The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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      Tsvangirai welcomes US commitment to end crisis

        OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) president Morgan
Tsvangirai yesterday said he had welcomed commitment by American President
George Bush and his South African counterpart Thabo Mbeki to seek an urgent
end to Zimbabwe's crisis but the opposition leader insisted there was no
dialogue yet between his party and the ruling ZANU PF party as claimed by

      In statement issued after Bush and Mbeki told a joint Press conference
that they were in agreement over the need to urgently resolve Zimbabwe's
political crisis Tsvangirai said:

      "We are encouraged by the statements of President Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa and George W Bush of the United States of America that there has been
a meeting of minds between the two presidents on the Zimbabwe crisis.

      "President Mbeki is particularly encouraging when he says that the two
presidents are of one mind about the urgent need to address the political
crisis in Zimbabwe.

      "Significantly, we note that President Bush said that they share the
same objective to restore democracy, peace and people's freedoms to

      Tsvangirai has in the past criticised Mbeki's style of "quiet
diplomacy" on Zimbabwe which the opposition leader says only helps to keep
Mugabe in power.

      Before Mbeki and Bush's joint press briefing, Tsvangirai had accused
Mbeki of making "false and mischievous'' claims that the MDC and ZANU PF
were in dialogue in a bid to buy more time for Mugabe's embattled

      Tsvangirai, who was responding to Mbeki's comments aired by the South
African Broadcasting Association television on Tuesday, said, "Statements
claiming that there is a dialogue going on are patently false and

      "Such statements are manifestly partisan, designed to buy time for the
beleaguered illegitimate Mugabe regime and ward off potential genuine

      The opposition leader denied again the claims his party was talking to
Mugabe's party in his statement welcoming Bush and Mbeki's commitment to
finding a solution to Zimbabwe's crisis.

      Tsvangirai said: "I reiterate the MDC's position that currently there
are no formal negotiations and talks between the MDC and ZANU PF.

      "Whilst there are emissaries from various groups that include
churches, civic groups and indeed the South African government, who are
shuttling between MDC and ZANU PF in an attempt to get the two parties to
resume dialogue that broke down in May 2002, so far none of these efforts
has succeeded."

      At the Press conference with Bush, Mbeki repeated claims about
dialogue taking place between the MDC and ZANU PF but more significantly he
concurred with the American leader that there was an urgent need to resolve
the crisis in Zimbabwe.

      Bush said he was working closely with the South African government to
return Zimbabwe to democratic governance while Mbeki said that he had
communicated to the MDC and President Mugabe's government the urgent need to
resolve the deepening crisis.

      Meanwhile, MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi yesterday said that South
African government officials had called for urgent dialogue between his
party and ZANU PF in a bid to resolve the worsening political and economic
crisis in the country.

      Nyathi, who is part of an MDC team sent to South Africa to lobby Mbeki
's government and Bush to pressure Mugabe to agree to a transitional
government which will organise fresh and democratic elections, said the
South African authorities had agreed to the urgent resolution of the crisis.

      Nyathi said: "We met with very high ranking South African officials on
Tuesday who will communicate our position to President Mbeki. We are very
pleased by their appreciation for the urgent need to solve the crisis.''

      Nyathi said officials from Pretoria, whom he would not name, had
conceded that it was futile to continue shielding Mugabe from mounting
international pressure on the Zimbabwean leader to return the country to
democracy and end the country's economic crisis.

      "The South African officials gave us the impression that talks should
begin between us and ZANU PF as a matter of urgency because the economic
crisis in Zimbabwe was affecting other regional countries,'' the MDC
official said.

      At the Press conference with Bush, Mbeki hinted that Zimbabwe's
deteriorating economy was no longer able to support the country's

      Zimbabwe has been under the international spotlight this week after
Washington openly demanded that Mugabe hand over power to a transitional
government that will be tasked with arranging free and fair elections. Staff
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Daily News

      Judges recuse themselves

        CHIEF Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku and Supreme Court judge, Misheck
Cheda have recused themselves from hearing an application by High Court
judge Benjamin Paradza in which the judge is challenging the
constitutionality of his arrest and detention by police earlier this year on
charges of obstructing the course of justice and breaching the Prevention of
Corruption Act.

      It could not be established yesterday the exact reasons why the two
senior judges dropped out of the case but some legal experts had urged
Chidyausiku to recuse himself allegedly because he had sanctioned Paradza’s

      Cheda’s brother Maphios, a judge in the High Court in Bulawayo, has
been listed among the prosecution’s witnesses.

      The hearing, which had been set down for Monday this week, could not
take off after Paradza’s lawyers requested for a postponement saying South
African advocate Jeremy Gauntlet who was expected to lead the defence team,
had been unable to make it to Harare on the day.

      The judge’s lawyers, Byron Venturas and Partners, also suggested in a
letter to the Registrar of the Supreme Court that he appoints a retired
former judge of the Supreme Court as one of the replacements for Chidyausiku
and Cheda.

      In his application to the Supreme Court, Paradza cites as respondents
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri,
former Attorney-General Andrew Chigovera and one Chief Superintendent
Nyathi, who effected the arrest.

      Paradza was arrested in his chambers at the High Court as he was
preparing to preside over a case. He was detained overnight in cells at
Borrowdale Police Station.

      The State’s case is that between 15 and 23 January this year, Paradza
called Justice Maphios Cheda at the High Court in Bulawayo asking him to
handle an application to have one Russel Wayne Labuschagne’s passport
returned by the court registrar.

      Labuschagne, who was said to be Paradza’s friend and business partner,
and one Walter Ryan Claansen were awaiting judgment in a case in which they
were jointly charged with killing Wilson Mudhimba, a villager in Chief
Siyabuwa’s area in Binga.

      Labuschagne has since been sentenced to 15 years in jail for the
murder while Claansen, who the court found guilty of assault with intent to
cause grievous bodily harm, was ordered to pay a fine of $30 000 or
alternatively spend five months in jail.

      Court Reporter
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      Daily News

      Evicted commercial farmers say compensation too low

        The Zimbabwe government has offered dozens of white farmers
compensation for their farms acquired under its land reform programme, but
the amounts are unsatisfactory, a farming official told AFP on Monday.

      Two weeks ago the government published a list of 290 white farmers it
said had to report to the Ministry of Agriculture, but gave no details.

      An official with the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) who requested
anonymity said on Monday the government was “engaging them (the farmers) in
discussions about compensation for improvements to their land.”

      However, he said “very few people are getting any satisfaction” from
the process or the sums offered by government officials.

      “It appears to be nothing much more than a publicity scam,” he added.

      The CFU official claimed that the offers were not being made in
writing, and were on average less than 50 percent of anticipated
compensation figures.

      The Zimbabwe government, which has been widely criticised for its
seizure of around 11 million hectares of white-owned land for redistribution
among new black farmers, is eager to prove it is being fair to the white
farming community.

      But it has ruled out paying for the seized land, saying it will only
pay for improvements because the land was grabbed from blacks by white
settlers in the 19th century.

      Only 600 white farmers are estimated to still be on their land since
the launch of the land reform programme three years ago.

      Britain has led an international outcry against President Robert
Mugabe’s government over controversial land reforms which have seen about 4
000 white farmers evicted from their land.

      Traditionally a food exporter, Zimbabwe has in recent years been in
the throes of economic recession and is now dealing with a humanitarian

      At least 72 million people - more than half of the country’s
population of 11.6 million – including many of the new black farmers and
former farm workers, face hunger, according to UN figures.

      International agencies have blamed the famine on a drought and the
land reforms, while the government has camped on its position that the
famine is due solely to a drought.

      Anomalies in the list of farmers summoned to discuss compensation were
“phenomenal”, the CFU official said on Monday.

      He cited examples of some farmers on the list who have already been
paid compensation, while others were still challenging the acquisition of
their farms in court.

      The CFU has expressed concern over the continued eviction of farmers
and the acquisition of farms even though the government last year declared
that land acquisition was over.

      The government recently hardened its stance against the
white-dominated CFU and its members, claiming the union is composed of
“lawless elements”.

      Information Minister Jonathan Moyo at the weekend accused white
farmers of supporting an opposition-led mass stay-away last month to protest
alleged poor governance.

      And in the state-controlled Herald newspaper on Monday, Agriculture
Minister Joseph Made was reported as saying the white farmers’ union was

      – News24/AFP
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Daily News

      Mudzuri faces eviction

        THE government has given Harare executive mayor Elias Mudzuri 48
hours to vacate the official mayoral mansion and to surrender all his
benefits, apparently going back on an earlier order suspending the
opposition mayor but allowing him to retain his benefits.

      The eviction notice, issued yesterday to Mudzuri through Sekesai
Makwavarara, his deputy at Town House, expires today.

      In a letter to Makwavarara, who like Mudzuri who was elected to
council last year on an opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party ticket, Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo said he had
withdrawn benefits from Mudzuri, whom he suspended in May allegedly for
incompetence and failure to comply with government directives.

      Mudzuri denies the charges and has applied to the High Court
challenging his suspension.

      Chombo has also applied to the courts seeking an order barring Mudzuri
from performing the duties of mayor until a commission he appointed to
investigate the Harare mayor finishes the probe.

      The courts are still to decide on the matters.

      Chombo wrote to Makwavarara: “I am now directing the immediate
withdrawal of all benefits that accrue to the suspended mayor, including his
official vehicle, any bodyguards or aides attached to him, and residence at
the official residence.

      “The mayor is therefore required to vacate the mayoral residence
within the next 48 hours and, in any case, not later than end of day on
Thursday 10 July 2003.”

      Makwavarara, who on Tuesday night met Chombo with other council
officials, appeared to be backtracking on her MDC party’s position not to
recognise Mudzuri’s suspension and yesterday said she was moving to enforce
Chombo’s eviction order on the mayor.

      “I have instructed (chamber secretary Josephine) Ncube to make sure we
comply with the directive,” Makwavarara said yesterday.

      Chombo, who has clashed with Mudzuri since his election last year, did
not say in his letter what he would do if Mudzuri defied the eviction

      He could not be reached yesterday to clarify the measures he would
take against the Harare mayor if his order was not obeyed.

      Chombo’s deputy Fortune Charumbira would not say what action the
government was planning to take against Mudzuri.

      Charumbira said: “It is not the residents who gave those benefits to
the mayor. The minister has powers to evict him from that house. The
conditions of service of executive mayors are approved by the minister and
the minister can revoke them at any time.”

      Mudzuri has in the past openly defied Chombo’s orders that he stops
working as mayor of Harare and was twice arrested this week for coming to
work at Town House despite his suspension by the government.

      Yesterday Mudzuri told The Daily News that he was not leaving the
mayor’s official residence saying he was not answerable to Chombo.

      He said: “The residents, through the council, will decide whether I
move out or not. I am still working and I have ordered all work to be
submitted to me wherever I am.

      “All these efforts by Chombo are meant to prepare for my ouster and
bring ZANU PF through the back-door. It is unfortunate that some of my
colleagues are not alert and are allowing themselves to be used.

      “I am waiting for whoever will come to evict me after 48 hours. Where
have you seen people being evicted in two days?”

      Combined Harare Residents’ Association chairman Mike Davies said while
the association’s executive committee had not sat to take a position on the
matter, it seemed there was a faction within the council which was leading a
rebellion against the mayor.

      Davies said: “Some of the matters have to do with the MDC, which has
to enforce discipline within their party. “But what we know is that the
courts have not yet ruled on Chombo’s application to bar Mudzuri from
exercising his functions. It is vindictive for Chombo to take the mayor’s
benefits.” MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube would not be drawn to
comment on the apparent conflict between the Mudzuri and his deputy. Ncube
said: “We do not want to add further confusion. “We have asked the
councillors and the shadow minister of Local Government to sit down and come
up with a common position on what to do in the best interests of the
ratepayers. “This issue should not distract the party from the bigger issue
of dealing with the illegitimate regime of Robert Mugabe and making sure the
crisis in Zimbabwe is resolved.” Harare’s first opposition mayor in 23
years, Mudzuri has over the past year accused the government of undermining
his authority by failing to approve vital loans for municipal services and
through ruling ZANU PF officials occupying senior positions in the city
council. By Luke Tamborinyoka Chief News Editor
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Daily News

      MDC supporters rally behind Bush in SA

        PRETORIA - South African activists have vowed mass protests against
United States President George W Bush's visit to the country, but the first
group to take to its streets yesterday had nothing but praise for the
American leader.

      About 100 supporters of Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement For
Democratic Change (MDC) gathered outside the US Embassy in Pretoria, singing
and waving placards praising the Bush administration for taking a tough line
on President Robert Mugabe.

      "Bush, Like Iraq, Save Zimbabwe," declared one poster held by the
group, which delivered a letter of thanks to embassy officials.

      Jayjay Sibanda, a 32-year-old Zimbabwean, said his country's
opposition movement had gained hope from Bush's war to topple Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein.

      "We are here in support of George Bush's presence in Africa. He has
done a lot elsewhere worldwide insofar as democracy and freedom are
concerned," Sibanda said.

      Another placard read: "Wanted - Osama, Saddam, Mugabe".

      Zimbabwe was set to feature prominently in yesterday's talks between
Bush and South African President Thabo Mbeki, criticised by the MDC for
taking too soft a line on Mugabe in Zimbabwe's deepening political and
economic crisis.

      US officials led by Secretary of State Colin Powell have recently
advocated a more aggressive approach. The MDC, which has challenged Mugabe's
victory in 2002 presidential polls described as flawed by Western states,
has stepped up its presence in South Africa ahead of Bush's visit, hoping to
press its case for change with the visiting US delegation.

      While the Zimbabwean supporters were happy about Bush's visit, other
groups have been less welcoming. The Anti-War Coalition, which helped to
organise protests against the Iraq war, said its supporters would
demonstrate to demand that Bush be indicted for crimes against humanity,
while labour union and Communist Party groups have also said they planned to
protest in Pretoria yesterday.

      The Zimbabwean demonstrators had little time for such sentiments.

      "Mugabe has declared war against his own people, so the Anti-War
Coalition must also focus on Zimbabwe," Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, the MDC's shadow
foreign minister, said. - Reuters
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Leader Page

      US has a role to play in solving Zimbabwe crisis

        The role of the United States in world politics, and especially in
Africa, under the presidency of George W Bush has increasingly come under
scrutiny, not only here in Zimbabwe but across the African continent, with
talk about what role the world’s remaining superpower ought to play in
Liberia and Zimbabwe, for example.

      Bill Clinton, Bush’s predecessor, was described as a friend of Africa
because of the many initiatives he set in motion to cure the many travails
of the continent – which included sending a peacekeeping force to Somalia,
which ended in great tragedy in the early 1990s and was picked up by
Hollywood and adapted into a movie, Black Hawk Down.

      Bush has seemingly also made efforts to put Africa into the broader
agenda of the Republican presidency, as seen from the grants that have been
approved by both the Senate and Congress on fighting AIDS in Africa. The
funds have been criticised as inadequate, as has the interest that has been
shown in promoting trade and commerce with African countries through the
African Growth Opportunities Act.

      What would however appear to unsettle many commentators harbouring
strong anti-American sentiments is the charge that the American
neo-imperialist juggernaut has assumed renewed 21st century vigour.

      And this presenting itself as even more radical than the early years
of the fall of bipolar world politics, with the US effectively turning
itself into the world’s supercop, trying to right the wrongs of sovereign

      Obviously this has been informed by the concept of self-autonomy and
the sentiment therefore that no one country has the right to meddle in the
affairs of another.

      So the question then becomes: does Africa – or even more importantly
Zimbabwe – need America to solve its ever-burgeoning problems in the light
of a glaring dearth of “made in Africa” do-it-yourself troubleshooters?

      This questioning of the role of America in the push for good
governance and democracy would fall short in the face of local or regional
bodies’ interests in solving the continent’s woes themselves.

      Home-grown solutions, so to speak, have been lethargic in their
implementation or address in the first place, and it would make sense
therefore that other interested groups and parties come onto the scene and
keep the peace.

      After all, lack of resources to deploy peacekeeping forces in some of
Africa’s hot spots has many a time been cited by regional groupings, which
has meant crises are prolonged unnecessarily.

      Even within the economic spheres, African governments have failed
despite the continent’s abundant wealth to bail each other out of their
woes. That would explain why ever since independence came to these lands,
the continent’s major backers in humanitarian aid have been the European
Union and America.

      Some rogue African states sought relief in the Far East as they could
not meet the demands that were attached to aid by their “traditional” donor

      However, up on that errant groupings’ list would be the African Union
(AU), whose talkshops have always had the unenviable reputation of splashing
out billions of dollars regaling delegates but with little to show for all
the resolutions reached.

      It could be that the five-star banquets have tended to leave the
delegates with full bellies but very empty minds!

      Who within the AU could claim they never saw the Zimbabwe crisis
unfolding, or raised a finger while the tide of autocracy swept across the
continent ever since independence came to these climes?

      The AU has, ever since its inception, been a club of tyrants not
willing to whip each other into line because it would not make any sense
anyway to berate a despotic peer.

      It would bring to reality the biblical exhortation about seeing the
speck in your brother’s eye but failing to see the log in your own!

      It is in that context that somebody other than these peers who break
bread together would be needed to show the will to solve the world’s

      In the absence of “do-gooders”, the world of African people is left to
crumble around them, and the people of the continent will have a hard time
trying to forgive the AU’s pan-African trail-blazing disciples when all they
did was make sure their people lived in perpetual penury and disease.

      The Economic Community of West Africa States has said it is ready to
send a peacekeeping force to Liberia, but would favour a situation where the
Americans take a leading role.

      In comes the “swashbuckling, gun-slinging Toxic Texan”. For Zimbabwe,
the role of America in censuring rogue regimes is apparently
well-appreciated, as heard even coming from President Robert Mugabe, who
said President Bush would never do what he did to Saddam Hussein here
because the country has no oil reserves! So on that one score, the Americans
would never march to State House. The reasons to do the Saddam thing here
are there after all. Even in the streets where people chat but with the ever
looming fear that they could be heard by government spooks, the sentiment is
that the locals have failed to cajole the ruling party into doing the noble
thing, that is resign or call a new poll, therefore a more capable partner
should be introduced into Zimbabwe’s political, social and economic
imbroglio. What is interesting about the Zimbabwean crisis is that it has
reportedly divided Pretoria and Washington, with Bush telling Thabo Mbeki
what he ought to do with his neighbour, who has turned out to be a poor
student of democracy. As reported, Mbeki is not too ready to be told what to
do or have his foreign policy defined for him by American hegemonic
interests. By Marko Phiri Marko Phiri is a political commentator.
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Leader Page

      Towards a total dictatorship

        NOT content with constraining the freedom of long-suffering
Zimbabweans, the ruling ZANU PF now seeks to extend its control-freak
mentality to the country’s Parliament as it continues to entrench its

      It was reported this week that the Privileges Amendment Bill would
soon be tabled before the House and would contain a section dealing with
parliamentarians who “wilfully absent themselves from parliamentary sittings
or interrupt Presidential addresses to Parliament”.

      The Bill is apparently aimed at “putting to a stop the continued
boycott of President Mugabe’s addresses to Parliament by MDC legislators”.

      The Bill reads in part: “A member who, being present before or after
such an address has commenced, willfully interrupts or disrupts such address
or wilfully walks out during its delivery or absents himself from Parliament
during such an address without the prior leave of the Speaker, shall be
guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of an amount equivalent to six
months’ salary.”

      It is disgraceful that the ruling party would stoop so low to punish
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislators and force them
to acknowledge President Robert Mugabe’s legitimacy, which they have
consistently refused to do.

      The MDC does not recognise Mugabe’s re-election and is indeed
challenging the result of last year’s presidential poll in court.

      The opposition party’s legislators have therefore refused to sit
through the President’s often lengthy addresses, and it is their right to do

      The proposed amendment, if it is passed, will severely infringe on the
parliamentarians’ basic rights.

      It will also be an assault on one of the remaining bastions of
democracy in a country whose slide into tyranny has been painful to witness.

      Parliaments the world over are places that are supposed to reflect and
uphold the true democratic values of their societies.

      This is where robust, unfettered debate is supposed to take place. In
some countries, legislators from opposing camps have even resorted to
fist-fights as they debate contentious issues of national importance.

      That’s how far the freedom granted to legislators by parliamentary
privilege and the immunity that comes with it has been exercised.

      Prime ministers and presidents the world over are hauled before the
House, grilled and heckled by parliamentarians during question time and
addresses on national issues.

      Walkouts, jeers and boycotts are also some of the ways through which
legislators express their disdain for the double-speak that politicians
often resort to.

      Yet here in Zimbabwe we want to swim against the tide and still call
ourselves a democracy.

      The proposed amendment is very much in the spirit of other repressive
legislation the government has seen fit to impose on its people as its hold
on them slips.

      The Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act are the worst examples and have outlawed basic
rights granted to Zimbabweans by their Constitution, as well as made it an
offence for the people of this country to criticise their head of state.

      Under recent amendments to the Road Traffic Act, it is even punishable
for Zimbabweans to gesture at the presidential motorcade.

      We implore parliamentarians from both the ruling party and the MDC to
allow sanity to prevail and to consign this proposed amendment to where it
belongs – in the rubbish bin.

      They should make it their business to strike down all legislation that
suppresses the people of this country and elevates its leader to the status
of an untouchable, almost divine being.

      History will certainly judge them harshly if they allow legislation
such as the Privileges and Immunity Act to stain the country’s statute
books. As for President Mugabe, putting his signature to such a law will
merely demonstrate that he has become what he denies he is, a dictator of
the worst kind.
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Daily News

      ZCTU warns more civil service job strikes loom

        THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) yesterday warned of
more disruptions and job strikes by the government’s 140 000-plus workers
because of salary anomalies caused by a job evaluation exercise carried out
by the government in a bid to rationalise salaries and perks across the
civil service.

      The job evaluation exercise, which the government had said would end
salary distortions among public workers, is said to have created several
anomalies with some junior civil servants now reportedly earning more than
their seniors because of a new and warped grading system.

      The warning by the ZCTU came as over 300 workers at the government’s
Department of Printing and Stationery in Harare went on strike yesterday
alleging that the job evaluators had placed them in wrong and lower grades.

      The country’s doctors have also been on an industrial action since
last month saying they were now earning less than what they were getting
before the evaluation exercise. And teachers are also on a go-slow in
protest against the new salaries awarded to them after the job
rationalisation exercise.

      “Many workers and professionals are living under a stressing economic
environment which the government refuses to address,” Wellington Chibhebhe,
the ZCTU secretary-general, said in a statement yesterday.

      “It is a shame that government professionals like doctors and teachers
have been reduced to mere individuals. But the government, in an insensitive
stupor, goes to award President Robert Mugabe and his ministers a bounty 1
000 percent salary hike backdated to January 2003,” he said.

      Chibhebhe said the hiking of Mugabe’s salary showed that government
leaders were “selfish and insensitive to the plight of the ordinary people
of Zimbabwe”.

      In a move condemned by many Zimbabweans as arrogant and extravagant,
the government last week awarded a hefty salary hike of more than 1 000
percent to Mugabe and his ministers.

      “The ZCTU is very perturbed by this situation and would not hesitate
to blame the government if workers embark on action to vent their anger. The
government must defuse this time bomb it is sitting on,” Chibhebhe said.

      The strike by the state’s printing workers, who are responsible for
printing most government documents and stationery, has resulted in a number
of ministries and departments failing to process important documents.

      Meanwhile, non-academic staff at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) went
on strike on Tuesday to press for a cost of living adjustment.

      The workers were, however, back at work yesterday after being promised
that their grievances were being looked into.

      It was not possible to talk to the union leaders yesterday to
establish what they had agreed with the UZ management but workers who talked
to the Daily News said the strike had only lasted a day when their leaders
told them to return to work to allow negotiations to take place.

      And workers at the government’s Zimbabwe National Water Authority
(ZINWA) yesterday refused to accept a 20 percent salary increment awarded by
their management on Tuesday.

      The workers downed their tools last Thursday to push their management
to review their working conditions and minimum wages.

      ZINWA was set up by the government in 1999 to manage and distribute
the country’s water resources. It also oversees the operations of the seven
catchment areas of Gwayi, Mazowe, Manyame, Runde, Sanyati, Save and Umguza.

      ZINWA also is in charge of providing clean drinking water for smaller
areas and centres in the countryside and these face the risk of running out
of safe drinking water unless the strike by the parastatal’s workers is
urgently resolved.

      Staff Reporters

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Independent (UK)

Mayor defies Mugabe's order to quit Harare
By Basildon Peta, Southern Africa Correspondent
11 July 2003

The Mayor of Harare has defied an order from President Robert Mugabe to quit
his official residence by midnight last night.

Elias Mudzuri, a leader in the Zimbabwe opposition, was told to leave his
mayoral mansion and give up his salary and other perks as the Zimbabwean
President increased his efforts to remove a potential political challenger.

But Mr Mudzuri was standing his ground, despite fearing for the worst. "I am
not going anywhere," he said. "I don't know what crime I have committed
against this heinous regime."

Mr Mugabe has a team of security agents at Mr Mudzuri's offices to ensure he
does not gain access. They have detained Mr Mudzuri twice in the past three
days after he defied the regime and reported for duty. He has rejected
demands to surrender his official Mercedes Benz and stop using city council

Mr Mudzuri defeated a candidate sponsored by President Mugabe in the
executive mayoral election in March last year by a wide margin. He quickly
launched an anti-corruption crusade that began to unearth massive graft by
previous councils loyal to the Mugabe regime.

He closed off a corruption loophole whereby Mr Mugabe's ministers and
cronies expropriated large residential and commercial plots of land from the
city without paying for their market value. Mr Mugabe's young wife, Grace,
had reportedly benefited from the scheme.

In April, Mr Mudzuri was suspended from office. In London last week, he told
The Independent he would defy his suspension and report for duty on Monday.
He did this, but was arrested. He was released and reported for duty on the
Tuesday. He was rearrested and warned that he would face severe consequences
if he persisted with his defiance.

Mr Mudzuri said he had been given a copy of a letter signed by Ignatius
Chombo, the Local Government and National Housing Minister, giving him 48
hours to leave his mayoral mansion. The letter also said all his benefits
were being suspended.

"This is all pure madness," Mr Mudzuri said. "It means they have effectively
fired me. The fact that I was elected and not appointed by Mugabe is lost on
them." He said that even if his suspension from office had been legitimate,
it would not entitle the Mugabe regime to remove him from his official home
and suspend his perks.

"A suspension means I am barred from performing my duties while the issues
raised against me are finalised," he said last night. "It does not entitle
them to do all these things. With this regime, anything is possible, but I
will not be cowed. I will stay put."

It seems the real story behind Mr Mugabe's crusade against Mr Mudzuri is not
only to protect corrupt cronies. Mr Mugabe also wants to completely destroy
a possible challenger to his position.

If the President can secure a conviction against the main opposition leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, who is facing two treason charges, Mr Tsvangirai will be
disqualified from challenging Mr Mugabe for the presidency.

The widely popular Mr Mudzuri is a clear favourite to succeed Mr Tsvangirai
as the main opposition leader. He has hence become a target as part of a
wider plot to destroy the Movement for Democratic Change. But in all the
efforts to destroy Mr Mudzuri, Mr Mugabe may in fact be making the
opposition mayor more popular.

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Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.


Letter 1:

SARPN takes pleasure in alerting you to yet another new report on Zimbabwe,
posted today on our website. This time it is the new report (July 8) by the
International Crisis Group, entitled "Decision Time in Zimbabwe".  The
16-page document focuses on prospects for negotiations, as the extract
below illustrates.

Change is in the air in Zimbabwe. Its citizens no longer talk about whether
it will come, but rather when. All acknowledge, however, that the road will
be dangerous, possibly violent.

South Africa is the single country with ability to help its neighbour
through the roughest patches if it is willing to engage with sufficient
determination to persuade the government of President Robert Mugabe and his
ruling ZANU-PF party to sit down with their challenger, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), and then facilitate and mediate negotiations for a
transitional government and new elections. A range of other international
players need to play supporting roles, including the EU, the Southern
Africa Development Commission (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the
Commonwealth, but most directly and prominently the U.S. The visit of
President Bush to South Africa on 8 July is a unique opportunity to chart
action that could lead to a negotiated solution and an end to the crisis.


Letter 2:

Just to keep everyone updated - Meryl will be flying to Johannesburg on
Monday, courtesy of COMAIR, and transport will be provided by AVIS.  She
will undergo an Angiogram on Wednesday 16 July, when they will feed a scope
along a major vein and introduce a dye in order to study the heart.  If all
is well, they will carry out the Angioplasty straight away.  She has been
experiencing a lot of pain in the last few days and it is now imperative
that she has the surgery.  The Cardiologist is Mr Cassell and the operation
will be carried out at Millpark Hospital in Joburg.

There has been a wonderful response to our appeal and we have received
sufficient pledges and donations to cover the cost of the operation.  A
fitting tribute to our brave Meryl.  We are sincerely grateful to RADIO 702
who aired the appeal in South Africa.

We are indebted to all those who responded so quickly with offers of
assistance, air tickets, transport, accommodation and contributions, as
well as all the lovely messages of support which Meryl has really
appreciated at this difficult time, and of course everyone who disseminated
the appeal so effectively.

We just cannot begin to thank you all adequately.

Bernice & all at ZNSPCA


All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.

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From The White House, 9 July

Union Buildings press conference

The relevant excerpt from the transcript. The only other reference to
Zimbabwe came in President Bush's opening remarks, where he said: "And in
Zimbabwe, I've encouraged President Mbeki and his government to continue to
work for the return of democracy in that important country."

Q During the past week, the two Presidents or the governments of - the
government of the U.S. and South Africa - have expressed sharp differences
about the best way to deal with the Zimbabwean question.


Q And having met this morning, I wonder if the two Presidents have found the
best approach or have agreed about the best approach to deal with Zimbabwe.
I see that it is has come up. Can we get from the smiles that you now have a
formula to deal best with Zimbabwe? (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT MBEKI: I didn't know, President, that we'd expressed sharp

PRESIDENT BUSH: That's right. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT MBEKI: No. We are absolutely of one mind, the two governments,
President Bush and myself are absolutely of one mind about the urgent need
to address the political and economic challenges of Zimbabwe. It's necessary
to resolve this matter as quickly as is possible. We have said, as you would
know, for a long time that the principle is rooted, principal responsibility
for the resolution of these problems rests with the people of Zimbabwe; and,
therefore, have urged them - both the ruling party and the opposition, the
government and the opposition - to get together and seriously tackle all of
these issues.

I did tell the President that, indeed, the government - Zanu PF and the MDC
are, indeed, discussing. They are engaged in discussions on all of the
matters that would be relevant to the resolution of these political and
economic problems. So that process is going on. We have communicated the
message to both sides that - indeed, as we agreed with the President - that
it is very, very important that they should move forward with urgency to
find a resolution to these questions. Of course, again, as the President was
saying, was saying that apart from these important political issues about
democrats and so on, you actually have ordinary people who are hungry in an
economy which can't cope with them, and you can't allow that kind of
situation to go on forever. So they are discussing.

We had discussed this matter earlier, sometime back, with the U.S.
government that we have to find, we've got to find a way of getting a
political solution and we would, indeed, count very much on such economic,
financial support as would come from the United States afterwards, in order
to address urgent challenges that face Zimbabwe. So we didn't fight about
any of what I've just said. (laughter.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: We were smiling because we were certain a clever reporter
would try to use the Zimbabwe issue as a way to maybe create tensions which
don't exist.

Look, Zimbabwe is an important country for the economic health of Africa. A
free, peaceful Zimbabwe has got the capacity to deliver a lot of goods and
services which are needed on this continent in order to help alleve
suffering. And it's a very sad situation that's taken place in that country.

Look, we share the same objective. The President is the person most
involved; he represents a mighty country in the neighborhood who, because of
his position and his responsibility, is working the issue. And I'm not - not
any intention of second-guessing his tactics. We share the same outcome. And
I think it's important for the United States, whether it be me or my
Secretary of State, to speak out when we see a situation where somebody's
freedoms have been taken away from them and they're suffering. And that's
what we're going to continue to do. But the President is the point man on
this important subject. He is working it very hard. He's in touch with the
parties involved. He is - he's making - he believes, making good progress.
And the United States supports him in this effort.

Last question. Randy.

Q Yes, Mr. President. Do you regret that your State of the Union accusation
that Iraq was trying to buy nuclear materials in Africa is now fueling
charges that you and Prime Minister Blair misled the public? And then,
secondly, following up on Zimbabwe, are you willing to have a representative
meet with a representative of the Zimbabwe opposition leader, who sent a
delegation here, and complained that he did not think Mr. Mbeki could be an
honest broker in the process?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I think Mr. Mbeki can be an honest broker, to answer
the second question.
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$160m Property Destroyed As Tanker Catches Fire

The Herald (Harare)

July 10, 2003
Posted to the web July 10, 2003


PROPERTY worth over $160 million was destroyed on Tuesday night when a
petrol tanker caught fire and exploded as the commodity was being offloaded
into another fuel tanker, in Harare.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said the fuel had come
from South Africa and was being offloaded into the tank that caught fire at
Zelnat Investments in Willowvale Industrial sites.

"One of the drivers is alleged to have been smoking when the incident
occurred," he said.

The fire destroyed two International heavy trucks, two bus shells, four
small cars, an aircraft loader, trailer containing 4 100 bags of flour and
33 000 litres of petrol.

Supt Mandipaka said the naked flame allegedly got contact with the flammable
substance and resulted in a huge ball of fire.

According to witnesses, the fire started when the driver from South Africa
allegedly lit a cigarette near the tank into which the scarce commodity was
being offloaded into.

"Fuel was being decanted from one tank into this fuel tank when he lit a
cigarette," said the owner of the tank, on condition of anonymity.

He said the owner of Zelnat Investments only hired his tank since the South
African driver wanted to go back quickly.

"All I know is that the fuel was also to be delivered to some service
stations in Harare," he added.

One of the guards who was at the premises when the incident occurred, Mr
Alexander Chikwawawa said he only heard a loud explosion since he was at the
back of the garage.

"Then I saw a ball of fire in the air, coming from the tank, in which fuel
was being offloaded ," said Mr Chikwawawa.

"I rushed to remove the pipe that was connecting the two tanks and
instructed the driver from South Africa to take his tanker outside the
premises before it also caught fire."

He added that they even tried in vain to extinguish the fire using soil.

Mr Chikwawawa said they later informed the fire brigade and the police who
came to their rescue.

Two people who were at the premises sustained minor burns in the head, face
and in the hands.

The prefabricated concrete wall surrounding the premises was destroyed and
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) cables were also burnt down
resulting in a blackout in some parts of the area.

The South Africa driver drove off at high speed and his whereabouts were
unknown by late last night.

Supt Mandipaka said they are still investigating the incident.
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US Has Strategic Interests in Southern Africa, Analysts Say
Nairobi, Kenya ( - President George W. Bush is focusing on
southern Africa during his five-day tour of the continent because he wants
to build new alliances and position South Africa as a strategic ally to
advance U.S. policies in the region, analysts here said Thursday.

Bush arrived in South Africa on Tuesday, visited Botswana on Thursday and
will later travel to Uganda and Nigeria.

Regional analyst Alyaseed Akasha said the United States is interested in
building new alliances in southern Africa "which will enable it establish
military bases for anti-terrorism purposes."

He said America needs about five military bases in Africa, one for each of
the continent's geographical zones.

U.S. forces already run the Horn of Africa Combined Joint Task Force, based
in Djibouti, which coordinates anti-terrorism activities in the eastern
Africa and Horn of Africa regions.

Prior to Bush's visit, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher confirmed
that that the U.S. is increasing security partnership programs with African
countries, particularly through anti-terrorism initiatives.

Earlier this month, Bush announced a $100 million anti-terrorism initiative
to help Africa, specifically Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Djibouti,
to improve border controls for people and goods, boost aviation security,
promote basic criminal justice skills, combat terrorist financing, and
strengthen capabilities of security forces.

Akasha said the increased attention that Bush has given southern Africa is
because it is the region in sub-Saharan Africa that rebels most against U.S.

"While most of West African leaders met Bush in Senegal, southern African
leaders were not enthusiastic to meet Bush in South Africa despite earlier
arrangements to that end," Akasha said.

"Bush came to soften the regional anti-American feelings there and wants to
use South Africa to push for U.S. policies in southern Africa," he said.

Akasha said intelligence reports have confirmed that terrorists from Middle
East have run to Africa, where they have disguised themselves as

"It is the interest of the U.S. to militarily monitor Africa in five zones
to defeat terrorists," Akasha said.

At a press conference Wednesday in Pretoria, Bush described South African
President Thabo Mbeki as "an honest broker" on the Zimbabwe crisis and a
"point man" in the region.

Bush did not publicly express reservations regarding Mbeki's perceived
"quiet diplomacy" toward Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, despite U.S.
insistence that Mbeki should adopt a hard-line stance to press for fresh
elections in the troubled country.

Bush denied that there was an U.S.-South Africa rift over how to handle the
situation in Zimbabwe, whose leadership the U.S. has condemned for human
rights abuses and economic meltdown.

Bush described South Africa as "the force of freedom and stability, and a
force for progress, throughout the continent of Africa."

President Mbeki thanked Bush for his $15 billion AIDS initiative for Africa
and for America's general development concerns for the continent.

Earlier, reports by Texas-based global security analysis group, Stratfor,
indicated that Bush would be briefed on regional counter-terrorism efforts
while in South Africa and again while in Nigeria.

U.S. forces and those of the South Africa National Defense Force (SANDF) are
expected to hold joint military training exercises later in the year. The
SANDF is regarded as the most capable army in Africa.

Reports said Bush's African visit underlines the strategic importance of the
continent because of growing U.S. reliance on its oil and intelligence that
Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network could use vulnerable African
states to hide in and operate from.

But Bush's visit also had its detractors. In the South African capital of
Pretoria, about 1,000 demonstrators marched peacefully to the U.S. Embassy
to protest America's global policies.

"We stand together with millions of people throughout the world and say that
the biggest weapon of mass destruction is George W. Bush," Salim Vally of
the Anti-War Coalition said in a speech.
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      10 Jul 2003 17:30:31 GMT
      Mbeki queries African commitment to end conflicts


By Cris Chinaka and Nicholas Kotch

MAPUTO, July 10 (Reuters) - South African President Thabo Mbeki on Thursday
questioned Africa's commitment to resolving its conflicts, saying only a
handful of governments had ratified a crucial security protocol agreed a
year ago.

Opening a three-day African Union summit in Mozambique, Mbeki said a Peace
and Security Council, intended to give the AU the power to intervene
militarily in national conflicts, was in limbo. Barely a dozen of 53 states
had endorsed it.

Mbeki, the outgoing AU chairman, said the protocol was one of several core
treaties and institutions that were fundamental to Africa's peace, democracy
and development.

"Clearly, conflict resolution is a top priority for the union," Mbeki said
in his address to about 30 leaders attending the summit in a new
Chinese-built conference centre. He said he wanted the Peace and Security
Council ratified this year.

African military officials early this year agreed a framework to establish
an African standby force to intervene in regional conflicts that have killed
millions in Democratic Republic of Congo and ravaged countries from Liberia
to Sudan.

But without the Peace and Security Council such a force would lack a clear

The decision to create the Council was made a year ago at the first summit
of the AU, set up to replace the moribund Organisation of African Unity
which had a weak record on tackling conflict during its 40-year life.

Mbeki was backed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"The United Nations and the rest of the international community can appoint
envoys, urge negotiations and spend billions of dollars on peacekeeping
missions -- but none of this will solve conflicts if the political will and
capacity do not exist here in Africa," Annan told the summit.


The Maputo summit was dominated by talk of flashpoints in Liberia, Ivory
Coast, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Somalia, AU
officials said.

But the political and economic crisis in President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe
was not on the agenda. With Mugabe in the audience, neither Mbeki nor Annan
alluded to it.

"That in some senses is a fatal mistake for...the African Union," said Ross
Herbert at South Africa's Institute of International Affairs.

"Zimbabwe is something that Africa is going to have to deal with," Herbert
told Reuters in Maputo.

Mbeki flew to Mozambique on Wednesday after what appeared to be successful
talks with U.S. President George W. Bush in South Africa. Bush, on his first
sub-Saharan Africa tour, endorsed Mbeki's role as key foreign mediator on
Zimbabwe, calling him an honest broker and effectively supporting his
softly-softly policy.

Bush's stance was a setback for Zimbabwe's opposition which had banked on a
far tougher U.S. position.

Institutionally, the AU was modelled on the European Union and a crucial
part of the Maputo summit will be the appointment of an executive chairman
and nine other commissioners.

African leaders and development experts later joined in an unprecedented
video-link to discuss how best to deal a lethal blow against AIDS, seen as a
major threat to their economies.
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            Bush's visit will not change Botswana's policy on Zim
            July 10, 2003, 21:30

            The bilateral talks held in Gaborone today between George W.
Bush, the visiting US President and Festus Mogae, Botswana's President,
would not change the country's policy towards Zimbabwe, Mompati Merafhe,
Botswana's foreign minister said. Bush earlier said there should be
democracy in Zimbabwe to enable the people to advance and the US would
continue to speak out on that.

            Merafhe said: "The issue is one of a process of persuasion. We
cannot dictate to a sovereign state. We have 640km of border with Zimbabwe.
It is important that we continue to hold dialogues."

            She said Botswana would keep the lines of communication open and
could facilitate a resolution but it cannot become "the policeman of
Zimbabwe". Merafhe briefed media at the end of talks between Mogae and Bush.
Bush and his entourage arrived in Botswana this morning for a one-day
visit. - Sapa
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Annan: African Leaders Not Doing Enough to End 'Unspeakable Horrors'
Delia Robertson
10 Jul 2003, 17:35 UTC
<b>Kofi Annan</b>
Kofi Annan
The annual summit of the African Union has opened in Mozambique with warnings from both United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and South African President Thabo Mbeki that African leaders are not doing enough to end conflicts on the continent.

Outgoing African Union chairman Thabo Mbeki said far too few member states have ratified the Peace and Security Council agreed to a year ago in South Africa. Only 16 of the continent's 53 states have done so.

A similar situation exists with regard to the Pan African Parliament. Not enough countries have ratified the creation of these bodies for them to be convened.

These bodies are seen as central to the continent's capacity to prevent and resolve conflicts. Mr. Mbeki said the Peace and Security Council, in particular, must be in place before next year's summit.

<b>African leaders attending AU meeting</b>
African leaders attending AU meeting
Secretary-General Annan said international efforts such as funding and peace missions are wasted in the absence of building political will and capacity to deal with conflicts. He said conflict brings shame to the African continent.

"Unspeakable horrors have been perpetrated which should fill every African, every human being with a sense of shame," he said. "They make it plainly evident that Africa has nowhere near the effective mechanisms it needs to prevent the outbreak of conflict or to enforce basic international humanitarian law."

Mr. Mbeki noted that there have been some successes on the continent in the past year and that some countries are contributing their own resources in response to the needs of their fellow Africans.

"I believe that together we have made a good beginning, and together let us move forward faster and build a life of hope for the children of Africa and the African diaspora," said Mr. Mbeki.

Disease also got its share of attention at the summit. Close to 30 million people in Africa are through to be infected with HIV-AIDS. In southern Africa, Botswana has the world's highest infection rate and South Africa the most infected people. Secretary-General Annan said that even as Africans are beginning to take control of their own development, it is being threatened by the impact of AIDS.

"The lethal impact of AIDS on food security has become devastatingly obvious," said Mr. Annan. "But the killing fields of AIDS stretch far further than that. Just as Africa seeks to focus on the future, some parts of it can barely hang on to the present."

The issue of Zimbabwe is not officially on the summit agenda, but Mr. Mbeki is expected to brief the African heads of state on his initiatives to end the crises in that country. The summit concludes Saturday.

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      ZIMBABWE: Lack of formal appeal threatens food security
      IRINnews Africa, Thu 10 Jul 2003

      Millions of Zimbabweans continue to depend on food aid to survive

      The World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that it needs an official
appeal for food aid from Zimbabwe before donors will pledge their support to
the emergency operation in that country.

      Zimbabwe is once again the worst-affected by food shortages in the
southern African region.

      "The major causes of the much lower than normal production of cereals
this year include erratic rainfall, limited availability of seed and
fertiliser ... and the newly settled farmers not being able to utilise all
the land, due to lack of adequate capital and inputs, or collateral to
procure them. Following the land reform programme, the large-scale
commercial [farming] sector now produces only about one-tenth of its output
in the 1990s," a joint WFP/ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
assessment mission noted in June.

      The mission estimated that "4.4 million people in rural areas and 1.1
million in urban areas will require food assistance in 2003/04".

      In the latest Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation Report, the WFP said
that while it had "prepared the Zimbabwe component of its new EMOP
(emergency operation), based on a written request for continued humanitarian
assistance from the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare in
late May 2003, "WFP [still] awaits a formal appeal for specific amounts of
food aid", which "several major donors" had made clear was a requirement
"before committing resources to fund food aid in Zimbabwe".

      "It takes at least three months after a donor pledge is made for food
to arrive in-country. WFP food stocks will run out in August," the agency
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Sydney Morning Herald

Bush slams Mugabe
July 11 2003

US President George Bush slammed Zimbabwe's "bad governance", hours after
President Robert Mugabe's government taunted him for a "climb-down" from his
hardline policy towards Harare.

Mr Bush said after meeting Botswana counterpart Festus Mogae that he would
continue to speak out for democracy in Zimbabwe, which is gripped by a
lingering political and social crisis.

"We expect there to be democracy in Zimbabwe, in order for the people of
that country to advance," he said in the capital of Botswana, a country
viewed by Washington as a rare African example of good governance.

"It's a shame that the [Zimbabwean] economy has gotten so weak and soft. It
is a shame for Botswana, it's a shame for southern Africa, and that the
weakness in the economy is directly attributable to bad governance.

"Therefore we will continue to speak out for democracy in Zimbabwe," he
added, on the third leg of a five-nation African tour.

Zimbabwe's official Herald newspaper earlier quoted a statement from the
government's information department critical of Mr Bush's remarks on
Zimbabwe after talks in Pretoria with South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Mr Bush used the talks to back Mr Mbeki's quiet diplomacy on Zimbabwe, and
did not repeat acidic criticisms of Mugabe in public when he appeared with
the South African leader.

He said he thought Mr Mbeki could be an "honest broker" in the Zimbabwean
crisis, and said he had urged his counterpart to "continue to work for the
return of democracy" in his northern neighbour.

The Herald pounced on his words, which it described as a "fleeting and
perfunctory reference to Zimbabwe", proclaiming them "a loud climb-down by a
president all along misled".

The Herald quoted the statement as saying the United States would have to
accept that Zimbabwe would "not accept false and synthetic solutions from
outsiders, however powerful".

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        Bush backed down, claims Zimbabwe

            July 10 2003 at 12:27PM

      Harare - The Zimbabwean government taunted United States President
George Bush on Thursday for backing down from his previous hardline stance
towards President Robert Mugabe. But the opposition has welcomed the US
leader's "commitment to the Zimbabwean crisis".

      Bush and South African President Thabo Mbeki said after talks on
Wednesday that they were of "one mind" on resolving political tensions in

      Bush was in South Africa on the second leg of his five-nation tour of
Africa, his first to the continent.

      Zimbabwe's official Herald newspaper quoted a statement from the
government's information department that said Bush's "fleeting and
perfunctory reference to Zimbabwe" on Wednesday was "a loud climb-down by a
president all along misled".

      There had been widespread expectations that Bush would use his trip to
South Africa to repeat previous demands by his government that Mugabe should
step down, and that fresh elections be held.

      The report suggested Bush would leave Africa "better enlightened about
issues at stake" and the US would have to accept that Zimbabwe would "not
accept false and synthetic solutions from outsiders, however powerful".

      On Wednesday Bush said he thought Mbeki could be an "honest broker" in
the Zimbabwean crisis, and said he had urged his counterpart to "continue to
work for the return of democracy" in Zimbabwe.

      Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Thursday that his
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was "heartened by the sense of urgency
displayed by Presidents Mbeki and Bush".

      He hoped that Mbeki would ensure that talks resumed between the MDC
and Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF)
"within days rather than weeks," he said in a statement.

      The MDC, which rejects Mugabe's victory in presidential elections last
year, has strongly criticised Mbeki for not taking a firm stance against

      On Wednesday Tsvangirai said Mbeki had misrepresented the Zimbabwean
position to Bush by suggesting talks were going on between the two main
political rivals.

      Fledgling inter-party talks brokered by South Africa and Nigeria in
April last year were scuppered when the MDC leader launched a court petition
against Mugabe's electoral victory.

      Tsvangirai claims the poll was tainted by vote rigging, violence and

      Mugabe has said he will only talk to the MDC if they drop the petition
and recognise him as head of state, but the opposition says it will not
agree to conditional talks. - Sapa-AFP

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Reserve Bank Hikes Key Rate

Financial Gazette (Harare)

July 10, 2003
Posted to the web July 10, 2003

Dumisani Ndlela

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) this week hiked the key repurchase (repo)
rate to over 64 percent, signalling its intention to push up money market
rates despite clear resistance from the government.

A 12-page document by the RBZ to the government, obtained by The Financial
Gazette, warned that "passing a decree for a general lowering of interest
rates would have far reaching negative consequences in the economy".

This emerged as money market worries intensified that banks were subsiding
borrowers in the current low interest rate regime, put in place two years
ago to save haemorrhaging companies threatened with collapse because of high
gearing ratios. The move also saved the government from high interest
charges on its bloated domestic debt.

Banks, currently suffering from a severe shortage of local currency in the
inter-bank system, fear that they could be bruised by the emergence of black
market lending cartels and sharks, who are cashing in on the crisis by
mopping up all cash on the market for black market deals.

The repo rate, a money market instrument which allows domestic banks to
cover unexpected shortfalls in their daily cash requirements, and determines
the direction of commercial lending rates, shot up to an all-time high of
64.5 percent on Monday.

It had earlier on Friday touched a high of 61 percent, five percentage
points up from the 56 percent level reached in May, before easing marginally
on Tuesday to 64.38 percent, with dealers saying they expected it to hold at
that level for some time.

Witness Chinyama, group economist with Kingdom Financial Holdings, said the
rise in the repo rate would trigger a rise in commercial lending rates.

The RBZ's message in hiking the repo rate was simply that it wants money
market rates to rise, he said.

"This (repo rate hike) means the funding cost for banks seeking overnight
accommodation will rise, and this will lead to an increase in commercial
lending rates," said Chinyama.

Under the repo arrangement, Treasury Bills (TBs) form the underlying
security for borrowing.

Banks with TB security pay an interest charge 20 percentage points above the
repo rate, while those without TB security pay 40 percentage points above
the repo rate.

Commercial lending rates are likely to reflect the punitive end of the repo
arrangement, dealers and market watchers said yesterday.

Market analysts said the RBZ was clearly antagonising the government on the
issue of interest rates, which fiscal authorities want brought down despite
the fact that they are already severely depressed and out of line with the
highly inflationary environment in the country.

The RBZ has already been requested by the government to spell out its
reasons for refusing to trample interest rates further into negative
territory, and cabinet was understood to have discussed the issue at its
weekly engagement on Tuesday.

In its document to the government, which formed the basis of Tuesday's
cabinet debate on the issue, the RBZ, which controls the country's financial
levers, indicated its solemn disapproval for a rate cut.

"Interest rate controls, like any other price controls, are a distortion on
the market, which eventually leads to shortages of money at banks, and
exorbitant interest rates by credit sharks in informal markets," the RBZ

It was not clear if cabinet had made a decision yet on the issue, but
indications are that the government is likely to push its agenda for a sharp
decline in interest rates with caution.

The RBZ is worried that low interest rates could spark speculative
borrowing, which would cause monetary expansion, with dire consequences on
inflation, already sitting at an all-time high of 300,10 percent
year-on-year for May.

"Cheap money will spur parallel market activities, particularly if there is
no improvement in foreign exchange supply. Consequently, the country's
producers will be faced with high costs of production, which would naturally
be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices," the RBZ charged.

It warned that in the current highly inflationary environment, interest rate
controls would lead to disintermediation in the long term, as credit will
simply be diverted from the formal banking system to money lender and

"Like a parallel market for foreign exchange, interest rates in black
markets will be very high and usury becomes rampant," said the RBZ.

John Robertson, an economic consultant, said the central bank and government
were both in a quandary.

"All along, the central bank knew the low interest rates would destroy
savings. They now want to increase interest rates to encourage people to
deposit their money," said Robertson.

The government, he said, had also realised that there was no money for it to
borrow because savings had been depleted from the banking system because of
poor returns.

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