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

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Sunday Times (SA)

Fighting back against Mugabe's thugs


The Telegraph, London



Thousands of Zimbabweans who grow vegetables for UK supermarkets are
fighting attempts by a Cabinet minister to confiscate the land they work.

The rebellion by 6 000 black workers is the first in nearly four years of
state-sponsored terror on the country's white-owned farms.


Kondozi's 600 profitable hectares provide runner beans, mangetout peas and
red peppers for British stores.


But the Minister for Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement, Joseph Made,
wants the business for himself. A few weeks ago he ordered out Kondozi's
workers and its white owners.


A fortnight later, Zanu-PF loyalists were sent in, but around 200 women
workers fought back with broken tiles, stones and bricks.


Many of the workers are themselves invaders, but Kondozi's owners, the De
Klerks, reached a compromise and taught them to cultivate crops as
registered "outgrowers". Kondozi has since prospered - but raids on
Zimbabwe's largely white commercial farming sector continue elsewhere.


One worker, who for his own safety may not be named, led the first squatters
on to white farms four years ago. He pointed to the horizon where the
government's Agricultural Rural Development Authority owns more than 20
000ha.


"Look there, nothing is growing . . . They couldn't even pay their workers
at Christmas. We needed land reform. OK? OK, you hear? But now it is gone
too far by politicians. We don't want Joseph Made or the local MP to come
here."


Chris Mushowe, the local MP and deputy transport minister, seized one of the
homesteads on the estate following the violent eviction of Jacobus de Klerk
and his family. Nothing of value grows on the land now.


Meanwhile, the workers are telling people to warn their chiefs that
President Robert Mugabe and his cronies should "go away and let us work".


Patricia Macharaga, 38, is part of a bean-picking team. She says, "If the
government takes this place, they will keep only 400 workers. We will have
nothing. I have a job, a house . . . I can't lose it."
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Sunday Times (SA)

Suffering knows no boundaries as it invades the suburbs

Inside Zimbabwe




"Madam, keep quiet and we won't kill you."

Mary Wallace, a widow in her mid 60s, clearly remembers these chilling
words. They were spoken by one of a gang of armed burglars, who broke into
her home in the northeastern suburbs of Harare in early December.


The suburb is Avondale, part of a long green swathe that runs across
northern Harare. Unless you come across a tale like Wallace's, you could
believe that Zimbabwe's upper middle-classes have reposed in undisturbed
affluence in these neighbourhoods for the past 30 years.


Wallace moved into Avondale in the 1970s. At the time, and until his
retirement 10 years ago, her husband was a transport manager for a
tobacco-exporting company. Her only child, a daughter now living in England,
grew up there.


Wallace loved the place, which is probably why she could remember, so
clearly, the night she knew she had to leave.


Wallace was alerted to the break-in at around 6pm. Her dog, Coco, began
"barking like crazy ".


She turned on the outside lights. At first she could see nothing, but a
second light illuminated two men standing on her verandah, close to the
security gate.


A third jumped over her garden wall, then another appeared, and maybe a
fifth. "I was so scared I could not think of the numbers," she said, but
noticed that they were aged between 25 and 30. She could also see that at
least one of them had a firearm, and another had a large pair of bolt
cutters.


In an instant, the entire gang was inside the home where she had lived on
her own for eight years since her husband passed away.


"They kept asking me for my money, but I told them I did not have any. Then
I felt something being pulled around my neck," said Wallace.


Through it all, Coco kept barking, eventually drawing the attention of her
neighbours who noticed one of the gang members standing at her gate with a
gun. They shouted at the man, who fired a shot in the air, and the gang fled
with some of Wallace's possessions.


Within a matter of days, she decided to abandon her home. A move was on the
cards anyway. In April, eight months before the attack, Wallace had
submitted an application to the local British High Commission for a
settlement visa, so that she could join her daughter and grandchild living
in Wantage, a town between Oxford and London.


Wallace reached an agreement with the domestic worker who had lived in her
servants' quarters for 20 years whereby he would move into the main house,
to look after the place, until it could be sold. Over Christmas, the
domestic worker's son-in-law, who ran a fleet of minibus taxis, came to have
a look at the house, and offered to buy it.


"I wanted him to buy it because I know in my heart I will never go back
there," she said.


Wallace believed her attack was part of a pattern, one that had become
apparent in Harare over the past six or eight months.


She knew of three other pensioner couples who had endured the same ordeal.


Wallace said that the robbers believed that Harare's elderly white citizens
had piles of US dollars or British pounds hidden under their mattresses, and
in their bedroom cupboards.


In Wallace's case, that's a myth, because she had gambled all her capital on
leaving the country. She was forced to put down a non-refundable
Z1.7-million deposit with the British Embassy when she applied for her
settlement visa. The British government turned her down.


She appealed against the decision, but heard last week, that her appeal had
been unsuccessful - despite her daughter having hired a lawyer to assist.
The fact that exiled Zimbabwean judges, including former Chief Justice
Anthony Gubbay, presided over some of these tribunals had not helped.


In order to raise the application fee, Wallace cashed in a life insurance
policy that her husband had taken out more than 30 years ago. Don't worry,
he had told her, you will always be well looked after when I am gone. Six or
seven years ago, an insurance policy paying out Z1.7-million was enough for
a comfortable life, but Zimbabwe's inflation rate of over 600% has wiped
that out.


Wallace and her daughter, desperate to reunite, are uncertain what to do
next.


Wallace lives off the balance of her life insurance policies and her wages
as a receptionist at a software company. She said her own wages barely
covered the monthly cost of bread and milk, with the bulk going to her
medical aid contributions.


Wallace has found refuge in an apartment block in The Avenues, a suburb near
central Harare.


Coco and Wallace's three cats were handed over to the Friends Foundation,
which supports pensioners trapped in circumstances such as Wallace's. The
foundation found a new home for Coco, where he will be able "to live in a
family environment".


That's all that Wallace wishes for herself but, for now, the British
government is unable to oblige.
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Zim farmers boost Zambian tobacco industry

February 16 2004 at 12:54PM



By Shapi Shacinda

Lusaka - Zambia's tobacco production has more than doubled in the last year,
boosted by the arrival of farmers fleeing land reforms in Zimbabwe, an
industry official said on Monday.

Tobacco Association of Zambia (TAZ) executive director John Downie said
Zambia's tobacco production rose to 7,2 million kilograms in 2003 from three
million in 2002, largely thanks to white Zimbabwean farmers who have
resettled in Zambia following land redistribution in their homeland.

"A lot of the expansion is a result of the new farmers... the new techniques
from the newcomers have been a wake-up call for our members to improve their
farming techniques and increase production," Downie said.

'This is exciting as the industry is recording rapid growth'
Downie said 75 former Zimbabwe tobacco farmers and their managers had
settled in southern and central parts of the country following Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe's controversial policy of seizing white-owned farms
to give to landless blacks.

Downie said the TAZ was helping the newly-arrived farmers to settle quickly
and get on with production.

"The shortfall in Zimbabwe tobacco production, which fell to below 100
million kilograms in 2003 from about 240 million kilograms before the land
reforms, has worked to our benefit as our production has been rising
faster," Downie told Reuters in an interview.

The bulk of Zambia's virginia and burley tobacco is bought by Altria Group
Inc unit Philip Morris, British American Tobacco and Universal Leaf Tobacco
Co.

Downie said the gross value of the 7,2 million kilograms of tobacco produced
in 2003 was $12,5-million, adding that 2004 should see production rise to 15
million kilogram worth around $27 million. Only $5,2-million was earned from
tobacco sales in 2000.

He said Zambia could earn well over $51-million in 2005 from tobacco sales
as production kept increasing rapidly, although he did not give specific
targets.

"This is exciting as the industry is recording rapid growth, in fact faster
than we anticipated," Downie said.

Downie said some 75 former Zimbabwe tobacco farmers and their managers had
settled in southern and central parts of the country following President
Robert Mugabe's controversial policy of seizing white-owned farms in
Zimbabwe to give to landless blacks.

Government officials said the white farmers had not been given new land in
Zambia but had bought or hired existing farms. Zambia has 73 million
hectares of productive land, of which only 10 percent is currently being
used for farming.

Unlike Zimbabwe, Zambia has a liberal land policy which allows farmers to
own land on either 14-year or 99-year renewable leasehold.

Downie said 17 000 new jobs had been created in the tobacco sector in the
last three years, raising the total workforce to 25 000. He said land under
tobacco cultivation has also increased to 6 000 hectares from 2 000 hectares
in the last three years.

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VOA

Zimbabwe Announces Election Details, No Mention of Reforms
Peta Thornycroft
Harare
16 Feb 2004, 14:20 UTC




Zimbabwe's justice minister has, for the first time, announced some details
of the next parliamentary elections, which he says will take place early
next year.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced the timelines for various
processes such as voter registration and the setting of constituency
boundaries. He did not set the date for the elections, which must be held by
June.

Zimbabwe's elections are run by an electoral commission appointed by
President Robert Mugabe, and there is no independent supervision of any
aspect of the process.

Mr. Chinamasa, in interviews with state-controlled media, made no mention of
any electoral reforms.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has frequently asked for
reforms to the electoral process, in accordance with standards set by the
Southern African Development Community, of which Zimbabwe is a member.

The MDC challenged the results of the 2000 parliamentary elections and 2002
presidential election, and court cases for both polls are ongoing. It
charges vote rigging and political violence, among other abuses, and claims
neither election was free or fair.

The office of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said, in a written reply to
questions from VOA, that it was asked by the ruling Zanu PF party for
assistance with running the next parliamentary elections, but this request
has since been withdrawn.

A senior political scientist at the University of Zimbabwe, John Makumbe,
says the ruling party would not allow any meaningful electoral reforms for
the next parliamentary elections. He said it would be hopeless for any other
party to take part in the elections unless there is a complete overhal of
the Electoral Act and the administration of the process.

Mr. Makumbe said without major changes, the coming parliamentary elections
will be, what he called, even more of a farce than the last ones were.

Amid the charges of massive fraud, Zanu PF narrowly won the last
parliamentary elections in June 2000, nine months after the formation of the
MDC, the first large opposition party to emerge since independence in 1980.
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New anti-corruption regulations "unconstitutional"
JOHANNESBURG, 16 Feb 2004 (IRIN) - New anti-corruption regulations allowing
Zimbabwean police to hold suspects accused of economic crimes for up to four
weeks without bail are "unconstitutional", a human rights body said on
Monday.

Presidential Powers were used on Friday to amend the Criminal Procedure and
Evidence Act, which now enables the police to detain people suspected of
committing economic crimes, including corruption, money laundering and
illegal dealing in foreign exchange and gold, for up to a week.

The police can also hold suspects for a further 21 days if prima facie
evidence of their involvement is produced.

Noel Kututwa, deputy director of the Zimbabwe-based Human Rights Trust of
Southern Africa, pointed out that the amendments contravened the
constitutional right of citizens to be presumed innocent until proven
guilty.

"The regulations, by denying bail for seven days, also contravene the
individual's right to a fair hearing, as prescribed in the constitution," he
told IRIN.

Kututwa said he "failed to understand the need for invoking presidential
powers when the parliament is in session - an issue involving civil
liberties should be debated in parliament".

The regulations were introduced as part of President Robert Mugabe's
attempts to clamp down on corruption, following the arrest of a senior
ZANU-PF central committee member, James Makamba, a week ago. The official
Herald newspaper said on Monday that figures previously released by the
police showed Makamba had allegedly transferred several million Zimbabwean
dollars as well as foreign currency abroad.

Telecel, the country's third-largest mobile phone company, of which Makamba
is a director, also allegedly "externalised" foreign currency and Zimbawean
dollars.

Mugabe last week also created a new Ministry of Anti-corruption and an
Anti-monopolies Programme, with ZANU-PF stalwart Didymus Mutasa as the head.
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From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 13 February


Zimbabwe doesn't give us a thing


In recent months Johannesburg drivers have noticed a new phenomenon: blind
people begging at traffic lights and major intersections. They are almost
exclusively Zimbabwean, and their influx to the city has been sudden. While
the world's attention has been focused on the plight of Zimbabwean farmers,
journalists and opposition politicians, little thought has been spared for
the effect Zimbabwe's implosion has had on the most vulnerable members of
that society. For people with disabilities, many of whom survived through
working at self-help schemes and on charitable donations, the current crisis
has ripped away their safety net and pushed them to the margins of an
already over-stressed society. Most of the beggars are accompanied by a
sighted companion who helps them navigate the traffic and proffer a plastic
cup for donations from motorists. Sunduza Ndlovu* is assisted by family
friend Patricia Ncube. Day after day, the two stand in the blazing sun to
earn a few rands and get a little to eat. Their clothes are tattered and
their shoes worn out. "Do you think we like looking like this?" asked Ncube,
displaying her dirty feet in white plastic slip-slops.


Ndlovu and Ncube were initially reluctant to speak to the Mail & Guardian,
fearing this would alert the authorities who might send them back home to
Zimbabwe. "We're not getting enough money but it's better than in our
country," said Ncube. She said they make between R20 and R50 a day. Out of
this they spend R14 on transport from downtown Jo'burg and are left with
just a few rands for food. In a good month they manage to save a little to
take home to Zimbabwe. The money they make from begging pays for the trip
home and some groceries for their families. "I've never stayed here for more
than a month," said Ncube. They enter the country on visitors' permits,
allowing them to stay a maximum of 21 days. They return home by bus, which
is the cheapest form of transport, costing about R200 a trip. "We are not
ever, ever interfering with South African politics whatsoever," said Ndlovu.
"We, the disadvantaged people, need assistance from everyone who's living on
this Earth." The Zimbabwean state does pay a small social grant, but "our
government gives us Z$2 000 per month only - and it's nothing. We cannot
afford a loaf of bread that costs $3 500," Ncube said.


Zimbabwean Abigail Sibanda is very angry with her country's government. She
is sighted and accompanies her blind brother Samson to Johannesburg. They
are unable to make a living in Zimbabwe. "Zimbabwe doesn't give us a thing,
not even a spoon of salt," said Sibanda. They pay R30 to R40 a week to rent
a room in Johannesburg. The remainder of the money they make pays for
Sibanda's transport to Zimbabwe and for food for their two families. They
share the money equally between them, buying food in Johannesburg because
there is nothing to buy in their country. "There are good people in South
Africa," said Sibanda. "Only a few are not cooperating." South African Human
Rights Commissioner Charlotte McClain represents the rights of children and
the disabled. She said the meltdown in Zimbabwe has turned many of its
people into economic refugees but those with disabilities are particularly
vulnerable. She says foreigners with disabilities cannot get government
social grants in South Africa, unless they are granted refugee status. "They
should go through normal procedures of seeking refugee status. There is no
special category for the disabled."


* Not her real name

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From The Sunday Times (SA), 15 February


Food aid fills erstwhile export warehouse


Members of the World Food Programme (WFP) based in Mutare can scarcely
believe their good luck. Out in the light-industrial area on the eastern
outskirts of the town, a few kilometres from the Mozambican border, they
have acquired the BMA Tobacco warehouse from which to distribute the 4 500
tons of food aid that pours into Zimbabwe's Manica province each month.
According to Ibrahim Ibrahim, a WFP logistics officer, it is perfectly
designed for its new role. It s capacity matches exactly the amount of food
aid the WFP distributed in Manica last month. "This is a good warehouse,"
said Ibrahim, a Palestinian. "There is good ventilation, good stacking
methods and it is easy to count the stock." He was also impressed with the
good quality locks that were fitted to the shed doors. Out at the back
trucks laden with 30 tons of maize donated by the US, Europe and South
Africa lined up waiting to unload the food aid shipped up from Beira, 200km
away. Two years ago they would be collecting produce for export from the
same bays.


As labourers unloaded 50kg sacks, these were carefully stacked according to
the system devised by BMA Tobacco when it designed the warehouse 10 years
ago. Thanks to this system, Ibrahim said he could tell, almost at a glance,
how many bags of maize, corn-soya blend and boxes of vegetable oil were
stacked in his warehouse at any one time. Ibrahim, with all the enthusiasm
of a boutique owner showing off his latest range of bell-bottoms, is so
excited about his warehouse that he seems unable to reflect on the tragedy
of it all. According to a bronze plaque at the entrance, the warehouse was
opened by "John Laurie, Esq" on July 20 1990, as a facility for exporting
tobacco and maize. The relentless enforcement of the Land Acquisition Act
over the past four years has meant that production of maize and tobacco, for
export anyway, has been all but wiped out, in Manicaland and most of
Zimbabwe. A handful of farmers still hang on, but the little they produce
now heads for the sales floors in Harare. There is some respite for BMA
Tobacco, though. The World Food Programme pays the co-op US$2.60 a month for
each ton of food aid it stores in the warehouse, bringing in a consolatory
US$11 700 for January, a drop in the ocean compared with the US$376-million
the industry brought in last year. Then, 165 000 tons were exported. This
year's exports are estimated by the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association to only
reach 85 000 tons
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The Standard (Zimbabwe), 15 February 2004

Troubled Air Zimbabwe gets rid of top managers

By Kumbirai Mafunda

A MAJOR shake-up has been effected at the cash-strapped Air Zimbabwe,
with nearly all top-level managers being laid off in an unprecedented
restructuring exercise, The Standard has gathered.

Sources within the national airline last week said the massive top
management lay-off, completed last month, targeted the airline's first
three levels of management.

They said nearly all of the airline's senior managers and managing
directors were laid off in the exercise with the last batch packing
their bags at the end of last month.

Of the top-line Air Zimbabwe managers, only two people Finance
Director Tendai Majuru and Chief Executive Officer Rambai Chingwena
were retained.

An airline official said the airline's board, chaired by banker
Livingstone Gwata, undertook the restructuring exercise following
pressure from the government to rationalise operations.

"Air Zimbabwe had a top heavy management structure. It doesn't work to
have few aircrafts flying when you have thousands of workers," said
the official.

He said the retrenchment exercise was part of the airline's turnaround
strategy, which it was carrying out to trim its wage bill and at the
same time save money to service its debts, which run into billions of
dollars.

The restructuring exercise has also resulted in the streamlining of
operations. The legal services department and the communication
department have been incorporated and will now fall under a new
corporate affairs department, which will be led by a lawyer.

A series of strikes has been the order of the day at Air Zimbabwe
during the past few months with workers complaining about poor
remuneration.

Last year, engineers at the national airline downed tools, demanding
better salaries and virtually grounding all its planes.

The airline was forced to hire engineers from South Africa and had at
times to send its planes to neighbouring South Africa for servicing,
draining the country of scarce foreign currency.

Some planes were reported to have developed technical faults in London
and Mauritius.

The crippling strike and Air Zimbabwe's failure to fix the recurrent
industrial action, which threatened to disrupt President Robert
Mugabe's international travels, are alleged to have invited Mugabe's
ire and he allegedly warned management not to "let things out of
control".

The airline has already appointed new senior managers and managing
directors, said sources.

"We have a totally new team of managers at Air Zimbabwe. The directive
came from government after a lot of discoveries came to light during
an inquiry into the handling of last year's strike," said a source.

Air Zimbabwe MD Chingwena confirmed that the airline was
restructuring.

"We are running up and down but we are doing a restructuring exercise
which will affect the first three levels of management," said
Chingwena.

Early this month, the International Air Transport Association (IATA)
suspended and blacklisted Air Zimbabwe from its clearing house over a
US$1,3 million debt that was in arrears for nearly a month.

The suspension means the national airline can no longer book its
passengers on other airlines plying routes that it does not service.
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The Standard (Zimbabwe), 15 February 2004

Talk to IMF, says leading banker

By Kumbirai Mafunda

THERE is urgent need to create a conducive economic and political
environment if the country is to attract any international lines of
credit, a prominent banker has said.

Bankers' Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) vice-president and Interfin
Holdings' Chief Executive Officer Jerry Tsodzai said it is imperative
now to portray the right image outside the country's borders so as to
restore tattered relations with multilateral financiers.

Multilateral development partners, among them, the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, cut off vital aid to Harare in
1999 because of the government's poor human rights record and its
failure to settle debts.

"We need our country to be acceptable to everybody outside our borders
to get lines of credit," said Tsodzai who was speaking at an analysis
and review of the monetary policy statement in Harare last week.

Since the pullout of the Bretton Woods institutions in 1999,
Zimbabwe's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has declined by about 40% and
inflation had risen to 597%by December 2003, say experts.

Repeated pleas by businessmen to the government to mend its relations
with key Western countries, such as the US and Britain, and
multi-lateral lending institutions, have so far fallen on deaf ears.

Instead President Robert Mugabe and some Cabinet ministers, such as
Industry and International Trade Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi, have
continued to openly castigate the IMF and international lenders for
masterminding Harare's economic problems.

Zimbabwe has made minor repayments to the IMF since June 2003 and as a
result, its arrears have increased to US$273 million or about 53% of
its quota in the fund as of the end of November.

This has culminated in the IMF initiating the procedure for the
compulsory expulsion of the southern African country from the fund.

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The Standard (Zimbabwe), 15 February 2004

School heads ignore Chigwedere suspension

By Nyasha Bhosha

MANY schools have simply ignored the suspension order issued by
Education, Sport and Culture Minister Aeneas Chigwedere on headmasters
whose school boards have raised levies and school fees without his
approval, The Standard has established.

Police are also yet to prefer any charges against the headmasters of
non-government schools, two weeks after Chigwedere's ministry handed
over the headmasters' names, charging that they had broken the law.

"We are still carrying on with investigations and the charges will
arise from the Education Act. They will however vary from case to
case," said Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena.

A random survey carried out by The Standard to determine if the
headmasters whom Chigwedere claimed to have suspended from work two
weeks ago have left revealed that it was business as usual for most of
the affected schools.

"We are reading in the newspapers that we are on suspension. But as
you can see, I am still at work," said a Midlands headmaster whose
name appears on the list Chigwedere says is of suspended headmasters.

Another headmaster from Masvingo said: "There has to be circulars and
memos to that effect. Chigwedere should know better that the
ministry's business is not conducted through newspapers."

An official from a private college in Chiredzi said their headmaster,
whose name he refused to give, was still at work.

"We have not received any letter or documentation from the ministry to
inform us that the head has been handed over to the police, everything
is normal," said the official.

But Chigwedere told The Standard on Thursday that he had sent letters
of suspension to the school headmasters.

"Those who are still going to work are committing a serious crime and
will be dealt with accordingly," warned the Minister.

Meanwhile, by Thursday, police were yet to find appropriate charges
that could be levelled against the headmasters of private schools.

All schools now need written approval from Chigwedere before they can
increase fees or levies by more than 10 percent.
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The Standard (Zimbabwe), 15 February 2004

Zanu PF in $20bn Lupane election gimmick

By Savious Kwinika

BULAWAYO: Barely a week after the burial of Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) legislator for Lupane, David Mpala, who was murdered by
ruling party supporters, the government has poured in $20 billion to
the local community in a move viewed by villagers as a vote buying
gimmick ahead of elections to be held later this year, The Standard
has established.

Matabeleland North Governor, Obert Mpofu, announced on the State-run
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) on Wednesday that the
government had ploughed in about $20 billion for development purposes
in Lupane.

When contacted for comment this week, Mpofu continuously cut his
cellphone to avoid any conversation with The Standard.

However the MDC chairman for Lupane district, Sylvester Ndlovu, said
his party would stay vigilant and carefully monitor government's
intentions ahead of the by-election whose dates are yet to be
announced.

"We know quite well that whenever there is a by-election the
government, through Zanu PF, is capable of abusing State resources and
machinery as well as unleashing the Green Bombers and CIO operatives
to unsettle the opposition, but this time we will not be moved even by
a single inch," said Ndlovu.

He said the MDC would do all it could to make sure that the Lupane
seat is not lost to Zanu PF.

Ndlovu said Lupane villagers were still battling to come to terms with
the beatings, torture, threats, intimidation and harassment inflicted
by members of the notorious CIO, war veterans and Zanu PF thugs during
the violent 2000 parliamentary and 2002 presidential election.

"People from Lupane still remember vividly the psychological trauma
they suffered at the hands of Zanu PF and they would not dare cast
their votes for the enemy of the people," said Ndlovu.

Lupane district, dubbed the provincial capital for Matabeleland North
province, has no tangible development to talk about except a small
portion of the cleared ground meant for a university.

Villagers doubt if the planned Lupane University will come to fruition
since the National University of Science and Technology (Nust), which
was established some 12 years ago, is yet to be completed.

"We doubt very much if the government would commit itself to the
construction of Lupane University because they have not done anything
positive here since we gained independence except building small
bridges," said one villager.
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Zim introduces apartheid-style laws

The Star
By Basildon Peta

Zimbabwe is now looking increasingly more like apartheid South Africa.

This view follows the enactment of new legislation empowering the police to arrest and detain people without trial for up to a month even though there is no reasonable evidence of their guilt.

The new law is causing much consternation in a country where government opponents have been subjected to repressive media and security laws that have made it practically impossible to voice dissent without serious reprisals.

Although the government claims that the amendments to the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act allowing the police to detain people without trial are aimed at rooting out economic crimes, government opponents fear the laws will be targeted at them and at businessmen suspected of supporting the opposition.

Already last week, President Robert Mugabe's regime tried to shut down the country's largest cellular company, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, owned by Johannesburg-based Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa.

The widely respected Masiyiwa was banished from Zimbabwe four years ago after his cellular network was used by civic society activists to distribute SMSs urging voters to vote no and reject an authoritarian constitution written by a commission handpicked by Mugabe in February 2000.

The regime has since announced it would introduce another law banning Zimbabweans based abroad from owning newspapers and other media in Zimbabwe.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change said the new laws were designed to circumvent fundamental rights contained in Zimbabwe's constitution.

University of Zimbabwe law professor Lovemore Madhuku said the amendments undermined the most elementary principles of the rule of law. He said there was no doubt in his mind the new laws were targeted at Mugabe's critics and opponents.

Even ruling Zanu-PF members who dared criticise Mugabe were vulnerable to the laws.

Prominent Zanu-PF politician James Makamba, a known political foe of Mugabe, has become the first victim of the new laws.

Makamba was arrested last week over suspicions regarding foreign currency transactions. On Saturday, a magistrate remanded him in custody to February 27 using the new laws.

  • This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on February 17, 2004

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Africa's maternal mortality is highest in the world
17 February 2004
The number of women dying from pregnancy complications has kept rising in Africa, from 870 per 100 000 expectant women in 1990 to 1 000 in 2001, international consultant on reproductive health Joseph Kasonde said on Monday.

"The maternal mortality rate in Africa is the highest in the world," he told a United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO) regional conference on maternal and new-born health in Harare.

"The risk to a woman of dying in pregnancy or labour in Africa remains unacceptably high," he said.

In Zimbabwe the number of women dying from pregnancy-related complications has nearly trebled over the past decade from 253 to more than 700 per 100 000 pregnant women, according to health and child welfare ministry secretary Elizabeth Xaba.

Most of the deaths have been due to poverty, HIV/Aids, shortages of qualified health personnel, poor health facilities, delays in reaching health facilities because of shortage of transport and lack of medical resources, she said.

Illiteracy and lack of knowledge on pre-natal care, are some of the reasons for the rise in deaths, the experts said.

Many African countries have been hit by an exodus of medical personnel to overseas destinations in recent years.

"Only 42% of births in the African region are attended by skilled personnel," said Kasonde.

Unsafe abortions are high among adolescents, according to Kasonde.

The experts, who are drawn from various international organisations, are examining the extent of the problem on the continent and will suggest ways of reducing the death rates among mothers and infants.

African governments' health budgets were also identified as inadequate to deal with obstetric cases.

"The percentage of GDP (gross domestic product) devoted to health in sub-Saharan Africa remains at between one percent and 3,7% compared to the large percentage spent on arms," said Kasonde. - Sapa-AFP
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UZ Opens as Lecturers Vow Not to Report for Duty



The Herald (Harare)
February 17, 2004
Posted to the web February 17, 2004
Harare
THE University of Zimbabwe opened yesterday with lecturers vowing not to report for duty unless they are awarded a 300 percent salary increment backdated to July last year.
This, however, did not disrupt examinations as temporary staff were invigilating.

UZ acting director of information and publicity Mr Daniel Chihombori confirmed that the college had opened but said it was difficult to tell whether the lecturers were present.
"These first two weeks are mainly for examinations and actual teaching has not yet started. As such, it is difficult to tell whether the lecturers are at work or not," he said.
The secretary general of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) Mr James Mahlaule said the lecturers had decided to go on strike because UZ authorities had ignored their call for a 300 percent salary increment, awarded through arbitration last year.
The workers were awarded a 250 percent increase along with other civil servants in January and they now want the balance.
"We have been locked in meetings since morning and have unanimously resolved not to report for work until our demands are met. I understand that the same applies for non-academic staff," Mr Mahlaule said.
"The lecturers would only visit the campus tomorrow to see if any developments had taken place," he said.
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Pregnancy-related deaths up in Africa
February 17, 2004


The number of women dying from pregnancy complications has kept rising in Africa, from 870 per 100,000 expectant women in 1990 to 1,000 in 2001, international consultant on reproductive health Joseph Kasonde said.
"The maternal mortality rate in Africa is the highest in the world," he told a UN World Health Organisation (WHO) regional conference on maternal and new-born health in Harare.


"The risk to a woman of dying in pregnancy or labour in Africa remains unacceptably high," he said.
In Zimbabwe the number of women dying from pregnancy-related complications has nearly trebled over the past decade from 253 to more than 700 per 100,000 pregnant women, according to health and child welfare ministry secretary Elizabeth Xaba.
Most of the deaths have been due to poverty, HIV/AIDS, shortages of qualified health personnel, poor health facilities, delays in reaching health facilities because of shortage of transport and lack of medical resources, she said.
Illiteracy and lack of knowledge on pre-natal care, are some of the reasons for the rise in deaths, the experts said.
Many African countries have been hit by an exodus of medical personnel to overseas destinations in recent years.
"Only 42 percent of births in the African region are attended by skilled personnel," said Kasonde.
Unsafe abortions are high among adolescents, according to Kasonde.
The experts, who are drawn from various international organisations, are examining the extent of the problem on the continent and will suggest ways of reducing the death rates among mothers and infants.
African governments' health budgets were also identified as inadequate to deal with obstetric cases.
"The percentage of GDP (gross domestic product) devoted to health in sub-Saharan Africa remains at between one percent and 3.7 percent compared to the large percentage spent on arms," said Kasonde.
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UN poll plea cancelled by Zimbabwe
By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 17/02/2004)

Zimbabwe has withdrawn an official request for United Nations help to run parliamentary elections next year as hopes faded for a less unfair poll than in recent years.

The justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa, told the state-controlled media that the poll would be held before June next year.

Harare residents queue outside a polling station in 2002 when intimidation was widespread

The announcement was greeted with derision by analysts. "It will be more of a farce than the previous elections and meaningless for any party other than [the ruling] Zanu-PF," John Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political scientist, said yesterday.

Zimbabwe's electoral authority is appointed by President Robert Mugabe and the presidential election two years ago was largely run by army personnel.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which was narrowly defeated in polls in June 2000 that were marred by violence, wants "serious" reforms.

Commonwealth observers said the polls were neither "free nor fair".

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The Herald

Imported goods to cost more

Business Reporter
Imported goods will cost more now that Zimra is using the auction rate to value the imports in Zimbabwe dollars, but for most goods the increased landed cost will amount to between 11 percent and 18 percent.

Luxuries, such as Mercedes Benz motor cars, will be hit much harder and in some cases cleared costs will rise by more than 72 percent.

Duties had been an ever-diminishing percentage of costs of imported goods since March last year. The change should simply restore the duties to the same percentages as were seen that month.

Zimra had been valuing imported goods using the old trading rate of $824 to the United States dollar. This had, in effect, cut the duties to just one quarter of the rates that Parliament had ordered. Importers were definitely not using the $824 conversion for valuing their goods for resale, using instead the auction rate.

Thus, on items attracting 15 percent duty such as books, computers and software importers and the subsequent buyers were paying an effective rate of just under four percent of the real cost of the import to the importer.

The change has little effect on these goods. It will increase the final price by just 11 percent assuming that the importers, wholesalers and retailers stick to the previous percentage mark-ups and do not try to cheat the public.

On goods attracting 20 percent, the change in calculation method will increase the cleared cost of the item by just under 15 percent and on goods attracting 25 percent the cleared cost rises by just over 18 percent.

For luxuries, the story is different. Buyers of Mercedes Benz cars and other total luxuries only had to factor in an effective duty of 30 percent of the cost of the currency used to buy the car in the first place; the real duty should have been, and now is, 120 percent. This will result in a 72 percent rise in the cleared cost of such products and end the situation that has pertained whereby people importing simpler goods were subsidising the owners of Benzes.

With effect from yesterday, Zimra started charging duty on vehicles using the prevailing rate of the foreign currency auction system which gives $3 546,20 against the United States dollar.

Some essential goods can be imported duty free. Duty on spare parts for public vehicles was removed by the Government last year so as to alleviate further financial stress on commuter operators. At the same time, duty on commuter omnibuses with a carrying capacity of 26 passengers and above was also removed on the beginning of December last year.

The change to the auction rate, which the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has made very clear that it regards as the most accurate rate for valuing the Zimbabwe dollar, was on the cards ever since December last year when the Reserve Bank issued a booklet replying to questions by importers and exporters.

However, it is now obvious that it was decided to phase in the change after the Reserve Bank had stabilised the exchange rate and had removed the speculative pressure that had done so much to push the exchange rate to a level more than double the purchasing power parity by late last year.

The landed and cleared costs of imports is still significantly lower, even with the new calculation method, than they were in December last year.

It emerged yesterday that some unscrupulous business people had already started hoarding their commodities in anticipation of another round of price increases.

Motorists had already started to feel the pinch yesterday, as most of the service stations in Harare were dry, while fuel importers were still to establish the impact of the new rates for duty on their business. It will, in fact, be minimal.

Economists said the latest development would bring a lot of relief to local manufacturers who are likely to witness a boom in business. They had seen their protection erode dramatically, especially in recent months, as effective duties plummeted.

"Most local manufacturers could not compete with foreign companies, which were using Zimbabwe as a dumping ground.

"The fact that, it will be more expensive to import most products will naturally force Zimbabweans to turn to the local market. Effectively, the local manufacturing industry is likely to thrive,' said economist Mr James Tapera.

Importers, who had been undercutting local industry through an unfair cut in taxes, will also be back in the same position they were in early last year, except that foreign currency is far easier to find legally.

They are still complaining though. "Not many people would have complained if the increase in duty was applied to vehicles and other luxurious commodities which are also available in the country.

"But what it now means is that most of the producers would just factor in the new rates on the total cost of the product leaving the consumer in a worse off position," said one importer.

The general feeling among the importers was that there should have been a list of goods, which were supposed to be exempt from the new duty regime. "However, it was shocking that the authorities went ahead and increased the duty at such a critical point which is likely to see a ripple effect on other sectors of the economy," said Mr David Mamvura in an interview.
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Also Defence Forces Chief Constantine Chiwenga, Tandiwe Nkomo, Webster
Shamu, Lovemore Chihota, Jacob Mudenda, Vincent Pamire, Eddie Kadzombe, Enos
Dube, etc (Did ANY ordinary indigenous people benefit except through
Campfire? If not, why not? Has an independent survey been done of
Campfire, to establish whether supposed beneficiaries actually benefit?

.........................................
Financial Gazette, 12 February

Nhema named in hunting concessions scam
Njabulo Ncube, Bulawayo Bureau Chief

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
Nhema. Disgruntled Matabeleland 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 board. "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 you.
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Zimbabwe urged not to execute opposition leader
Mon 16 February, 2004 21:45



By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Britain has told Zimbabwe it must promise not to execute opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai if it wants London's assistance in his treason trial.

Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), denies allegedly plotting to kill Mugabe and stage a coup before 2002 presidential polls.

Veteran leader Mugabe won the elections amid vote-rigging charges by both the opposition and several Western countries.

The government has asked Britain for help in finding a potential witness for Tsvangirai's trial who is in the United Kingdom.

The state's case against Tsvangirai, who could face hanging if convicted, hinges mainly on a videotape of a meeting he held with Canadian-based political consultant Ari Ben-Menashe where prosecutors say Mugabe's "elimination" was discussed.

As the defence closed its case in the High Court on Monday, Acting Attorney-General Bharat Patel said the state had failed to locate another potential witness Rupert Johnson.

Johnson, a Zimbabwean-born grain trader living in Britain, introduced Tsvangirai to Ben-Menashe.

Patel said his department had written to British authorities asking for help in bringing Johnson to Zimbabwe, and giving assurances he would not be charged with treason, detained or harassed.

"The UK authorities have written saying they cannot do so (help Zimbabwe get Johnson as a witness) in a case where the death sentence might be imposed," Patel said.

"They want assurances that the death sentence will not be imposed...but we have said that is for the court."

Patel said it was not clear in whose favour Johnson's evidence would lean.

The treason trial -- which began at the High Court a year ago -- was adjourned to February 24 to give the prosecution and defence time to prepare their closing addresses.

The defence has labelled Ben-Menashe an unreliable witness who entrapped Tsvangirai, a 51-year-old former trade unionist whose party has emerged as the strongest challenge to Mugabe since independence from Britain in 1980.

Ben-Menashe admits secretly taping the Montreal meeting for the Zimbabwe government, but denies entrapping Tsvangirai.

Mugabe insists he won the 2002 election fairly and dismisses the MDC as a puppet of Western powers, which he says want to see him ousted over his forcible redistribution of white-owned farms among landless black Zimbabweans.

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Year-On-Year Inflation Up By 24,1 Percent


The Herald (Harare)

Harare

THE year-on-year inflation rate for January, as measured by the all items Consumer Price Index, increased to 622,8 percent, gaining 24,1 percentage points on the December 2003 rate of 598,7 percent.

This means that prices increased by an average of 622,8 percent between January 2003 and January 2004.

Of the 622,8 percent, food prices accounted for 237 percentage points while non-food items in the CPI accounted for 385,8 percentage points.

According to the Central Statistical Office (CSO), the increase in the month-on-month inflation was accounted for by increases in the average price of rent and rates, beverages, fruits, vegetables and bread and cereals.

Economic analysts had, however, predicted an increase in the rate of inflation for January after a decrease was recorded for the month of December 2003.

The annual inflation rate for the month of December 2003 decelerated to 598,7 percent on the back of a significant 84,9 percentage points decline in non-food inflation.

Since December, most furniture and electrical appliances shops have been reducing prices of their products, with gadgets such as a 21-inch colour television going down to $1,9 million from $2,5 million and a four-plate stove declining by 30 percent from $1,4 million to $1 million.

Foreign currency rates have tumbled significantly losing as much as half of their value following the introduction of the foreign exchange auction system.

If the recent events of price stabilisation, tumbling of foreign currency rates and apprehension of speculative activities in the financial sector are anything to go by, the inflation rate is expected to decrease as the year progresses.

Speaking at the monetary policy analysis seminar hosted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ) last week, Dr Gideon Gono correctly predicted that the rate of inflation would rise to above 600 percent before it starts to come down from March. Dr Gono had earlier forecast the inflation rate to peak at 700 percent.

With other targets set by the central bank such as putting a leash on money supply growth and boosting of the productive sector to discourage demand pull inflation, there seems to be some hope mainly for the ordinary consumer who had been sucked dry by inflation.

Government has also reiterated its revived eagerness to arrest and reverse inflation to below 200 percent by year-end through the monetary policy complemented by fiscal prudence.

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