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Churches, clergy in Mugabe's pocket

Zim Standard

      By Foster Dongozi

      ZANU PF and its allies in the Church have cancelled the National
Day of Prayer  which  is  held annually on 25 May and replaced it with the
Zimbabwe  Day of  Prayer  to be celebrated on 25 June.

      The  move  has sent  profound  shock  through  the  Christian
community in  the  country which has denounced  the  marriage between
sections of  the  church  and  a government  which  stands  accused of gross
human rights violations  including  genocide, torture, and political
harassment and  starving   of political  opponents.

      Zanu PF's moves against the church  comes amid growing  fears in
the ruling  party that some  sections  of  the  church  had become too vocal
against  the  government's repressive rule.

      The  new day of prayer  was  proposed  after  pro-Zanu PF church
leaders met officials from  the  ruling  party's   Commissariat and
Information departments recently.

      Reverend Andrew Muchechetere, one  of  the  key people
organising  the  prayers, said the State-owned   Zimbabwe  United  Passenger
Company, ZUPCO, would  ferry passengers from "the usual  pick-up points".

      Church  insiders  said  the  State was expected to meet most of
the costs as it tries to win  the  support  of  the  Christian  community.

       The  public  address system  for  now is  expected to come from
the government, sources said.

      In order to get as many Christians  to  rally behind  Zanu PF,
the  church leaders are working  with  Minister  without  Portfolio   and
Zanu PF secretary for   the  Commissariat,  Elliot Manyika.

      Ruling   party  supporters  and  church  leaders that support
Zanu PF are now expected to gather at Glamis Stadium in Harare for the
Zimbabwe Day of Prayer on 25 June.

      When asked why they had been meeting Manyika he said: "I cannot
provide information like that because there are people who might use it as
ammunition against us."

      According  to an internal  memo,  circulating  among
pro-government religious  organisations, President Robert Mugabe   will
attend  the prayers  and  address  the  gathering.

      A similar event is being organised in Bulawayo where the city's
governor, Cain Mathema, is expected to deliver the President's speech.

      Other gatherings to be attended by Zanu PF officials will be
staged in all the country's major centres to try and win more supporters for
the ruling party.

      Since 1998, the National Day of Prayer has been held under the
stewardship of the Intercessors for Zimbabwe, led by Reverend John

      A new national prayer taskforce comprising "politically correct"
church leaders was appointed and will now prepare for the
government-sponsored Zimbabwe National Day of Prayer.

       Reliable sources said the ruling party had successfully
infiltrated the church after Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
operatives and war veterans were trained as pastors with some of them
successfully rising to lead religious groups.

      The internal memo, written by Muchechetere, reads: "We all
agreed to the need for such an event and the modalities of holding  the
event, including  how government will participate. One government
representative, who  could  be the State President, will  declare the nation
back to God."

      Church  insiders  said  the National Day of  Prayer  was
postponed twice  because  it clashed  with  Mugabe's  schedule.

      "The prayers were supposed to be held on 25 May and later
postponed to 4 June because of clashes with Mugabe's schedule.

      But our fear as church leaders is that it looks like people will
be worshipping Mugabe and not God. It looks like the church has been
completely taken over by Zanu PF politicians," said the insiders. "Remember
that 25 May was the day on which some of our colleagues in church leadership
were singing the government's praises at State House."

      The decision to invite Mugabe for the Zimbabwe Day of Prayer was
arrived at by a group of church leaders after they were feted at State House
where they sang Mugabe's praises.

      However, the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, a grouping of church
leaders around the country has attacked the outcome of the visit to State
House led by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and the Evangelical Fellowship
of Zimbabwe.

      The Alliance says the church leaders should have told Mugabe
that the country was in turmoil because of bad governance, unjust laws,
corruption, lack of integrity, and the unfair distribution of resources.

      The Alliance questioned which aspects of the Zanu PF government's
rule ZCC leaders Peter Nemapare and Densen Mafinyane supported.

      "Do they support the evils of Gukurahundi, the violent land
reform, Operation Murambatsvina, cronyism, State-sponsored violence, and
setting up concentration camps or corruption?" the alliance asked.

      When asked if they were going to engage the opposition MDC in
the same manner they had Mugabe, one of the bishops said there was nothing
definite yet as regards opposition political parties.

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Court orders Nkomo not to interfere

Zim Standard

      By Gibbs Dube

      BULAWAYO - The Speaker of Parliament and Zanu PF chairman, John
Nkomo, has been ordered by the High Court to stop interfering with the
running of a lucrative safari lodge in Gwayi, Matabeleland North, owned by a
prominent Bulawayo businessman.

      The provisional order granted by Justice Nicholas Ndou on
Wednesday evening comes after chaos erupted at Jijima Lodge when police,
allegedly under the instructions of Nkomo, evicted four international
tourists who had visited the lodge on a hunting safari.

      In his ruling following an urgent chamber application filed on
Tuesday by businessman Langton Masunda seeking to block Nkomo from evicting
him through use of security forces, Justice Ndou said Nkomo and his agents
should stop interfering with the occupation and use of the lodge.

      Justice Ndou said Nkomo, who unsuccessfully sought a High Court
eviction order against Masunda, should also not interfere with hunting
activities conducted by Masunda's clients.

      "Following the withdrawal by Nkomo of the previous case wherein
he sought to evict applicant from Jijima Lodge, it is hereby declared that
the applicant is entitled to the use and occupation of the lodge. (Masunda
is also) entitled to conduct hunting operations in the area allocated to him
until such a time as an order to the contrary is made by a court of
competent jurisdiction or other competent authority," Justice Ndou said.

      On June 9, Nkomo in the company of his agent, Clifford Sibanda,
two scouts and two other people, gave Masunda three days to leave the lodge
and threatened to forcibly drive him off the farm and lodge using government
soldiers if he defied their orders.

      Sibanda, slapped with a peace order by a Hwange magistrate who
ordered him not to interfere with the running of Jijima Lodge, has further
been instructed by Justice Ndou to heed the court order.

      "Sibanda (should) comply with the order granted by the
magistrates' courts sitting in Hwange before he can file any opposition in
this matter," said Justice Ndou.

      A few hours before the provisional order was granted by Justice
Ndou, there was drama at Jijima lodge when police, allegedly acting on Nkomo's
instructions, evicted four tourists from Hungary and the Czech Republic who
had paid US$30 000 (Z$10 billion) for a hunting safari.

      Although police declined to comment on the issue, Masunda
claimed that his clients identified as Hungarians Adorkan Istvan and Kovats
Jozsef and Caneelar Jiri and Vaclav Klaila of the Czech Republic were given
three hours to leave the lodge.

      "They packed their belongings in frustration and I had to book
them at a lodge in Gwayi," said a distressed Masunda.

      "This definitely spells doom for the tourism industry as they
were scared of being harmed. They will go back to their respective homes and
tell this horrible story to other tourists."

      Nkomo could not be reached for comment as he was said to be busy
in Harare.

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Ratepayers blast Chombo

Zim Standard


      CIVIC organisations and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) yesterday blasted the government's decision to extend the term
of office of the Sekesai Makwavarara-led Harare Commission for another six

      The Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban
Development Ignatious Chombo on Friday announced the extension of the
Commission's tenure saying mayoral and council polls for Harare will only be
held when the province's districts "are properly defined".

      However, civic organisations described Chombo's explanation as

      Makwavarara's term of office has been marred by controversy
owing to her extravagant lifestyle at the expense of service delivery.

      Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA) spokesperson,
Precious Shumba, yesterday said they were outraged by the government's
decision to extent the commission's term.

      "The move is a blatant disregard of the law. According to the
Urban Councils' Act, a commission should not serve for more than six months
before an election is held," Shumba said. "Commissions are stopgap measures
and should not be there for life."

      The Urban Councils' Act empowers the minister of local
government to appoint a commission but does not fix the number of times the
minister can do so.

      Shumba said: "We are going to urge residents to desist from
paying rates to the commission in protest. The explanations from Chombo are
just political. It's a deliberate ploy to delay holding elections in

      Sesil Zvidzai, the MDC anti-Senate faction's secretary for local
government and mayor of Gweru, described the government's decision to extent
the commission's term of office as "unfortunate".

      "It is best that decisions that affect people at a local level
are best made by the people themselves. Government should have called for
elections because the people in Harare are reeling under the pain of
autocracy. As the MDC, we demand the democratisation of Harare," Zvidzai

      MDC pro-Senate faction's spokesperson, Gabriel Chaibva, said the
commission was literary "doing nothing" to improve service delivery.

      "Services have deteriorated ever since the commission took over
the running of the city in 2004. The government will not want Harare to be
run by the MDC because it's their cash cow and they are strongly opposed to
the holding of elections," Chaibva said.

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Mahofa's son jailed for murder

Zim Standard


      MASVINGO  - THE son of Gutu South legislator, Shuvai Mahofa, and
three Zanu PF supporters will languish in prison for the next four years for
murdering a war veteran, Amos Maseva, over a farm-house at the height of the
land invasions.

      High Court Judge, Justice Yunus Omerjee, last week slapped Ben
Mahofa, Junior Chingewe, Rangarirai Chimbunde, and Miriam Mudyahoto with a
six-year jail term each. Two years were wholly suspended on condition of
good behaviour.

      Chimbunde was with the Air Force of Zimbabwe and was based at
Suri-Suri Air Base near Chegutu while Mudyahoto was sentenced in absentia as
she is on the run.

      Jatiel Mudamburi for the state told the court that in June 2002
the four teamed up and assaulted Maseva at Plot 20, Lithium farm in Gutu
over a farmhouse. The dispute pitted Maseva and Shuvai Mahofa's daughter
Peritta Masendeke, who had been allocated Plot 19 next to the deceased.

      Masendeke, who is also Ben's sister, was embroiled in the
farmhouse wrangle. They wanted Maseva to move out.

      After stiff resistance from Maseva, it is alleged that Masendeke
sought her mother's political muscle to oust Maseva from the farmhouse that
was left by a commercial farmer who fled the country at the height of the
chaotic farm invasions.

      The four, in their quest to evict Maseva, assaulted him and left
him unconscious. He died at Masvingo general hospital.

      The case made headlines in the country as relatives of the
deceased refused to bury him demanding compensation of $2 million then and
40 head of cattle from Shuvai Mahofa.

      They only buried Maseva after heeding calls from the late Vice
President Simon Muzenda, who had promised to broker the compensation claim.
Mahofa, however, did not pay the compensation.

      The family then took the matter to the courts, leading to the
imprisonment of the four.

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Minister stirs controversy after sacking school head

Zim Standard

      By Nqobani Ndlovu

      BULAWAYO - A government minister allegedly disrupted lessons at
a secondary school in Gwanda, Matabeleland South, recently and dismissed the
headmaster for the school's poor "O"(Ordinary) Level  results.

      The Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social
Welfare, Abedinigo Ncube (pictured), last Friday allegedly blamed Ntepe
Secondary School headmaster, Litsietsi Mangazha, for the poor pass rate and
accused him of being a member of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC).

      Ncube, who is also the Gwanda South MP, allegedly convened a
meeting at the school to address the issue of poor examination results.

      Sources said Ncube dressed down the headmaster who did not
attend the meeting due to bereavement in the family. The headmaster was
accused of failing to effectively run the school, giving rise to poor

       A reliable source said: "The minister was livid about poor
results and accused Mangazha of the poor pass rate at the school. He phoned
an education officer only identified as Jamela informing him that Mangazha
should go because of the poor pass rate."
      The source said Ncube and ruling Zanu PF supporters were also
allegedly chanting party slogans while denouncing the headmaster and the
opposition MDC.

      "Ncube told villagers that Mangazha was related to a retired
former top education officer who was a well-known MDC supporter. He then
told the gathering after talking to Jamela that he had sacked the headmaster
and replaced him with one of the teachers, Mandla Mnkandla," said another
source who attended the meeting.

      Sources also alleged that two well-known ruling party zealots,
Pius Maphosa and Never Ncube, also allegedly ordered all teachers to leave
the school.

      Ncube could neither confirm nor deny the allegations when
contacted for comment.

       "What about the meeting? Ulamawala (You are too forward).Why are
you contacting me if you know what you want to write? You want to make a
fool out of me? Uyisiwula (You are an idiot).

      "Just write, don't phone me next time. You are fond of writing
lies . The lies will one day run out. You are wasting my time, you do not
even ask what I am doing, you just ask questions. I am in a meeting," fumed
Ncube before switching off his mobile phone.

      Last week, sources said the School Development Committee (SDC),
education officers and school authorities held numerous meetings to find a
way forward after Mangazha reported for duty on Tuesday.

      However, he reportedly suffered a mild high blood pressure
attack and went home. He could not be contacted for comment.

      Regional education officers refused to comment on the issue and
referred The Standard to the Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere and his
Permanent Secretary Stephen Mahere, who could not be reached.

      Raymond Majongwe, the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe
(PTUZ) secretary general, confirmed receiving reports that a school
headmaster was told to leave Ntepe Secondary School.

      He said: "We have received numerous reports about Ncube who is
allegedly threatening many teachers in that region. You cannot personalise
failure within rural schools as conditions at the schools are unacceptable."

      Teachers are employed by the government through the Public
Service Commission, which is the authority with powers to hire or dismiss

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ZESN calls for review of 17th Amendment

Zim Standard

       BY our staff

      THE Constitutional Amendment Number 17 disenfranchised thousands
of voters because of presumed foreign citizenship and the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network (ZESN) says there is need for an urgent review.

      The amendment was pushed through Parliament last year as
government sought to re-establish the Senate. The Upper House has
accommodated many Zanu PF heavyweights who had fallen by the wayside over
the years.

      In a report on the Budiriro Parliamentary by-election, ZESN said
the controversial amendment had made it impossible for thousands of people
to exercise their right to vote.

       ZESN said: "The relevant authorities should review provisions of
the Constitutional Amendment (No 17) which have suddenly disenfranchised
thousands of Zimbabweans for their presumed foreign citizenship. Considering
that these people are contributing to the economic well being of the nation,
it is only proper and fair that they be allowed to vote."

       The amendment also outlawed prospective voters from using their
drivers' licences as a form of identification during polling.

        "However, the manner in which ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission) changed the identity requirements without amending the Electoral
Act, and subsequently informing the people prejudiced the electorate," ZESN

      It is not possible to determine the citizenship of a voter from
a driver's licence.

      The group also blasted ZEC for failing to adequately offer voter
education ahead of the Budiriro by-election, which was characterised by low
voter turnout.

      At Budiriro Clinic alone, ZESN said, at least 96 voters were
turned away because they had drivers' licences as proof of identification.

       "This clearly showed that there was inadequate voter
information and education in the constituency, prior to the Parliamentary
by-election. ZEC failed to clearly advise the electorate of this change,"
ZESN said.

      Out of 45 000 registered voters in Budiriro constituency, only
12 480 people cast their ballots. "ZESN proposes that a continuous and
intensive voter education exercise be carried out in Zimbabwe by ZEC, both
civic and political organisations in preparation for all future elections,"
said Zesn in the report released last week.

      Anti-Senate Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction's
candidate Emmanuel Chisvuure won the election.

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Impoverished urban workers struggle to survive

Zim Standard


      EVERY working day Letwine Moyana, a private secretary with a
Harare firm, carries a small satchel to work.

      In the satchel, Moyo carries neither books  nor work files, but
an assortment of commodities that she sells to fellow workers to supplement
her monthly earnings.

      "I sell anything that comes my way. But today I have brought
sandwiches because they sell faster. At times, I bring fruits and
vegetables," she said.

      Moyana is one of the thousands of poverty-stricken Zimbabwean
workers who have turned into petty trading to supplement their earnings in
an effort to make ends meet.

      "If I don't sell these commodities, I will not be able to
survive because my salary is not enough to pay my rent, buy food and travel
to work for the whole month," said Moyana, who stays in Harare's Mufakose
high-density suburb.

      The ever-rising cost of basic necessities such as food,
transport, education, health fees and accommodation, has condemned more than
75% of the country's workers to living below the Poverty Datum Line (PDL).
The increases are against a background of stagnant salaries and wages for
most of the workers.

      Many workers can no longer afford to give their families three
square meals a day. Others workers walk or cycle to work for distances of
over 10 kilometres because they cannot afford the transport costs.

      Another worker, Tendai Hungwe, a father of six and a worker at
an engineering firm said fending for his family had become an uphill battle.

      "At times, my children go to school after eating porridge
without sugar because I can no longer afford it. Buying bread is now a
luxury," he said.

      The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the country's
largest labour representative body, says more than 75% of the workforce is
living below the PDL.

      ZCTU acting secretary general, Japhet Moyo, said the
organisation was concerned with the impoverishment of workers.

      "That is why we insisted at the TNF (Tripartite Negotiating
Forum) meeting that wages should be linked to the Poverty Datum Line.
      According to our calculations the PDL is around $42 million,"
Moyo said.

      Figures released by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) last
week indicated that a family of six now requires $52,4 million a month to
live a normal life. However, the figure is nearly four times above wages of
ordinary workers, which averages at $15 million a month.

      Municipal Development Partnership (MDP) programme officer,
Takawira Mubvami, estimated that urban poverty levels have increased from
50% in 1995 to between 75 and 80% at the moment.

      Mubvami said rising inflation, which has pushed up the prices of
basic commodities, has worsened the plight of the ordinary urban worker
whose wages are reviewed once or twice a year.

      He said because of increasing poverty, workers in urban areas
are now involved in petty trading at their workplaces selling basic
commodities such as sugar, cooking oil and soap.

      With inflation rising everyday while workers wages remain
stagnant, more people are becoming poorer by the day. This can be evidenced
by the noticeable increase in the number of workers involved in petty
trading and moonlighting, Mubvami said.

      The country's economy has imploded, with acute shortages of
fuel, food and electricity, a dearth of foreign currency, and the world's
highest rate of inflation at 1, 193% and rising.

      A United Nations committee last week recommended that Zimbabwe
be "downgraded" to the status of least developed country, the poorest of the
world's poor. However, the government has rejected the recommendation.

      Moyo said the ZCTU would soon stage crippling demonstrations to
force government and employers to pay workers salaries above the PDL.

      "Currently, we are making consultations within our structures as
to when to embark on the demonstrations. We cannot have workers who live
like destitutes," Moyo said.

      Perhaps, if the ZCTU succeeds in pushing government and
employers to pay above PDL wages, Moyana will stop "workplace vending" to
supplement her income.

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Prison farms underutilised

Zim Standard


      MOST prison farms in Zimbabwe are severely underutilised despite
pervasive food shortages in the country's overcrowded jails, a report by the
Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs reveals.

      The committee noted that malnourished prisoners are sometimes
fed porridge without sugar in the morning, and sadza and vegetables for
lunch and supper.

       "As a result of the unbalanced diet fed to prisoners," the
committee noted," many were suffering from pellagra, a skin disease caused
by malnutrition. Even the vegetables they feed on every day are not adequate
because most of the prison gardens can no longer flourish due to excessive

      It recommended that prisoners be fed foodstuffs such as beans,
peanut butter, milk, fruit cooking oil and meat to avoid
malnutrition-related diseases.

      While prisoners were starving, the committee noted, prison
farms, which could produce food for them, remained underutilised.

      According to the committee's report Hwahwa Prison Farm in the
Midlands has the potential to feed its inmates and those at Connemara Prison
have surplus produce for sale.

      The report added that Mutimurefu Prison Farm had a potential for
more agricultural activities.

      Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison Farm in Harare, which has been
producing food for the prisoners, is also severely underutilised. It has
been without tractors and lorries for various farm activities such as land
preparation and ferrying farm inputs.

       "The committee recommends the crop farming in prison farms
should not be rain-fed only but that all irrigation schemes at prison farms
are resuscitated to enable all year round farming," the report said.

      The report come at a time when there are reports that senior
Zanu PF politicians, army, police and prison bosses are using cheap prison
labour on their farms, some of which were grabbed during the chaotic land
reform programme.

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Furore over Mutare polls

Zim Standard


      MUTARE - Ruling Zanu PF party officials in Manicaland are
pushing for the postponement of a crucial mayoral poll fearing a landslide
victory of the opposition.

      The MDC enjoys massive support in Mutare and other major urban
centres in the country.

      Ignatious Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works
and Urban Development, announced last Friday at a meeting held in the city
that elections to choose an executive mayor and councillors will be held on
19 August, much to the chagrin of Zanu PF officials in Manicaland who fear
the MDC will have a field day at the poll.

       Immediately after Chombo's announcement, Zanu PF officials in
the province vowed to lobby their party's national leadership, including
President Mugabe, to ensure the poll is postponed.

      Mutare is being run by commissioners who were appointed by
Chombo after he unceremoniously fired the MDC-led council, accusing them of
"maladministration and corruption". They deny the allegations as politically

      The appointment of the commissioners, all Zanu PF activists,
sparked controversy in the city resulting in a public showdown between
Chombo and Tinaye Chigudu, the Governor for Manicaland, which almost
paralysed operations at civic centre.

      Chombo fired commissioners he had earlier appointed and replaced
them with a new group - angering Chigudu who felt such a move was
unwarranted and not based on consultations with the ruling party's
provincial leadership.

      But Chombo remained adamant saying it was his prerogative to
appoint and fire commissioners when he deemed it necessary, as provided for
under the Urban Councils' Act.

      This led to Chigudu seeking an audience with President Mugabe.

      Zanu PF sources said Chombo could have called for an early
election in the city to frustrate Chigudu, since it is clear the MDC will
retake control of the city.

      Chigudu is also the Zanu PF provincial chairman for Manicaland.
There are manoeuvres to unseat Chigudu if the ruling party loses at the
local government poll in August. A defeat at the polls could justify his
dismissal, Zanu PF insiders told The Standard.

      The insiders said this was the reason why Chigudu and his Zanu
PF provincial executive members were eager to have the election postponed.

      "It's suicidal for us to go to the polls in Mutare against the
MDC,"said a senior ruling party provincial executive member. "We have no
choice but to lobby the national leadership to postpone this poll because it's
like just handing over control of the city to the opposition. We will be in

      Pressed by journalists to respond to allegations that the motive
of calling an early election in the city was to frustrate Chigudu, Chombo
was evasive saying he had done so in the spirit of observing democratic

      The MDC has already indicated its desire to contest the local
government poll expressing confidence it will wrestle control of the civic
centre. However, most councillors from the previous council, which was fired
by government said they were no longer interested in seeking re-election and
will rather pave the way for other MDC members to contest.

      Edwin Maupa, former councillor for ward 11 said: "I am no longer

       David Panganayi, former councillor for ward 10 said: "I will
leave others to contest because I do not want to be frustrated again. As
long as Mugabe is in power the government will meddle in the operations of
the council. These people are very undemocratic."

      Unlike in other provinces, the splinter faction of the MDC led
by Professor Arthur Mutambara does not exist, leaving the Morgan Tsvangirai
group the only dominant opposition force. There was no immediate comment
from the ruling party provincial spokesman Kenneth Saruchera.

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Standard launches award for distinguished Zimbabweans

Zim Standard

      ZIMBABWE has many unsung heroes and heroines. The Standard, the
country's leading private Sunday newspaper, is launching an award to honour
many Zimbabweans, who through their strength and courage have made a
difference to communities in this country.

       Two people, among many others, immediately come to mind: the
late Jairos Jiri, and Sithembiso Nyoni.

      Jiri's case was an extraordinary one in that it required
compassion, faith, courage and perseverance. In the 1950s he identified that
there was greater need among the country's disabled to be educated and
trained in order for them to become respected and independent members of

      To this end Jiri took under his care the first group of disabled
persons thus establishing the foundation for the Jairos Jiri Association,
whose dedication and commitment was to nurture and empower disabled

      By the time Jiri died on 12 November 1982, the organisation had
16 centres countrywide where more than 1 500 people with various
disabilities received treatment, care and education. As many as 10 000 other
people were being served through an outreach programme, while another 13 000
people with disabilities were being served annually through a
community-based programme.

      In 1980 Nyoni and others started the Organisation of Rural
Association for Progress (ORAP) whose main thrust was to empower rural
communities to identify their own needs and possible solutions. Orap's major
area of focus was in Matabeleland and the Midlands provinces. As
co-ordinator of Orap, Nyoni received numerous international awards in
recognition of her revolutionary approach to empowering rural communities.

      The Standard is inviting readers throughout the country with
effect from this month to suggest people (accompanied by a brief resume)
they believe are the unsung Community / Nation Builders. These can be sent
to: or The Editor, PO Box BE1165, Belvedere,
Harare or Fax The Editor on 04 773854.  They should be marked "Nation

      At the end of June and each subsequent month thereafter, a panel
will review the submissions and decide who the Community/Nation Builder is.
The people selected will be judged at the end of the year to determine the
winner of the Nation Builder of the Year.

      At the end of January 2007 The Standard will host a gala evening
during which the Community/Nation Builder of the Year will be announced.

      Davison Maruziva, the Editor of The Standard, in announcing the
award said: "We are delighted to make this contribution in recognition of
men and women whose vision, strength and courage have made a lasting impact
on the lives of communities in our country. It is important that we set
aside occasions to celebrate these courageous men and women and their

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Shocking incompetence among Aids workers

Zim Standard


      CHINHOYI - While a lot of people living with HIV/AIDS, orphans
and vulnerable children (OVC's) die while waiting for the much needed
treatment or replenishment of home-based kits Mashonaland West Districts
Aids Committees (DAC) are failing to make full use of funds allocated to

      Michael Mafuso, the National Aids Council (NAC) provincial
co-ordinator made the disclosure during a delayed evaluation meeting held at
St Peter's Catholic Centre last week.

      After presentation of the financial report, it was noted that
most districts failed to exhaust all the funds - thanks to the DAC members'
incompetence. Delegates were shocked to learn that $6billion of the $14.9b
allocated to the province was not used.

      The figure represents only 57% absorption.
      Mafuso also criticised the Ministry of Health officials whom he
accused of failing to implement the planned activities.

      He said the Ministry as the main stakeholder in the
implementation exercise was not doing enough at ward, district and
provincial levels. They were only heard at national meetings.

      He also questioned what the money allocated to them was being
used for as not much was evident, providing proof of what the money was
being used for.

      Mafuso said Zimbabwe receives US $250 000 worth of drugs (ARV)
from UNICEF each month and thanked the Global Fund that is providing help to
three districts - Kariba, Zvimba and Nyaminyami - in the province. They also
provided two vehicles.

      Gertrude Usavihwevhu an HIV/ AIDS positive activist, speaking at
the meeting blasted policy makers for sidelining them during policy
formulation and implementation. She said as much as Zunde Ramambo is a noble
idea it has many loopholes.

      She suggested that the inputs be given to village heads who know
people living in their villages better.

      Delegates at the meeting strongly criticised the
government-initiated Zunde Ramambo concept. Under the programme NAC no
longer distributes food packs to people living with AIDS, orphans, and other
vulnerable groups such as disabled and children in rural areas. Chiefs now
receive farming inputs for use by the needy and vulnerable groups in their

      But most people thought it was an old Zanu PF government gimmick
of trying to feed its own supporters through purported national projects.
During last planting season 24 chiefs planted 32,2 ha (22.4 ha maize 6 ha
Sorghum and 4 ha sugar beans) under the programme, where each chief was
allocated $20.8 m for inputs.

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RBZ mulls special FCA scheme for tobacco

Zim Standard

      By Our Staff

      THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has announced that it will
introduce the Foreign Currency Accounts scheme for tobacco farmers a move
that they may come a little too late for an industry already battered by
viability challenges.

      The scheme will be the first of its kind for an industry, which
says past experience has taught them cynicism.

      RBZ Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, told farmers that the introduction
of FCAs has been pegged for the 2006/7 season.

      "We will in the next season reinstate the FCA scheme. I am not
at liberty to say at what proportion it will be done. All I can say is it
will be sufficient to be able to cushion yourselves from the vagaries of
distortions. Custody of funds will be left to bankers who will look after
FCAs for growers," Gono told farmers at an AGM held by the Zimbabwe Tobacco
Association last week.

      His announcement could as well have been inaudible to farmers
who were crying foul over the operational environment, which they said, had
wrestled control of the industry from market forces to a government that
ignores their success factors.

      Outgoing ZTA president, James de la Fargue said their "cynicism
was backed by raw experience" and added that the future of the industry can
only be guaranteed by tackling grower issues linked to confidence-building
and land ownership.

      "The process - our destiny .is now in the hands of the
authorities, initially the Ministry of Agriculture, then the RBZ, now NERC
and taskforces. Our influence over decisions that affect our future is
limited and while it stays like that, any growth will be hampered. We cannot
talk about crop size unless we tackle grower issues," De la Fargue said.

      He said the exchange rate differentials coupled with subsidies
were creating an undesirable dependence syndrome among farmers who still had
to contend with a mismatch between production costs and revenue.

      "Growers have become debt junkies - the tough weaning off
process lies ahead and quick changes in policy could make this adjustment
brutal. With input pricing at rates now over of 300 000: 1, the tobacco
framework is starting to show the same cracks as its predecessor last year.
If this goes unchecked, the downward trend in production will continue. Any
viability gap through exchange rate differential will need to be filled by
ASPEF - this only perpetuates the dependency syndrome," said the outgoing

      ASPEF is the Agriculture Sector Productivity Enhancement
Facility introduced to enable farmers to access concessionary funding at
rates of 20 %.

      Production declined to 50 million kg this season from the
previous season's 73 million kg and so far 16.7 million kg have been sold.
Prices peaked to US$1,85 compared last season's peak of US$1,21. However,
the high prices have not given farmers any reason to smile with some
predicting worse to come.

      A farmer, who declined identification said: "I started farming
60 years ago and I have never been as worried as I am now. I am not a
cry-baby but I am in a worse off position now. Times are changing so fast
and with inflation going mad production costs for the next season will be so
horrendous. Our worry is: Is there enough funding for ASPEF and will it be
timeous? Banks are charging 700 % interest and if nothing is done by this
time next year we will be holding a wake for the industry."

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NSSA announces revised pension increase

Zim Standard

       By Our Staff

      THE National Social Security Authority announced an increase in
its pensions last week, and says it is looking for alternative funding to
finance the increase.

      The announcement coincided with the release of its 2004 annual
report which the company said showed earnings above expectation. NSSA board
chairman, Edwin Manikai, said at a press briefing that his organisation was
reviewing pensions by an average of 500 % with effect from next month.

       Accordingly, NSSA will be paying $2,2 million for survivors and
invalidity pensions, up from $110 880, $5 million for retirement pensions up
from $252 000 and a funeral grant of $25 million from $2,5 million. The
increases however are still below the poverty datum line of $50 million

       Manikai said the pension increases necessitate a corresponding
review of the insurable earnings ceiling from $5 million to $50 million to
enable NSSA to raise funding to pay beneficiaries.

      "The actuarial recommended these adjustments and they have now
been made into law and will come into effect on 1 July," Manikai said.

      Net current assets stood at $206,5 billion but only generated
cash amounting to $67,5 billion in 2004. Manikai however said the
performance was "above inflation and its peers".

      He said his organisation will be "going all out" on
infrastructural development to boost the performance of the fund with
housing projects in five cities that include Marondera, Harare, Bulawayo,
Mutare and Masvingo expected to be completed in the next three years.

      Various projects in commercial centres of Victoria Falls,
Chipinge, Kariba and Bindura are already underway with feasibility studies
conducted in Chipinge.

      $100 billion will also be distributed to small and medium
enterprises at interest rates averaging 30 to 60%, said the board chairman.

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Banks want their assets valued in US dollars

Zim Standard

      By Our Staff

      LOCAL banks are lobbying the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to have
their assets denominated in US dollar to preserve capital as the fever
reaches high pitch ahead of the 30 September deadline for new minimum
capital requirements.

       An official with the banking industry said proposals have been
made to the central bank although there were no guarantees that something
substantive would come out of the discussions.

      "RBZ is going to use a US dollar based criteria for minimum
capital for financial institutions in Zimbabwe where currently most of the
banks assets and liabilities are Zimbabwe dollar denominated, it would be
befitting to have US dollar denominated instruments to hedge or preserve
bank capital. Certain proposals have been discussed but these may or may not
result in anything substantive by September 2006," the official said.

      The capital requirements were a cause for concern for banks
earlier in the year with worries that some might not be able to meet the

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Call to halt coal imports

Zim Standard


      BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe should stop importing coal from neighbouring
countries in order to redirect meagre foreign currency earnings towards the
rehabilitation of Hwange Colliery Company and exploitation of coal reserves
in various parts of the country, say economists and industrialists.

      In wide-ranging interviews, they were of the view that companies
importing coal from South Africa and Botswana have been forced to do so as
the sole coal manufacturing company in Zimbabwe cannot meet their quality
and quantity demands.

      Economist John Robertson said although companies cannot be
blamed for importing coal, there was need for a long-term recapitalisation
plan for Hwange Colliery, currently operating at between 50 and 60% of its
capacity and investment in exploiting coal deposits in other parts of the

       "Hwange Colliery cannot meet the demands of the local market and
this has resulted in the draining of Zimbabwe's foreign currency inflows as
various companies are purchasing coal from neighbouring countries. As a long
term measure, the parastatal needs millions of dollars in foreign currency
to operate at full capacity,"Robertson said.

      He said this would not be achieved in the short term due to the
country's crippling foreign debt pegged at US$4 billion.

      "There is need to find ways of funding the Colliery in order for
the parastatal to earn foreign currency through exporting coal. The major
hurdle is that we cannot borrow money from international finance houses
because of our poor debt servicing record,"he said.

      Commentator, Eric Bloch, said the importation of coal from
neighbouring countries had a serious impact on Zimbabwe's foreign currency

      "We are using foreign currency we desperately need to import
coal. In fact, this should be channelled towards turning around the fortunes
of Hwange Colliery whose production levels have declined over the years due
to financial constraints," Bloch said.

      His sentiments were echoed by the chief executive officer of the
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), Cain Mpofu, who said the
recapitalisation of the Colliery should be done concurrently with the
re-orientation of the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ).

      He said although the two organisations, recipients of billions
of dollars under the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's Parastatals and Local
Authorities Re-orientation Programme (PLARP) anchored on the priorities set
out in the government's 2005/2006 macro-economic framework, were failing to
rescue the declining coal industry.

      "We should spend our foreign currency on purchasing drugs, fuel
and other essential commodities instead of buying coal when we have reserves
that can last hundreds of years. It is government's responsibility to pool
resources in order to rescue the coal industry," Mpofu said.

      Importers of coal from Botswana's Morupule Colliery Limited,
Palapye, have defended their position saying Hwange Colliery Company has
failed to meet their demands.

      The group chief executive officer of Zimbabwe Sugar Refineries
(ZSR), Patison Sithole, said his company was importing close to 3 000 tonnes
of coal due to inconsistent supplies from Hwange Colliery.

      "The problem is that the parastatal is inconsistent in terms of
supplying coal. Whenever they are not in a position to supply coal, we
resort to importing it from Botswana," he said.

       A spokesman for ZIMASCO, one of the largest importers of coal
with 5 000 tonnes sourced from Morupule a month, said Hwange Colliery was
failing to supply quality coal products to the company.

      The parastatal's Managing Director, Godfrey Dzinomwa, said the
company recently commissioned the 3-Main Underground Mine and Chaba Open
cast mine which may turnaround the operations of the organisation.

      Coal exports increased to 13 647 tonnes in May 2005 but went
down drastically to 2 300 tonnes last November owing to serious fuel and
foreign currency problems.

      Critics are concerned about the running of the Colliery, once
considered one of the top coal producers in Africa.

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Power utility generates more excuses than electricity

Zim Standard


      This country faced its worst period under international
sanctions during the 1970s but consumers were never subjected to
interruptions in energy supplies to the extent Zimbabweans are now.

      The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), it appears,
has become adept at generating more excuses than electricity. Now we are
being offered another song and dance about restructuring Zesa and yet
another Chinese "energy deal". We don't deserve this!

       Restructuring Zesa could be an insidious plot to pacify
consumers, frustrated by the incompetence at the power utility. Tragically
there appears a belief within Zesa that their mandate is to focus on
provision of electricity to new farmers for their winter wheat production.
Nothing could be further from the truth.  The power company's mandate is to
serve its subscribers without prejudice, not to engage in populist agendas.

      Zimbabwe's current power crisis was anticipated but of
significance to consumers, who have been reduced to reliance on candles and
paraffin, are the specific measures Zesa has taken to lessen the impact of
frequent power cuts.

      Instead of implementing specific measurable steps to bridge the
shortfall between demand and power generation, consumers are being fed a
diet of promises of a return to normality sometime in 2007. For a problem
that has been known for a long time such negligence is intolerable!

      What it simply demonstrates is the unsuitability of the people
at the power utility entrusted with spearheading developing electricity
generating strategies or alternatives.

      When it became apparent, as we are led to believe, that there
would be problems in meeting demand, Zesa should have engaged local experts
in power generation, industry and domestic consumers in exploring
alternatives. That no such process took place is worrying. Should such
people be entrusted to run the power utility a day longer?

      If ever evidence were needed of the incompetence that now
pervades ZESA it is in its failure to ensure that the three smaller thermal
power stations - Munyati among them - are operating to capacity at this
critical moment. They are currently out of commission.

      There are parallels between management at Zesa and the
commissioners who have successfully run down services in Harare.

      There is ample evidence why more heads should roll at ZESA
because their contribution makes a mockery of attempts at turning around the
fortunes of the economy.

      The changes that are taking place at Zesa are nothing more than
recycling the same characters. The result will be no real change. What
benefit is there in recycling the same characters responsible for our
present predicament? The suggestion that personnel within the power utility
will be vying for the top posts under the reconfigured Zesa is preposterous.
These people had their chance and all they have shown us is unparalleled

      In case the picture is not clear, the problem of lack of
external investment coming to Zimbabwe is linked to problems of electricity
supplies. In fact, domestic industries are very docile in the way they have
put up with the havoc that power cuts play because their losses in raw
materials and lost orders, especially exports are huge.

      The reason why the rot set in at Zesa is simply failure to
enforce accountability. And like our industrialists, we are at fault when we
unquestioningly swallow the string of excuses that mask the incompetence at
Zesa. The moment we learn to refuse to accept excuses and demand services
and value for money, many of the problems afflicting this country will begin
to disappear.

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Cultic devotion, tragedy of Zimbabwe

Zim Standard

      sundayopinion by Marko Phiri

       POST-INDEPENDENCE Zimbabwe - or more specifically post-2000
Zimbabwe - has inspired innumerable academic treatises and opinion pieces at
a level not seen even during the "white years".

      This could be because of developments like the birth of
cyberspace and other factors that are beyond the scope of this contribution.
Still, despite this proliferation, the country finds itself rapidly heading
for depths unknown.

       However, this deluge has been important in that it has helped
sit ourselves on the couch, and in Freudian fashion, pour out what we think
will be therapeutic and see the country back on its feet. But the getting
back has many steeples that go beyond the obvious where the rulers of the
land have ridden  roughshod over all things humane. Despite the innumerable
treatises running parallel with the economic gangrene, pointers to what has
engendered this are, however, not as innumerable.

      Since the year 2000 when the mayhem at the farms began, this
period marked the flooding of the public sphere with social, political and
economic commentary about where we are going as a nation. Naturally, amid
such analysis, not only is the genesis of those problems dissected, but
fundamentally solutions are proffered which are in good faith despite
divergent and sometimes violent perspectives. As we journey further into a
future unknown by nobody but the seers, clairvoyants and - for the
monotheists - the Creator God, what needs to be asked is the contribution of
the people themselves to the state of the nation.

      From civic society to religious leaders to people of various
opinions, they all collectively could be said to be in the fashion of Atlas
in Greek mythology, carrying the globe on their shoulders. Of course, the
argument would be that it is the oligarchs, the pseudo-democrats who have
Zimbabwe on their shoulders and this perhaps based on first, them occupying
the seat of power, and second having at their disposal state instruments
which are euphemistically said to keep the peace.

      Political affiliation sometimes tends to resemble cultic
devotion: though everybody else sees the self destruct button, the cult
members themselves wonder why everybody else is not joining in the fast
track, they believe leads them to heaven. But this loyalty occurs within
even the brightest minds in our midst thus it brings in other dimensions
about that fervency.

      The very fact that the oligarchs thrive on patronage has meant
loyalty is rewarded by largesse such that these cease to be matters of the
conscience, but rather matters of gluttony. Because the stomach of a good
man will not take in stolen food, a glutton will keep stuffing himself
though he knows he has had enough never, mind that his amoral stomach is
complaining. Therefore any nation which has leaders whose collective
conscience has been numbed naturally sees evil and celebrates it.

      While other pro-human rights and democracy activists have
forfeited their lives to the post-independence struggle, that
self-proclaimed stalwarts of the nationalist movement insist that their
latter-day struggle was born from meddling outside this country's frontiers
points to a crisis with many accessories. Thus the day of judgement will not
have the men and women who ruled the country with reckless abandon on the
dock, but also foot soldiers who are your next door neighbours. They smile
and wave, but they still insist Zimbabwe is not ready yet for a new
political dispensation, and to prove it, will set ruling party war dogs on
the same neighbour they will ask salt from! That is the tragedy of
Zimbabwean politics.

      Stories were told in Bulawayo during the 2000 legislative
elections about father and son running battles because the son had declared
his support for the opposition while the father threatened to disown the son
because the father was a ruling party faithful. Thus the analogy with cultic
devotion. The father still disregarded that the son was unemployed; that the
so-called basics were unaffordable given his miserable wages. These are the
people who gave the ruling party its bite and, by logical progression,
staying power. These are the same men and women who put on their Sunday best
and join you during the communion procession and sing holy hymns until their
throats croak.

      These are the same parishioners, as a story I witnessed a few
years ago in Bulawayo, who told ruling party activists their parish priest
was generously doling out food. "Where did he get it? Must be working in
cahoots with the opposition to demonise a democratically elected
government," was the thinking that informed the informants.

      This is the Zimbabwean tragedy not even the Greeks would have
imagined. Interestingly within the same vein of Greek reference, have
Zimbabweans taken the hardships like the Stoics? Time will tell.

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