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Zim Standard

Zanu PF probes Moyo
By Foster Dongozi

PROFESSOR Jonathan Moyo could be living on borrowed time. Zanu PF, well
known for dealing ruthlessly with dissenting voices within its ranks, has
started investigating the embattled propaganda chief, on corruption charges,
The Standard can reveal.

Moyo is being investigated for prejudicing the State of more than $68
million, as well as using the State-owned Agricultural Rural Development
Authority (ARDA) to provide free labour at a farm in Umguza owned by his
mother, Ms Irene Ndlovu.
A senior Zanu PF official yesterday confirmed to The Standard that
investigations of Moyo on corruption charges had started.

Although the composition of the team investigating Moyo was not disclosed,
documents in our possession however, show that the Matabeleland North
Provincial Land Task Force had already visited the 101.60-hectare Umguzaan
Block Farm in Umguza District, which is owned by Irene Ndlovu to check on
the status and farming activities being undertaken.

According to a report compiled by the taskforce: "Investigations carried out
revealed that the beneficiary of Sub-Division Seven is Miss Irene Ndlovu,
who is the mother of the Minister of State for Information and Publicity in
the Office of the President and Cabinet, Professor Jonathan Moyo."

Moyo's curriculum vitae which he submitted to the Zanu PF Elections
Directorate for him to be considered to represent Tsholotsho constituency
also confirms that his mother has a farm in Umguza.

"My mother is a peasant A1 farmer in Umguza District where she was resettled
in 2003."

The farm is actually a large-scale A2 model property.

Part of the Matabeleland North Provincial Land Task Force report says:
"Since the farmer was allocated the land in 2003, ARDA has provided not only
free labour but also paid for electricity and water bills as well as
servicing and repairing farming equipment."

Among the equipment that Miss Ndlovu has received from Arda, according to
the report, are electric motors, steel pipes, tiles and shovels while
services provided for free by the public entity included land preparation,
discing, ploughing and harvesting, using Arda fuel.

In addition, the Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) group chief executive officer,
Chipo Mtasa, has revealed that the hotel group and the government were
prejudiced of more than $68 million after a company represented by Moyo's
wife, let out Sikumi Tree Lodge to the hotel chain in contravention of the
Land Settlement Act whose section 13 prohibits the sub-letting or formation
of partnerships on State land.

The lodge is located on Sub-division Lot Two Dete Farm.

Moyo is believed to have passed on the farm to his sister, a Mrs Jacqueline

According to the lease agreement signed on 1 August 2002 between the then
RTG CEO, Herbert Nkala and a BA Moyo, representing Eternity Trading, the
owners of Lot Dete Farm, the lease arrangement was supposed to run until
July 31 in 2012.

A search at the Deeds Office in Harare established that under Eternity
Trading's Memorandum and Articles of Association, the company's directors
are listed as Beatrice Ambiyo Moyo, 14262, Garvin Close, Gunhill, Harare,
whose nationality is listed as Kenyan.Beatrice Ambiyo Moyo is Professor
Jonathan Moyo's spouse.

Jacqueline Mayers, Professor Moyo's sister of 15 Ullswater Drive,
Morningside, Bulawayo, is also listed as a director.

Other directors are Innocent Sigudu and Admire Chiwocha.

The lease agreement states that: "The rental is payable monthly in arrears,
30 days after the end of the month during which the money is paid by the
lessee, to the lessor at Messrs Muzangaza, Mandaza and Tomana Legal

"The rental for the period shall be calculated at 10 percent of the total
income received by the lessee from its operation of the camp in respect of
safaris, accommodation, food beverage, transport and general sales of
curios, after sales tax and agents' commission have been deducted."

The RTG CEO, Mtasa wrote that: "The legal practitioners of Eternity Trading,
Muzangaza, Mandaza and Tomana have now served Rainbow Tourism Group a
three-month notice of termination of lease, effective April 1, 2005."

In Mashonaland Central province, Moyo is also singing the blues after the
land task force was reported to have embarked on a process to repossess his
Patterson Farm in Mazowe, while war veterans were reported to have briefly
occupied the property but later went away.

Efforts to get comment from Arda chief executive officer, Dr Joseph
Matowanyika, and Moyo were fruitless yesterday, while Zanu PF spokesperson,
Dr Nathan Shamuyarira, was not immediately available for comment.

Dr Joseph Made, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement,
under whose ministry ARDA falls, yesterday professed ignorance about the use
of ARDA equipment at the farm owned by Moyo's mother.

"If he is under investigation, as you say, approach the relevant
authorities. They will be able to comment on that. I don't want to
speculate," Made said.
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Zim Standard

Voter apathy wake-up call for Zanu PF
By Rutendo Mawere and Savious Kwinika

THE record poor turnout that characterised the recent Zanu PF primary
elections countrywide could be a barometer of what the ruling party can
expect in the March parliamentary elections, The Standard has been told.

The elections, which were riddled with allegations of vote buying,
intimidation and inter-party violence, witnessed what could be the lowest
turnout in an election of such magnitude since independence.
However voting during general elections tends to draw more people to the
polling stations than during party primaries, which in the case of Zanu PF,
appear to reflect the jockeying among aspiring party candidates. National
elections have more resources allocated to them and supporters tend to close
ranks in support of whoever is representing their party.

It is partly for this reason that the number of people who voted in the Zanu
PF primaries are far less than those that cast their ballots for the ruling
party during the 2000 parliamentary elections, in which President Robert
Mugabe's party nearly lost to opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), headed by Morgan Tsvangirai.

Analysts believe the dismal voter turnout mirrored the actual political
support Zanu PF commands in the country.

A comparative analysis of voting patterns in the 2000 parliamentary poll and
the recent Zanu PF primary elections indicates a dwindling support base for
the ruling party even in its stronghold, the rural areas.

Guruve North constituency in Mashonaland Central province recorded lowest
voter turnout with 5 144 people voting compared to 20 513 who voted for the
ruling party in 2000. In Rushinga, one of the remotest areas in the country,
2 282 people voted in 2005 against 20 027, who voted in 2000.

Only 3 130 voters voted in Mazowe West compared to 14 024 during the last
parliamentary elections.

In urban areas, the stronghold of the MDC, the number of people who voted
was pathetically low. In Harare's Dzivarasekwa constituency 2 666 Zanu PF
supporters voted, compared to the 6 084 in 2000, while Kambuzuma recorded
only 1079 compared to 2 572 in the last parliamentary elections.

Zanu PF supporters in Matabeleland region will probably be more aggrieved
because they were denied the right to choose candidates of their choice and
this could partly account for the voter apathy during the primaries in
addition to the general unpopularity of the ruling party in that part of the

In 2000, Zanu PF recorded 2 864 votes against a mere figure of 311 in
Bulawayo East constituency, while in Makokoba 393 voted this year against 2
196 in 2000 general elections.

In 2000, 5 236 people voted in Mpopoma/Pelandaba against 777 this year.

In the recent Zanu PF primary elections, Chipinge South recorded 12 299
compared to 4 086 in 2000 and Kadoma East, which had 14 288 to 11678 in

Nathan Shamuyarira Zanu PF secretary for Information and Publicity,however,
denied the voter apathy in the recent ruling party primary elections would
have a bearing on the March parliamentary polls.

"Voter turnout for primary elections has always been low even in other
countries and this has no implication whatsoever on the coming March
elections," he stressed.
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Zim Standard

Tsvangirai in SA to meet ANC officials
By Kumbirai Mafunda

OPPOSITION MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is in South Africa, where he was
scheduled to meet African National Congress (ANC) officials to brief them on
the Zimbabwean crisis ahead of the March general elections.

Tsvangirai is also expected to meet the South African Communist Party (SACP)
and Congress of South African Trade Union (Cosatu) leaders, powerful bodies
in the country's political landscape.
William Bango, the MDC leader's spokesperson, confirmed the visit yesterday.
"The whole world is getting concerned about Zimbabwe and the ANC has
expressed its exasperation with the developments in the country as far as
free and fair elections are concerned." Bango said.

Tsvangirai, who is accompanied by the party's secretary general Welshman
Ncube, national chairperson Isaac Matongo and treasurer Fletcher Dulini
Ncube, left Harare on Thursday evening.

Sources said Tsvangirai would brief President Thabo Mbeki on the progress,
or lack of it, Harare has made in complying with the SADC principles and
guidelines on free and fair elections.

Mbeki's spokesperson Beki Khumalo could not be reached to confirm the
meeting and reports that the South African President is soon to visit Harare
to meet President Robert Mugabe on the political situation in the country.

On Tuesday, the opposition leader is expected to address the South African
Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA) of which Mbeki's young brother,
Moeletsi, is deputy chairperson.

Last week, ANC reportedly hit out at the ruling Zanu PF party for failing to
level the political playing field.

Tsvangirai's trip to South Africa coincided with that of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) secretary-general Wellington Chibhebhe, who
is also meeting Cosatu leaders.

Yesterday, Chibhebhe met Cosatu general-secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, to
discuss how to move forward should Harare bar a planned Cosatu mission.

Patrick Craven, Cosatu's spokesperson, said the leaders of the two labour
unions conversed with each other over the deteriorating human rights
situation in Zimbabwe, conditions for free and fair elections and reviewed
the labour union's planned visit to Zimbabwe.

The government banned Cosatu from visiting Zimbabwe, accusing it of having a
hidden political agenda.
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Zim Standard

Mkapa, Mugabe in secret talks
By our own staff

PRESIDENT Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, who flew in yesterday morning and
immediately went into about four hours of behind-the-door talks with
President Mugabe, emerged to declare that the two ruling parties, his

Chama Chamapinduzi and Zanu PF, both facing elections this year were
confident of victory.
Speaking during a Press briefing at State House yesterday afternoon, Mkapa
said the two leaders had exchanged views on the situations in their
respective countries.

"This has been a helpful visit and I am satisfied with the way things went.
These short visits are essential as they give us time to have fruitful
discussions," Mkapa explained.

Mkapa said: "You are aware that Zimbabwe is having elections in March and
Tanzania in October and we have talked about this and we felt confident that
we will emerge victorious."

Immediately after the briefing, President Mkapa, accompanied by his host,
and Vice President Joyce Mujuru, headed for Harare International Airport on
his way back to Tanzania.
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Zim Standard

Villagers flee into Mozambique
By our own Staff

CHIPINGE - At least 16 villagers from Chipinge South fled their homes last
week into Mozambique after they were brutally attacked by suspected Zanu PF
supporters and youth militia for supporting the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), The Standard has learnt.

The villagers, mostly from Mariya and Zamchiya areas, are surviving on wild
fruits, mangoes, bananas and the generosity of Mozambicans, who are also
providing them with shelter.
The villagers said the youth militia, who were allegedly travelling in a
truck belonging to the Zanu PF candidate for Chipinge South in the March
parliamentary elections, Enock Porusingazi, raided the homes of suspected
MDC supporters - beating everyone in sight - even children and elderly

The villagers claimed that the youths numbering about 15, were being driven
around in a Mazda B1800 truck by Porusingazi's chief campaign manager, Simon

One of the victims, Olismos Mutseyami of ward 25 in Mariya, who said he
spent eight days in Mozambique told The Standard last week that at least 16
opposition party activists were still in Mozambique because they feared for
their lives.

"Porusingazi is terrorising everyone in Chipinge South and the police are
doing nothing because he has provided them with offices at his complex. The
youth militia is also housed at his complex. He is providing them with
everything," Mutseyami said.

Among the people who fled into Mozambique were Edgar Nyika, Cadman Chapu,
Chimene Chapu, Gultone Maronga, Austin Mlambo, John Maphakame and Hlabathi.

Mutseyami said Zanu PF supporters and youth militia raided his homestead
while he was away. "On learning that I was away, they severely assaulted my
wife. Right now, she is receiving treatment daily at Mutare General Hospital
as an outpatient," Mutseyami said.

His wife, Leslie Mushunje, and three other victims, who include Itayi
Sithole and James Dhliwayo, were rushed to Mutare by other party members
after the assault.

MDC spokesperson for Manicaland, Pishayi Muchauraya confirmed that some
party members had fled into Mozambique.

"We made a report at Mutare Central Police Station because police down there
(Chipinge South) are housed at his (Porusingazi) premises and they will
obviously do nothing about it.

"We have reported several cases of violence against Porusingazi in the past
but it appears he is untouchable," said Muchauraya adding; "I don't foresee
a free and fair election in March because violence is continuing,"
Muchauraya fumed.

Police spokesperson superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said he had not received
the report on political violence in Chipinge South but promised to
investigate the matter.

Porusingazi could not be reached on his mobile phone but a secretary at his
Mutare office, who identified herself as Olivia, denied that the violence
that occurred in Chipinge South last week was instigated by her boss.

Mapfumo (Porusingazi campaign manager) denied involvement in the violence
that occurred in Mariya and Zamchiya saying it could have been just
"overzealous" youths from MDC and Zanu PF that had misunderstandings.

"That's not true my brother, I am against any forms of violence. For your
own information, I have mediated in disputes involving Zanu Ndonga, MDC and
Zanu PF a number of times," Mapfumo said.
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Zim Standard

Motorist in trouble for 'blocking' Mugabe's motorcade
By our own staff

ARMED POLICE escorting Presidents Robert Mugabe and visiting Benjamin Mkapa
of Tanzanian yesterday savagely assaulted a motorist after accusing him of
obstructing the Presidential motorcade along Julius Nyerere Way in Harare.

Mkapa arrived in the capital yesterday morning.

The Standard witnessed the incident in which three armed police details
forced the motorist to park his car, an Isuzu twincab (registration number
785-003N) in front of Time Bank at the corner of Julius Nyerere Street and
Nelson Mandela Avenue.

Two policemen then began to interrogate the unidentified motorist, during
which time they confiscated his driver's licence, while another officer
could be seen radioing for help.

A Mercedes Benz emblazoned with the ZRP logo, which was part of the
motorcade immediately arrived on the scene of the incident.

The driver of the police vehicle began assaulting the motorist shouting,
"Kana wanga uchiti uchauraya President Mugabe, wairasa. Ungatouraya inini
(If you thought you could kill President Mugabe, you are wrong. I would
rather you kill me)"

One of the police details also accused the motorist of being an assassin.

"Tiudze, ndiani akakutuma kuzouraya President, wakapiwa marii? (who sent you
to kill the president, and how much did you get for the job?)"

The visibly frightened motorist could only plead his innocence saying:
"Please, I am innocent, I did not even obstruct your escort."

A crowd of about 100 people witnessed the incident. One woman, who was among
the onlookers said: "This man was not even in the way when the motorcade
passed, and the police are just being brutal for nothing."

According to the amended Road Traffic Regulations (2002), it is an offence
for the public to say or do anything "within the view or hearing of the
State motorcade with the intention of insulting any person travelling with
an escort or any member of the escort."

The police forced the motorist into the escort vehicle (registration number
G-PHS19), before whisking him away in the direction of the Central Police
Station, while one of the police details drove the Isuzu. It was not
immediately clear where he took the vehicle.

Efforts to locate the whereabouts of the motorist were fruitless by the time
of going to press. An Assistant Inspector Robert Chikura, the Controller at
Harare Central Police, professed ignorance of the incident.

"I am not aware of the incident, and that man was definitely not brought
here, but it's a good thing that you have the car's registration number," he

The police unit in-charge of VIP protection, the Police Protection Unit
(PPU) could not be reached. Their phone went unanswered
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Zim Standard

State grant to Mutare Council slashed by 70%
By our own staff

MUTARE - THE government has cut the Public Sector Investment Programme
(PSIP) grant to the Mutare City Council by more than 70 percent throwing
into disarray all developmental projects planned for this year.

Misheck Kagurabadza, the MDC city's executive mayor, said the Ministry of
Local Government Public Works and National Housing had indicated that it
would only avail $8,5 billion of the initially promised $28 billion.
"The local government had said it would make available $28 billion to the
council under the PSIP, but made an about turn and said they were only going
to give us $8,5 billion," Kagurabadza said.

He said the $8,5 billion was inadequate to embark on new capital projects as
well as complete existing ones. The mayor said the council had done its
financial projections and planning based on the initially promised grant.

"This means we will have to find somewhere to trim expenses and ensure
service delivery does not suffer," he said.

Kagurabadza said due to limited financial resources, the engineering
department - the hub of the council - did not have any vehicle to carry out
its duties, a situation that severely compromised the council's operations.

He said the council intended to buy 26 council service trucks, tippers for
road maintenance and graders for the refuse dumpsite and a bulldozer.

Mutare City Council last bought service vehicles in 1994 and most of them
are now off the road due to old age and shortage of spare parts.

"Maintaining some of these vehicles is not cost effective. Their poor state
impacts negatively on the council's timeous response to residents' calls and
requests for service," he said.
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Zim Standard

Shocking poverty haunts ex-farm workers
By our own Staff

THE loss of livelihood of former commercial farm workers due to the
government's controversial and chaotic land reform programme left many
households and orphans vulnerable to poverty and general abuse, a recent
study by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) reveals.

The study by the Farm Orphan Support Trust Of Zimbabwe (Fost) says the
government's land reform programme left orphans and vulnerable children
(OVCs) exposed to extreme poverty and abuse.
The executive director of Fost, Lynn Walker, says 82 percent of households
surveyed by her organisation indicated that they relied on farm wages for
their food security and other needs.

"The loss of income has severely hampered the ability of many households to
support these children and fewer extended families are taking in orphaned
children," Walker says.

Fost estimates that there are more than 150 000 orphaned children in former
commercial farming areas throughout the country.

Walker said the girl child was particularly exposed to general abuse and
transactional sex.

"Where the household is headed by a girl, she will often resort to early
marriage in an attempt to support herself and her siblings. Fost knows of
many households where children have engaged in transactional sex in order to
obtain food and other needs.

"Previously, households such as these would have been supported by the
farmer as well as providing shelter and supporting education. Work would
often be found for older household members and for younger members during
the school holidays to enable them to support themselves. These options are
no longer available."

Presently, there are 25 orphaned children on each farm, according to Fost,
the private voluntary organisation that supports OVCs on commercial farms in
the country.

The organisation says in 1995 there was an average of one child orphaned on
every farm in the country.

A year later, the figure had risen to three a farm. However, in 2001 this
figure rose to an average of 12 and by 2002 it had increased to 17 orphans.

The study also says more than 72 percent of all vulnerable households in
farming areas are headed by women, 10 percent by orphans while 26 percent of
children of school-going age were out of school.

It is estimated that more than 350 000 farmworkers have been displaced since
the onset of the land reform exercise in 2000.

Most new farmers could not accommodate all farm workers on farms they took
over from white commercial farmers because they did not have

Other farm workers, accused of resisting the land reform exercise and siding
with white commercial farmers, were sent packing together with their former
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Zim Standard

CIO 'officials' destroy new farmers' crops
By Valentine Maponga

MORE than 45 newly resettled farmers at Esbank (Chitamba farm) along Mazowe
road recently had their 110 hectares of crops destroyed by two men claiming
to be officials from the President's Office, The Standard has learnt.

The farmers, who had planted maize, groundnuts and beans, have been staying
at Chitamba farm since the height of the government-sponsored land seizures
in 2000.
Speaking to The Standard last week the farmers said the two people, Victor
Hwacha and a Mr Midzi, who claimed to be Central Intelligence (CIO)
operatives, defied an order from the acting Provincial Administrator (PA)
for Harare Province, Bernard Badu Chahuruva, barring them from destroying
the crops.

The farmers claimed that the two officials did not produce any offer

In the letter dated 5 January, 2005, a copy of which is in possession of
this paper, Chahuruva requested that the new farmers be allowed to tend
their crops.

"These settlers have since been farming on the land, and at present have a
variety of crops in the ground. This office requests that the settlers be
allowed to tend for their crops until maturity.

"Please bear in mind that the settlers had acquired inputs through the
government inputs scheme and destroying the crops will not augur well with
government's land reform programme," wrote Chahuruva.

Lands, Reform and Resettlement legal director, Gilbert Washaya, had also
written to Simon Pazvakavambwa, the permanent secretary in the same
ministry, urging him to iron out the matter at the farm.

"Will your office please investigate this matter and verify whether the
claim is true," wrote Washaya, in a letter dated 5 January this year.

Simon Pazvakavambwa, was not available for comment last week.

A Mrs Tsvakwi, the acting secretary, referred all questions to the minister,
who was not immediately available.

Leonard Tsoka, one of the farmers, said the alleged CIO operatives came to
the farm in November last year and ordered everyone to leave.

"What we need is assurances from the government that we are going to get
compensation and that we would be allocated a place where we would go and
continue with our farming activities," Tsoka said.

A representative of the farmers, Peter Shumba, said most of the farmers had
received inputs from the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) through the government
inputs scheme and it would be difficult for them to pay back.

"We are demanding that they pay back all our inputs and compensate
everyone," Shumba said.

He said police at Marlborough Police Station refused to open a docket
against the two. As a result, the farmers last week approached the Police
General Headquarters for assistance.

"We need to make this a police case because without a record we can not have
the right to seek compensation for our destroyed crops," Shumba said.

The farmers said Hwacha and Midzi destroyed the crops with the aid of a
former white commercial farmer, identified as Jardim, on the same day they
received the letter from Chahuruwa.

Contacted yesterday, Mr Jardim of Chitamba farm said: "It's not me. Why
don't you talk to Hwacha. He is the one who did it. We stopped farming and
we are waiting for a decision from the Land Committee."

Efforts to get Chahuruwa were fruitless as he was said to have been replaced
by a new provincial administrator, who was expected to start work this week.

Contacted for a comment last week, Midzi could not confirm whether or not he
was from the president's office but said the farm was being taken over by
the government.

"That is not true because that farm is being taken over by the government
and we did not plant down any crops," Midzi said before switching off his
mobile phone.
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Zim Standard

Tourism slump hits Masvingo
By our own correspondent

MASVINGO - THE number of tourists visiting holiday resorts in Masvingo has
drastically declined due to the current economic and political crisis
affecting the country, a government official has admitted.

The director of Museums and Monuments in Masvingo, James Nemerai, said
tourism industry in the province had been on the decline since 1999 due to
the current economic downturn as well as the political problems facing the
"Tourists no longer come in their numbers since the country started facing
economic and political problems.

"Foreigners no longer consider our country as a safe tourist destination
because the economy has been going down,'' lamented Nemerai.

Statistics made available to The Standard indicate that the number of
foreign tourists visiting Masvingo over the past five years has declined by

About 8 000 foreign tourists visited Masvingo in 1999 but the number went
down to less than 4 000 last year.

Nemerai said tourists from countries such as the UK, Australia, The
Netherlands and New Zealand were no longer interested in visiting the
country fearing for their lives, especially towards major elections, which
are usually accompanied by political violence.

As a result, school children, from across the country, now constituted a
large percentage of visitors to resort places in the province.

In November and December last year, 5 333 schoolchildren visited the Great
Zimbabwe while only 878 foreigners, most of them from South African,
Botswana and Namibia visited the monument.

Hotel and holiday resort operators in Masvingo province also conceded that
business in the tourism industry had taken a knock in the past few years due
to the current volatile political climate and harsh economic environment.

They blamed politicians for lack of political will to resuscitate the ailing
tourism industry in Masvingo province.

''Politicians in Masvingo are not even concerned about the tourism industry.
They just concentrate on fighting for leadership while doing nothing to
promote our the tourism industry. That is why the situation is so bad in the
province,'' said a hotel manager, who preferred anonymity.

He said there was need to market resort places such as the Great Zimbabwe
and the Kyle Recreation Park, which boast a variety of wildlife, to earn the
country the much needed foreign currency.

Another hotel official said the room occupancy rates were always low towards
the time of major elections.

"Actually, at times the occupancy rate would go down to about 30 percent, a
situation which is not encouraging at all," said the official.

It is feared that the number of tourists visiting the country will continue
to decline as the March parliamentary elections draw near.

The 2000 and 2002 parliamentary and presidential elections respectively were
characterized by intimidation, torture and murder, creating an unfavourable
climate for foreign tourists.

Masvingo province has one of the country's leading holiday resort centres in
the form of Great Zimbabwe Ruins, Kyle Recreation Park and Lake Mutirikwi,
the largest man-made lake in the country.
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Zim Standard

GMB meets millers over maize shortage
By our own staff

THE Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has been holding meetings with millers
during the past few weeks in an effort to find a solution to the current
acute shortage of maize meal affecting the country, The Standard

GMB marketing director, Zvidzai Makwenda, said the parastatal had so far
held meetings with millers since the beginning of this month in a bid to
address maize meal shortages.
"We are currently engaging the millers in general meetings that we are
holding and we hope to find a solution. The position is we are giving
millers enough maize but we don't know where the shortages are coming from,"
Makwenda said.

Sources in the milling industry said some companies were contemplating
scaling down operations because of the maize shortages.

In an interview with The Standard most millers said they were processing all
the maize they get from the GMB into maize meal.

A financial director with Agrifoods, said they were not hoarding any maize
because they milled everything they received from the GMB.

"That does not affect us in any way. We have processed everything that we
have received. If there is anyone who suspects that our milling companies
are hoarding, we are open for inspection. We have a very good relationship
with the GMB. Right now we are actually waiting for some deliveries," the
official said.

A director from Simboti Milling company refused to comment.

"I don't want to comment on the matter. I just want to do my business like I
have been doing over the past years. Why did you call me? We were in a
meeting with the GMB recently," she said before switching off her mobile

Most of the country's retail outlets have experienced shortages of
maize-meal during the past three weeks, heightening apprehension among
consumers, who faced chronic shortages of the basic commodity between 2001
and 2002 after the government had lulled the nation into a false sense of
security over the food situation.

A 2001 statutory instrument gave the GMB a virtual monopoly over the
marketing and distribution of strategic grain and requires all millers
intending to purchase grain from the parastatal to be licensed.
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Zim Standard

Violence: Zanu PF's poll trump card
By Caiphas Chimhete

... despite statements by Mugabe and Chihuri against violence TWO months
before the March parliamentary elections, incidents of violence within the
ruling Zanu PF and against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) are on the increase country wide despite calls for peaceful polls by
President Robert Mugabe, The Standard has established.

The irony of it all, say some observers, is that most of the alleged
perpetrators of the politically motivated violence are in fact, senior Zanu
PF officials and legislators, raising questions about the sincerity of
statements by Mugabe and police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri declaring
"zero tolerance" of violence.
Presently, two Zanu PF legislators and a traditional chief, a known ruling
party activist, are facing charges of inciting public violence.

Embattled Makonde MP, Kindness Paradza and Phone Madiro of Hurungwe West
recently appeared before the courts on charges of inciting public violence.

Acting chief Serima of Gutu, George Chivande, a teacher by profession last
week pleaded guilty to inciting Zanu PF youths to commit acts of public
violence in the area.

He appeared before Masvingo magistrate Shortgame Musaiona for contravening a
section of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. The State alleges that
Chivande incited the youths to evict a local businessman, Abel Gandidza,
from his shop because of his "undesirable" political affiliation.

The following day the youths beat up patrons and workers at Gandidza's bar
before deflating the tyres of his vehicle.

A fortnight ago, supporters of two Zanu PF aspiring candidates clashed in
Gokwe Central Constituency, destroying millions of dollars worth of
property. Police arrested supporters of one of the candidates, Lovemore

In August last year, the Minister of Anti-corruption and Anti-monopolies and
Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, was also accused of
instigating violence in Manicaland's Makoni North constituency. Several Zanu
PF activists, who supported Mutasa's political rival James Kaunye, were
injured during the clashes.

The Attorney General's Office said the Zanu PF supremo had a case to answer.
However, six months down the line, the case is still to go before the

Political violence has not been confined to intra-Zanu PF clashes. The
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has been complaining that
its supporters were being harassed by Zanu PF activists and prevented from
attending political rallies.

MDC spokesperson Paul Themba-Nyathi said Mugabe and his cronies were not
truthful when they called for a peaceful election. He said that if Mugabe
was sincere he should have ordered the arrest of all those who committed
political crimes during the 2000 parliamentary and 2002 presidential

"A leopard rarely changes its spots. What you have to know is Zanu PF has
invested so much in violence and intimidation during the past five years
that it has become its survival tactic," said Themba-Nyathi adding, "Mugabe
has been condemning violence in public but instigates it under the cover of

Themba-Nyathi said despite Mugabe's condemnation of violence, Zanu PF
supporters continued to disrupt their rallies, particularly in rural areas.

Just outside Harare in Epworth, Zanu PF youths tried to disrupt an MDC rally
that was being addressed by Tapiwa Mashakada, the opposition MP for Hatfield
last week, leading to running battles.

In Chikomba constituency, the MDC said one of their supporters, Godfrey
Cotton, was last week abducted by a group of 12 Zanu PF supporters at
Chambara Business Centre.

Themba-Nyathi believes violence against the MDC would increase after Zanu
PF's primary elections. "Today, they are fighting each other but after the
primaries they will turn on us in full force."

In July last year, MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai and other top party
officials survived an attack by a group of 200 Zanu PF militia in Mvurwi
after addressing the party's Mashonaland Central provincial assembly

Other top MDC officials who were attacked include the party's national
chairman, Isaac Matongo, deputy secretary-general Gift Chimanikire, national
women's organising secretary Anna Chimanikire and legislator Fidelis Mhashu

Statistics made available to The Standard by the Zimbabwe Human Right Forum
indicate that between January and September last year, 12 people were killed
in politically motivated violence, 202 were unlawfully arrested while 329
were assaulted.

Zanu PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira could be reached for a comment while
John Nkomo, the party's national chairman was said to be in a meeting.
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MDC activists in court
By our own staff

BULAWAYO - FOUR Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists, including MP
for Makokoba Thokozani Khupe, last week appeared before the Bulawayo
magistrate's court facing charges of contravention Public Order and Security
Act (Posa).

The four activists appeared before Bulawayo Provincial Magistrate, John
Masimba, and were remanded out of custody to 22 February 2005.
State prosecution led by Andrew Marimo alleges that on 16 June 2002, the
four MDC activists along with 200 others convened a political gathering at a
business centre in Longebula, Bulawayo, without police clearance.

The four MDC activists were represented by Nkululeko Fuzwayo of Calderlwood,
Bryce, Hendrie and Partners Legal Practitioners.
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Why MDC could lose March poll

THE Movement for Democratic Change could rue its ambivalent approach to the
parliamentary elections due in March this year.

Nearly a fortnight ago, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC told
President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia in Lusaka that President Robert Mugabe
was rushing this year's parliamentary elections when these could have been
moved to June.
He said: "We do not have sufficient time for free and fair elections. As of
now the electoral process is not fair enough to hold free and fair

Our reading of this statement is that the opposition is unprepared for
March, which has been suggested as the due date for the polls, and that it
would be more comfortable with a postponement to June.

Tsvangirai's statement is going to be more than welcome among those in the
ruling party and government circles who will see this as a God-sent
opportunity to whittle down the opposition's support by portraying it as a
disorganised party. Even though much more still needs to be done in the
remaining few weeks before March, the government will move swiftly and hope
that the element of ambushing a seemingly unprepared opposition will work to
its advantage.

Also likely to work to the disadvantage of the MDC are such factors as its
own external support and pressure from the region for it to participate, if
only as a way of testing the government's sincerity in adhering to the SADC
protocols on principles and guidelines on democratic elections.

The region's response to the Zimbabwean political crisis has been to pin
hopes on some miraculous intervention in the expectation that this would
save them from having to do anything against a fellow leader.

When regional leaders exhort the MDC to take part in the parliamentary
elections, it is partly out of the belief that the responsibility for acting
will be shifted from them to their observer missions. The regional leaders'
task will become one that is merely informed and guided by the
pronouncements of their respective poll observers.

President Mwanawasa suggested as much when he observed that foreigners would
not solve the political differences in Zimbabwe and added: "It will take
dialogue among Zimbabweans themselves to iron out their political
differences. Dialogue is a political necessity."

A reading of this statement suggests that it could be a diplomatic rebuke of
the opposition by the Zambian leader. Our understanding is that the Zambian
leader was telling his visitors to stay at home and invest more of their
energy in seeking a solution to the political crisis in Zimbabwe. Of course,
the problem with this posture is that it conveniently ignores the fact that
since attempts to broker an understanding between the two main rival parties
in Zimbabwe, the government and the ruling party have fought tooth and nail
to scuttle any real and meaningful engagement of the opposition.

The MDC may find itself in a no-win situation, even though it has protested
that it would not wish to participate in a poll whose outcome is

The Public Order Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), coupled with a blanket ban by the State
media on its political campaign activities are conspiring to prevent the
opposition from being heard, even by their own supporters. These evils have
combined to ensure that the opposition's campaign strategy is neutralized
and its visibility, in terms of meeting the people, is less than

The belief in the ruling party is that the March poll is going to be a
one-way election, with the opposition's participation lending a patina of
legitimacy to the whole electoral charade. Zanu PF will have a reason for
holding the polls in March: it would want to combine celebrations of an
electoral victory with the independence silver jubilee.

But the MDC not only alerted the ruling party by suggesting a postponement.
It could have made a major miscalculation. Unless it has covered some
ground, it is going to be taken for a ride on an unprecedented scale. In one
respect it will have its prevarication to thank for its electoral
misfortunes. This is the excuse the State media is hiding behind in order to
deny it access to the airwaves.

However, if recent claims by the opposition that it has its moles within the
ruling party are not mere grandstanding, then it should have been aware of
what strategies were being drawn up to prevent it from campaigning, and it
should have acted accordingly.

For strategists in the opposition, the fall out from the ruling party's
primaries could be God-sent in terms of which constituencies to target and
which politicians to win over to their side, because some of the results of
the primaries have left, in their wake, considerable disaffection, which any
alert and organized opposition would capitalize on.

Galloping unemployment, closure of businesses, an escalation in the cost of
basic commodities, inability to attract more investment and the consequent
lack of job creation, as well as the collapse in the health and education
sectors, would appear to provide any opposition with enough ammunition to
mount a major challenge to the ruling party.

While the ruling party may want to paper over the cracks, some of the
candidates, who were elected to represent Zanu PF, should be aware that
their sell-by date expired long ago. The purge or rout of the so-called
Young Turks might just drive some towards the opposition, if what really
drives them is the good of the country.

The element of youthful candidates was one characteristic that distinguished
the opposition from the ruling party, even though there was a sprinkling of
youthful faces in Zanu PF. The emergence of young people gave the opposition
a youthful and intellectual appeal. However, the present line up of Zanu PF
candidates projects a much older generation of politicians.

While the government may not open up the space for an electoral contest to
the opposition, it is likely to do so during the remaining few weeks before
the arrival of invited regional observers and the actual polling day.
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Zim Standard

      Where are all these Chinamen?
      overthetop By Brian Latham

      IN recent months troubled central Africans have been told a great deal
about how hoardes of Chinese investors will save their country from economic
perdition. Over The Top, though, has yet to find any real evidence of these
Chinese investors.

      More to the point, last time the Chinese came to the troubled central
African basket case, they built a very substantial sports' stadium. This was
a wonderful thing for the country, but it did little for the economy because
they brought their own labour - and their own labour saved money by eating
many of the dogs in the capital's western suburbs.
      Thousands of western suburbs residents, just getting used to the idea
of egalitarian politics, were deeply troubled to wake up in the morning and
find Rover or Speckles had found their way into a Chinese cooking pot.

      And causing troubled central Africans further distress, it emerged
that the Chinese labourers found the taste of bullfrogs particularly

      Knowing that the French also find frogs make a good meal was little
consolation to troubled central Africans who know, instinctively, that all
French people are disgusting anyway.

      Still, I digress . Word from the ruling Zany Party is that the
troubled central African banana republic is "looking east" for economic
salvation - and that the salvation is on its way in the form of millions of
dollars of Chinese and now Iranian money.

      Over The Top cautions scepticism. So far the dog population has
remained unchanged and there is little sign of massive Chinese investment in
anything other than Zhing Zhong collapsible shoes in flea markets dotted
around the capital.

      OTT also cautions against buying these Zhing Zhong products. Those
symbols on the sides do not say, "Guaranteed for 12 months" as the salesmen
will claim.

      They actually say, "Guaranteed to last three minutes, or until you
leave the premises, whichever comes sooner."

      As for the troubled central African regime's eastern brothers saving
the energy sector, the coal sector and the transport sector, no one should
hold their breath.

      Of course, the troubled central African nation could see hoards of
eastern brethren looming over the horizon, but then the Zany Party will have
to abandon it's "The troubled central African nation will never be a colony
again" slogan.

      China, which remains one of the planet's most despotic and tyrannical
regimes, is hardly likely to do something for nothing.

      But there's nothing new there, of course. Troubled central Africans
have developed a cynical and resigned acceptance that their fair weather
friends are now found in rogue states, in the axis of evil and in
straightforward, old-fashioned dictatorships. China, Cuba, Iran and North
Korea top the list and OTT fully expects Burma to join the register of
"cooperating nations" before much longer.

      As for all that investment, if the troubled central African basket
case's power supply is to be rejuvenated by Zhing Zhong products, we can
look forward to considerably more power cuts than we are already used to.
Meanwhile the beleaguered coal mining sector is to be salvaged with plastic
Tonka toys.

      But never mind, it probably won't happen. For all the talk, it's
unlikely that the Chinese will invest very much at all. After all, they're
clever chaps and despite their adherence to the "property is theft"
philosophy at home, when they're abroad they'll want to know some deranged
Zany Party supporter isn't going to invade their investment and claim it is
his own. It seems likely that the cultural divide will be just too wide for
them. And besides, there's a shortage of dogs in the troubled central
African regime's electricity producing areas - and even they couldn't get
used to eating donkey meat.

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Only our vote can free us from Zanu PF

OUR health sector continues to face an uncertain future. Our general
hospitals are short-staffed. There are no drugs to treat patients and when
they are available, the medications are too costly and beyond the reach of
the majority who are the suffering masses.

But Zanu PF can afford the luxury of buying chiefs personal cars. Not that
it is not a noble idea, but not when our hospitals have no drugs.
As for our education, the localisation of examinations has all but destroyed
our once admired educational system, not only in Africa, but even beyond.
Indeed, we can have academics, professors and even historians running our
education system, but without political will, there will be no end insight
to our problems.

Our economy, which is agro-based, continues to suffer due to lack of
political will. Zimbabweans have watched as Zanu PF allocated vast tracks of
fertile land among its members in the name of land redistribution. Since
then chaos has reigned, not to mention reduced production experienced since
the invasions began in 2000.

Politics controls every facet of our lives and the sound implementation of
good economic policies is necessary and welcome for the sound economic
turnaround. Politicians make laws for the smooth running of the country
hence the importance of good governance. It is the running of the State
which determines the prosperity of the economy.

I have watched a lot of economists presenting their analyses over the state
of our economy. I have to admit that the likes of Jonathan Kadzura, Samuel
Udenge, Walter Chidhakwa and David Govere are brilliant people, but they are
not brave enough to point out that all the policies, if not given political
approval will, never bear any fruits.

So as the year begins, let us be reminded that our economy is in bad shape,
never mind the coming down of inflation, and that it is because there is no
political will. Zanu PF as the administrator of our national affairs since
1980, is fully responsible for our economic crisis and it is naive for it to
point its fingers to the West when all indications point at its own

Politically, the new year erupted and roared, giving rise to a rude
awakening to several Zanu PF leaders. Those in the know say that if you
choose to join that gravy train, "Tamba wakachenjera (be careful)".

As the election draws close each passing day, it is the responsibility of
every concerned citizen to remember that the future of this great country is
in our hands. If past experience is anything to go by, violence, beatings,
kidnappings and more nasty things are on the cards.

Zanu PF will force us to buy their cards, wear their T-shirts, chant their
slogans, but let us keep our secret which is our vote - with us. Let us vote
with our conscience.

Of course, the playing field is not level but the fight should go on to
democratise our society. Let us not allow our votes to be bought.

Those who choose to be owned, and used by Zanu PF should not cry foul when
the tables are turned against them.

Maunganidze Vhusani


Chipinge South
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Zim Standard

POSA is blocking opposition activities

THE Herald of 5 January, had as its lead story an article about the
demonstration by Zanu PF women supporters over the party's nomination of
candidates for primary elections for the March parliamentary elections.

The nomination process was on 2 January, and if a demonstration was held on
4 January 2005, that does not appear to give ample time for the women to
have applied to the police for a permit to demonstrate as required under the
Public Order and Security Act.
None of the demonstrators was arrested, yet it is common knowledge that when
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA), Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and other progressive forces
have applied for permission to demonstrate over any issue, they are denied
permission to do so.

Sometimes the organisers have gone ahead with the demonstrations as it is a
constitutional right for every Zimbabwean to demonstrate, but heavily armed
police have suppressed the demonstrations.

This is the uneven playing field which the MDC has cited before, which is
good reason why the party may have to pull out of the elections.

Just as a test, I would encourage the MDC to organise a demonstration over
any issue it feels is not being properly handled, and if the demonstration
is treated differently, it is evidence that the regime of President Robert
Mugabe is not implementing the SADC protocol on elections.

Benjamin Chitate

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Zim Standard

How things have fallen apart at Harare Council

I hope the so-called commission running the City of Harare is not
responsible for this.

More than a week ago, I received notice from the Post Office (Zimpost) to
the effect that I had been sent a letter with insufficient postage.
When I went to collect the letter from Avondale Post Office, they said this
was what the City Council was resorting to - sending ratepayers statements
without postage and then expecting the ratepayers to pay. In my case this
was $10 000.

Why is it difficult for the City Council to send its own staff to deliver
the statements if it is unwilling to pay Zimpost? Or is this the work of one
lazy council worker, who decided to drop his work into the post box?

There is supposed to be a meter reader who goes round all properties;
couldn't these people be given the statements to deliver if council is so
hard up?

This is one example of how things are falling apart, that is apart from all
the other horror stories of neglect and dereliction of duty by council.

Tirivanhu Mhofu

Emerald Hill

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Pressure mounts on RBZ to deliver more
By Rangarirai Mberi

CENTRAL Bank Governor Gideon Gono makes his fifth monetary policy statement
Wednesday under increasing pressure to bring closure to a bank crisis that
now looks to be spinning out of his grip.

Gono will also be hoping that he can keep up the perception that his
"economic turnaround" remains well on track, but is also expected to
announce even tougher measures to sustain the slowdown in inflation. He will
try yet again to win over a business community that - over a year after he
took office - still cannot figure out whether to love or hate him.
Perhaps the most glaring mistake that Gono has made repeatedly in his last
four statements has been to promise so much on some of his most fundamental
tasks. By doing so, he has placed himself under at times unnecessary
pressure to perform magic tricks. His handling of the banking crisis
presents the clearest example of this weakness.

An ambitious plan to stitch up troubled banks under the Zimbabwe Allied
Banking Group looked to be in serious jeopardy last week after Gono
announced that only half of the eight commercial banks under curatorship
will be included in the amalgamated bank.

But later in the week, that pressure to perform looked to have pushed Gono
into rushing the opening of Royal, Barbican and Trust - the members of ZABG.
The shrewd central bank Governor hopes that the five-day opening, beginning
tomorrow, will head off suggestions at his presentation that ZABG is dead in
the water.

The rationale for placing banks under curatorship in the first place was,
according to RBZ itself, "to protect depositors and shareholders". Now, RBZ
wants to drain lifeblood liquidity support from the banks, and has flung the
burden to save those banks right back on the shoulders of shareholders.

According to Gono, shareholders "should have known or were supposed to have
known how their institutions were being run". They should have prevented
banks from falling under, he said.

All this angst - clearly triggered by Time Bank's audacious legal challenge
against its closure - makes one clear statement: the banking crisis is far
from over. Still, there are others who believe it is.

According to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Gono has been able
"to clean up and reform the financial sector". The CZI says: "The Reserve
Bank has dealt decisively with the banking crisis in Zimbabwe. Decisive
action takes tremendous vision and courage."

But Gono is likely to attempt to look past the stubborn bank problem and
dwell longer on the most visible of his successes so far. He will play up
the slowdown in inflation - from 622.9% in January last year to 132.7% in

A forecast of 200% inflation by December 2004 seemed very ambitious when he
made it in his watershed policy statement of December 18 2003, but Gono hit
that target much earlier than expected. He religiously stuck to a firm line
against speculative activity and curtailed funding to banks and spendthrift

Restraining inflation has been the most important success of Gono's tenure,
and his audience will definitely hear about it more than once. Still, he
will show more caution, aware of the dangers of too much bullishness in
Zimbabwe's ever unstable environment - especially in an election year.

The economy will wait to find out how Gono plans to keep the pressure on
inflation. Because inflation figures in 2004 were coming off 2003's high
base, steep declines were seen. This will be tough to sustain this year
because of the lower 2004 base. Many therefore expect Gono to have prepared
an even stricter policy for this year.

Gono's Productive Sector Funding, under which funding is extended on soft
rates to industry, has kept distressed companies open for business, saving
jobs and slowing down - but not reversing - Zimbabwe's economic decline.

Because he has his fingers in every possible pie, he invites pressure from
all sectors of the economy - each of them demanding that Gono makes their
lives easier by granting even more concessions.

Already, miners have said they want a higher price for their gold, with
Falcon Gold warning a shut-down is imminent if there is no big movement on
the gold support price. CZI is also demanding a wholesale review of the dry
forex auction.
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Eyebrows raised over new ZABG composition
By Kumbirai Mafunda

ECONOMIC critics have rounded off Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono for
breaking an earlier promise to merge all failed seven banks placed under
curatorship into the ambitious Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG) that is
yet to open its doors to the public.

The outbursts came after Gono last week dropped some struggling banks from
incorporation into the new institution. He said only three banks will form
the nucleus of yet to be established ZABG.
A statement on Wednesday by Gono says Trust, Barbican and Royal will be
incorporated into the new banking institution; leaving out Intermarket
Banking Corporation, Intermarket Discount House and Intermarket Building
Society, Time Bank and CFX.

All Intermarket Holdings Limited's subsidiaries have been left out of ZABG
pending the outcome of talks with a potential suitor, widely believed to be

Time has been excluded from ZABG because of a court challenge lodged by the
bank against the central bank contesting its placement under the management
of a curator.

Shareholders of CFX - the eighth banking instution to collapse in as many
months - have presented their rescue plan and Fungai Kuipa, the CFX curator,
still has six months to provide remedy to revive the bank forced to close in

"It is a trial and error thing. Gono is only anxious with coming up with a
bank like the Kenya Banking Corporation (KBC)," says Daniel Ndlela, economic
consultant with Zimconsult.

He added: "Gono is leaping in the dust because his model of a an enlarged
bank won't work since the closed banks are overexposed."

Critics also drew attention to Gono's October monetary policy review in
which he reassured the market that he would implement measures that are
least disruptive to the financial sector, the banking public and to the

Tapiwa Mashakada, the opposition MDC's shadow finance minister, says there
is a lot than meets the eye over the feasibility of the new banking

"Gono is in a quandary," says Mashakada. "The marriage of all insolvent
banks is just unworkable."

In one of his earlier policy reversals, Gono set up a Troubled Banks Fund
(TBF) in January 2004 which partially shielded banks from imminent collapse
despite an earlier declaration not to accommodate poorly managed banks.

Other experts however backed Gono's plan to resuscitate few institutions
saying an enlarged ZABG would have broadened the institution's liability.

"Gono is trying to minimise the contagion effect of the insolvent banks,"
said one banker, who preferred not to be named.
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How independent is the new ZEC?
sundayopinion By Elias Rusike

THE Zimbabwe Parliament recently passed an Act which creates the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act is now Law after
the President assented recently. But how independent is the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission? In order to answer this question, it is important to
examine what is on the ground.

Currently, there are four bodies which are associated with elections. These
are; The Electoral Supervisory Commission; The Registrar General of
Elections; The Electoral Directorate and The Delimitation Commission.

The Electoral Supervisory Commission and the Delimitation Commission are
constitutional bodies established under the present Zimbabwe Constitution.
The Registrar General of Elections and the Electoral Directorate are
Statutory Bodies created under Electoral Law by Parliament. Likewise, the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is a statutory body created by Parliament.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is supposed to take over functions
currently being performed by the Registrar General and Election Directorate
which are operating. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has three main
functions: It will prepare and conduct elections of the President and
Parliament as well as elections to the governing bodies of local
authorities; and referendums.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is supposed to ensure that those elections
and referendums are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently,
and in accordance with the law; and to direct and control the registration
of voters by the authority charged with that responsibility under an Act of

The body is also supposed to:

l To compile voters' rolls and registers;

l To ensure the proper custody and maintenance of voters' rolls and

l To design, print and distribute ballot papers, approve the form and
procure ballot boxes, and establish and operate polling centers;

l To conduct voter education;

l To give instructions to - the Registrar General in regard to the exercise
of his or her functions under the Electoral Act; and other persons in the
employment of the state or of local authority for the purpose of ensuring
the efficient, proper, free and fair conduct of elections; and to exercise
any other functions that may be conferred or imposed on the Commission by
the Electoral Act or any other enactment.

It is clear from what I have said that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
will be subservient to the Electoral Supervisory Commission, which was
appointed entirely by the President. In fact, the Electoral Supervisory
Commission will supervise the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. It is the
Electoral Supervisory Commission and not Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,
which will pronounce the freeness and fairness of the elections.

The notion that you can create a statutory body like the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission and retain two Constitutional bodies like the Electoral
Supervisory Commission and the Delimitation Commission both of which have
responsibilities over elections is nonsense to say the least. According to
the current practice, the Electoral Supervisory Commission supervises the
Registration of voters, the conduct of elections and it is the body which
makes a report to Parliament. On the other hand the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission will control the Registration of voters, conducts elections and
reports to the Parliament through the Minister of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs. The requirement that the commission's report goes to
the Minister will compromise its impartiality.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is made up of five Commissioners with the
chairperson being appointed by the President after consulting the Judicial
Service Commission and four other members appointed by the President from a
list of seven nominees submitted by the Parliamentary Committee on the
Standing Rules and Orders.

The new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission members were announced on Thursday
January 20, by the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs,
Patrick Chinamasa. They are High Court Judge and chairman of the
Delimitation Commission, Justice George Mutandwa Chiweshe who shall also
chair the new commission, Mrs. Sarah Kachingwe is the deputy chairperson,
Mrs. Vivian Stella Ncube, Professor George Kahari and Reverend Jonathan
Siyachitema are members of the commission.

The forthcoming 2005 Elections provided the opportunity to break with past
practices by establishing a truly independent Electoral Commission. The only
effective way of creating a truly Independent Electoral Commission was by
way of amending the constitution and do away with current Electoral
Supervisory Commission. If there was an issue where there should have been a
convergence of views between the ruling party and the opposition parties, it
was the establishment of a truly Independent Commission. Such a
constitutional amendment would have been supported by all parties in

But the government through the Minister of Justice Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs, Chinamasa lacked political will to effect constitutional changes.
He rejected what he called "the practice in the region (SADC) where the
so-called independent bodies supervise themselves. The practice evolving in
the region is that the bodies themselves appoint their own monitors;
accredit their own observers and literally supervise themselves. As far as I
am concerned, my conscience is clear we have created an Independent
Electoral Commission" Mr Chinamasa told Parliament on December 9, 2004.

He went on to argue that "what we have created is a Mauritian Model. They
have two electoral bodies - one which runs the elections and the other one
which supervises", he concluded.

If the forth-coming elections are not seen and perceived as free and fair by
the participating political parties the legitimacy of the Government elected
under flawed Electoral rules will be questioned, and Zimbabwe will continue
to be isolated by the International community.

What is on the ground is that Zimbabwe has not embraced SADC Principles and
Guidelines governing Democratic Elections. The weakness of Chinamasa's
electoral reforms is that they do not deal with issue of the Electoral
environment. Both the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act and the Electoral
Act do not recognize elections as a process. Chinamasa and his ilk are
concerned with elections as an event. Yet elections have to be prepared for
over a long period of time.

For the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to be truly Independent, it should
have its own infrastructure and not rely on the Registrar General's office
and staff and the Electoral Directorate, which is made up of the army, the
police and the senior civil servants who are highly politicized. There is
absolutely no way one can conduct free and fair elections in a country where
the opposition is denied access to the public media well before the event.
There is inadequate time now and 2005 elections, whether the elections are
held in March or June 2005 for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to do its
work properly and conduct free and fair elections which will be accepted and
recognized by all participating parties and the international community. The
new commissioners of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission must acknowledge that
they are members of a body, which is not independent. A body, which is
subservient to the Zimbabwe Supervisory Commission and, a body which has to
rely on the existing infrastructures of the Registrar General and the
Electoral Directorate.

To answer the question, "How independent is the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission?" An Independent Electoral Commission by definition should be
independent of the Executive - that is the President and the Minister.
Unlike the Public Service Commission and the Judicial Service Commission
which report to the Minister of Public Services, Labour and Social Welfare
and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary affairs respectively, the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission should report not to Parliament through the Minister of
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary affairs but direct to a democratically
elected Parliament. Its chairman should be the one to present the report to
the Parliament or its committee. It should not be supervised by any other
body especially the Electoral Supervisory Commission. It should be
supervised by the Parliament itself. The new Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
does not adhere to the letter and spirit of the SADC Principles and
Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

l Elias T Rusike - is a Media Consultant and former Publisher and CEO of the
Financial Gazette. He can be contacted at
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Zim Standard

ZBC orders MDC news blackout
By Savious Kwinika

BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH)'s NewsNet has directed
its reporters to give coverage to all opposition political parties, except
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), because it has "not confirmed
participation" in the March general elections, The Standard has learnt.

The MDC is the only opposition party in the country that can mount a
credible challenge to Zanu PF's 25 years of uninterrupted rule.

The Standard understands that ZBH Newsnet Editor-In-Chief, Tazzen
Mandizvidza, a fortnight ago summoned all bureau chiefs to Harare and
directed them to cover all opposition political parties except MDC, the
party that nearly defeated Zanu PF during the 2000 parliamentary elections.

All ZBC bureau chiefs from around the country attended the meeting, except
Moses Gumbo from the Midlands province, the sources said.

Mandizvidza confirmed that the station would not give coverage to Zimbabwe's
largest opposition political party because it had not confirmed whether or
not it would participate in the March general elections.

"Our policy is to go for stories and bring them before the people of
Zimbabwe so that they make their own judgement," Mandizvidza said.

Other than the MDC, the other opposition political parties are small and do
not pose any real threat to Zanu PF. These are the National Alliance for
Good Governance (NAGG), Zanu, Zimbabwe National Congress, Zimbabwe Youth in
Alliance (ZIYA).

By denying coverage to the MDC, the government has failed to adhere to the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) principles and guidelines
governing democratic elections. The guidelines call for non-partisan
coverage of all political parties by the state media.
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