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

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Mail and Guardian

Tales from a broken country

      Thandi Chiweshe

      25 July 2003 14:53

My son is not coming home for his vacation. The major told him so. All leave
was cancelled so that the army could "quell the riots". I am upset. So is my
son. This is the third time in as many months this has happened. I regret
sending my young son into the army. But what other options are there for a
young man without any "connections" in the right places? It was either the
army or adding to my list of dependants.

I had watched my son's "growth" in the army with trepidation at first, but
now with anger, sadness, amusement and sometimes guilt. His first assignment
was to the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was very excited about this.
Lots of United States dollars (in his young mind). After a year, he had
saved enough to buy a little two-roomed house in the townships. His loyalty
to President Robert Mugabe grew. We quarrelled many times. He didn't
understand why so many of my friends and I are active in civil society
(which, he was told, is the same as the opposition) or why I didn't read the
state-controlled Herald .

It is not easy to describe life in Zimbabwe today. I have several, sometimes
conflicting, identities. The vastly different worlds that I inhabit in any
one week make my life a mosaic.

The foray into the Congo is over. My son is back to earning peanuts. Just
like all other ordinary Zimbabweans. The ambitious little house extension
project has been stalled. At roof level. He has been to his army superiors'
farms to do all sorts of menial jobs - dipping the cattle, slaughtering the
pigs and repairing fences. He has seen their wealth and comforts. The majors
' and the colonels' houses are growing in size and in numbers. My son's eyes
have been opened. Thanks to own goals by the regime. He now reads the Daily
News and the Zimbabwe Independent. I am actively aiding and abetting this
transformation. I have taken over the house extension.

I am an NGO worker for most of the day and, during the other part, a
foreign-currency dealer. On occasion I deal in petrol too. That is where the
proceeds to extend my son's house will come from. Like a privileged few, I
earn my salary in British pounds. "What is the rate this week?" seems to be
the main concern of my peers in the international NGO community. We are
occasionally worried about the price of food or the scarcity of bank notes.

We are irritated by the amount of time we spend in the queue at our
"diplomatic garage". But it's only an irritation because we know we will get
it before the day is over. Many of us with access to forex can afford to buy
our own fuel from the many garages that import fuel on our behalf. It's
overpriced, but at least it's better than the stuff mixed with water that
you buy from some ruling party functionary, or what the police "liberate"
and sell at roadblocks. Some with forex resell what they buy from garages.
After paying US$1 a litre, you can resell at US$2!

None of this makes me a millionaire. It only makes me a one-woman donor
agency. Mother Bountiful. An aunt across town needs Z$5 000 to go to a
doctor. A sister in another town needs anti-retrovirals. And the one I have
been supporting for a while is out of immune-boosting vitamins. The reality
of HIV/Aids is still part of the national crisis. But these days it has been
forgotten, as they focus only on the politics. Saying hello to a doctor now
costs Z$5 000. If she gives you a prescription you can expect to pay nothing
less than Z$8 000 for basic painkillers. I have postponed seeing a doctor
for the skin rash I have. My health seems to be a small concern compared to
what others have to deal with.

I shell out school fees, bus fares and rent for nieces, nephews, distant
cousins and Lord knows who else's relatives. By the time I have paid for
complete strangers' groceries, paid visa fees for a desperate friend of a
friend's cousin who needed to flee, and listened to everyone's tales of woe
I am exhausted. I go round with a wad of cash. Just in case I bump into yet
another long sad story. I keep more wads in the linen cupboard. By the end
of the week I can't account for Z$300 000.

My friend calls to say she needs help dealing with the "refugees" at her
house. About a dozen women who were displaced from the township after last
month's mass action. Clothes, food, medicines or whatever we can give. The
women are traumatised. Several were raped. They want to tell me their
stories. I drop off the food and money and disappear. Afraid to embrace
their pain.

Guilty that this is a product of my son and his troop's "quelling mass
action". I am still dealing with the horror I saw at a clinic last week.
Burnt arms, singed hair, scarred buttocks, lacerated vaginas. I can't sleep
without taking tablets anymore. When the pain is too much I avoid answering
the phone. Tell the kids to say I am not around. How long does it take
before one becomes a basket case?

Standing in a supermarket queue in Mount Pleasant just before the Movement
for Democratic Change's "final push", I was struck by the differences in
shopping baskets. In front of me was a gardener's small family. Huddled
around a basket with three items in it: the smallest tube of toothpaste, the
smallest bar of soap and the smallest bottle of cooking oil. They argued
about whether to buy sugar beans or dry kapenta. In the end they could not
afford either. Behind me, two funkily dressed young women and their
over-dressed but well-heeled male partners. You can always smell them from a
mile off, these nouveau riche. They have too many cellphones, make deals
loudly on them so that we can all hear about the millions they are making
and their clothing definitely shows they have failed to buy class. These
four had among them five trolleys carrying imported wines, crates of beer,
tonnes of meats of all kinds, cakes to die for and enough Italian bread
rolls to feed a small regiment. They argued over chicken or fish. "We need
more foam bath. Take some of those apples they look delish . Oh in case this
stayaway lasts longer shouldn't we get more wine?"

Blessed are they who live in this rarefied stratosphere. It is easy to stay
cocooned in this stratosphere. I tried to tell an office colleague about
some of the things I have seen in my after-hours role. His eyes glazed over.
Disbelief? Fear? Nonchalance? This side of Samora Machel Avenue, the horror
stories of our national crisis are best left in the newspaper pages.

However, Zanu-PF's madness now knows no bounds. Ugly reality has begun to
penetrate every strata of Zimbabwean society. An international aid worker
was butted on the head with a rifle for smiling "cheekily" at a police
officer at a roadblock in the leafy suburb of Borrowdale. A business
executive relative was made to sit on the ground and sing "I will never go
round without my national ID again". And of course good old Jonathan Moyo
assaults our eyes and ears on the national airwaves each day. Dreadful as it
sounds, I am glad the smell has now hit suburbia.

Keeping one's head down is the worst thing to do in Zimbabwe. Either leave
the country, or you stay and fight. Even if you don't go looking for
trouble, it will come looking for you. I have been heartened by my son's
transformation. He hasn't led a mutiny yet, but I know he is not following
orders blindly anymore either. I have been encouraged by the young women I
saw lying in hospital - raped, beaten. "We are just waiting for this to heal
so we can get out and organise some more actions. We won't rest until Mugabe
has gone," they told me. I have been inspired by the erstwhile
"non-political" mothers' union in my church, praying to God to "remove this
pharaoh from our land. Help us to be strong like David as he faced Goliath."

As I dance to the very meaningless but melodious Rambai Makashinga (Stay
Strong - a ruling party-sponsored jingle played every 30 minutes on all
radio stations), I am energised and glad to be part of the rewriting of
Zimbabwe's history.

Thandi Chiweshe is a Harare-based feminist activist.

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Daily Nation, Kenya

Nowhere to run for former tyrants
Idi Amin is dying in a hospital in Saudi Arabia. The former dictator who was
accused of massive crimes, has lived the last 25 years in comfortable exile.
Fortunately, this kind of impunity is becoming a thing of the past. When I
asked a Saudi diplomat a few years ago about the possibility of Amin's
extradition or prosecution, he told me that ''Bedouin hospitality'' meant
that once someone was welcomed as a guest in your tent, you did not turn him

In fact, Bedouin custom mandates hospitality for three days only. But it is
this kind of blind welcome which made for the old adage, ''kill one person,
you go to prison; kill 20, you go to an insane asylum; kill ten thousand,
and you get invited to a peace conference.''

Amin is part of a shrinking club of ex-tyrants living safely in exile. Their
number includes Amin's equally brutal successor Milton Obote, now in Zambia.
Haiti's Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier is hiding out in France. Mengistu
Haile Mariam, whose ''Red Terror'' campaign in Ethiopia targeted tens of
thousands of political opponents, now enjoys the protection of President
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Paraguay's Alfredo Stroessner, who used torture
to maintain a 35-year reign, is retired in Brazil.

Amin's regime was responsible for widespread murder and torture and the
wholesale exile of his country's Asian community. When he was ousted in
1979, he eventually wound up in Saudi Arabia, where he has lived in ease on
a Saudi stipend.

If Amin's rule provided an enduring symbol of madness and tyranny, his
comfortable exile has proved equally symbolic -representing the safe havens
that ex-dictators were long able to expect.

Times are changing, however. The establishment of the new International
Criminal Court and the war crimes tribunals for Rwanda and the former
Yugoslavia represent a new determination by the international community to
seek punishment of the worst international crimes.

Despite fierce US opposition, 91 countries have ratified the international
court, and recently, the court's prosecutor, Mr Luis Moreno Ocampo,
announced that he was looking into crimes in the Democratic Republic of
Congo as a possible first case.

National courts have also shown an increasing willingness to hold
individuals to account for abuses committed abroad. The arrest of General
Augusto Pinochet in London in 1998 on a warrant from a Spanish judge for
crimes allegedly committed in Chile sent a message to tyrants that they
could not avoid justice by hiding behind walls of impunity.

Just last month, Mexico extradited the notorious Argentine naval officer
Ricardo Miguel Cavallo, to Spain for alleged torture and ''disappearances''
during Argentina's 1976 to 1983 ''dirty war.''

Justice also seems likely to catch up with Hissene Habre, the former
dictator of Chad. Habre, who lives in exile in Senegal, was indicted by a
judge there three years ago on atrocity charges, though the Senegalese
courts ultimately ruled that they did not have jurisdiction to try him.
Habre's victims are now seeking his extradition to stand trial in Belgium,
and Senegal has agreed to hold him pending an extradition request.

Last year, a Belgian judge visited Chad to investigate the charges, while
the Chadian government has formally waived Habre's immunity.

Exile is becoming harder to find. The shadowy Peruvian spy master, Vladimiro
Montesinos, now on trial at home, was surprised two years ago when he was
denied refuge even in Panama, the traditional safe haven for washed-up
despots. (Raoul Cedras of Haiti and Jorge Serrano of Guatemala are there
now; in the past it hosted the Shah of Iran.)

Montesinos's boss, ex-President Alberto Fujimori, is clinging to his
rediscovered Japanese citizenship to shield himself from extradition back to

Charles Taylor, Liberia's embattled president who has been indicted for war
crimes by a UN-backed court, may find temporary shelter in Nigeria, but it
probably won't protect him for long.

And if Saddam Hussein is ever located, it's a sure bet that he won't enjoy a
comfortable retirement.

It is unfortunate that Amin will die in his ''tent'' without being brought
to justice, but the world is a smaller and smaller tent. One day, the Idi
Amins of this world will find they have nowhere to hide.

Mr Brody is special counsel, Human Rights Watch.
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The Herald

Central bank rapped

Herald Reporter
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe stopped the normal printing of money 12 months
ago and failed to take corrective measures in March when the total amount of
money in circulation was only $145 billion despite warnings of a galloping
inflation and huge salary increases that were expected in July.

Highly placed sources said the central bank failed to make adequate
provisions for the supply of money even though inflation was expected to
grow from 225 percent in March to the present 365 percent.

The collective bargaining exercise for both the Government and the private
sectors was predicted to result in over 100 percent salary increments, which
would entail that the amount of cash in circulation should have at least
doubled to over $300 billion.

Prices of most goods and services have gone up by over 100 percent with most
people requiring not less than double the amount of money they needed in
March to pay for their basic requirements.

Sources close to the central bank said there was need for at least $200
billion to be printed, which is a far cry from the bank's plan to inject a
paltry $24 billion into the economy.

Questions were being asked on why the central bank was not putting people at
retail outlets that will collect money everyday and ensure that it is banked
and circulated.

Examples were cited of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, which has taken
drastic measures of placing its people at some of the big wholesale and
retail outlets to ensure that tax was being paid for goods being purchased.

"Why is the Reserve Bank not doing anything when its job is to supervise all
financial transactions and know which points deal in cash?" asked the

Other sources claimed that the normal printing of money was stopped to
coincide with the "final push" by the opposition MDC, which failed but had
now left a cash crisis.

"This is a very dangerous political game being played," said one source.

"The crisis started in March when the bank realised that there was only $145
million in circulation. This would have given them enough lead-time to deal
with the July scenario of the huge salary increments and galloping

"The bank knew this and decided not to take any action," said the source.

He dismissed claims that the bank was trying to control money supply and
inflation by starving the market of cash, which was largely being used for
speculation in foreign currency deals or that the central bank did not have
enough foreign currency to buy ink and paper to print money.

"That is absolutely rubbish because they are the custodians of foreign
currency. Their primary responsibility is to manage money," he said.

He accused the central bank of fuelling the parallel market as it entered
into "swap" deals with some banks to raise foreign currency on the black
market and was willing to pay them using similar rates.

There were fears that the near riots that almost occurred at the weekend as
bank clients scrambled for cash at most banks and building societies in
Harare, could continue as more people received their salaries.

Irate callers who phoned The Herald yesterday said officials at the central
bank should either resign or solve the cash crisis immediately.

"How can you have a central bank whose supreme responsibility is monitoring
the supply of money, fail to make adequate provisions for the country's

"It is their responsibility and duty to monitor all financial transactions
but they have so far failed to take action to ensure that even the money
being collected by supermarkets, wholesalers and other traders is being
channelled through the banking system.

"This can only be deliberate sabotage or gross incompetence," said one
caller who declined to be named.
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Daily Nation, Kenya

Democracy is not just about elections
When I first lived in the US about a decade ago working in the
anti-apartheid movement, my boss Randall Robinson of TransAfrica Forum who
had led an effective grassroots campaign demanding US sanctions on apartheid
South Africa, used to remark that what happens between elections is more
important than the elections themselves.
This, he said, is the period that determines whether a country has democracy
and whether it can provide social justice and development for its citizens.

These words have proved prescient for Africa over the last decade. Even
though almost all the countries in the continent have held some form of
election, one can count fewer than five that have real democracy and
accountability, and are delivering or trying honestly to deliver a better
life for their citizens.

One need only look at the recent "elections" in Togo, where the longest
serving President in Africa (and second only to Fidel Castro in the world),
Gnassingbe Eyadema, extended his long rule after first overturning the
constitutional term limit; Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe used Moi-like
terror tactics of violence and intimidation to force his way back to power;
and even Charles Taylor's electoral win in 1997 in Liberia for illustrations
of "empty elections."

In an article published in the July 2003 edition of Journal of Democracy
titled, "Africa: States in Crisis," Richard Joseph, the director of the
Programme of African Studies at Northwestern University, Chicago, argues
that without a restrengthening of the African state and its ability to
deliver to its people, election-driven democracy will continue to be a

Reading this article reminded me of the heated discussions we had in the
pro-democracy movement with Western scholars and analysts between 1992 and
2002 regarding the role of elections without institutions and structures
that could protect the people of Kenya and provide a suitable framework for

The Western "experts" saw elections as a quick fix to a multitude of
problems, and as a reasonably cheap way of resolving the direction and
leadership of a society.

But for us in the reform movement, it was, and still is, clear that without
structural changes that provide a level playing field in the elections and
does away with the "winner take all, first past the post system," Kenya
would likely sink further away from democratic change and into the failed
states realm that have become commonplace in Africa.

Our argument was that in a situation where violence and State patronage were
tools for holding on to power and were controlled by a few powerful people,
elections were bound to be manipulated. There was therefore a need for
fundamental restructuring and if this meant postponing elections, then so be

These arguments were the seed for the campaign for constitutional reform as
one of the ways to change the fundamentals of governance, and it found
expression in the slogan, "No reforms, No elections."

US Ambassador Smith Hempstone, for all the good work he did in challenging
(initially by accident) the Moi regime, must bear some responsibility for
the 1992 election debacle and its attendant violence, intimidation and
crisis by forcing political and religious leaders to abandon their campaign
for constitutional reform at a time when the Moi regime was on its heels,
and proceed to elections even while clashes were raging on.

But this article is not about casting blame, even though Africa's reliance
on foreign "experts" has often hurt more than helped as the fixation with
structural adjustment has proved. This is about strengthening democracy in
Kenya so that it moves beyond the elite driven spoils system, to one that
provides value and prosperity for Kenyans.

In this area of strengthening democracy and moving away from the predatory
habits of the political elite, the Narc Government, thus far, has done
reasonably well. It has raised our hopes as Kenyans, an integral and
necessary ingredient for fundamental change. It has provided, perhaps, the
beginning of reform in the fiscal and banking sectors that can result in
more lending and savings by Kenyans by reducing government reliance on
domestic borrowing through Treasury Bills that provide an easy killing for
banks. It has also done well in the push for free primary education.

Moreover, by insisting on producing a privatisation policy that reflects
Kenya's national interest and is not a photocopy of the World Bank/IMF
blueprints that are dusted off the shelves and applied to all circumstances
as they arise, the Government is also showing an understanding of the role
of the state in providing a basis for development rather than allowing
everything to be taken up by foreigners.

On this score, as Prof Joseph reminds us, "the amazing growth of South Korea
and Taiwan was accompanied by high levels of public expenditure on health,
education, and other social services."

Mauritius and Botswana are touted as Africa's success stories in economic
growth. But in each country, "vigorous social welfare policies - sustained
the livelihoods of those placed at risk by rapid economic transformations."

The challenge for Narc is to reconstruct a viable state that can be relied
on to provide internal security, infrastructure, and the rule of law on the
one hand, and on the other, to expand democratic governance, increase the
role of ordinary people, and not to allow policy to be at the mercy of a
political elite whose major objectives are personal.

One way to do so is by is ensuring that capable and competent students are
able to take educational and other opportunities that can increase their

While the process of opening up the universities (Maseno University seeming
to be the exception) to become centres of learning and opportunity can be
said to have started with the appointment of Chancellors other than the
President, there is more that can, and should be done. to ensure that more
people are able to join the middle class as a way to increase the tax base.

Mr Kiai, a founder member of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, writes from
Washington DC.

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The Mercury

      Chaos reigns as workers are unable to access their salaries
      July 28, 2003

      By Basildon Peta

      Johannesburg: Chaos reigned in Zimbabwe at the weekend as thousands of
civil servants and other workers failed to access their monthend salaries at
banks because of the crippling shortage of Zimbabwe dollars.

      The riot police had to be called in to protect bank installations as
angry workers threatened to vent their anger at bank workers and to destroy
banking installations. One bank in the city centre was damaged as police
repelled angry customers on Saturday.

      Even Zimbabwe's normally timid state run media have now acknowledged
the intolerable magnitude of the cash crisis.

      The Sunday Mail reported yesterday that its switchboard had been
jammed by calls from angry Zimbabweans
      calling for the resignation of the entire top management at the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

      But the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions said the problem was much
wider and the first step towards resolving it should be the resignation of
President Robert Mugabe and his entire cabinet in favour of a new regime
that would command the respect of multilateral lending institutions.

      Union secretary-general Wellington Chibebe said the fact that Mugabe
and his cabinet were still in power despite the economic crisis was a huge
indictment on Zimbabwean democracy. In any other democratic country, they
would have long resigned, he said.

      The cash crisis has been exacerbated by the fact that it is
      monthend and many civil servants are trying to access their salaries.

      Ironically, the civil servants got hefty pay increases, but they
cannot enjoy this money because they cannot get the cash.

      Many were stranded as they failed to withdraw money from ATMs

      Many banks have restricted withdrawals to 5 000 Zimbabwe dollars (R100
at the official market rate and only R20 on the functional black market

      The money is only adequate to buy a pizza at lunchtime for those who
can still afford the luxury of enjoying lunch.

      With Zimbabwe's inflation now pegged at 370%, Zimbabweans carry their
cash in paper bags when they do their shopping.

      Thieves have stopped snatching wallets and reports of pickpocketing
have become rare.

      They instead opt to smash car boots for the huge bags of cash stowed
there in what some now call "boot-pocketing".

      The Sunday Mail partly blamed the cash shortage on some people who, it
said, were hoarding Zimbabwe currency
      to sabotage Mugabe's government.
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The Herald

Russian delegation keen to invest in Zimbabwe

Business Reporter
A THREE-member delegation from Russia which was in the country last week to
explore opportunities in platinum mining has expressed keen interest to
invest in the country.

Although the Herald Business could not ascertain whether any deals were
concluded, Mines and mining Development minister, Mr Edward
Chindori-Chininga said the team had been impressed with what the country had
to offer.

"The team was impressed by the presentation by the Zimbabwe Mining
Development Corporation (ZMDC) and said they would relay their decision in
writing after they return home," the Minister said.

As part of their fact-finding mission, the team had met representatives from
ZMDC with a view of finding out what the corporation had to offer.

The ZMDC acting chief executive, Mr Domnic Mubayiwa told the team that they
were already engaged in exploration activities at their claim, which was
adjacent to Zimbabwe Platinum's Ngezi complex.


ZMDC had started soil sampling and trenching in a bid to determine the
reserves that exist within the claim.

Mr Mubayiwa was optimistic that there were significant deposits of platinum
and platinum group metals within the claim.

The team, which was in the country at the invitation of the embassy of
Russian Federation, is representing Novilsk Nickel, one of the top mining
companies in Russia.

Zimbabwe is poised to become one of the major players in the platinum
industry since it boasts of the second highest deposit of the mineral in the
world, after South Africa.

The country has a competitive edge over South Africa in that its deposits
are closer to the surface than those in that country.

It is, therefore, cheaper to mine platinum in Zimbabwe than in South Africa.

Platinum is expected to surpass gold as the second largest foreign currency
earner in the country in the next five years.

Zimbabwe has three producers of platinum group metals which are Zimbabwe
Platinum Mines, Zimbabwe Mining and Smelting Company and Anglo American

The three mines control all of Zimbabwe's platinum deposits.


Anglo-American Zimbabwe and its parent company Anglo Platinum South Africa
recently held a ground breaking ceremony for its US$90 million (74 billion)
Unki Platinum project in Shurugwi which will create 1 300 jobs.

The project had been on the cards for more than 10 years.

Zimplats will spend US$140 million ($115,3 billion) on the development of an
underground mine at its Ngezi complex.

The construction of the mine is expected to commence next year.

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Zim Standard

      Violence hits banks
      By Caiphas Chimhete

      ANGRY customers broke through two premises belonging to Beverley
Building Society in Harare and police had to forcibly turn thousands away as
Zimbabweans swamped banks yesterday trying to desperately withdraw salaries
and life savings.

      Two branches of Beverley, its main office along Samora Machel Avenue
and the one at Market Square, had their front windows smashed during the
commotion as people struggled to gain entry into the building society's
banking halls.

      "The crowd was pressing forward in order to gain entry into the
banking hall and in the ensuing commotion this big window was shattered. I
have never seen anything like that," said Albert Mabvira, a Fawcett Security
guard at Beverley's main branch along Samora Machel Avenue.

      Zimbabwe's riot police had to order people out of many banks
countrywide during the last two days after tempers flared as monthly paid
customers jostled for services.

      The southern African country has grappled with unprecedented shortages
of bank notes for the past two months, blamed largely on inflation and hard
currency shortages to buy paper to print money.

      Although the government last week is said to have injected $12 billion
of new $500 notes into the system - on top of the $200 billion currently in
circulation - the situation has continued to worsen.

      Yesterday, commercial banks ran out of cash while others, such as
Standard Chartered Bank - one of the largest commercial banks - reduced
maximum amounts customers could withdraw to $10 000 per customer.

      Other banks were giving as little as $2 000, an amount that can only
buy two loaves of bread, as the maximum amount that could be withdrawn.

      Many workers who got paid through company cheques said they had failed
to get salaries and wages because the amounts involved were higher than the
maximum withdrawal limits allowed by almost all the banks.

      "I failed to cash my cheque with Century Bank and I also tried with a
local hotel but it no longer accepts third party cheques. It means I will
have deposit it into my Beverley account but the problem is it will take
three weeks to get cleared," said Robbie Mataika of Highfield.

      Economists warned that the financial sector, which has over the past
few years posted remarkable profits despite Zimbabwe's economic and
political crisis, would soon collapse.

      "This is the final stage in the decline of people's confidence in the
banking sector. The situation is actually going to worsen because people are
now going to keep whatever amount of money they have at home," said Witness
Chinyama, chief economist at Kingdom Financial Holdings.

      "No one is going to deposit money into banks because you cannot get it
when you want it and this will starve the banks," Chinyama added.

      He said government's policy to print more money was "a stop-gap
measure" that would do little to solve the current financial crisis, the
worst since independence from Britain in 1980.

      Bankers, including Francis Dzanya, said a temporary solution was for
the government to print higher denominations such as $5 000 and $10 000
notes that would enable people to do business and also bring down inflation,
which currently stands at 364 %.

      Independent economic analyst, John Robertson, said printing more money
would not fuel inflation because "there is this notion that printing more
money will fuel inflation, it's not true".

      Under the current situation that is the best way forward," said
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Zim Standard

      Go east, says Mugabe
      By Kumbirai Mafunda

      ZIMBABWE'S leader, President Robert Mugabe, has reiterated that the
southern African country's future fortunes lie with Asian states and other
African countries.

      Opening Parliament on Tuesday, Mugabe said his government would be
getting more involved in marketing Zimbabwe in the non-traditional markets
of Africa and Asia.

      "In ongoing work to negotiate both bilateral and multilateral trade
agreements, we will note, once more, the need to venture into
non-traditional markets such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Libya and the Far East countries," the 78-year-old leader said.

      Economic analysts said Mugabe's statement was an admission that
international sanctions against his government were biting.

      "It is just political posturing. We don't have products that interest
those markets. At the just-ended trade fair in Angola we were battling to
display a few products and yet South Africa already has a strong presence in
products and initiatives in that country," said economic consultant, Peter

      The shortage of bank notes has added to the country's economic woes
and threatens to foment a show of public anger as traditional salary dates
arrive with no cash available in commercial banks.

      This is despite last week's injection of $12bn into the financial
system by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe meant to ease the cash woes.

      Experts said the appeal to go East has been on the cards for a long
time now but there were no tangible benefits derived by industry and
commerce from the exercise.

      Others said the drive for Asian investment was also hampered by the
fact that Zimbabwe had no money to fund trade centres or economic
delegations to the Far East.

      Despite the rhetoric, Zimbabwe has so far only managed to launch one
trade centre in the Far East, in Malaysia, and that has largely been funded
by Metropolitan, a bank close to the governing party.

      "The problem is not market access but lack of production. You don't
need trade agreements but a conducive domestic market," said one leading
local economist.

      Western countries-among them the United States, Canada, New Zealand,
Australia and the European Union-imposed sanctions on Mugabe and his ruling
elite following his controversial victory in last year's presidential
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Zim Standard

      Tourism at Great Zimbabwe collapses
      By Parker Graham

      MASVINGO - Hoteliers in Masvingo are tottering on the brink of
collapse because of the drastic fall in tourist arrivals at the Great
Zimbabwe, The Standard has established.

      Masvingo, which depended heavily on tourists to the Great Zimbabwe
from mostly South Africa, Australia, Germany, Britain and the United States
of America, has been badly affected by the drop in the number of visitors
from these countries. This has also affected downstream businesses that are
dependent on tourism.

      In an interview with The Standard, several managers at leading
Masvingo hotels, which traditionaly recorded impressive occupancy rates at
this time of the year before the governing Zanu PF launched the fast track
land reform exercise and a violent crackdown on opponents, said life had
become very tough.

      "Tourism is virtually dead in Masvingo province. There are no foreign
tourists coming here. The situation is very bad," said Susan Maphosa, a
manager at Ancient City Lodges.

      "Presently we are surviving on conferences only and these conferences
are not sustainable because we usually have only one or two conferences in
two months, something that is not conducive for our survival," she added.

      Veronicah Moyo, another hotelier, said morale within the industry had
gone down owing to the unfavourable political situation prevailing in the

      "There are no tourists interested in buying fuel from the black
market. It has become risky for them to travel to Zimbabwe and having to
carry all that petrol," said Moyo.

      "Foreign tourists are also worried by the political and security
situation in the country," said Moyo, adding that while Zimbabwe was
previously a haven for tourists in southern Africa, all that had changed
because of the unstable political and economic situation.
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Zim Standard

      Snakes, rabbits dominate Midlands Show
      By Richard Musazulwa

      GWERU-The Midlands show, the prime event on the Midlands agricultural
calendar, has this year been reduced to a non-event due to the absence of
traditional exhibitors, it emerged yesterday.

      Agricultural experts say the show, which ends in the city today, is a
pale shadow of its former self which depicts the havoc that has been wrecked
upon the once thriving agricultural industry by the government's policies.

      Traditional cattle displays, a major source of attraction over the
years, were absent this year and major players such as seed companies also
shunned the event.

      However, small-scale farmers were in full force at the show exhibiting
their rabbits and chickens while the National Parks chipped in with their
snakes and crocodiles for exhibition.

      Show chairperson Trevor Shaw attributed the absence of hoofed animals
to the recent foot and mouth outbreak in the province, an explanation
commercial farmers in the province scoffed at, laying the blame squarely on
the disruption of farming activities by the government
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      Chitungwiza residents threaten to sue over sewage problem
      By our own Staff

      SOME residents of Chitungwiza have given the town council seven days
to stop the continued open flow of raw sewerage near their homes or face
legal action. Manyame Park residents in Chitungwiza, through their attorney,
Unity Sake of Coghlan, Welsh and Guest, have already written to the town
council demanding an immediate rectification of the problem.

      They said the open sewerage drain in Chitungwiza posed a dangerous
threat to public health to residents of Manyame Park, including children who
cross the drain to and from school.

      "Under the circumstances, we are instructed to demand as we hereby do
that you remove the said cesspool or construct a proper covered sewerage
drain immediately or in any event within seven days of receipt of this

      "Should you fail to do so, we are instructed to proceed with a court
application for an order compelling you to do so in terms of the Public
Health Act," said the letter.

      The letter, addressed to the director of health services, Mike Simoyi,
was also copied to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and
Child Welfare, Elizabeth Xaba.

      Simoyi could not be reached for comment.

      The open sewerage drain is very close to Chaminuka Primary School and
pupils are frequently seen playing in the sewerage.

      "More importantly, it is dangerous to school children of Chaminuka
Primary School who have to cross this open cesspool everyday on their way to
school. The risk to these children and the residents of Manyame Park
contracting cholera and malaria cannot be over-emphasised," said Sake, in
the letter.

      Chairman of Manyame Residents Association, Moses Mazhande, said the
association was in the process of compiling a list of people who have fallen
ill as a direct result of the exposure to the sewerage.

      "The authorities are neglecting their duty. We tried to seek audience
with the authorities, including the mayor, but nothing materialised despite
that we are the ratepayers. We will soon seek compensation for all those who
suffered because of this neglect," said Mazhande.

      If Manyame residents are successful in forcing the council to rectify
the problem, it is likely to open floodgates of cases with ratepayers from
other sections of the suburb demanding an end to sewerage problems that have
dogged Chitungwiza for many years.

      Suburbs such as St Mary's, Zengeza, Unit D, H, G, D, N and G in
Chitungwiza constantly experience burst sewerage pipes posing a health
hazard to the city's drinking water as the raw sewerage finds its way into
the water reticulation system.
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      Chombo's commission to probe Mudzuri collapses
      By Henry Makiwa

      THE government-appointed committee to investigate the alleged
misconduct, financial mismanagement and corruption by suspended Harare
executive mayor, Elias Mudzuri, has been crippled by the departure of key
members who allege that it harbours political motives, The Standard has

      According to an enquiry tabled before the High Court on Thursday as
part of Mudzuri's counter application to his suspension, three key members
have abandoned the commission complaining on the underlying political
machinations involved.

      Among the members who have reportedly left the commission are
Christopher Tapfumanei, the committee's original chairman, Harare Central
Hospital's medical superintendent; lawyer Florence Ziumbe, and one G

      The trio was in the initial line up of commissioners to investigate
Mudzuri appointed by Local Government, Public Works and National Housing
Minister, Ignatius Chombo.

      Mudzuri says in his opposing application: "I have been reliably
informed that Tapfumanei has declined to accept the appointment, (while)
Ziumbe has since responded indicating that she is not part of the committee.

      "No response has been received from Chihota although it is understood
that he has declined the appointment."

      The court application is aimed at reversing Chombo's provisional
suspension order and subsequently retaining Mudzuri back in office.

      "The minister's actions and abuse of power were clearly motivated by
malice and bad faith in the desire to thwart the democratic representation
of the people of Harare in determination of civic affairs," said Mudzuri, in
his application.

      He added: "It is clear that the lapse of time and the failure to
commence investigations is not concerned with the speedy resolution of this
matter and the intention is to frustrate the opposition council."

      Harare City Council, including executive mayor Mudzuri, is dominated
by councillors from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

      According to a letter sent to Mudzuri's lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa of
Kantor and Immerman Legal Practitioners, a copy of which is in the
possession of The Standard, Ziumbe distanced herself from Chombo's

      Chombo suspended Mudzuri without salary on April 29 and immediately
set up a committee to investigate the alleged incompetence of the capital's

      Three months have however lapsed now without the commencement of the
investigation on Mudzuri.

      It is now understood that Chombo has replaced Tapfumaneyi, Chihota and
Ziumbe with lawyer, Shingi Mutumbwa, who has represented Zanu PF in a number
of land cases; Tendai Savanhu, the ruling party's losing candidate in Mbare
East constituency in the 2000 elections, and George Mlilo, the losing Zanu
PF mayoral candidate in the 2002 Bulawayo election

      This has fuelled suggestions that Chombo might be plotting to ouster
Mudzuri through the use of a Zanu PF-backed commission.
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Zim Standard

      Skewed Zim exchange rate dampens business confidence
      By Caiphas Chimhete

      THE government's failure to live up to its pledge to review the
exchange rate for exporters on a quarterly basis has widened the gap of
mistrust between it and the private sector, economists and industrialists
have said.

      They said the government's failure also flies in the face of noble
objectives of the National Economic Recovery Programme (NERP), which places
trust and co-operation between the government and the private sector as its
cornerstones for economic progress.

      Herbert Murerwa, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development,
announced a new exchange rate for exporters of US$1 to Z$824 up from Z$55 in
February, and also pledged to review it on a quarterly basis to keep the
sector viable in the facing of ever rising inflation.

      Murerwa also promised to review, on a quarterly basis, the 50:50
export proceeds surrender requirement.

      However, last week - more than four months later - he said the
government would review the exchange rate "soon" as promised.

      "We agreed that we would quarterly review the exporter's exchange rate
to ensure their continued viability and such a course of action is on its
way," Murerwa said.

      The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) advocacy and policy
manager, James Jowa, said the failure by government to implement its policy
kills business confidence in a country whose economy has been nose-diving
for the past few years.

      "When a new policy is announced, the private sector, including
exporters, manufacturing ... in fact everyone, expect it to be implemented
and that builds trust. If a policy is not implemented, as is the case, then
it kills the trust and business confidence," said Jowa.

      The ZNCC manager said even if the government was to devalue instantly,
the export sector might not abruptly respond due to the general economic
meltdown characterised by rising inflation, currently at more than 364 %.

      Jowa's sentiments were also shared by independent economic consultant,
John Robertson, who said by abandoning its own policy, the government was
plunging the country's economy further into chaos.

      He said due to the current skewed exchange rate, most exporters and
manufacturers were making huge losses and were contemplating closing down or
reducing production to remain in business.

      "Over valuing our currency is bad for exporters but good for
importers, but the economy cannot grow because of imports. The current
exchange makes no sense at all," said Robertson, who added that the market
would soon be flooded by imports as struggling manufacturers fail to supply
local demand.

      Anthony Mandiwanza, the president of the Confederation of the Zimbabwe
Industries (CZI), admitted that the government's failure to live up to its
policy review promise has had a negative impact on its members.

      The Dairibord of Zimbabwe Limited chief executive officer said the
government should consider that in February, when the last exchange review
was done, inflation was just above 100% but it has since ballooned to
364,5%, clearly showing the need for an urgent review.

      "As a result of this, most companies are fast losing viability and the
competitive edge on the international market," said Mandiwanza, whose
organisation represents hundreds of manufacturing and exporting firms in the

      The CZI, said Mandiwanza, was negotiating with Murerwa, so that the
issue is solved as a matter of urgency.

      Zimbabwe's economic slump, which started in 1997, has impacted
negatively on the country's economic sectors. The export and manufacturing
sectors are among the hardest hit due to rising costs of production and the
scarcity of foreign currency to procure raw materials.

      The country's total exports went down to US$1,5bn last year from
US$1,6bn in 2001. In 2000, exports stood at US$2,2 bn.
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Zim Standard


      AU should act on errant members

      THE emergence of the African Union (AU) as the outright replacement
for the toothless OAU was applauded by all African countries who happen to
be its affiliates. This was because of its declared all-embracing radical
and pragmatic programmes and policies in its endeavour to foster peace and
stability through the promotion of transparency and good governance among
its affiliates, the African states.

      However all this seems to be a coated bitter pill. The AU's apparent
reluctance to intervene in the political and socio-economic crisis
bedeviling Zimbabwe is a clear demonstration of its departure from its
original policies.

      What logic is there in ignoring the Zimbabwe crisis in its infancy
preferring to act on it when it degenerates into something worse like
genocide and bloodshed as happened in the case of Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia
and Liberia.

      The African Union should demostrate its resolve to reverse political,
economic, social and humanitarian crises in Africa by being proactive rather
than reactive.

      Moreover, it is said a stitch in time saves nine. Insisting that the
Zimbabwe crisis be left to Zimbabweans themselves to solve is like
entrusting the custody of dogs to crocodiles? Much worse; it is a sure
recipe for civil unrest if it becomes the only option open to ordinary
Zimbabweans to address their common concerns.

      Madagascar did it and was unanimously brought into the Union! The
African Union should discipline the crocodiles first and force them to share
the pool with the dogs. Because Mugabe continues to hold on to power, and
the road to economic recovery remains blurred.

      His childish "Tanga wati mambo" (recognise my monarchy first) approach
to the crisis is a solution valid only in the ruthless dictator's own mind.

      Paul Mafuratidze Mhofu

      Warren Park


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Zim Standard

      Demonstrating the might of the mice
      Sundaytalk with Pius Wakatama

      LAST weekend the Zimbabwe Defence Forces displayed its entire military
might in Shurugwi. The commandant of the Zimbabwe military, Colonel Thomas
Moyo, who was the director of the demonstration, said the purpose of the
demonstration was to showcase the magnitude of the firepower available to
the armed forces and its devastating effects.

      "The essence is to remind commanders of the amount of fire power at
their disposal that can, with good planning, be brought to bear on opposing
forces," he said.

      The director of army training, Colonel John Mupande, said the fire
power exercise had shown that the ZDF was a formidable force capable of
defending the country from its enemies.

      "We are so strong that people may not understand our capabilities," he

      I am neither a warmonger and nor am I a pacifist. I believe that a
country needs a strong army to defend its territorial integrity and its
people from greedy aggressors of which there are rather too many in this
world. During times of disasters well-equipped armies are also called upon
to assist the population and to alleviate suffering. Deep down, therefore, I
am proud that Zimbabwe has a strong army which can meet most challenges.
However, I am not so sure that most Zimbabweans, myself included, are proud
of what our armed forces stand for today.

      The Shurugwi display was not put on to show commanders what firepower
they have at their disposal, as was stated. It was what is called
sabre-rattling which is a way of warning real or imagined enemies so that
they may not dare attack.

      Now, who are Zimbabwe's enemies today who need to be so warned?

      Usually enemies do not come from afar but are one's very neighbours.
Most of the countries which fight, do so over territorial disputes, over
land. As far as I know Zimbabwe does not have any serious border disputes
with her neighbours, Then whom are we trying to frighten (Watiri
kutyisidzira ndiani)?

      From our President's statements, one of those we are trying to
intimidate is none other than the most powerful nations on earth, the United
States of America and the United Kingdom. I quote from the Daily News on
Sunday of 20 July 2003: "As United States and British pressure mounted on
President Robert Mugabe to step down a fortnight ago, he told his supporters
the children of the two countries' citizens in Zimbabwe would be the first
to die if they invaded this country as they did in Iraq.

      "Mugabe facing political and economic turmoil, said Zimbabwe was ready
to retaliate if the US and the UK, implacable critics of his government's
skewed policies, deployed their soldiers here to throw him out of power as
they did to Saddam Hussein.

      "Mugabe said in Shona: Zvavakaita ku Iraq havangambozviedza muno.
Vanotanga kufa vana vavo muno. (They will never attempt to do what they did
in Iraq because it will be their children who will be the first to die.)

      He gave the warning at a political rally in the Chivi South
Constituency in Masvingo, near the site of the proposed Tokwe Mukosi dam.

      Surely, one would expect such words from Gringo, the comedian and not
from the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe. I would like to think that
our President was not serious but just joking otherwise I would begin to
question his sanity.

      You and I know that it would be insane to ever imagine our tiny and
starving country can stand up to the might of Britain and the United States
put together.

      Indeed, Saddam Hussein and his comical Minister of Information (who
sounded just like our own Jonathan Moyo) harboured such imaginations or
should I call them hallucinations. Where are they today?

      The idea of the United States having to use force to remove regimes
that abuse people's human rights is not so far-fetched as some would like to
think. It might have been unthinkable under some of the more diplomatically
minded US presidents but not under religiously motivated "cowboy George

      The US has "blacklisted" Zimbabwe and noted that "freedom and dignity"
were "under assault" in the country. Where this blacklisting will lead to
only time will tell.

      It is nonsensical for our president to threaten the United States and
Britain by saying that if they attack Zimbabwe their children would be the
first to die. There are in fact more black Zimbabweans in the UK and the US
than there are whites in Zimbabwe. Estimates are that there are 500 000
black Zimbabweans in the UK alone while there are 50 000 whites left in

      Apart from the UK and the US, our show of force in Shurugwi was
intended to frighten the opposition. It was intended to warn them against
resorting to armed insurrection. Indeed it would be folly to even imagine
that the Zanu PF regime can be toppled by violent revolution. The might of
the politically partisan Zimbabwe armed forces is formidable. We all saw the
brute force, which was used to foil the peaceful demonstration during the
March stay-away.

      What about actual violent rebellion? It would be totally quashed
within minutes. The might and brutality of the Zimbabwe armed forces is
indeed formidable.

      However, it is not only by might that repressive regimes can be
toppled. It is also by might that oppressive regimes can cling on to power.
By the same token, they can disintegrate due to dissatisfaction and dissent
from within. Already signs of stress due to the rigors of holding on to
power by force as well as international pressure, is telling on the ruling
party and the government. Signs of this are showing within the once united
Zanu PF. There are telltale cracks that no amount of sloganeering can paper

      Not all people in Zanu PF are without conscience. Most of them don't
belong to the clique of those who have killed, tortured, raped and looted
and are afraid of what will happen to them if their protector, Mugabe, goes
or if Zanu PF loses power.

      I am surprised at the number of party members, some of them high
ranking, who encourage me in my writing. Some of them make excuses for the
President and blame greedy and irresponsible ministers, especially newcomers
to the party, for the mess we are in. Others blame the president.

      Some of these say that he is weak and not strong enough to discipline
or dismiss wayward and corrupt party leaders. Yet, others blame the

      They say that he is the one who encourages violence. "If only he would
step down, Zanu PF and the country could be saved," they say.

      The suffering that Zimbabweans are going through due to shortages and
ever-spiralling inflation is not affecting ordinary people alone. It is also
affecting faithful party members, the police, soldiers and even the dreaded
party militias.

      We saw them at petrol queues when garages still had petrol. We are
with them in bank queues. We jostle with them at supermarket queues. And we
see them also waiting for the few available buses and emergency taxis at
ranks. They are suffering as much as we are. One day all these will say,
enough is enough and that will be the end of Zanu PF and the government.

      He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
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      Dual fuel pricing system another daft idea

      AT a time when the people of this country are in the throes of an
unprecedented crisis, the government intends to introduce a dual fuel
pricing system - one for them and their loss-making and unproductive
parastatals, and the other for the long-suffering Zimbabweans

      It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that there will be
one law for government departments and parastatals and another for the rest
of the population. The price of fuel that will be charged to government by
Noczim will be much cheaper than the price that will be charged to the
general public by private oil companies.

      Effectively, this means we are heavily taxed by this regime to enable
it to buy fuel cheaply with our money while the little that is left in
people's pockets will by and large go to buy the more expensive fuel on the
open market. Where is the sense in that?

      Whatever happened to that universal dictum of a government of the
people, for the people and by the people? What is the moral basis for a
government to seek to shift the burden of its ineptitude on the people it
purpotes to govern?

      There is no justification for the government, which is funded by the
taxpayer to make things easier for the ruling class at the expense of the
general public when it is its bounden duty to protect the interests of
people by providing necessities like fuel at affordable prices.

      Besides the moral issue, Zimbabweans are very clear that even that
cheap fuel will find itself on the black market after corrupt civil servants
have got their hands on it and, as usual, realise how easily they can make a
quick dollar.

      And even if the dual fuel pricing system was introduced, how is it
supposed to work? Who constitutes "public transport"? Is it Zupco? Is it the
emergency taxis? What about ambulances, rural buses and all the other
hangers' on?

      Zimbabweans are the third highest taxed nation on this planet and
instead of the money going to create employment and looking after the most
vulnerable groups in our society and building infrastructure, it is
enriching the already wealthy few and well-connected people within the

      There is no doubt in our minds that the government does not have the
slightest clue of how to solve this national crisis. Things are getting
worse everyday.

      The cash crisis, the fuel crisis, unaffodability of basic
commodities - the list is endless.

      Zimbabwe must be one of the few countries in this world where its
citizens are failing to access their own money in banks. Mamvemve of a
country - that is what Zimbabwe has become.

      We are at a loss as to how a bunch of people can say tirikutonga.
Murikutonga chii?

      Zimbabweans feel morally outraged at what is going on around them. The
dual fuel pricing system will strengthen the State as the main locus of
accumulation for the Zanu PF chefs and their supporters and sympathisers.

      It is common knowledge that control of State office and positions has
always been seen as an attractive prize for both members and supporters of
the ruling party. Corruption and selling of government fuel from Noczim on
the black market is bound to worsen.

      The rich will become richer and the poor outside Zanu PF, will become
poorer. The majority of Zimbabweans will become poorer because they will not
have access to cheaper fuel from Noczim.

      There has been a degrading scramble for land by a few at the expense
of the landless majority. Now, that degrading scramble will be extended to

      The propensity for this government to do things in their own interest
rather than in the interest of the majority is indeed legendary. When will
all this madness come to an end? Just how long can this continue?

      This crisis will continue as long as this regime as presently
constituted remains in power. The present very critical state of public
opinion and the depth of this country's economic difficulties does not seem
to have made an iota of a difference to the ruling Zanu PF party. Many of us
are bashing our heads against a brick wall - so it seems. The grim nature of
this country's predicament has not really sunk home among the ruling elite.

      Politics is power and not many people would give up power easily. This
is the problem that we are facing at the moment. President Mugabe is not
prepared to surrender his personal ambitions in the interest of Zimbabwe.

      And the cronies who surround him within govenment and outside as well
as the uniformed forces will defend to the last man their ill-gotten wealth.

      In other words, we are really stuck with Zanu PF. And President Mugabe
feels much safer in State House than outside it. This is the bottom line.

      And it appears that people are naively reading too much into the fact
that MDC MPs did not for the first time, boycott the President's speech last
Tuesday marking the opening of Parliament. While this could be a positive
gesture on the part of the opposition MDC, people must not lose sight of the
fact that nothing positive and redeeming is happening on the ground.

      It is really a question of "suffer continue".

      The beast that is Zanu PF is alive and well - at least for the time
being. It would be naive in the extreme for anyone to think that things are
normalising when in reality they are not.

      What the government is doing on the fuel front, on the cash front - in
fact on every front - does not inspire confidence in its ability to provide
real solutions to the problems bedevilling this country. It is cold comfort
that the generality of Zimbabweans have lost faith in their government.

      Be that as it may, we remain convinced about things are coming to a
head in the not too distant future.

      It is not God's desire to have such a serious crisis in ours or in any
other economy going on forever.

      It is clear to Zimbabweans and the rest of the world that President
Mugabe is on the way out. MDC or no MDC, the President will have to one day
call it quits. The worsening crisis will make sure of that.

      About that, we have no doubt

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      A guide to shopping in central African trouble spots overthetop
      By Brian Latham

      Things are rarely as they seem in the troubled central African nation.
And while a clearly confused disinformation minister has blamed much of this
on the opposition More Drink Coming Party, that hardly seems possible.

      After all, it's surely more likely that Zany policy led to the curious
situation we find ourselves in. Where else does one not only buy money, but
buy money in a supermarket instead of a bank? The banks, you see, have no
money. The supermarkets have a surfeit of the stuff.

      Meanwhile the filling stations have no fuel. For fuel you definitely
have to approach someone with Zany connections, after first (and why does it
seem so natural?) buying a large drum to put the fuel into.

      Ah, but you say that's illegal. Well, it is, so before you buy the
drum you have to head into the troubled townships, euphemistically called
high densities, and buy a certificate to carry the fuel. Of course, you can
also buy the certificate from the appropriate government department, but
that's a lot more expensive and it takes longer.

      All this is time consuming and not inexpensive, but Zany policy is ...
well, zany.

      And what of those basic day-to-day necessities like bread? Bread is
readily available on the troubled central African banana republic's streets.
Where else? Sugar, mealie meal and other commodities more normally
associated with the hygienic surroundings of large supermarkets, but usually
unavailable there, are easily found hidden under grubby plastic sheets on
the pavement.

      Gone, sadly, are those happy days when a stroll down the capital's
leafy avenues was interrupted by frequent calls that went something along
the lines of, "Psst, you like my sister?"

      These days it's, "Psst, want some sugar, petrol, mealie meal, foreign
currency, local currency or (definitely bottom of the list) my sister.
Cheques gladly accepted."

      Except that now even cheques are in short supply. According to banks
in the troubled central African lavatory, it's because the machine has
broken down, the paper has run out or there's no ink. No doubt your own bank
will have it's own readily available, glibly pronounced lie explaining why
it takes a month to get a cheque book and why you can't have your own money.

      Someone should sue them, of course, but it probably won't happen.

      There's something called the deposit-demand principle (or something
like that) that means if you have money in the bank, the bank is legally
obliged to let you have it.

      That's all very well, in principle, but in the troubled and bankrupt
central African nation, it doesn't work like that. Instead you deposit your
money in the bank, wait a month for a chequebook and then buy it back from
the supermarket. The banks, as always, get off with impunity. Quite why
troubled central Africans are in awe of banks is a mystery. They're little
more than legalised thieves - and they're not even efficient at that.

      That's enough ranting about the grubby little money changers (who no
longer change money).

      What's truly amazing is how fast all this has happened. And how
rapidly troubled central Africans have adapted to alternative shopping.

      Respectable old gentlemen in suits can regularly be seen ducking
behind the supermarket to buy their sugar.

      Large and wealthy middle aged women step out of their German
limousines and dash into the bushes to buy flour. It's all rather wonderful
and if we didn't know any better, we'd think they're all buying drugs -
except that nowadays the purveyors of recreational tobaccos and powders to
the troubled central African nation's elite are about the only people who
don't have to skulk around in sanitary lanes.

      Every cloud does have a silver lining after all.

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