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Gono under fire

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

SENIOR Zanu PF officials have mounted an offensive against Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono to drop his controversial economic
policies which they say have failed.

Zanu PF members opposed to President Mugabe's quest to extend his term
to 2010 regard Gono as part of presidential plans to accommodate him in
government as prime minister under a political dispensation to emerge from
the 18th amendment to the constitution.

Gono, party sources said, was now in an invidious position after his
announcement last month that he was deferring the presentation of his
monetary statement to accommodate input from the Zanu PF conference.
Delegates to the conference at Goromonzi drafted a resolution which not only
appeared to chide Gono but also warned him of his unwelcome influence.

Gono's detractors in Zanu PF are now waiting to see if the governor
will revise his policies in line with recommendations from the conference.

Gono has enjoyed unprecedented support from President Mugabe over his
quasi-fiscal operations, blamed for bloating the budget deficit, and his
exchange rate policies.

But in the past few months many, including those in the ruling party
and government, have started to question his approach to the country's
turnaround efforts.

The disillusionment was evident in Zanu PF's Economic Affairs
Committee's resolutions at the December people's conference when party
stalwarts who had religiously defended Gono demanded a radical shift.

Secretary for Economic Affairs Richard Hove indicated to the
conference that the party was slowly losing confidence, particularly in the
continued handling of foreign currency by the RBZ alone.

Hove recommended the establishment of a foreign currency management
committee, similar to those in developed countries like the US and Japan, to
oversee the allocation of the scarce foreign currency trickling into the

He said the party was concerned by the influx of flashy cars on
Zimbabwe's roads when critical productive sectors were battling to access
hard currency for raw materials and spares procurement. Most companies are
operating at 50% of capacity.

This, he said, was a sign of poor prioritisation that should be
corrected if the committee was established.

"The little foreign currency coming in, how is it managed? There
should be a committee and the RBZ should not intervene in some issues," Hove
told the conference.

Industry and International Trade deputy minister Phenius Chihota last
year expressed similar concerns, warning that Gono was not consulting key
stakeholders on their foreign currency requirements.

"The RBZ should be clear on what is required by industry and must work
with others, not in isolation," Chihota said.

He called for the formation of a foreign currency committee to manage
the disbursement of hard currency "because the RBZ was not qualified at all
to do the disbursements or manage the foreign currency properly".

Central bank officials present took exception to Chihota's views,
arguing that he was not fully aware of the challenges the country was

But the Zanu PF economic committee demanded more than just a foreign
currency management committee.

Hove said Gono must overhaul the exchange rate system to a more
realistic rate.

Gono has kept the Zimbabwe dollar at $250 to the greenback since
January 2006 but economists say the best way to manage foreign currency is
to leave market forces to determine the exchange rate.

Manufacturers say the realistic exchange rate must be around $1 000 to
the US dollar.

In December, Finance minister Herbert Murerwa called for an end to
Gono's quasi-fiscal operations but Mugabe said these were necessary to
finance government projects, a comment that could embolden Gono to
continuing the operations, which have been condemned by the International
Monetary Fund.

Gono postponed the monetary policy review from December to this month
citing the need to take into account recommendations from the Zanu PF

But the resolutions could have come as a shock to him because they
demanded what he had adamantly refused.

"Given the magnitude of the challenges that still remain to be
addressed after the national budget in the area of price stability,
enhancement of export generation, it has become necessary to postpone the
monetary policy to a later date to be advised in January 2007," Gono said.

"It is also critical that the forthcoming monetary policy statement be
reconciled not only with the budget but with economic views from the
forthcoming national people's conference of the ruling Zanu PF," he said.

Analysts say Zanu PF's resolutions left Gono in a precarious position
because while he would want to adhere to the dictates of the party, most of
the recommendations were at variance with the economic policies that he has

This could set the stage for a confrontation between the governor and
Zanu PF.

Independent economist John Robertson says the major weakness of a
foreign currency committee is that it could impose stringent measures on
exchange rate movements but other economists say the committee is necessary
because it will bring transparency in the allocation of a critical resource.

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Striking Zesa workers face chop

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

STRIKING Zesa employees yesterday switched off parts of the Harare
central business district in a bid to force management to respond to their
demands for salary increases.

Zesa management has since threatened to fire the workers, saying the
strike was illegal because the workers did not follow the labour laws.
Management's plans to fire the workers could affect more than 50 workers who
took part in the industrial action.

The workers switched off parts of the CBD before they took to the
streets after management rejected their demands for a salary hike of 1 150%
in the first quarter. Many parts of the CBD were without power for up to
four hours yesterday.

The workers' demands could push the lowest paid worker up to $300 000
a month. Currently the lowest paid worker gets just below $25 000 a month.

The management had offered a 144% increase spread between January and

Zesa Holdings spokesperson James Maridadi said the company was going
to "deal" with the striking workers, adding that the job action was an
indication that the workers were negotiating in bad faith.

"The strike was illegal. Workers are allowed to strike as long as they
follow procedures. These workers did not follow the procedures, which makes
their strike illegal," said Maridadi.

He said management would make a follow-up on the workers who took part
in the job action, adding: "The law will take its course."

"It's not victimisation, it is the law. We cannot allow unruly
elements to disrupt power supply. Customers have nothing to do with the
labour relations at Zesa and they should not be affected," he said.

"We will take action," said Maridadi.

Trouble started after management circulated an internal memo informing
the workers that it had decided to award 50% this month pending the outcome
of the arbitration process which started after parties failed to agree on

The workers yesterday remained adamant saying they would continue to
push for their demands.

Zimbabwe Electricity and Energy Workers' Union secretary-general, Ian
Munjoma, scoffed at the threat of dismissal saying it was management which
incited the workers by its memo.

"Hapana Izvozvo. It's cruelty to fire workers because they have just
said enough is enough to low salaries," said Munjoma.

"This business of underpaying workers started last year. Surely how
can a worker survive on $23 275 a month? The 50% they are offering will not
get them anywhere."

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Zanu PF wants spindoctors paid by govt

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye

A ZANU PF committee on information and publicity has resolved that the
party must recruit propagandists from within its ranks to be paid by
government to counter news transmitted by foreign radio stations.

During the committee's deliberations attended by the Zimbabwe
Independent at the Zanu PF annual conference in Goromonzi last month, party
delegates also resolved that the deputy secretary for information and
current Mashonaland Central governor Ephraim Masawi be appointed substantive
Information and Publicity minister to synchronise information dissemination
in the party and government.

The resolution will be considered for adoption at the party's central
committee meeting to be held soon.

Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies minister, Paul Mangwana, is the
acting Information minister following the death of Tichaona Jokonya in June.

Committee member and Kariba legislator, Shumbayaonda Chandengenda,
said Zanu PF should adopt a similar scheme as local government promotion
officers whose major task is to promote the party in rural areas while on
the state payroll.

"Zanu PF must revive that strategy because we have areas where rural
people listen to foreign radio stations because our own ZBC transmission
does not cover remote areas," Chandengenda said.

"We have found it difficult to convince the people there of government's
development thrust aimed at improving their lives on the basis of the news
bulletins they receive from foreign stations on donated radios."

Another member, Chegutu MP Webster Shamu, said government should
ensure people recruited into a vital sector such as information were
well-drilled party cadres.

He said all information officers should be thoroughly vetted so that
government does not recruit people hostile to the ruling party.

"It is unfortunate that we cannot persuade Nathan Shamuyarira out of
retirement because he did a sterling job during his time as minister when he
effectively synchronised party and government information dissemination,"
Shamu said.

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No wildlife audit for five years

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube

THE government has not conducted an audit of the number of wildlife in
the country since 2001, a situation that has riled safari operators who are
questioning the quotas they have been allocated for the 2007 season.

Safari operators this week told the Zimbabwe Independent that there
were irregularities in the manner quotas were allocated, with government
accusing some operators of over-hunting.

The National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority has not yet given
hunting quotas to a large number of operators and has returned their
applications demanding to be furnished with additional information before
they can issue the hunting quotas.

Operators said despite filling out TR2 forms that reflect on the
previous season's hunting, the authority was demanding more unnecessary

The operators in the rich Gwayi and Zambezi conservancies said it was
weird that government was failing to conduct a national audit to ascertain
the actual number of animals in the country.

They said a planned national audit for last year never materialised
after a plane that the wildlife authority was using broke down before the
exercise could go nationwide.

"There has never been a national audit by the government but
international organisations like International Union for the Conservation of
Nature (IUCN) and WWF have been conducting their own national audits that
they use for the region and usually they are targeting certain species,"
said an operator who claimed that he has not received his hunting quota
since applying last year.

National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority public relations
manager, Retired Major Edward Mbewe, confirmed that tour operators had not
received quotas but dismissed claims that there had been no national audit.
He said the authority was conducting periodic audits once in a while.

"We conduct national aerial surveys and these are done continuously.
We have not done a once off audit and we were in the process of doing a
broad once off survey last year but the plane we were using for the exercise
packed in before we could go very far," Mbewe said.

He said the authority was looking at TR2 forms submitted by operators
and that the additional information they were seeking was to help determine
the animals to be allocated to each operator for hunting.

Mbewe however said the department was also doing continuous surveys at
watering holes where they were doing animal counts.

But safari operators said the continuous audit was inaccurate compared
to a one off audit as animals tended to be mobile and hence over-estimation
and under-estimation of the population was likely to take place.

Operators claimed the quotas they were allocated were ridiculously low
and that the country had a surplus population of elephants.

But Mbewe said they could not give allocations of elephants off the
cuff as the country was also given a hunting quota by the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

"We get quotas from Cites and there is no way we can go against Cites
even if the elephant population is high. We have to stick to our quota,"
Mbewe said.

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Worst agricultural year since Independence

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

BLUNDERS continued to haunt the agricultural sector with 2006 going
down as the worst year since Independence, throwing into disarray all
government prospects of a quick fix to the agricultural sector and the
economy at large.

Analysts said developments that dealt a severe blow to government
efforts to boost production included legislative changes that removed the
authority of the courts and the continued farm invasions that created
uncertainty for investors.

The situation became untenable following the recent importation of
substandard fertiliser, grabbing of farming implements by top government
officials at the expense of ordinary farmers, power blackouts and the late
planting of both summer and winter crops.

"Nationally, agricultural output has predictably declined further
relegating government efforts to a national joke," one agricultural expert

"The major constraint to increased productivity was the uncertainty of
tenure in the agricultural sector where farmers are evicted on a daily
basis. Continued acquisition notices, disruptions, acts of violence on farms
and lack of land-based collateral are some of the problems farmers face."

Government issued 99-year leases to selected farmers last month with
the conviction that they would be used as collateral. The leases are still
to be accepted as collateral by banks and other financial institutions.
Banks still have to come to terms with enormous losses they incurred when
government arbitrarily evicted farmers who owed them millions in unpaid
agricultural loans.

Farming experts said continued amendments to the Land Acquisition Act
contributed immensely to the confusion in the agricultural sector and would
accelerate the collapse of agriculture as even the farm invaders become
vulnerable to evictions. The amendment, experts say, will further scare away
investors in the agro-processing industry and the agro-forestry sectors that
are capital-intensive.

"It is extremely alarming to note that Gazetted Land (Consequential
Provisions) Act, was passed," experts said.

The Act repeals the Rural Land Occupiers (Protection from Eviction)
Act and prohibits the contest of all land gazetted for acquisition since
2000 in court.

"If the objective of the authorities, by introducing such draconian
legislation, is to get agriculture back to work they are wrong," the experts
said. "It is likely to increase the conflict of ownership of the business on
the land and reduce meaningful investment in agriculture."

The Act makes it illegal and "punishable by law to hold, use or occupy
a piece of land that was gazetted for resettlement purposes without
authority in the form of an offer letter".

This means that no one will claim protection under the Act any longer.
The new Bill is a double-edge sword meant to cow commercial farmers from
resisting eviction while empowering government to dislodge trespassers
without offer letters as the tragedy of the inconclusive land reform

The Rural Land Occupiers Act (Protection from Eviction) Act was
railroaded as a populist expedient after armed soldiers and police forced
more than 600 families to leave Little England Farm in Mashonaland West by
torching their homes, because the land had reportedly been earmarked for A2
farmer, mostly officials from the President's Office.

Instead of building on the confidence that appeared to be gradually
welling following six years of serious recession, government officials
plunged the sector into an unheralded fertiliser scandal.

To show the magnitude of the substandard fertiliser import saga,
government was forced to fire Agriculture permanent secretary Simon

Between 160 and 800 tonnes of substandard fertiliser were imported,
prejudicing the country of up to US$300 000.

As if the past blunders are not lesson enough, government is on the
verge of importing substandard wheat classified as BS1 and BS2 grades, which
experts said was low quality wheat, only suitable for stockfeeds.

Experts said wheat for human consumption should not contain any
germinated grain and should have a density of around 75% and a protein
content of around 14%.

Once there is germinated grain, that wheat should be recommended for
stockfeed. The wheat that was acquired through Intshona and due to get into
the country at the end of the month has a 5% germinated grain.

The chaotic land reform programme, which has been condemned from
inception by international donors, including the UNDP, as unworkable and a
recipe for disaster, has turned out to be just that.

Over the past four seasons production in all facets of agriculture has
plummeted, dragging the economy down with it.

Six committees were appointed to audit achievements of the land reform
programme but facts on the ground show that agriculture has been completely
ruined by the land reform, which was characterised by widespread violence
and grabbing of farms by army officers, policemen, state-journalists and
judges in addition to ruling-party politicians.

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Patients suffer as Zimbabwe doctors strike

Zim Independent

DOCTORS at Zimbabwe's state hospitals have gone on strike for better
pay to combat galloping inflation, marooning sick patients in packed waiting
rooms in the latest sign of the country's economic meltdown.

Economic analysts warned that workers in other sectors could also
boycott work as they grapple with a deep recession which critics blame on
President Robert Mugabe's policies.

Yesterday junior doctors at the country's major state hospitals
intensified industrial action that started at the end of last month and has
now paralysed operations at major health institutions.

Only nurses were working with the help of senior doctors, who work on
a part time basis because they also run private surgeries. Staff at private
medical clinics, where fees are higher, did not join the strike.

At Harare's Parirenyatwa Hospital -- Zimbabwe's largest -- only
part-time doctors were working and attending to emergencies, according to an
official notice at the hospital.

Several patients lay on stretchers in a packed waiting room with no
help in sight. Some said they had been waiting for treatment for several
days for everything from injuries to medical reviews in hospitals already
hit by frequent shortages of medicines.

"The strike continues. If they (the government) give people the 400%
salary increment we hear they have planned for this January, then it will
intensify," Kudakwashe Nyamutukwa, head of the Hospital Doctors Association,
told Reuters.

"The minister (of health) remains arrogant and refuses to talk to us.
We served him with a letter five weeks ago and he has not responded."

Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said he was not aware of the
strike, which has affected operations at public health facilities used by
the majority of the population.

But Mugabe's government has singled out health workers among
government employees barred from boycotting work because they offer
essential services.

This is the second strike in seven months by the doctors who are
demanding, among other things, salaries of up to $5 million from the current
$88 000as well as increased motor vehicle allowances.

"They keep telling us that the doctors are on strike so there isn't
much they can do. I have had to endure this unbearable pain since
yesterday," said Simba Bvunzawabaya, a farm labourer who broke his arm in a
tractor accident.

Doctors have staged a series of strikes in recent years to push for
wages they say have been eroded by rampant inflation and thousands of
doctors and nurses have sought better-paid jobs in South Africa, Britain and
Australia. - Reuter.

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Civic groups say people should vote on Mugabe term

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube

CIVIC organisations and political parties have said a referendum is
the only way Zimbabweans can make a decision on the debate to harmonise
parliamentary and presidential elections and the extension of President
Mugabe's term of office by two years.

Debate has been raging after Zanu PF provinces tabled before the party's
conference in Goromonzi last month a resolution affirming that the
presidential and parliamentary elections should be held at the same time in

However, the party deferred making a decision on the resolution after
disagreements on whether the harmonised elections should be held in 2008 or
in 2010 and what the enabling legislation should look like.

Civic organisations and political parties who spoke to the Zimbabwe
Independent this week said the decision to harmonise elections should not be
left to parliament alone to decide but to Zimbabweans through a national

Zimbabwe Election Support Network chairperson, Reginald Matchaba-Hove,
said under a working democracy there is no way a nation can extend the term
of its leader without going through a referendum.

"There is no way a parliament with 30 appointed MPs and others elected
through a disputed 2002/5 parliamentary election can use a technical two
thirds majority to extend the term of an unpopular leader without
going through a referendum," Matchaba-Hove said.

"If the issue were to go to a referendum, even Zanu PF supporters
would vote 'No' to an extension of Mugabe's term because the majority do not
want him at the helm but are afraid to come out openly and say so."

National Constitutional Assembly chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, while
concurring that a national referendum would be ideal, cast a dark cloud over
its outcome.

"A referendum can be held but how level is the playing field? If the
referendum is held fairly it should be under conditions where there is no
Posa or Aippa and under conditions where everyone campaigns freely and
people have a right to make a choice without being harassed or beaten,"
Madhuku said.

The decision by Zanu PF to delay elections has already come under fire
from many quarters, with former PF-Zapu secretary-general Welshman Mabhena
saying Mugabe is afraid of leaving office because of the sins he has
committed while in power.

The Morgan Tsvangirai faction of the MDC supported the idea of a
referendum but said history would always repeat itself where Zanu PF would
use violence to cow Zimbabweans to vote in ways that favour the ruling

Party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said a referendum, if held under the
proper framework, was legitimate in that all Zimbabweans would make a
decision on any issue.

He said Zanu PF's attempt to railroad constitutional changes in
parliament should be resisted by all Zimbabweans as most MPs were not

"Zanu PF should not be allowed to railroad certain changes through a
perforated parliament that has MPs who have pending court cases over their
election. But we know that the majority of Zanu PF MPs are against the
extension of Mugabe's term and they should help Zimbabwe by resisting his
evil intentions," Chamisa said.

Zimrights national chairman, Kucaca Phulu, however said holding a
referendum over Mugabe's intention to stay in power was a waste of time as
this was a Zanu PF matter.

"The amendments that President Mugabe proposes in parliament for
hanging onto power are illegal and Zanu PF wants to force people to accept
its decisions. To conduct a referendum on the issue would be a waste of time
and resources," Phulu said.

He said if Mugabe's term was extended that decision would only benefit
Zanu PF.

Chamisa and Madhuku said Zimbabwe urgently needed a new constitution
that would create a conducive framework for conducting referendums and
future elections.

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Zinwa has no capacity for clean water provision - Auditor General

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has no capacity to
provide clean water without disruptions, the Comptroller and Auditor General's
latest audit on the parastatal has revealed.

This comes as Zinwa is in the process of taking over water treatment,
distribution and billing from the Harare commission. Zinwa is already in
charge of water works in smaller towns, rural service centres and growth

The audit, which was presented to the Public Accounts Parliamentary
Portfolio Committee last year, said Zinwa was failing to provide
uninterrupted water of the right quality to its customers in small towns and
growth points. The report said the institution lacked an operational plan
and had failed to maintain plant, equipment and standby facilities. It also
said there was poor record keeping at Zinwa.

"My audit revealed that Zinwa was failing to provide undisrupted water
supply and water of the right quality to its customers in small towns,
growth points and institutional customers such as Prison Services, Zimbabwe
Republic Police and the Defence Forces," Mildred Chisi, the auditor-general
wrote in the audit.

She said Zinwa did not have a section that was responsible for
coordinating the strategic and operational planning process. The planning
section in Zinwa was instead responsible for preparing the catchment's
outline plans. The section should under normal circumstances be made up of
engineers, technicians and economists who carry out infrastructural planning
and developments within the authority.

"The strategic, tactical and operational planning in Zinwa was left
without a coordinator and hence was being done haphazardly. I discovered
that Zinwa did not have a business plan and that it was not the
responsibility of the planning section to formulate one," Chisi said.

"At the time of my audit, according to the planning director, Zinwa
was in the process of drafting a business plan, which had not taken shape
since inception in 2000," she said.

Chisi said as at January 2004, Zinwa had not made any meaningful
strides towards the harmonisation of its operations as evidenced by the fact
that each of the catchment areas was doing its own thing in terms of
operational planning.

"It's my opinion that lack of planning contributed in a major way to
the widespread disruptions of water supply to its customers," she said.

Chisi said maintenance of plant and equipment at water treatment
plants were not being done properly.

"My visits to the water treatment stations in the catchment areas
revealed that maintenance of plant and equipment was not being done
according to standards set by management, and according to the manufacturer's
specifications," she said.

"Based on the station inspections which I conducted in the catchment
areas, I concluded that maintenance was not being taken as a priority by the
authority. I observed that pumps and pipes were rusty and leaking and not
all gate valves were working," she said.

"The tanks (reservoirs) were not cleaned at regular intervals. The
walls of treatment tanks at most stations were almost falling apart due to
cracks and leakages caused by lack of maintenance."

She said lack of proper maintenance of equipment contributed to the
increase in the number of breakdowns and also impacted negatively on the
health of the consumers as the quality of water could be compromised.
Furthermore, an increase in pump breakdowns might result in random water
cuts, which have an adverse bearing on sanitation and the consumer's health.

Chisi said Zinwa had failed to maintain the standby facility and as a
result stations were failing to cope with the demand for water by consumers.

"The situation was quite serious at growth points and small towns
which were undergoing expansion programmes. There is need to have standby
pumps and engines at every pumping point. This meant that at least two pump
units, working in alternation at monthly intervals, were to be installed at
every pumping point in the system," she said.

Chisi said staff manning plant and equipment at most Zinwa stations
were not adequately trained, contrary to management assertion that all staff
at stations was adequately trained.

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Government halts toll gates construction

Zim Independent

GOVERNMENT has stopped the construction of toll gates along the
country's major highways after the Transport and Communications
parliamentary portfolio committee condemned the operation.

The committee said the gates would hamper the expansion of the country's
two main cities, Harare and Bulawayo.

Leo Mugabe, the chairman of the portfolio committee, confirmed that
they had advised the government against the construction of the toll gates
at the proposed sites since they affected the expansion of the country's two
big cities.

Mugabe said: "We have discussed the issue of proposed toll gates with
the Transport ministry and advised them to remove all that had been
constructed along the highways since they affect the expansion of the two
cities as they had been put just too near the towns.

"As I speak, the proposed toll gates between Harare and Norton in
Snake Park and along the Bulawayo to Beitbridge and Bulawayo to Harare roads
have since been removed for that reason."

Government construction workers have started removing humps and grids
that had been put last year at the proposed sites.

The toll gates were erected 15 kilometres along the Bulawayo to
Beitbridge road and also along the Bulawayo to Harare highway.

The proposed toll gates were criticised as an attempt by government to
fleece money from overburdened motorists already weighed down by
skyrocketing fuel and spare parts costs. - Staff Writer.

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Circus time in Harare as Sekesai lives up to her name

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye

THERE is something ticklish in the name of the chairperson of the
commission running the affairs of Harare that rings true of how to react
when Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo inflates her level of
competence to administer the capital.

Many ratepayers snigger up their sleeves when Chombo stretches the
truth beyond its trading limit in defence of his protégé's questionable

Few ratepayers now doubt the essence of the decision by the Zanu PF
government to throw a fresh lifeline to Sekesai Makwavara.

Zanu PF quakes in its shoes whenever the subject of holding council
elections in the capital Harare is brought up.

Makwavara's presence at the helm of the commission is emblematic of
Zanu PF's deep fear of losing a fair fight in urban council elections.

It symbolises how President Mugabe's party continues to subvert
democracy even though he has often gloated: "No one can teach us about
democracy because we brought democracy to this country," whenever his party
is criticised for wiping its feet on democratic principles and
internationally accepted practices.

The norm that democracy functions with the consent of the governed is
alien to Zanu PF.

Instead, the party would rather embrace "guided democracy" despite its
latent dangers of misappropriating responsibility and accountability. It has
its pitfalls in denying the electorate the right to freely choose who should
lead them.

It substitutes the people's right to make choices, reassigning it to
an individual in the likes of Chombo, who has set his own record of
ruthlessness in ensuring opposition mayors in Mutare and Chitungwiza are

Otherwise how else would the ruling party explain the extension for a
record fifth time of Makwavara's term despite overwhelming evidence of her

Analysts say extending Makwavarara's term is ample evidence of how
Zanu PF celebrates mediocrity as long as it serves its political agenda.

However, prospects of an electoral defeat in the unlikely event of
Zanu PF sanctioning polls in the near future will continue to hang round
Zanu PF's neck like a millstone. It will debunk Mugabe's claims of being a
champion of democracy.

Harare suffocates under piles of garbage, suburbs go for months
without water, street lights are often on the blink and roads are marred by
potholes that resemble craters.

All the bluster about a Harare City Council turnaround strategy has
failed to translate into tangible evidence of progress but this is the
pretext under which Makwavarara and her associates have had their
appointments extended.

One poignant sign of the city's deterioration was that the Harare
Sheraton ran out of running water during an international conference,
forcing guests to go without bathing and the international Sheraton
organisation to withdraw its franchise from the hotel.

But critics cannot take it away from Makwavarara how she has
manipulated an entrenched system of patronage within the ruling party to
maximum advantage.

From a political nonentity renowned for hassling workers who owed her
money when she worked in Harare's industrial sites as a data capture clerk,
she has defied all set criteria and educational credentials that govern one's
eligibility to preside over a town as mayor.

A political turncoat who rode into council on the crest of a wave of
popularity for the opposition MDC, Makwavarara has outsmarted even the most
vocal critics with remarkable shrewdness.

She has left party veterans in the Harare provincial executive
wondering what she has that blinds her mentors to allow a political upstart
to ride roughshod over them and snap up a plum job ahead of them.

In an unusual challenge, spokesperson for the Harare province branch
of Zanu PF, William Nhara, last year accused Makwavarara of undermining the
ruling party.

He said the commission chairperson lacked professionalism and
leadership qualities.Yet no amount of vilification from party veterans who
fear her continued chairmanship of the Harare commission had become a
liability could prod her mentor, Chombo, to act on this political danger.

More importantly, Makwavarara has blown the widely-held myth by the
urban electorate that the conservative rural electorate allows itself to be
manipulated through threats of dire consequences to hand over electoral
victory to Zanu PF elections despite all its commonplace failures.

Political scientist Eldred Masunungure defended the rural electorate
for their behaviour in voting for Zanu PF.

"That electorate should be credited for their cost and benefit
analysis," Masunungure, who is head of the department of politics and
administration at the UZ, says.

"They know the consequences of their actions and how Zanu PF could
easily withdraw its benevolence in the form of food aid and permanent tenure
in the rural areas under the jurisdiction of compromised tribal chiefs."

Urban ratepayers have failed to protest constant denials by government
of the right to choose their own representatives. They continue to sustain
an unelected administration.

Planned protests by the Combined Harare Residents Association have
remained mere threats and tend to fizzle out before they have even started.
In most instances, the opposition MDC and civic groups have taken occasional
potshots at the commission.

Before elected executive mayor for Harare Elias Mudzuri was suspended
from his duties in February 2002 on allegations of misconduct and
mismanagement, Makwavarara turned the knife into her boss's back, accusing
him of "buying expensive whisky for consumption during council meetings and
squandering ratepayers' money".

But her profligacy outshone all known squander by her predecessors
when she ordered dismissed town clerk Nomutsa Chideya to purchase curtains
worth $35 million for the mayoral mansion.

Makwavara bought $100 million worth of satellite equipment for the
same mansion while residents endured serious water shortages and shoddy
service delivery. She has gone on a jaunt to Russia at enormous cost to
ratepayers with nothing to show for it. She has also presided over
ubiquitous decadence of the city that once boasted the Sunshine City tag.

She has credited herself with being able to "pay council workers on
time" as her major achievement. Most workers belong to the Zanu PF-aligned
Harare Municipal Workers Union. She may indeed prove good at what she does!

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Police arrest registered gold miners, destroy equipment

Zim Independent

POLICE working under the ongoing Operation Chikorokoza Chapera have
arrested over 250 registered small-scale gold miners and destroyed millions
of dollars worth of mining equipment in the crackdown.

Small-scale gold miners supply gold to Fidelity Printers, an arm of
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).

Zimbabwe Miners Federation president George Kawonza this week
confirmed the arrest of members of his association and said it was
contemplating taking legal action against the government if the police
continued with their illegal action."The disruptions of mining operations by
the police are illegal," said Kawonza. "As we speak right now all the
small-scale mines have been shut down and police have destroyed mining
equipment that they have been using and we are saying that is illegal
because our members are all licensed (but) the police will not hear of

Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka however said police were not
shutting down any mines but were arresting people who are committing crimes.

"The police are not shutting down any mines but we are arresting
people that are committing offences and that includes people who commit
crimes under the guise of having licences," Mandipaka said.

Kawonza said the national executive of his association will hold an
emergency meeting today where a decision to sue the government or not would
be taken.

"We support fully the eradication of gold panning in this country but
for legally licensed miners to be harassed in this manner is unacceptable
and the police action will kill the economy because as we speak right now
there are no gold deliveries to the RBZ," Kawonza said.

Minister of Mines Amos Midzi could not be contacted for comment as he
was not answering his mobile phone.

Close to 20 000 people have been arrested nationwide since November
when police intensified the fight against gold panning activities in the

The government alleged that illegal gold panners and small-scale
miners were smuggling tonnes of gold out of the country.

Kawonza however dismissed claims that miners under his association
were smuggling gold.

"The police claim they have recovered only three kilogrammes of gold
since the operation began in November. Where are the tonnes and tonnes of
gold they have been talking about? The issue is that there is no more
surface gold. Government should fund small-scale miners so that they can do
conventional mining alongside the established miners." - Staff Writer.

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Gono closed FNBS over old grudge: shareholders

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

KEY shareholders in First National Building Society (FNBS) have
alleged that Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono closed
their financial institution to "settle old scores", saying he harboured
grudges with the society's management over a dispute with him when he was
still chief executive officer of the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ).

They are now seeking re-instatement of the cancelled licence, saying
the Registrar of Banks who acted on behalf of the RBZ governor, had violated
statutory provisions of Section 14 of the Building Societies Act which
compels the central bank to give a 30-day notice of the intention to cancel
a building society's licence.

They argued that they received the Registrar's notice, which was
written on August 24, on October 12, well
after the stipulated 30 days had expired.

The shareholders, who have filed an appeal with Finance minister
Herbert Murerwa, argue that FNBS was solvent but the Registrar of Banks
acted in a misinformed position in withdrawing the society's licence, adding
that the central bank's handling of the whole case was driven by malice.

"The central bank instigated, and without good or lawful cause, the
placing of the society into liquidation, more to vindicate their earlier
decision on curatorship, than as a matter of principle," said the
shareholders in the appeal.

FNBS was placed under curatorship by the RBZ in February 2003 and its
licence was cancelled in October last year. The RBZ says several offers for
shareholders to find new investors to inject fresh capital into the
financial institution had failed, forcing its decision to withdraw the
institution's licence.

But the key shareholders deny this, saying they had enough cash and
identified partners who were willing to inject capital and revive the
operations of the building society.

They allege that FNBS was solvent and events preceding its closure
"were part of a wider conspiracy actuated by malice, blackmail, double
standards, vindictiveness and personal glorification" by Gono.

The shareholders Samson Ruturi and Nicholas Musona said Gono ignored
due diligence reports by AMG Global Chartered Accountants which confirmed
that FNBS was financially sound.

Gono, they said, wanted to settle old scores as he viewed the key
shareholders as part of an alleged coterie of individuals "back stabbing and
discrediting him" to curtail his appointment as governor of the RBZ.

Ruturi and Musona allege that Gono had been infuriated by a claim made
by FNBS to CBZ over an irregularity on their interest payments which he felt
could scuttle his prospects for appointment to the RBZ as its third
post-Independence governor.

According to appeal papers filed with Murerwa's office, Ruturi and
Musona, through their investment vehicles Lesal Investments and Strongline
Investments, which together hold an 89,74% stake in FNBS, allege that Gono
had been vindictive in his handling of their financial institution's case
and that this had been due to a dispute in which he felt Ruturi and Musona
were trying to decrease CBZ's annual profits through a hefty claim of
interest payments on FNBS' investments with CBZ.

The appeal documents dated November 23, allege that FNBS had an
accommodation facility with CBZ in 2002 but CBZ had overcharged interest on
the account while FNBS' deposits were not paid interest for a number of days
from the date of deposit.

By June 2002 interest due to FNBS had ballooned to $320 million.

Attempts by FNBS to recover the money did not go down well with Gono
who responded by closing the facility to force them to stop the claims, the
appeal alleges.

The bankers said they resolved not to relent and kept pursing their
claim but CBZ retaliated by bouncing or returning FNBS customers' cheques,
including a $110 million POSB cheque, under the pretext of non-renewal of
the accommodation facility.

The documents allege that Gono had pleaded with Ruturi and Musona, who
were also part of the FNBS management, to defer their claims to an
unspecified date, arguing that if CBZ paid the $320 million, the settlement
would affect CBZ's annual profits during the year and consequently affect
prospects for his appointment to the helm of the central bank.

"At one of the meetings between Ruturi and the then CBZ chief
executive officer, (Gono) hinted that he had been earmarked for an
appointment to be the governor of RBZ," the appeal documents says,
indicating that Gono had alleged during the meeting that certain individuals
were "back-stabbing him to discredit him and prevent his ascendancy to the
position of central bank governor".

"The then CBZ CEO urged Ruturi to look at the bigger picture and
ignore pursuing FNBS' claim of $320 million as it would nearly dissipate
profits declared by CBZ. He advised that FNBS must not be counted amongst
the bandwagon of his detractors," the appeal document reads.

They said Gono tried to avoid paying FNBS' interests "at all cost" and
suggested that the society's accommodation facility be transferred to the

They claim that Gono's plan had been executed with "subterfuge,
conspiracy and downright corruption (which was) laid down to besmirch,
incarcerate and wrestle their assets to take over control of FNBS".

On October 31 2002, CBZ is alleged in the documents to have demanded
that FNBS must abandon its claim in exchange for the restoration of the
facility but the facility only worked for a few weeks before it was closed
without their knowledge.

"The FNBS claim against CBZ over the $320 million became the
instrument to be used later in all forms of blackmail against Ruturi and
Musona to prevent them from pursuing the recovery of this money," the
shareholders charged in their appeal to Murerwa.

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Zim dollar falls yet again

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

ZIMBABWE'S frail dollar plumbed fresh depths to hit $2 900 to the
greenback on the thriving parallel market, starting the year 2007 on a
somber note and reinforcing gloomy forecasts of an unprecedented
acceleration in the rate of inflation.

The rate was at over $3 000/US$ for large volume transactions.

Other major currencies, mainly the British pound, the South African
rand and Botswana pula, were moving around the benchmark US dollar rate.

The local unit was trading above $5 100, $400 and $380 to the British
pound, the Botswana pula and the South African rand respectively.

The local unit had closed the year at $2 500 to the US dollar. Dealers
said they expected the local currency to hit fresh depths in the coming few
weeks when companies re-open for business and demand for foreign currency

The local unit remained fixed at $250 to the greenback on the
inter-bank rate, but there were market-wide expectations Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono was likely to devalue the local unit
drastically when he presents his monetary policy statement for the year.

The British pound, the Botswana pula and the South African rand are
trading at $492, $42 and $36 to the local unit.

Analysts said the unpredictable central bank governor, who has kept
the market in abeyance after postponing his monetary policy presentation
from December 7 to late January, could, however, disappoint an expectant
market by moving the exchange rate only marginally or not at all.

Bank economists said the Zimbabwe dollar was still battling to find a
bottom on the parallel market due to escalating demand from both
institutional buyers and individuals trying to escape inflation-induced
losses on local currency holdings.

Parallel market dealers said the currency had been moving daily during
the week in line with mounting demand.

Economic consultant John Robertson said parallel market rates would
continue to rise until foreign currency inflows improve and major sectors of
the economy start performing.

The hyperinflationary environment had made it unattractive to hold the
local currency when costs for goods and services go up almost everyday,"
Robertson said.

Robertson said the market was expecting Reserve Bank governor Gideon
Gono to adjust the exchange rate significantly.

Economic research and consultancy firm, Techfin Research forecast
Zimbabwe's embattled domestic currency's fair value by December last year at
$814,15 to the US dollar, against $250 to the greenback fixed by the Reserve
Bank in August.

Techfin said the frail currency would reach a fair value of $1 058,39
to the US unit at the start of 2007 and end the year at a fair value rate of
$16 588,73 to the US dollar.

The projections support gloomy forecasts made by the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) suggesting Zimbabwe's economic crisis in likely to
accelerate at an unprecedented rate next year.

The IMF expects inflation to average 4 278,8% by December this year,
with real gross domestic product (GDP) contracting by 4,7%.

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Microsoft's Zim agent moves on pirated software

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

MICROSOFT Corporation's official representative in Zimbabwe, MS
Solutions (MSS), has embarked on a campaign to stop the illegal use of
pirated software, which is rampant in the country.

MSS was appointed Microsoft's local agent last year after the
international software giant had gone for two years without a representative
in the country.

The absence of an official representative had been attributed to the
increase in the use of pirated software in most companies.

MSS, an information technology (IT) firm involved in the distribution
and servicing of computer software and hardware, this week said it would not
be confrontational in the initial stages of the campaign but warned it would
seek the help of law enforcement agents if illegal dealers continued to
illegally distribute the Microsoft products.

IT experts estimate that between 75% and 80% of available Microsoft
software in Zimbabwe is pirated.

They said MSS was likely to find the task of clamping down on illegal
software usage difficult considering that software users are scattered
around the country and MSS might have limited human resources to efficiently
do the job.

Samir Popatlal, an MSS executive director, told businessdigest that
his company would tackle the illegal trade in Microsoft software to minimise
software piracy.

Popatlal said MSS this week began writing to listed companies warning
them to stop dealing with unregistered Microsoft dealers.

"We will not take the punitive route, but we have written to most
listed companies in Zimbabwe advising them that MSS has been awarded the
franchise so they should not deal with illegal agents," Popatlal said.

In the last quarter of 2006, Microsoft Corporation launched Vista, its
first new computer operating system in five years.

MSS said companies dealing with original products will have the new
system installed on existing machines.

"There is new software that will be introduced this year and it will
be difficult to get the updates for those companies dealing with illegal
distributors," he said.

Zimbabwe has been hit by an influx of pirated musical videos, audio
cassettes and computer software.

The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) has established an anti-piracy unit
in an effort to stop the illegal trade but the efforts have had limited

Science and technology development has been described as an important
tool for sustained economic development across the world but the increasing
demand for software has led to the emergence of illegal traders.

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Passing the 'toothpaste test'

Zim Independent

By Admire Mavolwane

THE beginning of the year is always one occasion on which every
economist, analysts, accountant or witchdoctor worthy of his, or her, keep -
and even some whose performances set against this criterion are judged as
falling well short of it - is expected to provide an opinion on what the
next 12 months are likely to have in store for the economy.

This notwithstanding a wealth of worldwide evidence spanning hundreds,
if not thousands, of years illustrating that the predictions of even the
wisest and best informed among us cannot always be relied upon to give a
convincing, still less wholly accurate, guide to future events. One reason
for this virtually unavoidable shortcoming, at least according to one of
Britain's most literary 19th century prime ministers, is that: "What we
anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expect generally happens."

A very early and quite possibly the most distinguished casualty of the
unexpected this year could well be the Minister of Finance for having put
his trust in the Meteorological Department's forecast of a "near-normal"
rainy season in 2006/07 and its consequential budget prediction of
agricultural output growing by 9,4% and real gross domestic product (GDP) by
between 0,5% and 1%. As the sage of Omaha, Warren Buffet, once said,
"forecasts tell you more about the forecaster and less about the future".

While no rainfall records for the country as a whole have been
published, anecdotal evidence and some privately compiled figures suggest
that for the period to the end of December not only has the onset of the
general rains been delayed but individual falls have been patchy and
variable and in total well below normal for the agriculturally important
areas. Such conditions almost invariably presage a below average summer
cropping season, at once calling into question the budget's presumption of a
return to overall positive growth.

Moreover, even if "near-normal" rains do fall over the next two months
or so their potentially beneficial agricultural effect could largely be
negated by a threatened further wave of evictions, by mid-February, of many
if not most of the rump of the remaining white commercial farmers.

It is the latter who, against all the odds, are expected to harvest
the bulk of this season's 65 000 kilogrammes of flue-cured tobacco
representing an approximately 18% increase on last year's sales, a rare
positive result in an otherwise highly decimated agricultural sector.

Maize production is virtually certain to once again fall far below the
regularly predicted targets figure of 1,8 million tonnes to the extent that
700 000 to 800 000 tonnes of cereal urgently have to be imported to avert
starvation particularly in the southern half of the country.

Nor is there much confidence in industrial circles that the officially
estimated 2% fall in manufacturing output in 2006 is likely to be reversed
failing much increased availability of foreign exchange for the procurement
of essential imports of raw materials, spares, intermediate inputs and
capital equipment.

Mining sector output growth too depends crucially upon the ability to
secure essential foreign inputs, a favourable exchange rate regime and
official assurances that investment will actually be protected and not just

Much has been made of tourism's great foreign exchange earning
potential. But the sector's future contribution to export earnings also
depends crucially upon the introduction of an exchange rate regime which
will dispel the impression of a high cost destination for potentially big
spending foreigners. Press reports of a recent survey which concluded that
Harare is the world's most expensive city for expatriates do the country's
reputation little good.

Those dismissing such accounts as nothing more than hostile Western
propaganda should take time off themselves to check the evidence. One item
mentioned in the survey was toothpaste reported to be on sale at US$8. This
was stated as costing almost three times more than in New York and eight
times more than in Johannesburg.

On a quick tour of a few supermarkets, the best priced 50ml tube
spotted, converted at the official exchange rate, gave a price of US$8,88,
the increase no doubt accounted for by the rise in domestic currency prices
since the above survey was conducted, on its own a major cause for concern.

The fact is that the overvalued official exchange rate undoubtedly
keeps prices in foreign currency terms extremely high. It is argued that
this has the merit of holding down prices of essential imports such as fuel
and food. But regrettably it all too often provides opportunities for
arbitrage, rent seeking and profit for a favoured few.

The other side of the coin is that export sector viability, earnings
and growth are squeezed between low domestic currency returns and costs
based on the much higher parallel rate. Asset and investment prices are
pushed up and their returns to foreigners depressed giving no encouragement
to foreign capital inflows which are generally accepted as one missing
component of recovery.

The failure to bring public spending, credit creation and the budget
deficit under control will, one way or another, inevitably lead to yet
higher and higher inflation.

The toothpaste story also holds another lesson. Veterans of Tanzania's
collapse in ruination between 1976 and 1984 like to joke that the bottom of
the economic trough was reached when Dar es Salaam's best hotel taps yielded
nothing apart from cockroaches and all the country's toothpaste had to be

Zimbabwe is patently moving towards satisfying both these conditions.
Whether this will indeed herald the beginning of a change for the better
this year or whether it will simply constitute another milestone on the
country's on-going search for home-grown, non orthodox solutions to its
economic problems remains as elusive a question as ever to answer.

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Mixed feelings on forex committee

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

ECONOMIC analysts have expressed mixed feelings over calls for the
country to set up a foreign currency allocation committee to oversee the
management of Zimbabwe's scarce foreign currency resources.

While saying that it was imperative for Zimbabwe to set up proper
structures to supervise the allocation of foreign currency, the analysts
said capable individuals should be appointed to run such a committee if they
were set up.

If set up, a foreign currency allocation committee would be expected
to increase transparency and accountability in the way the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) manages foreign currency, proponents of the committee have

Independent economist, John Robertson, warned that there was a risk of
the committee putting stringent controls on the exchange rate, overvaluing
the local currency in the process.

"Market forces should be allowed to determine the exchange rate. But a
foreign currency allocation committee would determine the exchange - the
exchange rate must not be regulated," Robertson said.

University of Zimbabwe graduate school of management lecturer, Isaac
Kwesu, said he did not see anything wrong with setting up structures to help
the RBZ rationalise the allocation of foreign currency.

"We always need proper structures for the accountable allocation of
scarce resources," he said.

"Foreign currency allocation committees are there even in developed
countries where market forces determine the exchange rates. The problem
arises if there are too many controls imposed by the committees. That (will)
end up distorting the market," Kwesu said.

He said the United States and Japan had successful foreign currency
management committees that worked hand-in-hand with their central banks.

Zimbabwe is currently going through its worst economic crisis in
history, characterised mainly by acute foreign currency shortages that have
forced the central bank into shifting exchange rate policies since Gideon
Gono took over as the central bank governor in 2003.

The RBZ re-introduced the interbank system in October 2005 after
experimenting with the auction system which it adopted in January 2004.

The auction system was meant to restore stability in the foreign
exchange market which has been overtaken by the parallel market.

While the exchange rate on the auction system was allowed to adjust
periodically, critics said it had been of little benefit to exporters
because the adjustments were not realistic and did not allow exporters to
break even.

As a result, export receipts had not improved as anticipated under the
auction system.

In re-introducing the interbank trading system, RBZ governor Gono said
he wanted to promote the "allocative efficiencies in the foreign exchange

Under this system, all exporters retain 70% of their export proceeds
in foreign currency accounts and sell the remainder at the auction exchange
rate run by the central bank at determined rates.

Exporters can now sell the foreign currency held in their accounts
through authorised dealers.

There has been little sign that the major thrust of the RBZ's policy -
encouraging export viability and therefore a boost in foreign currency
receipts - has given any life to the troubled currency market.

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Consumer Council attacks wholesalers, retailers

Zim Independent

Pindai Dube

THE Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) has accused wholesalers and
retailers of fuelling inflation by selling basic commodities at exorbitant
prices on the parallel market.

CCZ Matabeleland representative, Comfort Muchekeza, said the
wholesalers were hoarding scarce basic commodities for resale on the
parallel market at exorbitant prices.

"Wholesalers and retailers have been hoarding the commodities whenever
the commodities are available from the manufacturers (but) while the
commodity is scarce in shops, it can be seen in push carts outside the
shop," said Muchekeza.

He said retailers and wholesalers were hoarding basic commodities in
anticipation of price increases, leading to artificial shortages.

Muchekeza said this was further exacerbated by panic buying by
consumers fearing significant price increases.

"Due to the anticipation of a price increases, consumers have been
panic buying commodities whenever they are available," he said.

He said law enforcement agents should monitor the conduct of some
businesses especially wholesalers and retailers as they were fuelling the
black market.

"As CCZ, we call upon the police and government to effectively monitor
the business conduct of some wholesalers and retailers as these are the ones
fuelling the shortages of basic commodities," he said.

Last month CCZ blasted bakeries for supplying confectionery, super
loaves and low quality loaves instead of the ordinary standard loaf.

Industry and International Trade minister Obert Mpofu has vowed to
deal with shops that are flouting price controls and violating the
Controlled Goods Act by increasing prices of controlled commodities.

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Property market to remain dull as house prices soar

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

THE property market remained subdued last year, with prospects of
recovery remaining weak on the back of increasing inflationary pressures
expected this year.

The first half of last year saw the property market playing second
fiddle to other investment vehicles such as the money market, and the trend
is likely to be maintained this year, with the majority of funds going into
equities and, should money market rates, which increased during the last
days of December, remain firm, funds would be kept away from brick and

The cumbersome bureaucratic system is likely to remain in place, with
property market transactions taking a long time to conclude.

Against the backdrop of an inflationary environment, this is expected
to force investors into other forms of investments as the value of
transactions is likely to change during transaction periods.

Analysts said they were less optimistic over property market prospects
this year, indicating that a repeat of last year's scenario was likely this

High interest rates in December had dampened activity on the property
market as investors parked their funds in the money market where rates had
increased considerably.

Properties remained priced beyond many potential buyers in a market
where the bulk of the country's working class no longer qualifies for bank
loans or mortgages.

A standard medium-density house, which cost between $25 million and
$50 million in January last year, opened the year priced at around $150

A standard three bed-roomed house in the high-density areas now costs
between $25 million and $60 million from last year's opening prices of
between $15 million and $30 million.

A standard house in the low-density areas now costs over $200 million.
The same kind of house would have had an asking price of about $80 million
in January last year.

Figures obtained from Southbay Real Estate indicated that by November
last year, rentals in Harare had also significantly gone up.

Retail space went for between $3 000 and $4 500 per square metre,
while office space was going for between $1 000 and $2 000.

Industrial space was the cheapest at between $300 and $750 per square

Rentals for residential properties for medium and low density houses
were pegged at between $150 000 and $700 000 by November last year, and
significant changes in rentals are expected this month.

Rentals for flats were at $80 000 and $300 000 for medium and
low-density accommodation respectively.

Residential stands in high-density areas were being charged at between
$5 000 and $10 000 per square metre while residential stands in low density
areas cost between $10 000 and $20 000 per square metre.

According to information gathered from the country's four building
societies - Central African Building Society, Beverley, Intermarket and FBC
Building Society - many mortgage applications were turned down because the
applicants did not meet the income requirements.

"The rate at which property prices are increasing made it impossible
for first time home buyers to own a house," an official said.

"Salaries have failed to match the rate at which inflation is rising.
Interest rates on the market have to some extent chased a number of
potential buyers away," the official said.

Real Estate Institute of Zimbabwe president Nico Kuipa said for the
eighth year running there were no major developments on the property market
due to the unstable economic environment and hyperinflation.

"Demand for space to let, particularly commercial, continued to shrink
as companies downsized on space requirements. Rentals, although increasing
in sympathy with inflation, were still way below regional levels and at the
levels they are, are not good enough to attract new developments," Kuipa

Kuipa said current office rentals were under US$1 per square metre
compared to between US$5 and $10 per square metre in the region.

"Rental returns for property owners were severely being curtailed by
inflation-driven building operating costs, in particular rates, water and
security," Kuipa said.

"The tenant, in deciding to take up space, looks at the total
occupation costs and we now have in the majority of cases instances where
operating costs exceed rentals by up to one and a half times," Kuipa said.

Kuipa said there was an acute shortage of houses and flats to let,
contributing to the upward movement in rentals.

"In the case of houses and flats to let, one particular supply side
bottleneck is the much talked about Residential Rent Regulations which
caused institutions to shy away from housing as this sector had poor returns
due to controls," Kuipa said.

The trend of quarterly rent reviews became the norm as a cushion on
the impact of rising inflation.

A three-roomed house in the low-density which cost between $20 000 and
$40 000 is now being rented for between $100 000 and $200 000.

Medium-density areas, which recorded the most significant movement
throughout last year, saw houses being let for between $200 000 and $450 000
in November, from between $30 000 and $50 000 in January last year.

Low-density house rentals are above $450 000, from between $50 000 and
$150 000 in January.

Government's plans to introduce a policy in which new residential
property owners would not be subject to rent control for the first 10 years
in a bid to lure investors into the country's dull property industry
remained unfulfilled.

However, property analysts said rent controls should be phased out

They said the policy would not revive the industry as a decade is not
enough for investors to realise good returns on investments.

Since 2000, there has been insignificant investment in the property
market particularly residential and the major obstacle has been rent

Announcing the mid-term fiscal policy review in July last year,
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa said government had scrapped the 20%
Capital Gains Tax on the transfer of residential properties from companies
to employee housing trust funds, in a move targeted at improving access to

Capital Gains Tax is tax charged on the sale of immovable property and
marketable securities.

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Harare stuck with Makwavarara if 2010 plan succeeds

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

HARARE is likely to be stuck with the Sekesai Makwavarara-led
commission, an unelected body, if Zanu PF succeeds in its push to have
presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010.

Zanu PF wants to harmonise the presidential and parliamentary
elections and possibly council elections in 2010. The excuse given by party
spokespersons is that this will "save money and simplify electoral
logistics". The proposal faces resistance from both Zanu PF camps: one led
by retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru and the other by politburo
bigwig Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mujuru is understood to have openly voiced his opposition during last
month's politburo meeting but the party was largely whipped into line behind
the plan. However, there were signs of dissent at the subsequent Goromonzi
conference and the matter was eventually referred back to the provinces and
the central committee.

Harare province secretary for publicity William Nhara said his
provincial executive had only discussed the harmonisation of mayoral and
council elections.

"The issue of harmonising presidential elections is a highly explosive
political issue. Our main focus of discussion was issues that affect Harare
as an urban province," Nhara said last month.

Nhara said Harare province would go along with the others if the
harmonisation of presidential and general elections came up for discussion.

"It is not a matter of competing on resolutions. The conference is
meant to discuss issues that come up."

The proposal to harmonise elections in 2010 was followed by Local
Government minister Ignatious Chombo's extension of the Makwavarara-led
Harare commission's tenure for a further six months.

Chombo on Friday announced several new members of the Harare
commission chaired by Makwavarara, who was re-appointed earlier this month
to a fifth term amid criticism by civic activists.

The new Harare commission members include as deputy chair, Robson
Mafoti, CEO of the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development
Centre, Killian Mupingo, a member of the board of the Zimbabwe United
Passenger Company, Civil Protection Unit director Madzudzo Pawadyira, Sylvia
Masango, a principal director in the office of Vice-President Joice Mujuru,
and Sasha Jogi, president of the Urban Planners Association. One post
remains to be filled, and Chombo said the candidate he had in mind for the
slot is a lawyer.

Passed over were Jameson Kurasha, Justin Chivavaya, a Harare
provincial administrator still facing corruption charges over Operation
Garikai housing allocations at Whitecliff, Michael Mahachi and Alfred Tome.

Chombo axed Tendai Savanhu and Prisca Mupfumira, both of them highly
placed in the ruling Zanu PF party. Callisto Matafare was removed too.

Political observers said Chombo was punishing the first two Zanu PF
officials for their involvement in efforts by the ruling party's Harare
office to remove Makwavarara from Town House.

Analysts said in as much as the endorsement of the harmonisation
proposal would allow Mugabe to remain at the helm after 2008 and see the
continued extension of the Harare Commission's term of office, the whole
development shows that Zimbabwe is in a constitutional crisis.

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) chairman Mike Davies said
the confusion between elections and harmonisation should be addressed by the
constitution through a referendum and not a Zanu PF conference.

"The whole process is a violation of both the electoral laws and the
Urban Councils Act," Davies said. "We will continue to push in court for
council elections."

Opposition MDC secretary for Local Government Trudy Stevenson said
elections harmonisation can only be authorised through a constitutional
amendment and a host of legislative changes bringing other affected laws
into line.

"The only technicality that can allow council elections, even if the
issue of harmonisation is passed, is that local authorities' polls are not
defined by the constitution," Stevenson said.

"In this particular case it would work to our favour because we can't
afford to keep the Makwavarara commission for the next three years." She
said there had been some recommendations from the Urban Councils Association
of Zimbabwe and Rural District Councils to constitutionalise local

Legal experts said in terms of Section 121 of the Electoral Act
[Chapter 2:13] "a general election of councillors shall be held in any
fourth year on any day in the month of August fixed by the commission in
terms of Section 120 (4)". The next general elections for the Harare City
Council were therefore due in August 2006.

"Accordingly, the last day upon which a general election of
councillors must have been held in the City of Harare was 31 August 2006,"
experts said.

"The effect of Section 124 of the Electoral Act is to require the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, by notice published in a newspaper and posted
at its office, to give not less than 28 days notice of a polling day and
also of various matters ancillary to the holding of the relevant election.
It follows that the last day upon which such notice could have been given,
and still remain in compliance with the provisions of Section 121 (2) of the
Electoral Act in respect of a general election of councillors in the City of
Harare, was 3 August 2006."

Stevenson said the development could attract a flurry of legal
challenges to try and force government to hold elections on the strength of
the Electoral Act and the Urban Councils Act.

"Harare residents deserve nothing short of an elected and accountable
leadership to replace the corrupt and dysfunctional Makwavarara-led
commission that was forcibly imposed by Chombo two years ago following the
dismissal of an elected MDC council led by Engineer Elias Mudzuri,"
Stevenson said.

"It appears Chombo is determined to stifle democracy by extending the
term of the Makwavarara commission. This is despite overwhelming evidence of
poor service delivery, rampant looting of council property, corruption,
mismanagement of council property and a carefree attitude coupled with
downright arrogant behaviour towards the plight of the ratepayers exhibited
by the commission. This is totally unacceptable and it must be stopped."

Stevenson said the opposition party had joined Harare residents in
resisting Chombo's "obnoxious, stinking and hypocritical machinations by
demanding their right to elect leaders of their choice to run the affairs of
the city".

Observers say there is a possibility of Makwavarara continuing at the
helm of Town House considering how storms of protests within the ruling
party, including the politburo seven months ago and the Zanu PF Harare
provincial executive vote of no-confidence in her, were ignored by Chombo
who extended her term last week for another six months.

Zanu PF Harare province was seeking to oust Makwavarara, alleging that
she had undermined the position of the party because of her lack of capacity
to lead the city. And not being a member of the party herself, she could not
expect cooperation from the residents and the party in Harare.

Harare provincial spokesman Nhara said recently Makwavarara lacked the
professional and leadership skills to deliver to ratepayers' expectations.

"Service delivery is not improving, contrary to minister Chombo's
claims," Nhara said.

"We want to be educated on where there are improvements. Maybe the
minister is measuring the city's improvements using growth-point standards."

He alleged Makwavarara had a tendency of making arbitrary decisions
without consulting stakeholders or even other commissioners.

"As stakeholders in Harare, we no longer have confidence in
Makwavarara," Nhara said.

"We will not provide her with any support and we hope other
stakeholders will join in."

The position was reached after realising that service delivery in the
city was deteriorating under Makwavarara's leadership.

Nhara said basic service delivery was not being carried out, and
erratic water supplies and burst sewage pipes were becoming a perennial

He said Makwavarara was not suitable to spearhead the turnaround at
Town House because of her lack of professional qualifications.

"We want people who can turn around the fortunes of Harare, are able
to deliver and have the necessary credentials," Nhara said at the time.

"There are certain prerequisites for each job, at least demonstrable
deliverable even through experience. Makwavarara doesn't have any
professional qualifications. She has undermined and demeaned the position of
the party in Harare and not being a member of the party herself, she cannot
expect any further cooperation from the residents and the party in Harare,"
he said.

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Attack on judiciary unjustified

Zim Independent

By Chris Mhike

IN recent weeks, the judiciary has been subjected to intense verbal
and press-based attacks. That aggression is particularly lamentable as it
emanates from men who should know better.

The culprits, high-ranking government officials and other senior
authorities, ought to be familiar with the basics as well as the intricacies
of the substantive and procedural law relating to the treatment of accused

But, alas, distinguished officials have stampeded for space in the
news columns and for air-time on the small screen to lash out at the bench.

The furore follows a most commendable recent visit by Judge President
Rita Makarau to the remand section of Harare Central Prison.

It is common knowledge to all those who care that standards in
Zimbabwe's prisons have deteriorated to horrendous levels since
independence. The good judge must have seen for herself the gravity of the
situation during her visit.

Prisoners complain of hunger, forced to survive on one very poor meal
a day. Just a small portion of sadza and a few leaves of boiled cabbage,
without tomatoes nor cooking oil.

The horror starts in the holding cells at the police station where the
accused is subjected to sub-human treatment, forced to remove shoes and
under-clothes, including panties, even for menstruating women.

A tiny cell designed for four or less persons holding more than 30
people at a time, with lavatory facilities in the same room, and flushed
once a day from a point located outside the cell.

These are but a few glimpses, not an exhaustive description of the
conditions that suspects are subjected to at police stations, and at remand
prison. But suspects are not convicts. Should the accused's bail application
fail, the nightmare continues at remand prison.

Indeed, imprisonment at most prisons in Zimbabwe, including Harare
Central Prison's remand section, or incarceration at holding cells at police
stations, has become a form of torture.

The honourable judge discovered during the visit that certain inmates
had been locked up in remand prison for as long as nine years, without trial
or sentence. Remand prisoners are in the main persons who have not been
tried and therefore who are not, at that stage technically, and sometimes in
fact, guilty.

Even in the case of convicts, the diabolic treatment of citizens in
police cells and in prison is totally unacceptable in a democratic society.

Under these circumstances, therefore, one of the most sensible
outcomes of Justice Makarau's prison visit was the release of some remand
prisoners. The Herald reports, without giving a specific figure, that "more
than 100" were released.

They were released, not on judicial pardon (as is sometimes done by
the president through the presidential pardon system). They were admitted to
bail by competent judicial authorities, who presided over the prisoners'
applications. The judges considered the circumstances of the applicants, and
submissions by prosecutors (that is representatives of the state).

Also under consideration would have been the Judge President's
post-visit observations. Due legal processes were definitely followed.
Prison officials were part of the tour and pre-release deliberations.

Justice Makarau could not, as has been suggested in the press, issue a
blanket directive ordering the release of "more than 100 criminals". Release
becomes possible only after the sort of applications that were made at the
High Court.

There are many considerations that guide magistrates and judges as
they preside over bail applications. But the starting point in bail
proceedings, for most proficient judicial officers, is the constitution.

Defective as the Constitution of Zimbabwe is, at least it still
carries a Declaration of Rights. The declaration is not adequately
expansive, but it all the same provides a degree of valuable and fundamental
protection to citizens.

"No person shall be deprived of his personal liberty," says the law.
That provision is qualified in the same constitution when it is stated that
the law may condone deprivation of liberty "upon reasonable suspicion of his
having committed, or being about to commit, a criminal offence".

Related to the citizen's entitlement to liberty is the cardinal
principle known as the presumption of innocence. This is a most basic and
well-established tenet not just at home but the world over, stipulating that
every person shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

This tenet is critical in preserving the credibility of any legal
system, as well as the credibility of the prison system. That presumption
should be applied to any accused person, including ex-convicts because each
case has to be treated on its own merits.

In the case of preserving the credibility of the legal system, if
suspects are wrongfully incarcerated, no amount of money or other material
award would compensate their loss of liberty.

Very little, if anything, would restore the confidence of the victims,
or society at large, in the system where it is possible that an innocent
person could be locked up.

It is better for society to suffer the menace inflicted by a criminal
who was wrongfully released than for an innocent person to be wrongfully
imprisoned, especially under the conditions of local prisons or police

In civilised society, wrongful incarceration is a very expensive
mistake because the state would have to pay out huge amounts of money in
compensation. Not so in Zimbabwe.

But the motivation to spare citizens from wrongful arrest and
imprisonment should basically be to uphold the integrity of the legal system
more than the fear of financial losses.

In the case of the prison system, the integrity of the Zimbabwe
Prisons Service would be irredeemably undermined if citizens were to be
denied bail purely on the grounds that they are "notorious criminals", or
that they have been convicted before.

Imprisonment upon conviction is not just punitive. There should also
be a reformative objective. A sound prison system should be able to reform a
convict so that upon his or her release, they will be transformed, shying
away from crime.

Many convicts do reform. Often times, out of laziness and out of
prejudices, police officers target ex-convicts as the prime or first
suspects. It sometimes turns out that these easy targets are in fact

The presumption of innocence and the right to personal liberty should
therefore be applied to every citizen, and extended even to persons with
poor criminal records.

In the ongoing assault on the judiciary, two of the most prominent
protagonists who seem to refuse to appreciate the significance of the right
to personal liberty, and the presumption of innocence, include Home Affairs
minister Kembo Mohadi and Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri.

The Herald of December 4 2006 screamed in a front-page story that
Mohadi had hit out at the judiciary over the release of remand prisoners.
The accused were referred to as "criminals".

The minister is reported to have said: "I am disturbed by the vicious
cycle in which notorious armed robbers are arrested by police, placed on
remand and granted bail to rejoin the communities they terrorise."

He went on to accuse the judiciary of "complicity in the granting of
bail to such criminals".

Chihuri had been quoted a week earlier as having commented about the
"criminals". He took a "swipe at the judiciary" over the same issue.

In Zimbabwe, the rule in application in most cases is: "guilty until
proven innocent". The commissioner said: "I don't understand it anymore.
These are cross-border criminals who operate in syndicates and deserve
deterrent sentences."

There has been no scientific substantiation to the suggestions that
"more than 100 'criminals' were released", or that the recent prison visit
by the Judge President is directly linked to an upsurge in crime levels. It
is all speculation and suspicion.

A reporter wrote in the Herald of November 16 2006 that "in a
development that could be linked to the recent release of more than 100
suspected carjackers, robbers and burglars from Harare Central Prison . . .
the crime rate in the city of Harare has risen sharply".

The prevailing economic environment, high unemployment and poor
national and local governance all make a more probable explanation to the
higher crime levels.

When one considers the inefficiency of a system that allows people to
rot in prison for nine or more years, in light of the principles of liberty
to the citizen and the presumption of innocence, it becomes quite clear that
the latest attack on the judiciary is unjustified.

* Mhike is a lawyer practising in Harare.

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Mugabe's wishes vs Zim's needs

Zim Independent

By Wellington Mbofana

THIS year marks 30 years since President Robert Mugabe ascended to the
throne of Zanu PF, 27 years since he assumed leadership of the country and
20 years since he browbeat the late Joshua Nkomo and Zapu into a marriage of

Given his long tenure and advanced age, it has become inevitable that
members of his party and indeed citizens of the country ponder his
succession. In recent years the subject of Mugabe's succession has become
imperative given the tenuous state of the economy.

There is no doubt that Mugabe has cleverly dominated Zimbabwean
politics over the past 30 years. He has also consolidated his power in Zanu
PF, the state and government with the same cleverness and firmness.

Despite Mugabe's insistence that he was not going to groom any
successor ascribing the function to the party and people of Zimbabwe, some
still mislead themselves into believing that Mugabe was anointing heirs and
preparing to leave.

Since Joice Mujuru's rise to the presidium in 2004, talk was rife that
she was being groomed to take over from Mugabe. Before November 2004
Emmerson Mnangagwa was touted as the heir apparent to the Zimbabwean throne.

After 2002 Mugabe managed to lead many along the garden path with his
hints mostly to foreign media that he would soon be leaving. Yet a close
study at the man and his political dexterity reveals that he is going
nowhere. This is because he never intended to go anywhere and he no longer
has anywhere to go anyway.

In December Mugabe on three separate occasions suggested as such when
he asked: ". . . Munoda kuti ndiendepi? (. . . where do you expect me to
go)?" He reinforced this by suggesting that only God knows when he is
leaving office.

In the 1990s he declared that he would only go the Mugabe way as
opposed to the Mandela and Nyerere way of handing the baton over to younger
leaders, the Kaunda and Banda way of losing elections and the Mobutu way of
fleeing the country with the citizens in hot pursuit. It has become apparent
that the Mugabe way leads from State House to Heroes Acre.

It has been suggested by others that it is not in Mugabe's interest to
leave power. It has become risky for strongmen to live after power. The slow
but surely grinding wheels of justice and the long arm of the law have
developed a knack for reaching former leaders.

In recent times the world has witnessed the trials of former leaders
like the late Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia, the late Augusto Pinochet of
Chile, Fredrick Chiluba of Zambia, Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia, the
conviction and execution of Saddam Hussein of Iraq and numerous moves to
bring to book several former African strongmen hiding in foreign lands.

The recent move seeking to extend Mugabe's term of office by two years
to 2010 under the guise of harmonising the presidential and parliamentary
terms to save money should be seen in the context of Mugabe going nowhere.

Similarly, Mugabe's suggestion that he would not allow himself to go
and rest leaving his party in disarray or leaving the country at the mercy
of neo-imperialists should be seen in the light of him extending his

In a recent interview Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus
Mutasa revealed that even if elections were held in 2008 Mugabe would still
remain the party's candidate.

Mugabe allowed (some would say forced) his late deputies Joshua Nkomo
and Simon Muzenda to die in office. It can be argued that this is not
because of the two's invaluable contributions in cabinet, rather Mugabe was
setting a precedent - from Munhumutapa Buildings to Heroes Acre!

While Mugabe is resolute in executing his project, there are numerous
voices of discord across the country and globe. News that some members of
the Zanu PF central committee are alleged to have retorted that they will
create vacancies in the presidium to Mugabe's declaration that there were no
vacancies makes interesting reading and would give security experts and
political scientists a lot to think about.

From indications, neither of the Zanu PF factions would dare challenge
in a significant way Mugabe and his "party position". Given numerous
rumours, innuendos and allegations of not-so-clean deals involving some of
the more prominent and powerful dissenting voices, this compromises them and
they would rather lie low lest they join former Finance minister Chris

The disjointed opposition and civil society would take long to
mobilise to mount an effective Chenjerai Hunzvi-style challenge to Mugabe.
It should be noted that after the 1990s, National Constitutional Assembly
and Hunzvi challenges to his power, Mugabe has since learnt to go to sleep
with one eye open.

Can Mugabe still achieve this feat and benefit his party and Zimbabwe?
Put differently, the question is: how can Mugabe preserve himself and allow
Zimbabwe to pick itself up and at the same time create an opportunity for
Zanu PF to reinvent itself?

It has been conceded that Mugabe has a lot to say on how both Zanu PF
and Zimbabwe progress into the future. While Zimbabwe risks plummeting
further into crisis and civil strife, Zanu PF risks meeting outright
rejection by the people at the next election (whenever that is and with or
without Mugabe) leading to the demise of the party as happened with Kanu in
Kenya, Unip in Zambia, MCP in Malawi, NP in South Africa and so on.

At the risk of sounding defeatist, I hazard to posit that it is
possible for Mugabe to achieve his project, save his party and release the
country to soar like the eagle that it is supposed to be.

While the ideal would be to have harmonised elections under a new
constitution in 2008, citizens can rest assured that they are on their own
on this as their representatives in parliament are most likely not going to
support an early general election as many across the House, like Mugabe
himself, are not secure with the ballot. I don't think the judiciary is a
factor in this matter.

Mugabe's best option is to assume the position of head of state with
all protection and benefits (like the late Canaan Banana or better still the
Queen of England!) and let a younger person - not the pompous, populist
politicking type - who can sell to both locals and the international
community, take over the reins of government. This suggests someone who is
not currently in government, for most of the so-called front runners to
succeed Mugabe have been in cabinet with him since independence or at the
forefront of turnarounds that have left the country reeling with dizziness.

The prime minister would be elected by parliament and report to the
same. The person so chosen would serve until 2010 when a combined election
would be held under a new constitution. This of course would mean another
constitutional amendment.

While the purists would protest, I think the generality of the
citizenry would be more interested in the candidate of the prime minister.

Of equal importance would be an announcement at the most opportune
time of a clear agenda of a citizen-driven and citizen-centred
constitution-making project. Mugabe can actually earn a feather in his cap
if he were to do this before June 2007 - nearly a year before the end of his
controversial and troubled term.

While this would unfortunately shield Mugabe from those who may have
issues with him, on the other hand the country would be released to start

* Mbofana is a Harare based writer.

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Giving up liberties nothing but immoral

Zim Independent

PROMINENT Zimbabwean activists and a number of unsung heroines who
have outrightly defied and continue to disregard Posa, Aippa and other Zanu
PF laws are not only morally upright and justified, but are heroes and
heroines who deserve a place at the national shrine in a new Zimbabwe. To
push the regime without disregarding such laws is no more possible than
having a non-three sided triangle.

If the government is evil as in our Zimbabwean case, and has abdicated
its duty to promote justice, then our duty as Zimbabweans is not always to
obey the law as this is not morally valid.

In spite of the fact that we are inescapably enmeshed in the political
realm, we can still make choices.We must not think that being good citizens
requires us to obey the law, even when the law is wrong and even when
obeying the law requires sacrifice of our constitutional freedoms and
inherent rights in the universal declaration of human rights. We should
reject the idea that a rogue Zanu PF government can coerce us into doing
what we know is wrong including according Mugabe two more years of plunder
through amending the law.

People must know that they are entitled to engage in various forms of
civil disobedience and should exercise their duty to defy any legal
proposals that seek to take Mugabe beyond 2008 or whoever without the
mandate of the ballot. If Mugabe is to ask us to choose between a peaceful
life in chains of his bad laws and death we should be ready to answer in the
words of Patrick Henry ".give me liberty, or give me death". Choosing to
give up liberty is not only foolish but immoral.

If citizens are not accorded an equal opportunity to participate in
the process that generates the laws then such laws are unjust and should be

Phillan Zamchiya,Cape Town.

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Fatal combination of ignorance, arrogance

Zim Independent


WHY as a society do we have to be governed by "blitzs"? Why can't law
enforcement be consistent and predictable?

Last month in his State-of-the-Nation address President Mugabe
bemoaned the rampant destruction of forests and land through veld fires and
illegal panning. Then, just after Christmas it was announced that at least
16 290 gold panners had been arrested countrywide and large amounts of gold
and diamonds recovered.

Our question is: why now? Forests have been systematically cut down,
wildlife poached and land ravaged since 2000. Why do we need a "blitz" -
Operation Chikorokoza Chapera in this case - to contain the damage? This is
a matter that requires proper professional policing on a consistent basis,
not an operation.

The police must surely be able to act without presidential prodding.
What have they been doing all this time as the ground was excavated all
around them?

This is what happens when a politician declares certain matters
"political" and therefore beyond the remit of the nation's law-enforcement
agencies. They have in too many cases simply stood by and watched as our
natural resources have been pillaged and destroyed. It is too late now to
notice the huge holes that deface the rural environment. The damage has been
done - just as it has been to the country's legal framework.

The most forthright confirmation of this came just after Christmas
from Headman Chiadzwa and other traditional leaders in Marange who
confronted police over illicit diamond mining.

Headman Chiadzwa told the Manica Post that he confronted the police
"after realising that some of them were involved in illegal diamond mining".

"Some of them," he said, "are even seen moving in the diamond mining
area with shovels in broad daylight and how can you expect me to restrain my
subjects from entering the minefield when people we view as the custodians
of the law are willfully violating it?"

He accused the police of organising teams from outside to come and
mine diamonds while barring his people from accessing the fields.

"If people are looting then everyone should be allowed to do the
same," Chiadzwa said.

He said given the number of arrests of policemen for illegal
possession of diamonds, it was best that the current security system be

The Manica Post reports that the area was dotted with newly opened
shafts, corroborating claims that illegal diamond extraction had not ceased.
The Zimbabwe Independent first published news of the chaos in Marange two
months ago.

Acting Officer Commanding Manicaland, Assistant Commissioner Obert
Benge, said he was aware there was conflict between locals and police
officers. Some daring locals had gone to the extent of using catapults to
scare away police officers, he said.

"We have beefed up security and deployed the Dog Section because the
situation has become hostile," Benge said.

He said counter-intelligence (sic) information indicated that the
local leadership was being incited to rebel against the law-enforcement
agents after being promised good roads, schools and clinics by a company
that wanted to tap the minerals in the area.

Benge promised an investigation into policemen who broke the law.

"The public should not lose confidence in us because it is not all the
officers who are corrupt," he said.

That's good to know!

With the close of the old year there have been numerous commentaries
in our government press about 2007 being a better year. The wish is often
father to the thought.

But you would be surprised after all the evidence of administrative
failure from our leaders how state newspapers continue to hope that things
will get better.

"Any weaker nation," wrote Victoria Ruzvidzo in the Business Herald,
"would have bowed to the challenges, but in our own way, we have all
remained afloat despite the storms that threatened to drown us."

Does that include all the businesses that have been forced to close
because of political harassment and a toxic economic climate? Does it
include the thousands that have been laid off because there is no investment
or growth because local and foreign investors have been scared off by
threats of seizure? This is a country that imprisons bakers when they try to
recover their costs.

Ruzvidzo thinks inflation is caused by businessmen putting their
prices up.

She should reflect in her column on the wasteful government spending
that is fuelling inflation.

Has anybody found out yet what the Ministry of Public and Interactive
Affairs actually does, apart from denouncing American imperialism in the
language of a Form II student?

Inflation is caused by incontinent government spending; by a policy of
borrowing and printing money; by continuing to purchase fighter jets and
fleets of vehicles when the country cannot afford them.

Has Ruzvidzo ever asked her government sources how they propose to
contain inflation this year when there is no plan to do so and borrowing
continues to exceed the state's capacity to repay?

"We had originally anticipated the figure to have come down to
double-digit levels by now," she says on inflation, "but this has remained
an elusive dream."

Only for heavy-sleepers, Victoria. Nobody else thought for one minute
that it would be down to double-digits by now given the pattern of borrowing
and spending.

We were amused to see the Chinese flatly deny that they were
negotiating a US$2 billion loan arrangement with the Zimbabwean authorities.
This followed a statement by Zimbabwe's ambassador to Beijing, Chris
Mutsvangwa, at a ceremony to mark the handover of fertiliser.

There have been a spate of denials by China recently over Zimbabwean
moonshine claims published in their sunshine media. But the Chinese Foreign
Affairs ministry said it was all, well, fertiliser!

"Look East" is looking distinctly moth-eaten. But we were glad to have
Thabo Mbeki's uncompromising statement that China's dealings with Africa
should not lead to recolonisation. At least he has his eye on the ball!

Still with moonshine journalism, we were intrigued to see a story in
the Business Herald reporting that most hotels and lodges recorded high
occupancy rates over the Christmas holiday. This followed an interview with
the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority's marketing and communications manager,
Givemore Chidzidzi. He said most hotels recorded an occupancy rate of over

Zimbabwe was expecting an influx of visitors following increased
interest in the country, he said.

Needless to say, no accurate figures were given in the story. The only
attempt to authenticate this claim was a statement from Rainbow Tourism
Group saying they were happy with the amount of business they were getting
over the festive season and that the occupancy rate had risen "considerably"
compared to previous years.

We are sure the true picture will emerge in the next few weeks as
independent papers interview hotel managers. You can bet your bottom dollar
that the 90% figure will soon evaporate.

Meanwhile, the ZTA is planning to send a team of 30 journalists to
five Asian countries to see how they market their tourist resorts, ZTA CEO
Karikoga Kaseke said. Before that there will be an indaba on the role of the
media in tourism development in keeping with the National Tourism Marketing

Muckraker thinks this is a great idea. It is essential that Kaseke and
other Zanu PF adherents in the ZTA understand why tourists will not come to

So long as national leaders continue to insult countries which
constitute our source markets, subvert the rule of law, beat up peaceful
civic demonstrators, and imprison business leaders for doing their job,
there will be little prospect of the promised "influx". It is not the sort
of country that makes visitors feel comfortable.

Kaseke clearly does not understand this so the planned indaba will
provide an ideal opportunity for educating him on such things as the rule of
law, freedom of expression, an impartial police force and an independent
judiciary. Then we can start talking about a national tourism plan!

Muckraker is pleased to note that comments in this column before
Christmas, that President Mugabe's recent mysterious fist-waving at other
Sadc countries could have reflected unease in regional ranks over events in
Harare, has now been confirmed as it emerges that three member states were
planning a fact-finding visit here.

Needless to say, they have been told to observe the correct procedure.
In other words, "Go to hell"!

But their "concern" will not go away as the situation here
deteriorates and impacts on others.

Given the number of civic protesters who have been spuriously charged
with blocking traffic, Muckraker was surprised to see the absolute chaos
outside a BP filling station on the corner of Fourth St and Samora Machel
Avenue last Thursday.

It was a scene of absolute pandemonium as motorists tried to force
their way in from different directions. There was no policeman in sight
despite the fact traffic was blocked on Fourth St. BP appeared unable to
police its own station.

What is the matter with these filling stations? Can't they by now
anticipate a rush of motorists when fuel is available and put in place
measures to control traffic flow? What will tourists think of this man-made
chaos in a city where self-regulation is clearly absent?

And why was there nobody to fix traffic lights over the holiday period
when half the city's robots were out of action? Does the City of Harare
think they can just shut up shop and go on holiday? Modern cities don't work
like that. They need to be managed 24/7.

Our media colleagues visiting Dubai and southeast Asia will soon see
how orderly their traffic management is. Indeed, we have much to learn and
much to say at the indaba.

Before we leave the chaotic filling stations, Muckraker has been told
about the chefs' 4X4s which were sent with coupons for filling during the
Goromonzi conference. Two-thirds of the fuel would go into the 4X4 and one
third into the driver's jerrycan. To be kept for an emergency of course!

We had a good chuckle at Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede's remarks
that in stripping Trevor Ncube of his citizenship he was acting in terms of
the law and not his own discretion. He said he was surprised that Ncube had
"rushed" to the courts when his application was still pending.

"Is he asking the judge to grant him citizenship? It is up to the
government to grant or not to grant citizenship."

This statement reflects the fatal combination of ignorance and
arrogance that Zanu PF breeds in its officials.

Mudede, let us not forget, has lost a number of court cases against
this newspaper. He appears unaware that even Zimbabweans with Zambian
parents are entitled to seek the protection of the courts against the
arbitrary depredations of state officials.

It is up to the courts to decide on rights of appeal, not Mudede who
is an interested party in the case.

This episode has reflected badly on Zimbabwe in the international
press to whom it is obvious that this is a political manoeuvre aimed at
silencing an inconvenient voice. Let's put it at the top of the agenda for
Kaseke's indaba together with the attack on Lovemore Madhuku's home.

And by the way, what happened to police investigations into the
bombing of the Daily News offices and Voice of the People? No progress there
yet? Strange isn't it!

Kenya's ambassador needs to be acquainted with these facts before he
next gives a gullible interview to the Herald asking "which country in the
world doesn't have its problems?"

Why does Vice-President Joice Mujuru insist that government won't
reward non-performing parastatals when all the evidence suggests it is
continuing to do so? It was highly significant that many of the parastatals
congratulating Mujuru on her second year in office were among the worst

And on Unity Day TelOne advertised its loyalty to the regime while its
Internet lines were down and customers were unable to access external
websites all day. Again, this could be an agenda item for Kaseke.

We were appalled to note that the government has rewarded Sekesai
Makwavarara's stellar incompetence by reappointing her for another term as
head of the Harare commission. The last commission "scored notable
successes", Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo said, by improving
revenue collection.

In other words, taking money from ratepayers without providing a
service. And what sort of activities does Chombo think the council should be
pursuing? Introducing training programmes for women and youths and
resuscitating soup kitchens apparently.

That should do the trick!

Meanwhile, Muckraker is disappointed that professional planners like
Sasha Jogi have been roped into lending respectability to a partisan project
that has ridden roughshod over the democratic wishes of the people of

It will also be difficult to take the Scientific and Industrial
Research and Development Centre seriously again knowing that its CEO Robson
Mafoti has agreed to serve as deputy to a chairperson of a body whose
legitimacy is open to serious doubt.

Zimbabwean professionals should know when to say No to ministerial

Finally, don't lose hope. The best thing about 2007 is that 2008 is
bound to be worse!

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Halting the foreign exchange crisis

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

ZIMBABWE'S foreign exchange circumstances are progressively worsening.
The biggest source of current account receipt of foreign exchange was for
many decades the export of agricultural products. First and foremost thereof
was tobacco, but Zimbabwe also exported sugar, coffee, tea, citrus, timber,
beef, and much more. Unfortunately, by application of its pronounced
political bigotry, government set about assiduously destroying agriculture.

It was, and still is, indisputable that agriculture needed extensive
reform, enabling black agricultural economic empowerment. However,
government's land reform legislation, programme and implementation were an
almost total disaster. As a result, within five years, the production of
tobacco fell from 237 million kg to 56 million kg, maize production
contracted from two million tonnes to little more than 400 000 tonnes, until
a recent, very partial, recovery to about 900 000 tonnes. Sugar output
almost halved, as did that of coffee, tea and citrus, and beef production
fell by two-thirds. In consequence, agriculture's contribution to foreign
exchange inflows was reduced very markedly.

The second greatest contributant to current account foreign exchange
inflows was the mining sector. Zimbabwe's production of gold, nickel, iron,
coal, asbestos, precious stones, and many other minerals, contributed
significantly to foreign currency receipts. But, despite Zimbabwe's immense
mineral wealth, its mining revenues have not kept apace with the national
need. Prolonged adherence to unrealistic exchange rates, compounded by
inordinate delays in receipt of sale proceeds, has nearly destroyed the
viability of much of the mining industry.

In common with all sectors of the economy, mining has been confronted
with pronounced inflation, including immense costs of operational inputs
which suppliers were only able to access, at high cost, through the
alternative "parallel" and black markets, wage increases quarterly or more
frequently, escalating energy charges, and numerous other massive cost

As a result, many mines now operate at reduced levels, struggling to
survive until viability can be restored. In the meanwhile, their
contribution to foreign exchange inflows has inevitably declined.

A further great contributant to Zimbabwean foreign currency earnings
had been the manufacturing sector. With the second greatest industrial
infrastructure in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe had very successfully exported
clothing, textiles, footwear, furniture, engineering products, processed
foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, and much else.

However, the horrendous inflation cancer that has afflicted the
populace as a whole, and other economic sectors, has also destroyed the
ability of most manufacturers to export, as their costs have soared upwards,
whilst the quasi-static exchange rates provided little or no compensation
for the cost escalations.

The tourism sector has also been a very great generator of much-needed
foreign exchange, with numbers of international tourist arrivals increasing
from a little over 200 000 in 1990 to approximately two million by 1997.
Thereafter, however, arrivals declined markedly, as the government's
authoritarian disregard for the fundamentals of law and order, of the basic
tenets of human rights, and of political and economic peace and stability,
destroyed Zimbabwe's international image in general, and as a tourism
destination in particular.

Government aggravated the damage that it inflicted upon Zimbabwe being
a desired tourism destination by endless, generally specious and spurious,
attacks upon Western countries in general, and especially upon the European
Union states (with greatest focus upon Britain), and upon the USA.

Recently, government has made much play upon a 45% increase in tourist
arrivals during the first nine months of 2006, over the same period of 2005.
In doing so, it disregards not only the relatively low base of 2005
arrivals, but also that a very great number of 2006 arrivals yielded minimal
economic benefit, visits being of very short duration (often less than 24
hours) and many of the arrivals being cross-border traders and back-packers,
instead of tourists of the economic nature that characterised arrivals in
the 1990s.

Zimbabwe has also suffered an immense decrease in foreign exchange
inflows on capital account. Not only has international developmental aid
declined to minimal levels, for the international community is ill-disposed
to support dictatorial regimes that support near genocidal occurrences, such
as Operation Murambatsvina but, in addition, investment inflows have been
minute, as compared to the 1980s, and much of the 1990s.

A devastated economy, a dogmatic political tyranny, excessive
regulation, and perpetual castigation and lambasting of the very countries
that could be the source of investment, fail to motivate that investment.
Nor do the childish rantings of Goebbels-like propagandists such as
Nathaniel Manheru.

The state will have one believe that vast investment has been, or is
imminently, forthcoming, as a result of its self-proclaimed Look East
policy. Realities belie those incessantly repeated contentions. One gold
mine, a cement factory, a non-operational glass factory, three brickfields,
businesses engaged in importation of substandard products (as distinct from
the high quality products which Eastern countries export to Europe, USA,
Australia and elsewhere), and a handful of Chinese restaurants, do not
represent the substantive investments that Zimbabwe needs.

The only flows of significance, but without benefit, have been
numerous memoranda of understanding (MOU), between Zimbabwe and China, South
Korea, Russia, and other states, declaring intents to enter into investment
agreements in mining, energy generation, parastatal refurbishment,
reconstruction and recovery, transport, telecommunications, steel
production, and much more. However, there has been exceptionably little
progress from MOU to binding agreements, and actual investment. The reality
is merely confirmation of the old saying that "talk is cheap!"

Zimbabwe is dependent upon substantial foreign exchange inflows, for
it is a very import-reliant country. Zimbabwe must import all its fuel
requirements, until such time as it resumes ethanol production, or embarks
upon the long-talked about development of bio-diesel.

It must import a considerable portion of its energy needs, until it
successfully refurbishes and expands its thermal power stations, the near
50-year old hydroelectric infrastructure at Kariba, develops new
energy-generation resources, and achieves widespread usage of solar energy.

Many of Zimbabwe's agricultural inputs must necessarily be imported,
and even those which are locally produced, such as certain fertilisers,
require imported components. Industry is very reliant upon imports of many
raw materials, plant and machinery, spares and consumables and other
manufacturing requirements. Government itself requires great amounts of
foreign exchange to fund many of its operations (no matter how ineptly many
of them are conducted), and to service the needs of its parastatals.

The major dependency upon foreign exchange was more than adequately
addressed until late 1997, when government commenced its path of economic
destruction, but since then the inflows have progressively decreased
exponentially, resulting in massive declines in the economy, and immense
hardships for almost all, other than certain individuals in the political
hierarchy, who continue successfully to access whatsoever they need,
including foreign currency for frequent overseas trips, which often include
voluminous shopping, and even foreign currency for year-end holidays to the
Middle and Far East.

That ongoing insufficiency of foreign currency has not only
contributed to near-collapse of the infrastructure, including recurrent
energy supply breakdowns, inadequate water pumping resources for the larger
urban areas, continuously defective telecommunications, and so forth, but it
has also fuelled the development of intense illegal traffic in foreign
exchange, through what has become known as the parallel or black market.
That market has become the greatest source of foreign currency for the
importation of requirements of manufacturers, mines, the few remaining
viable farmers (be they new or old), and commerce as a whole.

The vast premiums payable for the scarce currency result in even more
vast premiums on those imported requirements, and have become one of the
greatest causes of Zimbabwe's record hyperinflation. Hyperinflation is also
continuously fuelled by the escalated unit costs of production occasioned by
diminished production volumes, caused by shrinking export operations, and
erratic availability of

The hyperinflation is, in turn, a trigger for many of Zimbabwe's other
economic ills. Although foreign exchange inadequacy is far from the only
cause of Zimbabwean hyperinflation, it is one of the greatest, and therefore
a key to halting the encroaching economic demise is to address the worsening
foreign exchange circumstance.

This necessitates, first and foremost, that exchange rates become
realistic, and continue to be so, in order to restore export viability,
mining sector productivity, and to contribute to overall economic recovery.
Concurrently, government must develop the maturity, albeit very belatedly,
to create a genuinely conducive and welcoming investment environment.

This necessitates curbing its vitriolic hatred for most of the West,
its self-centred, ineffectual infatuation with the East to the exclusion of
all others, its grossly excessive regulation of the economy, its
authoritarianism and, instead, should genuinely embrace democracy, justice,
law and order, and unfettered respect for human rights.

Doing so will not only yield much-needed investment, but will also be
a stimulus for developmental aid, balance-of-payments support, lines of
credit, and overall enhancement of foreign exchange inflows, and the
intensifying crisis will be halted and reversed.

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SRC bungling now evident

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

By Vincent Kahiya

ZIMBABWE this weekend host the sub-Sahara Africa swimming
championships at Les Brown swimming pool in the capital. While the
championships featuring at least 200 swimmers are being held at the smaller
city-centre pool, the world class venue in Chitungwiza will be hosting music
concerts on Friday and Saturday and church services on Sunday. During the
day mosquitoes, which terrorise the people of New Zengeza 4, will be resting
in the slimy green water in the swimming pool before launching sorties on
the residents as darkness falls.

I recall as sports reporter in 1993 covering the debate around the
construction of the Aquatic Complex in Chitungwiza and not in Harare for the
1995 All-Africa Games. I remember the Sports and Recreation Commission's
George Chisvo giving me a lecture at the National Stadium about the
advantages of locating the expensive facility in Chitungwiza. It was a way
of spreading the sport to the black community, he argued. Swimming clubs
would be formed in Chitungwiza, there would be black world class swimmers by
the time Zimbabwe participated in the 2000 Games. Chitungwiza did not have a
swimming pool anyway, he said.

The Sunday Gazette I worked for at the time - having exercised some
healthy scepticism over government's intentions - was accused of trying to
promote the interests of the white minority. The debate went to parliament
but the usual naivety prevailed. The facilities were completed in 1994 and I
was one of those invited to witness the testing of equipment and then the
official opening on the eve of the 1995 Games.

This is a facility with three pools, for little children, practice and
the heated main pool with underwater cameras monitored from a
state-of-the-art control room. There is also a grandstand that can
comfortably sit 10 000 spectators, modern changing rooms and an electronic

A decade later, the pool has not benefited anyone. Swimmers have not
had the benefit of competing in a heated pool while pupils from schools in
the township can still not swim. Swimming has not in any way developed into
a national sport as was anticipated by those who pushed for the construction
of the facility in Chitungwiza.

Today countries hosting major international events like the soccer
World Cup, continental championships, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics
expect the facilities after the games to help local communities develop
sporting disciplines. The afterglow of major games can be found in the
United States where the hosting of the soccer World Cup in 1994 was a major
boost to the professional Major League and the co-hosting of the same
tournament in 2002 by Japan and South Korea gave fresh impetus to the former's
J-League. Cash-rich-China, which is set to host the 2008 Olympics, is
putting up expensive facilities designed for the future. The country is
already thinking of a maintenance plan for the facilities, and communities
in which they are located are already planning for their use after the
games. This is the foresight that has failed to accompany our government's
grand projects.

I recall again in 1996-7 covering another tragedy featuring the SRC -
Chisvo starring again - and the Hockey Association of Zimbabwe fronted by
Stuart Carlisle. The association wanted to secure management of Magamba and
Khumalo stadia built for the All-Africa Games in Harare and Bulawayo

Carlisle was proposing marketing the facilities and raising revenue
which would then be used for the upkeep of the two grounds. This was turned
down. Carlisle lost the battle. The SRC won and hockey lost. The stadia
today are in a deplorable state with the astro-turf playing surface littered
with potholes just like our roads. Unfortunately the ruts at Magamba and
Khumalo cannot be patched. The playing surfaces should be redone but the
money is not there. Can the SRC today stand up and vouch that its decision
10 years ago was for the good of the game?

No, the commission can't. We were told the facilities would be living
and breathing legacies of the 1995 games and that they would be operated in
perpetuity to ensure they were a viable part of the community. Today they
are not. They have instead become decaying edifices and monuments to the
government's failed sports policies.

All the same, well done to the Zimbabwe Aquatic Union for being able
to bring international swimmers here. I do not read much though into why
powerhouse South Africa have only sent 10 swimmers. Perhaps the cold water!

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Sick plan can't cure health delivery ills

Zim Independent


HEALTH minister David Parirenyatwa was on television last week to
announce the formation of the Health Services Board and a commission to
improve the welfare of health staff.

Health workers, he said, would no longer be paid by the Public Service
Commission but by the health commission which would enjoy the leeway to
determine remuneration levels for doctors, nurses and health technicians.

As the minister was beaming with confidence on television, doctors
were already on strike and sick patients were being turned away from
government hospitals. Parirenyatwa's all-too-familiar tactic of first
professing ignorance that there is a strike going on, followed by threats,
was again on display. This is a tried and tested system guaranteed to
produce failure but it is oftentimes dusted of and put into motion whenever
doctors go on strike.

We call this naivety of the highest order. Our health delivery system
is sick and it will not be cured by an equally sick plan. The formation of
the board and the creation of a commission are cosmetic manoeuvres that will
not cure the ills. The health commission to determine the salary levels of
doctors will still be dependent on funding from central government just as
the commissions which determine salaries for soldiers and policemen. The
commission cannot use hospital fees and charges to augment what comes from
central government.

The commission is therefore beholden to a government that is
responsible for the death of the health system. The latest move by the
ministry does not address systemic failure in health delivery in which the
crisis in management has given birth to a cadre of sometimes lazy, rude and
incompetent staff. It is now commonplace for government doctors to demand
bribes for them to sign confirmation of death forms or to perform

There is a serious theft of drugs and other critical hospital
accessories like x-ray films, gloves and syringes. Due to manpower shortages
and lack of trust between stakeholders, government will find it difficult to
inculcate professionalism through a comprehensive checking of doctors'
competence. An incompetent system will always find it difficult to execute
supervisory functions geared at achieving efficiency. The work ethic of
health professionals today is consistent with what is happening throughout
the civil service.

What can the new board do?

Our experience with these creations is that they are usually political
decorations. Few seriously concern themselves with quality and service
delivery issues. They are there to micro-manage in response to political
pressures but mainly succeed in confusing the organisations and making
senior executives gun-shy in taking decisions.

We do not see the Health Board coming up with forward-looking
strategies to improve the health delivery system as long it remains an
appendage of the inefficiency abounding in Zanu PF which has mismanaged
everything. Due to the high staff turnover and constant work stoppages in
the health sector, the board and the commission are likely to be lured into
a fixation with manpower issues at the expense of health delivery.

Addressing remuneration and general conditions of service therefore
cannot be the panacea to the crisis in the health sector. As long as there
is continual pressure for more skilled health staff, the demands for better
salaries will remain together with intermittent industrial action. The
setting up of the new structures could be likened to putting the cart before
the horse.

Government has introduced new systems at district and provincial
hospitals to reduce pressure on referral hospitals but these have failed
because the smaller institutions still do not have equipment, staff and
medicines. There has been little development at the hospitals other than the
extension and building of mortuaries.

We have failed to develop a system appropriate to the needs of the
21st century. Amidst this, Parirenyatwa believes that the commission and the
board can improve service delivery at hospitals which cannot even offer
patients simple painkillers. These are piecemeal reactions that do not even
begin to address the issue of manpower shortages in the health sector by
staunching the brain drain.

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New Year present for Harare ratepayers

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

By Joram Nyathi

HARARE used to be called the Sunshine City in the good old days. Today
only the sun remains, all the shine is gone. A leisurely drive over the
holiday from Dzivarasekwa through Kuwadzana, Warren Park, Kambuzuma,
Mufakose, Budiriro, Glen View, Glen Norah, Highfield and then across to
Chitungwiza provided a terrifying image of urban decay and nonpareil
administrative incompetence.

These are townships occupied by Harare's urban poor. Garbage has not
been collected since the launch of Operation Murambatsvina in May 2005.
Residents heap it by street corners or along the road. Water supplies are
intermittent as evident from young girls carrying containers of all
descriptions from whatever source where water can be found. Trees have been
cut all the way from the Bulawayo highway boundary down High Glen road to
the Masvingo road and replaced with a patchwork of maize fields in the name
of urban agriculture. No commissioners in sight to assess the environmental
impact and the silting all this is causing in the city's dams.

Mothers and youths roast and sell maize cobs anywhere they can light a
fire. Others sell "fresh" fish as they swat ravenous flies attracted to the

Sewage flows freely here as children play games in the street. Clinics
without drugs operate on skeleton staff thoroughly indifferent to groaning
patients and wailing infants afflicted by undiagnosed ailments. Amid this
foulness, delivery of bills for water, sewer and refuse has been the most
regular and consistent preoccupation of the Harare commission for the past
two and a half years.

It was on the basis of this miserable performance by the Harare
commission that Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo felt morally
obliged to reappoint the Sekesai Makwavarara-led commission for a record
fifth time. It is an eclectic, heavy load of 11 men and women who owe their
allegiance to no one but the minister and who sit in contemptuous disregard
for the democratic wishes of ratepayers.

There are scientists, engineers, architects and other specialists, all
led by a woman whose professional qualifications have remained Chombo's most
closely guarded secret. There can be no better evidence of the venality that
continues to feed Zanu PF's blatant career of political patronage than the
Harare commission where residents and ratepayers have for over two years
been denied the democratic right to choose their councillors and an
executive mayor as dictated by the law. There is no other reason why any
self-respecting professional should embroider his CV with a stint in a
patently illegal commission.

The reason I am appalled by the Makwavarara commission is clear from
the state of our residential areas. Fortunately these are very simple,
accessible places for anybody keen to check on the dereliction of duty.
Chombo and Makwavarara can take a joint tour to see for themselves the
putrid mounds of garbage, slimy green water in what started as potholes but
have grown into impassable craters.

When Makwaarara says she is humbled by the "trust shown in her
leadership" she certainly is not talking of the ratepayers of Harare.
Problems with the Harare commission's failure to deliver have gone well
beyond opposition politics if one listens to the sentiments of Zanu PF's
Harare province. I was therefore shocked that Chombo felt that foisting
Makwavarara on Harare was the best New Year present for ratepayers.

But he had his reasons. The "previous commission" had "scored notable
successes", he said. It had improved revenue collection (as opposed to
refuse) and was able to pay staff salaries and wages, Chombo pointed out
smugly. The "new commission" has a separate mandate. Chombo said it should
ensure "timeous and regular refuse collection, pothole filling and improved
street lighting".

It was a revelation. I had always assumed that that was the primary
task of the commission, not the collection of revenue and payment of

Both Makwavarara and Chombo said heads of department would now sign
three-year performance contracts renewable subject to meeting targets. Is
this an intimation that we could be with them again until 2010? Not just six

Where is the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe and the Combined Harare
Residents Association in the face of this supreme arrogance and bullying or
are ratepayers now left completely on their own?

I was reminded of President Mugabe's impassioned appeal to the
residents of Harare not to abandon the party just before the 2005
parliamentary election, when he asked: "What have we done to you? Think,
think again."

Yes Mr President. As we wade through sewage and climb over mounds of
uncollected garbage on our way to the polling stations we will think, not of
Zanu PF but of the pair of Chombo and Makwavarara and how they have failed
the Sunshine City. It's a miracle there hasn't been a major disease outbreak
this rainy season.

Makwavarara herself summed up the contempt in which she holds
potential voters when she declared she was committed to executing her
mandate "as directed by Comrade Chombo". It's as clear as daylight that she
is not beholden to the law or the needs of Harare ratepayers but to the
whims of her political benefactor.

If there was a credible opposition to Zanu PF she probably would be
less smug about Chombo's power.

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Zim Independent Letters

Betrayed and forsaken by our own leaders
THE leadership have forsaken us. They take us for granted. Our dignity
has been flushed away. I have to ask them this, since 1980, had you dealt
with your own corruption in high places, the looting and all economically
immoral activities, including plundering of national institutions as you
should, would we today dare dabble in anything incorrect knowing fully well
that even the biggest fish can fry?

If Enos Chikowore had been made to answer for the disappearance of
public housing funds, the drying up of Noczim? If you had punished looters
of the War Victims Compensation Fund, would we ever attempt to sell fuel on
the black market today?

Until such a time that public office holders are made accountable to
us and not President Mugabe, I dare say none of us will care about your
turnaround projects.

In recent years you parcelled out land to yourselves and brought
hunger to our homes, we are broke like we have never been before and in your
greatest of foresights you tell us that the third generation shall enjoy the
fruits of your bungling. If any benefit will arise in the future, who will
be there to give you the kudos?

You pose as gods when you hand out scarce foodstuffs to hungry
peasants and never tell them they are the ones buying this food for
themselves through their taxes - sales, value added tax, pay as you earn,
you name it.

Surprisingly, Mugabe makes it a spectacle when donating computers to
schools when the ministry assigned the task of ensuring that such
educational aids are provided to all lies idle. What is Aeneas Chigwedere

Tafataona Mahoso is also a chief culprit, sitting with his three
friends and discussing their ignorance in front of the whole nation and then
dare to call such theatricals a National Agenda programme. A nation sets its
agenda, not three musketeers who agree on everything. You keep crying over
culture even saying it has been lost, but I differ. Culture is never lost as
it is a way of life.

What we are living right now is the culture. The three of you will not
drive culture in the direction of your whims. Whether you like it or not,
our culture today includes feja-feja, kukorokoza, kujingirisa, kubatanidza.
You have degraded us and want us to praise you for doing so.

I have been unfortunate enough to hear Mugabe's apologists claim his
innocence on the grounds that he is misinformed but surprisingly he knew of
Tsholotsho before it took place and knows his prospective successors are
visiting witchdoctors in the dead of the night yet he cannot know of the
suffering happening in broad daylight.

He pays his large CIO handsomely. They could never miss it. He just
does not care.

Can the leadership also please explain why the British and Americans
continue to donate food to us if they are so short of land in their own

And how many other countries on this earth are thriving on

A happy 2007 only a wish.



ZTA, get your act together
THE Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has been crowing about improved
tourism figures and unhesitantly states that tourism is on the rebound. One
shower does not a rainy season make! While we should be glad there has been
a slight improvement, we should be careful not to over-promise and
under-deliver to the nation.

Instead of parading the chief executive in the press on an almost
daily basis and spending huge amounts of levy income on travesties such as
Miss Tourism Zimbabwe, this body should get serious and concentrate on two
things: getting the infrastructure right so that tourism can genuinely grow
and undertaking meaningful promotional activities in significant tourism
source markets (and not, for example, trying to source tourists from areas
where per head spend is low simply because this is a political gesture).

With regard to the infrastructure, there was absolutely no fuel in the
Eastern Highlands or in Kariba during most of the festive season and the
outlook is bleak for January. These two areas depend entirely on motor
traffic for their tourism arrivals, as the national airline, despite
promises, does not service them nor are there scheduled coach services there
as there used to be. How can tourism grow when it is starved of resources to
nurture growth?

Also to do with inputs, there were huge shortages of soft drinks and
other commodities in both these areas (and probably others, too).

ZTA, wake up and do the job for which you were put in place. Stop
frolicking about with pretty young girls and wasting money on junkets for
"journalists" and others whose credentials are uninspiring, or closing down
restaurants trying to make an honest living.

If you are clueless as to what should be done then simply ask the
tourism businesses in the country - they know what needs to be done and can
direct you accordingly.

Concerned tourism operator,

Highlands, Harare.


      Zimbabwe must help self from 'boiled frog' syndrome
      I REFER to the letter "Only a political solution will salvage
Zim" (Independent, December 21). Whilst this may be correct, it cannot be
possible until conditions are made right to achieve a political solution.

      One of the major difficulties is that most opposition parties
continue to operate as if they are in a democracy whilst the ruling party is
in the midst of a Chimurenga against Zimbabweans.

      Their degrees in violence, their disrespect for unfavourable
court orders and their lawlessness carries on with impunity. It is quite
obvious, for those who can see, that 2007 is going to be the year that they
completely shut down every ounce of democratic space as they impose their
"North Korea" on our Zimbabwe.

      The Zimbabwe situation is unique in many respects. No one is
going to help us as our African brothers and sisters prefer to keep silent
about our woes. It is high time that we Zimbabweans realised what is
happening to us. Since 1980, we have been suffering from the "boiled frog"

       The frog is placed in a pot of cold water and has been gradually
heated to near boiling point. We, the frogs, hardly notice any change. If we
had been placed in hot water, we would immediately jump out of the pot.

      We Zimbabweans are swiming around in a pot which is about to
boil. We have taken little notice of the gradual removal of our rights and
we have avoided any controversy or conflict because we are now driven by

      The time has long passed when democratic change could be
achieved through democratic means. No amount of voting will win rigged
elections. It is up to the people, as individuals, to either create the
space for a political solution or be prepared to remove, by whatever means,
the cause of Zimbabwe's demise.

      Mass action is not an option at this time as the degrees in
violence are fully armed and prepared. However, as individuals, we
Zimbabweans do hold the power in our hands. We must first create the right
conditions, then mass action can be viable.

      We must determine what instruments are being used to oppress us.
These instruments require support as no army can march on empty stomachs. No
army can be mobile without fuel or spares.

      Only then will space be created for a political solution of
change for the better. Freedom loving Zimbabweans must embrace a new
Chimurenga that is intelligently fought to get back our freedom of speech,
of association, of movement and the permanent removal of corrupt and
despicable chefs.

      Unless we wake up and start taking individual responsibility,
the country may as well change its name to Zanu PF forever, because Zimbabwe
is finished.

      David Mashingkila,



            At least they see the light
            AT least some Zanu PF MPs can now see the light as
evidenced by your lead story headlined "Zanu PF MPs in 'Stop Mugabe'
campaign" (Independent, December 21).

            All along these MPs have been endorsing any kind of idea
from that dictator. They should oppose in large numbers the idea by Mugabe
to cling to power till 2010.

            We cannot count three more solid years of suffering at the
hands of one person. Currently the inflation rate is about 1 200% - the
highest in world, unemployment hovers around 70%, investors are running away
in droves.

            It is a noble idea for all civic groups and the opposition
including some MPs in Zanu PF to rise up and say a big NO.

            They should take a leaf from what happened in Malawi,
Kenya and Zambia where the leaders were enacting laws so that they could
cling on to power for as long they lived. Zimbabwe does not belong to any

            Lovemore Maseko,

            Durban, SA.


                  IMF must be honest
                  THE recent IMF article (businessdigest, December 21)
begs for reality. Not your editorial but the quotes from the IMF report.

                  The IMF comments are 95% gobbledegook! Why is it
that the IMF simply does not have the guts to say that the economic woes of
Zimbabwe can only be addressed by early free and fair elections that are
properly supervised by the international community and that are free of any
intimidation or violence. This must be swiftly followed by the exchange rate
being brought in-line with the parallel rate at the time.

                  Martin Millmore,


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