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Zim Independent

Chombo/Zanu PF planned Mudzuri ouster
Augustine Mukaro/Conrad Dube
THE dismissal of former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri earlier this year was
planned by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and Zanu PF officials
at Town House well before investigations into allegations of incompetence
and corruption against the mayor were launched.

A copy of the transcript of a government-appointed probe team says the
acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara and town clerk Nomutsa Chideya told the
investigating team led by James Kurasha of the need to oust Mudzuri from the
time he assumed office.

Makwavarara and Chideya stated in their submissions that they wanted Mudzuri
fired from Town House because he was an obstacle to a Zanu PF takeover.

Makwavarara was at the time deputy mayor elected on an opposition MDC

Mudzuri won the 2002 mayoral election to become the first elected opposition
mayor for the capital city but was suspended barely a year into office.

A transcript from the Kurasha Report, a copy of which is in the hands of the
Independent, shows that Makwavarara and Chideya recommended Mudzuri's
dismissal alleging that he was difficult to work with.

Chombo appointed the Kurasha committee three months after suspending
Mudzuri. The findings of the committee were never made public.

The nine-member committee was made up of Kurasha, Shingi Mutumbwa, Tendai
Savanhu, Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi, retired senior assistant commissioner
Elisha Tavengwa, George Mlilo, Stephen Chakaipa, and Stephen Abel

Giving evidence before the committee, Makwavarara said Mudzuri should be
fired since he was a "blocking wall".

"The mayor must be fired for the good of Harare," Makwavarara said.

"If you say you have fired him, oh, yah, it will work. That is the only
solution because he is the blocking stand. He is the blocking wall."

Makwavarara also recommended the suspension and dismissal of some
councillors to whip them into line.

Chideya told the committee that from the onset he was not comfortable
working with Mudzuri and so he had encouraged him to resign soon after he
was sworn in.

"I actually wanted him trapped and unfortunately the wheel of justice takes
its time," Chideya said.

"I mean I am aware that the mayor was not comfortable in our own family

situation. I am actually married to a CIO operative, my wife works for the
president's office."

Committee members in their deliberations made it clear that there was no way
government could have reinstated Mudzuri.

"There is no way in government's normal senses Mudzuri could be reinstated
because it would throw council back further, in fact if he comes back after
this, he will be worse off," Mlilo said. "It would be a tyranny, he would
really be a problem."

Mlilo recommended that Mudzuri be incarcerated.

"I mean, from what you heard, especially with all misuse of public funds, he
is fit to be jailed."

Hlatshwayo, the transcript shows, was of the idea that the committee
immediately recommend to Chombo to relieve Mudzuri of his duties.

"We don't have to wait for October 31 which could be extended and we are
still in August, two months down the line and the city is suffering and
falling apart while we wait to submit a report," the member said.
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Zim Independent

Security agents on high alert
Gift Phiri
GOVERNMENT has placed a crack army battalion and riot police units on high
alert and directed them to crush planned December 10 protests by Cosatu, the
South African labour body, over human rights abuses by President Robert
Mugabe, top security sources said this week.

Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi yesterday declined to comment on the
revelations saying: "It's a security item I am not ready to discuss with the

Cosatu yesterday dismissed as misleading media reports suggesting that
President Thabo Mbeki had bullied them into a postponement.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven, speaking in a telephone interview from
Johannesburg, said the strike action was going ahead as planned.

"They are just reports we read on zimonline (a Zimbabwean news website) but
certainly we are going ahead as planned," Craven said.

"This was the resolution out of a central executive committee last week. We
have received overwhelming support from other trade unions in Zimbabwe,
Zambia and Botswana."

Top security sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that government's Joint
Operations Command (JOC), a think-tank of top military and security
officials, had mapped out a broad plan to crack down on the mass action
being planned by the Congress of South African Trade Unions and other
regional civic bodies.

The plan, devised by JOC over the past two weeks as tensions rise in South
Africa over human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, envisages the deployment of
heavy security at all embassies and heightened day-and-night police patrols
at the Beitbridge border post in the coming week.

This came as Cosatu and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party
traded insults over President Thabo Mbeki's failure to resolve Zimbabwe's
multifaceted crisis.

The differences over Zimbabwe threaten to split South Africa's tripartite
alliance led by the ANC, which also includes the South African Communist
Party (SACP).

The Independent was told that the police had started deploying officers to
Beitbridge to quell any unrest when Cosatu and its partner, human rights
watchdog Amnesty International, attempt to blockade Zimbabwe's lifeline on
the frontier with main trading partner, South Africa.

Craven said yesterday: "We will be mobilising our sister unions to also
express their anger with the worsening human rights situation in Zimbabwe.
There will be demos outside all Zimbabwean embassies in the region. We are
also mobilising other civic bodies to stage protests in Zimbabwe."

Craven said following the rounding up and expulsion of a fact-finding
mission by the Zimbabwean authorities in October, the labour body had
decided to send another mission, this time led by Cosatu president Willie
Madisha and the combative secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi.

Security agencies were racing to gather information on what the government
alleges is the involvement of a foreign nation in the planned mass action.
The government has said it will "brook no interference in our internal

The JOC, consisting of the ministers of Defence, State Security and Home
Affairs and also heads of the army, police, the secret service, the air
force and prisons, has reportedly resolved to take decisive action against
"malcontents and mischief makers" determined to cause lawlessness within the
vicinity of the border post and in other parts of the country.

The ministers of Defence and State Security were not immediately available
yesterday to comment on the plan as they were said to be "tied up with party
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Zim Independent

Chiefs at Tsholotsho indaba threatened
Loughty Dube
THE government has threatened to take action against chiefs that took part
in the clandestine "Tsholotsho Declaration" meeting that has seen six Zanu
PF provincial chairmen suspended and a government minister facing
disciplinary action.

Four chiefs out of five attended the prize-giving ceremony at Dinyane
Secondary School where Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa officiated.

The traditional leaders who attended the prize-giving ceremony are chiefs
Tategulu, Gampu, Magama and Mathuphula.

Tsholotsho has five chiefs but the replacement for Chief Dlodlo who passed
away earlier this year has not yet been made.

The prize-giving ceremony was also attended by several government ministers
and provincial chairmen of Zanu PF who have since been suspended from the
party for attending a meeting that was not sanctioned by the party's
commissariat. The chiefs in Tsholotsho never miss out on any function that
is organised by Information minister Jonathan Moyo and have in the past been
used to mobilise people for Zanu PF rallies.

Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo this week said the party was
awaiting a report from the Matabeleland North governor Obert Mpofu that
would clarify whether the chiefs in Tsholotsho participated in the "illegal
proceedings" at the meeting.

"We are waiting to be advised by the governor of the area on whether the
chiefs were part of any clandestine meeting and if it is established that
they were involved in any of the shady dealings, then appropriate action is
going to be taken against them," said Chombo.

Efforts to contact Mpofu proved fruitless as he was attending the Zanu PF
congress in Harare.

Chombo further said his ministry wants to establish in what capacity the
chiefs attended the meeting.

"There is need to find out in what capacity the chiefs attended the meeting.

Did they go there as locals or they went for a different agenda? If they
went for a different agenda then appropriate action will be taken against
them," Chombo said.

Pressed to comment on whether his ministry was not doing independent
investigations into the matter, Chombo said the governor in any area was the
one responsible for local governance issues and would advise the ministry.

"We will have to await communication from Mpofu since he is the person who
deals with local governance issues in the province but so far he has not
given us any information," said Chombo.

The Tsholotsho meeting has caused a lot of furore in ruling party circles
with all those involved in the so-called "Tsholotsho Declaration" absolving
themselves of any wrongdoing.

President Mugabe has threatened stern action against those that organised
the meeting that saw some officials being flown to the constituency in a
hired plane.
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Zim Independent

Government to import 300 000t of SA maize
Itai Dzamara
GOVERNMENT has submitted an order to purchase about 300 000 tonnes of maize
from South Africa to cover the looming deficit.

Sources at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and South African Grain Services
last week said Zimbabwe has negotiated with the South African government for
300 000 tonnes of maize. The GMB has already received confirmation that the
order will be met, sources said.

GMB acting chief executive officer Samuel Muvuti last week refused to
comment on reports that government was importing maize.

"I can't comment on that. If you say the maize will be delivered wait for
the time it will be delivered," Muvuti said.

Jaco Grobelaar, a Commodity Trading House economist in South Africa,

said he had heard reports that Zimbabwe had purchased maize from South
Africa. This followed the delivery two weeks ago of 1 808 tonnes of white
maize to Zimbabwe.

An official at the South African Grain Service said another 5 000 tonnes of
maize already paid for by the Zimbabwe government had been delivered by the
end of last week.

Sources at the GMB confirmed that there was maize, which was delivered to
the Harare depot last week.

The reports of maize imports from South Africa come after the parliamentary
portfolio committee on Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement recently
established through a survey on food stocks countrywide that the 2,4 million
tonnes of maize forecast by government for this year's harvest was hugely

The committee, which visited GMB silos, said the country would more likely
end up with a maximum of 574 000 tonnes of maize this season.

The committee established that government had ordered over 200 000 tonnes of
maize from outside the country by October despite denials by the GMB and
Agriculture minister Joseph Made.
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Zim Independent

Chidzonga, cop in wrangle over farm
Conrad Dube
A FORMER member of parliament and a police officer are locked in a wrangle
over the ownership of a farm to which both have offer letters.

Former Zanu PF MP for Mhondoro Mavis Chidzonga and an Assistant Police
Commissioner Nyakutsikwa are at loggerheads over who should be occupying
Idaho Farm in Chegutu.

The Zimbabwe Independent heard that Nyakutsikwa, in possession of an offer
letter from the Ministry of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, called
Chidzonga earlier this week and threatened her with arrest if she resisted
his occupation of the farm. Apparently Chidzonga also has an offer letter
from the ministry.

It has been established that four CID officers, only identified as Madyise,
Jena, Thomson and Maphosa from Norton police, visited the property to
ascertain who should occupy it.

The four are said to have been in possession of a letter of authority signed
by deputy Police Commissioner Godwin Matanga to investigate farmers who
might have used political influence to access A2 farms.

Chidzonga confirmed that Nyakutsikwa called her and advised her that he had
been allocated the farm.

She denied owning two farms saying the Idaho issue was once investigated
when it was alleged that she also owned Katawa Farm in Chegutu.

Chidzonga said the investigations revealed that she did not own Katawa.

"This is the work of people bent on tarnishing my image," she said.

"The people we exposed when I was a member of the Utete Land Review
committee are behind this but they have no case as this issue was dealt with
a long time ago. In any case, Nyakutsikwa should be claiming title to Plot 1
instead of Plot 2 which was allocated to me."

Permanent secretary for Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Simon
Pazvakavambwa said Nyakutsikwa was allocated Plot 1 while Chidzonga was
allocated Plot 2.

He said: "There should not be a problem between the two because they have
different plot numbers. I do not see why there should be a conflict when it
is clear that they own two different plots."
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Zim Independent

Zanu PF on 'warpath'. again
Itai Dzamara
HORDES of Zanu PF supporters thronging the ruling party's headquarters last
Wednesday could be a harbinger of scenes likely to dominate the political
landscape in the next four months to the election in March.

Zanu PF's belief in mobocracy was manifest at the party headquarters where a
hired crowd was transported in Zupco buses from various centres. This
reflects, observers say, President Mugabe's fascination with crowds.

He uses them to fathom grassroots support and to demonstrate political
muscle to the opposition, which seldom has the opportunity to do the same.

Mugabe had earlier promised that there would be "crackers" at the Wednesday
politburo meeting following upheavals in the ruling party over the
nomination of the second vice-president. Expectations were that Mugabe would
crack down on the camp headed by Zanu PF's secretary for administration
Emmerson Mnangagwa who was seen as the other challenger for the post.

Hordes of party supporters were bussed into the capital in a display of
solidarity with Joyce Mujuru's nomination to the powerful post of second
vice-president as mooted in a 1999 party resolution to have a woman in the
top four hierarchy of the party. Mnangagwa's camp allegedly tried to scuttle
Mujuru's nomination reportedly through an unauthorised meeting convened by
Information minister Jonathan Moyo in Tsholotsho to push for Mnangagwa's

After Mugabe threatened to crack the whip on dissenters, Mnangagwa came out
in the papers claiming he had merely been invited by Moyo as a guest of
honour at a school prize-giving ceremony.

Moyo defended himself in this Wednesday's Chronicle, accusing his detractors
of behaving like George Bush and Tony Blair.

The power struggles in Zanu PF still rage on and were expected to feature
prominently at the party's congress currently under way in Harare.

In a way the behaviour of ruling party supporters captures their mood in the
build up to next year's general election. Mugabe told a top leadership
meeting in Bulawayo last week that the ruling party had to deal with issues
of internal divisions and dissent as part of its march to victory in the
March election.

Zanu PF will be launching its election campaign at the ongoing congress in
Harare. The aggressive Zanu PF youth militia demonstrated last week that it
is thirsty for action once again.

On the other side of the political divide, Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has come under a barrage of criticism from
some quarters for embarking on a whirlwind world tour to pursue his
diplomatic offensive. The electorate on the other hand is uncertain of the
MDC's position on next year's polls.

The MDC has said it will not participate in next year's elections unless
Mugabe implements "genuine" electoral reforms.

However, the threats by the MDC as well as the other opposition parties have
not been enough to stop Zanu PF from forging ahead with preparations for

Government is pushing for the adoption into law of the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) Bill and the Electoral Bill, which it claims will reform
the electoral framework in compliance with the Southern African Development
Community (Sadc) guidelines on the conduct of democratic elections.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa last week said the ruling party was
already engaged in preparations and would not be deterred by threats of a
boycott by the opposition.

"We are forging ahead with the reforms whether the MDC threatens boycott or
not," Chinamasa said. "The elections will be held and Zanu PF is preparing.
If the opposition parties boycott, then it will be their problem."

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said the opposition party would hold a
national council meeting at the end of the year to review the situation and
make a decision on participating in next year's polls. "We are currently
engaged in efforts to appraise the international community on the situation
in the country," Ncube said.

Suspended war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda believes Tsvangira's trips
overseas show the MDC has no confidence at home.

"It's clear the MDC knows that it cannot successfully campaign at home and
win the elections. That's encouraging on the part of Zanu PF because we are
going all the way to victory," Sibanda said.

MDC national youth chairman Nelson Chamisa defended the international

diplomatic initiatives by Tsvangirai and insisted that his party was doing
enough at home.

"People who accuse us of failing to campaign at home are suffering from lack
of information. The struggle is waged from many fronts. International
support is very critical hence it is very logical to engage other
 countries," he said. "It's not only Tsvangirai who campaigns on the local
scene. The MDC is on full-throttle at the grassroots levels. As we speak,
rallies and other forms of campaign are going on all over the country."

Chamisa added that although the decision on participation in next year's
elections was yet to be finalised, the opposition party still needed to
remain relevant.

"We are a political party that has to remain alive whether we participate in
next year's election or not. We have to remain relevant as a democratic
force," he said.

Social commentator and political analyst Professor Gordon Chavunduka said
the MDC faces a serious dilemma.

"Most people wanted the MDC to participate in the elections but they still
acknowledge the serious flaws that characterise the electoral framework,"
Chavunduka said. "People's hopes are with the MDC, but the MDC has to make
pragmatic decisions to avoid engaging in a losing cause. I don't see
anything wrong with the MDC leadership going to the international community
because it is necessary to gain support from outside the country."
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Zim Independent

Seven battle for Zaka West seat
Gift Phiri
A RECORD seven Zanu PF hopefuls are vying for the Zaka West seat in a
tightly contested primary election race that has already been marred by
dirty politics.

Sitting MP Jefta Chindanya is battling to shrug off a fierce challenge from
a legion of businesspersons operating in Zaka district who are determined to
replace him.

Self-exiled business tycoon Mutumwa Mawere's older brother Vincent, his
sister-in-law Mabel Mawere, Bonface Chivore, Joseph Chipato, Lovemore
Mutandwa and Fred Makonese are vying for the Zaka West seat amid allegations
of vote-buying and smear campaign tactics.

Zanu PF Masvingo provincial political commissar Admore Hwarare said he was
aware that there were attempts by some candidates to use dirty tactics,
including vote-buying, tribalism and regional issues to win votes.

Chindanya, who has been the MP for the area for the past three terms, is
being accused by people in the area of prolonged absenteeism from the
constituency and failing to come up with tangible programmes for the
constituency. They also say he hardly contributes anything in House debates.

Chivore is a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of
Zimbabwe. He has participated in previous Zaka primary elections and lost
two times in a row.

While people have in the past looked to him as a possible candidate, reports
say there is increasing evidence that the electorate has lost confidence in

Fred Makonese, an agro-scientist at the University of Zimbabwe, has been
campaigning vigorously, providing seed maize and other agricultural inputs
at a subsidised price.

Makonese has been attempting to convince the electorate that he was ready to
start playing a role in stimulating agricultural productivity as a way of
strengthening the land reform programme.

Vincent Mawere has been a flip-flopping politician. He stood in the 2000
Zaka East primary election and lost to Tinos Rusere. During the 2000
parliamentary election, he contested as an independent and lost again.

Now he is seeking to reverse his misfortunes by contesting the Zaka West
primaries. Mawere has business interests straddling the Zaka East and West

However, Hwarare, who is also the Masvingo province disciplinary committee
secretary, said Vincent Mawere would not be able to stand on a Zanu PF

"He will have to wait for five years before rejoining because he contested
as an independent in 2000," Hwarare said. "He can only stand on a Zanu PF
ticket after the March election results."

Mabel Mawere, a Zaka businesswoman with a chain of shops dotted around the
Jerera and Zaka townships, is also gunning for the Zaka West seat. She is
married to Conrad Mawere. Using the gender equality campaign card, Mabel has
been attempting to convince the electorate that there is need for greater
women's representation in parliament.

Lovemore Mutandwa, a director of transport at the Zanu PF offices in Harare,
is also determined to clinch the seat that is also being eyed by Joseph
Chipato, the chairman of the Indigenous Freight Forwarders Association.

Hwarare said the party had proposed new vetting procedures that would be
ratified at the congress this week including a requirement for a minimum of
five "O" Levels and five years' experience in party structures for all
contenders. There will also be screening of candidates to ensure that they
have no economic crime records.
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Zim Independent

Falgold falls foul of land politics
Godfrey Marawanyika
FALCON Gold (Falgold), the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE)-listed gold miner,
has suffered further knocks and fallen victim to the government's land
seizure policy, as its Kadoma-based Venice Estate has been designated for
compulsory acquisition despite investment protection agreements between
Harare and Luxembourg.

Falcon Investments Holding Societe Anonyme (FIHSA) of Nordic Europe majority
owns Falgold, respective owners and operators of Camperdown Tribute, Dalny,
Golden Quarry and Venice mines. The holding FIHSA company is wholly
incorporated in Luxembourg.

In a November 19 government announcement, Falgold's 1 300-hectare Venice
Estate, with a title deed 3125/91, was listed for mandatory take-over under
President Robert Mugabe's land distribution exercise - already claiming its
Shurugwi mine farms and plantation estate.

Harare normally gives its intention of taking over targeted properties
through Section 5 notices, which is part of a broad land take-over law
crafted in the aftermath of violent occupations of minority-held land in

While Mines minister Amos Midzi professed ignorance about Falgold's listed
properties, company secretary Craig Smith said they were aware of Venice
Estate's expropriation plan, but they would "appropriately" contest it.

"We have seen the notice. I am sure that our directors will appeal against
it," Smith, who was speaking on behalf of absent managing director Andrew
Beattie, said.

He would not elaborate on how they would carry the reclamation plan and when
it would be instituted, but businessdigest strongly understands that the
mining firm has lost considerable bullion resources since the land
encompassed yet-to-be-developed claims.

It is also strongly understood that Falgold will take its Venice Estate
fight to the Chamber of Mines which will universally look at other affected

Observers this week said Harare's move to wrest Falgold's land further
heightened uneasiness in the critical mining sector at a time it is reeling
from various operational challenges and demands for mainly foreign-held
mines to cede 50% of their shareholding to locals.

It also adds to the losses and woes besetting large corporates - both listed
and non-quoted concerns - in Zimbabwe.

Said one analyst: "The government has to clarify if that piece of land
(Falgold's) it wants to get is owned under a mining lease or not because
this has a serious bearing on the issue of security of tenure."

"What also has to be clarified was the notice of acquiring the land done in
consultation with Falcon Gold. Zimbabwe might end up having problems in
attracting potential investors if we have a scenario which results in the
Land Acquisition Act superseding every piece of legislation in the country,"
he said, refreshing the Kondozi Farm debacle, which trampled on export
processing zones laws.

Notwithstanding the land seizures, Falgold has had to temporarily close its
Venice mine because it is unviable.

The mine, initially set to close for six months since March 2002, is yet to

Meanwhile, another ZSE-listed concern, Mashonaland Holdings Ltd (Mashold),
was last week dealt a body blow when its Eyrecourt farm was placed under
section 7 of the land seizure laws, which demand that owners defend - within
five days - reasons for keeping their land.

Eyrecourt, in south east Harare and measuring 197 hectares, was earmarked
for property development and according to company chief executive chief
executive Justin Dowa, the forcible seizure was one of the many setbacks the
property company has suffered in recent months.

"We monitor what happens to any of our assets.and we try to resolve any
problem in an appropriate manner," he said last Wednesday.

Mashold, managing properties worth $32 billion and formerly owned by Anglo
American Corporation, relisted on the local bourse when new shareholders led
by Intermarket bought into the group last year.

Its property portfolio includes the plush Intermarket Life Towers in central
Harare and is worth in excess of $11,5 billion.
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Zim Independent

Growth strains water system
Staff Writers.
HARARE'S sewer and water reticulation system capacity is not able to carry
new housing developments as it is already stretched to the limit, deposed
opposition Movement for Democratic Change Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri has

Mudzuri, a civil engineer by profession and pushed out of Town House last
year in a bid by government to assert control over politics in the capital,
this week pointed out that frequent water shortages in Harare clearly
indicated the extent of pressure on the current infrastructure.

He charged that these residential areas are often unplanned.

"Population growth and the continued parcelling out of land in exchange for

political mileage will increase pressure on the already dilapidated
 systems," Mudzuri told businessdigest in Harare on Wednesday.

According to him, water treatment plants - just outside Harare and to the
west - had outlived projected "safe water" and recycling production capacity
since comprehensive studies were carried out seven years ago.

The present demand, measured by the peak October to November period in any
hot year, shows that capacity was exceeded by 2001 and Harare is now three
years outside demand period in terms of those projections.

"The increased demand for water was caused by the government when it
encouraged the sprouting up of settlements around the city on the pretext of
providing accommodation to the people," Mudzuri said. The Harare council,
now under the caretaker eye of ruling Zanu PF symphathiser Sekesai
Makwavarara and endless commissions, was frustrated in its attempts to
rehabilitate the main Morton Jaffray water treatment works by government
through continual denials of authority to borrow on the open market.

Mudzuri feels such an exercise would have improved capacity and solved the
once-thriving city's water problems - also affecting key industries and
various social activities.

"We were also denied borrowing powers to upgrade the obsolete equipment.
during my short tenure as mayor," the 48-year old Mudzuri said.

With the government acquiring more land in the peri-urban zone for housing
development and noting Mudzuri as well as other independent urban planners'
concerns, council spokesman Leslie Gwindi was, however, defiant, saying they
had capacity to deal with any increases in pressure on the infrastructure.

"We have the capacity to take on board these new developments. Planning
teams are already working with people on the farms," he said.

Gwindi would not readily explain the Harare municipality working plan and
how long it would take to implement.

Along with Ignatious Chombo's Local Government, Public Works and National
Housing ministry, Makwavarara's financially-strained council has launched an
ambitious plan to acquire about 40 farms in the Harare catchment area to
develop a metropolitan structure catering for homeless urban dwellers and
markedly reducing the swelling housing backlog estimated at one million.

Among those unserviced tracts of land are Chizororo, Eyrecourt and
Stoneridge farms which the government has compulsorily acquired under a
sweeping land ownership scheme also affecting agriculture. -
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Zim Independent

Failed banks ordered to release forex
Godfrey Marawanyika
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has instructed all banks placed under the
management of a curator to release locked up foreign currency for corporates
frozen with the financial institutions that are closed for business.

The latest policy shift has been caused by the central bank's inability to
raise enough foreign currency for imports, critics have said.

In a circular sent out to corporates that were affected by the compulsory
six-month closure of banks the central bank said that the money is only
accessible if a firm deposits the local currency equivalent at the
prevailing auction rates.

"The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe wishes to advise all corporates with foreign
currency accounts frozen with financial institutions placed under the
management of a curator, that they can now, with effect from 22 November
2004, make use of foreign currency funds to finance their various foreign
currency commitments," the RBZ circular said.

"This is only applicable where the corporate client has placed new deposits
in Zimbabwe dollars equivalent to the same value of the auction rate. The
30-day liquidation period on all such frozen funds will be effective from
the day the application for utilisation of funds is submitted to the Reserve

Since the introduction of the auction system in January this year, the
central bank has been rejecting 75-85% of the bids which has resulted in
both individuals and corporates resorting to the to the black market.

Currently the auction rate is $5 658,22 against the greenback. However, on
the informal market, US$1 is fetching $7 500-$8 000.

Independent economist and a member of the central bank's advisory team, Eric
Bloch, said that the decision was taken not to inconvenience firms.

"This was an administrative decision and to make sure that the funds are
just not locked up and not being productive," he said.

"The policy is not only meant for firms alone but this includes individuals
as well. This is also a policy decision not to inconvenience firms that
would be needing hard currency."

Conservative figures provided for by the central bank indicate that by the
third quarter (October 28) it had managed to raise US$804 million through
inflows from corporates and the auction system.

Money transfer agencies/Diaspora had raised US$39,5 million, gold sales
US$210,7 and tobacco sales US$49,2 million.

By the end of October the country had managed to raise US$1 249 million as
foreign currency.
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Zim Independent

     Business    Friday, 3 December 2004

      Power outages disrupt industry - Murerwa
      Conrad Dube

      THE erratic supply of electricity, owing to Zimbabwe's limited import
capacity attached to the current foreign exchange constraints, has greatly
contributed to the disruption of service in productive sectors, Herbert
Murerwa, the country's stand-in Finance minister has said.

      Unveiling the country's fifth one-year economic blueprint dubbed
Zimbabwe: Towards Sustained Economic Growth - Macroeconomic Policy Framework
for 2005-2006, Murerwa recently admitted that the Zimbabwe Electricity
Supply Authority (Zesa)'s mooted actions to bill exporting consumers, mainly
businesses, in foreign currency had further dented industries' production

      He said this was more applicable to those failing to raise the
required funds.

      "Given that the capacity to import supplies (of power) is related to
foreign exchange availability, it is critical that government measures to
improve the competitiveness of exporters be continued," he said.

      Zimbabwe requires an average US$13 million to import 150 megawatts of
power at any given time from fellow Southern African Development Community
member states, among them the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and

      The power is needed to augment its internal generating capacity, also
hobbled by six-year foreign cash shortages accompanying poor performing
exports and a fast depreciating economy.

      Murerwa's sentiments on the effects of incessant power outages on
industry also come at a time regional economies are threatened by pending
power shortages in a few years to come and which deficit Zesa has attempted
to respond to by courting Chinese investors to expand internal generating

      The views also come at a time Zimbabwe has failed to timeously
implement the formation of an independent regulatory commission for the
energy sector.

      Zesa's executive chairman Sydney Gata recently told this paper that
the authority awaits government approval.

      The new policy, which the acting Treasury boss said was a response to
the apparent lack of broad macro economic framework to underpin recovery,
replaces the National Economic Revival Programme (Nerp), launched in 2000.

      Murerwa said the policy would curb de-industrialisation through
"concentrated" support for various high-growth productive segments and
emphasis will be placed on the promotion of value addition as well as

      The latest working document, singling out the agricultural,
infrastructural development and investment promotion sectors, is anchored in
the implementation of the equally new industrial development strategy (IDS).

      Harare feels the underway-conversion of the Zimbabwe Development Bank
into a fully-fledged infrastructural development bank - to finance energy,
housing and other infrastructural projects - will fulfill the blueprint's
sectoral-growth strategy or objectives.

      Economic commentators this week said that the success of the policy
depended on government commitment to full implementation of the programme.

      They pointed out that government has often implemented its economic
policies half-heartedly and this could affect the latest measures as well.

      The classic case of half-hearted measures involves the multilateral
agency-backed economic structural adjustment programme (Esap), unveiled in
1991, but aborted half way when President Robert Mugabe's government's
frustration with donors - over bad performing loans and other policy
differences - boiled over.

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Zim Independent

Zim's inflation basket up for review
Godfrey Marawanyika
THE government is set to review the inflation basket as it feels that the
current method of aggregating inflation pointers has lost its effectiveness.

Zimbabwe calculates its consumer price index (CPI), reflecting year-on-year
and monthly percentage changes, in the average price of a basket of goods
comparative to a given period.

The inflation basket comprises 33,6% of food items and the difference is
made up of non-food items.

Andrew Bvumbe, a principal director in the Ministry of Finance and overseer
of the main Central Statistical Office (CSO) charged with gathering the CPI
figures, said they were already working on the new methodology.

"CSO is currently working on the inflation basket, given that over the past
two to three years consumption levels have significantly changed," he said.

"Once they are through everyone will be notified and that will also be
reflected in the inflation figures, as CSO will make the announcements."

The former Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe boss said if the amendments were
carried through this could see the products, mainly daily consumption or
bread-and-butter goods, being changed.

The marked slow down in monthly inflation has seen the annualised rate
falling sharply to nearly 209% from a peak of 622,8% in January this year.

As a result, the central bank has further adjusted its inflation forecasts
from a target of 200% in December to between 150 to 160%.

A bank economist, who spoke on condition that he was not named, ratcheted up
a long-held view that the government could have been applying the wrong
CPI-calculation method altogether, saying the anticipated review meant that
the CSO might have been working on the wrong figures.

"The Central Statistical Office might have been working on the wrong figures
all along," the economist said, adding that other people are including
essential goods otherwise deemed as luxury items in the prior calculation
method. Such goods, he said, included electronics.

"Other people now put cellphones in their shopping basket every month. It is
a good thing that the government is now reviewing the basket. It might be
late, but essential."

Over the past two years, analysts said, inflation figures and the
calculation process could have been compromised, since a large portion of
products - making up the traditional basket - were available on the informal

There were also concerns that the samples which were being used by
government for calculating inflation were products that are under price

In its monetary review policy in October, Gideon Gono's Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe said the fiscal side should remain vigilant to consolidate the
disinflation trend.

It, however, expressed concern last week when Herbert Murerwa's Finance
ministry availed a $5 trillion capital expenditure facility, saying
"inappropriate use" of that budgetary outlay could negatively impact on
money supply growth, otherwise known as M3.

As a stop gap measure to discourage M3 growth, known to negatively affect
inflation rate, the central bank said the money would be channelled towards
productive sector facility (PSF).

PSF is a cheap financing facility for resuscitating industry.
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Zim Independent


The enemy in your sight

WHERE now Zimbabwe? There are reputedly four million Zimbabweans out of the
country. Leaders are jostling for power and women are elevated mainly for
political expediency.

Good luck to everyone. We are now a more polarised and divided nation. We
still are dominated by the executive and the ideological superstructure and
state machinery. One man one vote is a slogan of the past.

The support from South African president Thabo Mbeki is unwavering but as
sure as night follows day, the bubble will soon burst.

It's folly that we blame the British for our predicament. Look around and
see who is in a big car, who owns more than one house and more than one farm
etc. That is the enemy in your sight!

The agenda to concentrate on is food production, education, health and
everything will right itself.

African leaders should stay at home, live frugally and understand what is
happening to their own people.

Unfortunately, whether one likes it or not, the problems have got worse
after Independence.

The soldiers are sons of the soil and should be sent to the land instead of
paying them to intimidate the population which does not agree with the
dominant ideology.

I wish Mai Joyce Mujuru success and hope she will use her new position and
gender to stop ill-treatment of women.

We need to value women everywhere. There should be the death sentence for
rape as that is the only ultimate deterrent.

Still Hoping For Change.

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Zim Independent


Charity should begin at home

I WORK in a government department which has such a serious shortage of PCs
that we are still not computerised.

Having noted that President Mugabe has been donating some PCs to rural
schools, I was wondering if he could also donate some to such institutions
in dire straits as charity should begin at home.


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Zim Independent


Go on, scorch the land!

CONGRATULATIONS must go to our highly-intelligent "new" farmers for burning
and scorching almost every acre of veld they have "stolen".

One only has to travel from Bulawayo to Gweru to witness the destruction to
the environment they have caused.

Their mud huts and tin shacks really spoil the once bushy roadside that
teemed with wildlife where now only dead donkeys and cattle can be seen.

Keep it up our "new" farmers as one day soon you will create a magnificent
"Great Zimbabwe Desert".


Khumalo, Bulawayo.
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Zim Independent


Without water for a year!

ALONG with many other residents of Harare, I have suffered more than my fair
share of water supplies problems.

In fact, I have not had a municipal supply since December 19 2003.

In the intervening months, my wife has made numerous calls to the top brass
at Rowan Martin building.

I have sent correspondence to the same establishment and I have written
screeds on the reverse of each monthly cheque payment - for rates only, of
course - advising of our plight.

Like any other sane person, I have deducted the contrived monthly water bill
from my account and as expected, I have received written communications
advising that my water supply would be castrated as revenge for non-payment.

In fact, we've had two visits from individuals purporting to represent the
City of Harare - their mission was to cut off the non-existent water supply.

Notwithstanding their actions, the bills continue to pour in (excuse the
pun) and according to the latest demand, my closing meter reading on October
25 was 2485.

Funny then that my meter reading during August was noted and documented by
my wife as 2309 and even funnier that this reading remained unchanged on
November 29.

Either the City of Harare is inventing the information or they have a
separate, invisible meter attached to my pipes.

Whatever they are up to, I resent being invoiced for something I'm not
receiving and I resent even more the fact that someone appears to be
cheating the readings.

Is it too much to ask someone in Rowan Martin building to explain what's
going on and restore my water supply?

Richard Wiley,

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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

Aids time-bomb

AFRICAN leaders meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, in April 2001 declared the battle
against HIV and Aids, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases as their
top priority for the first quarter of the 21st century.

The agreement, which became known as the Abuja Declaration, bound African
leaders to commit resources and formulate prudent policies to fight the

"We consider Aids as a state of emergency in the continent. To this end, all
tariff and economic barriers to access to funding of Aids-related activities
should be lifted," the declaration says. This has not happened.

As the world marked World Aids Day on Wednesday the sub-Saharan region and
Zimbabwe in particular were faced with the grim figures of the pandemic. The
UNAids Global Report for 2004 estimates that there are 25 million people
living with HIV. The region is home to about 10% of the world's population
but has two-thirds of infected people. In Zimbabwe it is estimated that 1,8
million people have been infected. There is also a worrying phenomenon in
the region where the epidemic's feminisation has become very apparent. Of
the infected adults in the region, 57% are women while 75% of young people
infected are girls.

The statistics are shocking but experts have said the worst of the pandemic
is still to come. The death rate is expected to escalate as those infected
today succumb to the pandemic after five to 10 years. With it will be a
massive growth in Aids orphans, projected to reach 18 million in the region
by 2010. The pandemic is daily altering the demographic profile of countries
in the region to levels where the productive age-group will be depleted to
unsustainable levels.

Weak national security schemes and support programmes are not geared to
dealing with the problem. Orphans pose huge challenges to governments which
still have to deal with education, prevention, looking after people living
with HIV and Aids. The region has also been grappling with other diseases
like malaria and tuberculosis, which have been a major drain on health
budgets, which have remained inadequate.

The Abuja Declaration, which has been re-affirmed by regional initiatives
like the Sadc Declaration on Hiv and Aids and the Nepad Health Strategy,
also includes a commitment by the governments to "take all necessary
measures to ensure that the needed resources are made available from all
sources and that they are efficiently and effectively utilised".

Under the declaration African governments further pledged to devote 15% of
their budgets to improving the health sectors. This is far from being
achieved, as lack of political will by many African governments has remained
the major handicap in minimising the impact of the pandemic.

In the national budget announced last week the Ministry of Health received
$3 trillion, representing 10,5% of the national budget. In a super-short
World Aids Day message this week (513 words to be precise) President Mugabe
said Zimbabwe had achieved a lot using its own resources. Zimbabwe's
application to access funds from the Global Fund on Aids was turned down due
to perceived technical flaws. Mugabe believes that this is part of a
"neo-colonial onslaught" against his government.

The paucity of detail in the presidential message could be reflective of
commitment to fighting the pandemic. There was no mention of treatment,
which is a crucial subject at this juncture. Does Zimbabwe have a policy on
Aids orphans or on gender and HIV and Aids? Policies on HIV and Aids at the
work place have not been properly ventilated.

Then there is the perennial problem of professionals in the health sector
leaving the country in droves. There is need for a bigger commitment from
the Office of the President. Why not use the costly musical galas which
attract the youths to spread the word? Musical galas have gobbled $2 billion
this year. Compare that with the $3 billion expended on ARVs between
December last year and September this year.

Let it play!

Malawi Health minister Hetherwick Ntaba captured the commitment, or lack of
it, last week at a Southern African Editors' Forum conference in Mangochi,
southern Malawi.

"If there was a foreign invasion and 10 people per hour were being killed in
Malawi, we wouldn't be sitting here," said Ntaba. "We would suspend
everything. We would be out there fighting. Ten people are dying of Aids in
Malawi every hour but are we fighting?"

There are however sub-Saharan countries whose leaders have led from the
front in prevention and treatment.

Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki chairs a cabinet action committee on HIV and
Aids. He has also brought on board leaders of Kenya's main religious
groupings in the fight. In Botswana, President Festus Mogae influenced the
decision to provide free ARVs and to develop a national programme on the
prevention of mother to child transmission.

Malawi has now appointed a Minister of Aids Health to co-ordinate the
national response to the pandemic. In Lesotho, Prime Minister Pakalitha
Mosisili and 80 civil servants were publicly tested in March this year.

We need the same commitment in Zimbabwe

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Zim Independent

Zim waves goodbye to the last freedom
By Steve Kibble
THE railroading through Parliament of the Non-Governmental Organisations
(NGOs) Bill means the government of Zimbabwe has now completed its
strangling of three basic freedoms.

Freedom of association has now joined freedom of information and freedom of
assembly in the oxygen tent in line with government's strategy of shutting
down all independent voices and democratic spaces. By contrast, the
government-sponsored youth militias operate with impunity.

Zanu PF's strategy for survival and retention of its ill-gotten assets is a
holistic strategy of repression with mutually reinforcing elements.
Increased militarisation sees military and security sectors immune from the
law and occupying increasingly prominent positions in the intelligence,
provincial administrations and electoral authorities.

Secondly the regime has used its presidential powers to amend the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act, allowing police to hold opponents of the regime
supposedly to counter corruption.

Thirdly the judiciary is almost completely compliant, as shown in its
confirming most of the contentious legislation. The neutralising of the
judiciary has important knock-on effects in areas like press and media
freedom and intimidation, information starvation, freedom of the opposition
to assemble and be heard, politicisation of the police, further land
"resettlement", human rights violations, show trials of the opposition,
politicisation of governmental-controlled food aid, public order and the

The NGO legislation bans foreign funding for political governance, human
rights and anti-corruption work and effectively proscribes international
NGOs from carrying out such work. It makes registration of NGOs subject to
arbitrary authority under a government-controlled NGO council and provides
severe penalties including shutting down NGOs and imprisoning staff for
contravention of the Act.

Very wide-ranging definitions leave much to ministerial dictat and arbitrary
decision-making from both formal and informal government structures. It is
unclear how much the Act will affect the churches in Zimbabwe; government
assurances that they will be fine if they stick to "religious matters"
contrast with the police closing down meetings held in churches to discuss
the Act. The Act went through despite its running contrary not just to the
Zimbabwean constitution, but also to several regional and international
rights conventions that Harare has signed up to, and despite its likely
economic impact given the numbers employed in the NGO sector and its effect
on foreign exchange and tourism (what is left of it).

The NGO law, the Electoral Amendment Act as well as legislation to provide
payments to collaborators (non-combatant forces in the 1970s liberation war)
are all in the context of the forthcoming parliamentary elections. These are
set for March 2005 although the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) is currently suspending participation until the conditions for a free
and fair election are met.

The combined legislation will severely limit any check on the government,
make illegal non-governmental funding for civic and voter education and
ensure government control of the electoral process and support from a
potential opposition force of "collaborators".

It is widely believed that "a dirty dozen" of NGOs mostly operating within
the human rights arena were the primary target although the Bill would
affect all NGOs. This would include the Catholic Commission for Justice and
Peace, the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum
and Transparency International Zimbabwe.

Although the immediate target are indeed NGOs (foreign and national) the
wider context is control of rural Zimbabweans to ensure not just obedience
but the impossibility of thinking any other way than in channels laid down
by Zanu PF and of destroying the MDC.

The Act has been on the way since 2000 when the government saw the result of
civil society lobbying in the rejection of the government's draft
constitution in a referendum. It was given additional impetus by Zimbabwean
civil society providing much of the evidence for the African Commission on
Human and Peoples Rights report on Zimbabwe. It was this year submitted to
the African Union amid outrage from Harare at being criticised by fellow

President Robert Mugabe's government is convinced that NGOs are a front and
money conduit for the MDC which Zanu PF says is a front for British premier
Tony Blair - a position hardly helped by the Blair statement of July 14 in
the UK parliament that he was working for regime change in Zimbabwe.

In fact the Act could be said to be already in operation before its official
date. A climate of fear and arbitrariness around NGO work has existed for
some time with local Zanu PF activists and youth militias feeling free to
determine who is allowed into "their" area whatever local governors might

Work permits (TEPs) for outside NGO staff are being refused almost as a
matter of course. To see how the proposed NGO council would look, says a
local human rights activist, we should examine the workings of the supine
pro-government Media and Information Commission.

The Act has served its purpose of dividing and confusing civil society as to
the best response to the legislation - pretending it is not happening,
ignoring the plight of others and carrying on programmes as much as
possible, seeking friendly "godfathers" inside Zanu PF, relocating or
shutting down in Zimbabwe.

The use of repressive divide and rule tactics make the NGOs the latest in a
series including the judiciary, the media, the churches and farmworkers and
farmers. Internationally and regionally the government has divided or
silenced critics with even the limited sanctions regime ineffectual, despite
their renewal in Europe and in the United States this year.

Mugabe's control strategy appears bent on his party surviving until the
elections and securing an African "free and fair" verdict which would take
the heat off, challenge the international community to lose interest and
give it a strong hand in post-election negotiations with the MDC. This would
also give Thabo Mbeki a vindication of "quiet diplomacy" even though Harare
is in undoubted breach of the Sadc electoral protocol it signed up to in
Mauritius in August.

Meanwhile, the debate on whether free and fair elections can be held or not
is critical for the coming months. Some form of transitional administration,
with international support, will be needed. But how can such a transitional
arrangement be brought about? In the end the whole system of
neo-patrimonialism and endemic corruption presided over by the regime needs
root and branch change. The authoritarian mindset has little ability to
think alternatives other than repression and blame on outside conspirators.

In the words of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition: "Slurs, verbal abuse,
violence and intimidation may win arguments, but they can never
reconstitute, heal or rehabilitate societies."

*Steve Kibble is Africa advocacy officer of the Catholic Institute for
International Relations.
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Zim Independent


Zim should rise above tribal politics
THE nomination of President Robert Mugabe, Joseph Msika, Joyce Mujuru and
John Nkomo to occupy the top four positions in the ruling Zanu PF hierarchy
has sent ethnic tongues wagging.

The most common claim has been that the Karanga and Manyika people have been
totally "left out" of the Zanu PF presidium and thus marginalised.

There have also been charges that Zezurus have grabbed all the top positions
and consolidated their hegemony in local politics. Mugabe, Msika and Mujuru
are being conveniently classified as Zezuru in this tribal model. Nkomo is
supposed to represent the Ndebele.

Allegations abound in political circles of people in Zanu PF claiming to
represent certain ethnic groups when they do not. To deflect criticism
against the Zezurus, Mujuru is then said to be a Korekore. Msika becomes
Ndebele or Ndau, whatever the case might be. Mugabe remains as the only
Zezuru. But at another level he is said to be not even that. His roots are
laced with innuendo.

The tribal theory is then multiplied to cover the broad Shona and Ndebele
groups. Ethnic contradictions within the Shonas and Ndebeles inevitably
emerge because the groups are made up of people of different ethnic origins
and cultures.

Such ethnic political debates have not just suddenly emerged. They have been
there since time immemorial. The political dimension of ethnicity and
language raise complex and, ultimately, complicated questions.

Language sometimes seems definitive of identity, but at other times almost
completely irrelevant. We therefore have to avoid sweeping generalisations
about ethnicity and politics, yet remain aware ethnicity is part of
political reality.

Ethnic and language contradictions are there everywhere. South Africa,
Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Malawi, just to name a few countries, have
similar problems to varying degrees.

In Belgium the struggles between French and Flemish speaking people have led
to an extreme form of federalism and strictly defined boundaries that
determine the appropriate language to use in a particular area.

During our liberation struggle nationalists fought among themselves and
sometimes killed each other in pursuit of tribal agendas. Zanu PF and PF
Zapu clashed during the 1960s over political differences largely defined by

It is documented that Zanu PF and PF Zapu fought in exile as some ethnic
barons tried to assert tribal supremacy over the organisations. There were
gruesome killings in some cases such as Zanu PF's Nhari rebellion in 1974
inspired by ethnic dogfights. Zapu stalwarts also badly clashed,
particularly in Zambia, along tribal lines.

After Independence in 1980 the trend continued. Zanu PF and PF Zapu further
clashed over political dominance but their fight had tribal overtones. The
low intensity civil war in the 1980s was as much about tribalism as it was
about politics.

Due to our continued subjection to systematic ethnic politics our body
politic now accepts these tribal models as "normal". It is common to hear
people say so and so is a good leader but the problem is that he comes from
the wrong region.

Do we really need to perpetuate these ethnic mindsets in this day and age?
Can anything be achieved by fostering politics defined and limited to

The growth of a politics based on narrow concerns, rooted in the
exploitation of divisions of class, gender, region, religion, ethnicity,
morality and ideology - a give-no-quarter and take-no-prisoners activism -
can be very damaging to the fabric of a nation.

In all tribal societies an "us versus them" mentality destroys national
cohesion. This dangerous parochialism can easily escalate to rhetorical
excesses and even to physical violence. Africa and other parts of the world
have been convulsed by ethnic wars, partly fuelled by such things.

In most African countries - including Zimbabwe - people are defined as
citizens largely on paper, but their primary designation is of an ethnic
group. Ethnic and more so racial particularism demand that one treats other
human beings as if they were radically different from oneself, but in ways
that are morally bankrupt. That is, we take the identities of race and tribe
as if they were constitutive and permanent features of one's humanity and as
if such markers hold any moral value.

Yet we know only too well, in Zimbabwe's case for instance, that our tribes
are mostly a hotchpotch of different ethnic groups brought together by
history and circumstances.

But this does not stop blinkered tribalists, who are mostly charlatans or
ignoramuses, from trying hard to promote ethnic politics at a community,
regional or national level.

Some politicians have tried and failed to carve careers out of tribalism.

Zimbabweans, for the sake of national interest, must try and rise above
petty tribalism - and racism too - which does not add value to our
collective lives and well-being. Indeed, we must avoid discrimination of any
kind if we all agree that we have since moved from primitive to modern
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Zim Independent

Budget skirts key revival ingredients
Shakeman Mugari/Conrad Dube

THE budget presented last week by acting Minister of Finance and Economic
Development Herbert Murerwa is highly consumptive and lacks the ingredients
to resuscitate the ailing economy, analysts say.

They said the budget allocated trillions of dollars of state funds to
various sectors of the economy without putting in place programmes to
resuscitate agriculture, tourism, mining and manufacturing, all of which are
central to economic revival.

Presenting the $27,5 trillion budget last week, Murerwa said there were
indications that the economy would grow by between 3,5% and 5% next year. He
attributed this to "significant improvement in the supply response in the
productive sectors of the economy, especially mining and agriculture".

In direct contradiction to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon
Gono who expects gross domestic product (GDP) to plunge by about 5%, the
minister said GDP -- the sum total of what the country can produce - would
this year slow down to 2,5% from last year's 8,5%.

The minister also said he expected the agricultural sector to rebound from
five years of decline to notch 28% growth next year. The mining sector, the
minister said, would register positive growth of 7,5% while the
manufacturing industry, which has been on a slide for the past five years
would decline by 8,5% this year.

Murerwa said the tourism industry, which bore the brunt of the commotion in
the often violent and chaotic land reform, would benefit from anticipated
tourist inflows from China, which recently awarded Zimbabwe Approved
Destination Status (ADS).

Turning to expenditure, the minister said $23 trillion (81,2% of the total
budget) would finance recurrent expenditure in ministries and government

Only $5 trillion (18% of the total budget) would be channelled towards
capital projects such as infrastructure development. This bloated
expenditure would result in a budget deficit of a massive $4,5 trillion,
representing 5% of GDP. The budget deficit was at $1,346 trillion as of

It is expected that like last year the deficit would be financed by the
local banking sector.

"In the absence of external financial support, a fiscal deficit of $4,5
trillion is consistent with the capacity of the domestic financial sector to
support borrowing requirements," Murerwa said.

Other highlights of the budget include the allocation of $11,49 trillion
(42% of the total budget) to the Public Service Commission for civil
servants' salaries, confirming the government wage bill still takes the
largest chunk of the national cake.

Murerwa said the budget was part of government's plans to reduce inflation
to between 30-50% by the end of next year.

Other major allocations include $6,8 trillion to education, $2,7 trillion to
health while Defence and Security will gobble a whopping $2,3 trillion.
Agriculture, the mainstay of the country's economy until government embarked
on its unplanned land reform programme five years ago, was given $688
billion, supposedly to finance inputs.

Mining was allocated $52,6 billion while $483,5 billion would be used to
finance next year's general election.

In a move widely seen as populist, the minister proposed widening of the
income tax threshold for individuals from $9 million to $12 million per
annum or $750 000 to $1 million per month. The tax-free portion of the bonus
was raised from $100 000 to $5 million.

Apart from these cosmetic changes, analysts said the budget was unlikely to
put the economy back on the recovery path. They noted that the budget was
highly consumptive and populist.

They said the budget failed to boast production in key sectors of the
economy and increase foreign currency inflows. The analysts say the budget
does not address the supply side which is the main reason why the country is
experiencing foreign currency shortages.

A post budget review compiled by Finhold Financial Holdings last week
(Finhold) notes that it was heavily biased in favour of recurrent
expenditure - a scenario not conducive for growth and production.

"As stated in previous commentaries, a budget dominated by recurrent
expenditure is hardly growth-enhancing given the state of the country's
infrastructure," Finhold said in the report.

About 82% of the total budget would be channeled towards recurrent
expenditure of which 51.1% would be used for public service wages.

The report also notes that the expected 28% growth in the agriculture sector
was heavily dependent on other key factors.

"Growth in agriculture is highly dependent on exogenous factors (such as
weather), which the country has no control over. If, for example, Zimbabwe
receives below rainfall this season, the projected growth will not be
achieved," said the report.

The report further observes that the minister was conspicuously silent on
the country's overall balance of payments deficit which has deteriorated
from US$335 million in 2003 to US$523 million this year, "yet, experience
shows that countries that adjusted their currencies to offset increases in
domestic inflation managed to expand their exports substantially," the
report says.

Finhold further notes that despite commitment by government to come up with
plans to boost export and increase foreign currency inflows, none of the
policies have been fully implemented.

Exports have gone down by 60% in the past four years on the back of
systematic destruction of the tobacco industry and horticultural exports.
Tobacco production has crashed by more than 70% and exports have also
slumped significantly. Maize production has also witnessed a sharp decline
and independent food organisations and assessors believe that the country
could face a serious grain deficit.

Analysts say the minister failed to articulate policies to arrest the
collapse in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, which have slumped by
70% and 60% respectively since about 1999. Movement for Democratic Change
secretary for economic affairs, Tendai Biti, said the budget showed the
government was only "living for today" and had no plan to kick-start the

He said the budget was based on a dishonest impression the government was
creating in order to win next March's election.

"They are just creating an impression. Instead of addressing the supply side
of the economy by reviving production in agriculture, manufacturing and
construction, the government has set out to devour the national cake through
excessive expenditure," Biti said.

The budget was dangerously biased towards recurrent expenditure instead of
capital expenditure, which is vital to boost production and address the
supply side of the economy, said Biti.

"The budget has ambitious revenue targets which cannot be met. It is
dishonest in that you cannot address the economic fundamentals without
correcting the political situation. The budget does not deal with the
restoration of investor confidence," he said.

Economic commentator Eric Bloch described the budget statement as hollow as
it skirts issues of job-creation and higher exports.

"It is missing innovation on new incentives for investment, job-creation and
exports. It does not say how they will increase exports to deal with the
perennial shortage of foreign currency," said Bloch

Bloch also said the budget was silent on how the government would increase
direct foreign investment and persuade the donor community to open vital
lines of credit.

"Lines of credit have dried up. We need to guarantee free and fair elections
and judiciary independence. There must be genuine efforts to restore law and
order if we are to access international funds," he said.

"This budget will not get us lines of credit," he said. Zimbabwe is
currently battling to persuade the International Monetary Policy (IMF) to be
spared the looming expulsion from the Bretton Woods institution.

Economists believe that Zimbabwe's economic recovery is not possible without
financial support from the IMF and World Bank, both of which have expressed
grave concerns about the country's political situation.

Despite government claims that the land reform has been "successfully
completed" evictions are still continuing while violence on farms is still

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Luxon Zembe said apart from
attempts to increase the tax bands for taxpayers, the budget did not
articulate any proper framework to increase production.

"The budget does not address the issue of economic growth. It overlooks
issues to do with arresting the deindustrialisation. It does not

have a bold stance on economic revival," Zembe said.

"Recurrent expenditure is excessively high. Corporate tax is also too high.
There is need to allocate more resources towards capital projects that boost
production and encourage external investors to come to Zimbabwe," he said.
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

The good, the bad and the ugly budget
IT is almost inevitable that a national budget will not satisfy the entirety
of a country's populace, no matter how valiantly the responsible minister
may strive to please all, and no matter which country's budget it may be.

But in the environment in which the acting Minister of Finance and Economic
Development, Herbert Murerwa, had to formulate and present Zimbabwe's 2005
budget, the task confronting him was the epitomy of the impossible.

The budget required of Murerwa was one which would stem the economic decline
which had set in at the end of 1997 and had steadily intensified. His budget
would have to be economically stimulatory, and strongly complementary to the
monetary policies of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). The budget needed
to be one which would become a plank in the

platform of rapprochement between Zimbabwe and the international community.

But at the same time, the budget would be driven by governmental dictates
intended to influence the electorate favourably ahead of the March, 2005
parliamentary election. It had, therefore, to encompass tax reductions
whilst funding enhanced remuneration packages for public servants, and for
the armed forces. And yet the reductions could not be of such a magnitude
that government would be driven towards massive further borrowings and which
would fuel a new spate of hyperinflation. The end result was a budget which
was reminiscent of that renowned movie: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Given the environmental constraints upon the minister, and those imposed
upon him by the government, it was unavoidable that some of the elements of
the budget are bad, whilst others cannot be described as anything other than

Amongst the good elements of the budget statement and the underlying budget
was the extent to which the minister gave recognition to the magnitude of
Zimbabwean inflation.

The minister raised the threshold at which individuals begin to pay income
tax to $1 million per month compared to $180 000 a year ago, and $750 000
since September.

However, as the poverty datum line for a family of five is now more than
$1,5 million per month, Zimbabwe will still be taxing the poor.

Admittedly to some extent the minister has reduced the extent that the poor
are taxed, for not only

did he raise the threshold, but he also widened the tax bands considerably.

Moreover, he announced added relief by way of increased tax credits for the
elderly, the blind, and the mentally and physically handicapped, and the
exemption from tax of certain of the income of the elderly.

The budget proposals were also good and commendable in that the minister is
significantly combating unfair competition to the Zimbabwean textile,
clothing and footwear industries as recently was sustained from vast

importations of low quality products from countries which provided export
subsides of such huge proportions that the finished products could be sold
in Zimbabwe at less than material cost.

Yet another very positive factor within the budget was the changes to
capital gains tax, with the minister exempting sale of a principal private
residence by the elderly, and with inflation allowances being correlated to
the consumer price index. Also very commendable was the minister's very
evident resolve to continue enhancing the fiscal disciplines within
government which have been progressively introduced during the last two

However, these and other positives do not detract from the negatives of the
budget. Deserving of the classification of "bad" must, first of all, be the
extent of misplaced optimism on the state of the economy. Government clearly
continues to contend that the economy is on a recovery path, whereas the
reality is that it is still in decline. All that has changed is that the
economy is now dying more slowly than previously.

The hard facts are that inflation continues to be the highest in Africa, if
not in the world, unemployment is at an all-time high, more and more
business failures are being reported, the country has a critical lack of
foreign currency, Zimbabwe is an economic (and political) leper in most of
the free, developed world, investment is at an all-time low, and the country's
skills' resourse is fast contracting as a result of the brain drain.

Yes, 2004 has seen some remarkable economic developments, mainly as a result
of constructive monetary policies, but those developments have not healed
the near-chronically ill economy. They have only alleviated some of the pain
and diminished some of the symptoms.

The blame for the misplaced optimism does not lie with the minister, for it
was very apparent from his budget statement that the governmental
disinformation machine continues to operate vigorously, deceiving not only
the populace but government itself. This was loud and clear when the
minister cited an expected growth in agriculture in 2005 of 28%.

With less than 30 000 hectares of tobacco under cultivation, the
expectations of a 2005 crop of 120 to 160 million kg are illusory in the
extreme. All indications are that a like circumstance will pertain to the
maize crop. (Government still claims a 2004 crop of 2,4 million kg, whilst
on the ground it's almost universally recognised that the actual crop was
about one-third of the mythical figures cited by government.)

Yet another deception, even if not intended, is in respect of the fiscal
deficit. The minister stated that for the nine months to September 2004, the
deficit was $1,346 trillion, compared to a budgeted deficit of $2,179

However, governmental accounting is on a receipts and payments basis, taking
no account of expenditure incurred but not paid. Thus, with the pronounced
delays in effecting value added tax refunds, payment of customs duty
drawbacks, and other amounts payable, the payments which are offset against
revenues to determine the deficit are effectively grossly understated.

The adjective "bad" also attaches to the extent that carbon tax increases
from January 2005, for those increases are 500%, which is not readily
justifiable if, as the minister projected, year-on-year inflation this month
will be about 160%. The same applies to the increase in

duty in cheques and ATM charges, which rise from $50 per transaction to
$500, being a 1 000% increase (which, in his speech, the minister suggested
was aligned to inflation! In practice, it is aligned to the grossly
excessive bank charges).

But even worse is the "ugly" of the budget. The Defence vote rises from
$0,933 trillion to $3,043 trillion, or 226%, and yet again exceeds the vote
for Health and Child Welfare. How does Zimbabwe justify continuing to spend

more to kill people than it spends to keep them alive?

The Education, Sport and Culture vote rises from $1,538 trillion to $5,554
trillion. The needs of education are undoubted, but how will Minister
Chigwedere reconcile his seeking, and receiving, a vote which is increased
by more than twice the percentage increases he was prepared to authorise for
independent schools?
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Zim Independent


Welcome to Zanu PF hospitality guys
THERE was an interesting revelation about women's contribution to the
liberation war in the Herald last week. In an article headed "Mujuru's
nomination milestone for women", Jonathan Moyo's latest import at the
Herald, Caesar Zvayi, said women were the key to every political party's

"It is a given that the vibrancy of the ruling Zanu PF Women's League is the
secret behind the ruling party's success from the days of the liberation
struggle to date," said Zvayi. What were the women doing behind the party,
we wondered? "It is women who cooked for, harboured and washed liberation
fighters' combat fatigues," revealed Zvayi without batting an eyelid.

So women didn't do any fighting or was Zvayi a victim of the proverbial
Freudian slip? And what could be meant by "harbouring" liberation fighters?
We hope he is not trying to reopen the can of worms sealed together with the
Flame film controversy! We also hope that with Mujuru's elevation, women
will be able to tell the full story of their role in the war.

Newsnet revealed last week that many Zanu PF MPs win their seats by default.
It carried reports on Tuesday and Wednesday from Chesa in Mount Darwin in
which villagers said their MPs only surfaced around election time and then
disappeared once they got the vote.

Some of the villagers said they travelled between 20 and 25 km to the
nearest road network. This, they said, posed serious challenges when they
wanted to move their produce to the markets. The villagers said they also
travelled up to 10 km to the nearest water point because there were no
boreholes or dams.

The villagers said they were even moving their children to urban schools
because the distances they travelled to school were too long.

"We don't want to vote for anyone in this district because they don't help
us," complained a villager. "We vote for them because we support Zanu PF and
they happen to be chosen by the party," he said.

Some guys have all the luck, hee!

One such MP is Lazarus Dokora. Another is Joyce Mujuru. We hope the sudden
discovery of Mujuru's neglect of Mt Darwin by Newsnet was purely
coincidental. Not part of the presidential war, we mean!

Talking of coincidences, Muckraker was struck by the decision by the
registrar-general's office last week to launch a new ID card just ahead of
an important parliamentary election. Never mind Tobaiwa Mudede's casuistry
about the new security features. We never heard reports of the current metal
ID being forged or abused.

It was the revelation that the new plastic ID would be issued firstly to
those around 16 years who have not had an ID before that was an "eye-opener".
The IDs will be issued between November this year and February. The election
is in March.

Is it a mere coincidence that most of the youths likely to be issued with
the new IDs have just finished their training at Border Gezi camps where
they are indoctrinated to know no other party but Zanu PF and no other
leader but Mugabe?

Is it any secret also that pupils most likely to benefit from President
Robert Mugabe's "10 computers in every province" campaign have just
completed their O or A levels and are therefore eligible for the new ID
cards so they can return Mugabe's favour at the polls? Young and unemployed.

Eureka! Mudede is still a key factor in next year's electoral outcome
whether we have a so-called independent electoral commission or not. And so
is our future determined and sealed in new plastic.

An article in the Herald on Monday by Ngugi wa Mirii titled "NGOs: wolves in
sheep skin" was, as the saying goes, revealing. Moreso on the opportunism of
the author than on the subject. Wa Mirii confessed to never receiving any
funding from government for his "development work" in Zimbabwe.

But he has received money from NGOs whom he now accuses of being "a
camouflage of colonial economic policies in the third world".

"My quarrel with international NGOs and (the) donor community is that they
do not genuinely assist the poor in Zimbabwe or in the third world," said
the newly enlightened Wa Mirii.

"They come not only with hidden agendas and clear mandate to serve their
different national interests but worse still is the fact that some of the
NGO staff carry out intelligence work for their respective countries under
the cover of development and humanitarian aid."

This should be excellent "intelligence" for state security agents especially
as Wa Mirii claims he has been working with these NGOs for over 20 years.
What intelligence has he gathered in all those years and what has he done
with it?

Does that include him gathering "intelligence" for the Daniel arap Moi
government in Kenya? Why would somebody from a poor third world country
devote 20 years to development work in Zimbabwe when there are so many needy
people in his own country?

Our friend Nathaniel Manheru has been trying to get too clever by half on
Joyce Mujuru's nomination. He was as ignorant as his masters about the
three-in-one principle that he was prattling about at the weekend.

It's not just the media who displayed ignorance. Those that Manheru sought
to promote as more deserving of the vice-presidency were equally guilty of
criminal collective amnesia about the 1999 resolution. Including Manheru who
only recently was telling us Mujuru's nomination was "a media construct".

Of course being the hypocrite that he is, he won't admit that he got it
completely wrong. There was studious denial of the truth to a point where
the sheer weight of evidence forced the Herald last Tuesday to go and lift a
table on the outcome nominations from the Mirror.

Then the "media construct" assumed a corporeal form whose existence Manheru
couldn't deny any more. It's called betting on the wrong horse which now
unfortunately "makes an untidy and smouldering pile of misplaced, burnt out

Has he read about the volte-face in Matabeleland South following party chair
John Nkomo's visit at the weekend? There is as much democracy as finding the
root of a stone as they say in our vernacular!

The Mirror's Behind the Words columnist takes the simplistic view that the
England cricket team sought to mix sport and politics because they hate
Zimbabwe. In any case the comment itself seeks to pretend that these are
mutually exclusive.

This is a position that is not hard to understand if it comes from Zanu PF
apologists who want to eat their cake and keep it too.

The controversy about the England tour was bound to resurface because the
material conditions that stopped them earlier this year have not changed.
Physical threats from something called Sons and Daughters of Zimbabwe aside,
there were also moral pressures which forced the likes of Henry Olonga and
Andy Flower to sport those black armbands to "mourn the death of democracy
in Zimbabwe".

Behind the Words says the threats to boycott Zimbabwe have nothing to do
with security concerns. Which could be true. But he does not look at
government media's virulent campaign of hatred against Britain and its
ambassadors to Zimbabwe. That is in addition to the forthcoming "anti-Blair

And who fed the Herald that seriously daft story about "a sinister plan" by
visiting journalists to sponsor, together with "a former Zimbabwe cricket
captain", a training session for disadvantaged youths at Lilfordia Farm
which was likely to "provoke war veterans"?

Nothing more graphically illustrates the paranoid dementia of the state
media's handlers than stories like that one. The story cited "security
sources" who were apparently unable to tell the difference between Lilfordia
School and Lilfordia Farm.

And what does it say about stability or law and order in the country that
war veterans could be "provoked" by a game of cricket? What else can't we do
in case war veterans are "provoked"?

There were claims that most of the visiting journalists were state agents,
not bona fide reporters. The Information department even claimed it was
trying to check their credentials from some websites before they could be
accredited. It took Nathan Shamuyarira to restore sanity in a spat that the
department wanted to turn into a diplomatic war with Britain while it sought
to recover from its embarrassment over the Mujuru nomination.

With such an Information department at work does Zimbabwe need so-called
enemies to demonise it?

There appears to be some serious damage-limitation underway after President
Mugabe asked "which professor" had convened what was deemed an unauthorised
meeting in Tsholotsho two weeks ago.

Communications minister Chris Mushohwe was on Tuesday thrust in the front
line to say his donation of $10 million to a faraway school in Tsholotsho
was to reciprocate a similar gesture by Professor Jonathan Moyo.

Some ignorant councillor in remote Tsholotsho, Memeza Mthombeni, was roped
in to claim that they "invited" the Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa
to come and officiate at the illegal function to raise money after he read a
story in the papers indicating that Mnangagwa had adopted Ntalale school in
Gwanda. How very resourceful of a mere rural ward councillor!

The meeting and donations "coincided" with nominations for the
vice-presidency. Then we are told a whole six provincial chairpersons and
government ministers from across the country gathered for a mere
"prize-giving" function at a rural school. And a plane was hired to complete
the parade of new-found opulence.

Mnangagwa said he was "surprised" to receive the invitation from Moyo whom
he alleged always lambasted him in the papers. Just who is fooling who here?
Unfortunately Lowani Ndlovu was not forthcoming this week on these
convoluted plots. We certainly deserve more than these muddled, amateurish

If, as Lowani claimed in his column this week, democracy "is healthy" and in
full swing in Zanu PF, surely there shouldn't be anything "sinister" about
holding a meeting and deciding who should be vice-president? The six errant
provincial chairpersons have since received their chastisement from the
politburo while the convener of the Tsholotsho meeting is reportedly
awaiting his fate - the "crackers" Mugabe promised last week!

The Parliamentary Legal Committee has declared unconstitutional clauses in
the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Bill which make it an offence,
punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years, to coerce or attempt to coerce
the government where such coercion is accompanied by boycott or civil
disobedience or resistance to any law "whether active or passive".

Clause 33 makes it an offence, punishable by a fine or up to one year's
imprisonment, to make an abusive statement concerning the president or
statement which is false or which engenders feelings of hostility towards
the president, or which causes contempt or ridicule.

It is extraordinary that government could even propose abridging civil
liberties in this way. The PLC points out that given the nature of the
presidency, an elected public office, to ring-fence that office from
criticism amounts to a derogation from fundamental freedoms.

Aren't we always being told that the president is not afraid of criticism?
Is this the behaviour of a regime safely ensconced in the affections of the
people? Don't we have the right to satirise or ridicule our leaders? Is that
not part of democracy's levelling process for the high and mighty?

There is another disturbing dimension here. In a democracy the public
arguably have the right to "coerce" their government to do the right thing.
If that includes boycotting certain institutions or lending support to a
boycott, that is a constitutional right.

It will be interesting to see what the courts think of these patent
derogations of fundamental liberties by a regime that is evidently running
scared of the people it rules.

And did we read somewhere last week that the Chinese were installing a
monitoring system at the Mazowe Earth Satellite Station to enable government
to monitor Internet communications?

We rather thought they already could. But if it's true, then Zhing-Zhong is
assuming a particularly sinister dimension.

It is one thing for the Chinese to listen in to the conversations of their
own people on the paranoid assumption that they are all plotting against the
people's government. It is quite another to afford that technology to other
totalitarian states.

Following the Department

of Information's humiliating climbdown last Thursday over the admission of
British journalists to cover the England cricket tour, can we assume the
next time George Charamba opens his mouth about "hostile" newspapers getting
up to all sorts of things once they are admitted to the country, he will
think about the consequences of having to swallow his fighting talk just a
few hours later!

What criteria, we should ask, were used by Charamba in refusing admission to
some media and excluding others? How does he explain admitting the Guardian
which has been unremittingly hostile to his regime while keeping out the BBC
whose interviewer Veronique Edwards failed to ask him a single challenging
question in her telephone call to him last Thursday? He was given the same
platform to attack Cosatu the week before without Cosatu being given the
right of reply.

There are individuals in the BBC's Africa Service transparently sympathetic
to the Mugabe regime yet the corporation is viewed with hostility in Harare.
We can't understand why. But it is not difficult to see what endears Reuters
to the Department of Information with paragraphs such as this slipped into a
cricket story last week.

"Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial power, has campaigned for Commonwealth
sanctions against Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe over his redistribution
of white-owned farms to landless blacks and his 2002 re-election in a poll
which international observers said was flawed."

Leaving aside the Zanu PF illusion that Britain heads the campaign for
sanctions against Zimbabwe, is it true that landless blacks are the real
beneficiaries of land reform? Does anybody seriously suggest that any more
after the Bhuka, Utete and Nkomo audits apart from Reuters?

And was it only international observers who claimed the 2002 election was
flawed? Did Zimbabweans themselves not have a view on this?
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