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

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Zim Independent

ZABG birth pangs intensify
Conrad Dube/Shakeman Mugari
ZIMBABWE Allied Banking Group (ZABG)'s problems continue to mount with
revelations that a second bank filed court papers on Wednesday, suing the
RBZ for its inclusion in the merged bank.

Trust Bank filed an urgent application midweek arguing that its inclusion in
ZABG was illegal and should be reversed. The Trust Bank case was heard at
the High Court yesterday and will continue on Tuesday next week.

This brings to two the number of banks that are suing ZABG and the central
bank after Royal Bank filed papers on Monday demanding that it be removed
from under the ZABG umbrella.

Royal's case was also supposed to be heard at the High Court yesterday but
was postponed to Monday after the respondents - ZABG, RBZ and the curator
Robert McIndoe - submitted their opposing papers late.

McIndoe submitted his affidavit a few minutes before the

matter was due for hearing in chambers.

In their application, Royal's major shareholders, Jeffrey Mzwimbi and
Durajadi Simba, have sought a court interdict against RBZ, ZABG and McIndoe
using the premises, motor vehicles and other assets and placing the
business, assets or any interest of Royal under the control of ZABG.

They argue that it is illegal to transfer customers of Royal to ZABG. They
are also challenging public announcements made by the central bank two weeks
ago that Royal has been amalgamated into ZABG or merged with any bank to
form ZABG.

Royal further objects that the RBZ and the curators had

valued its assets at $17,3 billion, which was their price at purchase.

"This is a gross misrepresentation and undervaluation of the assets of the
third respondent (Royal)," Royal contends. "It will be apparent that the
assets of the third respondent are worth in excess of $60 billion."

They are also arguing that the respondents were selective in applying the in
duplum rule to suit their agenda. Mzwimbi and Simba said while the curator
was applying the rule to amounts owed to Royal, they have not applied the
same rule to amounts owed to the RBZ by Royal.
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Zim Independent

Zanu PF postpones campaign launch
Gift Phiri
THE ruling Zanu PF party last night postponed the official launch of its
election campaign that was expected to kick off tomorrow as the opposition
mulled a legal challenge to the upcoming general election on behalf of
people excluded from the voters' roll.

Ruling party sources said there was heated debate at a politburo meeting
held at the party's headquarters late yesterday over the conduct of primary
elections held last week.

Meanwhile, a regional group of election observers is expected to begin its
mission early next month amid rising domestic tension and international
concerns about transparency.

Zanu PF leader Robert Mugabe, hoping to extend his 25 years in power by
beating the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the
legislative election on March 31, had been due to kick off his party's
campaign at the Harare International Conference Centre in Harare tomorrow.

The opposition party is charging that the voters' roll is a shambles and
will ask the High Court to adjudicate on exclusions from it before the
legislative poll at the end of March.

Inspection of the voters' roll closes today with many people in various
parts of Harare complaining that their names were no longer on the roll, MDC
MP Tendai Biti said.

"Many people have reported to the MDC that they discovered they had been
transferred to other districts, far from their homes," Biti said. "Others
say their names do not appear anywhere on the voters' rolls. We are going to
court using one well-documented example of exclusion to prove his point
about the voters' roll."

Government this week set March 31 as the date for the general election that
will be closely watched to gauge whether Zimbabwe can live up to its pledge
to hold free and fair polls. The opposition MDC yesterday resolved to take
part in the election for the 120 contested seats.

President Robert Mugabe announced through a Government Gazette that
elections will be held on March 31. The move was immediately blasted by the
opposition party, which maintains that Zimbabwe was not ready to hold a free
and fair vote.

"This date will have the effect of disabling the institutions that needed
more time to establish themselves," MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube,

The Zimbabwe Independent understands that a Southern African Development
Community (Sadc) observer mission to the election is finalising plans to
begin its work in earnest on March 14. The Sadc election mission was invited
to send its delegation in December, 90 days before the polling date. It was
not immediately clear if the European Union was also invited although it is
understood that accreditation is still in progress. Observers and human
rights organisations have said a wave of political violence threatens
chances for a free and fair vote.

A Sadc delegation of lawyers from South Africa, Lesotho and Namibia -
countries which form a troika of the regional organ on politics, defence and
security - had been due in Harare last Saturday to assess the country's
compliance with the Grande Baie protocol on free and fair elections,
ratified by President Mugabe in Mauritius in August.

Mugabe, who accuses British premier Tony Blair's government of bankrolling
the MDC, says the March poll would be an "anti-Blair campaign" for his Zanu
PF party to "bury" the MDC.

The MDC says conditions for holding the election are flawed, citing police
harassment of their supporters and new election laws that give Mugabe the
power to appoint members to a commission supervising the vote. MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai said the poll would help end 25 years of "tyranny".

"For the first time in 25 years, it is clear to the tormentor and the
tormented that the end is in sight," he said.

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Zim Independent

Donors spurn Zim Transfrontier Park
Staff Writer
DONORS are withholding funds for the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park until
Zimbabwe restores the rule of law, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.

Highly-placed sources involved in the park said the World Bank, European
Union and conservation groups have refused to fund the Zimbabwean component
of the huge conservation project in protest against the lawlessness in

Sources said the donors have said they are withholding funds until
government removes people who invaded Gonarezhou National Park, which is
part of the project, in 2000. Without foreign currency reserves, Zimbabwe
has not been able to develop new infrastructure urgently needed for the

"Huge amounts of money have started pouring into South Africa and Mozambique
for the development of infrastructure agreed when the trans-frontier park
agreement was signed," sources said.

The transfrontier park is made up of the Kruger National Park in South
Africa, Gonarezhou in Zimbabwe, and Gaza in Mozambique. On completion, the
park will occupy 3,6 million hectares.

The Independent understands that Germany has already donated five million
euros to both South Africa and Mozambique for infrastructure developments
but flatly refused to bankroll the Zimbabwean side. Many other donors are
reported to have responded positively to the two countries but Zimbabwe has
been left out.

Among the major infrastructural developments needed, Zimbabwe had agreed to
construct a bridge across the Limpopo. It had also undertaken to refurbish
and build lodges and chalets at selected sites in Gonarezhou.

It was not possible to obtain comment from Environment and Tourism minister
Francis Nhema yesterday as he was not answering his phone.

Zimbabwe fell out with the donor community when Zanu PF supporters violently
grabbed farms from white commercial farmers five years ago. The rift widened
when the invaders occupied national parks, conservancies and campfire
projects with government endorsing the invasions.

The Independent understands that government has resettled about 750 families
on 11 000 hectares inside Gonarezhou. People have also invaded conservancies
such as Save, Malilangwe and Bubianna as well as Mungwezi.
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Zim Independent

Newsnet yet to pay salaries
Staff Writer
NEWSNET, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holding (ZBH)'s propaganda arm, has failed to
pay its workers salaries for January as it emerged that the organisation is
not generating enough revenue.

Newsnet workers, who include journalists and cameramen, should have been
paid last Wednesday but management informed them there was no money.

The workers told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that they were now not
sure about when exactly they would get their January salaries.

"We have not yet received our salaries for January and we wonder how
management expects us to pay rentals and take care of our families when they
are always paying us late," said one worker speaking on condition of

Newsnet workers were paid their December salaries after the first week of

"As it is at the moment we have not even negotiated for salary increments
for the new year and the message we are always getting is that the
organisation has no money," said another worker.

ZBH chairman Rino Zhuwarara and chief executive officer Tazzen Mandizvidza
were said to be locked in meetings when contacted for comment.

However, ZBH public relations officer, Sivukile Simango, promised to get
back to the Independent with a comment on the current situation but did not
do so by the time of going to press.

ZBH last year unbundled the broadcasting corporation into separate entities
in a bid to improve revenue generation. ZBH was unbundled into units that
include four radio stations, on-air systems, Newsnet and Sportnet, among

However, sources at ZBH said the other entities were not making any profits
save for radio services, which was now funding the operations of the whole
ZBH set-up.

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Zim Independent

Dongo is back
Grace Kombora
MARGARET Dongo, leader of the opposition Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD)
which disappeared from the political scene after losing the 2000 election,
has hit the campaign trail for the March election.

Dongo said in an interview on Wednesday that she would be contesting the
Harare Central constituency as an independent.

She said her party would meet next week to choose other candidates to run in
the parliamentary election as "independents".

"We will release the names of candidates after our selection next week,"
Dongo said. "Those selected will stand as independent candidates."

Dongo, who represented the Sunningdale constituency as an independent from
1995 to 2000 after breaking away from Zanu PF, said ZUD members would stand
as independents to avoid being sucked into partisan politics.

"Independent candidates are the think-tanks in the development of the
country," she said.

"An independent candidate cannot be whipped into line to vote against his or
her conscience."

In her campaign posters headed "Arise and Speak", Dongo, who was a Zanu PF
MP from 1990 to 1995, describes herself as a "fearless, tried and tested
politician - a rock that defies the cruelty of political weather!"

The March election is expected to see a number of independent candidates
largely due to internal problems in Zanu PF during the recent primary

Some disgruntled Zanu PF officials could stand as independents after they
were excluded from the primaries. Information minister Jonathan Moyo, who
was barred from contesting in Tsholotsho, hinted at this when he said there
were "many tickets to heaven".

However, the poll is expected to be mainly a two-horse race between Zanu PF
and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

ZUD, which came onto the political scene with a bang, disappeared after
failing to win a single seat in the 2000 parliamentary election.

Dongo said ZUD had not collapsed but gone underground due to lack of funds
and media coverage.

"The media does not give us enough coverage and that is why the party seemed
to be defunct. The media perceive political parties as ice cream flavour.
They mostly cover the biggest parties which can remove Mugabe and the
flavour for 2000 was the MDC."
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Zim Independent

Chaos in Zanu PF
Loughty Dube
ZANU PF has dissolved party structures in Bulawayo for the second time in
less than a month on the orders of Vice-President Joseph Msika, as internal
feuds threaten to split the party ahead of next month's election.

Angry party members told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the
dissolution of party structures was being masterminded by the Zanu PF old
guard opposed to former provincial chairman and war veterans national
chairman Jabulani Sibanda.

Msika last week dissolved all party structures starting from cell, and then
moving to branch and up to the district co-ordinating committee level at a
meeting he called at the Zanu PF provincial headquarters in Bulawayo.

Just two weeks ago the Zanu PF national commissar, Elliot Manyika, dissolved
the Bulawayo provincial executive committee headed by George Mlala and
replaced it with a committee led by Norman Mabhena.

The new committee, composed of senior party members, has been in control of
the fragmented province but its work has been hampered by factionalism.

Contacted for comment on the latest developments, Mlala refuted claims that
his committee was dissolved and said the provincial executive had tendered
its resignation to Manyika earlier.

"This is mere politicking," said Mlala. "We resigned as the provincial
executive en masse before Manyika announced his decision to dissolve the
executive and we are saying such rash decisions by the party leadership are
going to affect its performance in the forthcoming elections."

The Bulawayo province is divided into two antagonistic factions, one loyal
to disposed chairman Sibanda and the other to the Zanu PF old guard led by
former Zapu intelligence supremo, Dumiso Dabengwa.

Mlala said the new people that the party leadership had imposed were
generally unknown and not popular with Zanu PF supporters in the province.

"If we go into elections with this leadership in the province, then we are
going to fare worse than we did in the last elections," Mlala said.

Party sources said the structures were being dissolved to erode Sibanda's
influence since as chairman of the party in 2000 he was responsible for its

"The old guard knows that Sibanda still commands a lot of respect in all
party structures from cell to provincial level and as a way of weakening his
influence, they want to remove all those people who came into office through
his influence," said a source.

Sibanda fell out of favour with senior Zanu PF members in the province after
he questioned their alleged corrupt practices and was subsequently suspended
from Zanu PF for four years for indiscipline.

"The old guard was embarrassed when the province refused to endorse their
candidatures for the central committee, a move that forced President Mugabe
to intervene and handpick some people for the central committee and later
the politburo," said the source.
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Zim Independent

Byo's unpaid rates surge to $68 billion
Loughty Dube
GOVERNMENT departments and city residents now owe the cash-strapped Bulawayo
city council a whopping $68 billion in unpaid rates and charges as the local
authority struggles to provide service.

The latest figures represent an increase of about $22 billion on what the
government and residents owed council at the beginning of November last

Documents from the city treasury department indicate that residents owe the
largest chunk of unserviced debt.

Residents owe council a total of $51,6 billion and government departments a
further $17,2 billion.

Previously, residents owed council $33 billion while government owed $13

The largest chunk of the amount owed by residents is in unpaid water charges
that constitute about $27,9 billion of the debt while supplementary charges
and rates are next at $13,9 billion.

Other areas of debt include sewerage, land sales and refuse removal charges.

Government departments' debt stems from unpaid bills for water, sewerage and
refuse removal.

The latest council figures, submitted by city treasurer Middleton Nyoni,
indicate that the Ministry of Rural Resources and Water Development is the
biggest debtor at over $1,4 billion, closely followed by the Ministry of
Health at $1,39 billion.

The Ministry of Home Affairs owes $1,37 billion.

The council recently benefited from a $150 billion local authorities advance
from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe that will see it complete some of its
capital projects that have been in limbo for a long time.

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Zim Independent

Yet another bottomless pit
Shakeman Mugari
THE recent decision by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to dole out a whopping
$10 trillion to ailing parastatals is tantamount to taxpayers sinking funds
into a bottomless pit unless corporate governance issues are addressed,
analysts say.

Analysts say RBZ governor Gideon Gono's plans to revive the fortunes of the
parastatals will hit a brick-wall because he lacks the powers to influence
decisions in state companies and local authorities.

In the fourth quarter monetary policy review statement presented last week,
Gono said there was need to come up with radical structural changes in the
operations of parastatals and local authorities.

He said the parastatals were the missing link in the "economic turnaround"

"A fish bone analysis that tracks the routing of the veins and tentacles of
the parastatals and local authorities in the wider economy clearly shows
that for the country to elevate economic performance to the envisioned
levels, these entities need to be radically 'de-clogged' to hive off
structural rigidities in their operations," Gono said.

In what those familiar with operations in the sector say is a highly
ambitious target; Gono launched what he termed the Parastatal and Local
Authorities Reorientation Programme (Plarp).

"Under this programme, the Reserve Bank will issue medium to long-term stock
to raise seed funds amounting to $10 trillion, which will go towards
implementation of the Parastatals and Local Authorities Reorientation
Programme (Plarp)," Gono said.

Apparently in an attempt to widen his influence, Gono said the central bank
would establish a special division to monitor the implementation of the

However, analysts say the programme will fail because Gono is not in the
power structures of local government and parastatals. They say the plan does
not tackle the political problems affecting the companies.

Parastatals are not answerable to the governor but their responsible
ministries who in turn answer to parliament. Analysts say parastatal and
local government issues are predominantly fiscal issue, which are not part
of Gono's remit.

They say this makes the governor incapable of influencing the operations of

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Luxon Zembe said

parastatals would continue to siphon the fiscus unless there are strict
regulations on corporate governance.

"As long as the current model of running parastatals, in which parastatal
heads report to line ministries, remains, we will not get out of the mess,"
Zembe said.

He said politics was at the core of the two sectors. Parastatal reform must
include the setting up of independent boards in which the majority of
members are non-civil servants, according to Zembe.

"Boards of directors must be empowered to make strategic decisions without
which they are useless. Their decisions must not be subject to vetting by
parent ministries," he said.

Since Independence senior managers and board members have been predominantly
political appointees. This has seen key positions being handed to party
functionaries. Line ministers appoint heads of parastatals.

A senior employee who worked for the National Railways of Zimbabwe for 18
years said the problem with parastatals was endemic corruption.

"These parastatals are riddled with corrupt personnel and there are serious
structural problems. You have unqualified people in key positions," he said.

He said government had over the years watched senior officials accused of
corruption in parastatals going scot-free.

At the core of the problems in the parastatals is the abuse of public
facilities by the ruling party. Zimbabwe United Passenger Company buses have
been used during Zanu PF rallies. NRZ coaches have also been used to ferry
party supporters to party functions. There are reports that the Grain
Marketing Board has been heading government's "food for votes" strategy
ahead of the March 31 election.

Air Zimbabwe, which is heavily indebted, has also been brought in to push
government's "Look East" policy by taking up a costly route to China.

All these political factors, analysts say, are beyond Gono's jurisdiction.

The revival plan proposed by Gono last week comes on the back of more than
$200 billion doled out to parastatals under the productive sector facility
(PSF) last year.

Zesa Holdings received $50 billion while other state troubled state
companies got between $7,5 billion and $10 billion. The cheap funds have not
resulted in improved service provision. Zesa has actually raised its tariffs
by more than 35% in the last two months while it has continued its

Despite receiving $7,5 billion from the PSF, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings
is still in financial difficulties. The NRZ's problems have not reduced
despite the cheap funds from the central bank.

However, it is the inflationary pressures that come with such large grants
that worry economists. They say the government will need to print more money
to finance such expenditure. Economic commentator, John Robertson, said it
was highly unlikely that the government would be able to raise $10 trillion
from the market.

"They would have to print money - that is their only alternative. And that
is highly inflationary," Robertson said. "What has happened to the
turnaround plans proposed by the respective ministries? There is need for a
report back on that issue.

"It is dangerous to give money to parastatals without a proper analysis of
their problems," said Robertson.

Previous turnaround strategies have failed to save the quangos. Even
continuous financial support from government has not made things any better.

Zimbabwe is still stuck with more that 30 non-performing state companies.
For instance, Ziscosteel has had more than 16 turnaround programmes over the
past two decades, while the NRZ has had more than a dozen over the same
period. Almost every new minister appointed has had a turnaround strategy
for the parastatals under his ministry.

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Zim Independent

      'Zim not ready for free, fair poll'
      Ndamu Sandu/Godfrey Marawanyika

      THE Electoral Act and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act militate
against Sadc principles and guidelines on the holding of democratic
elections, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has said.

      In a damning report, Zesn said although the two pieces of legislation
were crafted to aid the holding of democratic elections, this was not borne
out by facts on the ground.

      The document, titled: "The Sadc Electoral Principles and Guidelines
and Zimbabwe's New Electoral Legislation", said Zimbabwe was still short on
adhering to the Sadc barometers for free and fair elections.

      The Sadc guidelines compel member states to safeguard human and civil
liberties - freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression - of
all their citizens during the electoral processes.

      "There is little in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act or the
Electoral Act to ensure an environment in which human and civil rights are
fully enjoyed. The functions of the Electoral Commission are confined to
registering voters, keeping voters' rolls, providing voter education and
conducting elections," Zesn said.

      Zesn said the commission had no role whatever in ensuring respect for
fundamental human rights such as freedom of association and expression,
"which are essential to the holding of free and fair elections".

      The nearest the Act comes to dealing with the general electoral
environment is in Section 3 which sets out principles on which elections
must be held, Zesn says.

      "The section states that all citizens have the right to stand for
office, to vote, to join political parties and to participate in peaceful
political activities, and that all political parties have the right to put
up candidates, to campaign freely within the law, and to have 'reasonable
access to the media'," Zesn said.

      Zesn said the Act confined itself to a statement of those principles
and did nothing to ensure their implementation.

      "The lack of some means to enforce the principles set out in Section 3
of the Electoral Act is a flaw in the legislation," Zesn said.

      "The freedoms specifically mentioned in the Sadc principles - freedom

      assembly, association and expression and political tolerance - are not
fully respected in Zimbabwe," Zesn said.

      Zesn said legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act (Posa)
and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) had been
used to stifle freedom of the press. It said Posa gave the police "wide
powers to control public meetings and demonstrations".

      It said Sections 38 and 103 of the Electoral Act say that nomination
of candidates for parliamentary and presidential elections must take place
between 14 and 21 days after the publication of the proclamation calling the
election, and polling must take place between 35 and 66 days after the
proclamation, which was inadequate.

      "The minimum period of 35 days may well be adequate for a by-election
held in a single constituency, but it would probably not allow enough time
for a general election or a presidential to be held properly," Zesn said.

      Parliamentary polls are set to take place on March 31.

      Zesn said the Sadc Parliamentary Forum's Norms and Standards spelt a
period of between three and four months between the announcement of a
parliamentary general election and polling, to give sufficient time for the
Electoral Commission to prepare for the election and to demonstrate fair

      "If the forthcoming general election is to be held in March, as has
been proposed by government, there will be only fifty days for it to be held
between the date on which parliament resumes sitting (February 8) and the
end of March," Zesn said.

      Zesn said the president was still fixing the dates for the elections
whilst the Sadc Parliamentary Forum's norms state that parliament should be
involved in the fixing of the election dates.

      It said there was need for impartial electoral bodies to run
elections. Zesn said it was not clear how the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
and the Electoral Supervisory Commission would operate and "which commission
has the greater authority".

      The staffing of the two commissions, Zesn said, was a cause for
concern as under the Electoral Act both commissions are empowered to take on
secondment state employees including members of the defence forces, the
police forces and prison services as well as civil servants.

      Another concern raised by Zesn was that the ministry was now approving
all statutory instruments made by the Electoral Commission under the
Electoral Act before they were promulgated.

      "In other words the commission has no independent powers to control
elections through the making of regulations and other statutory
 instruments," Zesn said.

      Zesn said the provisions regarding election observers and monitors
contained in the Electoral Act were unsatisfactory.

      According to the Act, observers will have to be accredited by a
committee dominated by nominees of various government ministries.

      "There is no provision for the monitoring of elections by
representatives of non-governmental organisations, and it seems unlikely
that representatives of local NGOs will be accredited as observers in time,"
it said.

      Zesn said that Sadc must be invited to send a mission at least 90 days
before polling day as part of the requirements of the principles.

      "If the forthcoming general election is to be held in March, there
will not be enough time to give Sadc the 90 days' notice to send an observer
mission, as required in the principles and guidelines," Zesn said.
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Zim Independent

Hurdles still litter way to March poll
Ray Matikinye
LESS than two months before Zimbabwe goes to its sixth general election
since Independence from Britain in 1980, opposition parties are agonising
over whether to participate and legitimise the poll currently tilted in the
ruling Zanu PF party's favour due to existing legislation.

Opposition parties are not alone in sniping at government's feeble measures
taken to comply with Sadc guidelines governing the holding of democratic
elections. Civic groups also doubt government's sincerity and have accused
the ruling party of constantly manipulating regulations and legislation each
time an election is in the offing.

"Government cannot claim to be fulfilling Sadc guidelines on free and fair
elections as long as repressive pieces of legislation such as the Public
Order and Security Act (Posa), Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (Aippa) and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) remain in our
statutes," says lawyer, Kucaca Phulu.

Phulu, of the Media Lawyers Association, says it is futile for government to
try and dupe the world into believing that the forthcoming March election
will be free and fair simply by projecting a semblance of compliance when
"this trilogy of repressive legislation is in place".

"Posa, Aippa and BSA must be abolished first before government can claim
compliance because they were enacted to prevent 'regime change'. What
'regime change' means to the ruling Zanu PF party and government is avoiding
free and fair elections at all costs," Phulu adds.

He says government had merely put up a smokescreen when it knew quite well
that the Sadc guidelines are ineffectual principles that are subordinate to
internal laws.

"Government can comply with international laws but those laws mean little
when they are subverted by domestic laws which impinge on the rights of
citizens. The government does not seem to show commitment to the development
of democracy as illustrated by its introduction of malevolent pieces of
legislation," Phulu explains.

Government has hurtled down the slalom to impress its regional neighbours
that it is complying with the provisions of the Sadc Grande Baie protocol in
response to intense international and regional pressure. It has hastened to
pass the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act and the Electoral Act. Sadc
guidelines require member countries to adopt effect measures favourable to
holding free and fair elections.

General elections are scheduled for March 31 this year. But opposition
parties say the measures put in place so far are cosmetic. The Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) has yet to make a decision on its participation in
the election although indications are that it will.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai says the forthcoming election could provide the
medium through which the people realise their cherished goals.

"We are keen to take part in this process, provided the conditions on the
ground are right," he said. "We pledge to respect the will of the people.
Whether we opt to stay at home or not, the consequences shall push the
political temperature beyond boiling point and hasten the demise of tyranny
in our country."

In his weekly message to the electorate this week, Tsvangirai says judging
by the mood on the ground, the MDC is ready to put an end to uncertainty,
political anxiety and fear.

"We are ready to embark on a decisive road towards the democratisation of
our nation and our institutions, and to introduce a far-reaching political
culture, with freedom as the foundation for prosperity," he says.

That is despite stifling legislation in place.

"The repressive Posa has stifled political activity by opposition parties
while Aippa and the Broadcasting Services Act have ensured that voters,
especially the rural electorate, are kept ignorant of alternative policies
from contesting parties," president of Zapu Freedom Party, Paul Siwela says.

Government has often used Posa to deny opposition parties the right to hold
campaign meetings. Opposition members complain that the police are partisan
and biased in favour of the ruling Zanu PF, often misinterpreting provisions
of the Act to put all sorts of obstacles in their way.

It has denied other political players access to radio and television while
at the same time barring non-governmental organisations from conducting
voter education in contravention of some of the core requirements for

Siwela says the ruling Zanu PF has abused Aippa and BSA to shut out
alternative opinion other than its own, disregarding the fact that all
Zimbabweans are primary stakeholders in national rebuilding. "That is a
serious indictment of government but Zapu Freedom Party will go to the polls
despite regulations meant to stifle national debate about the future of this
nation," Siwela says.

He says Zanu PF would welcome a boycott of the elections by the opposition
in order to firmly establish its cherished one-party state dream but his
party will not allow that to happen.

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Zim Independent

Moyo's lawsuit: Nkomo, Dabengwa fight back
Loughty Dube
THE Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo and politburo member Dumiso
Dabengwa have filed papers at the High Court in Bulawayo to oppose an
application by Information minister Jonathan Moyo for $2 billion in damages.

Nkomo and Dabengwa, cited as the first respondent and second respondents
respectively, filed the notice with the Bulawayo High Court on Tuesday
through their lawyers, Gula-Ndebele & Partners.

"Take note that on February 1, 2005 at 12 pm the first and second
respondents have entered an appearance to defend in the above matter," reads
the notice.

The filing of the opposing papers by the two has set the stage for a
bruising legal battle that is set to widen divisions between Moyo and senior
politicians in the ruling party.

Moyo is currently clutching at straws after he was left out of the Zanu PF
central committee and the party's supreme decision-making body, the
politburo, on allegations that he masterminded the ill-fated Tsholotsho
meeting that has seen other party bigwigs fall by the wayside.

As if this was not enough, Moyo also failed to secure the ticket to
represent Zanu PF in Tsholotsho after the party reserved the seat for a
woman candidate.

The lawyer representing the two, Kenell Chirumota of Gula-Ndebele &
Partners, confirmed that papers were filed with the Bulawayo High Court and
said he was still taking instructions from his clients.

"Papers have been filed with the Bulawayo High Court and we are currently
working on preliminaries but as of now I am taking instructions from my
clients," Chirumota said.

He said no date has been set for the hearing of the case.

In papers filed at the same court on January 18, Moyo alleged that the two
defamed him in statements they allegedly made in Tsholotsho. In the summons
served on the two the government spin doctor alleges that they made
statements that were "false, wrongful, unlawful and highly defamatory" of

Nkomo and Dabengwa were served with the summons on January 21 and were
ordered to respond to the lawsuit in 10 days.

Moyo has openly attacked the two senior politicians in the last month and
has devoted considerable space in state newspapers to abusing them.
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Zim Independent

Zim risks isolation over Cosatu deportation
Gift Phiri
THE Zimbabwean government yesterday came under withering attack from
political and civic groups for deporting a 15-member strong Congress of
South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) delegation that was on a fact-finding
mission to Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe's main labour body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU),
immediately condemned the deportation of the leading South African
unionists, saying such a move would further isolate Harare.

"The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions strongly condemns the insensitive and
hideous decision by the government of Zimbabwe to deport a... delegation
from Cosatu," ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo said.

Matombo condemned "the inhuman manner in which our colleagues from Cosatu
were treated, which shows the callousness of the government".

It urged the government to avoid "making hasty and dangerous decisions that
might in the long-run be diplomatic blunders which will further isolate the
country", he said.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said the deportation of
Cosatu leaders, who have threatened a serious backlash, was "deplorable".

"This is a deplorable act but is sadly not unexpected given this government's
record of intolerance against all those who do not share its myopic
 outlook," MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said.

"(Wednesday's) regrettable episode illustrates just how repressive Zimbabwe
has become. The treatment of the Cosatu officials should clear up any
lingering doubts about the government's position on political tolerance and
freedom of association - two of the key principles in the Sadc protocol."

Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi said the government's refusal to
allow members of his organisation into the country was a "barbaric and
illegal act", and boded ill for the future of the continent.

"Nepad (the New Partnership for Africa's Development) will stand no chance
if a government such as Zimbabwe's willingly disregards its own laws in this
manner," Vavi said.

"The continent will go nowhere if its leaders can act with impunity."The
15-strong Cosatu delegation was turned away on arrival in Harare aboard an
SAA flight, thus preventing a meeting with their Zimbabwean counterparts.

The Independent understands that the ZCTU's top leadership will instead meet
with their Cosatu counterparts at Tshipise Aventura resort outside Musina in
Limpopo province.

"We do not require permission from the Minister of Labour to hold
discussions with our counterparts," Vavi said, mentioning that there may be
future demonstrations.

South African Labour minister Membathisi Mdladlana said he had warned Cosatu
that they needed to follow the "proper procedures" in visiting Zimbabwe. But
Cosatu argued that freedom of movement and association were fundamental to
Sadc protocols.
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Zim Independent

Food shortages reach critical levels
Gift Phiri
FOOD shortages are approaching critical levels in parts of Zimbabwe, raising
the spectre of some voters starving to death before the parliamentary poll
in March, although authorities are still locked in denial.

Children have been fainting in schools, pregnant women miscarrying from
malnutrition and people going for days without food, reports say. Grain and
cooking oil shortages prompted by severe drought, endemic poverty and the
state-sponsored invasion of commercial farms by ruling party supporters are
beginning to bite.

A report last week by the US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network
(Fewsnet), a food security monitoring group, said 5,8 million of the country's
12,5 million people will need food aid to avert starvation before the next
harvest in April.

But the Zimbabwe government angrily denied the report this week charging
that the statement was part of efforts by the United States to destabilise
the country ahead of legislative polls by causing unnecessary alarm over
food stocks.Agriculture minister Joseph Made claimed 370 000 tonnes of grain
was now being distributed by the state-controlled Grain Marketing Board
(GMB) to needy groups around the country and another 400 000 tonnes were
being held as strategic food reserves. Some food, which he called,
"carry-over stocks ordered in 2003" was also being imported.

The government insists Zimbabwe produced a bumper harvest of 2,4 million
tonnes of maize last year, much of it still being held in private rural
granaries by growers.The country consumes about 1,8 million tonnes of maize
a year, or 5 000 tonnes a day.Independent crop estimates and World Food
Programme boss James Morris have cast doubt over the government's harvest
figure, saying about one million tonnes of food was produced last year.

Made said this week the famine unit report was part of a campaign by the
United States to vilify the government's sullied agrarian reform in which
about 5 000 white-owned commercial farms were violently grabbed for
redistribution to blacks since 2000. Made described the programme as "a
resounding success" despite a worsening shortage of farm equipment, fuel,
seed and fertiliser.

"God has been smiling on us and we are lucky that in the northern parts
there were some good rains in the last few days and crops are doing well,"
Made was reported as saying in the official press.

The Zimbabwe Independent understands that the staple maize crop has dropped
by nearly 50%. The United Nations estimates that about half a million of
Zimbabwe's 12.5 million people are already going dangerously hungry, and
many of them are also angry - bad news for Mugabe who blames the shortages
on drought and grain hoarding by white farmers intent on toppling him.

In the parched south, people have accused the government of "playing with
our lives".

Outside a supermarket in Mbare, a young woman with a baby on her back begs:
"Please buy me some food. Anything. I haven't eaten since yesterday."

Around the country, irritated people stand in long queues for hours for
small rations of maize, and police have had to calm unruly crowds.

Eddie Cross, economic spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), said the situation was frightening.

"Food shortages are causing extreme hardship across the board and across the
country. The political implications are profound. I would hate to run a
campaign amidst a food crisis for which there is no solution. Also, 'war
vets' are leaving commercial farms in droves, because their crops have
failed for lack of water. Zanu PF's fast track land reform - the heart of
its programme - is collapsing. People are blaming it for their hunger."

People are most at risk of starvation in the south, west and far north of
the country, naturally arid areas where subsistence maize crops have
shrivelled with the absence of rain for nearly two months, in some areas. An
estimated 2,7 million people in Masvingo and Matabeleland - more than half
of the population of those provinces - face extreme hardship. New figures by
food industry leaders, released to the Independent, estimate a maize
shortfall of 300 000 tonnes, and stocks to deplete by February and March. In
2004-2005, there is forecast to be a shortfall of more than a million

Just three years ago, Zimbabwe was the bread basket of southern Africa,
fully self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs with surpluses for export
including maize, wheat and soyabeans. The country supplied 25% of the world's
flue-cured tobacco and 8% of European horticulture imports. Now it is a
large net food importer, and wheat, tobacco production and horticultural
output are down 25% to 30%.

Most serious is the 50% fall in maize. Because maize is in short supply,
demand for bread has soared. This is rapidly depleting wheat stocks, which
are expected to run out by June.

The WFP began distributing imported food relief to 40 000 people in
Matabeleland North recently. It calculates that 19 of the country's 57
districts are at risk.

"The situation could get rapidly worse," says the WFP in its latest report.

As the economy shrinks, companies close, jobs are lost and 132,7 % inflation
erodes incomes and causes food prices to rocket. Even where food is
available, growing numbers of people cannot afford to eat in a country where
more than a third live below the poverty line, with less than US$1 a day to
meet their needs, according to the latest Human Development Report.

The embattled ruling party has promised people in its reelection campaign
that nobody will starve, and that 200 000 tonnes of maize are speeding their
way towards Zimbabwe from South Africa. But the food is not coming in
anywhere near fast enough.

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Zim Independent

Gono sets himself impossible targets
Conrad Dube

POLITICAL uncertainty before and after the March general election will
frustrate economic growth targets set by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
governor Gideon Gono in his monetary policy statement last week, analysts
They said Gono failed to highlight the importance of a peaceful election in
economic recovery, only saying that a "soul lost in this election is a
piston lost in the economic engine" of the country.
The analysts noted that a violent election would decelerate progress in the
economic recovery programme and upset bilateral and multilateral investment
Gono, the analysts argued, failed to speak authoritatively on the importance
of political stability, government bureaucracy, foreign investment and
quality of life which he spoke about in 1996.
"Foreign investment is absolutely necessary if countries are to grow, and in
this regard, southern African countries must spare no effort in attracting
that foreign investment if we are to make it," Gono told delegates to an
International Herald Tribune-sponsored southern Africa Trade and Investment
Summit on Zimbabwe in 1996.
He then gave an 11-point checklist which he said investors ideally looked
for before committing their funds to any particular region or country. The
checklist included political stability, economic strength and government
policies as they relate to exchange control.
Analysts are also concerned that lack of clear investment policies, and
decisive action against unruly political elements will pose more challenges
to business this year than last year and hence disrupt major investments as
investors adopt a wait-and-see attitude.
"Not much progress will be done in the first half of the year as investors
sit on the fence wondering what could happen before and after the election,"
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Luxon Zembe said.
"Unfortunately people judge us on the basis of our past elections which have
been marred by violence.
"A peaceful election is one of the critical factors if we are to attain the
set targets. Gono's economic intentions also need to be addressed at the
political level to succeed," Zembe said.
In his policy statement, Gono said some Bilateral Investment Protection
Agreements (Bipas) were caught up in the fast track phase of the land reform
programme, and Zembe said this would also affect foreign direct investment
which the economy desperately needed.
He said private property and property rights were "sacrosanct" and welcomed
the settling up last year of an inter-ministerial taskforce to make sure
these were observed.
Economist John Robertson said: "The governor is cautiously admitting that
the land reform programme has not been successful and that the restoration
of property rights has become important but there is need for clear action
on the government's attempts to restore property rights."
Gono, who wants to reclaim Zimbabwe's glory of yesteryear, has set ambitious
targets for economic growth, foreign currency generation and inflation.
For all major competitive export categories, Gono has set "stretch" targets
chasing the 1996 foreign currency generation levels of US$3,9 billion. Gono
targets official foreign currency inflows of US$3,1 billion this year and
US$3,9 billion in 2006.
The governor expects to "consolidate the gains made in 2004, and help
government to integrate macroeconomic policies across all sectors, so as to
successfully graduate our economy into its first year of positive growth
which is projected at between 3-5%, from a 30,7% cumulative decline over the
years 2001 to 2004".
Gono also wants to reduce inflation to between 20-35% by year-end from the
December rate of 132,7%.
Agriculture is expected to remain the backbone of the economy, contributing
about 16,5% of total output and as much as one third of total foreign
exchange earnings. The sector's output is projected to increase by 28% in
2005, following an estimated decline of 3,3% in 2004.
The sector has utilised about $1, 642 trillion or 57,1% of the total
disbursements under the productive sector facility, giving the sector
considerable headroom to recover, according to Gono.
But sectoral output has declined by almost 50% since the start of the land
reform programme five years ago and analysts say the decline has affected
overall economic growth and foreign currency inflows.
Gono however explained that the attainment of this recovery was predicated
on the timeous availability of agricultural inputs, financing arrangements
and technical assistance to new farmers.
He stressed that the programme requires more "sweat, blood and toil".
What he did not say though was how foreign currency inflows reached the
record levels in 1996. Tobacco inflows in 1996 were US$702 million compared
to last year's US$185 million and a 2005 target of US$250 million. Inflows
from manufacturing in that year of glory were US$740 million, while last
year's inflows reached US$207 million. Manufacturing is forecast to bring in
US$306 million this year.
Services raked in US$1,7 billion in 1996 in stark contrast to a paltry US$84
million in 2004 and the 2005 target of US$101 million while the diaspora
brought in US$1,1 billion in 1996.
For the economy to operate fully, the country needs monthly inflows of at
least US$250 million or US$3 billion annually, but last year only about US$2
billion flowed into the country.
Analysts question the wisdom of comparing 1996 figures and 2005 figures in
nominal terms without zeroing in on volume and economic factors prevailing
during the two periods. They say the targets are unrealistic.
Opposition Movement for Democratic Change secretary for economics, Tendai
Biti, said: "Comparing 1996 foreign currency inflows with current inflows is
not the best way to underpin targets. For instance, $200 million in 1996 is
equivalent to almost $50 million now. The governor is making nominal
comparisons which do not take into account effects of inflation."
The Zimbabwe dollar was trading at around $10 against the US dollar in 1996
but has since depreciated to about $8 000 on the black market and $6 200 on
the RBZ's diaspora rate.
Inflation in 1996 was around 20% while annual expenditure was around 50% of
GDP. Inflation in December 2004 was 133% and government expenditure is at
82% of GDP.
Gono's figures are also in contrast with other professional forecasts for
this year. For instance, Finhold expects GDP to decelerate by minus 3,5%
from last year's minus 6,4%.
Zembe highlighted that confusion in the mining industry raises alarm.
"Investors are not sure of government's intentions especially with regards
to terms of foreign participation in the mining sector. Policy consistency
is key in achieving economic revival."
He said it would not be possible to achieve such ambitious levels of
production when capacity utilisation in manufacturing sector was around 50%.
"If we are to export more, capacity utilisation will need to be trebled."
He added that international relations must be restored to increase direct
foreign investment.
Robertson said the governor's inflation targets were not supported by his
plans on the funding of parastatals and local authorities to the tune of $10
The $10 trillion windfall to parastatals and local authorities under the
18-24-month Parastatal and Local Authorities Reorientation Programme (Plarp)
is three times more than government's domestic debt of almost $3 billion,
according to Robertson.
Gono said under this programme, the RBZ would issue medium to long-term
stock to raise seed funds amounting to $10 trillion, which will go towards
implementation of Plarp. He said that targeted outlays would primarily be
for the specific uplifting of worn-out public enterprise capital, human
resource rationalisation and development.
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Zim Independent


MDC makes leap of faith

AFTER five months of dithering and in some instances outright confusion, the
MDC, as we report today, will take part in the March 31 parliamentary

The decision by the party yesterday is of immense significance even though
it was largely expected that a "boycott" would not hold.
The MDC has kept the electorate guessing since August when it suspended
participation in all polls, saying government had to put in place measures
that ensured the opening up of political space for the opposition in line
with the Mauritius protocol.

Cynics would ask the MDC what has changed since August? Have their demands
been met?
The simple answer is there has been little movement in the political logjam.
The MDC's demands - much the same as those of Sadc - have remained largely
unmet despite shrill cries of compliance from the government media.
This week civic groups put out a damning report documenting Zanu PF's record
of non-compliance with the Grande Baie protocol. The well-documented
instruments of coercion employed by the state to good effect against
opponents have remained in place. This includes security laws and curbs on
civil society and the media. While the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has
been appointed, ostensibly to run the election, the new commissioners have
been subordinated to existing institutions such as the Registrar-General's
office and the Electoral Supervisory Commission, whose record in the conduct
of elections is tainted by allegations of abetting fraud.

So if the MDC had stuck to its guns, participation in the election would
have been out of the question. However, there is another side to this coin.
While political reforms and repeal or amendment of retrogressive laws may
not happen before the poll, the MDC's decision to suspend participation had
the positive effect of focusing international attention on Zimbabwe's
conduct of elections.

Zimbabwe, whose foreign policy is firmly hinged on ringfencing Mugabe
against mounting international condemnation, has been keen to advertise the
country's newfound status as "compliant" with best practice.

But the self-congratulatory mantras are not good enough. There were no
international observers to monitor voter registration and the drafting of
the voters' roll. We expect Sadc monitors and others from "friendly"
countries to be parachuted in on the eve of the poll only to declare that
there was nothing amiss in the conduct of the election. But it won't wash
this time.
The world is watching and Thabo Mbeki will be the first to appreciate that
Sadc's credibility is on the line.

The international pressure on Mugabe has without doubt played a part in
swaying the MDC to get into the race, albeit with very little time to
campaign and sell itself to the electorate as the next government. This
could prove to be the undoing of the party during the rough-and-tumble
contest which starts at the weekend when Zanu PF launches its campaign.
Zanu PF mandarins taking the podium to woo the electorate will portray the
MDC as an indecisive party which could not make up its mind on whether to
participate or not.

Although Mugabe has preached the gospel of a violence-free poll with the
passion of a saint, his party has a record of vicious coercion. It would be
naïve for the MDC to believe that the youth militia will be restrained in
their camps and that hoodlums brought up on a diet of hate and aggression
will lift the ban imposed on the opposition in places like Mashonaland
Central. Nor should it expect unfettered and balanced coverage by the state
media which has been thoroughly corrupted by ministerial manipulation.
Participation is a leap of faith.
The odds are in Zanu PF's favour. It is the party in office and is therefore
in charge of organising and refereeing the race.

State resources are already being mobilised to put the Zanu PF programme in
motion. The presidential helicopter will be in the sky almost on a daily
basis starting next week as Mugabe reaches out to the rural electorate - at
public expense. Religious charlatans and pseudo-Christian groups have been
harnessed to campaign for Zanu PF from the pulpit while traditional leaders
have been suborned with motor vehicles and electricity. Then there is the
willing state media to carry saturation advertising of Zanu PF's "successes".

We believe by participating in the election, the MDC has a counter plan to
this all-encompassing strategy.

We eagerly wait to hear what it is!
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Monetary policy: the pros and cons

IT was inevitable that, as with his previous four statements on monetary
policy, some would welcome Dr Gideon Gono's pronouncements in his 2005
Monetary Policy Statement and his 4th Quarter, 2004 Monetary Policy Review,
some would be disappointed in their expectations not being fulfilled,
whether wholly or partially, and yet others would be scathingly critical.
It is impossible to please all the people all of the time, and others even
some of the time. It was also inevitable, although very regrettable, that
some would focus on his statements solely from a point of view of attaining
maximised political advantage. In that respect, the ruling party and the
principal opposition party are equally at fault, and they both chose the
Reserve Bank governor's latest statement as ideal ammunition with which to
denigrate the other or to elevate themselves with the electorate.

The ruling party's propagandists unhesitatingly lay claim to the credit for
the very significant reduction in the year-on-year rate of inflation from
its all-time high of 622,8% in January 2004 to 132,7% in December 2004.
In reality, the only minimal contribution to the containment of inflation as
can be attributed to government is that it had somewhat greater fiscal
discipline in 2004 than in prior years, and hence did not recurrently
overdraw massively with the Reserve Bank (although to no small extent it did
so at the expense of the private sector by resorting to prolonged delays in
effecting refunds of Value Added Tax, Income Tax and Customs Duties).
Beyond that, government did naught constructive to contain inflation, and in
fact may well prove to be the root cause of a possible upturn in inflation
rates in 2005.
That upturn may well arise due to an undoubted need to import quantities of
food as, with its disastrous implementation of the land reform programme,
Zimbabwe has lost its self-sufficiency in food and, as government arrogantly
advised donors that food aid would not be required, Zimbabwe may well have
to fund much of the very necessary imports, at great cost, with
consequential inflationary impacts.

Government has also contributed to inflation with the magnitude of
non-performance related increments for the public service, and its largesse
to chiefs and headmen in order to motivate support in the forthcoming
elections. The reality is that the most impressive decline in inflation was
almost wholly achieved by the Reserve Bank, although at very great cost. The
principal vehicle for inflation reduction was exchange rate containment, but
that did repercuss very negatively upon the export sector, which lost price
competitiveness in export markets as production cost increases were not
adequately compensated for by exchange rate movements and export incentives
(inclusive of concessional financing facilities).

Other avenues traversed by the Reserve Bank in its vigorous endeavours to
contain inflation were to pursue interest rate reductions on bank financing
of commerce and industry, and pressure upon parastatals to cease quenching
their ravenous hunger for revenues by excessive increases in charges.
Despite the Reserve Bank's commendable efforts in that direction, some of
the parastatals irresponsibly increased their tariffs or charges to
unjustifiably excessive levels, failing which inflation may well have fallen
further, and exporters could more readily have achieved viability.

Thus, in all material respects, government was not an instrument in the
significant reduction of inflation, and its endeavours to claim credit for
that reduction is spurious, being almost totally without justification. That
is especially so as, were it not for government, inflation may well have
fallen further. However, the criticisms and attacks by the opposition are
equally uncalled for. Its spokesman has alleged that the 2005 monetary
policies are structured as an election device for the benefit of the ruling
party. Were that the case, surely the governor of the Reserve Bank would not
have attacked the government's sacred cow, being its programme for
acquisition, redistribution and resettlement of, and on the land.

In no uncertain terms the governor criticised the acquisition of farms
protected by bilateral investment agreements. He emphasised that Zimbabwe
needs "to honour and respect bilateral, as well as multilateral
international investment protection agreements", and welcomed measures to
ensure " that the sacrosanct nature of private property and property rights
is observed across all sectors of the economy, in conformity with best
standards and international agreements".
Similarly, it defies credibility to accept that the statement was
election-driven when regard is given to his outspoken criticism of
government's other sacred cows - the parastatals. So forthright was he that
the five ministers present at the presentation of the statement nearly
turned white with shock.
Government has for all too long regarded the parastatals as its
untouchables, reversing itself on its previous repeatedly declared
intentions to privatise them.
But, disregarding their "protected" status, Gono stated categorically that:
"a fishbone analysis that tracks the routing of the veins and tentacles of
parastatals and local authorities in the wider economy clearly shows that
for the country to elevate economic performance to the envisioned levels,
these entities need to be radically "de-clogged" to hive off structural
rigidities in their operations.

He stressed that "radical restructuring and re-orientation of the country's
parastatal... sector is an indispensable prerequisite for achievement of the
objectives of the monetary policy." He certainly did not mince his words,
for in no uncertain terms he accused the parastatals of "operational
inefficiencies and generally run-down conditions."

In that regard, he noted "with grave concern that key institutions that
ought to be at the centre of co-ordinating and building productivity
capacities in agriculture, such as Arda, DDF, Arex and GMB, among others,
are following a splintered approach that threatens to undermine achievement
of targeted positive overall GDP growth", and he called for radical
transformation. Attacking such governmental entities is surely not a sound
strategy to influence the electorate to favour the party which comprises the
government that is possessed of such mismanaged and
ineffectual, counter-productive parastatals?

So determined were some to belittle the statement and to perceive it as
being an election ploy, that they even implied that its delivery had been
intentionally delayed, with barbed insinuations that the delay was driven by
sinister electioneering motives. The reality is that the 3rd Quarter
Monetary Policy Review was on October 26 2004, and the now maligned recent
statement was on January 26 2005. So it was no later than the predecessor
statement and, in fact, all statements since the governor came into office
were in the second-half of the month following upon quarter's end.
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Zim Independent


Herald staffer meets the real ZRP

PATIENCE Nyangove of the Herald recently had an inconvenient encounter with
the real ZRP. She said she was picked up outside Queen Elizabeth nightclub
around midnight and accused of "loitering for purposes of prostitution". She
claimed to have been sitting on the pavement outside the nightclub with a
colleague when she was picked up by a plain clothes policeman.
If she got into the city centre at 11:30pm, then proceeded to Herald House
as she asserts, that means by the time she got to the nightclub on Julius
Nyerere Way and Robert Mugabe Road it was well after midnight.

She spent "some minutes in the nightclub" before deciding to go and sit
She doesn't say what time it was by then. But that is when a ZRP officer
allegedly pounced and dragged her by the collar to Harare Central. Attempts
to plead her innocence were met with verbal abuse, she says. Her explanation
that she was coming from a late assignment did not help. Not even her press
card. She was told the fact that she worked for the Herald was no insurance
against arbitrary arrest.

"My heart-rending experience is only one in a myriad of other cases whereby
women are wrongfully arrested and traumatised for alleged loitering for the
purpose of prostitution by some ignorant and rogue police officers,"
protested Patience in the Herald on Saturday.
Considering the time we are dealing with, we beg the right to suspend
belief. It will take some serious persuading for Muckraker to buy Patience's
alibi that she was still waiting for transport in that seedy part of town
well after midnight.

At least she now knows a thing or two about the breakdown of the rule of law
that other human rights campaigners have had to endure at the hands of a
repressive police force that has become a law unto itself. Far more
important is the fact that the state media always want to proclaim that such
and such a law has been broken when perceived enemies of the state are
arrested. Shouldn't she be praising the police for doing their duty against
women who break the law on prostitution? Are they "rogue police officers"
only when state media reporters are inconvenienced during their nocturnal

Last week the Herald carried a great story appropriately headlined "Harare
hospital in intensive care". In short this is what the story said: five of
the elevators have broken down, toilets and sinks are blocked, the ceiling
is leaking, laboratory equipment and anaesthetic machines are not
functioning while incubators and dialysis machines are out of order.
One wonders why it is still called a hospital at all. We also wonder who the
scapegoat is going to be for the collapse of the institution? Shouldn't that
make us sober as we reflect on the country's silver jubilee instead of the
sanitised reports we read of Zimbabwe's unparalleled achievements?

Nathaniel Manheru can produce a shocker. This week he was angry that there
was so much pressure from within and outside the country for Zimbabwe to
comply with Sadc guidelines on the holding of democratic elections. He said
there wasn't similar pressure when Botswana, Mozambique and Malawi held
their elections last year. Then the shocking claim: "I happen to know that
most of the systems running elections in Sadc are fashioned after Zimbabwe's
inimitable one."

Really? So why is government in such a hurry to be seen to be democratising
its electoral laws if they are already better than the Sadc principles? Why
is the state media always anxious to broadcast even the tiniest tinkering
that will show that it is complying with the Mauritius terms?
Manheru's anger appears to have been sparked by reports that there was a
Sadc troika coming into the country to check on compliance and he wants to
know why the team didn't go to Botswana or Mozambique.

The short answer to Manheru's puzzlement is that Zimbabwe is a known rogue
state that has never complied with its own laws when it comes to elections.
It has a shocking record of violence, which is why it has become a pariah
state. There are also fatuous claims that the country is democratic because
it has the biggest opposition in parliament in the region. What Manheru
refuses to acknowledge is the MDC won the 57 seats despite the widespread
violence and electoral manipulation, not because the country is democratic.

Why is the opposition being denied access to the state media which is
publicly funded? Why are Zimbabweans in the Diaspora being denied the right
to vote when government is keen to lay its dirty hands on every pound
sterling or US dollar earned overseas? How cynical can one get?

Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings has joined the civilised world. Whether this
will have a civilising effect on the station remains to be seen. It is now
available on channel 104 of DStv.
According to state media reports, joining DStv will enable Zimbabwe
television to broadcast clearer pictures and to reach a wider audience
across the country. We wonder who this wider audience craving to watch Hondo
Yeminda is. And how many Zimbabweans who can afford DStv subscriptions still
bother to listen to or watch ZBH propaganda? Is it true that viewership is
confined to Zimbabwe? Surely, why would those already enjoying free Botswana
television reception revert to vapid Zanu PF falsehoods?

Talking of Hondo Yeminda, Zanu PF is launching its election campaign
tomorrow. The centrepiece of the campaign will be the same hate theme
against British prime minister Tony Blair. The party's national commissar
Elliot Manyika will be the centre of attraction at the launch in Harare with
his hate-filled Nora that fuelled the orgy of violence during the 2000 and
2002 elections. In addition to Nora that became the theme song at the party's
nightly torture bases across the country, he has added more songs. One of
them calls on the people of Zimbabwe (read Zanu militia and war veterans) to
"vanquish the enemy".
The song Musha Unemabhunu is clearly intended to incite violence against MDC
supporters who allegedly work in cahoots with Tony Blair. The long and short
of it is that Zanu PF has not abandoned its violence. While in public they
want to give the outside world the impression that they are reforming and
complying with Sadc protocols on the holding of democratic elections, there
is no such thing on the ground. If proof were ever needed of this violent
tradition, nothing gives away the trick better than Manyika's album which
will be given saturation airplay.

Now we understand why the likes of Nathaniel Manheru are nervous about Sadc's
troika that is visiting Zimbabwe to verify compliance with the Grande Baie
protocols. There is simply no intention to ensure the election in March
"reflects the will of the people". That Sadc troika, if it does its job,
should attend Zanu PF's campaign launch and assess whether there is any need
for the opposition to give a patina of legitimacy to a criminal charade.

Lovemore Mataire's Candid Brief in The Voice made interesting reading this
week. Headlined pompously "Why young people like us support Zanu PF",
Mataire claimed the MDC was a "retrogressive force" while Zanu PF
represented the "new thinking in terms of economic development" which is
being adopted by other African countries as a model. Needless to say no such
country could be found on the African map - not even Namibia despite Sam
Nujoma's embarrassing and shameless antics at the world summit in
Johannesburg two years ago.

Then we were treated to some overweening and infantile political
orientation. He said he supported Zanu PF for "personal and ideological"
"My mother and father were combatants of the liberation struggle and I was
the product of their courtship at Chimoio camp in Mozambique," explained
Mataire naively as if that makes him a war veteran.

Is Mataire saying the liberation war was won in Mozambique? Is he saying
being a refugee in Mozambique gives him special privilege over those who
participated in the war here without running away to some refugee camp
outside the country?
We all know the role of a party mouthpiece, and Mataire should stick to the
party brief. We are not interested in his trite history.

'US steps up anti-Zim campaign," the Herald proclaimed on Monday.
The US had intensified efforts to destabilise Zimbabwe ahead of the March
election, we were told.

And how was this nefarious strategy to be fulfilled? By warning of food
shortages, it would appear! The claims were made by Joseph Made who, one
would have thought, the Herald would have avoided quoting at length given
his poor credibility record after a series of misleading food forecasts in
the past. The public might well prove sceptical about any declaration
emanating from such an unreliable source, a sensible editor would have

But no, the Herald went on to quote the minister at length as he tried to
joke about Condoleezza's Rice's name (Dr Mupunga), claim that Zimbabwe was
the victim of a campaign of vilification, and in the same breath suggest all
this stems from the ruling party's anti-Blair campaign. "The claims from the
West are simply because we have embarked on an anti-Blair campaign for our
elections and they can see the land is in our hands," Dr Mad Made said. So
the vilification is aimed at the British prime minister? And land is in the
hands of ministers?

This is all useful to know. As for the claim that "God has been smiling on
us and.the land reform is a resounding success", that is not what was said
at the Zanu PF congress when Made gave his report. Ask Cde Chikowore!

Just when you thought the police might be addressing concerns about their
independence and professionalism by avoiding political statements, Deputy
Commissioner Levy Sibanda comes to the rescue with a pronouncement that
removes any doubt as to where the police stand.
Speaking at a belated end-of-year party in Masvingo, he castigated the UK
and US for giving refuge to fugitive businessmen. "Ironically, only a few
days back the UK acknowledged that there is no evidence of political
persecution in Zimbabwe and this only goes to show how desperate the UK has
become always shifting goalposts and imposing immoral sanctions against our
leaders under the guise that there is no rule of law in Zimbabwe." Perhaps
it should be spelt out for the deputy commissioner that in a society
governed by the rule of law, those upholding the law should be seen as
independent of partisan politics. That means avoiding the repetition of the
ruling party's childish claims about Britain and the United States.

He should also understand that politicians who manipulate elections or
employ violence as an electoral tool are likely to find themselves isolated
on the world stage, even if they have more recently renounced violence.
Furthermore, foreign governments won't cooperate in the return of
 "fugitives" where they see the police as partisan, detention without trial
as routine, and the courts as suborned.

Muckraker was amused to hear of a recent incident involving a minister and
one of his media minions. Apparently, sensing the minister's receding
authority, the minion, an important figure in his own right, proved
reluctant to attend one of his boss's endless policy meetings aimed at
ensuring everybody sings on message.
The minion sent a little message of his own to another senior official
expressing relief when the meeting was cancelled. But it was then suddenly
revived and the minion was embarrassed to be reminded by the minister that,
despite his recent setbacks, he was still master of all he surveyed in his
ministry with the power to hire and fire!
The minion's text messages had been going straight to the minister's mobile
instead of to the intended recipient.
There is perhaps another message here. When next hiring key officials, the
minister should at least ensure they are technologically literate!
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Zim Independent

Tourism masterplan out
Godfrey Marawanyika
GOVERNMENT has come up with an empowerment plan that will see the tourism
industry opening up to more indigenous players, businessdigest can reveal.

The new indigenous players will be guaranteed financial assistance from

The plan is contained in a policy document by the Ministry of Environment
and Tourism titled, "National Tourism Policy: Government of Zimbabwe".

The draft document says that the development of tourism will be based on
four broad policy objectives - environmental, economic, social/cultural and

The tourism plan comes hard on the heels of another policy by government
which seeks to increase indigenous participation in the mining industry.

"In line with the national government policy of indigenisation, this policy
seeks to open the tourism industry to the participation of the majority of
Zimbabweans, bearing in mind the high entry costs particularly for the
hospitality sector," the policy plan says.

"The government of Zimbabwe will facilitate access of tourism resources to
the majority through land leases, permits and financial resources. The
government will develop and implement capacity building programmes for local
communities and local investors," it says.

The document notes that the country's tourism sector has grown on the
guiding principle of "high value low volume" tourism, catering for a small
segment of the market and heavily dependent on traditional markets.

Under the new plan, government expects to get support from the Zimbabwe
Tourism Authority, Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Air Zimbabwe,
the private sector and the media.

The plan aims for "diversification and new initiatives towards making
tourism the catalyst for economic development. It will guide in opening up
the sector to new source markets, diversifying the product base and
encourage participation by the majority of Zimbabweans."

According to the plan, Air Zimbabwe would be allowed to privatise.

"The national airline offers access from source markets and to local
destinations," the document says.

"It is a vital link towards the development of tourism. To achieve this, the
airline should be encouraged to fly to those markets targeted by the local
industry and to the local destinations within Zimbabwe". It should be
"encouraged to form strategic alliances with other global players in the
aviation industry. It should be allowed to privatise and run autonomously."

National Parks are expected to take a lead in the protection of the natural
habitat and wildlife in the safari areas and the facilities, and
opportunities given to the public for camping, hunting, fishing, photography
and the viewing of animals.

Last month National Parks hiked wildlife and operation leases by between
350% and 850%, a move which could force a number of operators out of

The department is now demanding an annual rental of between $36 million and
$85 million.

The number of visitors coming into the country has been on the decrease over
the past five years, negatively impacting on safari operators.

Between January and September 2004 tourist arrivals slumped by 29%.

A total of 1 271 904 tourists visited Zimbabwe, representing a 29% decrease
compared to 1 793 128 during the same period in 2003.

Under the plan, government says priority will be given to tourist projects
that benefit local communities and ensure environmental protection.

The masterplan says that as part of accounting for funds generated by
tourism, government will develop tourism satellite accounts in association
with Central Statistical Office so that this revenue is reflected in
national accounts.

The document says government will lease out state land with "high tourism
potential to local investors".

"The government will establish tourism financial mechanisms so as to
facilitate the meaningful participation of the local population."

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Zim Independent

Falgold on brink of closure
Roadwin Chirara/Ndamu Sandu
GOLD producer Falcon Gold (Falgold) says viability problems will force it to
shut down all its mining operations in Zimbabwe despite the gold price
review announced last week by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

RBZ governor Gideon Gono last week reviewed the price of gold to $130 000
per gramme, up from last year's $92 000 after serious lobbying from the
mining industry.

Gono said producers who wanted to retain part of their gold proceeds in
foreign currency would sell 60% at the going support price, and 40% at the
international gold price and retain the foreign exchange proceeds in their
foreign currency accounts (FCAs).

But Falgold said the price increase made last week was still not enough to
keep their mines running.

Falgold's financial director, Garry Perotti, told businessdigest this week
that the company could shut down in the next six months if the situation
does not improve.

"Looking at figures, it does not look good for the company, we might have to
close down. I do not think the company will still be operating by the next
monetary policy review," said Perotti.

He said high operational costs continued to erode the company's revenue.
Perotti said the cost of electricity and labour had increased significantly.

He said the new minimum wage for the industry, currently pegged at $735 000
per month was too high.

The new wage structure had to be backdated to April. A 33% increase was
awarded from April 1, another 33% awarded from July 1 and a further 53%
increase was awarded from October 1.

Perotti said Falgold had made representations to the Chamber of Mines on its
current operational problems and had recommended a price adjustment in an
effort to break even. He said the company was currently looking at raising
the $4,7 billion which is required for operational costs this year.

The situation has been worsened after potential offshore investors refused
to inject more funds to save the company. The investors cited the high risk
associated with the sector.

"The lack of investor confidence is worsening the situation as investors are
not willing to invest because of the uncertainty on their investments,"
Perotti said.

Falgold, Perotti said, was currently mining low-grade ore because of the
lack of funds to mine deeper where higher grades of ore are found.

"We get our operating finance from the mines and if the qualities from the
mines remain low, then really the situation is one where we have to take the
only appropriate action," said Perotti.

Founded in 1991, Falgold operates Dalny Mine (Chakari), Venice Mine (Kadoma)
and Golden Quarry & Camperdown Tribute (Shurugwi).
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Zim Independent

Monetary policy review - too early to say .
By Admire Mavolwane
LAST Wednesday's statement turned out to be the proverbial fuel to an
already raging fire. Since then the stock market has gained 31%, this
despite weakening by 31 150,88 points this Wednesday to close at 2 125
252,57 points.

The cut in the bank rate from 110% to 95% for secured lending, and further
reductions being envisaged that by June 1 2005 should see the main rate in
the country at 70%, left investors with no option but to switch from the
money market into shares.

The governor dangled an even bigger carrot, with those non-horticultural
companies acquitting their CD1s within 90 days retaining 70% in their FCA
and liquidating the balance at the full auction rate. Horticulture's carrot
was a bit smaller at 45 days. The stick remained at 10% at $824 after 90
days. In effect the stick part of the scheme has been deleted from the

The immediate impact of this initiative is to increase companies export
revenues by 9,5%.With the virtual abolition of the $824 exchange rate, the
focus then shifted to exporting counters Cottco, Tanganda, Ariston and
Interfresh which gained 60%, 42%, 36%, and 28%, respectively.

Few captains of industry, however, have either the time or the inclination
to read the whole of a 210-page document containing nearly 100 separate
items with 3 annexures giving information on 10 troubled banks and lists of
over 120 contributors or advisors to the statement. Even fewer are likely to
devote their attention to the details of exchange control administration
directives or production targets and extortions on improving efficiency,
particularly when they related primarily to the public sector and local

The area to examine for what practical implications the statement has for
the conduct of business are thus likely to be delegated to specialists and
advisors so that it will be some time before the contents of such a massive
work will be fully digested.

This may, admittedly, be to the disadvantage of some enterprises or
individual firms in some sectors but it suggests that the Governor does not
do himself any favours by attempting to cover so much territory at one time.
His efforts may therefore fall short of his very lofty expectations for
promoting a speedy economic turnaround.

Narrowing down the analysis to manageable proportions, so as to facilitate
concentration upon what can be gathered about the three generally accepted
concerns of monetary policy, namely, money supply, interest and exchange
rates, initial reaction must be that little has in fact been changed despite
the massive commentary represented by the January statement.

With regard to money supply, the basic objective is to reduce annual broad
money (M3) growth from an estimated 150% in December 2004 to 60% by mid -
2005. Since most people believe, with varying degrees of conviction, that
the rate of growth in money supply has a bearing on inflation the Governor's
proposals in this respect will be generally welcome.

A degree of uneasiness, however, creeps in once the likely extent of public
sector spending growth in 2005 is taken into account. Spending in terms of
Parastatal and Local Authorities Reorientation Programme (Plarp); increases
in civil service remuneration; budget tax concessions; quasi fiscal support
for selected exporters; the establishment of the Zimbabwe Allied Banking
Group; the Productive Sector Facility and the facility proposed through the
agency of the Energy, Housing and Infrastructure Development Bank together
constitute an additional $23-25 trillion expansion in spending this year.

This is considerably more than the $19 trillion increased expenditure
proposed in the budget estimates suggesting that the true budget deficit
will be much more than double the 5% of GDP envisaged. This looks hardly
likely to reduce money supply growth or inflation.

The projected over 30% reduction in the structure of interest rates, while
undoubtedly welcome to borrowers and spenders is unlikely to reverse the
shift of resources from investment to consumption and will also boost money
supply growth which cannot all be neutralised through statutory reserve
payments or open market operations without negating the whole purpose of the
reduction in rates.

While an arithmetical case can be advanced for an "exporter friendly"
exchange rate of 595% in 2005 the indicated extent of the decline in
inflation is increasingly questioned by professionals and at variance with a
growing body of empirical evidence which suggests that even export sector
profitability has not been growing at anything like that rate in real terms
and that the viability of the non exporter and public sectors is
increasingly being threatened.

The situation cannot be held together indefinitely by the extension of what
are in fact even more multiple exchange rates - this time to platinum
producers - without introducing even more distortions in resource allocation
inimical to the effective workings of the economy as a whole.

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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

      Mt Makwavarara

      Dear Ms Makwavarara TO say that I am disappointed with your ability to
deliver as mayoress of Harare would be too expectant of your capabilities. I
have always doubted your aptitude to lead the capital whether as mayoress or
chairperson of that patently improper commission you head.

      However, even if many share my sentiments about your ineffectiveness,
you at least have to do something to justify your presence at Town House.

      Dr Gideon Gono, to remind you, is still in Father Christmas mode and
last week he released a plan to ensure that Harare and other local
authorities receive cheap financing from the central bank.

      You might be aware that Harare is entitled to $200 billion out of the
$1 trillion availed to local authorities countrywide. Gono believes that the
money would help councils, including Harare, overcome a number of handicaps
they face.

      Gono, in his Comprehensive Programme for Municipal Reform,
interestingly identifies the role of local authorities in sabotaging
national recovery efforts.

      ".operational inefficiencies and rigidities inherent in
municipalities, mainly as a result of accumulation of debt obligations and
inadequate strategic programme design and execution, stand as a significant
hurdle to smooth transmission of fiscal, structural and monetary policies to
the corporate and household sectors," his RBZ programme document says.

      Gono has hit the nail on the head. What stands as a "significant
hurdle" to service delivery in Harare at the moment is the "inadequate
strategic programme design and execution" by the team of commissioners which
you currently lead. It is not exactly your fault because Harare, unlike
Bulawayo, does not have a tradition of adequate service delivery. I do not
therefore expect you to do any better. Records at your office, I am sure,
are replete with details on the failure of the Chanakira Commission and the
administration of the late Solomon Tawengwa. Your performance to date
belongs to the same files.

      Am I being unfair here? Perchance there are remarkable achievements to
your credit since your largely expected defection from the MDC to join Zanu
PF where you are now couched in the arms of Central Committee heavyweights.
The perks include a farm and chairmanship of the commission.

      As far as I am concerned, you, together with town clerk Nomutsa
Chideya, were not handed a poisoned chalice by the previous administration.
You willingly partook in the brewing of the bitter concoction in the cup. I
understand that you had a hand in kicking out elected executive mayor Elias
Mudzuri because he did not dance to Minister Ignatious Chombo's discordant
tune. Is it called Don't Listen To Ratepayers? Whatever it is called, you
have mastered the dance routines with stunning agility.

      All this however is supremely unimpressive. Your most notable
achievement to date, if I may say, is the towing away of double-parked
vehicles in city centre streets and the extortionate penalties your
administration is demanding before releasing the vehicles back to their

      Otherwise all I see is that the rubbish piles in high-density areas
have grown into mountains. I propose naming a notorious one at the vegetable
market in Mbare Mt Makwavarara in your honour.

      What has happened to refuse collection? Your official excuse has been
shortage of diesel, which is currently plentiful. Let's hear the next excuse

      Close to Mt M, emergent entrepreneurs sell fresh meat along Ardbennie
Road. City by-laws forbid this, I believe. You would rather not deal with
this potential health hazard but tow away vehicles. That's conventional

      After dedicating Mt M and shopping at the street-side butcheries,
please visit the footbridge spanning Julius Nyerere Way. Could you please
find out why the public no longer use the bridge. Take Joseph Chinotimba
with you since he is experienced in visiting allyways which have been turned
into public toilets. His experience in Glen Norah would be invaluable. It's
next to your office so the Merc can stay in the car park.

      The potholes on our roads are bad enough but your workers must not add
to the already existing danger. Could you please advise council workers that
when they dig a hole in the middle of the road, they should not leave the
scene without either covering the hole or putting in place proper detour
signs. I was last weekend nearly ensnared in a crater along Kenneth Kaunda
Avenue opposite Farm & City.

      I have also noticed that more and more robots at intersections are not
working. It gets worse when police who are supposed to control traffic in
those situations add to the confusion or simply give up. Two cops in
reflective clothing stood by the roadside the other day at the corner of
Seke and Cripps roads when the robots were malfunctioning. They were only
triggered to life by the passage of the presidential motorcade.

      The police are not your responsibility but who is responsible for your
dysfunctional equipment?

      I am also urging you to visit the council banking hall at Rowan Martin
during month ends when people are paying their rates and charges. Is it your
policy that cashiers should take long lunch breaks, leaving one or two
officials to attend to hundreds of people? Is this not an advertisement for

      If it's not, please tell me what it is? I offer this space for your
response at your convenience. Let's see how long that takes in coming.

      Your disgruntled resident,

      Vincent Kahiya.

      *PS: Repair the burst pipe along Wyatt Road in Avondale West. It's
been like that for over a year. What about gaping holes on pavements in the
city centre, laundry in First Street, tall grass in suburbs, there was no
water in Chadcombe.

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Zim Independent

Media stifled by harsh laws and thuggery
By Gugulethu Moyo
BARELY one month into the New Year and with a general election looming, it
comes as no surprise that Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's first new law
of 2005 tightens the noose around the neck of the country's media.

Silencing opposition by passing undemocratic laws and unleashing strongmen
and thugs, particularly against journalists, is part of the charter of the
Mugabe government for remaining in power.

Amendments to the Orwellian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (Aippa), signed into law by Mugabe at the beginning of the year,
dictates that journalists who work without the approval of a state-appointed
media regulator can be imprisoned for two years. Another law awaiting only
the president's signature will introduce jail sentences of up to 20 years
for anyone convicted of communicating ill-defined "falsehoods" deemed
prejudicial to the state.

These adjustments to the original Aippa 2002 legislation affirm the one
immutable constant of Zimbabwean journalism -- the Mugabe government will
stop at nothing to silence criticism. And those who dare to speak out
against the government will be punished.

In the three years I worked as legal adviser to the now-banned Daily News,
Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper, journalists were charged with
all manner of catch-all criminal offences that were difficult to disprove
but which were punishable by jail terms under several oppressive laws -
insulting the president; undermining public confidence in state
institutions; engaging in threatening and abusive conduct; and inciting
illegal demonstration.

The state persecuted Daily News journalists and others by dragging out
pre-trial processes for months or even years. Those that were charged were
charged purely in order to frighten them - none were ever convicted under
the aforementioned vague legislation.

However, these mechanisms of intimidation proved inadequate for Mugabe's
grander designs - the elimination of particular independent newspapers and
radio stations, or the redirection of their editorial policies.

It was to get over this problem that Mugabe had the national assembly
legislate Aippa in March 2002 as his most powerful and effective weapon.

Aippa effectively made the continued publication of newspapers and the
practice of journalism contingent on government whim.

To obtain the legal right to practice as a journalist under Aippa, an
application must be submitted to a Media and Information Commission - a
regulatory body whose head is known in Zimbabwean media circles as the
"hatchet man" because of his allegiance to the ruling party and his
diligence in instituting the repressive policies of the state.

Under Aippa, three newspapers have been forced to close. These include the
Daily News, the country's most popular daily, which was read by just under a
tenth of Zimbabwe's 11,5 million population. Scores of journalists have been
forbidden the right to work lawfully under this legislation and hundreds
more have lost their jobs because of the newspaper closures.

Aippa, together with the draconian Public Order and Security Act, which
limits the right of assembly and association, is a grotesque mimicry of
legislation, crafted by a government skilled in its use of the law to
pervert the law. These Acts negate the fundamental right to freedom of
expression and are devoid of the essential qualities deemed necessary to
make them law at all in most functioning democracies. They have
attractedworldwide condemnation from human rights organisations and media
freedom watchdogs.

Ironically, these are similar laws to those used by Ian Smith during the
Rhodesian era to oppress the liberation movements and prevent people gaining
independence from the colonial regime.

However, all the harshest laws of the modern Zimbabwean state fall short of
silencing all journalists. The state therefore reverts unashamedly to
unlawful means when the law fails to silence its targets. In May 2003, after
the state failed to secure a conviction against foreign correspondent Andrew
Meldrum under Aippa, he was forcibly abducted and deported with only the
clothes he was wearing. Meldrum, an American, had reported from Zimbabwe for
22 years for the London papers The Guardian and The Observer. With Meldrum's
removal, there were no foreign correspondents left in Zimbabwe: all others
had already been thrown out.

On four occasions in early 2004, police invaded the premises of the Daily
News and prevented its journalists from going to work.

From its launch in March 1999, a watershed year for Zimbabwean politics when
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change was founded and quickly gained
popular support, the title was a thorn in the side of the Mugabe regime.

While the state-controlled media increasingly propped up the government,
Daily News reporters sought out dissenting voices and by March 2000 sales
had overtaken those of the Mugabe-approved newspapers. It was a real
rejection of propaganda by Zimbabweans.

Then the intimidation and harassment started. The Daily News offices and
printing press were bombed in 2001 after the government's zealous
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo - known among journalists as "Mugabe's
Goebbels" - said the newspaper was "a threat to national security (and) had
to be silenced". Assassins were hired to kill - without success - editor
Geoff Nyarota.

Thousands of newspapers were destroyed on the streets by government
supporters and vendors and readers were terrorised and assaulted. One reader
was murdered simply because he possessed a copy of the Daily News. Police
stood aside as all this happened.

If the government did not like a story, journalists would be picked up and
"persuaded" - often violently -- to modify their views. Police would make
the arrests without knowing what the "suspects" were to be charged with. It
really did not matter, since there was a big raft of repressive legislation
to choose from.

During my first week at work in 2002, the Daily News editor and two
journalists were arrested and charged with publishing a falsehood. They were
jailed for two days and faced two years' imprisonment, though never
convicted. Several weeks later, three Daily News staffers went to cover an
opposition rally to mark International Youth Day. They were beaten up,
dragged off to the police station and held for 48 hours while the
authorities decided on the charges. Eventually, a charge of engaging in
threatening and abusive conduct was settled on. The case was eventually
dismissed, but not before one of the journalists suffered a broken arm and
the other a broken finger at the hands of their captors.

I was also assaulted by the police. My crime? I was the lawyer for the Daily

The Daily News staff were incredibly courageous people. They had a job to do
and persevered, despite the constant terror under which they operated.

Many continue to operate in defiance of all the restrictive laws.

Denied a licence by the Media and Information Commission for daring to
dispute the legitimacy of Aippa and other laws, the newspaper has never been
able to reopen, although a skeleton staff of about 15 remain and publish a
Website report from outside the country. Court challenges to Aippa are
continuing, but if the Daily News is ever allowed to publish again I cannot
imagine many journalists will want to return to a place that was the site of
so much trauma.

Despite what is happening, information still gets out of Zimbabwe. There are
weekly newspapers that continue to publish and, as best they can, criticise
the injustice they see around them. However, they reach a far smaller
audience than the Daily News did. Many former Daily News journalists have
left the country to set up, or write for, foreign-based publications,
working to expose human rights violations taking place in Zimbabwe, a
service more crucial than ever as elections approach.

The fact that people continue to do this despite the danger, and despite the
fact the government still feels the need for further deterrent measures
against the press, is to me a sign of hope. As long as Mugabe and his
followers feel threatened by the written word there is hope.

*Gugulethu Moyo is a former legal adviser to the Daily News and is now a
media relations adviser for South African Studies at the International Bar
Association in London.
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Zim Independent

The corruption of Zimbabwe's value system
By Chido Makunike
IN evaluating how we are doing as a country, the easiest parameters of
measurement are those we can put at least approximate numerical values to.
For instance, what the rate of inflation is today compared to a year ago
gives a rough guideline of one variable that is important to the quality of

But if there has been such a drastic drop in inflation as it is said there
has been in the last year, why is there no collective sense of euphoria in
the country? Why is the general "mood" of the country no better now than a
year ago when inflation was ten times today's rate?

One obvious answer is that inflation is only one measure of how a country is
doing. Many of the other immeasurable parameters of the quality of life have
not changed for the betterment at all.

"Quality of life" is a broad concept that encompasses far more than just
economic parameters, important as they are. So the general feeling about the
decline in inflation is relief at the return to a very relative "normality"
in this important but limited regard. But no one has any illusion that it
means we are anywhere near where we would like to be as a relatively normal,
peaceful, confident and hopeful society.

One way that is not easily measurable of how in recent years we have strayed
from many of the things that were positive about Zimbabwe is the distortion
of our value system. For instance, we have gone through periods in this
country where violence was very much state policy against groups of
citizens. This began during the days of Rhodesia but there was a presumption
that Independence and majority rule would mean a "people's government" that
would rule by a higher standard and value system than the Rhodesian one. In
the 1980s we had the massacres in Matabeleland that the ruling authorities
only grudgingly admitted to having been " a sad chapter" many years later.

That belated admission did not mean that those tactics had been learned from
and put behind us however! Just five years ago we again experienced a
situation where the government and its various arms sanctioned and
instigated widespread violence against certain groups of citizens.

Fast forward to election season, 2005. Much has been made of how President
Mugabe has called for "zero-tolerance" of violence and for a peaceful poll.
The rest of the state machinery has dutifully taken up this call. But this
is sending very confusing signals to society.

Which is the real Mugabe? The one who has previously boasted of his capacity
for violence and sanctioned its use against groups of citizens who disagreed
with him as is their right, or the now "peaceful" Mugabe who has sometimes
been said to be a "devout" Catholic? Has he seen the error of his ways in
this regard and been "born again", or is this just the latest in a long line
of tactics to control, confuse and oppress us? How does one reconcile the
Mugabe who spews frightening hate and inciteful invective against citizens
merely exercising their democratic rights when it suits him, but then the
next minute switches to playing the role of great peacemaker? What is the
value system of the president of the country, if any, and what effect does
it have on the society?

Obviously the contradictions are too stark to be reconciled. This blatant
hypocrisy of the whole power structure in relation to the citizenry and the
mixed signals it sends out is what I mean when I say that at an intuitive
level, society realises that they are being manipulated. There is plenty of
evidence to justify their skepticism about how genuine the calls for "peace"
are. How can the man whose incitement of his supporters and the organs of
the state to violence have caused so much dislocation, dispossession,
impoverishment, rape and murder now attempt to re-incarnate himself as a
great peacemaker and expect to be taken seriously? The fact that our fear of
the president and his whole support structure forces us to act as if we don't
see these glaring incongruities is just one of many ways in which we are a
deeply abused and wounded society.

All this is part of what I mean when I say our basic value system has been
distorted and corrupted. We are a society abused by those who should
actually be protecting us! This cannot be changed overnight, nor is it
affected by how much inflation has gone down or how some other economic
parameter has improved.

We have recently seen a predictable upsurge in the arrests of opposition
party MPs and other activists in the run-up to the election. Very often the
charges against them are so flimsy as to cause the arresting authorities to
be viewed with contempt by the public. Other times there are no charges even
brought, making it clear the intent of the arrests is pure harassment and
intimidation. And yet on the ruling party side we actually have aspiring
candidates whose main claim to fame has been their adeptness in recent years
at violence and intimidation on behalf of the government and the ruling
party. No charges are brought against them or their cases are simply not
processed, allowing them to act as if they are perfectly respectable members
of society.

There is not even an attempt to try to cover up these obvious contradictions
in the way rules are applied, perpetrated by the same system we would
normally hope to appeal to for fairness and reprieve from abuse. What does
it say about our value system when someone is jailed for rape in one
circumstance, but in another circumstance and time widespread rape is
considered a perfectly legitimate political tool, as was the case around the
time of the last general election?

Cases of thievery are some of the most popular human-interest stories in the
papers, and they have clearly been on the upsurge in recent years. But what
does it mean that a bank teller, store clerk or security guard is jailed for
theft when the ruling authority admits that there is far bigger and
widespread corruption within its ranks? How then can we possibly have any
respect for that ruling authority?

*Chido Makunike is a regular Zimbabwe Independent columnist.
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Zim Independent

Disappointed by Biti's selective use of truth
Denford Magora
I FIND I can not let Tendai Biti's article ("More self-congratulatory lies",
Zimbabwe Independent, January 28), stand.

The MDC secretary for economics lays into the Governor of the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe Gideon Gono, accusing him of unbridled personal ambition and
lying. And, as we have now come to expect from the MDC, the criticisms are
neither substantiated by fact nor backed with alternative policies to the
ones that Biti is tearing apart.

To start with, let us look at the growth forecasts that Biti says are
"fanciful". I am truly sick of the MDC embracing statistics when it suits
them and rejecting them when the truth appears inconvenient to the MDC

Let me remind Biti that last year the IMF forecast a GDP growth rate of 5%
for Zimbabwe. This is even more optimistic than the 3% forecast by Gono.

Yet, Zimbabwe did not hear Biti accusing the IMF of being a "functional
acolyte" of the Zanu PF regime. The IMF did not base its forecasts on the
assumption that the MDC will assume power in 2005. In fact, they made their
forecasts on the assumption that it will be business as usual in the Zanu PF
sense in Zimbabwe.

More alarmingly, Biti promotes a barefaced lie by stating that when Gono
took office, inflation was under 100% and Gono took it to 900% with his

How can a man who aspires to be a minister of finance in this country be so
out of touch with reality? Does he think we are stupid? Does he think we all
recently emigrated to Zimbabwe from some other land this year?

In December 2003, inflation was NOT under 100%. If Biti thinks it was, then
he was leading a more comfortable life than the struggling MDC supporters he
wants to hoodwink.

The fact of the matter was that when Gono took over at the RBZ, inflation
was already approaching the 100% mark and the MDC was hoping and praying for
a complete meltdown. The fact that Gono rescued the situation is actually
cause for concern within the ranks of the MDC if this half-baked article by
Biti is anything to go by.

Biti and his friends in the executive of the MDC wanted to ride into power
on the back of a completely destroyed economy, that can be the only
explanation for the vitriol that he pours on Gono. Biti and the MDC argue
that, but rescuing the situation, Gono is propping up President Mugabe.

He may be, but the more important result of Gono's passion is that he
rescued the situation for many ordinary Zimbabweans. Reality confirms this:
commercial banks are actually reducing their interest rates from a peak of
around 900% when Gono took over, to under 150% today. This is still
unacceptably high, but it is an improvement on the situation. The man in the
street knows this and will not be hoodwinked by Biti and his lies.

Then Biti jumps to the defence of the banks that had developed a culture of
impunity before Gono cracked the whip. Although I agree that the way Gono
dealt with the banking crisis was neither transparent nor
confidence-inspiring, it did achieve results.

When he came onto the scene, there were banks I know personally that had a
portfolio of close to 300 low-density houses in Harare alone. I had
witnessed a bank executive use depositors' funds to pay $900 million for a
house whose asking price was $450 million. To a large extent, this behaviour
fuelled inflation. Gono, upon taking office declared inflation Enemy Number
One. If he was serious at all about reducing inflation, he had to tackle the
banks which were driving prices up everywhere as part of their speculative

Gono did not precipitate the banking crisis as Biti states in his article.
He simply exposed it for all to see unless Biti is saying he was more
comfortable with the old regime where taxpayers' money was lent to these
banks on a daily basis with no questions asked.

The banking crisis was a result of irresponsible banks finding that their
speculative activities had run their coffers dry. They then approached the
RBZ for liquidity support and Gono, very sensibly, put the proviso that no
one should access public money unless they could demonstrate that they were
conducting business in the interests of the nation and to the benefit of all
its citizens.

If the banks that collapsed did not agree, they could simply have opted out
of liquidity support. Gono did not cause the liquidity crisis within our
banks. That's fact. But Biti thinks Zimbabweans are stupid.

On parastatals, I agree whole-heartedly with Biti. But I am afraid the tone
of the rest of his article makes one think that his very sensible comments
on parastatals are more of a case of Biti shooting wildly and hitting
something by pure chance rather than a case of deductive reasoning and
passion for excellence in our public enterprises.

The same applies to Biti's comments on the Zimbabwe Amalgamated Banking
Group (ZABG). Unless forced, no one is ever going to willingly walk into a
ZABG branch to open an account. People have suffered for close to a year
with their monies locked up, only to be forced to become shareholders
without even being consulted and the strength of public animosity against
the ZABG has been grossly underestimated by Gono and his people. It is an
exercise in futility that should just be left to die a quiet death. But, all
these valid points have been discredited by Biti's selective use of the
truth in his attempt to hoodwink Zimbabweans.

I repeat that I am extremely disappointed by this piece of fiction from
someone who hopes to become a minister of state, controlling the fate of the
economy. If he has problems with facts and the truth now, what will happen
when he gets into power?
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Zvinavashe evicted from Turnpike

Clemence Manyukwe
issue date :2005-Feb-04

RETIRED General Vitalis Zvinavashe's nephew William, was evicted on
Wednesday from Turnpike properties in a bitter ownership dispute that has
been raging for more than three years.
Recently, the Supreme Court struck off its register Zvinavashe's appeal
against a June 2004 High Court ruling, which blamed him for improperly
acquiring the properties from owners Kenneth Greebe and his wife Sheila in
The takeover deal was concluded when the Greebes wanted to retire to South
The Greebes contend that they received no payment for the properties that
include Turnpike Service Station and a lakeside mansion overlooking Lake
Chivero, while Zvinavashe maintained he paid his dues.
The highest court on the land threw out his appeal on January 24, on the
grounds that his heads of arguments had not been submitted within the
stipulated 15 days.
A subsequent application in the High Court last week seeking to stop his
eviction was also thrown out because the higher court had struck off the
Yesterday, Zvinavashe's lawyer, Aston Musunga of Musunga and Associates
admitted the eviction was within the parameters of the law, but noted that
they had applied to the Supreme Court to reinstate his client's appeal.
He explained that he did not personally work on the case, because Zvinavashe
had instructed another advocate to do it.
"We acted professionally on the matter, but the eviction was within the
 law," said Musunga.
He exonerated his law firm from Zvinavashe's loss saying the latter switched
lawyers, and they only took over his case well after the deadline for
submission of the heads of arguments.
However, in the Supreme Court appeal on January 26, Zvinavashe said he
delayed to file the papers because of problems in getting the evidence that
he indeed paid for the properties.
"I experienced problems in getting the further evidence which the applicants
had been informed was essential to proving our case in the form of proof.
This application in the main is for reinstatement of the appeal which was
struck off the roll on January 24 2005 for the non-timeous filing of
substantive heads in the appeal," reads part of Zvinavashe's founding
Zvinavashe also cited the lack of ample time to submit the same evidence in
the appeal.
Greebe's lawyer, Jonathan Samkange of Byron and Venturas could not be
reached as he was said to be out of the county.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Mutare under probe

From Our Correpodent in Mutare
issue date :2005-Feb-04

THE future of the MDC-led Mutare City Council is uncertain after the
Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing started
probing the municipality for alleged maladministration.
David Munyoro, the ministry of local government secretary, last week
appointed a four member team to carry out an administrative systems audit of
the beleaguered council following recommendations by Manicaland provincial
administrator, Fungai Mbetsa to do so.
The probe team is made up of Makoni district administrator, Cosmas Chiringa
(Chairman), Mutare district administrator, Justin Chivavaya (member),
Ministry's senior internal auditor, E. M. Mhlanga (member) and an
administrative officer in the provincial administrator offices W Mashava
(Secretary). According to impeccable sources in the council, the team was
tasked to probe the local authority on alleged shoddy corporate governance,
financial mismanagement and human resources mismanagement, among other
The finding of the team would be handed over to Local Government Minister,
Ignatius Chombo next week for consideration.
A correspondence letter in possession of this newspaper on terms of
reference for the team forwarded to the PA by Munyoro on January 14, reads
in part: "With regard to your brief on the purported poor state of affairs
in the management of Mutare City Council, I have duly appointed a team to
carry out an administrative systems audit of Mutare City Council."
The sources said the local authority's future hangs by a thread as
indications showed that a series of irregularities were unearthed. City
executive mayor, Misheck Kagurabadza could not be reached for comment, as
his secretary said he was too
busy to entertain The Daily Mirror.
However, authoritative sources maintained that moral was at its lowest
ebb at the Civic Centre as both councillors and management awaits the
results of the
"All is not well at the civic centre; everyone is shivering and since Monday
councillors and managers had held a series of marathon meetings to try and
come out with strategies to challenge an imminent ousting," said an official
who requested anonymity.
Relations between the council and its parent ministry took a nosedive since
April last year, after Chombo froze the hiking of rates and tariffs.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Losing candidate probed for grain abuse

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Feb-04

THE Grain Marketing Board's (GMB) Midlands regional manager, Goodwill Shiri,
who stood in Zanu PF primaries for Mberengwa East and lost, is being
investigated by the grain utility for allegedly abusing the parastatal's
maize and vehicles to win votes.
Shiri initially won the poll in the constituency against the Minister of
State for State Enterprises and Parastatals, Rugare Gumbo, but the latter
appealed against the outcome on the grounds that counting had not been
conducted at two polling stations - Urasha and Mbuya Nehanda.
 Gumbo's appeal was successful, and when counting was  done at the two
stations, he went on to narrowly beat Shiri.
However, allegations have emerged against Shiri that he moved an unknown
quantity of grain from other areas in the Midlands province to the
constituency where which he was eying.
GMB vehicles are alleged to have been used in the movement, with one of them
being involved in an accident that resulted in one of the employees (name
supplied) sustaining injuries that he had to be hospitalised for days. On
Friday, the GMB's acting chief executive officer, Samuel Muvuti confirmed
the incident.
"We have summoned him and sent an investigation team to establish what
really transpired. We heard that maize was moved from a certain area of
deficit to another area of deficit,"
Muvuti said under normal circumstances, the GMB's logistics and distribution
manager is supposed to sanction the grain's movement.
When contacted yesterday Shiri was evasive.
" I am not aware of anything. There is nothing amiss. Why don't you wait for
the conclusion of the investigation if you want the truth?"  he said.
He, however, confirmed that grain was indeed moved to Mberengwa East, but
added that the trucks were hired ones, as the grain utility did not have any
"Mberengwa, Zvishavane and Chirumanzu are drought prone areas. People there
would be hungry whether there is an election campaign or not," added Shiri.
Gumbo said he had been aware of the alleged abuse during the campaigning and
had at one time warned Shiri about it.
nIn Mutare, the Zanu PF Manicaland provincial deputy youth chairman and
parliamentary candidate for Mutare South, Freddie Kanzama, is under fire for
allegedly politicising the distribution and sale of maize grain in the
Villagers in the constituency told The Daily Mirror that Kanzama - using
Zanu PF structures - had hi-jacked the distribution of grain from the GMB
and sold it only to Zanu PF card-carrying members.
Ruling party members with old cards, the villagers further alleged, were
ordered to obtain new ones introduced last November or risk being excluded
from the benefit.
Last week, Zanu PF Zimunya district chairperson, a Gupa, declared that maize
grain would only be sold to villagers whose produced party's new card.
Said Gupa to the villagers: "Aka ndiko kekupedzisira kutengesa chibage kune
vasina makadhi eZanu PF.  Uyezve tinoda makadhi matsva chete. Izvi ndizvo
zvatakawirirana necandidate yedu.  (This is the last time for selling maize
grain to non Zanu PF card holders. We will consider only the new cards. That's
what we agreed with our parliamentary candidate)."
Efforts to get comment from Kanzama over the past week were blocked by his
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Summons for defiant farmers

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Feb-04

THE Chinhoyi's magistrates' court has issued summons against 10 white
commercial farmers in Mashonaland West province who allegedly defied Section
8 orders, which compelled them to vacate their properties.
Sources in the province said some of the affected farmers remained on the
farms arguing they had no were else to go.
The farmers' lawyer, Edmore Jori of Harare law firm, Wintertons, confirmed
to The Daily Mirror yesterday his clients would appear at Chinhoyi
Magistrates Court on different days starting February 14.
The lawyer added that the summons were issued sometime towards the end of
last year, but could not be drawn into saying much.
"I will hold meetings soon with the farmers to prepare their defence
outline. At the moment it's a bit too premature to disclose anything," Jori
The Minister of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, John Nkomo yesterday
declined to comment on the matter saying he was busy.
The government's land reform programme, which started in 2000, has been met
with resistance in some quarters, due to differences in its implementation.
The programme was also dogged by controversy, with some senior government
officials accused of grabbing more than one farm at the expense of the
landless majority.
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Govt urged to declare public holiday

From Our Correspondent in Bulawayo
issue date :2005-Feb-04

civic organisations based in Bulawayo yesterday urged the government to
declare March 31, 2005 - date set for parliamentary elections - a public
Felix Mafa, the executive director of the Post Independence Survivors Trust
(Pist), a civic organisation which promotes human rights, said since March
31 would be a working day it would be ideal to declare the day a public
holiday to give workers an opportunity to vote.
"Traditionally all previous elections in this country have been held during
weekends when the electorate has amble time to cast their votes.  Fixing the
elections dates on a Thursday is tantamount to depriving a number of people
the opportunity to choose candidates of their choice," said Mafa.
Mafa said his organisation is concerned that some apolitical employers might
refuse to release their employers to go and vote on a Thursday.
"I am appealing to all political parties and civic organizations to approach
the courts because holding the elections on a Thursday is undemocratic as
well as unconstitutional.
The date will disenfranchise urban voters," said Mafa.
His sentiments were also shared by Max Mkandla, the president of the
Zimbabwe Liberators Peace Initiative (ZLPI), a coalition of ex-detainees,
war veterans, war restrictees and war collaborators. He said the only option
was to declare the day a public holiday.
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