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Cape ARgus
Zimbabwe endures year of banking dangerously
December 31, 2004

This has been an annus horribilis for Zimbabwe's financial sector, which has suffered its worst crisis - leaving thousands without access to salaries and savings in banks shut by authorities.

December 31, 2003, saw the arrest of two directors of an asset management company for a $9.8 billion fraud, followed by the closure of their company by the central bank.

This set the tone for a crisis year for depositors.

It was followed by the arrest of dozens of high-profile bankers and the flight into "exile" of several others facing various financial charges, including spiriting desperately needed foreign exchange overseas

Unemployment has risen to a record 70%

After the January closure of the ENG asset management firm, more banks and financial institutions fell like a house of cards.

By Christmas Day, the Reserve Bank had shut down seven banks, three of them listed on the stock exchange, and placed them under the control of independent regulators, but several others face an uncertain future.

The collapsed banks had all been locally owned, recently established as part of government efforts to fight the monopoly hitherto enjoyed by international banks.

The financial sector has been blamed for plunging the country into its worst economic crisis in memory.

The central bank has warned it will step up efforts to "smoke out errant bankers".

Central bank governor Gideon Gono said the house-cleaning exercise in the banking sector "has helped a great deal to avoid a system-wide collapse of our financial sector".

In frantic efforts to mend the country's sickly economy and salvage the banking sector once touted as the country's greatest success story, the central bank introduced a troubled bank fund to help with liquidity support while proposing mergers of ailing banks.

But both the proposed mergers and the rescue package have failed to prevent banks from falling into curatorship.

The first "successfully" merged group, CFX, became the latest casualty, closing days before Christmas, barely two months after the deal was concluded.

The government now plans to bring the troubled banks together under the umbrella of the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group.

This is modelled on the lines of South Africa's Absa and is expected to start operating in the new year.

As the year draws to a close, speculation is rife about which banks will survive the purge and which of the less than half a dozen locally owned banks still operating will go under.

Zimbabwe's financial woes stretch back to several years ago, when international lenders pulled out due to disagreements with President Robert Mugabe's government.

The troubles have worsened over the past three years, with inflation soaring to 600% at the start of the year, poverty levels doubling and the economy contracting by 30%.

In the meantime unemployment had risen to a record 70%.

Over the past 11 months inflation has fallen from 622% to 149% last month, but has remained one of the highest rates in the world. - Sapa-AFP

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Zim Online (SA), 31 December
Jonathan Moyo to resign as Mugabe’s propaganda chief

Johannesburg - President Robert Mugabe's acerbic Information Minister and propaganda chief, Jonathan Moyo, has left the country and is expected to post his resignation letter from abroad, government sources told Zim Online last night. Moyo, among Mugabe's most powerful confidantes, until the two fell out three weeks ago when he tried to block plans by Mugabe to appoint Joyce Mujuru as ruling Zanu PF party and state second Vice-President left Zimbabwe for Kenya on Tuesday this week. He was said to have left Nairobi yesterday for the Middle East as rumour spread across Harare suggesting he had already submitted his letter of resignation to Mujuru, who is acting President while Mugabe is away on leave in Malaysia. But well-placed sources last night said Moyo was expected to follow former Industry Minister, Nkosana Moyo, who faxed his resignation letter from South Africa after disagreeing with colleagues in Cabinet over the direction of the economy. "It is true that he is out of the country and we expect him to do a Nkosana Moyo," said a senior member of Zanu PF's inner politburo cabinet, who did not want to be named. Moyo himself was unreachable while his permanent secretary at the Information Ministry and Mugabe spokesman, George Charamba, could also not be reached for comment on the matter.
Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira confirmed that Moyo was out of the country but dismissed as mere rumour suggestions that he had already left the government. "He is out of the country, but it is just rumour that he has resigned," said Shamuyarira. He would not be drawn further on the matter. According to sources Moyo wants to leave Zanu PF and government after his rivals in the party successfully pushed for new criteria for candidates wishing to represent the party in next year's election, which disqualifies Moyo from standing in his Tsholotsho home constituency. Under the new requirements prospective candidates must be members of Zanu PF's provincial and district leadership structures. Moyo, who was once one of Zanu PF's bitterest critics before he changed sides in 1999 to become its most overzealous defender, is not in the party structures. He also felt "very humiliated" after he was publicly rebuked by Mugabe and dismissed from Zanu PF's central committee and politburo for organising a meeting in Tsholotsho to plot scuttling Mujuru's nomination as party vice-president, sources said. A an undoubted defender of democracy and the free Press before his turnaround, Moyo will forever be remembered for crafting Zimbabwe's harshest ever media laws under which hundreds of journalists were jailed and three newspapers including the country's only independent and biggest circulating daily paper, the Daily News, shut down in the last two years.

SABC news

Zimbabwean spin doctor Moyo resigns: reports

December 31, 2004, 11:30

Jonanathan Moyo, the Zimbabwean information minister, has resigned from government after being dropped from the ruling Zanu PF's party central committee and politburo, the Financial Gazette in Zimbabwe has reported.

Quoting "impeccable sources" in government, the paper claimed that Moyo handed his resignation to Joyce Mujuru, the acting president, earlier this week. Mujuru, who was appointed vice president this month, told Moyo to wait until Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, returns from his annual holiday in the Far East next month.

Meanwhile an unnamed government source told the Financial Gazette, "Moyo tendered his resignation on Tuesday to the acting president, who declined it, saying she had not appointed him in the first place so he should wait for the president's return."

Moyo has closed four newspapers since his appointment as information minister and government spokesperson in 2000. He has also deported several foreign journalists. The newspaper said he had "waged a war of attrition against the independent media" in Zimbabwe.

Attempts to contact Moyo failed. The minister fell from grace earlier this month after calling an "unauthorised party meeting" in the western district of Tsholotsho. The meeting, which angered Mugabe, saw several senior Zanu PF officials losing plum posts, among them Patrick Chinamasa, the justice minister.

Moyo tries to distance himself from Zanu split
Still, reporting to the ruling party's politburo, Moyo attempted to distance himself from the split in Zanu PF, saying: "I have been a victim of misrepresentation too many times and my heart bleeds because of that and the fact that the same has devastated my family, especially my two young children who are at a loss as to what is happening".

The minister also distanced himself from the draconian measures taken against Zimbabwe's beleaguered independent press, telling Zanu PF's politburo, "Today the Daily News is off the streets as a result of the violation of laws that we have collectively enacted, yet the truth is that some comrades here have conveniently distanced themselves from those laws and now I am personally held liable for the demise of the Daily News."

Moyo closed the paper, and its sister Daily News on Sunday, claiming it was not properly registered under his Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, also known as Aippa. The law, violation of which can draw heavy prison sentences, has been universally condemned, with the International Committee for the Protection of Journalists saying that Zimbabwe is one of the ten worst nations on earth in which to work as a journalist.

Since the ruling Zanu PF congress earlier this month, Mugabe has distanced himself from what he calls the party's "Mafikilozos" (late comers), including Phillip Chiyangwa, the flamboyant member of parliament for Chinhoyi, arrested this week on spying charges. Chiyangwa is reputed to be a relative of the Zimbabwean president. - Sapa

Financial Gazette, 31 December

Moyo resigns

Nelson Banya

The mercurial Minister of Information and Publicity, Jonathan Moyo, who has of late been balancing on a political knife-edge, has resigned from President Robert Mugabe’s government. Impeccable sources told The Financial Gazette that Moyo, who was largely expected to be axed by President Mugabe, tendered his resignation to Acting President Joyce Mujuru on Tuesday, following a sharp twist in his political fortunes. Speculation was rife that the government spin doctor, whose political fortunes are on the wane, has been offered a job in Namibia in an unspecified capacity, although this could not be independently verified. However, the sources indicated that Mujuru had refused to accept the resignation, saying Moyo should wait for President Mugabe’s return from his vacation in the Far East. "Moyo tendered his resignation on Tuesday to the Acting President, who declined it, saying she had not appointed him in the first place, so he should wait for the President’s return," one source said.

The sources indicated that Moyo cited frustration with developments following the fateful Tsholotsho meeting of November 18 convened by him and attended by several ruling party leaders, where a plot was allegedly hatched to stymie Mujuru’s nomination for the Zanu PF vice-presidency. Moyo, whose stock had risen significantly within Zanu PF and government circles mainly due to his vice-like grip on the state-controlled media, suffered a massive reversal of fortunes in the wake of the Tsholotshlo debacle. President Mugabe, miffed by an unprecedented act of defiance within the party he has led across three decades, blocked Moyo’s central committee nomination and dropped him from the Zanu PF politburo. His aspirations for the Tsholotsho constituency seat, which he has actively pursued for two years, were dealt a body blow this week when Zanu PF announced new rules which will effectively bar newcomers in the party, such as Moyo, from contesting in primary elections scheduled for January 15.

Formerly an arch-critic of President Mugabe and his Zanu PF government, Moyo made a sensational about-turn in 1999 when he spearheaded the government’s doomed constitutional reforms. He became the Zanu PF spokesman ahead of the watershed 2000 parliamentary election in which the ruling party faced stiff competition from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Moyo, an academic who has a penchant for witticism and ruthless wordplay against his perceived antagonists, was rewarded with a Cabinet post by Presdient Mugabe in 2000 and was retained in subsequent reshuffles. An erstwhile proponent of press freedom, Moyo waged a war of attrition against the independent media, masterminding the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Broadcasting Services Act, through which three newspapers and a broadcasting house were forced out of business. Several journalists have also been arrested under the draconian media laws that have drawn widespread condemnation.

Moyo was also at the forefront of many of the Zanu PF government’s battles with the opposition, effectively using the public media in a relentless propaganda crusade meant to discredit the opposition. He also founded a series of partisan musical galas to commemorate various national days, while he sought to introduce a system of patronage in the music industry, principally through his much-maligned local content policy. The hyperactive Moyo - known to work long hours - was widely perceived to have emerged as President Mugabe’s trusted strategist and confidante, until he miscalculated and, through the now infamous Tsholotsho Declaration, second-guessed Mugabe’s choice for the vice-presidency - Mujuru. As pressure mounted following the Tsholotsho meeting, Moyo - who earned a politburo reprimand for his troubles - sought, unsuccessfully, to redeem himself. "I have been a victim of that (misrepresentation) too many times and my heart bleeds because of that and the fact that the same has devastated my family, especially my two young children who are at a loss as to what is happening," Moyo wrote in a report he prepared for the politburo, as repercussions were being visited on perceived Tsholotsho conspirators.

In the report, Moyo also sought to shed personal liability for the closure of the country’s biggest circulating independent daily, The Daily News. "Today The Daily News is off the streets as a result of violation of laws that we have collectively enacted yet the truth is that some comrades here have conveniently distanced themselves from those laws and now I am personally held liable for the demise of The Daily News." Moyo has had highly publicised run-ins with senior Zanu PF politicians, some of whom were ridiculed in columns in the government press, widely believed to be penned by the minister, himself a previous author of acidic anti-government columns in the independent press. Vice-President Joseph Msika, Zanu PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira and national chairman John Nkomo all came out second-best after clashes with the information minister at the height of his power. Moyo’s resignation would earn him a place among the few personalities to resign from Presdient Mugabe’s government. Former finance and industry ministers Simba Makoni and Nkosana Moyo, respectively, quit on ethical grounds after sharp differences with hawks in Presdient Mugabe’s Cabinet, while Edmund Garwe and Enos Chikowore were hounded out of office by scandals.

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[ This article was printed from - home of the Sunday Times, South Africa. ]

Can Zimbabwe's banks be saved?

HARARE - 2004 has been the annus horribilis for Zimbabwe's financial  sector which has suffered its worst crisis that left thousands without access to their salaries and savings in banks forcibly closed by authorities.
December 31 last year saw the arrest of two directors of an asset management company for a 61-billion dollar (9.8 billion US dollar) fraud, followed by the closure of their company by the central bank.
This set the tone for a crisis-ridden year for depositors.
The year 2004 saw the arrest of dozens of high-profile bankers and the flight into "exile" of several others facing various financial charges, including spiriting out desperately needed foreign exchange overseas.
After the January closure of ENG asset management firm, more banks and financial institutions fell like a house of cards.
By Christmas Day this year, the Reserve Bank had shut down seven  banks, three of them listed on the stock exchange, and placed them under the control of independent regulators, but several others face an uncertain future.
The collapsed banks had all been locally-owned, recently established as part of government efforts to fight the monopoly hitherto enjoyed by international banks.
The financial sector has been blamed for plunging the country into its worst economic crisis in living memory.
The central bank has warned that it will step up efforts to "smoke out errant bankers".
Central bank governor Gideon Gono said the house-cleaning exercise in the banking sector "has helped a great deal to avoid a system-wide collapse of our financial sector".
In frantic efforts to mend the country's sickly economy and salvage the banking sector once touted as the country's success story, the central bank introduced a troubled bank fund to help with liquidity support while proposing mergers of ailing banks.
But both the proposed mergers and the rescue package have failed  to stop banks from falling into curatorship.
The first 'successfully' merged group, CFX, became the latest casualty, closing days before Christmas, barely two months after the deal was concluded.
The government now plans to bring the troubled banks together under the umbrella of the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group, modelled on the lines of South Africa's ABSA and to start operating in the New Year.
As the year draws to a close, speculation is rife on which banks will survive the purge and which of the less than half a dozen locally owned banks still operating will go under.
Zimbabwe's financial woes stretch back for several years when international lenders pulled out due to disagreements with President Robert Mugabe's government.
The troubles worsened over the last three years with inflation trebling to 600% at the start of the year, poverty levels doubling and the economy contracting 30%, with unemployment up to a record 70%. Inflation has for the past 11 months fallen from 622% to 149% last month, but remains one of the highest in the world.

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Tsunami disaster relief

Bangladesh board pledges gate-money

Cricinfo staff

December 31, 2004

The Bangladesh Cricket Board announced on Thursday that gate-money from the forthcoming series against Zimbabwe, estimated to be $10,000, will go relief efforts to the tsunami victims in Sri Lanka. The move follows similar pledges of aid from Australia, England and South Africa.

The Sri Lankan government has said that more than 27,000 have died in Sri Lanka because of the tsunamis and more than 4900 missing. The tsunami, which hit coastal areas around Asia on Sunday, has killed more than 125,000 people in 13 countries, and has made more than one million people homeless.

Zimbabwe arrived in Bangladesh on Thursday to play two Tests and five one-day internationals. The first Test, at Chittagong, starts next Thursday, January 6.

© Cricinfo

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ABC Online

ABC Online

Qualifier kicks off Hopman Cup action. 01/01/2005. ABC News Online

[This is the print version of story]

Qualifier kicks off Hopman Cup action

Hopman Cup action begins in Perth today with the Netherlands and Zimbabwe vying for a spot in the main team draw.

The winner of the qualifying tie, which pits Zimbabwe's Cara and Wayne Black up against Dutch pair Michaella Krajicek and Peter Wessels, will win the final place in the eight team draw.

The round-robin draw begins on Sunday with Argentina set to play Italy, while the unseeded Australian team of Mark Philippoussis and Alicia Molik begins its campaign against the Slovak Republic on Monday.

The Slovak pair of Daniela Hantuchova and Dominik Hrbarty is seeded third, but Molik predicts her pairing with Mark Philippoussis will prove a formidable force.

Molik says Australia has not had the best of luck at the Hopman Cup over the past two years, and thinks this time will be different.

"I can definitely see Mark and I on that final day, but who knows," she said.

"I guess after the first day and the second, we have to combine for mixed doubles as well, we haven't played together also, so it's going to be a bit of fun. But I think we're going to do very well this week."

Philippoussis, ranked 109th in the world, is confident he can return to form, and has Wimbledon on his mind.

"That's a dream, there's no doubt about that," he said.

"It's something that, when that comes along or when it gets closer, I start getting excited and thinking about it.

"But if there's another tournament where I'd like to play my best tennis it's in Australia, at the Australian Open, there's no doubt about that."

© 2005 Australian Broadcasting Corporation
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Daily Mirror, 31 December
Soldiers invade Mahofa farm
Clemence Manyukwe

Soldiers have camped on a farm in Gondwe, Gutu, belonging to the Deputy Minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation, Shuvai Mahofa, on allegations that she acquired more than one farm in direct violation of the government’s one-person-one-farm policy. The armed forces have since reportedly barred the Gutu South legislator from entering or carrying out any activities on the property. Yesterday, Mahofa, a member of the ruling party’s central committee who was dropped from the Politburo amid speculation that she participated in the unsanctioned Tsholotsho meeting, confirmed to The Daily Mirror that the military had cordoned off her property. However, she denied the property being a farm, but simply a homestead. The legislator claimed she legally occupied the property in 1993, way before she acquired a farm last year. "The soldiers are not on a farm, it’s a homestead. I got a lease for it in 1993 under the first phase of the government’s resettlement scheme. I occupied it when I did not have a farm, but when I got one I was in the process of moving out. Before I had taken out all my things, I was surprised to see soldiers barring me from entering the property, saying I am a multiple farm owner," Mahofa said. She added: "Some people are saying I have five farms, but I only have one. I am only a woman, this is politics; it’s a dirty game. We are now approaching election time."
Efforts to get comment from army spokesperson Ben Ncube proved fruitless on Wednesday and yesterday, but the person who answered the phone requested that questions be put in writing, which was done on Wednesday. But by the time of going to print yesterday, there was no reply from the army regarding the occupation of the property. The army’s blockade of the property becomes the first such reported incident in Masvingo province. Similar action has been carried out in Mashonaland West against land grabbers where the police camped at a farms allegedly belonging to Local Government Minister Ignatious Chombo and former Mashonaland West governor Peter Chanetsa. In July, the media reported that President Robert Mugabe had taken it upon himself to deal with multiple farm owners and make them accountable for their actions, but cautiously, for fear of a fierce political backlash. Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo was tasked to draw up a list of the offenders to return the swathes of land to the State. But the move fell on deaf ears, as senior party and government officials ignored the withdrawal letters from Nkomo’s office. Nkomo had written withdrawal letters to Chombo, Agricultural and Rural Development Minister Joseph Made, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, to surrender excess land for redistribution to the landless people.
The repossession of extra land was prompted by an audit report by former Cabinet chief secretary, Charles Utete, which exposed shocking levels of gluttony by senior ruling party and government officials. Moyo, currently balancing on a political knife-edge for reportedly convening the Tsholotsho indaba with a view to allegedly topple President Mugabe’s lieutenants in the ruling party’s presidium, took Nkomo head-on in the public media, arguing about the meaning of multiple farm ownership. As Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Moyo took advantage of the public media he controlled to demonise Nkomo and officials in his ministry. President Mugabe was to summon the culprits, but sources say that was not done and instead once again empowered Nkomo to deal with the issue of the land grabbers decisively. When President Mugabe reiterated his sentiments to deal with the multiple farm owners, Nkomo’s office was reportedly inundated with calls from a number of senior government and Zanu PF officials on how to get rid of the extra properties.
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News24 (SA), 31 December
MDC: No decision on poll

Harare - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement For Democratic Change has denied press reports that it will take part in parliamentary elections set for March next year. MDC spokesperson Paul Themba-Nyathi told a Sapa correspondent: "Reports in the Financial Gazette that we have already decided to take part are false". He accused the paper of trying to pre-empt or encourage an outcome. "No decision has been made. So, eight of our provinces have submitted reports on the matter and we are still waiting for four more. The party's national executive will then meet mid-January and make a final decision." The MDC said in September it would boycott the March poll unless the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front party rescinded harsh press and public order laws and complied with Southern African Development Community "norms and procedures on elections". The opposition says there has been no indication that Zanu PF will meet its demands.
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BBC News
Zimbabwe’s fight for a free voice - Alistair Leithead

In a couple of months Zimbabwe will go to the polls in an atmosphere of fear and repression that has driven the simple spreading of information underground. The independent press has been silenced, people are fed a diet of state-controlled TV and radio, and the opposition party has no way of getting its message out. Even entering the country illegally as a BBC journalist could be punished by two years in prison. It is up to organisations like Sokwanele, which means "enough", to get out whatever information it can - and even just to tell people there is an alternative voice. "Our major objective is to make people aware of what is really happening," one of the group's leaders told me. "You know in Zimbabwe people are not being told the correct information - they are being fed with wrong information." After months of discussion and careful vetting, we were finally allowed to go along to one of their meetings. It was in a township outside Bulawayo and in the darkness we quickly darted inside the small house where a handful of Sokwanele, or Zvakwana, members were sitting.
On the agenda was news of other members being arrested - something that put the whole group on edge as they glanced across at the white man sitting in the corner of the room listening. If anyone saw me entering the house they could raise the alarm - such is the culture of fear, and of informants, that exists in Zimbabwe. A white man entering a township house could bring the police round and result in arrest and being held, perhaps for days, for questioning. In the meeting they talked about the colour of paint they use to daub anti-government slogans around Bulawayo, and the best way to distribute leaflets at night. They are not plotting a coup, or gun running, just handing out articles from newspapers and the internet to let people know what the alternative voice is saying. But as the leader of the group explained, the penalties are severe - they could be shot on the spot for handing out information you could find in any internet cafe. "We have had enough," he told me, "we have had enough." "You know this government is just trying to keep a grip on power for too long. The country is now ruined. We see that there is no-one in this country who is going to liberate it - we better do it ourselves. Even if it is high risk, there is nothing we can do."
The state TV and radio stations rely on propaganda - showing ample food supplies and happy people dancing on the land. But things are not as they seem. A year ago the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) was feeding 6.5 million people. Now it is down to just one million after the government cancelled this year's official food and crop assessment mid-way through. The harvest was sufficient, they said, and the WFP's aid was not needed. The Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, says this just is not true. "The food situation is very bad because the government of Zimbabwe told lies, refusing the WFP to feed the people and saying we have enough harvest this year," he said. "As a matter of fact they have only 700,000 metric tons and they claim to have 2.4 million metric tons of grain." Grain has been imported from South Africa, appearing to back up the claim of shortage. Archbishop Ncube puts the blame on politics. "All they are focused on right now is the elections in March next year and they want to win those at all costs, by hook and by crook, by starvation, by beating up people, through the youth militia - by every possible evil means," he said. "The government has a plan to starve people so as to arm-twist them to vote for it."
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has enjoyed a great deal of support but lost the last presidential election and failed to get a majority in parliament. In the next few weeks they will have to decide whether or not even to contest the elections. The Zimbabwean government signed up to African rules for free and fair elections. Transparent ballot boxes have been promised, along with a new electoral commission - but opposition MP Moses Mzila says it means nothing. "They have been threatening people that this time if you vote MDC we will be able to see through the ballot box who you are voting for - we'll know you voted MDC and we'll beat you up," he said. "The voters' roll is in a shambles. It has thousands and thousands of names of deceased persons and yet there are thousands or millions of people who are supposed to be on the voters' roll and are not on it." Even if the rules are changed, there is a feeling the MDC will struggle to win the support of the people. Archbishop Ncube explained his interpretation of the problem. "For one thing we just don't seem to have a leader of a calibre that can give people the courage to stand up for their rights even if it means being shot. We don't have a Mandela, we don't have a Gandhi." And at the Zanu-PF ruling party congress in December there seemed to be no sign of weakening. The party may have its divisions, but President Robert Mugabe is still firmly in charge. Elections or no elections, those who want change must wait for Mr Mugabe.
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The Financial Gazette
Kasukuwere fingered in farm row

Staff Reporter
12/31/2004 9:20:03 AM (GMT +2)

PETROLEUM baron and ZANU PF legislator Saviour Kasukuwere has been fingered in a bitter wrangle pitting temperamental fitness trainer Temba Mliswa and Harare businessman Eric Nhodza.

Mliswa, who was allocated Spring Farm in Karoi under the controversial land reform, is accusing Kasukuwere of teaming up with Nhodza to dispossess him of a service station situated on his farm.
The controversial fitness trainer, who once tried his luck at the troubled Dynamos FC, said he owned the service station under a fuel supply deal concluded with the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe on November 29 2004.
Private fuel procurer and wholesaler Mobil owns the pumps at the service station, which has a capacity to store 75 000 litres. Mobil had, in a letter dated November 30 2004, agreed to dispose of the pumps to Mliswa.
It is, however, government policy that infrastructure on farms designated for purposes of resettlement becomes state property, which technically belongs to the new leaseholder.
Mliswa said Nhodza, who is linked to Wedzera Petroleum, an indigenous fuel procurer, had mounted a bid to wrest the service station from him and had roped in Mt Darwin Member of Parliament Kasukuwere to use his political clout.
“The plot has nothing to do with ZANU PF. It is instead a plot by selfish individuals within the party who think they can use their political positions to bulldoze their way to anything they want. Nhodza, my real adversary, is using Kasukuwere to use his political position to take over my farm and service station.
“I have invested a lot in that farm and now somebody just comes from the blue saying he must have the land. Those guys believe indigenisation is just about them. They think they can just use their political positions to bully those who don’t have,” said Mliswa.
Kasukuwere dismissed the charges against him by Mliswa as baseless, saying he had no interest in Spring Farm.
Said Kasukuwere: “My constituency is in Mashonaland Central. Why would I want a farm in Mashonaland West? Besides, Temba is not my competitor in any way that I may ever plot to frustrate him.”
Nhodza could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone rang persistently unanswered.
The case — IR number 120443, which is now in the hands of the Harare Central Police — is expected to be brought before the courts soon.
Mliswa, who holds an offer letter for the farm dated September 3 2003 which bears a letterhead of the then Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Resettlement and signed by Minister Joseph Made, alleged this week that the grand strategy by his foes was to eventually dispossess him of his farm.

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Fin Gazette
Govt mulls take-over of horticulture marketing

Zhean Gwaze
12/31/2004 9:11:57 AM (GMT +2)

THE government, desperately trying to strengthen its grip on foreign currency inflows, is mulling taking over the marketing of all horticultural products from early next year, The Financial Gazette can reveal.

The country, whose balance of payments position deteriorated after the International Monetary Fund pulled the plug in 1999, is set to take up the marketing of horticultural products under the same model of the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA).
Sources said the government would soon establish an entity with the sole responsibility of marketing flowers and other horticultural products and would also administer marketing contracts for private horticulture firms.
Horticulture is the country’s second largest foreign currency earner after tobacco.
Already the government controls the marketing of major foreign currency-earning minerals such as gold, diamonds, nickel and is making overtures to have a grip on the marketing of the lucrative platinum group metals.
Recently the government resuscitated the AMA, which is meant to market directly cash crops such as cotton, maize and wheat.
Agricultural Minister Joseph Made could neither confirm nor deny the development when contacted for comment.
“I cannot comment on that now. You can phone me next week for a comment on that issue,” he told The Financial Gazette.
Although officials from the Horticultural Promotion Council could not be reached for comment, sources claimed the government was seeking to improve productivity.
“The move by government to take over the marketing of horticultural produce is also meant to boost production levels and increase the country’s foreign currency channels,” they said.
Horticultural exports have plunged by 22.53 percent over the past five years owing to a decrease in the number of producers.
Prior to the year 2000 when the veterans of Zimbabwe’s war of liberation started land acquisitions, white commercial farmers dominated the horticultural industry.
The controversial land reform saw more than 90 percent of the white-owned commercial farms being redistributed to the landless blacks.
At the industry’s peak in 1999, Zimbabwe earned US$142 million from exports to traditional markets such United Kingdom, Holland, France and Germany.
The industry is now faced with threats from a European Union directive and new regulations introduced by the European Commission (EC).
On one hand, the EU directive requires all vegetables and fruit imported from non-European countries to be accompanied by a certificate of conformance issued by an approved exporting country or be subject to a physical risk-based inspection.
On the other hand, the EC regulations to be effected in January next year require exports to undergo thorough physical inspection and the cost will be invoiced to the importers.

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Fin Gazette
Violence flares up at MDC headquarters

Njabulo Ncube
12/31/2004 9:19:05 AM (GMT +2)

INTRA-PARTY violence last week rocked the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after the sitting Member of Parliament (MP) for Mabvuku-Tafara, Justin Mutendadzamera, lost in the party’s primaries to Timothy Mubhawu.

The MDC, which is still yet to decide whether to contest the March polls after it suspended participating in any elections in Zimbabwe unless President Robert Mugabe adhered to principles and guidelines agreed by the Southern African Development Community, is in the process of selecting candidates to represent the party if it rescinds its boycott.
The Financial Gazette witnessed MDC youths engaging in running battles against each other outside Harvest House, the main opposition’s headquarters in Harare’s central business district.
Some of the youths, who told this newspaper they were not happy Mutendadzamera’s defeat, were apparently drunk and threatened to damage the glass door of Harvest House.
Information obtained by this newspaper indicates that Mubhawu was nominated by all the wards in the constituency, much to the chagrin of the party youths who had been rooting for the sitting MP.
A total of 17 candidates, including the sitting MP, had put their names for the right to represent the MDC. But Mutendadzamera did not attend the primaries, amid speculation he was down with a stomach bug.
“I am coming back home,” said a jubilant Mabhawu after the primaries conducted by Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the MDC youth wing who also doubles up as the MP for Kuwadzana.
Primaries for the constituency have had to be postponed four times since October 14 2004 due violence insiders attributed to youths aligned to Mutendadzamara, who could not be reached for comment yesterday.
MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi confirmed the election of Mubhawu as the party’s candidate for Mabvuku-Tafara, adding that the rowdy youths had been disciplined.
Nyathi, however, would not elaborate on the disciplinary measures taken by Zimbabwe’s main opposition party.
None of the violent youths outside Harvest House were arrested.
Mubhawu is one of the founding members of the MDC, tipped to take over the party ‘s chairmanship from Isaac Matongo at its next congress.

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Fin Gazette
Govt sacks NSSA board

Felix Njini
12/31/2004 9:14:54 AM (GMT +2)

THE GOVERNMENT has dismissed the entire board at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), the compulsory national pensions institution whose operations have been shrouded in secrecy.

The authorities, who have been under pressure to clean up the authority in the wake of incessant criticism, have resolved to fire the current board and replace it with a new one, which would be announced in January.
The Edwin Manikai-led NSSA board has been the subject of serious scrutiny for, among other issues, its failure to fill up the position of general manager, which has been vacant for the past three years and has been held in an acting capacity.
A Parliamentary portfolio committee on public accounts hit out at the authority’s investment register, which it said is susceptible to manipulation and called for a complete overhaul of NSSA.
Well-placed sources said Amod Takawira, the acting NSSA general manager, Nimrod Chiminya, Linda Manyenga, Susan Chigwada, Enock Gwayagwaya, Michael Bimha, George Chabururu-ka and Pedia Moyo would be leaving the NSSA board.
Although the composition of the new board could not be established at the time of going to print, The Financial Gazette has it on good authority that sectoral consultations of new board members were already underway.
Paul Mangwana, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare said his ministry had already compiled the list of new board members

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Fin Gazette
Funding frustrates Zimplats’ partners

Staff Reporter
12/31/2004 9:09:45 AM (GMT +2)

NEEDGATE Investments, which controversially lost the empowerment stake in the Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats), seems to have cast a bad omen on the eventual winner, who is struggling to raise the US$32 million needed to wrap up the long-drawn deal.

Sources told The Financial Gazette this week that the unheralded Nkululeko Rusununguko Mining Company (NRMC), which sensationally eclipsed Needgate from the lucrative white metal investment, has not had it easy in the capital markets.
They said NRMC, which switched to the Amalgamated Bank of South Africa (ABSA) after being spurned by Stanbic Bank, is yet to make an impression on ABSA, amid fears that its bid may encounter the same fate suffered by the National Investment Trust (NIT).
The state-run NIT became the first institution to lose the 15 percent empowerment stake in Zimplats after failing to raise the required fund, forcing the government to invite other suitors.
Sources said the South African bank, which had put together an intricate funding structure for Needgate, is not keen to venture into territories spurned by Stanbic.
“There are ethical considerations that have made ABSA hesitant. Ethically, it doesn’t sound proper to give NRMC something that had been put together by another competitor (Needgate),” said the source.
While Prisca Mupfumira, the head of NRMC, could not be contacted for comment, the operations director of Needgate, Paul Chimbodza, said his consortium was not happy with the unfolding events.
Needgate had been designated as the preferred investor in the lucrative white metal business, but the government flip flopped on the issue, blessing the unheralded NRMC’s bid.
As far back as September 2003, Zimplats had announced that it had finally found Needgate as an empowerment partner, resulting in the consortium roping in ABSA into an intricate funding structure.
“It is theft of intellectual property and has serious legal implications. I hope it is not true that they approached ABSA and if it is true, the format they want to use is a result of two years of work for us and I don’t think they will succeed,” said Chimbodza.
Chimbodza said as far as Needgate is concerned, it is the most preferred suitor for the Zimplats stake.
“As far as we know, the 15 percent stake is ours because we have the agreements with ABSA, the government and Zimplats and no one has informed of us of anything to the contrary,” he added.
Analysts this week said the bickering over the Zimplats stake would put a big dent to the controversial indigenisation programme.
“The loser in this case is the indigenisation thrust and Zimbabwe because the money raised from the 15 percent stake was for expansion, which has been stalled for the past 12 months,” said a mining expert interviewed by this newspaper.

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Financial Gazette
A war lost before it even began

Charles Rukuni
12/31/2004 9:15:53 AM (GMT +2)

BULAWAYO — When high-profile ZANU PF politicians and business executives Phillip Chiyangwa, James Makamba and Jane Mutasa were arrested at the beginning of the year following the turmoil in the financial sector and the crackdown on externalisation of funds, most people thought that the country was dealing with corruption at last.

As if to show his commitment to eradicating what is undoubtedly the country's number one enemy, President Robert Mugabe appointed what he termed an “anti-corruption Cabinet” in February.
He said he was abandoning the “war Cabinet” because “the war is getting less and less political, vis-a-vis Britain and America. Those we have defeated. It is now the internal war to fight corruption and tendencies to access wealth through illegal means.”
One of the newly appointed ministers, Christopher Kuruneri, became the first casualty of the anti-corruption drive. But that was it.
The cases against Mutasa, Chiyangwa and Makamba have crumbled like a deck of cards. The suspects have either been acquitted on all the serious charges or convicted of minor ones that attract small fines.
But to maintain a semblance of pressure on graft, the same people have been arrested over and over again on spurious charges. Kuruneri remains in remand prison.
Observers believe the big fish have escaped the net. This is, however, not surprising. It has been the pattern since the first major corruption scandal in 1982 when businessman Sampson Paweni was arrested for swindling the government of millions of dollars in drought relief funds.
Though Paweni was convicted and jailed for the offence, most of the big names mentioned escaped the net. The same applied to the Willowgate scandal of 1988. Though it cost the scalps of five or so government ministers, the rest escaped.
Since then, the war on corruption seems to have been totally lost as not only senior government officials and ministers perfected the art, but juniors joined their ranks.
Corruption became so rampant that some people began to believe that it promoted development, according to a survey carried out by Transparency Interna-tional Zimbabwe in Chitungwiza.
Their argument was that a corrupt person used the proceeds to go into business and create employment. In that sense, corruption promoted development.
The respondents of the survey should be excused for that warped thinking because practically that is what is happening. Corrupt officials are now among some of the most “successful” business executives. And no one is asking how they got their starting capital.
There were no major casualties after the plunder of the War Victims Compensation Fund. The tender for the construction of the new Harare International Airport went ahead despite glaring anomalies that amounted to palm-greasing. And those who made millions through corrupt oil procurement by the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe are still free.
All the culprits arrested after the massive corruption at the Grain Marketing Board, including then Minister Kumbirai Kangai, have got away. Those who corruptly obtained land also got away with it and now those who nearly milked the country to death last year are getting away.
People talk and ask questions: How do you explain an ex-traffic policeman running a fleet of buses and haulage trucks, a former ZIMRA clerk running a fleet of haulage trucks, a former district administrator running a chain of hotels?
But more importantly, how do you explain how some of the most wanted executives skip the country when the net is closing down on them?
Former High Court judge John Manyarara argued a few years ago that one of the reasons why corruption flourished in Zimbabwe was because politicians and government officials were no longer accountable to the people.
The same sentiments were expressed in a report by the Centre for Public Integrity.
“The intimate involvement of important political figures in business, officially and informally, weakens the will and capacity of government to combat corruption," the report said.
“In spite of the occasional official inquiries into corruption, and judicial exposures and condemnation, Zimbabwe is relatively highly tolerant of deviance in public office,” the report added.
Corruption seems to have worsened as the country’s economic fortunes tumbled. In 1998, for example, Zimbabwe scored 4.2 points in the Transparency Inter-national Corruption Perception Index. It was ranked 43 out of 85 countries.
By last year it was down to 2.3 points and was ranked 106 out of 133 countries. This year it was ranked 121 out of 146 countries.
A report in April 2001 said US$5.45 million (about $33.8 billion) was changing hands in corrupt transactions annually in the public and private sectors in Zimbabwe.
What was even more damning about the report was the statement that: “The police do not seem to be aware of the extent to which organised criminal syndicates are involved in corruption in Zimbabwe, although there is awareness that a high proportion of corrupt transactions involve functionaries at senior levels of government.”
Manyarara said it was quite easy to solve this scourge. There only problem was that there was not enough will.
“Corruption would disappear from government departments if the incumbents and their superiors had to account fully to the general public for their conduct and the salaries and perks they receive for the work they are supposed to be doing.
“But,” he added, “any move in that direction would be crushed by the persons concerned because of its implications for good governance, and they have means of crushing it.”
“Lest anyone doubts the extent of this power, a government minister once told local journalists attending a press freedom workshop in Harare that unauthorised publication of even the number of cups of tea he drinks would be a contravention of some provision of the Official Secrets Act,” Manyarara said.
One of the major handicaps in curbing corruption could be that top officials already think they are doing something about it.

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Financial Gazette
Wanted: another Edmund Garwe

Mavis Makuni
12/31/2004 9:17:33 AM (GMT +2)

The controversy that led to the resignation of Britain’s Home Secretary David Blunkett made me realise how rare it is in Zimbabwe for public officials to voluntarily offer to resign on principle.

Blunkett resigned from Tony Blair’s Cabinet more than a week a go over allegations that he had abused his ministerial powers to help his mistress.
He was accused of having issued instructions to officials in his ministry to speed up the visa application of a woman from the Phillipines who worked as a nanny for a married woman Blunkett was having an affair with.
I followed the story of Blunkett’s troubles in the scandal dubbed “nannygate” with particular interest.
I must confess I secretly admired Blunkett and somehow saw him as an underdog in the rough world of dirty politics. I privately saluted Blunkett, who is blind, for his ability to hold his own in an environment where gestures such as a nod, a wink or a frown can convey a thousand words around a conference table.
This man had to run a ministry by having faith in people from whom he could pick very few non-linguistic clues and nuances.
I also marvelled at Blunkett’s cheek in going ahead to conduct a lengthy illicit love affair with a married woman with whom he is now locked in a legal battle over the paternity of her son. The former home secretary now claims he is the father of the boy.
I disapprove strongly of public officials who, instead of setting a good example, involve themselves in adulterous and extramarital affairs. And as we all know, conducting such affairs is an endless game of deceit to keep everything under wraps.
Blunkett must once again have had to rely on sighted aides and friends to keep his love affair with a married woman a secret for years.
However, Blunkett’s affairs of the heart are not the main focus of this piece. What caught my interest in the “nannygate” affair is that despite protesting his innocence, Blunkett tendered his resignation from Blair’s government.
He did this on principle, saying that he needed to take full responsibility for the controversy because he did not want anyone else in his ministry to carry the cane.
This is in complete and stark contrast to the situation we have here at home, where the idea of ministers and other public officials offering to resign when they are embroiled in scandals or controversies is still an alien concept.
The “Handiende” (I won’t go) philosophy is still so deeply ingrained in local politicians that we have only had a handful of resignations since independence. This is despite the fact that in the last 24 years the nation has been rocked by scandals of all kinds involving public officials.
The Willowgate car scandal of the 1980s was the last controversy to result in the resignation of several government ministers and officials. This was after they were implicated in the vehicle racket by the Sandura Commission, which had been set up to probe the matter.
A few of the resignations to occur after “Willowgate” include those of Enos Chikowore over fuel shortages and Edmund Garwe who was Minister of Education. By resigning voluntarily on principle, these two men did something rare on the local scene.
After admitting that his 14-year-old daughter had leaked a Zimbabwe Junior Certificate examination paper at her high school, Garwe made it clear he simply had to go.
Speaking in a manner we have not heard since, the now deceased Garwe said: “Professionally, there’s no other way. Even if it were not the exams, I, Edmund Garwe, would have taken that course of action. But the question of exams is very important because we are going to localise these exams.”
There’s no doubt that this was a decision Garwe made in accordance with the dictates of his conscience. He did not, as many officials do, seek to shift the blame to someone else. Buck-passing has become the order of the day.
Since 1996 when Garwe made this decision, there have been numerous cases of corruption, inefficiency, bungling and greed that should have resulted in more public officials tendering their resignations.
Some of the most recent cases of impropriety that come to mind include the multiple farm ownership scandal.
But in this case, not only have the culprits refused to give up the extra farms they acquired corruptly. These wrongdoers are actually thumbing their noses at authority and saying: “We can do this with impunity.” In fact, these people are such moral imbeciles that even wild horses would not pull them out of their positions.
On an individual level, Minister Joseph Made should have been another obvious candidate for resignation over the debacles in his important ministry resulting from his inept approach to his ministerial responsibilities.
It can only be in Zimbabwe where a minister can mislead the nation about its food security and survive to engage in more bungling!
We need more Garwes and our own local Blunketts to lead the way in cultivating a culture where public officials take responsibility for their actions by learning to utter the simple words: “I resign.”
We need to hear these words more often, judging by what and how much is wrong in this country.

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FInancial Gazette
Kenya murders point to growing global dangers

Mavis Makuni
12/31/2004 9:17:02 AM (GMT +2)

The brutal murder of seven women from Zimbabwe in Kenya at the beginning of this month is a disturbing sign of the global dimensions of violence against women.

The seven Zimbabweans were among 20 victims from four Africans countries who were lured to Kenya by a man who purported that he could help the women to get jobs in Canada. The other women were from Zambia, Malawi and South Africa.
The killer used a trick that is disturbingly being made possible by modern technology. The women travelled to Kenya in response to an advertisement the man placed on the Internet.
It has since become apparent that the man could have been linked to an organised crime syndicate dealing in human organs.
The area where one of the Zimbabwean victims was buried was said to be frequented by sailors interested in buying human parts.
It is a well-known fact that women and children are the main victims of criminal gangs involved in today’s “modern” crimes such as human trafficking.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Europe was hit by a woman trafficking epidemic. Women who were victims of unfavourable economic conditions in their own countries were lured to other countries under false pretences.
Most of them believed they were being helped to travel abroad to get jobs. They later discovered that their supposed benefactors had helped them to leave their countries so as to be put to work as prostitutes.
By the time they made this heartbreaking discovery it was too late and they were too helpless to free themselves from this bondage.
The Internet has also been instrumental in fuelling child sexual abuse. Paedophiles, rapists and other sexual perverts have relied on this technology to identify and lure young children into dangerous situations.
Women’s organisations in Zimbabwe have been fighting to get the Domestic Violence Bill passed into law. It would now seem that in addition to creating awareness among women regarding the local situation, these organisations must also draw attention to international dangers.
The Women's Coalition, which organised the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence from November 25 to December 10, drew attention to the fact that this was a human rights issue.
During the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, the Women’s Coalition encouraged Zimbabweans from all walks of life to take an interest in the programme.
Apart from being encouraged to sign a petition in support of the passing of the Domestic Violence Bill, Zimbabweans were encouraged to stop violence in their individual environments.
A call was also made for the public to report any cases of gender violence to the police and other relevant organisations. But as the brutal murders of the 20 women in Kenya show, women’s organisations campaigning against gender violence may have to spread their wings to cooperate with activist organisations in neighbouring countries.
This is because, like drug trafficking and other international crimes, trafficking in human beings can only be curbed through regional and international cooperation.
In the case of the targeting of women for human organs, which has reared its ugly head in Kenya, African governments need to be lobbied to crack down on the crime syndicates involved.

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Financial Gazette
ARDA fails nation’s expectations

Felix Njini
12/31/2004 9:16:29 AM (GMT +2)

THE Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (ARDA), established to spearhead the government’s development projects in rural areas, has failed to live up to expectations as political meddling wreaks havoc on a once vibrant parastatal.

Arda, founded during the colonial era as the Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation, has seen its operations taking a nosedive after independence.
The entity, which has more than 20 estates under its ambit, has drastically scaled down its involvement or totally abandoned some rural development projects started in the early years of independence.
The pulling out of donors from all government-related developmental projects at the inception of the controversial land reforms in 2000 has worsened Arda’s situation. The land chaos triggered by government has left half the population in need of imported food.
It has also cut, by 50 percent, production of the staple maize, soya beans and tobacco, further deepening the economic crisis.
Some of Arda’s projects which have been scaled down or virtually collapsed include the Mashonaland East Fruit and Vegetable Development project, Manicaland Smallholder Coffee and Fruit project, livestock development projects, the land use projects, development projects for rural areas in Kariba District (Kanyati and Gatshe Gatshe Land Use project and Omay Land Use project) and irrigation projects of the Dande Smallholder Irrigation Development Project.
Although no official comment could be obtained from Arda chief executive Joseph Matovanyika, a senior official said the main objectives of the horticultural projects had been to bolster the production and marketing capacity of producers in the communal areas.
Financing was geared at extension services, transport of the final produce, establishing marketing links and equipping farmers with technical skills.
The European Union (EU)’s pulling out has reduced the project to a white elephant despite having embarked on an export programme of mangetouts peas, baby corn, edible beans, potatoes and a variety of vegetables.
Available statistics from the Central Statistical Office (CSO) indicate that production of crops such as flue cured tobacco, tea, wheat and soya beans went down from 1996 to 2000 while production of sorghum, non-productive teas and groundnuts has been completely abandoned.
Production of wheat, which had risen steadily to 18 393 tonnes in 1999 from 9 000 tonnes in 1996, fell to 16 542 tonnes in 2000. Flue-cured tobacco, grown mainly for the export market, fell from 228 tonnes in 1996 to 73 tonnes in 2000 while tea production declined from 1 072 tonnes in 1996 to 774 tonnes in 2000.
Production of edible beans, an industrial crop, also fell during the period under review from 435 tonnes to 83 tonnes.
“Arda has succeeded in destroying previously viable farming projects . . . that is its sole achievement despite gobbling billions of dollars in taxpayers’ funds,” said economic commentator Eric Bloch.
In Manicaland, Arda had targeted increasing household incomes through smallholder commercial production through setting up of fruit and coffee projects.
Sources said the projects had successfully transformed a number of backyard orchards into full-fledged commercial orchards.
When the project was later handed over to the farmers in 1996, more than 9 000 tonnes of fruits such as bananas, citrus, apples, avocados and more than 300 tonnes of green coffee were being marketed.
The pulling out of the EU sounded a death knell for the project and reversed gains which had made as Arda failed to market and transport the produce on behalf of the farmers.
Some of the outgrowers have since dumped Arda for other horticultural firms to market their produce.
The same applies to the Arda’s livestock projects in Matabeleland and Kariba where ranches covering 10 000 hectares in Tuli and 57 000 hectares in Dodieburn and Manyolo had been developed with paddocks, game fencing and modern water facilities.
Villagers from the surrounding areas have since invaded the farms and brought down the fencing.
According to the CSO, Arda’s total beef herd declined sharply from 34 772 in 1996 to 4 259 in 2000. Total dairy cattle herd also declined from 2 219 in 1996 to 1 651 in 2000.
“It is the gross mismanagement synonymous with all parastatals. Government does not mind when parastatals lose money for 25 years,” Bloch said.
He said the solution lies in privatising Arda or instilling a culture of professional management in the institution.
Bloch said Arda had limited chances of succeeding in its stated goals, let alone beefing up the country’s food requirements.
Arda has also abandoned the Intergrated Rural Development Programme, which was aimed at establishing viable production and support systems in below average rainfall areas of Gutu and Zaka districts in Masvingo.
John Robertson, an economist, said Arda was not likely to make any profit as long as there was political meddling. He, however, noted that there had been some successes in some of Arda’s estates in the Middle Sabi.
“Arda has become a feature of the political policy making. It is not longer an agriculture system which yields good results,” Robertson said.
“The institution needs to be run by agronomists, scientists and professional managers and not politicians,” Robertson said.
Analysts said government, through Arda, should step in and fill the yawning gap in agricultural production left by white commercial farmers.
“Arda cannot succeed where government is failing, especially now when it is operating like a communal farmer,” said an agro-economist at the University of Zimbabwe faculty of agriculture.
“There is too much interference from head office. Though they say each estate is autonomous and because of this, no Arda estate will ever make a profit,” said the economist.
Produce from Arda estates such as wheat, maize and seed maize is sold to the Grain Marketing Board, a government monopoly, at sub-economic prices.

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Fin Gazette
Econet meets on Mascom

Staff Reporter
12/31/2004 9:18:04 AM (GMT +2)

SHAREHOLDERS of Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Econet Wireless Holdings Limited (EWHL), the holding company of Zimbabwe’s largest mobile network operator, meet in Harare today (Friday) to approve a multi-billion-dollar transaction by EWH to dispose of its 14 percent stake in Botswana’s largest mobile network, Mascom Wireless, for US$14 million (over Z$85 billion).

Once approved, as is largely expected, EWHL would be able to raise hard currency funding to accelerate network expansion by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (EWZ), the country’s largest mobile network operator by subscriber numbers.
Under the transaction, EWHL is selling its stake to UK-incorporated Econet Wireless Limited, which is in turn wholly owned by Econet Wireless Group , a company domiciled in Botswana, in which JSE Securities Exchange-listed telecommunications company Altech has acquired a stake worth US$70 million (over Z$427 billion).
The disposal of the Mascom stake was one of the conditions that was precedent before the Altech investment in EWG could be finalised.
In a circular sent to shareholders ahead of the extraordinary general meeting to be held today, Econet said the sale of EWHL’s stake in Mascom was crucial in order to finance the network expansion in Zimbabwe to more than double the subscriber base to about 500 000 before the end of 2005.
Once completed, the company would further consolidate its dominant market position as the country’s largest telecommunications player based on subscriber numbers.
“EWZ has already invested in the upgrading and expansion of the switch and base station controllers, which has created capacity for additional subscribers.
“However, this investment is presently underutilised because of the need to procure, install and commission base stations. EWZ is unable to finance this expansion programme because of the foreign currency shortages the country is experiencing,” said Econet.
It said the disposal of the Mascom stake would raise foreign currency required to import and install base stations and other related equipment, resulting in additional subscribers being taken on the network and also significantly reducing congestion.
Econet would also be able to lower network expansion costs by avoiding local or foreign borrowing, which would in turn benefit subscribers through affordable network tariff charges.
“The access to foreign currency arising on the transaction will avoid the foreign currency exposure to EWHL and Zimbabwe at a time when the local currency continues to depreciate against the United States dollar and other hard currencies due to balance of payments pressures,” Econet said.
“The disposal of Mascom shares will provide immediate relief and allow EWZ to import equipment required for the network to take on new subscribers and better accommodate existing subscribers,” the company said.

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Financial Gazette 31/12/04
ZANU PF shuts door on mafikizolos

Nelson Banya
12/31/2004 9:13:52 AM (GMT +2)

EMBATTLED Infor-mation Minister Jona-than Moyo is just one of the ZANU PF newcomers whose aspirations to contest in next March’s parliamentary polls on the party’s ticket were dashed this week following the announcement of strict criteria for eligibility.

Elliot Manyika, ZANU PF’s secretary for the commissariat, annou-nced the new party guidelines for eligibility to stand on the party’s ticket which, among other provisions, restricts candidature to members of the party’s provincial executives, the national consultative assembly and the central committee.
“Provincial executive members, national consultative assembly and central committee members are the only party members eligible to stand as party candidates in the 120 constituencies.
Outgoing Members of Parliament who do not meet this criteria and have no disciplinary cases against them are eligible as well,” Manyika said.
Party members who were precluded from holding positions in the party by virtue of their posts in the civil service would also be eligible, according to the new guidelines.
Moyo, previously a strident ZANU PF critic who turned to become one of its fiercest defenders, heads the list of a raft of ZANU PF newcomers who do not qualify under the guidelines annou-nced by Manyika .
The information minister, who led a government crackdown on the independent media, is seen as the biggest loser.
Moyo, who was eyeing the Tsholotsho seat, has not only spent heavily in courting the constituency, but is seen as harbouring ambitions to climb the political ladder.
The ZANU PF hierarchy regards the contentious Tsholotsho meeting convened by Moyo and attended by several party provincial chairpersons, among other party notables—allegedly to scupper the presidium President Mugabe wanted—as the biggest sign of unchecked ambition.
Moyo has used his strategic control of the government-controlled media to raise his profile, unsettling the ZANU PF old guard in the process. He has had highly publicised clashes with Vice-President Joseph Msika, ZANU PF national chairman John Nkomo and information chief Nathan Shamuyarira this year alone.
The ZANU PF presidency, made up of President Robert Muga-be, Msika, Joyce Mujuru and Nkomo, vetoed Moyo’s central committee nomination and dropped him from the politburo—the party’s Soviet-style ultimate decision-making body.
Mugabe, who brought Moyo and other unelected young ZANU PF members into his “war” cabinet in 2000, has said he will not appoint non-constituency Members of Parliament (MPs) in his next cabinet.
Other notable parliamentary aspirants, who were expected to throw their hats into the ring in the ZANU PF primaries to be held on January 15, include economic commentator Samuel Unde-nge, former Zimbabwe United Passenger Com-pany (ZUPCO) chief executive Bright Mato-nga, Eddison Zvobgo (Jr), as well as several party functionaries facing disciplinary action in the aftermath of the highly divisive central committee and politburo nominations.
Six party chairpersons- July Moyo of Midlands, Daniel Shumba of Masvi-ngo, Themba Ncube of Bulawayo, Lloyd Siyoka of Matebeleland South, Jacob Mudenda of Mate-beleland North and Mark Madiro of Manicaland- have been suspended for six months for attending the now infamous Tsho-lotsho meeting, which is proving to be many ZANU PF politicians’ waterloo. They automatically become ineligible to stand in the primaries.
Also in a spot of bother is war veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba, who covets the Glen Norah seat in Harare, where the ZANU PF provincial executive has passed a no-confidence vote in him, reportedly for his unexplained role in the Tsholotsho tryst. Former cabinet minister and Mbare legislator Tony Gara, who is eyeing a return to parliament on the Mbare seat, also finds himself in the same predicament.
The return of Masho-naland West adversaries Philip Chiyangwa and Kindness Paradza to parliament is also uncertain.
The former is currently held in custody by state security agents, reportedly on espionage charges, while the latter was this week arrested for allegedly fanning intra-party violence in his Makonde constituency. Paradza became the second ZANU PF MP to be arrested in connection with politically motivated violence, after Phone Madiro of Hurungwe West.
The party, long accused of using violence to influence the outcome of elections, has of late made pronouncements against coercion.
It is Chiyangwa’s case, however, which would embolden the ZANU PF old guard in its quest to return to the centre of the party and to systematically cull uppity newcomers.
Nkomo has in the recent past voiced concerns over “infiltration” of ZANU PF by elements intent on destroying the party from within.
“We were infiltrated by a few termites, which began their long journey of burrowing through our core values of liberation, discipline, unity, respect and loyalty.
“They also began a process of recruiting from among our members, ring-fencing those that they would take into captivity, to work as slaves in building their own new empire.
“They took some captives from among the leadership and the general membership, spawning a process of counter-revolution that has destabilised the very foundation of our party,” Nkomo recently wrote in his weekly column carried in ZANU PF’s Voice newspaper.

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Financial Gazette
Bennett to remain MP

Chris Muronzi
12/31/2004 9:18:31 AM (GMT +2)

POLITICAL vultures eyeing jailed Chimanimani Member of Parliament (MP) Roy Bennett’s seat will fly back to their nests with disappointment after Parliament ruled out the possibility of a by-election.

Deputy Clerk of Parliament Helen Dingane told The Financial Gazette yesterday that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislator was still an MP since he was not convicted in a criminal court.
“He is still a member of the House in as far as I know. Bennett was sentenced by Parliament and his case cannot be treated as a criminal court conviction. I would have to consult the minister responsible,” Dingane said.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa had earlier on referred this reporter to Parliament, saying the House was in better position to comment.
Bennett was slapped with a one-year jail sentence for contempt of Parliament after being convicted of assaulting Chinamasa and Minister of Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies Didymus Mutasa during a heated debate in the House.
The jailed MP has since taken his case to the Supreme Court after Parliament barred the High Court from hearing his application for the court to overturn his sentence.
Pro-government economic analyst Samuel Undenge and Wankie Colliery Company board chairman Munacho Mutezo and a member of the ruling ZANU PF’s central committee, who lost the seat in the 2000 parliamentary race, had been cited as contenders for Bennett’s seat.
Other contenders for the position were Misheck Beta, a twin brother to Shadreck, a prominent businessman in Manicaland, retired Major Matsikinyere and Major Musabeya Mutambara.
Only last week, Parliament spared jailed Finance Minister Christopher Kuruneri the boot pending the completion of a court case in which the minister is facing allegations of externalising foreign currency and breaching the Citizenship Act.
Under normal circumstances, Parliament ejects legislators absent for at least 21 consecutive sitings, paving the way for a by-election to replace the incumbent.
Early in the year, Parliament filled up the seat left vacant by former MDC legislator Tafadzwa Musekiwa, who skipped the country and sought refuge in the United Kingdom.

Financial Gazette
Gono’s delicate balancing

12/31/2004 9:44:10 AM (GMT +2)

Speaking in military metaphors soon after his appointment, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono said inflation was, for Zimbabwe, public enemy number one. The runaway triple-digit inflation, which mirrored Zimbabwe’s economic malaise, was at that time, to all intents and purposes, inching towards the 1 000 mark.

Indeed at the centre of his maiden monetary policy agenda, along with bolstering faltering exports and stabilising the exchange rate regime, was ridding the economy of hyperinflation. The inflation scourge, blamed, among other things, on government profligacy, was crying out for urgent attention.
It was and still is the millstone around the economy’s neck. It destroyed jobs and undermined productivity gains. This is why individuals as diverse as gilt-edged stock investors interested in real returns and house wives alike are now, more than any other time, paying more attention to inflationary trends.
All sectors of the economy felt the inflation pinch, which wreaked havoc across the economy. Businesses were increasingly finding it difficult to plan even a month ahead while consumers expected large automatic price increases month-by-month, if not day-by-day. Even at the current levels, companies have to factor inflation when deciding how to invest their capital. Yet business planning would be much easier if companies do not have to factor inflation into their models.
A well-documented case of how inflation can destroy economic pride and promise, dreams and aspirations was only last year when insurance giant Old Mutual phased out an estimated 200 000 policies worth a whopping $15 billion to arrest a savage inflation-induced slump in the values of those policies. There was the real risk that policyholders could be left holding on to insurance policies that were not worth the paper they were written on! If nothing else, this cruel twist of fate, which caught many policyholders unawares, underlines the economic fallout and sweeping nature of debilitating inflation.
Zimbabwe also needs to bring its inflation rate in line with its major trading partners. This is because high inflation normally leads to depreciation of a currency, hence the speculative funds we have seen moving out of the country as a bet on the fall in the value of the local unit, which has lost considerably against the hard currencies.
That is why Gono has set his sight on achieving price stability. He believes that holding the line on inflation is key to economic stability whereas inflation imposes a speed limit to economic growth. He is not alone in this belief. The chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, probably the most influential person in the global financial markets today, also does. So did his predecessor Paul Volcker. That is why they marshalled all forces of monetary policy towards taming inflation.
“. . . Inflation interferes with the efficient allocation of resources by confusing price signals undercutting a focus on the long run, and distorting incentives . . .” said Greenspan in his Federal Reserve Semiannual Monetary Policy Report presented to the US Senate on February 26 1997. And he could not have said it any better.
On his part, Gono has been working with characteristic zeal to ensure that monetary policy can best foster the highest rate of sustainable growth possible. And so far so good. Three-hundred, sixty-five and a quarter days down the line after he fired the first salvo, the enemy is in retreat with the governor slowly emerging as an old-school anti-inflation hawk of the traditional economy.
It is however imperative to point out that while the central bank has won the battles, surprisingly breaching its own self-imposed inflationary targets, the war is still far from over. Admittedly, his monetary policy provided something like an electric jolt to an economy that had collapsed into a recessionary heap. Consequently, the past few months witnessed an accelerated decline in the rate of inflation but inflationary pressures have not eased much. They are still simmering beneath the surface. That is why, the fact that there is a psychological component to inflation notwithstanding, inflationary fears are not receding. And Gono, who in a short one year has become a symbol of Zimbabwean economic pre-eminence, has admitted as much.
The once reassuringly resilient economy is still caught up in stagflation — even at 149 percent, inflation is still high, while industrial activity and employment levels are falling. Which is why we feel that it is not yet time for the central bank to take its foot off the pedal.
The other major player, the government, which over the years has shown that other than fuelling inflation it is incapable of tackling what now seems to be a complex problem, also has to play ball, for nothing short of tough remedial action could enable the central bank to bring down inflation — the suppurating national ulcer — to single-digit levels.
The powers-that-be must indeed bite the proverbial bullet and continue with austere anti-inflation measures no matter how unpopular they might be. True, Zimbabwe is facing a watershed parliamentary poll where political expediency could force the government, facing a deep well of disenchantment from a deprived electorate, to exploit the power of incumbency by seeking recourse to political measures as a remedy to economic woes.
It would, however, be counter-productive for the government to persist with such kind of folly. It is no longer time for populist policies but for pragmatism. And therein lies the delicate balancing act for Gono and his team at the RBZ for which they require stakeholder support. While the government might have been cooperative by reining in expenditure over the past year, it would be quite a task to instil fiscal discipline in a government facing a tough election.
Be that as it may, the governor, a staunch defender of a tight monetary policy to keep inflation under control, who has also the advantage of being listened to in high places, should press on with his missionary zeal for fiscal rectitude for the government to control its insatiable appetite for cash. It is well known that government profligacy has for years been stoking the inflationary fires.
The situation as regards the Zimbabwean inflationary problems reads more like a crossword puzzle with only half the clues and no black squares, so to speak. It is not only excessive government expenditure fuelled by politically motivated unbudgeted spending that is an issue here. There is another Catch 22 situation. While there is need for a tight monetary policy to further bring down inflation, the economy would also have to be pulled out of a severe recession through, among other measures, reduction of interest rates to stimulate economic activity. This in itself is a contradiction in terms. Not an insurmountable task but by no means an easy one for someone like Gono whom Zimbabweans look up to, to ensure the availability of money for business, consumer loans, job creation and overall economic growth.

Business Day    Zimbabwe wins bid to host Miss Tourism World

HARARE - Zimbabwe has won a bid to host next year's Miss Tourism beauty pageant to be attended by contestants from 72 countries, state media said on Thursday.

According to ZIANA state news agency, Zimbabwe "was selected ahead of strong contenders, China and Thailand, to host the event which will see 72 contenders from around the world converging" at the prime resort town of Victoria Falls.

"The central thrust and over-arching principle of Miss Tourism World is simply to promote tourism across the world and particularly in those parts of the world in dire need of tourism promotion," John Singh, president of the Miss World Tourism Organisation was quoted as saying.

Zimbabwe's tourism has suffered a huge slump in recent years due to an economic and political crisis experienced since around 2000 but government has placed the blame on negative reporting by international media.

The first half of this year saw the number of tourists drop by at least one third compared to last year.

Zimbabwe's tourism authorities foresee the hosting of the beauty pageant boosting the industry which once brought in 12.5% of Zimbabwe's gross domestic product and about 11% of total foreign exchange earnings.

"What appeared as a far-fetched dream has become a reality ... and it is a great chance for Zimbabwe's tourism to flourish," said Shingi Munyeza, chief executive officer of a leading group of hotels.

"It is a chance for the world to see that Zimbabwe is a safe tourist destination," said Tourism Minister Francis Nhema.

Singh said organisers had initially raised security concerns about Zimbabwe but "we have come and we have seen and we are totally satisfied that the reports we all read about Zimbabwe in the media are not exactly what (the situation) is on the ground".

The spectacular northwestern Victoria Falls and the vast game reserves have been Zimbabwe's prime tourist attractions.

Miss Tourism World has been running for 20 years. Of the 72 countries taking party in February 2005, 37 are European, 11 African, 11 Latin America, seven Asia countries.


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