The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
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Zim Standard

Miss Tourism gobbles billions
By Valentine Maponga and John Mokwetsi

THE cash-strapped government has forked out billions in taxpayers' money to
fund the Miss Tourism World 2005 pageant in a bid to revive the tourism
industry and its battered international image, The Standard can reveal.

The government took over the running of the pageant from Zimsun, after the
hospitality group failed to raise US$2 million (more than Z$12 billion) for
the licence.
Out of the US$2 million, the organisers Miss Tourism World fronted by
London-based John Singh, said they would use US$100 000 to pay the five

Apart from paying for the licence, the government also forked out billions
of dollars for accommodation, food and travel fares around the country, as
the contestants visited holiday resorts.

The loss-making Air Zimbabwe spent over $530 million flying all the 93
contestants from London into the country and another $180 million ferrying
them around the country. It will also fly them back to London.

There are more than 200 people staying at the Sheraton, including
contestants, organisers, government officials and the foreign journalists
whose expenses are being paid by the government.

A room commands $650 000 during the week and $700 000 over the weekend,
costing the government more than $130 million every day and totalling about
$1 billion for the six days the contestants and officials have been booked
at the hotel.

During their stay in Zimbabwe, the models, organizers and journalists were
treated to lunch and dinner at the plush Victoria Falls Hotel and Boma
restaurant at government expense. It costs $200 000 a plate at each of the
resort places.

Apart from that, the models, accompanied by a police escort, also toured the
Eastern Highlands, Great Zimbabwe and Kariba resort areas. The government
also hired United Tourism Company (UTC) buses for the tours. An official at
UTC said it costs about $22 million to hire a 44-seater vehicle from Harare
to Kariba.

Sources said government also forked out foreign currency to pay for the
South African state-of-the-art equipment to ensure the event is broadcast to
other countries.

"Tonnes of equipment were flown in from South Africa in a hired cargo
airplane. The plane will come back tomorrow to collect the equipment," said
a source at Air Zimbabwe.

The equipment includes Plasma screens, lights, cranes and dolly. There were
also other companies that were hired to design the stage and graphics, for
set designing, and choreography. A South African company called Globecast
reportedly provided the satellite transmission.

The hired equipment and personnel will be paid in foreign currency.

While the government spends billions of dollars trying to spruce up its
image, the country's education and health sectors have collapsed due to lack
of funding.

However, addressing journalists in Victoria Falls a fortnight ago, Millicent
Mombeshora, government spokesperson for the event, defended the use of
taxpayer's money saying the country would benefit.

"This is what we call the harvest theory, whereby the government uses the
taxpayer's money as seed. The taxpayer will in the long run harvest the
results. Many tourists will visit the country bringing the much-needed
foreign currency," she said.

George Charamba, the Secretary for Information and Publicity on Friday said
government took over the event because a poor show would have reflected
badly on Zimbabwe.

He confirmed that government was paying for transport, medical aid
facilities, communication equipment, accommodation and other related bills
for the contestants and the organisers.

"It is the role of the government to market this country and that is why we
had to chip in. Sometimes it's necessary to spend money for a good cause and
we are expecting positive results from this event," Charamba said.

Zimsun chief executive officer, Shingi Munyeza, said his company had not
lost out since a better Zimbabwe would mean a lot of business.

"If tourists don't come it means we would be out of business. We never lost
out because we are looking at the long-term gains and this event is not
meant to be a one-day wonder," Munyeza said.

In 2003, the government paid $60 million for a licence for hosting the 2002
Miss Malaika pageant claiming that the event would bring in thousands of
tourists and revive the country's ailing tourism sector.

Political interference once again reared its ugly head at the Miss Tourism
World 2005 Finals beauty pageant held in Harare last night after China
demanded that Zimbabwean authorities expel Miss Tibet, Tashi Yangchen, from
the contest.

Insiders revealed that at one stage, the pageant was in danger of being
cancelled after some contestants threatened to pull out of the competition
in solidarity with Yangchen.

China is one of the countries that were reportedly interested in hosting the
Miss Tourism World finals and its actions could also be partly as a result
of sour grapes.
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Zim Standard

'Inflation target fictitious'
By Kumbirai Mafunda

ECONOMISTS queued up last week to criticise the Central Bank and labelled
the ambitious inflation target of 20-35% by the fall of the year "too

The round up came after inflation rekindled its northwards drift in January.
Figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show an upsurge in
inflation to 133,7%.
"The authorities are going to suppress the inflation figures until after
elections but it is going to rise whether we like it or not. This is a
modest beginning," said Daniel Ndlela, economist at Zimconsult.

"In a year of elections you are bound to have inflation going up," he added.

Annual inflation, which notched a record 622% in January 2004, had been on a
decelerating path until the pillars could not suppress the push factors
anymore. Month-on-month inflation recorded a big leap of 14 percentage
points. This was in line with increases in the salaries and wages of civil
servants who got a 250% adjustment.

Commodity prices also moved up, buoyed by the increased disposable income
while state utilities weighed in with an adjustment in tariffs and charges.

The Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono has declared inflation the country's
number one enemy and pledges to conquer it down to 20-30% by December 2005,
before regularising it with the rest of the region in 2006.

Gono's projection is premised on his record of having floored inflation to
132,7% in December 2004 from a peak of 622,8% at the beginning of the year.

But economic analysts say since the agriculture season is turning out to be
a terrible one given the poor rains, Gono should revise his target.

"That forecast is now under threat," says Witness Chinyama, economist at
Kingdom Financial Holdings.

A poor agricultural harvest will force President Robert Mugabe's government
to print money for unbudgeted food imports and consequently induce money
supply growth.

"We are beginning to see a lot of threats to inflation which are beyond the
control of the government," says Chinyama. The food situation is going to be
critical if we are to talk about inflation developments.

Independent economic analyst John Robertson believes that last month's
marginal jump in inflation will be sustainable.

"The 20-35% target is totally fictitious," says Robertson. "We will be
approaching 300% by the end of the year."

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Zim Standard

Government accused of confusing voters
By our own Staff

ZIMBABWE has several bodies dealing with elections and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) believes this is a ploy to confuse

David Coltart, the MDC secretary for legal affairs, says the government has
successfully hoodwinked the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
into thinking the recently enacted Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act had
levelled the electoral playing field.
He said the SADC Guidelines governing democratic elections were clear on the
need for non-partisan electoral bodies.

Part of the SADC guidelines stipulates that member states shall: "Establish
impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable national electoral
bodies staffed by qualified personnel, as well as competent legal entities,
including effective constitutional courts to arbitrate in the event of
disputes arising from the conduct of elections."

Coltart listed the electoral bodies as the Electoral Supervisory Commission
(ESC), the Delimitation Commission, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC),
the Observers' Accreditation Commission and the Registrar General's Office,
which registers voters.

"The Electoral Supervisory Commission is appointed by Robert Mugabe and
therefore cannot be impartial. The Delimitation Commission is appointed by
Mugabe and therefore cannot be impartial, the Observers' Accreditation
Commission is headed by the chairperson of the ESC, who is an appointee of
the President. The Registrar General is accountable to Cabinet. The Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission goes some way towards being inclusive in its nature but
it does not include civic society, churches and the public. In any case, its
chairperson is appointed by Mugabe."Coltart said

The ESC is a product of constitutional provisions and was formerly headed by
Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, now the Attorney General.

A commissioner in the ESC, Joyce Kazembe, told a workshop organised by the
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) in Bulawayo last week that although
soldiers would not supervise elections in March, the ESC would continue to
employ them at their secretariat.

"I cannot deny that we still have members of the military that we employ as
our staff. The military have a lot of excess staff."

On concerns about the large number of players in the electoral process,
Kazembe said: "Change, no matter how fast we may want it, does not come in
one day. We are not supposed to be in the transitional stage of the
electoral process but we are."

Otto Saki, a member of the Lawyers for Human Rights, said a sign of
confusion prevailing in the electoral process was that although ZEC was
supposed to call for the registration of voters, by the time the commission
was put in place, the process had already started.
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Zim Standard

      Court finally rules in favour of private schools
      By Valentine Maponga

      THE High Court has ordered the Ministry of Education, Sports and
Culture not to close down private schools that increase fees without its

      In a landmark judgment, Justice Tedious Karwi declared that all
private schools in the country could increase fees without the consent of
the parent ministry.
      "Respondents (ministry of education), their servants and agents are
hereby rest

      rained from closing down or ordering or threatening the closure of any
school run by any Applicant (Private Schools) or other member of the
Association of Trust Schools by reason of any perceived or alleged
contravention of either Section 21 of the Education Act (Chapter 25:04) or
Section 4 of Statutory Instrument 194A of 2004," he said.

      The judgment follows an application by the Association of Trust
Schools (ATS), which sought to bar the Ministry of Education and police from
closing down schools that increase fees without the approval of the

      Last year, 46 private schools were closed down on the order of the
Ministry of Education after they increased fees.

      Karwi said the permanent secretary for education, who is cited as the
first respondent violated section 21 of the Education Act Chapter 25:04 by
resetting the fees applied for by the private schools, by not taking
cognisance of his function.

      Before the final order was granted, Justice Rita Makarau had on 4
January granted the ATS an interim relief pending the confirmation or
discharge of the provisional order.

      The order enabled the schools to open for the first term of 2005
"without any problems" and charged fees, which were equivalent or double the
fees that had been fixed by the Minister of Education, Aeneas Chigwedere.

      The chairperson of ATS, Jameson Timba, last week said schools can now
charge and collect the fees they set themselves in consultation with their
parent bodies.

      "Now there are no prescribed amounts or percentage in 2005 and beyond
that a fee cannot be increased without approval of the secretary for
education. This ruling is therefore important in that it has, for the year
2005, reinstated the authority for fee determination to the rightful bodies
in consultation with the parents (clients) that choose to send their
children to the respective schools," Timba said.

      He added that now that the court wrangles were over the association
was ready to engage the Ministry of Education in dialogue to determine
innovative ways of reducing the unit cost of delivering education.

      "We subscribe to the principle of availing education at the least cost
possible but without compromising standards. In this regard our fees are set
on the basis of full cost recovery and not for profit," he said.

      Chigwedere was not immediately available to comment on the final
outcome of the High Court ruling.
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Zim Standard

Rebellion in dramatic end
By Lloyd Mutungamiri

rebel cricketers end 11-month revolt THE long-standing dispute between the
Zimbabwe Cricket and senior white players has ended in dramatic fashion,
with the cricketers finally laying down arms and accepting the authority of
the cricketing body,

StandardSport can reveal.
On Friday, former national team captain Heath Streak signed a contract with
the ZC, four days after another rebel, Andy Blignaut, had also announced an
unconditional return to the international fold.

On Friday, sources said almost all the remaining rebels are set for a
return, with one of the players, confirming to StandardSport, three of them
are set to sign contracts with the ZC tomorrow.

"We have had positive discussions with the ad-hoc committee, where we raised
our concerns. We have been guaranteed some of the issues will be immediately
addressed, whilst some of them, we were assured, will be discussed at the
ZC's annual general meeting later in the year. Yes, we are coming back, but
to say all of us are doing so unconditionally would not be true. We
presented the points we felt strongly against, and we were assured some of
these are going to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Yes, I can say the
rebellion is over; almost everyone involved in the dispute is coming back,"
said one of the players on Friday soon after Streak had put pen to paper.

Streak, who last played for Zimbabwe during the February-March tour of the
country by Bangladesh last year, said he was happy to be resuming his
international career after a protracted dispute to have threatened the very
substance of the game in the country.

"I just need to finalise some aspects of my contract with Warwickshire
county, so that it ties in with my international commitments. Otherwise I am
ready to play for Zimbabwe when selected. I am putting my weight fully
behind the captain, Tatenda Taibu, and the rest of the lads," said Streak.

Sources said Streak is set to play in the Tests against South Africa, which
start on 4 March, in Cape Town, with national convenor of selectors, Macsood
Ebrahim, confirming the inspirational all-rounder, becomes available for
selection "subject to form and fitness".

In confirming the collapse of the pillar of the rebellion following the
signing of the contract by Streak, ZC chairman Peter Chingoka said they were
happy the players now appreciate their place - and their roles - in the

"Zimbabwe Cricket is grateful to Mr Addington Chinake and his ad hoc
committee for all the work it has done, pointing out to the players the
roles played by the various structures of the organisation and the
separation of functions between administration and players," Chingoka said.

The then Zimbabwe Cricket Union fell out with 15 senior white players over
what the internationals felt was unfair, racially-biased selection into the
national team. Things then fell apart when Heath Streak was sacked as
captain after he was alleged to have given the Union an ultimatum to
reconstruct the selection panel or he would resign. He still denies making
the threat, but as relations subsequently deteriorated he was axed, leading
to 14 sympathisers withdrawing their labour in June last year.

Two of the rebels - Barney Rogers and Gavin Ewing - have since made peace
with the ZC, and are currently in South Africa with the national team as
Zimbabwe take on the Proteas in two Tests and three One Day Internationals.
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Zim Standard

Bitter row threatens Ruwa private school
By Rutendo Mawere

MORE than 400 pupils at Old Windsor Primary School in Ruwa do not know if
they will continue to attend classes at the institution because the owner
has announced its closure, following a bitter row with parents over an
increase in school fees, The Standard understands.

The private school, owned by a couple Katy and Sunny Tsai, increased fees
from $400 000 to $1,4 million but the School Development Council (SDC) shot
down the increase.
When parents refused to pay the new fees the Tsais announced the closure of
the school next term because the cost of running it had escalated.

The couple, also alleged the SDC was disrupting the development of the
school and said the current $400 000 school fees a term was not sustainable.

However, the SDC led by one Mhowa, has threatened to take over the private
school, "the land invasion style".

The SDC has opened a bank account with a financial institution and intends
collecting school fees, a move that has riled the Tsais.

Katy said: "The school development council members are actually influencing
others not to pay school fees and they do not want to involve us as the
responsible authority in the running of the school. I cannot pay teachers
from my own pocket. I have to run the school in a way that ensures there is
enough money to cover expenses."

The couple said they built the school with their own money. However, they
said they felt sorry for the pupils and teachers who would soon be jobless.

"We tried engaging the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture to solve the
problem but they have not intervened and we have had several fruitless
meetings," Katy said.

In a letter dated 17 February 2005 addressed to the permanent secretary in
the education ministry, Stephen Mahere, the Tsais complained about the
proposed take over of the school by the SDC.

The two, who say they have been in the country for more than ten years, also
alleged that the parents told them, "to go back to China".

Parents who spoke to The Standard last week said it would be extremely
difficult for them to secure places for their children during the middle of
the year, because most schools in Ruwa were full. They would have to enroll
their children to schools in the city centre, Mabvuku and Tafara, which
would mean acquiring new sets of uniforms.

A parent, Mai Shantel, said: "Since parents have refused to pay the required
school fees, the only option left is to close the school as it can not be
run without funds."

Others, however, said the school should close because the increase in fees
"was not justified".

"Sometimes teachers do not even come to class and there is nothing special
given to the children that warrants the hike in fees," said one parent, who
identified herself as Mavis.

The closure of the school, which opened its doors in 2003, will leave 17
teachers jobless and more than 400 children battling to get accommodated in
other schools.

There was no immediate comment from Ministry of Education yesterday.
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Zim Standard

Media bodies angry over paper's closure
By Savious Kwinika

BULAWAYO - Media organisations including the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists
have reacted angrily to the closure of yet another independent newspaper,
The Weekly Times, by the government appointed Media and Information
Commission on Thursday.

ZUJ secretary general, Foster Dongozi, said the closure of the newspaper
would obviously affect the welfare of journalists employed by the
publication."As a union we do not believe that problems are solved by
closing down media publications. MIC behaves like a person who sets his
house on fire because there is a snake inside. What we find even more
puzzling and reprehensible is that at a time when unemployment is on the
increase, there is a sustained effort to shut down media organisations and
hence increase destitution in the country."
The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Chairperson, Thomas Deve, said
his organisation was disturbed by the closure of The Weekly Times."This
really makes us believe we were correct in challenging AIPPA in court.

"As a result of the closure of The Weekly Times, we will once again start
campaigning to challenge these draconian laws. What worries us most is the
fact that journalists are finding themselves out of employment," Deve said.

In the meantime, he said MISA would provide financial assistance to the

The Weekly Times Chief Executive Officer, Godfrey Ncube, confirmed to The
Standard yesterday that the MIC ordered the closure of his newspaper but
indicated that he would "go down fighting".

"It's true that The Weekly Times has been shut down but we have initiated
legal action against the closure. We are taking up the matter with the
Administrative Court on Monday," Ncube said.

The paper's editor, Gibbs Dube, accused Tafataona Mahoso, the MIC
chairperson of being a Zanu PF apologist. " I am prepared to face Mahoso
over this issue," he said.
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Zim Standard

Jitters at Zimpapers after Moyo sacking
By our own staff

THE dismissal of information minister, Jonathan Moyo, from government and
the subsequent ouster of his long-time serving media side-kick and praise
singer, Stephen Ndlovu, Chronicle editor last week has apparently left
several journalists at the state-owned media institutions in a quandary.

Among those who face an uncertain future are journalists who were perceived
to be willing tools in Moyo's unprecedented and reckless attacks against
senior ruling party officials during his five-year term, The Standard has
Ndlovu, who was thrust at the helm of the government daily newspaper by Moyo
in 2001, was fired on Thursday by the Zimpapers board, reportedly at the
instigation of senior Zanu PF politicians.

As a result, senior journalists who belonged to the Jonathan Moyo-Stephen
Ndlovu camp are also likely to be in the firing line as the government seeks
to carry out "surgical operations" at Zimpapers and the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings probably ahead of the 31 March general elections.

The view among the Zanu PF old guard is that Moyo may use his influence in
the public media to bolster his campaign for the Tsholotsho constituency.

Special Projects Editor of The Chronicle, Innocent Madonko, Munyaradzi Huni
of The Sunday Mail, Hebert Zharare of The Sunday News and Herald editor
Pikirayi Deketeke could be prime candidates for the chop.

Sunday Mail editor, William Chikoto and his Manica Post counterpart,
Makuwerere Bwititi could probably escape the chop because they were not
openly and rabidly enthusiastic Moyo's praise singers.

There is also a perception that many senior journalists based in Bulawayo
could be headed for turbulent times.

George Charamba, the permanent secretary in the Department of Information
and Publicity, told The Standard on Friday that he had no regrets about
relieving the bearded Stephen Ndlovu of his duties as Chronicle editor.

"Stephen Ndlovu is out and he is now history at Zimpapers. Stephen took
things too far. The outgoing editor took a position that runs contrary to
the wishes of the President and that of the government.

"The government is the major shareholder in Zimpapers and it is the
custodian of the State media, something that Stephen continuously ignored.

"When the chips are down the interests of the State must prevail. Stephen
became a crusader, editorially hurting Zimpapers policy, and I warned him
several times but he did not take heed," Charamba said.

He accused the former Chronicle editor of being aligned to "a certain
individual", whom he said took advantage of the State media to fight some
senior ruling party and government officials. Although Charamba did not name
the "certain individual", it was obvious he was referring to his former
boss, Moyo.

He said the expelled editor paid allegiance to the "certain individual",
whom many in the government felt was "spitting venomous words" against
government ministers, Zanu PF's politburo and central committee members.

Ndlovu, who was the right hand man of Jonathan Moyo is reported to have
pleaded with the Zimpapers management not to deprive him of the company's
four-wheel-drive vehicle issued to the editor, so that he could take it as
part of his exit package.
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Zim Standard

Midlands rural councils on the verge of collapse
By our correspondent

MOST Rural District Councils (RDCs) in the Midlands province are on the
verge of collapse due to serious cash flow problems, shortage of competent
staff and equipment and corruption, which had resulted in deteriorating
services delivery, The Standard can reveal.

A report on the status of Midlands RDCs by the provincial administrator's
office noted that the rural councils' revenue base was shrinking, they had
high staff turn over and obsolete equipment, a condition that was crippling
the smooth delivery of services.
It said most of the RDCs have not posted audited accounts "for years" and
were operating without key senior staff like chief executive officers

"Most RDCs have run into arrears in their statutory obligations such as
PAYE, NSSA, pension contributions, salaries, and other debtors some of whom
have instituted legal action to recover their outstanding debts," said the
Midlands RDCs Supervision Report prepared late last year.

The report said Vungu RDC, with a staff complement of 67, operated without a
substantive CEO, and finance executive "for a very long time".

It last produced audited accounts in 1998.

Due to a "cash flow squeeze and incapacity" to collect various development
levies, the RDC has failed to implement some of the budgeted projects.

Gokwe North and Mberengwa RDCs have, on several occasions, failed to pay
their workers, contribute to NSSA, PAYE and pensions.

The Runde RDC is operating without a CEO, finance and planning executive
officers. "A technician has filled the post of engineer and there is a lot
of duplication in the clerical posts. The last audit of accounts was done in
2003 while the council implemented an unrealistic 2004 budget without
approval from the parent ministry," noted the report.

The report says Chirumanzu RDC, which is divided into three area committees
of Lalapanzi, Mvuma and Charandura, has a staff complement of 78 with no
correlation between council activities and the bloated workforce.

It last conducted audited accounts in 1999 and only managed to pay workers
net salaries up to March and failed to "remit PAYE, NSSA and pensions since
February 2004."

The report said Tongogara RDC was in serious problems. It is operating
without CEO, engineer and executive officer planning. Four officers - the
executive officers for finance, social services and works and planning, and
the finance clerk - were arrested on allegations of corruption.

"Like all the other council budgets the major weakness is that council has
failed to come up with the projects that are funded from council's own
sources of revenue." noted the report.

According to the report council has failed to collect about $150 million it
is owed by different companies.

"As a result of the cash flow problem the RDC has failed to meet PAYE, NSSA
and Pensions obligations. The RDC has also failed to pay $20 million they
owe the auditing firm KPMG.

"The current liabilities far outweigh the current assets resulting in a
serious shortage of working capital," noted the report.

Problems for the Shurugwi RDC worsened in 2003 due to unbudgeted
expenditures and the hyperinflationary environment the country has been

In the same year the council had budgeted $2 million for elections, but
ended up using $20 million.

Lack of good corporate governance and abuse of power within the higher ranks
of the council officials contributed to the liquidity crunch. According to
the report, "typical examples are the unauthorized salary advances, cash
withdrawals from income generating projects without the knowledge of the
town secretary."

Last year, Shurugwi council property was attached and auctioned by debtors
to recover about $404.4 million the council owed different institutions and

Most councillors were allocated residential stands but there are no records
to show whether they paid for the stands or not.

The last audit was in 2000 and the council does not have the financial
resources to conduct one to ascertain the true position of the council's
financial statement.

The report said most of the Midlands RDC's have operated as "little islands"
answerable to no one in particular and forcing ratepayers to bail out them
anytime they needed more money, through levies.

Acting provincial administrator, Crispen Mabvuma refused to comment
referring all questions to provincial administrator, Martin Rushwaya, who
was said to be in Harare "preparing" for next month's parliamentary
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Zim Standard

Terror in Mutare as Zanu PF thugs demand cards
By our own correspondent

MUTARE - Suspected Zanu PF activists are terrorising people at night in the
eastern border town of Mutare, demanding that they produce their ruling
party's membership cards, residents told The Standard last week.

The residents claimed that they could nolonger move freely at night for fear
of the marauding activists, who include Zanu PF youth militia and war
The practice was most common in high-density suburbs such as Chikanga,
Sakubva and Dangamvura, they said.

A resident of Chikanga suburb, who requested not to be named, said some of
the activists were masquerading as members of neighbourhood watch committees
before demanding Zanu PF membership cards.

"This is affecting people like us we finish work late. Also in trouble are
those coming from bars and beer-halls at night," he complained.

A resident of Sakubva, Kudzai Mucharipa, said he was coming from work around
8 PM last week when four people claiming they were members of the
neighbourhood watch committee confronted him.

He said he was quizzed for more than 30 minutes before being released. They
wanted to know his political affiliation, where he lived and where he was
coming from.

Mucharipa called on the police to rid the areas affected of the people
disturbing the peace.

A resident of Sakubva, Munyaradzi Pangeti, who works for a hotel, said he
now slept at the hotel workers' quarters for fear of harassment by the
suspected Zanu PF supporters. He claimed he had been harassed several times
on his way home.

MDC spokesperson for Manicaland, Pishai Muchauraya, said the suspected Zanu
PF activists demanded money from their victims. According to Muchauraya,
those who failed to produce Zanu PF membership cards and had no money to
bribe the youths risked being severely beaten up.

"You have to pay them to gain your freedom. If you don't give them anything
they will beat you up," said Muchauraya, "the police appear to be failing to
contain the situation."

He said the harassment by Zanu PF thugs was designed to instill fear in
Mutare urban residents so that they vote for the ruling party in next
month's general elections.

Police in Mutare last week confirmed they received complaints from some
residents of Chikanga, Dangamvura and the central business district (CBD).
They said that in reacting to the reports, they had increased their patrols
at night in order to monitor the situation.

Zanu PF provincial spokesperson, Stanley Shamido, could not be reached for a
comment. He was said to be out of his office.
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Zim Standard

Man in court for insulting Mugabe
By our own staff

AN Epworth man has been dragged to court for allegedly insulting President
Robert Mugabe.

Kapikinyu Murewa (63) appeared at Harare Magistrates' Court last week facing
charges of contravening Section 16 of the notorious Public Order and
Security Act (Posa).
He allegedly made the remarks while traveling on a commuter bus from his
home to the city centre last month.

It is the State's case that Murewa was drinking some undiluted brandy with
three other passengers on their way to town when one of them asked him why
he was taking the spirit because he was already drunk.

Murewa allegedly replied that it was because he smoked mbanje. The same
passenger then reportedly warned Murewa that it was a crime to smoke mbanje.

Murewa allegedly replied: "Mbanje dzinoshamisa chii? Kana President Mugabe
anoputa mbanje." (There is nothing unusual about smoking mbanje. Even the
President smokes it). However, one David Shangura, who identified himself as
a soldier, reported the matter to police at Harare Central station.

It is a crime under POSA to "undermine the authority or insult the
President". One can be fined up to $400 000 or be imprisoned for a period
not exceeding one year or both.

Appearing before Magistrate Omega Mugumbate on Monday, Murewa pleaded not
guilty, arguing in his defence that he does not even recall uttering the
words, as he was drunk.

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Costly and questionable campaigns

ZIMBABWE should stop pouring money down the drain in pursuit of campaigns
and projects that have no chance in hell of producing significant and
measurable benefits for this country and its people.

During the past five years, the country has pursued the Miss Malaika beauty
pageant, aimed at sprucing up the country's image, supposedly into a
must-visit tourist destination and promising a massive run on its resorts
and natural wonders by foreign visitors.
Curiously, there has been no discernible increase in the volume of traffic
from the markets where the pageant was reportedly beamed to and targeted at.
Miss Malaika was followed by the "Come to Victoria Falls video", which saw
its external launch in South Africa, among other places.

In between, there have been several equally doubtful facility tours for
travel writers from Europe and America, but the country is yet to reap the
benefits of all these investments. The latest venture in the country's
propensity to waste money on questionable projects is the Miss Tourism World
beauty pageant.

The only boost it has brought to tourism in Zimbabwe is the hotel bookings
by the pageant's finalists. For a brief period, they kept different hotels
at different times busy. Their impact, overally, is negligible. The impact
of their safari is quite questionable, in fact so questionable that there is
need for an audit in order to establish what returns this country is getting
from these "amusing" visits.

There is no doubt Zimbabwe has some of the most breathtaking tourist resorts
in the world. There is also no doubt that, in normal times, it is a paradise
on earth. But things are not normal and this is the area where those behind
these pageants, facility trips and video promotions are missing the point.
What this country needs is to create the kind of environment that compels
foreigners to tell their fellow nationals about the natural wonders waiting
to be explored here.

This is not about creating safety zones, such as police-patrolled tourist
resorts designed to deter crooks and thieves from preying on the foreign
visitors. It is about ensuring that we live in a society, where there is no
siege mentality, where locals and visitors alike feel secure and can always
count on security agents for protection, if the need arises.

Once Zimbabwe becomes a safety zone again, the tourist traffic will come
streaming back. There are tourists keen on visiting this country, but for
the time being they are doing so from the safety of Botswana, South Africa,
and Zambia, which thanks to our problems has developed infrastructure in
Livingstone, rivaling those on the southern side of the Zambezi River.

Those who profess an interest in promoting Zimbabwe's tourism sector, could
do themselves a favour by studying why the international tourist traffic
flow into countries around Zimbabwe is growing, while in our case hotels are
registering embarrassingly low occupancy rates.

The truth of the matter is that those who come to us promising to polish up
the country's image know very well how we revel in flattery. They come,
flatter us, tell us how we are squandering opportunities to market our
natural treasures and then produce strategies that leave us dazzled - after
they have conned us of our hard-earned foreign exchange. They prescribe
solutions that they know very well Zimbabweans will never attempt beyond
receptions for the handover of the consultants' reports.

Even among ourselves, we can identify and isolate the problem factors, but
we are woefully inept at implementing plans to rectify the problems. Somehow
we seem to believe that anyone but ourselves will sort out our problems and
we can carry on living happily ever after.

We will cite one immediate example: Zimbabwe poured resources into a
commission of inquiry into education and training, but five years later no
one can point to how many of Professor Caiphas Nziramasanga's
recommendations, if any, have been implemented.

Some of the problems that continue to show themselves in the educational
sector were identified during the commission's findings, but no attempt has
ever been made to ensure its implementation - this despite enormous
resources and energy expended on the strenuous undertaking. That, sadly, is
the measure of commitment we have to make this country and ourselves better.

Soon after Independence, Zimbabwe had a fleet of aircraft that today stands
reduced to a pale shadow of itself. The problems are known, yet the
government pretends that somehow the mess will sort itself out and we will
once again be flying to far out destinations bringing foreign tourists.Those
charged with making decisions revel in these delusional fantasies because
they have no guts to confront and deal with the self-inflicted crises.

Harare city provides an instructive lesson. Here we are trying to persuade
the world that we are reclaiming Sunshine City, yet how many times have the
water supply pipes between Kwame Nkrumah and Jason Moyo, along Sam Nujoma,
for example, burst. There is not one soul at Town House who appears to
realize that what needs to be done for a long-term solution is to relay the
whole stretch from Kwame Nkrumah to Jason Moyo with new pipes. It is
possible to invite tourists to come and marvel at craters in our roads and
show off how adept we have become at skirting around them as we drive. The
tragedy of it is that there are people who take home obscene salaries and
enjoy outrageous perks for failing to improve on the standards we inherited
at independence.

We allowed game parks to be invaded, occupied and their animals slaughtered
and yet we pretend nothing really happened and seek to persuade the outside
to join in the amnesia. A country at peace with itself requires no expensive
campaigns that enrich no one but their purveyors.

Organisers of the latest pageant will collect their paychecks and leave us
no better, and more significantly, without any appreciable increase in
volumes of tourist traffic.
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Amazing tales from Freedonia
By our correspondent

FREEDONIANS were readying themselves for a nationwide exercise to select
their representatives to the great House of Representatives.

The rulers of this brave, free and independent entity were even very
considerate. They would not allow observers from the northern hemisphere,
they advised, to waste their time and their countries' resources on safaris
to Freedonia.
It was argued that since they had already prophesied and pronounced the
outcome of Freedonia's impending selection, they could save their taxpayers
a lot of money and spare Freedonians the annoyance - of being observed
zoo-like - by not visiting.

Welcome, of course, were selected observers from the continent, Freedonia's
immediate neighbours and the Now All-Aligned Members (NAM).

Half a decade prior to the impending selection, many of the selection
observers praised the leadership of Freedonia and their unmatched skills at
organizing the plebiscite.

How so, asked a curious Freedonian.

Adaatore Bambazonke, one of the selection observers seemed to sum up why
they were able to see things differently.

"Well," remarked the eminent observer with the satisfaction of someone
sitting on a gold mine, "We were given VVVIP treatment. We were booked into
a hotel, where one of the world's most famous entertainers and royalty from
a northern hemisphere nation had stayed. It was top class!

"From touch down at your modern airport, we were given very beautiful and
very friendly escorts, who met our every need. We spent our time touring
Freedonia's resort sites and its countryside. I have never had such a

"At the end of the mission we were each presented with gifts, just before
take off. What I can tell you is that the gifts made my bank manager very

Bambazonke looked forward to the 2005 selection. But among the majority of
Freedonians, it was common cause that the selection observers put a gloss to
their findings.

And while most Freedonians busied themselves with thoughts of the last day
of the month Julius Caesar was warned about, one illustrious son of
Freedonia was preparing himself to live as one of the people, who it was
rumoured lived a life in paradise, full of peace, no violence, no shortages
and no unemployment.

Freedonians who are noted for their wry sense of humour suggested that the
illustrious son could soon feel the generosity of the laws he had so
vigorously introduced in the great House of Representatives.

Others said a hotel suite was being prepared for the illustrious son in one
of the States' hospitality centres, to join others, who for months were
beneficiaries of State hospitality.

Yet others, welcoming the suggestion of State hospitality, ventured to point
out it could be safer inside than outside, where a tree could accidentally
fall on someone, or a black dog could unexpectedly cross one's path.

What was the basis of this morbid fascination? In Freedonia, there was no
particular basis for tarring people with the same brush. It only required an
idea as bizarre as suspicion of being seen getting into the same elevator as
a representative of a nation suspected of covert action against Freedonia,
because the State was never certain what went on once the elevator doors

A law was being prepared to ensure that Freedonians did not accidentally
find themselves in the habit of being in the same elevators with foreigners
because this could lead to a reversal in the gains of the struggle for
Freedonia's liberation, as more of its nationals and the morals of the
revolution became corrupted because of external influences.

Freedonia was a theatre of the bizarre. Its nationals were free but only
from suspect foreigners, who could plant in the minds of law-abiding
Freedonians seeds of discord.

But everyone had a sense of something dramatic about to happen, even though
no one could say what it was that was about to happen, and when exactly it
would happen or to whom. Freedonia had this knack of making its nationals
very afraid of the imminent.

The illustrious son . quaked in his boots on hearing such dark thoughts. It
was scary. Very scary. For the first time he began to understand the anatomy
of fear.

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Barca ridicule Chelsea complaint

THE story appearing in The Chronicle of Thursday 17 February 2005 and
headlined "MDC barred from carrying out door-to-door campaigns" is an
indicator of how unfree and unfair the Parliamentary election is going to be
and vindication of why the MDC is contesting the election under protest.

Comments attributed to assistant police commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena that
the MDC will not be allowed to embark on a door-to-door campaign are indeed
unfortunate. This follows the arrest of seven MDC officials in David
Coltart's Bulawayo South constituency two weeks ago for campaigning
These arrests are part of a series of a recent spate of illegal and highly
intimidatory arrests by the police in Bulawayo. In January, MP Thokozani
Khupe, was arrested together with 100 MDC officials while holding a private
meeting in her restaurant.

Two days later, two MDC youths in Fletcher Dulini-Ncube's,
Lobengula/Magwegwe Constituency were arrested and assaulted by police for
distributing MDC campaign leaflets. Then followed the arrest of the seven in
Bulawayo South. Last week, eight more MDC youths were arrested for leaflet
distribution in Professor Welshman Ncube's constituency.

The Provincial vehicle used was impounded and the fliers destroyed by the
police. Later in the week, yet another MDC youth was accosted by police and
interrogated for distributing MDC literature in the central business
district of Bulawayo.

From these events, it is clear that the police have become part and parcel
of the Zanu PF election campaign strategy in Bulawayo. That the police
should seek to define the MDC campaign strategy is both stupid and partisan
at the same time. The MDC cannot be told by the police how to execute its
campaign. It is unacceptable. The police must know that more than 90% of
residents in Bulawayo voted for the MDC in 2000 and 2002. As a result, the
people have a right to consort with their elected representatives by way of
meetings and door-to-door visits. The irony of it all is that it is these
very same police that always deny the MDC "permission" to hold public
meetings and now they want to close the only avenue available: door-to-door

We urge the police to act in an impartial manner, in line with provisions of
the SADC Protocol governing the conduct of free and fair elections. The MDC
in Bulawayo will continue with its leaflet distribution programme and its
door-to-door campaigns and ensure that its candidates are re-elected into

Victor Moyo

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Time to dump the old 'sekuru'

I JUST cannot believe that we are so docile and allow ourselves to listen to
the old sekuru(Mugabe) spewing out all the nonsense about Blair and Bush as
if they are running our country.

Sekuru criticises everyone else; does he think he is perfect? I think not!
We have allowed this man to manipulate our lives for 25 years (I am only 18
years). Corruption is so rampant in our country and its obvious its
beneficiaries do not want change.
At least at my age, I can now vote and I have been waiting for this day for
a long time.

I now appeal to those in my age group to go out in huge numbers and vote for
what is now ours for it's time that we stood up and showed our cowardly
parents what true democracy is.

Once our party (MDC) is in power we must continue to make them aware that
we, the young generation is watching them like hawks and there will be no
going back.We must now look forward and ensure that our country is once
again acceptable in the international world.

Only then can we be in a position to stop blood getting spilled in this
country again. Like the people in Ukraine and Iraq, we must not allow
ourselves to be intimidated by thugs and stand up for our rights.

Let's rally together as teenagers and future leaders of Zimbabwe. See you at
the polls.

Youth conquers



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No democracy in Zanu PF while Mugabe is in power

DEMOCRACY is far from being practised in the ruling party. The party
leadership has a tradition of imposing and appointing people at will.

President Mugabe is a master at imposing people. In the early 1990s, he
imposed his choice at the Women's League at the expense of Joyce Mujuru and
Julia Zvobgo who were the real people's choices.
Fifteen years later, he has imposed the same Mujuru whom he dismissed with
contempt when she challenged preferred candidate wife. In disgust, Joyce
Mujuru stormed out of the conference venue. Mai Mujuru is well versed on the
undemocratic principles of the current leadership.

Professor Jonathan Moyo and other victims of the Tsholotsho Indaba were just
trying to introduce democracy in the ruling party. Any democratic gathering
could have encountered similar treatment had it been held whether in Mazowe,
Harare, Zvimba or ngale eTsholotsho. It is unfortunate that Professor Moyo
associated himself with the current leadership. He should have continued as
an academic at a university of his choice.

In a related development, some sections of the media have been accusing
Professor Moyo of snubbing the Mai Mujuru celebrations in Hwange and also of
snubbing the launch of the Zanu PF Manifesto. Was he invited to attend these
functions? I was under the impression only Zanu PF candidates and their
supporters were entitled to attend the launch of the Manifesto.

During his address to the delegates, President Mugabe and Vice President
Musika indirectly castigated Moyo turning the gathering into an
anti-Professor Moyo exercise. How could Professor Moyo have attended such an

You might despise or admire the Professor, but the man is hard working.
Remember how he managed to compile the 2000 Election Manifesto and all the
literature during the 2002 President elections. This year, the Zanu PF
information department under the leadership of Dr Nathan Shamuyaririra and
Ephraim Masawi failed to publish the Manifesto in time.

For those concerned with Professor Moyo's political history, please ask
Didymus Mutasa. At a public gathering at the Jameson Hotel in 1990, Mutasa
told a packed crowd that he welcomed criticism from Professor Moyo because
(Jonathan mwana wedu). He was with us in Tanzania.

P L Phiri


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Alarming corruption at ZESA

REFERENCE is made to a letter titled "Letters tarnished Zesa image" that
appeared in The Daily Mirror of 17 February 2005.

It is clear that the writer, ostensibly an ordinary ZESA employee, is
obviously soneone singing for their supper. It is not difficult to detect
that the letters could have originated from the ZESA Holdings PR department
and were written according to the dictates of the ZESA Holdings management.
There is no sane employee, except for the dubious characters working on the
tenth floor, who can stand up to support what is happening in ZESA. What we
simply want is to work for an organisation that is run along professional
lines and the majority of us think this is not the case at the moment.
What the writer claims to be reform is in actual fact deform. The so-called
subsidiary companies are merely departments of ZESA Holdings headed by
"managing directors" who are powerless. The only semblance of being MDs is
their expensive mercs and big offices. The real power resides with the
executive chairman and the general manager (corporate affairs). Why should
the ZESA Holding company talk to the Press about a fault in Kambuzuma when
the general manager or even the district manager for Harare would
effectively do this? Is that not the domain of what should be the Zimbabwe
Electricity Distribution Company, one of the "subsidiaries."? Why should the
holding company want more visibility to the public than the subsidiaries set
up to serve the same public? Customers have been thoroughly confused as to
whom they should talk to.

Perhaps this is one of the many ominous signs that Zesa Holdings is simply
there to add cost rather than value, thereby deforming as opposed to
reforming the industry. Would it not be a good idea to transform Zesa
Holdings into the Rural Electrification Agency to help put electricity
reform back on track.

I think people are right to challenge the tariffs we want to charge. The
answers to our problems lie not with the tariffs alone, but also with our
current organisational structure, inefficiency and serious corruption at the
top. The level of corruption in ZESA is alarming, even the directors of
collapsed ENG would flinch. You can spare our customers a lot of expense by
being efficient and choosing our priorities correctly.

We spent $10 billion in one day throwing a party to receive equipment bought
from China at very exhorbitant prices. That money could have been better
used to buy vehicles for electricians who are failing to attend to faults
because of transport shortages.

How many cases have we got of staff who have were supposedly retrenched but
whose vacancies have been filled again? There are many cases one can cite to
prove inefficiency and corruption, which we are prepared to reveal if given
the opportunity.

There has been a lot of "progress" in the rural electrification programme
but how much plunder has taken place in the name of this programme? Is the
rural electrification levy being transparently managed? It is unfortunate
that when such questions are asked, false accusations are made suggesting
that government policy is being attacked. What we are attacking and
questioning is the betrayal of that policy; the corrupt things done under
its cover and its prostitution and perversion by people who are only
interested in feathering their own nests at the expense of the very
government and its people they claim to be serving.

Surely, it is not government policy to mismanage any company. Yes, Kariba
will now be implemented but it frightens me how big the devil is, lying in
the detail of those agreements and have been negotiated by two Holdings
people and no board. We saw it with YTL of Malaysia, who wanted all risks to
be allocated to our government and electricity consumers whilst all benefits
were to accrue to it. Thank God then, there was a board and good management
in place who scrupulously analysed and advised the government to cancel the
deal. This shows that government appreciates good advice and wants only
win-win deals with our genuine friends.

My last advice is to the RBZ Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, that he should not
trust turnaround strategies prepared by the same managements responsible for
the precarious state that the companies are in. I think Gono knows too well
not to trust the arsonist to put out the fire.

"Bere mu Butcher"


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Compensate Gukurahundi victims first

WHILE acknowledging the sad loss of life in the Tsunami disaster, donating
funds to the victims would be unfair to many peace-loving Zimbabweans.

I believe we should divert these funds to 5 Brigade (Gukurahundi) victims in
Matabeleland. Why should we appease the spirits of deaths we never caused.
The fallen brothers and sisters of Matabeleland should be compensated first,
while sympathy for the Asian victims will be enough.
We do not have a lot in common with the victims of the Asian disaster
compared to those in Matabeleland who lost their lives in extra-judicial
killings. Merely saying sorry and sympathizing with them would be enough.
There is nothing about our not contributing anything to the Tsunami disaster
since the whole world knows we are still mourning the deaths of our fallen
brothers and sisters in Matabeleland. Food for thought.

Paul Churu


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Dairy industry faces collapse
By our own Staff

ZIMBABWE'S dairy industry is under serious threat of collapse as a result of
the government's politically expedient land policy, StandardBusiness can

The national dairy herd bred over a period of 100 years has tumbled by over
80% since the onset of the chaotic land reform programme in 2000. The
country's leading milk processor, Dairibord Zimbabwe Limited (DZL), says the
herd now stands at 36 000 down from 199 000 recorded five years ago.
DZL chief executive officer Anthony Mandiwanza told StandardBusiness the
milk processor is feeling the effects of the drastic 82% plunge in the
national herd.

"The national dairy herd is now down to 36 000 and our milk intake is down
by 18%," Mandiwanza said.

The wholesale seizure of productive farmland and transfer to supporters of
the ruling party in the name of addressing land imbalances is backfiring for
Zimbabwe. The rampant stock theft and poaching caused by the breakdown of
the rule of law has decimated Zimbabwe's national dairy herd to critical

The hard to control foot-andmouth disease has exacerbated the decline of the
dairy industry as Harare battles to secure foreign currency to purchase
doses of vaccines to contain the disease. A noble programme promoted by DZL
to assist dairy farmers has been resisted by the rural folk who are citing
poor viability, runaway prices of stockfeeds and the shortage of critical
vaccines. The commercial beef herd has also diminished while beef exports to
the European Union are embargoed.

Economic analysts interpret the disappearance of one of Zimbabwe's most
valuable assets as another dramatic illustration of the meltdown of the
country's economy.

Owing to the failure to rebuild the national herd, DZL is still importing
powdered milk to augment its heavily depleted supply base.

Mandiwanza blames the non-functioning of a number of institutions which used
to offer complementary service to the industry. He says the Henderson
Research Station just outside Harare and the Matopo's Research Station are
not fully functioning. The two research institutions used to focus on milk
and livestock development.

"We believe that these two institutions should immediately go back to life,"
says Mandiwanza. He suggests the Department of Veterinary and Livestock
Services should be equipped to provide preventive and curing mechanisms on

DZL, Mandiwanza said, was finalising plans to import livestock to augment
the current herd. Another option DZL is weighing is the importation of
fertilised and unfertilised embryos, which can be used for breeding. The
government, through the central bank appreciates the severity of the decline
of the dairy industry as it has pledged a $150 billion support facility to
revive the critical industry.

However, agronomists and economic analysts say it will take at least two
decades under very good conditions for Zimbabwe to return to where the
country was before the land invasions.

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IMF 'reprieve' no cause for celebration
By Kumbirai Mafunda

ECONOMIC commentators say the rescheduling of Zimbabwe's expulsion from the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a vote of no confidence in the
much-vaunted economic turnaround strategy being trumpeted from the lofty
tower of the Reserve Bank, and the Munhumutapa Building.

Economic critics say if Harare's economy had indeed turned the corner as is
being preached from Number 80 Samora Machel Avenue (Reserve Bank building
and by President Robert Mugabe, the global lender would have stripped the
bad boy tag off Harare at its recent meeting in Washington.
"They are not impressed with the Reserve Bank's efforts," says John
Robertson. "We have to be totally reformed characters."

Instead the IMF, which gives countries a seal of approval in the eyes of the
wider donor and lending community, deferred Zimbabwe's expulsion to August,
giving the southern African country an additional six months to further
prove its seriousness in curing its ailing economy.

"The IMF simply cautioned that it is not happy with the sufficiency of the
turnaround efforts," remarked one analyst.

"The decision of the IMF is not one for ululation but of somberness and
reflection. It is not cause for celebration or reason for molesting the
truth through spin," said Tendai Biti, the MDC's secretary for economic

President Mugabe and the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, who are
attempting to arrest the country's slide into economic catastrophe, have
taken turns to claim that the economy is on the mend, in stark contrast to
the reality on the ground. Ordinary Zimbabweans point to the continued
increase in the cost of living, while industrialists protest the trading
environment which is being worsened by the disintegrating economy.

Critical lines of credit have been cut off from private Zimbabwean
companies, starving them of critical financial juice needed to oil their
production. Due to the hard currency crisis more than 1 000 manufacturing
companies have shut down rendering thousands of people jobless.

Basic goods and services are still beyond the reach of many owing to
exorbitant pricing and 80% of the population is out of employment.

Gono, however, still maintains "the worst is over".

Biti, who estimates that 80% 0f Zimbabweans live below the poverty datum
line accuses the government of practising the religion of spin.

"The tragedy of those seeking to sanitise this regime, and all of Zanu PF's
political neophytes at home and abroad is that no amount of make up and spin
will hide the structural economic imbalances arresting this economy whose
principal sponsor is the crisis of governance, legitimacy and misrule," says

The IMF struck down Zimbabwe as a recipient of its aid in 1999 for keeping
loose strings on the public purse. Since then Harare has battled to raise
adequate foreign currency to meet its import demands. The country's arrears
to the fund, which began accumulating in February 2001, have ballooned to
US$306 million, culminating in the shut down of the fund's Harare office.

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March poll: to vote or not to vote?
sundayopinon By Janah Ncube

THERE is much anxiety that is gripping Zimbabweans concerning the upcoming
general elections at the end of March. In 2000 and 2002 the country's voting
population was clearly divided between those who voted for the MDC and those
for Zanu PF.

Any brave attempts by the smaller political parties or independent
candidates to have an impact on the political process fizzled out.
Those who cast their votes for the MDC did so not only in the hope for
anticipated change for greater democracy in Zimbabwe but indeed, more
importantly, for how this change would translate to their being more secure,
better fed, housed, clothed and being employed. Many of those who cast their
votes for Zanu PF were intimidated into doing so and, of course, as I have
said before, there are still those who have clung to it for the ideals that
the party stood for and represented in the past. Others still have remained
committed to it because of the benefits to their pockets and stomachs it has
brought them.

Because the political climate in Zimbabwe today is very different from both
2000 and 2002, it is highly likely that the voting patterns and trends of
the electorate will change and give a completely different picture to that
which we saw in the last general election. My greatest concern is that this
election will see a very low and poor voter turnout. This would be ominous
for MDC and is probably what Zanu PF hopes for.

If the 2003 urban local government elections are anything to go by, then my
suspicions will be borne out. The highest average voter turnout in those
elections was 37% in Redcliff and the lowest average was 12% in Chitungwiza
and Bulawayo, the rest were between 25 and 34%. Considering that previous
trends show the MDC's strongholds to be urban locations, this does not look
good for them.

However, if the figures for Zanu PF's primaries are to be used as a gauge,
they too should just be as worried as they will have to rely on their
staunch membership for votes rather than the ordinary voter who is not
involved in party politics, this time, both in the rural and urban areas.

There are many reasons that can be given for a likely poor turnout. The
extent of the desecration of Zimbabwe's socio-economic state has sucked joy
out of most of Zimbabwe's hardworking people and instead impregnated them
with despair, hopelessness and disillusionment in the political process as a
means to solve the country's and every individual's problems.

People are suffering. Most can not afford to feed themselves and their
families; they can not afford to pay their bills such as rent, water and
electricity; they can not afford to send their children to clinics or
hospitals neither can they find or afford doctors and medicines. Reserve
Bank Governor Gono can brag all he wants about how much better our economy
is doing, it means nothing to those who know that each day is more expensive
for them to meet their basic needs.

The quality of life for the greater majority of Zimbabweans has been
drastically eroded as basic necessities such as transport to work, lunch at
work, recreational activities have become luxuries that few can afford.

Other factors include the violence and intimidation people have been living
with for the past five years. The senselessness with which Zanu PF unleashed
its terror armies and used state organs such as the police and army to
sustain its assault on civic society, the MDC, activists and the general
public has indeed left a dent on many who suffered for sins they did not
even commit. Others will be too afraid to vote and yet others will not care
to vote as that particular action will not yield a different experience for
them; you will get harassed whether you vote or not, so why bother.

Because of the closure of The Daily News, which had enabled news that was
not about Zanu PF and voices that were not Zanu PF to be regularly heard,
the MDC lost a spot where it could continually make it visible itself,
defend itself and send out its own messages. This has generated a perception
to the general public that they are not active, and are not doing anything
or saying anything.

People complain that the MDC has gone silent and they do not realise that
the MDC has been denied a platform by Zanu PF to go about the business of
engaging the public. Even though it's a matter not of its own doing, it will
dent the MDC's public image. There is something my pastor, Dr Shana taught
me: "If people keep on hearing the same message over and over again they
will eventually believe what they hear or will use what they hear as a basis
to measure truth especially in the absence of a different message." The
consistent propaganda people have been listening to over the past three
years without a counter voice has formulated in people's minds a basis of
some truth.

While I have always paid tribute to the MDC for being the David that
challenges a Goliath (much stronger, bigger, older, more resourced and
fierce looking) it is true that it has made many blunders with its internal
politics, which were heralded, to the public by their enemy's mouth pieces.

What people heard about the MDC, they heard from Zanu PF mouthpieces and so
their image to the average Zimbabwean who is not in its structures is
disfigured by Zanu PF's sinister exaggerations. Zanu PF on the other hand is
also seriously fractured right now due to its own internal conflicts centred
around the much loathed Professor Jonathan Moyo and his Tsholotsho
bandwagon. To add to this, they are still recovering from cheating, beating
and stealing from each other at the primary elections.

Yes, Zanu PF was in power and could still pass the legislation it wanted
since they had the majority in Parliament and as government, were in the
driving seat. It may look as if there isn't much that was benefited from
having an opposition such as the MDC in Parliament as unconstitutional and
regressive laws that assault our rights kept on coming out of Parliament.
What needs to be observed as well is that for the first time in a long time
Zanu PF was continuously being challenged every time Parliament was in
session. This time it was not a lone Margaret Dongo but there were over 20
MPs relentlessly debating, questioning, challenging, calling to account and
speaking down at Zanu PF. This in itself is a score particularly in such
restrictive and limited democratic space.

For every unconstitutional bill Zanu PF voted for, they had to work for it.
Some habitually truant MPs actually had to be mobilised to attend Parliament
so they could succeed in their endeavours to bulldoze bills through the
house. With as much contempt the ruling party has shown to the ordinary
person of Zimbabwe in the past five years, I shudder to think what this
period would have been like without the fierce opposition and pressure they
got from MDC. If anything, more alternative voices must be increased in that
august house.

This election, as in 2000 will be fought on the strength of the political
parties and not on the individuals running the race. However, minimal
performance and delivery by some individuals in the last parliament
particularly in constituencies with strong independent candidates is a
possibility. I will use my own constituency Harare Central to illustrate my
point. In this case, the incumbent MP Murisi Zwizwai must not assume he will
be voted back in as voters may be persuaded that having a strong independent
candidate like Margaret Dongo may actually be more beneficial for them
compared to having an MP whom they know little about, have seen little
performance if any; have never read about him in the newspapers (or the
Hansard for that matter) to have said anything in Parliament, and have never
seen their constituency profiled through him at any platform.

The case of Zwizwai is exacerbated by the fact that he took over from a more
visible and vocal MP, Mike Auret. Zwizwai won the election with around 3,000
votes in August 2003 about the same figure (less) as votes Zanu PF received
in 2000 (3, 600 votes). In 2000 Mike Auret got more than 14, 000 votes.
Margaret Dongo may actually make it back to Parliament on her own steam and
not on the back of a party. It's actually clever of her to herald herself as
an independent candidate not a candidate for her party, ZUD.

My point is, this election is not that easily predictable. Any party or any
candidate may get the biggest surprise of their life and thus must do what
they need to show people they are the best candidate. Due to the context of
the country as I have highlighted, I believe those who will vote already
know who they will vote for. However, I believe a lot of those we witnessed
voting in 2000 and 2002 may need to be persuaded to exercise their
responsibility to vote this time around..

Zanu PF must refrain from using violence before or after the polls and must
stop using delaying tactics as it did in 2002 during the presidential
elections and Harare local government elections. This disenfranchised
Zimbabweans and denied them their right to vote. I witnessed in horror women
and men being tear-gassed and chased like dogs from the voting queues by
anti-riot police in Glen Norah. Such obscenities must not be repeated
because they amount to insulting the lives of the comrades who died in the
liberation struggle so that all Zimbabweans could exercise the right to

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Prof. Jonathan Moyo

"So Prof. Jonathan Moyo, minister of information & publicity, politiburo member has been fired by Mugabe. How ironical is it that the man who championed the oppressive media laws in Zimbabwe has decided to part ways with his academic prowess. The most startling is that he intends to contest as an independent candidate on Marh 31 general elections.

Well come back the Professor, we all knew that you were a prodigal son. As you rightly pointed out that,you would rather be with the people than with...ZANU(PF). The validity of this statement can not be over emphasised. What I can not understand is what do you intend to achieve after being elected in parliament as an independent that you failed to achieve when you were a cabinet minster?

Moyo was an architecture of a violent campaign by ZANU(PF) to wrestle power from the free choice of the electorate, at least by his own admission, "I joined a sinking ship whose captain was being deserted and.." The media laws have seen many arrested and imprisoned, today Prof. Moyo has joined the ranks of the enemy of the state by being an opposition. It will be worth noting how his own laws will deal with him? If he is convicted of organizing an illegal meeting of six people, what will be his defence? Can he appeal against conviction on the basis of his rights being infringed?  I am just thinking aloud, may be the Prof. have answers to all these questions. I await the results!!

Zimbabweans are their own liberators, they must demand a vilonet free election and it is  very important that we sent a clear message to the politicians. DON'T VOTE FOR ANY CANDIDATE WHO USES VIOLENCE AS A TOOL FOR GAINING VOTES, BE IT ZANU(PF) or MDC. The culture of violence must end!!!. We have lost so much blood yet no social or economic gain in the making. ZIMBABWEANS UNITE!

Demanding not less than our birth right.

 Elliot Pfebve is a Zimbabwean lecturer in London  and a researcher in International conflict and resolution.

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