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

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Zim Independent

Zanu PF youths detained in Kenya
Augustine Mukaro
ZIMBABWEAN aircraft passengers who were detained in Kenya this week were
Zanu PF youths going to Libya for training, it has emerged.

Sources in Zanu PF said the 57 passengers were drawn from Zanu PF youth
structures throughout the country and were heading for the north African
country's capital Tripoli for a training programme.

Information officials at the ruling party's headquarters yesterday confirmed
that the delegation was made up of provincial youth leadership going to
learn about youth activities in Libya.

"It's an ongoing inter-party exchange programme," a Zanu PF information
official said.

"Youth leadership from all our 10 provinces would learn the youth activities
in Libya and that would be disseminated to our youths here."

Libya has compulsory national youth service, including ideological tutoring.

Press reports on Wednesday said the Zimbabwean nationals aboard a
Russian-made Ilyushin plane, flown by two Libyan pilots, were detained for
allegedly overflying Kenyan airspace without authority. The passengers were
detained at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for three days after the
plane was intercepted by Kenya's airforce.

Zanu PF officials said there was nothing wrong with Zimbabwe sending a
delegation to Libya to acquire skills on self-reliance and patriotism.

"The Women's League sent their delegation to explore business opportunities
earlier on and this is actually the second delegation and there is nothing
wrong with it," the official said.

These developments come amid reports that Zanu PF militias hired to thwart
the Movement for Democratic Change-led mass protests last week could have
cost the ruling party as much as $60 million in payments.

The over 2 000 militiamen who camped at the Zanu PF headquarters building
for the whole of last week are thought to have been paid $30 000 each on
Saturday after their success in blocking MDC marches.

Zanu PF secretary for information Nathan Shamuyarira however denied that his
party paid the youths.

The militias were bused from Mashonaland Central and East to help the
uniformed forces to stop mass protests intended at forcing President Mugabe
from office.

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From SW Radio Africa, 11 June

Bout connection

A Russian-made plane carrying 57 Zimbabwean passengers from Harare to Libya
was forced to land in Nairobi, after illegally flying into Kenyan air space.
The two Ukrainian pilots initially lied about the cargo of the plane and
said there were no passengers on board. It later transpired that all 57
passengers were Zimbabwean males between the ages of 18 and 24, and it is
alleged that none of them were carrying travel documents. After paying a
fine, the pilots and the passengers have been allowed to proceed. The story
first came to light in the Kenyan paper, the East African Standard.
According to our own research, the plane, has at various times been
registered to Cen Sad, a company based in Tripoli, Libya and Centrafricain
Air which is connected to Ukrainian Victor Bout. Media reports have
repeatedly linked Bout with arms dealing and trade in so called "blood
diamonds". It is unclear who owns the plane at present.

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Zim Independent

Zanu PF/MDC in church-led talks
Vincent Kahiya
AS relations between the ruling Zanu PF and the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) deteriorated further this week, churches in Zimbabwe have been
hosting inter-party talks in a bid to bring the two feuding sides back to
the negotiating table.

The Zimbabwe Independent this week heard that church leaders under the
auspices of the Heads of Christian Denominations held meetings last month
with the representatives of the two parties to try to remove impediments
which have prevented dialogue over the past two years.

The Zanu PF delegation included the party's secretary for Information and
Publicity Nathan Shamuyarira, Foreign Affairs senior secretary Willard
Chiwewe, and an officer from the Office of the President and Cabinet. The
MDC delegation included the party's top three, president Morgan Tsvangirai,
vice-president Gibson Sibanda and secretary-general Welshman Ncube, sources

The sources said the clerical delegation met the two parties separately on
May 22 and there were plans to have a second round of talks soon. If this
made progress it would be followed by a third round where representatives of
the two political parties would come face to face.

The delegation from the church leaders included Rev Murombedzi Kuchera, Rev
Sebastian Bakare, and Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) secretary-general
Densen Mafinyane. The Heads of Denominations group includes the ZCC, the
Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, and the Evangelical Fellowship of

These are thought to be the talks President Thabo Mbeki was referring to
when he told parliament in Cape Town last week that the two sides were

Details of what transpired at the meetings were not readily available as
church leaders have tried to keep their encounters as secret as possible.
All sides agreed not to comment on the negotiations in the press.

Shamuyarira did not return calls yesterday.

Contacted this week Rev Kuchera said he did not have "details on the
meetings". Asked if the meetings took place as described, he repeated that
he had "no details".

The second round of talks now hangs in the balance after the MDC civil
disobedience last week and the subsequent arrest of Tsvangirai on fresh
treason charges. Observers close to the talks see Tsvangirai's arrest as a
bid by hardliners close to Mugabe to scupper the dialogue before it gets

"It is being strangled in its cradle," a source close to the talks said.
"But with the current stalemate in the balance of political power the talks
are seen as the only way forward for both sides."

The latest initiative by the churches in Zimbabwe to mediate in the
political impasse follows attempts by African leaders Mbeki, Olusegun
Obasanjo, and Bakili Muluzi in May to bring the two parties to the
negotiating table.

The three heads of state met the two party leaders separately during a day's
trip to Harare but there has not been anything to show for their efforts
apart from the church initiative.

In March Njongonkulu Ndungane, the Anglican Archbishop ofCape Town, came to
Zimbabwe leading a clerical/civic delegation to try to tackle the political
logjam. It is not clear if the latest initiative was inspired by his visit.

But it is understood he had the support of Mbeki's office where former
church activist Frank Chikane is a key official.

The archbishop met civil society organisations and church leaders during the
trip, and he also paid a courtesy call on Tsvangirai.

Meanwhile, South African Defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota told MPs in Cape
Town yesterday that the MDC should not walk away from dialogue.

"I said last week it is not helpful for the MDC to leave the talks and go on
to the streets and create an atmosphere as if there was unwillingness to
negotiate a settlement in Zimbabwe," he said.

The churches in Zimbabwe, the Independent has been told by some of those
involved in the current talks, played a hitherto undisclosed but pivotal
role in formulating dialogue between Zanu PF and PF Zapu resulting in the
Unity Accord of December 1987.

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Zim Independent

Illegal fuel dealers prey on desperate motorists
Blessing Zulu
THE government appears to have tacitly adopted a "do-nothing" policy in the
fuel sector as the recently announced agreement with the Libyans is still
far from a done deal, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

The Independent heard this week that the deal depended largely on the
government crafting a plan that would enable it to pay off its debt and then
pay for new supplies.

"That stage has not been reached and there is still wrangling over the
transfer of assets to the Libyans," a fuel industry source said this week.

President Robert Mugabe anno-unced last year that the government would stop
importing fuel for private players. The government has not announced any
policy since then but insists that the fuel sector is strategic and has to
be regulated.

On the ground the government has allowed the black market to flourish with
private dealers bringing in fuel.

The absence of policy has resulted in a multiple-tier pricing regime in
which dealers charge according to demand. There are the gazetted prices
where petrol costs $450 a litre and diesel $200 for fuel sourced from

On the other hand, there is fuel from dealers who set their own prices. This
can be as much as US 60c a litre or its equivalent. There is also a third
tier on the black market where fuel sourced from garages at the gazetted
price is re-sold in containers of various sizes at between $2 000 and $2 500
a litre.

Industry sources this week said 70% of Zimbabwe's fleet was running on fuel
sourced at prices above the gazetted tariff.

The sources said the government was expected to make a policy decision next
week to normalise the situation. They said the three months of chaos in the
industry worked well for the government.

"Trade on the black market has conditioned motorists to buying expensive
fuel," said a fuel marketer.

"If the government increases the price now to say $1 000 a litre, it will
not hurt the motorist much since he has been buying the fuel at well over
that price," he said.

He said the government was aware of the policy error it made in March when
it increased the price of fuel without addressing the supply side.

"The government will only make a price adjustment after it has put in place
deals that will bring in meaningful volumes. It is foolish to increase the
price of a commodity that is not available," he said.

However, police this week maintained that selling fuel above the gazetted
price was still illegal.

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Zim Independent

Deported Libyan 'spy' expected back in Zim
Charlene Ambali
FORMER Libyan diplomat Yousef Murgham, who was feared dead after his
deportation from Zimbabwe last year, is alive and well, his lawyer Jonathan
Samkange said this week.

Last week the High Court confirmed a provisional order granted last year
which ruled that Murgham's deportation was illegal and that the government
should repatriate him to Zimbabwe. The state did not challenge the
provisional order and a confirmation ruling was made in default last

Samkange this week said Murgham was currently in Libya and would be heading
back to Zimbabwe.

"Murgham is in Libya and would be coming back," said Samkange.

He said the Department of Immigration was agreeable to Murgham's return to

At the beginning of the year his family, which is still in Zimbabwe, said it
had lost touch with him since his deportation and feared him to be dead.

The Department of Immigration in August is alleged to have breached the law
by deporting him to Egypt instead of handing him over to officials in Libya.

Murgham was deported after the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
declared that he was a security threat to Zimbabwe. The CIO, reports said,
accused Murgham of working with British intelligence and the Movement for
Democratic Change and alleged that he was thwarting government efforts to
procure fuel from Libya.

In his defence against the deportation, Murgham wrote a letter on April 16,
2002 to President Mugabe claiming that he had helped the ruling party to
campaign in the 1990 presidential election. He said he had arranged for a
meeting between Mugabe and Nathan Shamuyarira, Zanu PF's secretary for
information, and a Libyan official, Mussa Kosa. The meeting resulted in
Libya contributing US$100 000 towards Zanu PF's presidential election
campaign in 1990.

Murgham came to work in Zimbabwe as a counsellor at the Libyan embassy. He
resigned in 1993 but remained in the country.

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Zim Independent

Zanu PF divided over Chigovera successor
Mthulisi Mathuthu
THE search for another Attorney-General has already begun with senior
members of the Zanu PF politburo divided over who to promote to fill the
post after Andrew Chigovera resigned two months ago.

Zanu PF divided over Chigovera successor

Individuals in President Mugabe's inner circle are reportedly unhappy with
the acting AG, Bharat Patel's handling of the on-going treason trial of MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the party's secretary-general, Welshman Ncube, and
secretary for agriculture, Renson Gasela who are facing charges of plotting
to assassinate Mugabe.

But others understand the need for professionals to be in charge if the
growing catalogue of state setbacks are to be reversed.

Well-placed sources this week said Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa
favours Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals, Paul Mangwana, who is
also his ex-deputy.

Others reportedly favour Johannes Tomana.

Tomana is a partner in Muzangaza, Mandaza & Tomana law firm, who are
Information minister Jonathan Moyo's personal lawyers, something which could
load the dice against him.

Denying links to the race, Tomana said he would put his money on Patel to
land the job.

"The hunting ground is obviously at the AG's office and Patel will most
likely land the job no matter what happens."

Other parties involved on the sidelines are Zanu PF secretary for land and
resettlement Enos Chikowore and Speaker of parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Chikowore is reportedly at loggerheads with Mangwana with whom he has
clashed over administrative and land issues in Kadoma East where the latter
is MP.

As the secretary for land reform in the politburo, Chikowore has reportedly
teamed up with Mnangagwa to convince Mugabe that Mangwana will not be
forcible enough to represent the state in land cases lined up in the courts.

Chikowore is thought to see Mangwana, who is also the secretary for
administration in Mashonaland West, as an unreliable ally in the AG's post.

Moreover there are fears that Zanu PF will find it difficult to regain the
peri-urban Kadoma East seat in the event of Mangwana resigning to take the
post of top government lawyer.

While Chikowore may be distrustful of Mangwana, Mnangagwa on the other hand
reportedly sees the exit of his old friend and school mate Chigovera as the
work of his predecessor as AG, Chinamasa.

Reports have suggested Chigovera was forced out after criticism from
Chinamasa that he was insufficiently robust in his prosecutions, but this
has not been confirmed and neither of the two have commented on the
circumstances surrounding Chigovera's departure.

According to sources, Mnangagwa and Chikowore would rather have Patel stay
on as the acting AG till the end of the treason trial, by which time a
candidate could have been identified.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mangwana said: "When I retire from politics I
will certainly wish to go back to law but I haven't heard about the
intention to reassign me now. In any case I enjoy my current job."

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Zim Independent

Zimbabwe to top world inflation index
Conrad Dube
ZIMBABWE will have the world's highest inflation rate this year, with
consumer prices expected to rise by over 300% as the economy continues to
collapse, according to forecasts by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The EIU says Angola, another crumbling African economy, would have inflation
of 115% followed by Iraq whose consumer prices are likely to rise by 75%.

At the other extreme, Hong Kong's consumer prices are poised to fall by 2,5%
from 3,70% in 2003, the fastest rate of deflation in the world, the report

But economist Eric Bloch said real inflation was currently over 300% and was
likely to reach the 400% level in the next four months. The official rate in
April was 269%.

Bloch said: "The official infla-tion rate is wrong as it is calculated
according to an average person spending basket which applied in 1994 but
spending patterns have changed very considerably with items such as food
having far higher proportion of total spending. Food inflation is currently
exceptionally high."

He said the rate was also wrong as it was calculated on prices based on
officially controlled prices while people were buying products either in
different packaging or on the black market where costs were way above
official prices.

The decline in agricultural output by about 60% in 2003 would lead to a
steady contraction of industry as the decline in commercial farming feeds
through to the rest of the economy, the Commercial Farmers Union reports.

Growing foreign currency shortages and fuel at a time of price controls,
falling purchasing power and triple-digit inflation would push up production
costs, creating an extremely difficult economic climate for companies and
mines, the EIU says.

It said as a result, most companies would scale down their operations and
shed labour, and real GDP was expected to contract by a further 8,8% in

The economic decline would slow in 2004, because many firms would already
have scaled back their operations substantially, the EIU says.

The EIU said there could also be some limited recovery in food production,
as the remaining commercial farmers and small-scale farmers increase maize

The CFU estimates production throughout the commercial sector to be reduced
by 70% from what it was in 2002.

Maize production has been reduced to just 80 000 tonnes from 810 000 tonnes
in 2003 while soya beans should go down to 30 000 tonnes from 162 000 in

The CFU said tobacco was down to just 65 million kgs from 229 million kgs in

New farmers are not achieving their production levels due to lack of
knowledge, skills, inputs, and finance, it says, so that they do not have
capacity to replace production levels that previous commercial farmers were

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Zim Independent

Airzim in costly airport crash
Blessing Zulu
AIR Zimbabwe risks paying millions of dollars in compensation to Zambiana, a
Zambian private airline, for damage to one of its planes caused by an Airzim
driver, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

Sources at Air Zimbabwe said a driver using a tug at Harare International
Airport on Sunday rammed into a stationary Zambiana Beechcraft, which has
been grounded since then.

"It is an embarrassing thing because Air Zimbabwe has continued to ignore
basic safety regulations," said the source.

"The person who was driving the tug was not licensed. The national airline
has continued to ignore basic safety rules. The national airline has been
told to pay for damages to the plane and also for loss of revenue and this
will run into millions of dollars," the source said.

Civil Aviation Authority of Zim-babwe (CAAZ) director-general Karikoga
Kaseke yesterday confirmed the accident.

"We received the report and we are already investigating the matter," Kaseke

"On the issue of compensation, it is natural that airlines seek compensation
but it depends on the outcome of investigation," he said.

Acting director for Airports and Business Development Jerry Ndlovu, said it
was premature to comment on the investigations.

"I cannot confirm that our driver had no licence. It is tooearly to
com-ment. The per-son involved has been sus-pended pend-ing investigations."

This comes as the crisis-ridden national airline has been forced to reduce
its domestic fares in the face of serious competition both regionally and

A source at Air Zimbabwe said flights had been drastically reduced.

"We used to have three flights per week to London but they have been reduced
to two and normally very few passengers board our planes," said the source.

Air Zimbabwe has also been fighting a losing battle on domestic routes
because of competition from South African Airways (SAA).

"The management has been forced to combine the Bulawayo and Victoria Falls
routes owing to stiff competition from SAA," said the source.

Air Zimbabwe this week announced it had reduced domestic fares by about 40%
to remain competitive. Passengers have been declining due to poor and
erratic service.

Air Zimbabwe management did not respond to questions faxed to them.

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Zim Independent

Court still to rule on Aippa challenge
Staff Writers
THE Supreme Court judgement in the case between the Independent Journalists
Association of Zimbabwe (Ijaz) and the Minister of State for Information
Jonathan Moyo has not been released three months after the court said it
would be ready.

The journalists' lawyer, Sternford Moyo, has written to the Supreme Court
seeking an explanation for the late delivery of the judgement.

"In your letter of 13th March 2003, you indicated that judgement was not
going to be ready for about a month or slightly over," Moyo wrote to the
Supreme Court registrar, Mrs Mazabane.

"As two and a half months have lapsed since your letter and the matter has
been awaiting since November 1, 2002, we are seriously concerned that delay
has gone beyond limits that we may be able to explain to our clients without
your assistance.

"It is clearly in the interests of the administration of justice that we
give to our client some form of explanation for the delay," he said.

The Supreme Court has not yet responded to the letter.

Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, sitting with the full bench of the
Supreme Court, reserved judgement on the matter last November.

Aippa was the first significant Act President Mugabe signed after his
re-election in the 2002 presidential election.

Ijaz, in the constitutional suit, challenged the powers of the Media and
Information Commission to compel journalists to register and clauses
relating to the "abuse of journalistic privilege", which include publishing
what the government deems to be falsehoods. The Act is over-particular about
the protection of personal privacy and makes it unnecessarily long for
journalists to obtain information from public bodies, they say.

Since November the government has tabled amendments to Aippa to tighten the
legislation and address issues raised in the constitutional case. The Bill
went through parliament on Wednesday.

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Zim Independent

Compensation demand delays burial
Blessing Zulu
THE saga of Stephen Tonera, a former employee of opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) MP Roy Bennett, has taken another twist with the
police saying the relatives of the deceased were refusing to bury his body.

Last week police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said he doubted the
authenticity of reports that Tonera had been murdered or that his body was
still in the mortuary.

Tonera was allegedly beaten to death by suspected state agents after the
March 18/19 MDC-organised mass stayaway. He died on March 20 on Bennett's
farm in Ruwa.

Bvudzijena this week confirmed that Tonera's body was still at the mortuary.

"Last time I checked with Ruwa police station but the case was handled by
Epworth police station," said Bvudzijena.

"I can confirm that the body is still at Harare Central Hospital. The
post-mortem was conducted but the relatives are refusing to bury the body
because they want to be compensated," said Bvudzijena.

He said asking for compensation violated the laws of the country.

"It is illegal under the law to ask for compensation but there is nothing we
can do to force them to bury their relative."

Bennett said the person who committed the crime was well known but nothing
had been done.

"The person is linked to the Central Intelligence Organisation and sometimes
is hired to train the Presidential Guard. This is the reason there has not
been any meaningful development in this case."

Bennett said it was only after the publication of the story in the Zimbabwe
Independent last week that the Criminal Investigation Department showed an
interest and interviewed witnesses.

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Zim Independent

Unknown firms, unknown fate

ZIMBABWE has not yet decided the fate of six firms it threatened to seize
over accusations they supported an opposition-led work boycott last week, a
government minister said yesterday.

Trade and Industry minister Samuel Mumbengegwi said this week that the
unnamed firms would have their licences revoked and expatriate work permits

But Mumbengegwi yesterday said in South Africa that no decision on the
companies or their workers had been taken.

"When I made a statement in Harare... I indicated... that we were carrying
out further investigations into these companies," he said on the sidelines
of an economic summit in South Africa. "Depending on our findings, we will
take appropriate action."

He declined to name the businesses concerned or whether they were local or

"We don't know whether they are international or local companies. It's very
difficult to know if a company is local or international just by looking at
its name."

Mumbengegwi is in Durban for the Africa Economic Summit - an invitation-only
gathering of business and political leaders, where Zimbabwe is firmly off
the agenda.

Once the bread basket of Africa, Zimbabwe's economy is in tatters and
political tensions are mounting.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa said in Durban yesterday
goverment was reviewing key data to determine whether it would need a
supplementary budget this year.

Murerwa said although the government's reform programme was going well,
inflation - already close to 300% - could go higher before prices levelled
out. "As you know, when you decontrol, the tendency of prices is to go up
but... if you have the right policy to control inflation, prices will
stabilise." - Reuter.

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Zim Independent

Mugabe runs riot to stay in power
Dumisani Muleya

LAST week’s nationwide five-day mass action confirmed that President Robert
Mugabe’s government has effectively lost the battle for the hearts and minds
of Zimbabweans and is now relying on brute coercion to maintain its rule.

Despite applying saturation propaganda, ominous threats and legal blockages
to prevent the protests, Mugabe’s regime still failed to prevent the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from organising rolling mass
action which paralysed the country for five consecutive days.

Analysts say despite Mugabe’s claims that it was a flop, the mass action
provided the clearest evidence yet that Zimbabwe now practically has a
condominium leadership: one that commands the forces of repression and the
other that controls the popular will of the people.

In his remarks in an interview with the South African Broadcasting
Corporation last weekend, Mugabe insisted that the mass action was a flop
because it was designed to oust him from power but failed.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Mugabe’s reaction revealed panic in
official circles. “It is a matter of public record that Zimbabweans from all
walks of life overwhelmingly responded to the first stage of our final phase
of democratic resistance,” he said.

“The call by the MDC for a national shutdown and mass action represents a
national effort to challenge an unpopular regime. This was the first dose of
action in the final phase of the people’s collective push against this
regime under our code, the Final Push.”

Tsvangirai said it was not surprising that Mugabe’s regime reacted with
further repression. “True to form, the regime responded with the predictable
brute force and mass reprisals. But, as expected, this failed to stop the
people from demonstrating their unflinching support for the MDC,” he said.

Tsvangirai said while Mugabe pretended to be unfazed by the mass action, “he
was busy marshalling his forces of repression against the sovereign will of
the people”.

However, despite the brutalities inflicted upon them, the people’s spirit of
resistance was not broken,   he said.

“Throughout the world the struggle against tyranny and the retrieval of
stolen freedom and liberty has never been a single event, but a traumatic
process of relentless sacrifice and utmost dedication.”

In a further exhibition of defiance, Tsvangirai warned of further measures
against Mugabe soon.

“Consequently, the peaceful mass action that we embarked upon is the
beginning of new multifaceted phase towards a permanent resolution of the

“From now onwards we will embark on rolling mass action at strategic times
of our choice and without any warning to the dictatorship. Whereas in the
past our mass action concentrated on stayaways, we have now entered a
qualitatively different phase where we have added peaceful marches to
confront the dictator on the streets of every city and every town.”

Tsvangirai said contrary to Mugabe’s claims that he had prevailed, “the
dictator is now cornered and reduced to using the hit and run tactics of a
bandit against defenceless people.

“Mugabe has now been exposed as a violent and illegitimate dictator with
absolutely no pretence to any semblance of civil mass support,” he said.

“The current phase of the people’s mass action had demonstrated to Mugabe
where his power lies. He is now under no illusion about this. His power now
lies completely in the forces of repression supervised by a coterie of his

While affecting to regret using teargas to disperse peaceful demonstrators,
Mugabe justified his repression on the pretext of maintaining law and order.

Analysts say if Mugabe did prevail over the MDC through the use of excessive
force, then he only managed to score a Pyrrhic victory — a triumph which is
as costly as defeat.

But analysts say it was not even that because the mass action managed to
shut down the whole economy for a week while Mugabe held sway in the
streets, courts and media where he tenaciously fought the protests with
batons, whips, teargas, court orders, and propaganda.

Although government put on a brave face and claimed it was business as usual
notwithstanding that businesses were closed, it was clear the economy had
ground to a halt. The only offices which opened consistently for the whole
week were those of government that produce nothing of value.

After propaganda had failed to prevent the mass action, Mugabe unleashed the
police and the army — the building blocks of his power base — to avoid a
direct challenge to his rule.

It appears government is now resolved to use the intelligence agency,
police, army, prisons — which at times operate like concentration camps —
and the ruling party’s militia squads to defend itself. Critics say this is
largely because people have withdrawn en masse their consent to Mugabe’s
rule due to his unmitigated leadership failures. But by deploying the army
to suppress public protests, he all but confirmed that his legitimacy was
shrinking despite official claims to the contrary.

Analysts said the protests further showed that Mugabe — now viewed as a
prisoner of events — desperately lashing out at his opponents — is clinging
to power by his fingernails.

Political analyst Brian Raftopoulos said the mass action revealed the ugly
face of an increasingly brutal regime and official fear of demonstrations.

“The mass action highlighted and proved that this government is
illegitimate,” he said. “That is why it is now increasingly relying on force
to remain in power. Its determination to use coercion to keep itself in
control shows that it is afraid of its own people.”

Raftopoulos said the mass action also indicated that despite its failure to
mobilise a critical mass of people to confront the regime in the streets,
the MDC “actually has popular support on the ground”.

MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said the lashing out by government and the
subsequent deployment of security forces was an admission that Zimbabwe has
become a quasi-military regime.

He said the move was a “massive defeat for government and victory for
democracy”. Although it had overwhelming support, MDC failed to bring large
numbers of people onto the streets.

Observers said this was largely because the party had not put in place a
strategy based on a realistic assessment of the situation and tactics that
could match the demands of the circumstances.

The opposition had also not been able to identify and exploit weaknesses of
the regime. Analysts say despite its semblance of strength, government is
riddled with fundamental — some even say fatal — flaws, which include
bureaucratic and personal rivalries and institutional inefficiencies.

This had made the system less effective and more vulnerable to changing
conditions and organised resistance. But the MDC has not been able to
capitalise on this and deepening popular disaffection caused by the
prevailing economic crisis. Instead, it appears to be blowing with the wind
and relying on an anticipated spontaneous uprising. Unless the MDC puts in
place a realistic strategy on mass action, it will continue to appear
opportunistic and too inept to organise a coherent campaign of resistance
against an increasingly insecure regime.
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Zim Independent

Economic fallout is Mugabe’s nemesis

 WITH the government advertising daily its sense of deep insecurity and the
Movement for Democratic Change confident that the nation looks to them for
change it would seem we have reached a stalemate in our national affairs.
The state has the power to coerce but it manifestly lacks popular

Despite the recent wave of arrests and assaults, the situation is becoming
more precarious for the incumbents. They clearly have no solutions to a
deteriorating economic situation which is arguably, more than the MDC, their
nemesis. And last Friday’s cold shoulder from the IMF will only compound
their sense of isolation.

Nobody in the international community is taking NERP seriously, nor does it
deserve to be taken seriously at home. It has already missed several key
targets and is much too closely bound up with Zanu PF’s damaging land
seizures. In any case, donors have made it clear they will only be receptive
when all parties in Zimbabwe agree on a national recovery plan. That
excludes finance ministers presenting the plausible face of a regime
committed to economic sabotage at every level.

There is a growing sense in South Africa, at last reaching into the inner
levels of the ANC, that the ruling class in Harare is now beyond the pale.
The brutal crushing of last week’s protests have helped that along.

And the welcome awakening of black Americans and West Indians to the reality
of the Mugabe regime’s delinquency, as signalled in messages last week, can
leave the government in no doubt as to its diminishing international support

Resorting to solidarity messages from fringe groups like Coltrane Chimurenga
’s December 12 gang or the Rev Walter Fauntroy’s National Black Leadership
Round Table only serves to emphasise how strained relations with the real
world have become.

Tying up MDC leaders in legal red-tape on transparently vexatious charges
will simply underline the problems of a government unable to offer solutions
to pressing problems and instead lashing out at those who can.

We report this week on the tentative negotiations, mediated by the churches,
going on behind the scenes. It must have been to this initiative that
President Thabo Mbeki was alluding when he told parliament in Cape Town last
week that the two sides were talking to each other.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s arrest is likely to scupper any progress there, and
indeed could have been designed to do so by the hardliners around Mugabe who
fear for their own survival.

Meanwhile, Tsvangirai’s plan to force through a presidential-poll rerun
within the mandatory 90 days after Mugabe’s departure — his focus for any
talks unveiled to G8 diplomats last month — is frankly unhelpful.

The talks should be designed to establish a democratic framework for
elections and future governance. The restoration of professionalism in the
army and police, the establishment of independent electoral mechanisms, a
credible voters’ roll, the repeal of Posa and Aippa, and the establishment
of a transitional authority, representing both sides and endorsed by
parliament, should be the aim of any such negotiations, not the replacement
of Mugabe by Tsvangirai.

The MDC leader’s assurance that all the other things will flow from his
election is frankly as unconvincing as it is unacceptable.

Zanu PF needs to be locked into a process of democratisation that has the
support of regional leaders and the international community. Sidelining Zanu
PF will simply alienate the governing class and its military allies.

Let’s hope good sense prevails and that Tsvangirai thinks again. He appears
to have been the victim of some ill-conceived advice. But he can be sure
that whatever criticism civil society may have of his rapid-transition
project, it will be nothing like the sympathy and support he will have
garnered by the courage and determination he has shown this week and last.

It is a measure of the government’s crass stupidity that it has focused the
nation’s and the world’s attention on the plight of a democratic fighter
chained and dressed in prison garb when he has been convicted of nothing
more than giving Zimbabwe’s brutal kleptocracy a much-needed reality check.
It appears unable to understand that imprisoning freedom fighters has never
in this country’s history prevented change.
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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Lies and threats accelerate economic collapse
FROM the point of view of the Zimbabwean economy, last week’s mass protests
called by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to motivate President
Robert Mugabe to retire, were catastrophic. The economy has been
progressively weakened over the last six years, almost wholly due to the
acts of omission and commission of government. By 2003 an economy which had
been showing great promise of growth and virility, was fragile and
debilitated. Desperately struggling to survive, it was then ambushed and
beaten last week by both the MDC and government, bringing it even further to
its knees.

The issue of whether or not the president should retire is not relative to
the futility of, and destruction by, the mass protests. (It takes a great
and wise man to know when it is time to go, and to do so gracefully). The
point in evaluating the merits or otherwise of a mass protest structured to
comprise work stoppages and stayaways, accompanied by peaceful
demonstrations and marches, is whether or not such protests have any
prospects of success and, if so, whether those prospects would outweigh a
barrage of negative consequences. The answer must be a categoric no on both
counts, and it is therefore regrettable that the MDC did not take cognisance
of that negative before embarking upon an ill-conceived path which achieved
nothing other than to devastate the economy.

That the MDC may have done so with a sense of desperation, through its
awareness of a near-total absence of genuine democracy, law and order, and
good governance is understandable but most unfortunate. Not only was it
evident that Zanu PF would cling to power by any means and that, therefore,
the protests would be doomed to failure, but at the same time the only
conceivable outcomes of the protests in the form adopted by the MDC were
greater hardships for the populace, further abuses of law, greater
decimation of the economy, and a discrediting of the MDC and much of the
good that it espouses.

How can the MDC credibly pursue certain actions in the Zimbabwean courts
whilst it concurrently flouts other court orders, no matter that it may have
been immoral and undemocratic of government to seek such orders, and many
may disagree with the court’s determinations? But the MDC can’t “have its
cake and eat it”! As a result of its trying to do so, some inevitably ponder
whether the MDC’s policies on the preservation of law and order are not as
distorted as those of Zanu PF and, if so, whether there is any future for
Zimbabwe. Such doubts further weaken the already frail confidence of the
business community and of investors, causing them to hold back from the very
actions necessary for economic wellbeing and recovery.

Worse still was the quandary with which many of the population were
confronted. There are indications that great numbers were desirous of
supporting the proposed peaceful protests, perceiving a need to voice their
strong objection to the manner in which government pursues policies which
they consider to be most objectionable. They wished to voice their distaste
for the manner in which government seeks to assure its grasp for all time on
the tools of sate control, for the destruction that government has wrought
upon the economy, with consequential ever-intensifying suffering for
millions, and for government’s determined misuse of law to further its
objectives. But those who wished to support the protests also knew that they
could not afford to do so, and that they and their families would greatly
suffer from doing so.

They were fully aware that most employers could not afford to pay wages to
those that did not work for their businesses were already battling to
survive and that battle would be far greater with the loss of a week’s
production. With real inflation running well over 300% (as compared to an
official year-on-year inflation rate in April of 269,2%), few workers have
been able to accumulate any savings to sustain them and their families
through a week of protests.

Nevertheless, in practice very large numbers did stay away from work. They
did so reluctantly due to their awareness of resultant intensified economic

But they did so either because they could not access transport to work (for
most commuter bus operators feared the of risks of attacks on them and their
vehicles by extremists trying to assure a total stayaway), or because they
were victims of intimidation, or they feared that they would become victims
of intimidation. So tens of thousands stayed away from work, not in order to
support the MDC protests, but in the absence of an acceptable alternative
and, in so doing, knew that they were subjecting themselves and their
families to the ills of intensified poverty.

Government certainly did not cover itself with glory, and its conduct and
misconduct will impact very negatively upon the economy. First, it
demonstrated to the populace and to the world that despite its protestations
that democracy prevails in Zimbabwe, the reverse is the case. This became
evident when actions proved that despite all contentions to the contrary,
Zimbabwe is effectively under martial law, even if not declared. How else
can it be explained that Zimbabwean soldiers demanded sight of people’s
identity documents, even to the extent that they went to numerous homes in
high-density areas and subjected residents to near-inquisitions? Possibly
the police have such authority, but what empowers the army to do so?

Secondly, abusing its authority over the state-controlled media, government
promoted such blatant lies that even the most gullible could not have been
deceived. After the first day of the scheduled protests, the government
media trumpeted that the stayaway had been “a total flop”. They alleged that
virtually all businesses were open and that economic normality prevailed.
But the next day the same media proudly announced that most banks had
reopened (How could they do that if they had not been closed?), and that
most of the businesses that had been closed on the previous day were again
operational. But yet another day later the same media bewailed the extent to
which businesses were closed, and alleged that that was due to connivance
and conspiracy between white-owned businessmen, the MDC and the British

If, as previously stated, the businesses were all open, how is it that they
were all closed? And if it was white-owned businesses that were guilty of
confrontation with government, how is it that banks in which government is a
major shareholder were closed, as were industries partially owned by the
ruling party, and others owned by leading members of Zanu PF, and some
departments of Zimpost? Must one now assume that Zanu PF government and
parastatals are composed of white, British conspirators? Surely not! But
such spurious lies further destroy Zimbabwe’s image at home and abroad,
deterring investment, discouraging trade, alienating donor support, and
curbing tourism.

But that did not suffice! The economy was struggling, but not yet dead! So
ministerial venom and threats were let loose against the private sector. At
least two, and possibly more, ministers announced the intent to revoke
licences of businesses that were closed during the protests. In doing so
they disregarded the fact that many businesses are not required to have
licenses (There is no requirement for manufacturing industries to have any
form of operating licence. They are required, for reasons of health and
safety, to be registered under the Factories Act, but not to be licensed).
And, insofar as businesses are required to be licensed, those licences are
issued by municipalities, not by government, and the legislated qualifying
requirements for licences do not prescribe mandatory continuous operations
of the licensees.

Most of all, government saw fit to disregard the fact that the businesses
that were closed were, with almost no exception, precluded from operating
because of the extent that worker absences prevented effective operation, or
because the businesses were the recipients of threats of dire consequences
if they remained open. So businesses had to close, and others understandably
succumbed to intimidation and threats, rather than have the businesses,
their owners, and such staff as were present, placed at risk.

Government threats of withdrawal of licences were, no matter how devoid of
substance, yet another demotivant for the business community and for
investors and, therefore, another nail in the economy’s coffin. The MDC’s
actions were ill-advised and economically destructive, butgovernment’s
responses were evenmore so. Its lies, through its media, and its threats,
have undoubtedly accelerated Zimbabwe’s already rapidly approaching economic
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Zim Independent


Mugabe’s feet of clay showing cracks

PRESIDENT Mugabe briefly visited the planet Earth last week for an interview
with the SABC. But he revealed he had not been Earth-side for a while by
offering delusional answers to many of the questions put to him.

“The economic situation now in Zimbabwe is not so bad — it was much worse
during the war of liberation — we were living in the forest and eating wild
berries,” he claimed. As a reader pointed out, the man was comparing his own
personal situation in 1975, when he was detained in a Frelimo camp, with
2003, not the situation of his 12 million people. For them the government is
dramatically failing to deliver the basic essentials for their lives.
Indeed, with its voodoo economics it is almost entirely responsible for
their predicament. Possibly Mugabe’s intention is to reach the point where
12 million people are consigned to the forests, living off wild berries. But
unfortunately there are not sufficient forests and certainly not sufficient

Here’s his response to another question from the SABC’s Phil Mo-lefe,
arguably one of the corpora-tion’s least demanding interviewers:

“I do not want to teargas my youth... I do not want to increase the
suffering of my people... but they have been misled...”

So it’s OK to teargas people who have been “misled”?   Surely it is the duty
of a leader to explain to his people if and when they are being “misled”? A
leader who is respected for his achievements will be able relatively simply
to counter any attempts to mislead the people, after all he has complete
charge of all terrestrial TV, 99% of radio, and 50% of newspapers. It is not
a privilege of a leader to brutalise his population because someone is
“misleading” them.

Mugabe made contradictory comments on the war veterans and their role in
farm occupations. One minute he claimed that war veterans were operating
without any control or prompting, in the next he used the word “we”.

And just in case there were those unaware of his degrees in violence, he
reminded viewers: “I can still punch!”

Molefe provided a text-book example of how not to conduct an interview.
There was not a single challenging question. Instead he asked Mugabe all the
questions he was happy to answer, even reading out the Clare Short letter
saying Britain was no longer trapped in the cage of colonial guilt.

“How was that letter received by your government?” Molefe asked. It was a
gift to the president and looked suspiciously as if it had been supplied to
Molefe by the President’s Office. In reply to other questions, when Mugabe
couldn’t find the right words Molefe helpfully supplied them. Mugabe was
allowed to get away with assertions that “whites rallied openly behind the
opposition” in the 2000 referendum as if it was some sort of offence. Nor
was he tackled when he openly admitted the illegality of land invasions,
saying “we took it by force”.

Useful to have it on the record. But surely SABC can do better than this?
Molefe was completely out of his depth. Bring back Supa!

Do you recall all those articles in the government press telling us how
isolated the US and EU were in opposing Mugabe; that the world could be
divided into black supporters and white racists? Key to this view was the
claim that Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean were among his greatest
admirers. We are therefore pleased to bring you the following comments from
the Jamaica Observer headed “It’s time for Mr Mugabe to go”.

“People who actively supported the southern African struggles against
institutionalised racism and white minority rule are likely to be deeply
hurt, ashamed even, by the antics of Mr Robert Mugabe, the president of
Zimbabwe. Jamaicans, and West Indians in general, would be counted among
these people. Race and history would have made people of this region
empathetic with the peoples not only of Zimbabwe but all of southern Africa,
including South Africa, Namibia, Angola and Mozambique.”

The paper explained Jamaica’s role in Zimbabwe’s struggle for freedom and
the presence of Bob Marley at the Independence ceremony which served to
further cement the Jamaica/Zimbabwe relationship.

“Zimbabwe began its Independence with much promise, not withstanding a few
lop-sided arrangements to appease the old order,” it continued. “But we had
all assumed that Robert Mugabe stood on a higher moral plane. History and
circumstance had ordained it so. As it has turned out Mr Mugabe, the bush
war hero, has feet of clay. But worse, he has become that much-caricatured
leader in the post-colonial period. He represents a political process
encased in venality, while the society crumbles around him.

“Mr Mugabe has attempted to mask his final, and absolute, corruption by
playing to the legitimate issue of landlessness among the country’s black
majority population. It is a fact that a handful of white farmers controls
over 90% of the country’s best land, the spoils of colonial conquest. It is
beyond debate that reform is necessary. But in Mr Mugabe’s hands the land
issue is a chimera. It is not a genuine attempt of a modern, tolerant and
democratic society to come to grips with a real problem. Rather, Robert
Mugabe has found a theme which he can milk linguistically for the
perpetuation of his own power. He in the process declared a willingness to
trample the rights of his people and undermine institutions, most of which
survive as mere facades. Mr Mugabe does more. He marches on his people’s
future and on our own dreams. He diminishes Zimbabwe as well as those who
also felt that the struggle was also theirs. He weakens the Diaspora.

“Mr Patterson, our own prime minister, should rally his Caribbean Community
counterparts for our region to publicly tell Mr Mugabe that he has become
not only a liability to his own people, but a public embarrassment. They
must advise him that it is time to go.”

This editorial, published last week, follows hot on the heels of an equally
robust statement last week by African Americans. Mugabe’s attempt to divide
the world into black and white on the Zimbabwe land issue has run its
course. The black diaspora now see him for what he is: a ruthless despot for
whom land has been a handy tool to hold back the democratic tide.

‘The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they
suppress.” That pertinent reminder comes from the newzimbabwe website
( The website is managed by former Daily News reporter
Mduduzi Mathuthu, now based in London. It contains some interesting reports.
Another quote worth recalling has been sent in by a reader dismayed by the
events of last week. It comes from Winston Churchill who recalled in his
autobiography, The Gathering Storm, the futility of appeasing dictators.

“If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without
bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too
costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the
odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may be even a
worse case: you may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because
it is better to perish than to live as slaves.”

We haven’t come to that yet. But Zanu PF appears determined to block the
means of peaceful change. People with views that reflect those held by the
ruling party have been distributing leaflets to businesses in Borrowdale
warning “unrepentant white Rhodesians” that they will be targeted for
violence if they continue to support the MDC.

“For a long time we have been registering the houses of all racist former
white Rhodesians,” the leaflets say.

“Now the mass action will be directed to your doorsteps. Prepare for
teargas, destruction of properties. You have enjoyed enough.

“Prepare to run if you don’t stop the MDC hooliganism. We are no longer

Whoever wrote this is advertising his links to the people who control the
teargas. With  such obvious clues, it isn’t too difficult to establish the
connection between these threats and those contained in leaflets distributed
in the city centre last week. The cowards who control the levers of power
are the same people who directed the violence last week against Zimbabweans
exercising their democratic right to protest against a criminal regime. We
know who they are.

One of these cowards surfaced in the Herald last Saturday calling for the
editors of the Independent to be “thrown in jail where coup plotters like
them belong”.

This pathetic individual, who purports to be “Nathaniel Manheru”, imagines a
coup-plotter behind every Bush — or is it Blair? He appears obsessed by
toilets. He has one very old lavatorial joke and he repeats it several

His need “to go” is understandable. But the incontinent repetition of lies
about journalists rather gives this particular author away. After all, who
else do we know called Nathaniel? He has been speaking recently about
“unrepentant racist Rhodesians”. Having bored readers of the Sunday Mail to
tears with his creepy-crawly CIO tales, he is now imposing himself on the
Herald under the unoriginal rubric of “The Other Side”.

We are only too aware whose side he is on. The losing side!

The Mirror’s proprietor Ibbo “Six Farms” Mandaza has got a bee in his bonnet
about our reporter Mthulisi Mathuthu who is accused of “wallowing in the
murky business of personality-bashing and malicious mudslinging”.

This arises from a story about problems experienced at Sapes. Our news
editor Vincent Kahiya was also abused for reporting on a court case brought
by former Sapes director, Mafa Sejanamane, now branded “sacked”, “bitter”
and “disgraced” by the angry author of the Sunday Mirror’s “Behind the
 Words” column.

We shouldn’t have listened to Sejanamane was the short message. He obviously
had an axe to grind.

What Mandaza doesn’t appear to appreciate is that the Independent’s story
was based almost entirely on court documents. The outcome of the case was
reported very fully, not to say ad nauseam, in the Mirror.

As for the funding wrangle at Sapes, should Mathuthu really be branded
“psychotic” for mixing up Danida with Norad?

Nobody here is out to get the Mirror whatever its stagnant Zanu PF agenda.
Those levelling the accusation of trying to “tarnish” Mandaza’s image should
first consider what his paper permitted the deeply deranged David
Nyekorach-Matsanga, formerly of the Lord’s Resistance Army, to say in its
advertorial pages about the Zimbabwe Independent in January. Talk about
psychotic! The Sunday Mirror should remember the adage about glass houses.

This is becoming a really interesting place, a reader points out. The only
country in the world where your largest note — $500 — can’t buy you a beer,
which is $650. A roll of single-ply toilet paper costs $1 000. There are
approximately 72 sections on the average roll, so it is cheaper to take your
$1 000, change it into $10s, do the necessary with 72 of them and get $280

As you can see, our readers are a busy lot!

Finally, a reader in South Africa has asked us to compare the following

Ian Smith: “Never in a thousand years…”

Robert Mugabe: “Never, never, never, ever…”

Strange how those pronouncing their unyielding resistance to change don’t
survive much longer!

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Zim Independent

Zimbabwe's economy implodes
Ngoni Chanakira
ANALYSTS say last week's five-day stayaway will increase unemployment levels
and exert more pressure on an already fragile and contracting economy.

However, Harare executive mayor Elias Mudzuri says Zimbabweans have already
suffered enough and therefore have "nothing to lose anymore".

Last year more than 400 companies closed shop making at least 350 000

Agriculture has seen a further 500 000 being made redundant sending the
country's unemployment figure up to 75% - the highest in the region. South
Africa's unemployment rate is 30%.

The mass action organised by the major opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) resulted in commerce and industry grinding to a

The stayaway overshadowed the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF)'s
deliberations at the prestigious Harare International Conference Centre on
Friday to discuss the country's tattered image and solicit ideas for
economic progress.

The NECF, comprising 150 "top business executives" appointed by President
Robert Mugabe to advise on economic recovery, admitted that all was not well
in Zimbabwe.

The organisation said dialogue was needed in Zimbabwe to arrest various
issues such as incessant macro-economic instability and serious balance of
payments problems attributed to a decline in exports from US$2,5 billion in
1998 to US$1,3 billion in 2002.

The NECF also admitted that there was a "declining quality of life among
Zimbabweans as a result of high unemployment, declining real incomes and
deterioration in the quality of public amenities including health, transport
and education".

Mugabe however told the SABC on Sunday night - two days after the event -
that the mass action had "failed totally" and Zimbabwe was being "demonised
for being principled especially on the land issue".

The president however admitted that he had "highly-educated experts" in his
government as economic advisors who were "not addressing major issues

Commenting on the latest cash crisis facing Zimbabwe Mugabe said: "We have
highly-educated experts who think a situation must be handled or addressed
in a normal way. They demand bookish rules and bookish norms. We are in a
state of war and we must look at vital points. We are going to overhaul the
situation soon."

Economist John Robertson said it would prove very difficult for Zimbabwe to
"overhaul the situation soon" and "get back on track" because the economy is
crippled anyway.

In an interview, Robertson said: "The economy has been crippled further
after the stayaway. However, when you are barely moving some people cannot
even tell the difference."

He said what worsened the economic crisis was that the political front was
also a cause for concern.

Mayor Mudzuri, interviewed by in Washington DC en route to the
second annual international mayor's conference in Denver, Colorado, last
week said: "Harare people have nothing to lose by going to the streets.
Actually it's a demonstration to say the government is not treating them as
normal human beings…I wouldn't call it a strike; it's a demonstration to
show that the government is no longer for them. The health system has
collapsed. There is no money in the banks. There is no food in the shops.
There is no sugar. Almost everything is not there, which means that the
government has seriously failed and the people are now saying, 'Enough is

Several companies have already hinted that Zimbabwe needs to improve its
macroeconomic fundamentals for them to survive let alone earn elusive
foreign currency for the nation.

The companies are struggling to exist and made losses for the year ended
December 31.

In statements accompanying their results the companies hinted that this
financial year could prove another nightmare for them.

Companies such as Hippo Valley Estates Ltd (Hippo), National Foods Holdings
Ltd (Natfoods), Pretoria Portland Cement Company Ltd (PPC) and Zimbabwe
Sugar Refineries (ZSR) have already warned that their performance would be
disappointing if the economic climate did not change. Some of them have
embarked on shifts and laying off employees.

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Zim Independent

Taking Stock - No better time to invest than now
With Barbican Asset Management
WHILE the general investor expected inflation to surge upwards, no one
expected it to rise this high. This has made almost everyone believe that
the worst is yet to come. A loaf of bread has suddenly become a luxury in
most households. Unbelievable isn't it?

During the great Asian financial crisis one investment advisor's remarks got
the vote to be the quote of the year. All the advisor said was: "Difficult
times are here not only to see us suffer but also to make us think better
and prosper in them…"

There is no doubt these are the hardest times ever in Zimbabwe but is there
no opportunity to prosper in them? This week we take a look at the various
investment avenues in our economy amid these difficult times.

Money market

The money market has of late been underfire mainly because of the negative
interest rates that prevail in this market. Official inflation figures are
hovering around 270% while money market rates are around 65% on average. One
wonders if true inflation can be tracked and out-performed by any investment

Money market rates have in the past six months risen from 30% in January to
an average of 65% todate. In some instances rates of up to 90% have emerged
in the market. With the current cash crisis in the banking sector, rates in
excess of 90% will soon emerge. Maybe these are some of the opportunities
arising out of the present difficulties.

For short-term investors, that is for investments as short as one to two
weeks, this could be the best market otherwise their funds lie idle,
especially given that it is a bit difficult to move into and out of other
markets such as the equities and property within such short time periods. It
therefore follows that investors with investment horizons as short as seven
days either go into the money market or they sit on their money. But there
are opportunity costs of sitting on cash.

Rates in the money market are likely to remain on the upside for a longer
period of time due to current shortages. This market could be used as
resting place by high-risk takers (stock market investors) when the equities
market is on a retreating phase especially after a prolonged bull run.

Equities market

The 200 000 point mark which the industrial index surpassed recently
appeared to be a mere dream in the past few months. Very few investors are
convinced that the index could be heading for the 350 000 mark before
year-end -- this is how most of them are left out as the few continue to
harvest profits.

It is interesting to note how price controls are dying a natural death. Most
companies had been finding the going tough because of these price controls.
The "death" of price controls is therefore expected to enable affected
companies to report respectable earnings in their next reporting period.

In light of the on-going fuel and power shortages, mainly because of foreign
currency shortages, don't you think we are yet to hear about two or more
devaluations before the end of the third quarter? The implication of this on
exporting counters is obvious.

We therefore expect most companies to report higher earnings in their next
reporting and this is expected to push their share prices even higher. As
the March reporting season is coming to an end, it would not be a surprise
to see the market retreating in the next few weeks. Investors should take it
as an opportunity to take positions before the next reporting period.

Property market

Property prices have been on the upside for the past three years. Rentals
have also risen in sympathy. This is also a good investment avenue if one
does not mind the investment period, which is in most instances long.

With no solid policies to contain inflation in sight, inflation will
continue to gallop, and so will the prices of properties. As the current
economic turmoil is likely to be with us for at least another three years,
inflation will continue to gallop - this makes any property a cheap buy.


It is always safe and wise to board a wagon when it is stationary otherwise
you are left behind. Likewise, investors should consider taking positions
urgently otherwise they lose out. Remember that when the wagon stops you can
always disembark to stretch your feet but again, remember to get back before
it restarts the journey.

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Zim Independent


Signs of fear are evident

ALLOW me to draw attention to developments over the last few days. The Zanu
PF government has demonstrated how vulnerable it feels in a land where the
people do not support it. They have to rule by force, using all the
brutality at their disposal in the form of a very partisan police force and
army. Any new government will have to take a close look at what they inherit
in those circles and weed out any dissenters.

They have demonstrated how weak they are by bringing out all the police and
army and even bussing in mercenaries from the rural areas to terrorise the
population because of their fear that perhaps there are some police and army
personnel who can't be trusted. It was reported that Nathan Shamuyarira said
they had done that because the police wouldn't cope.

What confidence! A tremendous slight on the police's capability.

All that hardware that was on display was there for two reasons: to
intimidate the people into not heeding the call to a democratic peace march
and to crush anyone who dared to obey a call by the opposition, which gets
stronger by the day.

I have heard the opinion expressed that the government, in demonstrating how
vulnerable it feels, will now maintain the police and army in a state of
high alert and have the military hardware always in sight. It is obvious
that fear is the motivating force in Zanu PF.

Fear Drives Dictators,


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Zim Independent


Bull elephant, king

BULL elephant, king of kings, scourge of Rhodesian sellouts, conquistador of
filthy British puppets, silky manipulator of the masses, master of judges,
panzer fuhrer of green bombadiers, liberator of farms, mystical mirror of
the nation, emperor of the media, child of the ancestors, wondrous worker of
economic miracles, instant T-shirt designer, BA in violence, great puff
pastry. (Do you think I've got his attention now? He loves this stuff.)

Greetings, grovels and genuflexions... Fancy a little flutter on the
presidential stakes? I'm prepared to bet you in crisp new Zimbabwe notes,
not this grubby forex you have, that by June 30, 2004 you will be Il
Caudillo presidente no more.

Oh you'll still be around, the TV talkshows need you. But you will, I
regret, only be an elder statesman.

No more flying first class trips to kiss and cuddle with Chirac, no more
Machiavellian addresses to an adoring African Union, no holidays in Kuala
Lumpur or those naughty little shopping trips with Grace.

Look, don't let it get you down. I'm sure Morgan Tsvangirai will allow you
certain perks: free phone calls to chums (Muammar Gaddafi in Libya,
Professor Moyo in jail, Patrick Chinamasa in Mudzi, Kim Jong Ill in North
Korea and so on).

And perhaps a year's subscription to the Economist to give you a nostalgic
chance to cross check where it all went wrong.


Paul Tingay,


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Zim Independent


Zanu PF will finally fall

WHO wants to be seen or photographed at Heroes Acre?

In the more trying times ahead, stressed but sober-minded Zimbabweans will
easily recognise the symptoms of extreme desperation that the Zanu PF
hierarchy is resorting to to save themselves for a while longer from their
inevitable exposure and collapse.

Soon perhaps they will be asked to show their party membership credentials,
but conceivably in different circumstances to those known to them before.

Zanu PF has no coherent answers, durable plans or excuses to justify their
persistent misgovernance, abuse and looting of the nation and its people.

Tail-saving is now their foremost agenda item. The question often arises -
who really wants to be photographed for historic purposes paying homage to
the self-anointed hero at his acre when inevitable circumstances come to the

That the president had difficulty in attending to and dealing with the truth
and his future as revealed in his recent Mbeki- sponsored and stage-managed
SABC TV interview is a matter that would escape only a Zanu PF comrade.

Mental analysts will tell anyone that the body language of shut eyes,
evasion, the loss of meaningful words, expansive pauses, subject matter
deviation, denial and waving hand gestures send messages of debility,
insecurity or of gross hallucination and of an ingrained lying syndrome.

It is now inevitable that Zanu PF will finally fail and fall. Even President
Mbeki cannot save them for much longer unless he wants to promote an earlier
than expected dethronement on the global stage, and in his own country.

In the silent absence of sane and meaningful intervention from the professed
civilised democrats of the world, Zimbabweans must now understand that the
Zanu PF chain of command will spill as much blood as they can to retain
power and loot to further excuse themselves from any future accountability.

To regain their natural rights and democratically driven purposes,
Zimbabweans must understand that to recover their rights Zanu PF must be
engaged on their own territory and in clearly understood terms, and in a
manner that will deliver their hopes and dues.

Zanu PF "heroes" are inherently endowed to run fast when not gathered in
drug-crazed masses, or when they have no weapons readly available to protect
themselves from overdue retribution.

How many soldiers and policemen now go home with any confidence about their
futures in their once proudly worn uniforms?

Walter Hurley,


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Zim Independent


The real rate of inflation

I READ with fascination your article last week about RBZ governor Leonard
Tsumba and the rate of inflation in Zimbabwe. The shortage of notes in
Zimbabwe is an excuse for the government to print more money in an attempt
to buy itself out of debt (which by the way is synonymous with staying in

All this fiasco achieves is hyperinflation as savings become worthless by
the day. If you think Tsumba's annual inflation rate (269%) is high, just
watch out! I think it is already running at 365% per annum. It doesn't take
a bigger brain to work out that some goods that sell for $100 today will be
bought for $200 in just 100 days from now.

What a coincidence! - 365% per annum inflation seems awfully close to the
present country debt of $354 billion. Let's just for ease of mathematics
assume that the country's debt is $365 billion. On that basis, when the
national debt reaches $1 000 billion then your inflation rate will be 1 000%
per annum.

If that is right then for every $4 billion pumped into the economy per day
we will have a 4% hike in annual inflation. Even if I ignore compounding,
that means the real annual inflation rate for Zimbabwe is 365 x 4 = 1 460%
per annum already!

I think it's time the ruling party got real and simply capitulate gracefully
by holding a proper fair and internationally monitored election.

The only alternative is blood on the walls.


UK resident.

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