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Annan denies Mugabe claims

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye

THE office of the UN Secretary-General has refuted President
Mugabe's claims that Kofi Annan pulled out from mediation in the Zimbabwe
crisis because he did not want to be sullied by undue influence from the
British government.

Annan, whom President Mugabe said had pulled out of the
mediation because he was "an African secretary-general", denied this
assertion. His press officer, Yves Sokorobi, also refuted the claim that
Annan promised at their meeting in the Gambia that he would use his office
to deal with the West's sanctions against Zimbabwe.

The denials by Annan's office this week put paid to Mugabe's
attempt to portray the Gambia meeting as a diplomatic victory for Harare
against Britain.

At the meeting in Banjul, held on the sidelines of the African
Union Summit earlier this month, Annan endorsed former Tanzanian president
Benjamin Mkapa as mediator in what Mugabe has depicted as a dispute between
Britain and Zimbabwe.

Annan said his trip to Harare was no longer necessary in the
light of Mkapa's diplomatic initiative.

Since the brief Banjul encounter, Mugabe has tried to put a spin
on what transpired at the meeting, portraying it as a major victory against
the West's attempts to put Zimbabwe on the agenda of the Security Council.

The presidential assertions are however being denied by Annan.

Sokorobi, in response to questions from the Zimbabwe Independent
on Tuesday, said from New York that Annan's withdrawal from mediation had
nothing to do with him being "an African secretary-general".

He also denied that Annan had made an undertaking to use his
office to get the EU and the United States to lift their sanctions.

Asked whether it was true that Annan withdrew from the mediation
because he is an "African secretary-general", Sokorobi answered: "No."
Mugabe told the ruling party's central committee in Harare on Friday: "He is
an African, a secretary-general from our continent. We reminded him that we
did not want him to be tarnished and he added: 'I am also your in-law.' It
would have been sad, very sad indeed, if he had obeyed the bidding of the
Blair government on Zimbabwe."

Mugabe applauded Annan for refusing to be reduced to a tool of
British manoeuvres over the land issue that has been blamed for economic
decline over the past seven years.

"We have always respected the office of the UN
Secretary-General," Mugabe was quoted as saying, "which is why we protected
it and its African incumbent by blocking a mission which would have
compromised its integrity."

While Mugabe's spin on the Annan meeting is looking increasingly
threadbare, there are also problems with Mkapa's mediation efforts which are
being dismissed by European countries and the United States as based on a
false premise. They have said the mediation efforts are not necessary as
what is required is for Zimbabwe to deal with its own internal problems
while the international community can only assist.

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Local currency set to lose three digits

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

GOVERNMENT is set to slash three digits from the local currency
in a bid to facilitate transactions in the purchase of goods and services
which has become cumbersome in a hyperinflationary environment.

Sources said government was working around a proposal submitted
by a local accounting firm which suggested striking out the three zeros from
the local currency as an alternative to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
governor Gideon Gono's initial proposal for an outright currency change.
Government is in a fix over whether to introduce a new currency or change
the denominations.

The decision means that government will drop three zeroes from
the local currency to introduce a kilo-dollar. A kilo-dollar will be
equivalent to the $1 000 currently in circulation.

Galloping inflation has resulted in unprecedented money supply
growth, forcing consumers to carry huge volumes of bearers cheques of little
value. The inflated figures are causing computer accounting systems to fail
to transact, store or process.

Accurate financial information has also been compromised due to
large transaction values which most accounting systems are not able to

Supermarket tills have been overwhelmed by the number of zeroes
resulting from the drastic drop in the value of the local currency due to
inflation, now around 1 184%. Zimbabweans now carry large bags of money
because of the number of notes needed for minimum transactions.

Minister of Finance Herbert Murerwa is considering a proposal to
drop three zeroes from the $1 000 note to make it a one kilo-dollar. In
other words, a $100 000 note will become 100 kilo dollars. The proposal
submitted to the minister by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of
Zimbabwe (ICAZ) on June 30 said this would help companies' computer
application systems which were failing to cope with the number of
overflowing zeroes.

"All payments made by RTGS, cheque or cheque card after midnight
on August 31 is made in kilo-dollars," said the proposal from the ICAZ. "If
payment is made in cash, it will be made with notes in circulation. Thus a
bill of $127,32 kilo-dollars would require cash of $127 320."

It said financial results and evaluation of company assets had
become vulnerable to fatal inaccuracies. The ICAZ said companies, especially
banks, did not have the foreign currency to acquire new software to cater
for the number of zeroes. Some software in Zimbabwe cannot support a $10 000
000 000 (11 digits) figure. Almost all software fails at $1 trillion which
is 15 digits. It said dropping the three digits would ensure that the
existing software remains in use.

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Miffed Zim in bid to block IMF mission

Zim Independent

Dumisani Ndlela

THE Zimbabwe government is planning to block an International
Monetary Fund (IMF) Article IV consultation mission to Zimbabwe scheduled
for September after failing to reclaim its membership of the Bretton Woods
institution, the Zimbabwe Independent established this week.

The move comes as reports swirled in the market that the country
was about to consummate multi-billion dollar deals with Chinese and Russian
investors. The deals could result in the injection of at least US$1 billion,
three months' worth of import cover in an economy scraping for foreign
currency, before the end of the year.

Details of the deals were not immediately available at the time
of going to press, but sources indicated they involved Chinese and Russian
firms prepared to pour large amounts into greenfield mining projects.

Nor was information available on how the government would
resolve its cat-and-mouse relationship with the IMF.

An indignant letter has been sent to Washington, the Independent
understands, demanding an explanation. To date no reply has been received.

Sources indicated that ministers were fuming over failure by the
IMF to restore Zimbabwe's membership after the country cleared arrears to
the IMF's General Resources Account (GRA) in February.

Zimbabwe cleared its overdue financial obligations to the GRA
but still has substantial arrears amounting to US$119 million under a
separate facility.

While the clearance of its arrears under the GRA removed the
basis for its compulsory withdrawal from the fund, the country remained
suspended from exercising its voting rights as a member of the Bretton Woods

There was speculation in the market that Zimbabwe's intention
was to forestall pending measures against the country regarding remaining

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Doctors want Parirenyatwa axed in reshuffle

Zim Independent

Tendai Mukandi/Reagan Mashavave

STRIKING junior doctors have appealed to President Robert Mugabe
to consider removing Health and Child Welfare minister David Parirenyatwa in
his next cabinet reshuffle.

The doctors blame the minister for the stalemate in their work
boycott that has paralysed major health institutions, accusing him of being
too autocratic and overbearing in his approach to important issues.

In an open letter to President Mugabe, the doctors pleaded with
him to consider their grievances when he reshuffles the cabinet.

"We believe this issue is now beyond the comprehension of your
minister who should be trembling now, what with the impending cabinet
reshuffle. We wait with anticipation for the fate of this man, who has let
you down in all ways," says the letter.

"Your Minister of Health and Child Welfare has been your biggest
let-down. As one appointed to such a critical ministry, we would expect him
to be astute, quick-witted, resourceful and keen, all traits of which are
missing from the honourable minister," the letter says.

"His autocratic and overbearing approach to important issues is
immensely disconcerting. In his many years as minister he has failed to
address the issue of brain drain especially of the doctors."

The doctors say the shortage of doctors will continue to haunt
the country if their current "paltry" salaries are not revised.

"Your Excellency, your doctors are getting a paltry salary of
$56 million. Your doctors are getting a vehicle loan of $50 million, a
figure that would incense even the most neutral of observers," the letter
says. The doctors want their salaries raised to at least $250 million.

It adds: "Right next door, in our neighbouring region, they are
giving their doctors salaries of R20 000, decent vehicles, numerous
allowances and boundless opportunities for further personal and career
development. These startling revelations, your honour, then make it obvious
why your sons and daughters are deserting their own country."

The doctors blame the minister and his deputy Muguti for issuing
malicious and false information to the public and calling them students
despite all their work.

"Instead of striving to improve remuneration he perpetually
inflames and angers the well-meaning doctors by labelling them students.
Surely your honour, it would be a first in the world for a health system to
be run by students."

The striking doctors say they have lost faith in deputy minister
Edwin Muguti and Health secretary, Edward Mabhiza.

"The permanent secretary Dr ET Mabhiza has not been very
helpful, Your Excellency. He, like his minister, has dismally failed to
address critical issues affecting the health delivery system in Zimbabwe. He
still thinks he is running a province and yet he takes claim to a very
important seat in the equation of health delivery system."

The doctors said they would not return to work until their
demand for better salaries and improved working conditions were met.

Hospital Doctors Association president Dr Kudakwashe Nyamutukwa
confirmed the strike was still on.

"We will only go back to work once our demands are met and we
are prepared even to get fired if our demands are not met," Nyamutukwa said.

The doctors are also demanding an increase in their car loan
allowances to a level that makes it possible for them to buy a car.

"Honestly you cannot have a car loan that can't buy a car. We
want a car loan that can buy a car not these meagre allowances," said one

The junior doctors currently number about 270 and are employed
at the main referral hospitals, that is Harare Central, Parirenyatwa and
United Bulawayo Hospitals.

A terse notice at Parirenyatwa Hospital's casualty department
reads: "All junior doctors are on strike, only dire emergencies are being
attended to."

Patients were being treated in the outpatients department where
there was a long queue while others could be seen lying on lawns in the
hospital yard.

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Makwavarara ouster bid spills to the streets

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

THE bid to oust Harare Commission chairperson Sekesai
Makwavarara turned confrontational this week with residents' representatives
resorting to street protests demanding her removal.

The residents' protests complement Zanu PF Harare province's
vote of no confidence in Makwavarara two weeks ago.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) organised a
demonstration on Wednesday demanding an immediate reversal of the
re-appointment of the Makwavarara-led commission, an improvement in service
delivery and the holding of mayoral elections in Harare. But the protestors
were attacked and arrested by police.

"About 300 members of CHRA from the ward leadership gathered in
the city centre along Chinhoyi Street and peacefully marched towards Town
House," CHRA spokesman, Precious Shumba, said yesterday.

"They had placards with messages demanding improvement in
service provision, return of water supply and the immediate reversal of the
re-appointment of the illegal commission running the affairs of Harare,"
Shumba said. They also demanded the holding of mayoral and council

Shumba said before they could proceed to Town House, armed riot
police intercepted them and started beating the demonstrators, injuring
three and arresting 19 people, among them two journalists.

"Among the arrested was the acting CHRA chairman Israel Mabhoo,
who was leading the parade, and journalists Ndamu Sandu and Godwin

Sandu is a reporter with The Standard while Mangudya was with
the banned Daily News. They were released yesterday after paying admission
of guilt fines.

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Zanu PF brings in external auditors

Zim Independent

Clemence Manyukwe

A FRESH probe into Zanu PF's crumbling business empire -widely
seen as an attempt to scuttle Emmerson Mnangagwa's bid to succeed President
Robert Mugabe - has taken a new twist following the engagement of external

An audit report prepared by Kudenga & Co chartered accountants
has since been submitted to the party's politburo, it emerged this week.

The party's politburo has in the past set up two different
committees chaired by Zanu PF's secretary for finance David Karimanzira.

Their mission was interpreted as a bid to incriminate Mnangagwa
and thus take him out of Zanu PF's succession race.

Once touted as Mugabe's heir apparent, Mnangagwa presided over
the ruling party's investments before he was replaced by Karimanzira.

Zanu PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira confirmed that there was
an audit but said "the report has not been presented yet either to the
central committee or the politburo". He referred further questions to

Prodded to comment on allegations that the probe was meant to
scuttle Mnangagwa's presidential ambitions, Shamuyarira said: "I have no
comment on that."

Karimanzira refused to comment, only saying the audit was a
private issue that could not be discussed in public.

Ngoni Kudenga, a senior partner at Kudenga & Co chartered
accountants, said his organisation was bound by ethics not to divulge
confidential client information.

"We do not give out information on our clients otherwise we
would be sued and forced to close. What you are doing is like asking a
doctor to divulge someone's HIV status," said Kudenga.

The first probe team into Zanu PF's financial empire unearthed a
number of irregularities in the running of the party's companies. Among the
companies that were said to have virtually collapsed were M&S Syndicate,
Zidco Holdings and Zidlee Enterprises.

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Man remanded for insulting president

Zim Independent

A GWANDA man accused of insulting President Robert Mugabe has
been remanded out of custody to July 28 for sentence after the presiding
magistrate threw out an earlier application for

Bassanio Chikwiriri, a builder by profession, is alleged to have
insulted President Mugabe by saying that he was the "architect of the
country's economic crisis".

Chikwiriri appeared before Gwanda magistrate, Douglas Zvenyika,
on Tuesday and was remanded out of custody to Friday for trial. The lawyer
representing Chikwiriri, Thompson Mabhikwa, applied to the court for
discharge arguing that the state had no prima facie case against his client.

However, the magistrate dismissed the application and set a date
for trial.

"The application we filed to have my client discharged was
thrown out by the magistrate and we now have to return to court for a trial
on 28 July," Mabhikwa said.

The state's case is that on September 24 last year at the Talk
of Gwanda restaurant and nightclub, Chikwiriri made derogatory remarks about
Mugabe in Shona. Chikwiriri was arrested in October last year. He denies
uttering the said words and also denies the charges against him.

In his defence, Chikwiriri said the allegations were false and
that they emanated from local Zanu PF officials whom he said were at
loggerheads with him.

In Zimbabwe it is a crime punishable by either imprisonment or a
heavy fine to insult the president.

Under provisions of the draconian Public Order and Security Act
it is also an offence to make gestures at the president or his motorcade.

Chikwiriri said he was arrested after he refused to be part of
builders in the government-funded Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle exercise,
a move he says angered Zanu PF officials in the district and led them to
fabricate the insult story. - Staff Writer.

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Mugabe fails to oppose sacked cop's challenge

Zim Independent

Clemence Manyukwe

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has failed to oppose a court application
within the stipulated time seeking reinstatement by a former senior police
officer Senior Assistant Commissioner Simbarashe Gambiza, whose sacking he

Mugabe, who had 10 days to respond to the lawsuit, was cited as
the first respondent while police commissioner Augustine Chihuri is the
second respondent.

Gambiza, a former head of the Police Internal Investigations
Unit, said he cited Mugabe as the first respondent "in his capacity as
employer (and) disciplining authority in respect of all commissioned
officers as provided in Section 14 of the Police Act".

He added that Mugabe had no legal right to adopt the
recommendations of a probe team that called for his dismissal as he had not
sanctioned the enquiry.

"The decision to institute any disciplinary proceedings against
a commissioned officer in terms of Section 50 of the Police Act should be
preceded by strict compliance with Section 14 of the Act. In effect, the
president must sanction any intended disciplinary action against any officer
before it is implemented," Gambiza said.

He said he fell out of favour with his colleagues in the police
force after he unearthed rampant corruption at the Criminal Investigation
Department's Vehicle Theft Squad section.

Law enforcement agents also wrongfully accused Gambiza, his
affidavit claimed.

Despite Mugabe not opposing the application, Chihuri filed
papers with the High Court praying for the dismissal of the reinstatement

Chihuri said Gambiza's sacking was above board as he had "become
unsuitable for police duties".

He also accused him of lying that he had participated in the war
of liberation resulting in him being promoted.

On Tuesday the head of the Civil Division in the
Attorney-General's Office, Fatima Maxwell, could not immediately comment on
the case saying the lawyer handling it was not available.

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Tsvangirai snubs opposition leaders' indaba

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube

LEADER of the splintered Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
Morgan Tsvangirai has turned down an invitation to a public discussion with
other opposition leaders where he would have come face-to-face with the
faction led by Arthur Mutambara.

The meeting of five opposition parties takes place in Bulawayo

Issues pertaining to the split in the MDC were expected to take
the limelight at the public meeting convened by a local think-tank, Bulawayo
Agenda, to discuss the country's mounting problems.

Other opposition leaders invited to tomorrow's meeting are
Daniel Shumba of the United People's Party (UPP), Paul Siwela of Zapu,
Pearson Mbalekwa of the United People's Movement (UPM), and Leonard Nkala of
the Patriotic Union of Matabeleland (Puma). Siwela, Mutambara, Shumba and
Nkala all confirmed they would attend the meeting while Mbalekwa was not
reachable for comment.

Spokesperson for Mutambara's camp, Gabriel Chaibva, confirmed
that their leader would attend the meeting.

"The president is aware of the invitation and he is arriving
from the United States on Friday. Definitely he will be in Bulawayo on
Saturday for the meeting," Chaibva said.

Tsvangirai faction spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, said Tsvangirai
had other commitments on Saturday.

"It's unfortunate that President Tsvangirai is not going to
attend this meeting because he has other prior arrangements. But as a party
we realise the importance of creating platforms of interacting on the new
Zimbabwe we want," Chamisa said.

He however said Tsvangirai would avail himself at future fora to
discuss problems afflicting Zimbabwe.

Sources in the Tsvangirai camp said the faction was irked by the
invitation to Mutambara, a move viewed at Harvest House as legitimising
Mutambara's group.

The sources said Tsvangirai decided not to attend the meeting
after consulting with national executive members on Wednesday evening.

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Zero growth for tourism

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

ZIMBABWE'S tourism industry recorded zero growth during the
first half of the year due to lack of efficient marketing, cost structures
and negative perceptions of the country, the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism
(ZCT) has said.

ZCT chief executive, Paul Matamisa, told the Zimbabwe
Independent this week his council was seriously looking into the stagnation
in the tourism industry.

"When we talk of growth we refer to arrivals and revenue and the
industry has not recorded any growth since the beginning of the year,"
Matamisa said.

He attributed the stagnation to poor marketing and the country's
cost structure that has made Zimbabwe's prices expensive in international

"While most of our tourists have been from the Far East, it is
important for the industry to maintain our European market," Matamisa said.

"You cannot afford to ignore existing markets at this stage
because it can take long to lure them back once they are gone," he said.

He said what was needed to increase growth in the industry in
the short-term were roadshows locally and abroad to market the country.

Figures made available by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority for the
first quarter of the year show that the industry recorded marginal increases
of 2%, earning the country close to US$22 million.

However, the rise in arrivals did not translate into improved
revenue as the sector saw a decline of 31% in receipts, down from US$30,5
million achieved last year to US$21,2 million. A total of 495 976 tourists
visited the country, up from 452 683 recorded during the period under

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Zanu PF stuck in a time warp

Zim Independent

By Nobukhosi Ndlovu

IN an age when cyberspace has taken over communication, most
institutions, organisations and even political parties have resorted to
using the Internet as a mode of communication to reach a wider audience.

Zanu PF, which launched its official website - -in 2002 has failed to take advantage of this useful

The party last updated its web page on November 7 2005 just
before the senate election. As if stuck in a time warp, the site currently
shows news stories from 2002 and debates on the 2003 national budget.

Likewise, the list of cabinet ministers has not been updated.
The vice-president of Zimbabwe is still given as Simon Muzenda who died
three years ago and the deputy Secretary for Information and Publicity is
still Jonathan Moyo although he left Zanu PF before the March 2005
parliamentary election.

President Robert Mugabe's last address on the website is from a
speech given at the burial of Bernard Chidzero at the National Heroes' Acre
on August 12 2002.

At the launch of the website, the party said it aimed to inform
individuals of events in the nation and the party, as well as giving
historical background on its formation.

By contrast, South Africa's ruling African National Congress
(ANC) appears to be using this tool of communication to best advantage.

The ANC's official website,, includes a letter
from President Thabo Mbeki based on the soccer World Cup set to take place
in South Africa in 2010, as well as access to previous documents and
publications about the party.

The website also offers news items, links to other related
websites, opportunities to join the party or subscribe to mailing lists and
mobile news alerts.

In the same way the MDC website,, provides
up-to-date information on the events taking place within the party, offering
forums for people to air their views and comments.

Why then is Zanu PF failing to raise its standards by making the
most of this cyberspace tool?

People are not able to access the information they need online
from the ruling party and therefore resort to spending time on other
websites. Discussions in chat rooms on the Internet have also shown that
people are noticing the need for improvement of the website's presentation
and content.

After the closure of the party's newspaper, The Voice, in
February this year it would be expected that there would be an immediate
need to revamp the official website.

Gadzira Chirumanzu, assistant director in the Zanu PF Department
of Information and Publicity, said they were currently working on a new
detailed website to replace the existing one.

It is not only the Zanu PF website that requires an urgent
makeover and an injection of life but also the official government website,, the Parliament of Zimbabwe website,, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority website,, and the Air Zimbabwe website,

The Zimbabwe government website may have a few pictures to
brighten it up but it offers no links and appears to be under construction
even though it says it was last revised in June.

President Mugabe has donated computers to schools in a
nationwide campaign to thrust a large number of people into the information
age. Parliament, with the help of the United Nations Development Programme
is set to establish 120 constituency information centres for the benefit of
the electorate. The failure to update its website is a serious indictment on
parliament's commitment to greater use of information technology.

Once again by contrast the South African government website,, offers current information on events within South Africa as well
as background information on the government and other services.

The Parliament of Zimbabwe website also shows no signs of
development as it gives information on the pre-budget seminar for 2004 under
the "What's new" section and a diary of forthcoming events for September
2004. The links to the guest book, parliamentary polls and government of
Zimbabwe likewise do not work.

As expected with most websites promoting a country, tourists
would expect to be dazzled by bright images of the country they are planning
to visit. Unfortunately, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority website does not
exhibit these kinds of images or any other intriguing features. It offers
information in preparation for the Travel Expo 2005 instead.

The Air Zimbabwe website also needs updating.

Unlike other airline websites Air Zimbabwe's website does not
offer the luxury of online bookings, check-in or lost-baggage traces.
Similarly some of the links do not open, particularly the one for the
airline's schedules.

There is therefore a concern with Zimbabwe's inability to join
the rest of the world in developing through cyberspace. This mode of
communication should be making
life simpler for consumers of goods and services but it appears
to be far from being a priority.

Perhaps there is still a need for government departments and
parastatals to learn more about technology in order to apply it to every day
life, following trends that have already been set across cyberspace.

* Nobukhosi is a Rhodes student who was on a week-long
attachment at the Zimbabwe Independent.

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Street children's project still to fly

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

FOUR years after First Lady Grace Mugabe collected keys to Iron
Mask Farm to establish a home for street children, the project has not yet
taken off, fuelling speculation about who was benefiting from its output.

Reports that Iron Mask had delivered 300 tonnes of maize and
soyabean to the GMB's Concession depot has generated interest.

But the First Lady's spokesperson, Lawrence Kamwi, dismissed
questions about the ownership of the project saying there would be a
groundbreaking ceremony this Sunday at Iron Mask.

"Zimbabwe Children's Rehabilitation Trust (ZCRT) is the
beneficiary of all proceeds from Iron Mask Farm," Kamwi said.

"We will give you the breakdown of all produce sold from the
farm and the amounts it has generated so far."

He said over the past four seasons proceeds from the farm had
been going to a trust fund to enable it to start building the children's

Information obtained from the GMB's Concession depot in
Mashonaland West province revealed that Iron Mask would be paid more than
$8,5 billion for the five consignments of grain delivered to the depot this

It could not be established who was the beneficiary as the
cheques are still to be collected.

"Five cheques valued at $8 521 738 000 have been issued to Iron
Mask and are yet to be collected," a source said. The cheque numbers are:
36630; 36631; 36634; 36698 and 36714.

Iron Mask has been delivering produce to the GMB over the past
four seasons.

In August 2002 the Zimbabwe Independent revealed that Grace
Mugabe had collected the keys to the then $100 million, 27-room mansion at
the farm, which had been acquired by government for resettlement.
Authorities were quick to defend the acquisition saying the farm would be
used for charity purposes.

The then Jewel Bank chief and now Reserve Bank governor Gideon
Gono was quoted as saying the farm had been allocated to the ZCRT of which
Grace Mugabe is a founder and patron.

Gono, the ZCRT chairman, went on record saying the trust had as
of August 2002 mobilised about $50 million to kick-start charity projects on
the farm.

To date, there are no indications of any developments relating
to a children's home. However, the farm is being fully utilised.

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Single aircraft plies AirZim's four routes

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

AIR Zimbabwe has been struggling to service its routes with its
remaining Boeing 767 after its other Boeing 767 has been grounded for the
past 60 days in Frankfurt.

This followed an engine problem due to excess oil leakage on its
way to London last month. It leaves the national airline with the one
aircraft to service long distance routes such as London, Dubai, China and

Air Zimbabwe flies to London three times a week on Wednesday and
Friday evenings, and has a day flight on Sunday.

The same plane also flies to Dubai on Tuesday, returning the
following day.

Sources at the national carrier said the Boeing 767 was
consuming about 9 quarts (18 pints) of oil per nautical mile instead of the
stipulated six quarts (12 pints) by the manufacturers.

The increase is consumption, according to information at hand
meant the plane had reduced oil being pumped into its engine bearings and
other parts which could adversely affect its engines.

"High consumption of oil meant there was an engine problem which
needed to be attended to urgently," a source told the Zimbabwe Independent.

When the plane landed in London on June 15 Boeing experts in the
UK requested that it be grounded as it was unfit to fly back to Harare.

A message was relayed to Harare for the other long-haulage
Boeing 767 to come and fly passengers from London.

The plane was later flown to Frankfurt by Zimbabwean pilots to
be attended to by Lufthansa Technic Company, who have a contract with Pratt
& Whitney, the manufacturers of Boeing engines.

"The plane is expected to be back in the air on August 24," a
source said.

Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive officer, Captain Oscar
Madombwe, confirmed that the plane was being attended to after developing an
oil leak.

"Everything regarding the servicing of the plane is under
control. Flights are continuing as normal and we expect the plane to be back
in the air next month," said Madombwe.

Meanwhile on Monday Air Zimbabwe entered a code-share
arrangement with Air Malawi for the Harare-Lilongwe-Dubai route and expects
passengers to increase twofold.

The partnership is part of the airline's turnaround programme
which is expected to enhance operations.

Since May last year, the airline carried 7 850 passengers on the
route, with the load factor increasing to 68,72%.

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Gono extends raft of concessions to financial sector

Zim Independent

Dumisani Ndlela

RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono this week
sought to gain the confidence of distrustful financial sector executives by
extending a raft of concessions to the banking sector, amending US
dollar-linked capital requirements and further reducing statutory reserve

Banking sector sources said Gono, who held a meeting with bank
chief executives on Wednesday, revised earlier policy announcements forcing
financial institutions to match capital levels with prescribed United States
dollar equivalents at exchange rates ruling at any given period.

This meant that the capital levels had to be continually
adjusted in line with the depreciation of the defenceless local currency.

The sources said banks will now have to match their capital
levels with prescribed US dollar equivalents at the current exchange rate,
and will not be compelled to adjust the levels upwards should the local
currency depreciate.

It is widely expected that Gono will devalue the dollar when he
makes his monetary policy review or put in place measures that would allow
the local currency to depreciate on the interbank market, where rates have
remained almost unchanged since his policy statement in January.

The sources said the reduction in the statutory reserve
thresholds follows a similar measure three weeks ago made by the central
bank to curtail a financial sector crisis first reported by the Zimbabwe
Independent in May.

Another reduction in statutory reserves thresholds was made on
June 19.

High statutory reserve ratios put in place earlier this year had
pushed banks, mainly the top five commercial banks, to the brink of closure
as they were effectively paying out 58% of all their deposits to the RBZ
without earning interest.

Of the balance from the deposits, 76% was being locked into
two-year treasury bill (TB) instruments with poor yields.

The central bank has since abandoned the penal two-year TBs, and
hiked yields on those already on financial institutions' portfolios to
curtail bank failures.

During his meeting with bankers, Gono reportedly announced that
statutory reserve ratios for all classes of deposits would be further
reduced by 2,5 percentage points.

Gono earlier this month reduced statutory reserve ratios for
commercial and merchant banks from 50% on demand or call deposits to 47,5%
and from 40% on savings or time deposits to 37,5%.

Statutory reserve requirements on demand and time deposits are
now pegged at 45% and 35% respectively following Wednesday's decision.

Another reduction in statutory reserve ratios had been made on
June 19, and Gono had indicated then that he deemed the measures to be
"critical for strengthening financial stability" in the banking sector.

A source said Gono had also requested bankers to assess the
impact of removing three digits from the country's currency after the
bankers said they could be forced to draw off huge sums of money to replace
software because current software could not accommodate the high number of
digits on the country's currency.

The source said Gono had during his Wednesday meeting with
bankers displayed a "highly conciliatory tone" to sector players he had
hounded when he took charge of the central bank over two years ago.

"He seems to now want to carry the bankers with him," a source

Gono's concessions to bankers are expected to form part of
wide-ranging monetary policy measures expected before the end of this month.

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British ambassador slams Mugabe's economic policies

Zim Independent

BRITAIN'S ambassador to Zimbabwe has voiced grave disapproval of
President Robert Mugabe's economic policies, saying the country was at a
crossroads and needed a radical policy shift to rescue it from a six-year

"If it (Zimbabwe) continues to take its current course, it will
put itself beyond rescue," Ambassador Andrew Pocock warned in an article
published in the British Embassy's latest quarterly journal, Britain and
Zimbabwe, the first since he arrived in the country in February.

"But Zimbabwe has a choice; it can change track, change policies
and give its people the life, prospects and future they deserve," Pocock

Zimbabwe has withered under a six-year economic crisis critics
blame on mismanagement by Mugabe's government, in power since Independence
from Britain in 1980.

Mugabe blames the economic recession on what he describes as
"machinations" by imperialist Europe abetting Britain's scores against his
regime for expropriating white-owned farmland for redistribution to landless

Various audits of the land reform have revealed gross abuse by
ruling party and government chiefs and their cronies who have emerged as the
biggest beneficiaries of huge tracts of land parcelled out under the
agrarian reforms.

Most of them took over fields ready for harvesting, selling farm
yields and making huge sums of money but later leaving the farms lying

Hundreds of Zimbabweans have fled mainly to Britain and South
Africa to seek economic opportunities and escape the crisis, characterised
by run-away inflation and food, fuel and foreign currency shortages.

"Policy in Zimbabwe needs to evolve in a new direction for the
people and the future of Zimbabwe, and because it is the right thing to do,"
said Pocock, discounting government allegations of a British conspiracy to
unseat Mugabe by instigating the crisis.

"Let us be clear: only the Zimbabwean government can make this
choice. It can be done and is being done in other African countries which
have faced recent difficulties," said Pocock.

He said countries like Rwanda and Tanzania were demonstrating
that it is possible to have economically sustainable, market-friendly
policies while working closely with international donors.

"Sovereignty and co-operation are not mutually exclusive," said
Pocock, making a veiled criticism of government's constant refusal to budge
in response to international censure of its policies under the claim of
sovereignty. - Staff Writer.

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Telecoms body defends 'spying' Bill

Zim Independent

Eric Chiriga

THE Government Telecommunications Authority (GTA) has discounted
claims that the Interception of Communications Bill was repressive and would
negatively impact on the sluggish telecommunications industry if passed into

"The intention of the government is to allow law-enforcers to
track criminals and deal with subversive material," said Charles Hwekwete,
who represented GTA at the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory
Authority (Potraz)'s Internet and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
consultative workshop held in the capital last week.

The GTA provides telecommunications services to the government
and its various organs.

"The Bill is necessary for security reasons. There are a lot of
security concerns and the Bill will allow the government to address those
concerns," Hwekwete said.

He said Zimbabwe will not be the only country to have such a

"Besides, manufacturers of modern telecoms equipment are
manufacturing in a way to allow lawful interception," Hwekwete said.

According to the Bill, government would establish a
communication centre to intercept and monitor certain communications in the
course of their transmission, through a telecommunication, postal or related
service system.

The Transport and Communications minister would also be granted
authority to issue an interception warrant to state agents, "where there are
reasonable grounds for the minister to believe, among other things, that a
serious offence has been, is being or will probably be committed or that
there is a threat to safety or national security".

Telecommunication service providers would also be compelled to
install devices to enable interception of phone conversations, faxes and

The telecommunications industry currently has a single
state-owned fixed-line operator, Tel*One and three mobile network operators
namely Econet, Telecel and Net*One which is owned by the government.

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No respite for sinking economy

Zim Independent

Dumisani Ndlela

THREE months into Zimbabwe's ambitious economic blueprint, the
National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP), the country's
economy is still experiencing a steep decline.

Inflation, which had reached an all-time high of 913,6% when the
programme was launched in April, is now sitting at close to 1 200%, with
interest rates hovering at over 900% - an insolvency alert to businesses,
particularly those sitting on high borrowings.

According to private sector-commissioned studies, 60% of
manufacturing companies have experienced significant decline in output

More than 15% of manufacturing companies are operating at less
than a third of their capacity, with another chunk of a similar fraction
operating at between 30% and 49% capacity.

Nearly nine out of every 10 manufacturing companies are unable
to cover their costs and make full use of their standing capacities.

Government's domestic debt last month touched an all-time high
of $48 trillion, and there are fears this could bloat further due to growing
fiscal profligacy.

Economic commentators are forecasting a budget deficit of over
10% during the year.

What government ministers had sold as a panacea to Zimbabwe's
economic depression is failing to provide the required cure, creating a deep
sense of disillusionment among business leaders. Those who welcomed the
programme with glee are beginning to realise the government sold them a

In fact, government had, during the launch of NEDPP, said that
the project was a joint effort between the government and the private

"There is a very low confidence level across the board," said
Luxon Zembe, the immediate past president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber
of Commerce, speaking at a recent Institute of Personnel Management of
Zimbabwe convention.

Zembe said despite the hullabaloo about an economic turn-around,
the "reality on the ground" was a forbidding image of a distressed economy.

There is an acute shortage of foreign currency, with the country
only managing to provide 10% of national requirements.

Economic distortions are prevalent in the economy, creating
arbitrage and corrupt business practises.

Multiple fuel and maize prices as well as fickle exchange rates
are fuelling the corrupt tendencies.

"There is a food crisis due to poor agricultural productivity by
incompetent farmers," said Zembe.

Prices of basic commodities are doubling every month, and the
rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer "by the day", he

"The dollar value is now a joke," said Zembe. "The highest note
in Zimbabwe ($100 000) cannot buy bread or a bottle of Coke."

He said Zimbabwe had lost 50% of its key skills base to the

Zembe, who was part of the business delegation at the launch of
NEDPP, said government had in the past ignored recommendations from
business, resulting in dire consequences for the country's economy.

Zimbabwe's gross domestic product has contracted by a cumulative
40% over the past eight years, and it has the largest budget deficit in the
world at 10%.

The country has experienced the steepest fall in foreign
currency earnings of 60%.

Life expectancy has been rapidly falling, as well as the
standard of living.

Over 70% of the country's population is considered poor.

Zembe said the NEDPP was a result of government's dismissal of
past economic recommendations from the business sector.

Although not saying whether or not the programme was failing, he
pointed out that business confidence was at its lowest since 2000.

"Levels of confidence (in business and the economy) dropped from
50% to 9% between 2000 and 2005," said Zembe.

Since Independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has had no less than 10
economic growth and poverty reduction related programmes.

These include Growth with Equity (1981), the Economic Structural
Adjustment Programme (1991), Poverty Alleviation Action Programme (1994),
and Zimbabwe Programme for Economic and Social Transformation 1996-2000.
Since then, there have been identical economic blueprints such as the
Zimbabwe Millennium Economic Recovery Programme (2001), the Ten Points Plan
(2002), the National Economic Revival Programme (2003); and Zimbabwe:
Towards Sustained Economic Growth - Macro-Economic Policy Framework for

None seems to have sustained business confidence, forcing most
entrepreneurs to either give up or scale down.

The NEDPP was expected to create economic stability within six
months to October 2006.

Zimbabwe has experienced a major humanitarian emergency due to
the deteriorating economy, immense policy constraints and the devastating
effects of HIV/Aids since the crisis set into the economy in 2000.

In a paper delivered at the University of Pretoria's Institute
of Strategic Studies, Professor Tony Hawkins of the University of Zimbabwe's
Graduate School of Management, said Zimbabwe had in recent years "relied on
the international community to help feed a country that seven years ago was
a substantial net exporter of food and agricultural produce".

"This is merely the tip of the iceberg - the start of a
protracted process of donor dependence that will last for decades," Hawkins

Although inflation marginally declined from its peak of 1 194%
in May, economists say the situation remains gloomy.

The government through the Zimbabwe National Security Council
chaired by President Robert Mugabe formulated the NEDPP. Mugabe announced
what he described as "evident revival of our economy" during his state of
the nation address in July 2004.

Under the NEDPP, the government seeks to mobilise US$2,5 billion
within the next three months, boost efforts to stabilise the economy, reduce
inflation and increase agricultural production.

The programme also aims to help enhance savings and trigger
investments inflows into the country.

Mugabe said last week that policies the government had
introduced were beginning to bear fruit.

He said foreign currency inflows were beginning to increase
through foreign investments.
"I won't say much now, but between now and December a lot is
going to happen. We cannot fail and we cannot collapse," Mugabe was quoted
as saying in the state media.

Clearly, the NEDPP has failed to deal with the basic reasons
behind the country's spectacular economic decline.

These include skewed economic policies, a breakdown of the rule
of law, and the government's destruction of the commercial farming sector,
previously the bedrock of the country's economy.

Zembe said there was a "worrying level of pessimism towards the
recovery process", and that positive changes in agricultural productivity
and political and economic policies were needed.

He said the government should embrace a "nationally shared
economic vision" and embrace market economy policies which are coherent and

Hawkins maintained: "The social and economic damage in
instances - certainly to agriculture and manufacturing - is not just
long-term but permanent. It will take at least a dozen years to regain the
living standards of the 1990s."

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'The people live in fear of their own govt'

Zim Independent

THIS is the third and final part of a letter written by the late
Vice-President Joshua Nkomo to President Robert Mugabe on June 7 1983
condemning the way the then prime minister had treated him after
"discovering" arms that saw the government unleashing the Korean-trained
Fifth Brigade on the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces that left 20 000
people dead.

It is known through information given by the masses in the
affected curfew areas that, in fact, the people who go about killing,
maiming, raping and burning government property are, in fact, agents
provocateurs planted by Zanu PF in the form of undercover pseudo-dissidents.

It is further known that government property destroyed by
dissidents was property used by district councils who were made up of 100%
Zapu members, who were known to have worked hard to use this equipment for
developing their areas vigorously and with great enthusiasm.

It is known that about 90% of the victims killed by dissidents
were either top Zapu officials, Zapu businessmen and teachers, Zapu local
government officials and generally Zapu supporters. The remaining 10% appear
to be white people. Not a single Zanu supporter was killed during this
period. Does not this fact speak for itself? One does not know what the
position is or would be after the Fifth Brigade's bloody escapade in the
Western Province of Matabeleland.

It can be said without hesitation that to have used the police
as if they were Zipra officers in the Dr Bertrand case was an abominable and
fascist-like attempt to portray to the country and the world at large that
former Zipra combatants had plotting tendencies so as to blemish the name of

I believe that the notes that were purported to have been sent
by former "Zipra dissidents" to the police, when foreign tourists were
abducted near Bulawayo in July 1982, were in fact an effort to show Zapu and
former Zipra combatants in bad light.

Having said that, I would like to make it clearly understood
that former Zipra combatants are not the responsibility of Zapu but of the
Zimbabwe government, like anybody else. Despite this I found it necessary to
activate and involve the masses in the areas where it was thought kidnappers
may be hiding with the tourists, but before I concluded the exercise
government declared a curfew in those areas, making them no-go places,
causing an abrupt end to that effort. Why that was done I do not know to
this day.

I now understand why you have maintained legislation such as the
Law and Order (Maintenance) Act, the Unlawful Organisations Act, and the
Emergency Powers Act which was enacted by former regimes specifically for
the suppression and oppression of the black population of Zimbabwe, and for
use against their effort to struggle for independence, social justice,
enjoyment of freedom and human rights. You now seem to enjoy and justify the
use of these notorious laws to deny your own people that which they fought
and died to achieve.

What is it that makes you believe that this independence, which
you and I and indeed the masses of Zimbabwe fought for, for so long, should
now be maintained and protected by this type of legislation? Don't you think
there is something wrong?

I am not surprised that you have decided to maintain a state of
emergency which was declared by Ian Smith on the 5th of November 1965 in
preparation for his illegal action to declare, control and protect his type
of independence.

During the protracted war our people were subjected to every
kind of cruelty and oppression. No man's life was safe, it was the frequent
fate of an innocent villager to be shot out of hand, to be arbitrarily
arrested and often to be tortured, to suffer the burning of his village, the
massacre of his women and children, the destruction of crops and livestock,
to suffer long years of imprisonment or to endure the pangs of long exile.
The legal basis of this campaign of terror was the "state of emergency".

You well know that in point of fact the Law and Order
(Maintenance) Act was used to undermine and subvert law and order to quite a
horrendous degree, and the declaration of a "state of emergency" itself was
instrumental in creating an acute state of emergency by unleashing forces
which inflicted a wave of murder and brutality upon our people which, in its
savagery and disregard for humanitarian considerations, had no precedent
among our people.

Taken together, these facts indicate clearly that for many years
an unparalleled campaign of barbarism and terror was waged against the
masses. Yet this campaign failed; our people did not submit, they fought
back until finally victory was won and independence achieved.

But what in fact has been achieved? It is painful to ask this
question, for it springs from events which have increasingly darkened the
horizons of Zimbabwe over the past year or more, events I am trying to
summarise in this letter.

You knew that having created the confusion, you would then be
able to take military and legal action against deliberately created
"political and armed dissidents"; hence the arrest of men like Lookout
Masuku, Dumiso Dabengwa and others, and decided to charge them with treason.
It is a shame to all of us who fought for liberty, freedom and the rule of
law, to see Dumiso, Masuku and others being immediately arbitrarily detained
after acquittal by the High Court.

It is a well-known fact that in Zimbabwe today, there are more
people detained without trial than in fascist South Africa. Most of these
people are also without formal detention orders and the next of kin have no
idea as to whether they are alive or dead.

These people are not enemies of Zimbabwe, but patriots who have
suffered, like us and many others, in the struggle to free their country,
Zimbabwe, peasant men, women as well as young men and women who only happen
to be caught in a conflict the government itself created.

The double tragedy of Zimbabwe today is, firstly, that the
routine and administrative use of detention, torture and arbitrary
repression has been adopted by an independent government and, secondly, that
this government uses the very same mercenaries and torturers as the former
regime used against the struggling people.

In fact the situation today is in some respects even worse, as
our government has abandoned even those standards of bourgeois legality
which the Smith regime generally attempted to hide their repression behind.
Under that regime you could be detained but at least you were more likely to
be issued with a detention order. You were therefore, less likely to simply
disappear as is the case today.

The mercenaries and torturers used by the former regime are
known and are very few, and therefore their exclusion from our security
organs could not have disrupted those organs.

There are, in Zimbabwe today, so many different groups of armed
men with power to do virtually anything to people.

People get arrested by the CIO, the Law and Order Section of the
police, the so-called Zimpolis, the so-called Zanu Intelligence Service
(which is not an arm of government), the military police of the Zimbabwe
National Army, the Fifth Brigade (which seems to regard execution as the
most effective method of arresting people), the Youth Brigade (which is also
an arm of the party, but used as if it were part of the machinery of
government), the militia, by Zanu party officials, by undercover
pseudo-dissidents - the list is endless.

In fact, the rights of the Zimbabwe citizen as defined in the
constitution are meaningless.

One of the most disgraceful and shaming aspects of our
independence which is difficult to defend is that we have taken the methods
and men used to oppress, torture and kill our people and tried to use them
to consolidate our "independence". You cannot take weapons, methods and
people designed to defend colonial fascism and try to use them to defend the
people. It is just not possible.

Today in Zimbabwe the same torturers that Smith used against the
people are back in business "defending a people's government". They must
smile to themselves when they are ordered to continue their torture of
patriots by an independent government.

The methods of torture are also the same: electric shocks,
beatings, burning with cigarettes, suffocation using wet sacks, and
psychological torture. In the recent case of the State vs Dabengwa and
others, the government must surely have been embarrassed when the activities
of Fraser, Arnold (of CIO) and DSO Kaurayi were revealed in court. These men
whose record of torture and atrocities against the people during the
liberation war are well known, were brought into this case by our government
to use their same techniques against the heroes of the liberation struggle.

In court it was revealed that Fraser assaulted, tortured and
threatened Zipra men to tell lies against their commanders. DSO Kaurayi did
the same to workers on the Nitram farms. Arnold, the so-called chief of the
investigation, offered bribes and threats to witnesses to try to get them to
change their evidence. Fraser has now run back to his masters in Pretoria.
Arnold and Kaurayi remain to be used again to prostitute justice and bring
disgrace on the memories of the fallen heroes of our struggle.

Under the terms of the Indemnity Act, which we condemned as
barbaric and fascist during the liberation struggle, a citizen has no right
of appeal or redress against those who illegally torture, maim, kill,
destroy property or do any illegal act on him or against him.

I am sure you realise that the result of this use of Smith's
laws and torturers has been to create in an independent Zimbabwe a climate
of terror and fear even more discriminate than that created by the Smith
regime. Remember, there is no war in Zimbabwe today.

As it is in Zimbabwe, everyone faces this fear. It is a fear
created by the fear the government itself obviously feels. What the
government is in fear of is not very clear, but the fact that our government
lives in daily fear cannot be doubted.

Ministers fear to walk the streets without armed men around
them, roads are sealed off, convoys of armed men race through the streets
sirens wailing announcing this fear.

The real victims of this climate of fear are the people
themselves. How can the people get on with the vital task of building the
nation when all around them they feel this insecurity and fear? At any
moment they know that this machinery of fear and repression may be turned
against them.

The people of Murewa may have not yet felt the bayonets of the
Fifth Brigade, but they have already heard the stories. In their faces is
the fear that one day this party army may be turned against them. It is
certain that some Zanu members fear that the Fifth Brigade may be turned
against Zanu and that it may even turn against its creators.

Is this the climate of a confident, free, proud and independent
people and government? You do not teach young people to be contemptuous of
human life and expect them to respect yours.

Mr Prime Minister, as I have mentioned above, the way the
security organs of government in their generality are being used has created
fear and despondency in the minds of a wide section of our people. But, let
me stress that the activities of the Fifth Brigade in particular are
something I never expected could happen in Zimbabwe. I could not make myself
believe that such activities could have been carried out with your knowledge
and approval.

It was when you were reported to have given an astounding
declaration at a rally in Zhombe that I realised you support what the Fifth
Brigade has done and continues to do in Matabeleland; quote: "When men and
women provide food for dissidents, when we get there we eradicate them. We
do not select who we fight, because we cannot tell who is a dissident and
who is not." - Financial Times, Telegraph and The Times, 15/4/83).

Comrade Prime Minister, you know that about two weeks before
election day in March 1980, then Governor of Southern Rhodesia, Lord Soames,
called all leaders of political parties contesting in the election and told
them that "because of the security situation in the eastern districts of
Zimbabwe there could be no free and fair election there", which meant
election would in fact not take place.

You will remember, I am sure, that about four or three days
before polling day, Lord Soames unilaterally and without consultation
announced that elections will take place in all districts in the country,
including the eastern districts. I am sure you will agree with me that, with
all the goodwill in the world, the Good Governor could not have made the
"security situation" in the eastern districts so stable in less than two
weeks, to be able to conduct "free and fair elections".

You know as well as I do that the unstable and dangerous
security situation in the eastern districts was caused by your party, Zanu
PF, which maintained armed former Zanla combatants throughout that area who
terrorised by beatings, tortures and even killing anyone who did not comply
with Zanu PF directions. It was made impossible for any party other than
Zanu PF to operate in the eastern districts area.

We in Zapu tried to canvass support for elections in those
districts, and ended up with two candidates killed, 18 party workers killed
and several others severely beaten up, some of them permanently maimed, and
while others disappeared to this day. I approached you and told you what
your party was doing with little or no effect at all on the situation there.

Now that the 1985 elections are approaching Zanu PF has begun
using the same tactics as were used in the eastern districts before and
during the 1980 elections.

This time the Fifth Brigade is being used as state machinery to
terrorise and coerce the people in Matabeleland. Some believe that you are
doing all this not just for electoral advantage, but that your aim is

As an effective coercive stunt, the Fifth Brigade was deployed
in the area ostensibly to root out dissidents but in fact to terrorise the
masses by beatings, torture, killings, rapings, looting, burning of
villages, and literally doing anything atrocious on such a large scale as to
instil fear into the people, not only in the affected areas, but that the
effects of the action would pervade the entire population of Zimbabwe.

This has been followed by maintenance in every area sizeable
groups of the Fifth Brigade and reinforced by armed Youth Brigades in areas
like Gokwe and Zhombe to organise forced pungwes (rallies held from dusk to
dawn) at which the old and the young are forcibly given doses of Zanu PF

This group has continued to carry out selective beatings,
torture, killings and kidnappings in their respective areas. In areas like
Nkayi, Lupane and Tsholotsho only sizeable groups of the Fifth Brigade are
maintained. It is general practice during these pungwes that young women,
schoolgirls and residents' wives are forced to have sexual intercourse with

District councillors, chiefs and headmen are ordered by these
armed young men to give numbers of people under them, and then given a
corresponding number of Zanu PF membership cards and told to return with
cash and lists of names on a given day.

These are the methods used for organising rallies for Zanu PF
ministers and other officials.

I know and accept that the Fifth Brigade was deployed in these
areas after the murder of about 200 people in about a year and the
destruction of thousands of dollars worth of government equipment by
dissidents. But Mr Prime Minister, I am sure you appreciate the absurdity of
trying to protect people who have had 200 of their number killed in 12
months by dissidents while the Fifth Brigade in the process of that
protection kills 3 000 to 5 000 people in six weeks.

I know that you have denied that any such things have taken
place in Matabeleland, but the fact is that the evidence of this is
irrefutable and based on the testimony of numerous first-hand witnesses, not
least on that of many of the victims who survived. These victims include
teachers, nurses, district councillors, etc.

Apart from victim witnesses, there are among others well-known
international aid organisations who were friends of Zimbabwe during the war
and after independence, who came to work with our people on the ground
level. Added to these witnesses are different churches which work in the
affected areas. I would refer especially to the testimony of no less than
six Catholic bishops who were moved to issue a joint signed pastoral
statement at their Easter 1983 conference. They did this, I would remind
you, after I made my own disclosure at a press conference and in parliament
late in February.

It has to be appreciated that a bishop of the Catholic Church,
indeed any Christian bishop, is a person who has devoted his life to the
service of God. In order that his ministry shall be effective, he has an
obvious interest in maintaining friendly and cordial relations with the
government of the day. It is certainly not in his interest, or that of his
flock, to act in any way which will make such relations difficult or
discordant. We may conclude therefore that when he is so moved he acts from
a deep sense of personal conviction and from motives which can scarcely be
said to spring from self-interest.

The following is an extract from their statement: "We entirely
support the use of the army in a peace-keeping role. What we view with
dismay are methods that have been adopted for doing so. Methods which should
be firm and just have degenerated into brutality and atrocity. We censure
the frightful consequences of such methods.

"Violent reaction against dissident activity has, to our certain
knowledge, brought about the maiming and death of hundreds and hundreds of
innocent people who are neither dissidents nor collaborators. We are
convinced by incontrovertible evidence that many wanton atrocities and
brutalities have been and are still being perpetrated. We have already
forwarded such evidence to the government."

I would remind you of the basis on which this testimony is made.
It stems from the first-hand reports of numerous parish priests, priests who
are articulate and responsible officers of their church and who are in close
daily contact with the people of their parishes.

Again in the interest of their work they have everything to gain
from maintaining good relations with the government of the day, and much to
lose from a failure to do so.

Hence their testimony is surely to be judged to be
disinterested, just as their motives for offering it can spring from nothing
but a desire to serve their people. In this light is it possible for anyone
in a position of authority and hence responsibility for these outrages, and
possessed of the merest sense of human sensibility and compassion to feel
other than a deep sense of shame and a desire to make amends for all this
grievous suffering?

I was amazed and bewildered when Dr Nathan Shamuyarira dismissed
the Catholic bishops' statement as "irresponsible, contrived propaganda".
But I thought because as Minister of Information, he would swallow what the
bishops in their well-considered statement said about his
government-controlled mass media which has, to quote the same pastoral
statement, "singularly failed to keep the people of Zimbabwe properly
informed of the facts which are common knowledge, both in areas concerned
and outside them through the reports of reliable witnesses.

"The facts point to a reign of terror caused by wanton killings,
woundings, beatings, burnings and rapings. Many homes have been burnt down.
People in rural areas are starving, not only because of the drought, but
because in some cases supplies of food have been deliberately cut off and in
other cases access to food supplies has been restricted or stopped. The
innocent have no recourse or redress, for fear of reprisals."

I was shattered when you as Prime Minister said of the bishops'
well-thought and constructive pastoral letter: "The seven Catholic bishops'
pastoral statement sermonising my government on the morality of our military
operations in Matabeleland as they affect human rights and our policy of
reconciliation is the latest pronouncement on the subject."

You further said the bishops were playing to the international
gallery and are mere megaphone agents of your external masters - "this band
of Jeremiahs".

"In these circumstances, your allegiance and loyalty to Zimbabwe
becomes extremely questionable."

Considering that the church in general and the Catholic bishops
in particular on the question of human rights were very outspoken during our
war of independence, one wonders where we are being headed to.

Looking at your attitude towards this most serious occurrence in
your country, it appears that for many of our people the result of a 15-year
armed struggle has not been to achieve the liberties for which they fought,
but an increase in the oppression against which they took up arms in the
first place.

I agree completely with the bishops when they declare: "These
brutal methods will have the opposite effect to what the government is
intending to achieve." And we would add that terror did not work under Smith
and it will not work today under us.

As a direct result of government terrorism thousands of people
have fled into neighbouring territory and many, many more have left their
villages and gone into hiding. In keeping with the worst excesses of the
Smith era there has been the burning of villages and other barbarities
referred to in the report, as well as the widespread practice of extortion
and attempts at compulsory indoctrination as stated in preceding paragraphs.

This is not government, it is the abuse of government, an abuse
which transforms the rule of law into the law of rule. As such it cannot
lead to a free, united, peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe. But to one in
which oppression, division, violence and poverty will shadow all our hopes,
and make a mockery of the freedom struggle in
which so many heroes gave their lives.

In the final section of their statement the bishops appeal to
the government to use its authority to stop these excesses and call for the
establishment of a judicial commission. We fully support this call. But I
feel that the problem facing us in Zimbabwe today requires an approach much
more resolute, much more embracing than ever
attempted by Zanu and Zapu before.

A judicial commission as proposed by the bishops should be a
part of wider machinery composed of a wide spectrum of our society, who
should examine our composite problems together with government, seek and
find solutions which should be implemented jointly by the people and

If the people of Zimbabwe and their government fail to find a
solution to this serious situation in which we find ourselves, our enemies
will exploit the situation and destroy us.

Remember, Prime Minister, Zimbabwe and the people have to defend
the country from these enemies. But today Zimbabwe is defenceless because
the people live in fear, not of these enemies, but of their own government.

What has happened to the brave and determined, confident and
fearless people of Zimbabwe and their soldiers of liberation, who showed the
world that no power on earth could prevent us from achieving our freedom?
That was a time when even our enemies had to admire us for our courage and

Today our enemies laugh at us. What they see is a divided,
confused and frightened people, led by a divided, confused and frightened

A government which has the love, respect and confidence of the
people does not have to use the laws and weapons of colonial regimes to
protect itself. The people themselves will protect their government if they
have full trust in it. Fear is a weapon of despair, used by those who fear
the people. This is the time and opportunity to rebuild trust, find the
solution to our problems and defend the country as a united people.

Yours sincerely,

Joshua M Nkomo.

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How land policy in Zim led to ruin

Zim Independent

By Craig Richardson

FEW countries have failed as spectacularly, or as tragically, as
Zimbabwe has over the past half-decade. Zimbabwe has been transformed from
one of Africa's rare success stories into one of its worst economic and
humanitarian disasters.

But while culpability for this collapse is broadly attributed to
the policies of President Robert Mugabe, the intricacies of the country's
unravelling remain poorly appreciated - above all, the importance of
property rights in the process.

That is unfortunate, because the destruction of Zimbabwe offers
important, cautionary lessons for other developing countries.

Development economists like to study success: how to pull a
country out of poverty, how to spur growth, how to improve living
conditions. Yet what about a country undergoing a rapid and devastating
economic collapse?

Curiously, development economics has devoted little attention to
studying this phenomenon, and there is scant research to explain how it

Consider Zimbabwe, a state which since 2000 has been in an
economic tailspin. Today, it is shrinking faster than any other country that
is not at war. Zimbabwe's currency is nearly worthless from hyperinflation,
its financial institutions are in disarray, its world-class farms sit idle,
and its manufacturing, mining and export sectors are declining steeply. The
informal exchange rate is $450 000/US$1; six years ago it was $55/US$1.

In fact, the collapse can be traced to a single policy: the
fast-track land reform programme, under which the Mugabe government,
beginning in 2000, seized thousands of white-owned commercial farms, leading
to a sharp drop in agricultural output. The other "inappropriate" policies
adopted by the government added to the damage, but they were not the
underlying cause.

Yet a puzzle remains: the farming sector made up only 18% of the
entire economy. Other sectors, such as banking, tourism, manufacturing and
mining, also shrank dramatically during this time. How to explain the

In fact, the damage done to property rights by the land reforms
caused a series of ripple effects throughout Zimbabwe's other economic

Studying this "cascade failure" helps to reveal the framework of
developing market economies - what economist Hernando de Soto calls "the
hidden architecture" of capitalism. The destruction of Zimbabwe represents a
grim "natural experiment" that illustrates the consequences of ignoring the
rule of law.

Unfortunately, the rebuilding of an economy after property
rights have been revoked is likely to be contentious and slow, akin to
rebuilding trust in a relationship after a serious betrayal.

Zimbabwe was once considered one of Africa's success stories,
with its modern roads, strong education system, low crime rate and
diversified economy. Economic growth from 1980 to 1989 averaged a robust
5,2% in real terms, and though it slowed from 1990 to 1999 because of
questionable macroeconomic policies, it still averaged 4,3% during this

An important reason for the country's prosperity was its
sophisticated commercial farming sector. Vast tracts of large-scale farms
produced thousands of hectares of tobacco, cotton and other cash crops.
About 4 500 white families owned these farms. In contrast, 840 000 black
farmers eked out a living on small and relatively infertile plots in the
communal lands, producing maize, groundnuts and other staples.

By the late 1990s, a broad consensus had taken shape - including
the Mugabe government, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United
Nations, the British government (the original colonial power in Zimbabwe),
African scholars and even many of Zimbabwe's white commercial farmers - that
land reforms were needed. The purpose of these reforms would be to improve
agricultural productivity and, simultaneously, increase wealth for the black

As it turned out, however, the IMF - along with everyone else
who had trusted the Mugabe government - was soon proven wrong. Beginning in
2000, Harare began seizing control of white-owned farmland, with no
compensation for its owners, and then redistributing it to political cronies
in the Zanu PF party, rather than to poor rural farmers.

Because most of the new owners knew little about farming,
agricultural production dropped sharply. Land titles were declared null and
void, and all contracts and mortgages related to the farmland were suddenly
worthless. The Mugabe government thus recast land reform into a tool of
political patronage, with the renewal of leases left to the whims of the
party leadership.

Mugabe's government, the UN, the IMF, international aid agencies
and non-governmental organisations have offered many excuses for Zimbabwe's
collapse, all downplaying the impact of the land reforms and Harare's
malfeasance. Among these excuses have been droughts, foreign sanctions and
lavish spending on war veterans. None is plausible as an alternative
underlying explanation for the country's unravelling, however.

If the usual explanations for Zimbabwe's implosion are
insufficient, why do the country's land reforms provide a better
explanation? The argument here is straightforward: the expropriation of land
without compensation destroyed property rights - the foundation of the
economy - and set off a chain reaction, which was intensified by additional
actions of the Mugabe government.

Property rights are analogous to the concrete foundation of a
building: critical for supporting the frame and the roof, yet invisible to
its inhabitants. In fact, there are three economic pillars that rest on this

* trust on the part of foreign and domestic investors that their
investments are safe from expropriation;

* land equity, which allows wealth in property to be transformed
into other assets; and

* incentives, which improve economic productivity by allowing
individuals to capture the fruit of their labours.

How did Mugabe's destruction of property rights lead to the
collapse of these three pillars and with them the country's economy?

In sifting through the rubble, it is clear that the pillars were
not of equal strength. Trust is the most fragile of the three pillars and
was the first to disintegrate, followed by land equity and, lastly, producer
and worker incentives. Watching Zimbabwe's economic unravelling is
chillingly reminiscent of watching a building collapse in slow motion after
a series of timed explosions.

In 1993, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) was opened to
foreigners for the first time. Investors were bullish and, by 1996, Zimbabwe's
equity markets were surging.

More than half of the growth in the top 35 sub-Saharan companies
(excluding South African groups) came from Zimbabwe. The number of
Zimbabwean companies in the region's top 35 rose from nine to 11 in one
year, but more importantly, their combined market capitalisation more than
doubled from US$1,2 billion to US$2,6 billion.

Zimbabwe was one of the top performers in the world's emerging
markets and a new favourite of investors.

Just before Christmas 1997, however, the government announced
that 1 471 of the country's 4 500 farms had been earmarked for compulsory
acquisition. This kind of rhetoric had been heard before from Harare and was
largely dismissed as electioneering.

Yet by 1998, the government's language became even more heated.
Speaking to prospective voters in the Matobo district in September of that
year, Mugabe attacked "rich farm lands in former white colonial hands" and
argued that expropriation would "cure the economic and social ills
bedevilling the nation".

The ZSE began to plunge soon thereafter. News reports indicated
that investors were increasingly leery of the government's plans. By the end
of 1998, the value of stocks traded on the ZSE had dropped by a stunning

As Christopher Dell, US ambassador to Zimbabwe, has noted:
"Nothing rattles investor confidence more than the prospect of
expropriation. The constitutional amendment striking down the right to
redress for victims of land expropriation sent a shock wave through the
community of investors who keep an eye on the climate in Zimbabwe."

Between 1998 and 2001, foreign direct investment dropped by 99%.
In addition, the World Bank risk premium on investment in Zimbabwe jumped
from 3,4% in 2000 to 153,2% by 2004.

It is hardly surprising that the stock market and foreign direct
investment collapsed so quickly, and somewhat in advance of the actual farm
seizures. After all, this type of wealth is the most fluid and therefore the
most volatile. With a few keystrokes tapped out on a computer, investments
can instantly move thousands of kilometres to a more promising country.

As the farm seizures continued, banks became reluctant to lend
to the remaining commercial farmers whose land had been listed for
compulsory acquisition by the government or occupied by squatters.

A vast constriction of borrowing occurred, which rippled from
business to business, and sector to sector. With the Zimbabwean government
declaring itself the sole owner of farmland, banks and other property owners
now held worthless titles. The land became what De Soto calls "dead
capital", because it was unable to be leveraged and used as equity.

An estimated US$5,3 billion worth of land value vanished as a
result. In 2001 alone, this loss of financial equity in the farmland sector
exceeded all of the World Bank aid ever given to Zimbabwe by a whopping
242%. This drop in wealth also equalled 65% of Zimbabwe's GDP in 2003, which
the World Bank estimated at US$8,3 billion.

With banks now holding worthless titles and unable to foreclose
on properties, 13 of Zimbabwe's 41 banking institutions were in financial
crisis by late 2004. The amount of credit sharply contracted, affecting all
sectors of the economy. Gross fixed capital formation, heavily dependent on
loans, fell by 43%, from US$1,1 billion in 1999 to US$0,6 billion in 2001.

Before 1997, on average, 1 600 tractors were sold annually
throughout Zimbabwe, with farmland typically used as collateral. By 2002,
total national sales dropped to only eight tractors, according to a 2003 IMF
report. The OECD reported that gross private capital formation, a healthy
20% of GDP in 1995, fell to -6,7% in 2002, as farming equipment was looted,
destroyed or sold.

Zimbabwe's conversion from productive to dead capital was now
nearly complete. Just as De Soto's work has shown how developing countries
can harvest wealth by titling land and using that property as collateral for
bank loans, the case of Zimbabwe shows that these ideas work in reverse as
well - with grim results.

This, then, is the second pillar of the economy that crumbles
when land reform movements destroy property rights. Bank investments are
certainly less volatile than stock markets and foreign direct investment and
have the ability to withstand greater shocks to the system when secure rule
of law is under threat.

Property owners have the most to lose and the least to gain by
uprooting their livelihoods and moving to another country. Their departure
signals the final stage of economic collapse.

The loss of Zimbabwe's 4 000 farms has had an impact on every
aspect of the country's economy, as noted by economist John Robertson. Each
of these farming companies employed 100 or more people, paid taxes to the
government and generated incomes for others that also yielded taxes.

In addition, the farms provided housing, clinics and schools;
more than 1 million Zimbabwean children received an education from farm
schools. Communal farmers also benefited from the farming companies,
sourcing their demands for seed, fertiliser, chemicals and expertise to

Though agriculture was only directly responsible for 18% of the
Zimbabwean economy, 60% of the country's non-farm enterprises directly or
indirectly depended on commercial agriculture inputs. As a result, 700
non-farming companies had shut their doors by late 2001. In addition, the
agricultural sector of the economy employed 60% of the entire population,
which meant that millions of unemployed workers now had far less disposable
income to purchase the nation's goods and services.

Commercial tobacco and cotton farms also provided about 40% of
hard currency in the country, necessary for imports like fuel, machinery and
medicine. With the collapse of the commercial agricultural sector, food and
other basic goods disappeared from shelves, and widespread fuel shortages
paralysed the country's cars and planes.

Without hard currency in its coffers, the Mugabe government
turned to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to pay its bills. Annual money supply
growth rose from 57% in January 2001 to 103% by the end of the year,
inaugurating a cycle of devastating hyperinflation.

According to the OECD, the acute food shortages caused by the
land reforms meant that the country, which was once a net exporter of maize,
had to print billions of Zimbabwe dollars to import food. The government
even ran out of hard currency to buy the imported ink needed to manufacture
its own money; as a result, bills were printed on only one side. By March
2006, it took $60 000 to buy one loaf of bread, even as a new $50 000 note
was being printed to "keep up" with higher prices.

Zimbabwe now vies for a number of depressing world records: most
orphans per capita, highest number of Aids cases per capita, and lowest life
span, at 38 years. It was recently rated by the World Economic Forum as the
world's worst place to do business out of 117 countries surveyed.

The prospect of land reform can be appealing, even seductive, to
developing countries with large disparities in wealth - a simple matter of
extracting resources from a "less deserving" rich minority and
redistributing them to a "more deserving" poor majority. Yet as seen in
Zimbabwe, the outcomes of fast-track land reform have enormous potential to
backfire, leaving everyone worse off than before.

Unfortunately, several countries continue to ignore this lesson.
In South Africa President Thabo Mbeki expressed interest during his latest
state of the nation speech in revisiting the "willing buyer, willing seller"
principle for land redistribution. South Africa is expected to begin
expropriating farmland at state-determined prices this year, part of a
broader attempt to address the economic inequalities inherited from

South Africa Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka agrees that
the pace of land reform should be accelerated. "There needs to be a bit of
oomph," she said in a 2005 interview. "That's why we may need the skills of
Zimbabwe to help us."

South Africa and other countries considering land reforms should
pay heed to the disastrous experiences of Zimbabwe before plunging ahead. As
the market's foundation, property rights serve many purposes: they bind
together work and rewards, expand time horizons from days to years, allow
wealth to be transformed into other assets, and encourage foreign

The speed at which an economy can develop ultimately depends on
the ability of the government to inspire trust among citizens, banks, and
investors that it will fairly enforce the rule of law.

Other factors are important as well, such as free markets,
stable money supply, good healthcare, strong educational systems and ease of
starting a new business. But none ultimately matters as much as the
individual's ability to secure and retain property rights.

* Craig Richardson is an associate professor of economics at
Salem College, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He is author of The Collapse
of Zimbabwe in the Wake of the 2000/2003 Land Reforms.

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Afflicted by severe cognitive dissonance

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

EVER heard of a condition called cognitive dissonance? It is an
expression used to describe a personal state of detachment from reality.
Which is why it is often applied to politicians!

You can observe it in the guy at a party who tells terrible
jokes. Everyone laughs uncomfortably while he proceeds to tell another one.

President Mugabe's address to the central committee as reported
in the state media at the weekend was as confusing as it was intriguing.
There were traces of cognitive dissonance and outright fantasy which
underline the ruling party's inability to engineer an economic turnaround.
Mugabe said people were suffering and the cost of living was continuously
going up.

"Life is difficult, yes, but freedom can never be negotiated,"
he said. He then went off at a tangent to say our freedom did not come about
because the British wanted it but because Zimbabweans wanted it.

There are two issues raised here: the people are suffering and
freedom cannot be negotiated. Are these two related? Perhaps the message is
that Zimbabweans cannot have it both ways - having full stomachs and being

I am confident party leaders listening to the president, if they
were listening at all (I will come back to this later), were not only
enjoying their freedoms but labouring on full stomachs too.

More dissonance. President Mugabe said given the good rains this
season, Zimbabwe had demonstrated to the world that it could produce enough
food to feed its people. But in the same address, we hear "there has not
been enough food, we do not have all basics." What is the actual position
regarding food in this country?

This is the hallmark of cognitive dissonance. Politicians
afflicted by this condition are not aware of complete self-contradictions or
the utter lack of logic. The ideas are rooted in confusion at best, delusion
at worst.

Then we were told that mining firms which were not interested in
the government policy of indigenisation should get out and allow others to
come in. The president said it was the party which made policies and gave
directions. But then he provided useful disclosures on the composition of
the party. He told us every time the party meets they are talking about
"restructuring, restructuring and restructuring... Do you people listen?" he

Mr President, if they do not listen to you, what about poor
villagers in Musambakaruma?

Worse still this party which is supposed to come up with
"policies and directions" on crucial issues like mining legislation is not
only ridden with "divisions, disunity, selfishness (and) individualism" but
it also has among its senior members makorokoza (illegal gold panners) and
men and women of loose morals who do not listen to serious warnings on HIV
and Aids.

"Zviiko zvamuri kuita (what are you doing)?" Mugabe asked of his
lieutenants. But he has faith in them. They will lead the turnaround. They
are expected to bring down inflation to single digit levels, revive closed
companies, etc.

Meanwhile, I was happy to receive news this week that our news
editor Dumisani Muleya had landed the prestigious Free Press Africa Award at
this year's CNN/MultiChoice African Journalists Awards in Mozambique.

I am sure you will agree that this is a fitting honour for
arguably the best political news writer in the country today who has proved
to be a courageous fighter in the battle for a democratic society in

As noted by British Speaker of Parliament Michael Martin last
year when Muleya was awarded the House of Commons Speaker Abbot Award: "One
day we hope Zimbabwe will have its freedom like the cousins you have in
South Africa. And when that freedom is won, people will make the observation
that you (Muleya) were at the forefront of the fight and struggle for
democracy, justice and peace in your country."

I have always believed that real fighters for media freedom will
demonstrate their struggle in their works. Dumisani has done this through
thoughtful and well-researched articles, something young political reporters
should emulate instead of cheering on makorokoza, multiple farmers and
multiple spouse owners and those who stand for every moral wrong in society

Well done Dumi and congratulations to another great Zimbabwean
son, Desmond Kwande, for winning the Mohamed Amin Photographic Award.

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Zim Independent

PRESIDENT Mugabe seems worried about the wayward behaviour of
his colleagues in the party. He told the party's central committee meeting
last Saturday that senior officials were abusing their positions to amass
wealth and properties.

He promised to launch a campaign to weed out such people.

"We shall now be bound to have a cleansing in the central
committee," he said.

We would be surprised if anybody was moved by these threats. In
the past they have been just that, empty threats which have been met with
sniggering contempt.

How many multiple-farm owners have returned the surplus
properties taken during the orgy of looting dubbed fast-track land reform?
He has launched several land audits, ostensibly to verify who owns what land
or who has more than one farm. The results have remained a closely guarded
secret as if Zimbabwe were government's private property.

We have no doubt that the failure to name and shame is
responsible for people ignoring his threats. Let's have the names and people
will change. As it is, the only "collectivity" we have is about looting
national resources.

While we are at it, is it not an abuse of authority when Lands
minister Didymus Mutasa cancels a land offer letter simply because there is
an ownership dispute between a private individual and a senior party

The wrangle between Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo and
Langton Masunda over the ownership of Jijima Lodge is getting more and more
sordid, with Mutasa trying to circumvent the courts in favour of Nkomo. It
doesn't portend well for Mugabe's campaign of cleansing.

President speaks on successor," the Sunday Mail told us. But in
fact he said very little apart from the claim that the succession issue
would not be decided by witchdoctors but by the people of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe called the succession a "nonsensical thing". This is
despite the fact that he told a Zanu PF congress in Masvingo in 2003 that
people were free to debate the issue so long as they did not cause divisions
in the party.

Did the people of Zimbabwe choose Joice Mujuru? Is that what

We recall the promise of a free debate being thwarted by
presidential fiat in November 2004. Those who disagreed with the imperial
decree were denounced and suspended.

Come Saturday, he accused unnamed people in the party of
consulting "witchdoctors" so that they could succeed him. Quite strangely,
he seemed to imply that he was surrounded by unsuitable people because they
lacked dignity. He regretted government having built flats in the Avenues
where his ministers and party officials had set up so-called "small houses"
and had many children scattered around town.

All these are startling revelations from a head of state about
his subordinates. Doesn't this reflect badly on the leader himself for
selecting unsuitable people as his ministers?

The French Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Michel Raimbaud, has called
on Zimbabweans to discuss their problems among themselves before trying to
engage foreigners. New Ziana quoted Raimbaud as saying at an event to mark
Bastille Day: "If you accept to discuss with foreigners as we are, why not
talk among Zimbabweans as you are?"

He urged government to re-engage in political dialogue with
traditional partners which would allow for the resumption of bilateral

"Why not re-engage in a political dialogue, as we propose, which
would allow for the resumption of links which have been broken or slackened,
to clear up misunderstandings, perhaps to recognise responsibilities in the
times or years gone past, to make up for missed opportunities?" he said.

There is certainly nothing new in these calls. What is strange
is why something so obvious has eluded our political leadership.

When it comes to the issue of internal dialogue, even President
Mugabe appears to pay only lip service to sovereignty and Zimbabwe's
internal affairs and believes aliens like Benjamin Mkapa will solve our
problems. It smacks of hypocrisy. Which is perhaps what the French
ambassador was saying in a nicer way.

'We'll soldier on," President Mugabe told a group of what seemed
to be largely silent journalists at Zimbabwe House last week.

"We decided to soldier on, seeking assistance from our friends,"
he said after claiming the economy was "under siege" by Britain and its

The government was working "flat out" to turn the economy around
through programmes like the National Economic Development Priority

This would be the panacea to the problems the country was
facing, he claimed.

We await evidence of that. As for his "soldiering" on, what sort
of soldiering does he have to do? Are there any power or water shortages at
State House? Does he have to queue for food? What hardships is the Mugabe
family having to sustain?

The truth is the country is having to soldier on in the face of
the hardships his policies have imposed. And he is still claiming it is all
somebody else's fault. He even managed to resurrect the story about Britain
intercepting oil tankers on the high seas.

But don't worry, it's all about to get better, he claimed.

"Government has been aware of the hardships in the food area,"
he said. Everything had been going up in price. "But inflation is now going
down and it's the start of the turnaround of the economy."

So, a marginal decrease in the rate of inflation is interpreted
as inflation going down!

Needless to say the president failed to provide any other
evidence of the "turnaround" which only he can see. There was now more
production of goods, more foreign currency and greater investment, he

But the strangest part of his homily came when he spoke about
political violence.

"It worries us that some people are violent," he said.

Since when? And where is Joseph Mwale? The see-nothing,
say-nothing journalists present didn't ask.

How in all seriousness can a self-respecting reporter let a
politician get away with something like that? And when the president talks
of the good life not coming from the British, didn't it occur to anybody to
ask what sort of a good life he has brought us!

Why have a million Zimbabweans chosen Blair's Britain in
preference to Mugabe's Zimbabwe?

We noted the reference to "people engaging in gold deals". Does
this mean the one-time anointed heir, who fell out of favour but was
reported to be creeping back in, is now out of favour once more?

Back to witchdoctors, Nathaniel Manheru thinks that because
Jonathan Moyo contributes the occasional op/ed piece to the Zimbabwe
Independent he is therefore editing the paper. Does the same apply to
Manheru at the Herald?

Manheru didn't used to be so unkind to his former boss. Indeed
he was slavish in his devotion cheering on every depredation by Moyo against
the independent press. Now he sings a different song.

But we can be assured that if Moyo was editing Manheru's column
he would know that it was Harold Wilson, not Harold Macmillan, who was
British prime minister in 1965. He would also be able to locate the Aswan

Geoff Nyarota also needs some editorial assistance. Malawi
became independent in 1964, not 1963, and a republic in 1966. Many
Commonwealth countries chose not to become republics at independence
preferring to wait a few years.

Geoff should also know that "Highfields" should read Highfield.
There is only one of them! Finally, Robert Mugabe was released from
detention in December 1974, not 1975.

Meanwhile, Muckraker is looking forward to receiving a copy of
Nyarota's book, Against the Grain. Arthur Mutambara has already discovered
two errors, Geoff reported in his column last week.

Geoff returned the favour by finding a major error in the
professor's CV.

At a conference in Aspen, Colorado, attended by a number of
prominent Zimbabweans, Geoff says Mutambara was "wrongfully described" as
president of the MDC, "which quite clearly he is not"!

Geoff claims David Coltart concurred and improbably agreed to
inform the conference convenors of Mutambara's "correct status". But Geoff
was mortified to discover that no "correction" was made to the programme.

Mutambara, we are told, spent the rest of the conference
avoiding Nyarota!

little article on Tuesday claiming the United States and its
European Union allies were "riled" by China's inroads in Africa caught our
attention. The writer tried in vain to present Africa as a homogeneous
entity where the Chinese premier's visit to seven African countries means
Zimbabwe has not been "snubbed".

But that is the plain, painful truth. Why would he skip Zimbabwe
when we have been all over the world pretending that China was the kingpin
of our "Look East" policy?

China has been trying to "help", yes but probably on the basis
of tenuous historical ties dating back to the liberation struggle. But the
Chinese must be aware that they are trying to help a country that is
hell-bent on ruining itself.

For diplomatic purposes, there was therefore nothing to be
gained by soiling their name by getting too close to a leper. Hence Chinese
premier Wen Jiabao, president Hu Jintao and foreign minister Li Zhaoxing all
gave Zimbabwe a very wide berth indeed during their recent tours of Africa.

Having said that, there is no denying that Kwame Nkrumah must be
turning in his grave watching the balkanisation of Africa in its scramble
for new colonisers. His dream of a United States of Africa appears to have
been sacrificed by petty-minded megalomaniacs entrapped in the throes of

Finally, the Sunday Mail carried a picture last weekend of
people fast asleep at the Umdala Wethu Gala in Bulawayo. Not just one or two
but dozens of

Evidently a good time was had by all!

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Eliminating the zeroes

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

OVER the last five years inflation has soared upwards almost
continuously, the only exception being in the latter part of 2004. It
reached an all-tine high of 1 193,5% in May 2006, before allegedly falling
to a miniscule extent in June 2006 - but that fall must be viewed
circumspectly considering the absence of any adjustment to the Consumer
Price Index for increases in school fees since February, in domestic workers'
wages since September 2005 and in diverse other prices and charges.

As inflation has surged higher and higher, it has impacted with
intensifying effect upon the practicalities of Zimbabwe's currency. Coins
and low-denomination bank notes became of no effective value and totally
meaningless as an exchange medium.

The costs of production of those coins and notes vastly exceeded
the nominal value, and usage of such denominations for commercial
transactions is impractical in the extreme. Continuing use would have
necessitated the replacement of wallets and purses with wheelbarrows or even
bigger containers. Bank tellers would be unable to cope with volumes or
weights of deposits and withdrawals, and retailers would have had to replace
cash registers with vault-sized cash boxes.

The central bank first addressed the problem with the issue of
$500 and, thereafter, $1 000 banknotes and, as the problem endured and grew
exponentially, with the issue of bearer cheques, first having values of $5
000 and $10 000, then $20 000, subsequently $50 000, and recently $100 000.

Even that has not sufficed to address the handling problems (and
the concomitant exacerbation of security problems), for just the purchase of
a small trolley of groceries can require a "brick" of 250 or more $100 000
notes, if one is fortunate enough to obtain such notes, or two "bricks"
aggregating to 500 notes if only $50 000 notes are available.

Businessmen have to carry briefcases full of currency to meet
business travel expenses such as taxi fares, porters' gratuities, restaurant
entertaining of clients and the like. If not resolved in some other way,
Zimbabwe now desperately needs a $500 000 bank note, and could well need a
million-dollar note in the not-too-distant future.

However, that is not the only problem. Most of Zimbabwe's
computer programmes were designed without expectations of having to cope, at
a future date, with a multitude of zeroes.

Cash registers, accounting machines, petrol pump pricing meters,
desk calculators, and the like, all coped very adequately with monetary
calculations and recordals until inflation went berserk, but can no longer
do so. They just don't have the capacity to deal with transactions which
can, in many instances, encompass ten or more digits (exclusive of cents
but, being programmed for cents, nevertheless using three fields - two
digits and a decimal point, plus 10 or more quantitive digits).

Accounting records, invoices, cash register till slips and the
like do not have the space to accommodate a myriad of digits. Disarray is
becoming more and more pronounced throughout commerce and industry.

Many argue that the time has come for Zimbabwe to issue a new
currency, contending that doing so will address the problem. It had been the
intent of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to do so, and it has publicly
foreshadowed the launch of a new currency in 2006. But that intent was
formulated when inflation was falling (unfortunately, however, the fall
proved to be temporary in nature). It then made sense to plan to issue a new
currency. At present that is not so; it would be an exercise in the
pointless for, so long as hyperinflation continues to prevail, the new
currency would soon become as ineffectual as that which it would be

As a result, within a relatively limited short period of time,
it would become necessary once again to issue a new currency, and so on ad
infinitum until inflation falls to very low, sustainable levels. Moreover,
the cost of a new currency is immense, for it is not only the cost of
production that must be sustained, but also of withdrawal of the old and
issue of the new, and of education of the urban and rural populace.

But Zimbabwe cannot do naught other than await the day when a
new currency can be issued, for chaos is intensifying due to the growing
"zero" problem confronting the handling of cash and accounting.

The interim solution is to eliminate the zeroes, as has been
done over the years by many other countries, including Italy, Brazil and
Argentina. Most recently, and very close to home, Mozambique has done so,
only a few weeks ago. It has eliminated three zeroes from the metical. MZM1
000 000 became MTn 1 000, effective on July 1.

Mozambique did this by enacting in its legislative assembly a
Bill to simplify its currency by establishing a conversion rate of one to a
thousand. As a result the 1 000 metical coin is now worth one metical, and
the highest denomination banknote, being for 500 000 meticals, is now worth
500 meticals.

Concurrently, all prices, charges, salaries and wages and so
forth were correspondingly modified. The new legislation was enacted in
December 2005, and provided for a series of processes to accommodate the
transition to the redenominated currency. These included that the former
metical would by symbolised MT, while the redenominated metical would be
denominated MTn and that, for a period of nine months, from March 31 to
December 31 2006, all prices of goods and services had to be indicated
simultaneously in MTn and MT, thereby assuring consumers and others of
equitable price conversion.

To give effect to this, all "economic agents" and other entities
supplying goods or services were mandatorily obliged to procure that their
computer programmes, stationery and other trading prerequisites would
accommodate the double indication of prices.

The new law included provision that the conversion of the MT to
the MTn would not impact adversely upon the existence, enforceability and
tenure of any contracts which had provisions encompassing the MT, such
provisions being deemed to be automatically converted to MTns, effectively
by the elimination, in all instances, of three zeros. Taxpayers are required
to render two income tax returns for 2006, one being for the first six
months of 2006, completed on the basis of the MT, and the other being for
the second half-year of 2006, completed on the basis of the MTn.

New bank notes, being MTn, are being issued but, transitionally,
both old and new notes are valid, the old merely being discounted by three
zeroes to arrive at the MTn value, and progressively as a sufficiency of MTn
notes come into circulation, the old MT notes are to be withdrawn.

Mozambique has demonstrated a capacity to apply a practical,
viable solution to a critical, economically debilitating problem. Zimbabwe
needs to do likewise, and to do so promptly and dynamically, with total
disregard for misplaced, ego-preservation related, fears that doing so can
be construed as admission of economic failure or mis-management.

Succumbing to such fears can only compound the immense problems
that are confronting the information technology industry, the financial
sector, the distributive trades, the many other economic sectors and the
populace as a whole.

Zimbabwe must stop dragging its feet, and must act positively,
for the present monetary chaos can only worsen and contribute further to
economic disorder, if the already long overdue need for action is not taken
forthrightly and convincingly. Zimbabwe must eliminate the excess zeroes

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Zim Independent

ZIMBABWE is in its third month since the launch of the National
Economic Development Priority Programme.

At its launch in April, government promised momentous changes in
our economic fortunes by mobilising critically-needed foreign currency
resources of US$2,5 billion and employment creation. This was supposed to
coincide with Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's projected decline in
inflation in the second quarter of the year, which is to say, to resolve the
dislocation between fiscal and monetary policies.

Zimbabweans, having seen similar policies in the past
experiencing a stillbirth, were sceptical about the magical efficacy of the
new policy. Since then we have had to be even more sceptical.

The zeal with which the marginal fall in inflation in June was
seized upon as a sign that the elusive economic turnaround was nigh suggests
that there is something fundamentally wrong.

A possible explanation for the slowdown in the rate of inflation
could be relative availability of maize, meaning that fewer people are
buying mealie-meal, or simply that they are going hungry because they can't
afford it.

There has been no change in fundamentals or the pricing
distortions in the economy caused by a multiplicity of prices for fuel and
foreign currency for manufacturers. If anything, intermittent and
unscheduled power disruptions by Zesa Holdings have caused further collapses
or reduced production.

Reports from the recent ZNCC congress indicate that government
borrowing for recurrent expenditure has virtually crippled the productive
sector. There is little that can be done for heavily borrowed companies in
the light of suffocating interest rates.

Despite numerous trips by Gono and Vice-President Joice Mujuru
to the Far East and Russia, there haven't been any significant deals to slow
down the economic slide. Apart from a few buses and tractors from China, the
response has not been encouraging. That we can posture about choosing who we
want to do deals with only exposes our political and economic naivety, for
there is nothing like aid without strings.

The best that Gono and his political masters can achieve is to
flood our markets with substandard products and at worst to mortgage the
country's natural resources in the name of so-called "leveraging".

China can only sign deals that are in its own interests, for
there can be no objective complementarity between an economy in such steep
decline as ours and a booming one such as China's.

Despite loud claims that government was working closely with the
private sector on the NEDPP, there is no evidence of that harmony in
practice. Witness the lack of progress in TNF discussions where the parties
can't agree on "reasonable" wage levels for workers, "reasonable" pricing
mechanisms for producers and the desirability or otherwise of price controls
by government.

In the past government has accused private sector players of
being reluctant to buy into its programmes because they are influenced by
opposition politics and therefore trying to sabotage its policies. If this
were so, there would be more saboteurs in Zanu PF itself than outside.

At a meeting last week with party provincial chairmen, Mujuru
was at pains to stress what should have been obvious: that party decisions
informed government policy, including NEDPP.

She was therefore shocked when the chairman for Matabeleland
South Rido Mpofu, informed her that until that meeting, they also did not
know what the NEDPP stood for and what was expected of them. How are
outsiders expected to know what party insiders don't?

There have been so many policy changes and inconsistencies that
even Zanu PF structures appear confused. They say policy inconsistency is
worse than no policy at all.

The general view of industry and commerce is that an immediate
economic turnaround is almost inconceivable in the absence of a marked rise
in production on the farms which constitute the major source of raw
materials for industry. This should in turn increase capacity utilisation to
create jobs and raise exports. But that is not a view shared by President
Mugabe who recently said if those allocated land chose to dance on the land,
"it is ours. Why should that worry anybody?"

The chaos on the farms, the looting of crops and equipment,
wrangles over boundaries and farm ownership and lack of urgency in issuing
lease agreements are all emblematic of this philosophy in the echelons of
government. And the NEDPP is bound to become another victim of the same.

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The myth of being indispensable

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

IS the debate on the succession in Zanu PF exhausted or have
those debating it exhausted themselves on the subject? President Mugabe
reckons the debate about his successor is a "nonsensical thing", suggesting
that it is either premature or that those vying for the presidency are not
fit to do so.

Last week he said most of the presidential aspirants lacked
"dignity" and did not enjoy the support of the people. Instead, he said,
they had resorted to consulting witchdoctors.

But first things first.

The debate about who will succeed Mugabe can't be exhausted or
be superfluous so long as he remains at the helm of both government and the
party. That there is such a debate suggests a realisation in Zanu PF that he
has become a serious liability to the country and it is time to hand over
the baton to someone with fresh ideas.

When Dzikamai Mavhaire first made that famous "Mugabe must go"
call in the late 90s, things were not this bad for the country and the
party. There were not many people who had the courage to stand up to Mugabe

Things haven't changed. Only a number of senior party officials
have passed on, leaving Mugabe feeling that he is indispensable to the
survival of Zanu PF and leadership of the country. This explains his violent
reaction to the challenge by the youthful Tsholotsho group who were opposed
to Joice Mujuru's elevation to the presidency and wanted to position
themselves strategically in the event of Mugabe quitting in 2008.

In Mugabe's language, this amounted to a plot to oust him from
power. The party chairmen who attended the indaba were immediately lopped
from the branches of the party. They have been scattered far and wide to
make sure they cannot achieve their goal as members of Zanu PF. It is this
apparent success in crushing all dissent in the party that enables Mugabe to
give the impression of supreme power and declare the debate on succession

But the debate itself has always been badly couched in servile
terms as if the presidency were a disputed chieftaincy where Mugabe is the

Surely Mugabe is not a chief nor are Zimbabweans interested in a
Mugabe dynasty. Why should he pick and choose who should succeed him to a
post that should be openly contested?

There has never been a robust challenge to his hold on power on
the basis of policy or his government's economic performance. Hence his
declaration that no one could have run this country better than he has done
despite overwhelming evidence of collapse of all social services and
diabolical actions such as Operation Murambatsvina.

It is as if those who want to lead expect Mugabe to point a
finger at them. On this score he has outwitted them all by a simple rebuttal
that it is not his role but the people's to choose who will lead them.

This is where senior members of his party have been found
profoundly wanting. Most of them are so terrified they are not able to lobby
their constituents beyond the periphery of province or district. Thus Mugabe
has never been challenged either at the people's conference or at party
congress. The issue is decided clandestinely by a cabal.

The post of first secretary is never open to contest. In fact,
we only get to hear scornful remarks from Mugabe himself during such
proceedings that there are people who are consulting witchdoctors in the
hope of succeeding him.

Instead of waiting to be nominated as his "successor" by Mugabe,
the Tsholotsho group chose to be different. They called Mugabe's bluff and
appealed to the people through the party structures, hence the overwhelming
support for the camp from six provinces out of eight.

Mugabe promptly amended the party constitution to forestall the
incipient democratic process. It was his turn to contradict himself by
proclaiming Mujuru the second vice-president, pointing out that there was
nothing to stop her "moving higher".

But the purge of the Tsholotsho gang was still too fresh in
people's minds for anybody to challenge him on this contradiction. He had
become the people and the party. In a single deft stroke of the pen he had
bought himself a fresh lease of life.

The tragedy for Zimbabwe is that that amendment to the Zanu PF
constitution was not an isolated incident. There have been 17 amendments to
Zimbabwe's basic law since Independence and very few of them are in the
national interest. The result has been to create a cult called Mugabeism
that is fast replicating itself like a virus in all facets of life.

The leader of the National Constitutional Assembly, Lovemore
Madhuku, recently manipulated the NCA constitution to give himself another
term on the spurious grounds that his was a lobby group and therefore its
constitution was not important.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was "retained unchallenged" at the
party's March congress, a phenomenon spawned by Zanu PF. Those who have
followed the attack on Trudy Stevenson and her colleagues in Mabvuku two
weeks ago will recall that their biggest crime was "going against
Tsvangirai". He has become the other face of Zanu PF, including the use of
its tactics. These are the people clamouring for change!

The culture is cascading down.

Matthew Takaona, despite serving as ZUJ president for seven
years, was at the weekend "retained unopposed" for another three years,
again after the constitution was amended in Kadoma.

Church leaders are having similar fights for longevity. It is a
disease that will take long to cure because people are no longer guided by
principles or delivery but by the love of money and power for its own sake.

As for being indispensable, Charles de Gaulle had a humbling if
macabre retort when he observed that graveyards all over the world "are full
of indispensable people". And the world's axis is still turning.

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Zim Independent Letters

Stop this childish game of deception!

AS we await with eager anticipation Gideon Gono's latest
monetary policy review, is it not time for economic and financial analysts
to cease their spouting of pious platitudes and tell it like it is?

Eric Bloch endlessly repeats what needs to be done in terms of
economic policy to revive the economy.

He constantly advises government as if he is addressing a regime
that gives a damn about the destruction for which it is directly

Bloch's latest column (Zimbabwe Independent, July 14) is as
repetitive as ever, telling government of the need to contain its profligate
spending habits, telling it to reform its land reform programme by halting
continued land invasions and telling it to restore relations with the
international community, etc.

True to form, in the same column he sings the praises of Gono
and suggests that the next monetary policy review together with the
government's fiscal policy review, "if realistically aligned to the NEDPP,
could become the launch pad for the economy to begin an upturn once again".

Really Mr Bloch, what dreamland do you inhabit? You certainly
cannot be living in the land inhabited by the vast majority of suffering and
struggling Zimbabweans.

Are you not aware that the chefs profit from the very crises
that they create? Are you not aware that the Mercedes-driving,
mansion-building kleptocracy care for nothing except their own enrichment?
Are you not aware that the fundamental economic policies that have driven
this country to the edge of ruin are based on two simple principles: steal
or destroy it?

Bloch's latest article ends with the statement: "History is
there to be learnt from." Absolutely, Mr Bloch!

But when will he learn that Zimbabwe's economic transformation
will not happen until there is a complete transformation of the political

The transformation entails the removal of this disastrous regime
which, although not of itself a solution, is a necessary precondition to any
solution being implemented.

History should have taught Mr Bloch that certain regimes, by
their very nature, cannot be reformed. They have to be removed.

One of the realities that adversely affects many of those in
positions of power is their willingness to be surrounded by praise-singing
sycophants. Perhaps Gono has fallen into this same trap.

May I suggest that when he presents his next monetary policy
review, he does so before an audience of ordinary suffering Zimbabweans,
rather than the usual gathering of chefs.

Perhaps an audience of unemployed residents from Mbare might be
a more discerning and honest one than the chefs of the political and
corporate worlds from Borrowdale. During one of his presidential election
campaigns, former United States president Bill Clinton was famously
associated with the remark: "It's the economy, stupid!"

May I suggest that commentators such as Bloch and policy
formulators such as Gono put up posters in their offices which read: "It's
politics, stupid!"

I'm sure the residents of Mbare understand this, even if
economic commentators don't.

RES Cook,


Power, water woes: buck stops at govt's door

ZIMBABWE is engulfed in electricity and water shortages of
unprecedented proportions. Fuel is also critically short. Providers of
services, domestic power and water supplies unilaterally cut them off for
hours or days without explanation.

Below are some of the outages' serious repercussions:

* Unavailability of electricity reduces the production of goods
and provision of services. Production targets for domestic consumption and
exports are not met resulting in shortages of goods and foreign currency;

* Households lose perishable commodities such as meat, milk,
butter, etc. Their electrical equipment is damaged due to frequent surges.
Imagine the impact of outages on cooking
and water heating for bathing in winter. Increased use of
firewood affects the environment. Paraffin is in short supply and/or

* Government departments now provide services for only a few
hours a day, either because there is no electricity or water or both;

* Lack of water in households threatens occupants' health.
Imagine using toilets in a home without running water. Leaving for work or
business without bathing or washing clothes appears difficult to imagine.
But this is happening in Zimbabwe;

* School heads are forced to send children back home due to lack
of either electricity or water or both. Will the teachers catch up with
their syllabuses?

* Some businesses close for the day because there is no water
for toilets, drinking or production;

* Without electricity, local authorities fail to pump water into
reservoirs for residential and industrial consumption. Shortage of water can
also affect the generation of electricity;

* Essential services such as hospitals have to depend on power
generators to maintain health services. Some patients have died due to power
outages as hospital authorities have to suspend services when water supplies
are cut;

* Entertainment is also affected. Zimbabweans were frustrated
during the World Cup games in Germany when there were major power blackouts;

* The entire economy is groaning due to the critical shortage of
fuel. In addition, the price of available fuel, at between $400 000 and $500
000 a litre, is beyond the reach of most motorists. Commuters now pay
between $80 000 and $100 000 per trip;

* There are two prices for fuel. Commuter omnibus operators pay
just less than $23 000 per litre while the rest of the motorists pay between
$400 000 and $500 000 a litre. The two-tier pricing system encourages
corruption and punishes political opponents; and

* Commuters now report for work late due to the reduced number
of buses. The reduction results from the critical shortage of fuel. Going
back home after work is a nightmare.

Who is responsible for this state of affairs?

Although Zesa and Harare City Council for instance have brought
the nation and Harare residents to their knees because of their
incompetence, government has defended the managers of these institutions.

Sydney Gata (Zesa) and Sekesai Makwavarara (Harare) have
presided over the demise of their respective institutions. This is a
microcosm of what is happening in the whole country.

Therefore the buck stops at the government's doorstep. It is the
executive's duty to ensure that the nation has electricity, water, fuel,
food and other essential goods and services, or creates a conducive
environment that will enable business to produce goods and provide services
in abundance and at competitive prices.

The present national leaders have dismally failed to shoulder
their responsibility. They have demonstrated unparalleled incompetence which
is riddled with corruption. Nonetheless, they do not concede failure, which
is a crucial step in resolving a crisis. Instead, they blame someone else
for their failure. They will obviously prescribe the wrong medicine for the

If government conceded failure, it would solicit solutions from
the people. Listening to the electorate distinguishes a genuine leader from
a dictator. In a democracy, political parties which listen to the electorate
perform better and remain in power longer. But in a dictatorship, leaders
stay in office through intimidation, threats, repression, and brute force.

Those who have ears please listen: the present state of affairs
is definitely unsustainable. Employing the former spin doctor's strategy of
defending the indefensible will not help the situation.

The Zimbabwe Liberators Platform calls for an urgent and
comprehensive resolution of the national crisis. This includes a national,
all-stakeholders conference to hammer out a negotiated settlement, repeal of
such draconian legislation as Posa, Aippa, and BSA, and the establishment of
a transitional authority to prepare for, and conduct
internationally-supervised, free and fair elections under a new democratic

Zimbabwe Liberators Platform,


Police should understand its role in a democratic society

THE behaviour that was portrayed by police at Harare Central
police station when they arrested National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
members should be condemned in the strongest terms.

NCA members were arrested on Wednesday last week and illegally
detained by the police who released them to court on Saturday. During the
detention, the police brutalised them.

A senior police officer in the PISI department by the name of Mr
Mhondoro gave instructions to the junior officers to beat them up and was
also personally involved in the assaults.

It is unfortunate that senior police officers behave in a manner
characteristic of a military state.

As a civic body we also question how the system gets such people
in senior posts. What justification is there for police to detain in custody
mothers with babies less than 12 months old?

At Harare Central police station, an NCA member, Evidence Johns,
collapsed due to uninhabitable conditions in the cells and our lawyers were
denied access to ferry her to a private doctor after the police had decided
to take her to Parirenyatwa Hospital where she could not get treatment
because doctors were on strike.

In Mutare police subjected our members to inhumane and brutal
treatment. One of our members is still battling for his life following an
assault over an unspecified charge.

Police accused our members of compromising the gains of
Independence and selling out Zimbabwe to the West. Who is selling to the
West: NCA members who are rejecting the use of a constitution crafted in the
West, or the police who beat up these people for rejecting the continuous
use of the flawed document?

The role of the police is not to unleash terror on people they
arrest under the cover of safeguarding peace. Neither should they serve the
interests of a select group of people.

The police are among the most poorly-paid civil servants and it's
pathetic that they defend and protect a collapsed system of governance.

The demonstrations that we staged as the NCA are also meant to
liberate the police officers because as citizens of Zimbabwe they are
languishing in poverty.

Police should not vent their frustrations over economic
hardships on ordinary Zimbabweans who are simply calling for an end to
problems which directly emanate from misgovernance that gets all its moral
support from a defective constitution.

It's shocking that the police were still battling to find a
charge for our members two days after they had arrested them, only to settle
on the new Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act.

The specific section prevents people from blocking roads or
pavements. This kind of law might be constitutional but very undemocratic
and a threat to the institution of democracy. Such a law is a mockery to
those who sacrificed their lives to liberate Zimbabwe from white minority

The law is a duplication of the laws used by Ian Smith to
perpetuate white minority rule in Zimbabwe.

As NCA we believe that a new home-grown constitution will have
checks and balances for the police force and will totally eradicate unruly
elements. Instead of having hooligans as senior police officers, Zimbabwe
needs professionals who understand the role of a police force in a
democratic society.

Police brutality is uncivilised, it undermines the gains of our
Independence and tarnishes the image of our nation in the eyes of strategic

Madock Chivasa,

NCA spokesperson.

Thank God we're a docile lot

HAVING grown up in the rural areas, how many of us have ever
heard any old man or lady say, while walking alone along the rural paths: "I
am not a witch, I am not a witch, I didn't kill anyone."

Even if one was accused by neighbours of witchcraft, does he
stand on top of an anthill or mountain and proclaim to the world his

In Shona they say ndiko kubvotomoka (these are hallucinations).
A typical example was a story in one of the daily papers: "No foul play
suspected in Jokonya's death".

Whoever suspected what and why? And as if that was not enough,
we had President Mugabe telling the nation Zimbabwe will never ever

Whoever said it was collapsing? It can't man! It's so strong we
now have a $100 000 bearer cheque! Why the hallucinations?

Then we read in the Standard that there was rioting in
Bangladesh when power went off during the World Cup match pitting Germany
and Argentina.

The authorities here must thank God Zimbabweans are not a
violent lot. It could be the reason they are taking advantage of us. What
with the incessant water and power disruptions that did not only occur
during the World Cup matches, but are a daily part of our lives!

James Chabata,


Prayer for our own Madiba

ON Tuesday Zimbabweans resident in South Africa were in unison
in congratulating Madiba (former President Nelson Mandela) on his 88th

Madiba is a true son of South Africa and we proudly joined hands
with SA citizens in celebrating the birth of this incredible leader, at the
same time mourning that the man who rules our country has abused our people
and destroyed their future as a nation.

Whilst we celebrated, we hoped that one day we too would have a
statesman like Madiba to lead us out of the violence, thuggery and
debauchery of Mugabe's dictatorship.
Makorokoto Madiba, Bayete Madiba, Nkosi sikelel' iAfrica!

Concerned Zimbabweans Abroad,

South Africa.

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