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

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Mail & Guardian
Zim newspaper faces cash crisis

Harare, Zimbabwe

23 December 2004 12:20

The Zimbabwe Independent said on Thursday it is facing a cash crisis after the government froze assets at the newspaper's bank, which has been a target of a report by the newspaper alleging financial mismanagement.

The independent weekly exposed alleged financial mismanagement at CFX Bank on December 17. Within hours, the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank appointed a curator and froze all transactions.

"CFX were our principal bankers and we were exposed immensely together with dozens of other companies who cannot meet statutory obligations, pay creditors or meet salary commitments," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"Some say we should have ignored the story and reaped the dividends of silence. We should have closed our eyes to the fraud and thereby "saved" ourselves and many others.

"Obviously, we do not subscribe to this argument." -- Sapa-DPA
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Zim Independent
Opinion & Analysis
Thursday, 23 December 2004
News Analysis      Eric Bloch Column        Muckraker          Comment

Yes, they said it in 2004
Gift Phiri

“Iraq today has become a vast inferno created by blatant and completely illegal and defiant acts of aggression by the United States, Britain and their allies. We are now being coerced to accept and believe that a new political-cum-religious doctrine has arisen, namely that ‘there is but one political god, George Bush, and Tony Blair is his prophet’.” President Mugabe in a speech on Iraq at the United Nations General Assembly.

 “The regime pulled out its last card, but nothing has come of it: whites, land, puppets, price controls, media controls, intolerance, nationalism, anti-corruption, cosmetic electoral reforms, nothing.” MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, commenting on the current Zimbabwe crisis.

 “(Information Minister Jonathan) Moyo is a ranting and shallow minded propagandist who has sapped the moral authority of the president.” Ugandan David Nyekorach-Matsanga after being barred from entering Zimbabwe.

 “We want to leave this meeting with an agreement. If you refuse to cooperate we can take you to the army barracks and detain you and you will see what will happen. I have fought 45 battles since I was 17 years old and I have never lost. This one is just a cup of tea and we can solve it within a matter of minutes.” Zimbabwe Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga threatening striking doctors at a meeting in January.

 “Young man you must not waste my time asking irrelevant questions. Be direct and straight to the point.” Chinhoyi Zanu PF MP Philip Chiyangwa to chief law officer Joseph Jagada during his cross-examination on his links with the collapsed ENG Capital Asset Management.

 “The accreditation (of journalists) is not, therefore, a mere formality. If it were, why would it need the minister (of Information)’s approval?” Supreme Court judge Justice Wilson Sandura in a dissenting judgement in the Aippa challenge by Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe.

 “(British Prime Minister) Tony Blair has said Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world. Mugabe is a scar on the face of Africa. He is one of the grotesque tyrants of the planet, and the sooner we can get rid of him the better.” Irish rock star-turned poverty campaigner Bob Geldof on the launch of Live Aid, a fund to counter human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.

 “Come rain, come sunshine, there is no going back on Kondozi.” Information minister Jonathan Moyo on the seizure of Kondozi Farm by government.

 “I haven’t lost to anyone. How can I lose to those immoral little boys.” Vice-President Joseph Msika reacting to reports that he had lost the battle to save Kondozi Farm from seizure to Jonathan Moyo.

 “It is appalling to see a country engaged in acts of self-destruction with (Reserve Bank governor Gideon) Gono exerting more energy in hounding individuals — as if he was a police commissioner — than working on economic recovery. Sound economic policies can never be substituted with a display of venom and arresting individuals.” Self-exiled tycoon Mutumwa Mawere after being arrested in South Africa for alleged externalisation of foreign currency.

 “If true, the government must explain why it funded such a luxury for a political head reputed to be a dictator.” Malaysian opposition leader Paham Cumarasamy urging an investigation into how former premier Mahathir Mohamad “donated” construction material for President Mugabe’s Borrowdale home.

 “Yes, I restrained him from beating up a member of parliament. You don’t just wait there when a mad man is charging at you. It’s true, I kicked him very hard. What’s wrong with that?” Anti-Corruption minister Didymus Mutasa commenting on the fracas in parliament involving Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and MDC legislator Roy Bennett.

 “Murungu wenyu uyu ndinomurova, ndibatei (I will beat up this white man of yours, can someone please restrain me),” Minister without Portfolio Elliot Manyika during the Bennett scuffle in parliament.

 “It is the view of the coalition that the proposed amendments to Aippa would not make it a good law. It’s like applying lipstick to a frog.” Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition commenting on the amendments to Section 40 and 83 of Aippa.

 “Zanu PF has come a long way and at different times it has had infiltrators and people planted within — the fifth columnists — but they have always been flushed out.” Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo warning ruling party officials on the multiple farm allocation row.

 “They are going to face the severest punishment available in our statutes, including capital punishment.” Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge after the capture of 70 “mercenaries” at the Harare International Airport.

 “Ironically Zimbabwe cannot even beam its ZBC to Victoria Falls for tourists to see or the Herald to be read in Tsholotsho where the infamous homosexual gay rant comes from.” Nyekorach-Matsanga in reaction to Jonathan Moyo’s accusations that he organised the exclusive interview for Sky News with Mugabe.

 “Personally, I don’t use condoms, they are so inconvenient, one has to fumble and stop, particularly when you are drunk. They are not the best protection against Aids.” Dr Timothy Stamps, one time long serving Health minister in an interview with Zanu PF mouthpiece, The Voice.

 “If they are an illegal entity, the police would have arrested them by now,” Zimbabwe International Book Fair executive director Samuel Matsangaise reacting to controversy about the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe exhibiting at the Book Fair.

 “It’s my prayer that President Mugabe should live longer to deliver us to the promised land.” Zanu PF-aligned Reverend Obediah Musindo at the opening of the recent Zanu PF congress.

 “Mugabe go? Go where? He should rule even if it means he is walking with the aid of a walking stick. He is the father of our nation; he is entitled to rule us forever.” Vice-President Joseph Msika on suggestions President Mugabe should step down.

 “I am calling for attitudinal change within our newly resettled farmers. Under the regime of Ian Smith and up to 1999, 4 000 white farmers produced enough food for the nation and had more left over for export. Today, after the land reform programme, there are over 12 000 farmers (A2) but they are failing to do what their predecessors did.” Enos Chikowore reporting on the dismal production on Zimbabwe’s grabbed farms.

 “It is a crime to conceive the exit of the head of state. I love my leader and I am committed to him. I would love him to continue (to rule) until death.” Zanu PF secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa responding to whether he would like to be president.

“Media should report correctly on the Unity Accord. (But) I don’t believe all media should speak with one voice.” Zanu PF party chair John Nkomo speaking ahead of Unity Day on December 22.

 “No bank will collapse.” Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono in September.

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Zim Independent

Mugabe’s yes-men
By Chido Makunike

HOW have our rulers been administering Zimbabwe this year? Let’s take a look at the performance of some of the main actors.

Largely clueless at problem-solving, pays more attention to growing dissension in his party caused by overstaying in his position. Seems enraged British prime minister Tony Blair completely ignores his rantings and insults.

Thought he was using Jonathan Moyo, not knowing Moyo also fooled and used him for his own ends.

Increasingly despotic, out of step with regional leaders and democratic trends. Seems incapable of taking responsibility for anything, has a long list of people and causes to blame for everything.

Increasing cases of citizens dragged to court for making disparaging remarks about him indicative of reduced respect, and paranoia and pettiness of the system to even prosecute such cases. Hardships continue under him but he is so out of touch he thinks the nation is thriving instead. Sound and fury about corruption was nothing but a gimmick to steer attention away from his failures. Zero.

 Joseph Msika, vice-president. Really doesn’t do anything that makes any difference to the nation. Spends all his time trying to sound and act tough to compensate for how he lost face and influence when Mugabe undermined him earlier this year by allowing some youngish ministers to humiliate him over policy issues, confirming his powerlessness. Zero.

 Samuel Mumbengegwi, Industry and International Trade. Thinks the way to carry oneself as a minister is to try to intimidate everybody by glaring and always looking glum. Old-school bureaucrat from whom no new ideas can be expected, just sort of sits there in his position. Zero.

 Jonathan Moyo, propaganda. Brilliantly ran rings around Mugabe for the last several years, gaining unprecedented power to almost rival Mugabe’s before his characteristic overzealousness tripped him up in the last few months.

But was able to make the isolated and poorly informed Mugabe a hostage to his world view, not seeing that bludgeoning and silencing opponents did not mean winning them over. Is so much like Mugabe it was inevitable they would eventually fall out. Dangerous and full of hate but also a real comic.

Needs help of several kinds. Two out of 10 for his entertainment value and for sheer nerve.

 Chris Mushohwe, Transport and Communication.

Made a lot of noise about reforming struggling parastatals under his ministry when first appointed but predictably nothing happened. Believes in parcelling out money to maintain voter loyalty. Not much sign of leadership qualities, but sheepishly led to possible slaughter in Tsholotsho by the crafty and ambitious Jonathan Moyo.

Rambling explanation in the Herald of why he went to the infamous Tsholotsho meeting was fatuous and embarrassing, he should have found other ways of grovelling to Mugabe for his political life. Zero.

 Paul Mangwana, Labour and Social Welfare. Rough around the edges, has none of the finesse one would hope for in a minister but under Mugabe that is not necessarily a disadvantage. No ministerial achievements associated with him. Zero.

 Patrick Chinamasa, Justice. Rule of law continues to take a hard knock under him, being applied so selectively the expression is almost meaningless. Considers his job to be to limit citizens’ freedoms. A Mugabe yes-man, no dangerous independent thoughts can be expected from him.

Some Zanu PF provinces played a practical joke by proposing him as a candidate for party chairmanship, a move that was predictably scorned by the rest of the party. Likes to talk and act tough but wilts under strong challenge. Weak, hopeless. Zero.

 David Parirenyatwa, Health. One of the few ministers who have remained largely professional despite strong peer pressure to spew polemics.

Health services continue to suffer like everything else from the widespread destruction of the country but Parirenyatwa is active and hands-on, making the best of a bad situation. Six.

 Herbert Murerwa, Higher Education. Safe sort of minister who does not get involved in any major scandals but no major innovations either. One of the few ministers who generally personally conduct themselves like gentlemen in a regime over-run with hooligans from top to bottom, may have to eventually account for how he justified being a long-serving member of such a government. Four.

 Didymus Mutasa, Anti-corruption. Notorious old warlord greatly feared in the Makoni area for terrorism against political opponents, recently rewarded for it with a briefcase ministry by his long-term pal Mugabe. Made a few tough sounding statements soon after appointment then disappeared from view.

Washed up, a spent force who only leads a do-nothing “ministry” by virtue of being a Mugabe crony. Highly-placed crooks in government and elsewhere can rest quite easy knowing nothing will happen to them. Zero.

 Kembo Mohadi, Home Affairs. Non-achiever now given to making threats against political opponents in his panic at the possibility of being dislodged from the sweet gravy train. Has failed to be an advocate for more resources for the police force that falls under him and to make them an enlightened modern protection force for all citizens, rather than a tool of the ruling party. Zero.

 Ignatious Chombo, Local Government. Spent all his time the last few years thwarting the will of Harare residents by undermining overwhelmingly elected MDC city council in countless crude ways. In his spare time he threatens chiefs to put pressure on their people to vote “correctly”.

Crudely unsubtle for a minister, but enthusiastic and obedient; assured of long tenure and prosperity under Mugabe. Zero.

I could go on but I am getting increasingly depressed as I write this. There really aren’t any brilliant performers in Mugabe’s cabinet and I would merely be repeating myself to bother to rate the others. There is talk of another cabinet reshuffle soon but as long as Mugabe is at the head of any new-look cabinet, get set for more decline, more fear, more hate, more repression and more misery!

*Chido Makunike is a Harare-based writer.

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Zim Independent
New NGO law: doomsday for Zimbabwe
By Rejoice Ngwenya

IF there was any doubt in my mind about Zanu PF being synonymous with destruction, it was quashed a few days ago by an e-mail message received from Nango’s information department.
Nango is the umbrella body whose core business is to advance the cause of Zimbabwe’s non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Part of the message read: “Immediately after the presidential address, the House passed the NGO Bill through its third and final reading, signalling the start of a gloomy future full of uncertainties for NGOs, the communities they serve and of course for the entire nation . . .”
For us liberal democrats who hallucinate on separation of powers between African ruling political parties and the governments they dominate, this message comes as sharp as a double-edged sword. Never in the history of humankind has a government been so busy at chasing political trivia at the expense of pressing national issues.
Real governments for the people must be preoccupied with protecting the rights and liberties of citizens, the environment, national defence, infrastructure, enforcement of contracts and maintenance of stable monetary policies. Ours is on the extreme end of corporate insanity.
However, given the history of Zimbabwe’s liberation, one can understand the propensity for destruction endemic in the ruling party. Both Zipra and Zanla were “entitled” to a culture of destruction — that is striking at the very core of Rhodesian economic interests. This translated into burning bridges, shooting down passenger airlines and bombing fuel depots.
We citizens understood, legitimised and accepted this strategy. But the irony is that the nucleus of these liberating acts was Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe, whose political careers were credited with the humanitarian benevolence of largely Nordic NGOs.
While the two hid in Lusaka and Maputo, conniving and conspiring on the annihilation of the Rhodesian Front, their lieutenants, children, dependants, sympathisers and admirers were whisked away to expensive colleges in Canada, the US, Nigeria, England, Sierra Leone, Australia, Russia and India via global NGO scholarship networks.
These agencies had no interest in political science per se — only freedom, liberty, good governance, human rights and justice for the oppressed people of Zimbabwe. Besides, the essence of true post-revolutionary good governance is to shed off the mentality of destruction and transform oneself into a mode of reconstruction and civic decency.
But now we see that faced with a choice of survival and justice. Zanu PF has opted for survival — sacrificing enlightenment on the altar of political greed. They would rather burn the house than track down the snake, in fact not even a real snake for that matter, but a large harmless worm that is vital for the country’s delicate eco-political balance.
“The start of a gloomy future full of uncertainties for NGOs, the communities they serve and of course for the entire nation…” is a shrill cry of a citizen writhing in pain under the merciless foot of a vicious monster — the dragon that consumes even its children, just to survive. Kana nyadzi havana!
But what does this circus mean to the entities that Nango cries so much for?
Firstly, Mr “Paul, Saul, why art thou persecuting us” Mangwana, minister of (hard) labour and (anti) social welfare is a lawyer who has refused to see the light. He claims that Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate is a mere 9% because the land “deformation” programme, flea marketing, vegetable vending, cross-border trading and home industries have absorbed every adult spewed from formal commerce and industry. In the same breath, he is said to be tormented by the very act of signing retrenchment, rather than employment packages, since this contradicts his natural wish to see Zimbabweans gainfully employed.
“Very soon”, Paul evangelises, “we will be trekking to Malawi in search of farm labourers...” Now, this is the man who is at the centre of a piece of legislative trash that is about to send 300 000 employed Zimbabwean souls onto the streets.
Just like his colleague, Joseph Made who condemned 300 000 commercial farm workers to lifelong poverty, Mangwana chooses to hide his head in the sand of political naivety. Yet what we know is that one of the glaring results of Zimbabwe’s meteoric fall from grace is not just the landslide emigration of intellectuals, but their absorption into local civic society organisations.
Political, public planning and economy professionals who have laboured to bring alternative survival to citizens whose government has faltered are at the helm of most NGOs. These unsung heroes, according to Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa are part of a sophisticated conspiracy to destroy Zimbabwe’s credibility by undermining a “legitimate” government.
So Zanu PF’s fear is not really about sovereignty — for that is beyond doubt — but alternative opinions propagated by citizens in the mould of Lovemore Madhuku, Brian Kagoro, Tony Reeler, Reginald Matchaba-Hove, Eileen Sawyer, Munyaradzi Bidi et al. By destroying civic society organisations, Mangwana and Chinamasa are demolishing their competitors in the electoral game.
But it is not a game any more, because it now involves death due to hunger, malnutrition and ignorance. Here lies my second point. Zanu PF MPs dominate rural constituencies and yet in most of those areas, education, health and economic infrastructure has not received a single dime from central government since 1980.
Accolades relating to service delivery in these forgotten zones have been festooned upon moribund MPs who ride the wave of NGO superiority. At political gatherings, they dish out books, computers, farm inputs and projects bankrolled by NGOs committed to the upliftment of communities they work with.
The word donor is a refrain in praise of people whose selfless commitment to the poor cannot be matched by any known civil servant. At the helm of this symphony, you will see MPs and government officials swinging and dancing to the beat of popular gratitude as if they care — now we know they really don’t.
Their double-faced, mumbled disapproval of the NGO law in parliament was a death knell of the demise of these poor rural people who are at the twilight of civilisation. Now that the game balls of their so-called parliamentary representatives have been deflated, the peasants can only wait and hope that the chief of political deliverance, Zanu PF, will not pass them by as they starve, cross flooded rivers or study under trees.
Finally, I want to cry for my beloved country. I was once proud to be a citizen of this country — green passport and all. I have laboured, cried, laughed, worshipped and played on the soils bound by the great rivers of Limpopo and Zambezi.
Wherever I went, fellow Africans would salivate while I gloated over my country’s sophisticated road network, high literacy rate, stable population growth, holiday resorts and food supplies. My eyes would sparkle when I talked about political tolerance, civic harmony, the rule of law, respect of property rights and racial pluralism.
The number of international organisations — some of them with headquarters in my country — Unesco, WHO, Aripo and others was sweet music to my conscience. Who would dare vilify me for waving nonchalantly at my country’s UN, OAU or Sadc representative as they extol the values of being simply Zimbabwean on international television? That was my country then.
Enter Chinamasa, Moyo, Made and Mangwana, the four musketeers in a drama where hero, villain and the audience are meant to burn in a shower of brimstone — and my country’s reputation is shredded. Even Nango can never predict the holocaust that will befall the nation from these control freaks.
Apart from cementing our status as truly a pariah state, Zanu PF’s aversion to political and civic competition sends a strong signal to the world that we are no longer part of a civilisation that magnifies the virtues of free association. By legislating against civic society — no matter how sensible it may seem to the party — the government has proved beyond reasonable doubt that it has a skewed opinion of real liberal democracy.
Research shows empirical evidence of a correlation between a healthy civic
society, free political competition and economic prosperity. Just take a ride across to Botswana.
Yet for the past few months, Zimbabweans have been force-fed a diet of political propaganda that the country is on the brink of an economic turnaround. Now, this turnaround, without political and civic pluralism, is not only an illusion, but also a right about-turn into an abyss of economic desolation.
What kind of children will we breed who have a distorted view of free, fair elections and choice? What is the implication to cultural creativity when our children are exposed to monotonous radio and television programmes that only point to the superiority of one man, one party? Uku kusakwana chaiko!
My only hope is that we will wake up from this nightmare and send the culprits to where they really belong — solitary confinement.
*Rejoice Ngwenya is a Harare-based marketing executive.  
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Zim Independent
Purge at Chronicle over ‘Tsholotsho Declaration’
Gift Phiri/Loughty Dube
EIGHT journalists at the Bulawayo-based Chronicle newspaper have been sent on indefinite forced leave as the purge on those involved in the “Tsholotsho Declaration” widens, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.
The move comes after President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba summoned Chronicle editor Stephen Ndlovu to explain why the broadsheet used editorial space in an apparent bid to exonerate Information minister Jonathan Moyo from any blame in the Tsholotsho meeting.
The meeting, described by Mugabe as “clandestine”, allegedly sought to defy the party’s decision to choose a woman vice-president.
The Independent understands that Ndlovu, together with Zimpapers chairman Justin Mutasa, got a strong dressing down from Charamba in the fallout after the Tsholotsho Declaration. The controversial meeting also saw the suspension of six Zanu PF provincial chairmen who attended the meeting to draw-up plans to prevent Joyce Mujuru’s nomination as Vice President in favour of Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa. Moyo has since been severely punished by the ruling party presidium for organising what has been described as a foiled palace coup.
The decision to send the journalists on forced leave comes despite recent attempts by management to embargo everyone from going on leave before next year’s legislative polls due in March. The journalists sent on forced leave include the paper’s deputy editor, Paul Mambo, assistant editor Tumeliso Makurane, and Sports Editor Lovemore Dube. The others are Bheki Ncube the editor of the vernacular Umthunywa newspaper and Edwin Dube, the Trends magazine editor, together with his assistant editor Limukani Ncube.
Chief photographer Gift Chaita and Business Chronicle editor Alfonce Mbizwo complete the list of the journalists currently taking an involuntary rest.
Ndlovu on Tuesday declined to comment on the move.
“Just go to hell, go to hell,” he yelled before switching off his cellphone.
Although the official line was that the journalists had accumulated a lot of leave days, sources at the paper questioned why the same process was not applied at the Sunday News, the Chronicle’s Bulawayo based sister paper, or at other papers in the Zimpapers stable.
“If all these senior journalists had accrued so many leave days then the same process should apply to the Sunday News since both papers are in the same stable,” said a senior journalist at the paper who spoke to us on condition of anonymity.
“We do not understand why all these editors should all go on leave at the same time.” The Independent was told that the journalists are being targeted for not toeing the paper’s line and for not supporting Moyo during the aborted Tsholotsho plot that has seen the minister fall from grace, while or others it appears to be personal differences with Ndlovu. 
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Zim independent
Zim’s castaway white farmers get red carpet

SCORES of white Zimbabwean farmers dispossessed of their farms under the government’s controversial land reforms have turned to countries in the region and beyond for sustenance, their union says.

Dozens have invested in farming in neighbouring Zambia and Mozambique, while others are preparing to settle in Nigeria.

Others have been invited to grow food for workers at mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“These are business decisions relating to being able to economically sustain their lives,” said Doug Taylor-Freeme, president of the Commercial Farmers’ Union (CFU).

“Obviously the first choice for the farmers is that they would like to continue farming in Zimbabwe, but as time goes past they have to look after their families and educate their children.

“That is why they tend to drift into other countries,” Taylor-Freeme said in an interview.

Thousands of white Zimbabweans have been driven from their farms since 2000 when President Mugabe instituted a policy of seizing and redistributing prime agricultural land to black people.

Taylor-Freeme said a number of countries are interested in Zimbabwean farmers investing in their countries.

“There are a number of countries that have contacted us to say they would like our expertise to help develop their agriculture,” he said. “The farmers are creating branches of their businesses throughout Africa with the hope that one day they will be able to invest back home.”

“The sad thing is that these are countries that used to be worried about the competition that Zimbabwe used to provide,” he added.

Taylor-Freeme, who was recently elected co-vice president of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions, said among other countries that have expressed interest in Zimbabwean farmers are Ethiopia, Angola, Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania.

Authorities in Nigeria’s central Kwara State have allocated 1 000ha of farmland to each of 15 Zimbabwean farmers on 25-year leases. The farmers will move in as soon as the infrastructure is in place.

A Nigerian government official said early this month that the Zimbabweans will carry out “irrigation farming and not conventional farming. This allows them to begin their farming any time they are ready.”

Of about 4 500 large-scale commercial farmers operating in Zimbabwe four years ago, about 600 white farmers now remain in Zimbabwe and own just 3% of the country’s land.

The 4 500 white farmers used to own a third of the country’s land, including 70% of prime farmland, before the government launched its reform programme in February 2000. — Sapa-AFP.

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Zim Independent
Govt desperate to cover up food deficit
Augustine Mukaro/Eric Chiriga

IN a desperate move to cover up huge food deficits likely to hit the country at the beginning of next year, government has landed 14 550 tonnes of maize and wheat through South Africa, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.

Information provided by South African Grain Information Services (Sagis) shows that between November and last week government brought into the country 8 408 tonnes of maize and 6 142 tonnes of wheat. The wheat is from Argentina.

Sources at the Grain Marketing Board and Sagis said last month government submitted orders for the purchase of about 300 000 tonnes of maize from South Africa to cover the deficit at the beginning of 2005.

Sagis said South African maize exports had risen to a five-week high last week because of demand from Zimbabwe.

“Last week South Africa shipped 5 060 tonnes of white maize to Zimbabwe,” Sagis said. “In the week before Zimbabwe had imported 6 530 tonnes of maize from South Africa.”

GMB chief executive Samuel Muvuti on Tuesday confirmed that his organisation was importing maize.

“The issue of importing grain has been unnecessarily made newsworthy by some sections of the media,” Muvuti said. “Actually we should be applauded for importing maize. A lot of countries are importing maize.”

Muvuti was addressing journalists during a GMB media reception dinner in Harare. Earlier on Muvuti had insisted that the grain being brought into the country was ordered during drought periods.

Sources said government was secretly buying maize from South Africa through a US$700 million credit line extended by US firm Sentry Financial International and giant tobacco dealer, Dimon Incorporated, in July.

The first order of white maize sourced under the deal landed in Bulawayo in August from South Africa. The quantities involved in the whole deal could not be ascertained at the time of going to press.

Sources in Bulawayo said rail wagons belonging to Spoornet, South Africa’s state-owned rail service, were moving the white maize to GMB silos.

The landed cost of maize from South Africa is estimated to be US$185 per


It is believed that a United States firm will source about 200 000 tonnes of white maize from South Africa’s Free State province.

Zimbabwe requires 1,8 million tonnes of maize for annual consumption plus 500 000 tonnes for strategic reserves. Government has until recently insisted that there was a bumper maize harvest of 2,4 million tonnes. A parliamentary portfolio committee on lands and agriculture exposed this to be untrue.

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Zim Independent
Thursday, 23 December 2004 


Unemployment still wreaking havoc

UNEMPLOYMENT and a steadily rising cost of living have worsened the vulnerability of the urban poor in Zimbabwe.
While government and labour unions do not agree on the level of unemployment in Zimbabwe, statistics compiled by the country’s consumer council point to an ongoing increase in the cost of living.
Economic analysts and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) have dismissed government claims that the country’s unemployment rate now stands at 9%.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Paul Mangwana told Irin the country’s effective unemployment rate was 9%, as many people were employed in the informal sector.
He said the land reform exercise had also created numerous job opportunities, with more new farmers needing labour. “I cannot give you the exact number of jobs created so far but, yes, the agricultural sector has created most of them. In fact, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has the same figures on unemployment, and that is what I am using.”
But a CSO official, who declined to be identified, said the organisation had not released any statistics on the unemployment situation since 2001.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has reported that the cost of the monthly food basket for an average family of six rose from $1,4 million in October to $1,6 million in December — a 12,5 % escalation.
The CCZ noted an increase in the prices of basic foods as well as non-food items. A 50 kg bag of the staple maize meal now costs $60 000 while the price of a 750 ml bottle of cooking oil is now $21 000, up from $16 000, a rise of almost 24%.
The CCZ collects information by monitoring the selling prices of goods in retail outlets.
The rising cost of basic items comes at a time when humanitarian organisations warn of widespread food shortages in the country between December 2004 and March 2005. In its latest situation analysis for Zimbabwe, the Famine Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet) noted that the majority of rural households had run out of the food they had harvested in the 2004 season.
Fewsnet said the situation was equally bad in urban areas, where most scarce foodstuffs were being sold at high informal market prices beyond the reach of many families. The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee predicted in April that 3,3 million people would be food insecure by the end of this year.
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo disputed minister Mangwana’s claim that joblessness stood at 9%. He said the ZCTU currently estimated the rate at a conservative 75%, but warned that the actual figure could be well over 80%, given the number of jobs lost in 2004.
“Anyone who estimates this country’s unemployment rate at less than 70% is out of touch with reality. Our records show that 600 000 people had lost jobs due to various reasons between 1999 and the end of 2003. Current CSO figures show that 50 000 people have lost jobs this year alone, so the trend (in unemployment) cannot go down, it can only get worse,” said Matombo.
The minister has argued that the labour unions’ estimates do not take into account new employment opportunities in the agricultural sector, nor do they include the number of people working in the informal sector.
But Matombo said “our assessment of sector performances over the past four years shows that, contrary to what the government says, the agricultural sector has dropped from employing the highest number of people to being one where there are no opportunities at all”.
“The disruption of agriculture through the land reform programme threw many people out of employment. The present situation in the sector is that it is no longer employing because there is nothing happening on the farms — most are underutilised, if not derelict altogether. As for the contribution of the informal sector, Zimbabwe would be the first country to count on it as a formal source of employment,” Matombo remarked.
Economic analyst Eric Bloch also ruled out the inclusion of the informal sector in calculating national employment figures, adding that the agriculture sector, which used to employ over 300 000 before the farm seizures of 2000, had not contributed much to employment over the past four years.
“The conservative figure is 75%. It could be higher, but that is the lowest anyone can come when looking at Zimbabwe’s employment trends. But, from what we get from employment councils, trade unions and mining chambers, the figure is much higher,” Bloch commented. “Our conservative estimate is that about 2,7 million out of the country’s employable population of about 3,5 million are out of work right now.” — Irin.
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Zim Independent - letters
Diaspora not earning that much

I WISH Taurai Mushambi who wrote the article “Thumbs up for diaspora housing scheme”, (Zimbabwe Independent, December 17), could do a bit of research on the earnings of most Zimbabweans in the UK.

The jobs that they do in the care homes and shops and as packers in industry pay the minimum wages (£4,85/hour) which may rise to £5,05/hour but can rarely go above £7/hour unless one works in London.

For him to suggest that £1 175 could be half or even a quarter of monthly earnings is very misleading.

Salaries for senior 1 therapists working in the National Health Service for example, range from £23 265 to £27 770 per annum. There are no allowances to augment the salary. Tax is 22% while national insurance is 12,5% on earnings of £2 215/month.

A therapist will thus take home about £1 600 from which he will pay rent (+/-£600), council tax (+/-£100) and utility bills (+/-£200).

The money left for food, insurance, clothes, sending people back home, petrol for the car and mobile phone calls is £700. By the end of the month the person is in the red.

In a nutshell, I do no think that many people in the diaspora, at least in the UK, will afford the mortgage repayments in five years, not by any stretch of the imagination.

If the same sort of reasoning was in the minds of the people who crafted the scheme, they got most of it, if not all, wrong.

Duncan Mbadzo,


zim Independent
Article was fraught with inaccuracies

YOUR article “Thumbs up for diaspora housing scheme”, (Zimbabwe Independent, December 17), by Taurai Mushambi contains such gross inaccuracies that despite the disclaimer at the end, I think it would be unfair for your readers to accept it as resembling anything close to the truth.

I am not sure if the Homelink Housing Development Scheme is as popular as the article suggests. The article asserts that a monthly repayment of £1 175 represents only a quarter of what most people in the UK earn.

It further alleges that with such repayments, the scheme offers Zimbabweans abroad “a cheap source of financing”.

A figure of £1 000 represents a monthly net salary for an average person in the UK. A quick search on the Internet will show that a teacher or a nurse, for example, earns an annual salary of £18 000, which translates to £1 500 per month before tax and other deductions. Even with a second job most people still will not earn a net salary of £1 600.

I hope I am not engaging in a game of figures by losing the essence of the report.

If the scheme is as popular as the report claims, then I think the rates should be competitive. There is no point in offering an exchange rate of $11 000/GBP when the parallel market rate is way above that.

Much as people would love to contribute to the development of the country through such innovative schemes as the HHDS, I do not think people will be lured into schemes that would leave them worse off. It does not need a mathematical genius to work out that it would be better to save the required money in cash over five years, and buy the house in cash instead.

I always depend on you (Independent) to give accurate and reliable information and respect you for giving the government credit when it deserves it. In this instance, however, I think you got it wrong and I think you owe an apology to your readers.

I hate to entertain the idea that your reporters too have become willing tools to be used by the oppressive and unpopular regime to distort the truth and twist facts in a vain attempt to gain some credibility in the minds of right-thinking Zimbabweans.

I believe you are smarter than your colleagues at the state-controlled newspapers.

Hudson Taivo,

United Kingdom.

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Zim Independent
Golf revival: Shumba’s optimism far-fetched

YOUR sports reporter, Enock Muchinjo, writes of the impending return of the Zimbabwe Open golf tournament, “Zimbabwe Open to bounce back”, (IndependentSport, December 17).
His optimism, it transpires, is based on an interview with the current president of the Zimbabwe Professional Golfers Association (ZPGA), Morgan Shumba. The latter is reported to have told Muchinjo that “the association had made huge strides in raising US$1 million to sponsor the Open”.
Shumba is then quoted as expressing confidence “that the Open will be back next year and we would have raised at least a large fraction of that amount by the time of the tournament”.
Forgive me for being cynical, but the whole report reminded me of the banner headlines and accompanying story on the back page of the Herald way back in the early years of Independence which told us that a then-unknown young firebrand indigenous capitalist, one Philip Chiyangwa, had successfully negotiated financial backing to the tune, in those days, of £120 million for the construction of a Sun City-style sporting complex in the Bvumba mountains. We still await the great day, though none of us are holding our breath any longer.
It will take a great deal more than Mr Shumba’s assurance of funding to the tune of US$1 million, or thereabouts, to convince tournament-starved golfing addicts in Zimbabwe that the defunct Zimbabwe Open will make its comeback anytime in the near future.
The damage done to the credibility of professional golf in Zimbabwe by the non-payment debacle in 2001, when Zanu PF MP and golf referee Phineas Chihota presided over the tournament committee, was close to fatal.
As for the notion that all, or any, of 12 of the world’s best golfers would consider for one minute stopping off in Zimbabwe en route to Sun City’s multi-million dollar golf tournament, that is simply wishful thinking on Shumba’s part.
He is further quoted as saying that the ZPGA would want to stage the tournament in Victoria Falls in order to “attract more foreign participation as people will also come to see the Falls”. That, too, is doubtful.
Professional golfers are not sight-seers, and one of the first requirements for a tournament of almost any stature anywhere in the world is a world-class golf-course. Whatever else it may be, the Elephant Hills layout is way below the standards required for the hosting of such an event.
Finally, do Shumba and his colleagues on the ZPGA executive grasp the fact that golf as a sport in Zimbabwe is in decline as more and more courses, particularly in country locations, shut their doors for lack of membership and financial support as a result of the madness of the past few years?
Instead of flying kites in public about grandiose schemes to revive the moribund Zimbabwe Open, they should be addressing the problems of golf at grassroots level and defending the sport from the depredations of all those agencies involved in the on-going destruction of our nation. But then that, of course, would involve a great deal of sweat and courage as opposed to cheap publicity, which is always fun as long as you are not held to account at a later stage for promising pie in the sky!
Peter Lovemore,
Harare.   Zim a sad cause of self-pity
Poll boycott more effective
Congrats Keith
Mugabe scared stiff of Khruschev’s fate
Swindlers on the loose, teachers be warned!
Article was fraught with inaccuracies
Politics is dirty, Moyo should have known
Golf revival: Shumba’s optimism far-fetched
Diaspora not earning that much
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Zim Independent - letters
Swindlers on the loose, teachers be warned!

THE Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) warns teachers that there are some dubious elements in our midst that seem to be championing the cause of teachers yet in actual effect, are swindling teachers of their hard-earned money.

They are moving around the country promising teachers heaven on earth, yet in reality their promises are illusionary and aimed at hoodwinking teachers who, for so long a time, have remained victims of government’s intransigence.

There are people like the eccentric self-styled commander of farm invasions, Joseph Chinotimba, a man of abundant and bogus war credentials, who is spearheading a housing scheme which, among other things, seeks to provide housing to teachers.

Firstly, people like Chinotimba, whose political career is presently in the intensive care unit owing to his escapades in the volatile Tsholotsho constituency, cannot lead such an initiative because he is dependent on unwavering patronage which he now lacks.

Zanu PF is purely an entity that is held together by loyalty, patronage and force. The housing project that he so proudly brags about is derived only from patronage. Even the president does not have a housing cooperative under his name, what more of political nonentities like Chinotimba.

The other dubious element who purports to help teachers is the self-ordained God’s prophet, Reverend Obadiah Musindo. He is also involved in clandestine and irregular investment crusades with teachers whom he promises housing.

PTUZ welcomes the efforts by these men who should join the rest of the teachers in their fight for a living wage that can enable them to afford decent housing. They need salaries that sustain the basic needs of a skilled worker in Zimbabwe, which is not the case at the present moment, and is precisely the reason why they fall prey to this kind of politicking.

Raymond Majongwe,

General Secretary, PTUZ,


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Zim Independent
Mugabe scared stiff of Khruschev’s fate

PRESIDENT Mugabe is scared of the fate which befell Nikita Khruschev of the former Soviet Union.

In order for Khruschev to resign “gracefully”, power vultures within the Communist Party simply removed the people surrounding him. This worked perfectly well and in 1964 he became the first and only Soviet leader to resign, leaving the Soviet Union intact unlike Mikhail Gorbarchev who perished together with the Soviet Union.

President Mugabe is obviously being informed accordingly by his intelligence personnel. Jonathan Moyo is however still insisting that the Tsholotsho gathering was nothing more than a simple prize-giving gathering.

Patrick Chinamasa and others have already acknowledged the Tsholotsho plot and apologised whilst Emmerson Mnangagwa has blamed Moyo whom he and the suspended provincial chairpersons have hinted could be forging ahead with “an unknown” agenda.

Moreover, Moyo used tax-payers’ funds to hire a plane to the “illegal” meeting and could go the Chris Kuruneri way if the victorious party chefs from the Joyce Mujuru camp think that the computers he dished out had “imperialist links”.

It has been accepted that indeed money changed hands at the Tsholotsho gathering.

You might ask why the provincial chairmen were suspended?

Unknown to most people, the real power (I mean the legal power according to the constitution of Zanu PF) lies in the four-member presidium and the central committee.

The politburo is only a secretariat of the central committee which comprises delegates from all provinces. The supreme influence lies in the whims of the provincial chairmen. They are often asked for their views at every meeting of the central committee (remember sometime in the early 90s, Kumbirai Kangai resigned from the politburo to become Manicaland provincial chairperson when he appeared a favourite successor to President Mugabe).

However, if there was no intimidation and threats within Zanu PF, anyone could successfully challenge any decision of the politburo when it acts without authority from the central committee.

With the central committee being the only gathering with the power to legally fire a person, President Mugabe acted swiftly to suspend the six chairpersons (as this was already a majority out of the 10 chairpersons) meaning that Mnangagwa, Moyo, Chinamasa, Jabulani Sibanda and their Tsholotsho friends had done their homework well.

With the presidium now comprising his chosen lieutenants and the rebel majority chairpersons suspended, Mugabe can now have a peaceful sleep

Those claiming ignorance of the Moyo-Mnangagwa agenda of the meeting might be telling the truth.

People loyal to President Mugabe (the Joseph Chinotimbas, Josaya Hungwes etc) flocked to Tsholotsho with the hope of inviting Moyo to their respective constituencies with some computers to donate to gain support. Some really attended the “prize-giving” ceremony with honest hearts but are now paying the prize. Kwaheri/Icho.

Denford Moyo,


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Next harvest threatened by lagging tillage in Zimbabwe

Thursday December 23, 2004
Associated Press Writer

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) Farmers, many of them black Zimbabweans resettled on formerly white-owned properties, have so far plowed and prepared only one fourth of the land available for planting for next year's food harvests, the state media reported Thursday.

Local Government Minister Ignatious Chombo, head of a panel state officials reviewing land preparations, said slightly less than 2.4 million acres out of an estimated 9.6 million acres have been tilled during current seasonal rains.

He blamed the slow pace of preparation on shortages of fertilizer, other inputs, tractors and mechanical equipment and urged farmers to set up tillage cooperatives to utilize more manual labor and animal-drawn plows, the state Herald reported.

The newspaper quoted Shadreck Mlambo, head of research and extension services in the agriculture ministry, saying tillage lagged far behind its targets for the time of year.

``And time is fast running out,'' he said.

The government has acknowledged that a fleet of state-owned tractors used to help impoverished farmers has been hit by continuous breakdowns and shortages of spare parts.

Of 700 tractors deployed by one government agency, only 304 were still operating.

Farmers have also suffered acute shortages of gasoline.

Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, was plunged into its worst political and economic crisis after President Robert Mugabe's government began seizing more than 5,000 of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to blacks and ruling party officials in 2000.

The often-violent land reform program, combined with erratic rains, have crippled the nation's agriculture-based economy.

Inflation is running at 149 percent, the highest in the world.

The government argues redistribution of land was needed to correct colonial-era injustices in land ownership by the descendants of mostly British settlers.

Government officials routinely insist the program has not affected food production and the country has grown a surplus this year. But United Nations estimates put the expected total harvest this year at around 1 million tons of grain, mostly the corn staple, that is about half the country's needs.

Last year, nearly half of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million people needed food aid.

A U.N.-led assessment group estimates that as many as 5 million Zimbabweans will need help again before the next harvest begins in March.

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The spectacle of Zanu PF politics
By Brian Raftopoulos

THE magician’s trick is to misdirect the attention of the audience in one direction while the real deception takes place elsewhere. The politics of the Zanu PF congress 2004 has been a great deal like the magician’s misdirection.

For while the nation has fixed its gaze on the leadership struggles in the ruling party, seemingly amazed at the elevation of a woman to the position of vice-president, the temporary demise of a once-favoured heir apparent, and the predictable descent of an over-ambitious Information minister, the structures of authoritarian rule remain in place in Zimbabwe’s politics.

The consolidation of the “old guard” cannot conceal the repressive political structures it has put in place since 2000, with the help of the very mafikizolos it has now sought to discipline for their political hubris.

This is not the first time that the old guard has re-asserted its leadership in the ruling party. After the internecine struggles in Zanu in the 1970s, President Robert Mugabe and his comrades quickly sidelined the young Zipa cadres and from 1977 consolidated their own leadership. The difference with the current generational and regional struggles in the ruling party is that time is now against the old guard.

Thus the recent outcome of the succession battle appears to be more of a holding operation than a long-term resolution. The problem of leadership regeneration and regional balance in Zanu PF remains a very serious problem for the party.

Jonathan Moyo may be extreme but he is not exceptional in the ruling party. The selective tradition of liberation history that has become an essential ingredient of the cement of the ruling party’s edifice must continue to exclude and demonise “others”, both within and outside the ruling party, in order to reproduce its privileged status. The dauphin may be temporarily out of favour, but the political soil that gave rise to such a political figure continues to provide fertile ground for such abominations.

The pathology of authoritarian nationalism that characterises Zanu PF cannot be transformed by the top-down manipulation of the presidium. This requires a much deeper democratic transformation of relations between the state and its citizenry.

The fact that there has been so much excitement about the apparent changes in Zanu PF at the expense of substantive content is a symptom of the broader marginalisation of Zimbabweans from popular politics. The media obsession with the positional shifts in the ruling party is indicative of the return to narrow repressive state politics and the grossly reduced status of vibrant civic participation.

The ruling party and its intellectuals prefer the critical citizens of this country to conduct their politics vicariously by cheering on the various factions of a party that has shown little but contempt for demands for public accountability. This is the obscene post-colonial politics of neutering citizens through the transformation of a robust politics of critique into desperate grasping for the lesser evil. Once the citizenry slip into this role of cheerleaders to intra-party struggles, the broader contours of the authoritarian project tend to be lost from sight.

Thus the biggest tragedy of the 2005 election is likely to be the absence of a critical public debate and the growing loss of confidence in political participation. This will have been the result of a series of repressive legislative interventions, the illegalisation of critical civic forces, the continued threat of state violence and the loss of confidence in the ability to speak from alternative political positions because of Zanu PF’s comprehensive labelling of dissenting voices as treasonous.

These are the features that form the basis of the much-vaunted leadership changes in the ruling party, and which are likely to define the political culture of Zimbabwe for the foreseeable future.

The greatly demonised opposition and civic movement have contributed

immensely to the political culture of Zimbabwe. A new generation of human rights activists, lawyers, trade unionists and intellectuals have since the 1990s demanded that issues of individual human and civic rights be discussed alongside economic rights questions. Without discussing the close interrelationship of these questions the authoritarian hand of the state can often be felt behind the seemingly benign discussions of “development”.

These activists placed the problem of citizenship at the centre of the political debate and initiated the most wide-ranging discussion on constitutionalism that Zimbabweans have ever experienced. Through this discussion the state was forced to engage its citizenry in a national debate about accountability and legitimacy, even if in the end the outcome of the national debate was a subversion of national demands for the sake of political survival.

Trade unionists, much rebuked and patronised by the post-colonial state, demanded and established their autonomy from state control, and set in motion a major process of forging a new political identity based on the challenges of post-colonial citizenship. In total these fresh political developments cleared the ground for a renewed dialogue that both respected the legacies of the liberation struggles, and sought to ensure that the politics of liberation did not become a licence for indefinite authoritarian rule.

That debate has since 2000 been cut short and both the opposition and the civic movement no longer have any illusions about the central liberation agenda on offer, namely the consolidation of elite political and economic control through the modality of a coercive nationalism. In one form or another this has been the agenda of nationalist movements worldwide and therefore we should not be surprised at such an agenda.

However, it is clear that because of the narrow basis of this agenda, the gross lack of accountability that has been its defining feature, and the repressive politics that constitute its practice, the opposition to such an agenda will not disappear.

The state has used several forms of intervention to strike down the opposition and will no doubt continue to do so. Zimbabwe’s ruling party cannot tolerate political diversity unless it is prescribed by the narrow limits set down by Zanu PF’s own definition of patriotism.

It is this reality that Zimbabweans must understand as they await the difficult decision by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on whether or not to participate in the 2005 election. A decision either way will have severe costs, and there are no easy solutions to this dilemma.

Uppermost in the minds of the MDC leadership is likely to be the safety of its members, and the realisation that there is now only a minute chance that the conditions for next year’s election will allow for anything approaching a free and fair poll. Whatever decision is made on this question, the political and intellectual challenges of the post-2005 election period must be faced clearly and realistically.

*Brian Raftopoulos is Associate Professor at the University of Zimbabwe’s Institute for Development Studies.

Zim Independent

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Zim Independent
Zupco goes shopping

THE Zimbabwe United Passenger Company has started taking delivery of 40 Isuzu conventional buses from Kenya’s General Motors East Africa at a total cost of $16,9 billion.

The first batch of 11 buses is expected in the country on December 28 with another delivery of up to 30 vehicles expected between next month and February.

It is the second time Zupco has purchased buses from General Motors. Earlier this year, the passenger company took delivery of 100 Isuzu minibuses with a capacity of 33 passengers from the Kenyan company.

The passenger company has made several bids to acquire 250 new buses this year but failed to raise more than $150 billion demanded by three companies awarded the tender.

It also awarded yet another tender in November for the supply of 150 conventional buses to replenish Zupco’s heavily depleted fleet to four companies — Scania SA (30), W Damher (40), Pioneer Motor Corporation (40) and Gift Investments (40).

The government tender board, which receives tenders on behalf of procuring government departments, has invited Scania South Africa and DaimlerChrysler to participate in the 150 conventional-bus tender.

For the 250-bus tender awarded in August, most of the $150 billion would be paid to foreign suppliers in hard currency for body kits and components.

The three companies — Deven Engineering (Pvt) Ltd, W Dahmer and Zimbabwe Motor Distributors (Pvt) Ltd, were awarded the tender by the state procurement board to supply the buses.

Deven and ZMD were to supply 40 Mercedes Benz 1722 model buses apiece, each costing $644 million and $590 million respectively while W Dahmer would supply 170 Scania F94 buses at $610 451 050 each.

The three companies that were awarded the tender asked to be paid between 50% and 80% upfront, which Zupco has failed to raise.

It is now feared the local companies might not meet the deadline for the supply of the buses. At least 150 buses were to be delivered by September 30 and the remaining 100 by December 31.

The supply by General Motors is in line with Zupco procurement committee’s recommendations. The committee had unanimously agreed to award the tender to Gift Investments, importing from General Motors. — Staff Writer.

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Uneasiness over SMM takeover
Roadwin Chirara/Chris Goko

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) says its November transfer of SMM Holdings Ltd (SMM)’s $30 billion loan from Financial Holdings Ltd (Finhold)’s books to its register was in line with protection of “classified strategic investments”.

Although bank spokesman Lovemore Chitapi would not explain how the central bank had assumed Syfrets Corporate and Merchant Bank’s credit facility with SMM, a senior official said they considered the asbestos concern as key to foreign cash generation and national employment.

“The transfer was done in the feeling that the asbestos company was a strategic investment which has always enjoyed special (financial) dispensations right from the time it changed ownership,” said the official in reference to the US$60 million state guarantee given to Mutumwa Mawere when he bought out Turner and Newall plc.

About two years ago, the government reissued support linked to the KBC Bank loan and which issue was administered through the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ).

While RBZ officials said they took over the SMM debt on “solid detection” that the Africa Resources Ltd-owned company “had no capacity to repay”, SMM principals say they fully repaid the offshore funds — on which the sovereign guarantee was procured two years ago.

The loan translocation, SMM shareholders argue, was therefore irregular in that it was done after management structures were incapacitated by the appointment of an administrator at the company.

Arafas Gwaradzimba was appointed administrator as the government raised stakes in its fight with Mawere over allegations that he failed to repatriate $300 billion worth of foreign currency derived from his asbestos interests.

Mawere has since launched lawsuits to counter threats to his broad-ranging commercial interests in Zimbabwe and the latest RBZ turn comes on the back of a directive to Syfrets that the RBZ had since involved itself in the loan issue.

The order, carried in early November, was given by Winnie Mushipe, head of the productive sector facility (PSF).

The onslaught also comes at a time Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa, who appointed Gwaradzimba, has ratcheted up pressure on SMM, telling a local newspaper last week that there was no let up on the company.

Protagonists, in the meantime, say the entire SMM debacle traversed constitutionally given reclamation processes of distressed businesses, notably member-driven voluntary wind ups of insolvent companies, court and creditor sanctioned shut downs of business.

They said it was not only curious that Finhold was not the complainant, but that Syfrets has “no right of transferring the debt to third parties”.

“The state itself is not in the business of lending money,” said a representative of one of the core group of SMM owners.

“If the government is the complainant, how does a creditor then take over a company when due process (wind down) has not been followed through the courts?

“Enterprises are liable to legal obligations in properly-constituted scenarios and where people respect structures,” he said.

“At any day, the state can backdate a company’s indebtedness and this

serious expropriation of property rights is being done without regard to legal procedures,” said the representative.

He said the government’s reconstruction drive contained deadly implications on investment prospects.


Zim Independent

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Zim INdependent
Cabs makes good use of USAid funds
Chris Goko/Eric Chiriga

CENTRAL African Building Society (Cabs), Zimbabwe’s largest mortgage lender, says it held nearly $800 million worth of United States Agency for International Development (USAid) housing funds as of June 30.

Ambrose Matika, the bank’s head of mortgage operations, told businessdigest that the money was mainly made up of accumulated interest on unused funds.

Out of the $128 million allocated to it and which money it had to match, Cabs lent $258 million out of the blended total plus interest, he added.

“Pending disbursement, the USAid funds earn interest at the prevailing negotiated certificate of deposit rate (general commercial paper investment), which is capitalised,” Matika said recently.

“As at June 30 2004, Cabs had $778 million on the USAid account, mainly made up of… interest on undisbursed funds as utilisation… has largely come to a stand still due to inhibitive salary ceilings that have been set for the scheme from time to time,” he added.

The bank, wholly owned by Anglo-South African insurer Old Mutual, is part of a consortium of local building societies mandated by the country’s Finance ministry to distribute millions worth of mortgage funds under the donor-supported public/private sector housing programme.

Key beneficiaries of the USAid facility include the 50-house Pumula South project in Zimbabwe’s second largest city of Bulawayo.

Project Management Turnkey is the hand behind Pumula’s development and notices taken out last week indicate that work to wind down the housing project is on-going.

Cabs recorded a 300% growth in mortgage advances and in anticipation of further advances in the wake of company strategies to circumvent statutory subscriptions, disbursed $43,3 billion to June 30.

Of the sum, $33,3 billion was loaned out on the security of residential properties, while $5,4 billion was given on commercial and industrial properties. While a number of people benefited from the current USAid-linked projects, Matika expressed concern at the low wage ceilings of eligible communal groups, who are essentially low-income earners.

Although construction activitywas “very low” and Cabs did not finance any new bulk schemes except for existent projects, the bank spent about 10% of the near $40 billion on erecting new buildings.The bank classifies existing properties as those embodying existent and fully developed buildings.

Matika, however, noted that despite the “generally perceived affordability limitations”, there are people with “high enough incomes” who qualify for loans at the current high interest rates of 100% plus.

Some of these groups include high-income earners who are essentially executives and other professionals in receipt of very high salaries.

Employer-assisted property buyers, meaning those enjoying company subsidies and charged lower interest rates with the company topping up the difference also join a narrowing group of people still managing to secure loans.Loan upgrading, the Cabs executive said, is also a common feature these days and this entails selling one’s property in order to lower borrowing amounts for re-financing of new properties.

Noted Matika: “I must point out though that due to affordability limitations some of these executives and professionals are lowering their area preferences and borrowing to purchase properties in denser areas.”

He also said some self-employed people have been able to “credibly prove” their ability to repay mortgage loans and have, therefore, expanded the group of Zimbabweans accessing loans. Corporate borrowers have also been making the grade and this is basically on the back of audited financial accounts and projections of good earnings.

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Zim Independent

Curtain comes down on troubled year
Conrad Dube/Shakeman Mugari
THE marketing department of the Zimbabwe Independent had trouble finding a suitable theme for its annual Quoted Companies magazine. No title seemed to correctly capture the events on the market this year.
As they scratched their heads for the elusive theme, several suggestions were made. Some thought it was a year of consolidation. But this was immediately shot down after suggestions such a theme could mean the Independent was celebrating the “consolidation of ill-gotten gains” because a lot of companies gained from speculative investments which cost customers their life’s savings or were engaged in illegal foreign currency deals on the parallel market. Others thought that it would be better to call it a year of “survival of the fittest”. Separating the boys from the men in other words.
But that again was jettisoned on realising it would be unfair to attribute the crash of some companies to their size. In any case most of the problems were not of their own making. Attempts were made to call it a turnaround year, a suggestion which others flatly refused to go with.
Turnaround of what? asked some members. It was thought it would indicate that we are a gullible lot that believed the economy was on the mend. In the end no agreement was reached. A strategic decision was taken to publish the magazine in May next year.
No theme can capture the events on the market over the past 12 months except to say it was a troubled year. It saw botched deals and closure of banks. The market had its ups and downs. Listed exporters bled from the foreign currency retention scheme, while many closed shop because it was unviable to operate. Curators also had a field day as they made millions from managing troubled banks.
For investors the stock market was the most viable alternative. The market started the year on a bad patch in the aftermath of the new monetary policy that set the tone for 2004. The market was however to recover from a low of 396 316,03 in January to notch a record 970 229,20 points last week.
The mining index also recovered from the January crash to end the year on a high of 189 795,50 points from 129 384,92 points.
During the year more than four companies were suspended from the bourse. First Mutual was suspended twice from the market as the insurance firm failed to clear the air over the controversial losses their asset management company suffered because of exposure to the curse of ENG Asset Management.
The company lost more than $30 billion in the ENG debacle. The authorities at the bourse were demanding that the company also explain the involvement of Capital Alliance, a management investment vehicle that company bosses used to enrich themselves. The saga finally claimed the chief executive Norman Sachikonye who was dismissed after immense pressure from the stock exchange.
The trouble at First Mutual Life continued to haunt it when it was later suspended after it was involved in serious mudslinging with Royal Bank over investments. The company is still suspended from the bourse and management is battling to persuade the ZSE to allow it to resume trading.
Troubled Barbican Holdings was also suspended from the bourse on March 13 over the liquidity crunch at its banking arm, which has since been placed under curatorship. Trust Holdings’ shares have not traded on the market for more than four months due to suspension.
The situation was compounded by the closure of its banking arm, Trust Bank. The bank is likely to be swallowed into the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group, which is set to start operations next year.
Horticulture firm TZI requested to be suspended from the market to pave way for investigations into the misappropriation of funds in their subsidiary, Agriflora. The investigations are still going on and a report might be out soon.
The haemorrhage in the export sector continued with many companies closing shop because of the foreign currency regime. Listed firms that made a killing from the external market have also started to bleed. A number of companies have warned that they are under siege from the exchange regime. PG Industries, which was a star performer last year, is now limping after its export earnings received a severe knock over the past nine months. Cafca also said that its export earnings had plunged by more than 50%.
During the year, the land crisis continued to wreak havoc on the listed companies. A number of listed companies are still to recover their land expropriated by the government for resettlement.
Land belonging to Hippo Valley has been invaded by war veterans, leading
to the disruption of sugarcane production. This has impacted on the earnings of the group. Interfresh still has large tracts of its Mazoe Citrus land under the control of the new farmers while Radar’s Border Timbers is still in trouble.
There were other botched deals like the Trust/Old Mutual merger talks which could not be consummated because a due diligence report revealed that the bank had holes in its financial books. Old Mutual withdrew from the deal.
Had the deal gone through it would have saved Trust from collapse. Speculation was also rife that NMB Bank and MBCA Bank were in talks over a possible merger. However, the informal talks were later said to have collapsed before much could be discussed.
The Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe this week pulled out of talks with an unknown insurance company. No details of the deal were given.
During the year, CFX Financial Services merged with Century Holdings. The marriage however failed to stand the test of time as the bank was shut down last week due to serious liquidity problems.
The bank was placed under curatorship last Friday after internal investigations revealed that the bank had been defrauded of $115 billion. RBZ investigations are under way.
Politics also reached into economics. The government muscled into Mutumwa Mawere’s Shabanie Mashava Mines (SMM) alleging that the mogul owed the government billions of dollars. The government appointed an administrator to run the affairs of CFI Holdings in which Mawere had interest.
In the mining sector, government ordered platinum mining firms to cease operating offshore foreign currency accounts in a bid to tighten its grip on the lucrative mineral.
RBZ governor Gideon Gono said platinum miners would be required to open foreign currency accounts with local banks into which they would deposit their earnings. The mining firms were also asked to transfer funds held in existing offshore accounts to the new locally held accounts. Gono, who announced the new regulations during his third quarter monetary policy statement in October, said in addition the central bank would now handle all trade in the platinum group metals. The state-run Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe will advise the bank on marketing the precious minerals.Zimbabwe holds the world’s second largest known deposits of the platinum group metals after South Africa. But large foreign corporations dominate the local platinum industry.
The new policy is set to hit hard mining groups like Makwiro Platinum and Zimplats in which Impala Platinum Holdings (Ltd) (Implats), the world’s second largest platinum producer, holds 82%.
The move is set to affect the projected mining industry positive growth of 7,5% in 2005, after recording an estimated growth of 11,6% in 2004. Mining contributes about 4% to gross domestic product (GDP).
Real GDP decline this year retreated to 2,5% from 8,5% recorded in 2003. Projections for the coming year are for a positive growth rate of between 3,5% to 5%.
Other economic indicators, inflation, for instance, significantly declined to 149,3% in November from 622,8% in January. This progress notwithstanding, inflation still remains unsustainably high, and the major constraint to export competitiveness.
The government revised inflation targets, initially set at 200% by December this year, to 150%-160%. The objective is to achieve a lower rate of 30-50% by December 2005, with single digit inflation thereafter.
Manufacturing, which used to contribute about 18% to GDP is projected to decline by 8,5% this year while agriculture is still dogged by uncertainty and chaos. Capacity utilisation, which had fallen to as low as 30% in some sub-sectors, is now between 50-60%. The manufacturing sector is anticipated to register a lower decline of only 5% in 2005.
Investment in the country has remained low at levels of about 5% of GDP, while overall savings are estimated to be about –1,7% of GDP in 2004.   Agribank to trim top brass
Bourse demands CFI explanation
Gwasira tipped to head ZABG
Zimsun faces the sack
Murerwa calls for govt, private sector cooperation
PSF recovery rate at 100%
Kariba suffers knock as CFX Bank shuts down
PAZ transformation on the cards
Zesa to hike tariffs
Reduced Zim inflation still world’s highest
Econet on expansion trail
Zim to maintain tobacco dual marketing system
Curtain comes down on troubled year
Cabs makes good use of USAid funds
Property market fails to sparkle
Govt can now take over failed firms
Uneasiness over SMM takeover
Zupco goes shopping
‘Optimism rings hollow’
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Zim Independent
Zim to maintain tobacco dual marketing system
Godfrey Marawanyika

THE country’s tobacco players next year expect to sell at least 85 million kg under the dual marketing system, which starts in April.

Although there is an increased output of the golden leaf, the anticipated production is still less than the Vision 160 plan, an ambitious project drafted by the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA), the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the government which hopes to push production of the golden leaf to 160 million kg next year.

Last year Zimbabwe produced 81 million kg of the golden leaf.

Already merchants, growers and the ZTA have set the tentative selling season for next year’s production for April 5. The date was arrived at at a meeting on Thursday last week.

Rodney Ambrose, ZTA chief executive officer, this week confirmed the date for the new marketing season.

“What we have tentatively agreed on is that the auction floors open on April 5 under the dual marketing season,” he said.

“We are to get an early start of the selling season because of the expected increase in output.”

Zimbabwe this year exported 30,7 million kg less tobacco when compared to the same period last year, figures provided by the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) have revealed.

Latest figures indicate that to-date, Zimbabwe has exported 64,3 million kg of the golden leaf. At this time last year, the country had exported 95 million kg.

From the exported 64,3 million kg, the country has earned US$207,5 million.

Zimbabwe exports its tobacco mostly to China and the European Union.

Ambrose said that although this year’s crop is smaller, there were hopes that next year the industry would rebound.

“We came up with Vision 160. Although it is just a vision we hope that we will be able to meet the target,” he said.

“Although there were some delays in the disbursements of money that was availed to Agribank and TIMB some farmers who had already prepared their seedbeds managed to access funds.”

The government and the central bank this year availed $200 billion for tobacco production which was only availed five months after the normal seed-bed preparation period.

“It’s better than not getting anything at the end of the day,” said Ambrose.

Tobacco production has been in a free-fall since President Robert Mugabe began a violent seizure of commercial farms in 2000.

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Zim Independent
Econet on expansion trail

LISTED Econet Wireless Holdings (EWH) intends using part of the US$14 million (about $86 billion) windfall from the 14% sale of its Mascom Wireless stake to group associate Econet Wireless Group (EWG) in expanding wholly-owned Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (EWZ)’s network capacity and notching 500 000 subscribers.

Company officials indicated this week that foreign cash from the minority-sale of stakes in EWG’s fellow Botswana firm, Mascom, would be used towards importing essential equipment for EWZ’s expansion before the end of 2005.

The deal, emerging the largest in the history of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, smashes another record set by Econet itself a year ago when the Harare company bought the same shares from its founder Strive Masiyiwa in an all-paper transaction.

However, shareholders are set to approve the transaction — first hinted on December 10 — at a combined annual and extraordinary general meeting at the end of the month.

Masiyiwa’s US$1,4 million investment in Gaborone’s largest general services mobile (GSM) operator in 1997 was probably the most successful cross-border investment the telecoms mogul made when he was still living in Zimbabwe.

To date, the Botswana cellular venture has yielded more than US$16 million for the Zimbabwean economy.

EWZ, currently overwhelmed by demand for its services due to inadequate capacity attached to foreign currency shortages to procure network equipment, hopes to further consolidate its already dominant market position as the country’s largest telecommunications firm.

Meanwhile, Econet has issued a circular to shareholders, with a proposal to consolidate its share register in a bid to reduce costs arising from hyperinflation.

The share buy-back proposals are also scheduled for approval at the December 31 meeting at its Harare head office. — Staff Writer.

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