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Mnangagwa under probe

Zim Independent

Clemence Manyukwe
ZANU PF has revived a probe into its rundown business empire in a move seen
as a fresh attempt to undermine Emmerson Mnangagwa's prospects in the party
scramble to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

The initial probe by the ruling party's politburo in early 2004 was widely
seen as an instrument to whittle down Mnangagwa's political chances of
succeeding Mugabe ahead of the party's congress in December the same year.

The congress turned out to be a battle of wills between the two main rival
Zanu PF factions.

Once touted as Mugabe's heir apparent, Mnangagwa presided over the party's
financial empire during his tenure as Zanu PF finance chief. The
investigation is seen as yet another attempt to corner him over the collapse
of the party's companies and alleged graft.

Mnangagwa lost the bid for the vice-presidency to Joice Mujuru in the
aftermath of the 2004 probe which was understood to have been engineered by
the party's kingmaker, Solomon Mujuru, who is Joice's husband.

The initial probe team was made up of David Karimanzira, Simba Makoni, Obert
Mpofu, Thokozile Mathuthu and Solomon Mujuru, all seen as belonging to the
Mujuru camp.

Zanu PF companies that were said to have virtually collapsed had no records
and had not been audited for years include M&S Syndicate that is on the
United States Treasury's assets freeze list, Zidco Holdings, Catercraft, the
then First Banking Corporation, and Zidlee Enterprises.

Sources on Monday said a second probe is underway and its work may result in
the prosecution of top ruling party officials following initial findings
that the party could have been prejudiced of billions of dollars due to
corrupt practices.

According to the sources, the new probe team comprises David Karimanzira,
the party's Women's League boss, Oppah Muchinguri, Labour minister Nicholas
Goche and two other members from Matabeleland.

Karimanzira, Goche and Muchinguri are seen as members of the Mujuru faction
which is locked in a power struggle with the Mnangagwa camp.

"The committee started doing its work sometime last year. This time around
we may see some people being charged," said a source. "The committee has
been mandated to cover the gaps which were left by the 2004 probe."

Muchinguri on Wednesday confirmed a committee had been constituted, but
declined comment referring all questions to Karimanzira.

"We are not allowed to discuss the matter with the media," she said. "The
committee was assigned by the politburo to help the secretary of finance,
Cde Karimanzira. When we finish our work it would be presented to the
politburo. Maybe you can ask Cde Karimanzira. He is the right person to
ask."

Karimanzira said: "What is your interest in the report? Uneinazvo? This is a
private matter. We will only report to the politburo."

Zanu PF administration secretary Didymus Mutasa on Wednesday professed
ignorance over the issue.

"I do not comment on things that do not exist. There is no such a thing,"
said Mutasa.

Mnangagwa refused to comment when approached at parliament. "Unganditsvage
nezera rako? (How can you look for me at your age?). You should come to my
office," he said.


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Govt prints $21 trillion to pay IMF

Zim Independent

GOVERNMENT printed a staggering $21 trillion to buy foreign currency to pay
off International Monetary Fund (IMF) arrears, Reserve Bank governor Gideon
Gono said yesterday.

The move, which will avert expulsion but not avail much-needed
balance-of-payments support, is set to stoke inflation and push the local
currency against the wall.

Gono said printing money and resultant broad money supply growth was the
major driver of inflation in 2005 and has spilled over into the current
year. He said the country had no choice but to print money to pay its IMF
arrears.

Printing of money fuels broad money supply growth which, together with the
yawning 8,6% budget deficit and other factors such as state borrowing, is
the major cause of inflation.

Broad money supply growth has been on a sharp upward trend, from 177,6% in
January to 411,5% in November last year. Inflation this week surged to
613,2% for January from the December rate of 585,8%.

"The collectivity of Zimbabweans must realise that this high growth in money
supply was occasioned by printing of $21 trillion to buy foreign currency to
pay the IMF," Gono said.

He said there was no budget for the IMF payment in the 2006 financial year
and the money could also not be feasibly absorbed in a single fiscal year
"without imposing a perilous squeeze on critical public sector services".

Gono's disclosures yesterday effectively settle the question of where the
government got the foreign currency to pay the IMF. Zimbabwe has paid a
total of US$210,6 million to the IMF in recent months. This sparked a storm
of controversy with accusations by some businessmen that the money was
seized from corporate foreign currency accounts.

South Africa-based tycoon Mutumwa Mawere accused the central bank of raiding
his nationalised companies to pay the IMF.

Zimbabwe on Wednesday made a further payment of US$9 million to the IMF to
settle its remaining overdue financial obligations to the General Resources
Account (GRA).

However, Zimbabwe still has substantial overdue obligations to the Poverty
Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF)-Exogenous Shocks Facility Trust (ESF)
amounting to US$119 million.

"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," the IMF said.

"Zimbabwe, therefore, remains excluded from the list of PRGF-eligible
countries."

Although the debt payment will guarantee that Zimbabwe will not be expelled
from the IMF, it will not get critically needed balance-of-payments support.

Zimbabwe has been given four successive six-month grace periods to settle
its arrears and introduce economic reforms to avoid expulsion from the IMF.

The IMF board will next month look into the other sanctions against Harare
which include the suspension of Zimbabwe's voting and related rights,
ineligibility to use fund resources under the GRA and declaration of
non-cooperation, as well as suspension of technical assistance.

Zimbabwe was on September 24 2001 declared ineligible to use the general
resources of the IMF, and removed from the list of countries which could
borrow resources under the PRGF due to non-payment.


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Wave of evictions hits Harare

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro
A FRESH wave of evictions looms in the city after the Harare Commission
ordered all tenants occupying municipal houses without certificates of
ownership to vacate.

Residents who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent said notices to vacate
rented houses were issued in Mbare, Mufakose and Dzivaresekwa.

A copy of the notice in the possession of this paper, issued to a
Dzivaresekwa family this month, gives it a 30-day ultimatum to vacate the
house.

"This notice serves to advise you to vacate the above premises within thirty
(30) days from 9th February 2006 and expiring on 10th March 2006 without
failure," reads the notice.

"Your occupation of this property is in contravention of city of Harare's
housing policy in relation to rented properties. Failure to vacate the
premises within 30 days will result in an eviction order being served on you
after which you may be forcibly removed."

The notice advises the tenants to take the warning seriously and seek
alternative accommodation.

Many recipients of the notices said the houses were allocated to their
parents between 1969 and 1971.

"We have lived in this property from 1971 when our parents were allocated
this house by the council," Albert Mano of Dzivaresekwa 3 said.

"All children born after 1971 have been registered as tenants of the house."

Mano said in Dzivaresekwa home-ownership certificates were issued to people
who were not sharing toilets.

"Residents even contributed money to build separate toilets but the money
was misappropriated by a councillor in 1985," he said.

Mano said if the notice was enforced it would affect more than half of
Dzivaresekwa tenants.

Reports from Mbare and Mufakose indicate that the notices were served on
residents at the beginning of December and there are fears that council
could be working to obtain eviction orders to forcibly kick out the tenants.

Contacted for comment yesterday, council officials at Dzivaresekwa district
office referred all questions to Town House.

Council spokesperson, Madenyika Magwenjere, said he could not comment on the
matter as he was attending a series of meetings away from his office.

"I can't help you today because I have meetings to attend. Phone me
tomorrow," he said.

Combined Harare Residents' Association chairman, Mike Davies, said resident
could only be evicted from a property if they were breaking a lease
agreement or not paying their rentals.

He said his association would soon be taking legal action to protect the
interests of residents until proper procedures are followed.


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Hands off elected councils, MPs tell Chombo

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro
LEGISLATORS have expressed concern over the continued collapse of
infrastructure and services in the country's cities and the arbitrary
removal of elected councils by government which has imposed its own
handpicked commissions to run most urban centres.

Moving a motion in parliament last Wednesday, Harare North legislator, Trudy
Stevenson, expressed public alarm at the collapse of infrastructure and
services in cities and towns and the outbreak of cholera.

She said legislators were dismayed by the removal of elected councils and
their replacement by appointed commissions even though it was evident that
commissions had done little to improve service delivery to residents.

"We demand that the Minister of Local Government and Urban Development
immediately cease interfering with elected councils and take immediate steps
to restore democracy in local government," Stevenson said.

Fellow legislators, Edwin Mushoriwa and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga
agreed that government should respect the will of the people and stop
interfering with elected council officials.

Makonde MP, Leo Mugabe, agreed with Stevenson that potholes, bad lighting in
all cities and sewerage in Chitungwiza, Bulawayo, Mutare and other urban
centres had gone out of control.

"I agree with her," Mugabe said.

"The solutions for the government is to say who is supposed to be doing this
and if these local authorities that are in power and are supposed to be
doing this, when they do not do their work you cannot expect the minister to
just watch."

Local Government minister, Ignatious Chombo, has fired councillors and
elected mayors in Harare, Chitungwiza and Mutare.

But Mugabe justified the minister's actions saying he was dealing with
errant councillors who were failing to deliver.

Stevenson catalogued many cases of interference which she said had a
discernible pattern.

"The pattern goes like this - you first accuse the mayor and the councillors
of either corruption or failure to provide services. Those are the two
charges. Then you institute a commission of inquiry and you handpick the
people who are going to be in that commission of inquiry, so that obviously
you choose some people to produce a report which is going to be to your
liking."

She said the mayor and the council would be suspended and when the report
came out, the councillors were dismissed to pave way for a commission to run
the city.

"This has happened since the arrival on the scene of councils run by the
MDC," Stevenson said. "But, in every case, I can confidently say the
allegations are just trumped up. We are now two years down the line of the
commission in Harare but the situation in Harare has not improved, instead
it has worsened."

Stevenson said interference in council affairs increased following the
appointment of Harare and Bulawayo Metropolitan governors to administer
these provinces.

"In the Urban Councils Act, there is no such a thing as a metropolitan
governor. Now in Harare and Bulawayo we have parallel structures, creating
confusion and that is a recipe for disaster," she said.

Stevenson cited the unavailability of water, roads that are almost
inaccessible because of potholes, decomposing uncollected refuse resulting
diseases outbreak and raw sewerage flowing in the high-density residential
streets as emblematic of the collapse of infrastructure countrywide.

She attributed the collapse to ministerial interference.

"In local government, people have a right to elect their representatives and
their councils which are mandated to run the affairs of our cities and
towns," she said. "So, when we have interference by government in the
affairs of the council elected by the people, we run into problems."

Stevenson said burst water pipes affected the quantity of water available to
the residents, citing a burst water pipe just outside her house for the past
two years. She said water shortages had become severe in most cities, with
Bulawayo and Harare the worst affected.

In Harare, areas like Mabvuku and Tafara have gone for three weeks without
water. Residents have resorted to drinking water from unprotected wells dug
along streams.

The streams are often fed from burst sewer pipes, exposing people to
waterborne diseases. There were media reports this week that five people
have died of cholera in Epworth recently.

Stevenson said even in cases when water was available, it was not potable.
The commission running Harare last year announced that water in the capital
was below acceptable health standards. "So, they recognised that they are
not providing clean water and they do not seem to be finding chemicals and
we were told that we are drinking raw sewage," Stevenson said.

Stevenson said provision of services in cities had ground to a halt.

"We have all noticed mostly the lack of refuse collection. Nobody comes to
remove the garbage," she said

Stevenson said the collapse of infrastructure would bring about outbreaks of
disease as was now happening in Harare and elsewhere.

Fourteen children under the age of five have died in Harare and Chitungwiza
because of diarrhoea since November last year.


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Zanu PF apologists turn wolves in sheep's attire

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye
IF anyone doubted a sheaf of Biblical teachings that forewarns believers of
any religion to be wary of wolves in sheep's clothing, they need look no
further than some Zimbabwean religious sects for proof.

A growing list of rape charges against high-profile religious sect leaders
over the past few years has lent credence to the teachings in the
Scriptures.

Incidents of rape of church colleagues have been gradually raising women
activists' hackles.

Gender lobbyists have raised the tempo in baying for the delinquents' blood
and incited women's groups to push harder for stringent laws to curb the
practice alongside domestic violence.

It has also provided firm reasons for the expeditious enactment of the
Domestic Violence and Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence Act,
activists and women legislators say.

Says Gender, Employment Creation and Women's Affairs minister Oppah
Muchinguri: "When women talk about violence and rape they are speaking from
experience. Who better than these victims to provide useful input in the
formulation of such a Bill?"

Yet it is not only the sect followers that have been stung by the debauched
behaviour of the role models in the sects but also a headstrong ruling Zanu
PF party still grappling to rediscover its political competitive edge.

The party has poked its snout into the religious trough and allowed itself
to feed on the sect membership to boost its ranks in a desperate effort to
maintain superiority.

But it cannot continue to consort with errant pastors when the victims are
women who constitute the bulk of the party's support base.

The ruling Zanu PF party exploited the religious charisma of the sect
leaders to bolster its membership hoping to reverse diminishing support
since 2000. It has courted sect leaders to woo their members to boost its
ranks.

When Women's League supporters realised it did not profit them much wearing
their knees to the bone, kneeling at the airport for an itinerant President
Robert Mugabe, sect leaders were more than willing to marshal their members
to replace them.

Yet again, some sect leaders, whose fiery religious sermons and
Bible-thumping antics have failed to keep their sexual intemperance in
check, have nettled Zanu PF.

The leaders seem to misconstrue the reverence accorded them by their
followers for a licence to abuse female sect members.

So far two prominent sect leaders have tarnished their images with rape
cases against female members.

Another one will soon do so if women lobbyists maintain pressure and remain
resolute about putting enough sting into a new rape law.

Invariably, the trilogy of self-anointed leaders of these sects' real -
though covert motives - appears to be hatred of democracy and admiration of
totalitarianism.

They have not by any means expressed impartial disapproval of human rights
violations but crow rather loudly of their disapproval of Britain and the
US.

Sect leaders Lawrence Katsiru, Godfrey Nzira and lately Obadiah Msindo fit
the script.

First to turn sheep in wolf's skin was Nzira, the Chitungwiza-based leader
of the Johane Masowe weChishanu sect.

Nzira's apparent omnipotence was shattered when a magistrate's court
sentenced him to a 32-year prison term for raping two women members of his
sect at his shrine.

Last week, Nzira's sentence was reduced to 20 years.

Ironically, in what had become their habit whenever Nzira came to court,
crowds of his followers - mainly women - gathered at the court building to
protest his innocence.

Nzira at one time announced that he had a prophecy to the effect that
President Mugabe was "divinely appointed King of Zimbabwe and no man should
dare challenge his office".

That was after President Mugabe had addressed an audience which included
hundreds of the sect members, holding and lifting placards inscribed with
Zanu PF political messages, while they sang Chimurenga songs as they
toyi-toyied.

Katsiru, whose fame for prophecy had wide regional acclaim, easily
transformed that trait into a political career in the mould of his religious
peer, the late Border Gezi.

For more than a decade the "prophet" built a political career in Zanu PF
that culminated in mobilising members of his sect to rally behind Zanu PF.

But the dross set in on November 13, 2003 when Katsiru raped a 13-year old
church follower entrusted to the spiritual guru by her parents. Katsiru had
acquired cult status among the followers.

Two weeks ago, another magistrate punished the spiritual leader for not
walking the talk by sentencing Katsiru to seven years in prison for the
offence.

The last of the unholy trilogy could be Reverend Msindo who has rape
allegations hanging above his head like the Sword of Damocles.

Msindo, the suave leader of Destiny for Afrika Network, has built a profile
as a ruling party apologist famed for doling out largesse to his followers.

Were he to be dragged to court on allegations of raping his maid, we could
see another sheep in wolf's attire.

But the tainted reputation has not stung the ruling Zanu PF party deep
enough to discourage it from exploiting the membership of the sects, judging
by the appearance of Mashonaland Central governor, Ephraim Masawi, at one of
the large gatherings recently.

Masawi extolled sect members for "not calling for the removal of the
country's leadership as other church organisations are doing".

But that does not detract from the embarrassing behaviour of the people Zanu
PF has been courting to boost its support base as the economy continues its
decline and followers desert.


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How the Mbeki plan sank: a blow-by-blow account

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya
FURTHER details of the decisive ruling Zanu PF politburo meeting held on
August 24 2004 which thwarted South African President Thabo Mbeki's
constitutional initiative emerged this week.

Zanu PF sources said the meeting, at which the Mbeki-engineered draft
constitution compiled by the former ruling party legal affairs secretary,
Patrick Chinamasa, and opposition MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube was
buried, was one of the most explosive in recent years.

The politburo meeting was held on the same day as the MDC's national
executive gathering by mutual agreement between Chinamasa and Ncube to
consider the draft.

Although the MDC approved the draft, it came up with an unexpected
resolution to boycott future elections until government had implemented the
Sadc Mauritius protocol on electoral principles.

But the real motive for the boycott resolution, sources said, was to duck
the impending Seke parliamentary by-election and possibly put pressure on
Zanu PF to level the playing field ahead of last year's general election.

This however proved to be a grave miscalculation on the MDC's part as it
played right into President Robert Mugabe's hands when he later used it as a
pretext to break off talks with the MDC, saying they were not serious.

The sources said Zanu PF factions led by retired army commander General
Solomon Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa squared off in a bitter war of words
which left officials shell-shocked.

The meeting, they said, boiled over to a point where verbal abuse was hurled
at each other.

Sources said although Chinamasa was directly in the firing line because he
had negotiated the draft without the knowledge of the party - except a
mandate from President Mugabe - Mnangagwa's faction was also under siege.

It is understood the Mujuru faction thought Mnangagwa's camp wanted to use
the draft to strategically position itself in the Mugabe succession race.

"It was a dramatic and explosive meeting," a senior Zanu PF official who
attended the meeting said.

"The draft constitution was the main issue of the day although it was not on
the agenda. As usual Mugabe opened the issue and (Nicholas) Goche (then
party secretary for security) came to explain how the matter started.

Chinamasa followed in that order with a report on the process which led to
the draft. Hardly had he started when members of the Mujuru faction began
heckling him and that led to a nightmare for him."

Sources said Mugabe indicated there had been a draft and he had been in
touch with Mbeki over the issue. They said he suggested the party should
consider the issue and make a recommendation on the way forward. It is said
Mugabe did not want the draft but was under pressure from Mbeki to show
progress on resolving the current political impasse.

Sources said Goche told the politburo that he was approached by Ncube and
other MDC officials for talks shortly after the opposition's June 2003
"Final Push". They said he further indicated he then brought the matter to
Mugabe's attention and Chinamasa as the legal affairs secretary was assigned
to engage the MDC.

However, MDC sources said Goche, party commissar Elliot Manyika and another
politburo member, Saviour Kasukuwere - all with intelligence backgrounds -
approached Ncube who then insisted that if their proposal for talks was
genuine, Chinamasa, as head of delegation to the collapsed 2002
negotiations, must be involved.

In the politburo meeting, sources said, Chinamasa came under fierce attack
from Mujuru, Vice-President Joseph Msika, John Nkomo, Dumiso Dabengwa,
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and Obert Mpofu, among others.

"Chinamasa read his report under a hail of fire and was not able to finish
it. Apparently he had underestimated the amount of anger over the issue
until he was in deep trouble," a source said.

Sources said the meeting proved to be the graveyard of the draft as it was
thrown out on the spot.

"Chinamasa was told 'we don't want to hear about it again'," said the
source.

Mnangagwa and his lieutenants - including former Information minister
Jonathan Moyo - were "dead silent" during the dramatic meeting. "They
maintained a deafening silence," another source said.

The constitutional initiative started after the failure of the MDC's "Final
Push" although there had been initial contacts between Chinamasa and Ncube
since the collapse of the 2002 talks.

After the February 2003 stayaway by the labour movement and the MDC, it was
said, Chinamasa and Ncube got in touch in a bid to revive the talks.

They also contacted each other after the MDC's meeting in May 2003 with
former South African negotiators during the Codesa talks - Cyril Ramaphosa
and Roelf Meyer, in Pretoria.

Sources said South Africa and Zimbabwe's intelligence networks played a key
role in setting in motion the constitutional talks.

The draft constitution was then compiled from the rejected
government-sponsored draft and the National Constitutional Assembly
document, starting June 2003.

The draft was finalised in July 2004. Two drafts initiated and signed by
Chinamasa and Ncube were produced. They were given to President Mugabe as
Zanu PF leader and to Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC. Mugabe then gave a
photocopy of his draft to Mbeki who has confirmed seeing the document.


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Govt sanctions maize tender to controversial SA company

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye
THE government has allegedly sanctioned a tender bid to supply maize to a
South African company which is embroiled in a case in which businessman and
farmer Cecil Muderedi allegedly sold locally acquired maize to the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) in foreign currency two years ago on the pretext that
the commodity had been acquired from South Africa.

Invoices from Industrial Commodities Holdings (ICH) run by Fred van Zyl from
Owl Street in Johannesburg were reportedly used by Muderedi to appear as if
he had imported the maize from South Africa when the grain had been bought
from local farmers and stored at Bak Storage in Harare.

Muderedi faces charges of externalising the proceeds although his
high-profile case remains unresolved in the courts.

Director of Public Prosecution in the Attorney-General's Office, Loice
Matanda-Moyo yesterday said the state was still pursuing the Muderedi case.

"The-two year delay has been caused by the fact that three key South African
witnesses have not been able to give evidence," Matanda-Moyo said.

"But the witnesses have since agreed to come to Zimbabwe and the case will
resume in June and hopefully it will be concluded then."

In August 2004 the State refused to disclose in court the names of the
high-ranking politicians and senior government officials who were allegedly
interfering with investigations involving the Chinhoyi businessman and
farmer facing charges of smuggling and contravening the Grain Marketing
Board Act.

A Harare magistrate had ordered the State to supply it with the names of the
high-ranking politicians and senior government officials after the
investigating officer, Chief Superintendent Musarashana Mabunda, told the
court that some politicians and government officials were giving him
instructions to stop the investigations and prosecution.

Muderedi faces allegations that between August 2000 and August 2001 he
exported 6 400 tonnes of cottonseed to PJC Raw Materials, a South African
company, and instructed the company to pay US$527 500 due to him into a
South African account. During the same period, it is alleged, Muderedi
exported 2 000t of soya beans to PJC Raw Materials and instructed them to
deposit a total of US$390 000 into his Absa bank account in Sandton, South
Africa.In October 2003 Muderedi allegedly "exported" 2 000t of maize to
South Africa's Industrial Commodities Holdings and advised the company to
deposit US$344 767 into his South African account. He had bought more than 2
500t of maize from Guruve, Chiweshe, Raffingora, Mhangura, Banket and
Chegutu without the authority of the GMB.

Veronica Smidt, a personal assistant in ICH, blew the whistle on the shady
deals. She has yet to be paid her fees from the Whistleblower Fund
established by Central Bank governor Gideon Gono in 2004 to curb corruption.


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Cloete forced off farm

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro
FORMER president of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) Colin Cloete has been
forced off his Buffield Farm, becoming the latest victim of government's
never-ending land seizures.

Cloete from his time at the helm of the CFU, has been conciliatory with
government, refusing to confront it through courts resulting in a split of
the farming group. This gave birth to the more militant farmers' group,
Justice for Agriculture.

Observers said Cloete's appeasement policy had spared him the wrath of
marauding Zanu PF zealots who have been invading farms wily-nilly over the
past five years - until now.

Highly placed sources in the Selous area said two weeks ago, a senior police
officer occupied Cloete's Buffield Farm, forcing him out of the farmhouse.

"Cloete has been forced to relocate to the Selous Sports Club," the source
said. "He now operates his father's farm in which the platinum mine is
located."

Cloete refused to comment on the developments, saying that would get him
into trouble. "I can't talk to you about these issues," Cloete said. "The
last time you got me into trouble."

Meanwhile, a Nigerian delegation from Kwara State is in the country to court
more farmers to take up farms in the West African country. At the time of
going to press yesterday the delegation was locked in a series of meetings
and details of the deliberations were not readily available.


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Financial crunch stalls new currency

Zim Independent

Itai Mushekwe
GOVERNMENT will almost certainly not introduce a new currency this year as
promised by the Reserve Bank to replace the battered local dollar because of
economic and financial constraints, it has been learnt.

Sources said government does not have the resources - money, facilities and
logistics - to introduce a new currency in the middle of an economic
meltdown. The budget for the project in local and foreign currency terms is
simply beyond the state's resource capabilities, they said.

The sources said the state-owned Fidelity Printers lacks the capacity to
print enough banknotes, especially in such a hperinflationary environment.
Zimbabwe has no foreign currency to import paper and ink.

This, sources observed, would ensure the project remains a "pipe dream". The
macro-economic fundamentals in which inflation, interest rates and the
exchange rate are skewed, makes matters worse.

Zimbabwe has the highest annual inflation rate in the world. It also has the
weakest currency in Africa and the world's fastest shrinking economy outside
a war zone.

Zimbabwe's economy shrank 3,5% last year after a 4% fall in 2004 and a
dramatic 10,5% contraction in 2003.

After the revaluation of the recent Romanian leu, Mozambique's metical
briefly became the least valued currency trading at 24 500 to the United
States dollar, until the Zimbabwean unit seized the title in late August
last year.

But there are many countries which have succesfully revalued or introduced
new currencies in Africa in the right economic conditions.

Other sources said the issue of a new currency was a "political statement"
to dampen inflationary expectations at a time inflation was surging to
stratospheric levels.

Inflation climbed to 613,2% for January from December's 585,8%. Monetary
authorities expect it to rise to between 700% and 800% next month before
starting to decelerate.

Overnight accommodation this week shot up to 650%, from 540%, while the
official exchange rate stands at US$1:$99 201,58 compared to the ruling
parallel market rate of US$1:$150 000.

Central bank governor, Gideon Gono, last month said a new currency was
coming.

"As announced in October 2005, preparatory work is in progress for the
introduction of a new currency during 2006," Gono said. "Fuller and finer
details of this programme will be made available at a strategic time during
the course of the year."

The Minister of Finance - the responsible authority-has not raised the
issue. It has also not arisen in parliament although a question on it by an
independent MP is pending on the order paper.

Official sources said the new currency was unlikely to materialise given the
current obstacles.

"Firstly, there is no money or technical competence at the moment to do such
a project. It needs a huge budget, which is not there, and requires a lot of
work, including a massive publicity and awareness campaign," a Finance
ministry source said.

"Secondly, it also needs a national debate because it is a political issue.
The name of the currency, why it is being introduced, and the way it will be
done need to be debated. All these fundamentals are not in place."

Economic analyst John Robertson said introduing a new currency would be a
"Herculean task".

"Instead of printing a new currency, government must add more zeroes to the
existing banknotes," he said.

The country last saw a new currency - the Rhodesian dollar - in 1970
following the decimalisation and replacement of the local pound. The
exchange rate then was $0,71:US$1. At the time of Independence in 1980 the
local currency remained stronger than the grenback. The rate was $0,68:
US$1. The currency gradually declined after 1980 until its dramatic crash on
November 17 1997 after an unbudgeted $4 billion outlay to war veterans.

The country experienced an unprecdented shortage of currency in 2003.
Government failed to print enough banknotes due to a foreign curerncy
crisis, leading to the introduction of travellers' cheques and later
bearer's cheques.

At the time a committee was formed to deal with the issue comprising
Ministers Herbert Murerwa, Nicholas Goche, Patrick Chinamasa, and Jonathan
Moyo, and acting Reserve Bank governor Charles Chikaura.

"The issue was raised but dimissed as impractical at the time. Government
had difficulties because it did not have foreign exchange to print currency
at the usual places - Germany, Britain and Canada," a source said.

"South Africa was the only option but it was also rejected for security and
financial reasons. The whole issue has now become idle talk."


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Opposition mounts against fee hike

Zim Independent

OPPOSITION is mounting against a hike in fees at tertiary colleges announced
by the government last week.

Government critics say the increases of up to 1 000% will put education out
of the reach of ordinary people.

Colleges increased their fees this term against a backdrop of a general
erosion of incomes by hyperinflation that breached the 600% mark in January.

Inflation is expected to rise to 800% next month, according to the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe projections.

Tuition fees at state universities have gone up from between $6 million and
$9 million per year to $66 million for arts and humanities students, $71
million for engineering and natural sciences and $76 million for those
taking science degree programmes after government support has been deducted.

"Very few parents would be able to pay such fees," said St Mary's opposition
MP, Job Sikhala.

Sikhala, a second-year law student at the UZ, wondered how government
expected parents to pay such hefty fees when most were struggling daily to
make ends meet.

"As an MP and student I cannot afford to pay such high fees myself. I wonder
how students from peasant families will be able to cope," he said.

Sikhala said government should instead discontinue the presidential
scholarship programme at Fort Hare where about 900 Zimbabwean students each
pays R25 000 per semester. "That amount is equivalent to $500 million and
can support 20 students at local universities for a whole year," Sikhala
said.

He said it was surprising that no single child of Zanu PF politburo members
or cabinet ministers attended local universities. Most were studying at
universities in the United States, Britain and Australia. - Staff Writer.


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Law Society decries ill-treatment of Woza, lawyer

Zim Independent

THE Law Society of Zimbabwe has condemned the arrest and detention of lawyer
Tafadzwa Mugabe while representing his clients, Women of Zimbabwe Arise
(Woza) who were arrested for holding a peaceful Valentine's Day
demonstration.

Mugabe was arrested on Tuesday, only to be released later that evening after
an urgent High Court application.

Law Society president, Joseph James, said Mugabe's female colleagues,
Beatrice Mtetwa and Irene Petras, were subjected to the "most crude and
demeaning language" from officers at Harare Central Police Station. The
other lawyer was Otto Saki.

"The constitution of Zimbabwe guarantees all individuals the right to legal
representation and lawyers are empowered and obliged to represent their
clients," James said in a statement yesterday.

"Any attempts by the law enforcement agencies to unlawfully arrest and
detain lawyers undermine the basic fundamentals of a democratic state," he
said.

He said the Law Society was shocked by the treatment meted out to Woza
demonstrators, both in Harare and Bulawayo, who have since been released.

"There is no doubt that the police have a duty to maintain law and order.
However, there can be no justification whatsoever in any civilised country
to detain about 180 women and 14 babies in Bulawayo and over 100 women and
babies in Harare overnight," James said.

He said the weather conditions were unfavourable such that some of the women
required medical treatment after their release. There was insufficient space
and no food for those who were placed in cells.

"The Supreme and High Court have stated that persons who have been arrested
should only be detained when it is necessary. It cannot be said that women,
some of whom were carrying babies and were holding a peaceful demonstration
require detention as if they were dangerous criminals," said James. - Staff
Writer.


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Fissures in Zanu PF deepen

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube
FISSURES in the ruling Zanu PF continue to deepen after politburo member and
Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi this week dragged former Zanu PF chairman
for Matabeleland South province Lloyd Siyoka to court in a defamation
lawsuit that is likely to open a Pandora's box.

Mohadi filed criminal defamation charges against Siyoka over utterances that
were made during a meeting addressed by President Mugabe last year to sniff
out masterminds of the infamous Tsholotsho meeting that allegedly sought to
block Joice Mujuru's ascendancy to the presidency.

Siyoka, at a meeting held at Elangeni Training Centre in Bulawayo in
November 2004, told Mugabe that Mohadi had threatened to shoot him (Siyoka)
at an earlier meeting in Gwanda where he was suspended from the party.

Siyoka's case opened at the Bulawayo magistrates' courts on Monday with two
state witnesses, Speaker of parliament John Nkomo and deputy president of
the Senate Naison Ndlovu, testifying against the former party chairman.

The latest litigation comes against a litany of cases where Zanu PF
officials and party sympathisers have taken each other to court, moves that
point to the deep divisions in the party.

Former government spin-doctor, Jonathan Moyo, before his unceremonious exit
from the party, took Nkomo and politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa to court
over statements the two allegedly uttered against him in Tsholotsho.

Nkomo recently took a junior party official to court over the ownership of a
safari lodge in Matabeleland North province.

Mohadi last September filed a lawsuit against Agriculture minister Joseph
Made after war veterans invaded his farm in Beitbridge.

In the Siyoka case, Nkomo was cited as a key witness because he chaired the
meeting at Elangeni where Siyoka is alleged to have uttered the statements
while Ndlovu is cited as second wittiness because he was at the Gwanda
meeting.

Siyoka however denied ever making the utterances, alleging bad blood between
him and the political leadership in the region.

Siyoka, who is represented by Samp Mlaudzi, denies ever telling Mugabe that
Mohadi pointed a pistol at him.

The hearing continues today and provincial magistrate, John Masimba, will
call one other witness, Eunice Sandi Moyo, a Zanu PF senator, before closing
the case.

Testifying in court, Mohadi said after Siyoka had been given a chance to
speak by Mugabe at the Elangeni meeting, he told the Zanu PF leader that he
(Mohadi) had drawn a pistol at him (Siyoka).

Nkomo in his evidence in court confirmed that Siyoka had uttered the said
words.

Nkomo also told the court that after Siyoka had made the statement, he
questioned him whether he had seen the pistol but Siyoka alleged that when
Mohadi threatened to kill him, he had his hands in his pockets and he
assumed he had the pistol.

However, in his testimony Ndlovu, the second witness in the case, denied
that Mohadi drew a pistol and said he was shocked when Siyoka made the
allegations at Elangeni.


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Real time settlements scare after fraud at ZABG

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari
BELEAGUERED financial institution, Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG), has
been hit by a $2,2 billion fraud, exposing yawning loopholes in the
celebrated Real Time Gross Settlements (RTGS) payment system and
highlighting a potentially damaging crisis in the entire banking sector.

The RTGS payment system was introduced in 2004 to facilitate easy transfers
of large-value interbank funds and reduce the risk of daily interbank
settlements.

But questions have been raised about the adequacy of the system's security
measures, particularly after a massive $7 billion fraud was committed at
Trust Bank using the system soon after its launch, creating a liquidity
crunch that sent tremors across the entire financial services sector.

Sources indicated this week that behind the veil of celebrated profits in
the financial sector, massive fraud was taking place but was kept under
wraps by the institutions sensitive to any reports that might spoil their
reputations.

But the ZABG scam will once again put the RTGS security systems under the
spotlight, market watchers said.

According to details obtained by businessdigest this week, ZABG lost $2 232
035 550 after a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe transfer through the RTGS of the
Zimbabwe dollar equivalent of foreign currency sold to the central bank by
ZABG.

Documents seen by businessdigest indicate that ZABG lost the money through a
scam in which staff in both its treasury back office and treasury accounts
worked in collusion with a former Royal Bank employee, Kudakwashe Chibanda,
to divert funds transferred from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) through
the RTGS.

The transfer had been settlement for US$22 500 sold to the central bank by
ZABG Bank. The money was redirected to Chibanda's account instead of the
ZABG account.

The fraud was picked up after ZABG's international banking department made a
follow up with the RBZ on an entry which appeared outstanding.

The ZABG employee implicated in the fraud is Clever John, a treasury back
office worker who is accused of having tampered with transfer documents to
show Chibanda as the beneficiary of the RBZ payment.

They also include a Cain Chindowe into whose account Chibanda deposited a
portion of the amount diverted into his own account. Chindowe was arrested
on Tuesday.

Information obtained by businessdigest indicates that after the ZABG
treasury back office had received a message from the RBZ for the transfer,
John made an entry into the treasury back office register for the transfer
as payment for foreign cash, but he entered Chibanda as a beneficiary of the
funds.

The instructions on the printed copy of the RBZ message were tampered with
through the use of a scanner.

Chibanda went on to make numerous bank transfers. He was still at large at
the time of going to press.


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How ZABG was defrauded

Zim Independent

BELOW, businessdigest's Shakeman Mugari gives details based on internal
investigations carried out by the ZABG.

December 12, 2005: Kudakwashe Chibanda, one of the accomplices, opens a
savings account number 9112023131200 at ZABG Travel Centre Branch after
clearance from FBC bank. He made an initial deposit of $10 560 000

December 16: Chibanda withdraws $10 million

December 20: He withdraws $400 000.

January 1 and 29, 2006: He makes four cheque deposits with the largest being
$6 460 000.

January 31: The RBZ transfers $2 232 035 550, the equivalent of the sold
forex in Zimbabwean dollars, through RTGS to ZABG Bank.

January 31 (afternoon): ZABG Treasury back office receives the transfer
message and printed it. The instructions printed are tampered with using the
scanner and the beneficiary of the funds is narrated as KR Chibanda, account
number 9112023131200 instead of ZABG bank. The money is transferred into
Chibanda's account.

February 1: Chibanda instructs ZABG's Travel Centre Branch to transfer $850
million into Blue Marble Investment whose account number is 19-003237 held
with Kingdom Bank (Graniteside branch). The transfer was effected and the
money withdrawn from the Kingdom account. Chibanda himself withdraws $40
million.

February 2: He withdraws $250 million

February 3: Chibanda withdraws $120 million but also instructs the same
branch to transfer $500 million into Cain Chidohwe's account, number

13-002053 held with Kingdom Bank Ruwa branch.

February 10: He withdraws $120 million.

February 10: ZABG reports the case after investigations.

February 11 (Early morning): Clever John is arrested at his parents' house
in Dzivaresekwa. He is questioned by police but denies involvement and is
put into police custody at Harare Central Police Station.

February 11 (0930h): Chibanda calls wanting to know why the police and
ZABG's security department were looking for him. He promises to visit the
police to verify.

February 11 (afternoon): Checks are carried out in Ruwa and Cranborne for
people who hold accounts with Kingdom Bank in whose account, money was
transferred by Chibanda. The addresses are found to be false.

February 12: Checks are continued to find Chibanda but without success.

February 14: Police recover $352 million in Chibanda's account. They also
recover $350 million and US$362 from Chidohwe


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Poverty datum line forecast at $50 million by year-end

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya
ANALYSTS this week said the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ)'s poverty
datum line was likely to breach the $50 million mark by mid-year after
settling at $20 million for the month of January.

The CCZ's monthly basket for a family of six rose to $21,8 million from
$16,6 million. The January figure represents a 31,7% increase from December.

The same basket stood at $1,7 million the same period last year.

The CCZ's basket represents the poverty datum line.

The expected rise in the poverty datum line would be against the backdrop of
tightening inflationary pressures in the economy likely to push the
year-on-year inflation rate to over 1 000% by mid-year, they said.

The CCZ's monthly basket for a low income family of six would surpass the
$50 million mark by June as inflation continues to drive the cost of living
up, economists have said.

Economic commentator and treasury guru Andy Hodges said the current
inflationary trend could push the CCZ's consumer basket above $50 million by
mid-year if unstopped.

"The sharp increase in the year-on-year inflation rate is driving the cost
of consumer products up nearly on a weekly basis. Government, business and
labour should craft a strategy aimed at stabilising incomes and prices,"
Hodges said.

"We are pinning our hopes on the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF), which
has made a promising resumption. All stakeholders should speak with one
voice to protect consumers," Hodges said.

The TNF, a forum representing labour, employers and the government, has been
dogged by boycotts from labour which alleges government has not been sincere
in its efforts to repair the country's faltering economy.

"We hope TNF, together with other stakeholders in the economy, will come up
with ways of disciplining inflation. No one wants to see this figure
continue to rise at such a rate any more," said Hodges.

Another leading economic commentator, John Robertson, said inflation was
likely to entrench Zimbabwe's poor into abject poverty.

"CCZ's low-income urban monthly basket shows that many people are becoming
vulnerable to poverty and hunger as some basic commodities' price
adjustments are rampant," Robertson said.

"Government and companies should by now know that a hungry worker is not
productive. The new round of price increases experienced last week will
aggravate the plight of the consumers," Robertson maintained.Hodges said the
increase in the cost of living as measured by the CCZ was coming at a time
when wages, pensions and savings were being eroded by inflation while
employers appeared to be resisting awarding salary increases.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe said the rise in the January figure was
largely attributable to significant price increases affecting both food and
non-food items. Major movers in the basket were the maize staple roller
meal, which went up by 138% from $240 000 to $573 333 for a 20-kilogramme
bag, electricity and water charges 73,4%, clothing and footwear 107% and
rentals 52%. "Although there were notable increases in food items of the
basket, major percentage increases were in non-food items," said the CCZ.

"Water tariffs were increased from the beginning of the year, the costs of
clothing and footwear increased and recently transport costs shot up. It is
still disheartening to note that some goods are yet to find their way onto
the shop shelves," the CCZ said.

"Commodities like roller meal and sugar are not constantly available on the
formal market and, as CCZ, we urge all the relevant players in various
industries to ensure the efficient supply to the formal market of the two
commodities," said the consumer watchdog.


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AirZim battles to raise service fees

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya
AIR Zimbabwe is battling to raise US$3,5 million required for mandatory
checks on its three Boeing planes which are grounded at the airline's
service workshops, businessdigest established this week.

The servicing, known in aviation terms as "C" checks, is done by Boeing
staff. The three planes which have been grounded for over a year are not
allowed to fly until the mandatory checks are done.

According to information obtained by businessdigest, the three planes are a
Boeing 767 and two Boeing 737s.

The Boeing 737s have not been flying for over a year, while the Boeing 767
was grounded during the second half of last year.

Air Zimbabwe has been losing US$980 000 ($98 billion) a month flying the
Dubai and China routes which inside sources said were causing huge losses
for the airline.

Last year the airline broke aviation records after flying one passenger 6
000 km from Dubai to Harare while reeling from viability problems.

Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono said last month that the national airline
made a $317 billion loss in the first 10 months of last year after a $47
billion loss in 2004.

The national carrier now has only six planes despite having a fleet of 18
planes at Independence in 1980.

The planes still flying include one 767, two 737's and three MA 60 planes
from China which sources described as "fuel guzzlers".The money lost on the
China and Dubai routes could have been directed towards servicing the three
Boeing planes, sources indicated.

Gono last month lashed out at Air Zimbabwe's management, describing it as
incompetent.

Gono said the Dubai and China routes were generating a combined loss of
US$980 000 per month before taking into account other costs like handling,
landing, navigation and office administration.


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Advanced adulation

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

WITH cold champagne and a saccharine cake, which all birthday cakes tend to
be, the 82nd birthday of President Mugabe will be celebrated on Tuesday in
Mutare with special guests from the exclusive circle of power, as well as
the inevitable presence of timid and obsequious cheerleaders.

The rest of us will be watching the Mutare bash from a distance with
scepticism to see how this national event will bring down inflation from the
current Weimar levels, stabilise the free-falling dollar (would you believe
the Mozambican metical is now more valuable than our currency?) and reduce
widespread poverty.

As people advance in age, they usually develop a fondness for children and
Zimbabwe is not short of kids requiring that grandfatherly attention. There
are the vulnerable ones requiring money to pay for life-saving operations,
street children requiring a home, those who scavenge for food in dustbins
and rubbish dumps and those orphaned by HIV and Aids.

It would be sad if the billions that have been raised to date to celebrate
Mugabe's birthday are wasted in gluttonous consumption, the sort we saw in
Esigodini when Zanu PF held its people's conference last December.

Zanu PF planners are masters of grandiose displays. Although 82 is not the
round number (like the 80 that he achieved two years ago) more commonly
associated with extravagant feasts, there will not be lacking choirs of
fawning well-wishers for the health of Zimbabwe's maximum leader.

The 21st February Movement charged with planning the president's birthday
has failed to ensure the event blends in with the prevailing situation on
the ground.

In years of drought and the few years of plenty through to the current long
days of abject poverty, the spirit of the event has not changed. It is
merrymaking, cakes the size of a kitchen table, music, speeches, and intense
fundraising with companies being asked to donate billions. Should it not be
thematic?

I am keen to know what the 21st February Movement does in between the
birthday bashes. Should the movement not be employing the same vigour as it
is currently displaying to raise money to build rehabilitation centres for
street children and those traumatised by rapists and other sadists?

Whatever happened to Iron Mask Farm which the Office of the President told
us would be developed to house homeless children?

This is the tragedy of Zimbabwe. Our leaders believe that national unity and
social progress are achieved through celebrations, hence the proliferation
of musical galas. We continue to celebrate history and when the guitars fall
silent we return to our senses to mourn over our present state and agonise
about the future. True celebration should be spontaneous and not prescribed
to the revellers.

For the past year, Mugabe who has presided over the fastest shrinking
economy in the world, has received rave reviews in the state media.

Excerpts of a late 1980s song by the Runn Family imploring God to bless
Mugabe has been played intermittently to ratchet up national sentiment for
our dear leader.

The Mutare-based band offered the nation this summation of the stature of
Mugabe:

Ishe komborerai President Mugabe

Ndiye musimboti wedu, chivheneko chedu

Ngativarumbidzeyi President Mugabe

Nerimwezuva vachasunungura Africa yose.

Ndotaura inini ndisingambotya

Dai pasi rese ratorawo muyenzaniso wavo

Ini ndakambofamba nyika dzakawanda

Dai tangodzidzawo kubva kwavari...

Roughly translated, the lyricist prays to God to "bless Mugabe, our support
and light". He implores the nation to praise Mugabe because one day he is
going to liberate the rest of Africa.

In the second stanza the singer declares "without fear" that "the whole
world should emulate Mugabe". He says that he has "travelled to many
countries . We should learn from Mugabe.."

Not any more. There might be many admirers of Mugabe on the continent and
the world over but that is all there is. His quest to be a role model has
diminished in the heat and smoke of his land reform programme which has
landed us where we are today. Currently there are no takers for Mugabe's
model of land reform even among his fondest allies.

Still Happy Birthday Gushungo, but on your great day, please remember Aids
orphans and the long list of children requiring money for medication outside
the country because there is no equipment or drugs at Pari, Mpilo, Sakubva
and Harare hospitals. The children need help, not cake.


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Daily News ban leaves govt with dirtier hands

Zim Independent

Clemence Manyukwe/Ray Matikinye

SINCE the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) came
on stream in early 2002 scores of Zimbabwean journalists have found
themselves jobless when media houses have been forced to close shop.

While firms have closed due to viability problems, disgorging thousands of
workers onto the streets, journalists have not been spared the ordeal
although their plight has stemmed largely from an obstructionist supervisory
body created out of Aippa.

Unlike other professionals, journalists have found themselves jobless
because media organisations have been hamstrung under the weight of this
draconian piece of legislation.

Riding on the back of Aippa, the Media and Information Commission (MIC), a
media regulatory authority, closed down the Daily News and its sister weekly
the Daily News on Sunday, the Tribune and the Weekly Times.

Last week the High Court nullified the MIC's core determination that had
shattered all hopes of publications in the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
(ANZ) stable ever re-opening.

The rescission of an earlier decision to deny the ANZ a licence, if taken
together with other rulings since 2003, shows that at law there is no
justification for the closure of the two titles as no court has upheld any
decision by the MIC.

The judgements also to some extent suggest that, although agreeing that the
actions of the MIC were unjust, the courts are somewhat reluctant to grit
teeth and award a licence.

They would rather keep on referring the matter back to the MIC, whose
chairperson Tafataona Mahoso the judiciary has found culpable of "bias".

The MIC action seems part of the government's grand scheme to restrict all
other freedoms in the face of strident criticism from the independent media
for its shortcomings.

But the opportunity costs to government, in terms of international attention
that has remained focused on the bans as symptomatic of suppression of press
freedom, now appear to outweigh any benefits.

The continued ban represents an easy referral point for critics and the
courts could be asking themselves whether the ban is worth the powder and
shot for a state that has, more often than not, crafted unpopular laws.
These include the restrictions on freedom of association, assembly and
choice as well as the undermining of property rights under such acts as the
Public Order and Security Act, the General Laws Amendment Act and the
Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No17) Act.

Aippa came on stream on March 15 2002 after numerous amendments to tone down
what Eddison Zvobgo described as "the most determined assault on individual
freedoms and liberties" since Independence. The MIC set December 31 of the
same year as the deadline for media houses and journalists to apply for
accreditation.

The ANZ did not register, contending that the requirements infringed on and
violated freedoms entrenched in the Constitution. In January 2003 the
publishers launched a constitutional challenge on the validity of the some
provisions of the Act, but the Supreme Court said it should first comply
with the law and make the application. It added that if it wanted to
challenge without going through registration, ANZ should have mounted its
challenge before the deadline for registration and thus avoid compliance
with the law it objects to pending a determination by the court.

"For the avoidance of doubt the applicant is not being barred from
approaching this court. All that the applicant is required to do is to
submit itself to the law and approach this court with clean hands on the
same papers," the Supreme Court ruling said. ANZ subsequently applied for
registration but it was thrown out by the MIC resulting in them seeking
recourse in the Administrative Court.

In October 2003 the presiding Administrative Court judge Michael Majuru
ordered the MIC board to issue the ANZ with a certificate, failure to do so
it would be deemed as registered.

The court also ruled that the MIC was not properly constituted and found
Mahoso as "biased" considering the contents of articles he churned out
religiously in state papers.

"We are satisfied that the applicant has shown that the respondent,
particularly its chairperson was biased against the appellant," the
Administrative Court judgment reads. "For the above reasons the appeal
succeeds."

The MIC lost another case in the same court which was heard prior to the
hearing of an appeal it had lodged with the Supreme Court contesting the
directive for it to license the papers.

In the second case to be placed before the Administrative Court the ANZ
wanted to be allowed to operate, citing financial loss pending the
finalisation of the MIC's appeal to the highest court on the land.

"In my view, on the overall, the scales tilt heavily in favour of the
applicant (ANZ), I therefore make a finding in applicant's favour," reads
the Administrative Court's ruling made on November 28 2003.

Although the following judegment by the Supreme Court in March 2004 set
aside the orders of the Adminstrative Court, it did not uphold the MIC's
decision but instead concurred to some extent with the lower court on the
issue of bias.

"In my view, the chairperson of the commission should have appreciated that
he would chair the commission that would determine the application for
registration by the applicant," the court said. "Accordingly, he should have
refrained from making comments that were likely to make the applicant
apprehensive of not getting a fair hearing from the commission chaired by
him."

The latest High Court judgment was anchored on the issue of Mahoso's
perceived bias.

The thread that runs through the five judgements is that the MIC appears
determined to remain the focal point of criticism levelled at government for
failing to uphold freedom of expression.

Even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it could easily take the heat
off government's back by simply complying with court rulings without losing
face, the MIC's apparent approach in dealing with the cases of closed
publications continues to attract international attention to abridged
freedoms in Zimbabwe.

The MIC court contests have cost government not only in terms of money and
time but have worked to devalue government's constitutional commitment to
freedom of expression in the eyes of the world.

The contests and subsequent judgements have also cast unwelcome shadows on
how far the judiciary can make its determinations stick.

None of the judgements have been forthright in giving the MIC the
instruction it needs to provide an unbiased hearing of the ANZ case.


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Only way whites can secure place in Africa

Zim Independent

By Chido Makunike

I COULDN'T help laughing at the over-eager tone of the Daily Telegraph's
stories in recent days about a claimed about-turn by President Robert
Mugabe's government in regards to the role of white commercial farmers.

We will soon find out if indeed there has been a significant reversal of the
last several years' aggressive moves to remove white farmers. Time will also
tell if any policy reversal would lure back a significant number of those
former farmers or not.

As one such farmer pointed out in one of the Telegraph's stories, President
Mugabe's assurances of security of tenure may not be worth the paper they
are written on.

President Mugabe has been a stinging rhetorical nemesis of the British in
recent years, so perhaps it is natural that a British paper would react in a
triumphal tone to speculation about what would be a major climbdown.

Quite apart from that, even the most rabid Mugabe supporter can no longer
deny that his violent disruption of a sophisticated commercial agricultural
system developed over decades has been disastrous for Zimbabwe. If there was
ever any doubt, it has become glaringly apparent that the white farmers had
a valuable, unique skills base.

In addition to the economic benefits that accrued to the country from that
skills base, it gave the white farmers as a group an arrogance that was
partly their undoing at the hands of the politically cornered, clever and
willing-to-be-a-demagogue Mugabe.

The mix of their economic power and social attitudes carried over from the
Rhodesian era made their scapegoating by Mugabe for his loss of political
support in the face of declining national economic performance, a relatively
easy affair.

The cry of land reform struck a responsive chord among black Zimbabweans for
obvious racial, historical, economic and other reasons. It is a fact of
history that the issue of a pattern of land distribution that was so
cynically and crudely tailored to the whites' benefit was one reason a
bitter guerilla war was fought to bring about an independent Zimbabwe.

In addition to these reasons, many blacks also did not mind Mugabe bringing
down a powerful racial and economic bloc which lorded their power over
blacks in many subtle, and not-so-subtle ways.

While the white farmers can be forgiven for never having imagined that they
would face the wrath of Mugabe in the way they did, it was also foolish of
them to not see how their psychic isolation from the blacks demographically
and literally made them vulnerable to demagoguery.

The Commercial Farmers' Union had been happy to go to bed with Mugabe's
government for many years. The two lived in a fairly happy state of
co-existence as long as the white farmers felt unthreatened by any major
changes in the long-untenable pattern of land distribution that served them
so well, and as long as the white farmers' skills benefited the economy and
Mugabe's government in various ways.

This unspoken pact was broken by a combination of economic problems that put
political pressures on Mugabe, and in his eyes the white farmers were
unforgivable owing to their public support of the then new and upstart
opposition MDC party that came onto the scene with such a bang in the 2000
general election.

When Mugabe unleashed his fury on the white farmers, they found that they
did not have significant linkages with any part of the majority population.

Even their support of the MDC was in a deprecating, cheque-book waving way
that only emphasised a certain patronising smugness.

And indeed up to then, their economic power had made it possible for them to
set the tone and determine the nature of their relationship with the black
majority. That meant keeping blacks at a psychological and social distance,
and being able to pick and choose when, in what manner and how far to
temporarily come down from that aloofness.

I have heard many whites furiously retort how they paid their workers better
than their neighbours, built farm schools for the workers' children and so
forth. None of this addresses the point I am trying to make, which is
essentially about respect - respect towards your countrymen and good
neighbourliness towards them that goes much deeper than dispensing largesse
from a lofty perch.

The attitudes associated with being an isolated, privileged community may
have been a group habit inherited from the Rhodesian days, but in the
evolving group power re-arrangement of independent Zimbabwe, that did not
serve the whites well.

I keep using the word "group" because there are individual whites who have
long perceived the necessity and inevitability of these changes and have
consciously worked to change how they see themselves in the wider society
and their interactions with it.

My point is that, for whites as a group in Zimbabwe, and quite likely in the
rest of southern Africa, their long-term interests and survival is
determined by shifting their group identity from "whites in Africa" to white
Africans.

Some will not be able to make this psychological shift for many reasons, but
their prospects are poor.

Part of the reasons for that difficulty is that by and large, whites in
southern Africa as a group, have had very little experience in not being in
charge of everything.

There are all kinds of attitudes and behaviours to do with being a member of
a small racial minority that economic and political power protected them
from having to learn. But as power relations shift, bringing with them a
changed consciousness and more confident, less servile and reverential
attitude towards them among the blacks, the group attitudes among the whites
that might have had no consequences to them 10 or 20 years ago, do now.

Blacks in any Western country instinctively know the ways they must adapt to
the white majority culture for them to get ahead. Those who choose not to
make that adaptation in terms of language and many parts of the majority
culture have to pay the price of being marginalised even more than the rest
of their communities.

Whites in Zimbabwe, on the other hand, felt no such pressure to adapt
themselves to the majority milieu at all. They, and the blacks, were
accustomed to the Africans doing all the adapting to their ways.

This was always going to be a temporary state of affairs. Without Mugabe's
political gambit to scapegoat the whites for his failures, it might have
taken decades for these group dynamics to evolve to reflect the demographics
and their attendant social, political and cultural realities. But all these
issues were suddenly brought to the fore in a way that cannot be undone even
if Mugabe kicks the bucket today.

Whites who want to hang on to the view of themselves as a special group
above the natives in southern Africa will likely never feel comfortable and
secure. Apart from legal guarantees to farmland or citizenship, there needs
to be a critical mass of whites who do, and are seen to be identifying
themselves as Africans.

There is no longer a group benefit to holding on to the self-image of an
elite group which just happens to be in Africa, enjoying still generally
privileged status, but also vaguely disdainful of the Africans and only
comfortable dealing with them in situations where they are in control,
making as few cultural, linguistic and social accommodations as possible.

That difficult-for-many but necessary shift is what will best secure their
place in Africa, far more than money, duration of lineage on the continent,
title to land, citizenship papers, the reigning political dispensation at
any given time, or farming expertise.

* Chido Makunike is a Zimbabwean writer based in Senegal.


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MPs must not help Zanu PF impose leaders

Zim Independent

By Pearson Mbalekwa
THERE has been talk about the Zanu PF government's intentions to introduce
yet another Amendment to the Constitution for the 18th time in 26 years. Far
from being the original Lancaster House Constitution of 1979, this
constitution has been amended so many times that Lord Carrington and Lord
Soames would not be able to recognise it.

That the nation needs a new and not an over-patched constitution is
indisputable but then, the Zanu PF government, which has been in power for
the duration of this controversial constitution, has no desire to have it
replaced as it assures it of its continued hold on power.

To illustrate my assertion, I will give just two examples among sections of
the constitution which favour the incumbent. The appointment of
non-constituency members of parliament and traditional chiefs are glaring
examples of this undemocratic system.

Unless there was proportional selection of these non-constituency MPs
according to the number of seats, each political party would have won in a
general election and unless chiefs were to be de-linked from the executive
(since chiefs come under the administration of the Ministry of Local
Government and the government has through the minister powers to remove a
chief), these people's position is compromised.

There is need to de-link the Council of Chiefs from any control and
direction by a government minister and elevate it to an autonomous
constitutional body funded directly by treasury. This would ensure that
chiefs are true custodians of our traditional practices and values and are
not treated as instruments of Zanu PF or any other government that will be
there after Zanu PF is gone.

The reason for having nominated MPs is for those members to represent the
interests of certain groups of our society such as gender, race and the
disabled among others.

It is assumed that the president as head of state would not look at the
interest of his party but that of the state. But alas! The head of state has
acted as though he is presiding over Zanu PF affairs instead of national
affairs.

As a result of the president ignoring his role, we have noticed with awe as
he goes about picking members of his political party, some of whom may have
lost either in Zanu PF's primary or parliamentary elections and other office
holders in the structures of the party.

This is all in an effort to ensure a majority in parliament for the purpose
of passing laws that are favourable to the executive. This is how Zanu PF
gets its two thirds majority in parliament. It is important to bring out
these facts so as to understand the preceding debate on the proposed
amendment of the constitution.

Every person of average intelligence is aware of the need to harmonise
parliamentary and presidential elections so as to cut down on costs and also
avoid a situation where in future we wake up with a president with minority
MPs after an election.

This would put a president in a big quandary and his government would be
shaky since our system of democracy is very different from that of the
United States which allows a president to choose his cabinet from outside
Congress.

The introduction of a harmonised election would therefore be a welcome
development.

But then the issue at hand is not the merit or demerits of this idea, but
its timing. When should this exercise be implemented and why then? If we are
to go by the contents of the Sunday Mirror of January 29, a paper which has
in the past been accused of being run and owned by the Central Intelligence
Organisation and which by design has its ear very close to the ground
because of its umblical attachment to the corridors of power, then it would
seem the ground is being prepared to introduce Amendment Bill 18 albeit
through a very controversial route.

The current clause in the constitution requires that when an incumbent
president vacates office, the last acting president during the incumbent's
tenure holds fort for 90 days during which elections should be organised and
held.

The Sunday Mirror said the amendment could change this so that an interim
president runs the country until 2010 as part of the synchronisation
process.

The paper went on to say everything largely depended on the experts'
projections on the state of politics in the ruling party and in the country
over the next two or so years. This makes interesting reading and is a
revelation on the goings-on in experts' minds.

One cannot but imagine who the "sources" and "experts" are whom the paper
widely quotes. Those are in my view the people who are busy scheming ways on
how to easily slide unhindered into the highest office in the land by
usurping the people's right to choose their leadership in an
all-encompassing democratic process. This is a clique in Zanu PF which not
so long ago subverted a democratic process of electing Zanu PF's
vice-president and in turn the country's vice-president by
unconstitutionally amending Zanu PF's constitution so as to bar from
assuming the second highest office in the land a person that had the support
of majority membership of Zanu PF. Had it not been for the deliberate
gerrymandering of the constituency's boundaries five days before the
elections so that he loses, he would obviously have won the parliamentary
election though people of that constituency hate Zanu PF. It is Zanu PF that
is unpopular in that constituency and not the loser who stood on its ticket.

This clique within Zanu PF urgently needs the presidency and cannot wait for
the day President Robert Mugabe vacates office. But then there is an
obstacle in the way to that office. The biggest obstacle is that any
candidate who stands for a presidential election under the banner of Zanu PF
will not win an election under the current political and economic meltdown.
The clique is only too aware of this and will avoid an election any time
soon and would rather get into State House through a dubious constitutional
amendment which it is mooting.

The clique wants to use its coerced majority in parliament to amend the
constitution to catapult it into power. This is where the importance of
cowed traditional chiefs who are in parliament comes in as they have become
instruments of Zanu PF's political corruption, brutality and inefficiency as
used to happen in Rhodesian days when they were turned against their own
people by Ian Smith's regime.

The clique is cognisant of the impotence of the elected members of Zanu PF
and their internal betrayal of the people's will and wish. The members of
Zanu PF are very vulnerable in their existence to Zanu PF and the clique.

They are enslaved through the patronage system - government loans, mileage
claims, and scholarships for their relatives and all other government
stipends. Parliament has become a milking cow and they are more interested
in serving their individual interests at the expense of their electors.

Nominated MPs, the majority of whom end up in the executive and owe their
rise to President Mugabe can surely not vote against the hand that feeds
them. The clique obviously is confident that it can push for the amendment
Bill and assume the presidency by using its assumed majority in parliament
by by-passing the people.

The idea of coming up with the harmonisation of parliamentary and
presidential elections is welcome but the idea of postponement of the
presidential election to 2010 and having an interim president chosen by a
partisan parliament is immoral and undemocratic. The mandate of an MP is
that of legislation or making and amending laws. This is the primary duty of
every MP, but while they have every right to change laws, it is morally
wrong to come up with unjust laws which circumvent the people's will and
desires.

It is not the duty of MPs to enact a law that would deprive the citizens of
this country of their inalienable right to elect a head of state who would
thereafter form a governmenet. We as a nation have elected them so that they
can make laws for the good government of the nation by a government
appointed on behalf of a state by a man or woman popularly elected by the
majority of Zimbabweans for that purpose.

Why impose a leader upon our nation? We have our elections - the
presidential, pencilled in for March 2008 and it would only be prudent lo
harmonise or synchronise the elections then.

It should be realised that we cannot entrust the future of this country to
the hands of abusers of constitutions. The nation wants an election now and
not in March 2008, worse still in 2010 as this would be political
criminality.

We as law-abiding citizens supposedly living in a constitutional democracy
have an inalienable right to rise up and shake the foundations of a wicked
ruling party that sets up a government that is equally wicked in handling
public affairs. The people are the state and no government can ever be equal
to the people because the people are sovereign and therefore always bigger
than any government of the day.

Any suggestion to delay the presidential election and have an anointed head
of state must be put to the test through a referendum. Only this way can we
move forward. Any other way must be resisted by all democratic and
self-respecting citizens.

All democratic forces should, and must denounce any move to steal our right
to choose our leaders. This should be resisted through democratically and
constitutional means at our disposal.

Time has come for all citizens to realise that there is no way out of the
present national predicament as long as President Mugabe and Zanu PF remain
in power. Every day that the Zanu PF government lives to rule is a day of
further misery for Zimbabwe and all its citizens.

* Pearson Mbalekwa is former Zanu PF MP for Zvishavane.


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Mbeki's plan was doomed from the start

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya
SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy" approach to securing
a negotiated settlement in Zimbabwe to break the current political impasse
was bound to fail.

Although Mbeki pulled out all the stops to secure a deal for Zimbabwe, local
and international dynamics as well as objective realities on the ground sank
his plan.

Geo-politics and the collateral damage the Zimbabwe crisis was causing in
the region had apparently led to Mbeki's intervention. It is generally
accepted South Africa is a regional superpower and from time to time it may
intervene in such situations.

However, despite its economic muscle, Pretoria was unable to influence
events in Zimbabwe largely because it lacked credible and deliverable
capabilities. In international politics, without these elements diplomacy
usually fails. A country may have economic, military and political leverage
over the other but if these cannot be deployed effectively, its diplomacy
does not work. This was Mbeki's dilemma, among numerous others.

Firstly, Mbeki did not carry his government and his ruling ANC, let alone
South Africans, behind his policy. There was a serious lack of cohesion in
the various constituencies in South Africa over Zimbabwe.

Class interests and political conflicts ensured South Africans by and large
viewed the Zimbabwe situation differently and were thus divided.

Mbeki also failed to articulate the most basic issue: his objective. What
did he in the final analysis want to achieve in Zimbabwe? Did he want a
reformed Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF to remain in power or did he want the MDC
to get into power or both?

Then there were historical and structural issues in Zimbabwe which made
Mbeki's job - during the collapsed talks in 2002 and later the
constitutional negotiations in 2003 - doubly difficult.

Negotiations are a very useful tool in resolving certain types of issues in
conflicts, although in some cases they are simply not an option at all. The
situation on the ground and power relations between negotiating parties are
key variables in the outcome of talks.

The power imbalance between Zanu PF and the MDC was thus a problem on its
own. Zanu PF controlled the repressive apparatus of state, while the MDC had
the moral high ground as it sought to introduce good governance and the rule
of law.

Mbeki was further constrained by the politics of revolutionary solidarity
between the ANC and Zanu PF which has all but collapsed into state
structures. His apparent bias towards Zanu PF also alienated the MDC.

Lack of adequate and organised regional support for his initiative further
undermined his plan.

Besides, Zimbabwe's internal conflicts have in the past been resolved
through negotiations by local players themselves, albeit with help from
outside.

The Lancaster House Agreement was largely between the colonial regime and
the nationalist movements although Britain managed for a short time to
entrench and protect its interests through it.

The 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu PF and PF Zapu following the civil unrest
between 1982 and 1987 was also internally negotiated.

Then there was the Zanu PF infighting and the MDC situation which was
bubbling under the surface.

Both the ruling party and the opposition were not united behind their own
negotiators and Mbeki's initiative. Zanu PF was divided along factional
lines, while the MDC was at odds over the issue. The current MDC infighting
has something to do with the matter.

As a result of this, there was distrust at various levels of the talks:
within and between Zanu PF and MDC, between Zanu PF and the ANC, MDC and the
ANC, and not least between Mugabe and Mbeki.

Mbeki's motives were also questionable in some quarters in Zimbabwe,
particularly in the corridors of power where the issue of sovereignty and
paranoia loomed large.

Further, there was the problem of the international community whose more
forthright stance was at variance with Mbeki's quiet diplomacy. Within the
international community itself, including Africa, there was lack of
cohesion, especially in the European Union, which led to divisions that only
helped to undermine Mbeki's initiative.

The United States' policy was also not in sync with other countries and
institutions which may have agreed that Mugabe's regime had failed but did
not agree with Washington's noisy approach.

The result of all this was a disjointed and incoherent campaign around
Zimbabwe whose lack of a systematic structure could not have possibly
produced a positive outcome, despite the very real strides made in the talks
between the two sides.

Mugabe exploited these divisions and lack of sufficient internal resistance
to run rings around Mbeki and others. Taking advantage of the rambling
diplomatic campaign and using his political acumen, Mugabe managed - at
least for now -- to outmanoeuvre different players in his desperate
political endgame.

In the end, Mbeki all but washed his hands of Zimbabwe two weeks ago saying
he would now "watch" the unfolding crisis and help if need be. But he said
he had managed to ensure that Zanu PF and the MDC came up with a draft
constitution which would have paved the way for a resolution of the
political stalemate and hopefully the economic meltdown.

However in the end, it was the Zanu PF's factional politics finally
torpedoed his initiative in dramatic fashion at an explosive politburo
meeting on August 24 2004 when the blueprint for constitutional reform
negotiated between the parties was thrown out at Mugabe's urging.


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State chases away investment

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

IN his Monetary Policy Review Statement for the fourth quarter of 2005,
presented on January 24, 2006, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ), Gideon Gono, yet again gave recognition to Zimbabwe's critical need
to attract investment. He noted that "significant scope has been identified"
for investment in "methane gas drilling, coal mining, platinum mining, gold
mining, power generation, extraction of liquid fuel from coal, bio-diesel
generation, value-addition manufacturing, tourism, and foreign exchange
generating agriculture (including horticulture, cotton, tobacco, paprika and
tea, among many other areas)."

He very correctly complemented that recognition of the need for investment
generation, and of the many and diverse opportunities for investment, with a
statement that: "It is, however, starkly pertinent to emphasise that for any
meaningful investment, both foreign and local to materialise and, hence,
turn our aspirations into reality, we must, as a country, adeptly work to
spruce up our international image; reaffirm our resolve to respect private
property rights; stabilise our macro-economic environment; as well as
maintain investor-friendly policies in the areas of exchange control and
taxation. Without these fundamentals in place, the country's investment
strategies will continue to remain unachievable ambitions, more so over the
short to medium term."

The tragedy is that whilst his words of realism and fact fell upon receptive
ears, far and wide throughout Zimbabwe, amongst an audience that had long
been conscious of the economic need for massive and ongoing investment, and
had been aware of the prerequisite of an investment conducive environment,
the majority of those in authority, if not all of them, allowed their
ongoing deafness - to anything that they did not wish hear - to prevail.
Instead, they continue unhesitatingly with acts and statements that destroy
the attractions of Zimbabwean investment. Within days of Gono's statement,
the Minister of State for National Security, Didymus Mutasa, reacting
angrily to a factual statement by the Famine Early Warning System Network
(Fewsnet) that shortages of inputs such as fertiliser, fuel and seed are
likely to worsen the food supply situation in Zimbabwe, launched a vitriolic
attack upon the West, including the United States.

He dredged up government's never-ending, totally baseless, claim that the
difficulties faced by Zimbabwe are a direct result of a deliberate
anti-Zimbabwe campaign, stating that: "They imposed sanctions on us to harm
the economy, and then they go on to criticise us over the state of the same
economy".

What absolute hogwash! There has been no West-driven anti-Zimbabwe campaign,
but only an anti-Zimbabwe government and ruling party campaign.

The last time that there was an economic action directed against this
country was from November, 1965 until December, 1979, during the period
following the Rhodesian Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI), when
the United Nations imposed international trade and economic sanctions. No
such sanctions now exist. None of USA, the European Union in general, and
United Kingdom in particular, the British Commonwealth or others, have
imposed economic sanctions upon Zimbabwe. They continue to sell goods to,
and buy goods from, Zimbabwe. Their residents remain free to invest in
Zimbabwe, to travel to Zimbabwe, and to interact with Zimbabweans. Such
sanctions have only been imposed upon a range of Zimbabwean individuals,
perceived to be members or supporters and associates of a fascist-style,
demagogic, non-democratic regime, who are barred from travel to countries
which have imposed such targeted sanctions, from owning assets in those
countries, and from engaging in financial transactions with residents of
those countries. But those sanctions are only against the selected
individuals, and not against Zimbabwe as a whole.

The European Union, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, the
Scandinavian countries, USA, Australia and many others, continue to have
wide-ranging investments in Zimbabwe, and especially in mining and in
manufacturing (and had some significant agricultural investments until
government expropriated the lands, in total disregard not only for property
rights, but also for many Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements). Now,
over and above wanting domestic investment, government wants foreign
investment from the very countries that it abuses, falsely accuses of
economic sabotage, and after demonstrating its contempt for investment
protection agreements, as well as the fundamental principles of
international law and, when those desired investments are not forthcoming,
it maligns those that do not pour forth investment largesse.

Some seek to justify their contentions, that economic sanctions have been
imposed, by pointing to the fact that Zimbabwean industry does not benefit
from AGOA, being the USA's Africa Growth and Opportunities Act, which
enables certain products of some African countries to enter USA free of
import duties and taxes. However, the AGOA provisions are not economic
rights. They are incentives to pursue democracy, law and order,
international good-neighbourliness, and the like, granted as a "bonus" to
those who qualify. That does not preclude others exporting to USA, albeit
that in the absence of the AGOA benefits, it may be more difficult to be
competitive. Zimbabwe is not precluded from exporting to USA!

Others support their claims that Zimbabwe is a victim of international
economic sanctions by contentions that countries who do not grant Zimbabwe
developmental and/or humanitarian aid, or have reduced the extent of such
aid, have imposed sanctions upon Zimbabwe. The reality is that countries
wish to direct their aid to those who not only have the greatest need, but
who also use the aid most effectively. They are reluctant to give the aid
unless they are convinced that it will not be diverted by the corrupt to
non-intended, self-enrichment purposes, or will be used for the benefit of
those who are in political favour. Where they do not have credible assurance
that that is so, they direct their benevolence to others, where those
criteria do apply. That is not an economic sanction, but a freedom of choice
as to whom should be the recipients of gifts.

As if all these factors do not suffice to create an inconducive investment
environment, the State worsens the environment even further. It fails to
halt farm invasions, with concomitant violence and destruction of property,
and usually does not even make half-hearted attempts to do so. The crime
rate, including armed robberies, carjackings, murder, rape, and much more,
is growing exponentially, and the guardians of law and order are so
ill-equipped with vehicles and other resources that they are unable to
contain that growth.

The State also plays the racial divide. Within the last two weeks, the
Minister of Agriculture, Joseph Made, has once again spewed out venom
against white farmers, although he is not the only Minister who has
demonstrated that the then justifiable bitterness, against those who
practiced racial discrimination prior to the Independence, endures 25 years
later, against any of Caucasian origin, and reinforces their hatred for
whites by repeated statements that Zimbabwe does not need the West, or the
peoples of the West, and should only look internally and to the East. It is
Zimbabwe's right to espouse such beliefs, and pursue such policies, should
it so desire, albeit foolhardily and against
the fundamental principles of its own Constitution, of morals and ethics,
and of responsible membership of the international community. But if it opts
to exercise that right, it should not then expect Western investment,
funding and support.

Domestic investment is equally discouraged by all these negative investment
environment circumstances, for any investor wishes for investment security
and growth, and Zimbabwe's self-declared aversion for the West, and
resultant economic divide, the expropriation of the property, the rule of
lawlessness and disorder, and the like, all render investment unattractive.
Zimbabwe has great potential, and can be the crucible for major and very
successful investment, but the State must cease breaking the crucible. It
must stop chasing away the investment it yearns for!


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Chombo must tackle monster at Town House

Zim Independent

Muckraker

YOU could safely say there is no fury like an unelected council woman denied
luxury. Commissioner Sekesai Makwavarara, who until the undiscerning MDC
found her a few years back was a nonentity in Mabvuku, says she can't wait
to move into the mayoral mansion in leafy Gunhill, even if it means moving
in without curtains and furniture. She wants to spend over $10 billion on
curtains alone.

Given her sponsorship this is unlikely to be curtains for her! $10 billion
is a lot of money even given our tattered currency. That money can buy a
decent house in Borrowdale and more than three seven-roomed houses in
high-density suburbs.

But that is beside the point. Makwavarara's claim to that money and the
luxury she craves in Borrowdale is founded on the extravagant lie that she
is mayor of Harare. Is that what the bungling Local Government minister
Ignatious Chombo told the opportunist turncoat? The Gunhill villa was built
for the mayor of the capital and what we know is that at the moment Harare
doesn't have a mayor.

Makwavarara was imposed by Chombo as part of a temporary structure pending
elections. Residents and ratepayers eagerly await the election just to show
commissioner Makwavarara where she belongs.

"All I want is to see the house furnished," declared Makwavarara defiantly
when challenged that she had ignored tender procedures for the supply of the
curtaining material.

Makwavarara accuses Harare town clerk Nomutsa Chideya of exposing her
unconscionable extravagance in a sea of poverty. She said Chideya had failed
to do his work. "Chideya has failed to buy the curtains and furniture" for
the mansion, she claimed, as if that was his major assignment at Town House.
The irony is that Harare has never been more badly run since Makwavarara
came in through the back door hiding behind Chombo as a born-again Zanu PF
follower.

Chombo, as we all should know, fired all elected councillors before
elevating the Sekesais of this world. Which is why we find it strange when
people who should know better like journalists talk of the Harare city
council. We are dealing here specifically with Chombo's personal creation
and no attempt to hide behind the Urban Councils Act will convince us
otherwise. He must deal with his Frankenstein monster at Town House. It is
therefore misguided for people to call for government intervention as they
did in the Herald on Tuesday. Government is already involved up to its neck
and we would not be surprised that we are talking of a house that has long
been furnished. Herald, keep your ear to the ground on this one. As for
complaints about lack of service delivery by the commission, we can only say
welcome to the land of eunuchs. Makwavarara knows nothing will happen to her
so long as Chombo remains minister and there are no mayoral elections for
Harare.

Incidentally, quite telling about where we are going as a nation, sitting
side by side with Makwavarara's extortionate demand was the story and
picture of a terminally ill woman with her four little children "living in
the open" and a makeshift tent in Epworth in which nurses were treating
patients for cholera. The disease has already claimed five lives but that's
not Makwavarara's problem.

Also caught on the obscene side of the moral spectrum this week was the Law
Society of Zimbabwe. They have increased their fees sharply since January
and have no inclination to let up. They blame it all on Gideon Gono -
inflation.

Lawyers who have been in practice for up to 20 years have hiked their fees
from $4,4 million to $15,8 million an hour. A lawyer who has practised for
more than 15 years will set you back $7,2 million for an hour's job. That
only applies to those who can afford it. The devil will take care of the
rest.

The Herald reports that the rates don't include VAT and incidentals such as
photocopying and duplication. Of course you are alarmed and think you have
had enough. Not so fast Jack. The fees will be going up by 30% every month,
the society announced proudly. There are times when you feel you need
government intervention. Imagine every enterprise copying these learned
Shylocks!

There were also interesting figures from the Central Statistical Office.
Tony Blair and George Bush have reportedly kicked inflation to over 610%,
the Herald revealed this week.

It reported that a family of five now needs $20 million a month to get by on
just about the most basic requirements to keep body and soul together.
"Those with incomes less than the poverty datum line are quite likely to be
going hungry, living in very unhealthy housing or inadequately dressed," the
paper warned with prophetic insight. Which to all intents and purposes means
every Zimbabwean except Makwavarara who says she is prepared to fork out $35
billion to furnish the Gunhill mansion if Chideya won't do it.

There was also an element of innovation by the Herald this time around. The
tradition in the past has been to use an average family of six. But this
presumably would have reflected badly on Gono's performance with the monthly
figure going beyond $20 million. So you have to kill one member of the
family to survive on $20 million. The same family in Matabeleland North
requires more than $24 million because food is more expensive. Remember
every grain comes from the GMB, the food monopoly run by government. Give us
more potatoes and rice please, anytime!

The Sunday Mail's Munyaradzi Huni claims that "Zimbabweans have had enough"
of sanctions which are impacting on the whole country, not just targeted
politicians. He uses as his source Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono who
referred to the "perceived high country risk by both multilateral and
bilateral creditors" in his latest monetary review statement.

"As such, international investors preferred other countries for investment,
thus depriving Zimbabwe of the much-needed direct foreign investment," Gono
said.

"The current wave of declared and undeclared sanctions is negatively
affecting the image of the country thereby distorting how financial markets
assess the risk profile of Zimbabwe," he said.

All this was leading to economic decline and emigration, Gono pointed out.

It is true that sanctions are taking a heavy toll on the economy, especially
the IMF's refusal to extend balance-of-payments support. But Gono's analysis
is fatally flawed - and he knows it!

Sanctions stem not from some international conspiracy, aided and abetted by
"some sections of the media" but by hard facts on the ground.

Investors do not want to invest in a country whose government arbitrarily
confiscates their property and in many cases the produce of a lifetime of
hard work. They will not invest in a country where they will have difficulty
pursuing grievances in the courts because judges have declared land cases to
be political and thereby not amenable to judicial resolution.

Where courts have ordered the state to refrain from interference, those
orders have often been ignored. Nor will investors invest in a country where
senior ministers instruct bankers and government officials not to assist
commercial farmers because of their race or perceived political persuasion.

Then there are arrests and harassment of journalists and civic activists as
well as threats to businesses. This is not a climate in which investors can
operate productively. Gono knows this. He has referred to ongoing farm
seizures as a form of sabotage. But he finds it politically convenient to
blame the press for the "negative perceptions" about Zimbabwe's situation.

Huni has an excuse. He is the media hatchet man of a regime that knows it
has lost public confidence. He has an obligation to lie about the causes of
the nation's decline. What excuse has Gono got?

We were amused to read the Nathaniel Manheru column of January 28. The
author spent much of his time attempting to persuade readers that he was
someone other than "Secretary Charamba". The fact that he shared many of the
same literary pretensions as George of the Jongwe Jungle and boasted that he
wasn't obliged to adhere to any rules of accuracy when naming media
organisations rather gave the game away, as did the threat to unleash Aippa
against the Zimbabwe Independent for reporting that President Mugabe had
received a US$10 million loan from Van Hoog.

Simply reporting a claim made in the Sunday Times constituted a "gratuitous
attack" on President Mugabe, according to this excitable spokesman for
tyranny.

Whoever he is we can be sure of one thing. Whereas just a couple of years
ago he was cheering on Jonathan Moyo's every depredation against the media,
he now loses no opportunity to take opportunistic pot shots against his
former master. What a brave fellow he must be!

Manheru, by the way, has an acolyte at the Herald called Charles Mutete who
shares a fondness for beating up women. His target a few weeks ago was Mavis
Makuni of the Financial Gazette who had made the ideological heresy of
commenting on the African Commission's damning report on Zimbabwe. African
leaders were beginning to wake up to Zimbabwe's human rights abuses, she had
the temerity to claim.

This was unacceptable to Mutete who, like his mentor at the Saturday Herald,
sees his duty as setting the MIC on other journalists. In a thinly-veiled
attack on Olusegun Obasanjo for attempting to put Zimbabwe in the AU dock,
Mutete said that in addition to journalists there would always be willing
tools of the West right up to the level of head of state.

Mutete didn't have the courage of his convictions to name Obasanjo, but that
didn't stop him referring to "a certain African leader" who was at the time
relinquishing the AU chair. This wolf in sheep's clothing was on the CIA
payroll, Mutete claimed.

He should have told us about state columnists on the CIO payroll about which
we are sure he knows a thing or two.

There will always be apologists for a regime that incarcerates and tortures
its opponents, including lawyers, and then calls anybody who exposes these
atrocities a "liar".

Mutete thought he would create the right impression by parroting Manheru's
"Icho" slogan. Let's hope he was suitably rewarded for his squawking!

In similar vein, Caesar Zvayi, having a go at NGOs, claimed former British
ambassador Sir Brian Donnelly "staged looting scenes" at farms in
Mashonaland West in 2001.

Does Zvayi actually believe this or is he happy to repeat a facile lie?
Whatever the case, he thinks the recent spy saga in Russia will "resuscitate
debate for the expeditious finalisation of the NGO Bill in Zimbabwe".

Leaving aside the spectacle of a state journalist who appears not to know
the current fate of the NGO Bill, or even one who unwittingly draws
parallels between Zimbabwe and the Soviet Union, here we have yet another
scribe keen to unleash state tyranny against his colleagues in civil
society.

Finally we were amused by the Herald report on SK Moyo whining in South
Africa about the SABC's reporting on cholera in Harare. It was unfair to put
Zimbabwe in the dock when other countries had reported cases of cholera, he
said.

Below this report was a picture of residents of Kuwadzana clearing a path
for raw sewage to flow "after calls for assistance from the Harare city
council fell on deaf ears".


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ANZ: test case for free press pledge

Zim Independent

Comment

SINCE the exit of Jonathan Moyo as Information and Publicity minister, the
new regime in charge of the portfolio has tried to portray itself as very
different from the old order. The move by the new minister Tichaona Jokonya
to reach out to the private press, respond to press requests for comment in
a non-belligerent way and to invite all reporters to press briefings is
commendable.

Jokonya has also given audience to media practitioners advocating
self-regulation as opposed to statutory control by the Media and Information
Commission. He has invited local media bodies to give submissions on
egregious sections of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act.

Jokonya, as revealed by reports in this paper last month, also appears keen
to deal with the composition of the MIC, a contentious subject that has
featured prominently in litigation on the closed Associated Newspapers of
Zimbabwe titles, the Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday.

This quest to appear to be doing things differently has raised hopes among
long-suffering journalists that the new order bodes well for democracy in
Zimbabwe.

Last year the minister met with editors from all major papers at which he
appeared to proffer an olive leaf. We were however quick to issue a word of
caution that the minister operated under a political system that still
harboured hostility towards basic civil liberties. We said the minister's
bright ideas still needed to be tested in the Zanu PF furnace before they
could be adopted by the party and then government for implementation.

This is the major hurdle in the quest to free the print media, especially
giving the ANZ a publishing licence, and achieving plurality in the
broadcasting sector. There has not been a sufficient shift in the mindsets
of the Zanu PF government to bring tangible change, especially in media law
reform.

Only three weeks ago State Security minister Didymus Mutasa blurted out
threats to the media in an interview with the Manica Post.

"It is sad to note that there is a crop of journalists who are selling the
country to the enemy by writing falsehoods, with the intention of agitating
violence in the country," said Mutasa. He added: "These are media houses
that are churning out falsehoods on a daily basis about the country and
government. We will not sit on our laurels and watch people undermining the
country's security."

That there has been no change of heart is also amply demonstrated by the
executive's signing into law of the General Laws Amendment Act which amended
sections of the Public Order and Security Act to increase penalties for
journalists accused of writing "false" stories and information deemed to be
prejudicial to the state. There are now stiffer penalties for media
practitioners who write stories that "cause hatred, contempt or ridicule of
the president or acting president".

The new provisions reaffirm government's pursuit to criminalise the
profession and ensure that an ominous axe continues to hang over the heads
of journalists.

Given the deferential character of Mugabe's inner circle, virtually anything
critical said against him can be interpreted as causing ridicule or hatred.
Countries keen to open up their media and facilitate debate have done away
with protectionist laws that shield an all-powerful president from censure,
and thereby from accountability.

There is no room for such a law in a country that pretends to be a
democracy. But our government will not relent as long as it positions itself
as a victim of media terrorism. In this environment attempts by Jokonya at
rapprochement are in grave danger.

Promises to reconstruct the MIC might resultantly be an academic exercise as
long as the brief to the commission remains encrusted in archaic political
dogma designed to limit media space. Which brings to the fore the issue of
the licensing of the ANZ. The ruling by Justice Rita Makarau last week
directing the MIC to make a fresh determination on the ANZ application
offered some hope but it would be na´ve to think that the publishing house
will get a licence through the courts. It will take a political decision for
this to happen. The same is true of the licensing of private broadcasters.

The government's commitment to reform should be measured by its handling of
the ANZ application and the laws that remain on our statute books. Jokonya
has said there is nothing wrong with Aippa. He says it is the application of
the law which was wrong. So why keep a law that can be abused to harass the
press and limit public accountability?


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Zim Independent Letters

Yet another case for a Justice Commission

HAVING destroyed commercial agriculture, education, the health sector, the
informal sector among others, the Mugabe regime has launched yet another
stage in its ongoing project to return the country to its pre-colonial
status.

The theft of property in the urban areas by executive fiat in the case of
those properties bordering President Mugabe's residence, or by outright
theft in the case of Gletwyn Farm, will prove to be a pivotal act in the
destruction of our cities. After all, cities are a colonial import and as
sites of resistance to tyranny (against Ian Smith as well as President
Mugabe) are anathema to tyrants from Pol Pot to our own home-grown example.

Operation Murambatsvina eliminated the supposed threat from the urban poor
and this latest onslaught will eradicate the middle class, or what is left
of it.

When the police force are the main agents of illegal activities, all
citizens must seriously consider their positions and responsibilities to
their society.

The ZRP is funded from taxes paid by ordinary citizens including whites.

Deputy Finance minister, David Chapfika, is paid from those same taxes.

Every Zimbabwean who pays taxes is therefore assisting the illegitimate
regime in its onslaught against the nation. Responsible citizens will refuse
to fund their oppressors.

This is yet another case for a Justice Commission in a liberated Zimbabwe.

A legitimate democratic government will hold those who have actively
participated in the looting of our national resources to account and will
confiscate their ill-gotten gains. Let those who illegally occupy Gletwyn be
advised accordingly.

Mandebvu,

Harare.

----

Aren't these bearer cheques inflationary?

ON February 1, the new $50 000 bearer cheques came into circulation courtesy
of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

This came as a great relief to both the public and the business sector who
were evidently relieved of the burden of carrying huge amounts of cash.

For this, RBZ governor, Gideon Gono, deserves applause. Long, winding queues
and delays at ATMs have become a thing of the past.

What is sad however, is that we can no longer buy anything valuable. Two
days before introduction of the new bearer cheque, commuter omnibus
operators hiked their fares to the extent of making $50 000 valueless.

Commuters from areas such as Ruwa, Mufakose, Seke and Norton have to fork
out between $80 000 and $100 000 dollars per day on transport only, this
from their meagre salaries.

Economists argue that what is happening in Zimbabwe is the same trend that
developed economies had to go through. For Zimbabwe, the end does not seem
to be in sight.

With this current rate of inflation, the public should perhaps look forward
to the introduction of yet another denomination of huge bearer cheques like
a $500 000 one, but this time maybe yellow or pink in colour.

The question is; isn't this inflationary?

Scared,

Harare.

-----

Wish Mhende had applied his principles at Town House

I READ with interest your article "Turmoil puts strategist under scrutiny",
(Zimbabwe Independent, February 10) on the saga in the Harare City Council,
particularly with reference to the differences of opinion between town clerk
Nomutsa Chideya and fired strategist, Chester Mhende.

Mhende was the recipient of a small, highly-developed farm in Mashonaland
West, which had provided employment to over 120 people, educated others and
given a living to my family over some 22 years of hard work and commitment.

Mhende took over a standing crop of tobacco which he sold to his account,
greenhouses full of roses, fertiliser and chemicals. He also utilised my
tractors, vehicles and machinery.

Today that same farm stands almost totally unutilised, weeds grow in the
fields, the greenhouses for rose production stand rusting and idle and the
fields are empty of tobacco or maize.

The fences are falling down, and much of the labour is unemployed and hungry
except for a lucky few who have managed to find employment elsewhere.

It came to my attention last week that Mhende is intending to enter into an
agreement with a former commercial farmer (yes, a white one) to operate this
place and get it back to an economically sound base.

Just wishing he had ap-plied these obviously sound management principles to
Harare City Council matters during his stint.

J Whaley,

Harare.

-------
Christians troubled by MDC split

AS church leaders who share the responsibility of ministering to all the
people of this land, we confess to being deeply troubled by the uncertainty,
confusion and widespread despair which have followed the collapse of the MDC
as a single and united, national opposition movement.

We are equally troubled by the increasing factionalism and tendency among
those committed to the struggle for freedom and democracy to allow
themselves to be polarised according to the particular leader each chooses
to support. The provocative and inflammatory statements made by some have
only served to exacerbate the divisions, and we condemn them.

Lest there be any doubt, we say again that we are non-partisan. We are
concerned with politics in the broad sense of the word which constitutes a
significant part of life and as such falls under the Lordship of our saviour
Christ. But we do not take sides in party politics. We have no brief for any
particular party or faction; we seek rather to bring every existing and
aspiring political party under the most searching examination and critique
of the Scriptures.

The standards against which we judge the policies and practices of every
party are the most exacting standards of all, namely those of the servant
king, Jesus Christ and the kingdom values of truth, justice and compassion,
especially for the weakest and most vulnerable in society.

Against these standards all parties fail lamentably of course, but some
represent honest attempts to serve the nation and are worthy of support from
individual Christians. Others are so far opposed to the concept of servant
leadership and the kingdom values that a Christian cannot support them
without betraying his/her Lord.

In this matter as we have said before, we find the present policies and
practices of Zanu PF to be abhorrent to God - indeed to amount to an attack
upon his kingdom of truth and righteousness.

It is our judgement that the sovereign God says to the present Zanu PF
leadership as he said to King Saul through his prophet Samuel: "Because you
have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king," - (1
Samuel 15/23).

When God rejected Saul as leader of his people, he anointed another to be
servant king under Him. That man was David, a man described by God as "a man
after my own heart".

In the same way, just as the sovereign Lord has rejected those who now rule
our nation, we believe he waits to anoint another leadership entirely, but
they must be men and women after God's own heart - wise, caring, humble and
obedient to the word of God.

They will be men and women who aspire to leadership not because of what they
can get out of it, but because of what they are willing to give of
themselves. And they will be men and women who are always willing to be held
accountable by the people for what they do or fail to do.

It is for this reason that we view the disintegration of what was once a
united opposition party committed to the democratic principles of freedom,
tolerance and non-violence with such dismay.

It represents a betrayal of the hopes and aspirations of millions of
peace-loving Zimbabweans who were looking for a radical break with the
politics of lies, violence and lawlessness entrenched under so many years of
Zanu PF misrule. Nor have those who have assumed the leadership of the
resulting factions of the MDC so far demonstrated the qualities of godly
leadership for which the nation looks.

At this moment of indecision in the nation's history, we urge our fellow
citizens to commit themselves with us to the search for a new leadership of
Christian insight and integrity.

We urge our people to reject the rush to join one or other of the factions
or new parties and the making of shallow and superficial judgements about
who is right and who is wrong. Instead, we urge a deeper Christian
reflection and a closer examination of all those who put themselves forward
for leadership positions and what each one represents.

It may be that the sovereign Lord has rejected all those who now posture as
leaders or potential leaders of his people. It may be that the prayers of
the faithful for deliverance from evil during the last six years of crisis
are about to be answered in a new and altogether unexpected way.

In any event, it will fall to us as mature Christians to consider carefully
the character and record of any who offer themselves for the task of leading
this nation out of Satan's hold and creating the conditions necessary for a
new beginning under the Almighty God.

We take heart from the promise of God which we understand to be directed to
his people engulfed as we are in deep crisis: "I know the plans I have for
you . plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a
future," - (Jeremiah 29/11).

Let us then reflect carefully and exercise a godly discernment as we wait to
hear what the Spirit says to the church today.

Christians Together for

Justice and Peace,

Bulawayo.

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