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Zim Independent

Zanu PF heavyweights insecure over primaries
Augustine Mukaro/Gift Phiri
ZANU PF heavyweights are increasingly becoming nervous about retaining their
constituencies in the forthcoming primaries amid accusations that they have
not done anything for the electorate in the past five years.

This comes at a time when President Robert Mugabe has declared that no one
will hold a ministerial post without a winning parliamentary election.

Ruling party sources said intra-party hostilities have drawn into its vortex
Zanu PF political commissar Elliot Manyika, Defence minister Sydney
Sekeramayi, Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge, and other bigwigs.

Sources said Manyika was insecure in Bindura where businessman Kenneth
Musanhi appears the favourite candidate.

"Manyika's fears originated from the time when President Mugabe visited
Musanhi's companies and farms," sources said. "Since that time he has been
questioning and blocking any projects that Musanhi would have pledged to
finance in Bindura."

This winter, sources say, Musanhi was approached by Bindura Provincial
Hospital to donate blankets for the institution. But Manyika allegedly
blocked the donation.

Musanhi was again asked to donate a duplicating machine for Bindura Primary
School but Manyika, who questioned the motive behind such donations, put the
project on hold.

It was not possible to obtain comment from Musanhi as he was said to be
attending a series of meetings.

In Marondera East, Sekeramayi has come under intense pressure amid reports
that three candidates are eyeing his constituency.

The Zimbabwe Independent understands that war veteran, Wilsred Marimo, and
Urban Councils chairman, Jerry Gotora, are determined to unseat the Defence
chief. Mashonaland East political commissar Lawrence Katsiru, who is facing
rape charges, is also said to be eyeing the constituency.

The three are understood to have thrown their names for selection in the
primaries.

Ministers Stan Mudenge and Paul Mangwana have reportedly been accused by
aspiring candidates in their constituencies, Masvingo North and Kadoma East
respectively, of using dirty tricks in their campaigns.

Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi is gunning for Mudenge's seat, while Zupco

chief Bright Matonga is interested in Mangwana's constituency.

Ruling party insiders this week said intra-party hostilities had intensified
as jockeying for the succession of Mugabe hots up.

Winning primaries is important for Zanu PF bigwigs as it is a stepping stone
for ascension to the presidency.

Mugabe is expected to announce his successor at the December Congress based
on the results of the primaries slated for October.
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Zim Independent

Kuruneri's lawyers plead with Msika
Godfrey Marawanyika
LAWYERS representing detained Finance minister Chris Kuruneri have appealed
for Vice-President Joseph Msika's intervention concerning their client's
health.

The attorneys from Gollop and Blank discussed the issue with Msika after
revelations that Kuruneri's health had deteriorated. This came as Kuruneri
was yesterday further remanded to August 5.

Msika confirmed that he had held telephone discussions with Kuruneri's
lawyers. He said he spoke to Abdullah Cassim, a senior partner at Gollop and
Blank.

Msika said Kuruneri's lawyers phoned to brief him on the jailed minister's
health condition. "He (Cassim) phoned to give me some information. I did not
meet him," Msika said. "Ini handisi kupindira nyaya iyoyi asi (I'm not
involved in the case but) they just phoned me on the issue."

Kuruneri has been fighting to get access to a private doctor since his
detention in April on allegations of externalising foreign currency.

Kuruneri is represented by David Drury and Bruce Mujeyi, both of Gollop and
Blank, and Advocate Chris Andersen, all of whom could not be reached for
comment at the time of going to press.

Kuruneri has failed to secure bail at the magistrates court, in the High
Court and the Supreme Court. His family and attorneys are worried about his
health, an issue which was raised when he was first remanded in custody.

Last month a medical consultant recommended that Kuruneri be given access to
"a proper hospital to try and control his blood pressure to avoid
catastrophic complications".

The physician who examined Kuruneri at the Remand Prison said the minister
needed access to a proper hospital because his case was of "severe
hypertension".

The physician said when he saw Kuruneri, he was complaining of backache, a
headache and general weakness. "The backache is not recent but the other
symptoms started while in detention," the physician said in a letter
addressed to the prison medical officer. "He has not been on treatment and
feels the headache is getting worse."

This week Kuruneri was allowed to see a private doctor.

Kuruneri is accused of externalising US$500 000, 37 000 and 30 000 euros
between 2002 and this year. The state alleges that he used some of the
externalised funds to invest in a property in South Africa.

He also allegedly contravened a section of the Citizenship Act after it was
found that he had two passports, which is illegal under Zimbabwean law.

He is the second high-profile politician to be arrested as part of
government's anti-corruption blitz. Zanu PF Central Committee member and
businessman James Makamba was nabbed at the beginning of the year on charges
of externalising funds and dealing in foreign currency.

Meanwhile, the trial of 70 suspected mercenaries accused of plotting to
overthrow the government of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea has been postponed to
Tuesday after defence lawyers attempted to streamline issues on the charge
sheet to avoid a lengthy court hearing.

Defence lawyers were requesting the court to drop the Public Order and
Security Act charge against the suspected mercenaries. The trial is being
held in a makeshift court at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. Defence
lawyer Jonathan Samkange said the defence team was trying to limit the time
that the trial would take.

"Considering our clients have been in remand prison for painstakingly long,
it is prudent for us to try to limit the issues in dispute," said Samkange.

The men were detained after arriving at Harare International Airport on
March 7 from South Africa, and charged with conspiring to carry out a coup
in Equatorial Guinea with weapons bought in Zimbabwe. They were also charged
with violating Zimbabwe's immigration, firearms and security laws.

Lawyers for the men want the trial moved to South Africa as most of the
suspects carry South African passports. They are concerned that if the trial
proceeds in Zimbabwe they could face extradition to Equatorial Guinea, a
country ranked by human rights groups as one of the world's most repressive.

Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea have been working out details of extraditing
the suspects. If the men are tried in Equatorial Guinea, they could face the
death penalty.
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Zim Independent

Roy Bennett faces international lawsuit
Munyaradzi Wasosa
CHIMANIMANI Member of Parliament (MP) Roy Bennett faces an international
lawsuit after Bennett Brothers Farming Enterprises, a firm in which he holds
a major stake, failed to honour a deal to supply 18 tonnes of coffee valued
at US$20 000 to a Korean company, the Zimbabwe Independent established this
week.

This follows the seizure of Bennett's Charleswood Estate in Chimanimani
district by the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) earlier
this year. Bennett last week accused Arda of seizing at least 160 tonnes of
harvested Arabica coffee valued at US$200 000 from his company's mills on
the farm.

Arda and army personnel have barred the Chimanimani legislatorfrom
recovering his coffee produce from the occupied farm.

Bennett Brothers Far-ming Enterprises clin-ched a deal to export 18 tonnes
of coffee to a Korean company, K&Z International, with Scotland-based
Endrick International acting as middleman.

However, the MDC MP failed to fulfill his contract following the seizure of
the farm.

"Yes, we are in breach of an international contract and we can be sued for
that," Bennett said.

"Arda is to blame for all this. They have removed my cattle and now have
sent coffee samples to the Grain Marketing Board (Mutare) to sell the farm's
160 tonnes of coffee."

Bennett said Endrick was demanding that his company fulfill the deal or face
legal action.

"Endrick has demanded that we fulfill our end of the deal to supply them
with coffee because there are legal implications to consider if we continue
to be in breach of an international contract this big," Bennett said.

Bennett said Arda was looting his company's property that includes trucks
and farm equipment.

Charleswood was one of Manicaland's major exporters of agricultural
products. It has an Export Processing Zone status but was seized by Arda all
the same.

The 2 784-hectare farm was a joint venture between Zimbabwean and British
investors, namely Bennett Brothers Far-ming Enterprises, Mc-Kinnon Africa
(Pvt) Ltd and Mawenje Lodge (Pvt) Ltd.

Bennett's lawyer, Arnold Tsunga, confirmed the demand by Endrick but said
Arda chief executive Joseph Matowanyika did not turn up for a meeting to
resolve the issue last week.

"We were supposed to meet Matowanyika over Arda's seizure of Bennett's
property but he did not turn up," Tsunga said.

Matowanyika this week did not answer questions faxed to him by the
Independent.
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Zim Independent

Land issue a 'political tool'
Augustine Mukaro
SERIOUS disparities have emerged between the land reform policy design and
its implementation.

According to the Southern Africa Regional Poverty Network (Sarpn)'s latest
report titled Disparity Between Policy Design and Implementation, the land
issue was turned into a political tool instead of serving its purpose of
resettling landless peasants.

Sarpn said despite an elaborate institutional framework put in place by
government to implement the fast track land reform programme, events on the
ground were beyond any logical comprehension.

"They were characterised by nationwide farm invasions and occupations that
were initiated by war veterans and to a large extent, the farm occupations
were legally supported by government," the report said.

Sarpn said although the fast track managed to transfer huge tracks of land
to the black majority, there were fears that the land redistribution
exercise would bring permanent food shortages to Zimbabwe. Already the fast
track land reform programme has impacted negatively on all sectors of the
economy.

"The country has seen a significant drop in agricultural production since
the beginning of farm disturbances," the report said.

It said the exercise had resulted in a gross shortage of foreign currency
through diminished agricultural exports resulting in massive unemployment as
many farms discontinued the employment of labour and the liquidation of many
enterprises whose life depended upon the supply of raw materials from the
agricultural sector.

It said while government was claiming the programme was a resounding success
it had only managed to resettle a paltry 135 000 families on both A1 and A2
models, a far-cry from the targeted 300 000 under A1 and 55 000 under A2
schemes.

The report said government still needed to rationalise development on the
ground considering that even President Robert Mugabe acknowledged that
things did not go well with the land reform programme.

Ruling party chefs have been accused of allocating themselves more than one
farm each at the expense of the intended beneficiaries.
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Zim Independent

Human rights abuses continue despite AU report
Gift Phiri
DESPITE clear evidence that government received the African Commission on
Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) report, the authorities in Harare have
done nothing to address the issues raised in the document.

The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said government had the report at least
by February 5 this year although other groups say it was much earlier than
that.

Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge confirmed the report was submitted to
government but claimed it was sent to the "wrong" ministry. The report has
been gathering dust at the Justice ministry for sometime now.

Government has remained firmly on its course of repression and human rights
violations. It has continued to undermine the independence of the judiciary
through blatant political interference.

Eight judges, including former Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay, were forced to
leave the bench by government through a campaign of intimidation.

"Intimidation and attacks on judicial officials and lawyers have intensified
significantly since the beginning of the year," said former head of the Law
Society of Zimbabwe, Sternford Moyo.

"Judges and magistrates who demonstrated judicial independence were
threatened with investigation and disciplinary action for alleged
misconduct. They were also subjected to intimidation and attacks for rulings
perceived to be favourable to MDC supporters."

Former judge president of the Administrative Court, Michael Majuru, this
week made sensational revelations of how Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa
exerted pressure on him to initially delay and subsequently throw out the
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe case.

The government last year came under fire from the International Bar
Association, a worldwide group of lawyers and judges who monitor threats to
the independence of the judiciary. After a visit to Zimbabwe, the Bar
Association said "the government was abandoning the rule of law".

The ACHPR report notes with concern the partisanship of the police. The
government continued to intensify its misuse of the police to suppress
freedoms of expression, association and assembly. Opposition rallies have
been consistently disallowed. The few that are allowed are marred by
violence perpetrated by Zanu PF youth militia.

Human rights lawyers said police officers committed human rights violations,
including arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, assaults and torture. "The
police failed to intervene to protect communities under attack by Zanu PF
militia, while protecting militia members alleged to have carried out
assaults," said Moyo.

"Suspected perpetrators of these human rights abuses who were apprehended
were not brought to justice, nor were police officers who colluded with or
acquiesced in violations by the militia. Police who acted impartially were
purged from service or transferred to inferior postings or administrative
positions," he said.

The African Commission report said there had been a "flurry of new
legislation" and the enactment of colonial-style legislation. The Public
Order and Security Act (Posa), enacted in January 2002, imposed severe
restrictions on civil liberties and criminalised a wide range of activities
associated with the freedoms of expression, assembly and association.

It provides for the imprisonment of journalists convicted of "causing
hatred, contempt or ridicule of the president". It also criminalises false
reporting and statements that "incite or promote public disorder or public
violence". The Act also requires that police be notified in advance of any
public gathering of more than two people, and prohibits the assembly of
people police believe could cause public disorder.

In March 2002, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(Aippa) was enacted. Under Aippa, journalists and media houses are required
to register with the government-appointed Media and Information Commission
(MIC).

The Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe challenged the
constitutionality of those sections of Aippa that prescribe the compulsory
registration of journalists and punish scribes who write what the Act
describes as "falsehoods", on the basis that they violate freedom of
expression. In a ruling handed down earlier this year, the Supreme Court
reserved judgement. The government has gone on to amend Aippa to tighten
loopholes and accord additional powers to the MIC and the Minister of
Information.

In addition to the introduction of restrictive legislation, government
intensified efforts to clamp down on independent journalists and media
houses through harassment, attacks and arbitrary arrests. At least 90
journalists have been arrested following the enactment of Aippa, some
repeatedly.

Newspaper street vendors have been harassed and attacked for selling
independent newspapers which have allegedly been banned in many rural areas.
The Harare office of the Voice of the People, one of two independent
broadcasting organisations, was bombed two years ago. No one has been
arrested in connection with the bombing to date.

The report highlights government's attempts to limit civil liberties by
trying to curtail the operations of non-governmental organisations (NGO). In
September 2002, the government issued a public notice advising NGOs to
register with the government in accordance with Section 6 of the Private
Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Act.

The notice warned that those NGOs which continued to operate without
registering risked prosecution. Although the PVO Act was enacted in 1997, it
had not previously been fully enforced.

Government has recently been attempting to enforce the PVO Act. Top
officials in the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations who
requested anonymity said: "These are part of an overall campaign to further
restrict freedoms of association and expression and prevent human rights
organisations from investigating and publicising human rights abuses."
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Zim Independent

Tsvangirai ruling deferred
Gift Phiri
THE High Court yesterday postponed indefinitely judgement on the treason
trial of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is facing charges of
plotting to kill President Robert Mugabe.

Justice Paddington Garwepostponed judgement after taking into consideration
concerns by assessors Major Misheck Nyandoro and Joseph Dangarembizi. The
judgement was supposed to be handed down next Thursday.

Defence lawyer Innocent Chagonda yesterday said: "Assessors have asked for a
transcript of the proceedings, once they are ready they will let us know."

Tsvangirai was charged with treason in February last year for allegedly
plotting to assassinate Mugabe ahead of the 2002 presidential election.

The charges hinge on a secretly videotaped meeting between Tsvangirai and
Ari Ben-Menashe, president of a Canadian-based public relations firm,
Dickens and Madison, in which the idea of "eliminating" Mugabe was brought
up.

Defence lawyers have argued since the opening of the trial that the
videotape on which the alleged plot to assassinate Mugabe was based was
defective and could not be relied on.

They also point to the suppression of the audiotape and transcript that was

presented in court. Defence lawyers also argue that the tape was missing its
first 10 minutes, a defect that the state blamed on a faulty battery.

Tsvangirai says the government trumped up the treason charges against him in
a bid to discredit him ahead of a presidential election in 2002.

Tsvangirai is also facing another treason charge arising from organising the
"final push" in the middle of last year. He is on remand on that charge.
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Zim Independent

Gono threatens to tame estate agencies
Loughty Dube
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono has threatened to take
stern measures against real estate agencies charging exorbitant rentals.

Gono said he would address the issue of rentals once and for all when he
presents his second quarter review of the monetary policy in August.

He said he was aware of concerns over the operations of estate agents that
needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

"Estate agents occupy a high place in my agenda during my forthcoming
address and the issue of the operations of real estate agencies need to be
attended to because that industry has been faced with a lot of
irregularities," Gono said.

Zimbabweans have complained of exorbitant rentals being charged by estate
agencies, some of which quote rentals in foreign currency.

The Real Estate Association of Zimbabwe last year announced a new rental
format whereby rents would go up every quarter, citing gallopping inflation.

In Harare, properties in the prime low-density areas fetch monthly rentals
of up to $10 million, while properties in the high-density areas are being
rented out at up to $2 million.

Gono said he could not pre-empt the measures the RBZ was taking to remove
irregularities on the housing rentals market.

"The RBZ would not want to pre-empt the measures we are currently taking
with regards to real estates agencies," Gono said.
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Zim Independent

Sadc Forum delegation expected
Munyaradzi Wasosa
THE Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Parliamentary Forum, which
pronounced the 2002 presidential election in Zimbabwe as not free and fair,
is sending a delegation to Zimbabwe during the weekend for a regional
women's parliamentary caucus.

The week-long meeting will focus on a range of issues that include electoral
reforms, with a focus on increasing the number of women representatives in
Sadc parliaments.

The delegation will on Monday meet Zanu PF and MDC chief whips, the Leader
of the House Patrick Chinamasa and the Zimbabwe Women's Parliamentary
Caucus.

Parliament said the caucus would also discuss gender disparities manifested
by the unequal representation of women in all Sadc legislative houses.

"This session will examine and facilitate the sharing of experiences on how
women view politics based on their experiences, and facilitate a common
understanding on the need for transformative politics which is equitable and
will formulate empowerment strategies for women," parliament said in a
statement.

After the 2000 parliamentary election, the number of female legislators in
Zimbabwe declined from 21 to 16.

The delegation is expected to exert pressure on the leadership of both the
MDC and Zanu PF on gender imbalances in party structures on Tuesday when it
holds meetings with both parties' top officials.

Zanu PF and MDC Women's League officials will also hold a meeting with the
delegation.

A source in the opposition's women's league criticised the unequal
representation of women in the two parties. "The composition in parliament
leaves a lot to be desired," the source said. "We will use the opportunity
to put pressure on our leaders together with our counterparts in Zanu PF."

The delegation will also hold meetings with NGOs dealing with women's
rights. Dr Kasuka Mutukwa, the Sadc Parliamentary Forum secretary-general,
is expected to address the gathering on Thursday despite government's
increasing hostility towards his organisation.

The forum was established in 1996 in accordance with Article 9 (2) of the
Sadc Treaty as an autonomous institution within the regional body to promote
multiparty democracy, good governance, respect for the rule of law and human
rights.
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Zim Independent

Zimra cracks whip
Roadwin Chirara/Itai Dzamara
THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has intensified a crackdown on public
and private companies accused of perennial tax evasion, it has emerged.

The Zimbabwe Independent heard this week that Zimra had been ordered by the
authorities to also widen investigations into alleged tax scams involving
Zimra officials linked to state-owned and private enterprises.

Zimra spokesperson Priscilla Sadomba confirmed this week that the revenue
authority had set aside huge sums of money as an incentive for whistle
blowers on tax-related crimes.

"We are calling for informers (to provide information) leading to the
identification of companies that have been evading tax. If your information
leads to the recovery of tax or duty, you will receive 10% of whatever is
recovered," said Sadomba.

"During the first half of this year we have paid $108 million to whistle
blowers."

Zimra, working together security agencies, said it expected to recover huge
sums of money from wayward companies and individuals after indications that
there was complicity with some of its officials to evade tax.

The tax evaders are members of both the private and public sectors, Zimra
added.

Zimra said investigations started last year and it had paid $127 million to
whistle blowers to date.

Although Sadomba could not comment on recovery figures, it is understood
that Zimra has so far raised over $1 billion from companies and
institutions, including sports associations that had avoided paying tax for
years.

Sources at Zimra said only small enterprises, mainly indigenous-owned, had
so far been identified and forced to pay. In the case of companies that had
failed to pay, Zimra had attached properties.

Zimra has issued an order requiring the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa)
to pay $285 million in outstanding taxes.

On Wednesday Zifa had its property seized by the Master of the High Court
for allegedly failing to settle an $85 million bill with a local hotel.
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Zim Independent

Chinamasa quizzed over brawl
Itai Dzamara
PARLIAMENTARY Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa on Tuesday this week
appeared before a special committee set up to probe the recent scuffle in
the House of Assembly.

The May 18 brawl involved MDC MP for Chimanimani Roy Bennett, Chinamasa and
Anti-Corruption minister Didymus Mutasa.

Chinamasa confirmed that he appeared before the special committee on
Tuesday. Bennett and Mutasa appeared before the same committee last week.

A member of the committee yesterday said they had gathered evidence from all
three legislators and a ruling should be out before month-end.

"We have gathered evidence from the three MPs and the committee is now
deliberating on the matter. The verdict should be out by 31 July," the
committee member said.

The committee, headed by Labour minister Paul Mangwana, was set up after
Bennett floored Chinamasa and Mutasa during a debate on an adverse report on
the Stock Theft Bill.

Chinamasa alleged Bennett's forefathers were thieves and murderers and that
the Chimanimani MP should forget about his Charleswood Farm, which was
seized by the government.

Bennett reacted angrily and charged at Chinamasa before he floored him.
Mutasa intervened and kicked Bennett from behind. Mutasa later told the
Voice of America "I kicked him very hard" in defence of Chinamasa.
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Zim Independent

$50b for parliament
Shakeman Mugari
GOVERNMENT will spend an estimated $50 billion towards the construction of a
new parliament building at a time when more urgent capital projects are
stalled due to financial constraints.

The multi-billion dollar project, which has been on the cards for almost a
decade, will bloat state expenditure which has been gallopping beyond
revenues.

Public Works minister Ignatius Chombo said in an interview this week the new
building would cost government "some few billions". He said government would
fork out about $20 billion for the actual construction while the interior
design would cost about the same.

He said government would need a further $10 billion to cover displacement
costs for people living in the Kopje area and to beef up security. He said
government would purchase surrounding buildings for "security reasons".

Architectural plans and designs for the new building have been flying
between the ministries of Public Works and Justice in readiness for the
start of construction work.

Chombo's ministry has appointed itself the project managers while the
interior decoration and specialised jobs will be contracted to local and
foreign companies.

"We have visited the place (site of building) more than three times. The
construction will cost between $15-20 billion. That's the average figure we
have now," said Chombo this week.

"It is however the interior decorations, the marble and electronic systems
that will cost billions. We want to make it a monumental structure," he
said.

Construction of the new parliament building has taken priority over other
vital national projects. Government is struggling to raise money for the
long-stalled Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project and Kunzvi Dam, which is
expected to ease Harare's water problems. Work on Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam has been
adversely affected by shortage of funding.

Other stalled capital projects are the Harare-Chitungwiza railway line and
the dualisation of the Harare-Bulawayo and the Harare-Masvingo highways.
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Zim Independent

Gono fighting symptom, not cause of inflation

By John Robertson

MUCH has been made of the downturn in the rate of inflation in recent
months, but many people do not feel that inflation is really coming down.
What are the facts?

The fact that matters most is that the rate of increase in prices has
decreased. Prices are still rising, but they are rising less often and
sharply than they did a year ago. And because we measure inflation against
the figures of a year earlier, what happened last year directly affects the
measurements we are talking about this year.

The graph shows the course taken by inflation in 2002, 2003 and the first
half of 2004, and that the inflation gap between the 2002 and 2003 figures
was widening for most of the year.

In January 2003 the measure against January 2002 was 208%, and this had
widened to 598% by the end of the year. Mathematically, the slope of the
2003 line was steeper than that of the 2002 line. In 2004, we see that the
slope of the line is less steep for the first six months, so the gap between
the lines has become narrower.

The big question is whether the gap will continue to shrink in the coming
months, or will it widen out again? Forecasting inflation under current
uncertainties is more than usually difficult, particularly as the Reserve
Bank, in choosing to define inflation as "enemy number one", has also chosen
to lock on to the exchange rate as the principal weapon to use against it.

As has been the case all too often in the past, they are treating the
symptom rather than the disease.

The exchange rate movements certainly did contribute to the sharply rising
rates of inflation last year, but the pressures came from the scarcities of
foreign currency that resulted from the loss of about half the country's
foreign earnings.

An attack on the more basic causes of inflation should have attended to the
problems that caused the earlier losses of foreign earnings, but nothing was
done to keep tobacco producers on the land, to keep gold miners happy, to
make tourists feel more comfortable or look after the producers in the
dozens of other foreign exchange-earning sectors.

So inflation was driven by scarcities of foreign exchange. The scarcities
gave rise to the development of a reasonably efficient parallel market for
foreign exchange, and this market permitted the buyers and sellers to
negotiate a price - the exchange rate - at which deals could be made. But
for the parallel market, the downturn in foreign earnings would have had
much more serious repercussions for every business in the country.

Export businesses that survived 2002 and 2003 did so because of the parallel
market, and this is no less true for those dependent on imports.

A few extra complications are affecting businesses this year, one of which
is that the strong demand for goods from cross-border traders last year has
now stopped completely.

This fall in demand left unsold stocks overhanging the market, and many of
these goods were produced with materials that had been paid for with very
expensive money. Competitors sourcing materials more cheaply this year could
easily undercut the prices being sought by those who were trying to recover
last year's costs, so their prices had to be kept down in their efforts to
compete. That also helped to slow the rate of inflation this year.

Unfortunately, the stocks that were not being sold on the local market could
not be exported either, largely because of the exchange rate that was
established by the so-called auction system from January. The exchange rates
that emerged from this policy were far below those that exporters would
need, particularly if the goods had an import content of any importance.

The "auction" rate did improve in the first few months, but producer costs -
the industrialists inflation rate - rose steeply because wage settlements
were still catching up with earlier higher inflation rates and Zesa wanted
to make up for years of neglect in its maintenance programmes. Insolvent
city councils made things worse when they stepped up rates to slow their
declines into deeper debt traps and many other increases added to production
costs.

Consumer price increases slowed, but producer price increases appear to have
carried on rising as rapidly as before. New considerations will make sure
that the second half of the year in not a repeat of the first half. Most of
the surplus stocks of consumer goods have been dispersed, but some of them
have faced a new source of competition, cheap imports from the Far East.

For goods of this type, reduced local production has resulted from
difficulties experienced in capturing enough foreign exchange from the
highly regulated currency "auction", but scarcities will not emerge because
of the consignments of low quality production over-runs that factories in
the Far East can dump on to inadequately protected markets like Zimbabwe's.

At the now virtually fixed exchange rate, the Zimbabwe dollar is becoming
over-valued. This means that many goods can be more cheaply sourced from
abroad if the importer can secure the needed foreign exchange.

However, with the damage being done to export revenues, importers' prospects
of capturing these funds will become progressively worse. Allocations of
foreign currency to factories will also suffer and as customers find they
have fewer choices, the cost increases experienced by the surviving
producers will be more easily passed on to their customers, so more
inflation will be the result.

On food stocks and production volumes, the situation is likely to be even
more threatening to inflation. Government's considerable efforts to persuade
the population that food stocks and harvests are more than adequate have
been called into question by every analyst. Evidence is emerging that the
country will need to import a high proportion of its food requirements.

The dairy, pork and poultry industries have been cut back to little more
than half their former sizes and producers of canned foods are unable to
secure steady flows of their inputs of vegetables, fruit and meat. Grain
imports might be big enough to prevent complete stock-out situations, but it
seems very probable that the distribution of maize meal will be uneven
enough to cause concern.

At the first sign of localised shortages, hoarding will begin to absorb
large quantities and we should expect to see these cause more severe
shortages over more extensive areas, and more inflation as the shortages
cause hoarding and further price increases.

If this is what does happen, the rising inflation will certainly become the
target of new government measures. We might expect, but should not welcome
the re-imposition of price controls on most foods. These will simply cause
deepening shortages as black markets develop. Not for the first time, the
real inflation rate will then be much higher than the official statistics
suggest.
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Zim Independent

Comment

Judicial idependence a jewel of democracy

IN a televised interview in 1983, the then attorney-general, Godfrey
Chidyausiku, said it was undesirable for Zimbabwe to have a judiciary that
pandered to the government's wishes.

"I don't think it is desirable that we should have a puppet judiciary," he
said. "We should have an independent judiciary rather than one that panders
to the wishes of government. We should have a judiciary that is prepared to
make a decision that will be unpopular with the government."

Nearly 20 years later, in April 2002, Chidyausiku, now Chief Justice, at an
international conference of jurists, quoted from an address by Justice
Denham of the Supreme Court of Ireland: "Judicial independence is a precious
jewel of democracy, to be guarded and cherished for the benefit of the
people it serves. It is a jewel of the state. It is fundamental to democracy
and the rule of law that the judiciary be strong, to withstand pressure from
any quarter. Yet the judiciary should be of their times and take account of
the changing society within which judges hold office, while retaining the
core principle of their independence. The judiciary should absorb the light
from the society it serves."

Brave words from the country's highest jurist but there is a price to be
paid by judges making unpopular decisions.

This week former president of the Administrative Court Michael Majuru has
opened up to narrate the circumstances under which he left the country at
the beginning of the year.

If his story is true, it would be a major disclosure by a member of the
judiciary and an indictment of government's interference in the operations
of the bench.

Majuru resigned in January and, together with his family, went into exile in
South Africa. He was presiding over the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
saga, which had gone to the Administrative Court for a ruling on whether the
company should be allowed to publish the Daily News and the Daily News on
Sunday.

Majuru told the media this week that he was hounded by Justice minister
Patrick Chinamasa who wanted him to disclose how he was going to rule in the
ANZ case. He also claims a businessman allegedly tried to offer him a farm
to ensure the two ANZ publications stayed dead. Majuru said he was
threatened and trailed by intelligence operatives before he decided to
resign and leave the country. He claims that reports were planted in state
newspapers to suggest that he was working in cahoots with British
organisations keen to see the ANZ papers publishing again.

Allegations of governments packing the bench to get favourable rulings are
commonplace in totalitarian states. But imploring a judge to divulge his
ruling outside court is rare and outrageous. Trying to bribe a judge with
land raises fundamental questions about the partiality of judges who
received farms under the fast-track exercise. Their rulings on challenges to
farm acquisitions have sparked controversy.

In 2003 Zimbabwe's judiciary featured as the least independent of 21 African
benches on the blacklist compiled by the World Economic Forum.

Majuru is not the only member of the bench to have left in a huff. A number
of senior judges have left the Supreme Court and the High Court in the past
few years to pursue their careers outside the country.

They include Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay who was induced to retire in July
2001 after loud criticism from government. The resignation came five days
after the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional regulations made by
President Mugabe which attempted to nullify the opposition MDC's petitions
against results of the 2000 parliamentary election.

The government was also critical of white High Court judges David Bartlett,
Fergus Blackie, George Smith and Michael Gillespie.

Justice Gubbay earned the ire of the establishment when he handed down
judgements upholding the rule of law. One such ruling condemned violence and
farm invasions.

Judges who have left the bench have not spoken out on the alleged
interference. Their silence has been used by government to support its
mantra that there has not been any interference in the judiciary - that the
re-organisation is meant to make the judiciary relevant to the status quo.

In fact Chinamasa, whom Majuru cites as a major source of interference in
the operations of the bench, declared in 2002 that there was no government
interference in the running of the judiciary.

But Majuru's disclosure this week confirms the popular perception of a
deliberate purge of the judiciary to ensure the bench becomes a pliable
apparatus of the ruling order. President Mugabe's government, which is
hide-bound in a defensive mode, regards any form of criticism as a
neo-colonial plot to undermine the authority of the incumbent. White judges
were labelled denizens of the Rhodesian era while black judges who have
stood firm in the face of political pressure are treated as instruments of
destabilisation and puppets of the West.

This mindset will however not cleanse Zimbabwe of its bad boy image, which
allows state functionaries to impugn the integrity of the bench and defy
rulings of the highest court with impunity.
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Business confidence at all-time low

A PREREQUISITE of economic stability and growth is that the business
community be endowed with confidence as to the economy's future, the
security of investments, and the existence and continuance of good
governance.

When business confidence is high, an economy expands, for there is then a
willingness to develop and diversify existing business and to invest in new
ventures. Employment opportunities are created, downstream spending in the
economy increases, enhanced profits result in greater revenue flows to the
fiscus, import substitution and export generation intensifies and national
economic wellbeing becomes greater.

Sound levels of business confidence also become stimulants for foreign
direct investment, for foreign investors become motivated to invest in an
environment where the local business community is instilled with a sense of
conviction that all is well with the economy and that that economy will
sustain continuing stability and growth.

Where high levels of business confidence prevail, the potential foreign
investor is attracted as magnetically to the investment opportunities as is
the domestic investor. But when business confidence is depressed, foreign
investors are the first to discard any concepts of investment in the economy
which is driven downwards by that low level of confidence, and look for
opportunities elsewhere.

The domestic investor has a like reluctance to invest in any new enterprise,
or to diversify and expand any existing ventures, believing that the
economic environment renders any investment insecure or unproductive.

Because business confidence is so essential for a sound economy, the future
of the Zimbabwean economy presently appears to be very bleak, for rarely has
the level of business confidence in Zimbabwe been so depressed. With very
rare exception, the business community's confidence levels have plummeted to
an all-time low.

Almost all businesses are endowed with deep-seated doom and gloom, their
prognostications being that all that can possibly lie ahead are even greater
economic ills than presently confront them. Many suggest that those ills are
already of such magnitude as place the economy beyond redemption.

Such negative perceptions are gross exaggerations of the morass that is the
Zimbabwean economy of today, and are formulated by having regard only to the
adverse conditions that prevail, without striking a balance by giving
recognition also to positive developments and to prospects of future change.
And yet, the present adversities are so very great that it is not surprising
that so many cannot foresee anything other than further economic decline.

The erosion of business confidence began when the government embarked upon
its land acquisition, redistribution and resettlement programme in ways
which had a total disregard for justice, equity, preservation of
agricultural viability and economic repercussions. Instead, the programme
was wholly driven by political objectives, ra-cism, bigotry, self-interest
anddetermination to stamp authoritarian control upon the country as a whole.

The consequences have been devastating.

First and foremost, the entire economy was, almost instantly, converted from
one of increasing virility to one of extreme fragility, for agriculture was
the foundation upon which almost the entire economy was built. In a period
of only four years, the government successfully reduced the agricultural
sector's contribution to the economy by almost two-thirds.

It rendered over 300 000 farm workers unemployed, subjected them and over a
million dependants to poverty and misery. It decimated one of the country's
principal sources of much-needed foreign currency, causing frequent and
massive shortages of many essentials and fuelling rampant inflation.

And the "botched-up" implementation of the land reform programme became an
immediate deterrent to potential investors in other economic sectors, for an
almost instantaneous fear developed that if the government was willing so
arbitrarily to expropriate farms, it could well decide to do likewise in the
future in respect of mines, industries, commercial enterprises, tourism
facilities and urban properties.

Widespread concerns developed that the government would, when it suited its
own ends, unhesitatingly resort to "nationalisation" of any investments that
it deemed fit. After all, it had blatantly disregarded all fundamentals of
justice in its determined pursuit of displacement of whites from the
ownership of their farms, even to the extent of breaching bilateral
investment protection agreements that it had entered into with many of the
countries of the international community.

Therefore, the business and investor communities understandably feared that
equally oppressive, iniquitous and discriminatory actions could be afflicted
upon them in the future. That first loss of business confidence was
compounded by wide-ranging and unhindered abuses of law and order.

Without even spurious authorisation of land acquisition in terms of the
oppressive Land Acquisition Act, thousands invaded farms, intimidated and
assaulted farmers - and, in some instances, murdered them - vandalised the
properties, misappropriated moveables and livestock, and almost always did
so without any endeavour whatsoever by the authorities to contain the
breakdown of law and order.

Instead, the government worked vigorously to modify those laws which
restricted its actions, even if only in theory in view of the inactivity of
the supposed guardians of the law, and to rid itself of those judges as were
not prepared to be accomplices to the government's abuses of justice.

The business world knows that sound and just law, and uncontained
enforcement of such law, is essential for any economy to survive. So as the
infrastructure of Zimbabwean justice was progressively weakened by the
state, so too was business confidence.

This sorry state worsened further as the government steadily and
increasingly adopted a stance of confrontation with much of the
international community. The government contemptuously failed to implement
its agreements with that community, such as the Paris Donor Accord of 1998
on land reform and the subsequent Abuja Agreement in 2001, intended to
address a constructive land reform programme.

It failed to honour obligations to the International Monetary Fund, the
World Bank, and other international creditors. It embarked upon a continuing
and intensifying path of denigration and contemptuous abuse of those
organisations, and of many of the donor states that had long befriended
Zimbabwe.

The country became increasingly isolated, relying only upon its membership
of the United Nations and the African Union and like organisations to create
a veneer of ongoing cordial international relationships, but in practice
becoming an ever-greater pariah and leper in the world community.

Business and investors have been inevitably conscious that the growing
isolation impacts more and more, in a deleterious manner, upon lines of
credit, export and import trade, technology transfer and many other
essentials for a thriving economy. Business confidence continued to fall.

Temporarily, this year, there was some limited upturn in the perspectives of
the business community, when it witnessed the willingness of new Reserve
Bank governor Gideon Gono to restore economic fundamentals, to combat
inflation, to restore probity to the financial sector and to attempt to
influence the government towards solid fiscal policies and effective
governance.

But that partial restoration of business confidence was short-lived. On the
one hand, an obdurate, bigoted and destructive approach by the Ministry of
Education, Sport and Culture on issues of fees had devastating effects upon
the continuance of operations and maintenance of standards of many
independent schools, resulting in a very marked escalation in the migration
of essential skills from Zimbabwe.

On the other hand and at the same time, undoubtedly with an eye on
forthcoming elections, the government continued its policies of land
acquisition with even greater vigour and with intensified racist rhetoric,
despite having acquired far more than its own determined hectarage. That did
naught to revive business confidence. Instead, that compliance was
undermined further.

And then the first half of 2004 was characterised by a witch-hunt by the
authorities against businessmen who had traded foreign currencies within
what had become known as "the parallel market". It was clearly of no
consequence to the authorities that most of those who had done so had been
so engaged not in order to externalise wealth, but in order to keep their
businesses operational, their staff employed, the economy active.

It was irrelevant to the authorities that those businessmen had only done
that which the government itself had done, and as had been resorted to
recurrently by many of its parastatals. It was equally irrelevant to them
that in a majority of instances the transactions had been effected through,
or with the assistance of, registered banks who, as authorised dealers of
the Reserve Bank, were effectively its agents.

Similarly, of apparently no concern was that such banks had, in effect, been
pardoned for theirinvolvements, having fines imposed upon them refunded and
licences reinstated. But those who were in many instances their partners in
the transactions, have not been pardoned, and instead face aggressive
investigations, prosecu-tions and potentially destroying punishment.

The business community sees itself as being harshly victimised and,
therefore, it is not surprising that what little confidence that remained
has been wiped out.

With these and many other factors business confidence is at an all-time low,
which bodes ill for the emaciated residue of the economy, unless the
government immediately pursues a comprehensive about-turn on its policies
and actions.

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Zim Independent

Muckraker

Lowani Ndlovu full of sound and fury

WHAT qualification does one need to join the Herald as a journalist? It
looks like the geography teacher Caesar Zvayi reckons all he needs is to
attack all and sundry who don't work for the state media.

On Monday this week the Herald gave him a long enough robe to expose
himself. While he appeared keen that the Media and Information Commission
should enforce ethical standards in the media, he didn't think it was
necessary to be bound by the same.

He was full of praise for an unnamed foreign delegate to last week's Zanu PF
national youth congress who claimed: "The only problem in Zimbabwe is the
media, for all the perceived problems originate and exist therein."

Caesar then launched into a diatribe against privately-owned media as the
source of all the country's problems. Can anybody then take him seriously as
a teacher at a distinguished Harare school? All the problems such as fuel
shortages, transport, foreign currency, high inflation, water and power
outages are the creation of the privately-owned media? Is that what he is
teaching his students?

We ask this not because we don't know the obvious answer. We are surprised
that somebody talking about ethics can lie so unashamedly in a government
publication with impunity. Even Zanu PF itself has acknowledged that the
country is facing serious problems on many fronts. Yet Zvayi wants us to
believe all this is fiction. After exposing the fiction in the "reactionary
media" Zvayi concludes smugly: "The MIC (Media and Information Commission)
must ensure that standards prevail in our media by making sure that ethics
are respected in all newspapers operating on Zimbabwean soil."

Zvayi, with deliberate lack of hindsight, does not believe that the story
about the MDC plotting to bomb all tall buildings was a work of fiction by
the Chronicle. How about the editor of the same paper inventing a story
about what happened at an editor's meeting in Namibia? The state media has
its own set of ethics founded on the principle that you can lie with
impunity about your political opponents.

It is instructive that Zvayi ends his article by making contradictions that
only an ill-informed teacher can make. He says the media "is a critical
institution in any society as it shapes opinions and moulds consciousness.An
ill-informed elec-torate is a threat to democracy."

There are bound to be many ill-informed voters if teachers deliberately seek
to mislead readers and students about the country's source of problems. And
what opinions is he giving students? Pity the poor souls abandoned to
propagandists masquerading as opinion makers!

How many people have listened to Professor Jonathan Moyo's latest musical
offering called Back2Black? The Sunday Mail's Under the Surface columnist
appears to think that the CD has been a run away success. He says the album
"comprises danceable love songs that have already taken the airwaves by
storm".

It would be interesting to know if Under the Surface actually bought the CD
or got a complimentary copy. But we are still to find out which radio or TV
station has been hit by the Victoria Falls storm.

By the way, nobody has been able to give us a breakdown of how much the
junket cost to produce. And who paid for the many guests who were
transported to Victoria Falls on an Air Zimbabwe plane, booked into Elephant
Hills Hotel over night before the launch of the album? Why was it treated as
if it were a state function when it was a personal project of Jonathan Moyo?

But we liked the extravagance of it. While Harare residents are going
without water and electricity for various reasons, and people are reportedly
dying of hunger in Bulawayo and Nkayi, Moyo can book his colleagues into a
plane to go and launch a music album away from the madding crowd in Victoria
Falls. While we lesser mortals are forced to listen to some silly jingle
about non-available Zesa power, Moyo has resources enough at his disposal to
indulge the refined taste of his ilk with "danceable love songs". We hope
the electorate will remember all this when voting time comes.

We enjoyed the puff piece on the Agricultural and Rural Development
Authority (Arda) by one of many new Zanu PF farmers, Emilia Zindi in the
Herald on Monday. She told readers Arda was taking over underutilised land
to increase production.

An example of such underutilised land was Kintyre Estates outside Harare.
Our patriotic friend didn't have the courage to tell her readers who is
responsible for the wasteland that is Kintyre Estates today. Isn't it one of
the classic examples of what went wrong with the so-called land reform? And
what became of the motley plots that were touted as a replacement for the
once productive dairy and maize farming project that fell victim to Zanu PF
depredations?

According to Zindi, a drive to one of Arda's estates in Middle Sabi in
Chipinge last week showed that "indeed production is at the highest level.
The 20 000-hectare estate is a hive of activity. Estate manager Luxmore
Madzikanda took the Sunday Mail on a tour of the estate, which has 2 500
hectares under wheat."

So 2 500 hectares out of 20 000 is what Zindi understands by "the highest
level" of production? What was happening before Arda moved in if all they
can boast of is 2 500 hectares?

Unfortunately embedded state media reporters are not likely to ask
inconvenient questions of their benefactors. We can also safely conclude
that there wasn't much to report about on Kondozi Farm and Charleswood
Estate which Arda has invaded.

Lowani Ndlovu is chafing under the collar. He certainly knows a thing or two
that President Robert Mugabe and all his cabinet ministers, party
supporters, the politburo and the central committee don't know. Going by his
latest instalment in the Sunday Mail, everybody in government and the party
is stupid. They don't know what is meant by multiple farm ownership. They
don't know that all newly-acquired land is owned by the state. They don't
know that if you are a true Zanu PF supporter and can use the land
productively you can have as many farms as you wish.

So President Mugabe was wrong when he declared last week that: "As per our
tradition, a man can have as many wives as he wants as long as he can look
after them. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about farms?" He added,
for purposes of clarity: "We are going to have one-man one-farm. Even if you
have two wives, you are entitled to only one farm."

We might add also that the policy applies even if you have sisters and other
relatives. The new policy by Lowani flies in the face of Mugabe's
pronouncement that he was working with Lands minister John Nkomo to make
sure those allocated more than one farm surrendered the excess.

Lowani now wants everybody who has more than one farm to give up the extra
land "regardless of how and when these MDC types acquired the multiple
farms. It is also a fact that many so-called neutrals in the business
community are multiple farm owners and they all claim to have bought the
farms when closer scrutiny indicates otherwise," he wrote.

But Lowani can't be so illiterate as to fail to notice the distinction
between land allocated for free by the state and land bought by individuals
well before the fast-track land reform. Surely Lowani doesn't think that he
can muddy a simple policy issue by pretending that it is MDC supporters and
so-called Rhodies who are multiple farm owners.

In fact, it does appear that his attack is aimed at Mugabe. "Besides, there'
s an obvious stupidity inherent to the proposition that any newly-resettled
farmer allocated land under the fast-track land reform programme could be a
multiple farm owner. That is just not possible because even idiots know that
the land is owned by the state," said Lowani helpfully.

So Mugabe and John Nkomo are so ill-informed as to be unaware of important
legal distinctions between a freehold land tenure system which implies title
and land owned by the state? Muckraker reckons leaders in Zanu PF and
government are allowing Lowani enough rope to hang himself.

If he knows people who are multiple farm owners, let him expose them. If
government has not acquired a farm that was bought before the fast-track
land reform, it means such a farm is not targeted. Let's not try to fudge
issues. As the Igbo proverb goes, an old woman feels unease when old bones
are mentioned in a conversation.

Lowani should not be allowed to get away with cheap double standards to
circumvent incovenient party policies. He would do well to recall what he
said a few weeks ago. When Nkomo said land was going to be nationalised it
was Lowani who said there was nothing like that. He said all land held under
existing tenure systems remained as such except for land recently acquired
by the state for resettlement.

So why is he worried about those who bought land before the fast-track
acquisitions? In any case, what stops Zimbabwe from having two systems
running side by side - freehold and leasehold?

We could not understand the Herald headline last Friday: "Water shortage
looms" with a subhead telling us "Morton Jaffray equipment rotten, broken
down". Two weeks earlier the same newspaper printed a timetable showing that
nearly two-thirds of Harare and its satellite towns were facing critical
water shortages. There has been no change in most suburbs. We wonder what
the situation will be like when the "looming shortages" finally set in.

We thought that Zanu PF governors for Harare and Bulawayo would work magic
where MDC councillors and mayors had been denied resources.

Last week the Herald also ran a story in which four companies donated
equipment valued at $150 million to Avondale police for use in the fight
against crime in Harare and surrounding areas.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi said:
"It is encouraging to recognise that the fight against crime is not a lone
battle for the police as members of the corporate world and the residents
have come in handy to assist."

Sitting below a picture of the minister "trying" one of the motorcycles was
a story headlined: "Cops accused of robbing gold panners."

The story said two police officers in Chipinge had been "arrested for
allegedly robbing three gold panners of millions of dollars and household
property worth nearly $90 million".

Muckraker would sincerely want to hope that the juxtaposition of the two
stories was purely coincidental and not meant to impugn the reputation of
our illustrious ZRP.

Talking of juxtapositions and coincidences, the Herald Business on Wednesday
last week had two pictures on facing pages B2 and B3. This is what the
caption on B2 said:

"An elderly farmer leads his mule, which is pulling a Chinese-made Cherry
taxi along a street in Xi'an, in China's Shaanxi province, hired by the taxi
owner in a show of protest against the car company for the shoddy
workmanship causing the vehicle to be repaired 100 times in one year."-AFP.

Directly opposite was a picture of an Air Zimbabwe plane. The caption read:
"The national airline, Air Zimbabwe, is to acquire a long haul aircraft from
China soon to ply the Asian route."

If you can read the first caption, you can't say you were not warned. There
is already an outcry from people buying cheap Chinese goods at flea markets
dotted across the city.

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Zim Independent

US debt relief Bill skips Zim
Godfrey Marawanyika
ZIMBABWE has been excluded from a United States Bill providing for the
cancellation of debts owed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by
selected 50 poor countries.

The Justice and Understanding by IMF Loan Elimination and Equity (Jubilee)
Bill comes at a time when Zimbabwe is reeling under US$220 million arrears
to the Bretton Woods institution.

If enacted into law, Jubilee intends to cancel multilateral debts owed to
the IMF by eligible poor countries, while promoting human and economic
development and poverty alleviation.

"The IMF shall cancel all debts owed to the IMF by eligible poor countries,
and finance the debt cancellation from ongoing operations, procedures and
accounts of the IMF established as of the end of the most recent fiscal
year, including the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (formerly known as
the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility," the Bill says.

The Bill says the waiting period for debt "cancellation shall not exceed one
month from the date of eligible poor country's application for debt
cancellation".

The Bill would have been a huge relief to Zimbabwe which is struggling to
resuscitate an economy torn apart by a controversial land redistribution
exercise and a breakdown of the rule of law.

Eligible poor countries cited in the Bill are Angola, Bangladesh, Benin,
Bolivia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central
African Republic, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras,
Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco,
Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines,
Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone,
South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Vietnam, Yemen and Zambia.

The Jubilee Bill was authored by Democrat Maxine Waters, assisted by
Republican Jim Leach, Democrat Barney Frank, Republican Spencer Bachus and
Democrat Barbara Lee.

The Bill clearly states that a country won't get any relief if the
government has excessive military expenditures or has repeatedly provided
support for acts of international terrorism.

A country can also be denied debt cancellation if its government is failing
to cooperate on international narcotics control matters, or if the
government - including its military or other security forces - engages in a
pattern of gross violation of internationally recognised human rights.

Waters said although they could not obtain full debt cancellation for poor
countries, their efforts had led to the development of the enhanced Heavily
Indebted Poor Countries initiative to provide debt relief.

In 2000, the US government passed the Zimbabwe Democracy Act, a legislation
that made it illegal for either the administration or firms operating in the
US to help Harare financially.

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Zim Independent

Dollar continues to slide
Shakeman Mugari
THE Zimbabwe dollar this week continued to slide on the parallel foreign
exchange market against the world's major currencies.

The gap between the exchange rate on the parallel market and the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe's auction floors continues to widen despite central bank
controls.

The parallel market is thriving, putting a damper on central bank efforts to
keep exchange rates artificially stable.

This week the local currency fell to pre-auction levels of $7 000 against
the US dollar and $1 300 against the strengthening South African rand.

Last week the dollar was trading at an average of $6 450 against the
greenback and $1 100 versus the rand on the parallel market.

That is almost 33% more than the auction rate, which is currently hovering
around $5 300 to US$1 - an indication the dollar is over-priced on the
official market.

Although inflation has slowed down, the local currency continues to weaken
against a backdrop of poor export returns.

Analysts say the auction floors are not based on basic market principles of
demand and supply.

The Reserve Bank has continued to peg the dollar despite indications that
the real exchange rate has gallopped.

Major players on the parallel market are travellers who are failing to
secure foreign currency on the RBZ auction floors.

There are companies that are failing to get funds from official sources who
are now surviving on the parallel market.

The analysts say the dollar is likely to be on the receiving end of the
currency market unless the Reserve Bank pushes the rate to a "realistic and
tradable level".

There is also growing resistance among Zimbabweans in the diaspora who feel
the auction rate is not giving them value for their foreign currency.

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Zim Independent

Case for a single financial regulator
By Alex Tawanda Magaisa
THE government of Zimbabwe responded to the financial crisis that engulfed
the country at the start of the year by introducing a plethora of
legislative changes. These laws include amendments to the Criminal Procedure
and Evidence Act, the Anti-Corruption Commission Act, the Securities Act,
the Asset Management Act and bank regulations.

Instead of perpetuating and adding to a multiple sector-based regulatory
structure, Zimbabwe needs a unified structure of regulation with a single
regulator in the financial industry at the centre.

The phenomenon of the single financial regulator such as the Financial
Services Regulator (FSR) is not novel. It has become a major international
trend with China being one of the latest countries to introduce a similar
structure with the formation of the China Banking Regulation Commission last
year.

Key international organisations such as the IMF have expressed support for
typical institutional structural arrangements in the UK when it created the
unified Financial Services Authority between 1997 and 2000.

Besides the UK, other countries that have introduced a single authority
include Japan, South Korea, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, Sweden and
Luxembourg. In light of this, it would be well in line with the growing
international trend to move towards the creation of a more unified
regulatory structure for the financial industry.

This international trend is based on strong rationale.

The FSR would be responsible for the admission and registration of all
financial entities and would set standards of regulatory compliance, which
would be a departure from the current system where the players are licensed
by a particular body and regulated by another. For example under the current
regime the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development is responsible for
the licensing and registration of commercial banks while the RBZ is
responsible for the regulation. It would be more effective for the regulator
to be in control of the licensing and registration of players. The FSR would
be charged with the responsibility of supervising and regulating the
financial industry as a whole.

The coverage of its role would include traditional banking, insurance,
securities regulation, asset management, investment and pension funds etc.
It would also be responsible for countering money-laundering, promoting
investor protection, public awareness and maintaining market confidence.

Firstly, the traditional distinctions between business sectors and products
in the financial industry are becoming blurred mainly due to the
technological progress, financial innovation, globalisation and competition
within the industry. The function-based institutional structures were
traditionally designed for firms that dealt in a limited and specific set of
functions such as insurance, deposit taking, lending, investment funds, etc.

However, the growth of conglomerates through mergers and acquisitions as
well as internal growth means that many institutions cut across the
traditional sectoral divisions in the industry.

As more companies move away from focussing on limited activities towards
multi-sectoral areas such as deposit-taking, corporate finance, insurance,
asset management, investment funds, it becomes necessary to bring the
regulation under a single roof. It becomes harder to regulate on a
functional basis since firms are no longer restricted to specific functions.
Rather it is imperative to consider the financial group as whole in order to
avoid a narrow function-based assessment.

As may have been apparent in some financial institutions during the crisis,
the solvency of a company is best measured on a broader group inquiry. The
growth of asset management firms occurred within a regulatory lacuna and
authorities reacted only when the problems had matured. With the FSR
dedicated to regulation of the sector, it would have been better able to
react to these developments at an early stage and set up proper mechanisms
for their regulation.

The FSR would also bring in efficiency gains for the regulator, the
regulated and the investing public.

Firstly, it would reduce the number of multiple regulators involved in the
different sectors. That would also reduce potential for conflict of interest
and responsibilities between the different regulators dealing with the same
entities. It is easier for consumers and investors to deal with a single
channel of communication provided by the FSR.

Although better mechanisms of communication and co-ordination would ease
problems in the present structure, it becomes more complicated and difficult
to manage particularly with the blurring of functional distinctions in the
industry.

It also avoids duplication of responsibilities and complexity. Regulation is
costly for firms and these costs increase when they have to deal with
multiple regulators. Most firms have had to create compliance departments
filled with lawyers who have to attend to the regulatory issues concerning
the firm. The more the regulators they have to deal with, the greater the
need for more staff and systems. Indeed that entails the incidence of
greater the expense. A single regulator would unify systems and ensure that
there is a uniform playing ground with standards that are more systematic.

Clearly there are economies of scale to be gained from the unification of
regulators into a single FSR.

In addition, the FSR would be more accountable both politically and publicly
than under the current situation. The RBZ is more accountable to the
politicians than to the consumers and the institutions that it regulates. It
uses public funds for regulatory purposes and accounts to the government.
The creation of an autonomous regulator would make it more accountable to
parliament.

Like the Financial Services Authority in the UK, it would be required to
produce an annual report and would be subject to review by legislative
committees to ensure that there is accountability.

The objectives of the FSA are clearly stated in the law and its performance
is measured against those standards.

Under the current set up in Zimbabwe, it is also very difficult to enforce

legal accountability of the RBZ. Although no case has come before the courts
it would be hard to succeed in a claim against the RBZ for regulatory
failures. Although Time Bank is currently suing the RBZ, it is not precisely
a case about regulatory failures. In the UK, the Bank of England is being
sued by the liquidator in a protracted legal battle arising from the
collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) in the
early 1990s.

An autonomous FSR would be directly responsible for its role as the
regulator. In my view, courts are more likely to be willing to find such an
authority liable compared to a central bank.

The removal of the regulatory function from the RBZ would also enable it to

concentrate fully on its primary role as the monetary authority. It would
increase professional levels and reduce the potential for conflict of
interest within the bank. Under the present system, the RBZ might use public
funds to rescue firms for purposes of covering its own regulatory
shortfalls. It may also fiddle with interest rates to save ailing banks
instead of concentrating on preventing inflation at the national level.

The regulatory function would also get better prominence than has been the
case in recent years. That means that the single regulator will be able to
retain and train human resources suitably qualified and remunerated for the
work that they do. There are charges that in most cases the regulatory
departments of the central banks are often under-capitalised and poorly
resourced leading to general attitudes of neglect.

A single regulator would be able to build capacity from a wider pool of
resources since it is the regulated institutions that primarily contribute
to its funding. The removal of the regulatory function does not entail that
the RBZ would be totally removed from the scene. It will still be necessary
to retain key communication and co-ordination channels but it is far better
for the RBZ to do that with one authority than with multiple regulators in
different sectors of the industry.

The trend towards establishing a single regulatory authority in the
financial industry has gained prominence in most countries. It is reflective
of the dismantling of sectoral boundaries and international barriers.
Traditional banks are no longer the only intermediaries that take money from
the public.

There are more players and instruments such as asset management companies,
insurance, investment units and while the protection of the uninformed
investors is a key aspect of regulation it is not adequate to concentrate
only on traditional banking institutions.

Similarly, the creation of a single authority brings in economies of scale
and simplifies the regulatory platform for both the regulated and the
consumers. The authority may be a government agency as in China but
preferably it would be an autonomous organisation with primary funds coming
from the regulated entities to which it is accountable. It is just a small
step in restoring and developing the credibility of Zimbabwe's financial
system and bringing it in line with the growing international standards.

-Alex Tawanda Magaisa is Baker & McKenzie Lecturer in Corporate & Commercial
Law at The University of Nottingham, UK. He can be contacted at:
Alex.magaisa@nottingham.ac.uk
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Zim Independent

Zim drags heels on Nepad
Shakeman Mugari
ZIMBABWE continues to drag its heels in fully embracing Nepad, raising fears
the country could be reluctant to undergo the African economic recovery
blue-print's key peer review prerequisite.

Analysts argue Zimbabwe's lack of enthusiasm for the New Partnership for
Africa's Development (Nepad) programmes is a clear indication the country
has not yet addressed its tainted human rights record and restore the rule
of law.

Zimbabwe might miss out on donor funding expected to pour in for those
African countries that have fully embraced Nepad and its stringent peer
review mechanism.

Nepad, a brainchild of South African President Thabo Mbeki and Nigeria's
Olusegun Obasanjo launched three years ago, has received strong backing from
the international donor community.

Zimbabwe adopted the initiative in 2002 after initially indicating Nepad was
a neo-liberal programme biased towards Western nations which the country is
fighting.

However, two years after embracing the concept, Zimbabwe is yet to implement
a programme under the partnership, raising doubts over the country's
commitment to the initiative.

Zimbabwe is now seen as a major problem in the implementation of Nepad in
the region.

Other African countries have embraced the initiative and have taken steps to
meet the stringent measures under the Nepad programme.

South Africa, the most active member in the programme, has set up Nepad
divisions in each government ministry. Ghana has a ministry responsible for
Nepad programmes while other member countries have departments to coordinate
the activities of the initiative.

Zimbabwe is still to establish an office to deal with Nepad issues.

There is also policy contradiction on Nepad by the government. Former
Finance minister Simba Makoni was pro-Nepad while President Robert Mugabe
and several ministers remained sceptical about the programme.

The government has also confessed that it is not ready to be scrutinised
under the peer review, a mechanism used by member countries to measure
compliance with good governance, the rule of law and human rights issues.

In an interview last year, Finance and Economic Development minister Herbert
Murerwa said Zimbabwe was not prepared for a peer review.

"Our position is that this is a voluntary and individual choice by
someAfrican

countries," said Murerwa. "And we have chosen not to be reviewed. Weare not
prepared. It will be a government decision. When the government decides the
time is ripe we will volunteer for review."

Analysts say Zimbabwe's reluctance to come under the spotlight shows
itsnon-compliance with democratic norms. They say the government is aware
that ithas not improved its human rights record and delivery on democracy.

"Zimbabwe has ground itself into a rut. It is deliberately unwilling to be
reviewed," said human rights activist and political commentator, Brian
Kagoro.

"They are not willing to be reviewed for political reasons. They know that
they will not meet the standards set out under Nepad and they will open
themselves to regional criticism which the government does not want at this
moment."

Ghana, Rwanda and Mauritius are currently being subjected to the peer review
process by other member countries.

Recently, Malawi, Tanzania, Angola, Lesotho and Sierra Leone opened their
doors for peer review into their systems of governance.

This brings to 23 the number of countries that have volunteered for peer
review.

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Zim Independent

Mugabe blasts local business
Staff Writer
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has criticised Zimbabwe's business community for its
continued over-reliance on Western markets at a time the country has seen an
increase in tourist arrivals from Asia.

Opening the Fifth Session of the Fifth Parliament on Tuesday, Mugabe said
although he had encouraged the business sector to break the spell towards
the West for investments, imports, exports and loans, none had headed his
calls.

"Traditional business enterprises that have shaped and defined our thrust
are, in the majority of cases, unambitious subsidiaries of major companies
in South Africa, Britain and America, caught in a time warp and hopelessly
hide-bound," Mugabe said.

"Consequently, enormous possibilities presented by the burgeoning third
world economic regions doing much better than much-vaunted, yet risky and
even declining, West have escaped us."

Mugabe also announced that government had stopped the policy of blind
privatisation, and the expectation was that parastatals - once reformed,
commercialised and properly re-oriented - would be the cutting edge of the
country's economic policy.

The president's comments come in the wake of a recent policy paper by the
Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe which states that it has targeted nine
parastatals for complete restructuring by 2006.

Mugabe said tourism had remained one of the country's pillars of the
economy, adding that the sector had since recorded growth from Asian
markets.

"Already, statistics show an increase of 40% in arrivals from that region
following the establishment of tourism promotional offices in Beijing and
Kuala Lumpur," he said. Although there has been concern about the
government's land-based wildlife management, which gives conservancy owners
25-year leases, Mugabe defended the move saying this was part of
indigenisation.
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Zim Independent

Inflation - no deflation here: price increases
By Addmore Chakurira
LAST week, the Central Statistical Office (CSO) released the June 2004
inflation figures.

Headline inflation has continued its decline from a high of 622,8% in
January to 448,8% in May, and then to 394,6% in June.

This can be attributed to a tight monetary policy, depressed demand and
prices coming off a higher base.

Of the 394,6% year-on-year rate of inflation, food inflation accounted for
430,6% (down 51,2 percentage points on the May rate) and core inflation 373%
(slowing by 56,8 percentage points on the May rate).

The 430,6% was mainly attributable to increases in bread and cereals
(723,1%), condiments and confectionery (509,5%), meat (437,7%), and fruit
and vegetables (332,5%).

However, month-on-month headline inflation, which has been on a downward
slide since January, jumped from 6% in May to 9,2% in June.

Notable increases were recorded in bread and cereals, fruit and vegetables,
meat, beverages and public transport. The figures released do not factor in
the recent increases of soft drinks, postage rates and telephone charges.

Lies, damn lies and statistics?

There has been considerable debate on the accuracy of the reported official
figures, with some believing that the figures are stage-managed.

It needs to be noted that inflation is an increase in the overall average
level of prices (of consumer goods and services) and not in an increase in
the price of any specific product, measured using the Consumer Price Index
(CPI).

The CSO uses the Income, Consumption and Expenditure Survey (ICES) to
determine a representative bundle of goods and services purchased by a
typical household. The survey is carried once after every five years, thus
fixing the basket of goods and services allowing only the prices to change.

The CPI measures the cost of purchasing a market basket of goods and
services by a typical household during a time period relative to the cost of
the same bundle during a base year; currently the base year is 1995. Results
of the latest ICES done in 2000 are not yet out due to resources
constraints.

The CSO records average prices for a "market basket" of different items
purchased by the typical family, on a monthly basis. Price collectors
contact retail stores, homeowners, and tenants in the 10 provinces around
the country. The weights, which are used to calculate the index, are based
on the pattern of household expenditure derived from the ICES. Because the
market basket and the weights are not revised often enough, they might not
be reflective of the current situation especially in this hyperinflation
environment.

The CPI only covers a portion of the economy and distortions are inherent
due to the current discrepancies in the economy (wide gap between the haves
and have-nots). With the data collection problems the CPI can understate the
impact of inflation for certain groups. During the price control era (late
2002 to early 2003) only official prices were used for calculating the CPI,
even when the goods were not available on the shelves.

There is also a considerable time lag in collecting the actual data, eg.
school fees, are generally collected twice a year. With greater stability in
the consumption basket's composition, measures of the CPI make more sense.
That said, some of the data problems are truly insoluble, and we have
numbers, which are more or less useful but in no sense precise measures as a
result of technical issues as opposed to a desire to misrepresent facts.

Real incomes under siege

Of late real incomes have been dwindling as the rate of inflation has been
greater than the rate of income. For example a nominal income of say $1
million in 2002 would equate to some $3 000 after adjusting for inflation.

The volatile food inflation indicator has spiked up exerting a lot of
pressure on wages. The current wage and salary adjustments might result in a
wage spiral as companies try to remain afloat to the detriment of inflation
and the economy as a whole.

Business can also contribute to cost-push inflation by raising prices to
increase profits especially the monopolies and/or oligopolies. Because the
current tax system set rates on nominal income, people are paying higher
marginal tax rates.

The tax the government imposes on nominal interest on investments creates
another cost of inflation for savers. The authorities should consider
changing the tax system to index income for inflation. This means that the
income level at which higher marginal tax rates apply floats upward based on
inflation rates.

The indexation might eliminate bracket creep. This will help in keeping
demand at acceptable levels to the benefit of industry, which is faced with
reduced demand and is operating below capacity. Productivity, which is a key
variable to economic recovery, is hard hit by depressed local demand.

The markets and the populace at large eagerly await a review of the tax
system.

Inflation remains high

The paintbrush strokes on producer and consumer prices continue
skyrocketing. Inflationary pressures still exist in the form of a weak local
currency, rising world oil prices, spiraling local costs, shortage of power
in the region and high money supply. That said, inflation is generally
expected to ease in the long run aided by the reduction in inflation
psychosis, depressed demand and a tight monetary policy.

However, the months of July/August might steal momentum from the inflation
slowdown as inflation might spike up due to the recent price hikes.

DISCLAIMER

Information contained herein has been derived from sources believed to be
reliable but is not guaranteed as to its accuracy and does not purport to be
a complete analysis of the security, company or industry involved. Any
opinions expressed reflect the current judgement of the authors, and do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of Sagit Financial Holdings (Pvt) Ltd or any
of its subsidiaries and affiliates. The opinions presented are subject to
change without notice. Neither Sagit Financial Holdings nor its
subsidiaries/affiliates accept any responsibility for liabilities arising
from use of this article or its contents.

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Zim Independent

Letters

Silence of church amounts to complicity

Minutes of the Methodist Conference of 2003 relating to Zimbabwe read:
"Conference has heard of the difficult situation in Zimbabwe".

That pathetic response to a major international crisis causing intense
suffering to millions of Zimbabweans provoked at least four districts around
the Connexion to take a closer look at the tragedy in Zimbabwe and to move
strongly to persuade the Conference this time around to adopt a stance both
more realistic and prophetic. Alas, their efforts proved futile against a
determined staff who contrived to prevent the Conference from listening (for
just three and a half minutes!) to the sound track of a recording of one who
truly speaks for the voiceless in Zimbabwe - Archbishop Pius Ncube.

The resolution acknowledging a commitment to speak out prophetically against
the oppression being visited upon the suffering people of Zimbabwe was "not
put" and in the end the Conference settled for a meaningless resolution to
set up a talk shop called the Zimbabwe Reference Group.

My concern is with the intense suffering of the people of Zimbabwe under a
fascist dictatorship which is in effect waging an undeclared war on its own
people. My concern is that the Methodist Church should listen to the cries
of a suffering people, and let their response be shaped by what those
suffering people are saying rather than paying heed to others who have shown
themselves to be compliant with a godless regime and even benefit materially
through their complicity.

Two things strike me about the reports I have received of the carefully
choreographed proceedings, the all-too limited debate which took place and
the hopelessly inept resolution to which the Conference was led.

First there was little sense of the ferocious evil that Zimbabweans are now
facing on a daily basis. And, closely related, there was no real sense of
urgency about the matter.

Was the Conference aware when it refused to do anything more than set up a
talk shop:

-That opposition forces in Zimbabwe are being terrorised and that
politically-motivated torture, rape and murder are now touching the lives of
thousands?;

-That President Mugabe had just rammed through parliament a Bill which
introduces preventative and punitive detention provisions reminiscent of the
worst of the South African apartheid era?;

- That at the same time as the Conference was deliberating, Amnesty
International (South Africa) published an open letter to the South African
president, Thabo Mbeki, expressing the urgent need "to intensify efforts to
publicly signal to the Zimbabwean government that the violation of human
rights is unacceptable"?;

- That a few days later an African Union report surfaced at the AU summit in
Addis Ababa, in which the Mugabe regime was lambasted for flagrant human
rights abuses?;

- That the United Nations estimates that nine out of 10 Zimbabweans are
living below the poverty datum line and that international aid agencies
reckon that at least three million people will need food aid before the year
is out?;

Little wonder then that last month James Morris, the UN's special envoy for
humanitarian needs, remarked: "What is happening in southern Africa
represents the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world today. The
crisis dwarfs even that in the conflict-ridden Sudanese region of Darfur."

I cannot believe that if the Conference had been aware of these realities it
would have been satisfied with the response put forward. But as the South
African government has hitherto attempted to shield President Mugabe from
international censure through the now-threadbare policy of "quiet
diplomacy", so the leaders of our Methodist Church have taken it upon
themselves to exercise their own form of quiet diplomacy to protect from
criticism those in the church in Zimbabwe who are compliant with a
tyrannical regime. And this form of ecclesiastical diplomacy has tended to
shape their whole policy towards the sister church, preventing them from
exercising an objective judgement or offering that form of constructive
criticism which "speaking the truth in love" would surely require of them.

Make no mistake, this is not a matter of emphasis leadership style or even
party allegiance as some have suggested. It is a matter of the truth against
a lie, goodness against evil, light against darkness - in stark terms, the
life or death of a nation.

It is a question of finding the courage to confront an evil so monstrous
that, if unchecked, will create a human catastrophe of major proportions and
make a spiritual wilderness of what Julius Nyerere once called "the jewel of
Africa".

I can only record my own profound dismay at the Conference's conspicuous
silence. In such a situation, is not a silent church a contradiction in
terms? Those courageous Zimbabweans who are daily risking life and liberty
for the sake of the values of truth and justice, did not ask you to remain
silent, and frankly they deserved better of you.

Just a few months ago Desmond Tutu said of the situation in this country:
"The silence of those who will not speak out makes them complicity in the
evil." That judgement applies as much to a silent church in Britain as to a
silent church in Zimbabwe.

Graham Shaw,

Bulawayo.
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Zim Independent

Letters

Civil society should stand up to govt

ZIMBABWE has a very strong civil society sector, yet except for Misa, the
NCA, Crisis Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, very few others
have cared to challenge the sustained assault on, and erosion of the
precious few rights we enjoy.

The action against the Mail & Guardian last week is an extension of that
taken against foreign news correspondents and local newspapers such as the
Daily News, the Daily News on Sunday and The Tribune.

The raid on the Mail & Guardian bank account is the first step in seeking a
stop to the newspaper's circulation in Zimbabwe. I therefore do not
understand whether the silence by civil society organisations suggests that
they prefer a situation where only state-run newspapers are the mirrors of
our society.

We know of their superlative efforts at distorting reality and our
condition. I can't imagine a more insidious threat to our freedom of
expression as well as to the right to receive and impart information.

If our silent civil society organisations believe the action against the M&G
will stop or end there, then they need to reflect on who ever believed the
action against Joseph Winter (BBC), Colin Blair (The Telegraph) and Mercedes
Sayagues (M&G) would end with expulsions.

The ultimate targets are the publishers of the Independent and the Standard.

The "fishing expedition", as the M&G publisher Trevor Ncube rightly
describes it, has the intention of ferreting out something - anything that
will stick against the Independent and the Standard before the Media and
Information Commission pronounces the closure of the papers, depriving
Zimbabweans of an alternative news source ahead of next year's parliamentary
election.

It is for this reason that civil society organisations need to meet and
consider this threat. It is time to tell the authorities: "Zvakwana, we have
had enough abuse!" If we don't, we have none but ourselves to blame.

Tirivanhu Mhofu,

Harare.

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Zim Independent

Letters

Postage rates just too high

POSTAGE rates have just been increased again, this time about fourfold.

An airmail letter weiging up to 10 grammes to Europe now costs $17 000 to
post against $4 200 last week. It is interesting to note that a 10 gramme
airmail letter posted from Switzerland to Zimbabwe costs CHF1,80.

Multiply this by the current auction exchange rate and you get about $7 700!
We are being asked to pay 2,2 times as much for postage in forex than a
first world country - almost twice as much if one uses the parallel exchange
rate.

Who is ripping off who? Would the director of Zimpost like to comment before
consumer resistance creates yet more unemployment in Zimbabwe.

R Chenaux-Repond,

Harare.

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Zim Independent

Letters

Be warned

ON Sunday my cousin was attacked at gun-point by four men in Cranborne at
around 2pm as she was walking to a friend's house.

A black Japanese Corolla with tinted windows and bearing no number plate
drove past and stopped a little way in front of her. Suddenly the men in
their mid thirties jumped out and grabbed her.

They removed her wedding rings and gold chains and also grabbed her hand
bag.

As if that wasn't enough, they grabbed her by the neck and forced her mouth
open. They battled to open the top of a small bottle that they carried but a
man who was walking by distracted them. They let go of her, rushed into
their car and drove off leaving behind the small bottle containing a liquid.

The labs confirmed that the solution was used by doctors to drug patients
when they went for surgery.

This drug would knock one out and instantly put him to sleep. One can only
wonder what would have happened had they managed to drug her.

Thelma,

Harare.

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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

Mace & wigs

PRESIDENT Mugabe opened parliament on Tuesday amid the traditional
pomp and ceremony, steeped in the British pageantry of wigs and maces.

The opening of the House, as has become the norm, lived up to its
prosaic billing as the usual presidential blood and thunder was countered by
tradition and ceremony.

Our octogenarian leader on such occasions has to stick to the written
speech, which does not afford him the sabre-rattling opportunity to brandish
his fist and utter choice expletives against opponents.

Thus the major highlight for the forlorn crowd seated in the Africa
Unity Square was the very colourful sight of horses, the vintage Rolls
Royce, and the procession of black judges in shoulder length curly white
wigs led by the Sergeant-at-Arms carrying the ceremonial mace. The practice
of carrying maces dates back to the 14th century and Sergeants-at-Arms were
armed with maces and sworn to protect the King's person. In modern-day
parliaments the mace is said to represent the authority of the speaker.

The ceremonies around the opening of parliament and the conducting of
its business are rooted in the British Royal ceremonies, which were then
passed on to Commonwealth countries.

But the British themselves have started to discard some of the
paraphernalia and ceremonies associated with the royalty.

In October last year the British Lord Chancellor broke with centuries
of tradition by ditching the elaborate costume worn by his predecessors at
historic ceremonies. Lord Falconer donned an ordinary suit for the judges'
service marking the start of the legal year.

In 1998 Queen Elizabeth II dropped 14 worthies from the royal
procession at the formal opening of the legislative session - all victims of
the modernisation of the monarchy.

Perhaps Zimbabwe should start by dropping the wigs and replace them
with a more appropriate headdress. The mace can also go and be replaced by
the Nyami Nyami walking stick! Remember Mugabe received a leopard skin in
1996 during his inauguration as president. Should he not wear this on state
occasions in addition or instead of the gold chain and sash?

Lest we forget, Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth in December last year
because it is "evil and racist". Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa has
spoken of the need to remove vestiges of colonialism from the country's
institutions including the judiciary.

"We must begin to exorcise from all our institutions the racist ghost
of (former Rhodesian leader) Ian Smith and we do so by phasing out his
disciples and sympathisers," he said in 2001, just before the reorganisation
of the Supreme Court Bench.

Should he not be thinking of exorcising the ghost of the Bench's
regalia - especially the white wigs?

But there are also Zimbabwean traits that have become synonymous with
the opening of parliament.

Thousands of Harare residents got to work late on Tuesday morning
because police decided to check the face of every person driving into the
city. This might sound ridiculous but I did not understand what they were
looking for at roadblocks set up on all major roads leading into the city.

Along Robert Mugabe Road just before the Vehicle Inspection Depot, a
visibly tired policeman appeared unsure of his instructions.

Standing in the middle of a lane leading into the city, he would stop
all vehicles travelling in the inner lane and signal a dozen in the outer
lane to pass. He continued the routine alternating between the lanes. Three
other policemen were chatting on the roadside.

I did not see a vehicle being searched for dangerous weapons or
unroadworthy contraptions being taken off the road. An old green

Landrover truck carrying about 20 standing passengers went through the
roadblock unchallenged.

The result of this policeman's pointless exercise was a traffic
snarl-up from the roadblock to Braeside shopping centre.

There was a moment of immense danger on the level crossing along
Chiremba Road when the Freedom Train from Mabvuku rolled through, missing by
a few inches a number of vehicles stuck in the jam near the railway line.

My seven-kilometre drive from home to work, which normally takes 10
minutes in the morning rush hour, took an hour and seven minutes. We now
await the police to tell us how many saboteurs and criminals were nabbed in
the huge operation. Not to mention manhours lost as most employees were late
for work.

I was in Murehwa on Monday where I had been subpoenaed to testify as
state witness in a case before the court there. After attending court, a
police constable told me to go to the office of the clerk of court to be
reimbursed for my transport expenses since I was on state duty.

"We pay 70c per kilometre," the court official said with a straight
face. The journey from Murehwa and back is 180 km, which would have made my
compensation 12 600c or $126. Is Chinamasa being paid this rate when he
travels on government duty?

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