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Zimbabwe's harvest 'insufficient'
Woman with food aid
The Zimbabwean government says food aid will not be needed
Zimbabwe's harvest will not meet the country's food needs and it will be forced to import food, the UN says.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says the country faces a shortfall of 325,000 tons of cereals this year.

The Zimbabwean government has predicted a record harvest of 2.4 million tons of maize.

But FAO says it expects the harvest to be less than half that figure - around a million tons of cereal crops.

It says erratic rainfall, a shortage of quality seeds, deep poverty and a mismanaged land reform programme are behind the poor harvest.

In a new report, the UN food body warns that between 30% and 40% of farmers may run out of food from their own production by the end of July.

FAO's report comes days after a survey said 2.3 million rural people would need food aid in the next year.


Experts from FAO were ordered to leave the country before they completed their mission, but they visited the major cereal-growing provinces of Mashonaland, Manicaland and Matabeleland.

FAO's Henri Josserand, head of the Global Information and Early Warning System, told BBC News Online that he thought the country would be forced to import food to make up the shortfall.

"If they bring all the food that is missing, they have the resources, but what will they do with the food - do they give it for free? Do they sell it? Will people be able to afford it?" Mr Josserand said.

"Some [people] won't have enough money - those are the ones that we are concerned about - unless the government can give food for free, they will go without."

2000: 4,000 white farmers
2004: 400 left
2003: 5m need food aid
June 2004: 650,000 get food aid


FAO predicts a total harvest of some 950,000 tons of cereals - mainly maize, sorghum and millet.

With its population of nearly 12 million, Zimbabwe needs a total of 2.35 million tons of cereals for the coming year, leaving a shortfall of 1.3 million tons.

Almost a third of a million tons will not be covered by existing cereal stock or incoming orders and will probably be imported, FAO says.

Land reform

A dramatic land reform plan by President Robert Mugabe has also affected harvests.

Mr Mugabe's programme to reform land tenure and redistribute white-owned land to black people has contributed to a plunge in agricultural production.

Zimbabwe has been transformed from being one of the region's breadbaskets to supporting millions with food aid.

"The way land reform has been managed has made it difficult for people," Mr Josserand said.

"When there is a lack of tenure, a lack of credit, it's very difficult for people who have been allocated land to produce on a large scale, the system hasn't been followed through," he added.

FAO says farmers are so desperate for seeds that they have been planting maize grain supplied as food aid.

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Sunday Times (SA)

 AU to suppress Zimbabwe abuse report

Thursday July 08, 2004 06:49 - (SA)
ADDIS ABABA - The African Union (AU) is set to suppress one of its own
reports critical of Zimbabwe's human rights record, in the wake of protests
about procedure and claims that the two-year-old assessment was "smuggled"
onto the agenda of this week's AU summit.

Foreign ministers have advised their heads of state meeting in Addis Ababa
to "suspend the publication" of an annual report by the AU's Commission on
Human and People's Rights until concerned countries could include their
comments, according to an official record of the ministers decisions, which
tend to be adopted at AU summits.

Ministers engaged in heated discussions earlier this week over a  part of
this document that covered a visit to Zimbabwe by the commission in June

The row comes at a time when the AU is trying to promote good governance and
respect for human rights, and to distance itself from the crippling
non-interventionism that characterized its predecessor, the Organisation of
African Unity (OAU).

During its trip to Zimbabwe, the commission found evidence of "political
violence... torture... and arbitrary arrest... of opposition members of
parliament and human rights lawyers," according to the summary of its
findings annexed to the annual report tabled at the AU summit.

"There were allegations that the human rights violations that occurred were
in many instances at the hands of (the ruling) ZANU-PF party activists," the
commission said, adding however that it was unable to say that this was part
of an orchestrated government policy.

"By its statements and political rhetoric, and by its failure at  critical
moments to uphold the rule of law, the government failed to chart a path
that signalled commitment to the rule of law," it added.

The AU body also noted "a flurry of legislation" that undermined  freedom of

"Zimbabwe said it was not the time" to formally adopt the report, said one
delegate present at the AU ministers meeting.

"They said the report should not been presented in this form and that it
lacked objectivity. They said this was the first time they had seen the
report," the official told AFP, adding that Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stan
Mudenge had made his points very forcefully.

"It wasn't only Zimbabwe that objected," said an AU official following the
affair, explaining that Tunisia was among the objecting states.

"The issue was about procedure. The Commission was expected to submit the
report to all concerned parties. This has not happened. Regulations were not
adhered to," he added.

Zimbabwean Information Minister Jonathan Moyo on Wednesday accused the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change of "smuggling" the report onto the
AU agenda at the behest of British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

There was no sign of MDC officials at the Addis meeting.

On Tuesday, the MDC welcomed the report's exposure of alleged human rights
violations by the government.

"We call upon the AU to take concrete steps to ensure that the Zimbabwean
government corrects its appalling record on civil liberties, freedom of
speech and human rights," the party said in a statement.

The archbishop of Buluwayo, Pius Ncube, separately slammed the AU's apparent
decision to back away from tackling the report during  the summit. "I heard
yesterday (Tuesday) that the AU has failed to endorse the report because
Zimbabwe said they have not seen it but they've had it for two years," he
said at a breakfast meeting in Johannesburg.

"That's the sad thing about African leaders, they go there (to the summit)
just to support each other. I'm terribly disappointed, my heart is really
down," Ncube added.

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Statement by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum on the report of the
fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe by the African Commission on Human and
People's Rights in 2002.

According to a report in the Herald on 6 July 2004, under the heading "AU
Rejects Damning Report on Zimbabwe", the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stan
Mudenge, is said to have "objected to the presentation of the report saying
Zimbabwe had not been afforded the right of reply to the damning
allegations as per requirement on such matters", adding that "The Council
of Ministers of the AU" comprising the Foreign Ministers of the 53 AU
members states, had decided that the Commission had not solicited the
response of the member-state concerned which response should have been
included.  The Minister asserts that the Commission did not observe
protocol as it allegedly sent the report to the Ministry of Justice, Legal
and Parliamentary Affairs and not the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to the records of the Forum, the report of the fact-finding
mission to Zimbabwe, undertaken from 25 - 28 June 2002, was "considered and
adopted" by "the African Commission at its 34th Ordinary Session" (November

In terms of the procedures of the African Commission, following the
adoption of a report, the member state is given the opportunity to make its
comments on the report before it is presented to the Assembly of Heads of
State and Government of the AU.

The Forum was reliably informed on 5 February 2004, that the fact-finding
mission report was with the Government of Zimbabwe and would be published,
together with the comments of the Government, as soon as these were

While it was the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that
was delegated by Government in 2002 to co-ordinate the agenda for the
fact-finding mission of the African Commission, the rules of the Commission
are silent on the Ministry to which a mission report should be submitted
stating only that the Commission must submit reports to the relevant member

The Forum is therefore of the view that the requirement by the African
Commission to present the report to the Government of the member state
concerned, in this case Zimbabwe, was adequately satisfied. 6 July 2004

Setting new roots in Zambia

By John Murphy

Sun Foreign Staff

Originally published July 6, 2004

KAYANJE FARM, Zambia - When a truckload of government-sponsored thugs
chased Chris Thorne and his family from their wheat and soybean farm in
Zimbabwe three years ago, ransacking his home and decrying him as a racist,
Thorne was left to wonder whether a white farmer like him could have a
future in Africa.

Thorne is finding his answer in Zambia.

Just north of Lusaka, Zambia's sleepy capital, Thorne is busy felling
trees, leveling termite hills and laying irrigation lines to expand his new
7,000-acre tobacco and maize farm.

"The opportunities are endless here," says Thorne, a ruddy-faced
56-year-old, who clicks through Zambia's advantages as if he were making a
sales pitch: good rainfall, rich soils and vast expanses of arable land,
about 70 percent of it not being cultivated.

What's more, he adds, the racial tension that led to such agony in Zimbabwe
seems nonexistent here.

"It's got it all," he says of his new home.

Cast as greedy colonialists by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, about
4,000 of Zimbabwe's 4,500 white farmers, including Thorne, were tossed off
their farms beginning in 2000 as part of what the government billed as a
land reform program, in reality a government effort to redistribute
white-owned land to blacks.

The program deteriorated into violence as the government dispatched youth
brigades and veterans of Zimbabwe's civil war to take over white-owned

Many of Zimbabwe's white migrants packed their bags for Great Britain, New
Zealand and Australia, wary of farming again on a continent where
Zimbabwe's land reform policies enjoy support from many African leaders.

Preferred destination

For the farmers who vowed to stay on the continent, few destinations have
been as attractive as Zambia, a former British colony slightly larger than
Texas with a population of 10 million. An estimated 200 white farmers and
their families have settled here in the past three years.

Zambia's government, if somewhat cautiously, is welcoming them as the spark
the country needs to jump-start its ailing economy. Largely as the result
of the arrival of Zimbabwean tobacco farmers and their access to millions
of dollars in loans, Zambia's tobacco industry is booming. Since 2001,
annual harvests have increased from to 33 million pounds from 6.6 million

More than 20,000 jobs have been created nationwide, according to tobacco
industry representatives, and plans are also under way to build a
tobacco-processing plant in Lusaka.

By comparison, Zimbabwe's once-powerful tobacco industry is in tatters,
shrinking to 143 million pounds of tobacco this year from a high of 528
million pounds in 2000.

In more than just tobacco, Zimbabwe's economic loss has been Zambia's gain.
Zimbabwean mechanics, engineers and other agricultural suppliers are moving
to Zambia to do business. Tourists reluctant to visit Zimbabwe are choosing
to visit Zambia to go on safaris and visit Victoria Falls, the spectacular
waterfall on Zimbabwe's northern border with Zambia.

"It's rewarding to my government to have investors who have in their mind
adding value to Zambia and who get on with the people of the country,"
Mundia Sikatana, Zambia's minister of agriculture, told a gathering of
tobacco farmers this month.

After facing severe food shortages in recent years, last year Zambia
exported 100,000 metric tons of food aid - much of it going to Zimbabwe.
Long dependent on copper mining, the Zambian government now hopes to make
grain and tobacco as well as vegetables, roses and beef the backbone of the

"The sky's the limit," Sikatana said.

For Chris Thorne, Zambia at first was not an attractive destination. He had
moved to Zambia once before in 1970, believing that the spacious country
would offer more opportunities for a young farmer than Zimbabwe, then known
as Rhodesia.

But soon after his arrival, Zambia's economy went into a tailspin; the
government nationalized all land and private businesses and the price of
copper, Zambia's main export, plummeted. Heavily dependent on foreign aid,
Zambia's people were left poorer than they were at independence in 1964.

Retirement postponed

Thorne returned to his birthplace, where during the next 25 years he became
one of Zimbabwe's most prominent farmers, operating a consortium that grew
one-fifth of the country's wheat and soybeans.

Just when Thorne was looking forward to a relaxing retirement, Mugabe
launched his land reform program. When Thorne lost his 3,750-acre property
in Zimbabwe's Mazowe Valley in 2001, he began looking for a new home.

The question was, where would he feel welcome? There are no easy answers
for whites in Africa, who have often struggled to find a place on the
continent since the end of colonialism more than four decades ago. He and
his wife briefly considered a move to Australia before vowing to stay in
Africa, the place of their birth.

"We are Africans," he says. "We don't want to leave Africa."

He traveled to Mozambique, Uganda and Angola looking at properties before
turning to Zambia, which he decided he would give a second chance.

Searching through a database of hundreds of available properties, Thorne
eventually found an abandoned organic vegetable farm overgrown with thorn
trees and weeds just north of Lusaka, where he secured with a 75-year lease
from the government.

Backed by $1 million in loans from a local bank and the Richmond, Va.-based
Universal Leaf Tobacco Co., Thorne planted his first crop of 200 acres of
Virginia leaf tobacco and 625 acres of maize last year.

Walking through his dusty compound, Thorne proudly showed off his 14 new
metal sheds used for curing tobacco and a mammoth warehouse, where Zambian
workers sort, grade and bale tobacco under fluorescent lights for shipment
to auction.

Rising out of a thicket of thorn and acacia trees is Thorne's new home, a
stunning brick house with oriental carpets and cathedral ceilings.

"At the beginning, this was all bush," says Thorne, who lived with his wife
and son in tents for the first five months of their stay. Thorne is
planning to build brick homes for his 400 Zambians workers, many of who
have never held regular jobs before.

Innocent Bwalya, a 21-year-old who pressed handfuls of yellow and brown
tobacco leaves into a baling machine, said he plans to save his earnings to
study agriculture.

"My aim is to have my own farm someday," he said.

If Bwalya's dream comes true, it would be a step in the right direction for
Zambia, whose leaders would like to see the country's newfound tobacco
fortunes shared with the black population.

Low-key activity

Zambia's government is reluctant to advertise the arrival of the white
farmers, on a continent where efforts to reclaim white-owned land enjoy
enthusiastic support, including in South Africa and Namibia. Last year, in
what analysts considered a face-saving move at a conference in Paris,
Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa publicly dismissed reports that white
farmers were moving to his country.

Likewise, Zimbabawe's transplanted white farmers are wary of trumpeting
their successes here too loudly, afraid that their economic success might
breed the same ill will it did in Zimbabwe.

"I thought we were working closely with the government [in Zimbabwe] but we
didn't work closely enough. ... You need to be sure you are carrying
everyone with you," says Peter MacSporran, whose lost his farm in 2001
before moving to Zambia, where he set up Agricultural Advisors
International, a company that assists farmers relocating to Zambia.

In an effort to spread tobacco wealth beyond the white farming community,
Universal Leaf Tobacco Co., which is backing the white farmers with $30
million in loans, plans to offer $12 million to black Zambian farmers
wanting to join the industry.

For the tobacco industry, investing in Zambia makes good business sense,
says Philippe Rusch, managing director of Universal Leaf Tobacco. After
years of reaping a dependable harvest from Zimbabwe, the economic and
political turmoil left the tobacco industry without a dependable supply of
Virginia leaf tobacco.

Now the tobacco industry is diversifying its investments, investing in
farms not only in Zambia, but also Malawi and Mozambique.

"They realized that putting all your eggs in one basket is not a clever
thing to do," says Rusch.

Even so, Thorne is placing his bets on Zambia, putting all his savings into
his farm in Zambia and hoping that after jumping from Zambia to Zimbabwe
and back again, he has finally found a place he can call home.

"This is our third time around. We have to make this one good," he says.
"We'll do it."



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Business Report

      Flavour is fading from Zimbabwe tobacco
      July 8, 2004

      By Jan Raath and Antony Sguazzin

      Johannesburg - Zimbabwean tobacco, considered by buyers to rival US
varieties, might be excluded from blends used by the biggest cigarette
makers if the crop declined for a fifth year and quality continued to
deteriorate, a growers' group said yesterday.

      The crop this year would plunge to an estimated 65 million kilograms,
a 33-year low, said Rodney Ambrose, the chief executive of the Zimbabwe
Tobacco Association in Harare.

      The country harvested a record 237 million kilograms in 2000, when it
was the world's second-largest exporter.

      The decline began in 2001, after President Robert Mugabe began seizing
white-owned commercial farms for distribution to Zimbabweans who were
deprived of land during white rule, Ambrose said.

      While the number of small-scale farmers had increased, less of the
top-quality "lemon tobacco", which is used to flavour cigarettes, was being
grown, he said.

      "Flavour tobacco is in short supply," he said. "The longer we decline
the more we will be taken out of the flavour formula."

      By Tuesday, 34.2 million kilograms of tobacco had been sold in the
first 67 days of the sales season at an average price of $1.996 (R12.50) a
kilogram, down from 41.6 million kilograms at an average price of $2.115 a
year earlier.

      On Tuesday, 700 841 kilograms sold in Zimbabwe's three auction floors
for an average price of $1.98 a kilogramme.

      US-based buyers Standard Commercial, Universal and Dimon have
traditionally bought the bulk of Zimbabwe's crop to flavour cigarette brands
such as Marlboro and Camel.

      British American Tobacco, the biggest maker of tobacco in Zimbabwe,
fired 170 workers in the country because of the dwindling crop, the
Financial Gazette reported last week, citing unidentified people at the
company's Zimbabwean unit.
      A company spokesperson did not return calls.

      The declining quality of Zimbabwe's tobacco crop is reducing the
country's share of the European market.

      China, which in the 1990s bought as much 30 million kilograms of lemon
style tobacco from Zimbabwe each year, would buy only 5 million kilograms
this year, Ambrose said.

      And next year's crop would probably fall further.

      "Nobody wants to start investing if there is a good chance you will be
given 48 hours to get off your farm," Ambrose said. "There is no security."

      The decline in the tobacco crop, once Zimbabwe's biggest source of
foreign exchange, has deepened an economic recession that is in its sixth

      Zambia and Malawi have benefited as some farmers relocated there.
Zambia last month said it aimed to triple tobacco plantings by 2008. Some
Zimbabwean farmers have moved as far as China.

      "There are about 600 growers just sitting in Harare doing nothing,"
Ambrose said. "People are just picking the skills from Zimbabwe."
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Zimbabwe rebels launch new team
Wed 7 July, 2004 22:23

LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's sacked rebel cricketers have launched
themselves as a new team called the Red Lions and will play their first
match on July 14 in England.

The Lions, who plan to raise money for two charitable trusts, face Kent club
side Lashings at Wimbledon Cricket Club next Wednesday. Five more one-dayers
are scheduled at other grounds around the country before the end of the

Players include former captain Heath Streak, Grant Flower and Stuart

"The Red Lions have been formed out of the desire to promote the great game
of cricket by playing matches against worthy opposition in an atmosphere of
fun and frivolity," said spokesman Clive Field.

"We have chosen England as the destination for our inaugural tour because we
have many friends and fans there gained from our past touring experiences.
We hope to build on this success and carry this through into other

Zimbabwe agreed to postpone their remaining 2004 tests last month after the
Zimbabwe Cricket Union became embroiled in a dispute with 15 of the
country's leading white players over team selection.

The players, angry over Streak's departure as captain, made themselves
unavailable for selection and were sacked, leaving Zimbabwe with a side
unable to compete at the top level.

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      Suppliers limit ZESA

      Staff Reporter
      7/8/2004 7:35:05 AM (GMT +2)

      ZIMBABWE'S tenuous electricity supplies could soon be compounded by a
regional power supply imbalance that has hit the country's major suppliers.

      The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), which has
reintroduced its disruptive electricity load shedding programme, has
admitted that the country has been hit hard by a regional power supply

      Zimbabwe's regional electricity suppliers, HCB of Mozambique, Eskom of
South Africa and SNEL of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which
have been haggling with the local power utility over non-settlement of
debts, were undersupplying the country, igniting fears that Zimbabwe could
be totally switched off.

      Zimbabwe has a peak demand of 2 100 MW while local generation stands
at 1 200 MW, giving a supply imbalance of 900 MW which is imported.

      ZESA, which owes the three suppliers more than US$51 million in
arrears, imports 250 MW from HCB, 150 MW from Eskom and 150 MW from SNEL.

      The power supply imbalance has already seen the re-introduction of
load shedding by the local power utility.

      ZESA, which recently transformed into ZESA Holdings (Pvt) Limited
ahead of its privatisation, generates 68 percent of its power requirements
through Kariba South Power Station (750 MW) and Hwange Power Station (HPS)
920 MW, with the balance being met through imports.

      ZESA's situation has not been helped by the fact that local generation
at Hwange Power Station (HPS) has been incapacitated by a machine breakdown.
Under normal circumstances, HPS generates 920 MW but is currently generating
500 MW only, sources said.

      Inadequate coal supplies to HPS have also affected local power
generation, analysts noted.

      Obert Nyatanga, ZESA general manager corporate affairs, confirmed that
the local utility was receiving limited electricity supplies from its
erstwhile reliable suppliers. Nyatanga said he expects local generation to
increase to 1 300 MW as units at HPS operate at full capacity.

      "The region as a whole is experiencing a supply shortfall during peak
hours, hence limited imports by ZESA," Nyatanga said.

      Power interruptions, which occurred in some parts of Harare this week,
were a result of equipment failure in generation, transmission and
distribution inevitable in any power system.

      Sources said the risk of being switched off comes amid heightened
fears of load shedding which has since played its part in weighing down the
stricken economy.

      Repeated power outages also come as the government, which has never
wished to loosen its grip on the loss-making parastatal, dithers over the
sell-off of its 50 percent stake in both HPS and Kariba South Power Stations
under its stop-go privatisation programme.

      The two were slated to be hived off in a US$600 million deal meant to
change the fortunes of the perennial loss-maker and bolster the country's
power generating capacity.

      Zimbabwe has been experiencing unstable power supplies during the past
two years, which have had devastating effect on the economy.

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      Govt threatens to take over Cottco

      Brian Mangwende and Nelson Banya
      7/8/2004 7:35:36 AM (GMT +2)

      THE government is reported to be actively mulling plans to forcibly
acquire the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Cotton Company of Zimbabwe
(Cottco), in a shock move that could unnerve industry and scupper a planned
multi-billion dollar investment.

      Impeccable sources close to the controversial move to take over the
former parastatal said that government literally had its fingers on the
trigger yesterday ready to pounce on what has emerged as the bell-wether
stock on the local bourse. Cottco was successfully privatised in 1997 and
has a market capitalisation of about $271 billion.

      The surprise move, described by industry sources as "an emotional
decision which lacks reasoning and economic basis", comes in the wake of
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made's ultimatum, issued on Monday, to cotton
ginners and farmers to resolve their protracted producer price dispute
within seven days, failure of which the government would intervene.

      Cottco announced on Tuesday that it had suspended purchasing cotton
from growers as the ginning company's relations with its suppliers

      It remained unclear, though, how the government would supplant
Cottco's shareholders.

      The sources, who said yesterday the relevant government departments
held marathon meetings over the Cottco issue, however indicated that the
cash-strapped government planned to issue Treasury Bills to the current
shareholders as a precursor to the takeover of the company.

      Cottco employees, through their Tonje Employees Investment (Pvt) Ltd,
have the biggest 27.74 percent stake in the company, while Old Mutual Life
is the second biggest shareholder with a 22.35 percent interest. The
government, through the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), holds an
18.88 percent stake. Cottco is, in turn, the major shareholder in SeedCo, a
synergistic ZSE-listed seed company with a regional footprint.

      Contacted for comment, Cottco managing director Sylvester Nguni said:
"I cannot comment because all the relevant authorities have been fully
briefed about the situation. It would be premature for me to say anything at
this stage before they have made their determination."

      Made denied that the government was planning to forcibly acquire the
lucrative agricultural concern, citing the country's laws which, he said,
did not provide for such action.

      "I have no idea about that. The country doesn't have such laws that
allow us to take over a private company. You are mistaken," Made said.

      He then referred further questions to industry players.
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      'Don't boycott 2005 poll'

      Staff Reporter
      7/8/2004 7:37:13 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - Opposition parties should not boycott next year's general
election because this could pave way for ZANU PF to impose a new president
on the country, an opposition leader says.

      Paul Siwela, leader of the Zimbabwe African People's Union Federal
Party (ZAPU FP), said during a meeting on the 2005 general election in
Bulawayo recently that ignoring the polls would mean the ruling party, which
was eager to give President Robert Mugabe a noble exit, would not have to
wait for 2008 for his departure if it was handed a two-thirds majority on a
silver platter.

      Suggesting the elections would be linked to the exit of President
Mugabe, 80, who has been in power since 1980, Siwela said: "Let's go in
because ZANU PF has problems too. Let's take advantage of the situation
because if we boycott the elections, the 2008 president will be elected by
Parliament and not by the electorate.

      "If ZANU PF wins a majority, they will impose a new president on the

      Siwela was responding to a question on why he advocated participating
in the elections when his party had lost dismally at the first debate series
on next year's elections entitled Election Participation and Boycott
Theories, organised by Bulawayo Agenda, a trust in Zimbabwe's second city.

      "No opposition party did well," Siwela argued. "If any opposition
party had done well they would be in power today and we would not be having
this discussion."

      "Politics is not like the Olympics," he said. "In the Olympics if you
come second, you are given a silver medal. In politics, if you come second,
you go into oblivion. We are not in oblivion."

      Siwela's views were shared by Jabulani Sibanda, leader of a pro-ZANU
PF section of the war veterans, who said the ruling party would prefer to
beat the opposition in an election rather than through a walkover.

      Sibanda said ZANU PF was not just aiming for a two-thirds majority,
but for a clean sweep so that it could go ahead with the "development of the
country without any hindrance".

      He brushed off demands by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
secretary-general Welshman Ncube and National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
chairman Lovemore Madhuku that elections should only be held when the
playing field had been levelled and the country had a new constitution.

      Ncube said the MDC was not advocating boycotting the elections at this
stage, but wanted some key demands to be met to allow free and fair

      Some of the key issues were that there should be an independent
electoral commission, voting should be carried out in one day and that
counting should take place at the polling station.

      The government has since proposed electoral reforms ostensibly to
accommodate some of these concerns.

      Ncube, who was backed by the party's secretary for legal affairs,
David Coltart, said the party would prepare for the elections but would only
make a decision closer to the polls if its demands had not been met.

      In a newsletter to his constituency, Coltart elaborated this view,
which he said had been agreed to by the party, including its president
Morgan Tsvangirai.

      The MDC, he said, had agreed that to separate its preparations for the
elections and the decision whether or not to participate.

      "A soccer team must practise as hard as possible prior to a match and
the decision whether to play or not must only be made shortly before the
match once the team has considered the state of the ground and who the
referee is," Coltart said in the newsletter.

      "The same applies to the election. We must, as a party, practise and
prepare as hard as possible in the run-up to the election. Everyone has a
role to play. Closer to the time when the election is due to be held, we can
then assess whether we should participate (or not)."

      Siwela brushed off the argument about free and fair elections,
claiming that Zimbabwe had never had a free and fair election since 1980. It
was therefore mischievous, he said, to give the impression that only the
2000 and 2002 elections had not been free and fair.

      This prompted some members of the audience in the meeting to accuse
Siwela and his party of being an extension of ZANU PF, which he denied.

      Madhuku said Siwela's attitude was defeatist because "if things have
been done wrongly in the past they should not continue to be done wrongly".
He said the NCA was not calling for an election boycott but for a new

      "What we are saying is that we need a new constitution. If we do not
get that new constitution by the time of the elections, we will continue to
demand a new constitution. This is a process. But we will urge people not to
vote if there is no new constitution," he said.

      Sibanda said any new constitution should be drawn up by Parliament and
not by individuals. Since Ncube and Coltart were Members of Parliament, he
said, they had to use that platform to amend the constitution.

      Coltart said there was no way the opposition could beat ZANU PF in
Parliament because the President appointed 30 members, giving his party a
distinct and unfair advantage.

      Sibanda was accompanied by a group of cheerleaders who booed every
time Coltart took the platform.

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      MDC probes Sikhala

      Brian Mangwende
      7/8/2004 7:38:15 AM (GMT +2)

      JOB Sikhala's short, if not controversial political career is
precariously hanging in the balance after it emerged the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), riven by internal squabbling, has launched an
investigation into the conduct of the leadership of the St Mary's
constituency where he is the opposition party's legislator.

      Party insiders said the investigation, which comes at an irksome
moment for a party that has become an object of bitter attacks from the
ruling ZANU PF, explains why the maverick Sikhala has not been subjected to
the ongoing self-cleansing exercise by the MDC.

      Insiders told The Financial Gazette that Sikhala's political future
was now balancing on a political knife-edge as he had ruffled feathers at
the party headquarters, Harvest House, over his public outbursts in which he
criticised the party's top echelons.

      His St Mary's constituency is now characterised by persistent inhouse

      "The party stopped the vetting exercise in St Mary's and launched an
investigation into the leadership there because of constant fighting between
the former provincial chairman, Alexio Musundire, the provincial youth
chairman, Tendekai Maswata, and Job Sikhala," one source said.

      "The internal squabbles have been there for some time, but worsened
after articles appeared in newspapers that Sikhala had castigated the MDC
leadership over its intentions to boycott next year's elections."

      "Some people at the helm of the party were not amused and are planning
to have Sikhala ejected by the constituency for his outspokenness," said the

      He continued: "But that may cost us that seat because, whether we like
it or not, he (Sikhala) is popular in St Mary's. We do not want a repeat of
the Zengeza fiasco."

      Contacted for comment, MDC national spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi
admitted Sikhala had not been re-confirmed, but said he was at loss as to
the reasons behind the delay in vetting the Member of Parliament for St

      "I have not been in touch with the national organising secretary,
Esaph Mdlongwa, to find out why he (Sikhala) has not been re-confirmed. I'll
find out," Nyathi said.

      "I don't know about any investigations," fumed Sikhala. "Besides, this
is not a matter for the press."

      The MDC's last-minute cleansing exercise has already seen six
opposition party legislators being rejected by their districts after they
failed to garner the pre-requisite two-thirds vote.

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      Cleansing exercise splits opposition

      Brian Mangwende
      7/8/2004 7:40:25 AM (GMT +2)

      AS widely predicted, the simmering internal discord within the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), boiled over this week in the aftermath
of an 11th hour cleansing exercise which saw six opposition legislators
being rejected as Members of Parliament by their constituents.

      Ahead of the controversial purification, political commentators had
warned that the opposition party - a loose coalition of labour, civic
society and other interest groups - could emerge bruised.

      Although it was not immediately clear what criteria were used during
the cleansing exercise, cracks have widened following what observes said was
an ill-timed process.

      Not only has it raised concern that the move might have been used to
rid the party of certain individuals, it has also set the stage for
acrimonious infighting in the opposition party.

      In the clearest sign yet that there might not have been consensus as
to how the potentially divisive exercise should be conducted, some of the
sitting MPs who were booted out this week were not happy with the manner in
which the process was carried out.

      The irate MPs vowed to fight tooth and nail to retain their seats,
indicating that what at first appeared like a deft move for a party many
felt had been infiltrated by ZANU PF, is increasingly becoming a tactical

      "I'm going to fight this," said Dunmore Makuwaza the party's MP for
Mbare West.

      "Just before I went for vetting, the district youth committee was
dissolved and another elected. That is highly irregular and totally

      "A dark hand was controlling the exercise because the people of my
constituency know how much progress I have made on the ground. And for them
just to reject me like that shows there is something foul."

      The other five MPs include Trudy Stevenson (Harare North), Bennie
Tumbare-Mutasa (Seke), Tichaona Munyanyi (Mbare East), Justin Mutendadzamera
(Mabvuku) and Sydney Mukwecheni (Mutare South).

      All other opposition MPs were endorsed by their districts, some
unopposed, meaning that they are the official candidates for the 2005
parliamentary poll while primary elections will be held in the
constituencies of those rejected by the party's supporters.

      An audibly angry Tumbare-Mutasa said: "The district chairman brought
in people who are not in our structures . . . people from Ruwa and not those
from my constituency.

      "Anyway the good thing is that the process was nullified and that a
district assembly will soon assess the party structures in my constituency
to make sure the people there are bona fide members."

      Earlier, analysts had warned against the timing of the vetting
process, saying the pre-election exercise for sitting legislators, four
years after the MDC's historic launch, could widen the divisions within the
party's rank and file.

      Opposition MDC legislators waltzed into the august house after
capitalising on voter anger over the collapse of the economy under the
stewardship of ZANU PF, which has ruled Zimbabwe since independence.

      Makuwaza said he would not give up because members of his constituency
who had a personal vendetta against him plotted his ouster.

      Stevenson said: "The party was encouraging the retention of sitting
MPs as much as possible, but other ambitious members thwarted that idea.

      "The party's reasoning was that we need to retain the knowledge and
training sitting MPs have acquired over the past five years.

      "The process, however, is provided for in our constitution and it has
been followed, although not very well."

      She added: "I have three members from my constituency who want the
same seat and there is also a member of the Harare executive vying for my
current position. They have personal ambitions."

      Stevenson vowed to retain her seat.

      "I am definitely standing in the primary elections," she said. "I have
not been knocked out at all. All this means is that I have to stand in a
primary election."

      Asked whether the process was not divisive, she replied: "Whatever you
do in internal politics has a potential to be divisive."

      Although Mukwe-cheni, Mutendadzamera and Munyanyi could not be reached
for comment, insiders said the trio was upset by its ejection, during the
vetting exercise.

      Legislator for Harare South Gabriel Chaibva had his share of the
confusion but was saved by the intervention of the district assembly.

      "I received the pre-requisite two-thirds vote after a protracted
deliberation at district level," Chaibva said.
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      Date set for divisive ZANU PF primary elections

      Staff Reporters
      7/8/2004 7:36:39 AM (GMT +2)

      THE ZANU PF primary elections to choose candidates for the 2005
parliamentary poll have been slated for October, in contests that should see
some ruling party heavyweights falling by the wayside.

      ZANU PF insiders said aspiring candidates for next year's watershed
poll would battle it out in October, a month before the party's decisive
people's congress, held once every two years.

      Apprehension among ZANU PF hopefuls has been heightened by reports
which have been filtering through that the Minister of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, would be carrying out data capture
for the delimitation exercise this month (July).

      Updating of blockers, manuals and constituency boundary maps is said
to be nearing completion, according to sources.

      "The primary elections have been slated for October and this is going
to set the tone for serious campaigning," said a well-placed source.

      President Robert Mugabe has already announced that parliamentary
elections will be held in March next year.

      The source said the primary elections would put to an end the current
jostling for constituencies, which has spawned factionalism in the
strife-riddled party.

      "Already there is a lot of infighting. Hence the need to hold the
elections for the nation to see who the people's favourite is," the source

      However Elliot Manyika, ZANU PF's national political commissar, last
week said the party, which is clutching at straws for its political survival
amid waning fortunes, was yet to decide on the crucial dates. Manyika said
the dates would be set at one of the numerous meetings held by the party's
main decision-making bodies, the politburo and the central committee,
although he would not say when the decision was likely to be made.

      "We have not yet set the dates. When we do we will let you know. It's
not up to me to decide on the dates because this will be done during our
many politburo and central committee meetings," he said.

      There have been several tense skirmishes among the ZANU PF faithful
around the party's several provinces, with members openly confessing their
desire to contest the March 2005 parliamentary elections.
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      Chombo's meddling cripples councils

      Charles Rukuni
      7/8/2004 7:40:54 AM (GMT +2)

      BULAWAYO - When Harare Governor and Resident Minister Witness
Mangwende accompanied Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo to Bulawayo
last month, he had one aim: to learn the best practices in management that
Zimbabwe's second city has been synonymous with.

      It appears he was at cross-purposes with his boss. Chombo had a
different mission. He wanted to show who was boss.

      Nothing and no one would stand in his way, even if that meant
destroying the very fabric that had made Bulawayo what it was - one of the
best run local authorities in the country.

      However, Chombo is not just gunning after Bulawayo, but all local
authorities, prompting accusations that he is trying to cripple their
operations because most are now being run by opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) mayors. If he paralyses their operations, therefore,
the MDC will be blamed, especially in view of the pending general elections.

      The biggest blow to local authorities was the freeze on increases in
rates which were due on July 1.

      There was no prior warning. Chombo did not even bother to wait for the
Urban Councils Association meeting that was a week away, which would have
given him a unique opportunity to consult the local authorities. The rates
had only been gazetted two months earlier, after a five-month delay.

      Chombo's abrupt decision has left observers wondering why the minister
has decided to interfere with the operations of local authorities when most
of them barely have their heads above water.

      "There is no rationale at all for Chombo's decision," MDC shadow
Minister for local government Gabriel Chaibva said. "This is just a
political statement that is blatantly motivated by greed and the desire to
cling to power at whatever cost."

      Chaibva said the move was aimed at appeasing the electorate ahead of
the 2005 elections. The other aim was to discredit the councils and their
mayors because most of them were now MDC.

      "Chombo is not doing it for the people at all," Chaibva said. "He is
doing it to throw confusion into the administration of the councils because
this is a regime that thrives on chaos."

      He added: "Of course residents will welcome the freeze as they would
welcome any reduction in prices, but at what cost? They will have to foot
the bill later in one way or the other.

      "But when they do, they will blame local authorities (the MDC) for
inefficiency and maladministration, yet the local authorities have not been
given a chance to run efficiently. Councils have not been given a chance to
implement their financial plans."

      Bulawayo consultant Eric Bloch said Chombo was being "totally
unrealistic" and was just trying to please voters ahead of the next
parliamentary elections.

      "Local authorities are facing the same inflationary pressures that
everyone else is facing such as escalating electricity, phone and stationery
charges. They are also facing salary and wage demands, yet the government is
freezing their income flow," Bloch said.

      "Government is not paying attention to the consequences and
repercussions of the freeze on rate increases. It is ignoring the need to
maintain roads, sewerage and water supplies. After all, the proposed
increases are way below current inflation.

      "This is a local government disaster and will only increase the
discomfort of ratepayers because the standards of service delivery will
certainly decline," he added.

      Chaibva brushed off reasons for the freeze given by Chombo that the
economy was improving, inflation was declining and the local currency had
firmed since the budgets were drafted.

      "These are really flimsy reasons. Is the economy improving? Are people
getting jobs or companies are closing down? Are more workers earning above
the poverty datum line or things are getting worse?" he asked.

      Chaibva said contrary to Chombo's claim that he was rescuing
residents, he was punishing them simply because they had voted MDC mayors
into office. He cited the example of Gwanda where the government cut off
water supplies to the town at the end of May because Gwanda had not paid its
bill of $574 million to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority.

      "This shows you how uncaring this government really is. How can a
government allow water to be cut off to a town of over 30 000 just because a
bill has not been paid?" he asked. "But the water was cut off because the
people had elected an MDC mayor (Thandeko Mnkandhla), yet the bill was
incurred when Rido Mpofu of ZANU PF was mayor.

      "Right now Chitungwiza is in dire financial crisis, yet most of the
debts were incurred when Joseph Macheka of ZANU PF was mayor," Chaibva said.

      Chitungwiza mayor Misheck Shoko admitted at the weekend that the
council was in dire straits.

      "Chitungwiza is charging below market rates," he was quoted as saying.
"Rural district councils do not even charge such ridiculous rates for
households. The amount is actually less than the price of three litres of

      A Bulawayo resident said duplication of jobs was now disrupting the
smooth operations of the country's two biggest towns, Harare and Bulawayo.

      "The biggest mistake we have made is that we have allowed politics to
creep into how local authorities are run. Why are we having a governor and a
mayor for Harare and Bulawayo?

      "The money that is being spent on the salaries of the governor and his
supporting staff as well as their perks would have gone a long way in
resuscitating the sewerage and water reticulation systems that are
collapsing," he said.

      Chaibva said Chombo's meddling in the affairs of local authorities
would definitely cripple their operations. He said at present only one pump
out of six was operating at the Morton Jaffray Water Works.

      The city's director of works, Psychology Chiwanga, was quoted by the
daily press as saying only seven of the 16 water reservoirs in the city were
above 50 percent full. Five were between 30 and 50 percent full while three
were below 10 percent.

      Chaibva, who met all the mayors, except one, at the weekend said
Harare was likely to have a deficit of $95 billion because of the freeze on
increases in rates. Mutare would have a deficit of between $25 and $35

      The Financial Gazette could not get the figure for Bulawayo as the
mayor and his executive staff were locked up in meetings to assess the
impact of the freeze and map the way forward.

      City treasurer Middleton Nyoni has, however, said the council lost
$3.6 billion in potential revenue in the first quarter of the year due to
the delay by the government in approving the council's budget.

      "The irony of the whole issue is that the government is asking local
authorities to put their books in order and has set aside $20 billion for
them under the Public Sector Facility," Chaibva said. "No council, including
ZANU-PF run councils like Kadoma and Kwekwe, will qualify for this facility
because they are not creditworthy. How do they become creditworthy when the
minister is running the show?"

      The central bank only charges interest of 50 percent on the public
sector facility and has given local authorities until the end of this month
to apply. But they must produce externally audited financial results for

      Chaibva said he was trying to arrange a meeting with Chombo to iron
out the problem but said this was an uphill task. "The minister is very
arrogant and thick-headed. He will not listen to anyone but I will try to
talk to him," he said.

      However, as one resident said, the people might rejoice now, but they
will pay later, probably after the elections in nine months time.
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      Paradza case sucks in Madzongwe

      Njabulo Ncube
      7/8/2004 7:37:47 AM (GMT +2)

      THE long-drawn ZANU PF internal feud involving Kindness Paradza has
sucked in the deputy Speaker of Parliament, Edna Madzongwe, amid revelations
she met President Robert Mugabe and allegedly gave a damning report on the
former journalist accused of demonising the ruling ZANU PF party prior to
his expulsion.

      Ruling party insiders closely following the Mashonaland West drama
told The Financial Gazette yesterday that Madzongwe recounted to President
Mugabe newspaper articles Paradza allegedly wrote while working as a
journalist in the private media between 1994 and 1997.

      "The deputy speaker met the President a few days before the
Mashonaland West executive decided to fire Paradza.

      "She informed the President about the stories allegedly written by the
legislator when he was a journalist, which put the party and President in
bad light," said a ZANU PF insider who spoke on condition of anonymity.

      Madzongwe, who also hails from Mashonaland West, yesterday vehemently
denied ever briefing President Mugabe about either Paradza or the political
problems bedevilling the province.

      "It is a lie. I have not met the President. And what is so important
about Paradza that I have to meet the highest person in the land?" Madzongwe
asked. "I don't know where people are getting this from. You can check with
the President's diaries for visitors and you will see that I never visited

      "What people should understand and appreciate is that the
recommendation to expel Paradza was made by the people of Mashonaland West

      "I have nothing personal against Paradza. His expulsion was a
collective decision by the province. It is a provincial matter following a
recommendation that was made," she added.

      The beleaguered journalist-turned-politician said yesterday he was
privy to information that some politicians from Mashonaland West had sought
a meeting with President Mugabe over his case.

      "I am aware that some people in the leadership of my province have
lied to the President about me. They have access to the President and I
don't. However, the truth will prevail," said Paradza.

      The embattled legislator has since lodged a bitter appeal with ZANU PF
national chairman John Nkomo over his expulsion.

      "I write to appeal against a recommendation made against me by the
Mashonaland West Provincial Disciplinary Committee that I be expelled from
the party," Paradza wrote.

      "I am a loyal cadre and I think the recommendation was not only harsh
but also cruel. Under Article 10, Section 77 (of the ZANU PF constitution),
only the National Disciplinary Committee has the power to expel a member
from the party."

      Last month, the Mashonaland West provincial executive recommended that
the young ZANU PF legislator be expelled for an alleged conspiracy to
undermine the ruling party, including President Mugabe, the government and
its policies, and disrespecting the party hierarchy.

      Trouble for Paradza started after he criticised the draconian Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act in his maiden speech to
Parliament, saying the repressive law scared away potential investors in the
media industry.

      Soon after, his newspaper, The Tribune, was shut down for violating
certain provisions of the media law.

      Sources said Paradza was currently at pains trying to convince the
ruling party that he was being victimised by certain politicians in his
province, including provincial chairman Philip Chiyangwa.

      The sources added that the Makonde legislator was now desperate and
battling to convince party chairman Nkomo that he was not the author of
stories that are said to have appeared in The Financial Gazette linking the
First Lady with the VIP housing scandal in 1997.

      He also claims that proper party procedures, as outlined in the ruling
party's constitution, were not followed.

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      Chombo's deceptive antics

      7/8/2004 8:14:07 AM (GMT +2)

      THAT there is no love lost between Local Government Minister Ignatius
Chombo and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)-dominated Harare City
Council is, for want of a better expression, now an open city secret.

      The public is now aware that as a result of this, there is an acute
and depressing situation in Harare and indeed other municipalities which
makes prospects for a quick turnaround under the current circumstances
rather grim.

      The two sides, the Minister and the councillors, have been haggling
over a number of key issues for some time now, mainly to gain political
capital. This has resulted in a deep-seated crisis at the municipality,
whose service delivery system is on the brink of collapse. Simply put, they
bungle and we pay the price.

      To the generality of the people, the circus (if it is worth calling
that because there is nothing amusing about it) at Town House - a litmus
endurance test for the long-suffering residents of the city - should be
blamed largely on the government which, to all intents and purposes, is now
running the municipality.

      The long-drawn acrimonious wrangling had an added twist this week when
the government, which we feel should avoid the temptation to be involved in
the day-to-day running of the capital's affairs, gave a thumbs down to the
proposed rate hike by the City Fathers. Of course the naive who cannot see
clearly in Zimbabwe's cloudy political crystal ball will feel that the
government is justified. But we disagree because there is nothing more than
politics at play here.

      And indeed the extremely sceptical public will not be swayed, and
understandably so, by whatever the Minister advanced as the logic or reasons
behind the government's refusal to sanction these increases. The Minister
claims he shot down the council's proposals because it had not sought
approval from the relevant authorities. At least that is what we were told.
But there seems to be more to it than meets the eye.

      As surely as the sun rises from the east and sets in the west, this
will not cut it with the public, which is hoping for a new generation of
public services and in whose mind the deteriorating situation in the capital
should be blamed squarely on the shoulders of ruinous extensive political
interference by none other than the Minister, who seems to erroneously think
that his brief means political intrigue, deception and planting ruling party
charlatans everywhere.

      It is widely accepted that in politics, a lot is said by the unsaid
and what the ostensibly altruistic-sounding Minister Chombo meant was that
the government wanted to cushion the increasingly disillusioned people who
have endured unprecedented deprivation in the midst of a dip into an equally
unprecedented economic meltdown. Yeah, and pigs might as well fly! We would
grudgingly give the Minister the benefit of the doubt if we did not know

      However in Zimbabwe's highly poisoned political atmosphere where
everything assumes political connotations, what the Minister said will,
rightly or wrongly, be seen as an old, worn-out, threadbare platitudinous
political cliché. And justifiably so. Since when did the government care
about the welfare of the people? Doesn't this amount to postponing the
inevitable whose cumulative shock the people might not be able to absorb due
to its magnitude? Is this not just a politically convenient but unrealistic,
unsustainable and shortsighted wrong-headed stance to appease a restive
electorate with a view to capturing that all-elusive urban vote for the
ruling ZANU PF? This is moreso given that ZANU PF's obsession with exerting
its influence in the city of Harare is underlined by the appointment of
Witness Mangwende as governor to preside over an elected council - in a move
widely seen as a bonfire of political madness.

      Without necessarily condoning widespread corruption, management
ineptitude and the inefficiency of the MDC councillors, who seem stymied by
the government-ordered chaos at Town House and who many feel should have cut
their losses by quitting rather than lingering in unsatisfactory
circumstances, the other question to ask is: Did the government, which
seems, more for political considerations, wary of sensitive upward price
movements, ever consider how badly the city needs the cash to restore its
fast collapsing service delivery system - a ticking health time bomb?

      If the government was so concerned about the people as it wants us to
believe, why then is it not equally aggressive at other public institutions
which offer appalling services? A case in point is the public broadcaster,
the ZBC or whatever they now call it. The broadcaster serves parochial
political interests but people are forced to buy licences for something they
do not want to listen to. What about the taxes we pay with very little if
any accountability from the government?

      These questions are bound to arise because there has been a great deal
of deception from Zimbabwe's feuding politicians. Nothing is really what it
seems. Indeed the timing of the Minister's gross error of judgment is also
puzzling in that the crisis at the city council, which is increasingly
finding it difficult to balance its books, was touched off after years of
mismanagement and breathtaking malfeasance when council affairs were run by

      Why did the government sit on the fence, maintaining a wait-and-see
attitude instead of acting to nip the rot in the bud?

      The MDC-dominated council has never been allowed to breathe freely. It
has been a target of systematic bullying by the government. This culminated
in the unceremonious departure of Elias Mudzuri, who is now familiar with
the ugly face of ZANU PF's attack machine. He became a target of massive
fire from the authorities. He was pilloried in the newspapers by influential
ZANU PF members who demanded his resignation. Yet he had the popular mandate
to run the city.

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      Electoral reforms make my hair stand

      7/8/2004 7:49:47 AM (GMT +2)

      EDITOR - I am very worried indeed. There seems to be a great deal of
optimism that the ruling Zanu Pf party and President Robert Mugabe have
given ground and made "significant concessions" on the electoral process.

      This optimism is manifest in newspaper articles and editorials, as
well as from many "political observers" and even the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change. I remain extremely sceptical that this so-called reform
has any significance whatsoever.

      There may be those who say that I am so prejudiced that I can never
see anything good coming out of Zanu Pf and/or President Mugabe. They are
dead right. Why should the leopard suddenly change his spots? What
fundamental change has taken place in their thinking?

      I can see none, and believe this to be merely another exercise in
deception. Neither President Mugabe nor his party is willing to take the
slightest chance of being removed from power.

      As I have said many times before, their crimes are so numerous and so
serious that they cannot ever willingly lose control because a loss of
control means a loss of wealth, power and influence.

      In many cases, if faced with justice under a democratically elected
government, it could mean imprisonment and loss of liberty or even loss of
life should the death penalty be imposed.

      There seems to be a deliberate head-in-the-sand attitude by most
Commonwealth countries that want to believe that the issue in Zimbabwe is
merely one of bad governance. What they cannot seem to understand is that
what passes for the government of Zimbabwe is not in fact a normal
government at all: it is organised crime that has taken over the country
surreptitiously and by stealth and now has only two objectives.

      These are to loot the nation and population of as much as possible in
as short a time as possible and to retain control at all costs.

      The facade of democracy is essential in order to relieve pressure on
other Southern African Development Community countries, most notably South
Africa, to apply serious pressure on the Zimbabwe regime and force change.

      To my mind, it is only this fear that prevents the regime from giving
the two-finger salute to the rest of the world and declaring Mugabe life
president and Zanu Pf the only legal political party.

      President Mugabe and his party have always hankered after a one-party
state and I believe they still do. Life is far less troublesome and
complicated that way, and no one dares question your actions.

      Those are some of the reasons why I draw no solace from the proposed
      electoral reforms. Rather, they engender a sense of dread; what
diabolical plans are they hatching that will guarantee success even with an
ostensibly free election?

      The Zimbabwe government has brought the subversion of the electoral
process to a fine art over the last 20 years. Previously, the favoured
methods have been brutality and outright rigging. So, why the sudden change?

      Are President Mugabe and his party, for the first time in history,
willing to accept the certainty of defeat that would result from a genuinely
free election? If you believe that, then you will believe anything!

      My fear is that they will use food as the invincible weapon. To me,
this is the most logical reason for the unbelievable claim of a bumper
harvest and therefore no necessity for food imports, though I read recently
they will "allow" what they called targeted food aid.

      But we have reliable reports that the government has borrowed heavily
and is importing maize. Why carry out this seemingly illogical charade
unless your aim is to have total control over all food? Why try and do it

      I also believe that a coming step will be to nationalise all maize and
declare it state property. Ironically, the excuse would be that it is in the
national interest, due to the shortage of maize!

      I disagree with analysts who say that they believe Zanu Pf thinks it
has neutralised the opposition, and can therefore relax.

      First, President Mugabe is not that naive and, secondly, he cannot
afford to take the risk. Remember the shock of the constitutional
referendum? And his immediate reaction of unleashing the state-sponsored
farm invaders?

      With the country in a far worse state now than it was then, what hope
would he and his party have of winning a free election? In my mind, zero.

      My conclusion is that if President Mugabe and his party are trying to
      alleviate criticism of the electoral process in Zimbabwe, then they
have something exceedingly nefarious up their sleeves that they believe will
ensure victory.

      C Frizell,

      United Kingdom.
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      Why death penalty should be abolished?

      7/8/2004 7:53:20 AM (GMT +2)

      IN the average public mind, the death penalty is viewed as the most
appropriate penalty for a person convicted of murder. Many people think that
justice is only done when the offender is killed.

      A closer look at the death penalty however dismisses this assumption.
But does the average person understand that the death penalty carried out in
the name of a nation's entire population involves everyone?

      The death penalty is not only a constitutional matter but also a moral
and social one. Citizens should therefore be aware of what the penalty is,
how it is used, how it affects them and how it violates fundamental human

      An execution, like physical forms of torture, involves a deliberate
assault on a prisoner. Thus it is a violation of human rights enshrined in
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

      In the past decades many thousands of prisoners have been executed in
scores of countries around the world. Men, women and even children have been
hanged, electrocuted, gassed, poisoned, beheaded or shoot to death in
fulfilment of judicial orders. Many of the executed were convicted of brutal
crimes. Others died for non-violent offences including "economic corruption"
and adultery. Many met their deaths for purely political reasons or after
blatantly unfair trials.

      Nobody knows the exact number of innocent victims of execution. Cruel,
arbitrary and irrevocable, the death penalty is imposed disproportionately
on the poor and powerless. It is high time the death penalty is abolished
worldwide. Everywhere experience shows that executions brutalise those
involved in the process. Nowhere has it been shown that the death penalty
has any power to reduce crime or political violence. In many different
countries it is used disproportionately against the poor or against racial
or ethnic minorities. It is often used as a tool of political repression.

      The death penalty is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a
human being by the state. Indeed, it makes the state the killer. The state
can exercise no greater power over a person than that of deliberately
depriving him /her of life. At the heart of the case of the abolition,
therefore is the question of whether the state has the right to do so.

      When the nations of the world came together five decades ago and
formed the United Nations, few reminders were needed of what could happen
when the state believed that there was no limit to what it could do to a
human being. The staggering extent of the state brutality and terror during
the Second World War and the consequences for people throughout the world
were still unfolding in December 1948, when the United Nations adopted the
Universal Declaration Of Human Rights (UDHR).

      The UDHR is a pledge among nations to promote the fundamental rights
as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace. The rights it proclaims are
inherent in every human being. They are not privileges that may be granted
or withdrawn by governments for good or bad behaviour respectively.
Fundamental human rights limit what the state may or may not do to a man,
woman or child. The death penalty is an inseparable component of human
rights violation.

      The UDHR recognises each person's right to life and categorically
states further: "No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment".

      Admittedly, self-defence may be held to justify in some cases the
taking of life by state officials, for example when a country is locked in
warfare (international or civil), or when law enforcement officials must act
to save their own lives or those of others. Even in those situations, the
use of lethal force is surrounded by internationally accepted legal
safeguards to inhibit abuse.

      The death penalty however is not an act of self-defence against an
immediate threat to life. It is a premeditated killing of a prisoner who
could be dealt with by equally less harsh means. The cruelty of the death
penalty is evident like torture and execution constitutes an extreme
physical and mental assault on a person already rendered helpless by
government authorities.

      If hanging a woman by the arms until she experiences excruciating pain
is rightly condemned as torture, how does one describe hanging her by the
neck until she is dead? If administering 100 volts of electricity to the
most sensitive parts of a man's body invokes disgust, what is the
appropriate reaction to the administering of 2 000 volts to his body in
order to kill him?

      It is undisputed that the physical pain caused by the action of
killing a human being cannot be quantified, nor can the psychological
suffering caused by foreknowledge of death at the hands of the state -
whether the death sentence is carried out six minutes after trial or six
weeks after mass trial.

      The methods of execution, like physical forms of torture, involve a
deliberate assault on a prisoner. There are seven principal methods of
execution - hanging, shooting, electrocution, lethal injection, gassing,
beheading and stoning.

      To just highlight one method, execution by stoning is usually carried
out after the prisoner has been buried to the neck or otherwise restrained.
Death may be caused by damage to the brain, asphyxiation or a combination of
injuries. This type of execution is rampant in Islamic states and is the
highest manifestation of barbarism.

      By way of background the death penalty which is upheld by Zimbabwe has
a long and sad history. Our most celebrated hero and heroine Sekuru Kaguvi
and Ambuya Nehanda, respectively, of the first Chimurenga were the first
casualties in 1890 and despite the foregoing, which reminds us of the bitter
past, Zimbabwe still upholds capital punishment; Section 12 of the
Zimbabwean constitution stipulates that "it shall be lawful for a person to
be killed following a death sentence imposed on him/her by Court".

      Zimbabwe's retention of the death penalty is a sad reflection which
casts a dark shadow on its human rights record.

      The death penalty should be abolished for a host of reasons. It is
undesirable because it robs society - with proper rehabilitation the
convicted person might become a useful resource and a tool in the
development of society.

      It is inhuman and is fraught with retribution which serves no useful
purpose. An execution cannot restore life or lessen the loss to the victim's

      Again the death penalty is morally abominable because it has made men
assume the role of the ultimate decider of life and death, which is the
preserve of God alone. From the Bible we are reminded that God had harsh
words for Cain for killing his brother Abel Genesis 4 vs. 9-15

      While acknowledging the general feeling of society is that punishment
should be given relative to the crime. capital punishment is wrong because
two wrongs don't make a right. Murdering the murderer is another form of

      Apart from the foregoing, the death penalty is irrevocable and can be
inflicted on an innocent person. Despite the most stringent judicial
standards, human error cannot be ruled out, resulting in innocent people
being executed.

      Considerable research in the US has provided no evidence that the
death penalty deters crime more effectively than other punishments. These
findings are consistent with what is known of the relationship between crime
rates and the presence or absence of the death penalty in other countries.
In some US states the homicide rate has actually increased after the
resumption of execution and despite public execution in countries like China
and Islamic states, crime leading to the death penalty has not declined.

      It is undisputed that the death penalty has been used in some
instances to suppress political dissent and to consolidate power, especially
after coups and counter-coups. Members of the opposition, political groups
have been eliminated as a matter of political expediency.

      The case of the former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
becomes a vivid reminder. Bhutto, overthrown in a military coup by Gen Ziaul
Hag in 1977 and charged with complicity in the murder of a political
opponent in 1974, was convicted and sentenced to death in 1978. His appeal
to the Supreme Court was rejected in February 1979 by a vote of four to
three. Bhutto was executed in April 1979. Gen Zia had to ensure that Bhutto
had to be eliminated as a political foe.

      Unlike the arguments of deterrence and incapacitation, the retribution
argument maintains that certain offenders must be killed, not to prevent
crime, but because of the demands of justice. Execution is deemed to be a
repayment for an evil deed; by killing offenders society shows its
condemnation of the latter's crime.

      The persuasiveness of the argument that certain offenders deserve to
die is rooted in the deep aversion felt by law-abiding citizens to terrible
crimes. Close examination of how the death penalty actually works shows that
the retribution argument is fundamentally flawed.

      Finally, the death penalty denies the right to life. It is a cruel and
inhuman punishment, brutalising all who are involved in the process. Indeed
the death penalty brutalises and dehumanises the convicted person, the
executioners and society at large. It serves no penal purpose and denies the
widely accepted principle of rehabilitation of offenders.

      John Dzvinamurungu is the vice-chairman of Amnesty International

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      Are Zimbabweans passive conformists?

      7/8/2004 7:53:56 AM (GMT +2)

      THERE have been suggestions from disgruntled and demoralised fellow
countrymen and women to the effect that Zimbabweans are a bunch of passive
and cowardly conformists who lack the courage to confront the establishment

      Since the "NO" vote in February 2000 there has been precipitated
disenchantment within the generality of the people, especially those who see
regime change as a pre-condition for a return to politico-economic normalcy.
The June 2000 and March 2002 parliamentary and presidential elections
respectively, including subsequent by-elections, revealed the shortcomings,
if not the failure, of "democratic" avenues, and in particular our current
electoral processes, to bring about the much desired political change in
this country.

      As a result people are becoming disillusioned with democracy because
they are getting the feeling that things change only too slowly in a

      Realising the failure of "democratic" routes to fulfil the people's
political hopes and desires, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) in June 2003 decided to embark on a civil disobedience drive
code-named the "Final Push" which would take the form of street protests to
force President Robert Mugabe to step down and call for fresh elections. The
final push exposed both organisational inability of the opposition and the
apparent unpreparedness of the Zimbabwean masses to oust this inefficient,
incompetent and bankrupt regime through mass action. We need not remind
anyone of the lavish display of military might during the period of the
final push and the arrest of a host of MDC leaders and supporters.

      The final push was generally considered to be a flop in so far as
people, out of fear of the power of those who are paid to get angry on
behalf of the president, did not go out into the streets in full force as
was originally planned, but I argued then that the final push demonstrated
that we now have a condominium or dual authority/presidency in this country,
one wielding the power of coercion while the other wields the power of moral
and popular support. That is still the case.

      The failure by Zimbabweans to do what has been done and continues to
be done elsewhere in the world where stiff-necked dictators and tyrants are
sent packing in the most dishonourable way has led to some analysts and
observers to resignedly conclude that Zimbabweans are simply cowards or a
bunch of passive conformists at the mercy of self-serving politicians. But
is this the case?

      Some prefer to say that Zimbabweans are intelligent, peace-loving and
very patient with cruelty, brutality and oppression.

      The answer to the above question lies more with the manner in which
our government reacts/responds to the people's demands and to dissenting
voices, than with a basic biological defect or political deficiency on the
part of the Zimbabwean people. It lies with the nationalists' conception of
power which was inherited from colonial administration.

      Colonial rulers created a thoroughly autocratic governmental machinery
which was by no means limited. The government was unchallengeable in
whatever it did, no matter how legitimate or reasonable the demands of the

      Colonial administration successfully left behind a precedent/legacy of
lack of constitutional government. The African masses were held in complete
and subservient tutelage. They were forbidden to organise themselves in
political parties or even in labour organisations which merely dealt with
what may be called bread and butter issues. Organising workers in labour
movements was tantamount to treason. Hence very harsh and repressive
measures were applied to any Africans who tried to push for these basic

      Coupled with this was the lack of the very liberties and freedoms
which are accepted as human and fundamental. Thus people would be detained
without trial and without charges or justification. The rulers would hear
nothing of their release. In addition, there was hardly any meaningful
African representation in the legislative structures existing at the time.

      It took the Europeans too long to realise that African views should be
represented by Africans in the then legislative councils. Colonial
conception of power was based on force and not on legitimacy or consent and
this is what influences the nationalists' conception of power.

      From a behavioural point of view, nationalist leaders treat Africans
in a negatively racist manner and deny them, in the apartheid tradition, the
right to exercise certain fundamental freedoms.

      The struggle against racism and for colonial freedom earnestly based
itself on the tactical forms of mass action and mobilisation pioneered by
leaders of the African working class in the 1940s and 1950s. In the early
1960s the African intelligentsia was invited by the mass movement to head
the common struggle against oppressive white colonial rule. Rhodesia was a
society in which political intolerance was the operative mode of state

      Even among the white citizens themselves, democratic practices were
grudgingly accepted, but always in a strongly deformed form. Because of the
nature of colonial oppression, the nationalists were forced to adopt terror
tactics in their mobilisation strategies and these had a spillover effect to
our contemporary political discourse and behaviour.

      At independence, the Lancaster House constitution continued this
tradition of curbing and circumscribing the exercise of democratic rights by
introducing wide-ranging exceptions to the exercise of fundamental rights
contained in Part 3 of the Zimbabwean constitution. The exercise of these
fundamental rights was further curtailed by the introduction in December
1987 of an all-powerful executive presidency whose shortcomings are well
documented, and subsequently, the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures)
Act, the Official Secrets Act, POSA and AIPPA. The nationalists have always
advocated for an empowering and not a limiting constitution and from the
outset they had little vision for democratic and accountable governance.

      The point is that a succession or inter-generational experience of
oppressive, repressive and suppressive governments has carved out within
Zimbabweans a political psychology that is basically cautious. We have now
been conditioned to accept oppression by the brutality of the oppressors who
have traditionally been white colonialists.

      Oppression is now so deep-seated in Zimbabwe to the extent of winning
the tacit approval of the oppressed. It is now more of a political
psychological issue; the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is
the mind of the oppressed. The situation in Zimbabwe is made even more
complex by the fact that our ZANU PF oppressors enjoy a certain ideological
superiority over the opposition and have perfected the art of repression
clothed in ideological robes.

      After independence the first task should have been to transform the
monstrously oppressive state machinery into a people's state, one which
would have ensured control by the people. A broad based people's power
designed to lead to a national democratic revolution and control over the
political leadership would have been possible given the correct political
orientation of the leadership.

      This was not done and African states became notorious for their
concentration of more and more power in the hands of the leading clique, and
eventually of a single leader who would justify his one-man dictatorship by
creating a one-party state on the obnoxious grounds that the African masses
are not yet ready for democracy. This in turn created favourable conditions
for the many military takeovers that have come to be associated with Africa'
s post independence dispensation.

      It will remain extremely difficult for the MDC to mobilise people
under very broad and often vague themes like rule of law, democracy, human
rights and so forth without a specific "star policy" that appeals to the
generality of the people or bringing all these issues under a single bracket
issue like the demand for a new constitution. During the liberation struggle
it became easy to mobilise the masses by rallying them behind the principle
of self-rule and the ideology of socialism, though the nationalists were
basically dishonest to the socialist ideology.

      In 2000 ZANU PF adopted the "land to the people" campaign strategy and
it worked, at least to the extent that it did. Similarly, the MDC and NCA's
"NO" vote campaign in February 2000 yielded results. Food for thought for
the MDC!

      This is a time to remind the people of their past victories against
political and economic fetters right from the liberation struggle to the
popular protests in 1997-98, including the 2000 referendum results.

      Zimbabweans are not cowards, neither are they passive conformists;
they have triumphed over oppression before, against all odds. Where we
succeeded let us take that which made us succeed, and where we faltered let'
s address that which made us falter and together we will concretise our

      Isaya Muriwo Sithole, a Harare-based legal practitioner, is a social
and political commentator.

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      Anti-tobacco lobby fails to garner enough support

      Zhean Gwaze
      7/8/2004 7:54:33 AM (GMT +2)

      THE divisive International Convention on Tobacco Control (ICTC)
treaty, which seeks to ban the use of tobacco globally, failed to garner
enough support by the June 29 deadline, and, in the process, gave a
temporary respite to Zimbabwe's foreign currency mainstream.

      The treaty, which provides for a global ban on tobacco advertising,
sponsorship and encourages people to stop smoking on health grounds, was to
become law if 40 countries out of the 168 members of the ICTC ratified the
treaty by June 29, 2004.

      According to figures from the World Health Organisation, only 23
countries had ratified the treaty by the expiry of the deadline.

      Zimbabwe is affected as this comes in the wake of the Framework
Control on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the preparatory agreement that was
endorsed by the World Health Assembly in Geneva in May last year.

      Health and Child Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa was one of the
delegates but the country has not ratified the treaty.

      "The ICTC is not yet in force in accordance with Chapter 36 which
reads as follows:

      'This convention shall enter into force on the ninetieth day following
the date of deposit of the fortieth instrument of ratification, acceptance,
approval, formal confirmation or accession with the depository.' the WHO

      However, the health body noted that countries might still become
parties of the WHO FCTC by means of accession after the June deadline.

      The ratification of the treaty could stall fortunes of countries such
as Zimbabwe and Malawi, whose economies are heavily dependent on tobacco

      Tobacco, which is geared for the unmanufactured international leaf
market, has been Zimbabwe's single largest foreign currency earner,
contributing a third of the nation's annual foreign exchange receipts.

      In 2002, the country earned US$226 million from tobacco exports - a 20
percent decline from 2001. At its peak in 1999, tobacco netted US$600
million before the government's unplanned land reform exercise which kicked
off in February 2000 and witnessed commercial farmers, who produced 90
percent of the country's tobacco, being evicted to make way for the landless

      Analysts have warned that the reduction in tobacco earnings would have
a ripple effect on the rest of the agro-based economy, which is expected to
decline by as much as 50 percent by year-end unless stability is restored.

      Agriculture accounts for 40 percent of Zimbabwe's economy and provides
at least 60 percent of the inputs used in the manufacturing sector.

      Zimbabwe Tobacco Association chief executive Rodney Ambrose told The
Financial Gazette that the delay in the ratification of the treaty was a
blessing as it would give the country a chance to expand its production
levels, which have been plummeting over the past four years due to a
shortage of inputs and financing.

      "The delay is a welcome development as it will enable us to expand
production. It is not only Zimbabwe that is affected but it includes other
countries like Malawi whose economies are highly dependent on the crop."

      "African countries have also strongly argued that the studies done by
the agitators of the campaign have not been conclusively done," Ambrose

      At its peak, the tobacco industry employed 800 000 workers in the
country but it has since decreased by two-thirds. The ZTA boss said the
delay would also give an opportunity to countries dependent on the tobacco
production to look for alternative crops.

      Some industry players have said that the demise of the tobacco sector
owing to the anti-tobacco lobby will be a pat in the back for paprika
growers, whose crop is grown in rotation with the golden leaf.

      Tough anti-tobacco laws have seen Zimbabwe already effecting bans on
sponsorship of tobacco products. Even soccer competitions such as the
Madison Trophy have been scrapped.

      Cigarette manufacturer, British American Tobacco Zimbabwe has argued
that smoking is not mandatory, but subject to choice by adults.
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      Rogue nuns embarrassing church

      Mbulawa Moyo
      7/8/2004 8:11:26 AM (GMT +2)

      There was a time when joining a religious organisation as servant of
God was truly "a calling" or a vocation as it is more commonly known.

      Whether one was a man or a woman, donning those special garments that
set religious workers apart from the rest of the worshippers automatically
lent them an aura of dignity that was awe-inspiring.

      It was at once a symbol of purity in mind, body and spirit as well as
testimony that the weavers had truly forsaken all carnal pleasures.

      Turning their minds away from worldly riches they would have chosen to
embrace instead a determination to create for themselves and those to whom
they minister, a treasure trove in the next life through leading a life of
moral rectitude unfetered by the bonds of material wealth.

      Sadly, those days are now no more than a pleasant but decidedly
distant memory. Most clerics now appear bonded more to mammon than to the
one true God. And that is true not just of religious workers in questionable
churches such as the Nziras of the controversial Apostolic Faith Church but
of those in mainstream churches as well. I am sure most Zimbabweans will
remember the controversy that have surrounded some of the decisions taken by
Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga ever since his equally controversial
accession to the post left vacant by the retirement of Bishop Peter Hatendi
following an election riddled with charges of racism.

      When, for instance, against the sentiments of most of his flock,
Kunonga decided to align himself - and with him the Anglican Church - not
only with ZANU PF and all the racist and hate-filled utterance of its
leaders, but also with the violent, injust and largely discriminatory and
illegal land-grab campaign starting in March 2000, commentators criticised
him saying his was not a calling to serve the God of the poor and the
downtrodden but to serve the rich and the powerful. The more unkind actually
said he had been "appointees" to deliver all Anglicans unto Mugabe and ZANU

      It was the same vilification, if a little more subtle to which people
had subjected the late Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa of the Roman Catholic
Church when, first against his better judgement, he soleminsed President
Robert Mugabe's marriage to Grace Marufu knowing fully well the couple had
been conducting an adulterous affair during the final ten or so years of
Sally's life.

      Later Chakaipa would also in- the wrath of many Zimbabweans when he
would not personally speak up against the government's violent land-grab and
the Mugabe-inspired ZANU PF violence in the run-up to the June 2000 general
elections, all of which was openly and strongly condemned by Archbishop Pius
Ncube of Bulawayo.

      Some people are now saying, perhaps with some justification, that
donning religious order cloaks and prefixing one's name with honorific
titles such as, father, Sisters Pastor are now only a means of getting into
the "good life" without having to work too hard for it. They are, it is
claimed following in the footsteps of the "Mapostori" who hide behind their
supposed religiosity to engage in illegal and clandestine activities such as
black market foreign currency deals and smuggling contraband goods in

      There are strong allegations that clerics in the main churches are
using their religious titles and garments - "habits" in the case of nuns to
camouflage their less holy activities and materialistic or secular
ambitions. These include the unbridled pursuit of wealth and, in the case of
priests, maintaining mistresses in full homes, complete with a brood of
several off-springs in total contradiction to their thrice main vows of
poverty, chastity and obedience.

      In that connection the most embarrassing scandal to hit the Roman
Catholic Church in Zimbabwe in recent times has been one surrounding a
handful of misguided nuns belonging to a religious order known as Little
Community of our Blessed Lady (LCBL). Over the past month or two, the few
nuns in question, led by their superior general Sr Helen Maminimini, have
been grabbing the headlines in leading local newspaper in a big way. Not
because of some remarkable works of charity, as on would naturally expect
from members of a pious religious order but for exactly the opposite.
Something to be ashamed of.

      What these nuns have done would seem to have been motivated by either
greed, a downright lack of charity or both. It has also been suggested that
they may have been tricked into it by the ever treacherous ZANU PF
politicians out to sully the Roman Catholic Church as a payback fro the
Churches's implacable position with regard to its fierce opposition the
inhumane methods employed by Mugabe in his "land acquisition" exercise,
characterised as it was by mindless violence and murder, and to what critics
say is his regime's increasingly repressive and injust rule. This last
theory has been given currency by reports that the nuns' stunning
indiscretion, bordering on outright madness, was allegedly masterminded by
none other than ZANU PF heavy weight Peter Chanetsa when he was governor of
Mashonaland West a few months before being retired last year on allegation
Chanetsa himself would neither confirm nor deny. The allegation would also
seem to explain why ZANU PF youths are said to have helped the nuns when
they first invaded the farm.

      However, whatever it is that may have been the catalyst in the
Maminimini-led group of nuns taking that singularly ill-conceived decision
to illegally occupy Malabar farm it is quite clean that their action was
considered so damaging to the Churches's image and reputation as the
champion of justice and fairness that the church leadership, to their
eternal credit, took the bold and unusual move of publicly apologising for
the nuns' foolish action.

      In an advertisement placed in the country's newspapers the church,
through the administrator of the Archdiocese of Harare, Rev. Father Kizito
Mhembere said with great humility:

      "In view of the article "ZANU PF youth Aid Nuns in Farm Seizure"
published in the Zimbabwe Independent of June 4 2004, and in keeping with
the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference's teaching, the Archdiocese of
Harare would like to remind all its members and all people of good will that
any land re-distribution should be done in accordance with the laws of the
country, transparent and above all, just. It, therefore finds unacceptable
any land redistribution or occupation which does not satisfy all the above
criticism "Moreover, efforts to improve our situation should be inspired by
our love of God and our neighbour rather than merely by love of wealth.
(Doing things) this (way) will ensure a peaceful re-distribution of land.

      "LCBL Sisters are a Roman Catholic diocesan religious congregation
with their Headquarters in the Archdiocese of Harare. Therefore, the
Archdiocese of Harare apologies for any distress and harm resulting from the
recent presence of the LCBL sisters at Malabai Farm.

      "The Archdiocese of Harare further apologies for their presence on the
farm if=== was their presence did not satisfy the above-mentioned criteria."

      It goes without saying that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to
realise that the sisters ' "presence on and "occupation of" the farm did not
in the slightest was "satisfy the above mentioned criteria", outlined by Fr
Mhembere in the advertisement as being the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops
Conference's yardstick for a just, fair and equitable redistribution. In
fact the "occupation", of the farm by Maminimini's gang, Robin Hood style,
was a farm invasion of the most reprehensible kind. It was nothing less.

      As such it called for unequivocal censure from the church's leaders in
the strongest terms possible. And that advertisement did just that. The
church could not have been - . it was hard rapping on the knuckles for the
Maminimini gang which the wayward nuns richly deserved. It is safe to think
that having subjected the misbehaving nuns to this kind of public dressing
down, the church's leaders also made it abundantly clean to the nuns, in
private, that their misadventure was absolutely unacceptable. It is also the
hope of every member of the Catholic Church that a strong warning has been
sent out to all members of the Catholic clergy in Zimbabwe against yielding
to the temptation to benefit from a state policy which has been so openly
and unequivocally condemned and discredited by the Catholic Bishops
Conference as being unjust unfair and corrupt. Above all it is to be hoped
that those naughty nuns, who seem to be totally lacking in principles,
self-discipline an common decency, have been ordered to vacate Malabai farm
forthwith. As punishment for having brought so much shame and disgrace upon
the church, whatever "wealth" they had amassed on the farm must forfeited to
the poor.

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      Impact of AIDS calls for greater corporate action

      7/8/2004 8:14:45 AM (GMT +2)

      The World Economic Forum (WEF) study released to coincide with the
African Economic Summit 2004 shows that while African companies are leading
the world in HIV and AIDS, control a lot more still needs to be done.

      Both the WEF report and the Zimbabwe Human Development Report 2003
tell an adverse story on corporate responses to the challenges of HIV and

      The 2003 Human Development Report bemoans the fact that the private
sector has not been clearly forthcoming in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

      The Human Development Report points out that "the responses in the
sector are patchy, simplistic and concerned more with posters and condom
distribution. Not all organisations have HIV and AIDS programmes. There are
no risk assessments in order to better target the response within
organisations and sectors.

      "The organisations that have responses have a male-biased response
focusing on the employees only in the hope that the information filters to
the wives, but it has not."

      While the WEF report shows that Zimbabwean business executives have
high levels of awareness and understanding of the economic and business
impact of the HIV and AIDS epidemic, this has not corresponded with action
on the ground.

      According to the survey, 94 percent of Zimbabwean business executives
interviewed believe that HIV and AIDS will have a serious impact on their
businesses, while 64 percent believe that HIV and AIDS has a current and
specific impact on their company's revenues and/or costs.

      Despite these high knowledge levels, only 18 percent of the companies
have written HIV and AIDS specific policies. It is also interesting to note
that 39 percent of the executives lacked confidence in their company's
current response.

      The impact of HIV and AIDS on the corporate sector includes evidence
that illness and mortality are on the increase and the loss of employers was
projected to increase threefold by 2003.

      The loss in work time and increases in staff turnover in Zimbabwe are
concentrated in the 30-45 age group, resulting in a shift to younger and
less experienced workers. Replacement training costs were estimated to have
grown fivefold between 1991 and 2000 as a result of HIV and AIDS.

      The insurance sector is one of the most affected. Sources of savings
and investment such as insurance and private savings schemes have been
adversely affected before adequate accumulation of contributions.

      Indirect cost to companies to companies include an increase in life
assurance and pension fund claims as well as increased demands on medical
schemes. Most companies are withdrawing nearly all that they have
contributed to group life insurance and provident or pension funds.

      The insurance sector has discontinued some of its schemes, while some
companies have resorted to HIV testing of clients. This has resulted in loss
of business because of this exclusionist policy.

      Medical aid insurance schemes have not been spared from the impact of
HIV and AIDS. The largest private health care organisation reported that HIV
and AIDS direct costs constituted the highest costs.

      The examples of the impact of HIV and AIDS call for greater corporate
involvement, which can be driven by the development of workplace policies as
a starting point.

      Individually, corporations can do a lot. If a workplace programme is
administered with the aims of prevention, non-discrimination, care and
support, companies will reap major benefits in terms of healthier workplaces
with better morale, with all the financial services this translates to. This
is a clear win-win situation. Everyone wins - the employees, managers and

      Businesses can set up an "AIDS in the workplace" programme. The two
main components of such a programme should be to ensure that people believed
or known to have HIV infection or AIDS are treated fairly, humanely and
without discrimination and, secondly, to prevent new infections among
employees and their dependants.

      In other words, the goals are non-discrimination, care and support for
those who are infected, and prevention of further infection.

      These efforts should be linked. Every action that is taken, whether it
is the adoption of corporate policy or the provision of healthcare, or the
establishment of regular AIDS action, will wind up serving those who are
infected and preventing further infections.

      In most of the cases, the employer will not know who falls into which
category, nor most probably will the people themselves. What is important is
not to think in terms of "them" versus "us", or set one group against the
other. Prevention efforts will not be credible to the workforce unless they
are carried out in a supportive environment of non-discrimination.

      Businesses should ensure their access to health services, whether
directly through the company medical services or as part of a health
insurance scheme. In either case, their health and insurance data must be
protected with full confidentiality.

      In addition, workers should be given the needed support to be able to
cope with their illness. The cost of antiretroviral drugs is significantly
decreasing and the cost of a month's supply under the recommended triple
therapy currently costs between $150 000 and $160 000.Health insurance
policies packages that will cover employees do not cost much and it makes
sound business sense to join these health insurance covers.

      The other key components of a workplace programme on HIV and AIDS is
prevention - protecting the workforce through information, education and
communication and support services that include condom distribution and
treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

      Senior management is the key. The commitment of senior managers, and
in some instances their courage in overcoming resistance to the discussion
of sex, is important.

      All top managers of a company must understand the full ramifications
of the epidemic - its impact on society and on business, the kind of
approaches that do and do not work.

      A crucial aspect of prevention is condom promotion. While the condom
cannot be served with a cup of tea or a plate of sadza during lunch hour,
there is a need to make sure that condoms are readily accessible to the

      Education on HIV and AIDS is not enough. Without condom promotion and
STD treatment, a workplace programme will not have the desired effect.

      Corporations can act as a community. They have unparalleled
opportunity to get together and share information, skills and direction. The
Zimbabwe Business Council on HIV and AIDS is an example of such an
initiative. The council, working with employers and employee organisations,
should lead a more innovative response in the private sector, based on
sector-specific responses.

      The Human Development Report calls for an immediate programme which
starts with rapid appraisals of risks across different economic sectors.
Pursuant to this should be realistic programmes which vary from sector to
sector, depending on vulnerability factors, including better corporate

      The report further recommends that in the medium and long term, the
private sector should seek to reform its operations to look into deployment
policies so as to do away with vulnerability policies.

      Corporates can act as community citizens, whether at the local or
national level. This includes making precious contributions in kind to the
national HIV and AIDS programme.

      For instance, advertising agencies or direct marketing agencies can
design effective HIV and AIDS campaigns. Real estate agencies might be able
to offer space to house, say, an HIV and AIDS counselling centre.

      More broadly, the corporate sector can help shape the national
response to HIV and AIDS. It can play a leadership role as individual
companies and as representatives of the private sector.

      With business as equal partners, with a vigorous international
corporate response, we have a real chance to go ahead of the epidemic. It is
an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.

      lNgoni Chibukire and Tawanda Chisango work for SAfAIDS, and Chibukire
is a member of the Zimbabwe Economics Society.

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      Certain acts by the police illegal

      7/8/2004 8:09:19 AM (GMT +2)

      In a democracy, the police forces' key function is the preservation of
law and order.

      This duty is important because if carried out properly, it allows a
proper functioning of the state and permits unhindered enjoyment of freedom,
equality and fraternity by citizens.

      Policing responsibility emanate from the constitution which is the
supreme law of the land.

      Over the years, there has developed abundant evidence proving that the
Zimbabwe Republic Police has failed to discharge its constitutional duties
freely and fairly. Instead of being a professional, people-friendly force,
it has lately gained notoriety for being generally violence-prone, and
hostile to citizens whom it is supposed to protect.

      Its reputation has been tainted and dented by the high incidence of
bribery, torture, malicious arrests and open bias when dealing with
political matters.

      Heavy-handedness and selective enforcement of the law are habits that
have encroached and taken root within the force.

      This scenario is most unfortunate and unwelcome because it posses a
great danger not only to the rights of citizens, but to the very security of
the state which ironically the police is put in place to protect.

      Every person in Zimbabwe is generally entitled to the right to liberty
and equal protection before the law. This right is fundamental and
originates from the Bill of Rights in our constitution.

      However, this right as far as our police is concerned only appears to
exist on paper, essentially because the same police has repeatedly shown
gross contempt of people's inalienable constitutional rights.

      It is important to expose one way by which the police has consciously
violated peoples basic rights in open violation of the law.

      The so-called "ticket" offences provides a better illustration of the
forces' obsession with depriving citizens of their freedom.

      These offences usually occur in traffic, liquor assault and other
minor transgressions covered under the Miscellaneous Offences Act (Chapter

      With specific reference to traffic offences, the common perception is
that issuing of tickets has been done, and is still being done more as a
fundraising exercise than a law enforcement one.

      This only exposes the police's hypocrisy and further confirms that
certain traffic blitz and other operations are not done in good faith.

      Section 356 read together with Section 141 of the Criminal Procedure
and Evidence Act (Chapter 9:07) provides that an accused person may pay a
fine for certain minor offences if he/ she does not want to appear in court.

      This section obviously makes payment of admission of guilt fines
optional and not mandatory.

      The payment of a fine to an issuing officer is an unequivocal
admission of guilt. Infact it is equivalent to tendering a plea of guilty in
an open court.

      An admission of guilt form, which is as noted commonly referred to by
legally lay persons as a "ticket" has a bold warning on its face. It advises
suspects not to deposit fines or sign the document if one is not admitting
to the offence. If one opts not to pay a fine, he must appear in court on
the date appearing on the face of the form to challenge the so-called

      The danger the driving public faces is that, if they challenge the
issuing officer by refusing to pay a fine, they will be threatened with
detention or may even be detained.

      Thus most individuals end up coughing up fines that they might at law
not be entitled to pay merely to avoid the inconvenience of incarceration.

      The police now call these spontaneous deposit fines "spot fines".

      However, this writer is not aware of any law that provides for "spot

      This unlawful procedure is an invention of the police that no one has
dared to challenge for fear of reprisals through the conman arbitrary
deprivation of liberty.

      The habit of making offenders pay spot fines is highly malicious, a
show of heavy-handedness, a dangerous abuse of power and illegal. It appears
to be a well-orchestrated grand act of extortion.

      It is important to observe that the habit of paying undeserved fines
makes one accumulate previous convictions.

      The payment of an admission of guilt fine is by way of procedure
forwarded to a magistrate who confirms its propriety by affixing his
signature to the form. Once the form is so signed and confirmed, it becomes
a conviction.

      It is not only traffic matters that have invited this abuse of the
public by the police. The Miscellaneous Offences Act criminalises various
nuisances like laughing, singing and begging in a public place. Section 4 of
the same Act outlaws the loitering in public place for the purposes of
prostitution between the hours of 6pm and 6am.

      It is interesting to note that if one loiters outside the prescribed
time limits, one will not be covered by the section. Consequently, a person
can loiter in a public place during the day for purposes of prostitution
without inviting the wrath of the law-enforcement agents.

      While Section 4 might have been conceived for the right intentions, in
reality, especially as relates to general police conduct, it appears to be a
law made for the members of the female gender.

      This is because when enforcing this provision the police have only
targeted females because generally only females are deemed to be
prostitutes. The males who sustain the commercial sex industry seen during
odd hours are rarely apprehended.

      What is even more baffling is the test used by police to identify and
distinguish a suspected prostitute from one who is not. Usually police rely
on attire alone, but this test is unfair and irrational because many a time
it has led to many innocent females being arrested, detained and at times
convicted unfairly.

      This law is not only unreasonable and discriminatory against the
fairer sex but is clearly unconstitutional and contrary to the spirit of
gender equality existing in contemporary democracies.

      It is in the public interest that it be repealed forthwith to avoid
any further violation of women's constitutional rights.

      Many women have been deprived their liberty and have had their right
to equal protection before the law violated by this superfluous and
gender-insensitive section.

      Although the police are empowered to release offenders for minor
offences on notice to appear in court, most members are unwilling to do so.

      Because of an obsession to detain, perhaps instigated more by sadism
and cynicism, the police have turned a blind eye to respecting people's
freedoms. It is high time our police re-examined itself and adopted a firm
commitment to respect and protection of human rights.

      An undisciplined force without integrity that wantonly violates people
's constitutional rights drives citizens to acts of vengeance, anarchy and
in the long-term alienates itself from the people it is supposed to serve.

      lVote Muza is a legal practitioner with Gutu & Chikowero.


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