The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
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Zesa to hike tariffs
Godfrey Marawanyika

THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) will increase tariffs again on all power usage which are expected to hit industry and the mining sector hard after an earlier hike in October.

The hikes are in line with recommendations of Sad-elec, a South African energy consultancy firm which was hired to study Zesa’s tariff structure.

Unlike in the past when the tariff increases were phased over a period, this time the hikes will be one-off for industry and the mining sector.

In October Zesa increased tariffs by 18,9% citing a rise in postal services.

Zesa general manager for corporate affairs Obert Nyatanga confirmed that the hikes would be with effect from the beginning of the year.

He would however not be drawn into revealing the quantum of the hikes saying they were still subject to approval.

“There will be a tariff increase with effect from January 1. The increments will be a one-off hike for industry and the mining sectors,” he said.

“Only the agricultural sector and the residential sub-sector will have a gradual tariff hike. We decided to do this as a way of supporting agricultural production.”

Zesa has taken up tobacco contract farming to raise foreign currency for power imports and the expansion of its generation capacity.

Zesa needs US$40 million to repay China National Aero Technology Import Export Corporation for investments in power generation in the country.

Zesa has sponsored 3 900 hectares of Virginia tobacco planted by both A1 and A2 farmers across the country.

Currently, Zesa is charging between $37 and $44 a kilowatt.

Zesa hired Sad-elec for a tariff review study after the parastatal was forced to reduce a 400% hike it had implemented last year.

Sad-elec said the pricing study was being done to develop a framework for economic regulation of the electricity industry, which would cover power generation, transmission and distribution.

Analysts have said that the new increments by state-controlled monopolies such as Zesa and Tel*One could in the long term undermine efforts to bring down inflation.

Sad-elec has since recommended that Zesa be allowed to affect a tariff increase.

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Zim Independent
PAZ transformation on the cards
Chris Goko

THE government was this week said to be considering two alternative names for a rebranded Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe (PAZ), officials told businessdigest.

The proposed names, coming as part of broad transformation plans to include reorientation of the state agency’s mandate, were given as Restructuring Authority of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe State Enterprises Restructuring Authority.

Andrew Bvumbe, who doubles as the Finance ministry’s principal director for economic development and PAZ boss, on Tuesday confirmed the on-going thrust.

He could not, however, give time frames as to when the renaming process would be wound up.

Bvumbe gave the sort of feeling that it was now entirely up to his stand-in boss Herbert Murerwa.

Bvumbe emphasised, though, that the name would reflect the privatisation department’s new mandate of not only restructuring state companies and championing black empowerment, but maximising shareholder earnings in entities where it has not fully let up.

PAZ, which was initially formed to privatise parastatals, is now changing its thrust to commercialisation of the entities and identifying foreign partners.

The PAZ boss said the rebranding was also in line with regional trends where such institutions “are not only involved in privatisation, but entire parastatals reform”.

Asked about possible duplication of roles between the PAZ, Rugare Gumbo’s State Enterprises and Parastals ministry, and Josiah Tungamirai’s Indigenisation department, Bvumbe said they had “distinct roles” and had consulted in finding an appropriate name for his Finance-affiliated agency.

He said they had adequate resources to “carry through” the restructuring exercise, which will also see further staff recruitment and bolstering of other departmental activities.

The money, Bvumbe said, would come from their 2005 national budget allocation, although he could not disclose how much money had been availed for the exercise.

The PAZ reform also comes at a time when Harare has unveiled pronounced state-companies-reform measures, which not only focus on commercialisation, but enhanced profit principle and anchoring economic growth initiatives.

These measures, also aimed at enhancing international competitiveness and revenue earnings, form part of broad economic revival plans.

Charged with key reforms of state-held companies, Bvumbe’s institution has had part involvement or keen interest in various shareholder/earnings initiatives such as profitable Astra’s demerger.

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DA duo to travel to Zimbabwe to assess situation


THE Democratic Alliance's (DA ) federal chairman, Joe Seremane, and the party's foreign affairs spokesman, Douglas Gibson, will travel to Zimbabwe in the new year to assess the situation on the ground ahead of the elections scheduled for March.

Gibson said the DA welcomed the Southern African Development Community's (SADC's) review of Zimbabwe's controversial electoral laws, but this seemed a bit too little, too late.

"It is unlikely that a free and fair election could be held in March, given the conditions right now," Gibson said.

"There are a number of requirements for a free and fair election, and these are necessary long before an election, not just in the days leading up to and during an election."

Such conditions included freedom of the press and fair and equitable coverage for the opposition on the state broadcaster. The DA is also calling for freedom to campaign and freedom from legal harassment.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai still faced "trumped up treason charges" while MP Roy Bennett remained in jail for a fineable offence, Gibson said.

The party called for the setting up of an independent electoral commission, preferably headed by an eminent citizen with no associations with any political parties; and emergency food relief should be managed by the World Food Programme, independent of government interference.

The DA also urged President Robert Mugabe to welcome all international observers who wished to observe the election in his country.

"The SADC must not be taken in by President Mugabe's appeasement politics. It must consider only the actions of his regime. Otherwise he will make all the right noises while he carries on regardless," Gibson said.

"Even as this SADC initiative was announced, the Mugabe regime was announcing constituency changes, which reduce the number of constituencies in MDC strongholds and increase the number in Zanu (PF) strongholds."

The party said SADC had to ensure it was not the MDC that was pressured to participate in next March's election, but rather that the pressure was increased on Zanu (PF) to dismantle the oppressive legislation it had implemented over the past three years and restore democracy to Zimbabwe, Gibson said.

Dec 23 2004 07:47:20:000AM Norman Patterton Business Day 1st Edition

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The following changes have been made to Harare North Constituency boundaries in the new Delimitation - * Essentially Wards 17 (Mt Pleasant) 41 (Marlborough) and 42 (Hatcliffe) remain in Harare North, but half of Ward 16 Mabelreign has been put into Dzivarasekwa: ie Ashdown Park, Haig Park, St Andrews Park, Meyrick Park, Westlea and Tynwald are all now part of Dzivarasekwa constituency. * Borrowdale Race Course is no longer in Harare North, but UZ is now included. * Hatcliffe is no longer detached, but joined up with Hatcliffe Extension down to "Jadonisi Junction" and Pomona Quarry. * The northern boudaries are pushed out so that it is much further out past New Marlborough on the Old Mazowe Road, and to opposite the Presidential Guard barracks in Dzivarasekwa along Kirkman Road. North of Hatcliffe the boundary is up to the Umwinsi and Mazowe rivers. Total number of registered voters is placed at 43 064. Results of our audit show that this voters roll has serious irregularities - we are pursuing that matter urgently.
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 SW Radio Africa, 22 December


Flamboyant, very rich, often violent, Zanu PF MP Phillip Chiyangwa reported missing earlier this week has, according to reports, been in the company of the CIO. Chiyangwa is assisting with inquiries into subversive material. Information we received early this evening says the controversial and flamboyant parliamentarian, is being held by the Central Intelligence Organisation, the CIO. Our source in Zimbabwe said the state security agency is allegedly holding him in connection with some subversive material they found him with. It's suspected the MP was distributing some subversive material that contained sensitive information about the Zanu PF top hierarchy, particularly the Vice-President Joseph Msika. This is not the first time that Chiyangwa has done this. During the Masvingo Zanu PF people's congress in 2002 he distributed anti-Msika material demonising and plotting his downfall. And prior to the Tsholotsho meeting that has apparently claimed the scalps of several top Zanu PF officials, Chiyangwa was seen distributing and campaigning heavily against Joseph Msika and John Nkomo. The Chinhoyi MP was detained a few days after the congress by the dreaded spy organisation last week and his whereabouts have been a mystery since then. Police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka even denied to the state media that Chiyangwa was under the custody of the police. Police commissioner Augustine Chihuri told the Sunday Mail over the weekend that the beleaguered chairman of Zanu PF for Mashonaland West province was 'fine' but refused to disclose his location. The last time Chiyangwa crossed paths with Msika, he was detained for several weeks for charges ranging from threatening a state prosecutor to attempts of trying to defeat the course of justice.

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The Scotsman
Evicted Zimbabweans take skills and ambition to oil-rich Nigeria


A GROUP of white Zimbabwean farmers forced from their lands by the president, Robert Mugabe, arrived in Nigeria yesterday to establish new farms.

The Zimbabweans’ move to Nigeria follows a vigorous courtship by president Olusegun Obasanjo and the dynamic governor of Kwara state, Bukola Saraki, who wants the men hounded by Mr Mugabe to kick-start commercial agriculture in the oil-rich country.

Mr Saraki said he wants another 200 Zimbabwean farmers to follow the pioneers because Nigeria, despite its abundant land, is spending more than £1.6 billion each year on importing 98 per cent of its basic food needs, which could be produced domestically.

Hundreds of white farmers have left Zimbabwe in the wake of Mr Mugabe’s land confiscation strategy, leaving farms idle and creating huge food shortages in a country once known as the breadbasket of Africa.

Many have moved successfully to neighbouring Zambia and Mozambique, but the 15 who arrived in Nigeria yesterday are the first to take their skills 2,000 miles across the continent to a country whose economy is based on revenues from its oil reserves.

The farmers, led by Alan Jack, whose Zimbabwean tobacco and maize farm was forcefully occupied four years ago by so-called war veterans loyal to Mr Mugabe, have each been allocated 1,000 hectares of Nigerian bush.

They have also been given a derelict sugar refinery and estate which once supported a community of 20,000 people to rehabilitate.

Mr Jack, 46, had been planning to leave Africa for good when he was invited earlier this year to Abuja, the Nigerian capital, to meet Mr Obasanjo and listen to the head of state’s proposal for a pioneering Zimbabwean farming enterprise in Kwara, western Nigeria.

"Why leave Africa and go to Australia?" Mr Obasanjo asked. "We do not want to take away what is good for Zimbabwe from Zimbabwe, but I believe that it is in the best interests of Africa that you do not leave this continent. The more of you who come [to Nigeria] the better."

Kwara itself has no oil reserves, which inspired Mr Saraki to spearhead a national drive to wean Nigeria off oil-based revenues - totalling more than £200 billion over the past 40 years - and make it self- sufficient in food.

Mr Jack’s team will this week mark out their new farms, which have already been mapped by satellite images. They will begin farming in the New Year, using Niger river water to irrigate maize, rice, sugar, cotton, soya, citrus, cowpeas and fodder crops for Nigeria’s first modern dairy industry.

Mr Jack insisted the land they farm be virgin bush, not soil already cultivated by local people. "We know what it feels like to be kicked off farms," he said. "If the same was to have happened to the local Nigerians the project would fail because we would get a bad name locally and internationally."

He said he was excited to be a pioneer commercial farmer in Nigeria. "We reckon that with our know-how, we can triple or quadruple yields of crops like maize and soya.

"This has given me an entirely new incentive. There was no chance any more of farming in Zimbabwe, where I’ve been under siege in my farmhouse for the past four years."

Asked about Nigeria’s reputation for violence and corruption, he said: "There are risks in all businesses. But the governor and the president are right behind us. They’re very switched-on."
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Zim Indep
Gwasira tipped to head ZABG
Godfrey Marawanyika

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s head of Business Continuity Stephen Gwasira is tipped to head the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG), which will come into effect at the beginning of next month.

The central bank has also selected the board members of the ZABG.

ZABG was formulated as part of the central bank’s Troubled Bank Resolution Strategy, which seeks to, among other things, restore stability in the financial sector.

Before this year’s restructuring at the central bank, Gwasira used to head the Banking and Supervision Surveillance department.

ZABG is composed of failed banks and indications are that seven of the currently distressed banks will be incorporated in it.

Gwasira was earlier this year charged with sorting out the mess at Turst Bank when it fell into liquidity-linked problems.

So far the central bank and the ZABG board have met three times. The board members include human resources consultant Richard Makoni, former Stanbic chairman Cornelius Sanyanga, Delta chief executive Joe Mutizwa, businessman Jonathan Kadzura, former Trust Bank marketing director and independent consultant Douglas Mamvura, prominent lawyer Lindsay Cook and a Mr Bhadella.

It was not immediately possible to ascertain the names of two other board members, one of whom was said to be a Harare-based female lawyer.

The appointments of both Gwasira and the board are set to be announced next year. Gwasira could not be reached for comment this week.

In January ZABG will start its operations as a loose amalgam with the troubled banks conducting business under their original titles.

The amalgamation of the banks to form a composite unit will only be achieved in the middle of 2006 at the earliest.

The arrangement will enable depositors to access their funds in the new year.

Three troubled banks — Trust, Time and Royal — are expected to reopen for business under the direction of curators who will now assume the title of administrators.

The administrators will in turn report to a board of directors of ZABG Ltd.

Trust Bank, which was put under curatorship in September, will be the first to reopen on January 1. Time Bank was put under curatorship last month while Royal closed its doors in August.

The two banks are expected to reopen for business later in the first quarter of next year. The fate of Barbican Bank, which was placed under curatorship in March, was not clear at the time of going to press.

All transactions will be conducted under the Trust Bank brand until all the banks falling under ZABGL have been merged into one single entity.

Conducting all transactions under the Trust Bank brand is an administrative and legal requirement to facilitate the opening of the bank and oversee the merger with other banks which will become divisions of ZABGL.

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Zim Independent
Bourse demands CFI explanation
Chris Goko

THE Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) has demanded an explanation from CFI Holdings (CFI) over the replacement of board members and alleged transfer of ZHL Holdings Ltd’s controlling stake to under-fire SMM Holdings Ltd (SMM), businessdigest gathered on Tuesday.

Emmanuel Munyukwi, the ZSE chief executive, confirmed having quizzed new CFI chairman Simplisius Chihambakwe over the former ZHL board representatives’ sacking and suspected share certificate tampering.

He said this week: “I can confirm that we have had contact with them. We basically wanted clarification on the issue (of board appointments) and other matters relating to the group.”

Bourse authorities wrote to CFI about three weeks ago and the company has since responded, prompting another round of talks because the ZSE felt the well-diversified agricultural concern had not satisfactorily answered all queries at hand.

No comment was immediately available from Chihambakwe, a Harare lawyer.

The source of contention, businessdigest heard, was how Hillary Munyati and three other presumed representatives of the former majority owner were shoved out without the full knowledge of the offshore scrip owners whose interests were warehoused by ZHL.

Having been voted onto the CFI board in March this year, Munyati’s exit a few months later coincided with skirmishes between SMM owner Mutumwa Mawere and the government over charges that he did not repatriate $300 billion worth of foreign cash from asbestos sales.

Munyati, a financial guru now employed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, is a former group chief and chairman of SMM. He also served in various capacities in the SMM group of companies which include listed Turnall Holdings.

When he assumed chairmanship of CFI, he was appointed alongside Chihambakwe, but the latter has escaped the chop.

The government has since placed SMM in the tight grip of administrator Afaras Gwaradzimba thus further complicating the CFI ownership and operational structure.

CFI has interests in the animal and foods manufacturing, farming and fertiliser, poultry breeding and sales, property, retail and veterinary services.

It owns and operates Agrifoods, Agrimix, Crest Breeders, grain millers Victoria Foods, Dore & Pitt, Farm & City stores, Maitlands through Endurite Properties, Town & Country supermarket chain and Vetco.

The group, hurtling towards collapse in the first half of the year and wracked by a $70 billion loss owing to the harsh economic climate, has only escaped total ruin by accessing the RBZ productive sector facility.

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Zim Indep.
Selection policy should be revisited
By Enock Muchinjo

THE Zimbabwe “A” cricket team, the national second-string side, will next month go on a tour to Namibia to play in two three-day matches and three limited-overs matches.

The Namibia tour is only the first engagement in a busy schedule for Zimbabwe “A”, which had a similar programme last season. That one ended with a tour to Bangladesh by a well-balanced Zimbabwe “A” side which included players who had missed selection for a Test tour to Australia with the first team.

In addition to strong domestic competition, a strong and well-supported national “A” side is the lifeblood of any serious cricket-playing nation. The “A” side plays the role of nursery for the national team, perfecting the skills of the upcoming players and gradually churning them out to the national side to replace tiring, retiring or out-of-form players.

The process of integration into the national side should be gradual, it must be emphasised. Players should have about two to three years of hard work and unquestionable commitment in the “A” side before they can be considered for the national team.

The top cricket nations in the world — Australia, South Africa and India — all invest in competent “A” sides which comprise top-class players who usually exert pressure on the players already in the national team to perform.

Breaking into the national team is not an easy task, and many players who make the “A” side never get to play full international cricket in those countries.

Those who make it rarely fail at the highest level. Instead, they make instant impact. That is largely because of the early firm foundation that they would have got in international first-class cricket.

Current South African captain Graeme Smith was not even in the South Africa World Cup squad last year. He was, instead, touring Zimbabwe with the “A” side before the World Cup. That South Africa “A” side included the likes of outstanding batsman Jacques Rudolph, wicketkeeper Thami Tholekile and pace bowler Andre Nel who have enjoyed considerable success in their first matches for the Proteas.

Also, it took a while for Michael Clarke to be a Test cricketer for Australia and, when he finally played, his century on Test debut away in India was hardly surprising, considering the first-class experience acquired over a decent period of time.

Basically, what happens in these countries is that selection into the national team revolves around a group of 20 players. If a player goes through a bad patch and needs to be replaced, there is always a more senior and ready player waiting on the sidelines. Selectors do not rush to the “A” side, unless if someone there is exceptionally good and cannot be ignored.

This system allows the “A” players to develop and measure themselves against reserve sides from other countries. They also get a chance to play full touring national sides in warm-up matches.

Applying this to the Zimbabwe scenario is a bit tricky. The majority of the players in the domestic Logan Cup and Faithwear series, which are used as criteria for selection, are young. The current team is made up of young and experienced players and they should not be made to believe that their places in the team are guaranteed, thereby the need to bring in other players to create competition for places.

The Zimbabwe “A” side is dominated by young players who should be given time to mature before they can think of playing for the national team.

Under-19 players like Kudakwashe Samunderu, Sean Williams, Ian Nicholson and Chamunorwa Chibhabha are exciting prospects, but just have to work a lot harder before they can break through.

Players in the Zimbabwe “A” side who should have realistic chances of making it into a possible changed team for the South Africa tour after Bangladesh are the likes of Ngonidzaishe (Blessing) Mahwire, Alester Maregwede, Gavin Ewing and Mark Vermeulen, who have played first-class cricket for a while and have already been capped.

As pointed out, this “A” side system might be difficult in this country. Young players like Samunderu, Chibhabha and Williams are the ones who are scoring the runs in domestic first-class cricket and the selectors are using the players’ form in these matches to choose national team players.

Young leg-spinner Graeme Cremer, barely out of high school, is currently touring with the national team because, under the existing selection policy, he deserves to be in that side. He has taken 12 wickets in the four-day Logan Cup and has one of the best bowling averages in the tournament. But Cremer, alongside 18-year-old pace bowler Chris Mpofu, has played first-class cricket for less than a year.

Maybe what the selectors need to do is to revise the selection policy. Selection on current form yes, but then a player should have spent at least two years in first-class cricket, or should have at least been involved in a certain number of outings for the “A” side. From there, Zimbabwe’s growing pool of players will explode onto the international arena.Zimbabwe “A” squad to Namibia:

Alester Maregwede (captain), Gavin Ewing (vice-captain), Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Sean Williams, Tafadzwa Mufambisi, Craig Ervine, Blessing Mahwire, Tawanda Mupariwa, Waddington Mwayenga, Hillary Matanga, Keith Dabengwa, Ryan Bennett, Ian Nicholson and Mark Vermeulen.

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    Zim Independent
MCA clubs boot out board
By Enock Muchinjo

MASHONALAND Cricket Association (MCA) clubs yesterday passed a vote of no confidence in chairman Tavengwa Mukuhlani and other board members who were trying to block efforts to boot out Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) chairman Peter Chingoka.

Cyprian Mandenge took over as MCA chairman until the next AGM after six months.

The clubs announced after a special AGM yesterday that they would forge ahead with attempts to expel Chingoka and his entire board or pull out of the national association. The MCA clubs allege a breach of the constitution by Chingoka and his board when they did a re-branding of the mother union without consulting provincial associations.

Yesterday’s heated meeting resolved to remove Mukuhlani and three other board members, Abbey Hamid, Bruce Makova and Kudzai Shoko, with clubs charging them with failure to represent their interests.

They were replaced by Mike Pemhiwa, Clyde Musamba, Rory McWade and Lance Malloch-Brown.

The MCA clubs claim they were not consulted when the union did the re-branding exercise and cite that as a breach of the constitution.

Mukuhlani said soon after the meeting yesterday that his board had been

divided with the four dismissed members opposed to the idea of pulling out of ZC while three -— Mandenge, Takashinga Sports Club manager Elvis Sembezeya and Claudius Mukandiwa — supported it.

MCA also resolved that Mukuhlani should resign from the ZC board to which he was appointed as head of the province.

This latest row in local cricket surfaced following allegations of extortion against Takashinga Cricket Club administrators, Stephen Mangongo, Givemore Makoni and Sembezeya.

Chingoka alleged in his response that the fresh bid to oust him and his board was orchestrated by the Takashinga officials trying to escape a probe into the extortion allegations.

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Zim Online (SA), 23 December
More could die of malnutrition and disease in Zimbabwe's prisons

Harare - Malnutrition and disease in Zimbabwe's overcrowded prisons will worsen in the next 12 months because the government is unable to raise money for medical drugs and food for prisoners, according to a top Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) official. Overcrowding in Zimbabwe's jails, now holding about 22 000 inmates, which is way above the designed carrying capacity of 16 000, will only help worsen matters, ZPS chief accountant, Rosemary Kanonge, told Parliament's portfolio committee on justice and legal affairs earlier this month. The committee, which was assessing whether allocations to the Ministry of Justice and the prisons department under the 2005 national budget are adequate, shall report its findings to Parliament when it resumes in February next year. "There is a statutory instrument that stipulates the basic requirements of prisoners for food and bedding provisions but in most cases, this was difficult to fulfill owing to inadequate resources," Kanonge told the committee. She said out of a bid of Z$212.4 billion for prisoners' food, bedding and uniforms for both inmates and prison officers the department had been allocated only $126 billion. And the department was given $10.6 billion for medical drugs for both prisoners and their guards, which she said was enough to purchase medicines for three months only. The department had asked the Finance Ministry for $236 billion for medicines for its hospitals. Unconfirmed reports say at least five prisoners die because of disease and starvation every month at Harare Remand prison, which is one of the country's most overcrowded jails. Infectious diseases such as tuberculosis have also wrecked havoc in Zimbabwe's jails because of a poor diet and overcrowding.
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News24 (SA), 20 December
Million Zim kids head homes

Harare - Nearly a million children in Zimbabwe had lost one or both parents to Aids and HIV-related illnesses, said the United Nations Children's Fund on Monday. Girls as young as nine were caring for siblings or for ailing parents and relatives in Zimbabwe, Unicef said in its annual state of the world's children report. With an estimated 26% of the country's 12.5 million people infected with HIV, orphans were dropping out of school, often with malnutrition and were "more likely to be involved in hazardous forms of labour" including prostitution, said Festo Kavishe, Unicef's chief representative in Harare. The fund's report on Zimbabwe said the social and economic consequences of HIV/Aids were underscored by the decline in life expectancy from age 52 to 37 since 1990. In traditionally polygamous African societies, HIV is mostly spread by heterosexual contact as well as needles and blades contaminated with infected blood. Zimbabwe is facing its worst economic crisis since independence, with soaring prices and record unemployment. Public health services have crumbled. Most of the estimated 2 000 people who die from Aids-related illnesses each week are unable to afford treatment and are usually sent home to die if they have been briefly in hospital. Zimbabwe has acute shortages of hard currency and essential imports, including medicines. The government estimates 26% of Zimbabwe's people are infected with HIV/Aids, but officials acknowledge the rate could be higher because of a stigma that leaves many conditions unreported as being HIV-related.
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    Zim Indep.
PSF recovery rate at 100%
Shakeman Mugari

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has said most of the companies that accessed funds from the productive sector facility (PSF) earlier this year have managed to pay back their loans. The bank said this week that it has managed a 100% recovery rate on the PSF loans.

However, sources say, most of the companies that borrowed from the facility are still heavily indebted to commercial and merchant banks through which the funds were disbursed.

“Loans under the facility are accessed through commercial and merchant banks who carry a 100% risk,” the central bank said this week in written responses to the businessdigest.

“All loans under the facility that have matured to date have been repaid by the respective banks except for loans accessed through banks that are under curatorship as their accounts are currently frozen.

“Thus the RBZ has achieved a 100% recovery rate on the PSF loans,” it said.

The RBZ called in the loans after discovering that companies which benefited from the fund had declared huge dividends but were failing to repay the loans.

The central bank said most financial institutions had repaid the loans to the Reserve Bank on behalf of their clients.

This means that a number of commercial and merchant banks are still badly exposed, as most companies are battling to repay the loans on time. It also reveals that the central bank has forced the banking sector, which is currently in heavy weather, to carry the risk associated with the PSF.

A total of $2,057 trillion has been disbursed under the facility.

There are fears that most of the banks which accessed the funds at a concessionary rate for on-lending to the productive sector might now charge indebted companies commercial interest rates prevailing on the market. Banks are charging interest rates averaging 100%.

A total of 3 572 companies in key sectors scrambled for the PSF loans, which carried a heavily subsidised rate of 30% and 50%. About 2 209 agricultural companies borrowed from the facility, of which 1 063 manufacturing firms also benefited.

There are 114 transport companies, 85 mining and 72 tourism firms that also accessed the funds. Other sectors that benefited includes 19 construction companies, six communication and three health firms. Only one distributor got the funds.

It is unclear how the RBZ managed a total recovery of the funds when governor Gideon Gono had earlier this year complained bitterly that many companies had defaulted. He is on record as having said that most companies had used the PSF funds to declare massive dividends to their shareholders.

“It is disheartening to note that some corporates have elected to declare hefty dividends well before making for their borrowings under the fund,” Gono said in his third monetary policy review statement in October.

“In some instances, corporates are daring to declare the fanfare dividends barely a few hours after accessing concessional support on the back of their purported distress calls.”

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SABC news

Zimbabwe crop preparation falls far behind schedule

December 23, 2004, 20:30

Zimbabwe's farmers have so far prepared only a quarter of land available for planting this agriculture season, a government official said today, raising the spectre of more food shortages.

Ignatius Chombo, the local government minister, said only 1 million hectares of farmland had been prepared for the 2005 crop out of a targeted 4 million. "Land preparation is behind schedule because our farmers could not access tillage and some inputs but we have a team working on that to make sure more land is under production this season," Chombo said, but refused to say if the delay could result in food shortages next year.

Critics say President Robert Mugabe's seizures of white-owned land in 2000 to re-distribute among landless blacks disrupted agriculture, and is partly to blame for the food shortages in the country for the past three years. Rights group Amnesty International has also accused the state owned Grain Marketing Board of being chaotic in its distribution of seeds and material, and of only giving food to supporters of the ruling ZANU-PF party.

The country suffered serious shortages in 2002, when a drought hit much of southern Africa. Mugabe has said his government expected no food shortages this year after a big harvest but last month a parliamentary committee said state figures of 2.4 million tonnes of maize had probably been overstated. Mugabe has largely stopped food aid distribution which the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says 40% of the population need.

Chombo, who chairs a state taskforce on crop inputs distribution, said out of 977,694 hectares of land prepared for planting, only 328,248 hectares had been put under crops. The government said in its 2005 budget agriculture would grow by 28% and anchor an expected economic recovery. Inflation has hit many Zimbabweans' ability to buy food. Mugabe denies charges he has mismanaged the economy and accuses former colonial power Britain of leading a Western campaign to punish his government for the controversial land reform programme. - Reuters

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Makwavarara Tours Hospitals

The Herald (Harare)
December 23, 2004
Posted to the web December 23, 2004
New Ziana
THE chairperson of the Commission running the affairs of Harare, Cde Sekesai Makwavarara on Monday toured Wilkins and Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospitals to find out areas that need attention to improve health delivery at the institutions.
"The visit gives me an opportunity to see the achievements and obstacles being encountered in our endeavour to offer excellent service to patients," said Cde Makwavarara.
"The daily activities of the hospitals are only learnt through reports to my office and it is my desire to have a physical feel of the situation on the ground."
Local Government Public Works and National Housing Minister, Cde Ignatius Chombo, mandated the recently appointed Commission to ensure an effective service delivery system.
"Now that we have the Commission, we will try our best to ensure that the city's health department will be given all the resources that it requires," said Cde Makwavara.
Cde Chombo appointed the eight-member Commission which will run the affairs of the city for the next two years. Concerns that have been raised about the city's health delivery system include poor working conditions for medical staff and poor infrastructural development due to limited resources.
The Commission, which is expected to devise strategic turnaround measures for the city, will work with the remaining eight MDC councillors after the dismissal and resignations of the majority of them during the course of the year.
Besides Cde Makwavarara, other members of the Commission include vice chairperson Cde Tendai Savanhu, Engineer Noel Muzuva, Architect Michael Mahachi, Mrs Prisca Mupfumira, Mr Terence Hussein, Ms Viola Chasi and Professor James Kurasha.

The city of Harare has been dogged by various problems that have led to the deterioration in service delivery.
Problems such as water cuts, uncollected refuse, poor roads and lighting among a host of others have become the order of the day with no solutions to the problems in sight.
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ZIMBABWE: Groups to protest detention of illegal immigrants

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


Illegal immigrants are to be detained at Lindela repatriation centre until 15 January

JOHANNESBURG, 23 Dec 2004 (IRIN) - Zimbabwean exile groups are planning to protest against the South African government's decision to suspend the deportation of illegal immigrants until 15 January 2005.

Of the 1,500 illegal immigrants held at the Lindela repatriation centre outside Johannesburg, it is estimated that 900 are Zimbabweans.

In an interview with IRIN, Gabriel Shumba, a human rights lawyer and head of the Pretoria-based Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, said the suspension of deportation represented refugee persecution and was a violation of South Africa's Refugee Act of 1998; his organisation would visit Lindela and press for meetings with the government.

According to the Refugee Act, no immigrant can be held without trial for more than 30 days without the consent of a court, he said.

Shumba pointed out that the last deportations took place on 10 December 2004 and the next would be on 15 January - 36 days later - and the South African government could be taken to court for violating the rights of immigrants, as spelt out in the Refugee Act.

The government's statement that the immigrants had handed themselves over to police in order to get free transport back home was an assumption which had no legal basis, he alleged.

Daniel Molokela, coordinator of the Johannesburg-based Zimbabwe Democracy Project, agreed that the suspension of deportations was a violation of the immigrants' rights and amounted to a jail sentence.

"It appears the South African government took an administrative decision, maybe based on indications that the immigrants actually made an effort to get themselves arrested in order to get free transport back home ... we have always condemned the ill-treatment of immigrants, most of whom are genuine asylum-seekers. The South Africa government must realise the political realities in the immigrants' countries of origin before making any judgments," said Molokela.

Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe-Mapisa Nqakula announced the suspension of repatriations when she toured Lindela after a riot by immigrants who were allegedly demanding to be deported. "There will be no free rides home - you jumped the fence; you will have to suffer the consequences. I will decide who leaves Lindela," the minister was quoted as saying.


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Thursday, Dec 23, 2004
Zimbabwe warns farming setbacks threaten next harvest; shortages blamed

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Farmers, many of them black Zimbabweans resettled on formerly white-owned properties, have so far plowed and prepared only one quarter 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 10,000 square kilometres out of an estimated 40,000 square kilometres have been tilled during current seasonal rains.

He blamed the slow pace of preparation on shortages of fertilizer, tractors and mechanical equipment and urged farmers to increase the amount manual labour and animal-drawn plows, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported.

The newspaper quoted Agriculture Ministry official Shadreck Mlambo as 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 spare parts shortages.

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

Farmers have also suffered acute shortages of petrol.

Zimbabwe, once a regional breadbasket, plunged into its worst political and economic crisis after President Robert Mugabe's government seized more than 5,000 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 country's agriculture-based economy.

Inflation is running at 149 per cent, 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 900,000 tonnes 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 UN-led assessment group estimates that as many as five million Zimbabweans will need help again before the next harvest begins in March.

© The Canadian Press, 2004

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Vital gift of water for villages
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TENS of thousands of families in poverty-stricken Africa will be drinking clean water over Christmas, thanks to a Gosport company.
AquAid South Coast has helped to raise about £36,000 to pay for 250 wells in villages across Mozambique and Zimbabwe this year.

The wells have provided a lifeline for entire villages – providing clean water for drinking and irrigation.

The water cooler supplier works in partnership with national charity Pump Aid to build large 'elephant pump' wells in rural Africa.

Donations from the company in Heritage Business Park have paid for 250 of the 1,200 wells Pump Aid has built in Africa.

The family business, which moved to Gosport from Segensworth in July, sells £300 filters to schools and businesses.

For every filter sold, £75 goes directly towards paying for the hand-powered elephant pumps, which cost about £300.

Some schools and businesses – including Portsmouth High School – have paid for four filters so they can have an African pump named after them.
23 December 2004
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