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Zimbabwe Pays Its Overdue Financial Obligations to the IMF Under the General Resources Account

Press Release No. 06/33
February 15, 2006

Zimbabwe today made a further payment of US$9 million to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), thereby fully settling its remaining overdue financial obligations to the General Resources Account (GRA).1 Zimbabwe still has substantial overdue obligations to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF)-Exogenous Shocks Facility Trust (ESF)2 amounting to SDR 83 million (US$119 million).

The settlement removes the basis for the Managing Director's complaint with respect to Zimbabwe's compulsory withdrawal from the Fund (see Press Release No. 03/210). Accordingly, the Managing Director withdrew his complaint today, thereby cancelling the procedure for compulsory withdrawal.

The Executive Board is scheduled to conduct its next regular review of Zimbabwe's arrears to the Fund on March 8, 2006. At that time, Executive Directors will have an opportunity to consider Zimbabwe's cooperation with the Fund on policies and payments, as well as the remaining sanctions and remedial measures relating to Zimbabwe's arrears. The sanctions include the suspension of Zimbabwe's voting and related rights in the Fund; ineligibility to use Fund resources under the GRA; declaration of non-cooperation; and suspension of technical assistance.

Because GRA and PRGF arrears are subject to separate legal frameworks-the former under the Fund's Articles of Agreement and the latter under the PRGF-ESF Trust Instrument-the clearance of GRA arrears by Zimbabwe has no effect on the application of the Fund's procedures for the treatment of outstanding arrears to the PRGF-ESF Trust. Zimbabwe, therefore, remains excluded from the list of PRGF-eligible countries (see Press Release No. 01/40)



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Zimbabwe clears IMF debt, expects new aid


      16 Feb 2006 03:52:57 GMT

      Source: Reuters

WASHINGTON, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has cleared its major debt arrears
with the International Monetary Fund averting expulsion, the IMF confirmed
on Wednesday, a step Harare expects will unlock new foreign aid for its
ailing economy.

"Zimbabwe today made a further payment of $9 million to the International
Monetary Fund, thereby fully settling its remaining overdue financial
obligations to the General Resources Account (GRA)," the IMF said in a

The IMF said the settlement removed the basis for the forced removal of
Zimbabwe from the Fund.

"Accordingly, the managing director withdrew his complaint today, thereby
cancelling the procedure for compulsory withdrawal," the statement said.

The IMF had threatened to expel Zimbabwe over debt arrears, but President
Robert Mugabe's government said it had been making regular payments to the
fund and would clear its arrears before a March deadline to pay up or risk

Zimbabwe Television (ZTV) said on Wednesday Harare -- which early this month
said it had paid up $184 million to the IMF over the last 12 months and
reduced its arrears on the General Resources Account to $14.5 million -- had
cleared the debt.

"Zimbabwe has cleared all its obligations under the General Resources
Account," it said.

"This development gives Zimbabwe the right to reclaim its voting rights in
the Fund...and should open up new aid," the station said.

The IMF and many other key Western donors, including the World Bank,
suspended financial aid to Mugabe's government more than six years ago over
his controversial political and economic policies, including his seizures of
white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to new black farmers.

Critics say the policies have plunged the southern African nation into its
worst crisis since independence in 1980, and Zimbabwe's failure to service
its foreign debts forced the IMF to suspend Harare's voting rights in the
fund in 2003 and sparked the expulsion threats.

An IMF mission which visited Zimbabwe early this month said Mugabe's
government must implement comprehensive reforms to help repair an economy
many once saw as one of Africa's most promising.

The IMF team, which will now present a report to the Fund's executive board
which is scheduled to decide Zimbabwe's future in March, demanded that
Mugabe's government honour a pledge to stop farm invasions that have
crippled commercial agriculture.

The government has in the past sanctioned the land invasions, carried out to
back its seizure of white-owned commercial farms for landless blacks under a
sometimes violent policy launched in 2000.

The decline has worsened the plight of an economy now in its sixth year of a
recession shown in chronic shortages of food, foreign currency and fuel,
soaring unemployment and the world's highest inflation rates -- which
climbed to 613 percent in January.

Mugabe, 82 next week and in power since independence from Britain 26 years
ago, denies he has mismanaged the country over the last 26 years, and
charges in turn that the economy has fallen victim to sabotage by domestic
and foreign opponents of his land seizures.

(Additional reporting by JoAnne Allen)

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2005 a Bad Year for Human Rights in Zimbabwe, NGO Umbrella Group Says


By Patience Rusere
      15 February 2006

Cases of political violence and human rights abuses nearly doubled in
Zimbabwe last year from 2004 levels, according to a report issued Wednesday
by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO forum, an umbrella organization of 17 civil
society groups.

The Forum said the level of abuses was the worst it had documented since it
started tracking such incidents in 1998. The 2005 report cited 4,200 such
incidents compared with 2,711 in 2004, including four murders and four
rapes, said the group.

The group said that the persistence of such abuses despite damning reports
on human rights violations in Zimbabwe from African Union's Commission on
Human and People's Rights and other organizations is a measure of the
government's disregard for constitutional protections and its international
human rights commitments.

The Human Rights NGO Forum noted that incidents surged despite the ruling
ZANU-PF party's victory in March 2005 general elections and a weakened
opposition. The Movement for Democratic Change has been deeply divided since
late 2005 when its leadership clashed over whether to contest November
senate elections.

Political analyst John Makumbe, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe,
told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he does
not expect to see any reduction in the level of political violence and human
rights violations during 2006 as Zimbabweans grow increasingly restive
amidst deteriorating living standards.

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Cahora Bassa Threatens To Switch Off Zim Over US$6 million Arrears

Zim Daily

            Thursday, February 16 2006 @ 05:25 AM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent

            Mozambique's Hydro Cahora Bassa (HCB), which had threatened to
suspend electricity supplies to Zimbabwe last week over debt arrears, is
believed to have allowed the country's power utility a grace period of one
month to settle its arrears, it was learnt this week. This follows
electricity cuts from South Africa which has forced the country to suffer
erratic power outages.

            Senior officials at the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
(ZESA) said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) had intervened last Friday
and offered to help ZESA to clear the debt owed to HCB. They said the
central bank had also assured the Mozambicans that the money would be paid
within a month. The officials told Zimdaily that ZESA management had held a
series of meetings last Friday with Energy and Power Development Ministry
officials and the RBZ, resulting in the central bank agreeing to provide

            The officials said ZESA executive chairman Sydney Gata also met
with ministry officials this Tuesday as a follow-up to Friday's meeting.
ZESA officials said there was a general agreement between the two power
companies and the RBZ that the arrears could be repaid without HCB resorting
to power cuts as a way of forcing ZESA to pay up. HCB had given ZESA up to
Saturday last week to clear its US$6 million arrears or face power cuts that
could have affected ZESA's ability to meet domestic demand for electricity.

            "We have been given another month by HCB to pay the arrears and
ZESA is now waiting for funds from the RBZ to pay our Mozambican suppliers,"
a senior official at the ZESA head office told Zimdaily. "There was an
agreement from all the parties that despite the long time it has taken to
pay off the arrears, it was not in Cahora Bassa's interest to cut us off.
Our hope is that we keep to our promise and make good use of this deadline

            ZESA declined comment on the issue and referred questions to
Gata, who was said to be busy in meetings and would only be available next
week. Zimbabwe, which imports about 34.6 percent of its electricity needs
from regional suppliers, receives most of its power imports from HCB, which
supplies the country with 3 198.89 gigawatts of electricity an hour. The
Mozambican power supplier accounts for more than 26 percent of imported
electricity, with the rest coming from ESKOM of South Africa, SNEL of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and ZESCO of Zambia. ZESA benefits
from the 50 percent of exporters' proceeds that is remitted to the central
bank, but hard cash inflows have been low since the introduction of tough
new exchange control measures last November.

            Industry officials have urged the government to support ZESA in
concluding a bilateral agreement it is negotiating with SNEL, which would
give the Zimbabwean power company the right of first access to DRC
electricity. Electricity from the DRC is the cheapest in southern Africa,
while HCB 's supplies are the most expensive.

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Zimbabwe on high alert against bird flu

People's Daily

      Zimbabwe is on high alert against the bird flu epidemic that has swept
across the European continent and was recently detected in Nigeria, Health
and Child Welfare Minister, David Parirenyatwa, said on Wednesday.

      "The country is on a very high alert over the bird flu. We want to
ensure that there are no transmissions from infected birds to humans. We are
just hoping that the situation does not come to that," he said.

      He was speaking during a meeting with a visiting delegation from the
US Global AIDS Fund, led by US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell.

      Parirenyatwa said a health task force had been set up to implement
measures needed for early detection of the bird flu virus should it hit the

      Recently the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization
reported that the deadly bird flu was more likely to spread to Africa
between last December and next spring, raising concern about the continent's
lack of readiness to counter the threat.

      Meanwhile the Department of Veterinary Services has introduced an
awareness program to educate farmers on the deadly effects of the avian
influenza on poultry. The department is encouraging poultry producers to
improve bio-security so as to reduce contact between wild birds and domestic

      The department's director, Stuart Hargreaves, said on Wednesday
Zimbabwe would next month host a meeting for the Southern African
Development Community to strategize on ways to combat the disease should it
emerge in the region.

      African countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania and
Uganda have since banned imports of poultry from parts of Asia.

      The H5NI strain that causes the bird flu first emerged in Hong Kong in
1997, causing death and destruction of 1,5 million birds and killing six
people. It reemerged in 2003 in South Korea and has now spread to China,
Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia, Turkey, and Romania and recently to

      Source: Xinhua

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U.S. grants 26 million dollars for Zimbabwe on AIDS fight

People's Daily

      The U.S. government has pledged 26 million U.S. dollars to support the
Zimbabwean government in the fight against the deadly HIV/AIDS pandemic
which claims the lives of about 2, 500 Zimbabweans each week.

      Visiting U.S. Global Fund AIDS deputy coordinator and chief medical
officer, Mark Dybul, said on Wednesday that the U.S government was aware of
Zimbabwe's successes on the AIDS front and was committed to compliment the
county's efforts.

      "President (George) Bush and the White House are quite aware of the
successes the country has made in fighting HIV/AIDS," he said, adding that
these included the reduction in the prevalence rate and the provision of
antiretroviral treatment programs.

      Zimbabwe's HIV/AIDS prevalence rate stands at 21 percent, down from
24.6 percent in late 2005 and 29 percent in 2000.

      Dybul, who arrived in the country with his team on Monday, said
Zimbabwe was endowed with talented experts and had a lot the world could
learn from.

      He said their visit was meant to draw lessons from the various
programs implemented in the fight against HIV/AIDS for adoption by other
countries worst affected by the disease.

      "The main purpose of the visit was to learn from the programs the
country has implemented so that we could share the information with the rest
of the world," he said.

      He said Zimbabwe had grabbed international attention through the
dramatic reduction of the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate. "This is the story being
told to the world," he said.

      The visiting U.S. team, which is expected to leave later on Wednesday,
had visited satellite programs where rollout programs to counter HIV/AIDS
were being implemented, he said.

      Meanwhile, Health and Child Welfare Minister, David Parirenyatwa, said
the country's success story had come about as a result of condom use and

      "We have always preached the gospel of prevention and more
prevention," he said.

      For years, he said, the country was the epicenter of HIV infection in
the world but had managed to significantly lower the incidence of AIDS
through a multisectoral approach that included the National AIDS Council,
schools, churches, traditional healers and parliamentarians.

      Zimbabwe appreciated the contribution made by the Global Fund and
hoped this would be scaled up and bilateral relations between the two
countries improve, he said.

      "We need to work together despite the political play at the top. HIV
is a global issue that needs a global response," he said.

      The U.S. Global Fund was set up by President Bush to help developing
countries in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. For years Zimbabwe did
not benefit from the grants until last year.

      This year, 14 billion U.S. dollars has been set aside to benefit 15
developing countries, Zimbabwe among them. Meanwhile, moved by the magnitude
of the AIDS crisis in Zimbabwe, the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and
Malaria last year finally considered the country for funding and released
10.3 million U.S. dollars to the government to fight the pandemic.

      The Fund had sidelined Zimbabwe for no apparent reason since 2000, the
year the government embarked on the land reform program to resettle the
landless through acquiring farms from former white commercial farmers.

      According to United Nations HIV/AIDS statistics on Zimbabwe, one in
every three people is HIV positive while one in every five pregnant women is
also infected. About 90 percent of the infected people are not aware of
their status while 600,000 of those carrying the HIV virus have the signs
and symptoms of AIDS and require varying degrees of care and support.

      Source: Xinhua

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Tobacco production to drop in Zimbabwe

People's Daily

      The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association ( ZTA) said Wednesday it projected a
30 percent drop in tobacco output this year to around 50 million kg, citing
a range of production problems.

      ZTA president, James Delafargue, said lack of funding, especially by
small-scale producers, was one of the main reasons why tobacco output would
drop from 73 million kg last year.

      He also cited lack of inputs at some farms associated with land
reforms, and viability. But the ZTA boss said a good quality crop was
expected from farmers, as well as average prices of around two U.S. dollars
a kilogram for the top leaf.

      "We are expecting a 30 percent drop (in output) because of a number of
problems, but the quality is good and must be able to fetch good prices,"
Delafargue said.

      "I think after the season, we need to sit down as a country and look
at why production is dropping and find ways to reverse this," he said.

      Until recently, tobacco was Zimbabwe's biggest export, but has since
surrendered the title to cotton.

      Source: Xinhua

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State Should Stop Commercialising Children's Basic Right To Quality Education

Zim Daily

            Thursday, February 16 2006 @ 05:25 AM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent
            By Fidelis Mhashu

            The hike in fees at tertiary colleges is yet another blow to an
already battered education system that has failed to address the nation's
needs. Colleges increased their fees by over 100 percent this term against a
backdrop of low incomes and inadequate student payouts. The MDC believes the
right to education is a right for every child. What the state-owned tertiary
colleges are simply doing is to commercialize our children's basic right to
access quality education which should help enhance national development.

            The MDC believes the right to tertiary education should not be a
preserve of relatives and children of tycoons and dealers---the nouveau
riche---but should be accessible to everyone regardless of their social
standing. It shows this government has a Rhodesian hangover, in which
education was a preserve of the elite. It makes a mockery of the liberation
struggle if our children have to suffer the ignominy of playing second
fiddle to the rich and powerful when it comes to accessing tertiary

            But the government's creation of bottlenecks to make sure that
the economically challenged students do not access tertiary education does
not come as a surprise. The children of Cabinet ministers and senior
government and Zanu PF officials are in colleges in Europe, the Americas and
other continents around the world and these charlatans do not care a hoot if
our children fail are unable to go to our own local colleges and

            We also note with dismay that the new fee structure was only
announced last week and some students have been asked to pay the fees before
month-end, well before their pittance that serves as their payouts has been
disbursed. This is a recipe for disaster and is likely to spark student
unrests, which have been the hallmark of our colleges ever since this regime
lost touch with the students in the late 1980s. This regime's gripe with the
students is understandable. In 1988, the students rallied the nation in
thwarting this regime's desire to establish a one-party state in Zimbabwe.

            The new fee structure is just one area characterizing the rot in
the entire education system. The rot manifests itself in the shortage of
textbooks in our schools and colleges, the low morale among our teachers and
lecturers over inadequate salaries and poor working conditions, as well as
the chaos and corruption at ZIMSEC. Our national universities and colleges
have become a collective source of national shame, again characterized by
dilapidated buildings and halls of residence, dysfunctional ablution and
sewer systems, poor libraries and low staff and student morale.

            What this government is doing is against the spirit of global
and continental initiatives such as NEPAD, the Millennium Development Goals
and the United Nations Charter, which acknowledge the right to education as
a basic and fundamental right.

            The MDC believes in academic freedom as well as quality
education that is affordable to our children regardless of their social
background. We believe that our children's basic rights such as education
should never be compromised for political expediency. We believe in people
power to pressure this regime to pave way for a new Zimbabwe and a new

            Fidelis Mhashu is the MDC Shadow minister for Education

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Chamber Of Mines Disagrees With Govt Over 50% Shareholding For Locals

Zim Daily

            Thursday, February 16 2006 @ 05:22 AM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent
            The Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe says that neither the
government nor locals can afford to purchase the 50% empowerment stake put
in place to empower locals in the existing mining concerns in the country.
"With the value of the mining industry businesses at more than US$20 billion
it is also the perception that neither the government nor Historically
Disadvantaged Persons (HDPs) can raise the amount to purchase 50%
shareholding in existing mining companies," Chamber of Mines president Jack
Murewa said in a confidential document to the Minister of Mines, Amos Midzi.

            The document is the industry's first official response to issues
raised by both the government and central bank governor Gideon Gono, who
accused miners of gross gold smuggling last month. Murewa said the
perception in the industry is that the government wants participation by
itself and/or Historically Disadvantaged Persons (HPDs) in current mining
companies to the extent of at least 50% shareholding.

            It said the perception is in the absence of adequate information
from the Mines Ministry and based on the policy framework published by the
Department of Indigenisation and Empowerment in the President's Office. "If
the government is to meet this stated objective of participating in every
mining company ion Zimbabwe, it can only do so through expropriation,
cession or legislated nationalization," Murewa said.

            It said with this perception, both potential foreign and local
investors have stopped committing borrowed and equity funds towards
exploration, expansion and Greenfield projects for fear of losing both
control of the business and a big portion of their investment. The Chamber
also responded to government moves towards greater monitoring of the mines,
saying there is no need for further policing in the mining industry as this
would add no value.

            Gono said last month the government had brought in Israeli
experts to investigate smuggling from the gold mines. Government officials
have blamed last year's decline in official gold production from 23 million
grammes in 2004 to 13 million grammes in 2005 on smuggling. "As the Chamber
of Mines we believe that there is adequate policing in the industry and
additional policing would yield no marginal value."

            It said that if perpetrators have been identified, efforts
should go towards prosecuting the offenders and not to spend time and
efforts stifling all producers with additional bureaucratic procedures.

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Arnold Tsunga, Jenni Williams Nominated For International Human Rights Award

Zim Daily

            Thursday, February 16 2006 @ 05:21 AM GMT
            Contributed by: correspondent
            Two prominent Zimbabwean human rights defenders and a Democratic
Republic of the Congo national have been nominated for the prestigious
Martin Ennals Award 2006. The Jury of the Martin Ennals Award for Human
Rights Defenders (MEA) have announced that Anorld Tsunga and Jenny Williams
are in the running for the award together with Golden Misabiko.

            Tsunga is the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights while Jenny Williams heads Women of Zimbabwe Arise, a pressure group
based in Bulawayo. In their citation, the jury said Tsunga has been
representing victims of human rights abuses and campaigning for greater
respect for human rights in Zimbabwe. "He has repeatedly denounced the
undemocratic system of justice. He has been threatened, detained, and is
constantly harassed.

            On Williams, they said she "continues to organise and lead
peaceful protests against the ongoing erosion of human rights, in spite of
having been arrested and beaten by the police." Ironically the nomination
comes at a time when both the two are being troubled by the police. Williams
spent the night in cells last night after being arresting while taking part
in a demonstration on Valentine's Day. Together with 180 other women, she
demanded 'bread and roses' for Zimbabwe which is facing its worst economic
and political crises since independence.

            Tsunga who is a trustees of a radio station, the Voice of the
People, is out on remand after being charged for Broadcasting without a
            The other nominee from the DRC, Misabiko has equally excelled in
denouncing human rights violations in his country for the past 20 years. "He
was tortured in 2001 and had to flee the country in 2002 in view of death
threats. He came back in 2005 and since then he has been detained several
times and consistently harassed," noted the jury.

            An Iranian national Akbar Ganji, jailed for expressing publicly
his desire for democratic reforms is also in the running for the top award.
The jury said; "He has been tortured and ill-treated. Since 2000 he has been
charged of "undermining national security and propaganda against
institutions of the Islamic State". His supporters fear for his life. In a
statement, the jury said they had decided to publicly announce the leading
candidates as they were all in urgent need of protection.

            " The four were retained after careful selection by the ten
human rights organisations that constitute the Jury. On 23 May, the Jury
will announce the final MEA laureate at a conference in the Carter Centre in
Atlanta, USA. Among the organisations involved are Amnesty International,
German Diakonie, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, International
Alert, International Commission of Jurists and the International Federation
for Human Rights.

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Reviving commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe

New Zimbabwe

By Dr Alex Magaisa
Last updated: 02/16/2006 09:03:49
THE decline in agricultural productivity over the last six years ought not
to be a source of surprise.

Given the way the state handled matters pertaining to agriculture, it was
always foreseeable that problems would arise. The question is whether these
challenges can be overcome in the foreseeable future. First however we need
to acknowledge and understand the circumstances leading to this sharp
decline. Not that there is much investigation that needs to be done - it is
whether we are honest and have the necessary political will to accept the
shortcomings, most of which are of our own making. There can be no solution
when a nation, especially the leadership is in denial. No amount of sunshine
journalism, exemplified by the usual grand predictions in the state media of
"bumper harvests" or "normal rainfall season", can change the reality when
it is clear that productivity has been in sharp decline.

Let us look at some of the statistics as recently reported in the media. The
Daily Mirror of 8th February 2006 quoted research conducted by Chemplex
Corporation, the fertiliser manufacturer, on agricultural productivity in
Zimbabwe since 1999. Almost all statistics point toward sharp decline in
hectarage and production. For example in respect of tobacco, the prime cash
crop, hectarage declined from 86 000 in the 1999-2000 season to 46 000 in
2002-03 season and stands at 35000 this current season. This is less than
half of the hectarage for the major foreign currency earner before the
invasions leading to the land redistribution exercise. In respect of
commercial maize, the hectarage declined from 155000 in the 1999-2000 season
to 60000 during the current season - decline of more than half. Yields have
declined and the pattern is set to continue. The same holds true in respect
of other commercial crops, dairy and beef farming. Since agriculture was the
main driver of the economy, it is unsurprising that its decline has impacted
heavily on the economic fortunes of the country. It is a classic case of
killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

There are a number of factors that account for this sorry state of affairs:

Much has been said of the problematic land issue. Clearly, the post-2000
land policy lies at the heart of this phenomenal decline. The purported
redistribution has only effectively benefited a few well connected
individuals resulting in a simple forced transfer from the white farmers to
privileged blacks most of whom are multiple farm occupiers which exposes the
fallacy of the principle of equitable redistribution used to justify the
exercise. The President himself has spoken against those who took more than
one farm. Yet nothing has been done to resolve the situation. The result is
that much of the prime land is in the hands of a few people, with multiple
interests and less attention toward farming. The so-called new farmers are
simply not putting land to full and efficient use. To a large degree land
was taken from those who used it efficiently for farming purposes and given
to those of privileged status who hold it simply for sentimental reasons or
when time permits, to use it as braai- spots. Instead of empowering people
and land being the driver of the economy, its misuse has become the
principal cause of economic decline and therefore the disempowerment of the
generality of the population. And yet some old heads still persist with the
land displacements.

Second, the current legal structure pertaining to land tenure does not
support commercial agriculture. The government does not seem to appreciate
the factors that made commercial farming so successful before. They probably
never did any research to understand why commercial farming was a viable. It
was not simply that the farmers had rich land - that is just one factor
among many that have been ignored. For example, the legal structure enabled
commercial farmers to pursue farming as a proper business. The crux of the
matter is that in any business you need access to capital and to achieve
that you need to offer security to the source of capital. That is where the
system of property rights played a crucial role. With secure property rights
farmers could create relationships with the finance industry to provide
capital and other resources necessary to support their businesses. Loans,
leases of equipment, insurance, et al form part of the core legal and
financial architecture that is necessary to help farming a viable business
venture. These cannot be available in a scenario, as is now the case, in
which there is so much insecurity and uncertainty over property rights. Many
financial institutions lost huge chunks of their assets related to loans and
facilities they had advanced in their relationships with the farming
industry. How can the state persuade the commercial institutions to return
to the agricultural sector when the situation of property rights is not
clarified? This probably explains why the Reserve Bank has imprudently
turned into a quasi-commercial bank, dishing out loans to support the
agricultural sector, a task that is well suited to commercial financial

The good thing about giving proper title to land is that it builds one's
personal responsibility for that property. To be sure, government subsidies
may be necessary to build capacity and help new farmers with teething
problems. Indeed, state support was also necessary to build agricultural
capacity during the colonial period. Nonetheless, unless closely monitored,
cheap finance creates a dependency syndrome and builds complacency. The
moral hazard is that land users will tend to lose responsibility and will
instead place over-reliance of the state. "Mari yehurumende" (Government
loans) is a much-abused phenomenon. We have heard many call it "imari isina
munhu" - that is, the money is free for all. It is not surprising that the
central bank's assistance has been abused and used for corrupt activities.
If one does not suffer personal loss there is very little incentive to do
the right thing and bear responsibility. If these people who have generally
abused the facility stood to lose out on their land holding or other
personal assets, there is every chance that they would allocate the
resources efficiently. Clearly the current legal structure in relation to
land is inimical to any efficient allocation of resources that is necessary
to support commercial agriculture.

In addition, the necessary support industries that help to sustain
commercial agriculture are either redundant or in a very poor state. I have
already argued how the finance industry is a linchpin in commercial
agriculture. But farming also needs industries that provide inputs such as
fertiliser, seed, agro-chemicals, equipment, etc. Chemplex reported a drop
in the national production of the essential Ammonium Nitrate fertiliser from
550 000 tonnes in 1999 to 300 000 tonnes this season due among other things
to a lack of foreign currency. Those that are available are expensive and
out of the reach of many farmers. Now clearly, these shortages are directly
connected to the poor economic and political conditions prevailing in the
country. Unless the political challenges are overcome it is highly likely
that the economic difficulties will continue to escalate. The unavailability
of these inputs will therefore remain a problem for the foreseeable future.
Clearly, the success of agriculture hinges in large part on overcoming in a
sober and reasonable way the existing political challenges.

Much has also been said about the effect of the unpredictable weather
conditions. In particular, the government often blames drought for the poor
state of agriculture. While the effects of drought cannot be dismissed in
some parts of the country, they have also been overstated, to the point
perhaps of diverting attention from the key shortcomings that have
debilitated the agricultural sector, most of which are objects of human
construction. There are ways to deal with the drought such as building
sufficient water reservoirs and developing crop varieties that are suitable
for the conditions. These and other mechanisms have always been put to use
in the history of commercial agriculture in Zimbabwe. The poor weather
conditions are not new to Zimbabwe and while commercial agriculture has
suffered during the bitter droughts such as in the early 80s and early 90s,
farmers generally managed to cope during other low rainfall seasons because
they had made preparations for such eventualities. For as long we blame
drought for all the difficulties in agriculture, we can never develop
because the weather patterns are likely to remain unpredictable if not worse
in the coming years. The challenge is to learn how commercial agriculture
devised ways of mitigating the effects of drought.

Furthermore, there is also a dearth in research and development. The
research stations around the country have done well in research and
development to serve agriculture over the years. As with any industry it was
realised long back that there is need to continually innovate and develop
new ways in agriculture. From seed and equipment to techniques, research
stations have played a key role and need to be supported by the industry and
the state. A chief element of R&D is the expertise, which continues to drain
away as people leave for pastures new. I refer here to the farmers, the
research scientists and experts in related industries who have been driven
away by the political and economic difficulties. If the state is serious
about reviving agriculture, there is need to swallow some unnecessary pride
and bring back or retain the expertise that is necessary for the success of

In a nutshell, the state must recognise that commercial agriculture is
essentially a business venture and like any other business requires
appropriate conditions for success. We do not need to return to subsistence
farming. We spent years toiling and trying to get out of that system. The
legal and financial architecture must be designed in such a way as to
support agriculture from a business perspective. The colonial system had its
problems, but perhaps a few lessons could be drawn on how to support and
build commercial agriculture. Unfortunately, some people take farming as a
hobby and do not take it seriously as commercial business. Sadly, this fall
has led some people to suggest that black Zimbabweans are generally
incapable of farming. That is not true. The lazy and greedy people who
grabbed multiple farms are a mockery to the hard working and suffering
peasant who toiled on poor land for years, producing enough for himself and
his family, and with better opportunities could have achieved more. The
peasant farmer was willing to learn and knew that the land provided for his
survival. In many cases he even had a fruitful relationship with the
commercial farmer, learning new techniques and improving his lot. All he
ever needed was a share of the good land and better resources but he has got
nothing. But the man of high rank, his wife, his son, his daughter, his
grandchildren, his nephew, his aunt, his distant cousin and his wives, sons
and daughters have each got a decent farm . and they are doing nothing on

Time must come when people replace the sentimental value they attach to
land, with the commercial value that it must be rightly accorded.
Ultimately, everything depends on whether those wielding power have the
necessary political will to effect the necessary changes to return to the
golden days of agriculture. I do think that it is possible to learn from
past mistakes and start on a clean slate. Where there is a will, there is

* Dr Magaisa is a financial services lawyer and can be contacted at

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Zanu PF factions battle for Harare

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 02/16/2006 09:03:56
A FACTION of Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party led by retired army general
Solomon Mujuru this week lost its bid to control the City of Harare after
their point man and President Robert Mugabe's relative Chester Mhende, was
sacked as the city's turnaround strategist on allegations of

A power struggle erupted at Town House three weeks ago, pitting Mhende and
town clerk Nomutsa Chideya, with the former saying he was in charge of the
town's affairs.

Mhende, a Zanu PF politician from Norton, Mashonaland West, whose job was
not provided for by the Urban Councils Act, was handpicked by Local
Government minister Ignatius Chombo, the province's kingmaker.

Sources said the Mujuru faction had seconded Mhende to Chombo as they had a
belief that commission chairperson; Sekesai Makwavarara also from
Mashonaland West, was in the Emmerson Mnangagwa camp.

Zanu PF sources told New "The Mujuru camp is re-strategising.
They have now resolved to see to it that Makwavarara goes and their chosen
candidate takes over Harare.

"Mujuru's group want to be in charge of everything in Zanu PF. Makwavarara
is considered as a political turncoat who belongs to Mnangagwa."

The sources added that although problems at Town House came to the fore last
month, cracks began to emerge in September last year.

Commissioners who resolved to fire Mhende rejected his turn around strategy
saying it was economically unsustainable. Instead, they settled for another
document crafted by Tendai Mahachi.

Mhende's blue print consisted of radical prescriptions such as firing all
council workers and asking them to reapply on an individual basis.

Mhende's sacking comes at a time when government has shot down a bid by
Makwavarara to buy herself furniture worth $35 billion for her use at the
mayoral mansion which she currently occupies.

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The importance of public support in fight for Press Freedom in Zim

      By Selbin Kabote

      THE support of members of the public is proving without any doubt to
be one of the most important weapons, needed in the continuing battle to
sustain media freedom in Zimbabwe.

      Journalists and other Zimbabwean writers need to win and keep the
support of the public by continuing their vigorous campaign against
violations of media freedom and free expression.  A veteran South African
journalist, Allister Sparks, who was the winner of the 1996, Media Institute
of Southern Africa-MISA Press Freedom Ward, pointed out when he received his
award that: "The protective clauses in our constitutions mean nothing
without public support".

      With this statement in mind, what is most worrying in Zimbabwe today
is that media freedom and freedom of expression is being eroded, despite the
existence of a constitution guaranteeing freedom of expression? Moreover,
the escalating crisis in Zimbabwe is not just about media freedom, but the
mounting abuse of human rights in general, hence the need for Zimbabwean
writers to be credible in the eyes of the public, by intensifying the press
freedom battle.

      Media workers need to be very much aware of Media freedom issues,
since common sense dictates that if media workers do not understand the core
values of media freedom and freedom of expression, then their audience - the
general public - is unlikely to understand and fight for these freedoms
either. If the majority of members of the public in Zimbabwe clearly
understood the importance of press freedom, then Zimbabwe's media lawyer,
Beatrice Mtetwa would not be fighting a lone battle today, as she defends
the six trustees of the Voice of the People-VOP- radio station.

      If the general public in Zimbabwe fully embraced their rights to be
properly informed, we would be witnessing mass demonstrations for press
freedom at Zimbabwean courts today, when Journalists go on trial.

      Police raided VOP's Harare offices on the 15th of December last year,
confiscating equipment and files.  They arrested three staff members, who
were released after the chairman, David Masunda and director John Masuku
reported to the police.

      Despite the severe economic hardships which our people are facing at
home, "Journalists included", there is now a great need than before, for
Zimbabwean Journalists and other writers at home and abroad, to write their
own stories, instead of allowing themselves to be shut down by poverty and

      Members of the public need to be sensitized about their right to be
informed through courageous and defiant writing, as our nation continues to
battle its way through yet another round of monolithic authority.

      Against this background, it is without any doubt, the responsibility
of all Zimbabwean writers to express their own views on the calamity of post
colonial Zimbabwe and tell the world their version of the despotic rule, and
mayhem that has occurred on the beautiful land and former bread-basket of

      If Zimbabwean journalists stop chronicling how a black and not a white
government is being accused of savagery, then as writers we will never get
the support of the public in the battle for press freedom. If we fail to
inform members of the public about their rights to be informed, history will
certainly blame us for ignoring our responsibilities.

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