponed the painful process of kickstarting transformation.

South Africa almost fell into the same trap.

Fortunately there were people who dragged SA, albeit kicking and screaming
at times, through the process - which is not yet complete, however.

Racism in the Zimbabwean dressing-room

There was also strong evidence of racism in the Zimbabwean dressing-room
that is now, hopefully, in the past.

The cricketers themselves appear to have realised that their best hope of
survival is to unite against elements of official corruption which have
ridden on the coattails of the reactions to the racism.

This is where the ICC and other cricket bodies can help rescue the game in

The sponsors will also have a potent role to play. But they cannot delay.

Taitendu Taibu is acting like a prima donna

It is hard to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys in this
sordid saga, especially with the national captain, Taitendu Taibu, acting
like a prima donna.

He has shown little sign of leadership and has opted instead to go away and

Admittedly, this is based on reading the situation from afar, but there
seems to be no one close enough to the pit-face to make a considered

The establishment Zimbabwe press has given a biased portrayal and the
dissident voices all have their own agendas.

Nevertheless, there seems to be some hope.

A high court judge, Ahmed Ebrahim, appears ready to take on the hierarchy
(or at least negotiate some path towards normalcy) and should be supported.

Mysterious behind the scenes role

According to Taibu, the governor of the Reserve Bank, Gideon Gono, is
playing some mysterious behind the scenes role, which has the captain's

What Gono's standing is, however, is unclear.

The chairperson of the Zimbabwean Cricket Union, Peter Chingoka, who once
seemed a reasonable man, now appears in thrall of the dodgy managing
director, Ozias Bvute.

Overshadowing all this is the presence of Themba Mliswa, who seems to be
nothing less than a gangster if Taibu's allegations against him are to be

Certainly he appears to be a lackey of Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF.

Is there a way out? Probably not.

As with most things in Zimbabwe, cricket seems to have become embroiled in
the country's greater travails.

Until there is political change in Zimbabwe, there is little hope for the
national team in the Test cricket arena.

a.. Archie Henderson is the former sports editor of the Cape Argus.

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Ncube's 'country arrest' slated

          December 13 2005 at 06:53PM

      The confiscation by Zimbabwe of Mail & Guardian publisher Trevor
Ncube's passport is a step back for Nepad, the paper's board of directors
said on Tuesday.

      "The confiscation of Mr Ncube's passport is yet another step backward
in Zimbabwe's decline. It marks another sad day for Africa and a step back
for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), the continental
programme aimed at lifting our continent high," M&G chairman William Makgoba
said in a statement.

      Makgoba is also vice-chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

      Ncube's passport was confiscated in Bulawayo shortly after the
Zimbabwean arrived there from South Africa.

      The move appears to be the first under a recent constitutional change
there that allows Zimbabwe to strip government critics of passports.

      "The board of M&G Publishing, which publishes the Mail & Guardian, is
shocked at the confiscation of CEO Trevor Ncube's passport. This effectively
places Mr Ncube under country arrest," Makgoba added.

      "We call on the government of Zimbabwe to urgently return Mr Ncube's
passport to ensure that his freedom of movement is returned to him. We have
no doubt that Mr Ncube is being punished for shining the light of truth on
the rights abuses in Zimbabwe, a country which he loves and of which he is a

      "In addition to his own bravery in writing and speaking about his
country, Mr Ncube also publishes the Zimbabwe Independent, the Standard and
the Mail & Guardian, all newspapers which continue to write about the
plights and rights abuse in these trying times." - Sapa

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Senators vehicle loans to cost Z$132 billion

      By Tererai Karimakwenda
      13 December 2005

      The Daily Mirror newspaper reports that the clerk of Parliament Austin
Zvoma said on Monday that a fund set up to provide Senators with official
vehicle loans is inadequate. Zvoma said this at the induction seminar for
Senators, where he also presented a paper on the composition, powers and
functions as well as the administration of parliament.

      Zvoma gave no exact figures for the funds available for the
vehicles.He calculated that according to information he had been given by
the Treasury, a 4X4 vehicle would cost around Z$1,8 billion. At almost 2
billion dollars a vehicle, the total will be close to 132 billion Zimbabwe
dollars. Zvoma also said "The biggest challenge is that it is not
substantial in terms of repayments which we must address". Critics who
opposed the creation of the senate had said the country could not afford
this unnecessary exercise, and already they are pointing to this enormous
vehicle budget as proof of what they feared.

      In her opening remarks, the President of the Senate Edna Madzongwe
said Zimbabweans expect Senators to justify the re-introduction of the Upper
House on the basis of work they would do. She also said the induction course
was meant to help senators realise where they can best participate in the
overall goal of national development. Yet the shortage of enough funds for
vehicles emerged as the only issue reported in detail from the seminar. This
has further fueled the argument that those who wanted to be senators were
only interested in personal gain.

      Time will tell whether the senate will improve governance in Zimbabwe,
but given the overwhelming majority of senators belong to ZANU-PF, it is
likely the ruling party's policies on the media, freedom of expression and
distribution will prevail.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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'A day's life inside Botswana'

      A personal experience by Themba Nkosi

      13 December 2005

      It is 10 o'clock in the morning. I am in Francistown, Botswana's
second largest city, named after miner and explorer, Daniel Francis. I
decide to visit the main post office to post money home. Inside the post
office there is a branch of the Western Union Money transfer agency. The
queue at the Western Union section is long and people are getting impatient
because it is moving at a snail's pace.

      All the people in the queue are holders of Zimbabwean passports and
they all speak local languages, Ndebele and Shona. The Zimbabweans are
getting angry after they are told the money has run out. They have all the
reasons to become angry because they had come all the way from Harare,
Bulawayo and Mutare to collect their money, do their shopping and head back
to Zimbabwe.

      Zimbabweans in the diaspora are now sending money to neighbouring
Botswana so that their relatives can get it in foreign currency. But why are
they collecting the money in another country? It's not hard to find out why.
Zimbabweans, by nature, are enterprising people. When they cannot get what
they want in their own country, they will find it somewhere else.

      They have suffered a lot under the Zanu (PF) government and have
become masters in survival tactics. What is interesting is that all of them
who are at the Western Union branch here are getting their payments in Pula,
which has become the strongest currency in sub-Saharan Africa, if not Africa
as a whole.

      Early this year the government in Zimbabwe asked Western Union to stop
making payments in United States dollars. Gideon Gono, the central bank
governor said people who were receiving their money in foreign currency were
fuelling the black market. But who ended up with an egg on his face? - Gono
of course, because Zimbabweans are now collecting their money from another
country because nobody wants the useless Zimbabwe dollar anymore.

      'What does the government expect us to do. Our children send us money
in foreign currency and they want to pay us in Zimbabwe dollars, no way,'
said Mavis Masuku from Nkulumane in Bulawayo. She arrived here in Fancistown
the previous day and slept in the bush.

      She says if Gono had allowed Zimbabweans to receive their money in
foreign currency, people would not be travelling to Botswana everyday to
collect it. Tinashe from Harare tells the same story.

      'Does Gono think we are fools? We don't want his useless dollar' he
says. 'While I was in the post office, the Western Union ran out of cash
three times. The branch is not used to handling so many customers in a day.
Batswana are now complaining that the Zimbabweans overwork them.'

      'Nearly all the people I serve here everyday are Zimbabweans and they
are too many,' said the woman at the counter. When the cash runs out,
Zimbabweans wait until the money comes. When they move in the streets of
Francistown or Gaborone, Zimbabweans are easily identified by the way they
dress, talk and behave.

      Money that is supposed to be going to Zimbabwean banks is now going to
Botswana, which has one of the world's fastest growing economies. In the
evening I meet Tadios who is working as an accountant for a construction
company in Francistown. Tadios says he comes from Norton and got the job in
August while visiting Botswana to sell his curios.

      I have no work permit but I hope to get one next year, says Tadios. He
later promises to take my fiance to another company to introduce her to one
of the directors. He tells me Zimbabweans must help one another especially
when they are in a foreign land. I agree with him because that is what we
should do as humans and refuse to be used by politicians to divide us along
tribal and racial lines.

      Tadios takes me to Francistown's area 'W' to interview Zimbabwean
women who have become a disgrace to their fellow countrymen and women. These
women, says Tadios, are now selling their bodies in Botswana just to get the
Pula. Its degrading and distasteful, and very few of the women want to speak
to me for obvious reasons. Some of them are married.

      That's life in Botswana for Zimbabweans.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Zimbabweans give cautious welcome to player support

Web India

Durban | December 13, 2005 10:50:58 PM IST

Zimbabwe's players have welcomed support from their international
counterparts in their battle with their board but remain sceptical that it
will help them bring change to the game in their country.
The Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) and the
South African Cricketers' Association (SACA) have questioned the
International Cricket Council's (ICC) reaction to the crisis in Zimbabwe,
where high profile players have accused officials of mismanagement.

''The game's handling of the present Zimbabwean issue has disillusioned and
disappointed the majority of players around the world,'' FICA chief
executive Tim May said in a media statement today.

SACA chief executive Tony Irish said in a statement: ''In Zimbabwe, cricket
is in tatters. Surely we should be hearing the ICC's voice in relation to
the standards and behaviour of those administering the game in that
country?'' Zimbabwe players' representative Clive Field accepted May's and
Irish's support with mixed feelings. ''We have a delinquent administration
that seems to bunker down even more when it is criticised,'' Field told
Reuters from Harare.

''I doubt this will cause shock waves in Zimbabwe but it might help that
they know that the players in the rest of the world are concerned for their
Zimbabwean brethren.'' Field made clear his frustration with the ICC. ''We
were concerned a week ago that we didn't want to upset any applecarts at the
ICC but increasingly it seems to be clear that they aren't going to do an
awful lot in the short term,'' he said.

Former Zimbabwe captain Tatenda Taibu cited administrative mismanagement and
corruption as his main reason for quitting the game in his country last

The chairman and managing director of Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC), Peter Chingoka
and Ozias Bvute, spent two nights in jail last week while being questioned
about ZC's foreign exchange dealings. They were released without charge.

Reuters SC DB2211

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New border post 'for 4x4s only'


13/12/2005 18:10  - (SA)

Fred Katerere

Nelspruit - A Mozambican who hoped to take an enormous bakkie-load of goods
from Johannesburg to Mozambique, was turned away when he tried to use the
new Giriyondo border post on Tuesday.

The border post is in the Kruger National Park and was opened last week to
link the park to the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique as part of the
Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

When Quessane Mapsanganhe heard about the new gate, he was excited at the
prospect of a shorter route from Johannesburg to Chokwe in Mozambique's
southern Gaza province.

But on Tuesday, Mapsanganhe was told he needed a four-wheel drive vehicle to
use the roads on the Mozambican side of the border.

"I pleaded with the border officials to transport my load in batches, but
they said the route was open only to 4x4 bakkies," he said.

He then had to drive another 300km to Nelspruit and about 140km further to
Lebombo border post at Komatipoort.

Officially open next year

It would then take a further 80km from the border to Maputo, before he could
head north to Chokwe.

Mapsanganhe makes a living by collecting goods in South Africa and
delivering them to people living in Chokwe.

Raymond Travers of Kruger National Park said any member of the public could
use the public roads in the park, even they carried big loads like

"The road is a free access road and any member of the public can drive
through that road," he said.

The Giriyondo border post will be officially opened next year by the
presidents of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

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Starwood Hotels pull out of Zimbabwe

Business Report

December 13, 2005

By Angus Shaw

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc is pulling out of Zimbabwe, ending a
20-year management contract for one of the troubled nation's landmark
hotels, the group said Tuesday.

The contract to run Harare's luxury 300-room Sheraton Hotel and Towers
expires at the end of the month and will not be renewed by mutual agreement
with the state tourism company, said Mohammed Samy, Sheraton's local general
manager. The group is also withdrawing services for a linked 4,500-seat
conference centre.

Sheraton managers and staff will assist in a three-month handover to the
government-owned Rainbow Tourism Group starting in January, Samy said. The
hotel is expected to change names in April.

Tourism has been hard hit in Zimbabwe, which is reeling from political
upheavals and the worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in
1980. But Samy said the Harare Sheraton was expected to report a profit at
year's end.

"Low occupancy is not the main issue. Our contract has come to an end," Samy
said. "We are leaving on good terms."

The gold-coloured towers, designed by Yugoslav architects as a symbolic
gateway on the capital's main western highway, opened during the
post-independence economic boom in 1985. The now-faded landmark, visible
from at least 20 kilometres away, was nicknamed "Golden Delicious" by taxi

The adjacent convention centre hosted a summit of the 101-nation Non-Aligned
Movement in 1986. But the complex has seen fewer international gatherings
since Zimbabwe's economy crumbled in the wake of the often-violent seizure
of thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to black
Zimbabweans that began in 2000.

The U.S. State Department has warned Americans that persistent food
shortages and deteriorating economic conditions have led to a significant
increase in crime. Nationwide fuel shortages make internal travel difficult
and unreliable, while severely restricting the response capability of police
and other emergency services, the State Department said in a travel warning
issued last month.

The Sheraton and two other five-star hotels in Harare earlier this year
reported average room occupancy of around 20 percent. Three hotels shut down
along the shores of Lake Kariba, where commercial fishing has been crippled
by shortages of gasoline and equipment.

Along with dwindling visitors, local hotels have been hit by import
shortages and soaring prices for food, drinks and services. Inflation hit
502 percent last month. The bar price for bottled beer rose 40 percent last
week alone. - Sapa-AP

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