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Zimbabwe Independent

Information Bill: no takers for Moyo's 'satanic verses'
Dumisani Muleya

INFORMATION minister Jona-than Moyo's political career is in trouble
following his botched attempt to give himself sweeping powers through the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill.

Analysts say the voluble spin-doctor - whose scorched earth media policy and
affinity for vituperation have seriously tarnished government's image - is
now "damaged goods".

Commentator Lovemore Madhuku said Moyo's failure to push through his
political empire-building scheme under the guise of regulating the media has
left him badly dented.

"He is seriously damaged," Madhuku observed. "I think he is aware of that
and that's why he is now struggling to recover lost ground."

Analysts say the unelected minister's ambitious project in which he -
according to parliamentary legal committee chair Eddison Zvobgo - tried to
create a "government" out of his department and arrogate to himself
"frightening powers" was nothing short of ridiculous.

British Labour politician Roy Hattersley said: "In politics, being
ridiculous is more damaging than being extreme."

Former Herald editor Bornwell Chakaodza said Moyo's dramatic reversal has
seriously undermined his position.

"It has definitely weakened his position," Chakaodza said. "It was really
satanic on the part of his department to create a monster called the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill. They wanted to bring hell on

Observers say Moyo overreached himself in his quest for unfettered power.

The blustering propaganda chief - whose thirst for demagoguery and political
theatre seems unquenchable - acted with reckless abandon.

"He went all over the show attacking opponents including journalists with
menacing ferocity," one observer noted this week. "He really did it to

It now appears his trailblazing career is headed for the rocks.

"Politics is just like show business, you have a hell of an opening, coast
for a while, and then have a hell of a close," said former US president
Ronald Reagan.

Zvobgo's committee, comprising another Zanu PF MP Kumbirai Kangai and
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislator Welshman Ncube,
refused to grant Moyo the enormous powers that he sought. In so doing they
inflicted a political reverse even greater than the Bulawayo mayoral poll
and constitutional referendum defeats. Moyo was in charge of the campaigns.

Ncube said Moyo was terribly wounded in the row over the Bill.

"There is no doubt that his wings have been clipped severely," said Ncube.
"He is grounded because all the unlawful powers that he wanted were withheld
by parliament."

Ncube however said the damage inflicted on Moyo during the bruising power
struggle within Zanu PF and parliament will not necessarily finish him
because he survives on Mugabe's goodwill. So long as Mugabe survives, so
will he.

"If it was in a functioning democracy one could safely say Moyo's image has
been battered beyond repair," Ncube pointed out. "But we are in such a
different political system that some incompetent and lazy officials are
appointed by Mugabe for their loyalty and not capabilities."

Insiders say Mugabe is happy with Moyo because he has managed to divert
public attention from his master's appalling record. As Russian novelist
Alexander Solzhenitsyn put it in his commentary on the work of state
propagandists: "In our country the lie has become not just a moral category
but a pillar of the state."

Nevertheless, Moyo is seen as badly bruised by his ordeal over the past few

Zanu PF MPs and party luminaries played a significant role in thwarting
Moyo's Napoleonic designs. They resisted resolutely his attempts to climb
the ladder and occupy new political ground.
Zvobgo said had Moyo succeeded in smuggling his legislation through the
House, he would have been able to control other ministers, control the
government bureaucracy as well as supervise the functions of parliament and
the judiciary.

He would have been able to initiate investigations against oppo- nents and
direct police operations, access state secrets and personal information,
protect and target individuals, among other things.

"It is this kind of policing that is unlawful," Zvobgo said.

Although Moyo always claimed to know how a constitutional democracy works
his repressive Bill proved otherwise. He showed a great deal of ignorance on
the premises of democracy, critics point out. The Bill disregarded the need
for limitations on the state and its agencies.

"The original Bill was manifestly unconstitutional," Zvobgo said. "I can say
without equivocation that this Bill in its original form was the most
calculated and determined assault on our liberties guaranteed by the
constitution...what is worse, the Bill was badly drafted in that several
provisions were obscure, vague, over-broad in scope, ill- conceived and

Madhuku said it not surprising Moyo is now struggling to distance himself
from the authoritarian Bill he initially defended with fortitude.

Legal experts say even though Moyo is ignorant of the law he should at least
know that constitutions guarantee fundamental rights as well as organise,
structure and limit the exercise of power. This makes legislative blank
cheques impermissible.

"Ask yourself whether it is rational for a government in a democratic and
free society to require registration, licences and ministerial certificates
in order for people to speak," Zvobgo said in his magisterial striking down
of Moyo's profoundly flawed Bill.

The former cabinet minister said granting employees of public bodies
"blanket immunity" on disclosure of personal information and providing Moyo
with powers to review court decisions - as if he was a jury - was "patently
Most powers of Moyo's Media Commission were also ruled ultra vires for
"vagueness and arbitrariness" on top of violating fundamentals rights.

"Our constitution and laws provide for immunity in relation to debates in
parliament and, of course, to reports of all judicial proceedings," said

"To suggest that the same immunity be extended to a commission, some of
whose powers and functions are unconstitutional, is absurd."

Moyo's attempt to give himself powers to seize media products and equipment
were described as "arbitrary, dictatorial and unconstitutional".

Efforts to compel every journalist to be accredited by Moyo's commission
before he/she can work in Zimbabwe and attempts to restrict the profession
of journalism to Zimbabwean citizens or those with permanent residence
status were found unlawful.

In the end, Moyo had to surrender. Foreigners and non- Zimbabwean residents
who were already media owners before January 31 are now allowed to remain in
business, foreigners can still take non-controlling stakes in media
organisations and foreign journalists are no longer banned.

Foreign media groups with offices in the country are no longer required to
register although they have to be approved by the commission. Existing local
media groups are considered registered and journalists' associations can now
nominate three representatives to the commission as opposed to the earlier
proposal that Moyo be the sole source of the commission's authority.

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Blatant attempt at electoral fraud

IT is, no doubt, alongside thousands of other registered voters that I have received notice from government, by registered post, to the effect that it believes I am not entitled to be registered and further, that I am not qualified to be so. The stated grounds are that I am no longer a citizen of Zimbabwe. Although the latter contention is correct, I would expect someone describing themselves as a constituency registrar to be aware of the fact that other persons, apart from citizens, may exercise a right to vote.

For example, I am a permanent resident of this country and have de facto been so since 1954. As such I believe I am empowered to vote and if that is indeed the case I object strongly to being wilfully subjected to what I view as nothing less than harassment and a pathetic, officially-inspired attempt at electoral fraud in stating otherwise.

Government holds manifold records to show my status and if they can refer so readily to the one, then, with minimal effort, I'm sure, they can seek the others. That is the first point.

The second matter to which I draw attention, concerns the continuation of this unnecessary, obstructive, time-consuming, and, it bears repeating, act of fraudulent intent, by informing me that unless I give written notice of appeal within seven days of the date shown on the notice of objection, January 25, my claim to be a voter will be rejected and I will be struck off the roll.

Many might just accept their "disqualification", but if they don't redress it, it is being effectively denied anyway. This is because, apart from government being well aware of the deficiencies and vagaries of its own postal system, both of which conspire against timely delivery, there is what appears to be a deliberate doctoring of dates and timing which has made it quite impossible to meet the deadline imposed.

I have spoken to over a dozen similarly affected people and in each and every case, as with me, the notification was received at the expiry of the ultimatum. With exactly the same dates involved, in each case, is this not odd indeed?

My particular envelope was date-stamped by its issuer the next day (a Saturday incidentally) and was franked by Causeway post office on the Monday following, January 28. The certificate of posting a registered article was dated January 31 and was delivered to me on February 1.

By then it was effectively already out of time. However, I took delivery at the first available opportunity at the opening of the Borrowdale post office on February 2. I had the item date- stamped to that effect.

On opening the letter I read that if I were to give due notice of appeal, which I clearly had not been given any reasonable opportunity of doing, along with a deposit of $50, the matter would be set down for hearing before a magistrate.

And, with the backlog in the courts, when would this likely be, I wondered? After March 10 perhaps? Another thought, a magistrate? On a matter involving constitutional rights?

Are these people mad, or as I have little hesitation in maintaining, plain stupid?

Pro lege,

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Zimbabwe Independent - Muckraker

Ministers serving their kids a colonial diet!

SOUTH Africa's Sunday Times has been following up stories in the Zimbabwean
media that US and EU officials are probing the existence of funds held
abroad by Zimbabwean officials.

The paper reported last weekend that some ministers had reportedly paid more
than double their annual salaries on tuition and residence fees for children
enrolled at US universities. It gave the example of Education minister
Aeneas Chigwedere who it said had a child at Harvard where fees for tuition
and accommodation start at about Z$2,3 million a year.

Patrick Chinamasa was said to have a child at college in Michigan while Stan
Mudenge, Sydney Sekeramayi, Herbert Murerwa, Shuvai Mahofa and Emmerson
Mnangagwa all have, or had, children studying in Britain. Joyce Mujuru's
offspring attend school in Switzerland, it was reported.

While these reports remain unconfirmed they do suggest one thing: a pattern
of gross hypocrisy by Zimbabwe's leaders. Here are the same Zanu PF zealots
who, while telling us Zimbabwe will never be a colony again, are making
damned sure their kids get a full British or American education.

Last week we reported that leading chefs and indigenisation advocates are
educating their children at the exclusive Heritage School in Borrowdale
where the curriculum is set by Cambridge. Why are all these people, whose
suicidal economic policies and spurious nationalism have condemned
Zimbabweans to poverty, able to continue enjoying the benefits of countries
and systems they publicly denounce every day? Let's insist on an answer from
Zanu PF's Information department. Who's colonising who?

No doubt those ministers named in the Sunday Times report will be thanking
Moyo this week for having alienated every section of the South African
media. Their only consolation will be the knowledge that Moyo's own dirty
laundry, in the form of unaccounted-for donor funds, was also hung up on the
line for the edification of the South African public. The "apartheid press",
it appears, has struck back!

We were not surprised to hear that the Attorney-General's office is up in
arms over claims in the Sunday Mail that their legal draftsmen let ministers
down by doing such a shoddy job on the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Bill.

Everybody knows that the AG's office had only a passing acquaintance with
the Bill. The whole country, apart apparently from the Sunday Mail's
political editor, knows exactly where this chronically amateur effort was
cooked up. And it wasn't in the AG's office.

Director of Drafting Nelson Dias and his colleagues would have, at first
sight, a good claim to defamation costs against the Mail for impugning their
integrity. They were accused of negligence and "deliberately poor" work.

But Patrick Chinamasa, who invited constitutional commissioners to feed at
the trough of the Standard's limited resources when it transgressed in 2000
and was subject to a criminal defamation suit, has reportedly blocked an
attempt by AG staff to have their reputations cleared by the same route. The
usual double standards will apply.

All this adds fuel to the fire surrounding the Bill. The Herald carried an
intriguing front-page story last Saturday suggesting the Bill might not see
the light of day. There were doubts about "last-minute amendments" which
"offend against the integrity and policy thrust of the Bill", a "legal
source" told the paper.

In other words Jonathan Moyo will not be empowered to do what he wants. And
it would take time to set up the Media and Information Commission that is
charged with policing the press.

Moyo's frantic attempt to exclude the "last-minute" amendments led to a
reported altercation with Chinamasa who appeared understandably fed up with
being used as Moyo's chief enforcer. "Leave me alone" was the much-quoted
response to one "last-minute" import- unity.

This exchange has now been given a spin by Moyo - that he was merely seeking
clarification from the minister that the amendments were "as per our

As it stands, the Bill is stripped of many of its empire-building provisions
which Moyo and his team had assiduously inserted at every turn.
He is now bravely trying to make the most of a bad job. On Sunday, the
Sunday Mail carried an interview with him in which he declined numerous
invitations to have a go at Eddison Zvobgo. And he was equally statesmanlike
about Chinamasa who he described as "clear-minded and dedicated". It was not
the Justice minister's fault that the legal committee failed to keep its
"understanding" with him, Moyo gallantly declared.
But there was no disguising the comprehensive nature of the reverse.

"The Bill will become law if and when the president signs it," we are now
told. But no indication of when that would be. Those who suggested the Bill
was an election-related measure should "try another story", Moyo declared.

So something that in its original draconian form was a national imperative
requiring maximum coercion of MPs has now, pathetically mutilated, been
consigned to the political back burner. The amendments will require "careful
scrutiny," we are told, as if post-parliamentary pruning is possible. This
is not the constitutional commission, he should be reminded.

Moyo's final speech on the Bill last Thursday afternoon was by all accounts
a health warning for all he might have done to his detractors had he been
given the chance. Using the cover of parliamentary privilege, Moyo attacked
newspapers, editors, foreign correspondents and even advertising staff. He
assailed a long list of journalists from the past (including the deceased)
and present, referring by name to "hateful stringers of the apartheid
press". He repeated defamatory remarks about Joseph Winter and Mercedes
Sayagues, which President Mugabe had unwisely been advised to make last

It was, as one MP commented later, "a good advertisement for a very
disturbed mind and a sign of things to come if he had succeeded".

Moyo's virulent speech, which had obviously been prepared before his wings
were clipped by the legal committee, showed why parliament was right to
refuse him the sweeping powers he had sought. He would undoubtedly have
abused his powers under the Bill to get even with every single critic. That
may now take somewhat longer as the list grows and his clout diminishes. And
he had the cheek in the Sunday Mail to complain about the "personalisation"
of the debate on the Bill in the House.

Moyo is now damaged goods. He has failed in the president's mission to deal
with the independent media and he has alienated many in his party who
resented his sudden rise to power. Let's hope some of his failure rubs off
on his sponsor!

Chief Justice Chidyausiku's allegation that the judge in the trial of three
armed Americans was incompetent in letting them off so leniently in 1999
opens him up to criticism of a different sort.

In making his ruling the trial court judge took into account the period the
three were held at Chikurubi after their arrest and the treatment they
received there.

They were subject to repeated torture and abuse by prison and security
personnel. Despite this the state was unable to produce any evidence against
them apart from the weapons they carried and a "diagram of State House" -
which turned out to be a hand-drawn map an innocent third party had given
them to show where Morris Depot was located so they could obtain a weapons
licence from the police.

Even after the police had dropped the "diagram" from their enquiries, state
security minister Sydney Sekeramayi was claiming it proved there was a plot
to assassinate President Mugabe. And Attorney-General Patrick Chinamasa and
police chief Augustine Chinhuri made unsupported charges against the three
that were not even led in evidence against them.

In other words nobody on the state side was able to bring a case against
them apart from charging them with violating provisions of the Aircraft
Offences Act, the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, and the discredited
Law and Order (Maintenance) Act.

They did not harm anybody, nor was there any evidence they intended to do

Chidyausiku, who sat with Justices Sandura and McNally, appears to have
ignored all this in his anxiety to uphold the state's appeal. It would be
useful to know what his view is of cases where evidence has been obtained by
torture - or indeed where absolutely no evidence was obtained despite
torture. All he could manage was that in his view "possession of such
considerable quantities of offensive weapons and material was very serious".

He will have to do better than this in reaching his conclusions if they are
to have any weight. And given his record of cases overturned in the Supreme
Court, it would be inadvisable to label fellow judges "incompetent".

We support Chinamasa's call early last year to criticise the rulings of
judges. Chidyausiku claimed in his judgement on the land issue late last
year that criticism of his qualifications was racist. That self-serving
claim appears facile when the most telling comparison of his state-friendly
rulings is with Enoch Dumbutshena's robust defence of individual rights
during his distinguished tenure on the bench.

We will judge Chidyausiku and other recently appointed judges on their
ability to stand up for the rights of Zimbabweans in the way Dumbutshena,
Muchechetere, Chatikobo and Devittie did - as well as Gubbay and Gillespie.

That includes granting immediate bail to individuals held by the police on
flimsy charges as part of the state's political agenda.

Geoff Nyarota and Wilf Mbanga were last year detained overnight in the
filthy Rhodesville police cells when Justice Paradza declined to order their
release because papers had not been served on the AG. A magistrate
subsequently decided there was no justification for their arrest in the
first place.

The case for judicial activism remains stronger than ever. We expect to see
it at every level of the judiciary.

A reader has written in to point out that the Public Order and Security Act
makes it a criminal offence to "say or do anything that is abusive,
threatening or insulting", "say anything likely to make people hate or
despise any group or section of Zimbabwean society on account of their race,
tribe, religion or gender", or make any statement likely to "adversely
affect Zimbabwe's economy".

Why has no action been brought against Zanu PF's advertising department? It
has breached every single one of those provisions every day in its election
campaign. So has President Mugabe, his ministers, governors, and war
veterans and youths acting on the party's instructions.

What clearer indication could there be that this Act will be applied
selectively? And what an emblematic example of the political double
standards and hypocrisy that Zanu PF applies in its public pronouncements.
At least Zanu PF has now discovered that the CNN clip of Morgan Tsvangirai
receiving cheques was not filmed in April 2002!

Muckraker had an interesting e-mail recently to say we may have been a bit
severe on Sadc following their Blantyre summit on January 14. Apparently our
dear leader was not given an easy ride by his colleagues despite his "All's
well that end's well" statement before leaving. Despite a public whitewash,
he was told in no uncertain terms behind closed doors to get his house in
order. And the other leaders had all the facts to hand when reading him the
riot act.

On arrival home, we are told, he summoned his ministers and MPs to State
House and told them how much damage the campaign violence was doing to his
standing. He criticised them for telling him he had the votes to win but
then going out and causing violence.

"If we have the votes, why are you beating people?" he wanted to know,
momentarily forgetting his own role in fomenting unrest.
"The old man was fuming," one observer said. "We had never seen him like

That's funny. We have!

We are glad to hear that despite the conditions afflicting the country, our
leaders are maintaining standards. When Grace Mugabe flew to Hong Kong
recently, on what was billed as an investment promotion tour on behalf of
Zimbabwe's economically disadvantaged, she and three other members of her
party occupied the front four First Class seats of Cathay Pacific's flight
from Johannesburg to Hong Kong.

Grace was hosted by a company called Fok Hing, which should not be
pronounced too quickly. They are involved in a textiles joint venture with a
Zimbabwean company. We are told this will lead to technology transfers. At
any rate, let's hope it leads to more than Fok Hing transferring first
ladies first class!

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Zimbabwe Independent - Comment

Roadblocks to a free and fair election

WHAT sort of government rejects the offer of transparent ballot boxes from
donors because it wants to continue using non-transparent wooden ones?

A government frightened of transparency, is the obvious answer. Or one that
wants to rig the outcome!

The rejection of steps that would make the electoral process more open and
less susceptible to manipulation is only one sign of this government's
desire to conduct next month's presidential poll on a playing field that is
tilted heavily in its favour.

Another is management of voter registration by an official who is
contemptuous of court orders. Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku expressed
understandable frustration this week with the failure of the
Registrar-General's office to get its act together in appealing against a
High Court order to hold the Harare council poll on February 11.

Obfuscation and downright bungling combine to present an impression of
administrative chaos behind the scenes. No wonder the AG's office says it
cannot manage a municipal election on Monday. It has made no serious attempt
to do so because it is beholden to dubious Statutory Instruments, which
should never have been issued in the first place.

Other signs of electoral tilt include the amendment of the Electoral Act to
give a clearly under-resourced Electoral Supervisory Commission sweeping
powers to supervise the presidential poll; banning independent monitors;
preventing Zimbabweans abroad from voting by rejecting postal votes;
conducting a highly restrictive voter registration exercise manifestly
designed to exclude younger, urban residents; refusing to comply with an
earlier court order not to close registration stations; and refusing to
restore the names of voters unlawfully expunged from the roll.

In the latest move to reduce participation in the poll, the RG's office has
written to people holding permanent residence (but not citizenship) to
register their objection to being struck off the roll. The letters have been
sent too late to meet the deadline stipulated, thus depriving people of
their legal rights by administrative fiat while ignoring a court ruling on
the matter. Meanwhile, despite a ruling by Justice Makarau, the AG's staff
are insisting that people registering prove domicile in the constituency
where they are applying. This effectively excludes most of the country's

Today we carry news that the ESC, headed by a former military intelligence
officer, will be staffing its electoral supervisory programme at all levels
with army personnel. Given General Zvinavashe's recent statement, the
impartiality of many officers must be open to question. So is that of many
civil servants being drafted in to supervise voting.

But of all the measures taken to prevent a free and fair poll the most
egregious is the displacement of people through political violence.

Tens of thousands of people - nearly all of them opposition supporters -
have been forced out of their homes and away from their constituencies by
armed supporters of the ruling party. This is a policy clearly designed to
distort electoral outcomes. As we also report today National Youth Service
trainees have been confiscating identity cards of suspected MDC members at
roadblocks and elsewhere to prevent them voting. Settlers on occupied farms
have meanwhile been registered and taught how to vote by war veterans
claiming to be their guardians.

Last but certainly not least, the public media has been prostituted to serve
the needs of a desperate ruling party. Worried about declining popularity,
Zanu PF believes it can still win by churning out a diet of calumny and lies
against its opponents as well as false promises. But it is doubtful if
anybody is listening any more. What happened to the 850 000 jobs promised in

Departmental allocations are being hijacked in the ruling party's campaign.
Zanu PF does not pay for the luxury helicopter that ferries President Mugabe
around the country. Taxpayers do. The recent acquisition of 10 vehicles for
the Department of Information's rural outreach programme at a cost of $90
million is another example of how public funds are being abused to shore up
the ruling party's grip on its rural fiefdom.

None of this is likely to reverse the great tide of public opinion running
against the regime. It is everywhere palpable. But the array of roadblocks
erected to prevent the people of Zimbabwe from expressing their wishes
represents a formidable obstacle that should not be underestimated.

We need to identify now the impediments to a free and fair election so that
become a matter of public record.
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Zimbabwe Independent

Real reasons for Zimbabwe's poor export performance

By Tony Fisher
 BOTH Treasury and the Reserve Bank have acknowledged that the country's
overall balance of payments position, which was in deficit over the period
1998 to 2000, deteriorated very sharply in 2001. Provisional estimates of
last year's outcome put the overall balance at anything around minus US$500
to minus US$600 million. In its latest published weekly economic commentary,
the Reserve Bank lays the blame for the worsening balance of payments on the
continuing fall in export proceeds. In US dollar terms, exports last year
are estimated to have been only 89% of their 1998 level. The Reserve Bank
attributes this downward trend to declining commodity prices, shortages of
raw materials, spare parts and machinery and other essential inputs which
have resulted in lower capacity utilisation and constrained export growth.

All these influences have undoubtedly contributed to poor export performance
but, completely inexcusably, the Reserve Bank chooses to overlook a few
other glaringly obvious reasons why exports have fared badly. First, there
is the obvious problem resulting from the maintenance of a fixed exchange
rate in an environment of a high rate of inflation in both absolute and
relative terms. The latest issue of the Treasury's bulletin at least accords
it a mention. "A fixed exchange rate", it notes, "against the background of
high inflation has led to the loss of export competitiveness and hence loss
of foreign currency earnings for the country."

Actually, it is not so much a question of export competitiveness, since the
bulk of the country's primary products are sold abroad at prices determined
in world markets, as one of domestic producer viability. The bulk of export
sales' proceeds are converted through the banking system at rates of
exchange which, apart from that for the SA rand, have hardly altered over
the past 15 months. Domestic and imported input costs by contrast have risen
hugely over the same period. Over the past year, for instance, domestic
consumer prices have risen 112% while the corresponding inflation rates for
the EU, SA, Zambia and Malawi are 2,6%, 6%, 15% and 20%, respectively.

The authorities have tried to compensate for their failure to make the
obvious correction for the huge inflation discrepancy, that is by devaluing
the Zimbabwe dollar exchange rate, by introducing a mixture of incentives,
including the right of exporters to retain varying proportions of their
proceeds with which to purchase imports essential to production. But this
facility is in general insufficient to cover all producers' imported input
needs. Nor does it compensate them sufficiently for the relatively rapid
rise in domestic production costs. As a result, declining profitability has
provided little stimulus to increase output.

This is particularly apparent in respect of the gold mining industry which
has been forced to curtail the extraction of lower grade ore to remain
viable. While it is true that the international gold price has tended
downwards over the past three years the physical output of the metal from
Zimbabwe's mines was one-third lower in 2001 than it was in 1999. This far
exceeds the fall in the gold price over the period and cannot be attributed
simply to "declining commodity prices".

Palliatives such as the gold floor price system which, according to recent
press reports, now guarantees producers $23 887 an ounce, represents a
return only 27% higher than when the scheme was re-introduced in April 2000
although domestic prices have risen over 168% in the interim.

The contraction in Zimbabwe's gold mining industry compares poorly with the
buoyancy of the industry in neighbouring South Africa where it has clearly
benefited from last year's roughly 40% devaluation of the rand. This is not
to say that all the local industry's ills would be solved at the stroke of a
pen by a corresponding devaluation of the dollar. But it is facile to bemoan
the fall in exports while failing to take the appropriate steps to ensure an
environment for producers which promotes profitability and investment to the
fullest possible extent.

The same myopia is apparent from the bank's failure even to mention the
damage that farm invasions have done to actual or potential exports of
agricultural produce. It is an incontrovertible fact that a large number of
growers of a wide range of crops for export have had their operations
curtailed, interrupted or even totally suspended and their labour or
themselves harassed or intimidated with sometimes no, or only token,
protection from the forces of law and order. Official expressions of concern
for falling export proceeds are largely insincere when inadequate efforts
are made to protect the lives and property of those who would, or could,
earn more forex if only they were allowed to do so.

Then again, the Reserve Bank makes no mention either of the adverse effects
which the failure to take reasonable steps to ensure that travellers are
unmolested or decisions to allow foreign visitors to stay no more than two
weeks have had on a sector, which by its own estimation, accounted for 11%
of total forex earnings in 2000. Much has been made by officials of the bad
image of the country which, it is said, is unfairly portrayed by the foreign
media. But even allowing that there is justification for arguing that this
has, by keeping foreign tourists away, damaged the county's balance of
payments and domestic growth the criticism has much less substance when the
county itself fails to do everything within its power to promote tourism.

While, therefore, many of the reasons publicly advanced by the Reserve Bank
for the deteriorating balance of payments positions have undoubtedly had an
adverse effect there are others, not mentioned, which constitute a very
significant voluntary sacrifice of scarce foreign exchange. Zimbabwe would
receive better publicity and garner more support in dealing with its balance
of payments problem if it was not so free and easy with the use of the "self
destruct" button.

In response to an article that appeared in a local weekly a couple of weeks
ago, Interfresh released a statement to stakeholders correcting some
inaccuracies that had been reported.

To summarise, the company stated that only 52% of the farms that make up
Mazoe Citrus Estates and 2,3% of the land, namely Goldendale Estate, had
been served with preliminary and Section 8 notifications respectively.
However, representations made by Interfresh to government indicate that the
company's estates will be delisted as they do not fall under the criteria
set out in the Act.

With disruptions on the estates having been kept to a minimum, Interfresh is
in fact expecting 2002 to be one of their best years to date in terms of
productivity, which will lead to greater local and more importantly export
sales, thereby enhancing earnings. As for how well the company has done over
the past year, all will be revealed on February 27 when it is to hold a
factory tour and announce its year-end results to its stakeholders.

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Telegraph - letter

Stop Mugabe's thugs
(Filed: 09/02/2002)

SIR - I have just returned from Zimbabwe, where my family owns a small farm.
The forthcoming election is being preceded by widespread intimidation of
both indigenous and white residents on a scale unacceptable anywhere else in
the world.

Women are being whipped on to trailers, in order to "persuade" them to
attend a Zanu-PF political rally. White farmers have to show their support
for Zanu-PF only, or risk being prevented from farming. Those attending the
rally were encouraged to vote for Zanu-PF by being threatened with both
death and civil war otherwise - and these are their own people. Zanu-PF
tells voters that they will know, by using spirits, who has voted against
them. Being superstitious, many people believe this. Anyone who is seen to
have pro-MDC, or for that matter any other opposition, sympathy, is being

Separately, the election process is likely to be affected by impending
starvation. Thanks to Robert Mugabe's farm invasions policy, many farmers
have been prevented from growing crops and now there are no reserves of
maize, the staple diet of the nation. No doubt commercial farmers will be

There exists a mood of fear and anxiety in the country. So-called veterans
are selectively squatting on farms and intimidating the resident population
and preventing them from working. If starvation becomes more prevalent, the
situation could deteriorate into widespread violence. Zimbabwe is at grave
risk of descending into an irrecoverable decline. If Mugabe remains in power
this seems certain.

I would urge Jack Straw to impose personal sanctions on Mugabe and his
cronies now. If it were legal for Zimbabweans to voice their opinions, I
believe that a huge percentage of the population would urge him to act
promptly. Everybody is suffering while a beloved country fatally

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Letter to Zimbabwe Independent

The captain has gone bonkers

 I WAS a disinterested party in the goings on in this country. I am now
fully converted to the idea that the present government and the ruling party
have gone bonkers for real. They are trampling on my rights as a
peace-loving citizen with impunity for the international community has
decided to stand by and watch the 'rape' of this country's citizenry by this
bunch of crooks.

I remember well being arrested for forgetting my pass/ID at home and crying
foul at such an unfair law. I also remember rejoicing when the law
compelling me to do so was scratched and saying to myself that the country's
rulers where becoming enlightened by the day. Now I am required to carry the
pass again! In addition, of course, to the Zanu PF card that I bought
against my wish but to save my dear skin from the marauding Zanu PF militia
and to ensure my safe passage through Rusape.

This is surely a ship being steered by a captain who has gone bonkers in a
big way.

T Ziteya,

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Letter to Zimbabwe Independent

Fear and greed drive Christians on land

 THE tactics used by Zanu PF in their desperate bid to cling to power
against the wishes of the vast majority of Zimbabweans can be reduced to two
simple expedients the appeal to fear and to greed. In the past I have always
assumed that it was fear which was the key factor in reducing many church
leaders (and members) to a guilty silence in the face of the massive
injustices and the distortions of the truth practised by the ruling party.
However, I am now beginning to ask myself if greed is not an equally
important factor. Some time ago I received a phone call from a member of my
church who was in some distress, requesting urgent prayers for the farming
community in the Chivhu area, including close friends and relatives who were
in immediate physical danger.

The farmers in this area have been severely provoked of late with every kind
of abuse and intimidation from the war veterans, who are seeking to frighten
them into leaving their farms.

The farmers and their workers and families, who have nowhere else to go,
were just waiting for untold violence to descend upon them.

Now who could possibly defend such a state of anarchy? And who especially
among those who call themselves Christians would be prepared to benefit
personally in any way from this campaign of violence and lawlessness? None,
you might think.

But alas you would be wrong. A short while ago I wrote to the head of one of
the largest denominations in Zimbabwe. I suggested to him that it is
unacceptable for any Christian to acquire land obtained by violent and
illegal means.

I quote, in part, from the church leader's reply, just received: "People
needing land were given the option to apply last year and all the
applications have been processed already and the suggestion to ask
Christians to keep away from applying for such land could be correct but is
coming too late, because among the already published names are a good number
of our Christians."

I should be grateful at least, I suppose, that the good church leader was
honest with me. But I ask myself, can a Church so compromised by yes, fear
and greed ever be a part of God's solution to the crisis now engulfing this

Rev Graham Shaw,

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Zimbabwe Independent

Mugabe rebuffs local civic groups
Dumisani Muleya
 PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has refused to meet with local civic groups at the
Southern African Development Community (Sadc) consultative conference which
starts in Zanzibar today. Sadc executive secretary Prega Ramsamy said in
Gaborone this week Mugabe would meet political parties, civic organisations
and various interest groups to brief them on events taking place in
Zimbabwe. But Mugabe has declined to see them.

The Sadc meeting is scheduled to begin tomorrow and end on Friday next week.
Heads of state are expected to travel to the Tanzanian-administered island
next week.

Zimbabwe Crisis Group spokesman Andrew Nongogo yesterday said his
organisation a coalition of local civic groups would not be travelling to
Zanzibar because they had been informed Mugabe would not meet them.

"Mugabe has steadfastly refused to engage civil society in Zimbabwe," he

"I see no need for us to fly to Tanzania when he has refused to meet us. We
are not going there."

Instead, Nongogo said his group is sending a delegation to South Africa next
week to talk to other civic organisations and government officials. He said
President Thabo Mbeki recently met civic groups in his country to outline
his policy on Zimbabwe. Mbeki is expected to make a further policy statement
on Zimbabwe in his State-of-the-Nation address today.

Mugabe's refusal to engage local groups came as South African Labour
Minister Membathisi Mdladlana warned that political intolerance among
Zimbabweans had reached crisis levels.

"There is too much intolerance in that country and too much polarisation.
What concerns me most is intolerance," he said.

"The weak link is that they are not talking to each other. They wait for us
to come there before they talk. There is no dialogue."

Mdladlana, who was in the country last week as part of the Sadc task force
on Zimbabwe to witness nomination of presidential candidates, said Sadc
should quickly send observers to Harare to ensure a free and fair election.

He said a message had already been sent to Sadc chair President Bakili
Muluzi of Malawi to dispatch an observer team to Zimbabwe.

"If we don't send sharp observers then we will have a huge problem," he
warned. "They (Sadc) are moving very slowly and it's worrying us because it
looks like the South African delegation will be ready much earlier than the
Sadc one."
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Antithesis of democracy
By Iden Wetherell

WHAT do citizens do when parliament passes bad laws? When the majority of MPs voting to pass those bad laws are nominated by the president and have no popular mandate?

That is a question many of us will be asking this week. Many of the laws passed recently are seriously flawed measures contrived by patently delinquent rulers anxious to preserve their political shelf-life irrespective of the popular will.

They have been nodded through by chiefs and placemen where elected MPs proved unwilling.

The Public Order and Security Bill is little more than a distillation of all that was bad and defective in the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act which Zanu PF, despite its denunciation of all things colonial, found so handy.

The General Laws Amendment Bill, passed last week, removed rights upheld by the Supreme Court after test cases. In the case of the Labour Relations Amendment Bill parliament's legal committee has pointed out that attempts to declare collective job action unlawful is unacceptable in terms of constitutional provisions. So are other sections of the Bill.

The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Bill, which had been due to be debated this week but is now being panel-beaten, is not only very poorly drafted but draconian in content. I gather the government's usual legal draftsmen were not involved. The proposed law abrogates in almost every clause rights to which Zimbabweans are entitled under the constitution, according to the Legal Resources Foundation.

It will be interesting to see what the legal committee decides about these infringements.

Voters in any democracy are able to make an informed choice because they go to the polls having heard the contending arguments of a variety of political players. They have been exposed to a diversity of views.

Will that be the case in Zimbabwe when, not satisfied with beating the hell out of the electorate, the ruling party has passed laws to ensure voters remain ignorant of any view other than President Mugabe's? That is the antithesis of democracy.

The measures passed recently are also clearly designed to have what the specialists call a "chilling effect" on democracy.

That includes preventing NGOs from carrying out voter education.

It would be difficult to think of a more egregious violation of the right to free expression.

Every Zimbabwean has a right to carry out voter education whatever parliament may say.

We are guaranteed that right under the country's founding law.

But what we are seeing in all these measures is a government which doesn't care what rights Zimbabweans are entitled to; it will remove those rights when it wants to.

There was a similar attitude evident in General Vitalis Zvinavashe's statement last week that the military have the right to decide for us who our leaders should be. They will do this on the basis of "values" they define for us. The military of course have no such right. But, like Zanu PF, they have seized it from a powerless populace.

Constitutions are put in place precisely to prevent over-mighty rulers and their security personnel from taking what doesn't belong to them. Whatever its defects, Zimbabweans should defend their constitution and the rights it gives. That includes the right to elect a government of their choice.

I was in South Africa in 1994 when that country elected its first democratic government. Voters were full of enthusiasm and commitment to the historic process. So were those conducting it. The Independent Electoral Commission was scrupulous in its preparations inviting as many monitors as possible from South African civil society and neighboring states including Zimbabwe. They wanted everybody to see that the process was above board and that the government which emerged would be legitimate in terms of its popular mandate.

There were flaws. Millions of non-South Africans voted. But they were mostly residents whose future was tied up in South Africa.

Some polling stations didn't open on time. Others were late declaring. But overall it was a triumph for Justice Kriegler and his IEC team and for those participating. Nobody doubted the authenticity of the outcome. The 1999 election was equally impressive in terms of voter educa tion and organisational probity.

What a contrast to our ill-prepared electoral authorities, beholden to a government that doesn't want a popular outcome. What voter education has there been? How many people remain unregistered because they can't overcome the hurdles placed in their way? And how can civil servants be impartial monitors?

Repressive laws and flawed polls are the hallmarks of illegitimate regimes. Zanu PF seems intent on proving that - even though they will end up looking bad. Power, it seems, is preferable to legitimacy.

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Whites face same hurdles

I AM a Zimbabwean currently living in Dallas, Texas, US. I just want to dispel a few misconceptions about white Zimbabweans. Zanu PF is on record as saying "we can march whites to the border", meaning they can have free passage to Europe or the US. This is not possible. In fact they are subject to the same visa requirements as blacks.

I would like to share with you what one white Zimbabwean went through before he came to the US. He applied for a visa at the Harare US embassy on two occasions and was turned down. The embassy staff argued that in view of the tenuous political situation, he would not return to Zimbabwe. By the way, this poor guy had just lost his farm and his life and that of his family was in danger.

He subsequently left Zimbabwe for Britain. While in Britain, he again applied for an American visa and was again turned down. He left Britain and went to Canada. His friends in Canada drove him to the Canada/US border and he crossed the border illegally.

He is now in Dallas but his troubles are far from over. He applied for asylum and was turned down. The judge argued that as a young man, this white Zimbabwean was part of Rhodesia's armed forces and therefore associated with human rights abuses. He appealed this decision and a senior judge finally granted him asylum.

It's no easy ride.

Lloyd H Munyamana,


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Freedom gone badly wrong

REGULAR writers to the editors of newspapers, like myself, will have to be very careful now in expressing their thoughts on paper as anything critical of our government and its leaders may see a lot of people sharing a cell in Chikurubi. Draconian laws restricting free speech and independent news coverage have left spokespersons of governments in North America and Europe aghast that such totalitarian attitudes are still alive and kicking in this enlightened age. It is all the more distressing because the liberation war was fought to bring one man one vote to the people so that they could choose the government that can best lead to a fairer society with opportunities for all.

Looking around today, it is hard, if not impossible, not to be critical of those who over the last 21 years or so have held the reins of power firmly in their hands. There is little to be thankful for.

Poor parents who through skim-ping and saving have managed to educate their children well now find their sons and daughters out of work with little prospect of a suitable career as businesses close down. Costs of everything have spiralled and the value of the currency eaten away by poor fiscal management, profligacy, costly military escapades, and of course corruption running unchecked and eating at the heart of the nation.

One could go on but this is unnecessary as everybody almost without exception knows what a mess we are in and who has brought it about.

No wonder people want a change and soon the ballot boxes will be open with an opportunity, maybe not as good as it might be, to bring this about. Be of good cheer and take care.

Neill de Sperandum,

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Zanu PF ads ridiculous

ZANU PF's campaign adverts are ridiculous and an insult to people's intelligence, none more so than the advert on food shortages. This silly advert shows the Innscor warehouse with bags of flour and mealie meal in it, and claims this is why there are food shortages! Innscor operate hundreds of food outlets countrywide, so of course they need food stores. What should they do, run to TM for a loaf of bread whenever a customer orders a sandwich?

As for the adverts saying the MDC will sell the land to the British, that is also rubbish as we all know they have a very detailed plan on how to properly distribute land and provide money for inputs. If anybody has sold the land it is Mugabe to the Libyans. Why are there so many of them around these days if this is not true?

Stop insulting our intelligence.

M Phiri,

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Namibian labour union threatens land system akin to Zimbabwe

The national union of Namibian workers has threatened to pursue a
land-grabbing system similar to that of Zimbabwe. Pana stated that this was
a warning to White farmers with excess land if they refused to sell to the
government for the purposes of resettling. The Namibia Agricultural Union
launched an appeal to the government concerning their land resettlement
policy. The Agricultural union has also asked the union officials to stop
making the kind of comments that would destabilize the economy and tarnish
the international image of Namibia.

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