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Soldiers quit army

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Soldiers quit army
Clemence Manyukwe

HUNDREDS of members of the security forces are quitting their jobs because of poor remuneration while some are said to have deserted.

Sources this week said soldiers are not happy with the 231% salary increment awarded earlier this month, which was way below their expectations. Despite the increment the salaries are still less than half the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ)’s monthly consumer basket of $17, 6 million in December.

Sources said non-commissioned officers of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) form the bulk of those leaving, while commissioned officers and former ex-combatants have remained largely loyal.

Defence forces can renew their contracts after three, seven and 10 years but due to the meagre salaries, many are opting out, while others are reportedly deserting.

The sources said a wave of resignations had also hit the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) where constables and sergeants were also leaving the force.

In an interview on Tuesday ZDF spokesperson Aggrey Wushe said the call by the chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Defence and Home Affairs, Claudius Makova in parliament late last year for the adjustment of soldiers’ salaries needed to be taken seriously. Makova is a retired colonel.

Wushe denied that the rate of those quitting from the army had increased.

“The position is that if you are not happy, you are allowed to leave. There is nothing new as it has been happening since 1980,” he said.

Asked about the possibility of another salary adjustment this year considering that soldiers were not happy, he said: “Our commanders always try to make sure that the soldiers earn what is in line with the current situation. It is an ongoing exercise,” said Wushe.

Deputy police commissioner, Innocent Matibiri, said: “What we are aware of is that government is working on improving the situation kuti vasaite musikanzwa (so that they do not commit crime).” He declined to comment further.

The sources added that last year soldiers in the lower ranks were receiving between $2,3 million and $2,9 million a month. With the latest increment, the amount will rise to between $6,9 to $7,9 million.

The least paid police officer earns less than $2,5 million.

Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri told a parliamentary portfolio committee in October last year that policemen were disgruntled over poor salaries, working conditions and shortage of manpower.

Although soldiers got their payslips on January 4 with their salaries coming eight days later, no official announcement has been made on the rate of increment for the police.

There is however speculation within ZRP ranks that the increment is likely to be around the same figure as that given to soldiers.

Last year saw an increasing number of soldiers and law enforcement agents appearing in the courts for armed robberies, corruption and other crimes which observers said were fuelled by poor remuneration.

One soldier who said he would not be renewing his contract said: “Although we received our pay notification slips on January 4 this year, we were aware since late last year that we would be getting 231% following a directive to that effect which was given to the Zimbabwe Army Pay and Records (ZAPAR) department.

Ever since, an increasing number have not been signing new contracts.”

“Army chiefs know that people are not happy,” another soldier said. “When they realised that salaries would also be low this year they resorted to promoting some officers as a way to retain them. Due to the state of affairs, counselling sessions for those who want to quit are being conducted on a daily basis. They are told that if you go out there, conditions are even worse so it’s better to hang on until things improve.”

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'Zim blights good year for Africa'

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THE United States government has expressed disappointment with Zimbabwe and says the country is a major blight on an otherwise positive past year for African nations.

The US cited the manner in which the 2005 parliamentary election was conducted and said Zimbabwe remains disappointing because it has failed to stem the downward spiral of the economy and the rule of law.

Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Jendayi Frazer, in her annual round-up of Africa, this week said the US was also concerned about the crisis in the opposition MDC that has split the party into two irreconcilable factions.

Frazer, who was in Pretoria, South Africa this week, said 2005 was a good year for Africa but was spoilt by a few African countries that include Zimbabwe.

"Last year was a very good year for Africa. Let's just review it: a new president - a woman - in Liberia, successful elections in Tanzania, a first-time election in Congo. No one thought that was possible, especially to register so many people.

"Also, a new president in Burundi - which was a success of the African Union as that process was almost entirely Africa-led from the mediation to the peacekeeping mission and then the UN coming in at the end.

"There were some problems and disappointments. I think Mauritania is a huge disappointment, in terms of a military regime being in place. I'm not too high on Togo," Frazer said.

"Obviously Zimbabwe has been a great disappointment. The parliamentary election was a significant disappointment, but overall I think it has been a very positive year for the continent."

Frazer was the US ambassador to South Africa before being appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Africa late last year.

Frazer also said the US was concerned with Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, for amending the constitution and arresting his political opponent in a bid to block him from running for office.

Frazer announced that the US government was planning to restart its annual forums with Sadc countries, which were discontinued five years ago over disagreements in dealing with the Zimbabwe crisis. - Staff Writer.

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Tale of land reform gone awry

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Joram Nyathi

IT was Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah who famously said "it is far better for us to govern or misgovern ourselves than to live happily in servitude" to explain his country's quest for self-rule

In its rush to be the first to lead a wholesale land reform in Africa, Zimbabwe appears to have grasped the metaphor but missed the substance of that assertion.

A drive along the highway from Harare to Zvishavane at the weekend was a major revelation for me. Land preparation is just beginning amid complaints of lack of draught power and key inputs like fertiliser.

Most of the farms between Harare and Kwekwe that used to feed the nation still lie fallow. Kintyre Estates just before Norton which used to be a prime research centre for dairy farming and a showcase for visiting international dignatories, has been reduced to a wasteland.

All the way to Zvishavane, there are more people on either side of the road selling mushrooms and tomatoes than are tilling the land. This is in sharp contrast to television interviews of people predicting a "bumper harvest" this year due to above-normal rainfall. In fact, watching those interviews and seeing the barrenness on the ground, you could be forgiven for thinking that people expect the rains to bring down manna from heaven.

The only spot I saw that had some promise was a healthy maize crop at a place called Kaguvi Training Centre just before Kwekwe. But it is only an oasis in a national desert. The lush tobacco and maize crop that we used to marvel at along that highway are all gone, only to be replaced by tiny patches of cleared ground that cannot feed a single family, let alone a whole nation.

That set me thinking about what it is that went wrong with President Mugabe's noble "justice with equity" land reform programme.

As the president himself pointed out at the Zanu PF People's Conference in Esigodini, every year the rainy season catches us flatfooted as if we didn't know it was coming. There is nothing on the ground to support Zanu PF's overused slogan that the "land is the economy". Far from the widespread rains being a source of prosperity, they may turn out to be a source of huge embarrassment as we fail to raise productivity - the excuse of drought may soon be gone.

But the biggest problem with the land reform programme is that it was never planned. From the time President Mugabe fell out with the Labour party in Britain and its Claire Short, things simply went out of hand.

The idea of land invasions appealed to the basest instincts in man, from greed to indolence. Among the hundreds who went in for purposes of farming, there were thousands who went in for what was there already - houses, produce, livestock and motor vehicles. All these items were there for the taking without having to account to anyone since government itself didn't know who owned what. Once the looting orgy was over, interest also waned.

But there is an even bigger problem. This has to do with a lack of culture of long-term investment or a "jackpot mentality". Notice how most of the fuel and farm inputs given to farmers are immediately converted into cash on the black market to buy luxury goods. The money is quickly spent in crude exhibitionism in the form of 4x4 vehicles that never travel off-road.

One is also left wondering what has become of that enthusiasm displayed during the land invasions when everybody boasted that they were the real farmers, the white man was merely a supervisor.

If that is true then we have to go right to the heart of the matter. The government should stop the rhetoric about land audits and weed out those who have no interest in farming. It must immediately assume the same role that was played by the white commercial farmer - it must not only provide farm inputs but also supervise the use of resources given to farmers. To achieve this you need a hands-on Minister of Agriculture who is not ashamed to tell the truth about the country's state of preparedness. Blaming fertiliser companies when everybody knows they don't have foreign currency for key inputs simply won't wash.

Government should also move speedily on the issue of those 99-year leases so that farmers who have an interest and the skill to produce are able to borrow money from banks. It is poor economics for government to pretend that it can dole out money to the "new farmers" forever. That would deny them the chance to be old enough to survive on their own.

Nobody doubts that the new farmers need government support as a starting point. But the billions of dollars that have gone into farming have not been justified by commensurate returns on investment. The results are nothing more than ostentations consumerism while what were previously viable commercial farms have been reduced to what President Mugabe once referred to as "weekend braai resorts".

l I notice Nathaniel Manheru's vain attempt to scare me with the ghost of one Morrison Nyati of Nyadzonia notoriety.

The connection between myself and that fellow's dastardly act can only exist in Manheru's warped tribalistic imagination. In all other rational disputation, the link is as absurd as asserting that every Smith was a prime minister of Rhodesia. How facile can he get?

But I am pleased to note that he knows Oscar Wilde.

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How does Mugabe feel about a gay fanatic?

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I NOTICE that the Herald's Nathaniel Manheru seems to be bothered by your (Zimbabwe Independent) deputy editor's looks.

At first I thought that it was "one of those things", but now I am getting worried.

The cause of my worry is that Manheru has now gone to the extent of quoting Oscar Wilde to justify his attention on your deputy editor. Those familiar with Wilde's works know that he was gay.

I wonder how President Mugabe feels to have a man close to him, obsessed with men's looks and quoting gay "gangsters" as the president would say.



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Tsvangirai sued for $100 billion

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Loughty Dube

THE pro-senate faction of the Movement for Democratic Change has filed a $100 billion lawsuit against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai over statements he allegedly made to diplomats and to the media that leaders of the rival faction were plotting to kill him in collusion with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF.

The applicants initially filed a $50 billion suit last month but revised it to $100 billion this week after weighing the gravity of the allegations.

The lawsuit is likely to open a Pandora's box in the strife-torn party and put paid to any chances of reconciliation between the feuding factions ahead of the party congress next month.

The plaintiffs in the case are party vice-president Gibson Sibanda, secretary-general Welshman Ncube, treasurer Fletcher Dulini Ncube, deputy secretary-general Gift Chimanikire, and information secretary Paul Themba Nyathi.

The five were initially demanding $10 billion each from Tsvangirai but are now demanding double the amount in damages.

Nicholas Mathonsi of Coghlan & Welsh legal practitioners representing the five said the amendment of the lawsuit arose after further publication of the defamatory statements both locally and internationally.

"We have made an application with the High Court in Bulawayo seeking leave to amend the claim by incorporating further cause of action," Mathonsi said.

"This is because when we made the initial application we had not seen in full the statement made by Tsvangirai and the defamatory article had only been published in the Star newspaper alone.

He said as a result of the wide publication of the defamatory statement the degree of injury sustained by his clients had doubled.

According to court documents in the possession of the Independent, the plaintiffs claim damages for the "payment of the sums of $20 billion to each of them, being defamation charges sustained as a result of the publication of the statements made by Tsvangirai."

Mathonsi said his clients suffered further damage when the full statement by Tsvangirai was published widely and on the Internet after the initial lawsuit had been filed with the High Court in Bulawayo.

"Subsequent to the Star story Tsvangirai made his full statement available on the Internet where it was picked (up) and published by several websites and used locally and internationally and as a result of the damage and injury sustained my clients have increased the claim to $100 billion," Mathonsi said.

In the court papers filed initially, Sibanda and his lieutenants charge that on or about December 21, "the Star newspaper of South Africa published an article on page 3 of that day's edition under the title 'My Henchmen plotted my death - Tsvangirai' which was authored by South African-based Basildon Peta.

"The said newspaper is widely distributed worldwide including Zimbabwe and has an online publication on the Internet and is widely read by the general public both internationally and within Zimbabwe," the group claims.

The plaintiffs say Tsvangirai is the sole source of the story and through his statements stated that plaintiffs were plotting to kill him so that their faction could reach a unity accord with the government and get positions in the cabinet.

They further claim that Tsvangirai stated the plaintiffs participated in the senatorial elections in Zimbabwe in order to give themselves new credentials as the "reasonable element" within the MDC thereby enhancing their political understanding with Zanu PF.

The plaintiffs allege that Tsvangirai, by saying that they had connived with Zanu PF to kill him and remove him as a stumbling block to their schemes, was defamatory to them.

l Meanwhile, in an interview in Johannesburg yesterday, Ncube said of the MDC split: "We know that many people across the country are upset by the division in the party. From Gokwe to Nkayi to Mutoko people have told us their anguish. They have said: 'The MDC was our only hope. The MDC was our only way out of the Mugabe madness'. Men and women have come to us literally in tears.

"We have agonised long and hard over the division. But we found that if we support peaceful, democratic change in Zimbabwe, how do we make accommodation with what Tsvangirai is saying? We need to demonstrate democracy to regain the confidence of the people. We cannot accept an all-powerful president of the party who does what he likes. That is like Mugabe."

Ncube said their congress would be held on February 25 but Tsvangirai would hold his on March 18.

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Media challenge

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Vincent Kahiya

I DO not know whether I am being cynical or downright unreasonable. January always brings with it the terrible administrative burden of dealing with dozens of applications by students from various colleges seeking attachment at the Zimbabwe Independent.

The media at this time of the year is asked to take on board students from the country's ever-growing number of tertiary institutions that train journalists.

This is a service media houses have to perform in the national interest. We all went through the same mill but things have changed from how the system worked then.

Journalism classes then were small. There were 15 of us in my class. There were only two main training institutions for journalism. Students were often spoilt for choice after college.

There was the Zimpapers stable, the Financial Gazette, the Ministry of Information, Ziana, ZBC radio and television, and magazines such as Moto, Parade, Horizon and at least half a dozen titles under the Munn Group.

Save for a famished and now less robust Moto, most of the magazines have folded. The government media under the Ministry of Information has shrunk.

Opportunities at the ZBH, Zimpapers, the Fingaz the Independent and the Standard which came on board later have shrunk in sync with the failing economy.

The Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday have disappeared together with the Tribune and the Weekly Times.

Against this negative trend, colleges are churning out hundreds of students every year. Spaces for industrial attachment, internship or employment are very limited. Since the beginning of the year, the door has not stopped swinging with students of all manner, attitude and deportment dropping in to plead for attachment.

What worries me is the way colleges and universities appear uninterested in the whole process of attaching students to media institutions.

In the past, Harare Polytechnic would make prior arrangements for students to come on board for three months. This formal arrangement worked well and this is how our news editor Dumisani Muleya, award-winning reporter Brian Hungwe, Loughty Dube, Forward Maisokwadzo and Augustine Mukaro ended up here.

My former lecturer Kudakwashe Gonese was constantly in touch wanting to know how the students were performing. This relationship ensured the trainers were kept informed of areas requiring attention. It's been some time since I heard from anyone at the Polytech.

The same is true of the Midlands State University, Nust, the University of Zimbabwe, CCOSA, Career Management Centre, UMAA Institute and so on. The only time they are in touch is when they go through the ritual of pleading for places for their students.

Everyone is training journalists these days, or are they? The colleges are producing students with all manner of competences. There are those who have to be introduced to a computer for the first time in their lives when they come for attachment. They have to be taught all kinds of grammar, syntax and punctuation let alone interviewing and good telephone manners. The actual art of writing a story is the greatest challenge.

Evidence abounds that students coming for attachments are lacking the lecture-room basics of news-gathering and story-writing. We have availed ourselves to help colleges with this major challenge. Calls for co-operation have however not been answered and our efforts in equipping students have not been reciprocated. But the training of interns is expensive for the media industry, already burdened with huge production costs.

A student on attachment needs a chair, a desk, a computer, a phone (oh they love the phone), tea and allowances. Then there is the on-the-job training. The cost of all this is unmatched by output. This makes it incumbent on colleges to review their dealings with media houses.

Also what colleges training journalists appear to have in common is their apparent silence on the subject of the shrinking industry and media laws. Colleges appear to be keen on producing graduates who will join the rank and file of the jobless.

Unlike other sectors of the economy, the shrinking media space in this country is a direct result of state action. Isn't it ironic that media trainers in this country have looked the other way when the state unleashes terror on the media, only to be heard when they need assistance in the training of their students?

But students should not be punished for the sins of their institutional fathers. They need help and we will every year take on board the few we can, train them, and hopefully engage them as full-time employees one day.

We believe the ideal internship programme is a "win-win" situation for both the student and the employer.

The staff will appreciate the student's contribution to the quality of services provided.

The student will benefit from the unique opportunity to gain invaluable

xperience and knowledge in their field of interest and to develop and demonstrate leadership.

And this country is also crying out for leadership from academia. We cannot succeed if academics allow themselves to become vestiges of a compliant culture through their inaction, thereby knowingly contributing - without so much as a whimper - to social indifference - the stuff dictatorships feed on.

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Film-makers petition government

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Itai Mushekwe

FILM-MAKERS have called upon government to implement a film policy to attract foreign investment and help to develop the sector.

Zimbabwe's film industry registered phenomenal growth in the early eighties owing to a robust and clear working plan monitored by the Ministry of Information thereby becoming a hotbed of feature film productions. This saw regional countries such as South Africa playing second fiddle in terms of competitiveness.

Filmmaker Rumbi Katedza, who doubles as director of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival Trust told Independent Xtra that potential investors were shunning the country because of lack of a policy in the motion picture business.

"At the moment we don't have such a thing (film policy)," she said. "This makes people think twice about filming in Zimbabwe. They need to know that there is a policy in order to gain interest and assurance about their investments." Katedza added: "Lack of training and funding for the sector is also a major setback while adequate financial support would brighten growth prospects.

"Funding and training are also an issue. We have to encourage foreign investment because of its positive impact on the sector and economy at large. This industry has the potential of generating the much-needed foreign currency."

Veteran filmmaker and Producers Association of Zimbabwe chairperson, Stephen Chigorimbo, echoed Katedza's sentiments calling upon stakeholders in the sector to ratchet up pressure on the government to heed their overdue call.

"Clearly we need a film policy," he said. "The film industry has potential to generate employment, foreign currency and project a good international image for Zimbabwe. Right now there are no clear structures that support the sector. Without a policy how do we get cohesive supporting structures in place to allow growth and development?"

He pointed out that a film policy would allow a Film Commission to be set up whose mandate, among other things, would be to protect filmmakers from overseas competition, foster development and sustainability; implement funding structures and support indigenous productions, distribution and marketing together with spreading film education countrywide.

While supporting the need for a national film policy, Sizwe Thuthuka, a freedom of expression advocate, said civil society organisations should join hands to lobby for a national media policy that would provide the overall policy framework for all sections of the media.

"By clamouring for a narrow need, film groups want to skirt issues related to freedom of expression which would best be addressed by a national media policy. Such a myopic approach would not be in their best interest. For example, independent film production is not doing well because the ZBH (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings) monopoly has killed competition.

Resultantly, independent film producers are paid less than their counterparts in the region. Worse still, some of their productions are subjected to unfair censorship because they fail to satisfy ZBH's unusually restrictive standards when it comes to content considered politically sensitive," said Thuthuka.

He said the country used to boast the now defunct Central Film Laboratories, which was operational in the early eighties and was the only one in sub-Saharan Africa used for film processing and mastering. A government and Unesco film school, the Zimbabwe Film and Video Training Programme, opened in 1991, had brightened prospects for the industry but its closure four years ago cast a dark shadow over the training of local talent.

However, since Independence, Zimbabwe has made positive scores on the local feature films making over 15 productions, including Mwanasikana, one of the earliest productions directed by Ben Zulu. Others are Neria and Everyone's Child directed by Godwin Mawuru and Tsitsi Dangarebga respectively. To date Neria, according to cinema statistics, is the highest grossing local production. More Time and Yellow Card have also made a mark.

A sheaf of international motion pictures has also been shot on location in Zimbabwe, the bulk of them US productions. Some of the popular productions include King Solomon's Mines, which featured acclaimed actress Sharon Stone and Power of One starring Oscar award winner Denzel Washington. It is hoped that a film policy will revamp the sector and allow Zimbabwe to reclaim its status as a film powerhouse to reckon with on the continent.

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MDC squabbles serve only Mugabe's ends

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Shakeman Mugari

THREE months since a political tempest hit the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) last October, all hope for a ceasefire between the warring factions is fast fading.

With almost a month to go to the party's congress in February and the infighting intensifying, it is now certain that the MDC will implode unless reason prevails.

It is not too unrealistic a view to predict a formal MDC split less than a month from now. The only legacy would probably be a vicious dogfight for the party's name and symbol.

Both the pro- and anti-senate factions seem more committed than before to destroying the only party that had inspired hope among the electorate for a democratic dispensation and an end to the political and economic crises that Zanu PF's misrule has spawned.

But there hasn't been any real attempt by either faction to initiate dialogue to break the impasse.

A long phone call from party president Morgan Tsvangirai to deputy Gibson Sibanda on New Year's Day doesn't appear to have bridged the divide.

The struggle in the party has long ceased to be one about senate polls or how to confront President Robert Mugabe's regime. It has degenerated into an ugly fight for internal supremacy.

Both camps are now concerned about victory over each other instead of pulling together for the greater national benefit. In their struggle to outwit one another they have forgotten that this only strengthens Zanu PF and undermines their cause.

In their bid to control the party, the factions appear to have forgotten that Mugabe and Zanu PF are still very much in power.

After besmirching their political careers and the party, the factions will wake up to find another party has taken their place in popular affections.

"The MDC is emerging stronger after the events of the past months," said Tsvangirai in a statement released a week after the senate election.

But the truth, as it shall soon dawn on all of them, is that neither of the factions won in the senate battle. And the MDC is certainly weaker than it was before the election. It is a battle that neither faction can win. Mugabe already has his victory as he watches the unedifying spectacle.

Only Mugabe and his Zanu PF benefited from the senate poll. How things have changed since 2000 when the MDC came within a whisker of unseating Zanu PF! Indeed, in all probability, as court appeals suggest, the MDC did win that poll.

The MDC has been the biggest threat to Mugabe's stranglehold on power since 1980. Now the party is in its death throes. It is a victory that must be very sweet for Mugabe because in a space of six months he has managed not only to guarantee his safe exit through the senate but also to split the MDC and weaken its challenge.

The painful truth is that Tsvangirai, by being party to the mud-slinging in the MDC, has reduced himself to a faction leader instead of being a president of the party. He has failed as leader to hold the party together by wise diplomacy. Instead, he is behaving like the man he sought to displace in 2002.

Tsvangirai may indeed have been right that the party has been infiltrated by state agencies just as the press has, but his actions seem to be helping the same CIO agenda that he blames for wreaking havoc in the MDC.

Those who support Tsvangirai's anti-senate position have been arguing that the apathy that characterised the polls indicates that people listened to Tsvangirai's call for a boycott. Tsvangirai himself seems to believe that too.

But that argument is a self-serving analysis that seeks to give Tsvangirai credit for what he can't do. Zimbabweans have always stayed away from elections whose benefits they do not understand. Only in 2000 and 2002 did they see a chance to change things. And that spirit was soon broken.

In the 1996 presidential poll Mugabe was elected by less than 30% of the electorate after other candidates boycotted the contest. To therefore assume that people did not vote because they listened to Tsvangirai is as good as assuming that Zimbabweans don't know when and how to vote, and that they need Tsvangirai's wisdom to make that decision.

Apathy in an election is a result of many factors and cannot solely be pinned on an individual.

The pro-senate faction, even after emerging out of the election empty-handed except for a few Bulawayo seats, also claimed they were successful.

Their argument goes: "We managed to defend the party constitution and at least fill the democratic space."

The question that stops them in their tracks is: "So what if you did that and ended up with a broken party?"

Perhaps the most disheartening flip side is that while the MDC is busy fighting itself the lives of the people they claim to be representing have become even more miserable.

Instead of improving the people's lives with meaningful debate and challenging Mugabe, the factions are busy stroking their egos.

Another cheap argument is that the camps can do without each other. Its proponents, who are mostly activists, believe that Tsvangirai has the people's support and can therefore break away and remain stronger without the pro-senate faction.

This argument is based more on emotion than good sense. The sober view is that neither of the factions can do without the other's support. Both camps need each other to maintain a truly national party. The MDC needs as many people of goodwill as it can find.

Suffice it to say the struggle in the MDC is reminiscent of the split in Zapu in 1963 that gave birth to Zanu and Zapu. For a year after, the townships around Salisbury were nightly aflame with petrol bombings and faction fights.

It is this split that sowed the seeds of Gukurahundi in Matabeleland which left an estimated 20 000 innocent people dead soon after Independence.

If party secretary-general Welshman Ncube and his faction choose to go it alone they will narrow their support base to Matabeleland and risk being labelled an ethnic party just like the old Zapu.

If Tsvangirai and his camp decide to break away they also risk losing their Matabeleland constituency and being labelled a Shona party just like the old Zanu. When that happens whoever takes over the name MDC remains the leader of a regional party which lacks the vital national outlook. The MDC would never be the same after that.

Both factions have dismally failed to read the game. They cannot understand why the state media that lied that the MDC was planning an anthrax attack on Zimbabwe should suddenly start giving them unlimited coverage.

State media understand that the infighting in the MDC serves their master's purpose - the death of opposition politics in Zimbabwe and the consolidation of an increasingly vicious dictatorship.

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I lent Mugabe US$10m - British tycoon

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Shakeman Mugari

CONTROVERSIAL British pro-perty tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten has claimed
that he lent President Robert Mugabe US$10 million last year at a time when
the country was grappling with a serious foreign currency crisis and food
The amount translates to over $910 billion at the interbank market rate, and
a whopping $1 trillion at the black market rate of $100 000 to the US
Mugabe's annual salary is $83,8 million, about $6,9 million a month or US$79
excluding allowances and other perks.
Van Hoogstraten, who did time for manslaughter in the United Kingdom before
being acquitted, made the claim about the loan in an interview with
Britain's Sunday Times newspaper this week.
Information minister Tichaona Jokonya said he could not comment on behalf of
the president, warning the Zimbabwe Independent not to believe van
Hoogstraten because he was a convict. He said the Independent should
"respect the president and not disturb him" as he was on holiday.
"I cannot comment on behalf of the president," Jokonya said. "Besides, young
man, you must be careful not to believe him (Van Hoogstraten), he is a
convict. Only the president can respond to that kind of claim."
In fact he was cleared of the murder charges in a criminal court but faces a
civil suit.
Van Hoogstraten told the Sunday Times this week that he had advanced a $10
million loan to Mugabe in November and that the security for the credit is
in assets worth trillions of Zimbabwe dollars. Van Hoogstraten, who has
interests in NMB (8,65%), Hwange Colliery (about 20%) and other listed
companies, told the paper that the interest on the credit was due in six
months' time (June).
He has in the past claimed to be Mugabe's friend, calling him a "true
English gentleman". The paper said the money was officially loaned to Mugabe
by Messina Investments, a company which van Hoogstraten says is owned by his
children. Messina is an investment vehicle that van Hoogstraten uses to buy
shares on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
"In six months' time, when the interest is due, it would be cheaper for them
to just kill me," he told the paper. "I think I am of more use to the
government in Zimbabwe alive. The people (of Zimbabwe) would probably prefer
me to be their president."
Van Hoogstraten is said to have produced a memorandum to prove that he had
loaned the money to Mugabe but did not reveal the interest rate.
If indeed the loan was dispensed, it is not clear which assets Mugabe
declared as collateral to secure the loan. Among Mugabe's publicly-known
assets are two farms and a mansion in Borrowdale and a plush house in his
rural Zvimba.
He is believed to be one of the biggest pig producers in the country.
Property evaluators however doubt that these assets would be enough to cover
the security required for a loan of such magnitude.
The amount Mugabe is said to have borrowed is enough to meet Zimbabwe's
power imports for almost two weeks or four days supply of fuel. Zimbabwe
requires US$17 million a month to import power and about US$60 million for
fuel.   Tsvangirai sued for $100 billion

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Van Hoogstraten not major NMB shareholder

zim indep

Ray Matikinye

BRITISH property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten is not a major shareholder in one of Zimbabwe's premier financial institutions, NMB Bank. Van Hoogstraten, who was declared a murderer by a British court in a civil case last month for the contract killing of a business colleague, owns a mere 8,65% in the bank.

NMB financial officer, Mario Dos Remedios, told the Zimbabwe Independent that the shareholding does not give van Hoogstraten a controlling stake in the bank.

"People might have got this impression from the forceful manner in which van Hoogstraten was expressing himself during the bank's last AGM," Dos Remedios said.

"He was throwing his weight around and that could have given other shareholders the wrong impression."

Dos Remedios said van Hoogstraten kept declaring that he was a major shareholder during the AGM although this was not the case.

In October last year van Hoogstraten splashed £2 000 sterling on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange to buy sharers in NMB.

He latched onto media reports that he had muscled his way into NMB as a major shareholder.

"You can see that van Hoogstraten's 8,65% is not as substantial as he claims," Dos Remedios said, adding that the bank had to probe those claims by auditing the shareholders' register to allay the concerns of other shareholders.

Van Hoogstraten, an admirer of President Mugabe whom he has described as "a gentleman" and "incorruptible", owns vast tracts of land in Zimbabwe despite Zanu PF's political rhetoric that it will not allow foreigners to own land ahead of indigenous Zimbabweans.

State Security, Lands and Land Resettlement minister Dydimus Mutasa in August told a provincial land committee meeting in Masvingo that government would drive out the remaining white farmers from their properties.

Mutasa said this was in line with Constitutional Amendment Bill No 17 that empowers government to nationalise all agricultural land while barring farmers from contesting land expropriation in the courts.

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Analysts warn of OMO bills' inflationary effects

Zim Indep.

Eric Chiriga

THE recent reintroduction of $300 billion Open Market Operations (OMO) bills by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is inflationary and will crowd out the private sector, analysts say.

They said the RBZ was using the bills to pick up money from the market to finance government's recurrent expenditure.

The RBZ introduced OMO bills in which they invite investors such as pension and provident funds, insurance firms, life mutuals and commercial banks as well as individuals to subscribe.

The offer opened and closed on January 5.

The 91-day bills will be acceptable as collateral for repo and overnight accommodation by the RBZ and payable at the central bank on maturity.

Interest on the bills is subject to a 20% withholding tax.

"Theoretically, OMO bills are used to mop up excess liquidity in the market but the bills are a way to borrow money by government to finance its recurrent expenditure," an analyst with a banking institution said.

He said initially it will reduce money supply but ultimately it would have the opposite effect when the government starts using the money to finance its recurrent expenditure.

"It will also crowd out the private sector," he said.

Reginald Sherekete, an analyst with Interfin, said the introduction of the bills would be inflationary on maturity.

"In the short-term, excess liquidity will be mopped up but when the bills mature, money supply will again surge," he said.

Farai Dyirakumunda, also an analyst at Interfin, said the introduction of OMO bills was a means by government to borrow money and control interest rates.

However, he said ultimately the move will accelerate money supply growth.

"The bills will increase money supply and push up inflation considering that the economy is stagnant," he said. Zimbabwe's December inflation was 585,8%.

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Heralding new economic dawn premature, say analysts

Zim Observer

 EDITORS (1/11/2006)

photograph by Zimbabwe's economy is unlikely to recover in 2006, despite reports of a new deal between government, business and labour aimed at improving prospects for stability. While the official Herald newspaper reported that the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) - comprising representatives of government, business and labour - had reached an agreement on a Price and Incomes Stabilisation Protocol, both labour and business officials denied an accord.

Among the targets the TNF reportedly agreed to was a commitment by the government to reduce inflation, currently running at 585 percent, to 80 percent by the end of the year. Another was that the budget deficit be cut to less than five percent of GDP.

Economist Dennis Nikisi told IRIN these targets would be unattainable. Reducing the deficit and reining in inflation was not possible "when the government's domestic borrowing is at $14 trillion [US $15 billion). How are they going to redeem that as soon as those [treasury] bills mature? It's going to push a lot of money into the economy, resulting in additional monetary growth and inflation that is not going to go down", Nikisi said.

He added that government entered into its deregulation strategy with the hope that "prices will find a disciplined level and bottom out".

"They [government] felt that if we let go of the reins [in terms of price controls on goods and fuel imports] ... there will come a time when resistance creeps in and demand will lessen and things will stabilise. But because of the endemic shortages [of fuel, basic commodities etc] inflation is not bottoming out, it's only getting worse," Nikisi explained.

Inflation could peak at 1,000 percent in 2006, he warned.

Zimbabwe needed sustainable sources of foreign currency, and the support of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. "I don't see Zimbabwe managing to have sustainable supplies of fuel and many other raw materials [in short supply] without that," Nikisi added.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) chief executive Farai Zizhou also told IRIN the deficit and inflation targets reported in the Herald were not achievable this year. He added that the TNF would meet again on 19 January to discuss recommendations from its technical committee on the matter, but no agreement had been reached as yet.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions General-Secretary Wellington Chibebe said the Herald article was surprising as labour had understood government to be resistant to many of the recommendations in the proposed Price and Incomes Stabilisation Protocol.

Zizhou noted that Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono is expected to make a policy statement in the next week or so. "This will be instructive as he will outline what weapons he intends to employ to fight inflation. Part of the reason we have high inflation is due to the central bank's effort to raise money for food imports through the release of a mixture of treasury bills on the market," Zizhou noted. "A choice had to be made between high inflation and starvation."


Source: IRIN

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IMF heads to Zimbabwe again

sunday times

Friday January 13, 2006 07:08 - (SA)

HARARE - A five-member delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
is to arrive in Zimbabwe later this month as the southern African country
struggles to pay back about 146 million US dollars owed to the lending club,
the finance minister said.

The IMF has threatened to expel Zimbabwe from its ranks for failing to pay
back loans since 2001 and has given the southern African country until
February to settle its accounts.

"They will be coming but I cannot comment on our target month of settling
our dues," Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa said.

The IMF mission is scheduled to arrive January 24 and depart on February 1,
he said.

According to figures from the Reserve Bank from December, Harare owed the
IMF 146.8 million US dollars.

The central bank pledged to the IMF three months ago that the remainder of
the payment would be paid in February.

"I will only be in a position to talk about our outstanding debt after their
visit," Murerwa said.

In September, the country paid 120 million dollars, which represented more
than a third of its outstanding debt to the IMF.

That payment earned it a six-month reprieve.

An additional 15 million dollars was paid a month later and a further 10
million was handed over in November.

Without the payment, Zimbabwe was at risk of becoming only the second
country to be kicked out of the IMF since the former Czechoslovakia in 1954.

But Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono cautioned following the last payment
that more had to be done, saying in the state-run The Herald newspaper: "We
are not out of the woods (yet)." Zimbabwe is in the throes of a severe
economic crisis with foreign currency shortages and galloping triple-digit

Given the country's dire economic straits, last year's payments prompted
speculation and suspicion as to its source, with economists noting that
Zimbabwe could not afford to spare hard currency given its current shortage.

The IMF said in October that it would investigate the source of the loan
payback and would report on its findings to the executive board in March.

An IMF mission travelled to Zimbabwe in June and returned in August of last


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Zimbabwe electoral commission finally pays polling officers

Thursday, 12 January 2006, 10 hours, 46 minutes and 19 seconds ago.
By Chimayo Mayeki
ZIMBABWE, Bulawayo - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has started paying some of the polling officers who participated in the Senatorial Elections three months after the controversial elections held in November last year.
A number of civil servants mostly teachers were still to receive their allowances after participating as poling officers in the elections. Though initial indications were that the election body was bankrupt, ZEC spokesperson Utloile Silaigwana said those who did not get their money had submitted wrong bank accounts. “Its not like there is a big issue because only a few polling officers did not get their money. 

Report prepared By Elias Wilson for AND :

We are actually in the process of rectifying that,” said Mr Silaigwana. He said the money, which was supposed to have paid the polling officers was returned to ZEC because the funds could not be deposited into the accounts. Despite claims by the ZEC that some of the poling officers had submitted wrong account numbers, some of the poling officers said they submitted their account number soon after the elections but no communication was made until now. “We were told to submit our account numbers on the first Monday when the elections ended on Saturday. From then we had been inquiring about our money but there was no satisfactory answer. Now there are paying us when the money has lost value,” said a teacher who was based in Bulawayo during the elections. Now teachers feel that there are being regarded as cheap labour during elections and they would reconsider their participation in the future. The secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association, Denis Sinyolo earlier said ZEC's failure to pay the teachers was a "demotivating" factor to teachers who were always willing to take part in such national events. "It is unfortunate that teachers who are rendering an important service to the nation are being paid their dues in time considering the fact that they receive meagre monthly salaries,” he said. Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) acting secretary general, MacDonald Mangauzani, his organisation would in future discourage teachers from taking part in polls. "The government has abused teachers and civil servants in general for too long and in future, we will discourage our members from participating in elections," he said.

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Time Bank reopening plans gather pace

zim indep

Shakeman Mugari

PLANS to reopen Time Bank Zimbabwe Ltd have gathered pace despite denials by the Reserve Bank of a rescue package revealed by the Zimbabwe Independent last week.

The RBZ this week wrote to this paper dismissing the story and demanding a retraction (See Page 8).

"We would like to put it on record that this article is not factual at all," wrote Norman Mataruka, a senior division chief of the bank's licensing, supervision and surveillance unit.

Mataruka denied any discussions regarding Time's reopening. But sources at the RBZ have confirmed that talks started in October and the bank was due to reopen on January 3.

The reopening was however delayed after the central bank shifted the goal posts by demanding a further $100 billion as part of the conditions.

Correspondence seen by the Independent shows that the discussions had reached an advanced stage. Although Mataruka insists there had never been any discussions, investigations have revealed he has received a letter from Time Bank curator Tinashe Rwodzi of PricewaterhouseCoopers confirming the talks.

The letter shows that the curator has been acting as an intermediary between the RBZ and Time shareholders.

"I have had continuing discussions with the representatives of the shareholders and directors of Time Bank, especially on their indication of their willingness to recapitalise the bank," said the curator's letter to Mataruka dated October 17, 2005.

The letter reveals that Mataruka earlier had a telephone conversation with the curator, discussing the possibility of the bank reopening following recapitalisation.

"Following our telephone conversation this morning, I write to formalise my update of the development relating to Time Bank (under curatorship)," Rwodzi said.

While Mataruka insisted in his letter to this paper that there were no plans to recapitalise the bank, Rwodzi's letter confirms that the RBZ last October, through the curator, allowed Time shareholders to raise funds in preparation for reopening.

"After discussions with the Reserve Bank, I have allowed them (Time shareholders) to engage in efforts to raise funds for recapitalisation and these efforts are currently under way," he said.

It further reveals that the central bank had through the curator advised Time Bank shareholders to raise funds to pay off small depositors as part of the conditions for reopening.

"As part of the recapitalisation efforts and as a demonstration of goodwill and commitment, I have asked the shareholders to raise and make available to me $7 billion to pay off depositors a maximum of $5 million each," Rwodzi said.

While the RBZ denies that it conceded bungling the disputed PTA Bank loan or that it agreed to pay $200 billion to Time Bank, another letter in the possession of the Independent suggests otherwise.

Stephen Gwasira, who was then the director of supervision and surveillance in the RBZ, wrote a letter dated February 12, 2002 to Time Bank in which he said the RBZ was agreeable to the transfer of 50% of Time's claims to its statutory reserves as part of the settlement.

"Please be advised that the RBZ is agreeing to the inclusion of 50% ($200 billion) of your claim ($400 billion) to the RBZ in the statutory reserves," said Gwasira in his letter. Gwasira is now the chief executive of the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group.

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Zimbabwe needs mediators - Human Rights Forum

zim indep

Itai Mushekwe

ZIMBABWE needs mediators to promote dialogue and break the political deadlock in the country, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has said.

In its audit of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) report titled Zimbabwe Facts and Fiction, the human rights umbrella group said there was need for new initiatives to break the stalemate in Zimbabwe.

It said as the Zimbabwean crisis extends into another year, the absence of national dialogue remained a deeply disturbing feature of the political landscape.

"As President Mugabe and his ruling party entrench their repressive political domination, the need for new initiatives to break the legitimacy stalemate in Zimbabwe is more urgent than ever," the audit concludes.

"It appears highly unlikely that internal opposition forces will in the near future be able to build up sufficient pressure to force Zanu PF into a political compromise. There is little indication that regional powers will depart from their position of solidarity with Mugabe in the current standoff with the West."

The NGO forum said whatever pressure Western governments have put on Mugabe in private, the rapidly declining economy clearly presents the government with enormous problems of sustainability.

"Such constraints will not translate automatically into a more pliant stand on the part of the government," the audit says. "Rather, they will probably result in more authoritarian state reaction. There is a dangerous impasse in Zimbabwe, and the need for national dialogue has never been greater," it says.

The audit notes that national dialogue to mend political fences remains largely illusionary as the main opposition MDC is tied up in a bitter power struggle for more than three months after failing to agree on participation in last year's senatorial election.

Zanu PF appears to be fully in charge, as Mugabe would prefer a weak opposition party trapped in political quicksands than a consolidated and goal-focused force, it says.

President Mugabe last year ruled out dialogue with the MDC, saying he would rather talk to their so-called master, British premier Tony Blair.

"Today we tell all those calling for such ill-conceived talks to please stop misdirecting their efforts", said Mugabe.

"The rest of the world knows who must be spoken to. In case they do not, we tell them here at Heroes' Acre that the man to be spoken to in order to make him see reason resides in Number 10 Downing Street. This is the man to speak to and those at Harvest House (the MDC headquarters) are no more than his stooges and puppets," Mugabe said.

Zimbabweans have to brace for hard times ahead following the release of the latest inflation figures this week.

Statistics show that the December inflation figure have surged to 585,8% from 502,4% in November last year, making access to basic commodities out of reach for many Zimbabweans.

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Chombo's hatchet job pays no dividend

zim indep

Ray Matikinye

HOW Zanu PF expects the international community to tone down its strident criticism over lack of democratic governance in Zimbabwe following the brazen dismissal of elected council executives is hard to imagine.

Even harder to imagine is whether the ruling elite will ever learn never to equate competence with mere membership of the ruling party.

But if empty talk about upholding democratic practice had a prize to it, none of President Robert Mugabe's cabinet ministers would beat Ignatious Chombo to it.

Chombo has given democracy new meaning and re-defined the way it should be practised.

It could be that when the late national political commissar, Moven Mahachi, announced a revisionist switch in ideology by the ruling Zanu PF from socialism to "guided democracy" few people ever contemplated that the doctrine would spill into civic affairs and impinge on local governance.

A majority thought the tenet would be confined to Zanu PF structures that were at that time riddled with intra-party factionalism.

With the passage of time, the electorate now knows better.

Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development minister Chombo's mission to dismiss elected councils dominated by the opposition MDC on spurious grounds of mismanagement and incompetence illustrates an admission by the ruling Zanu PF that the party has lost its competitive edge to the opposition among the urban electorate.

He has resolutely executed a hatchet job to regain lost prestige for his party with unmatched vigour.

And Chombo's vindictiveness in making these decisions is indicative too of a political party running scared and agonising as to how to hold up waning popularity among urban supporters.

Engineer Elias Mudzuri, the democratically elected executive mayor for Harare, became the first casualty - defrocked of his mayoral garb on a mythical excuse that seems cloned from a prototype.

Chombo has cited identical excuses to harass Mutare and Chitungwiza executive mayors Misheck Kagurabadza and Misheck Shoko respectively.

And the excuse has been that the mayors lack the pedigree to perform miraculous turn-around programmes that reverse years of decay that has been inflicted by successive administrations led by Zanu PF nominees.

Mudzuri was accused of failing to turn around the city's fortunes after years of decay brought about by party appointees under Zanu PF's fledgling patronage system.

Ironically, Mudzuri's replacement, Sekesai Makwavarara, has done little to show she merits the post other than becoming an emblem of how Zanu PF revels in creating political turncoats.

There is a striking similarity between Makwavarara and her mentor.

Chombo's record as head of the local government ministry shows little success in increasing the national housing stock compared to his predecessor, the late Enos Chikowore.

The late Chikowore left a legacy of numerous blocks of flats scattered on various locations in the city and other urban areas countrywide during his tenure as housing minister.

On the other hand Chombo has remained fixated in ensuring elected representatives are ousted unless they belong to the ruling party.

Invariably, the commissions that have replaced democratically elected executives are Zanu PF functionaries who could have easily turned political has-beens had Chombo not extended them a lifeline.

Witness how the minister has revived Irene Zindi's flagging political fortunes by appointing her commissioner for Mutare and marvel at how two-time loser Ellen Gwarazimba has been sneaked into Town House.

Harare is suffocating under piling garbage despite a clean-up operation in May last year which Chombo and Makwavarara glibly explained as meant to "drive out trash".

Apart from depopulating urban centres, viewed as the bulwark of opposition MDC support, residents still wade through pools of sewage while other suburbs have gone without water for weeks on end.

"What Chombo seems to ignore is the basic fact that if government allowed people their democratic right to choose representatives, they cannot blame it when those representatives fail to deliver," says Washington Runesu of Budiriro suburb in Harare.

Runesu says being a Zanu PF member is not synonymous with being a competent administrator.

"Some of those nominated as commissioners have never contested local government elections, implying that either they acknowledge their disinterest in leading councils out of the rut or their limitations in doing so with competence," he says.

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Byo engages lawyers against government

zim indep

IN a bid to recover over $396 billion owed by government departments and residents, the Bulawayo city council has engaged 12 legal firms to speed up the process, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.

The move comes after persistent calls for the government to pay up hit a brickwall in the past.

Government departments owe the council $86 billion while residents owe $270 billion with the remainder being interest on the overall debt.

The council has also engaged the Minister of Finance Herbert Murerwa over the debt but the dialogue has failed to yield the desired results.

Law firms that have been engaged by council to collect the huge debt include Ben Baron, Hara & Partners, Sansole & Senda, Lazarus & Sarif, and Webb Low & Berry.

Bulawayo mayor Japhet Ndabeni Ncube confirmed that the local authority has engaged the law firms and said the move was paying dividends as government had made a commitment to pay after papers were served on some departments.

The other law firms that council has engaged include Mazorodze, Nyathi & Partners, Mabhikwa, Hikwa & Nyathi, and James Moyo Majwabu & Nyoni.

Ncube said the council has resorted to taking legal action after residents and government failed to make payments for service deliveries.

"Council had no option but to resort to the law firms to collect the debt. We had to find a way to rein-in the trend if we were to survive and sustain operations," Ncube said.

He said as a result of the council action, government was now making efforts to pay up.

Ncube said the government has since written to council enquiring about payment arrangements for the debt.

"The Bulawayo acting provincial administrator wrote to us last month requesting information on government departments that had outstanding bills and that information was availed to him so that he could remind them to settle their bills," Ncube said.

The Bulawayo city council is in dire need of cash to finance some of its capital projects that have been in limbo for the past two years due to lack of funding.

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Govt's cricket takeover: the latest

zim indep

Enock Muchinjo

THE crisis in Zimbabwe cricket is still far from over after government last week assumed control of the Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) board in a move that has left the sport in deeper turmoil.

Last Friday, Gibson Mashingaidze, chairman of the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), announced the removal of all white and Asian ZC directors who were replaced by six government appointees.

The government takeover of cricket has intensified fears regarding Zimbabwe's future international participation and Test status.

IndependentSport has learnt that the players have vowed not to play under the new regime despite last Saturday's decision to suspend their strike until the end of the month.

ZC chairman, Peter Chingoka, is currently attending a meeting of International Cricket Council (ICC) directors in Pakistan where the Zimbabwe crisis will be discussed.

ICC president, Ehsan Mani, has issued veiled threats in the past that Zimbabwe's Test status could be at risk if "the integrity of the game is put at risk".

Although ICC has not yet made an official statement on the government takeover of ZC, this week Mani acknowledged the appointment of the interim committee, but issued a warning that the government's action might fail to normalise the situation.

"No-one should regard the appointment of this committee as a solution to the issues facing Zimbabwe cricket," said Mani in a press release. "A number of outstanding matters must be urgently resolved in a transparent manner.

"These include addressing allegations of financial mismanagement, ensuring disputes between players and the board are effectively addressed, and providing certainty for other ICC members that the strongest possible Zimbabwe team will be able to fulfill future commitments, especially the forthcoming tour of the West Indies in April and May."

The Zimbabwe professional players, who have been in dispute with the cricket bosses since last year, agreed to suspend their strike a few days after the government announcement.

IndependentSport has it on good authority that the players resolved to stay on until the end of the month following a government directive that ZC pay the players' outstanding salaries and match fees by January 31, then move on with their careers elsewhere.

"There is no way players will ever play afterwards under this set-up," said a source. "They just want their money. Whether ZC will pay or not, they have already made up their minds.

"The guys don't feel for a second that the dispute would have been resolved by then, but the feeling is that this is a better way of keeping the pressure on than just walking away."

Players' representative, Clive Field, was quoted as saying last week when announcing the players' decision to stay on: "They've put their pockets in front of their principles in the hope that they can persevere and preserve their income," he commented.

Test nations have in the past stressed that they will not entertain a weak Zimbabwe side, with the latest being the West Indies, who Zimbabwe are scheduled to tour in April and May.

Zoral Barthley, the West Indies Cricket Board's operations officer, told the T&T Express newspaper in the islands that he was awaiting clarification on the situation in Zimbabwe.

"We really have only a few weeks to finalise bookings for their travel and accommodation," he sad. "The critical time is the end of January." He said it was too early to make contingency plans. "We'll wait until we are further appraised of the situation but time is obviously a consideration."

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TZ meets over Chingoka probe

zim indep

Nigel Nyamutumbu

TENNIS Zimbabwe says it will this month hold a meeting to discuss
investigations into former president Paul Chingoka's conduct into the
running of the sport.
The meeting will also deliberate on a number of issues, from the 2006
schedule, probable sponsors and talent development. The meeting is expected
to see a number of changes in the tennis structures, both on the
administrative and playing sides.
TZ has remained tight-lipped on the Chingoka saga for the past six months,
when the new committee headed by president Ann Martin was put in place.
The association has left the sporting fraternity guessing over the outcome
of the probe, raising speculation over the audit company's findings on the
allegations of funds misappropriation by Chingoka and former TZ treasurer,
Bash Mahomed.
"We are going to meet over the Chingoka saga sometime this month," Tanya
Chinamo, the TZ public relations officer, said.
"A tribunal consisting of myself, and some retired judges has been set up to
analyse Chingoka's report and probably further investigate before we can
make it a public issue. This (inclusion of retired judges) will give a fair
and balanced judgement."
On why TZ had taken long to release the report, Chinamo responded: "We dealt
with that issue a long time ago. I am not in a position to comment on that."
Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether non-playing captain Claudio Murape
would be part of the proceedings in the forthcoming Davis Cup tie against
Norway in April.
The axe is likely to wield on Murape, the country's first black non-playing
captain. Murape has clashed with TZ over remuneration while the association
is believed to be unimpressed by his performance after he took over the
reins from former skipper Greg Rodger.
Murape could neither deny nor confirm these rumours, citing that he is not
aware of anything to do with TZ at the moment as everyone was on holiday.

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RBZ backtracks over Trust, Royal Banks

zim indep

Shakeman Mugari

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has reversed on an earlier decision not to negotiate the settlement of its seizure of Trust Bank and Royal Bank assets and has now proposed to discuss the ownership dispute with the two financial institutions, businessdigest can reveal.

In a move vigorously opposed by Trust and Royal shareholders, the RBZ seized the two banks' assets to form the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG) after declaring them insolvent and placing them under curatorship.

The placement of the assets under ZABG was declared by the RBZ governor Gideon Gono as a final solution to the insolvency crisis besetting the two banks.

Trust Bank and Royal Bank have disputed the takeover of their assets by ZABG, a wholly-owned RBZ subsidiary.

The two banks demanded that the ZABG stops operating using their assets.

The Supreme Court ruled on appeal that the seizure of the two banks' assets was unlawful and declared it null and void, but urged the two banks to go back to the central bank for arbitration.

Businessdigest can now reveal that after dithering on the issue for the past four months, the RBZ has finally tabled a proposal to resolve the dispute.

Confidential letters in the possession of this paper reveal that the RBZ has written to one of the aggrieved banks informing it of a panel set up to help settle the matter.

In the letter to Trust, the RBZ said it was ready to make a determination on its dispute with ZABG. The letter sets out the guidelines for the hearing and also mentions the panel.

"The hearing shall take place before a panel appointed by the governor of the Reserve Bank," said the letter dated November 18 2005.

The letter, written by Fortune Chasi, the personal assistant to Gono, also advises Trust to make its submissions for consideration at the hearing.

"The guidelines are intended to serve as a guide only for the Reserve Bank to ensure the smooth and fair disposal of the appeal," said Chasi.

Under the proposal, the central bank has agreed to appoint a panel to make a determination on the issue.

The central bank initially proposed a three-member panel made up of retired Justice George Smith, David Phiri, a retired governor of the Reserve Bank of Zambia, and David Mutambara, the chairman of the Institute of Directors.

However, businessdigest understands that it now plans to add three more people to the panel, a decision said to have angered Trust shareholders.

The RBZ has allegedly added Chasi and Jean Maguranyanga, the RBZ's corporate secretary.

Mervyn King, a former Judge of the High Court of South Africa and a renowned corporate governance expert, has also been appointed to the panel.

Arthur Manase, a legal advisor in the RBZ, has been proposed as a secretary to the panel.

The composition of the panel has however come under heavy attack from Trust Bank who believe that some of its members are compromised.

Trust argues that Maguranyanga and Chasi are not suitable to be part of the panel because they are RBZ officials and therefore have an interest in the outcome of the dispute.

They argue that the two were part of the legal team that gave advice to the governor in the setting up of ZABG and the take over of Trust's assets.

Trust shareholders have raised their concerns in letters shown to businessdigest.

"In the event that you want this panel to be independent, we are concerned about the inclusion of Chasi and Maguranyanga," said Trust in their letter.

Trust also noted that Chasi and Maguranyanga were "too intimately involved" in the matter to make an independent review.

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10 trillion shares change hands in 2005

zim indep

Paul Nyakazeya

ABOUT 10 trillion shares changed hands on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) last year as the local bourse witnessed a bullish run for the greater part of the year.

Information obtained from the local bourse revealed that a total of 9 594 130 128 trillion shares were traded on the ZSE between January and December last year.

The growth was underpinned by weak money market interest rates, an unstable Zimbabwe dollar and a hyperinflationary environment.

During the year to December 31, 2005, the mainstream industrial index grew by over 1200%, beating annualised inflation which reached 585,8% year-on-year for December.

"Generally the market was active last year. Most gains were recorded during the last quarter of the year powered by gains mostly from financial, construction and consumer goods counters, despite slight disturbances by the introduction of withholding capital gains tax on all shares traded. Dual listed counters also played a part due the devaluation of the dollar," said a stock-broker.

He said strong corporate results, backed by resilient consumer demand, was another factor that had propelled the bull-run.

Amidst high inflation levels and poor returns on investment on the money market, the stock market became an investment destination of choice for local investors because of its higher returns.

This year, the market has picked up from where it left off last year with various counters making significant gains and pushing the industrial and mining index to fresh all-time highs.

"Going forward, the stock market is quite cheap and bargain hunters should take this opportunity to acquire quality stocks," the stock-broker added.

The year also saw the local bourse market captalisation increasing to $200 trillion in December from $5 trillion in January.

Of the top five most heavily capitalised counters by December, Delta remained the most heavily capitalised with a market value of 26 trillion. Old Mutual was second on $19,5 trillion. Meikles Africa Limited was valued at $17,4 trillion to occupy third place. Innscor Africa finished the year on 13,2 trillion, while cement producer Pretoria Portland Company, the first counter to reach the one million mark, stood at 11,5 trillion.

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NDH to bounce back

zim indep

Dumisani Ndlela

RESUMPTION of NDH Holdings' operations, halted nearly two years ago after an insolvency crisis, is expected in a few months time, with the group's management proposals and a list of new shareholders now before the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, sources said this week.

The RBZ now evaluates and sanctions all shareholders in financial institutions. It can reject or accept a shareholder taking up equity in a financial institution after its vetting process.

Sources indicated that NDH had secured new shareholders apart from creditors who had converted their debts in the composite financial group into equity.

"They are now only waiting for the vetting process of the new shareholders by the Reserve Bank," a source told businessdigest.

"They are set to resume operations in all their subsidiaries."

NDH managing director, Tinashe Chimanikire, could not be drawn into commenting on the issue. But businessdigest understands that NDH will be resuscitating all its operations - the discount house, asset management arm and stock broking firm - which have been stalled by the banking sector crisis of 2004 in which over 10 financial institutions were forced to shut down under an RBZ crackdown on insolvent financial institutions.

NDH had been exposed to the now-liquidated ENG asset management to the tune of $10 billion. The exposure precipitated a run on the financial institution's deposits, but an outright liquidation was avoided after creditors in the discount house and asset management subsidiaries agreed to take up equity in NDH Holdings.

The RBZ had also acknowledged the group's efforts to find a viable solution to its insolvency woes.

Sources indicated that NDH Holdings was already scouting for an additional stockbroker for its securities arm ahead of resumption of operations.

Although the stock broking wing does not fall under the RBZ's sphere of supervision, it is understood that authorities had deemed it prudent to have the stock- broking operations suspended until the other operations received the sanction to operate from the RBZ.

"Of course it looks more like there is consolidated supervision of all NDH Holdings' operations by the Reserve Bank. There is fear that if they allow the stock broking firm to start trading on the stock market, unforeseen problems might emerge because of the incestuous relationship between the firms," a source said.

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Govt lays hurdles for Canadian firm

zim indep.

Paul Nyakazeya

THE government wants to block plans by a Canadian company, Mondorin Goldfields, to acquire majority stakes in small mines in Bulawayo, Kwekwe and Mvuma, businessdigest learnt this week.

Sources this week said though government welcomes plans by the Canadian company to invest in Zimbabwe, it was reluctant to grant it total control of the mines.

"The company has made its intentions (of being major shareholder in mines it has identified) known," a source said. "What government does not want is for the Canadian firm to have the lion's share in most of the mines. The company is likely going to be given limitations as to how much stake they can take up depending on a number of factors. Some papers regarding the acquisition have not yet been submitted to government other than verbal communication between the parties involved," the source said.

Mondorin Goldfields is listed on the Canadian stock exchange and was reportedly one of the best performing counters last year.

Market watchers said the company's alliance with Zimbabwean mines would boost the mining sector's performance, which has been struggling due to the country's hyperinflationary environment.

According to Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, mining remains an important industry to the economy not only in terms of gross domestic product and employment, but also because of its foreign exchange generation capacity.

In a press release published last month, Mondorin Goldfield said on its official website that it had entered into an agreement with Duration Gold Ltd (DGL) to acquire 100% of its interest in gold projects in Zimbabwe. The mines, which are owned by Duration Investments (Pvt) Ltd (DIPL) include Gaika, Athens, Umvinga, Durban, Sunace and Queens.

The deal will also involve a 65% stake in the Hope Fountain group of mines and prospects and a 49% interest in Casmyn which operates Peter Pan, Sandy and Tiberius Mines.

DIPL has been mining in Zimbabwe since 1955 and has a well-established management and operations team headed by John Muir, who is said to have managed the business since 1985.

The Canadian company said it recognises that local participation would be essential in the development and operation of the mines in Zimbabwe.

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