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

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African Oppressor
By Steven C. Baker | July 17, 2003

The last days may be approaching for Zimbabwe's Marxist dictator, Robert
Mugabe. His 23-year-long authoritarian reign has proven to be one of the
most repressive in African history. In recent years, he has resorted to
seizing private land and businesses from his country's minority group,
fixing elections to maintain his tyrannical rule and ruthlessly suppressing

Over the last two decades – first as Prime Minister and now as President –
Mugabe has turned Zimbabwe into a one-party state under his control,
imprisoning his political opposition. Most recently, the police arrested
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe’s most prominent democratic
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Detained in
early June 2003, Tsvangirai now stands accused of treason and faces
execution if found guilty of plotting to "assassinate" Mugabe. The charges
are specious and clearly designed to stifle the democratic forces that have
come to represent a grave threat to the Marxist strongman's government.

This latest repressive act is but one example in a long line of dictatorial
measures characterizing Mugabe’s rule. It was obvious by 2001 that Zimbabwe
was an economic and political basket case.  According to the Associated
Press, Mugabe announced in October of that year he was “abandoning
market-based economic policies and returning to a socialist-style economy.”
He ordered a price freeze on basic foods and warned businesses to comply
with his diktat, or risk seizure of their assets by the government.  Mugabe
forcefully decreed: “Let no one on this front expect mercy. . . . The state
will take over any businesses that are closed…We will reorganize them with
workers and at last that socialism we wanted can start again.”

Thus began a crackdown on the opposition that continues to this day,
including rigged elections in 2002, [1] the seizure of property from white
farmers and landowners, and the dismantling of Zimbabwe’s market reforms.

Due to this cycle of repression, the Bush Administration formally expressed
its dissatisfaction with Mugabe’s government in March 2002.  At that time,
President Bush barred any person who was complicit in Mugabe's misrule from
entering the United States, whether as an immigrant or non-immigrant.  One
year later, on March 7, 2003, the Bush Administration sent a message to
Congress that detailed how the Mugabe government systematically undermined
that nation’s democratic institutions, employing violence and intimidation
to throttle political dissent.

To add to the desperation of the besieged Zimbabwean people, the current
government has engaged in a violent assault on the rule of law that has
thrown the economy into chaos, devastated the nation’s agricultural economy,
and triggered a potentially catastrophic food crisis.

Zimbabwe’s African neighbors, meanwhile, appear loath to act punitively in
response to the brutalities of the Mugabe regime.  In fact, they have
rewarded his tyranny. As the Washington Times reported on Monday, African
leaders actually “rewarded Mugabe with a senior position in the African
Union over the weekend, a move that tacitly condones his tyrannical
 actions.”  Mugabe’s neighbors apparently believe his repression should not
disqualify him from serving as deputy chairman of the African Union,
electing him during its three day summit in Mozambique last weekend.
Ironically, that summit affirmed last weekend that “peace is necessary to
ensure development on the continent,” according to VOA News.   Furthermore,
Africa News noted on July 14, “The AU constitution…supports a peer review
mechanism where leaders…evaluate each other's performances in good
governance and democracy.”  And one of the top evaluators will be Robert
Mugabe. This development would be comical if it did not portend such grave
consequences for the impoverished and embattled people of Zimbabwe and
indeed all of sub-Saharan Africa.

Predictably, Zimbabwean state television trumpeted that Mugabe's appointment
to the African Union post proved “There is greater admiration now for
Zimbabwe than there ever was.” In fact, there is growing consensus that
Mugabe is a thug whose time has passed. Unfortunately, last weekend’s
fateful African Union decision only served to vitiate any authority that it
may have had to pressure him to relinquish control.

Unfortunately, it appears that President Bush’s options vis-à-vis Zimbabwe
may be limited by his own State Department.   In a revealing June 24 op-ed
piece in the New York Times, Secretary of State Colin Powell himself
illustrated the horrors of the Mugabe regime but fell far short of offering
a workable solution to the problem. He wrote:

"If leaders on the continent do not do more to convince President Mugabe to
respect the rule of law and enter into a dialogue with the political
opposition, he and his cronies will drag Zimbabwe down until there is
nothing left to ruin -- and Zimbabwe's implosion will continue to threaten
the stability and prosperity of the region."

Secretary Powell’s recommendation would actually imperil the people of
Zimbabwe and hasten the state’s “implosion” due to the fact that Zimbabwe’s
neighbors seem more interested in accommodating Robert Mugabe than holding
him accountable for his crimes.  Moreover, the Powell approach ignores the
nature of Mugabe's regime.  It is unrealistic to believe that Mugabe can be
“convinced” to honor “the rule of law” when he has tyrannized Zimbabwe for
23 years and launched, in the words of President Bush, a “violent assault”
on the rule of law itself.

However, news reports indicate that a deal may have been struck that would
permit Mugabe to step down as the leader of his party, the ZANU-PF.  The
Independent (London) reported on Tuesday that Mugabe “will relinquish his
leadership of Zimbabwe's ruling party by December, paving the way for his
exit as President and new elections by June 2004.” Provided this event takes
place (the deal is said to be conditional and hence, far from a certainty),
The Independent noted President Bush would deliver an aid package to
Zimbabwe worth billions.  This stratagem is highly problematic. It is highly
unlikely that Mugabe's abdication will be either permanent or benign.  As a
result, billions in aid could be squandered if the dictator returns to power
in the future.

President Bush made the correct prescription for the crisis in Zimbabwe
during a July 9, 2003, press conference with South African President Thabo
Mbeki. Bush dispelled fears that U.S. troops would be overextended if sent
to Liberia, remarkeing that the United States would instead aim to
“re-invigorate the strategy of helping people help themselves.” Bush must
now enforce this prescription by supporting the pro-democracy elements in
Zimbabwe and hastening the dissolution of Robert Mugabe’s bloody regime.

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Pay And Employment Reforms in Civil Service

Financial Gazette (Harare)

July 17, 2003
Posted to the web July 17, 2003


THE advent of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) in 1990
saw the introduction of civil service reforms as one of the major facets of
the reform programme.

Among other things, civil service reforms sought to rationalise the size of
the civil service by shedding off about a quarter of the public service in
order to end up with a leaner and more efficient public service.

Most would agree that when staff rationalisation measures were put in place,
the service unfortunately lost some of the cream in the process. While
numbers may have gone down, the wage bill has continued to increase in
nominal terms simply due to the inflation adjustment exercise that has taken
place year in and out.

It is understood that the recently completed job evaluation exercise that
has seen a significant improvement in the remuneration of civil servants has
been conducted with the same spirit of implementing reforms that will bring
about a more efficient and well rewarded civil service.

This has been one of the long outstanding items on the ESAP/ZIMPREST/MERP
agenda. The job evaluation exercise has helped reduce distortions that have
prevailed in the civil service wages structure and incomes policy for a long

Effectively, the adjustments have improved the real incomes of civil
servants to some extent. This can only be considered a positive development
if such measures are accompanied by serious and more concerted effort to
address enemy number one - INFLATION! Failure to do so simply becomes a zero
sum game and before December 2003, we will be negotiating another round of
salary adjustments.

In view of the prevailing inflationary conditions in the economy, where
inflation has moved from single to triple digit levels, it is only logical
and necessary for such adjustments to take place. Simplified, with bread
costing an average of $ 1 000 a loaf, a domestic worker earning $10 000
month can have a loaf of bread per day for 10 days only in a month (By the
way, there are people who are still paying domestic workers such low

Given that the civil service salary adjustments have gone up by more than
100 percent, one would wish to undertake a simple maths exercise using
figures in the Blue Book. Taking an example of the following scenarios where
salaries are adjusted by 100 percent, 200 percent and 300 percent or
whatever percentage, such increases over a 2003 total civil service wage
bill estimate of $221.6 billion will increase the bill to an estimate of
around $443.2 billion, $664.8 billion and $886.5 billion respectively.

It is therefore hoped that the capital budget, an equally if not more
deserving expenditure item, will be granted a similar boost.

The question being raised by the taxpayers who finance this wage bill is one
of value for money. The taxpayer is over-burdened with not only Pay As You
Earn (PAYE) or corporate tax or whatever form of tax, but inflation tax (of
which civil servants are taxpayers too !). Value for money can only be
granted to the taxpayer if he / she asks for it. So here comes the request
on value for money from the taxpayer.

1. The taxpayer would like to see the Public Service Commission develop into
a strong institution that monitors and implements reforms in the civil
service on a continuous basis. Reforms should not only focus on remuneration
although retrenchment and remuneration can be the starting points. The
positive effects of the efforts made by the Commission should be felt and
acknowledged by the taxpayers. Specific examples of areas that need
attention are as follows:

lSome civil servants are insufficiently productive in that they do not
fulfil the tasks assigned to them or they carry out the assignments with
great delays at high cost. Consequently, some are ineffective and
inefficient. Such a civil service syndrome needs to be tackled before it
becomes endemic;

lAn unsavoury response to low salaries is corruption. While corruption may
be a function of low salaries, among other factors, high pay does not
necessarily guarantee absence of corruption. Corruption is not only a
challenge in Zimbabwe but other developing countries too. Therefore we need
to talk and debate such issues and consider ways to curb this cancer. By
keeping quiet, corruption becomes a way of life. The taxpayer would like to
see measures put in place to address this cancer that is slowly eating away
the reputation of the civil service.

lGraft, bribery and other forms of extortion are widely prevalent and are
becoming contemporary instruments of collecting rents or tributes. Empirical
evidence for this manifests itself as payment of money to "speed up things"
e.g. passport processing, allocation of A2 farms, placement at institutions
of higher learning especially teacher's colleges, high and primary schools,
private high profile creches or day centres, speed money to have files move
rapidly. Speed money is also paid to facilitate clearance of goods and
luggage at airports with customs officials or to facilitate transfer
pricing; speed money to get passport forms that have the required "stamped
number" otherwise the form is unacceptable; payment of illicit
under-valuation of imports, income tax forms, licensing officials e.g. for
liquor licence, shop licences so that inspectors do not enforce laws and

The list is endless but this will stir debate and propose solutions to this
cancer that has destroyed other developing countries. So what will make
Zimbabwe immune if we do not confront the challenge head on before it gets
out of hand? This is the question the taxpayer is asking.

lFurther empirical evidence on how the taxpayer is failing to get value for
money is in the area of abuse of state assets e.g. telephones, withdrawal of
working hours as some staff are reported missing in office, teachers not
being on duty or doctors not being in hospitals when required; civil
servants requesting for travel allowances on more mileage than actual
travelled etc

The guilty are afraid and will not like this kind of talk but if the truth
is to be told, this is it. This is what is happening not only in other
countries out there, but here in Zimbabwe too. The taxpayer is now saying,
in addition to the efforts made by the government through the Public Service
Commission I presume, the following reforms may be considered to have the
kind of civil service everybody wishes for:

lCivil servants should display their IDs and employment numbers as is the
case with the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

lConsideration could be made to having a hotline that is managed and
monitored by an autonomous body. The hotline will handle reports,
complaints, compliments and disseminate the information accordingly.

lQuick resolution of complaints and queries is a vital component of the
civil service reform programme.

lImproved information dissemination on pertinent issues is vital to the
taxpayer e.g. what may be simple to some may be but a nightmare to others.
This is exemplified by such processes as accessing government services like
passports, burial orders, death certificates, national IDs , qualifying
criteria for entrance into institutions of higher learning or qualifying
criteria for accessing A2 farms, access to subsidised loans for the mining
and export sectors

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So many of our farmers are now scattered around the four corners of the
earth and it would be very easy to loose contact.  In view of this, we
now have a newsletter for the farmers from Macheke, some of whom are still
farming and others have emigrated to town, or to other countries.  We feel
that this is a morale booster and will, hopefully, enable us all to feel
part of our community still even 'tho it is so widespread.  I would like
to suggest that perhaps other districts may care to emulate this.  Should
circumstances require, it is then easy to contact ones district.  Also
where people have emigrated they are able to assist with advice to others
who are contemplating the same thing.  We are able in certain
circumstances to assist others - e.g. a housesitter required recently.

Geraldine Melrose

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Since I last wrote about the frantic dash made by our friend to a
Johannesburg heart clinic and his recovery from the brink of death, I have
managed to gather information on what is available in Zimbabwe to provide
financial cover if this were ever to happen to you or me. I have no vested
interest in any of the organisations that I have listed and so will not
advertise their merits. They are all different in many aspects but they
have one thing in common, to get their members to a world-class medical
facility with the least delay and without them having to scrape around for
money before being evacuated.

So these are the ones that I know of and their contact details. Only you
can make the decision to join up, and the choice is yours.

1. Prosperity Health
e-mail, (04) 303322; 091 241 231; (04) 862265

e-mail, 091 499 485

3. MARS International Global
e-mail; (04) 790530, 790391/2, 791074; 091 264 431 fax

There is a fourth organisation in the process of being formed, which is
also very attractive. I will let you know as soon as they are ready for
business. In the meantime, keep safe and make a plan.


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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:

I have never commented regarding newspaper articles, however, I just have
to give my ten cents worth here. I refer to the Business Herald, dated the
15th July 2003.

"New Export Regulations Introduced."
Well, our Company has been dealing with the CD1 fiasco for the last 4
years, and the rules and regulations change per official, on a daily basis.
This whole concept of introducing CD1's for the export of flowers, fruit
and vegetables is a joke - right???

Our most recent experience, in June 2003 has been horrific, frustrating,
and mind boggling, and will possibly cost us a contract to earn foreign
currency, due to all the beaurocricy involved, and we are not dealing in
expendible products.

The system works as follows;

a) You submit an application to your bank to obtain CD1's, with a million
reasons/details as to why you should be entitled to obtain a CD1 form.

b) A Company signatory/representative has to personally sign for the CD1

c) These applications are then sent to the Reserve Bank, for approval,
which takes approximately 4 to 6 weeks to receive approval. However, after
that time span, a new ruling states that you now have to receive approval
from the Ministry of Industry and International Affairs, so the initial
application is returned to your bank.

d) Now you have to apply to the Ministry of Industry and International
Affairs, giving another million reasons as to why you think you deserve to
get approval for CD1's. (Rumour has it that the Minister has NOT approved
any applications for the past 5 months!) After 7 weeks of hitting serious
"brick walls"

(Personal experience) the ministry has to come and approve the "items" that
are listed on the CD1's, then a letter is required from the Zimbabwe High
Commission of the relevant Country, to state that this is not a bogus
operation, then it is up to the Minister to "consider" approval or not.

e) If by some miracle the approval is given, you have to return to your own
bank, they then re-submit it to the Reserve Bank, (don't forget - it takes
another 4-6 weeks to approve), then it is sent back to your bank.

f) From there it has to go to Customs, so they can do their little thing,
another approximate 2 weeks, and then you are A for Away!!!

g) If you are using a Clearing Agent, this takes some more days/weeks.

Sorry guys - for those who are dealing with flowers, fruit and veggies -
methinks these will all have expired/rotten, by the time clearances and
CD1's are authorised!! Unless "they" have a super new system of approval
for this particular category of items.

Who comes up with these bright ideas? All "they" are doing is overloading
the Ministry, the Reserve Bank, The Bank, Customs and Clearing Agents, who,
by the way, are "seriously" overloaded at present, without introducing more
petty rules. Are "they" seriously trying to pull the plug on the little bit
of forex that some Companies are earning?

Perhaps I am ignorant and have missed the plot here, but would welcome any
explanation/reasoning to this new introduction.



Letter 2:

Recent correspondence has seemingly sparked off interest in this award and
perhaps Meryl Harrison, of the Zimbabwe National SPCA would be a most
worthy and appropriate nominee for the Farming Oscar.  In this case it
would have to be awarded purely on the basis of her animal welfare work and
should clearly not prejudice any further animal welfare work Meryl would
need to undertake.

Meryl is absolutely dedicated to all animal welfare and if anyone deserves
this token of appreciation for her endeavours, she does.  There must be
many, grateful owners who are indebted to her for her courage and
determination in rescuing animals off their farms, who hopefully would
agree that she does deserve nomination for the Farming Oscar for the
amazing work she has done just on their behalf - Meryl doesn't farm, no,
but she has really stuck her neck more than most people would dream of,
trying to rescue those desperate, often terrified, starving and sometimes
brutalised, precious and valuable animals, that they were forced to leave
behind ...  and that takes guts, determination and hard work.  This,
latterly, is apart from the many years of dedicated service she has given
both in Harare and nationally for the welfare of every type and description
of animal - including a rather unpleasant incident when even trying to
rescue animal/s from a circus that was performing locally!



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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Zim Independent

Mugabe/Tsvangirai court battle set
Dumisani Muleya/Blessing Zulu
THE High Court has finally set down the hearing date of Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai's electoral challenge
against President Robert Mugabe's disputed election victory in March last
year after nearly 16 months of waiting.

MDC Secretary for Legal Affairs David Coltart yesterday said the start of
the petition hearing has been slated for November 3.

"The Registrar of the High Court has told us that Judge President
(Paddington) Garwe has advised that this is the earliest that he can make a
judge available," Coltart said.

"We are disappointed at this further delay of this very important matter but
we have reluctantly accepted the position because at least now a fixed date
for the hearing has been set. We trust that the court and the respondents
will not seek to delay the hearing of the matter any further."

The initial hearing will be for a consecutive period of five days and will
be devoted to what the MDC contends are "serious legal irregularities
perpetrated by the authorities before and during the presidential election".

This will be followed by proceedings on factual issues involved, including
acts of violence and fraudulent conduct of the poll.

"Prior to the hearing all parties have to comply with all the court
requirements so that the trial can go ahead on the date set," Coltart said.

"For instance, it is an essential and very important element of all court
trials that the parties involved must make full disclosure of the documents
which are in their possession relating to the issues involved."

So far Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa
and the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) have refused to make full

Mudede has even failed to bring the electoral materials to Harare as
stipulated under the Electoral Act. This is despite the fact that court
orders have been issued to Mudede and Chinamasa for them to comply with the

"This can only raise suspicion in the minds of all reasonable people that
they have things to hide," Coltart said.

Following the defiance of court orders by Mudede and Chinamasa, MDC lawyers
filed an application to have the two struck out as respondents leaving
Mugabe as the only defendant. The application was argued before Justice
Susan Mavangira on April 14, but judgement has not yet been delivered.

A court order was also issued against the ESC, which monitored the poll, to
force it to make proper and full disclosure of the documents in its
possession but the electoral agency defied it.

MDC attorneys reacted by filing another application to have the ESC's
defence struck out as well. However, on the day of the hearing, the ESC made
an application querying the contents of a previous order issued against it
in March. The case was argued before Justice Ann-Marie Gowora on June 6. A
ruling has also not yet been handed down.

In the meantime, the application to strike out the defence of the ESC, which
had been set down before Justice Rita Makarau, has been held in abeyance.

Mudede and Chinamasa recently further fuelled confusion by filing a court
application to be removed as respondents. Justice Antonia Guvava will hear
the case on July 29.

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Zim Independent

      DRC deals collapse
      Vincent Kahiya

      ZIMBABWE has abandoned its military-backed business operations in the
Democratic Republic of Congo amid allegations of continued underhand
dealings by army officers, it has been learnt.

      The Zimbabwe Defence Forces, through its company Operation Sovereign
Legitimacy (Osleg), went into a joint venture with a Congolese company
during the height of its military engagement in the Great Lakes to form
Cosleg. It was reported to be involved in the mining sector.

      This week Cosleg director-general Retired Brigadier Sibusiso Moyo said
his outfit was not involved in any commercial activity in the DRC.

      "There is no mining (by Cosleg) taking place there," said Moyo. "Since
our military withdrawal we are not involved in any military or economic

      "The only activities taking place are those covered by the MOU
(memorandum of understanding) like electricity, trade and investment."

      Asked about charges in United Nations reports that Zimbabwe had mining
interests in the DRC, Moyo said: "That's out. It's just people who do not
know what they are talking about. Zimbabwe was invited to assist the DRC
government to defend its sovereignty, that is all."

      Mines and Minerals Development minister Edward Chindori Chininga
yesterday said his ministry was not involved in any activity in the DRC.

      "As a ministry we do not have any direct involvement either through
ZMDC (Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation) or other institutions," he

      A UN Security Council resolution of January 24 noted with concern that
the plundering of the natural resources in the DRC was one of the main
elements fuelling the conflict in the region. The Security Council demanded
that all states concerned should take immediate steps to end the illegal

      The last UN-commissioned report on the plunder of DRC resources last
year named Cosleg as one of the companies involved in underhand dealings in
the minerals-rich country. The report names as Cosleg frontmen ZDF commander
General Vitalis Zvinavashe, Colonel Simpson Sikhulile Nyathi (director of
defence policy) and Defence minister Sidney Sekeramayi.

      Zimbabwe's Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa was also mentioned
in the report as the brains behind the Congo trade.

      The Security Council resolution stressed the importance of following
up the independent findings of the panel of investigators regarding the link
between the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the DRC and the
continuation of the conflict.

      Zimbabwe, through a DRC company known as Socebo, was also linked to a
logging concession the size of England. The government in 2000 also mooted
an ambitious agricultural project involving Arda - the Agricultural Rural
Development Authority. This has not taken off the ground.

      A source in the DRC this week said the ventures had "failed dismally
because Zimbabwe tried to do too many things without the requisite

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Zim Independent

Luxury vehicles chew up New Ziana restructuring budget
Itai Dzamara
THE New Ziana board has exhausted the organisation's budget for
restructuring through the purchase of luxury vehicles for the chief
executive officer and heads of department, investigations by the Zimbabwe
Independent have revealed.

Sources said the board spent $350 million on vehicles for the CEO and three
departmental heads. Each head of department has also been bought an office
fridge which cost a further $10 million.

The ambitious New Ziana project, launched by Information minister Jonathan
Moyo to establish an electronic division and revamp the national news agency
as well as Community Newspapers, was allocated $510 million last year.

The purchase of the vehicles and other luxuries for executives has not gone
down well with the workers who are paid between $30 000 and $40 000 a month.

A letter written to New Ziana chief executive officer Munyaradzi Matanyaire
by an accountant in Moyo's ministry, a Ms D Mukoroverwa dated November 22
reads: "New Ziana was allocated $510 million. The allocation includes
salaries, wages and allowances, operations as well as maintenance.

"The salaries, wages and allowances cover the full bid for the whole year
including any increases and or cost of living adjustment/s that may be
awarded. The grant will contribute significantly towards your organisation's
turnaround strategy."

The sources said the board purchased the latest model Nissan Hardbody for
Matanyaire worth over $100 million.

Each of the heads of the electronic, Community Newspapers and news agency
departments have been bought a Mazda B2200 double cab.

Matanyaire's vehicle is awaiting delivery from South Africa. A local dealer,
Nissan Clover Leaf Motors, obtains the latest brands from South Africa.

An official at Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries who refused to be
identified confirmed the purchase of the Mazda B2200 vehicles by New Ziana
at $43 million each.

A source within the New Ziana accounts department said: "We saw the $350
million budget for the purchase of vehicles including others to be purchased
for senior staffers in other departments."

Sources said that electronic division head Happison Muchechetere and Nyasha
Masiwa, the head of the Community Newspapers division, had already taken
possession of their vehicles.

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Zim Independent

Zimbabweans poorer than in 1985/1975
Shakeman Mugari
ZIMBABWEANS are now poorer than they were in 1975 despite President Robert
Mugabe's claims that his policies are designed to empower the disadvantaged,
a recent study by the United Nations say.

The UN Human Development Report reveals that Zimbabwe's standard of living
is now lower than it was 28 years ago at the height of the liberation war
when the country was under international sanctions.

Zimbabwe has seen its standing on the human development index (HDI) drop to
0,496 points in 2001, compared to 0,544 in 1975. The HDI was on 0,626 points
in 1985, the highest since Independence. But it dropped to 0,614 in 1990.

Zimbabwe's HDI ranks it 145th in the 2003 Human Development Report out of
175 nations. It is also one of the worst performers in the Human Poverty
Index (HPI), a multidimensional measure of poverty for developing countries.
The index takes into account survival and knowledge, social exclusion and
lack of economic means. Zimbabwe is ranked 90th out of 94 developing
countries with desert state Niger being ranked last.

The report says 52% of Zimbabweans live below the poverty datum line. Niger
also has the highest human poverty index (HPI) at 61,8%.

The report says life expectancy at birth in Zimbabwe is now estimated at 35
years for the period 2000 to 2005, as compared to 61 years in 1990.

Moreover, the country's HIV/Aids prevalence rate of 34% is one of the
highest in sub-Saharan Africa.

Analysts say the systematic destruction of the agricultural sector will have
compounded the sharp decline in living standards, providing even more
worrying statistics for the current period. Zimbabwe also has a poor
gender-related development index of 0,489, which is ranked among the worst
in the world.

The index measures a country's achievement in building capacity of women to
participate in economic, professional and political decision-making

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Zim Independent

Farmers call for devaluation, withhold tobacco
Blessing Zulu/Augustine Mukaro
TOBACCO farmers are withholding their crop from the auction floors to press
government to devalue the currency to improve earnings, the Zimbabwe
Independent heard this week.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Association marketing information executive Rodney Ambrose,
in an interview this week, said the government had reneged on its earlier
promise to periodically review the exchange rate.

"The government promised farmers that the exchange rate would be reviewed
after every three months," said Ambrose.

"The review should have been done in May and all along farmers were
delivering their crop to the auction floors in good faith. This review has
not taken place and deliveries to the auction floors have declined," said

Deliveries of tobacco to the auction floors have fallen from an average of
one million kg daily last year to around 700 000-800 000 kg this year.

Ambrose said farmers, faced with rising production costs, were pressing the
government for a devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar to ensure viability.
Tobacco was the country's biggest foreign currency earner before the start
of farm invasions in 2000.

"Farmers are not happy with the exchange rate of $824 to the US dollar and
want this increased to about $1 600," Ambrose said.

"Inflation has pushed up production costs and most farmers obtained their
inputs on the parallel market at exchange rates of up to $2 500 to the US

The Air Cured Tobacco Association (ACTA) is expected at its 33rd annual
congress starting today to urge government to review the tobacco exchange
rate to cushion farmers against spiralling costs of production.

ACTA chief executive David Slack confirmed that tobacco deliveries to
auction floors were at record lows for a range of reasons which included
producers holding back their crop.

"We are very slim on crop receiving," Slack said. "Low deliveries have been
attributed to transport and fuel problems but we can't rule out the need for

"Last year the same thing happened and deliveries only improved after
government introduced the producers' support scheme which put the tobacco
exchange rate at US$1: $199 rate."

Ambrose said the government, which was forced by farmers and mining
companies to devalue the dollar from $55 to the current exchange rate of
$824 to the greenback less than a year ago, was unlikely to give in to fresh
demands for devaluation.

He said farmers were hoping the authorities could be persuaded to agree to a
subsidy if talks on devaluation failed.

Tobacco is Zimbabwe's biggest export and this year the country expects to
sell an estimated 85 million kg.

Meanwhile, tobacco prices on the country's auction floors are firming due to
increased international demand and good quality.

Tobacco Industry Marketing Board general manager Stanley Mutepfa said prices
had firmed from US$1,90 per kg last week to US$2,35 a kg this week.

Zimbabwe is the world's third biggest tobacco producer after Brazil and
China, but output is dropping after most commercial farmers were driven off
their farms by the government.

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RBZ probes allocation of agribond funds
Blessing Zulu
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is investigating all companies that accessed
money raised through agribonds last year to kick-start the agricultural
sector adversely affected by the land reform exercise.

FSI Agricom Holdings (Ltd) group managing director, Ivan Savala, confirmed
the investigations which he said were not focused only on his company but
covered all beneficiaries.

"We are not aware of specific investigations into FSI Agricom Holdings (Pvt)
Ltd save for the general investigation into the agribonds," said Savala.

"If you need details of any purported investigations then you are advised to
approach the RBZ," he said.

The government raised about $7,2 billion through agribonds to finance
newly-resettled farmers. The agribonds were meant to raise $60 billion but
failed because of uncertainty in the agriculture sector and lack of
government guarantees.

The money was being managed by Syfrets Bank and 15 other financial

The move by the RBZ followed concerns raised by President Robert Mugabe to
his supporters at Esidakeni Farm in Umguza on June 19 when he said FSI
Agricom gobbled up about $4 billion from the fund, leaving most of the
intended beneficiaries stranded.

Savala said FSI Agricom supported 29 964 farmers with the funds but refused
to disclose the names of the beneficiaries.

"FSI Agricom, being a private company, is bound by usual client
confidentiality and will not go about publicising individual client
information," said Savala.

Savala said FSI Agricom's out-grower model was based on criteria that have
to do with the ability to produce the crops under consideration.

"It is not based on the status of the applicant or political-party
affiliation, tribe or any such unproductive criteria," Savala said.

The Zimbabwe Independent revealed in April that Philip Chiyangwa, who was
allocated Old Citrus Farm, and Enos Chikowore who got Gombera Ranch in
Mashonaland West, were leasing them to FSI Agricom.

FSI Agricom also confirmed that it had entered contractual agreements with
over 630 A2 farmers to operate their farms.

The RBZ did not respond to questions that were faxed two weeks ago
concerning the investigations

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Zim Independent

Harare Agricultural Show turned into flea-market
Itai Dzamara
THE absence of major players in the industrial and farming sectors is set to
cause a further decline in standards at this year's Harare Agricultural
Show. With only a month to go, the Zimbabwe Independent has gathered that
big business has once again turned its back on the exhibition.

It is also likely that there will be no international exhibitors at the 93rd
edition of the show.

The animals section will be devoid of any activity due to the absence of
cattle and pigs. Animals have been absent from the show for the past two
years as a result of the destruction of the livestock industry by the
government's land reform programme.

Zimbabwe Agricultural Society office manager Robin Taylor confirmed the
absence of cattle at this year's event.

"The show will be from Monday, August 25 to Saturday, August 30," Taylor
said. "A total of 380 exhibitors have booked stands to date. We expect some
500 stand holders. There won't be cattle this year."

Last year 374 exhibitors were at the event, up slightly from 345 the
previous year. In the years before the damaging agrarian reform programme,
the show used to record an average of 600 exhibitors, mainly large companies
and foreign firms.

Sources involved in the planning of the event revealed that small indigenous
entrepreneurs would dominate this year's event as was the case last year.
Out of the 374 exhibitors at last year's show, more than 50% were
flea-market traders as well as food vendors.

Only two international exhibitors attended the show last year: from Iran and

Independent economist John Robertson predicted gloom at the Exhibition Park
next month.

"There is very little to show," said Robertson. "Without livestock, and with
the manufacturing industry recording a further decline, there will be very
few exhibitors. At the same time the cost of running the show will be very
high. The situation will be gloomy," he said.

MDC agriculture spokesman Renson Gasela said the show would be a non-event.

"The situation does not present a conducive atmosphere for the staging of a
successful show," said Gasela. "Every sector of the economy, particularly
commercial farming and manufacturing, has collapsed. This year's edition
will decline in standards from the previous one."

Many players in industry and commerce have either scaled down operations or
virtually closed because of the economic shrinkage. The acute shortage of
foreign currency and price controls saw the closure of more than 400
companies last year.

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Zim Independent

      Leo Mugabe's supporters in post-poll assault
      Dumisani Muleya/Charlene Ambali

      ANGRY supporters of President Robert Mugabe's nephew Leo Mugabe
severely assaulted a rival candidate's campaign manager following Zanu PF's
primary polls for the forthcoming Makonde by-election in Chinhoyi last week.

      Zanu PF sources said Leo Mugabe's supporters - who apparently included
his sons - ganged up to attack Virginia Katyamaedza, a Zanu PF central
committee member, for allegedly switching her loyalty in the middle of the
campaign from the former Zimbabwe Football Association chair to his rival,
Artwell Seremane.

      The sources said Mugabe had given Katyamaedza - who is his mother's
younger sister - a cellular phone and money at the beginning of the campaign
for her to drum up support for him but she later abandoned him.

      The sources said this angered Mugabe after his defeat by Kindness
Paradza, the eventual winner of the heated primary race, and precipitated
the attack.

      "Leo was angered by Katyamenza's shift of support to Seremane and he
dispatched his supporters to recover the cellphone he had given her," a
source said.

      "But she refused to return the phone, saying a lot of other people had
been bribed and Leo's supporters brutally assaulted her. She was taken in an
ambulance to the police where the assailants were later fined."

      Sources said Katyamaedza was also fined because she attacked her
assailants in retaliation in front of the police. The poll was marred by
serious electoral irregularities such as bribery, treating and coercion, it
is claimed.

      "It was one of the most fraudulent elections that I have ever seen," a
senior Zanu PF official said. "You can't even get angry but just laugh about
it. Most of the votes were manufactured in hotels. It was blatant rigging
and corruption. In Chigari district for example, 26 people voted but the
votes during counting ended up being 114 when only 105 people were entitled
to vote."

      Sources said voters were made to write down their names and indicate
who they had voted for. "The-re was no secret ballot. It was
unconstitutional and worse than the old system of queuing behind your
candidate," a source said.

      Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chair Philip Chiyangwa confirmed
the clashes but could not give details, saying the issue was under

      "I can confirm the incident happened but it would be inappropriate for
me as chairman of the province to comment on a matter which is currently
under investigation," he said. "Mrs Katyamaedza phoned me about it and I now
have evidence that the people who attacked her had been fined by the

      Chiyangwa said the matter was now being handled by the provincial
disciplinary chair John Mafa who is also his deputy.

      "I'm also informed senior party members were paid money to facilitate
the election of certain candidates and that is also under investigation,"
Chiyangwa said. "The matter will certainly be dealt with."

      Contacted for comment Leo Mugabe said he had heard about the incident
but denied accusations that his sons and campaign manager Robert Sikhanyika
were involved in the attack.

      Paradza, former Financial Gazette journalist-turned-politician, romped
to victory with 883 votes. Mugabe won 435 votes, Seremane 273, Douglas
Mombeshora, the brother of late Makonde MP Swithun Mombeshora, 41, while
another candidate, Lahliwe Murefu, garnered only 14.

      Paradza was apparently backed by Chiyangwa, Mugabe was supported by
his mother and MP for Zvimba North, Sabina, while Murefu was supported by
Zanu PF heavyweight and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and deputy
Speaker of Parliament Edna Madzongwe.

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Zim Independent

Govt's winter maize project in disarray
Augustine Mukaro
GOVERNMENT'S ambitious winter maize project has been thrown into disarray
after Hippo Valley and Triangle Ltd refused to participate, the Zimbabwe
Independent heard this week.

Experts last year said the hugely publicised experiment was a waste of
resources and bound to fail.

Masvingo provincial administrator Alfonse Chikurira confirmed that the
government project has been stalled.

"The two companies retained their land," Chikurira said. "Government had to
turn to the Nuanetsi land where we have planted 160 hectares at the moment
and land preparation is still going on."

Anglo American Corporation spokesman Ezra Kanganga said Hippo Valley, an
Anglo subsidiary, had no arrangements to spare any land for government's
winter maize project.

"The winter maize which is being grown at Hippo Valley Estates is to
supplement the food requirements of employees of companies in the Anglo
American Group and their families," said Kanganga.

Triangle Ltd had not responded to written questions from the Independent by

Hippo Valley and Triangle Ltd, two multinational companies growing sugarcane
in the Lowveld, have reutilised the land used to produce the crop last year.

Last year the two companies were forced to grow about 1 600ha of maize on
their sugar cane lands. The total yield of this crop, which reportedly
averaged 2,7 tonnes a hectare under irrigation, was far lower than the
predicted five tonnes a hectare.

It was reported last year that the two companies donated scarce inputs such
as fertiliser, fuel and power to produce the maize crop which was only
enough to feed the nation for a day.

Government ended up producing only 6 000 tonnes from the 1 600 hectares
instead of the minimum 18 000 tonnes it had hoped for.

Last year the government took Zambian president Levi Mwanawasa to the
south-eastern Lowveld to show-off the winter maize crop.

Sources said government has not yet recorded tangible progress on the
Nuanetsi irrigation project, also mooted last year.

Under the project, government has contracted a Chinese company, China
International Water and Electric Corporation, to develop 100 000 hectares of
land in a deal it says will lead to Zimbabwe being restored as southern
Africa's breadbasket.

So far only 260 hectares have been cleared of which 160 hectares are ready
for planting.

The success of the project however depends on the completion of the Tokwe
Mukosi Dam whose completion has been deferred as government does not have
money to pay the contractors.

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Zim Independent

Midzi steps up bid for fuel deal
Dumisani Muleya
GOVERNMENT has stepped up efforts to seal a joint-venture deal with Libya's
Tamoil Trading Ltd in a bid to end the four-year fuel crisis.

Official sources said yesterday that Energy and Power minister Amos Midzi
was pushing the Libyans to agree a deal that has been on the cards since
last year.

The Libyans have been in the country for the past three weeks to pursue the
establishment of a joint fuel concern to be named Tamoil-Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd.
The company would be a 50:50 partnership between Tamoil and the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim).

The visit to Zimbabwe by the Libyans followed President Robert Mugabe's
recent trip to Tripoli where he held talks with Muammar Gaddafi over the
fuel crisis. After Mugabe's visit, officials claimed fuel would be coming
"as soon as possible". But shortages have persisted.

Midzi said yesterday negotiations over the deal were still going on.

"Negotiations on the formation of Tamoil-Zimbabwe are still on," he said. "I
don't think it would be fair for me at this time to release any information
on that. But you will get to know very soon."

However, Midzi told parliament last November that Noczim had already entered
a deal with Tamoil.

"I would like to take this opportunity to advise the House that Noczim has
entered a joint partnership, 50:50 with Tamoil to establish Tamoil-Zimbabwe
(Pvt) Ltd," he said.

"This company is to be involved in wholesale procurement and distribution of
fuel to retail outlets which will carry the Tamoil brand."

Midzi confirmed at the time that Noczim would advance state assets as part
of capital outlay in the deal.

"As part of its contribution Noczim will put forward some of its existing
assets such as storage tanks. The proposed arrangement is not different from
the joint venture that existed between Noczim and Total Zimbabwe."

The deadlock over the sale of strategic state assets to the Libyans is at
the centre of the current negotiations. The Libyans want to buy the fuel
pipeline between Mutare and Harare that supplies fuel that comes through
Beira in Mozambique. They also want to acquire storage tanks in Msasa.

The Libyans want to achieve this by buying Noczim's 50% equity in Petrozim,
which is jointly owned by the heavily-indebted parastatal and Lonrho.
Petrozim owns the assets in question.

The Libyans also want to acquire government's 51% stake in the Oil Blending
Enterprises Ltd (Obel), which is a joint venture between government and
Total. Obel is a crucial supplier of lubricants. Government has already sold
the country's major storage tanks in Beitbridge.

Fuel industry sources said government was contemplating compulsory
acquisition of BP/Shell assets in Harare and Gweru - which are also large
facilities - to dispose of them to the Libyans who want to establish a
stranglehold on the market by becoming the major supplier, wholesaler and
retailer of fuel.

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Zim Independent

Brain drain gives Murerwa headache
Ngoni Chanakira
THE Minister of Finance and Economic Development Herbert Murerwa has blamed
the ongoing brain drain in government for the continuous failure to
implement various policies timely.

"There are delays in project implementation and we are the first to admit
this," Murerwa told business executives gathered for the African Capacity
Building Foundation (ACBF) workshop on project financial management on

The workshop was attended by more than 200 project directors and finance
managers of ACBF-supported projects in Anglophone Africa.

"Zimbabwe is faced with implementation problems because there is a huge and
serious staff turnover in government at the present moment," Murerwa said.

Zimbabweans are resigning from the civil service to venture abroad to
countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, South Africa and
Australia. These nations have stronger currencies when compared to the
Zimbabwe dollar now said to be worth only two cents its 1995 level due to

The currency continues to depreciate weekly, sending black market rates
soaring in cities and towns.

Murerwa said because of the staff turnover, projects remained incomplete,
riling donors.

He said this could be a major reason why some donors had developed a
negative attitude towards funding projects in Zimbabwe because there were no

"In Zimbabwe there is a mixed response to implementation of projects,"
Murerwa said. "There are delays in enforcing agreements and long discussions
on the clarity of some grant conditions. The planning and monitoring staff
are constantly changing jobs leading to confusion because the Finance
ministry, which implements these decisions, receives incomplete
documentation. Sometimes documents just go missing."

He said the Zimbabwean civil service was "very mobile" because of its good
educational qualifications.

"There is sometimes oversight on planning stages and delays in entry into
force of agreements. These appear to be emanating from failure to
effectively discuss clarity."

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Zim Independent

Little expected from journalists' visit
Ndamu Sandu
ANALYSTS say inviting Russian journalists to tour Zimbabwean resort areas
will not change the country's present negative image.

They say the prevailing political and economic climate is not conducive to
recovery and, as such, would not lure tourism revenue into Zimbabwe.

Last week six journalists arrived in the country for a tour of various
resort areas.

After the tour the group, which is in Zimbabwe at the invitation of the
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA), will produce a documentary to be broadcast
on Russian television.

ZTA marketing and communications director Givemore Chidzidzi said the
tourism promotion body was coordinating the programme.

"Air Zimbabwe is chipping in with air fares, hotels with accommodation and
tour operators with transport," he said.

Chidzidzi said the arrival of the journalists was part of an on-going
dialogue between Zimbabwe and Russia.

Last year print journalists from Russia were in the country on a similar

Economist John Robertson while lauding ZTA efforts, said the marketing
thrust should have targeted richer nations.

"Although there are some rich people in Russia, our thrust should have been
around the wealthy markets such as the European and North American markets,"
he said.

He said if the thrust was on wealthy nations, the industry would witness
more tourist inflows.

Robertson said more work needed to be done including tidying up the customs
department and creating a tourism-friendly environment.

He said there was still a long way to go before the tourism industry

Last month a delegation from the American Travel Bureau (ATB) lambasted
ZTA's marketing strategy saying it was too shallow to attract international

ATB, an American travel agency that helps establish relationships between
travel, business and tourism industry, said there was need for a complete
overhaul of the marketing strategies for the Zimbabwean tourism industry.

"We have had an exceptional experience on fabulous locations," ATB's sales
and marketing vice president Ray Gary told reporters after the tour.

"But the biggest impact above everything else was the people. Those who have
never been here before do not understand what Zimbabwe is."

The slump in tourist arrivals has impacted negatively on tourism revenue.

Receipts from the industry tumbled to US$75,7 million in 2002 from an all

time high of US$201,6 million in 1999.

According to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), directly and
indirectly the travel and tourism industry constitutes 11% of global gross
domestic product (GDP) (US$3,575 billion) and accounted for 8% of worldwide

It estimated that by 2010, the travel and tourism economy's contribution is
estimated to grow to 11,6% (US$6,591 billion) of global GDP.

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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

Watching the ball
Iden Wetherell
ARE you a bit confused by statements emanating from Pretoria last week? If
so, join the club. President Thabo Mbeki was reported to have assured his
American counterpart George Bush during his visit to the region last week
that Robert Mugabe was on his way. Out that is!

Well, we have heard all this before, you may well say. Indeed we have. And
let's not forget that Mbeki assured Britain's Tony Blair at their Chequers
talks early last year that legislation offensive to democratic norms such as
Posa and Aippa would be revoked. Mbeki repeated these assurances later in
the year when addressing a local audience.

None of that happened. Instead, the roll-call of those arrested grew.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said there was no question of repealing
Posa so long as it represented such a handy weapon for dealing with the MDC.

But none of this deterred the intrepid South African leader. He seemed to
know better. He told the World Economic Forum in Durban last month that the
Zimbabwe crisis would be resolved within a year.

Why should we believe him?

Because this time, we gather, he stands on firmer ground. Mugabe has finally
understood the need to remove the single biggest obstacle to a resolution of
the rapidly-deteriorating Zimbabwe crisis - himself.

He may go as early as December, we have been told by negotiators.

Whether he does or not remains to be seen. But the South Africans believe
they have an unambiguous commitment to "leadership renewal" in Harare. We
just wish they would share it with us! But there are some grounds for

Bush is not likely to have swallowed hook, line and sinker assurances from
Mbeki unless they were backed by his own assessment of the situation in
Harare. He will have been glad to have Mbeki's undertaking. Now he can say
publicly that the South Africans have all this in hand. Mbeki, as Bush's
"point man", will be accountable to the US for whatever progress is - or
isn't - made on the Zimbabwe issue.

This places Mbeki on the spot. It is the price he will pay for Washington's
temporarily lowered voice. But it is a heavy responsibility. He will
actually have to deliver on what he has promised. That's the hard bit.

Mugabe may indeed have agreed to go. Which may take the heat off Olusegun
Obasanjo at the Abuja Chogm in December and even allow Mbeki a Mugabe-free
South African parliamentary poll in April or June. But Zimbabwe's political
problems will be only just beginning.

Mugabe cannot foist his favoured successor on an unwilling party. What is
currently a carefully orchestrated debate is likely to become a messy fight
when the gloves come off. And if he wants any constitutional changes to
smooth the process, that will mean securing the cooperation of the MDC,
something that clearly sticks in the president's throat.

The MDC have a few constitutional changes of their own in mind. They are
unlikely to consent to participation in an election as flawed as the last.
So just when we thought one roadblock had been removed, others will appear.

The Americans will not remain muted for long. Bush's comments in Botswana
suggest they will remain focused on the governance issue. Colin Powell's
article in the New York Times remains the policy template whatever his
detractors may hope.

Mbeki has bought himself at best a couple of months of peace and quiet. But
his assurances to Bush are being kept on the front burner. This isn't going
to go away until Mugabe fulfils his undertaking to Mbeki. That is the ball
we are all watching.

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Zim Independent

Let’s identify and slay inflation monster
“IT is the single most insidious threat facing Zimbabwe today.” That
description of inflation in last week’s edition of this newspaper may invite
other challengers, most notably from the head of state whose damaging
policies have spawned it.

But inflation — this week topping 364,5% — is steadily eroding the fabric of
society in a way other threats find harder to do. It is eating into incomes,
gnawing away at savings, inhibiting domestic investment, promoting
speculation on the property market, and making it impossible for many
companies to do business.

“Inflation has become an inter-active process — self-perpetuating and
generating a perilous momentum of its own,” Finance minister Herbert Murerwa
said last year in his budget speech.

He should know. Government’s appetite for funds, its penchant for borrowing
and spending, and now its printing of money are the chief causes of the
disease. And, as Murerwa pointed out, when economic agents expect the
problem to persist, implicit indexation and discretionary pricing become
inevitable. This in turn pours fuel on the fire. The current programme of
money-printing will result in the injection of $24 billion into the economy
at precisely the moment government should be curbing money supply.

Budget deficits are both a symptom and a cause of the current crisis. As
government departments exhaust their allocations, the minister will need to
return to parliament for fresh funds. Borrowing to cover expanding deficits
will in turn add momentum to a process already out of control.

The official rate may be 364,5%. But the real rate is nearer 400% and
heading north. It is likely to hit 500% by year-end — probably a good deal
sooner. We will soon be at South American levels in the 1970s and 80s.

Brazil and Argentina tamed the beast, as Germany did in the 1920s, by
treating it as the nation’s number one enemy and introducing fiscal measures
that addressed the problem at source.

Zimbabwe’s authorities have no intention of doing anything so drastic. It is
doubtful if, apart from Murerwa’s musings, they even recognise the problem.
Every single economic plan introduced to establish order in fiscal relations
over the past 13 years has been sabotaged by an incontinent leadership for
whom planning of any sort is anathema.

Esap, which many like to pretend failed because it made unreasonable demands
on society, was in reality derailed by spending patterns that continued to
favour bloated parastatals and the military. Subsequent plans went the same
way. The decision by President Mugabe in 1997 to squander over $4 billion on
propitiating insurrectionary war veterans was just one disastrous decision
in a long line. The intervention in the Congo was another.

We are today reaping the consequences of populist decision-making and a
cabinet answerable to an economically illiterate politburo. The chief
victims are the populace — in fact anybody except the political plutocrats
or those with access to forex. Those with a little savings or on fixed
incomes have been ruined. People who spent their whole lives being careful
with money have seen the quality of their lives deteriorate dramatically.
For those on low incomes and the unemployed, survival is the only concern.

That is the sovereignty ministers garrulously speak of. Zimbabwe is today a
classic example of a society pauperised by what President Bush last week
correctly described as rank bad governance. It is a striking example of how
a government claiming to promote the welfare of the disadvantaged has
devastated their prospects by engaging in poisonous demagoguery accompanied
by ignorant economic policies.

Mugabe is singularly responsible for the fate Zimbabwe now faces. He was
advised by a series of able Finance ministers including the current
incumbent to adhere to policies that were friendly to investment and job
generation. Instead he chose to regard any recovery plan as an attempt to
thwart his exercise of power, even attacking decisions made by his own
cabinet as if he was not party to them.

We now have a species of inflation called stagflation because it is
accompanied by declining economic activity. Nobody wants to invest in a
lawless state where the leadership is actually blocking recovery. Instead of
expanding, companies are cutting back operations in a hostile business

Business organisations have been supine in the face of this devastation. One
could almost be forgiven for thinking their elected spokesmen had been
bought off. What are needed are robust spokespersons for the business
community who are prepared to point out flawed policies instead of doing the
soft-shoe shuffle at State House or on the useless National Economic
Consultative Forum.

With the fastest shrinking GDP on the continent, the country is literally
dying. Business leaders must stop pretending quiet diplomacy is the answer.
In the middle of a fuel crisis the government is threatening to confiscate
jerrycans when no such law entitles them to; it wants to withdraw “operating
licences” from what it sees as MDC-aligned companies when no such licence
exists; and it is fuelling inflation by continuing to borrow to cover its
yawning deficit, at the same time crowding out private-sector borrowers.

What has Emcoz, the CZI or ZNCC said on these issues? Interest rates may be
rising again. But the populist decision to hold them down in 2001 and to
maintain them well below inflation has battered savings and done much to
foster a criminal economy.

While we understandably focus on political problems, it is necessary to
identify the inflation monster and insist on policies that address the
consequent crisis rather than accepting it as a way of life.

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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch

Trumpet-blowing not fooling us all
 FOR a prolonged period of time following upon government embarking upon its
ill-conceived, counter-productive, and highly destructive Land Reform
Programme, the Ministry of Information and Publicity (sic) concentrated most
of its propaganda endeavours on the theme: “The land is our economy, the
economy is our land”. Although many are aware that Zimbabwe does not have a
mono-economy, but a diversified one which, in addition to agriculture,
includes mining, tourism, manufacturing, distributive trades and a
meaningful services sector, nevertheless the theme will have been relevant
(prior to that Land Reform Programme), for agriculture was the undoubted
foundation of the economy.

However, with the launch of the programme in a dictatorial, abrasive,
non-collaborative manner, with contempt for economic fundamentals,
agricultural operating realities, justice and equity, needs for skills and
other resources, the theme rapidly lost any relevance. The economy sank into
deep decline, for the principal economic sector had been severely crippled
by the state and was unable to maintain its contribution to Gross Domestic
Product (GDP). The decreasing inflow from agriculture to GDP, coupled with
the concomitant near-total loss of business confidence and consequential
almost total cessation of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), rapidly brought
the economy to its knees.

Government’s revenue flows fell sharply (without any matching reduction in
its spendings!), forcing it to resort to even more massive borrowings than
previously, and a resulting upsurge in its indebtedness, the national debt
rising to billions of dollars and to levels which cannot be serviced.

Zimbabwe became a defaulter with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and
the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (otherwise known
as the World Bank), thereby cutting it off from further support and wholly
destroying its credit rating world-wide (even Zimbabwe’s political friends
such as Libya and Malaysia have become extraordinarily reluctant to provide
Zimbabwe with lines of credit, be they for essential products such as fuel,
or otherwise). Zimbabwe’s economy collapsed in a very few years to such a
gargantuan extent as has reduced Zimbabwe to bankruptcy.

Hand-in-hand with the characteristic of virtual insolvency, the emaciation
of the economy as a direct result of the appallingly implemented Land Reform
Programme, is evidenced by a continuing state of hyperinflation (with
annualised real inflation substantially exceeding 300%, a gross
insufficiency of the foreign exchange required to fund essential imports,
debt servicing and other needs, unemployment in excess of 70%, approximately
three-quarters of the population suffering at levels below the poverty datum
line, and hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans severely under-nourished and
on the precipice of death occasioned by malnutrition (and by a collapse of
the health-care services).

Despite Zimbabwe’s propaganda ministry expending hundreds of millions of
dollars (that Zimbabwe could not afford) on endless radio, television, press
and billboard advertisements pronouncing that “the land is the economy, the
economy is the land”, with dismally unconvincing scenarios verging upon the
ludicrous, the advertising increasingly lost conviction as the populace
witnessed that the contrary is the case. The only extent to which there was
any validity in the contentions of the advertising was that as the land was
abused more and more, with consequential inevitable lowering of agricultural
production, so the economy shrunk in tandem to the agricultural demise.
Thus, there was substance in the claim of the reciprocal relationship of the
land and the economy, but not as the ministry had desperately wished to

Eventually even the obdurate minister of Fiction, Fable and Myth must have
realised that the propaganda campaign was not succeeding. Zimbabweans are
not so gullible as to believe that their stomachs are full when they are
actually empty. They are not so naïve as to believe that there is a wealth
of agricultural production nation-wide when they see almost nothing but
barren fields, and they are not so myopic as to be unable to distinguish
fact from fiction. So the ministry clearly recognised, even if very
belatedly, that it needed to change its advertising campaign. And it did so
with great ingenuity: it substituted the word “prosperity” for “economy”,
prepared new, if equally sickening jingles to assault the ears of
radio-listeners, and filmed new scenes of allegedly fertile fields with
joyous masses dancing vigorously in rejoicing at the imminent harvest of a
bountiful crop.

But Zimbabwe’s populace once again could not be hoodwinked. The people of
Zimbabwe know when they are unable to buy maize meal, and when bread is
excruciatingly scarce because of an insufficiency of wheat. They know when
they have to queue for days to buy sugar that there must be a shortage of
that commodity. They are fully aware when the prices of beef and poultry
accelerate exponentially that contrary to living in prosperity they are
being reduced to ever-greater poverty. Zimbabweans know when they and their
children are hungry, when they cannot obtain employment, are unable to pay
the school fees due for their children’s education, and have to walk because
they cannot afford public transport. When people are reduced to endless
destitution, are continuously suffering the consequences of extreme
privation, and whose misery is of a magnitude that they can think only of
their poverty, they cease to be deceived by advertising campaigns and
propaganda promotions such as those currently insidiously but unsuccessfully
pursued by government.

And yet, there is no doubt that Zimbabwe’s land could be the base for its
prosperity. It is land that could yield two million tonnes or more of maize
per annum, sufficient to feed not only the entire nation, but also to enable
exports to help feed the hungry in neighbouring states, while generating
needed foreign exchange. It is land that can produce more than 230 million,
most valuable, kilogrammes of tobacco, instead of less than 70 million
kilogrammes as has been the case this year. It is land that can readily
support a national herd at least four times that to which it has been
reduced in a very few years. It is a land which has provided employment for
more than 300 000 and thereby a livelihood for more than 1 500 000, and yet
it is now a land which sustains very few.

On a drive last week towards Kariba through the previously rich agricultural
belt of Banket, Chinoyi Lions Den and Karoi, all that I could see were
thousands of hectares of fallow land, with less than 30 hectares under
cultivation (being of winter wheat near Lions Den). In previous years anyone
driving that route could witness great expanses of winter wheat fields of
luscious green, and much activity in the refurbishing of tobacco barns in
readiness for the next season — but that was clearly no longer so.

Few will deny that Zimbabwe greatly needed a programme of land reform. But
it needed one which would be positive, introducing new farmers to the land
without displacing the old, able to enhance the economy and not destroy it,
and which would address the aspirations of those who genuinely wished to
farm and were able to do so, without destroying the very foundations of the
economy. Instead, it resorted to one driven only by politics, nepotism and
avarice, and doomed to failure from inception. It disregarded all
well-intended advices of the farming community of old, and of the
international community. It obdurately pursued the programme with absolute
dismissal of all evidence of its failure. And it did so in a manner devoid
of credibility and characterised by duplicity. It said that all, black or
white, were entitled to one farm, but deprived thousands of the only farms
they had. It said that the programme of land acquisition was completed last
August, but it continues to acquire farms on an ongoing basis (in the last
fortnight alone at least 25 more farmers were deprived of their farms).

All the trumpet-blowing of government in general, and its Ministry of
Information and Publicity in particular, cannot continuously pull the wool
over the eyes of the Zimbabwean people. Their poverty presents them with the
facts, which the massive spending by the ministry of funds, which could be
very much more constructively used (and not to support football teams!),
does not.
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Zim Independent


Bush-man Tony, singing Stan, & Talent-less Taffy

A NUMBER of readers have commented on our front-page picture last week of
President Bush greeting San (Bushman) entertainers on his arrival in
Botswana during his recent African tour. They had thought Tony Blair was a
Bush-man because newspapers keep saying so. He doesn’t look anything like
the person in the photo, one reader pointed out.

That’s because there are different kinds of Bushmen: those in Botswana and
those at Westminster. Stan Mudenge, for instance, thinks the one at
Westminster is a cross-dresser. He accuses him of entrancing King George
Herod with his dancing skills.

Asked what he most wanted by way of reward, Salome Blair is reported to have
said: “Robert the Baptist’s head.”

Sadly, that’s where the parable ends. “Robert Mugabe is not John the
Baptist,” Mudenge pointed out to spell-bound Herald reporters covering the
AU summit in Maputo.

He may not be. But both lost their heads at some point!

Mudenge used to be quite well respected as an academic. But he is better as
a cabaret artiste singing for his supper. His script, alas, was not his own.
The Foreign ministry is run from the Office of the President. And like all
other eunuchs at Sultan Bob’s court, Stan has to entertain from time to
time. It’s a sad fate for one who used to be able to think for himself. But
that’s the way things are now.

The Zanu PF supporters who embarrassed Cosatu and the South African
Communist Party by piggy-backing on their anti-Bush demo in Pretoria last
Wednesday were hardly spontaneous performers either. Their presence in South
Africa and their slogans were orchestrated by the same conductor who sent
down a hired mob for the Earth Summit last August.

The South African government commendably tolerates these intrusions. But can
you imagine the Zimbabwe authorities permitting a contingent of South
Africans, sponsored by their government, to come here to demonstrate outside
State House against a guest of President Mugabe?

The conductor can also occasionally be a song-writer. We are keenly awaiting
the sequel to Go Warriors. It’s intriguing that at a time when the rest of
the country is hoping the author of their misery might go, somebody writes a
song about footballers going somewhere. Is there not some mistake here?

The Herald ran a funny editorial this week on how there had been a turning
of the tide in favour of President Mugabe; how he had been “vindicated”. The
evidence for this remarkable achievement? The way the “entire country” had
rallied behind the government’s call to support the national soccer team.

Have Mugabe’s spin doctors been reduced to this? And have you noticed that
any mention of Mugabe’s impending departure excites among his courtiers the
most hysterical response? It’s as if you had pushed a certain button marked
“ballistic”. Look for it in Nathaniel Manheru’s “The Losing Side” column
every week or watch Jonathan Moyo on ZTV. Suddenly he is flattering Thabo
Mbeki. No guesses why!

We did like the Sunday Mail heading about the “fresh” $100 million “scam”.
Did we miss the story on the first one? Was it about a massive abuse of
public resources by unaccountable ministers?

Nobody could have missed what must rank as the biggest rant of all time,
even exceeding those associated with the regime’s chief spokesman last

Noting President Bush’s visit to our region, the “Rev” O Musindo, who heads
something called the Destiny of Africa, claimed in the Sunday Mail’s letters
column that the US leader was here “not for the good of African people but
for multi-evil imperial purposes”.

These included “secret satanic organisations” and “evil hidden agendas” that
were designed to “physiologically prepare the black people of Africa to
surrender their political, economic and cultural rights”.

Musindo said his outfit condemned “religious, media, political and civic
leaders who are busy fulfilling the above evil objectives of the world
dictator, world chief thief, world number one murderer, world big human
rights abuser, big racist, unelected court-appointed president, world peace
destroyer, international criminal liar — the true earthly representative of
the Anti-Christ and the devil on earth”.

On the same day this tirade appeared, Tafataona Mahoso was complaining in
the Standard in his capacity as “executive chairman” of the Media and
Information Commission about the paper’s “Hot Gossiper” column.

He claimed “many people” had called the commission to say the column
contained “well-calculated political hatred disguised as humour and rumour”.

If the Standard had evidence about the people referred to in its column, it
should publish proper news stories without the disguise of anonymity, Mahoso

“The subjects should be named, the sources should be named, and the writer
too should have a full byline,” he ruled.

If the “Hot Gossiper” didn’t stop, the commission would use its “mandate”
under Aippa to take legal action against the Standard, he threatened.

What an old hypocrite he is. Why does he say nothing about the
“well-calculated political hatred” spewed weekly by columnists going under
pseudonyms in the government press? And what has he got to say about the
“Rev” Musindo’s scurrilous letter in the same paper to which he is a

What we would like to know is who the complainants were. Mahoso said he had
received “several” telephone calls. If he insists upon disclosure of names
in the “Hot Gossiper” column, why does he not give us the names of his
complainants so we can ensure they are not linked to government officials?

After all, one of his chief beefs is that the “Hot Gossiper” referred to
“the president’s minor children”. This was contrary to international norms,
we were told.

As many people suspect that the media commission is forbidden to examine the
ethics of the state media but is solely targeted at the private media and,
more specifically, is designed to protect President Mugabe, his family and
minions from the public scrutiny they deserve according to “international
norms”, we assume he won’t mind furnishing the editor of the Standard with
the names of the complainants.

After all, we would hate to think that it is OK for pro-government writers
to abuse at will MDC officials and foreign leaders while Mahoso protects
President Mugabe and other beneficiaries of public funds from the same

Is that how he sees his “mandate”? And who gave him this “mandate”? It
certainly doesn’t derive from either the media or the public.

Did the Department of Information really say “starting with President Henry
Ford in the 1970s, America has had to count the consequences of approaching
this complex region with simplistic notions…”, as reported in the Herald
last Thursday?

It appeared under the heading “Opposition party’s antics laughable and

It is laughable that the Department of Information, commandeering the front
page of the Herald for its childish antics, should mix up President Gerald
Ford with the automobile manufacturer. But there could be method in its
madness. Henry Ford did say, in reference to his early products, “you can
have whatever colour you like so long as it’s black”.

Thankfully, he later changed his mind. But we would have thought officials
in the Department of Information would know all there is to know about Ford!

Muckraker was intrigued by a statement to parliament by the Minister of
State  for Information and Publicity on June 11 that “the company which owns
Gramma Records is registered in a foreign land offshore in Cumin Islands”
(Hansard, column 3687). He subsequently said it was “foreign owned,
registered in an offshore place like Carmen Islands” (c 3689).

He seems a bit lost. Is this anywhere near the Cayman Islands?

The Sunday Mail’s weekly conspiracies are now spreading from their news
columns onto the Business pages. A Zambian hotel group was “profiteering”
from the “negative publicity” Zimbabwe was experiencing, we were told last
weekend, by using unethical marketing strategies. It was “unethically
persuading tourists to view the Victoria Falls from Zambia”.

This is absolutely shocking! Can you imagine a hotel chain “persuading”
tourists to see the Victoria Falls from Zambia, and even stay on that side
of the border?

There has also been a “whisper campaign”, the article, headed “Zambian hotel
group plays dirty”, said. This included e-mail messages. Surely not!

“A false scenario” was being created by the rival group, it was reported.

What could this mean? Suggesting Zimbabwe had no fuel? Or that it had run
out of bank notes? That it was worse than Zambia in the 1980s?

What shocking “whispering” is going on, we wonder? Thanks to the Sunday Mail
’s “Business Reporters” for alerting us to this danger!

We were sorry to hear the Seychelles has pulled out of Sadc. The island
paradise used to have a socialist government which made all the predictable
mistakes. But it subsequently put together a coalition with the
market-oriented opposition and worked for reform. Now it is thriving,
although it was hit by American tourist cancellations after September 11
2001. The government has been closing embassies abroad to cut costs.

Apparently it didn’t contribute to Sadc coffers because it couldn’t see the
point of the organisation, according to the M&G. A Sadc spokesman said the
equivalent of “good riddance”.

But we can see why they left: a coalition government; living within its
means; refusing to become a beggar-state. Not the sort of country Sadc

President Mugabe was elected a vice-chairman of the AU, the government press
triumphantly reported last Saturday from Maputo. Further down the article it
transpires there are five vice-chairmen, each responsible for a region. And
just about everybody who turned up for the summit was given some post or
other as a reward for being there.

The praise showered on the AU by Stan Mudenge for blocking criticism of
Zimbabwe’s appalling human rights record at the UN Commission for Human
Rights meeting in Geneva won’t have done anything to enhance its reputation.
And Muckraker is intrigued about what Mudenge thinks of Amara Essy’s fate as
a candidate for AU secretary-general.

Mbeki said a firm “No” and out went Zimbabwe’s choice. Stan didn’t mention
that for some reason. Perhaps he was on the phone to his agents at
Munhumutapa Building about his next gig!
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Zim Independent

Accountability or impunity: the search for justice
By Rob Monroe
IN recent months discussion on Zimbabwe's political situation has centred on
the issue of inter-party negotiations and related matters such as a
transitional government, constitutional change and a re-run of the
presidential election under free and fair conditions.

However, there appears to be little discussion on the issue of transitional
justice, on the processes available and appropriate to secure justice for
the victims of gross and systematic human rights violations perpetrated by
state officials or with the acquiescence of the state.

Securing justice, to mean accountability and punishment for perpetrators on
the one hand, and reparations or redress for victims on the other hand, is
not simply a moral imperative. It is a political necessity to combat a
culture of impunity stretching unbroken from colonial times through the
Smith regime and the Gukurahundi violations in Matabeleland and Midlands in
the 1980s to the present wave of organised violence and torture which have
been particularly marked since April 2000. Only true justice will convey the
hard message to present and future generations that perpetrators of
politically-motivated acts of torture and assault will be held accountable
and punished. Equally, only true justice for the victims of such gross human
rights abuses will assuage their feelings for revenge through unlawful

What little discussion there has been concerning transitional justice has
largely been confined to the question of amnesty for perpetrators of gross
human rights violations, notably for President Robert Mugabe himself. While
amnesty may be politically expedient for contesting political parties and
may facilitate a smooth political transition in the name of reconciliation,
it will not deliver truth or justice.

In any event, national amnesties do not protect individuals from
international prosecution either by other states using the principle of
universal jurisdiction or by the recently-established International Criminal
Court. This reflects the requirement under international law that states
have an obligation to ensure reparation for victims of systematic human
rights violations, as so clearly spelt out by the UN Human Rights Committee
in its reference to the torture provision in the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (which Zimbabwe has ratified): "Amnesties are
generally incompatible with the duty of states to investigate such acts; to
guarantee freedom from such acts within their jurisdiction; and to ensure
that they do not occur in the future.

States may not deprive individuals of the right to an effective remedy,
including compensation and such full rehabilitation as may be possible."
This explains why the UN decided to prosecute the notorious Foday Sankoh of
Sierra Leone.

Clearly, if perpetrators of organised violence and torture in Zimbabwe are
to be held accountable for their crimes, and if victims are to receive
redress including restitution, compensation and rehabilitation, a mechanism
that reflects the country's particular circumstances must be established to
achieve this - circumstances that include the nature and extent of the gross
and systematic human rights violations that have taken place, the profile of
the perpetrators from so-called "war veterans", youth militia and political
party supporters through to police and army personnel, and the profile of
the victims themselves, from victims of specific acts of violence and
torture to those who have generally suffered from civil and political
conflict. And the views of all Zimbabweans, not just politicians but
victims, their families and civil society as a whole, must be sought in
determining a national process likely to deliver truth, justice and an end
to impunity for state-sanctioned violence and torture.

However, failure to provide justice at the national level for gross and
systematic human rights violations does not mean that justice shall be
denied. The last 10 years have witnessed remarkable developments in the
machinery of international justice and the application of international
conventional and customary law regarding genocide, war crimes and "crimes
against humanity" where these include torture and other crimes committed
against civilians as part of a widespread or systematic process induced by a
state or government. Such developments in international human rights law
that spring to mind include the establishment of the International Criminal
Court in April 2002, the arrest of General Pinochet in 1998 under the
principle of universal jurisdiction, and the establishment in quick
succession of international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia,
Rwanda, East Timor and Sierra Leone and the subsequent stream of
indictments, trials and convictions under these tribunals.

Not only is torture prohibited in terms of various international treaties,
such as the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention
against Torture, but its prohibition has the status of jus cogens, the
highest status in international law. This status means that states, as
members of the international community responsible for upholding
international law, are obliged to prosecute and punish alleged torturers
regardless of their nationality or where the torture was committed. In terms
of the Convention against Torture parties are required to prosecute alleged
torturers or extradite them to countries that will do so and it was under
this principle of universal jurisdiction that Pinochet was arrested in
Britain and his extradition sought by Spain. And as the Pinochet case
established as an historic precedent, the jus cogens status of torture means
that former heads of state and their officials are no longer immune from
international prosecution for crimes against humanity committed whilst in

Article 27 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court states that no
government official, elected or otherwise, shall be immune or exempt from
"criminal responsibility under this Statute", and Article 29 reflects
international convention in declaring that "the crimes within the
jurisdiction of the court shall not be subject to any statute of
limitation". Whilst Zimbabwe has not ratified the Statute and is therefore
not bound by it, ratification by a future government in Zimbabwe or
jurisdiction through a UN Security Council resolution means that those
responsible for directing, inflicting or condoning torture and like crimes
may well find themselves before the court or must live with this prospect
for the rest of their lives.

To borrow the words of the eminent jurist, Geoffrey Robertson QC, "the
concept of universal jurisdiction for crimes against humanity is the
solution that international law offers to the spectacle of impunity for
tyrants and torturers who cover themselves with domestic immunities,
amnesties and pardons. They can still hide, but in a world where
jurisdiction over their crimes is universal, they cannot run."

Rob Monroe is a civic activist.

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Zim Independent

Mugabe's warped definition of ruling
By Chido Makunike
THERE is the definition of "ruling" in which it is understood that the
governing authorities exercise their authority with the happy consent of the
population. Those authorities accept that the reason they are given those
powers is to improve the conditions of those who entrust them with such

They know that the surest way to retain those powers and the associated
perks and privileges is to do their utmost to keep the electorate, who are
their masters, satisfied and convinced they are doing their best.

Another definition of "ruling" is to simply have the wherewithal, usually
military, but also possibly economic and psychological, to keep the populace
in line. "Ruling" here means being "in power" in the strict controlling,
intimidatory sense. This is the only definition of ruling that matters to
President Mugabe and his regime. Critics, myself included, who point to all
the ways that Mugabe is failing to rule under the first definition are in a
way really missing the point.

We are judging an orange by the standard of an apple. Mugabe does not see
300% inflation, 70% unemployment, lack of fuel and bank notes, donor
dependency and all the other maladies afflicting Zimbabwe as his failure to
rule because his standard and judgement of his success as a ruler are simply
that he is still in power! The fact that he has control over the instruments
of coercion, such as the police, army, militia, propaganda machinery, is not
a means to an end, such as to protect the populace from foreign attack as it
would be under the first definition.

That control is the end in itself, and because he is still able to exercise
it, he is "successful". The only way he could be shown to be unsuccessful is
not by pointing out all the things that can be objectively shown not to be
working, but by no longer being in power. Let me use some recent examples to
show how Mugabe and the rest of his regime speak and act in ways that make
it clear what they have in mind when they think of what successful ruling is
all about.

Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, one of Mugabe's more lacklustre
henchmen, has "succeeded" at ruling more than Elias Mudzuri, the MDC mayor
of Harare he recently suspended for dubious reasons. In his short time in
office, Mudzuri began to make changes to how council went about its work in
ways many residents had begun to appreciate and comment on. This was a
dangerous precedent for Mugabe and Co because it showed up their
deficiencies over the years.

In one of the few high profile positions of real power occupied by an
opposition official, it also dangerously suggested to the public that even
under very trying conditions, the opposition party could also outperform the
long entrenched ruling party in other areas. It didn't help Mudzuri at all
that he threatened to unearth two decades of Zanu PF corruption at what had
become a cash cow for the ruling party. He had to go, and Chombo rose to the
task of ensuring he did.

Now that Mudzuri has been pushed aside, all the alleged inadequacies Chombo
said he was so worried about on behalf of the residents have not been heard
about again. It is better to let the capital city slide backwards in so many
ways, as long as all have been shown who is really "in charge," meaning with
the instruments to push the other around, not to bring about any positive
changes. That's a classical case of Zanu PF showing how it is "ruling".

The president and the whole state propaganda machinery this past week went
to town about the "confidence" shown in Zimbabwe by the African Union
appointing Mugabe to some vice-chairmanship, one of five routine ones. This
"triumph" is apparently more significant than the fact that in the whole
southern Africa region, despite Zimbabwe having the second most developed
economy, it is shrinking faster than any other, and has the kind of problems
that even a banana republic would be ashamed to be experiencing.

The mere attendance of the meeting, deliciously crowned by chairing some
irrelevant committee, is more a sign of being "in power" than the fact that
he is completely helpless to do anything positive for his country with that
power. Instead of being embarrassed that he was the only president of a
country with no fuel and an insufficient amount of its own bank notes, he
actually revels in his mere presence at the meeting, describing the summit
as the "best ever", which it seems to be every year that he attends, despite
his country being significantly poorer each year.

The state propaganda machinery was particularly delighted that demonstrators
in Senegal and South Africa welcomed visiting US president George W Bush
with some rude placards. It was completely lost on them that it is a sign of
democratic maturity and self-confidence that these two countries did not
feel they had to censor the free expression of their citizens' feelings
about Bush. The same state machinery that loved free expression in those
countries sends its army, armed to the teeth to prevent similar mild
protests here at home. The fact that this is contradictory is neither here
nor there, the point is that "we are in power and have the ability to force
those inconsistencies and double standards on you".

The standard of ruling has sunk so low that all that matters, above any sign
of failure you may care to point at, is whether the regime is still in
control of people, even if it is no longer in control of events. It is
useful to keep this in mind when we complain, actually naively believing we
will be heard, or when we urge the opposition to simply "put aside their
pride for the good of the nation and talk to their tormentors". What a lot
of us hope for when we utter these reasonable sweet-sounding nothings, and
what the regime has in mind, are two completely different things.

Chido Makunike is a Harare-based commentator on social issues.

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