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Gono warns Mugabe

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya
CENTRAL bank governor Gideon Gono has warned President Robert Mugabe the
prevailing state of collapse in key parastatals is compounding the
persistent economic crisis.

This is despite the trillions doled out to failing state companies over the
past two years.

Gono, battling with a crumbling economy, said in a report to Mugabe the
situation in parastatals and local authorities was appalling and sabotaging
prospects of economic recovery. He said this was largely because the
enterprises' "tentacles are far-reaching and have an economy-wide impact".

Government, which has strong interventionist policies, holds sway across a
vast swathe of the economy through the parastatals. Local authorities also
play a major role in the economy.

In the report dated November 11 2005 and titled Operational Challenges of
Parastatals, Gono said state companies such as the National Railways of
Zimbabwe (NRZ), Air Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa),
Zimbabwe Iron & Steel Company (Zisco), Rural Electrification Agency,
District Development Fund (DDF), Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe
(Caaz), Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH), Zimbabwe United Passenger
Company (Zupco), Cold Storage Company (CSC) and Hwange Colliery were in a
precarious state.

He said other parastatals, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa),
Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), and
Agricultural & Rural Development Authority (Arda) were in almost the same

Gono said despite pouring in trillions to revive the parastatals under the
Productive Sector Facility and the Parastatal Re-orientation Programme which
started in February last year, the situation remains dire.

Common problems besetting the parastatals include weak corporate governance,
poor financial management systems, an entrenched lethargic business culture,
incompetent management, huge debts, poor pricing structures and capacity
underutilisation, he said.

On the NRZ, Gono said the company faces "major capacity constraints that
have compromised the national transport system". He said the NRZ had
received $125,2 billion by November last year but remained in crisis.

"The challenges at the parastatal include deterioration in the rail
infrastructure characterised by in excess of 140 speed restrictions,
vandalised communication equipment and dilapidated yard facilities," he

"Out of a total of 8 098 wagons only 3 467 are working vis-a-vis a market
requirement of 8 629. Out of a total of 179 locomotives only 66 are working
and of these 15 are underpowered. Current capacity utilisation is therefore
33%." The NRZ has a debt of US$13,8 million.

Gono said Air Zimbabwe was still locked in crisis despite getting $580,7
billion covering foreign currency liabilities, working capital, and funds to
service its overdraft facilities. He said the national airline was dogged by
problems emanating from servicing unprofitable routes, unsustainable
overheads, bad management and huge debts. Air Zimbabwe has a US$14 million
debt and $100 billion owing.

Zesa got $235,7 billion but was bedevilled by a poor tariff structure, lack
of investment and rehabilitation of electricity generation capacity, a high
wage bill, unsustainable operational losses ($86 billion for October 2005
and a projected $8 trillion by last December), and corporate structural
problems. The company has a foreign debt of US$330 million.

More than $666,2 billion was poured into Zisco but the company still needs a
major balance sheet restructuring and working capital, Gono said.

It is operating at 45% capacity due to inadequate investment and
maintenance. Blast furnace No 3 is down, while No 4 is operating at well
below capacity. The NRZ's failure to deliver coal and foreign currency
shortages have worsened the situation. Zisco has a debt overhang of US$126

Gono said the DDF, which received $21,4 billion, was reeling from shortages
of fuel and spares. Caaz has a poor corporate culture and management. It got
$73,4 billion. The ZBH, given $16, 6 billion, was dogged by low advertising,
poor programming, antiquated equipment and foreign currency shortages.

Other allocations were: Zupco ($42, 6 billion), Hwange ($42,3 billion), CSC
($135,7 billion), Zinwa ($650,8 billion), IDC ($118 billion), ZPC ($124
billion), and Arda ($170,2 billion).

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CIO bid to rescue Mutasa flops

Zim Independent

Clemence Manyukwe
CENTRAL Intelligence Organisation (CIO) officers on Monday tried to block
nearly 20 state witnesses from testifying at Rusape Magistrates' Court in a
political violence case linked to National Security minister Didymus Mutasa.

The trial of Zanu PF's Makoni North district chairman Albert Nyakuedzwa, who
the state accuses together with Mutasa of leading a faction of ruling party
supporters against another group that included James Kaunye, nearly
collapsed after the witnesses were coerced by the CIO to withdraw their

A lawyer dealing with the case, Tendai Amon Toto, confirmed this week that
an order had been issued against the CIO not to interfere with state

Mutasa has however not been indicted in the case and Toto has raised
concerns over selective prosecution.

Toto of Mutare law firm TA Toto & Consultants who is representing one of the
accused, Everisto Bhosha, Zanu PF's deputy secretary for legal affairs in
Makoni district, on Wednesday confirmed that an order had been made against
the CIO agents.

Sources said the AG's office had to dispatch the Director of Public
Prosecutions, Loice Matanda-Moyo, to assure the state witnesses of their
safety and to ensure that the trial went ahead as scheduled.

The state prosecutor, Tembo, and Matanda-Moyo rejected the withdrawal of the
affidavits on the grounds that the witnesses said they had been coerced,
Toto said.

"It was mentioned by the state that some CIO officials had sent their
subordinates to force witnesses to withdraw the matter," he said.

Kaunye, a war veteran and retired army major who had expressed willingness
to challenge the minister in Zanu PF primaries for Makoni North, was left
unconscious after the attack.

Nyakuedzwa is a Grain Marketing Board regional manager for Manicaland.

He was part of Mutasa and Agriculture minister Joseph Made's campaign teams
in the 2005 ruling party primary elections and was denied bail by the High
Court in August last year on a murder charge against a war veteran and Zanu
PF official, Tina Wilson Mukono, who was declared a provincial hero.

The state is said to have applied for an order barring CIO Manicaland
provincial officer and district officer identified only as Chibaya and
Masiya respectively to stop interfering with the witnesses, which was

Contacted for comment, Matanda-Moyo who is said to have sat in court
throughout the day, confirmed on Tuesday that she was called to Rusape but
declined to comment on the matter.

"Yes I was called to Rusape, but I cannot comment on a matter which is
before the courts. The trial will however continue on January 26," she said.

Aston Musunga of Harare law firm Musunga & Associates who is representing
Nyakuedzwa, Zanu PF's Makoni North district chairman Pheneas Koro, the
ruling party's secretary for transport in the same district Happiness
Mafuratidze, Rusape Urban youth chairman Tax Jimo, and 27 others who are
ruling party youths residing around Makoni district, refused to comment on
the matter.

Toto added that he was of the view that before an order was made against
state agents, they had to be subpoenaed first and a ruling made after
hearing their side of their story because the allegations against them "were

Toto added that during the hearing he had made an application for stay of
proceedings until Mutasa was indicted but it was dismissed.

"It is mentioned everywhere in the state outline that Mutasa influenced
them," the lawyer said. "To me it is selective prosecution to have
youngsters go through prosecution and this torture without having the
significant perpetrator, Mutasa, being arrested. Chiyangwa, Kuruneri were
arrested, what about Mutasa?" he asked.

According to the state outline the accused persons "led by Nyakuedzwa and
Mutasa" went on a reign of terror after having held a meeting at Mutasa's
Rusape's home on August 21 2004 for purposes of mapping out strategies for
the minister to retain the constituency in the parliamentary election.

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Daniel Shumba launches own party

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya
FORMER Zanu PF provincial chairman Daniel Shumba has formed his own
opposition political party, the United People's Party (UPP), after he was
initially linked to the emerging United People's Movement (UPM).

Shumba, the interim president of UPP, said this week that his party would
officially be launched next month.

He said its interim executive would be announced on February 15. The party
symbol is raised crossed palms.

"We have now formed the UPP and we expect to officially launch it next month
when the full interim executive will be announced," Shumba said.

"We have printed at least two million membership cards and we are getting an
overwhelming response from the people on the ground."

Although Shumba did not reveal members of the UPP interim executive, he said
they include prominent opposition and civil society activists. He also said
his party was pulling out all the stops to recruit people with solid
political credentials to occupy leadership positions and build strong party

Shumba, a former senior Zanu PF central committee member and businessman,
formally resigned from the ruling party this week after he was last year
suspended for five years over a power struggle that rocked Zanu PF in the
run-up to the party's 2004 congress.

He was suspended together with five other provincial chairmen following the
episode which claimed a number of high-profile political casualties,
including former Information minister Jonathan Moyo, who were accused of
backing Emmerson Mnangagwa's bid for power.

Mnangagwa and his faction - sometimes referred to as the Tsholotsho camp -
have been linked to the UPM, whose main movers at the moment are Moyo and
ex-Zanu PF central committee member and former MP for Zvishavane, Pearson
Mbalekwa, who resigned from the party last year over Operation

Shumba was expected to be a member of the UPM but decided to form his own

He said in an interview the UPP had already drafted a party constitution,
printed membership cards, set up structures nationwide, and was ready for
the launch. The party also has a position paper outlining its policies and
the current state of the nation.

The document deals with constitutional and electoral law and other
democratic reforms which the party says are desperately needed. It also
addresses human rights issues such as the Gukurahundi massacres and
Operation Murambatsvina, land redistribution, macro-economics, food
security, health, education and foreign policy. It says the UPP believes in
a free market economy.

"UPP pronounces the people's will and a mandate for saving the nation from
further demise. Recent episodes have subjected the generality of Zimbabweans
to poverty, hopelessness and victims of misrule, greed, brutality, terror,
corruption and dictatorship," the document says.

"Zanu PF is using fear and terror to subdue and disenfranchise the whole
country, thus guaranteeing its grip on power. It is now an offence to speak
the truth, criticise and have a different opinion."

Shumba, a former senior army officer, said Zimbabwe was ruled by a despotic
regime which has looted the economy dry.

He said Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change were
failed political parties despite their past commendable contributions.

"The current Zanu PF dictatorship guarantees certain individuals the right
to dominate, loot and intimidate the whole country. Laws of the country are
applied and businesses are expropriated, passports
withdrawn, and innocent people imprisoned and tortured," Shumba said.

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MDC parallel congresses to chew $30b

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube
THE crisis-ridden opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s feuding
camps will spend close to $30 billion to hold parallel congresses that are
due early this year just as it emerges that donors have deserted the party
en masse.

Sources this week said traditional donors of the MDC who include prominent
local businessmen, based locally and in South Africa, and industrialists,
have withdrawn their financial support as they are uncertain of the end of
the power wrangles in the seven-year-old opposition party.

The source of funding for congresses for each of the two factions has taken
centre-stage with both claiming total control of the party's central funds.

Currently there is a grey area on who controls the party's financial
accounts with the Morgan Tsvangirai faction arguing that national treasurer,
Fletcher Dulini Ncube was fired for incompetence by the national council
while Gibson Sibanda's group alleges that Ncube, as the legitimate
money-man, is still in charge of the party purse.

"Ncube was dismissed by the national council for absenting himself from duty
and the national council mandated the party president, the national
chairman, youth and women's assembly chairperson to be signatories and as a
result we are in charge of party finances," said Nelson Chamisa for
Tsvangirai's camp.

Spokesman for Sibanda's camp, Gift Chimanikire, dismissed Chamisa's claims
and said Ncube could only be dismissed by the MDC national congress.

However, it emerged this week that the two factions were scouting for over
$30 billion needed to hold the separate congresses.

Figures provided by both factions indicate that a total of 18 000 delegates
from the two camps will attend the national congresses.

The Tsvangirai faction will hold its congress in Harare on March 17-19 while
Sibanda's faction will hold its congress on February 25 at a yet to be known

Chamisa told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that 13 000 delegates from
the country's 12 provinces will attend the Harare congress while Chimanikire
said a total of 6 000 delegates will attend their congress.

"There is only one MDC congress and that is in Harare and 13 000 people
drawn from the country's 12 provinces will attend," Chamisa said.

Chimanikire however said his faction was yet to decide on the venue of the

"We are still deciding on the venue and once that is settled everything will
shape up. We have about 6 000 party delegates who will attend the party's
congress where we will elect a new party president to replace Tsvangirai
next month," Chimanikire said.

A source told the Independent this week Sibanda's faction would need $10
billion to cater for the 6 000 delegates expected to attend while
Tsvangirai's camp will need double that amount.

"The two congresses are likely to gobble over $30 billion and with the rate
at which prices are skyrocketing, the figure could be double by next month,"
a source privy to operations of both groups said.

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Law Society challenges Crimminal Procedure Act

Zim Independent

Clemence Manyukwe
THE Law Society of Zimbabwe is challenging the constitutionality of a
section of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act that allows the state to
direct the courts to detain suspects for up to 21 days without bail.

The lawyers argue that empowering the Attorney-General or his representative
to issue certificates denying suspects bail amounts to a usurpation of the
powers of the judiciary.

Government claims this is necessary in the fight against economic crimes
such as corruption, money-laundering and illegal dealing in foreign currency
or gold.

However, lawyers say this allows the executive to usurp judicial authority.

Before the non-bailable offences legislation came into force, police could
detain suspects for up to 48 hours only. The Criminal Evidence and Procedure
Act made permanent a temporary presidential decree issued in February 2004
allowing the police to detain suspects for 28 days. The detention period was
later reduced to 21 days as a concession after Zanu PF MPs rebelled against
the measure during a parliamentary debate before the Bill was passed in July

In the matter in which the Law Society is the applicant and the AG and
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa are the respondents, the lawyers'
association president Joseph James said the Act had rendered legal
practitioners ineffective in defending human rights.

He described the lengthy detention period as "a hallmark of oppression".

"The provisions disguise substitution of a bureaucrat's decision, a police
officer or the Attorney-General's for that of a judicial officer and
effectively merges, in relation to the specified offences, the adjudicatory
role and the executive role by allowing the executive to usurp judicial
authority," James said.

"It is offensive to community sense of justice, morality and fundamental
human rights to enact a law which provides for mandatory detention prior to
trial. Detention prior to trial is a hallmark of oppression."

He added that the Act had resulted in serious cases of failure of due
administration of justice as accused persons had been forced to flee the
country for fear of detention without trial.

"So serious has this development been that a number of them have opted to
abandon substantial assets including real estates and commercial enterprises
such as banks and farming enterprises," James said.

"It can never be necessary in a democratic society to create an environment
where members of the public lose confidence in the ability of the
administration of justice to protect them from injustice, arbitrary arrests
and deprivation of property. The number of exiles has tended in history to
have a direct proportion to levels of oppression."

James said section 32, sub-sections 3a, 3ab, 3c, 3d and section 34,
sub-sections 4, 5 and 6 were in contravention of international human rights
instruments such as the African Charter for Human and Peoples' Rights which
Zimbabwe is signatory to.

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Zinwa fails residents

Zim Independent

Itai Mushekwe
GOVERNMENT has all but failed to assure Harare residents of adequate water
supplies through the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).

Minister of State for Water Resources and Infrastructural Development,
Munacho Mutezo, this week highlighted a plethora of ills bedevilling Zinwa
to explain why the utility was failing to deliver sufficient bulk water to

Addressing journalists this week, Mutezo singled out obsolete infrastructure
and financial constraints as some of Zinwa's major challenges.

Mutezo pleaded for residents' patience as his ministry is working on a sheaf
of strategies to provide potable water.

"We're asking consumers to bear with us as we continue with our water demand
management initiative and making water available," he said.

Mutezo disclosed: "We don't have sufficient storage capacity and as such
we're under demand pressure. We therefore need to work on the Kunzvi dam
project to reduce pressure."

Ever since Zinwa took over bulk water supplies for Metropolitan Harare
province in May last year from the city council, residents have been
subjected to daily water cuts with some high density suburbs going for
months without supplies.

Mabvuku residents were badly hit at the peak of the water shortages last
year with residents having to settle for unprotected water sources thus
exposing themselves to health risks.

Burst pipes have become the order of the day, resulting in between 40-60% of
treated water being lost through leakages.

The worrisome water crisis has come at a time when the city is battling with
a cholera outbreak that has claimed 14 lives so far in the city.

The World Health Organisation has raised concerns about the quality of
Harare's water.

Combined Harare Residents Association chairman Mike Davies said Harare's
water woes were a result of a governance crisis.

"The Makwavarara commission is illegal," he said.

He said until a democratically-elected council with the people's mandate was
put in place there would be no solution to Harare's water problems.

"There can never be a resolution of our crisis without a solution to the
national problem. The government sees Harare as its possession irrespective
of the views and wishes of the residents."

Davies said since Harare was the second largest public enterprise after
central government and receives massive revenue from residents, Zanu PF was
using it to distribute contracts among its functionaries resulting in lack
of transparency and accountability.

Harare's water problems have persisted over the years due to successive
inept appointees at Town House who have failed to maintain and expand
existing water facilities.

The construction of Kunzvi dam, first mooted two decades ago, is seen as a
lasting solution to the dire water shortages bedevilling Harare. Satellite
towns such as Chitungwiza, Norton and Ruwa would also benefit from the
Kunzvi project.

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Mandaza wants jail for defiant directors

Zim Independent

ZIMBABWE Mirror Newspapers group CEO and editor-in-chief, Ibbo Mandaza, has
filed yet another court application asking the High Court to imprison the
publishing house's directors for allegedly defying judicial orders.

Mandaza, battling to retain control of the group's titles - the Daily Mirror
and Sunday Mirror - taken over by the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO), said in a court application filed on January 12 that four Mirror
directors must be jailed for defying a recent court order which nullified
his suspension and allowed him to resume duties.

The respondents in the case include Mirror directors Jonathan Kadzura (board
chair), John Marangwanda (deputy chair), Charm Makuwane, Alexander Kanengoni
(deputy editor-in-chief), Zistanbal Investments and Unique World
Investments. Mandaza described the respondents as "CIO fronts".

In his affidavit, Mandaza said Mirror directors - Kadzura, Marangwanda,
Makuwane and Kanengoni - defied Justice Bharat Patel's order and that the
court should send them to jail. He said failure to do so would set a bad
precedent and undermine the courts.

"In this application, I humbly seek an order declaring all respondents to be
in contempt of court," Mandaza said. "In execution of that order, I further
seek that the 1st to 4th respondents be committed to prison until such a
time that they comply with the order of this honourable court."

He said Zistanbal and Unique must be fined for the same alleged offence.

Mandaza said although he had since returned to work, he was still unable to
resume duties because of systematic defiance of the court order by the
Mirror officials.

"I have since returned to work and staff has been unwilling to co-operate
with me. In secret, members of staff have confided in me that they fear
victimisation by members of the Central Intelligence Organisation who mill
around the workplace," he said.

"The respect, dignity and decorum of this honourable court is thus under a
clear, present, persisting and deliberate attack (by the respondents). The
motivation for me as a litigant to act to correct this brazen, wanton, naked
and dare-me-if-you-can attitude on the part of the respondents immediately

Mandaza said such a blatant assault on the judiciary and rule of law must
not be tolerated by the courts.

"I submit this honourable court is also duty-bound to ensure compliance with
its orders. By extrapolation, where orders are violated, it behoves it, I
submit, to adopt a zero-tolerance attitude and put its foot down by
urgently, and with fitting celerity, reassert its authority," he said.

The Mirror boss said his application was urgent and should be treated as
such. "To treat such cases as non-urgent is to unconsciously play into the
hands of parties (such as the respondents) who are at the wrong end of the
law," Mandaza said.

"Phrased differently, it is to unconsciously enjoy being a pawn in their
game of wickedness where only the advocates of chaos and the law of the
jungle survive."

Mandaza said the unfolding saga had pushed him towards financial ruin as he
had not been paid $3,5 billion owing and not reimbursed $769 million of his
own money he used for company business.

He said two months ago, he was forced to sell personal assets to pay his
creditors. It was now clear, Mandaza said, the state security agents wanted
to reap where they did not sow. - Staff Writer.

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Another ploy to ensure patronage, says Gasela

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye
THE planned takeover of fertiliser companies and the delay in providing
inputs to farmers is a long-term ploy to maximise the use of food as a
political tool by the ruling party to maintain its grip on the population
and ultimately power, opposition MDC agriculture spokesman Renson Gasela has

Gasela charged that government would prefer the agricultural sector to
remain in a state of decline so that it can maintain a stranglehold on the
rural electorate from which it draws the bulk of its support.

In a paper titled Politics of Food released yesterday, Gasela, formerly the
Grain Marketing Board CEO, says the ruling Zanu PF party has deliberately
delayed the distribution of vital inputs in the midst of a promising season
to prolong dependency by rural peasants on food handouts, often distributed
in a partisan manner.

"The people in the rural areas, starved of food and using councillors and
village heads, will comply with directives and force applied by Zanu PF and
the Zanu government knows that it can never win a free and fair election,"
Gasela says.

He said the government found a formula for controlling people in the rural
areas through the system of ward and village development committees which
work in tandem with a Zanu PF employee who is paid by government through the
Ministry of Youth.

"This official works with village heads and ward councilors," he said. "With
perennial induced food shortages, this structure ensures compliance of rural
people. The patronage system has been perfected."

Gasela cites the unavailability of vital inputs such as seed and fertiliser
as part of a grand plan by Zanu PF to keep the electorate dependent.

"It is deliberate policy to keep Zimbabwe in a semi-permanent food deficit
situation," he says.

In his closing remarks at the Zanu PF annual conference in Esigodini last
month, President Mugabe admitted there were serious bottlenecks in the
system of procuring and supplying inputs to people now on the land.

"Seasons are not predictable in their occurrence," he said. "We know every
year there is going to be an agricultural season. Yet year in, year out, we
are caught flat-footed and unprepared. The farmer prepares for the season
diligently, only to be failed by the various arms of government, which must
move in with inputs.

"There are serious shortcomings in government planning and steps will have
to be taken to correct that," Mugabe said. "Does it make sense that we do
not have enough fertiliser at this point in the season? We have been talking
about shortages since last year. Cabinet will have to deal with this matter
in two days' time."

But Gasela disputes this saying no one can really believe that President
Mugabe does not know why there is no fertiliser.

"Can we really believe that he has over the past five years actually failed
to ensure that his ministers perform?" Gasela asked.

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Chapfika in farm dispute

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro
CONTROVERSY surrounding the expropriation of Gletwyn Farm has sucked in
Finance deputy minister David Chapfika's Divine Homes - the company that is
developing the property into residential stands although the acquisition is
not yet finalised.

New occupants include senior police officers.

Farm owner Alexander Ross said the property was valued at US$10 million
($900 billion).

The Zimbabwe Independent understands that Ross is contemplating a legal suit
against the invaders to get compensation for improvements and other
valuables on the property before he will surrender the title deeds.

Government on the other hand has valued the improvements at $75 billion
(US$830 000).

The standoff means development on the property should stop but Divine Homes
has proceeded to subdivide the disputed land into residential stands.

Police Heights Housing Cooperative members, who occupied the farm on
December 13, have evicted former farm workers and other tenants from

Divine Homes chief executive Nhamo Tutisani confirmed that his company was
allocated land by government to develop residential stands.

"We confirm that we are developers of 587 low-density stands on Stand 1 of
Gletwyn which is a government acquired farm," Tutisani said.

"We are developing the stands on behalf of the government of Zimbabwe. The
stands will be sold to anyone who can afford and meet the purchase price and
other conditions stipulated in the agreement of sale to be entered into
between the consenting parties."

Tutisani said Gletwyn owners, the Ross family's demand for compensation
could best be addressed by government which acquired the farm.

"The issue of acquisition of the farm can only be competently addressed by
the government, which is empowered by the constitution and other relevant
legislation of the country to acquire identified land for various uses,
including urban expansion which entails the development of housing and
ancillary services," he said.

Tutisani said construction work was in progress. "We are happy to report
that bush clearing is complete and we are currently stockpiling gravel
awaiting the rains to subside so that we can move the rest of the machinery
on site to work on the remaining stages of roads and water reticulation
construction," he said.

Police moved onto Gletwyn Farm on December 13, displacing more than 200
people renting houses or working on the farm.

The farm is being subdivided into 600 stands ranging from 1 900 to 2 000
square-metres for high-ranking police officers.

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'Tsvangirai boycotted senate after secret meeting with General Mujuru'

Zim Independent

THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction led by party deputy leader
Gibson Sibanda yesterday claimed Morgan Tsvangirai, now in charge of a rival
faction, decided to boycott the senate election after a meeting with former
army commander retired General Solomon Mujuru.

MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi, who now speaks for Sibanda's camp, said
Tsvangirai changed his stance on the election after a meeting with Mujuru in
South Africa in September. He said prior to the secret meeting - which has
been reported in the press - Tsvangirai wanted the MDC to fight the poll.

"Before the 12 October 2005 national council meeting, it had generally been
agreed by all senior MDC officials, including Morgan Tsvangirai that the
party would participate in the senatorial election," Nyathi said.

"At the time Tsvangirai intended to use the senate election as an
opportunity to accommodate senior party officials such as Isaac Matongo,
Lucia Matibenga and Sekai Holland who had failed to make it to parliament by
finding them safe seats in which they could stand as senatorial candidates."

Nyathi, who lost his Gwanda seat in last year's general election, said
Tsvangirai also reasoned at the time the move would "help remove the
financial burden on the party in terms of salaries".

"Tsvangirai changed his stance on the issue of participation in the senate
election after a secret meeting in South Africa with former Zimbabwean army
commander General Solomon Mujuru," he said.

"Tsvangirai had travelled to South Africa on the pretext that he was going
to congratulate his daughter-in-law who had just had a new baby. The main
purpose of his visit though was to meet up with Mujuru."

Nyathi said rumours of the meeting filtered back to Harare and, on his
return, Tsvangirai was confronted by senior colleagues over the issue. "He
admitted having held a secret meeting with Mujuru in South Africa but only
said tichakutaurirai kuti zvichafambiswa sei. (I will tell you how it will
go).' To this day Tsvangirai has not disclosed full details of his secret
meeting with Mujuru."

However, Tsvangirai's spokesman William Bango denied the meeting ever took
place. "Tsvangirai has never met with Mujuru. He has never met either
General Mujuru or Amai (Joice) Mujuru or any of their family members in his
life," Bango said.

"The closest he has come to Mujuru is seeing him on television. These claims
have appeared in other newspapers but I can tell you Tsvangirai did not meet

But Nyathi insisted Tsvangirai had met Mujuru and that he actually confirmed
it after being confronted about it. He said the purpose of the meeting was
to withdraw the MDC from the election and enter into power-sharing with Zanu

Tsvangirai and Sibanda's factions have been engaged in a power struggle
triggered by differences over participating in the senate election.
Tsvangirai boycotted the poll saying the conditions were not conducive for a
free and fair election, but Sibanda led his faction into it and lost.

However, Tsvangirai last week changed his mind and entered council
elections, leaving his supporters confused about his real plans. The MDC
lost the council polls at the weekend. - Staff Writer.

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Independent presses for senior judge to hear case

Zim Independent

LAWYERS representing the Zimbabwe Independent have written to the Registrar
of the Supreme Court asking Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku to release
Supreme Court judge Wilson Sandura to hear a civil suit filed against the
paper by Judge President Paddington Garwe.

Garwe last year filed a civil lawsuit against the Independent after the
publication of a story which claimed the judge had been blocked from passing
judgement in the treason trial of opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

The paper claimed that assessors Major Misheck Nyandoro and Joseph
Dangarembizi had prevented the passing of judgement until they had seen
recorded transcripts of the proceedings.

Justice Garwe subsequently acquitted Tsvangirai of treason last year.

Independent editor Vincent Kahiya, reporter Augustine Mukaro and Zimind
Publishers chief executive Raphael Khumalo were last year charged with
criminal defamation following the publication of the story.

Since the filing of the suit, there has been hectic out-of-court action as
the legal team representing the Independent and Garwe's counsel sought a
judge to hear the case. Chihambakwe, Mutizwa & Partners, representing Garwe,
said any judge could hear the case while the Independent lawyers argued that
would create structural problems.

Advocate Erik Morris, instructed by Linda Cook of Atherstone & Cook for the
Independent, argued in pre-conference trial meetings and in the letter to
Chidyausiku that judges of the High Court could not hear a case involving
the Judge President.

"As you will see, the difficulty arises with regards to what judge could sit
on the civil suit instituted by the Judge President," said Morris in the
letter. "All the puisne judges fall under his control and it would put them
in a most embarrassing position to sit in judgement over their superior."

In the letter Morris also pointed out the problems of Chidyausiku hearing
the civil suit.

"Mr Chihambakwe who represents Justice Garwe indicates that the Honourable
Chief Justice could sit, but this would create an identical situation if the
matter were to be appealed," said Morris. "The only judge acceptable to
defendants is a retired judge of the Honourable High Court or Supreme Court,
or a judge from a similar jurisdiction," said Morris.

Morris said the defendants would however voice no objection to Justice
Sandura hearing the case "as he has never been under the control of the
plaintiff (Garwe) in this matter and has equal status with the Honourable
Supreme Court judges (save the Chief Justice himself)".

He said Garwe had indicated that he had no difficulty with any judge
presiding over the hearing.

"Would you kindly enquire of his Lordship whether he would be prepared to
release Sandura, or whether we should widen the list to encompass such
retired judges as we have been able to locate, and in the cases contact,"
Morris said. - Staff Writer.

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Zim dollar stays on roller coaster

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya
THE Zimbabwe dollar continued to trade weaker, falling to new lows against
the United States dollar on the interbank market.

The weakening of the dollar has been a result of the continued shortages of
foreign currency which has dogged the country since 2000.

The local currency opened the year trading at $82 300 against the United
States dollar, falling by over 10% during the first three weeks of the year.

"We expect the local currency to suffer further losses during the course of
the year, more so if fears of food shortages become a reality," a market
dealer said this week.

Lack of support from the Bretton Woods institutions following a fallout with
the authorities over debt repayments, and skewed economic policies have
combining to create pressure on the local unit, dealers said.

The Zimbabwe dollar traded at $96 407,60 to the US dollar on the interbank
on Thursday.

There was a 10% difference between the official exchange rate on the
interbank and the rate on the parallel market, with the parallel market rate
higher for the US dollar.

The weakening local currency has forced prices of both imported and local
goods up, further creating inflationary pressure on the economy.

Sharp drops in international aid, tourism receipts and exports have all put
pressure on Zimbabwe's currency.

Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono has said stabilising inflation is key to
efforts to make the local currency competitive against major currencies to
revive an economy in recession for the past six years.

Gono, who previously devalued the dollar in July last year, said the
exchange rate will be reviewed in line with inflation. The continuous rise
of inflation will however put further pressure on the exchange rate this
year unless the trend changes.

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General Mujuru intervents in Trust packages payout

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which delayed packages for Trust Bank
retrenchees for eight months, was late last year allegedly forced to reverse
its position after the intervention of General Solomon Mujuru,
businessdigest can reveal.

It is understood that the RBZ has since approved the packages which were
immediately paid out by Trust Bank administrator, Brian Njikizana of KPMG.

Sources said the 51 workers approached Mujuru sometime in October after the
payment of their packages had been delayed for eight months. Their
retrenchment packages had been approved by the Ministry of Public, Service,
Labour and Social Welfare, on May 25, 2005.

The packages were only released after Mujuru contacted the RBZ which had
delayed approving the payouts for the workers who were retrenched after
Trust Bank was hit by a financial crisis. The workers sought Mujuru's
intervention after persistent efforts to get money from the administrator

Njikizana had refused to release the monies arguing that the payment had to
be approved by the central bank. In the meantime the RBZ was also playing
delaying tactics by passing the buck back to the curator.

Workers confirmed to businessdigest that their money was eventually released
after several meetings with Mujuru. Their first meeting with general Mujuru
was held in October at his farm in Beatrice.

The workers told Mujuru that their own investigation had established that
they were being denied their packages because they were perceived to be
William Nyemba's people. They also told him that they had won their case at
the Labour Court and the High Court.

According to a worker who was part of the delegation to Beatrice, Mujuru
expressed surprise that they had not received their monies.

Mujuru asked for their documentation and promised to talk to RBZ governor
Gideon Gono directly.

"We met Mujuru to plead with him to help us in our effort and his
intervention saved the day," said a worker who attended one of the meetings
with Mujuru.

"We met him at his farm in Beatrice on two occasions trying to seek his help
with our case because the RBZ had proven unhelpful," said the worker.

In subsequent meetings, Mujuru told the workers that he had had discussions
with Gono who had agreed to ensure that the packages were released.

"He told us that he had held discussions with Gono and that he had also
written a letter to him concerning our issue," said a worker who was part of
the delegation. The workers were paid two weeks after the Mujuru's
intervention.businessdigest reliably understands that the workers' packages
were calculated at the rate of their old salaries despite eight months'

The workers got severance pay of four months' salary plus one month's pay as
a stabilisation package.

They were also paid four months' pay for every year served and their
gratuities. The workers were also asked to repay their loans in six months.

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Scotch carts getting cheaper!

Zim Independent

By Admire Mavolwane
THE inflation rate has since its upgrading to "enemy of the state" status in
December 2003 attracted so much attention that even politicians have started
talking about it.

It has also become a monthly routine for the highest officials at the
Central Statistical Office (CSO) to announce the figures through a press

Official explanations for the increases in the CPI components are availed.
We laud this development because in the past some of the explanations for
the increases or very occasionally, decreases, then found in certain
newspapers, were rather misleading.

We all know what has happened in terms of the year-on-year and the
month-on-month rate for December 2005. However, this week we look at those
components of the CPI basket that recorded the highest increases in the last
month of our silver jubilee year.

Hair dressing saloons, in December alone hiked their prices by 16,2% from
November and the new prices reflect a hefty 2 369,2% on the previous
December. These places used to be hives of activity especially during the
weekends and the streets used to be littered with empty boxes of Revlon and
Dark & Lovely.

These days one can count him/herself lucky if they stumble upon these soon
to be collectors' items. Hairdressing saloons were one of the fastest
growing industries two years ago but the hard times seem to have caught up
with them as well.

Market forces which we are all clamouring for appear to have negatively (or
positively depending on which side of the fence one is sitting) affected the
price of bicycles which rose by 2 240,5% from December 2004 to December
2005. No doubt the fuel shortages and price increases which were accompanied
by concomitant increases in the cost of convectional transportation (1
432,2% year-on-year) have seen the demand of bicycles soaring.

Although on one hand we seem to have regressed, as cycling to work is not a
fashionable or first choice mode of transport for the ordinary Zimbabweans,
the models have improved significantly with the disappearance of the
customary "Blackhorse", in favour of the newer and trendier Asian two

When others were down trading from Kombis to bicycles, as the cost of
passenger transport which rose from below $3 000 per trip on the eve of the
silver jubilee year to between $20 000 and $25 000 by the close of the same
year, those who live closer to town, mostly in the Avenues and Arcadia, have
resorted to the Do It Yourself (DIY), just walk to town. People and bicycles
are jostling for space on the now crowded cycle tracks.

Zimpost, the country's one and only postal services company, although it did
not increase its tariffs in December compared with the same month in the
prior year, it now charges 1 827,7% more to do a transaction through the
commercialised state utility. However, given the fact that the majority of
the people now use electronic mail and mobile phones, the impact on the
purse of the ordinary individual is minimal. This is even reflected in the
weight of the communication category which, at 1,0, is the lowest.

The hardest hit by the increase in postal charges are the credit chains like
Meikles Stores, Greatermans, Truworths, Edgars, etc, and the banks for whom
it is mandatory to send out a statement to clients each month. Conspicuous
by its absence is the component for mobile phone and Internet services,
revealing the classical index number problem inherent in the CPI
calculation. The basket in most cases fails to capture changes in technology
as well as consumption patterns. Thus the increase in cellphone tariffs is
one form of inflation which is not being reflected in the figures.

Food inflation continues to be the dominant driver of local inflation,
having increased by 25,9% month-on-month and 717,1% annually. By Christmas
2005, those who partake in the "waters of wisdom" were paying 904,6% more
than they had done the previous year. The inflation rate did not spare the
health-conscious either, with the prices of fruits have risen by 979,8% in
December 2005.

From May 2005, a roof over one's head has become so much sought after that
the price of four walls under asbestos has risen substantially. The cost of
living on third party property is showing an annual increase of 935,7%.
Obviously, the unleashing of even harsher market forces after the clean up
has had a hand in the numbers reflected in the rentals.

Every now and then certain components of the CPI do surprisingly go against
the grain by showing month-on-month decreases for some unexplained reason.
The amount of local currency necessary for purchasing a brand new scotch
cart came down by 9% between November and December 2005. Also something of a
surprise was that telephone and telefax services regressed by 10,9%.

2006 had started positively with almost each day being blessed with the
precious precipitation. It seems someone is always bent at putting spanners
in the works. With maize seed having been adequately available, such that
speculators who hoarded the commodity as soon as it hit the shops were left
holding the wrong end of the stick, Zimbabwe seemed at last to have been
prepared for the summer season. The long awaited bumper harvest, which would
eventually see the slowdown of food inflation and release a fair amount of
pressure on the exchange rate was at least coming our way.

Alas, something had to go wrong. Ammonium nitrate, a more than essential
input, cannot be found in sufficient quantities to top dress the bustling
maize and cotton crop. Furthermore, the appropriately named "army worm" has
invaded some parts of the country. Something, somehow always has to spoil
the parade.

The Cairns annual general meeting held earlier this week was as well
choreographed as any meeting could be. The chairman knew in advance who was
to propose, and second, which resolution. Those tasked with the specific
responsibilities came well prepared with their scripts in hand. All
shareholders had to do was; "vote". One tends to question the purpose of
having a shareholders' meeting at which board members are the main and
sometimes the only participants.

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Zim Independent Letters

Cholera latest dish on Zanu PF's table

CHOLERA has become yet another favourite political snack on the culinary
list of unpleasant meals cooked and dished out by the ruling party in
Zimbabwe, which lacks even a twinge of conscience in cases that involve the
loss of human life.

It leaves a bad taste in the mouth that we are forced to treat cholera as an
outbreak under control when someone bravely says only 14 people have died
nationwide. It is lost on them that life is sacrosanct.

It is however unbeknown to them that they are making the cholera issue a
delicate matter in the eyes of sensitive people who value life. People
should therefore be reminded that they only live once, and as such they
surely have to know how to deport themselves when dealing with matters that
involve life and death of fellow citizens.

Does the party have no remorse or shame that they downplay the value of the
14 precious lives we lost as a nation?

Not one soul should have died if for example Harare was as clean as it used
to be.

Most people are now indignant at such careless and heartless utterance.
Little wonder that there is a call for the arrest of the Minister of Local
Government Ignatious Chombo.

It is equally treasonous to play around with people's lives by saying "only
14 people have died". What figure would have made Zanu PF functionaries
contrite? At least 100, I guess.

Can all these men and women who have caused misery and death be allowed to
go scot-free?

Could they escape impeachment in a normal nation where there is the full
force of the rule of law?

Doubtless though, we are nevertheless resigned to a national tragedy on a
grand scale, where we are subjected to the high table of miscarriages over
council bankruptcy in providing services to its ratepayers.

The minister and his accomplices in the Harare Commission together with Town
House executives have taken us for a ride.

If cholera breaks out in Bulawayo, you will never hear of Mayor Japhet
Ndabeni Ncube again.

The Harare Commission with its partner in crime - the town clerk - are
sacred cows. They can as well wash the blood of those dead in Harare with
the city's unclean water. It is not wise to minimise the loss of human life,
like what Cain did when he said to God: "Am I my brother's keeper?"

We should be sorry of any death of a fellow human being. I am deeply

The Vulcan,


Is history repeating itself?

MAY the masses in Zimbabwe for a moment imagine a possible scenario whereby
power keeps eluding the MDC while Zanu PF reappears reinvigorated to thrive.

I can foresee a situation where Zanu PF will get tired to an extent of being
unable to handle the economic collapse.

At the same time President Mugabe will also give in to old age, but still
remain reluctant to swallow his pride and call for the repeal of repressive
laws and restoration of the rule of law.

President Mugabe will, in his heart, have realised that "his" impoverished
country cannot thrive as an island.

At this point he will find a clever way of disguising his surrender by
hand-picking a "moderate" successor who will call for talks with the
opposition and promise to give in to demands of ending repression.

The international community, including the toothless United Nations and the
backbiting South African president Thabo Mbeki, will pressure the MDC into

The MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, (even Welshman Ncube and Gibson Sibanda)
will give in as they will be promised the stooge post of vice-presidency as
was done to the late Joshua Nkomo.

Just look how they fought bitterly to participate in the meaningless
senatorial election.

Then what will follow is a situation I loathe: all the economic and
socio-political crimes committed by Zanu PF will be swept under the carpet
and the public's desire to prosecute the Mugabe regime will be suppressed by
the new government.

Hooray for President Mugabe!

The new government, probably called the Government of National Unity, will
protect him.

The rationale will be that prosecuting President Mugabe will be an
infringement of provisions of the national unity government.

The prosecution of President Mugabe will logically mean that his accomplices
will also be prosecuted. And most of them will be serving with the MDC in
the newly-formed government!

The masses will cry: "MDC help us to arrrest Mugabe", and the MDC will hide
behind the terms of agreement in a new government.

By this time it will be honeymoon for MDC members in the cabinet holding
ministerial and deputy ministerial positions. The international community
will then shift its focus elsewhere.

There is logic in all this.

To completely eliminate a strong opposition, did President Mugabe not call
for unity with PF Zapu? Was Nkomo's vice-presidency not a window dressing

Did the Ndebeles not cry; "Bring the Fifth Brigade to justice?"

Didn't the Dumiso Dabengwas, Nkomos and the Joseph Msikas silence their own

Is the current MDC pro-senate group not justifying their stance of working
with Zanu PF in the senate? Are the masses not crying: "Sever the unholy
alliance with Mugabe!"

Oh Lord, lead us away from this snare of hell. May Mbeki who wants Mugabe to
thrive be judged by you. May those countries that support Mugabe's
repression be delivered from such deeds of evil.

Chris Mafu,


New Zealand.

Take time to reflect Trudy

Dear Trudy - IT would probably be too demanding of me to ask you to respond
personally to an email I sent you question by question as I appreciate you
might be too busy.

We certainly differ in the ways your faction and that of Morgan Tsvangirai
have taken regarding your differences.

If only you and the 10 or so members fighting each other regarding
constitutions and policy matters reflect on the hope and faith we had placed
in you to rescue us from poverty, death and genocide we face from

President Robert Mugabe's government, perhaps you would understand.

The fights are so sad and let it be known that you have let down millions of
your supporters.

Let's for a while forget about who is wrong or right and who is who.

You should know Trudy that we are pained and no amount of decampaigning each
other will unite us.

Your fights will not benefit the man in the street, the same man who put you
in those positions which you are now fighting to maintain; the same man who
was beaten, tortured and maimed for your political cause; the same man who
sang till he lost his voice at the rallies; the same man who sat in the sun,
pouring rain and freezing conditions listening to unfulfilled promises which
have since been literally abandoned whilst we watch you at each other's

If you were honest enough Trudy, you would note that most voters were not
aware of the party's hierarchy and even the candidates who were standing on
MDC tickets in their constituencies in the 2000 parliamentary election.

We only placed our votes where there was the sign of the open palm. True,
Trudy, it's because we trusted you and your colleagues who now wash their
dirty linen in front of President Mugabe's media.

We just voted for anything MDC, from Mayor Elias Mudzuri, MPs to Tsvangirai.

We didn't care whether the MDC had an animal or a stone standing for it.

Tafadzwa Musekiwa was voted into office not because we knew about his
qualities, the same thing with Munyaradzi Gwisai, Job Sikhala and yourself
among many others, and now you trade insults like kids!

Was it a crime voting you into office; from Tsvangirai down to the lowest
cleaner at Harvest House?

You and everyone else concerned should take time to reflect and come up with
ways of putting an end to this ugly power fight.

Is this what the late Tichaona Chiminya, the Elder Pfebve and scores of
other supporters died for? Is this the cause for which hundreds lost their
homes in those fires started by Zanu PF supporters?

For the past six years we placed our trust in you but the best we could get
in return was an MDC T-shirt. We deserve better!

Suffering Man,


Charity begins at home

I AM baffled by the diplomatic community's hypocrisy, the language they use
and the plastic smiles they wear when dealing with unsuspecting members of
the public, among many other ills.

have of late been to the Japanese Embassy where I noticed that two security
guards posted at their entrance were starving.

There are no chairs for these guards to sit on.

During lunch, these poor souls wander into the Harare Gardens to eat buns.
Office bureaucracy does not allow them to eat at the embassy, I can reveal.

It makes a good comedy when they (embassy staff) embark on long trips to
far-flung places such as Dande and Binga to hand over donations in either
cash or kind, leaving behind starving security personnel to keep watch over
their embassy.

What is the diplomatic explanation in making a starving security guard stand
for 10 continuous hours at their door? Decorum? My foot!

For heaven's sake, charity begins at home, not in some remote place with
flashing cameras of the news crews.



Tsunami hypocrisy abhorrent

DURING President Robert Mugabe and family's holiday in Thailand this year,
Zimbabweans were subjected to rerun clips of them paying their respects to
victims of the December 2004 Asian tsunami.

Of course we all share the victims' grief and sympathise with them, but what
about our own "tsunami"?

The cruel Operation Murambatsvina, which came so unexpectedly,destroyed over
700 000 people's homes and shattered the livelihoods of over two million
people in most of our cities and towns.

We did not have nearly as many deaths as the Indian Ocean tsunami - thank
God - but some Zimbabweans did die, here at home.

Our tragedy is that ours was a man-made, entirely preventable tsunami,
thought up and carried out by President Mugabe's government and security

The Zimbabwe government airlifted water to the tsunami disaster area last
year, and an appeal was set up to raise relief funds while here it took the
local and international humanitarian organisations some considerable time
and effort to persuade government to allow them to provide water and other
emergency relief to our own victims.

Government is still barring the provision of any temporary shelter by the
United Nations and other agencies.

Meanwhile, pathetic settlements of our own tsunami victims are
re-establishing themselves and growing, alongside the disgracefully few
Operation Garikai houses.

Victims have found shelter under cardboard, plastic and anything else they
can find, and rely almost completely on water, food, medicines and other
necessities being provided by humanitarian agencies.

If they try to earn their own living in informal trade, they are chased away
and their wares stolen from them, unless they produce a licence, notoriously
difficult to obtain if they do not hold a ruling party card.

As for praising our own tsunami, because without it there would have been
even more cases of cholera and other diseases, let those officials get in
their 4x4 vehicles and plough through the mud to visit Hatcliffe Extension
or Hopley Farm today, to see for themselves the conditions those victims are
living under, eight months after Operation Murambatsvina.

The MDC condemns this tsunami hypocrisy for what it is, and challenges the
Mugabe government to accept the emergency relief, including temporary
shelter, which the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies are
willing to provide to our own victims.

Trudy Stevenson,

Spokesperson for Local

Government and

Housing, MDC.

Enlighten us please!

I AM anxiously waiting to see how the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG)
is going to list on the ZSE in light of a Supreme Court judgement by Justice
Wilson Sandura threatening the existence of the bank due to its use of
assets belonging to suspended banks which have since taken the ZABG to court
for that reason.

I am interested in seeing the way the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) will
react and if the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will allow it to operate
considering the Supreme Court ruling.

Is it because the ZABG is a baby of the RBZ?

Could the relevant authorities please enlighten us?

Livison Kahondo,


Help get our kids to school on time

THERE is no doubt in my mind that the much-loathed Operation Murambatsvina,
embarked upon by government in May last year, has wreaked havoc not only
among the working class and small-to-medium enterprises, but also school

Many families have had to relocate, meaning some children now have to
connect at least two buses to school after their former homes deemed illegal
by government were razed.

This effectively means many of our children are getting to school late,
missing lessons in the process. Changing schools would have meant forking
out a fortune in school uniforms whose prices have soared to alarming
levels. Add to that unreasonably high rentals we have to pay where we have
taken up new accommodation.

An already underpaid and demoralised teacher therefore cannot be expected to
be patient and help out in such cases.

My humble plea is therefore to our transport operators to approach our
schools to work out modalities on how we can together go around the problem.

It seems School Development Associations are reluctant to think along these
lines arguing children should go to their prescribed zones. We must however
appreciate the anxiety and trauma we cause children through changing

This is an opportunity for operators to make money instead of spending time
parked elsewhere waiting for passengers.

I would recommend Zupco in such areas as Kuwadzana and Dzivaresekwa.

We used to have these ferrying school children to Alfred Beit, Ellis Robins
and Mabelreign Girls High Schools in the late 80s but wonder what caused the
discontinuation of service.

Could it be anything to do with the plummeting fortunes of Zupco or lack of
concern for our children? And besides, children used to pay reasonable
fares - half the fare of an adult on the same route.

I feel this is the simplest way parents can complement government's efforts
in maintaining our education standards and high literacy levels which have
been the envy of many on the continent.

But should things remain the way they are, with teachers and operators
seemingly taking no interest in our children's education, our education
system could be headed for the abyss.

Just Concerned.


     Letters    Friday, 20 January 2006
            News Analysis      Eric Bloch Column        Muckraker

      Leave Mbare, attend to the sewer

      LAST year I was soundly denounced by the pro-government media for
pointing out in the Zimbabwe Independent the state of affairs and risks
associated with our water supply and wastewater management system.

      These warnings were based on sound scientific research. Now the Harare
City (not council, because it was sacked) has shut down the most vibrant
trading area - Mbare Musika, to avert a cholera epidemic.

      Cabbages are not carriers of E coli, but cabbages handled by people
who come into contact with our blocked sewers as they walk to and from work.

      Shutting down this trading facility has wide-reaching repercussions in
terms of livelihoods, just like the much-loathed Operation Murambatsvina.

      What Harare Commission chairperson Sekesai Makwavarara should shut
down is not the market, but her belching sewer leaks.

      Professor Chris Magadza,


Stay in opposition to rule some day

JANUARY 16 was the inauguration day of Mama Africa - President of Liberia,
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is Africa's first elected female president.

She has promised to lead by example, while sustaining and pursuing a policy
of equal distribution of wealth to all deserving Liberians.

Sirleaf will thus attract the sympathies of most Western countries and aid
is expected to flow like manna from heaven.

Reconstruction of the economy of Liberia, having been ravaged by war, will
be a mountain to climb though.

And for a woman to meet expectations of the Liberians will be a historical
and non-forgettable feat for the whole of Africa.

Reconstruction shall therefore require the participation of every Liberian,
which brings us to the case of Sirleaf's bitter political rival - George

Weah, as requested by many, should not join the Sirleaf government, but
continue exploring the political landscape of Liberia to offer a strong
opposition leadership to keep this lady on her toes in service delivery.

It is through an objective opposition that ensures "checks and balances" are
undertaken, that Sirleaf will fulfill her promises.

Weah should remember that if he chooses to join the government, any mistake
or failure will also be attributed to him, making it impossible for him to
run again for office if his name is besmirched.

He should remain visible on the Liberian political scene to learn the ropes
of African political processes.

Just like it has not come on a silver platter for Sirleaf, the same will be
for Weah.

If he will ever rule, let him reside in opposition and not rush to accept
political appointment in the government.

Political offices in Africa do not come so easily as Weah thought. One needs
to struggle and persevere until the appropriate time comes, and with it
maturity for office.

But this does not mean he has to undermine Sirleaf''s rule.

African female presidents have never been tested, so this should send a
signal to Weah to play his political cards appropriately in his new role of
opposition leader.

Aubrey Chindefu,



Calling for a good cause

I AM calling upon all who are interested in being counted for a good cause.

A new association called Harare In Hope is on the cards. It seeks to
establish hope in the people of Zimbabwe by building a people willing and
prepared to come up with practical solutions needed to get our economy back
on the rails again.

The association seeks to create a pool of ideas that will serve as a
resource base for solutions that will be forwarded to concerned government
departments in efforts to influence positive change in our economy.

We sometimes make constructive criticisms hence our desire to turn them into
proposals that our leaders can consider for implementation.

Harare In Hope seeks among other objectives, to play a pivotal role in
creating a sustainable development programme that alleviates woes of the

All those interested in being part of this initiative are invited to contact
us through

Clayton Marange,


Forsake this jackpot mentality

CONGRATULATIONS to Joram Nyathi on a truly excellent article on the land
reform in Zimbabwe, "Tale of land reform gone awry", (Zimbabwe Independent,
January 13).

His identification of the lack of a culture of long-term investment and the
prevalence of a "jackpot mentality" really goes to the core of the problem.

While the Western world was horrified by the fast-track land reform, much of
Africa saw it fit to give President Robert Mugabe a standing ovation.

The West was horrified because they foresaw the utter destruction of the
long-term investment that had been required to create commercial
agricultural in Zimbabwe; their dissension was never entirely about
protecting their white kith and kin.

Africa was ecstatic; it was a supreme jackpot moment. President Mugabe had
captured a century of investment in one bold move. Of course the wheels have
now fallen off because only a very few won the jackpot, and a huge majority
is much worse off than before. It's always that way with jackpots. His
erstwhile African supporters are now deserting him. There was no jackpot for

Zimbabwe might get rid of its incompetent Minister of Agriculture, or its
autocratic president may retire, but will those events set it surely on the
path to prosperity?

No, not so long as the people have a "jackpot mentality". What does a
jackpot mentality actually entail?

It seems to be a belief that life is one big lottery, and that one just
needs to wait for the lucky chance; the jackpot moment, when one can be
transformed from a poor peasant to a wealthy member of the elite.

It obviates the necessity for hard work, for long-term investment of energy,
skill, time, resources; all is predicated on the lucky chance - the jackpot.

The jackpot mentality undermines such valuable characteristics as hard work,
honesty and trustworthiness, important traits when one believes in long-term
investment. Rather the jackpot mentality encourages indolence, cunning, lack
of principle, short-term thinking, a willingness to go where the wind blows
and to shift anywhere the jackpot might be.

Tens of thousands of well-educated, supposedly ethical Zimbabweans signed up
for President Mugabe's land jackpot. It didn't work out for most of them.
But they signed up anyway; and that is what has helped him stay in power to
this day.

So what is the solution?

The real long-term solution does not lie in firing Joseph Made or persuading
President Mugabe to resign, although they and all the other jackpot
mentality types in government would have to go for any progress to be made.

The solution lies in an ethical and spiritual renewal of Zimbabwean society
that forsakes the jackpot mentality and embraces hard work, dedication and
honesty; a mental outlook that embraces a long-term commitment to national
development within a context of fairness, equity and natural justice.

God knows we need to change. Only a deep social transformation can stop the
recurrence of all the ailments that have beset Africa since the advent of
the age of Independence. There is no reason that such a transformation
should not arise out of the ashes of President Mugabe's destructive misrule.

Richard Owen,


My prayer for Chombo

IF medals were to be awarded to the most bungling cabinet minister, I think
Local Government minister, Ignatious Chombo, would this time pip one Joseph
Made who seems to have withdrawn from the limelight, preferring to err in

Relocation of the vegetable market from Mbare to Belvedere was apparently
made without prior planning as was the relocation of bus termini to various
residential areas.

At most of these places, people are being drenched to the bone as there are
no sheds to protect them from the vagaries of the weather. Neither are there
public toilets for relief when nature dictates. Imagine the confusion this

With the rains upon us for quite some time if the weather man is to be taken
seriously, and when the rains are over, hopefully plenty of sunshine, is the
minister aware of our plight? We trudge through the mud as we queue for the
buses and by the time we get home we will be muddied. My humble prayer is
that Chombo, like the biblical Paul, one day sees the light and feels for



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Editor's Memo

Vincent Kahiya
THE government has announced that it is phasing out the use of leaded fuel
in two months' time because it is harmful to us. It will be replaced by the
cleaner burning unleaded fuel which costs slightly more.

Press reports have said Zimbabwe, working in tandem with other African
countries, has undertaken to improve the continent's health and environment.

It is true lead does have harmful properties when inhaled or swallowed.
Scientists have said it can cause neurological disorders if ingested in
large quantities.

I can imagine the state of mind of those mechanics who suck petrol to aid
failing fuel pumps and street fuel merchants who take gulps of it while
siphoning the poison from drums and makeshift tanks.

Doors to the rooms of neuro-surgeons should be swinging on their hinges
faster than those public toilets at Market Square. My apologies, most of the
doors have been stolen.

The threat of lead poisoning sounds really scary. Consider the lengths of
presidential motorcades in Africa. African heads who pledged at the Earth
Summit in Johannesburg in 2002 to rid the continent of leaded fuel have over
the years burnt millions of litres of leaded fuel and contributed to
neurological disorders in scores of children, if they have not been affected
by the brain-damaging metals themselves.

Scientists in Indiana, US, last year discovered that seasonal gusts of winds
picked up lead in dust and deposited it into homes causing brain damage,
behavioural problems, impaired growth and hearing loss, especially in

Scientists reviewed meteorological records, soil-lead concentrations and
epidemiological results for about 32 000 children in Indianapolis, New
Orleans and Syracuse, New York, between 1994 and 2003.

Using a computer model, they found they could predict with high accuracy the
average monthly blood-lead readings among children in the three cities,
based on local weather conditions, soil moisture and lead levels.

Our Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, leading
the crusade against leaded fuel, have failed dismally in educating the
public on the dangers of lead and other heavy metals.

The general statements that have come out in the press seem to suggest that
lead is only found in our leaded petrol. Their campaign is academic because
our environment is replete with dangerous heavy metals discharged into river
systems by mining companies and industries.

Studies have revealed high levels of lead and contaminants in drinking water
in Harare. There is also serious water poisoning from anoxia, ammonia and a
cocktail of gas emissions bubbling from the bottom of Lake Chivero.

The chemistry of urban water in Zimbabwe should be a major concern for
government and atmospheric poisoning caused by leaded fuel but also from
buses and heavy trucks belching blue half-burnt diesel smoke with no action
by the authorities despite the carbon tax we pay.

Companies manufacturing motor vehicle brake pads and shoes discharge huge
amounts of lung-damaging asbestos fumes into the atmosphere.

Garages and vehicle service centres are notorious for pouring used oil into
drains and ultimately into streams and dams supplying our water.

These are a few examples that government, through more prudent planning and
strict monitoring of local authority by-laws and environmental legislation,
can address. But our government cannot be trusted with getting their
priorities right in anything.

Our ministers would rather go to an international conference to discuss the
dangers of leaded fuel but take defensive positions when the clear and
present danger posed by our poor water, sewerage rivulets on the streets and
uncollected garbage are raised. That's being environmentally friendly!
Remember the ozone layer craze of the late 1980s.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority entrusted with safeguarding the
quality of our water sources insists the water in Harare is safe and meets
World Health Organisation standards but numerous scientific research
projects have revealed otherwise.

We have been told cholera caused by garbage and water cuts is under control,
the issue of sewerage in Chitungwiza is being addressed.etc.

Leaded fuel is undoubtedly a threat. But so is cholera and other waterborne
diseases. Show me a grave of a person killed by lead poisoning and I will
show you hundreds entombing Aids and cholera victims.

What would an average Hararian stomach today: a car full of leaded fuel or a
pile of uncollected garbage by his/her gate or a sewerage stream crossing
through his vegetable garden?

Because of neurological disorders caused by leaded petrol, perhaps, we would
rather entertain the sewerage and the garbage. But they are equally menacing
to our nation's health.

Did anyone hear the stunning revelation this week by Water Resources
minister, Munacho Mutezo, about the water we drink?

He said there was sludge (he did not specify what it was but it's definitely
not pudding) at the bottom of one of the water-holding tanks at Morton
Jaffray water works. The tanks, he said, had not been cleaned for almost
five years when they should be cleaned every year. That is not

There are a number of facilities that have not been cleaned for some time
like the streets of Harare, Mbare Musika and the Zanu PF government. Imagine
the depth of sludge that has been gathering there for 26 years?

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Contrasting perceptions of national security

Zim Independent

By Chido Makunike
YOU would be surprised at what you can learn about a country and its
rulership from just observing its style of presidential motorcade.

The whole approach to the visibility and accessibility of the presidential
palace also reveals a lot about the prevailing relationship between the
ruler and those he rules.

We live in a world in which assassinations by governments, groups or
individuals are no longer uncommon. Some high profile ones have taken place
before TV cameras, gruesomely preserved for posterity.

Suicide bombings have increasingly become a deadly guerilla tool in recent
years. So for all these and many other reasons, presidential security
everywhere in the world is a very serious business. No effort is spared to
try to guarantee it, regardless of the overall means and economic capability
of the country in question.

In some countries the presidential motorcade is far more than just a secure
way of rapidly and safely ferrying the president from one point to another.

Whether by design or unwittingly, many symbolisms about the political system
of the country in question and the ruler at a particular time are sent out
by the style of the motorcade.

Let us contrast the security around the president in two mythical nations:
country Y and country Z.

In country Z the presidential motorcade on the surface provides security and
unimpeded mobility for the president as everywhere else in the world. But it
is also a symbol of brutality and disrespect for the population. It is
designed to cause maximum inconvenience and rouse feelings of intimidation
as much as possible.

The citizens of country Z have often complained about how unnecessarily
obstructive the motorcade is to other motorists and passersby. The
motorcycle outriders and soldiers sit menacingly in open trucks with their
guns ready and seemingly eager to shoot, just as riot soldiers squeal with
delight at the chance to beat up their fellow citizens for doing no more
than march or protest.

They delight in being abusive in the way they order other vehicles off the
road. Many motorists have been slapped around by the bullying security
detail for one minor thing or another. Every now and then letters are
written to the media lamenting the abusiveness of the ruler's praetorian

"Why are these soldiers not more respectful of, and courteous to the public
in the conduct of their job of protecting the ruler?" is the gist of the
bitter, sullen complaints.

Those who have been abused and other citizens who are appalled at the signs
of contempt for the public by the ruling authority miss the point that the
abuse is entirely intentional.

The whole exercise is not just to protect the life and health of the ruler,
but to send the message that he is untouchable and to humiliate while doing

It is a way of saying "we are quite aware that we are thuggish in the
conduct of our job, but we have absolute impunity to be that way, and we
want you to know it".

In country Y on the other hand, the presidential motorcade seems
surprisingly unpretentious compared to country Z. The wailing sirens are
there too but it is for just a few minutes. Compared to country Z, country Y's
motorcade is short, rapid and designed to cause minimal disruption to other
citizens on the road.

The few outriders at the front firmly and authoritatively wave motorists to
the side of the road but there is no menace in their gestures as in country
Z. Citizens absent-mindedly watch the brief spectacle with mild interest,
but without the passionate, sullen hatred and shaking of heads of the
citizens of country Z at their ruler's motorcade.

In country Z it is entirely normal and expected that motorists would be
threatened or stopped and intimidated for not stopping fast enough, getting
clear of the road and acting humbly, even when it is clear they pose no
danger or inconvenience to the motorcade.

The whole pomp and ceremony of it after all is not merely about the ruler's
security, but about asserting and showing control and physical dominance.

Making that display of raw, brute military force to the citizens is a
deliberate part of the whole overdone farce. It is a way of saying to them
"we know many of you don't like this/us but we want you to know and see that
it doesn't matter. We don't give a damn what you like or don't like, we are
simply here to control you by any means necessary."

This is just one particularly graphic way of making this point for the
ruling authority of country Z, but it is also made in the cynical conduct of
elections, the willy-nilly dissolutions of elected bodies and their
replacement by appointees and in various other ways.

In country Z you have good reason to be fearful to be anywhere in the
vicinity of the presidential palace. Stories of people who have been abused
or killed in that area are legion and feed the intended image of a menacing,
ruthless authority that should be feared. The whole compound is walled off
not only because of the ruler's paranoia and insecurity, but to give him a
sense of hiding and separation from the citizens.

In country Y and many others on the other hand, security around the
presidential palace is also tight but is effected in a way that is
startlingly different from that in unhappy country Z.

In country Y the presidential palace is not just the official home and
security bunker of the ruler, it is also a national symbol of the political
seat of power.

As such it is secure but it is also on display for the citizens to see and
feel connected to it.

The security perimeter is made of strong but see-through metal railing,
rather than high, ugly pre-fabricated concrete panels. One is able from the
outside to admire the manicured lawn and bushes without worrying about being
shot by the many alert but un-intimidating soldiers, policemen and other
security details that mill around.

One marvels at how successfully country Y is able to combine the twin needs
of security for the president's official residence with a relaxed openness
that is in keeping with a mature, relaxed democratic country at peace with

In country Y one has a sense of a good balance between the need for
providing security for the president and respecting the citizens whom that
president is supposed to represent. In country Z on the other hand, all this
sense of proportion and regard for the citizens has been lost and corrupted,
sacrificed as the person of the ruler has been allowed to become more
important than the wishes or best interests of those he rules over.

These are some of my impressions as I experience and enjoy my journey of
discovery and contrast. What is your perception of presidential security in
your own country, and what does it say about the relationship between the
rulers and the ruled?

* Chido Makunike is a Zimbabwean writer based in Senegal.

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Chombo sporting a soiled crown

Zim Independent

By Denford Magora
IT is reprehensible and despicable in the extreme for government to treat
the executive mayor of Chitungwiza, Misheck Shoko, in the manner they have

The man has been "suspended", an action that is itself moot, because he was
doomed the day President Mugabe demanded his head in public. This latest
overturning of the people's will has, yet again, been met only by soft
whimpering from an MDC that is chewing off its own feet.

No one, not even President Mugabe himself and his greying poodle, Ignatious
Chombo, believe that the mayor had to go on the grounds of incompetence.

The crimes for which the mayor of Chitungwiza was sentenced to removal from
office by President Mugabe are certainly no worse nor bigger than those
committed by his own commission running the affairs of the capital.

Before Mugabe and Chombo attempted to remove the splinter in Chitungwiza's
eye, they should have attended to the log in the eye of their undemocratic
commission in Harare. This commission has failed completely to turn the

The very real gains registered by fired executive mayor, Elias Mudzuri, in
turning around the fortunes of Harare were brutally vandalised by the
"mafia" that is now running the city of Harare. This is a "mafia" whose
mandate comes not from the people, but from President Mugabe himself.
Chitungwiza will now go the way of Harare. For a long time, the city held
out, avoiding the fate that befell Harare soon after Mudzuri was fired.

Shoko and his people, under trying circumstances and downright sabotage of
their efforts by Chombo, managed to get the city ticking over. Eventually,
even they succumbed. They could not remain an island of cleanliness in a sea
of filth. The human waste that not only flows in Harare but also runs the
capital finally found its way into Chitungwiza.

The leaders of Zanu PF (their actions, not their electoral successes, have
taken away all claims to be leaders of the people) saw their chance and
decided to swoop like jackals on a city council that they themselves had

Campaigning for the senate election in Chitungwiza, President Mugabe
declared that it was the worst place in the country. We shall say nothing
about Epworth. We shall also say nothing about under-developed rural areas.

Instead, we shall say something about Harare itself. President Mugabe
apparently believes things are going swimmingly in the capital. A day after
his tirade in Chitungwiza, his own state media published photos of children
jumping over streams of raw sewage in Kuwadzana.

There are mountains of rubbish in the streets all over the one-time Sunshine
Capital. The city's water supply has been condemned by Mugabe's own
government as unfit for human consumption. In fact, the state of the water
is such that you feed it to your pets and chickens at your own risk!

Potholes the size of the Lake of Tranquility pepper even our major roads,
such as the highway that links us to both South Africa and Mozambique - the
Enterprise Road.

The days when Mudzuri could resurface these roads completely in a matter of
days are not wanted anymore by the government.

The arrogance of unelected tin-pot dictators at Town House has seen them
brush all the residents' concerns aside.

Citizens were told to pay up "whether the rubbish is collected or not". It
is a betrayal of the sort of mentality at central government level itself
that this sort of language, attitude and public relations is rewarded with a
promotion in Zanu PF. That tells you all you need to know about just how
much President Mugabe and Chombo care whether you die of cholera or not.

Leaving the capital city in the state that it has been in since the
commission took over can be likened to a king putting on a crown smeared
with human waste. The pride of our nation - the capital city - is in a worse
state than a provincial town in China. If there was any shame left in our
politicians, we would have seen a few resignations - not only at Town House
but also at central government level. This soiled jewel of the nation, the
rulers do not see. Instead, they are "livid" at the state of Chitungwiza and
vow to "take action".

If they are in doubt at all about the state of their credibility with the
people of Zimbabwe and Chitungwiza in particular, they should just ask
people at random this one question: "Do you believe that the firing of Mayor
Shoko and his replacement by a Zanu PF appointee will result in the
improvement of services in Chitungwiza?"

The answer, as I have already found out, is a no. In fact, most people look
to Harare to give an accurate prediction of how things will turn out in
Chitungwiza. Services will continue to deteriorate. Having failed to master
the situation, the government will emerge from its slumber and point to
sanctions and "bad publicity" as the root causes of their inability to
return Chitungwiza to normalcy.

They will also acknowledge the inadequate rates they have been forcing local
authorities to stick to. Maybe they will allow the charging of competitive
rates, without requiring a rise in service delivery from their appointed
commission. Then, if Chitungwiza is as lucky as Harare, the council will be
broken down into "strategic business units" in order to "turn things

This will amount to nothing, naturally, because it is Zanu PF that is
attempting the turnaround.

The party has, over the last six years or so, proved itself incapable of
even turning a bicycle around in an empty parking lot, let alone a whole
economy or the fortunes of an entire modern city.

Further, elections will be banned, as they do in brand new military
dictatorships. Instead a commission whose tenure will be extended ad nauseam
is going to perform the funeral rites for Chitungwiza, with enthusiastic
applause from President Mugabe and Chombo.

Always, when people ask why things are not getting better, the rulers will
deign to lower the windows of their Mercedes Benzes and tell the masses
about "sanctions called for by (Morgan) Tsvangirai", roll up their windows
and drive on to manicured gardens on their full bellies.

It matters not to them, of course, that, as they sup in Harare, they are
literally enjoying their sumptuous meals in one big stinking public toilet.
So long as they rule that toilet, all other concerns are superfluous. Their
rallying cry of late: "It is better to misgovern ourselves than to be
governed by anyone."

If you do not agree, you imperialist running dog, then take heed of National
Security minister Didymus Mutasa's genocidal comments: "We would rather be
left with only our own supporters in Zimbabwe."

He wished, like one past ruler of Europe, that all those opposed to him and
his inefficient government had one neck, which he could sever!

The rest, those who are not Zanu PF supporters, have no right to be here.
But, above all, remember that these words are being spoken by an inefficient
government minister who failed a simple task of auditing farms taken from a
mere 4 000 white farmers. Remember also that these words are being spoken in
a democracy, where, by definition, divergence of opinion is not only
tolerated but also encouraged!

Remember all this and realise that Zimbabwe, where there will be more food
shortages again in 2006/7, is doomed and there is nothing our government can
do to change these things.

* Denford Magora is a Harare-based marketing executive.

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Another life outside State House

Zim Independent

Joram Nyathi
AN event of historic importance took place in Maputo, Mozambique, last week.
It was the meeting of former African leaders to found an Africa Forum whose
objectives are, according to a declaration issued after the meeting, "to
continue, in our private capacities, to share our individual and collective
experiences, knowledge and commitment to the promotion of justice, peace,
security, stability and development in Africa", reports The Southern Times.

Although the event brought together a galaxy of Africa's sons, there was
scant media coverage in Zimbabwe. One possible explanation is obviously that
we don't have a former president although we have one of the longest-serving
leaders on the continent.

Age-wise, President Robert Mugabe would have fitted neatly into the league
of Nelson Mandela, Kenneth Kaunda, Jerry Rawlings and Sir Ketumile Masire.
Instead, he has opted to join the club of infamy led until recently by
Gnassibe Eyadema, who died in July after 38 years as ruler of Togo, and
Gabon's Omar Bongo whose reign is only eight months shorter.

Mugabe has no peers in Sadc. All who came in before or just after him have

It is perhaps instructive that the former presidents and prime ministers
chose to launch the Forum on our doorsteps in Mozambique.

In their declaration, they said they were "encouraged" by an emerging
culture of peace on the continent and a "determination among African leaders
to relinquish power upon expiry of their terms of office".

Zimbabwe's constitution does not prescribe term limits for presidents. Thus
Mugabe is in his 26th year in power and apparently not yet ready to be
called a "former".

The 16 retired leaders meeting in Maputo were perhaps hoping that the echo
of their declaration would be heard across the border. It is an inference I
have made from past visits by Sadc presidents who are about to leave office.

President Joachim Chissano of Mozambique came to bid Mugabe farewell before
he left office. Sam Nujoma of Namibia did the same after his efforts to
amend the constitution to extend his leadership one more time were thwarted.
The last (or is it latest?) was Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania.

My charitable interpretation was that these leaders were subtly trying to
convey a message, that there is life outside the presidency, that while they
are younger in age and experience, they might just set an example for our
nearly 82-year-old president.

But apparently the visits are not seen in the same light at Munhumutapa
Building. Anybody harbouring any such romantic notions would probably be
told politely not to "misdirect their efforts".

Tanzania's young new president Jakaya Kikwete must have been surprised to
hear Mugabe promising to work closely with him when he should have been
talking of joining Mkapa in retirement to write his memoirs.

The biggest disappointment for me about the Africa Forum declaration was its
squeamishness and failure to make a bold statement about leaders who won't
leave office even when it is clear that they have ruined their countries.
Nobody believes Mugabe's claim that "no one could have managed the economy
better than I have done".

Unemployment is conservatively put at 75% while the economy has shrunk to
1953 levels. The January year-on-year inflation rate is forecast to go
beyond 600% from 585,8% in December. Service delivery in urban centres has
all but collapsed while fuel shortages have become endemic. Food is scarce
and when available is out of the reach of the poor. This is a dubious feat
for any leader and is certainly hard to match.

Even as the former leaders said they planned to contribute to the ideals of
Nepad and Thabo Mbeki's African Renaissance, there was no bold pronouncement
to show that the Forum heralds a departure from past practices of brotherly
solidarity among dictators.

Explained interim Forum chairman Chissano the scope of their operations:
"Our activity has no limits - apart from our principles of not causing
offence to the current leaderships."

What a huge letdown to what should have been a noble effort to help sitting
leaders evacuate office with their dignity still intact!

Mugabe was conspicuous by the lack of bold resolutions at the meeting. For
the truth is, whether one likes him or not, for all his many faults, fear of
"causing offence" is not one of them. That is why he refused to compromise
with his African colleagues at the Sirte meeting in Libya on the issue of
seats in the Security Council. That is why no African leader dares cross his
path, even with a mild rebuke for human rights violations.

The Africa Forum should be more forthright about what the continent needs
than fellow sitting presidents who may be wary of throwing stones from glass

Still, I hope Mugabe will accept the "invitation" to the club of former
African leaders so the continent can benefit from his experience of a
quarter of a century at the helm - wanted or not.

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Government greed fuels inflation

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

ZIMBABWE 'S galloping inflation rate is likely to break the 622% record set
in January 2004 as the economic meltdown continues unabated.

Analysts say indications are that the year-on-year inflation rate, which
reached 585,8% in December, will end the first quarter well above 622% with
major drivers being government profligacy and central bank's money-printing

The analysts said the January figures, which are due mid next month, will
surpass the 622% record, throwing into disarray the Reserve Bank's target of
80% by year-end. They say Zimbabweans should brace themselves for another
gruelling year as things will get worse before they get better - if they get
better at all.

Last week the Central Statistical Office (CSO) reported that although
month-on-month inflation for December shed 8,7 percentage points to 18,3
percentage points on the November figure of 27 percentage points,
year-on-year inflation had increased 83,4 percentage points.

"This means that prices as measured by the all-items CPI increased by an
average of 585,8% between December 2004 and December 2005," the CSO said.
Apart from money printing and government's spendthrift ways, the recent
plunge in the local currency will contribute significantly to the inflation,
analysts say.

The dollar has been sliding drastically over the past three months owing to
a serious foreign currency crisis and lack of exports. The RBZ, whose main
responsibility is to maintain the stability of the local currency, has not
helped the situation with its policies. It is buying US dollars for $90
000:US$1 on the open market and feeding them to government for a paltry $26

The government debt, caused mainly by populist policies like funding
parastatals and local councils, has fuelled inflation. CFX Financial
Services economist Blessing Sakupwanya said inflation could end the first
quarter around 700%.

"At this rate of government borrowing, there is no way inflation can come
down anytime soon," Sakupwanya said. "Things will certainly get worse."

The domestic debt has ballooned to $15 trillion, about 11,7% of the national
budget of $128 trillion presented in November. Sakupwanya said apart from
the foreign currency crunch and money supply, other factors that will push
inflation are recent increases in school fees, food prices, accommodation
and general services.

Medical costs which were increased by an average 100% and council tariffs
are likely to stoke the inflation spiral, further eroding incomes.

A recent report by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe said a family of six now
needs a whopping $17 million to survive for a month and the figure is likely
to increase drastically.

For its part the government seems not to have an answer to the inflation
crisis. Apart from blame shifting, there has been no meaningful fiscal
effort to rein in inflation.

There are indications that the central bank is losing the battle against
inflation because of its failure to keep government's spending in check.

Latest RBZ figures show that money supply growth increased to 411% in
November from 385,8% in October. Sakupwanya said until money supply growth
is curbed, inflation will continue to gallop.

Under normal circumstances, money supply growth is supposed to be in line
with the country's economic growth. "It's skewed and dangerous that our
economic growth is -3% and our money supply growth is 411%. That is why
inflation is this high," Sakupwanya said.

The explanation for the inflation from the RBZ has varied according to the
situation and time. Judging by RBZ governor Gideon Gono's statements last
year, the blame now lies squarely with government.

Soon after his appointment in December 2003, Gono lashed out at bankers
accusing them of speculating and fuelling inflation. A crackdown soon
afterwards saw the closure of banks and the arrest of their chief
executives. And for some time Gono seemed to be on top of the situation,
cutting the inflation rate from 622% in January 2004 to about 123% in
January last year.

That trend was however broken in the lead-up to the March election and
inflation has been galloping ever since. Questions are being asked whether
the monetary authorities correctly identified the problem when they cracked
down on bankers. Since their arrest inflation has increased drastically.

Gono now blames drought for the inflation. However, analysts say government,
with the RBZ acting as its major conduit for domestic borrowing, has become
the biggest contributor to inflation.

Economist John Robertson said while inflation might be a result of many
factors, the main cause in Zimbabwe is government's extravagance, coupled
with the RBZ's quasi-fiscal role. Government has continued to borrow
lavishly to finance recurrent expenditure instead of production.

"The result is that you push inflation up because you are borrowing to spend
instead of producing," said Robertson, adding that: "It becomes a cycle of
borrowing to service loans."

He said contraction of production in all sectors of industry was also
contributors to inflation. Borrowed money drives inflation unless it is put
to good use by increasing production.

Perhaps the most apparent indicator that the government is surviving on
borrowed money is the widening budget deficit. In his budget statement
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa said the deficit was going to be
about -4,6%.

Last year the International Monetary Fund projected the budget deficit at
around 14% of GDP. Robertson said the budget deficit was
caused by government which has developed a habit of spending money it does
not have.

He said reckless policies like the land reform which sabotaged agricultural
production and the controversial senatorial election were adding to the

"We cannot reduce inflation if industry is collapsing and agricultural
production is at its lowest," Robertson said. The RBZ itself had also
contributed immensely to the inflation pressure by doling out trillions to
non-performing and corruption-ridden parastatals.

Last year alone the central bank splashed about $22 trillion on parastatals
and local authorities in an effort to improve their services. But that money
has not translated into improved service delivery and efficiency.

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TNF protocol probably a damp squib

Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

FOR at least five years Zimbabwean economists, many of the captains of
commerce and industry, and many others, have yearned for Zimbabwe to engage
in a social contract. Essentially, that is an agreement between government,
the business sector and labour to effect a freeze on all prices, charges,
salaries and wages, and taxes, for a period of time.

Doing so does not, in itself, bring about economic well-being, but it
creates an enabling environment which facilitates constructive economic
transformation. It does so by bringing about a virtual halt to inflation, as
such a contract generally only provides for prices to be increased to the
extent that external forces, such as price increases in supplier countries
dictate, and salaries and wages are only subject to increase commensurately
with the impact of any such unavoidable price increases.

Whilst that enabling environment is in place, requisite measures are
implemented to strengthen the economic base sufficiently that, after an
appropriate effluxion of time, the social contract can terminate, and the
economy driven successfully by market forces.

In contradistinction, when an effective social contract is not in place,
continuing hyperinflation is almost inevitable, and that is a primary
catalyst for a myriad of other economic ills, including non-competitiveness
in export markets, minimal investment generation, intensifying corruption,
declining productivity, and much else.

The success of social contracts as platforms for economic metamorphosis has
been demonstrated internationally on very many occasions, including in
Germany in 1922, when inflation soared to over 8 000%, in Israel in 1977, in
Bolivia in 1981, in Mauritius in 1984, and in many other instances.

It was in recognition of the high desirability for a social contract that
the Zimbabwean government, strongly supported by the National Economic
Consultative Forum (NECF), sought to bring into being, a few years ago, the
Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF), composed of representatives of the
state, of the business sector (including industry, commerce, agriculture,
mining, employers' associations, and others, and of labour).

Intermittently, the TNF had meetings, but one after another failed to
achieve consensus on a social contract, and increasingly the populace
developed a perspective that the TNF was naught but an unproductive

Then, at the beginning of the last week, the TNF announced that it had
developed a prices, and incomes stabilisation protocol which it envisages
will imminently be signed by all the member groups within the TNF. Allegedly
all are agreeable to an array of individual and combined actions, primarily
directed at the eradication of poverty, reduction in inflation, and stemming
economic stagnation.

To all intents and purposes, the protocol is a social contract, albeit yet
to be signed. The TNF indicates that the protocol will provide for a
sub-committee to monitor prices of essential goods and services, and the
committee will negotiate with producers for price levels that have regard
for affordability and for business viability. Such negotiated prices will
then be pegged and only subject to increase in instances of justifiable and
legitimate cost increases which would undermine producer viability.

The protocol will further provide for collective bargaining to be "at the
core" of wage negotiations in both public and private sectors, led by
national employment councils, whilst the TNF will recommend wage levels for
domestic and unclassified workers, and wheresoever agreement within national
employment councils cannot be reached. Moreover, upon the conclusion of
current wage negotiations, there are to be no increases until April, other
than by agreement or responsive to job evaluations and productivity.

In terms of the protocol, government undertakes to reduce its deficit to
less than 5% of gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of 2006, and to
reduce the annual rate of inflation to 80% by year-end.

It also undertakes to make tax collection more efficient, broaden the tax
base, and to use the tax incentives to enhance disposable incomes. In
addition, it promises to expedite civil service reform, establish the
National Incomes and Pricing Commission and enhance the Competition and
Tariffs Commission.

The business sector undertakes to develop an acceptable price management
charter, ensure compliance with tax and foreign legislations, supply goods
and services at affordable prices, promote fair business and pricing
policies, competitiveness and exports, sustain agrarian reform, and adopt
retrenchment "as a last resort".

The labour movement's undertakings in the protocol will include the
promotion of industrial peace and harmony, and productivity enhancement, to
support agrarian reform, promote and support worker empowerment, and to
promote and advocate wages aligned to the poverty datum line (PDL), and
equitable wage distribution.

Upon the announcement by TNF of the about-to-be concluded protocol, a
spontaneous reaction for many was relief that the negotiating parties were
finally in accord, instead of recurrently being at "loggerheads" with each
other, and at the same time a momentary surge of hope that at last there
would be a positive, unified endeavour to address Zimbabwe's cataclysmic
economic circumstances.

However, upon analysis, it appears that the protocol is awash with
tautology, but very little substance. Moreover, if it is to endure only
until the end of March, being less than a further 10 weeks away, there can
be no realistic expectation of any constructive movement towards recovery.

As it took the TNF nearly four years to reach an agreement on the protocol,
how long will it take for agreement to be reached for a renewal of the
protocol, with or without modification - another four years, perhaps?

One must inevitably also ponder whether the parties are entering into the
protocol in good faith? On the same day as the intended protocol was
announced, it was also announced that the electricity industry regulator,
the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Authority (Zerc) had agreed, in
principle, to approve a request of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
(Zesa) for a 237% tariff increase, subject to the concurrence of the
Ministry of Energy and Power Development.

Zerc is an arm of government, so at the same time as government is becoming
a party to an agreement for a moratorium on increases in prices and incomes,
it intends to effect a great increase in electricity charges, impacting
primarily upon the major consumers who are to be bound by the price freeze.

Similarly, the trade unions continue to demand that wages be increased to
levels in excess of the PDL, irrespective of the ability of employers to pay
such wages, and in total disregard for the fact that in most instances of
families whose incomes approximate the PDL, or are less than the PDL, there
are at least two income earners, albeit not to an equal extent.

The trade unions would, therefore, have greater credibility if, upon
concurring to the protocol, their wage demands would be for wages of, say,
70% of PDL, recognising that the other 30%, or more would be generated by
the second income-earners in the workers' families.

Regrettably, one can also not give credence to an undertaking of the
business sector to achieve compliance with tax and foreign exchange

If the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), with all the authority and powers
vested in it, cannot achieve tax compliance, how will the leaders of the
business sector achieve it?

Tax evasion exists throughout the world and, whilst it cannot be condoned,
the representative bodies of the business community cannot do what is beyond
the world's taxation authorities. The same is true of eliminating the
foreign currency "parallel" and "black" markets. They will endure for so
long as Zimbabwe has an insufficiency of foreign exchange.

It is also intriguing that a "three-month" protocol has various target dates
which are almost a year hence! Zimbabwe desperately needs a social contract,
but at this stage one must doubt whether the TNF has come up with an
effective one. More likely, and very unfortunately, it will prove to be a
damp squib.

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Charamba should put up or shut up

Zim Independent


DID anyone read the Herald editorial headed: "Minister Chombo doing sterling

The paper claimed the minister had "wielded the axe and read the riot act to
the management of municipalities that have failed to deliver efficient
services". He was also advised to ignore "blinkered" detractors who accused
him of carrying out a "purge" of MDC councillors. Meanwhile, Harare, Mutare
and Chitungwiza municipalities were singled out as the "worst managed local
authorities in the country".

In classic contradiction, the editor doesn't say why Chombo has not axed the
commission he appointed to run Harare since the dismissal of Elias Mudzuri
in May 2003. Instead the commission has had its term extended while Chombo
has unilaterally declared there won't be council elections in Harare until

What improvements has Sekesai Makwavarara and her team brought to Harare
ratepayers? There is reason to get suspicious when editors sacrifice ethics
and go out of their way to flatter a minister who, for all practical
purposes, deserves nothing short of the sack himself. His latest "sterling
job" was presumably to bring cholera closer to the Harare Sheraton to give
tourists a taste of Zimbabwean hospitality!

The Sunday Mail comment on the commission's performance was closer to the
truth. "They are doing no better than the councillors and mayors who have
been dismissed in Chitungwiza and elsewhere," said the Mail in its editorial
on Sunday.

Another group that needs to get a life is the delegation of
African-Americans currently visiting Zimbabwe. After paying "homage" to
resident minister David Karimanzira, this gang of tunnel-vision tourists
declared Zimbabwe to be a model for all of Africa to emulate.

The leader of the gang, Clinton Crawford, said the visit was "an eye-opener"
because they were misinformed about the situation on the ground.

We wonder how open his eyes were when he couldn't see the raw sewage flowing
in Chitungwiza or people displaced by Murambatsvina sleeping out in the rain
and living in plastic shacks.

Another member of the group, Eudora Cox, claimed to have moved around the
country for four days and "I have not seen any fighting". So she came here
expecting to see people carrying guns in the city centre as they do in
Liberia? Which media was she reading, that is if she can read at all?

Due to circumstances beyond our control we are unable to bring the column
'The Other Side' by Nathaniel Manheru," the editor of the Herald announced
last Saturday.

This struck us as rather strange. If he meant Manheru was on leave, why didn't
he say so? "Circumstances beyond our control" suggests a technical
breakdown. The last time this occurred Manheru was spotted hosting a Press
Freedom Day function at the Sheraton the night before. Perhaps "indisposed"
would have been a better excuse on that occasion!

So what was Manheru up to last Saturday which prevented the Herald from
"bringing" his customary vitriolic contribution to readers?

We don't know for sure. But the following day the Sunday Mail published a
lengthy attack on human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa by presidential
spokesman George Charamba occupying the space where the vacuous Lowani
Ndlovu used to squat. He appeared bitterly resentful that Mtetwa had won a
number of international awards for her defence of individuals finding
themselves on the receiving end of state depredations.

Charamba appeared to think that one of those organisations, the New
York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, was called the "Canadian
Committee to Protect Journalists", thus revealing, for one attributing "loud
and assertive ignorance" to others, an inexcusably faulty grasp of his
subject matter. Proceeding from this customary carelessness, Charamba argued
that Mtetwa's success in court did not necessarily imply that Aippa was a
bad law.

"She is probably grateful that the state did not follow through," he
claimed, going on to threaten that Mtetwa would soon discover that "the
state can and often does pursue cases doggedly right to exhaustion"

If the truth be known, Mtetwa and other lawyers dealing with Aippa cases
would probably welcome the state pursuing cases "to exhaustion" so the
gaping flaws in that poorly framed legislation can be further exposed to
public ridicule.

With the exception of a minor prosecution in the Midlands, the state has
lost every single case it has brought under Aippa. The Act - portrayed by
Charamba as "a legitimate law" just because Zanu PF passed it - has been a
public relations disaster for the regime which may explain Charamba's

Claims that the government was about to repeal Aippa were "fatuous, unclear
dreams", he sternly declared.

Indeed, repeal may be wishful thinking. But a drastic pruning is not
entirely inconceivable, as government law officers assured the African
Commission for Human and Peoples' Rights in Banjul last month. We certainly
hope those assurances of a complete overhaul in the legislation from the
Attorney-General's Office were not designed to mislead the African Union so
that Zimbabwean officials at home can continue harassing journalists.

Charamba proceeds from the controversial to the ridiculous. He chose to
quarrel with Mtetwa over the definition of licensing, claiming "journalists
can never be licensed under Aippa and she should know that. Aippa lays firm
ground for refusing to accredit a journalist and nowhere is government's
political predilection a basis for denying accreditation".

What is accreditation if not a system of licensing journalists? And of
course it is abused for political purposes. Journalists have been refused
accreditation on the grounds that they have been convicted in court of
newspaper-related offences when those convictions have been overturned on

The MIC comprises, among others, former state newspaper editors who are
appointed by the Minister of Information. Its chairman writes unashamedly
partisan - if incoherent - columns in the government press which regularly
attack the private media over which he presides.

Charamba refers to Ijaz as set up "at the behest of hostile foreign
interests". But he doesn't mention his own ties to these same "hostile"
foreign interests.

"Many other dirty things happened, things which are unprintable and touching
the very pith of ethical conduct in the legal profession," Charamba claims
in relation to imaginary Western-sponsored organisations

He should be told to pith off. There is nothing worse than a coy government
spokesman. Either that or he should have the courage of his convictions and
tell us what he is talking about. That includes describing Trevor Ncube as a
publisher "in partnership with we-know-who".

Charamba is always suggesting he knows more than he does. He should put up
or shut up. Anyway, since when has Charamba recoiled from the unprintable!
The Foreign Correspondents Association may want to know, by the way, that
Sloppy George has renamed them the Foreign Correspondences Association. Let's
hope he never gets a job at a newspaper!

Aippa has many parallels in many jurisdictions, chiefly those of the West,
he claims. This lie was successfully exploded when the Swedish government
took a party of journalists to Stockholm to see how their media laws work.
State scribes were prevented from going at the last minute in case they
learnt the truth about foolish claims that Aippa was similar to legislation
elsewhere. It has no parallels in democratic societies. And now the African
Commission has ruled that it is not simply a bad law but an unacceptable law
in terms of African governance.

The commission will be hearing related cases soon on the grounds that the
applicants cannot secure justice in their own courts. This tends to bear out
Mtetwa's claim that the Zimbabwean judiciary has been "severely compromised",
a point which Charamba appears to think they will "respond" to.

It is one of Charamba's duties to defend the indefensible. But personal
attacks of this nature upon one of the country's most respected lawyers,
simply because she has embarrassed the regime by standing up to its threats,
is cowardly and distasteful. However, we have no doubt that Mtetwa, who has
been the subject of several state assaults and demonstrated more courage
than all the president's "men" put together, is capable of standing up for

Perhaps this Sunday Charamba, instead of bashing women lawyers, will explain
his role in the Tsholotsho Declaration which he appears understandably keen
to avoid!

Muckraker was intrigued with remarks by Justice Maphios Cheda at the opening
of the legal year in Bulawayo last week. He criticised legal firms that had
ignored human rights during the liberation war but were now "in the
forefront in singing very loudly about human rights violations".

It is difficult to establish the logic here.

Does this mean that a law firm or legal practitioner would have to
demonstrate a record of human rights work in the 1960s and 70s before being
entitled to take such cases now? Supposing the firm has taken on new
partners or changed hands, as so many have, or been set up since 1980? How
do we assess its suitability?

And what about those lawyers who were youngsters or not yet born in the
1970s? Are they unable to work now on human rights cases because they don't
have a war record?

And what about other newcomers to the legal scene that support the present
regime despite its record of human rights violations? Where do we place them
and how will they be regarded 25 years hence?

Justice Cheda singled out Chief Justice Chidyausiku, among others, for his
role in fighting for human rights during the liberation war.

We would be keen to have the details. We recall that he was a member of the
Rhodesian parliament occupying one of 15 seats set aside for blacks. We also
recall an incident involving his appearance before the House in a colourful
outfit, described by the media at the time as a "zoot-suit". If there is
more we would like to hear it.

We note that in addition to Chidyausiku, Justice Cheda praised the role of
"unsung heroes" such as former Chief Justice Fieldsend, former Justices
Fergus Blackie, Kennedy Sibanda and Washington Sansole, and Bulawayo-based
legal practitioners Ben Baron, Lot Senda, Charles Lazarus, E Greenfield, and
Brice Longhurst.

To that list we would add late Chief Justice Enoch Dumbutshena who provided
this nation with a fine example of judicial integrity, unafraid of state
blandishments; and Anthony Eastwood who defended many prominent nationalists
in the Salisbury courts.

A footnote: When Chief Justice Fieldsend was told his contract was up in the
early 1980s (in fact he didn't have one), prime minister Robert Mugabe told
ZTV: "We want a black for that job."

He got his wish. A West Indian judge on the Zimbabwean bench, Justice
Telford Georges, was duly appointed. But a few months later he disclosed he
had been offered a more attractive post as Chief Justice of a Caribbean
state. As a result Justice Dumbutshena was elevated to the job and he became
the country's first black Zimbabwean

Chief Justice, as distinct from first black Chief Justice as some newspapers
reported at the time of his death.

The government's war against Tony Blair assumed new dimensions recently when
the name of the Blair Research Laboratory was changed to the National
Institute of Research, Health and Child Welfare. The lab was named after one
of the country's leading scientists who through no choice of his own shared
his name with the British PM. What next? Perhaps they will rename Blair
toilets "Tambaogas" or "Lasts" as in "Relief at Last".

Muckraker was highly entertained by the Herald's chess column recently. Its
author, "The Sacker", reported "a brilliant week of play" at the Harare
Prison Complex. The "Best Inmate" prize went to Nextman Fuzane who scored
seven points. He played "very aggressive chess", we are told, "and gave many
top players a real scare".

The "Best Prison Officer" prize went to Officer Better Smiling.

"William Goshe took the Stupid Award," the Herald reports, "for stealing
chess pieces in front of prison officers".

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Tsvangirai a merchant of confusion

Zim Independent

      ON October 13, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai issued a statement to
justify his decision to boycott the senatorial election that was due in
November. The announcement by Tsvangirai triggered serious ructions in the
MDC, creating fractures that have virtually crippled opposition politics in

      The crux of the matter has been the correctness of participating in
the poll. Tsvangirai in the statement set out what at the time appeared like
a bold defence of his opposition to participation in an election whose
results he said were predetermined by a system honed to subvert the popular

      He proffered this argument: "The electoral management system in
Zimbabwe is still a recipe for political disasters. The system breeds
illegitimate outcomes and provides for a predetermined result."

      The statement elicited sympathy from many Zimbabweans who have since
2000 seen a systematic erosion of the democratic process by Zanu PF.
Allegations of violence, intimidation, ballot-stuffing, gerrymandering and
appointment of suborned electoral officers have fortified the resolve of
those who believe in boycott as a means of political expression.

      The courts have also moved at a glacial pace in dealing with electoral
cases that were filed by the opposition to contest Zanu PF victories in the
2000 general election. Tsvangirai is still seeking relief in the courts for
what he believes was a stolen presidential election in 2002.

      We have previously questioned the wisdom of the boycott tactic. Not
only that, we have also doubted whether Tsvangirai's resolve will hold.

      Our worst fears of a vacillating leader were confirmed last week when
his faction participated in local government elections, fielding candidates
parallel to the Gibson Sibanda camp.

      The two MDC factions fielded candidates in Chitungwiza ward 20 and in
St Mary's where they lost to Zanu PF in a poorly-contested poll.

      Tsvangirai's camp also lost in Kariba ward 6 but won in Zvishavane
ward 9.

      But what did the poll serve to portray about the opposition other than
public disgust at its fractiousness and the loss of confidence in the
electoral process by urban dwellers?

      It only gets worse when so-called leaders confuse the electorate.
Those who heeded the call not to participate in the senate polls were last
weekend being asked to vote in ward polls. We did not hear the explanation
for this volte-face by Tsvangirai.

      Politicians taking strong positions on issues expose themselves to
criticism if they are not consistent. Tsvangirai, by allowing members of his
faction to participate in the council polls, simply drove a coach and horses
through his rallying point against the senatorial election - that is that
the results are predetermined. The council polls are still run by the same
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission whose competence and impartiality the MDC has

      Participating in the polls and losing to Zanu PF gives the ruling
party an opportunity to brag about its democratic credentials and its
legitimacy. Most importantly, how would winning council polls further the
fight for democracy and change? In short, nothing has changed since October
for Tsvangirai to participate in the poll.

      What made Tsvangirai's decision more puzzling is the fact that the
elections came on the back of a sustained onslaught by Local Government
minister Ignatious Chombo against local authorities by suspending elected
opposition mayors and councillors and appointing Zanu PF commissioners to
run councils. Elected councillors in urban areas stay in office at the will
of Chombo. They can be dismissed any time. In all this, the opposition has
been deafeningly silent.

      If Tsvangirai is a disciple of the politics of boycott, this was an
opportunity for him to send a message to Chombo that he abhors his intrusion
in local governance.

      The lack of consistency exposes the leadership weaknesses of
Tsvangirai which must be mended if he is to retain his 2002 standing as a
national leader. Time is running out for him to do that and his flip-flop is
a slap in the face for the millions that voted for the opposition in 2000
and for him in 2002.

      We want to hear from Tsvangirai if his boycott stance has exceptions
as was demonstrated last week with local government polls. If the plan was
to prove to his rivals that he still commands massive support, the
experiment was a self-evident disaster and hugely damaging. Zanu PF likes
nothing better than to claim electoral support where it obviously has none.

      What would Tsvangirai do, if for some strange reason President Mugabe
were to call for an early presidential poll? Does he know? What will he do
in 2008 or 2010?

      Meanwhile, the MDC leader's entirely justified criticism of Zanu PF's
manipulation of the Sadc protocol on elections has been lost in the
confusion he has sown in the process of self-destruction.

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