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2009 Budget: Govt Drops Populist Policies

Friday, 30 January 2009 11:21
ACTING Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday announced a US$1,9
billion pro-business Budget which seeks to liberalise many facets of the

Chinamasa's presentation, lasting nearly three hours and punctuated by
heckling from MDC MPs, confirmed market speculation that government, after
periods of dithering, would - as we reported last week - give a nod to the
dollarisation of the economy.

Chinamasa also announced a raft of revenue-generation measures
underpinned by enhanced collection of traditional taxes and duties which
will now be paid largely in foreign currency.

The tax net has been widened to encompass the informal sector which
has in the past escaped paying taxes and duties.

The Budget is a departure from the past when Zanu PF Finance ministers
committed large resources to populist projects in farming, mining, small
business enterprises and "income generating projects" - all designed to
curry favours with the electorate.

"The 2009 budget thrust should therefore shift from policies that
promote and fuel consumption to those which create wealth through supporting
our productive sectors, particularly agriculture, mining, tourism, and
manufacturing whose capacity utilisation is now below 30%," said Chinamasa.

The government has made a commitment to liberalise the foreign
exchange market to allow the use of multiple currencies. There is an
admission that the stability of the volatile Zimbabwe dollar cannot come
through "decree and legislation alone" but through interventions that avoid
"money-printing beyond the economy's production of goods and services".

To this end, government will continue to pay civil servants in local
currency and also give allowances in vouchers whose quantum is not known at
the moment. These would however be "guided by foreign currency revenue

Chinamasa's statement that include the central bank's quasi-fiscal
activities - largely blamed for fuelling inflation and creating distortions
in the economy. Chinamasa also announced an end to price controls and Zinwa's
control over water reticulation and sewer systems in urban areas.

The gamut of policy pronouncements yesterday are clearly aimed at
staving off the inflation tide which the central bank has failed to control
over the last five years. In fact government now evidently blames Gono's
money-printing adventure for fuelling inflation.

"Excessive money supply growth emanating from unbudgeted expenditures
made through the Reserve Bank as well as low supply of goods and services
remain the major sources of inflation," said Chinamasa.

The US$1,9 billion Budget will have to be financed from taxes and
excise duties and not from printing money. To this end, there will be no
more cheap loans for farmers and small businesses.

The loans which government has over the years been dishing out have
failed to stimulate meaningful growth in production. Instead, farmers should
be looking to industry and banks for funding of inputs.

Government will however continue to give limited support to
small-scale farmers through input packs consisting of 10kg seed packs and
100 kg of fertiliser per farmer.

Industry has been given the green light to buy grain directly from
farmers, ending the bonehead policy in which the GMB held a monopoly in
grain purchases.

The honeymoon of under-priced goods is also over. Chinamasa said the
National Incomes and Pricing Commission would no longer control the prices
of goods and services and would instead monitor pricing systems in the

With it, the commission has also lost the mandate to control rates
charged by councils and fees and levies charged by schools.

The government has also lowered customs duty on imported products to
stimulate activity in commerce with a notable reduction in duty on motor
vehicles, clothing and textile goods. -Staff Reporter

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High Court Rules Private School Takeover Legal

Friday, 30 January 2009 11:19
THE High Court has endorsed the takeover of an elite private school,
Rydings Primary in Mashonaland West, by Gerald Mlotshwa, a personal lawyer
of the Minister of State for National Security, Lands and Land Reform and
Resettlement, Didymus Mutasa.

Dismissing an application by Rydings' board of trustees challenging
the takeover of the school by Mlotshwa, Justice Susan Mavangira ruled that
the lawyer was allocated a farm where the school was built and, therefore,
owns the school.

"The acquiring authority (Mutasa's ministry) acquired Rydings of
Enthorpe (Farm). That land now belongs to the state. It is up to the
acquiring authority or the state as owner, to do as it pleases with the

The land was offered to the second respondent, Mlotshwa. This court
cannot, in my view, interfere with the allocation of the piece of land in
issue.There is no merit in the applicant's (board of trustees) case."

Her judgement nullified a provisional order she granted the trustees
in 2007 barring Mlotshwa from interfering with the running of the school,
which attracts pupils from the southern African region.

"The provisional order granted on 21 September, 2007 must be
discharged," ruled Mavangira.

In 2007 Mutasa designated the farm on which the school was built and
allocated it to Mlotshwa, who in turn appointed businessman Temba Mliswa as
chairman of the school's board of governors.

The school's board of trustees led by Richard Chimuka then filed a
High Court application seeking a provisional order compelling Mutasa to set
aside the notice of acquisition of Rydings of Enthorpe Farm and its
allocation to Mlotshwa.

Mavangira interdicted Mutasa, Mlotshwa and Mliswa from interfering
with the administration, assets and programmes of Rydings.

Mlotshwa filed a notice of appeal against Mavangira's ruling.

Rydings School sits on a 1100-acre farm and prior to the takeover it
was run by a non-profit organisation, which used the farming produce to
subsidise school fees for pupils who came from as far as Zambia and Malawi.


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Soldiers Cleared of Mutiny Charges

Friday, 30 January 2009 11:09
NINE soldiers arrested last month for allegedly going on a rampage in
Harare, looting goods from shops, beating up illegal foreign currency
dealers and robbing them of their money, have been acquitted.

Sources in the army said the soldiers were arraigned before a court
martial last week and early this week and charges against them were dropped
because of lack of sufficient evidence linking them to "mutinous" behaviour.

"The case against the soldiers collapsed," one of the sources said.
"They could not be punished for the crimes they were alleged to have
committed because of lack of evidence."

The names of the soldiers were not made public.

On Wednesday, rowdy soldiers led a group of suspected war veterans and
Zanu PF supporters to invade newly built flats in Mbare, Harare, before the
Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Military Police were deployed to evict

The flats were built by Harare City Council in partnership with the
Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe, and were to be occupied by
people on the housing list.

This comes amid growing concerns in government about increasing cases
of indiscipline by soldiers who are disgruntled over poor wages and
conditions of services.

Harare mayor Much Masunda yesterday confirmed to the Zimbabwe
Independent that soldiers, suspected war veterans and Zanu PF supporters had
occupied the flats before they were forcibly evicted the same day by the

According to Masunda and witnesses, the soldiers from 2 Brigade and
the Zanu PF supporters occupied the flats claiming they did not have decent

Masunda, a lawyer and businessman, said the flats were built to reduce
the housing backlog in the capital and address the squalid conditions in

"There was a group of soldiers from 2 Brigade and war veterans who
occupied two blocks of flats near George Stark School, but the situation is
now under control," Masunda said before referring further questions to his
director of housing Justin Chiwawa.

Chiwawa could not be reached for comment.

A soldier who was part of the group that occupied the flats told the
Independent that the flats were lying idle.

"These flats are lying idle, but we don't have anywhere to stay," he

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena denied that the flats were
invaded, but said the uniformed forces had "dispersed people who were
gathering near the flats".

In a related case of indiscipline, Chief Discipline Master of the Air
Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ), Warrant Officer Class 1 Shista Gurajena, was this
week sentenced to six months in jail for stealing 110 litres of petrol from
the AFZ last October.

In Bulawayo, three soldiers were on Tuesday sentenced to 12 months in
each jail for stealing 20 cans of beer from a police officer.

Tongai Gwenzi (19), Mudiwa Liketso (21) and Simbarashe Machaya (21)
based at 1 Commando Brigade in Harare, would, however, serve only nine
months each after magistrate Shepherd Munjenga suspended three months of the

Prosecutor Leonard Hlebani told the court that on January 23, the
three met Tinashe Boroyodzo at Mnethi Shopping Centre in Bulawayo carrying a
bucket and asked him to open it.

The complainant refused to follow their order and the soldiers became
angry and forcibly took the bucket and fled. The bucket contained 20 cans of

The soldiers were arrested the following day while selling the beer.

Gwenzi, Liketso and Machaya told the court that they committed the
offence because they wanted to raise bus fare to return to Harare, and also
that they were paid $30 trillion in January, which was not enough for the

Indiscipline in the army has been rising since December.

Some soldiers were recently accused of looting shops in Marange's
Chiadzwa diamond fields and last week some reportedly looted a shop in
Masvingo's Chivi district belonging to MDC-T legislator Amos Chibaya.

A fortnight ago, a group of soldiers reportedly raided Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono's farm and got away with over 100 chickens after
telling his manager that the central bank boss owed them a lot of money and
was responsible for their suffering.


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Education Crisis Worsens

Friday, 30 January 2009 11:09
THE country's education crisis deepened this week after teachers
refused to mark last year's public examinations and many government schools
failed to open for the first term.

Sources in the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec) told the
Zimbabwe Independent that marking of the 2008 "O" and "A" level examinations
started on Monday with less than 1 000 teachers out of the required 10 000
turning up for the exercise.

This, the sources said, could see results of the examinations released
as late as May.

"Out of the 10 000 teachers needed only about 800 took the offer to
mark the examinations," one of the sources said. "The markers are under
pressure and we expect results to be out in May."

The source said results for the June 2008 "O" and "A" level
examinations would be released in a fortnight.

"Marking of Grade 7 examinations was completed, but the machine used
to capture data is down and this has delayed the release of the results. We
need to import spares for the machine," the source added.

Normally results for Grade 7 are released before the end of the third
term to allow pupils to secure Form One places, while "O" and "A" level
results are released in February.

The failure to release Grade 7 results on time resulted in government
postponing the opening of this year's first term by two weeks from January

Many of the schools which opened on Tuesday did so without Form One
pupils because the results were yet to be released.

Most government schools failed to open on Tuesday after teachers
pressed ahead with the strike they embarked on last year demanding to be
paid in foreign currency.

The Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) and the Progressive Teachers
Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) asked their members to stay away from duty unless
and until government conceded to their demands.
The teachers are demanding a monthly minimum salary of US$2 300.

A snap survey by the Independent in Harare and Bulawayo revealed that
most government schools did not open.

In Dzivaresekwa, Harare, a few pupils could be seen strolling to
school, while in other areas like Mabvuku, Mabelreign and Highfield some
were turned away as there were no teachers.

Schools that were open, among them Selborne, Avondale and North Park,
had made arrangements with parents to pay teachers in foreign currency.

In Bulawayo, some school authorities told pupils to return home as
there were no teachers.

Gates at some schools were locked and only groundsmen were manning the

The turnout of pupils at most day schools was generally low with a few
seen milling around the school premises.

Children from boarding schools had by Wednesday started returning home
after they did not find teachers at their respective schools.

Education Sports and Culture ministry permanent secretary, Stephen
Mahere, in a press statement this week admitted that most schools had not
opened for business, save for Trust schools and other private institutions.

He said: "The ministry would like to commend schools which made
arrangements for their students and teachers to have a smooth start of the
term. It has been observed that, on the whole, the term started
satisfactorily with virtually a 100% attendance in Trust Schools, Uniformed
Forces Schools, some mission and former Group A Schools.

"Consequently, all teachers are urged to report at their respective
schools. In this regard, parents are also advised to send their children to

Zimta president Tendai Chikowore vowed that the teachers would not
report for duty until their demands were met.

"If we say we are opening schools, we will be lying. We are not going
back because we are incapacitated and hungry, and that's it," said

She urged teachers to be tough and not to be intimidated by state
security agents, adding that this would force the cash-strapped government
to act.

She also took a swipe at teachers who took part in the invigilation of
last year's examination after Zimta had resolved to shun the national

"Our decision has to be uniform. They (government) should have
recruited their army officers and brigadiers to officiate in the
examinations. Don't be drawn into a flawed process, and in future check with
your organisation first before making such big decisions," Chikowore said.

PTUZ president Raymond Majongwe said teachers would not be forced into
submission, but will continue to fight on until their demands were met.

"Our position has been clear from the start, we are not going back and
we will not be cowed by the government. If we attend schools we will be
defeating our own struggle, so we are not teaching until our demands are
met, period," said Majongwe.

Majongwe said he was pleased with the teachers' cooperation saying it
was for the first time they responded favourably to their call.

International agency Oxfam country director Peter Mutoredzanwa warned
that opening of schools could lead to a new upsurge in cholera cases.

He said many schools were dilapidated and did not have clean running
water or basic toilets, which were vital to prevent them from becoming
breeding grounds for the disease.


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Masimirembwa Seeks Re-registration as Lawyer

Friday, 30 January 2009 11:06
NATIONAL Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) chairperson Goodwills
Masimirembwa is seeking re-registration as a legal practitioner with the Law
Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ), 12 years after he was blacklisted for abusing
trust funds, among other misdemeanours.

In a letter written by the LSZ to its members dated January 14,
lawyers have up to tomorrow to raise objections to Masimirembwa's
re-registration as a lawyer.

The letter reads: "Any member who has any objections, adverse
information which we might not have or comments on the suitability or
otherwise of Mr Goodwills Masimirembwa being re-admitted into the Register
of Legal Practitioners must file such objections, adverse information or
comments with the secretary within the next 15 days from the date of this
notice, failing which the council may proceed to consider the application
without further reference."

Masimirembwa, who is eyeing the Zanu PF Harare province secretary for
administration post, was struck off the register of legal practitioners on
March 14 1997 for bringing the legal profession into disrepute by failing to
pay counsel's fees and Messengers of Court's charges when due.

He was blacklisted for "failing to honour an undertaking to effect
payment by a particular date and by effecting payment by means of a cheque"
that was dishonoured.

According to the LSZ, Masimirembwa failed to act in his clients' best
interests by failing to account adequately for clients' fees he charged and
trust monies he held, and raising fees for work not done or work done
contrary to clients' instructions.

The NIPC boss was also found to have practised as a legal practitioner
without holding a current certificate.

He was accused of abusing the court process by improperly obtaining
default judgment in court proceedings, engaging in purposeless litigation
which was unnecessarily oppressive and acting recklessly in instituting
legal proceedings.

Masimirembwa also failed to reply to correspondence from another legal
practitioner and the LSZ requiring explanations for his conduct, as well as
failing to keep proper books of accounts.

As part of his rehabilitation, Masimirebwa has compensated the LSZ all
the money the association paid his creditors on his behalf at its present
net value.

He has also worked as a legal clerk under the employ of Aston Musunga
& Associates from 2004-2006.
In 1994 to 1999 he was employed as legal and corporate director for
Woolbrook Farming, Wedzera Investments, Royal Trucking, Gopa Investments,
Gope Construction, Twigari Investments and Wedzera Petroleum where he is
currently employed.


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Slump Forecast in Safari Business

Friday, 30 January 2009 11:04
SAFARI operators have predicted a 35% drop in volume of business when
the hunting season begins in May due to the cholera outbreak that has so far
claimed more than 3 000 lives since August last year.

Jacob Mudenda, Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe chairman, told
the Zimbabwe Independent this week that he had received numerous inquiries
from potential hunting clients who were concerned about the waterborne
disease outbreak.

"The greatest challenge we are facing is to get clientele from
overseas to come out to Zimbabwe," Mudenda said. "They are questioning
whether their health will be assured and if they will get access to clean
water. They are also questioning whether they will be treated timeously
should they fall sick from the epidemic."

Mudenda said the politicisation of the epidemic as well as
international media reports of a total breakdown of state institutions had
worsened their anxiety.

 The cholera epidemic, among other concerns by clients, Mudenda said,
would result in a loss of business of between 30% to 35 %.

He said other worries by clients included the delay in the formation
of a unity government five months after Zanu PF and the two MDC formations
signed a power-sharing deal, and adequate access to essential foodstuffs
during their stay in the country.

Mudenda said safari operators were carrying out an aggressive
marketing campaign in collaboration with other stakeholders such as the
government and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority to allay fears that could
result in a disastrous hunting season.

He said last year's hunting season started late after several clients
withdrew due to the inconclusive outcome of the presidential election and
the fear of violence that followed after President Robert Mugabe was
out-polled by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on March 29.

Mudenda said he did not have figures on the number of clients received
during the hunting seasons of the last two years because the Parks and
Wildlife Management Authority who collate them have failed to give
statistics due to the shortage of manpower.

In an effort to boost the number of hunters coming to the country this
season, Mudenda said, the association had invited the vice president of the
world body, the Safari Club International, Joseph Hosmer, to their annual
general meeting in May.

"This will give him the opportunity to see for himself that the
country is a safe place to visit," he said.
The association, which has more than 70 hunting members, is a vital
cog of the tourism sector hard hit by a dearth of tourists due to an adverse
political and economic climate since 2000.


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Zimbabwe Should be Suspended from AU - HRW

Friday, 30 January 2009 10:58
THE African Union summit in Ethiopia at the weekend should suspend
Zimbabwe from the organisation to press President Robert Mugabe to end the
country's long-standing political crisis that has led to a deepening
humanitarian emergency, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said this week.

HRW said this in a report released after Monday's Sadc extraordinary
summit in South Africa resolved that Mugabe and the leaders of the two
formations of the MDC - Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara - should form
a government of national unity by mid-February.

However, the MDC-T said the resolution of Sadc was "far short of our
expectations" and the party's national council would meet today to decide
whether or not to be part of the government as directed by the regional

The HRW said the AU - which would hold a three-day summit of heads of
state and government in Addis Ababa starting on Sunday - should tell Mugabe
to cede more power to Tsvangirai for the consummation of the power-sharing
deal the parties signed on September 15 last year.

HRW called on the AU to insert itself formally into the mediation
process and set basic principles, specific human rights benchmarks, and
timelines for resolving the crisis. "Among the steps it (AU) should take are
to condemn and call for an end to ongoing abuses by the Zanu PF authorities,
including an end to politically-motivated violence, enforced disappearances,
torture, and the release of MDC members and human rights activists who are
being arbitrarily detained," read the report.

"Human Rights Watch urged the AU to suspend Zimbabwe from the
organisation if - within a specific time frame - it does not meet specific
human rights and good governance benchmarks."

The 33-page report from HRW titled "Crisis without Limits: Human
Rights and Humanitarian Consequences of Political Repression in Zimbabwe",
details the Zimbabwean government's responsibility for the country's
humanitarian crisis.

A cholera epidemic has left over 2 700 Zimbabweans dead and another 55
000 ill.

Over five million Zimbabweans face severe food shortages and are
dependent on international aid.

Repeated political interference by Zanu PF in the work of humanitarian
agencies has severely hampered international efforts to tackle the country's
multiple crises.

"Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party have shown scant regard for the
welfare of Zimbabweans," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director for HRW. "It
is way past time for the African Union to act to help end their massive

The HRW said the global political agreement signed by Zanu PF and the
two MDC formations had all but collapsed and has not led to a credible
government of national unity or ended Mugabe's repression.

Zanu PF, the human rights watchdog said, had repeatedly breached the
terms of the agreement that committed the two parties to demonstrate respect
for democratic values and human rights.

It said Zanu PF's violations of basic human rights and various
governmental policies have worsened the country's humanitarian crisis.

"Crisis without Limits" is based on research conducted by HRW in six
of Zimbabwe's 10 provinces from November 16 to 30 2008.

Interviews were conducted with victims of human rights violations as
well as representatives of local and international non-governmental
organisations and humanitarian agencies, United Nations officials, MDC
members, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Grain Marketing
Board, lawyers, health experts, economists, and diplomats.

HRW research identifies the causes of the food shortage, the cholera
outbreak, and the collapse in Zimbabwe's health system.

It said repressive government and extensive corruption have led
directly to an interlinked economic collapse, humanitarian crisis, and
growing public desperation.

The report also documents how Zanu PF continued to use state
institutions such as the police and the justice system to violate the civil
and political rights of MDC members and supporters, civil society activists,
and human rights defenders.

The police, HRW alleged, continued to use violence to break up
peaceful protests, and routinely persecute MDC activists.

Acting information minister Paul Mangwana refused to comment on the
report saying he was yet to see it. - Staff Writer.

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Zimbabwe's Prisons in Derelict State - Zacro

Friday, 30 January 2009 10:55
"DEATH trap" is the best term to describe horrific conditions at the
country's 55 prisons, which have over the years been underfunded because of
the economic meltdown.

There are critical shortages of food, uniforms for both wardens and
inmates, water and electricity and those who have served their terms and
came out of the prisons alive consider themselves lucky.

"I still cannot believe that I survived three years at Chikurubi
Maximum Security Prison where I was treated less than an animal," said
Thomas Chamboko (not real name) who served time for theft and was recently

He said there was little food to feed the prisoners and that the water
supply at the prison was erratic, exposing inmates to numerous diseases.

"We would go for days without water resulting in us spending long
periods of time wearing dirty clothes and our cells were dingy and smelly,"
Chamboko recalled.

He claimed his was one of the lucky few who managed to leave the
prison without catching a deadly disease in the overcrowded jail.

Chamboko said due to water cuts and poor hygiene, sanitation was a
major concern at the prison.

"On many occasions because of no water, sanitation consisted of one
bucketful of water for washing and drinking that was placed in a corner of a
multi-occupied cell," he explained.

Chamboko said most toilets at Chikurubi were not working.

"Inmates in cells without toilets ended up using the bucket for
relieving themselves," he said.

Even those serving short sentences now consider going to jail a death
sentence. Earlier this month, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku in a ruling
in a constitutional application by detained human rights activist Jestina
Mukoko, noted the pathetic conditions in prison after considering an
affidavit submitted by an independent medical doctor, Frances Lovemore, on
the state of Chikurubi.

Lovemore in her affidavit said: "The facilities at Chikurubi were
rudimentary and I could not carry out procedures.where one needs equipment
such as x-rays, in addition there was neither water nor electricity at the
facility where I examined the applicant."

A local non-governmental organisation, the Zimbabwe Association for
Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the Offender (Zacro), recently
released a report in which it revealed the inhuman conditions prisoners live
in at most prisons across the country.

The organisation found that because of overcrowding, the country's
prisons were faced with problems of unhygienic conditions, lack of proper
food, medical facilities and care, spread of diseases -- in particular
HIV -- and opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis (TB).

The association said in the report that sick inmates with communicable
diseases were not quarantined -- a situation that saw those affected by
opportunistic infections infecting others.

The report reads: "As a result, overcrowding was one of the
predisposing conditions for the spread of diseases such as HIV and Aids and
opportunistic diseases like TB and cholera which resulted in the deaths of
some. (These) continued to be recorded at various prisons, mainly Chikurubi
Maximum and Harare Central prisons among others."

Zimbabwe is one of the countries with the highest HIV prevalence rates
in the world and prisons have not been spared the effects of the pandemic.

According to the report, at least 10 000 people in prisons were living
with HIV and Aids and their needs were being neglected.

"Although antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) were available, the treatment
was not accompanied by proper nutrition. Inmates in most prisons were
surviving on just two meals a day, and at least two prisoners died every day
as a result of hunger and disease," said Zacro.

It said the main problem was that nutritious food was not available,
which was necessary to boost immunity of inmates affected by the pandemic.

Because of the shortage of drugs, prisoners were obliged to buy their
own medicines through their relatives, but the escalating cost of medicines
meant that many families could barely afford this extra expense.

Zacro said prisons have massive food shortages due to low budgetary
allocations by the government.
 "Food was available in some prisons with farms while those without
farms faced acute shortage of food." reads the report. "At times food
provided was not properly prepared and was mostly of inadequate nutritional

The association said shortages of basic needs like cooking oil and
sugar continued to affect operations of prisons and welfare of inmates.

The report said the general prisoners' requirements prescribed in
statutory instrument 1 of 1996 fell far short in the prisons.

According to the statutory instrument, prisoners are supposed to be
given bread, tea, margarine or jam, milk and sugar, among other basic needs.

Many of the female prisoners did not have cleaning facilities such as
detergents, brooms and protective clothes when cleaning cells and toilets.

Lack of sanitary facilities prompted inmates to tear up their ragged
blankets when relieving themselves in the toilets, which frequently saw
ablution facilities blocking. The health hazards associated with this
practice remained a major worry to the inmates who did not have soap to wash
their hands, bodies or uniforms.

In a damning report on the funding of the Zimbabwe Prison Service
(ZPS) to parliament, the Justice ministry last year said it was battling to
feed and buy uniforms for over 25 000 inmates throughout the country.

The ministry said under the goods and services subhead, the ZPS had
requested $64,8 trillion and was allocated $63,8 trillion and this impacted
drastically on the well being of both prisoners and wardens.

"This item is the most problematic as it takes care of the basics such
as food, clothing, medication, bedding and toiletries," read the report.
"From our bids against the allocation it shows that we have a deficit of $10
432 845 600 000 and this will impact negatively on the procurement of
rations for prisoners."

The ministry said the ZPS struggled to feed inmates resulting in
malnutrition in prisons.

Most prison officers, the ministry added, have not received a full
complement of their uniforms for the past five years and the uniforms they
have were totally worn out.

Those who have been recruited during the same period have not received
trench coats, jerseys, barathea suits and caps.

"Some of the uniforms such as the barathea suits, caps and
accoutrements require foreign currency to be procured," the report read. "As
for inmates the situation is even worse since inmates exchange the same
clothes when they go for courts or to gangs thereby exposed to infectious

It also noted that there was also shortage of blankets in the prisons.

"Blankets purchased for the past years have not been enough to cater
for even one prison complex.The few blankets that may be available will
force many inmates to share a blanket, which may result in nefarious
activities taking place," the report added.

It said the lack of tissue paper in prisons had resulted in the
blockages of drainage system and sewerage pipes as inmates resort to using
pieces of torn blankets.

There was great need for adequate bedding and uniform requirements in
the prisons. In fact shortage of uniforms was a major cause of concern in

Many times prisoners were seen wearing tattered and torn uniforms
while there were also reports of prisoners going almost naked while they had
the right to proper clothing like other people.

Most inmates have one pair of shorts and shirts apparently tattered
and torn and rarely washed due to inadequacy of water and soap.

Indeed the country's prisons have become death traps.


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Corruption, Govt Incompetence Dooms 2008/9 Cropping Season

Friday, 30 January 2009 10:55
A MAN stands on the roadside, signals a Chinhoyi-bound commuter
omnibus to stop and momentarily, the driver pulls off the road.

Hastily the man disappears into the thicket of what was famously known
as "Little England" farm and returns with a 20-litre container full of

It is at this stage that perplexed passengers deduce that the vehicle
required immediate refuelling.
"Simbi dziripo mudhara below coupon rate, fertiliser iritii (I have
got diesel and fertiliser in abundance.)", he tells the driver.

This has become a thriving practice for farmers with access to
government-subsidised fuel and fertiliser.
Stretches of fallow land and yellowish maize crop have become a common
feature in traditional grain-producing regions, which were this agricultural
season expected to grow 80% of the 500 000 hectares targeted for maize under
a government farming programme.

An apparent deficiency of nitrogen and underutilisation of arable land
are telltale signs of a low yield expected from the widely publicised
"Champion Farmer" programme.

Despite reported cases of abuse by senior government officials,
official figures indicate that over 30 million litres of fuel is required to
meet the targeted tillage. Government has procured less than half of that
amount to date.

Last month, Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba -- the chairperson
of the national resource mobilisation and utilisation committee of the
programme -- threatened to name and shame high ranking officials involved in
an inputs scam.

However, only a handful of little-known individuals have so far been

While the nation braces for a bleak agricultural season, some farmers
are making a killing from selling inputs.
To this end, experts predict the 2008/9 cropping season to produce
less than a quarter of the two million tonnes of maize grain required to
meet annual national consumption.

An international aid agency, Famine Early Warning Systems, last year
said Zimbabwe's combined commercial and humanitarian cereal imports must
treble by March 2009 to meet the country's requirements for the remainder of
the marketing year.

University of Zimbabwe Graduate School of Management professor, Tony
Hawkins, said food shortages could fuel food inflation in the coming year.

"From the look of things, this is going to be a poor agricultural year
not because of the rains but due to critical shortages of inputs," Hawkins
said. "Resultantly food inflation could increase. It remains to be seen how
the demand-supply gap would be reduced through imports."

Government has often blamed natural causes for poor yields, but it
will have to come up with another excuse if the country experiences a poor
harvest after the meteorological department forecast a favourable rainfall

Economic sanctions by the United States and European Union could be
cited by the powers that be for the decline of the erstwhile mainstay of the
economy. Experts however blame government policies for declining

"The rains are good but the situation is bad," said Renson Gasela, the
secretary for lands and agriculture in the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara.
Gasela, who is also a commercial farmer based in Gweru, blamed government
for failing to plan for the current season.

 "There was a lot of seed in the press, but nothing on the ground.
Planning for next year's crop should start now in order to break the cycle
of food shortage. We are getting these perennial problems because government
does not plan on time. It often wants to plan in October and November,"
Gasela said.

Time, he added, could be running out for farmers to plant small grains
that can thrive without fertilisers.
Seed and fertiliser supplies in the country were poor until South
Africa and Sadc came up with a R300 million package, but the assistance came
too late. Ministers and senior government officials allegedly abused some of
the inputs from the package.

Fearful of imminent food shortages, government has since advised
farmers to grow crops like cowpeas, soya beans and millet. More so it
continues to distribute small amounts of grain to farmers in provinces like
Masvingo, halfway through the cropping season.

"This season is all decided, we can't do anything. Small grain also
has a period of growing, but again it's getting too late to plant them,"
Gasela added.

Analysts warned that the shrinking base of commercial farmers
resulting from continued evictions by government and suspected war veterans
could again negatively affect farming activity.

According to a Zanu PF Central Committee report submitted at last year's
National People's Conference, 341 out of 6 708 commercial white farmers have
been "recommended" by the party's provinces to continue farming since last
March. Manicaland and Mashonaland provinces had the most evictions.

The sharp decline in agricultural productivity comes at a time when
government is boasting of the Reserve Bank-facilitated farm mechanisation

"Not all the beneficiaries are farmers. Some of them are urban-based
MPs who rarely visit their farms. In terms of being a beneficiary, the
country has become more mechanised but not necessarily so when it comes to
productivity," Gasela said.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union president and Zanu PF National Consultative
Assembly member Silas Hungwe contends that the 2008/9 cropping season could
be better than the previous season notwithstanding inputs shortages.

"The current season promises to be better than last year's," Hungwe
predicted. "Unavailability of inputs such as ammonium nitrate will, however,
reduce the yield. We have been in successive years of food shortages,
therefore we encourage farmers to continue growing maize and small grains."

Government currently has three groups of farmers, which it hopes would
produce adequate food supplies - targeted champion farmers, disadvantaged
rural farmers, and the donor-driven "self-financing exercise".

Zimbabwe's poor agricultural output has been blamed on the chaotic
land reform the government embarked on in February 2000 after it lost a
constitutional referendum.


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Govt Blamed for Collapse of Social Security nets - Analysts

Friday, 30 January 2009 10:52
THE collapse of social security nets as a result of the decade-long
socio-political crisis has worsened the plight of underprivileged people who
are wallowing in poverty, and has also exposed government's
maladministration, analysts have said.

Most social safety nets, among them pensions, medical aid and
educational grants, are of no benefit to the majority of people due to the
declining economy characterised by hyperinflation and partial dollarisation.

Lloyd Sachikonye, a former professor at the University of Zimbabwe's
Institute for Development Studies, said the collapse of the safety nets was
a result of poor governance, although government insisted that sanctions
imposed by the United States, Britain and its Western allies were to blame.

Sachikonye argued: "There are no sanctions on social services and
wages. The collapse of the social security is an issue caused by an economic
crisis as a result of poor governance. The national social security agencies
have not performed up to expectations while the Zimbabwe government's
polices have failed to deliver."

He said wages and salaries have been eroded significantly due to the
deepening economic crisis.

"Most people's take home pay is less than or equivalent to US$1 and
this means that they cannot make ends meet on salaries.

Those who would have worked for 20 years or more cannot be pensioned
off because of the hyperinflation.

The security is gone. Medical aid cover has also been affected and the
ordinary person is left with no access to hospital, treatment and drugs,"
Sachikonye said.

He said Zimbabweans no longer have food security because production
has declined over the past seven years and to date over five million people
were in dire need of food.

"Half of the population has no food security except access to food aid
which is very limited," Sachikonye, the author of several books on social
development, said.

After Independence, government pledged to protect orphans, old people,
the disabled, and the unfortunate in life by providing food, shelter,
clothing, security and emotional care.

It implemented policies meant to alleviate poverty through the
Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and other

The Social Welfare ministry, which used to be consistent in paying
school fees for a number of children as well as provide assistance to the
needy, has for the past few years failed to deliver.

Government introduced the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam) and
college students used to get loans and grants. Informal social security
schemes like Zunde Ramambo (chief's granary) and burial societies, which
were most common in high density and rural areas, were also supported by the
Social Welfare ministry.

The government also had the Enhanced Social Protection Project, which
included Public Works, Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances,
Essential Drugs and Medical Supplies, and the development of a longer-term
Social Protection Strategy to assist the underprivileged.

According to a proposed economic recovery package drawn up last
September, government said it was assisting 613 000 food insecure households
through the public works programme.

The assistance was in the form of cash that enabled the households to
purchase grain from the Grain Marketing Board and other essentials such as
cooking oil.

However, most of these policies and schemes have been abandoned and
analysts have blamed the government for failing to ensure an enabling
environment for economic activity, appropriate education, health care and
social security as a final safety net for the downtrodden.

A social commentator who asked for anonymity said the government has
failed to provide services for its people so that they have emotional
support or moral guidance as some of the services have become too expensive
or simply do not exist any more.

He said: "The unemployment rate which is currently more than 80% and
the high inflation rate have deprived most families of the means to support
themselves. Private security systems such as insurance and pensions no
longer fulfill their expected functions. Health insurance is too expensive
and requires unaffordable payments for most procedures."

He said life insurance, funeral insurance and education plans that
were once efficient were no longer viable.
"The runaway inflation has destroyed the benefits of such insurance
schemes, so that a life insurance policy designed to keep a family for
months, if not years, after the death of a bread-winner doesn't even pay for
the funeral."

He said the government shot itself in the foot due to its weak polices
and should not blame sanctions.
The National Social Security Authority scheme, incepted as a
compulsory pension scheme for workers, has been rendered useless by the
economic situation.

Their motto "taking care of tomorrow today" has turned out to be an
advertising gimmick with no substance. President of the Insurance Institute
of Zimbabwe Edwin Moyo last year said the insurance sector had shrunk by 60%
in the last five years because most people could no longer afford premiums.

He said cash collection was a big challenge and insurance companies
had initially reduced the credit period from brokers to 30 days from 60, and
to reinsurance firms from 45 days to 15.

The payment was scrapped due to economic challenges and strict cash
collection policies were enforced.
Moyo said: "Individuals are only taking out motor cover insurance, and
that's only because the law requires that of them."


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Government Clips Gono's Wings

Friday, 30 January 2009 10:37
ACTING Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday clipped Reserve
Bank Governor Gideon Gono's wings by ordering the central bank to
concentrate on its mandate to ensure the stability of prices and the
financial sector.

In his 2009 national Budget presentation in parliament, Chinamasa also
reassigned the Goodwills Masimirembwa-chaired National Incomes and Pricing
Commission (NIPC) to only monitor and not set prices for goods and services.

Chinamasa said inflation had spiralled out of control because the
Reserve Bank had been printing a lot of "unbudgeted money".

"Excessive money supply growth rates, emanating from unbudgeted
expenditures made through the Reserve Bank, as well as low supply of goods
and services remain the major source of inflation," the minister said.

Inflation was at 619,50% when Gono was appointed governor in November

 Official inflation as of June last year was at 231 million percent
although independent analysts said the figure was now above one billion.

Money supply was 350% when Gono took over from Leonard Tsumba.

Analysts, however, said money supply could no longer be calculated
because of excess money printing as evidenced by the failure of the bank to
release the figure since April last year.

Since January last year, Gono has printed 35 new money notes.

Chinamasa said instead of printing unbudgeted money, the country
should focus on policies which stimulate production.

"The 2009 budget thrust should shift from policies that promote and
fuel consumption to those which create wealth through supporting our
productive sectors particularly agriculture mining, tourism and
manufacturing whose capacity utilisation is now below 30%," said Chinamasa.

"The (Reserve) Bank's balance sheet is now free of these quasi-fiscal
expenditures and the Reserve Bank will now concentrate on its major mandate
of assuring the stability of prices and the financial sector," said

He also said the domestic price regime had been liberalised to remove
restrictive price controls.

"The role of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission has thus been
reviewed to focus on monitoring price trends obtaining in the sub-region and
beyond, guiding producers and retailers as well as advising government on
import parity based pricing," said Chinamasa.

This means NIPC will no longer have the authority to control prices
but monitor them only.

The relevance of the NIPC had been questioned by a lot of producers
and retailers who said it was not effective because policies and prices it
imposed were not followed.

Chinamasa said the Reserve Bank was reviewing support to the mining
sector allowing for easier access to foreign exchange and thereby supporting
recapitalisation, purchase of inputs and provision of working capital.

"Furthermore foreign currency sales to the Reserve Bank will be at a
market-determined exchange rate," he said. "Government, through the Reserve
Bank will also facilitate negotiations for external financial facilities by
mines including gold on the back of future production."

Documents in possession of businessdiget show that gold miners on
January 15 submitted several proposals to the interim Mines minister Sydney
Sekeramayi seeking his intervention to save the former leading foreign
exchange earner from collapse.

Virtually all gold mines across the country have suspended operations
owing to cash flow problems.

The miners' proposals follow a series of attempts by the cash-strapped
industry to engage authorities over the unpaid US$30 million by the Reserve

Chinamasa's US$1,9 billion budget, which will be finance through
taxes, would not have a deficit.

In November 2007, the then Minister of Finance, Samuel Mumbengegwi,
announced a $7,800 quadrillion budget for 2008, which saw the budget deficit
then rising to 11% of the Gross Domestic Product.

Chinamasa said the government would pay allowance to its workers in
foreign currency because remunerating them in local currency alone when the
domestic goods and services market had been liberalised to allow for
multiple currency pricing, would disempower employees.

He said: "In this regard, government proposes a remuneration framework
for all public servants which provides for payment of salaries in local
currency, with periodic reviews in line with cost of living developments,
payment of a monthly foreign currency allowance, to facilitate access to a
basket of goods and services now being charged in convertible foreign

As reported by the Independent last week, the foreign currency
allowance would initially be through a voucher system pegged to a basket of
basic goods for a family of six.

"The voucher system is an interim arrangement, and will be phased out
gradually in favour of payments through the banking system in line with
improvements in foreign exchange inflows," Chinamasa said.


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Who will Save Local Industry?

Friday, 30 January 2009 10:34
AS the effects of the global financial upheaval rage on, job cuts have
become the talk of the day.

From computer geeks Microsoft to steel makers Corus, companies are
laying off workers. The intention is to assume leaner and more
cost-efficient structures in the hope of remaining profitable and with a
little luck ride out the wave.

Governments on the other hand have responded by throwing around
generous rescue packages while relaxing regulations to create an enabling
environment for business.

What is evident is that authorities will stop at nothing to give a
life line to locally domiciled companies in their respective countries.
Their determination, one can say, derives from a need to save jobs and to
shield local industries in the face of increased threats from foreign
products and subsequently, to their position in world trade.

Western economies appear to follow an unwritten code which accents the
importance of producing and exporting as much as they can while limiting
imports to inputs and what can be acquired cheaply elsewhere.

The rationale is that economies grow and develop if local supply is
harnessed to meet local demand especially for basic goods and services.

The strategy, it appears, is to generate and attract as much money as
you can from local products and keep most of it working within their
economies by limiting outflows.

Evidently this is why many were relieved when the crisis spread to
emerging economies, particularly the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India
and China).

Fears were that if they had not been affected, their companies would
outflank struggling local companies and tip the balance. This also explains
why there is so much noise whenever other economies adopt protectionist
policies or preferential trade practices.

Back home, policy appears to turn a blind eye to this simple rule that
requires protecting the local industry and ensuring a favourable operating

This is despite the growing need to position the country to benefit
from the looming free trade area. Price controls, unfavorable exchange rates
and raging inflation are some of the structural impediments in place that
have stripped local products of an upper hand previously held over foreign

The existing foreign currency retention schemes have imposed an extra
tax and have worked hand in glove with cumbersome red tape, to eat into
company revenues, in the process compromising the competitiveness of local
business notably the mining sector.

The decade-long economic slumber has not done industry any good
either; the collapse of the primary sector has left it no option but to
import expensive raw materials.

While we were absorbed in coping with the economic decay, our
production technologies, infrastructure and service provision methods have
become obsolete. This has left the economy prone to invasion by alien
products. Local products have become less and less attractive because of
inferior quality and poor product packaging among a host of other factors.

Food shortages forced authorities to blindly open an onslaught on
local products. Removal of duty on basic goods in a bid to improve the food
situation has gutted the economy leaving industry at the mercy of
foreigners. This followed the selective licensing of retailers to sell in
foreign currency.

Again locals were left to swallow the bitter pill as they were barred
from selling their products in foreign currency. To add insult to injury,
the cost of producing locally, were the inputs can be found, is now only in
hard currency.

This has lead to a gradual erosion of whatever advantages local
businesses previously enjoyed. The result has been an influx of imported
products which seem to be out- competing local products.

Today it makes more sense for companies and individuals to import and
sell finished products than for them to commit resources to producing.
Highlighting the extent of the problem, it is now cheaper to drive and have
cars serviced elsewhere in the region than to contract local service
providers who import from the same sources before applying fat mark ups. ]

Delta Corporation is probably one of the most affected. The current
structure has left the beverage manufacturers fighting a war they look set
to lose. The giant is struggling to unseat an invasion by foreign beverages
which have gained popularity especially with the younger generation of

Not only do they enjoy superiority in their packaging and quality but
they seem to be enjoying a price edge over Delta which has to import most
raw materials and no longer enjoys regulatory protection as was before.

At a briefing in December the group revealed that they were looking to
franchise products from SABMiller in a bid to spruce up their product line
and starve off competition.

While local business including the mining and lately financial
sectors, titers on the brink of collapse because of operational challenges
imposed by the harsh environment, the country is sprawling with retail
outlets that sell mostly foreign products.

The owners, predominantly foreign, take advantage of cheaply sourced
products in their resident countries to wage successful market share
takeovers with feeble resistance.

Sadly prices are nowhere near those in source countries plus transport
costs, rather prices are only lowered to levels sufficient to boot out
competition and enjoy the free meal.

The rumour mill has it that a South African-based retail giant has
been acquiring properties in Zimbabwe with the view of establishing outlets
and tapping the market as soon as the timing is right.

The question then is, when will authorities wake up to this plight?
If they do, how many of the local companies will survive to see that day.


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Tax to be Paid in Foreign Currency

Friday, 30 January 2009 10:32
GOVERNMENT has proposed a raft of tax measures to be paid in foreign
currency to finance the US$1,9 billion Budget for the current fiscal year.

Presenting the 2009 Budget statement to parliament yesterday, acting
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa announced measures that include "astute
technocratic implementation" in raising US$1,7 billion in taxes.
The remaining US$200 million, Chinamasa said, would be sourced from
"already committed cooperating partners". Last year the Multi-Donor Trust
Fund pledged to assist government in anticipation for re-engagement with the
Bretton Woods institutions.

This figure confirms a leaked economic blueprint that was reportedly
crafted by the Reserve Bank last year. The document, titled RBZ
Comprehensive Recovery Plan, revealed that government would raise US$500
million through corporate tax, US$600 million in customs duties, US$200
million in value added tax (VAT), US$100 million in PAYE and US$150 million
from fuel tax.

This means that government would continue financing the fiscus mainly
from the domestic market after falling out with international financiers.

"To meet the operational costs of government including the new
remuneration framework, it will be necessary that we introduce a number of
tax measures targeted at mobilising resources in both local and foreign
currency," Chinamasa said.

Due to full dollarisation of the economy that gathered momentum
following the licensing of retailers and wholesalers to trade in foreign
currency last year, Chinamasa proposed remittance of company tax in hard

"I therefore propose that corporate tax be remitted in the currency in
which business is conducted with effect from 1 January 2009," he said.

Turning to value added tax, government proposed payment of the levy in
foreign currency from tomorrow.

He also proposed the suspension of customs duty payable in local
currency at the ongoing interbank rate.

Instead, he recommended payment of duty in foreign currency arguing
that some importers were settling duty through underhand dealings.

Chinamasa also proposed to widen the tax net to the informal sector by
"embracing into the budget those currently evading tax in the informal

This would be done through the immediate introduction of presumptive
tax paid on a quarterly basis. Independent statistics show that 80% of the
country's comatose economy has been informalised.

Below par performance in industry and the prolonged suspension of the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange have also resulted in government losing huge amounts
of revenue.

Government also took on board proposals made by the Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries to levy carbon and fuel tax to petroleum companies now
selling fuel in hard currency.

This proposal will see government levying US$0,22 per litre for
customs duty, carbon tax and Noczim debt redemption for imported fuel.

Indexing income tax against the redundant interbank rate, Chinamasa
argued, resulted in most foreign currency earnings being either heavily or

"In order to enhance the contribution of PAYE to tax revenue and
uphold regional best practices in the taxation of incomes earned in the
foreign currency, I propose to introduce separate foreign currency tax
tables for employees remunerated in foreign currency with effect from 1
February 2009," Chinamasa said.

With full dollarisation in place, Chinamasa further proposed the
introduction of new tax bands and payment of income tax in foreign currency
despite not revealing the tax-free threshold.

The CZI however in its fiscal policy recommendations advised
government to effect a maximum tax rate of 20% for workers earning over US$1
000 per month.

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe last November proposed a tax free
threshold of US$250 citing exorbitant prices of goods and services charged
by foreign currency licenced dealers.


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Zinwa Loses Water Management

Friday, 30 January 2009 10:30
THE government has decentralised the management of water from the
bungling Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) to local councils, while
utilities authorities have been given the greenlight to charge in foreign
currency with effect from next month.

In the 2009 National Budget presentation yesterday, acting Finance
minister Patrick Chinamasa said the decentralisation would result in Zinwa,
which has been criticised for failure to effectively manage water supplies
and sewer reticulation throughout the country's urban centres, reverting to
its role prior to May 9 2005.

"The centralisation of water management in Zinwa has been
characterised by bureaucratic inefficiencies, leading to low staff morale,"
Chinamasa said. "This entails that Zinwa reverts back to its status prior to
the directive of May 9 2005. Accordingly, Zinwa and local authorities should
begin the processes for smooth hand over and take over transfers."

He said government would work with the respective local authorities in
mobilising resources for the rehabilitation of obsolete reticulation

"The charging of economic water tariffs will complement such resource
mobilisation measures," he added.

He said: "Government is therefore empowering local authorities and
public enterprises such as Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa),
Zinwa, and National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) among others, to charge
for their services in both local and foreign currencies."

He said this would be complemented by the periodic review of tariffs
to economic levels, which would allow institutions to cover operational
costs consistent with the 'user pays' principle.

Chinamasa said to enable Noczim to raise sufficient funds to import
fuel on a sustainable basis without reverting either to treasury or the
Reserve Bank for foreign currency, all customers -- government and farmers
included -- would pay the full price in foreign exchange.

He also announced the adjusted electricity tariff.

"Based on the already government approved cost plus approach, the
electricity tariff is being adjusted with effect from February 1 to 47% from
the current US$0,67 to US$0,98 per kilowatt per hour in order for Zesa to
recover costs of supply. This is payable in both local and foreign

A tariff regime providing for a lifeline tariff of up to 50 kWh hours
for domestic consumers would be used to provide for continued subsidisation
of low income households, while cost reflective tariffs will be charged on
other consumer categories.

Farmers will from next month pay 80% of the obtaining tariff level in
order to maintain sustainability.

"With regards to farmers, who remain the anchor of our agricultural
reforms, while government recognises the need to cushion them, the current
subsidy of 55% of the tariff being paid by the farmers is not sustainable,"
Chinamasa said. "Farmers will therefore pay 80% of the obtaining tariff
level with effect from February 1."


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ZSE to Trade in Forex

Friday, 30 January 2009 10:28
THE Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) has been given the greenlight to
trade in foreign currency to ensure that it reflects the true economic
picture of the country and value of counters.

Presenting the 2009 national Budget yesterday, Acting Finance minister
Patrick Chinamasa said the bourse remained a critical pivot for
socio-economic development through its intermediary role between surplus
economic agents and those intending to raise capital.

"Consultations are on-going over measures to ensure that the Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange also serves as an effective vehicle for foreign exchange
generation," Chinamasa said. "In this regard, stock market trading in both
local and foreign currency will be allowed."

While the economy was crumbling, the ZSE was earning returns above
inflation with most counters gaining by over 100 000% daily.

This jump in share prices was in excess of increases in consumer

The stock market had become a prime beneficiary of monetary expansion
and the "burning" of US dollars to create artificial wealth.

Chinamasa also proposed a new tax targeting the large amounts that
were deposited into individual and corporate accounts as a result of
"burning". He said the funds would be taxed at the highest marginal tax rate
of 40% with effect from February 1.

Sextillions of dollars were made last year as investors either
leveraged the embarrassingly low interest rates or used "burned" money to
generate huge returns.

As a result share prices were rising while the economy continued to
collapse, giving a false impression to investors who used the stock exchange
as a barometer for the country's economic performance.

Chinamasa said the stock market could spin out of control,
particularly in cases where there were no strict oversight rules.

"In order to ensure that the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange fully plays its
developmental role, the Ministry of Finance, through the Securities
Commission, is putting in place a rigorous code of ethics as well as
stringent licensing and risk management systems for stock brokers,"
Chinamasa said.

The stock market has not been trading since November 17 last year as
investigations by the Reserve Bank and the Securities Commission into
alleged insider trading continue following practices by some banks that were
using fraudulent cheques to artificially inflate share prices.

The Securities Commission ordered stockbrokers to submit audited
financial reports of their net worth by the end of December 2008.

The commission warned broking firms they would be closed if they
failed to meet the deadline.
Trades on the bourse are now supposed to be backed by a letter of
confirmation from bank chief executive officers.

The stock market committee has also observed with concern that there
were some relatively large institutions with capacity and strategic
macroeconomic information, which was used to inflate, depress or cause
fluctuations in the prices of securities in breach of the Securities Act.

"This is considered a very serious offence and will be subjected to
investigation in order to determine complicity under the Securities Act,"
the stock exchange said.

The ZSE committee said it had not yet ruled on the issue of defaulting
members that were revealed by the Reserve Bank last year.

"It (activities on the stock market) was simultaneously escalated to
the public domain as the report was being brought to the attention of the
committee," the ZSE said early this year.

The stock market was providing investors with an alternative lucrative
investment option given the depressed performance of other markets like the
money market or property market which require a lot of money.

A number of investors preferred to take refuge on the stock market
because returns have been tracking inflation.


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Govt Allocates $53m to Social Protection Programmes

Friday, 30 January 2009 10:24
THE government has allocated US$53,5 million to social protection
programmes that had virtually collapsed due to economic challenges fueled by

Presenting the 2009 national Budget yesterday, acting Minister of
Finance Patrick Chinamasa said human development indicators were continuing
to deteriorate due to depressed economic performance.

The social security programmes to be bankrolled by government include
the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam), public health assistance,
public works and children in difficult circumstances.

Chinamasa said: "Inflation has not only eroded incomes of our
teachers, lecturers and health personnel, but also contributed to the
inadequate teaching materials, medicines and drugs as well as deterioration
in facilities and infrastructure.

"It is critical that we urgently address the challenges afflicting the
education sector as they threaten to reverse and undermine the gains made
thus far."

As a result, the Ministry of Education was allocated US$149,8 million
while US$10,8 million was set aside for construction and rehabilitation of

For the procurement of teaching, learning materials and equipment,
Chinamasa allocated the ministry US$46,1 million while US$2,96 million was
set aside to facilitate supervision of schools by improving the mobility of
education officers.

In-service training for school heads was allocated US$6,33 million.

Chinamasa said the integrity of the public examinations has recently
come under the spotlight following delays in setting and marking and as a
result he allocated US$16,9 million to the Zimbabwe Schools Examination
Council "to improve and restore confidence".

The allocation would be supplemented by additional income from
examination fees, which would be reviewed periodically.

Chinamasa allocated US$29,9 million to state universities.

Out of that allocation, US$12,5 million would be for recurrent
expenditure and US$17,4 million for capital projects, including teaching and
learning materials.

Chinamasa allocated US$12,5 million to 13 teachers training colleges
and 10 polytechnics for operational requirements.

"The provision under Higher and Tertiary Education also caters for
$175 quadrillion (US$5 million) in support of students under the National
Education Training Fund, including targeted students under the cadetship
programmes," the minister said.

Turning to the health sector, Chinamasa said adequate provision of
drugs, medical supplies, equipment, ambulances and service vehicles,
including attraction and retention of staff were critical factors in the
health delivery services.

"I therefore propose to allocate $5,52 quintillion (US$157,8 million)
to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare," he said.

About US$60 million ($2,1 quintillion) will be targeted at government
central, provincial and district hospitals and rural health centres.

Sixty percent of the allocation would cater for the procurement of
drugs and medical supplies and the rest will go to general running expenses.

Chinamasa set aside US$21,7 million for the procurement of drugs and
other medical supplies for local authorities and mission hospitals and

NatPharm has been allocated US$16,25 million for recapitalisation.

The Health ministry is expected to procure 61 ambulances and 80
service vehicles from the US$4 million it was allocated for equipment.

Chinamasa allocated US$6,6 million for urgent rehabilitation of health
infrastructure such as boilers, steam reticulation systems and laundry
equipment at Harare, Mpilo, United Bulawayo hospital and Chitungwiza central


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Last Thing Zimbabwe Needs is GNU, Regime Change

Friday, 30 January 2009 10:13
FOR a long time now the so-called power-sharing agreement between
Zanu-PF and both factions of the MDC, signed in September last year, has
been touted as the magic wand that will take present-day Zimbabwe out of its
current political and economic crisis.

That agreement is being dubbed a Government of National Unity (GNU).

I want to argue that the so-called power-sharing deal is exactly that:
a power-sharing deal, and nothing more. It can never be the GNU it purports
to be.

A GNU, as it rightly suggests, is a political arrangement where
different political parties representing different political interests agree
to come together to form a government, often during some form of crisis.
It is important to start at the beginning.

Attempts at GNUs are not unique to post-Independence Zimbabwe. With
all its imperfections, it can be argued that Rhodesia's experiments with the
'A' and 'B' roll parliament was an attempt at a GNU, as was the short-lived
Muzorewa government of 1979.

At Zimbabwe's Independence, Zimbabwe's first Independence government
was touted as such a GNU. All pretence disappeared when Mugabe soon relieved
Nkomo and his colleagues of their cabinet posts.

Post-Independence, the so-called Unity Accord might also be regarded
as such, though, unsurprisingly, there has never been an attempt by Zanu-PF
to tout it as such. We are about to see another version of a GNU if Zanu-PF
and MDC finally join to form a government.

All these GNUs have failed in the past. The so-called Unity Accord
never existed as there has never been any pretence that Zanu-PF was
swallowing Zapu. This represented the political capitulation of Joshua
Nkomo, and through him, the Ndebele.

There is a critical question to be asked here: why have all GNUs
failed in the past?

The answer is simple. They were never intended to work in the first
place. They were, and always will remain, time-buying or pressure-releasing
mechanisms by the incumbent government. In the case of Zapu, the purpose of
the so-called Unity Accord, as pointed out above, was the subjugation of the

So it is with the so-called GNU between Zanu-PF and the MDC
formations, where we are about to go back to square one: a pre-ordained

So-called GNUs, particularly in non-democratic countries, remain a
nebulous and elastic concept. Often they do not state what it is they are
uniting and the purpose of that unity. So it is with the so-called GNU
between Zanu-PF and the MDC, that beyond the fact that it describes itself
as such, it is not a GNU.

What is clear though is that two violent parties are sharing cabinet
posts. (It is immaterial that one of them came out second best.)

The meaning of a GNU in Zimbabwe and other such countries is to be
found in the answer to the question why the Democrats or Republicans in the
US and Labour and the Conservatives in the UK have never sought a GNU
following defeat in an election.

A fundamental tenet of democracy is choice, where whoever is beaten
this time awaits their next chance, but there is never an imperative to then
join or unite victors and the defeated after the elections. Why in Zimbabwe
and such other countries?

It is time for a re-think. But I believe that while everybody in the
know knows what needs to be done to sort matters out in Zimbabwe, not
everybody wants to do the right thing.

There are two things Zimbabwe does not need and has never needed. The
first is a GNU. The second is regime change. It is time for Zimbabweans and
Mthwakazians to sing from a different political hymnbook.

A number of factors make this important. Firstly, there is a new
administration in the US. President Barack Obama has already extended an
olive branch by promising to work with all suppressive regimes as long as
they "unclench their fists". There is promise for political engagement

In the region, new governments which are prepared to question the
Mugabe regime have come to power in Zambia, Botswana and, to a limited
extent, Mozambique. In South Africa Thabo Mbeki, who many saw as openly
protective of Mugabe, is out of power.

His likely successor, Jacob Zuma, has already made favourable noises
suggestive of a possible shift in policy vis-à-vis Mugabe and Zimbabwe under
his presidency. It is simply unthinkable that the Zuma government would
continue with the failed "quiet diplomacy" of his predecessor.

Within Zimbabwe itself, civic groups elbowed out of the present
power-sharing deal present prospects for a broad-based political movement
for true change. Within Zanu-PF, there are on-going power-struggles.

Then there is the revived Zapu, from whom we are still to hear much.
Within both factions of the MDC there is growing talk of disgruntlement with
both Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.

Then there are emerging groups like MPC now seeking the partition of
present day Zimbabwe into United Mthwakazi Republic and a new Zimbabwe. To
all this must be added the political discontent and the economic collapse
now afflicting Zimbabwe.

All these factors combine to make this the most opportune time to seek
a permanent solution to the never-ending problems of today's Zimbabwe.

To get to that point, policy advisers in foreign governments and
international organizations need to get the facts right. I think grave
policy errors have been made in the past in both Washington and London about
pushing a regime change agenda, an agenda both capitals have not been able
to advance once challenged about neo-colonialism and imperialism. Here is
why these have been policy errors.

It is fact Mugabe has strong though diminished support in Zimbabwe,
whether you measure this in terms of the recent or past elections. What is
demonstrable is that at worst we are talking of margins of loss of support
but not loss of support, even not discounting violence.

It is also a fact that many Shona people despise Tsvangirai. They see
him as a "sell-out", not just to the West, as Mugabe and some of them openly
state, but also as betraying the advantage and domination Mugabe has given
the Shona people in Zimbabwe.

It is also fact that many Shona people do not take Mutambara
seriously. Many, among the Shona and Ndebele, regard him as a political
careerist impatient to assume the full trappings of political office.

The regime change agenda has galvanised Africa behind Mugabe and led
to the loss of political goodwill of Africa, which would have helped ease
Mugabe out of office honourably.

It is true that the regime change agenda has made Mugabe even stronger
and more determined to stay in power by whatever method will achieve that.
It is also fact that due to very bad political advice to Tsvangirai, Africa
has long written him off.

For all the political blunders he is known for, Tsvangirai is not
entirely to blame for them. Some of the major and critical ones must attach
to his long coterie of "advisers".

The people of Matabeleland do not support Mugabe or Tsvangirai. The
Matabeleland vote for Tsvangirai is a protest vote against Mugabe.

It is fact that the international community is fully aware that the
Ndebele (uMthwakazi) do not want to be part of present-day Zimbabwe, but the
international community is happy for the moment to conveniently look the
other way. UMthwakazi must, however, take the largest blame for this.

The constitutional position of Matabeleland (as ruled by King
Lobengula) has not been resolved.  The Lancaster House agreeent did not
address the issue. It is therefore fact that the constitutional position of
the Ndebele (broadly defined) in present-day Zimbabwe is both a
constitutional and political issue yet to be resolved.

Tsvangirai has not turned out to be what was expected, as it is fact
that Mugabe has proved some of his detractors wrong, even with the
deplorable methods he has used in the process.

All these misjudged facts lead to a number of flawed policy positions
that have obtained to this point.

It is a false policy premise that the people of present-day Zimbabwe
no longer want Mugabe. Most Shona people still want him and the political
architecture of advantage he has built for them. This is not to suggest that
they would not change him for a leader of similar mental and political

It is also a false policy premise that Mugabe has been bad since 2000,
as it is also a false policy premise that Mugabe has changed. Mugabe has not
changed for better or worse. He is what he has always been, a ruthless
megalomaniac. What has is the attitude of the West towards him.

Therefore a correct policy position must be developed to tackle Mugabe
as he is and not as people now wish he was.

It is also then a false premise that the people of present-day
Zimbabwe want Tsvangirai. Even judging by the flawed standard of the March
elections this premise is false. But more telling criticism and
disgruntlement is replete in newspaper contributions and forums such as New
Zimbabwe's forum and the popular Inkundla forum.

Indeed, there does not appear to be anything more that most
commentators from Zimbabwe agree on. It makes it worse when it appears that
Tsvangirai is now being force-fed on Zimbabwe, and it is certainly unfair
for him when he has to take all this heat all for what appears to be a
reward for having been there from the beginning.

For all political purposes nothing much can be said of Mutambara. I
agree, though, with most of what Mutambara stated in a recent article in
which he criticised the West's handling of the Zimbabwean crisis.
I do not in this article propose to analyse these facts and the flawed
policy positions supporting them beyond stating them.

I just want to emphasise that these are the facts that need
correcting, which confronts any policy maker developing an effective policy
designed to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis. I want to move on and briefly
discuss what I believe Zimbabwe needs.

Zimbabwe needs only one thing at this moment, and that is a
Transitional Government (TG) and transitional arrangements under such a
government. Such a government must be made up of prominent citizens of
Zimbabwe who will not be contesting elections under a new constitution to be
hammered out at the end of the TG.

Under the TG, a political process similar to South Africa's Codesa
must be put together to discuss, under international supervision, all
political matters afflicting Zimbabwe. Participants to this political
conference should be all political groups, civic groups and civil society at
large. The international community must underwrite such a conference by
whatever appropriate mechanisms are necessary.

Such a political conference must identify all political issues which
should be included in a new constitution. From the political conference must
then be written a new constitution under which fresh elections will be

There is no point in attempting to write a new constitution, as
suggested by the NCA, before such a political conference. Who is to say what
should be included or excluded in a new constitution if the people
themselves are not involved in identifying the political and constitutional
issues to be included in the new constitution?

The so-called GNU is nothing less than a mutually assured destruction
game, with Tsvangirai leveraging himself with a signature which will
allegedly unlock international financial support while Mugabe blocks
Tsvangirai's rush to State House.

Luckily, though, both the MDC and Zanu-PF have not concealed the fact
that what they are presently involved in but wrongly refer to as a GNU is in
fact simply a power-sharing agreement. Little wonder then that they are
quarrelling over who gets what in the new gravy train, in total disdain of
the suffering on the ground.

We also know that both these parties (less so the Mutambara faction of
the MDC) are on the power-sharing table, courtesy of violence and courtesy
of the Kenya model. So the message is clear to other aspiring politicians in
Zimbabwe, that the cruellest and most vicious gets the top place in the
power-sharing table followed by the next cruellest and next vicious. Kenya
is therefore a model that must never be allowed to take root in Zimbabwe or
Africa for that matter.

Zuma, if he successfully becomes president of South Africa, must lead
a true African renewal to stop this latest example of Black Africa's sure
regress to the Dark Ages.

As we enter this defining moment, ushered in by the election of US
President, Obama, and the likely assumption of power by Zuma in South
Africa, we must hope that either or both men will have the courage of their
convictions to convene an international conference on present-day Zimbabwe
in which the African Union, United Nations, Sadc, regional governments and
the people of Zimbabwe will play a part.

For our part, as the affected people, we have a duty to point the
world in the direction we want to go and not the world to point us in the
direction it wants us to go. This will be Mthwakazi and Zimbabwe's
opportunity to get things right, finally, and permanently.

Ndabezinhle Edwin Mkwananzi is a social and political commentator. He
writes in his private capacity. He can be reached at nedwinm@aol.comThis
e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled
to view it .


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Candid Comment: Future Belongs to us

Friday, 30 January 2009 09:49
ON January 28 South Africa's e-TV showed pictures of emaciated
Zimbabwean prisoners and rural families, many sick and dying from lack of
food and medication.

The pictures and accompanying news story were stark reminders of the
dire situation in Zimbabwe at the time that Southern African leaders had
completed a meeting on finding a lasting solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe.

The e-TV story is particularly interesting as it shows in clearer
terms the issues in Zimbabwe, that the crisis is about livelihoods and

While a lot has been written about how the crisis is man-made, and
Mugabe's intransigence and his total disregard of any civilised political
processes, the issue in my view remains that the people of Zimbabwe have
reached the end of their tether and cannot hang on any longer.

While the Sadc summit was concluded in South Africa, reports were
already emerging on how the MDC had not consented to the communiqué and how
the breakthrough is after all a false one.

This message of doom was conveyed mostly by the foreign media, with
newspapers carrying opinions supporting the MDC not to join Mugabe in a
unity government.

This kind of news has a chilling effect on the majority of
Zimbabweans, locally or in the diaspora, for it sends only one message; that
is more suffering and an increasingly dark future.

This brings back the question of what these talks are really about.
Despite my misgivings about the leadership of South Africa in this process,
I agree with Kgalema Motlanthe that we cannot afford to go on talking and
talking, and that these talks should focus on simply saving the lives of the
people of Zimbabwe first and everything else later.

No one is fooled that the MDC received a raw deal from Mugabe and
Sadc. The questions that remains to be answered is what options the MDC has,
what can the MDC do to overcome the support that Sadc openly shows for

My view is that the MDC right now has no choice but to join the unity
government with its headlights on high beam. The MDC now needs to rise above
Zanu PF both morally and in political strategy and define itself as a party
of the future. I argue that the MDC now needs to join the government and
simply help save lives and restore some sort of dignity and normality to the
lives of Zimbabweans.

The MDC needs to go into the unity government to salvage the little of
what is left of Zimbabwe, as well as work on a new constitution that
reverses the damage of the past eight years, as well set a future course
guaranteeing our rights and independent institutions for elections and other
pressing issues.

This agenda does not need the MDC to have ambassadorial posts among
other issues. The MDC needs to look at its role in the unity government as
transitional and not permanent.

There is no way this process, flawed as it is, can be seen as the
ultimate solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe but a process towards a final
resolution that addresses issues of free and fair elections at some point.

The transition in Zimbabwe, the MDC should note, will be slow and
painful but the journey has to be taken nevertheless.

The MDC needs to make full and effective utilisation of the social
service and economic ministries it holds to stabilise Zimbabwe, gain
experience in running a government and prepare for the future. Joining the
unity government, however painful, gives the opposition a chance to carry
out its political programmes in peace.

One thing is clear about Zanu PF and Robert Mugabe. Mugabe is and
should not be seen as part of the future of Zimbabwe. He is unfortunately
bestriding the door of transition and a way has to be found to sidestep him
and move forward.

The success of the MDC in the unity government is dependent on what
the party will do with that little power, and an acknowledgment that the
unity government is part of and not the transition. The MDC still needs a
robust political programme that guarantees its continued linkages with its
grassroots support urban and rural.

An aspect that the MDC needs to remove from its psyche is that the
unity agreement as a process will not succeed without monetary support from
the West.

That in my view is neither true nor a sustainable proposition noting
how the West is now burdened with its own economic challenges.

The future of Zimbabwe lies not in generous aid but normalisation of
the economy, resuscitating agriculture, education, health, and more
importantly, taming corruption. History and present international crises
must counsel the MDC that the world is far less concerned about Zimbabwe in
comparison, say, to Gaza.

The geo-political significance of Zimbabwe is such that we can all die
and the world moves on as if nothing happened.

One million people died in Rwanda and the world moved on. Less that
two thousand died in Gaza and the world almost came to standstill from the
UN, Washington, London, Johannesburg, Lusaka and to Paris.

African governments, all quiet on Zimbabwe, had something to say about
the deaths of the Palestinians.

Over 3 000 people have died in Zimbabwe and not many, except Raila
Odinga and Botswana, said anything.

That is the painful reality of our own world. It is good to then
evaluate how far we can rely on the outside world to help us get out of the
malaise that Zanu PF has thrown us in. Diplomacy then is best placed to
serve us and move us forward. The future belongs to us, not Mugabe.

Rashweat Mukundu is a programme specialist for Media Freedom
Monitoring, Misa regional secretariat, Windhoek.


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Comment: Justice Now

Friday, 30 January 2009 09:41
IT couldn't be clearer. "Each party will take all measures necessary
to ensure that the structures and institutions it controls are not engaged
in the perpetration of violence," the Memorandum of Understanding signed on
July 21 last year states unequivocally.

"The parties are committed to ensuring that the law is applied fairly
and justly to all persons irrespective of political affiliation," it says.
"The parties will take all necessary measures to eliminate all forms of
political violence, including by non-state actors, and to ensure the
security of persons and property.

"The parties shall refrain from using abusive language that may incite
hostility, political intolerance and ethnic hatred or undermine each other,"
the MoU states.

The subsequent agreement between the parties signed with much fanfare
on September 15 called for steps to be taken to ensure that "the public
media provides balanced and fair coverage to all political parties".

None of that is happening right now. In fact the opposite is the case.
The public media is actively inciting hatred towards the opposition in
general and Morgan Tsvangirai in particular. Daily it spews a toxic lava of
hatred fatuously claiming the MDC-T leader is a puppet of the West.

Zimbabwe's courts have heard of abductions, torture and point-blank
refusal by the authorities to release illegally detained political
prisoners. Court orders have been routinely ignored.

Then Sadc can't understand why the MDC-T is reluctant to join a regime
responsible for these egregious human rights abuses. Indeed, the failure by
Sadc to condemn these breaches of solemn undertakings by Zimbabwe's rulers
makes the regional body complicit in the lawlessness now plaguing the land.

One of the key points raised by the MDC-T in its submission to the
Sadc summit in Pretoria on Monday was the persistent breaches being made of
the MoU of last July and the Global Political Agreement of September. The
government claims it cannot entertain new issues.

But it cannot expect to impose persistent depredations upon the
country under the pretence of imposing law and order and then insist that
its victims join a unity government.

That is coercion of the worst sort.

The governments of South Africa and Botswana have made it clear that
they regard claims of militia training as political gimmicks. That is a view
shared by most Zimbabweans. But these gimmicks have a sinister dimension.

A healthy judicial system would cast a sceptical eye upon such claims
by the state.

But our courts seem reluctant to uphold the right to presumption of
innocence in the absence of serious charges. Sadc, whatever its other
shortcomings, has over a two-year period declined to entertain Zanu PF's
"dossiers" cataloguing fictional violence organised by the MDC. But victims
of these charges remain incarcerated.

The release of political prisoners is therefore an understandable
precondition for any move by the MDC-T to join a unity government. Why
should the opposition be expected to partner a regime that cruelly seizes
and assaults its members?

Television stations around the world have run footage of interviews
with victims of systematic violence while in detention.

Only in Zimbabwe, where despite the MoU's call for "fair coverage" of
current events, have the public been denied the right to hear the claims of
victims of physical abuse, some of their testimony a matter of record in
open court.

State Security minister Didymus Mutasa has in a court affidavit
acknowledged the state's role in the abductions but declined to disclose the
names of the agents responsible. This is self-evidently not a government the
MDC-T should be joining until the rule of law is restored.

Tsvangirai, we note, has said his party remains committed to the
global agreement of September 15. But it will not join the new government
until certain issues have been resolved.

That is the correct stance. The country is in desperate need of a
political settlement so it can undergo recovery. It will only enjoy such a
recovery if the international community is prepared to step in with material

It certainly won't do that if the rule of law is openly flouted and
innocent people are arbitrarily detained in deplorable conditions simply
because they oppose the ruling party.

Let's hope the MDC-T national council that meets today will spell out
the issues at stake. We may need a settlement. But we also need justice.
Zimbabweans in their hundreds of thousands want to come home to a prosperous
and stable nation where their rights are upheld.

Governments around the world are standing by with billions of US
dollars to aid recovery. But none of this will happen so long as people like
Jestina Mukoko are subject to cruel and relentless punishment. We cannot
have a unity government in a situation where people are tortured just
because they voted for a party of their choice.

Zimbabwe needs peace and healing, not thuggery dressed up as order.
Does Zanu PF understand that? It doesn't seem so.

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Erich Bloch: Employers' Immense Dilemma

Friday, 30 January 2009 09:41
ZIMBABWEAN employers in general, and those in the manufacturing sector
in particular, are being confronted by an intensifying dilemma.

It is very rare for an employer to be arrogantly dismissive of
employee concerns, and almost all employers strive to address those concerns
as well as they can.

Whilst in some instances this is primarily motivated by humanitarian
considerations, for most it is due to the recognition that employee
efficiency and productivity is markedly enhanced when the employee is not
continuously concerned, and often depressed, by diverse worries and

Thus, the greater the employees' peace of mind, the higher their
morale and the more satisfied they may be with their life.

This is beneficial for the employer, for commensurately greater is the
output of the employees and the higher the quality of that output.

However, within the present Zimbabwean economic environment employers
are finding it increasingly difficult, and usually impossible, to
sufficiently address the many distresses that prey on the minds of their

The first and most important key issue is that of remuneration. Never
in history has any populace been subjected to such cataclysmic inflation as
that which now impacts upon all Zimbabweans.

Although the Central Statistical Office has not released any Consumer
Price Index (CPI) or inflation data since July 2008, many private sector
authoritative estimates and calculations are available. Amongst such data
recently released, the Cato Institute places month-on-month inflation for
November 2008 at 79, 6 billion per cent!

As difficult as it is to absorb the realities of inflation of such
catastrophic magnitude, the actual situation is even worse, for that level
of inflation was not exclusive to that month.

Professor Steve Hanke, who is professor of applied economics at Johns
Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA, and a senior fellow of the Cato
Institute (a renowned Washington-based "think tank") has computed that
Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate approximates 6,5 quindecillion
novemdecillion per cent (which is 65 followed by 107 zeros!). On the basis
of that inflation calculation, the cost of living in Zimbabwe is now
doubling every 24, 7 hours!

For employees to maintain their standards of living, they require
increases in salaries and wages commensurate with the real rate of
inflation, and more and more that is being demanded.

Almost every wage negotiation between trade unions and employer
representative bodies is founded upon employee demands for wage increments
at least commensurate with prevailing inflation.

Such demands are wholly understandable for, in the absence of
inflation-aligned incomes, the employees are unable to meet their basic
living expenses.

They are confronted with continuously escalating increases in rentals,
transport charges, costs of basic foodstuffs, education fees, health care
expenses, costs of utilities and much more. Life for the average Zimbabwean
has become a continuous juggle between progressively more and more limited
resources and endlessly rising costs of sustaining themselves and their

But employers are faced with the insurmountable constraint of their
revenues being insufficient to fully address employee demands. They are
victims of the same inflation that afflicts their workers. All operational
costs constantly surge upwards, and yet cannot be wholly incorporated into
increasing sale prices.

Those who manufacture for export markets must determine selling prices
at levels that are competitive against the prices of like products supplied
by manufacturers in less inflationary environments, failing which export
market competitiveness is lost and sales are not forthcoming.

Insofar as production for sale within the Zimbabwean market is
concerned, the manufacturer is subject to the constraints of the ill
conceived, heavy-handed and detached from-reality National Incomes and
Prices Commission, which seeks to impose and enforce grossly unrealistic
price controls which disregard market realities, and reduce many enterprises
to the threshold of operational collapse.

Moreover, the impact of the ongoing hyperinflation creates a constant
decrease in market demand for most manufactured products. As a result, the
manufacturers have constantly diminishing sales volumes, whilst fixed costs
which cannot be reduced despite falling levels of production continuously
increase. Consequently, with very rare exception, employers simply do not
have the resources to meet the employees' inflation-driven demands for wage

The impasse between workers and employers in wage negotiations is
exacerbated by the fact that as the Zimbabwean economy is increasingly
"dollarised", with almost all goods and services now only being available if
paid for in foreign currency (notwithstanding that this occurred
progressively outside the bounds of law, for only Foliwars and a few others
were authorised by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to charge in foreign currency),
so employees seek foreign currency remuneration.

The dollarisation of the economy has provoked most employee
representative bodies to press vigorously for wages to be paid in foreign
currency. (This has not been an exclusive feature of wage negotiations in
the private sector, for in recent months government's teachers, the defence
forces, parastatal employees, other public servants, employees of local
authorities and many others have been increasingly pressing for their
remuneration to be paid, in whole or in part, in foreign currency.)

In demanding that salaries and wages be foreign-currency based, the
trade unions and other worker representatives have contemptuously ignored
the fact that employers would be in breach of prevailing law if making such
payments, except in instances where the Reserve Bank consented thereto. This
consent is contingent upon evidence that the relevant employees possess
critical, essential and not-readily-replaceable skills. The negotiations
also have no consideration as to whether or not the employers are recipients
of foreign exchange.

Hence, as greatly as most employers are desirous of accommodating
employee needs, most are unable to accede to them.

As a result, labour/employer relationships have become increasingly
tense, confrontational, devoid of reciprocal understanding, destructive and
negative. The inevitable consequences have been an ever-greater reduction in
numbers employed, negatively affecting employer operations, the downstream
economy, the fiscus, and further worsening the lot of previously employed

Additionally and as a direct result, Zimbabwe's "brain drain" has
expanded substantially, with ever-greater numbers leaving the country in
order to seek livelihoods elsewhere so as to support themselves and numerous
other dependants. This is creating more and more broken families, with wage
earners being outside Zimbabwe's borders whilst wives, children and other
family members remain in the country. The magnitude of the "brain drain"
will inevitably also impair the eventual recovery of the Zimbabwean economy.

Most employers are also witnessing lower volumes and quality of
production by employees, undoubtedly due to the extent that the workers are
victims of economic hardships overriding attentiveness to their employment
duties. This further minimises the extent of employer ability to meet
employee demands.

Nevertheless, the majority of employers are striving to accommodate
employee needs as far as is reasonably possible, without bringing about
collapse of their enterprises. In part this is achieved by remuneration
increments, and in part by many providing employees transport (or transport
allowances) and in some instances commodities such as maize meal and cooking

Until inflation is contained, and the economy set upon a recovery
path, employers and employees will have to compromise, co-operate and
collaborate to minimise employee hardships, whilst not endangering
enterprise survival. If not, there will soon be no economy, and no

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Muckraker: Puppet Formation Peddles Zanu PF's Delusional Agenda

Friday, 30 January 2009 09:35
Another week and another funny little organisation popping up its head
to support Zanu PF's discredited agenda.

The Zimbabwe Sovereignty Preservers and Economic Survival Support
Network joins a list of ruling-party mouthpieces such as Advocate Dinha's
Lawyers for Justice outfit, the clueless Zimbabwe Federation of Trade
Unions, and the North-Korean-style February 21st Movement that seems to
"move" only once a year.

The Zimbabwe Sovereignty Preservers and Economic Survival Support
Network has been around since last year, we are told, but hasn't actually
done anything since then. Its "founder", Paradzai Magauze, challenged the
MDC-T to stop taking instructions from the British and Americans.

It is not difficult to see who he is taking instructions from!

He urged the MDC-T to put the country first and "not sacrifice our
sovereignty for United States dollars".
Are these the same United States dollars that parastatals are
demanding for the payment of accounts; that senior army officers are getting
as part of their salaries; that the Acting Minister of Finance used for his
budget forecasts because the Zim dollar has completely crashed?

Magauze denounced the MDC-T's "ruinous chameleon-type of politics".

But who is it that has ruined commercial agriculture, ruined industry
and commerce, ruined the country's productive capacity, ruined the nation's
reputation, and ruined its prospects by driving its best qualified people
into exile?

Why doesn't Magauze and his puppet creation ask five million
Zimbabweans why they can't live in this wreck of a country any longer?

And why does he expect Morgan Tsvangirai to join a government which
believes it can command popular support by a campaign of abduction and

"Any government that tortures its own citizens has lost all sense of
legitimacy," Graca Machel said last week.

Please will Zanu PF and its very obvious surrogates stop deluding
themselves. There can be no future for a leader or party that behaves like
this; that breaks the law at will and holds the country hostage.

The Zimbabwe Sovereignty Preservers - who get no marks for their silly
title unless they are all five years old - hailed President Mugabe as "an
icon of peace and father figure".

Mugabe's victory in the June 27 presidential run-off "shamed the
country's detractors", they said. Perhaps they meant simply "shamed the

Has Zimbabwe any friends left? However exasperated Sadc may be with
Tsvangirai's antics (taking a two-hour consultation break when he asked for
a couple of minutes would infuriate most people), it is a sign of their
impatience with Mugabe that they have not swallowed all his claims to be
battling forces mobilising to bring the country down.

Nobody is about to invade Zimbabwe and the more the state media
repeats it the sillier it sounds.

Most Sadc heads have very cordial relations with Britain and the
United States. Why would Britain and the US want to occupy a semi-derelict
country whose resources have already been plundered by a plague of local

By the way, when did we last hear from President Obiang? Or Hugo

Why are they giving Zimbabwe a wide berth?

Last week Muckraker drew attention to President Barack Obama's remarks
in his inaugural address about certain regimes with clenched fists being on
"the wrong side of history".

We naturally assumed that referred to our own delinquents. But then
the Chinese decided it referred to them and cut it out of their broadcast of
the speech.

Now the Guardian has added its penny's worth by claiming that it
referred to Egypt!

Can you imagine, the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland suggesting in all
seriousness that Egypt's rulers must have "shifted uneasily in their seats"
when they heard the reference?

What nonsense! Where's he been all this time? It was so obviously a
quote tailored for Zimbabwe. The Egyptians came nowhere near the definition.
After all, their history goes back 4 000 years!

The Herald appears to have decided that Pretoria, the South African
capital, is now called Tshwane and that it is politically correct to use
that name.

Muckraker recalls how reporters used to think Cote d'Ivoire was the
post-colonial name for the Ivory Coast.
Pretoria, we are pleased to announce, is still very much alive and
well despite the Herald's best efforts. We note Sadc leaders referred to
"Pretoria" in their communiqué.

Many of South Africa's major cities such as Pretoria, Port Elizabeth
and Durban have incorporated surrounding townships to form mega-cities
administered by a single metropolitan authority. Those metro authorities
have taken new names. Durban for instance is eThekwini and Port Elizabeth is
Nelson Mandela. But the original city names remain.

Pretoria continues to be the capital and many city suburbs fall within
its administrative ambit. Tshwane is the name for Greater Pretoria including
such suburbs as Mamelodi and Soshanguve.

We read with interest a report in the Herald on Wednesday that the
much talked about charity soccer match between musicians and former soccer
players a fortnight ago raised $853 trillion in local currency. The report
said $530 trillion was used to cover expenses, meaning the remaining $320
trillion was last week "equally split between the two selected

That was a paltry US$160 at the time, and US$80 at the present rate!
All this generous media mileage for a mere US$160! This is just a publicity
stunt for the promoter, Partson Chimbodza. Wouldn't it have been easier for
the organisers to approach an individual, say, Aleck Macheso, to donate to
the cause and save the logistic headache of arranging an event like the one
at Gwanzura?

And considering that $160 is just about the kind of money four average
revellers spend on drinks and meat at Macheso's shows, it would have been
less straining to ask revellers at one of the musical shows to kindly

That way a decent amount would be raised, we think. We hear an
association called "Celebrities for Charity" was born out of the soccer
match to organise more events. In future this group needs to get serious and
be worthy of every publicity they get, kwete mbodza iyi Partson.

We spotted a report last week about Harare council workers and Zimpost
being on strike. Our question: How can you tell?

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Editor's Memo: A Party of Excellence

Friday, 30 January 2009 09:35
THE editor has this week allowed me the privilege to occupy his
hallowed space in the paper.

I accepted the honour with a huge sigh. In my Candid Comment column I
have over the past months trodden where angels fear to tread.

I have been badly mauled. It has been terrible, but it has also been
educative and informative. I have no regrets in restating the definitive
principles which I have supported, summed up in one Ndebele word: simunye,
we are one. We may have political differences, but as a nation simunye.

I am dismayed by those who like to accentuate the differences between
Zanu PF and the MDC-T. The favourite expression is that the two, in
particular, their leaders, Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, are like
chalk and cheese. This is said with pride as if it's a badge of honour.

I can never imagine Americans using such a caustic and divisive
metaphor to express the differences between the Republicans and the
Democrats despite the marked differences between former president George W
Bush and Barak Obama.

On the streets I have never been able to tell a Zanu PF person from an
MDC-T supporter, who are said to be worlds apart. That is until a politician
calls a rally when people put on their party regalia.

Today I feel a sense of ubuntu in our leaders from indications that
they may just subsume their personal ambitions to the desires and
aspirations of the people.

Despite strenuous media efforts to carve a chasm out of the Sadc
summit in Pretoria last week that Tsvangirai and Mugabe are incompatible,
those claims are not supported by latest political manouvres towards an
inclusive government.

It is too fast and too bitter a prospect for a number of

I feel proud because I have always made the point that it is only
Zimbabweans who can resolve their economic and political problems.
Foreigners can only facilitate. They can never go beyond what the parties to
the dispute are prepared to go.

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki has been vilified as biased
in favour of Mugabe. This may well be true, depending on what you thought
was practicable outside of wishful thinking. Sadc has been reviled in
equally undignified language. Fortunately, the constitutive Act of Sadc
speaks of a "shared future", which means they cannot abandon even a wayward
member. Simunye.

The result is that today, even as we continue to revile Mbeki for his
failure to mediate in the dispute between Zanu PF and the MDC-T, it cannot
be denied that it was due to his diligence that Mugabe and Tsvangirai can
meet and talk face to face. It was through his mediation that prime
minister-designate Tsvangirai can now be received by any head of state in
the region.

If this is failure, it was not for lack of trying. The really question
is whether the positions of the rival parties were amenable to a simplistic
resolution like apportioning blame. My hope is that in the interim we have
had time to grow as a nation and for the political parties to realise their

My view is that our differences are not as wide as they are often made
out to be. But they say what you focus on ultimately becomes your reality.
So we are repeatedly told of an ideological chasm between Zanu PF and the
MDC-T. Unbridgeable? Don't they say where there is a will there is a way?

I have received a lot of feedback to my column, a lot of it abusive,
much of it from the democracy lobby. It is as intolerant of different
perspectives as the system it claims to loath.

Most insulting is the accusation that I hate Tsvangirai. Attached to
it is tribal tag, and threats of dire consequences for me and my family once
democracy comes. Fortunately most of them don't come from those in senior
leadership positions.

The charge is contemptible. None of those raising it has come up with
evidence. There is none because I have only raised reservations about
Tsvangirai's sense of judgement, from the Ari Ben-Menashe saga, the split of
the MDC in 2005 to the debacle over the MDC-T Women's League just before
last year's elections.

Equally absurd is the accusation that I hate Tsvangirai for refusing
to join the inclusive government after the September 15 agreement because
"You are Muagbe this, Zanu that."

But to join or not to join is up to the MDC-T. My point is simply that
the reasons raised for not doing so, such as "key" ministries, sharing
governors and ambassadors, and now consultation over the appointments of
Reserve Bank governor and Attorney-General, are too weak to merit the deaths
of so many people in the interim.

How much food aid could we have gotten if our political leaders had
spoken with one voice from September last year? How many lives could have
been saved from the cholera outbreak if politicians had focused on saving
lives rather using humanistic rhetoric for political ends? How many
thousands of school children have had their lives ruined while politicians
bicker over personal power? Can that harm be reversed once politicians
finally get what they want?

So something hit me this week as I was reading an MDC-T statement
dismissing as fiction reports that the party might be part to the inclusive
government. This despite party policy coordinator Eddie Cross almost
confirming it.

The statement describes the MDC-T as "a party of excellence". I hear


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Zim Independent Letters

Sadc Leaders Culpable in Zim Collapse
Friday, 30 January 2009 09:52
THERE are reports that the European Union has extended the list of
Zimbabweans who are deemed to be Robert Mugabe's allies to be banned from
travelling to EU countries.

Perhaps the EU could consider imposing those travel bans on some of
these Sadc leaders and their foreign ministers because they are the ones who
are truly Mugabe's allies and are propping him up.
The so called Sadc-mediated talks are a complete farce meant to keep
Mugabe in power. There is enough evidence to show that the Sadc leaders are
not serious with Mugabe and his cronies.

For the suffering caused to the peace loving people of Zimbabwe and
destroying such a once vibrant economy as this one, those Sadc leaders
should be held collectively accountable together with Mugabe.

The Sadc leaders are well aware that the people of Zimbabwe have voted
Mugabe out of power on numerous occasions.

Besides, Mugabe has shown total contempt for Sadc itself except where
he feels they are on his side.

Recently the Sadc tribunal ruled against the Zimbabwe government, on
the land grab issue. Yet Mugabe and his cronies have defied that ruling and
even insulted that Sadc tribunal.

Worse still, the very Sadc observer mission was dismayed at the level
of brutality unleashed at innocent civilians leading up to the farcical
Presidential run off elections of June 27 to the point of labeling the
one-man race a nullity, and declaring Mugabe as illegitimate. Why then are
they not taking a more stern action against him?

 To add insult to injury, Mugabe has violated the goodwill he was
supposed to convey inherent in the GPA which was signed on September 15 in
many ways, and yet the Sadc leaders turn a blind eye to these issues and try
to portray Morgan Tsvangirai as the unreasonable one.

Do they have an ounce of conscience in their veins? It boggles the
mind. Why then did they pretend to the world that they would tackle the
Zimbabwe issue when they know pretty well that they are not prepared to deal
with the actual cause of the problem??

 I know there are those who may think this proposal to be too extreme.
But in reality I believe that it's about time the world took action against
those leaders who protect and defend dictatorships.


We Need Unity of Purpose as a Nation
Friday, 30 January 2009 09:30
IN light of the fact that US president Barack Obama -- a black
American whose father came from Africa --  has ascended to become the
president of the United States of America, I pose the question;  can we have
a white president in Africa at any given time who can be accepted in the
same way as the Americans did Obama?

What lessons can we learn from this historic moment? I believe Obama
has helped unite the whole world and I believe that the time has come that
we also should consider an African white person as a possible candidate for
high office despite the wounds of the colonial era.

In Zimbabwe we have patriotic white people and also those who remain
entrenched in the ideologies of the past which is also the case in black

We thus should have a sense of oneness and must understand the
difference between national and party interests.

Naturally at any given time a particular political party will be in
power and they must understand how to conduct themselves at party level and
government level.

The government of the day is there to serve everyone including
opposition parties. Likewise the opposition must understand the need to
respect the government of the day and contribute to nation building rather
than sabotaging government initiatives.

There are times we need to get united for our nation regardless of
political affiliation. We know that during election periods we can campaign
for different parties but after that we should focus on nation building.

We do not need Sadc, AU or even the UN to build our nation when we
have the land. We should make good use of it -- let us not steal what is
meant for building our nation.

We can agree to disagree on a number of issues but at the end of the
day we stand as one unit. We don't need to fight each other or call each
other names as we need to eat from one plate.

 Our roads, health, and education sectors are in disarray. Zimbabweans
therefore need to be united and learn to consult among ourselves before we
implement major issues.

Let's work together. We have the brainpower to do it.

P Ngwarati,

Healthcare Costs Spiral out of Control
Friday, 30 January 2009 09:27
IF Harare residents and Zimbabweans at large had a magic wand or a
choice at least, they would end all sicknesses but the fact that they occur
naturally and involuntarily leaves them at the mercy of the twisted
"politics of survival" manoeuvring of a desperate and failed government.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) finds it
stomach-turning that public health has been effectively privatised through
the introduction of the new hard currency fees amid the socio-economic
malaise that has drastically increased poverty amongst residents.
The average Zimbabwean has been denied access to health as the Zanu PF
government takes desperate measures to keep its Titanic of chronic failure

The government hospitals which together with council clinics were
given the nod to charge in hard currency -- but still accept the valueless
Zimbabwean dollar with the charges determined on a daily basis -- charge
patients a hard-to-come-by US$40 for consultation only and a massive US$70 a
night for in-patients.

A Caesarean operation requires a flat fee of a whopping US$150 while
scans cost around US$80.The Harare City council has pegged consultation fees
for adults at US$5 a visit and US$3 for children.

Antenatal care booking charges for expecting women are pegged at US$50
and family planning method seekers pay an average of US$2 per service.

Most low income earners who make the majority of the Zimbabwean
population still earn far below US$1 per month, lower than the least charge
for any service rendered at the government hospitals and council clinics.

The health charges set are therefore exasperatingly out of reach of
the generality of residents and have turned public facilities into private
ones and condemn residents to more suffering.

The health charges are tantamount to fundraising to prop up the failed
government and broaden the looting base. The charges are prohibitive and
should be reversed.

Meanwhile the hard currency craze has seen massive profiteering and
lack of accountability in public and private sectors.

CHRA would like to urge the Ministry of Health, the government and all
other public and private service providers to stop ripping off citizens and
uphold principles of justice and due fairness in discharging their mandate
and in their businesses respectively.

CHRA will continue to advocate for transparency, professionalism, and
quality municipal and other service delivery.

Combined Harare Residents Association

The Pitfalls of Dollarisation
Friday, 30 January 2009 09:25
THERE is no way that dollarisation of the Zimbabwean economy can work
unless the government has found some concrete way to balance the budget so
that we do not suffer from a deficit.

Government expenditure has increased whilst the business sector,
mining and agriculture has shrunk so the tax base has diminished.

The proposal that the Reserve Bank issue coupons equal to US dollars
to make up for the fact that there are insufficient US dollars in the
economy is not practical in such circumstances.

The result would be the same as the printing of money in Zimbabwean
dollars. The coupons will be worthless unless the Reserve Bank has some
means of underwriting the value by holding actual US dollars, gold or
something that would convert into the real thing.

If the Reserve Bank had some backing for the Zimbabwe dollar it would
have some value but it does not. Calling something by another name does not
make it any better and it will suffer the same fate.

The proposals would also mean that all businesses would be able to
trade in foreign currency and  everyone would be able to have a foreign
currency account with any of the banks without reference or licensing by the
Reserve Bank or anyone else.

Without these freedoms the proposals are doomed. It is not possible to
introduce hard currency payments for tax without giving carte blanche for
everyone to use hard currency freely.

The present government's policies and its restrictive practices will
preclude this system from working.

The government has not yet appreciated that they could not get balance
of payments support from anywhere with their present policies which have led
to the total collapse of the economy.

No country in their right mind could justify funding the Zimbabwean
economy with no hope of ever being repaid.

W Peters,

We Alone are the Solution
Friday, 30 January 2009 09:22
CURRENTLY the debate on the Zimbabwe crisis is centred around Sadc, AU
and Thabo Mbeki being inefficient, unhelpful or pliant to Robert Mugabe and
people calling at some point for the AU, UN and a new mediator to take the
quest for the resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis forward.

On various fora, oral or written and through various news outlet
channels there are several statements calling on Sadc, AU, Kgalema Motlanthe
or someone to put more muscle, to have more teeth and to be more robust in
trying to unlock the political logjam.

In frustration we have called Sadc and AU toothless, hopeless and a
huge let down yet in the same vein we then ask Sadc or the AU to come up
with a better strategy in the next attempt. Every time this does not happen
we curse, rant, swear and wait for another summit.

For me I think there is nothing that they can do to force Mugabe and
Morgan Tsvangirai to work together if these two are not committed to working
together. Even if Sadc has a summit on Zimbabwe each week it will not help
our cause unless these two leaders agree to work together in some way. At
the moment they have not as yet found each other and they are busy drifting
far apart as each day passes yet they have been negotiating amongst
themselves for over two years now.

These two men should do some soul-searching on their own and decide
whether they want to work together in some way or just forget about it and
fight their own battles elsewhere on another platform.

We are tired of hearing the "we are committed to the GNU" mantra
because if there was enough commitment there should be some convergence of
some sort. There is no point in going to these summits when you know you
have not moved an inch from your old position and expect only one person to
move while you continue digging in. If there was enough political will and
commitment from both sides by now we would have a government in place.

      Who Stole my Tobacco?
      Friday, 30 January 2009 09:19
      IN 2007-2008 I decided to invest in growing tobacco.

      This was my very first crop. I managed to reap 2 250 kgs. This
was sold at the Tobacco Auctions between June and October 2008 allegedly for
US$8 206.
      However in terms of Zimbabwe dollars I received a total of Z$1
103 757.43.  I was unable to buy anything with these Zim dollars, although
realising that the devaluation rate was very high, I had made plans to
purchase some equipment and inputs for the farm.

         There was nothing to be bought. And  today this money in my
bank is totally worthless. It is now worth less than US 1 cent.  I had
borrowed a total of US$5 800 for the crop.

      Like so many other small farmers I lost my entire investment. I
am speaking on behalf of all the small farmers who, like me, lost their
money. I was too small and too new to get inputs from a big multinational
tobacco company.

      Now the question is "Who stole my tobacco?" My workers and I
slaved over this crop, and we lost everything. Was it the Reserve Bank that
stole the money?  Was it the government that stole the money? Who stole this
money? We need an answer.

      Fay Chung,

            Zimbabwe Independent SMS
            Friday, 30 January 2009 09:30
            MUCH as we may criticise the West (or anybody else for
that matter), the saddest point of our situation is that repression is on
full throttle in Zimbabwe. We have failed as a nation to resolve our issues
on our own.

            Before we denounce Sadc, the AU and  Western countries let's
take the blame first. After that we should humble ourselves instead of
constantly irritating other nations about our perceived high literacy rate.
If we have this condescending attitude towards everybody else it really
exposes the fact that we don't have what we claim to possess, or are unable
to apply the "education" to resolve our own problems

            FUNNY how the government chants the "Zimbabwe will never
be a colony again" line whist they rush to dollarise the Zimbabwean

            THE problem for the Zanu PF-led government is that they
have dollarised the economy without any dollars. Maybe President Robert
Mugabe should talk to his North Korean friends -- I am told they have a fine
reputation for printing US dollars.

            THERE are at least four presidential aspirants opposed to
the sitting one. Why should it always be Morgan Tsvangirai who is said to be
missing the point, missing opportunities.

            SIMBA Makoni has lost a lot of goodwill over his silence
since the March 2008 elections. Whether his silence was caused by the
rejection he was subjected to by the electorate is subject for debate. For
someone who claims to have the interests of the people at heart his silence
over the suffering that people have endured is deafening. Is he sure that he
is not equally guilty of the same crime that he accuses Robert Mugabe and
Morgan Tsvangirai of; being power hungry?

             SIMBA Makoni is just a typical Zanu PF politician. He
entered the March 2008 presidential election to split the vote in Robert
Mugabe's favour. Unfortunately people like Arthur Mutambara were unable to
see through this and that's why they blindly rushed to throw their support
for him.

            PLEASE advise Tendai Biti to use simple English when
writing his articles such as last week's Candid Comment. We cannot move
around carrying dictionaries you know.
            Mr Moyo.

            SADC want the MDC to agree to form the unity government
and sort out the out standing issues later. Do they really believe that once
the unity government is formed and Robert Mugabe has achieved his wish of
being the "legitimate" head of state that he would then be prepared to
concede anything at all. I doubt it!
            Lundi, Bulawayo.

            A CATASTROPHIC impasse continues in Zimbabwe and players
in the GNU talks are failing to resolve a simple issue: power sharing. A
recent ignominious statement by Zanu PF claims MDC is to blame and vice
versa. The people of Zimbabwe need to know the facts. The mediators have
been apportioned responsibility for the eclipse of these talks. We need
people who are candid and who can tell the world who is fooling who and
denying Zimbabweans the right to live again.
IHZ Isanetics.

            WHO is not putting the people's interest first? Is it not
the regime that has looted and turned this economy into their personal bank
account? Zanu PF and its surrogates should leave Morgan Tsvangirai alone.
            Observer, Harare.

            I WAS shocked by the outrageous bill I got from Firstel.
Imagine spending seven days without any network, only to get a 10-day bill
of US$347. Can they explain?
            Aired off.

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