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

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OLF 232

Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


Prelude text



We have received a fraudulent Beverley Building Society cheque. This cheque
has been printed on actual Beverley Building Society paper and even has a
water mark. However there are certain discrepancies between the cheque we
received and an ACTUAL BBS cheque. Now that they have been pointed out we
can see them, but I very much doubt you would be able to see them unless
you worked with them all the time. In our area in the last couple of weeks,
other businesses have also received Fraudulent Building Society cheques
from CABS. I strongly recommend that anyone taking cheques of any sort at
the moment be extremely careful.

All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.
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The Herald

Revisit contract farming scheme

TOBACCO is Zimbabwe’s major foreign currency earner and is likely to
maintain the top spot over the next few seasons, despite challenges from
other exports such as platinum that are coming strongly as major export

Prospects in the tobacco sector are looking up although output is expected
to decline from 80 million kilogrammes in 2003 to 60 million kg this year.
The crop is expected to recover significantly next season.

However, in the short term, the situation is not very encouraging.

Agrarian reform has over the past two years seen thousands of small-scale
farmers venturing into the lucrative crop.

These growers claim a large percentage of the 30 000 tobacco growers in the

Last season, the small growers contributed more than 20 percent of total
production and the figure is expected to improve significantly this year.

However, tobacco, being capital intensive, has seen the small-scale grows
being forced to limit the hectarage under which they put the crop.

However, things were looking up a few months ago when a number of tobacco
companies entered into contracts with growers, under which the firms would
provide inputs and machinery.

The farmers would in turn sell their crop to the companies at prices
prevailing at the time of sale.

This brought relief to most farmers, particularly the newly resettled who
had been struggling to source inputs and other requirements.

However, reports recently that the contractors have not provided enough
inputs and support as previously pledged make sad reading.

Farmers have been left stranded and most are now struggling to secure
additional funding for their crop.

These are innocent farmers who took these companies on their word but they
have failed to deliver.

Reports are that none of these companies have honoured their obligations in
full, leaving the tobacco industry in a mess that needs to be addressed

The constraints that these farmers now face, including lack of funds to buy
coal for curing, will have an adverse effect on total output.

What this effectively means is that some of the crop from the farmers will
be of low quality , thus earning average or below average prices.

At worst, production figures from this important segment of the industry
will be slashed significantly.

The contracting firms should be made accountable for failing to honour their

For now, the growers need resources to purchase coal for curing so something
needs to be done to ensure they receive adequate support for the remaining

We can only hope that these firms will not demand that the growers sell
their entire crop to them when they have failed to adequately provide

Some of the contracting firms have already applied for the requisite
licences that give them exclusive right to purchase the entire crop from
contracted farmers.

We wonder how this will work when they have failed to meet their end of the

We wait to see how the whole sad story will end.

The Tobacco Industry Marketing Board is said to be holding talks with the
companies and we hope the discussions will yield positive results.

The various contracts signed between parties need to be water-tight to
ensure that either party is not cheated at the end of the day.

A few months ago we witnessed incidents where some companies, particularly
in the cotton industry, suspended or withdrew entirely their input support
because farmers had sold their crop to buyers who had not financed its

These are problems which could be avoided if the contracts are signed in
good faith.

The parties involved need to agree on pricing and other modalities so that
the contracts are honoured.

Contracting farming exudes so much potential to transform agricultural
production in a big way if done properly.

There is need for the various players in the sector to take a relook at the
nature , manner and actual implementation to ensure partners meet their end
of the bargain.

With adequate rains, the agriculture sector is expected to grow in leaps and
bounds over the next few years and anything that may get in the way should
be nipped in the bud.

All loopholes in the contract system should be taken care of.

The success of Brazil’s tobacco sector is premised on contract farming and
the same could happen here despite the teething problems. Brazil, the world’
s number one producer of tobacco, is expected to produce at least 800
million kilogrammes of the crop this season.

Zimbabwe has the potential to produce such figures one day. All in good
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The Herald

IATA fiasco was not necessary, says President

By Lovemore Chikova
PRESIDENT Mugabe has deplored the manner in which Air Zimbabwe failed to pay
a US$1,9 million debt to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The failure to honour the debt resulted in the suspension of the national
airline from the IATA Clearing House last week.

Cde Mugabe said it was not necessary for Air Zimbabwe to fail to honour the
debt as it could have sourced the money from somewhere else.

"The IATA fiasco was not necessary," he told journalists at State House
after swearing in five new ministers, three deputies and two provincial
governors on Tuesday.

"US$2 million is too little that the airline should have requested for it
from the Reserve Bank."

President Mugabe said this called for a re-look at the management of not
only Air Zimbabwe, but of all state enterprises.

Air Zimbabwe was suspended by IATA over a US$1,9 million that was already in
arrears by 17 days. The suspension meant the airline could no longer book
its passengers on other airlines plying routes it did not service.

The IATA Clearing House is the internationally-recognised method through
which airlines settle bills owed to each other.

The national airline ended up seeking assistance from the Government to
raise the money, but the damage had already been done.

The airline management said late last week it had secured the money and
arrangements were being made to remit it to the IATA Clearing House. But
this was not before analysts raised eyebrows in the manner in which the
matter was handled and why the airline had failed to raise the money.

The national airline has been charging some of its fares in foreign
currency, putting it in a position to meet its foreign currency obligations.

IATA payments are levied on travellers and should be remitted to the
organisation as and when they are due.

A parliamentary committee recently called for the amendment of the Air
Zimbabwe Act to ensure the airline was granted an option to totally

President Mugabe said the appointment of new ministers to key areas was
meant to bring a turnaround to the fortunes of the country.

One of the newly-appointed ministers is Cde Chris Mushohwe who took over the
Ministry of Transport and Communications under which Air Zimbabwe falls.

Cde Mushohwe told The Herald Business he would prioritise the turnaround of
strategies of all parastatals that fall under the ministry.

"We will have a thorough look at entities such as Air Zimbabwe and the
National Railways of Zimbabwe and see how they are managed," he said. "There
are also other areas such as the development of roads especially in the
rural areas."

Cde Mushohwe took over from Cde Witness Mangwende, who was appointed
Governor for Harare Province.
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Daily Nation, Kenya

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Cartoon on Mugabe in bad taste
The cartoon carried by the Daily Nation of February 9, 2004, depicting
President Robert Mugabe as muzzling the Press in Zimbabwe is a complete
distortion of facts on the ground and is clearly in bad taste.
The Nation is a respectable paper in Kenya, but we are dismayed by its
biased reporting and the reckless distortion of facts.

The Supreme Court of Zimbabwe last Thursday dismissed a constitutional
challenge by the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe against
compulsory registration of journalists under the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act of 2002.

The highest court in Zimbabwe ruled 4-1 that the constitutional right of
freedom of expression was not infringed by three of the four clauses
challenged by the journalists, nor by sections of the fourth clause.

These require compulsory accreditation of all journalists, make it a
criminal offence to work as a journalist without accreditation, and require
the Media and Information Commission, to draw up a binding code of conduct
for journalists operating in Zimbabwe.

Although the practice of journalism is different from the practice of other
liberal professions such as law and medicine, that distinction does not
place the practice of journalism beyond the control of statutory

This distinction is reflected in the fact that any law that seeks to
regulate the practice of journalism has to conform with the stringent
requirements for law abridging the constitutional right to freedom of
expression in order to be valid.

Zimbabwe acknowledges the importance of the Press but that does not mean
that the Press is above the law of the land and could not be required to
operate within a legal framework.

We wonder whether this position is an attempt by President Mugabe at
muzzling the Press.

We have noted your biased reporting of events and developments in Zimbabwe
and wonder whether there is a political agenda. It would be appreciated if
you sought comment from the Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe to be
published in tandem with articles obtained from services such as Reuters and
Associated Press which are decidedly biased against Zimbabwe.

President Mugabe stands for African political independence and more
importantly, African economic independence.

Ambassador of the Republic of Zimbabwe
in Kenya.

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The Herald

UZ to open as scheduled, says Chivinge

Herald Reporter
THE University of Zimbabwe will open as planned on Monday next week and
examinations will be conducted as scheduled, the acting Vice Chancellor
Professor Osten Chivinge has said.

In a statement yesterday, Prof Chivinge said members of staff, both academic
and non-academic, who did not report for work would be deemed to have
withdrawn their services.

However, both academic and non-academic staff said they would not report for
work until they were awarded a 300 percent salary increment backdated to
July last year.

The increase would see the least paid lecturer getting $2,5 million per
month as per the agreement reached between the UZ administration and staff
when the salary dispute went for arbitration last year.

"We are not going to work unless that agreement is honoured.

"We have already given 14 days notice and we will go on strike next week,"
said the secretary-general of the Association of University Teachers Mr
James Mahlaule.

He said it was not fair for the UZ administration to take workers for

"Morale is very low at the campus. Now authorities allege that we got a 280
percent salary increment in January when we just received a 250 percent
increase and that is not fair," he said.

Prof Chivinge said workers had been awarded a salary increment of 280
percent, which was 30 percent higher than those in the civil service who got
250 percent, following a job evaluation exercise implemented last year.

He also said those who had earned their January salaries were deemed to have
accepted the increase.

However, Mr Mahlaule said such inconsistencies were to blame for the
deteriorating standards at the UZ.

The UZ is losing lecturers to the UK and other countries in the region.

"Everyday the UZ is losing members of staff yet the authorities continue to
be insensitive to our plight," said Mr Mahlaule.

"They need to be serious and go back to the agreement of last year. We want
the 250 percent they gave us to be added to the salaries that were agreed to
at arbitration."

Some UZ non-academic staffers who spoke on condition of anonymity said a
circular doing the rounds at the campus stated that anyone who engaged in
the planned job action would face instant dismissal.

Disagreements over remuneration have been at the centre of several
disruptions at the institution.

Several parents have called on Government to do something to address the
situation at the UZ.

Prof Chivinge said the decision to open the UZ as per schedule had been
arrived at after consultations with the UZ council and the Ministry of
Higher and Tertiary Education.
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The Herald

Resettled farmers stage peaceful demonstration

Herald Reporter
ABOUT 112 farmers who were resettled at Mukwene Farm in Goromonzi yesterday
staged a peaceful demonstration at the District Administra-tor’s office
alleging that corrupt officials were privately selling their pieces of land
to other people.

The demonstrators sang revolutionary songs and waved placards with messages
which implored the Government to investigate the responsible officials.

A spokesperson for the farmers, Mr Rebura Bapata said they were resettled by
the Government in 2001 and they have offer letters from the Ministry of
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettle-ment that confirm that they were the
legal holders of the pieces of land.

They were, however, constantly being harassed by people who claimed to have
been resettled under model A2 scheme at the farm.

"We understand that some people were hired from Mabvuku and Mbare and those
people are working in collusion with Government officials in Goromonzi.

"That is corruption despite President Mugabe saying people should shun
corruption," said a fuming Mr Bapata.

Mr Bapata said more than eight hectares that were under maize and beans were
destroyed by the saboteurs who ploughed in the crop fields.

He said the matter was reported to police at Juru Growth Point but the
police only came to their rescue after the intervention by Zimbabwe Defence
Forces commander Lieutenant-General Constantine Chiwenga.

Another farmer, Mr Adwell Chiminya, said as a result of the land dispute,
his wife was abducted from home last week and held hostage by a gang of
people for three days without food and was allegedly raped several times
before being released.

A tearful Mr Chiminya alleged that the gang held a gun against his head and
took away from him about $3,8 million, eight suits, and several sacks full
of groundnuts and maize before fleeing.

"I have never seen anything like this in my life, its sabotage by people who
use their money to get whatever they want from other people," said Mr

Other farmers named a Marondera businessman, whom they alleged was
responsible for their problems because he wanted to take over the whole of
Mukwene Farm for his wife and eldest son.

The farmers have written a letter to Goromonzi Member of Parliament Cde
Herbert Murerwa outlining their grievances and asking him to intervene and
resolve the dispute.

Goromonzi district administrator Mr Edmund Samunda said investigations would
be carried out to find out the cause of the dispute.

However, the farmers refused to be addressed by Mr Samunda alleging that
some of his officers were directly linked to the dispute because they were
allegedly being paid large sums of money by powerful people in the district
who wanted to take over the farm.

"They can only take over this farm after killing all of us because we have
nowhere else to go. We are legal settlers and we will stay put and continue
with our farming despite the frustrations," said one of the farmers.

It is understood that the Marondera businessman has since applied for a
peace order against the new farmers.

This is not the first time that resettled farmers under the model A1 scheme
have been threatened by people wanting to take over their plots.

In December, more than 30 families resettled at Mugutu Farm in Mazowe had
their houses torched and their crops uprooted by hired thugs in a bid to
force the settlers to abandon their pieces of land.

The settlers could only continue with their farming activities after police
details were deployed at the farm.

Resettled farmers were expected to boost food production this year because
of a predicted normal rainy season unlike over the past three years when the
country has suffered successive droughts.
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      Nhema named in scam

      Njabulo Ncube-Bulawayo Bureau Chief
      2/12/2004 7:23:44 AM (GMT +2)

      Minister sucked into hunting concessions-for-the-boys row
      THE granting of lucrative hunting and photographic concessions to ZANU
PF heavyweights in Matabeleland North, widely seen as a product of
influence-peddling and back-scratching relationships, has sparked off
controversy that has sucked in Environment and Tourism Minister Francis

      Disgruntled Matabe-leland North residents and emerging safari
operators this week raised a hue and cry over the awarding of prime hunting
and photographic concessions to leading ZANU PF politicians.

      This comes at a time when the government is moving to allay fears that
the land reform programme is only benefiting mostly leading politicians and
their cronies.

      The hunting industry has over the years earned billions of dollars in
foreign currency. Although figures for the 12 months to December 2003 were
not immediately available, Campfire alone last year made US$20 million from
controlled hunting. The industry has also since clinched hunting deals worth
$20 billion for the next hunting season, which commences in March.

      Miffed residents and safari operators alleged that favouritism could
have reared its ugly head in the awarding of Parks and Wildlife concessions
with the potential of generating millions of dollars in foreign exchange.

      The beneficiaries hold long leases on farms in hunting and
photographic destinations in and around Dete, Gwayi Valley, Hwange, Binga
and Victoria Falls.

      Information at hand indicates that Nhema, through his ministry,
allocated Tuli Farm to Thandiwe Nkomo, the daughter of the late Vice
President Joshua Nkomo. Nhema himself is the son-in-law of the late vice
president . Webster Shamu, the Member of Parliament for Chegutu, who is the
new Minister of State for Policy Implementation was allocated Matetsi Unit
Five. Deka in Hwange is jointly owned by Tobias Musariri and Mabel Dete, a
Zimbabwean presently based in the United States believed to be close to
officials in the ministry. She has since registered a safari company called
Asitroc Investments.

      Vincent Pamire, the former Zimbabwe Football Association interim boss,
and a Manungo, an indigenous businessperson with strong roots in Shurugwi
like Pamire and Nhema, share Sengwa.

      In Matetsi Five concession, seven units in the area were leased to
ruling party and high-ranking government officials outside Matabeleland.
Unit 1 is in the name of Eddie Kazombe, Unit Two Mike Chidziwa, Unit Three
Enos Dube, Unit Four Jacob Mudenda, Unit Five Shamu, Unit Six Army General
Constantine Chiwenga and Unit Seven Lovemore Chihota.

      The two beneficiaries in the Matetsi concession that come from the
area are Mudenda, the ZANU PF chairman for Matabeleland North and Dube, a
relative and colleague of the late vice President Nkomo. Previously, Nhema's
ministry had leased Matetsi Unit Five to Roy Vincent, whose lease expired at
the end of December last year.

      Nhema yesterday confirmed that his ZANU PF colleagues named in the
story had concessions in Matabeleland North but vehemently denied
allegations of favouritism. Trying to assuage the general perception that
the allocation of hunting concessions only benefited leading ZANU PF
politicians, the source of discord, Nhema said everything was done above

      "Everything was done above board. It is on record how they got them.
Chiwenga and the others you mentioned went to tender and emerged winners.
They attended the auctions for the concessions. It is on record how they got
the concessions and how the auction happened," said Nhema. "You can ask all
of them."

      "It is only relatives and party officials with money that are enjoying
the fruits of the land reform as far as safari operations are concerned,"
said a well-placed source. "These are public assets which should benefit
locals in Matabeleland. The criteria used smacks of favouritism. Some of
these people have concessions elsewhere."

      Some aggrieved indigenous business people who are not swayed by
arguments that the concessions were awarded through normal tender procedures
and had hoped to be doled out concessions at the Parks and Wildlife areas in
Matabeleland North have asked their lawyers to write to Nhema about the
anomalies in the alleged awarding of concessions in the region.

      Asked to comment on concerns that most of the people that were awarded
concessions were from Mashonaland, the Midlands and other provinces outside
Matabeleland, Nhema said: "My brother, I don't know whether we should
discriminate, but Mudenda, who is involved in the safari business, comes
from there (Matabeleland North). It will need a good discussion on how we
awarded the concessions and how people tendered for them. It is not true at
all that the concessions were to put to tender. Ask Chiwenga, Mudenda,
(Obert) Mpofu, headman Sibanda, they were all involved in concessions.
Mudenda in fact, is the chairperson of the Indigenous Safari Operators
Association. Ask him how we gave concessions to all those people. Let the
people on the ground explain."

      Contacted for comment Mpofu said: "Talk to the minister, I am not
involved and I think the minister will be willing to discuss the list with

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      The making of a president

      Dumisani Ndlela
      2/12/2004 7:26:52 AM (GMT +2)

      Reshuffle may be climax of political trickery

      PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's window-dressing Cabinet reshuffle has left
ZANU PF secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa with more pawns on
the chessboard than the ruling party's chairman John Nkomo and other key
contenders in the succession race.

      But analysts said the reshuffle fell short of giving clues as to
President Mugabe's plans for his successor, although it failed to dispel
curiosity over Mnangagwa's influence on the ageing Zimbabwean leader.

      Although sources said Nkomo was personally uninterested in the power
fights that have failed to boil over into public debate within the party, a
camp led by retired Army General Solomon Mujuru was actively canvassing for
his candidature in the event of Mugabe stepping down, more as a way of
blocking Mnangagwa's ascension to the throne.

      But there are strong indications that the first horse for succession
in the Mujuru-led camp is Defence Minister Sydney Seke-ramayi.

      In the event of that failing, the group is understood to be planning
to settle for Simba Makoni, a former finance minister ejected from President
Mugabe's Cabinet for canvassing for economic policies that were vigorously
opposed by other members.

      Mnangagwa and Mujuru, a king-maker in ZANU PF's political power game,
are understood to have fallen out after President Mugabe ordered the
nullification of a deal in which Mujuru was supposed to buy about 50 percent
in Zimasco.

      Mnangagwa, for a long time held to be President Mugabe's blue-eyed
boy, is said to have influenced the President into nullifying Mujuru's
acquisition of Zimasco, a key mining operation in the country.

      Nkomo, the third most powerful Cabinet member as Minister of Special
Affairs in the President's Office before the reshuffle announced on Monday,
has been relegated to a less-than-impressive portfolio as Minister of
Special Affairs in the President's Office in charge of Lands, Land Reform
and Resettlement.

      Nkomo gave Mnangagwa a drubbing in the race for the party's
chairmanship during the 1999 ZANU PF annual conference.

      The chairmanship is the fourth most powerful position in ZANU PF after
the president and the two vice-president's positions.

      Currently, the party has only one vice-president, Joseph Msika,
following the death of Vice-President Simon Muzenda last year.

      As Minister of Special Affairs in the President's Office before the
reshuffle, Nkomo ran the affairs of the vice-president.

      Mnangagwa, who is also the Speaker of Parliament, is said by party
insiders to have hatched an alliance with Didymus Mutasa, the Zanu PF
secretary for foreign (external) affairs.

      Mutasa, who has indicated his aspiration for the vice-presidency,
bounced back into Cabinet as Minister of Special Affairs in charge of
Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies after having left the Cabinet in a 1997

      In the event that Mnangagwa ascends to the helm of the party, Mutasa
has been tipped to become one of the two vice-presidents, ZANU PF sources
indicated this week.

      Mnangagwa's other key allies in the reshuffled Cabinet include Paul
Mangwana, elevated from Deputy Justice Minister to Minister of Public
Service, Labour and Social Welfare, July Moyo who has been succeeded by
Mangwana and moved to Minister of Energy and Power Development, retired
Brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri who becomes the Minister of Youth Development,
Gender and Employment Creation. Mutinhiri is a key ally of Mutasa.

      Amos Midzi, who has been moved from Energy to the Ministry of Mines,
and Dr Chris Kuruneri, the new Minister of Finance who was previously a
deputy in the same ministry, are understood to have shifting loyalty between
Mnangagwa and Msika.

      Midzi is believed to back Mnangagwa in ZANU PF's succession battle.
But Kuruneri, originally from PF Zapu together with Vice President Joseph
Msika, might not rally behind Mnangagwa.

      Webster Shamu, a key political figure in Mashonaland West, is also
understood to back Mnangagwa, although sources said he was widely being seen
as a rising star in the province following his entry into the Cabinet as
Minister of State responsible for Policy Implementation. Shamu is a former
editor of ZANU PF's mouthpiece The People's Voice.

      Mnangagwa has also managed to get the support of Elliot Manyika,
demoted from the Ministry of Youth Development to become a Minister without

      Manyika, a secretary for the commisariat in the ruling party, played a
pivotal role in positioning Mnangagwa for succession as the party's
political commissar by paving way for Mnanga-gwa's loyalists to take
leadership positions in the party's 11 provincial executives.

      Provincial leaders hold the key to the election of Mugabe's successor
at the forthcoming ZANU PF National People's Congress to be held in December
this year.

      According to the party's constitution, the party's leadership is
elected at a congress.

      As Minister without Portfolio, Manyika is expected to devote his
energies towards running the party's election engine.

      Nkomo only has a claim over Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi in the
reshuffled Cabinet.

      Also brought into the new Cabinet is retired Chief Air Marshal Josiah
Tungamirai, widely tipped to take over as the godfather of Masvingo Province
following Muzenda's death.

      Tungamirai's alliance is unclear, but he is expected to play a key
role in deciding ZANU PF's successor to President Mugabe.

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      Let us all say no to political violence

      2/12/2004 7:11:55 AM (GMT +2)

      THE next Parliamentary elections are more than a year away. But they
are already attracting attention, especially from the country's two major
political parties. This comes at a time when the country's politics
increasingly slides into a sad theatre for bigotry.

      Zanu PF, under whose stewardship the economy has almost gone to rack
and ruin, and the grasping Movement for Democratic Change, itching to tap
into a deep well of disenchantment against the government are, to all
intents and purposes, already girding for the political high stakes in the
election. Even those on the political fringes that do not register on the
relevance radar and only emerge at election time also fancy their chances,
no matter how slim they might be.

      Unfortunately, the election fever that has gripped the political
parties has dismally failed to capture the imagination of the common rack of
folk - the voters. These are the people who have often been used as pawns in
Zimbabwe's tragicomic political game. Much as they would like to exercise
their universal adult suffrage, they are understandably nervous. They sadly
look to election time with trepidation and deep apprehension, and
justifiably so.

      It is true that even well-meaning political parties have in the past,
more-often-than-not, failed to keep to their course due to the treacherous
waters of Zimbabwe's politics, but it is the voters who have really felt the
sharpest edge of the knife.

      What with the systematic bullying and intimidation, madness, mayhem,
growing intolerance, confrontation and hatred for compromise that have been
the hallmark of the country's political landscape? These have previously
spawned an orgy of wanton destruction of property, rash of brutal and savage
murders, abductions, maimings and rape.

      Election times in Zimbabwe have had very little in the way of good
news. They only bring fresh memories of bloodshed, shootings and tears!
Indeed political violence is one of country's biggest curses - and curses,
like chickens, usually come home to roost.

      Be that as it may, we however feel that no matter how deep-seated it
might be, this insanity that has disenfranchised whole families, orphaned
children and produced so much frustration, anger, hatred and division among
the country's citizens, should and must end.

      If only each and every one of us could feel deeply responsible enough
to do something to nip in the bud all that is going on in Zimbabwe at the
behest of these politicians who hardly deliver on their electoral promises.
It is on our collective and constant vigilance that the salvation of the
nation is dependent. Zimbabweans should take matters into their hands and
refuse to be sacrificed on the cheap political altar.

      They have to reject those politicians that play the subtle and blunt
behind-the-scenes role in this political violence the country continues to

      The violence that flares up in the run-up to and during elections in
Zimbabwe - a result of political zealotry and extremism fed by social
deprivation and disillusionment, has gone on because Zimbabweans have
allowed themselves to be used for political expediency. Yet no politician is
worth killing or dying for.

      As long as we do not wake up and walk away from this nightmare, the
politicians will continue laying down our lives, not for Zimbabwe but for
their own selfish ends! It is high time Zimbabweans realise that we can
bridge the increasingly violent political divide and co-exist with those
with different political views from ours. In any case, unanimity is not a
virtue in politics and we should therefore always learn to agree to

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      Conflicting signals cloud talks resumption

      Staff Reporter
      2/12/2004 7:28:16 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWEANS, who had kept their powder dry ahead of the resumption of
talks by the country's two major political parties, will have to wait much
longer as conflicting and confusing signals from both ends continue to cloud
South Africa's initiative to bring ZANU PF and the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) to the negotiating table.

      South African President Thabo Mbeki and his Zimbabwean counterpart,
President Robert Mugabe, have since given their assurances that informal
talks between ZANU PF and the MDC were underway. The talks were put in the
deep freeze after the two parties failed to agree on the agenda.

      Mbeki told the media last Sunday that the two parties had agreed to
draft an agenda for formal talks, raising a ray of hope for Zimbabweans who
have for long yearned for an end to the current impasse.

      "They are all agreed. They've got to sit together and sort out this
thing. They are going to have to deal together with the problem of a very,
very deep economic crisis," President Mbeki was quoted by international news
agency Reuters as saying.

      The South African leader was commenting on media reports attributed to
MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube that a conclusive solution to the
Zimbabwean crisis could be reached within two months of commencing formal

      But surprisingly, confusion seems to have engulfed both the MDC and
ZANU PF over the stalled negotiations. The head of the ruling party's
negotiating team, Justice Minister and ZANU PF secretary for legal affairs
Patrick Chinamasa, expressed ignorance on which dialogue President Mugabe
was referring to.

      On Monday Chinamasa said: "I'm not aware of any dialogue taking

      MDC national spokesman, Paul Themba Nyathi, said he stood by Ncube's
statement that there were no talks taking place.

      President Mbeki's spokesman, Beki Khumalo, told The Financial Gazette
this week that what the South African leader had said about the talks was
true and he stood by the statement.

      "The President said so and I stand by that statement," Khumalo said.

      Pressed on whether President Mbeki was privy to the agenda for the
formal agenda, Khumalo declined to comment.

      However, impeccable political sources said President Mbeki would not
compromise his position and tell the world "lies about talks about talks".

      Political analyst and constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku said
something must be happening for President Mbeki to issue such statements.

      "It's puzzling," Madhuku said. "One would not take Mbeki to be a fool.
I am sure he got assurances from both Mugabe and certain leaders within the
MDC who really know what's going on about talks.

      "Denial by the MDC, I believe, is just politicking. Something is
brewing and most probably Tsvangirai is being sidelined by those in his
party in the know," he added. "Mugabe has already indicated that there are
informal talks and it's only the MDC that is denying it. Mugabe and Mbeki
are consistent on that issue."

      Both President Mugabe and Tsvangirai, who is facing a charge of high
treason for allegedly plotting to assassinate the 79-year-old leader, have
in principle agreed to mutual talks, but with strings attached.

      President Mugabe insists he won the 2002 presidential poll freely and
fairly and that Tsvangirai should subsequently recognise him as the
legitimate head of state, while on the other hand the opposition leader
maintains the election was stolen and has gone ahead with his petition in
the High Court

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      MDC urged to boycott 2005 election

      Brian Mangwende
      2/12/2004 7:30:53 AM (GMT +2)

      THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), with the electoral laws
tilted in favour of the ruling ZANU PF, may need to push for the levelling
of the skewed playing field as a precondition for its participation in
future elections.

      Taking part in an election where the process favours the establishment
would not do the opposition party any good as that would diminish the MDC's
chances of ending ZANU PF's 23-year-old grip on power, analysts say.

      The MDC, kept on the fringes of power by unfair electoral laws and
voter intimidation in the run-up to the bloody June 2000 parliamentary
elections and the 2002 presidential ballot, is the only opposition party
with a realistic chance of dislodging ZANU PF.

      Smaller opposition parties - namely the National Alliance for Good
Governance led by Shakespeare Maya, ZANU Ndonga and Paul Siwela's ZAPU
2000 - are seen as opportunist groupings that only surface during election

      "Under the current electoral conditions, where people are beaten up
and intimidated, it would be unwise for the MDC to participate in future
elections," Lovemore Madhuku, the chairman of the National Constitutional
Assembly, said.

      "ZANU PF will definitely win the elections if the electoral framework
remains the same. There will be no change in the 2005 parliamentary
elections. In the urban areas, the MDC will continue to get support, but
there will be voter apathy as evidenced in the last by-election in Harare
Central," said Madhuku.

      Zimbabwe's electoral laws have been roundly condemned worldwide for
their failure to meet some of the basic principles consistent with
democratic structures.

      Regional leaders seen as having the political and diplomatic clout to
persuade their Zimbabwean counterpart President Robert Mugabe to create a
conducive political environment for elections - including South African
President Thabo Mbeki - have already indicated the need for an even
electoral playing ground.

      This, the leaders argue, would be part of the process of returning the
country to normalcy and resolving the persistent political impasse between
the feuding ZANU PF and the MDC.

      Regional and local non-governmental organisations have raised serious
concerns and castigated the government, especially Registrar-General Tobaiwa
Mudede's office, for the manner in which documentation is handled during
pre-election periods.

      Mudede has been accused of deliberately withdrawing the voters' roll
from contestants from the opposition party, prompting the candidates to seek
legal recourse.

      The government has also been blamed for using the state machinery,
including the secret agents, youths from the controversial Border Gezi
training centres and rural chiefs, to intimidate the electorate.

      The public print and electronic media, represented by the Zimbabwe
Newspapers (1980) Limited and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, have
also campaigned openly for ZANU PF.

      Alleged vote-buying by the ruling party and the inclusion of state
agents such as the military and the spy Central Intelligence Organi-sation
into the Electoral Supervisory Commission - a body that oversees polls and
voter education - have also raised a stink with the disadvantaged opposition
and civic organisations.

      The Zimbabwe Election Support Network has also castigated the use of
brute force by the police before, during and after elections and the denial
of access to polling stations - a scenario that has raised eyebrows in the
transparency of the electoral process.

      Madhuku, a constitutional lawyer who last week was allegedly beaten up
by the police while demonstrating for a new constitution, added: "I urge
them (MDC) not to participate in the elections until there is a legitimised
electoral process where people can go and choose a leader of their choice
freely and fairly. However, there is a possibility that if there is voter
apathy in the urban areas because of the MDC's inability to attract people
to the polls and ZANU PF realises that, the ruling party may bus in people
and take over the constituencies."

      This month, ZANU PF retained its Gutu North constituency left vacant
by the death of vice president Simon Muzenda in a poll the opposition said
was marred by violence and the use of chiefs to manipulate the vote.

      Two other by-elections are pending in Zengeza and Lupane. The Zengeza
seat fell vacant after MP Tafadzwa Musekiwa resigned while in self-imposed
exile, while the Lupane position fell vacant following the death of David
Mpala of the MDC this month.

      The Ze-ngeza by-election has been set for 27 and 28 March.

      Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe chairman Brian Raftopoulos concurred with
Madhuku's sentiments, saying participating in the election would be a futile
exercise for the MDC.
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      Falling rates signal creeping policy laxity

      Nelson Banya
      2/12/2004 7:31:38 AM (GMT +2)

      THE depressed money market rates seen in recent weeks are a disturbing
sign of a loosening monetary policy, a situation that could scupper efforts
to rein in inflation, analysts warned this week.

      Short-term interest rates have been depressed since liquid conditions
returned to the market a couple of weeks ago, with overnight accommodation
rates coming off significantly to current levels of between 10 and 60

      All money market rates are now significantly below the psychological
100 percent mark.

      Rates on the money market had soared to as high as 900 percent in
December 2003, on the back of persistent massive daily shortages that saw
deficits running up to as much as $250 billion.

      The unprecedented liquidity crunch caused untold problems in the
financial services sector, with some banks coming within a whisker of going
down under the burden.

      The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which last December announced that
it would cease doling out expansionary liquidity aid to distressed banks,
has had to shirk that disciplinarian stance to avert a bank failure that
would, inevitably, cause systemic problems to the whole sector.

      To date, Trust Bank and Century Bank are the two cases where the
central bank has had to extend the olive leaf, through the Troubled Banks
Fund set up specifically to provide liquidity aid to distressed banks.

      It is this intervention by the central bank, analysts say, which could
make it difficult for the RBZ to rein in inflation, which took a surprising
20 percentage point dip in December.

      University of Zimbabwe graduate school of management lecturer Tony
Hawkins notes that interest rates have sunk to levels conducive to the
return of speculative consumption, an indication that the monetary regime
was loosening.

      "Interest rates are now lower than they were before the policy was
announced, largely because the government wants to prevent some banks from
collapse," Hawkins said.

      Economists have noted that the sharp rise in interest rates, which
started at the end of November, had had a remarkable effect on speculative
activity and would, therefore, have had a profound effect on the January
inflation rate.

      Rising interest rates saw the liquidation of many speculative
positions held either as foreign currency or property, with the former
coming in as a boon to the newly introduced foreign currency auction, which
kicked off on January 12.

      Best Doroh, the principal economist at the Zimbabwe Financial Holdings
group, said while it was imperative to avoid reverting to the negative real
interest regime, the sharp rise in interest rates posed a serious threat to
the integrity of the banking sector.

      "Although the so-called traditional banks were seemingly unscathed by
the liquidity problem, the collapse of any of the smaller or new banks would
have had an effect on the entire system.

      "At the same time, the market surpluses and the attendant low interest
rates are a source of discomfort because of the obvious inflationary
consequences," Doroh said.

      However, some observers have pointed out that while the RBZ could not
avoid extending the liquidity support it had given to the banks, the
institution had laid down conditions which showed that the monetary
authorities were taking an even-handed approach to the whole affair.

      Apart from instigating the restructuring of boards and management at
distressed banks, with Trust being the first to undergo such changes, the
central bank had also moved to ensure that weak banks forge alliances that
should strengthen their operations.

      A new set of minimum capital requirements, which raised the bar for
commercial banks to $10 billion, will come on stream in September, and this
requirement has already spawned a flurry of negotiations as some of the
smaller (and weaker) banks seek to reposition themselves.

      Analysts said once this was achieved, it would not be expedient for
the RBZ to bail out any bank.

      Some analysts also noted that the RBZ had also intervened to manage
excess liquidity through Treasury Bills and the reintroduction of RBZ bills.

      The bank's intervention has seen daily surpluses, which reached an
alarming $700 billion at the end of January, easing to around $70 billion.

      Money market dealers have noted that rates have not responded to the
stemming of the liquidity, a situation attributed to the fact that most
major banks now had surplus positions, as opposed to a couple of weeks back
when the surplus was concentrated among a few banks.

      Some analysts have attributed the recent weakening of the Zimbabwe
dollar against major currencies at the forex auctions to the softening of
interest rates.

      Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited economist Witness Chinyama said the
falling interest rates had brought back an environment in which speculative
activity could thrive.

      "This situation attracts speculative and investor demand for foreign
currency and the central bank should intensify its efforts of mopping up the
excess liquidity on the market.

      "In the case of liquidity support, the authorities should, going
forward, stick to their promise of not availing cheap funds to struggling
banks that had been straying away from traditional banking operations to
speculate," Chinyama said.

      He said it would be unrealistic for the RBZ to want to bring down
inflation, interest rates and to stabilise the exchange rate simultaneously.
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      Pension funds yet to make headway

      Staff Reporter
      2/12/2004 7:32:18 AM (GMT +2)

      PENSION funds are failing to make a breakthrough in their quest to
have the prescribed asset ratio slashed from 45 percent, a recipe for
disaster for an industry battling to earn inflation-beating returns.

      Zimbabwe Association of Pension Funds (ZAPF) chairman Richard Muirimi
said negotiations between the group, represented by the Registrar of Pension
Funds, and the government, which were supposed to be wrapped up this week,
were still on.

      Since last year, ZAPF has unsuccessfully lobbied for a reduction in
the ratio, which makes it mandatory for its members to hold 45 percent of
their investments in prescribed assets.

      The reduction will cushion pensioners from negative interest rates by
ensuring that they get a fair share of their hard-earned income.

      "We are still negotiating with government officials and when the deal
is ripe we will let you know," Muirimi told The Financial Gazette.

      Pension funds command more than 65 percent of government and
quasi-government instruments, and own more than 85 percent of prime
buildings in the country.

      Analysts said the high inflation had resulted in a marked decline in
pension fund membership and loss of accumulated reserves.

      Growth on the equity and property markets has managed to beat
inflation, but the high returns have been diluted by low interests rates on
the money market, particularly investments in prescribed assets.
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      Oppenheimers get land back

      Njabulo Ncube-Bulawayo Bureau Chief
      2/12/2004 7:24:27 AM (GMT +2)

      THE powerful and influential Oppenheimer family, which controls Anglo
American Corporation, is getting back part of the land seized during the
chaotic land reform as government has, in a volte-face, started removing
landless peasants who had settled at one of the South African family's
properties in Matabeleland South.

      Hundreds of landless peasants settled on Debshan Ranch, a huge
property belonging to the super-rich South African family, have been ordered
off the farm ostensibly in line with the recommendations of the Charles
Utete land audit report.

      Analysts said President Robert Mugabe, with his political back firmly
against the wall, has been forced to eat humble pie in a thinly veiled
attempt to win the support of one of Africa's wealthiest families and
bolster prospects for attracting elusive foreign investment.

      But in the process, the Zimbabwean leader risks losing credibility
ahead of the 2005 Parliamentary elections, particularly among the poor
peasants who had abandoned their homes in search for more promising lives on
the farms at the height of the farm invasions in 2000.

      Information obtained by this newspaper indicates that government
officials last Thursday visited Debshan Ranch and ordered close to 100
settlers at the property to immediately vacate a certain section of the
ranch not listed as designated.

      "People must vacate some parts of this property (Debshan) because the
government has not acquired the entire ranch under the resettlement
programme," said Peter Mandebvu, the district administrator for Matabeleland

      The Utete report, made public for the first time by The Financial
Gazette, recommended the removal of settlers from properties covered under
bilateral agreements, agro-industries and where people settled on
undesignated properties, among other things.

      In 2001, the government forcibly acquired 35 000 hectares from the
Oppenheimer-owned Debshan Ranch and later managed to successfully negotiate
for a total of 65 000 hectares to resettle landless peasants.

      Officials said then the Oppenheimer family owned land in Zimbabwe that
is almost the size of Belgium, a charge vehemently denied by the family,
which argued that it owns only 137 314 ha of land in the country. Belgium's
total area is 3 051 900 hectares.

      Government sources that attended the meeting addressed by Mandebvu in
Insiza last Friday said the government was now content with the 65 000
hectares offloaded by the Oppenheimer family.

      The family controls two of Africa's biggest and richest companies,
Anglo American Corporation and De Beers, the continent's most powerful
diamond mining giant.

      In Zimbabwe, they are believed to have owned the largest tracts of
land by a single family.

      Mandebvu, together with a host of other government officials, visited
Insiza district last Friday and addressed several meetings dwelling
specifically on the progress of the land resettlement and the implementation
of the Utete land review recommendations.

      The peasants that had been on the property since 2000 told this
newspaper in separate interviews that they were not happy with their

      "We were the first people to invade this big ranch and Vice President
Joseph Msika visited us before the parliamentary elections in 2000 to see
how we were coping. Now we are moving at the shortest notice. We have not
harvested our crops. This is unfair," said Simon Zuze, a spokesperson for
the invaders who trooped into the Oppenheimer property all the way from

      Debshan ranch, along the Bulawayo-Harare highway, cuts through four
provinces - Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, the Midlands and

      According to the Utete report, which has since been made public, about
134 000 people have been resettled on A1 and A2 scheme, very different from
300 000 people continuously being parroted by the government officials.
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      New governors condemned as'white elephants'

      Staff Reporter
      2/12/2004 7:27:38 AM (GMT +2)

      THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and civic groups
this week roundly condemned the decision by President Robert Mugabe to
appoint provincial governors for Harare and Bulawayo, two areas already
under an elected leadership, saying the move would cause unnecessary
confusion and retard development.

      The appointments, they said, were aimed more at frustrating the
opposition in the two main areas it controls exclusively than to develop the

      "This is an exercise in political irresponsibility," MDC spokesman
Paul Themba-Nyathi said curtly. "You have instituted structures elected
democratically and someone tries to dilute these structures by appointing
un-elected governors to cause confusion . . . we don't think the country
needs any more white elephants."

      Announcing a cosmetic Cabinet reshuffle this week, President Mugabe
announced former Transport and Communication Minister Witness Mangwende as
the new governor for Harare and the former ambassador to Zambia, Cain
Mathema, as the new governor for Bulawayo.

      Since independence in 1980, Harare and Bulawayo, the country's only
two exclusive urban provinces, have had no governors. The other eight
provinces, covering largely rural areas, have been run by governors with the
assistance of district administrators.

      After the MDC took control of Harare, Chitungwiza and Bulawayo in
municipal elections held jointly with the 2002 presidential ballot, Local
Government and National Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo immediately
announced that governors would be appointed for the two provinces,
attracting the condemnation of civic movements, which saw this as a move by
the ruling party to usurp the powers of opposition mayors.

      Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust executive director David Chimhini said:
"Do we have the resources for this sort of expansion? What are the failures
that have been objectively observed in Harare and Bulawayo to justify this?
This is just one of those political decisions that are detrimental to

      Suspended Harare executive mayor Elias Mudzuri said as far as he
understood the Urban Councils Act, there was no room for governors, and
could not imagine what roles the new appointees would assume.

      "I don't really know what the responsibilities of the governors would
be because, already, all urban areas are under the Minister of Local
Government . . . unless they want to pay more salaries for jobs without
descriptions," Mudzuri said.

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      ...and now to the Notebook

      2/12/2004 7:05:32 AM (GMT +2)

      Zimbabwe is becoming an increasingly more interesting country to stay

      For those of us who are brave enough to resist the pressing temptation
to be economic refugees somewhere, there is always something to marvel about
everyday. And some of the things are just too strange to believe.

      One such strange thing is the statement issued by the Professor at the
weekend insulting The Herald and its staffers as liars after the paper had
run a story claiming that embattled ZANU PF legislator Phillip Chiyangwa was
facing fresh charges.

      The Professor did not waste time in coming out in full force to
rubbish the paper and its staffers all round.

      At first glance, one could rightfully be tempted to believe that the
statement was aimed at South Africa's Sunday Times, the British Telegraph or
The New York Times, the papers that are officially known to peddle lies
about Zimbabwe.

      But no, this time it was The Herald of all the papers in the world!
Not The Financial Gazette, the Standard, the Zimbabwe Independent or "the
Strive Masiyiwa-owned" Daily News.

      Surely this is something that is hard to believe. The Herald, the
official voice of the government, lies!

      "The use of the media to peddle political confusion will not be
tolerated and those behind it will be held accountable," the Professor said
in his statement.

      But every Zimbabwean knows that the author of the statement himself
now stands accused of perfecting this art of "peddling political confusion"
using the media.

      Some Zimbos say the language in which the statement was couched
suggested that someone could have gotten into trouble over that story
      . . . obviously someone known to plant stories in the press.

      That someone, therefore, had to do all he could to kill the suspicion
that he had a hand in the story . . . and the strongly invective statement
did the trick! We hope!

      Maybe it is time the good Professor handpicked new people if the ones
there are beginning to show signs of tiring. Those lengthy "refresher
courses" at Munhumutapa Building may not be efficacious enough!

      It was good to know that Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, in his
accustomed wisdom, consulted himself and decided to hand-pick
"Attorney-General designate" Johannes Tomana and assign him a special
project of recovering all the gold that some people - government ministers
not excluded - have smuggled out of Zimbabwe.

      Fine and dandy, but it appears like while the choice is not that bad,
the only problem is that the AG seems to have just too much on his plate.
The man is right all over the show and we wonder whether he would have time
to do the work half as thoroughly as it should be done.

      Anyway CZ wishes the AG all the best in his fishing expedition . . .
but let's hasten to point out that very few good fishermen make song and
dance of their possible catch before they even know where the river is!

      ZIMBABWEANS are a naughty lot.
      Has anyone ever listened to Zimbos chatting to each other when they
are really sure that their phones are not bugged or that no one suspicious
is eavesdropping on their conversations?

      In the run-up to Tunisia, they got so over-excited with coach Sunday
Marimo's performance that everytime they got drunk, they could be overheard
chanting slogans like: "Mhofu vadhara! Mhofu ndizvo! Or Mhofu for

      And we thought we had seen enough, but after the announcement of the
new monetary policy and the changes that have been taking place thereafter,
the slogans have changed.

      When prices of general goods and commodities started coming down
slowly, Zimbos were initially apprehensive and sceptical.

      But when the price of the "the final commodity"-beer, the precious
liquid of wisdom - came back down, they could not resist the temptation to
indulge in their mischief again.

      There are now slogans like: "Gono idhara! Gono vakorinde, vakakora
kupfuura Mai Chisamba." And the latest is: "Gono for presidency!"

      We wonder what the mischief will lead to.

      AND this weekend love is in the air once again. Those who are in love
or pretend to be in love will be out in full force to impress left, right
and centre. We hope the day will not leave some of CZ's brothers in trouble,
because most of the brothers want to over-do things!

      There is a story doing the rounds in Harare about a man who not only
had the tenacity of putting a framed picture of someone's wife on the wall
in his office, but went further by sending her bunches of nice flowers as
well. And this, naturally, could not go on ad infinitum.

      When CZ's sources tell him what happened to this man, he will be
pleased to share the juicy story with anyone who cares. For now, CZ will
have to sweet-ttalk his sources to please tell him the full story!

      ZANU PF?

      A colleague says he nearly got pilloried in Warren Park at the weekend
by a huge mob of alleged ZANU PF thugs mobilised by a shop manager at
Chicken Inn who accused him of working for the closed Daily News.

      One of his companions was hit by a brick while the other one lost a
cellphone after being mobbed by these thugs who accused them of working for
The Daily News.

      We wonder whether the take-away outlet knows that when off duty, the
manager is moonlighting for the party, if ever he belongs to the party!Or is
he part of the increasing number of thugs who use ZANU PF's name to commit

      Surely working for The Daily News is no crime, same as it is not a
crime to work for The People's Voice!

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      Govt domestic debt breaks $1 trillion mark

      2/12/2004 7:14:13 AM (GMT +2)

      A flurry of Treasury bills issues by the Reserve Bank in the past few
weeks has resulted in government domestic debt more than doubling from about
$600 billion at the end of December 2003 to about $1.3 trillion.

      Government domestic debt largely comprises Treasury bills, government
stocks and the Reserve Bank overdraft.

      Treasury bills - mostly two-year bills - account for the lion's share
of domestic debt followed by the overdraft and government stocks.

      The latest Reserve Bank schedule of outstanding Treasury bills shows
that as at 6 February 2003, the market was holding $1.038 trillion worth of
Treasury bills.

      In addition to what the market is holding, the Reserve Bank is sitting
on about $300 billion worth of bills purchased on the secondary market as
part of the bank's open market operations.

      This brings total outstanding Treasury bills as at the end of 6
February to about $1.34 trillion.

      The Reserve Bank has not released government overdraft figures since
January this year, a reflection of the fact that the bank's economic
publications are always outdated. The bank's latest monthly review, for
instance, is for July 2003 while the latest Weekly Report is for October

      However, figures published in the governor's monetary policy statement
show that the overdraft with the Reserve Bank stood at $24.5 billion as at
11 December 2003, well below the statutory limit of $60 billion.

      According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act, government is allowed
to borrow 20 percent of the previous year's tax revenue in the form of an
overdraft. In the last fiscal year, government collected revenues estimated
at $1.141 trillion, implying that this year's limit on the overdraft is $228

      Hopefully, the Reserve Bank will continue to keep the government
overdraft within the statutory limit to avoid excessive money creation and
the resultant inflationary pressures.

      Government stocks - with original tenors ranging from three to 30
years - account for a small proportion of domestic government debt.

      About $14 billion worth of government stock were outstanding as at 6

      However, government is expected to issue a significant amount of
stocks this year as part of its efforts to restructure domestic public debt.

      The share of stocks in government domestic debt is therefore
anticipated to rise.

      Looking ahead, government domestic debt is expected to follow an
upward trend during the course of the year as government borrows to finance
the $1.85 trillion budget deficit projected for the current fiscal year.

      Against this background, government is expected to continue managing
interest rates in order to keep its interest burden under control.

      Meanwhile, activity on the local money market has remained depressed
with investment rates ranging from 10 percent per annum for overnight money
to 100 percent per annum for longer-dated money.

      Market players have attributed the prevailing low interest rates to a
combination of market surpluses, concessional productive and export sector
credit facilities and the issuance of Reserve Bank bills.

      To date, central bank has issued over $600 billion worth of compulsory
Reserve Bank bills in order to reduce large market surpluses. Reserve Bank
bills carry an arbitrary rate of 10 percent per annum and have a tenor of up
to 91 days.

      Because banks with surplus funds - usually large banks perceived to be
safe by depositors - are being compelled to invest in Reserve Bank bills
carrying very low returns, their ability to offer attractive returns on
their deposits is consequently being compromised.

      As a result, savings mobilisation - one of the key objectives of
monetary policy - is being undermined as people opt to spend and speculate
rather than save in an environment of highly negative real interest rates.

      In view of the current developments in the money market, there is need
for the central bank to review its use of compulsory, low interest rate
Reserve Bank bills as a monetary policy instrument.

      A solution would be to auction Reserve Bank bills in the same way
Treasury bills are auctioned.

      Highveld Financial Services Limited is a registered discount house.

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National values and new leadership?

2/12/2004 7:10:58 AM (GMT +2)

IF you reduced our political conversation over the last two decades into a series of questions it would amount to the following six questions:

  • Who rules over whom?

  • Who has influence over the ultimate leader?

  • Who has stronger linkages with the army, intelligence and police force?

  • Who is more visible in public media?

  • Who has the lion’s share of looted resources? And

  • Who is sleeping with whom?

This myopic way of engaging the national situation has fed and sustained a particular kind of leadership in political parties, business, churches and civil society. It has produced a unique type of institutional politics and governance culture that I have previously referred to as Zanuism or the infallible head syndrome.

Everything happens and rots around the leader and his impressive collection of charmers and kleptomaniacs. In politics they call this group of sycophants, gatekeepers. They determine what issues are heard by the leader as well as who is heard. This class of Machiavellian characters makes a living out of playing politics and constructing conspiracy theories for the leader.

No country or institution has ever grown without out-growing this big-man politics. The seeds for the destruction of institutions are in their personalisation. Brilliant organisations collapse when they become hostage to personal politics. Whole nations are engulfed by fear, hate and plunder when small men with big egos ascend to power. The genius of Zimbabwean politics shall be that person who will be able to place the people back at the centre of national debate. Our country is distrait for want of a winning team of leaders working across the political, class, gender, and racial, ethnic and generational line to find an effective solution. The magical remedies ceased to work in the last millennium. We need a team effort to resolve the national crisis.

Frantz Fanon once wrote that "dignity and sovereignty are exact equivalents". In fact, a free people living in dignity are a sovereign people. He argued that "a government or party gets the people it deserves and sooner or later a people gets the government it deserves". In his incisive discussion of "The Pitfalls of National Consciousness" Fanon argues that the duty of those at the head of a movement is to have the masses behind them.

Allegiance presupposes awareness and understanding of the mission that is to be fulfilled. He emphatically insists "We must not voodoo the people, nor dissolve them in emotion and confusion". In his view, to educate the masses politically is to make the totality of the nation a reality to each citizen. I would add that full citizenship is a result of freedom, dignity and human rights.

People must know where they are going, and why? The more people understand or are politically conscious, the more critical they become, the more they assume responsibility for their self-liberation. They also learn to participate meaningfully in national development.

There is a sense in which our national leadership behaves as though it can manage the country without the people. This is why our country has been going nowhere very fast. Hence the tendency towards corruption amongst state elites and apathy amongst the marginal groups. We are a nation in need of self-re-invention.

In his book Our Leadership and the destiny of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere makes the following poignant observation:

". . . The people can only act in defence of their constitution if they are aware of what the government and their representatives are doing in their name. If they are not truthfully, accurately, and quite quickly informed about what is happening, how can the people act — either in support or in protest? The vast majority of the people. . . spend most of their time and energy earning a living — and living! . . . But they expect to know what is being done, and they retain the right to call to account their leaders at all levels."

When people find that things are going wrong, they expect to have explanations — and corrections where possible. When remedial actions are not forthcoming people lose faith in the integrity of government and gradually the government loses their support and consent. Nyerere observes that when this occurs "Then the country is really in danger; law becomes meaningless and leaders are regarded with cynicism."

We need only but look at Zimbabwe for the results of a collapse of consensus and absence of consent of the governed. Zimbabwe has become the worst version of itself. Tragically these are matters so fundamental that they cannot be restored by Sendekera gyrations. The core of Shona culture and indeed all other Zimbabwean ethnics is consensual governance. Kongonya cannot replace this. Political will, leadership and commitment are what is needed ahead of the next national election.

Zimbabwe has gone astray as much for want of sound leadership as lack of clear national values. The one-man popcorn formulation of kongonya as a national cultural product demonstrates the extent of this malaise. You can normally tell how redundant a leadership has become by the values it propagates.

Cheating at elections, beating opponents to pulp, vote buying, insulting perceived opponents and lying are not national values. But if there are no agreed alternative national values, fools rush in.

Since 1962 Zimbabwe has been hostage to the eloquence and charm of individuals as opposed to a sound and sustainable value base. Perhaps a simple way to make this point is to ask the question: "Apart from the flag, the imposed constitution, vulgar kongonya and a reluctant currency, what does it mean to be Zimbabwean?" Rather what should it mean? What is the glue that binds us together?

At the risk of appearing presumptuous, herein are some values and principles we could consider the basis for our nation-hood. These values could apply in relations between the state and its citizens and amongst the citizens themselves. The principles could act as a moral guide for the exercise of all public and private power, authority, and responsibilities.

  • Participation of citizens at all levels in the formulation and implementation of policies;

  • Recognition and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;

  • Recognition and respect for gender, cultural, ethnic, racial, political, and religious diversity of the citizenry;

  • Power sharing and devolution (or alternatively decentralisation) of authority and responsibilities beyond the current fiasco with local authorities and urban councils;

  • Commitment to economic, social and cultural justice for all the people;

  • Sustainable management of natural resources;

  • Efficient, effective, equitable, sustainable and responsible stewardship over national resources for the full welfare of the people; and

  • Observance of democratic principles in the organisation, management and conduct of government.

    These principles could be translated into goals, which might include:

  • The promotion and protection of a culture of constitutionalism;

  • The protection, preservation and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms

  • The vigilant investigation and prosecution of instances of abuse of office and corruption;

  • The promotion of equitable development and prosperity throughout all the provinces of Zimbabwe;

  • The promotion of dialogue, peace, national unity and the resolution of national issues by consensus and not imposition;

  • The promotion of participatory democracy, accountable governance and devolution (or alternatively decentralisation) of power;

  • Promotion of effective representation of all peoples and their significant participation in the entire policy cycle, governance generally and decision-making at all levels;

  • Protecting freedom of choice through democratic, free and fair elections;

  • Ensuring access by all the people to independent, impartial and competent institutions of justice;

  • Maintenance of checks and balances between and among various organs of the state as well as entrenching the system of separation of powers;

  • Recognising and respecting the cultural diversity of the people and promoting cultural development of all communities within Zimbabwe;

  • Maintaining an equitable national framework for economic growth and the development, distribution and access to national resources;

  • Promotion of national culture of innovation by encouraging citizens to explore new paradigms and to use their creative capacity and knowledge systems for sustainable national development. The state must ensure that the intellectual property rights of the people and their institutions are fully protected

  • Promotion of the progressive role of civil society and private sector in governance and management of public affairs. The state must take policy and legislative measures to promote and mainstream the role of civil society in public affairs;

  • Promoting and ensuring the full participation of women, the youth and all other marginalised communities and sectors of society in all aspects of Zimbabwe’s social, economic, political and cultural life.

  • Implementation of policy and legislative action to correct current and historical injustices and exclusion of the disadvantaged, vulnerable and minority groups in all aspects of national life.

  • Providing an enabling and conducive environment for the optimum growth and development of children to ensure their material, physical and moral as well spiritual well-being;

  • Ensuring the provision of relevant, quality and functionally appropriate education, training and capacity building to achieve excellence and productive livelihoods for all citizens.

  • Eliminating disparities and gaps in development between regions/provinces, peoples and sectors of the Zimbabwean community

  • Enhancing the appropriate role of science and technology and the relevant contributions of institutions of higher learning through promoting academic freedom.

  • Promoting sustainable management and conservation of the environment and natural resources and enhancement of equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of such resources.

  • Promoting and ensuring sustainable, efficient and productive management, administration, planning and use of land;

  • Making Zimbabwe a good citizen of Africa and international community of nations through working for international peace and solidarity, equitable development and the promotion of democracy, accountable governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The national goals, values and principles will only become a reality if all citizens have a duty to:

  • Uphold, respect, promote and defend the Constitution, constitutionalism and the rule of law;

  • Desist from and discourage others from engaging in acts of corruption;

  • Cooperate with law enforcement agencies for the maintenance of just law and public order;

  • Promote democratic practices and conduct;

  • Contribute to the welfare and the advancement of the community where they live;

  • Live in harmony with their fellow citizens and actively promote national unity;

  • Protect and safeguard public property from waste and misuse;

  • Protect the environment and conserve natural resources;

  • Develop their potential to the maximum possible through the acquisition of knowledge, continuous learning and the development of skills.

Given the above expectations all Zimbabwean citizens should be:

  • Equally entitled to full citizenship rights, privileges and benefits such as a birth certificate, identity card, passport and any other document of identification issued by the state to its citizens.

Every citizen must be entitled to certain fundamental rights and freedoms, which the state must observe, respect, protect, promote and fulfil whenever:

  • It makes or implements policy and enacts law;

  • It performs any of its functions or exercises any of its powers.

The values, principles and objectives set out above constitute a very basic outline of the spirit that could inform and guide our national leadership. These values, when fully developed and if agreed upon, could form the basis of a new democratic homegrown constitution. Indeed the backbone of our social contract.

  • Brian Kagoro is a human rights lawyer and political commentator
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      Capital's flirtation with greed?

      Nelson Banya
      2/12/2004 6:52:59 AM (GMT +2)

      There's a worrying streak of self-aggrandisement: analysts

      CAPITAL Alliance, the investment company used by 20 First Mutual
Limited (FML) executives and senior managers to acquire a 20 percent stake
in the demutualised firm, has been labelled a vehicle of executive greed by

      FML issued a cautionary statement which preceded the lifting of the
group's suspension from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) last week,
detailing the extent of the crisis that the firm was plunged into following
the liquidity problems that affected Trust Bank, a key associate institution
and ENG Asset Management, with which FML's asset management firm placed an
unauthorised $29.8 billion investment.

      As it emerged that four FML executive directors - Chief Executive
Officer Norman Sachi-konye, Godfrey Jowah, Noel Biti and Douglas Hoto -
collectively own 12.2 percent of FML, staff at the group were reported to be
up in arms against what they perceived as selfish aggrandisement by the
senior executives.

      Some shareholders and erstwhile policyholders, who had been
apprehensive about the dilution of their interest in the demutualised group,
which was around 89.1 percent before institutional investors such as Capital
Alliance and strategic partner Trust Holdings Limited came in, now claim
that they have been vindicated.

      Information made available to the market last week showed that
Sachikonye owned 218.4 million shares, Hoto and Jowah equal amounts of 105
million and Biti some 84 million, to give a grand total of 512.4 million
shares, making up 61 percent of Capital Alliance's 840 million shares.

      Sachikonye's interest

      in Capital Alliance is 26 percent, followed by Jowah and Hoto's 12.5
percent each and then Biti's 10 percent.

      The remaining 39 percent Capital Alliance shareholding is spread
between 16 senior managers and executives participating in the scheme, whose
membership terminates upon the termination of one's employment with FML.

      Apart from this direct ownership, the four executive directors also
have direct shareholdings in FML.

      Sachikonye's direct holdings upon FML's November 24 listing, was 100
440 shares, Biti- 24360 shares, while Jowah and Hoto's respective interests
amounted to 20 280 and 13 920 shares.

      The four were also granted a total of 21.91 million share options out
of a total of 47.5 million options issued to senior management and
distributed as Sachikonye- 7.5 million options, Hoto- 6.14 million options,
Jowah- 5.1 million options and Biti- 3.2 million options.

      The options were issued on November 5 2003 at an exercise price of $35
per share.

      FML directors said the options could be exercised in three equal
tranches, starting from November 5 2004, progressively until 2008 when the
final third could be exercised.

      Analysts noted that this was a smart deal, as the general market
sentiment, prior to FML's listing last November, had been that the $35 offer
price was a significant discount to the value of the stock, which had
immense upside potential.

      "The stock has lots of upside, especially for long-term investors, and
FML should emerge from its current predicament and deliver value to
shareholders willing to look beyond.

      "Which is why those options constitute great value and, come the first
exercisable date, someone will be in the money," one equity market analyst

      Although the funds used by Capital Alliance to acquire the FML stock
en route to becoming the biggest shareholder were not guaranteed by FML and
sourced from external sources, including the fallen ENG which contributed $4
billion, analysts this week maintained that there was a worrying streak of
self aggrandisement by the executive team.

      "There is nothing wrong with properly incentivising management, in
order to retain critical skills, especially for an organisation that has
undergone a transformation of the magnitude of FML's denutualisation.

      "But there is always that risk of going for the overkill, and that
seems to have happened here," one analyst noted.

      They noted, particularly, at the total allocation of shares allotted
to staff under the First Mutual Employee Share Ownership Trust- 200 million
shares- which is less than the chief executive's allocation.

      Also contentious was the funding from ENG, which was allegedly made as
part of a back scratching deal which management has strenuously denied.

      FML now insists that management at its 60 percent owned subsidiary,
First Mutual Asset Management (FMAM) company had "placed a series of
unauthorised money market investments with ENG Capital" between November 11
and December 15 2003.

      Analysts said what was intriguing was that FMAM managing director
Jowah, who, along with two other senior FMAM executives- Simba Dodzo and
Oliver Kamundimu- has been arraigned before the courts on corruption
charges, also sat on the FML investment committee.

      It has emerged that the trio has resigned from FMAM, which is under
the interim guardianship of actuary Pelagia Kafesu, who is managing director
of African Actuarial Consultants, a 70 percent owned FML subsidiary.

      "It shows that FML board and management has not learnt from the days
of the Mawere commission. How does it happen that a member of the board's
investment committee, whose brief is to set appropriate investment
strategies and guidelines for the group and monitoring its implementation
within group companies, goes on to make what we are now being told were
unauthorised investments in an unregistered entity?" one analyst queried.

      FML board chairman Ian Makone also chairs the investment committee,
whose other members were William Nyemba, David Long and Sachikonye.
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      Mobile networks get reprieve over international gateways

      2/12/2004 7:15:44 AM (GMT +2)

      MOBILE net works, Telecel Zimbabwe and Econet Wireless last week won a
crucial reprieve from the government's moves to invalidate their licences to
operate international telecommunications traffic gateways following a High
Court judgement which ruled that the state's moves were without basis and,
therefore, no force.

      The two firms were granted the licences in 2002 and their invalidation
would have come at an immense cost, not only to themselves, but also to the
long-suffering public which would have had, once again, be thrust at the
mercy of a monopoly given to inefficiency.

      The communication ministry had sought to reduce the existing three
gateways to just one, run by TelOne.

      FORMER Schweppes Zimbabwe managing director Shonwe Ndoro is the new
chief executive officer of the restructuring Tedco group.

      The 38-year-old Ndoro's appointment at Tedco was with effect from
January 2 2004.

      Ndoro has largely been involved with food and beverage manufacturing
concerns - he was the regional marketing director at Coca-Cola Central
Africa and an executive at McDonald's South Africa.

      He has also worked for BAT Zimbabwe and oil firms Exxon Mobil and BP

      Ndoro replaces Mark Duff, who has been the group's chief operating
officer in the transitional period and now reverts to being the CEO of Tedco
Industries Limited, the Tedco group's manufacturing arm.

      Strategis Africa boss Fungai Muparadzi has also come in as the new
board chairman, replacing controlling shareholder Simba Mangwende.

      Mangwende signaled his intention to step down from the chairmanship of
the board in the interests of sound corporate governance at the group he
took over from the Dorward family last year.

      The restructured Tedco group has also made public its intention to
expand after the internal reorganisation that will possible culminate in the
separate listing of its two major divisions- the manufacturing Tedco
Industries and the retail arm that operates Zimbabwe Furnishers and Kumali.

      Plans are also underway to change the group's name to Nyore Nyore

      I must admit to being rather confused by the multiplicity of names
surrounding Deloitte, one of the world's grand international accounting and
consultancy firms.

      The Deloitte brand has gone through a multiplicity of forms since its
inception in 1845 when the 27-year-old William Welch Deloitte opened his
accountancy firm with its curious location being opposite the Bankruptcy
Court on Basinghall Street, London.

      In 1849, Deloitte was to become the first person ever appointed as an
independent auditor and made his reputation through exploits in the railroad
industry where he developed a system for keeping railway accounts.

      This was to be adopted as the industry standard that protected
investors from mismanagement of funds.

      He also developed a system of account keeping for hotels that was
universally adopted by large hotels in the United Kingdom and abroad.
Deloitte retired in 1897 after an illustrious accounting career.

      The firm Deloitte, his eponymous legacy has been known as Deloitte and
Greenwood, Deloitte Dever, Griffiths and Company, Deloitte, Plender,
Griffiths and Company, Deloitte, Haskins and Sells.

      The firm became Deloitte and Touche in 1990, following a merger with a
firm established by George Touche, who himself also started off in London in

      Then came Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu in 1993 following another merger
with a firm established by Nobuzo Tohmatsu, a Japanese who qualified as a
certified public accountant in 1952.

      Deloitte has grown into a global organisation and has recently
announced the launch of the new brand name "Deloitte".

      The change means that the firms known in various national and global
markets as Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Deloitte & Touche, while retaining
their local legal names, will now be known by the brand "Deloitte".

      Accounting history aficionados say that the name "Deloitte" has the
longest continuous existence of any firm name in the accounting profession.

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      Corporate governance and the corporate sector in Zim

      2/12/2004 7:12:54 AM (GMT +2)

      LOOKING at the Enron case, what really went wrong, what caused these
scandals and are there lessons for us?

      Obviously, you can clearly see greed, corruption, cheating, fraud etc
in this case. You can see conflict of interest on the part of Arthur
Andersen as an auditor and provider of other consulting services to Enron.
You can see lack of attention by the board to the off-balance sheet
financial activities of Enron and their corporate culture was a significant
cause of the failure.

      Here is what one former senior executive said about the culture:
"Enron Executives believed it was a winner-take-all society and there was a
culture behind them saying you are worth nothing if you are not a
centi-millionaire…. They recruited from the major and best business
colleges, spoiled, wined and dined the prospects. They promised them huge
bonuses and fed those young egos as much as they would take. Once hired, it
was an up-or-out culture, those who survived began to think they were

      Senior executives believed Enron had to be the best at everything it
did and they had to protect their reputation and compensation as the most
successful executives in the states. When their trading ventures began to
perform poorly, they tried to cover up their own failures.

      Asked about what needed to be done to prevent this kind of
development, some analysts in the United States of America pointed to legal
and regulatory weakness in allowing conflict of interest i.e. Arthur
Anderson’s dual role and the fact that a private company chooses its own
auditors. There is an incentive for the auditor not to issue an unfavourable
report on the hand that is feeding it.

      Other weakness are allowing larger companies to manage own employee
pension schemes or funds having voluntary Codes of Conduct and allowing
boards to set them aside.

      The Enron story developed during a boom. The stock market was shooting
upwards. Start-ups were rolling in venture capital, some established
businesses were expanding and it seemed everyone was making lots of money.
During periods such as these, people’s moral standards tend to get
corrupted. The easy with which people see money being made leads them to cut
corners and take short cuts to get their on shares of the pie, because
everyone else is getting theirs.

      In summary, there are business ethical lessons from Enron. Lack of
transparency and accountability breeds corruption and even if you are
operating a modern and sophisticated, highly technologically driven

        a.. You still make money in the new economy in the same way; you
make money in the old economy – by providing goods or services that have
real value.

        b.. Financial sophistication, engineering or cleverness is no
substitute for a good corporate strategy.

      Enron’s board authorised the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to be in a
naked conflict of interest situation to defraud shareholders and hide real
losses and creating phoney profits.

      They thought he would be loyal to them and only cheat shareholders.
The truth! There is no honour among thieves; they even steal from each

        a.. The arrogance of Executives who claim to be the most innovative,
the best, the brightest and superstars should serve a "red flag" for

        b.. Excessive pay for executives make them think they are above the
rules and tempts them to cut corners to retain their wealth and benefits.

        c.. There is need to revamp and update the legal and regulatory
framework to remain current with developments on the market.

      Zimbabwe’s Own Situation

      The recent scandals in the financial services sector highlight that a
combination of greed and deficiencies in corporate governance regime can be
very dangerous to the economy.

      It seems the directors and Executives in the corporate sector were
taking advantage of the blame for the destruction of the economy to Western
forces and their alliances and hoped that the nation would never twig on the
realities on the ground.

      A review of our own corporate governance shows some weaknesses as

        a.. Insider trading and self-dealing is not a crime. It was not
surprising recently to hear the CEO of a Bank advising on the primary
listing of a large financial institution, professing ignorance of the fact
the bank’s deal which involved a purchase and sale of a large chunk of the
listing company at a price above the market rate was insider dealing and
self serving.

        b.. The players themselves control the ZSE; there is incentive for
conflict of interest (need for SEC).

        c.. There are only twenty (20) or so prominent directors who sit on
almost all boards and there are a few truly independent directors.

        d.. Disclosure regime needs to be aligned to best practices to
enable transparent and balanced reporting. (Compliance with codes)

        e.. Director’s remuneration is disclosed on an aggregate basis

        f.. Details of directors coming up for re-election are scant.

        g.. Lack of shareholder activism and a shareholder Association

        h.. Absence of board and director appraisal procedures

        i.. Absence of a register of delinquent directors.

        j.. lack of attentiveness and skills in corporate governance .

      Notwithstanding the enormity of the director’s responsibilities, in
practice many of them seem not to care. Myles Mace, Harvard Business School
Professor observes: "In practice, too many boards have been mere ornaments
on a Christmas tree, decorative and decorous baubles with no … real purpose.
Somehow directors forgot — if they ever knew — that they were in the
boardroom to act on behalf of shareowners.

      Only when the directors were prodded by investors and activists, only
after their companies and CEOs were publicly pilloried, were many finally
goaded into action — what some call governance by embarrassment." (Business
Week Nov 25, 1996, p82) Zimbabwe is no exception (UMB’s Board of Directors)

        a.. Weak legal and regulatory framework i.e. Companies Act and ZSE

        b.. Only a few organisations have a formal code of conduct and those
that have, the enforcement is weak.

      I wish to dwell a little on two, namely disclosure and code of

      Access to information is a necessary component of an efficient market.
It is critical from a corporate governance point of view. Asymmetries of
information mean that not all investors will be able to judge and act on a
particular counter at the same time, as others are front running and become
winners and others are behind and become losers.

      A comprehensive disclosure regime is encouraged in terms of best
practice. Being transparent and accountable calls for leadership that has
nothing to hide, and leadership that accounts transparently for the power
within its scope of authority.

      When an ordinary investor looks at the financial statements, he should
be able to comprehend the real nature of the business the company is
involved in. Truthfully speaking, window dressing and sophisticated
financial statements are a form of fraud. Usually this is done at quarter
and year-end, where transactions are manipulated to make figures look unduly

      In some cases, even non-executive members of the board have no idea
what the real transactions are, but then this is their own fault, for as
directors they need to understand the nature of the business and the risks
they are carrying.

      Many will argue that increased disclosure will give away strategies of
the company to competitors. Is this true or it is just an excuse to cover up
illicit dealings and scandals that would embarrass and bring down the

      The need for information cannot be over-emphasised. Markets function
on information and if you want to avail yourself of the benefits of
financial or capital markets, then be transparent and be accountable to
those giving you the capital, namely shareholders and investors. Do not be
tempted to cheat and do not be tempted to hide information as reality will
always catch up with you. With the advent of the Internet and its speed you
can run but you can’t hide. Ultimately the market will be able to judge your
work, integrity and reputation.

      John M Chikura is CEO: Deposit Protection Board and past president of
the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrator.

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                  If you can't stand the heat, quit the kitchen

                  2/12/2004 7:06:16 AM (GMT +2)

                  I READ somewhere that you can judge an organisation or a
government by the way it treats its detractors and responds to criticism.

                  With that statement as a backdrop, I have found it
fascinating to watch how two world leaders who have been subjected to the
most intense scrutiny, unrelenting criticism and attacks imaginable have
handled themselves. I refer to the President of the United States, George W
Bush, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the main protagonists in the
Iraq war saga.

                  In the run-up to the invasion of Iraq early last year,
anti-war protests reached fever pitch. Demonstrations by millions of people
were staged in almost all major capitals of the world — Buenos Aires to
Brussels, Washington DC to Canberra, London to Beijing or Pretoria to
Jakarta. Almost every continent had a vociferous anti-war lobby doing its
best to make its voice heard.

                  Bush and Blair were endlessly burnt in effigy. They were
mercilessly mocked and ridiculed in slogans emblazoned across thousands of
placards. And even after the end of what Bush described as "major combat"
and the deposition of one of the most ruthless tyrants on the globe, Saddam
Hussein, the two politicians have not had any respite.

                  If anything, debate on Bush and Blair's motives for going
to war has intensified because of the failure to find weapons of mass
destruction, which was their main pretext for confronting Saddam militarily.

                  Things have, in fact reached such a boiling point on both
sides of the Atlantic that the two leaders have had to set up commissions to
investigate why intelligence available to them before the war has not
tallied with realities on the ground in Iraq.

                  Personally, I do not give a hoot whether or not any
weapons of mass destruction are found. What is important to me is that the
ruthless Saddam Hussein is no longer in a position to torture, massacre and
brutalise his own people. This is a man who enjoyed an incongruously opulent
lifestyle while his people lived in grinding poverty and bondage.

                  After seeing the mass graves and other unspeakable horrors
that were unmasked for the first time for the world to see by the coalition
forces. I applaud the Americans and the British for rescuing the completely
cowed people of Iraq from the clutches of such a barbaric despot. They could
never have dislodged this tyrant without external assistance. However, I

                  What I wish to draw attention to is how the checks and
balances in place in open and democratic societies ensure that no one is
regarded as a sacred cow. Blair and Bush have not been able to duck behind
any smokescreens such as "sovereignty" to escape taking the heat for their
decisions. They have submitted to intense questioning and persistent demands
for them to account for their actions with fortitude and decency.

                  It is impossible to imagine the controversy ignited by the
Bush/Blair war alliance raging for as long as it has in a developing country
like ours, for example, without any detractors, critics or nosey journalists
ending up behind bars or worse.

                  I read somewhere that "a politician is someone who
approaches every issue with an open mouth" and to be sure, Bush and Blair
are no exceptions. They have fought mightily to extricate themselves from
countless sticky situations for almost a year now since they began laying
the ground work for bombarding Iraq. They have had to rely solely on their
communication skills to manage the controversy on a day to day basis.

                  Despite being confronted with difficult questions and
harsh comments at every turn, they have remained calm, civil and courteous
towards journalists. They have never resorted to threats, blustering emotion
al outbursts, self-righteous indignation and name-calling that some of our
local chefs stoop to even when required to respond to inquiries about
mundane matters.

                  I have often wondered whether our chefs' readiness to cut
hapless reporters down to size with a verbal axe or knock the daylights out
of them by brandishing the stiletto of sarcasm and ridicule stems from
ignorance about the workings of the Press or whether it is because they have
something to hide.

                  Reporters calling to seek comments on matters of legimate
public interest are routinely told: "It's none of your business" before the
phone is rudely banged on them or switched off.

                  Of course, in their private capacities, John X or Jane B
have no right to pester chefs for information but when they call on behalf
of newspapers, magazines or other media, they represent the public, which
has a right to know and to question the decisions and conduct of public

                  Our government officials seem to forget that they are the
servants of the people and that they are in politics by choice and not
because anyone is holding a gun to their heads. The spotlight naturally
lingers on them because they have an obligation to be accountable to the

                  I remember reading a story last year in which a reporter
from a privately owned weekly newspaper was seeking comment about a
publishing venture about which there had been speculation. To all intents
and purposes, it was an inquiry about something of legitimate public

                  But when the reporter reached the appropriate big fish, he
was told: "Go hang". I could not believe it. Stooping to such crudity was
uncalled for when this chef could have seized the opportunity to provide the
correct fact or to scorch the rumour before it became widespread if the tip
the reporter had received was baseless. On countless other occasions
reporters have been rebuffed with: "I don't want to speak to you, write what
you want," "I know you are working for foreign interests" or "I don't speak
to reporters from that paper." I have often wondered how such bad tempered
and foul-mouthed politicians would cope if they lived in open societies with
hundreds of publications, radio and television stations relentlessly
clamouring for explanations.

                  I was flabbergasted about two weeks ago when reporters
seeking comment on President Mugabe's health after it had been reported that
he was in South Africa for medical attention were told off by no less than
the Permanent Secretary in the Department of Information and Publicity,
George Charamba.

                  In response to one reporter's query Charamba, who is
normally the relatively more affable bigwig in that department, barked that
the President was "as fit as none on his detractors can ever hope to be".

                  Why such fighting talk and gloaming? If the Permanent
Secretary can be so anxious to exhibit uncalled for bravado when the news is
good, what will he do when, God forbid, the President is indeed indisposed?
What will he say then?

                  I remember that in the early days of the Bush
administration Vice President Dick Cheney had to undergo surgery in
connection with a heart condition he suffers from. The White House released
all relevant details about this and I remember seeing in either TIME or
NEWSWEEK magazine a detailed diagram showing what was wrong with Cheney's
heart and what surgeons would do to correct the anomaly.

                  The fact is, Cheney did not lose anything in terms of his
international stature or reputation. In fact, I like to imagine he enjoyed
the goodwill of thousands of people who read or heard about his health
problem. Presidents are mortal humans like the rest of us. There is no need
to treat the state of their health like a taboo.

                  Most of our politicians do not seem to realise that bad
news has never been known to improve with age. It is best, therefore, to
deal with problems or questions as soon as they arise.

                  And if they have nothing to hide and want to be taken
seriously, there is no earthly reason why people in public life should fly
into a rage and become abusive and belligerent in their dealings with

                  Are Bush and Blair (who have been called all manner of
obscene names by our government) actually more politically mature? What else
can we conclude when they can consistently handle a highly charged situation
with civility and decorum when our own leaders go berserk when asked
questions about routine matters? If you can't stand the heat, get out of the
kitchen, say I!

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      ZANU PF led the povo down the garden path

      2/12/2004 7:08:05 AM (GMT +2)

      EDITOR - With the advent of independence in 1980, every Zimbabwean
(especially the blacks) had high hopes that, at last, things were going to
be better. Little did we know where we were being led by ZANU PF. I remember
very well some of the speeches by President Robert Mugabe (then Prime
Minister) which held high hopes for us.

      I have never heard of any African president who is so fluent in the
English language as he is. The guy was and still is really good!! He can
answer any question at any time without hesitation and most people will
agree with me that he has no match in Africa.

      The calibre of the ministers we had by then was unquestionable. They
sent across a message that they would brook no nonsense as far as the
aspirations of the Zimbabwean blacks were concerned. Well and good.

      Things started falling apart especially after the Willowvale scandal
(Willowgate). Little did we know that these guys were lining their pockets.
The biggest blunder made by President Mugabe was to forgive the culprits
after a commission had revealed mass corruption in the higher echelons of
the party. Had he stamped his authority then, we could be talking a
different language today.

      Things got worse as time went by. All promises that goods and services
would be cheaper with the removal of sanctions were shattered as the prices
of most commodities started to skyrocket. And then we were told that some
programme was to be established which would yield good results e.g. Economic
Structural Adjustment Programme. Still, things got worse. People began to
question the degrees (educational) attained by some of our leaders. As
Zimbabweans, we have a lot of patience. We thought, maybe, things were going
to improve, but all in vain.

      You will recall an article in the "Readers Forum" titled "We are not
docile". Our patience ran out and as a result, some people decided to form a
new party - the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). As stated in the "We
are not docile" letter, many intellectuals crossed the floor from ZANU PF
and all hell broke loose. People were insulted, beaten and maimed for
joining the MDC.

      Of late there has been talk of "talks about talks" but, unfortunately,
we have "mafikizolos" whose only loyalty is to President Mugabe and are very
much aware that with his removal, that is their end.

      There is nothing wrong with Zimbabweans discussing their differences
be they political, economic etc. There is nothing wrong in discussing the
"succession issue" within ZANU PF. People should be made to understand that
with or without Robert Mugabe or Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe will always be

      M C Musonza,


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Business Day

Not surprising

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's failure to acknowledge publicly that the
licensing of journalists by Robert Mugabe's government in Zimbabwe means the
extinction of press freedom in that benighted country is astonishing, but
not really surprising.
It is entirely consistent with her previous declaration that there are no
circumstances in which she would be prepared to criticise Mugabe's Zimbabwe
and yet another example of our foreign ministry's selective and hypocritical
approach to the upholding of human rights in Africa and elsewhere.

Richard Steyn

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