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Tsvangirai pushes for fresh talks

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya

THE main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction
led by Morgan Tsvangirai has proposed fresh talks with the ruling Zanu PF as
the only way out of the current crisis ahead of the scheduled 2008
presidential election.

The Tsvangirai camp, locked in a war of attrition with a rival
group led by Arthur Mutambara for the heart and soul of the party, says
inter-party dialogue will help to clear adversities whittling away the
fabric of the nation.

In a confidential document, titled MDC proposals for the
resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis: Sign posts to peace, democracy,
legitimacy, reconstruction, and national healing, the MDC says talks are the
only way out of this predicament.

"The opposition and ordinary Zimbabweans suffer from incessant
political repression and the negative effects of a collapsed economy, which
cannot be reconstructed under the present political conditions," it says.

"Therefore, no possible relief is on offer. Only a negotiated
political settlement provides for a resolution of the crisis."

The MDC says there is now consensus at home and abroad that the
current situation was unsustainable and only dialogue would rescue the

In its document - also termed the Road Map - the MDC proposes
phased talks, starting with Zanu PF and then later other political parties
and civic groups.

"Our proposed road map entails the following:

Stage A: Negotiations and agreement between Zanu PF and MDC on
the framework.

Stage B: Negotiations between MDC and Zanu PF on a transitional

Stage C: Negotiations between civil society, Zanu PF, the MDC
and other political formations on the involvement of civic society in
various transitional bodies including the constitutional conference.

Stage D: The enactment by parliament of the constitutional
conference act and the necessary amendments to the Zimbabwean constitution
to cater for the transitional authority and cabinet and any other matters
incidental thereto."

The MDC says Stage E will deal with the drafting of the new
constitution by the constitutional conference, while Stage F would focus on
the holding of a referendum on the new constitution.

Stage G will concentrate on mechanisms for free and fair
elections "for all arms of government under international supervision in
terms of the new constitution.

"The two political parties should establish a legally recognised
bi-partisan negotiating team to meet as soon as possible to map the route
forward, discuss and agree on key issues to the process and draft the
constitutional reform agenda for the constitutional conference," the MDC

"The two parties in the bi-partisan negotiating team must agree
to: the composition, structure, terms of reference; and methods of work of
the constitutional conference. An Act of Parliament should establish the
constitutional conference."

It proposes an institutional framework comprising a standing
committee on political issues, the bi-partisan negotiating team, a
transitional executive council established by an act of parliament, national
implementation committee, a security monitoring task force, international
monitoring committee, independent electoral commission, and independent self
regulatory media commission to support the process.

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MDC mass action still going ahead

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye

The MDC is still pressing ahead with plans for popular protests
to force President Mugabe to the negotiating table to end the current
economic and political impasse, party leader Morgan Tsvangirai said

"The main sticking point in resolution rests with Mugabe's state
of denial that Zimbabwe is in a crisis," he said.
"The only way he can yield is to push him through public
expression of discontent pronounced through a comprehensive programme of
mass action."

A series of meetings to lobby diplomats in Harare by the MDC
before Tsvangirai's tour abroad earlier this month had given the impression
that the opposition party had put protests on the back burner.

Tsvangirai's spokesman, William Bango, yesterday said the party
was still on course with its plans to launch Ukraine-style protest and that
the road map crafted recently did not preclude the party from holding

Bango said the popular notion by the public that the MDC had
time-framed the protest for this winter was mistaken.

"Tsvangirai was speaking metaphorically. The media has created
wrong impressions that the party has abandoned its stated course of action,"
Bango said.

"Even the Zanu PF government itself has failed to grasp the
metaphor (and) they are in a perpetual state of panic and unsure when the
protests will be launched." Tsvangirai in March called on delegates to his
party congress to "heed the calls from your leadership for a sustained cold
season of peaceful democratic resistance".

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Mugabe's 'bridge-building' project collapses

Zim Independent

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's proposal to "build bridges" with
Britain and other Western countries to normalise relations damaged by a
stand-off over human rights abuses and repression all but collapsed this
week after fierce clashes between ministers and diplomats.

This came after United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan
confirmed last Friday - as reported in the Zimbabwe Independent on the same
day - that he would meet Mugabe on July 1 on the sidelines of the African
Union summit in Banjul, the Gambia.

Annan said it was important to tackle the Zimbabwean crisis to
avoid a "total collapse" of the country. Mugabe is also expected to meet
South African President Thabo Mbeki on the sidelines of the summit over the
deteriorating local situation.

The meetings could escalate already rising pressure on Mugabe to
resolve the situation or quit.

Sources said Western ambassadors left a meeting held on
Wednesday  "hugely disappointed" after clashes with top government

The special briefing was attended by Foreign Affairs minister
Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, his ministry's permanent secretary Joey Bimha, State
Security and Land Reform minister Didymus Mutasa, Agriculture minister
Joseph Made and Western ambassadors and UN representatives.

Sources who attended the briefing said the dramatic highlight of
the meeting - which burnt bridges instead of building them - was an
encounter between Mumbengegwi and Australian ambassador Jon Sheppard.

Sources said Sheppard and other diplomats were subjected to a
stinging 20-minute "rant and rave" outburst by Mumbengegwi which left
diplomats aghast.

"Sheppard asked Mutasa who was conducting the briefing at the
time if he could guarantee that all those affected by the land reform
programme would have equal rights under the law," a source said.

"Mutasa gave a brief answer, but Mumbengegwi then picked up from
where his colleague had left off to launch a tirade against the

Sources said Mumbengegwi - who apparently lived in Australia at
some point - angrily asked how Sheppard could dare ask such a question when
he hailed from "one of the most racist countries in the world". Mugabe has
also described Australia as a racist country.

"The minister was very angry and he attacked the Australians at
length," another source said. "Diplomats were astonished by the reaction."

Sheppard said yesterday Mumbengegwi's comments were "unexpected".

"The minister's comments were unexpected because we were under
the impression that the meeting was designed to promote dialogue," he said.

"In contrast to the situation here Australia's political and
legal framework guarantees all Australians, including indigenous
Australians, equal rights and the free exercise of their human rights."

After the meeting, diplomats who spoke to the Zimbabwe
Independent said they had been left "shell-shocked" by Mumbengegwi's

"The meeting only achieved one thing: it ensured Mugabe's
building-of-bridges project collapsed, at least for now," a source said. -
Staff Writer.

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Govt rapped for making citizens prone to trafficking

Zim Independent

Tendai Mukandi/ Itai Mushekwe

THE United States has castigated government for making its own
people vulnerable to human trafficking through its globally condemned
Operation Murambatsvina, a State Department 2006 Trafficking in Persons
Report reveals.

Zimbabwe was last year classified under Tier 2, a watch list of
countries "assessed as not fully complying with the minimum standards".
According to the latest report released on June 5 by Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, Zimbabwe has since dipped into the lowest classification
of countries said to have an appalling human trafficking record in Tier 3
alongside Sudan.

"Zimbabwe showed little political will to address its
trafficking problem during the past year," the report says. "Zimbabwean
children are trafficked internally for forced agricultural labour, domestic
servitude and sexual exploitation. Trafficked women and girls are lured out
of the country by false job or scholarship promises."

The report cites government's urban slum clearance blitz, which
left more than 700 000 people homeless, as having exposed children to human
trafficking vulnerability.

"Government placed many of its citizens at increased risk for
exploitation as a result of Operation Murambatsvina. Tens of thousands of
people remain homeless in the wake of the operation, which demolished
ostensibly illegal homes and businesses. An estimated 223 000 children were
affected and left vulnerable to trafficking."

Trafficking in human beings is the criminal commercial trade in
human beings, who are subjected to involuntary acts such as begging, sexual
exploitation or unfree labour. It also involves a process of using physical
force, fraud, deception, or other forms or cohesion and intimidation to
obtain, recruit, harbour and transport

The United States annual Department of State Trafficking in
Persons Report is a comprehensive report covering 158 countries analysing
their efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons or modern-day
slavery. Governments that meet the standards for elimination of trafficking
established in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 are placed in
Tier 1. Countries assessed as not fully complying with the minimum standards
but making significant efforts to do so are classified as Tier 2.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Harare this week unveiled a US$18
000 grant to the Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe to help with its
Anti-Trafficking in Persons Awareness Campaign.

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A2 farmers to pay backdated rents, levies

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

GOVERNMENT will soon unveil three land tenure systems under
which A2 farmers will now be charged rentals for land they lease from
government backdated from the day they moved onto their properties.

Currently A2 farmers have resisted paying rentals to councils
which have no mechanisms of enforcement. In addition to paying rentals the
farmers would be required to pay all levies, fees and charges as may be
determined by the local authority.

Through this arrangement government hopes to force the new
farmers to pay the requisite land taxes, the main revenue source for rural
district councils.

"The lessee shall pay rental for the period between the date of
first occupation and the date when this lease comes to force," the lease
document says. "This amount shall be paid within three months of signing
this lease."

The rentals would be determined by the area and situation of the
farm, plus the existing infrastructure at the time of occupation and
agricultural activities undertaken at the property.

"An annual rental shall be payable on or before the 1st January
of each and every year during the currency of this lease. The rental may be
reviewed and increased annually by the lessor by such reasonable amount as
the lessor may determine," the document says.

Officials in the Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement ministry
said by August resettled farmers will start to sign tenure of security
documents in tandem with the farm they occupied. The tenure documents would
be in form of 99-year leases for A2 farms, 25-year contracts for safaris and
conservancies and permits for A1 farms.

"All land classified as A1 Model scheme would be governed by
permits," an official said. "The permits would operate along the same lines
as the communal area type of customary tenure."

The official said all conservancies, trophy hunting safaris, and
game reserves would be governed by statutory tenure in the form of 25-year

"A contractual licence would be issued by the state under the
provisions of some enabling regulations," the official said.

He said all land classified under A2 or large scale commercial
would be governed by a 99-year lease.

New land beneficiaries will also go through a rigorous vetting
exercise and be required to produce a convincing five-year development plan
and a production plan for a similar period before they could sign the lease
agreement. The new requirements could see a number of non-performing land
grabbers failing to meet set criteria, ultimately forcing them off the land.

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Bredenkamp not yet charged

Zim Independent

A FORTNIGHT after the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate
(Neci) raided controversial business tycoon John Bredenkamp for alleged
economic crimes, the government has not formally charged him with any crime.

Neci, which is part of the Central Intelligence Organisation,
raided Bredenkamp's local companies two weeks ago to investigate cases
linked to economic crimes. He was also being probed on allegations of
flouting exchange control regulations, tax evasion and contravening the
Citizenship Act.

The raid coincided with a trip out of the country by the
businessman. The state media reported that he had fled the country while his
office in Harare said he had left for a routine medical trip to the United

A Breco Holdings spokesman said they had not received any
statement from the authorities. "We are waiting for the outcome of the
investigation before we can give a definitive reaction," the spokesman said.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said it was not the police
that was dealing with the matter. "We haven't dealt with that case,"
Bvudzijena said.

Bredenkamp, who was a sanctions-buster and gun-runner for the
former Rhodesian leader Ian Smith, switched allegiance to become one of
President Robert Mugabe's most influential business associates until the
outbreak of the DRC war in 1998. He is often named as one of Britain's 33rd
richest men, with a fortune estimated at between £400 million and £700
million. - Staff Writer.

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Shop licence fees up 3 000%

Zim Independent

Reagan Mashavave

THE Harare commission has increased shop licence fees twice this
year by more than 3 000%, a move that has shocked shop owners and could
result in some firms failing to pay up, the Independent can reveal.

A letter in possession of the Independent shows that shop owners
received notification of increases in shop licences in April 2006, followed
by another increase at the beginning of this month.

Bakery owners are set to pay $86 250 000 per annum for a baker's
licence, up from $2 850 000; supermarket owners will pay $37,5 million,
while the licence fee for bottle stores and butcheries is pegged at

A baker's licence that had been increased to $57,5 million in
April was further increased to $86 250 000 within a space of less than two

An official at the Rowan Martin building where council receives
licence fees confirmed the new shop licence fees saying they were in line
with the prevailing inflation rates in the country. Robert Whyte, a
businessman who runs a bakery, says the new licence charges were illegal and
not justified.

"The new licence fees are illegal, immoral and not justified. I
mean its ridiculous, especially when our businesses are not operating at
full capacity due to persistent power cuts and low flour deliveries and that
we are being forced not to increase the price of bread when we are incurring
huge operating costs", said Whyte.

Businesses are currently struggling to break even as the
macro-economic environment continues to deteriorate.

Meanwhile, government is forcing bakeries to sell bread at $85
000 while bakers are demanding that they sell bread for at least $130 000.

A number of shop owners have been fined by the police for
increasing the price of bread resulting in some bakers boycotting bread

A survey around the city showed that supermarkets were not
selling bread but were putting flour products like buns, scones and
doughnuts on their shelves.

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Commission recommends sack for Leslie Gwindi

Zim Independent

Clemence Manyukwe

THE Commission running the affairs of Harare has recommended
sacking suspended Director of Waste Management Leslie Gwindi for
insubordination and absenteeism.

The decision, reached a fortnight ago, reverses an earlier
resolution by the commission's executive committee calling for his

The Commission's resolution is in line with the recommendation
by a three-member independent panel chaired by Harare lawyer James Mutizwa
that the director be axed.

Other panelists were Davison Kanoyangwa, also a lawyer, and
Zimbabwe Cricket boss Peter Chingoka.

On Wednesday Mutizwa confirmed that he had chaired the panel but
could not comment further.

However, the commission's resolution reads: "It is hereby
resolved that Mr Gwindi be dismissed and the matter be referred back to the
local board."

Gwindi ran into problems earlier this year for dereliction of
duty after being promoted from the position of spokesperson.

During the tenure of fired Harare MDC mayor Elias Mudzuri,
Gwindi was also fired only to be reinstated by Local Government minister,
Ignatius Chombo.

Sources on Monday said members of the executive committee who
recommended that Gwindi be reinstated are still pushing to bring him back to
Town House saying it was a "directive from higher up" despite the fact that
he was found guilty.

Last week Chombo fired all technocrats on the Harare Commission
and retained Zanu PF members, Sekesai Makwavarara, politburo member Tendai
Savanhu, central committee member Prisca Mupfumira, and Justin Chivavaya who
was seconded to the commission by Harare metropolitan governor, David

The fired technocrats - lawyers Terrence Hussein and Viola Chasi
who is also CBZ bank company secretary, Professor Jameson Kurasha, and
engineer Noel Muzuva - were instrumental in reversing an earlier decision to
reinstate Gwindi. The same commissioners opposed Chombo's directive to sell
a city of Harare house to Makwavarara for a song.

The technocrats also openly spoke against suspension of senior
managers: Chamber secretary Josephine Ncube, Director of Housing and
Amenities Numero Mubaiwa, Works director Psychology Chiwanga and City
Treasurer Misheck Mubvumbi.

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Zim lags behind on Transfrontier National Park project

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye

THERE is little activity towards developing the Gonarezhou
National Park in the south-eastern Lowveld and insignificant progress to
merge it into the proposed Transfrontier National Park despite an allocation
of $100 billion for the purpose in this year's budget.

Huge financial benefits projected to cascade into the Zimbabwe
economy from the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 risk becoming a mere
splash on the panhandle unless government takes serious steps to put
together a refurbishment package for infrastructure, a parliamentary report

The report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on
Environment and Tourism paints a gloomy picture of the expected windfall,
and chalets and lodges supposed to have been built have not been
constructed. Electrification of one of the prime resort spots at Chipinda
Pools has not started although the Parks and Wildlife Authority has already
paid $10 billion to the Rural Electrification Authority.

More than $100 billion was set aside in this year's budget for
infrastructural development for the expected overflow of visitors to
Gonarezhou National Park.

A strategic bridge linking Zimbabwe and South Africa over the
Runde River that was washed away by Cyclone Eline six years ago has not been

"It is not clear whether the Ministry of Transport has set aside
funds for reconstruction of the bridge," the report says.

The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is a 30 000 square
kilometre game park which is in the process of being formed.

It is expected to link the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique,
Kruger National Park and the Mala Mala Reserve in South Africa, and Zimbabwe's

The park will encompass Manjinji Pan Sanctuary and Malipati
Safari Area in Zimbabwe, as well as the area between Kruger and Gonarezhou,
the Sengwe communal land in Zimbabwe and the Makuleke region in South

Fences between the parks have started to come down allowing the
animals to take up their old migratory routes that were blocked before due
to political boundaries.

"On the aspect of tourism, especially in view of the 2010 games
in South Africa, the development has been slow if any at all," the committee
said. "This was being noted by the absence of lodges (and) chalets for
tourists to camp. There are about 14 developed camps, 17 bush camps and
there has not been any significant development in the area," the committee

Parks director general Morrison Mtsambiwa told the Portfolio
Committee on Environment and Tourism that the biggest threat to the project
was rampant inflation that had whittled away the value of funds provided.

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I erred over Bubye -Midzi

Zim Independent

Mines and Minerals Development minister Amos Midzi has conceded
in court that he violated the law when he cancelled Bubye Minerals (Pvt) Ltd's
claim at River Ranch, a diamond mine located in Beitbridge.

High Court judge Lawrence Kamocha reserved judgment in the
matter on Tuesday in a matter in which Bubye Minerals is declaring the
cancellation null and void.

"I agree that in cancelling the concession I failed to comply
with the requirements of the Administrative Justice Act," Midzi said in his
opposing affidavit submitted to the court.

The minister and the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe
are the first and second respondents while the Masvingo mining commissioner
and River Ranch Ltd are third and fourth respondents respectively.

Bubye Minerals, the sole applicant, had argued that it had not
been presented with an opportunity to provide its views or objections prior
to the cancellation.

Midzi said in cancelling the special grant he intended to
correct a January 2005 error by the Mining Affairs Board that ceded the
special grant to Bubye Minerals.

He said River Ranch Ltd, the original holders of the grant, had
not applied for such a development as required.

In his submission to the court Bubye Minerals lawyer Terrence
Hussein said Midzi had accepted that his decision was wrong and therefore
until and unless the cancellation is done by the court the grant remains in
their hands.

But River Ranch lawyer and former director with the same
company, Adrian de Bourbon, said when the Mining Affairs Board had
transferred the grant to Bubye Minerals in January 2005 it had also violated
the Administrative Justice Act as his clients were not consulted.

He said because River Ranch had never ceded or transferred the
special grant it remains in its hands.

"The effect was the same. A decision was reached which was a
nullity, a series of illegalities which must be treated as nullities," de
Bourbon said. - Staff Writer.

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Makwavarara rewarded for doing business Zanu PF way

Zim Independent

Reagan Mashavave

A DANGEROUS trend of celebrating and rewarding ineptitude is
becoming entrenched in the "Zanu PF way" of doing things if recent events at
Town House can be cited as an example.

The predilection lends credence to the old nostrum of some
people having greatness thrust upon them while others desperately seek it.

Misuse public funds in Zanu PF's name and you are most likely to
profit from a fresh lease of life or promotion to higher office instead of

The Sekesai Makwavarara-led commission running the affairs of
Harare has become one such instance rewarded for not being adept in
management but going about business in the "Zanu PF way".

Her undemocratic tenure was extended for another six months for
the fourth time.

And celebrating bungling appears to be in vogue in Zimbabwe
unlike in a functioning democracy where prospects of admonition prevail for
similar misdeeds.

Giving Makwavarara an effective two years at the helm at Town
House has broken all records that Local Government minister, Ignatious
Chombo, has ever set in making sure that Harare ratepayers remain

Chombo's claims that he is satisfied by the performance of the
commission have baffled many. Political analyst and University of Zimbabwe
(UZ) lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, contested Chombo's claims.

Masunungure said he found no plausible reason other than
political expediency for Makwavarara's reappointment adding: "She is the
personification of incompetence."

"You have to scrape the bottom of a barrel to find evidence of
efficiency on the basis of which government would re-appoint Makwavarara and
her team. It is a grave mistake and shows government's arrogance,"
Masunungure said.

He said the decision by government shows its fear of the people's
power to elect representatives of their choice.

Whatever makes Makwavarara indispensable, no one knows for sure.
But one former Zanu PF legislator, Philip Chiyangwa, provided a good
indicator when he urged people who wanted to enrich themselves to join the
ruling party Zanu PF.

If there is anyone who is benefiting from Zanu PF's
condescending attitude towards ratepayers, Makwavarara tops the list.

Makwavarara, a political turncoat who was elected to the Town
House on an MDC ticket, elevated her status after a fall-out with MDC
leadership in 2004.

She heeded Chiyangwa's advice belatedly and joined Zanu PF as
she couldn't resist the lure of benefits that are associated with the ruling

Although residents have criticised government for not holding
elections in Harare since the dismissal of former executive mayor, Elias
Mudzuri in April 2004, the state appears unruffled. It has crinkled its nose
at such suggestions.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) appears to have washed
its hands of responsibility in the fiasco at the Town House as it has failed
to organise elections for the city by giving reasons that raise more
questions about the electoral body's independence.

ZEC spokesperson Utloile Silaigwana said his commission is yet
to set a date for elections in Harare as it is still consulting with
authorities where elections are due.

"Councils are the ones that fund elections and so we are still
consulting authorities. We don't know when we are going to finish the
consultations," Silaigwana said.

Makwavarara's recent re-appointment might result in the
government delaying council elections for Harare until 2008.

But Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), a civic rights
group, says it continues to call for residents to boycott paying rates until
the right to elect leaders of their choice is restored.

"We continue to call for people to boycott paying rates until
such a time when our rights are restored to us," CHRA chairman Mike Davies

The Zanu PF government delayed holding elections in Harare when
it fired Solomon Tawengwa in 1999, only to allow council elections to run
concurrently with presidential elections in 2002.

"A time shall come when we will reclaim our rights and CHRA will
call for a thorough audit of how money has been stolen," Davies said "Then
we can press for criminal charges to be levelled against Makwavarara and
commissioners who are complicit in an illegality."

Makwavarara has been in the news for all the wrong reasons ever
since she was appointed chairperson of the Commission.

When in 2004 her official car, a Mazda 626, was involved in an
accident with her relatives on board resulting in the car being a complete
write-off, council proceeded to buy her an all-terrain Toyota twin-cab.

As service delivery continues to deteriorate in the capital and
the city faces a myriad of problems that include erratic water supplies,
burst water and sewer pipes, poor road maintenance, uncollected refuse and
dysfunctional street and traffic lights, Makwavarara exhibited
headline-grabbing profligacy.

She brought pressure to bear on the local authority to buy
furniture and curtains for the mayoral mansion for a whopping cost of $35
billion - enough to purchase an upmarket residential property.

Her flair for extravagance outraged ratepayers who could
ill-afford such a luxury when service delivery is at rock-bottom.

Apparently, she cannot distinguish between being chairperson of
a commission and being mayor. To show her extravagant lifestyle, Makwavarara
acquired a satellite dish without going to tender at a cost of $104 million
and proceeded to spend over $175 million of ratepayers' money on groceries
at the commission's expense without approval.

Unsure of her future at the helm of the commission and bidding
to strip council assets bare, Makwavarara set her sights on buying an
upmarket house at a give-away price of $780 million with the tacit approval
from Chombo who approved the sale that could have prejudiced council of
billions of dollars. The house, which is in the Highlands/Chisipite area,
was estimated to cost $20 billion by independent evaluators.

Makwavarara will have to fork out $5,5 billion for an
undisclosed period after council revised the figure following a public

The Anti-Corruption Commission which three months ago expressed
an interest in the goings-on at Town House has not said a thing since,
raising questions about its effectiveness.

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Former Zimpapers employee awarded $10 billion

Zim Independent

AN industrial arbitrator appointed by the Labour and Social
Welfare ministry has ordered Zimpapers to pay former Sunday Mail acting news
editor Matthew Takaona more than $10 billion in damages for unlawfully
dismissing him in 2004 following an address to journalists of the banned
Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday.

In axing him, the newspaper group said Takaona, who made the
address in his capacity as president of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists
(ZUJ) had made utterances "whose contents were inconsistent with group
interests" that were however not defined.

Zimpapers has since appealed to the Labour Court against having
the award inflation-adjusted among other things.

The company said the award would have "the absurd effect of
having Mr Takaona as the only known worker over the past two years whose
earnings actually matched inflation".

In his application lodged with the arbitrator the ZUJ president
said his dismissal was irrational, baseless and vindictive as it was in
violation of the weekly paper's code of conduct and statutory instrument

The violations were evidenced by the fact that he was not
charged or tried but summarily dismissed, Takaona added.

On his address to Daily News reporters he said: "I have the duty
to express solidarity with all journalists in trouble and to guide, lead and
fight for their rights within the parameters of the law. I have done no
less, no more."

Although Takaona had sought an alternative of reinstatement,
Zimpapers was of the view that it was no longer a
viable option. - Staff Writer.

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Chinamasa censures NGOs

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

JUSTICE minister Patrick Chinamasa has censured non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) accusing them of being funded to destabilise
governments of Third World countries, especially those that dare take an
independent line in international affairs.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the UN Human Rights Council
in Geneva yesterday, Chinamasa said NGOs operating in the area of human
rights and governance issues in Zimbabwe are set up and financed by
developed countries as instruments of their foreign policy.

"Their objectives include destablisation and interference with
the evolution of our political process, undermining our sovereignty (and)
creating and sustaining local opposition groups that have no local support
base," Chinamasa said.

"They promote dissatisfaction and hostility among the local
population against their popularly elected government."

He said the NGOs were used invariably as conduits by developed
countries to channel dirty money to destabilise third world governments.

"Worse is the increasing trend worldwide whereby NGOs
clandestinely and non-transparently set up in our countries by developed
countries purport to speak on our behalf but instead of pronouncing and
advancing our interests they advance those of the people who set them up,"
he said.

Chinamasa said the new council should come up with a framework
that prohibits direct funding of local NGOs operating in the field of human
rights and governance issues by developed countries and their agencies.

"If any assistance is desired to be given, this should be
channeled through the UN system in a transparent and open manner," he said.

He made an undertaking that government's proposed Human Rights
Commission would "respect the human rights of all its people without regard
or distinction of any kind as provided for in the Charter of the UN and the
Zimbabwean constitution".

"In the past," Chinamasa said, "there has been a tendency to
falsely allege against targeted countries violations of human rights and to
use such fabrications as pretext for hegemonic control and interference in
the internal affairs of those countries. Notions of regime change should not
creep into any discourse on human rights."

Zimbabwe was a member of the now dissolved UN Commission for
Human Rights but did not stand for the new council, reportedly because it
feared examination of its record.

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RBZ beginsmoves to cancel Trust, Royal licences

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has initiated moves to cancel
the operating licences of Trust and Royal banks, a move critics said was
meant to pre-empt the two banks' fight against the amalgamation of their
assets into the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG).

Sources indicated that the central bank had written to the two
banks' curators informing them about its intention to close the two banks.

The RBZ is alleging that both Trust and Royal banks had ceased
to conduct the class of banking business for which they were registered and
that they both could no longer maintain assets which, together with other
financial resources available, are no longer sufficient to safeguard their

The two institutions can also no longer maintain the prescribed
amounts of capital reserves required for commercial banks, the RBZ said.

Trust and Royal banks, closed at the height of a banking sector
crisis in 2004, had their assets amalgamated into ZABG in what the Supreme
Court described as a "null and void" transaction with "no force or effect".

The Supreme Court had urged Trust and Royal banks to first
exhaust the domestic channels in the resolution of the dispute, resulting in
an appeal to the RBZ which set up an independent panel that upheld the
take-over of the two banks' assets by ZAGB.

Trust and Royal have appealed to the Minister of finance against
that decision.

Trust Holdings company secretary, Tererai Mafukidze, confirmed
the latest development but said the bank would fight the central bank's
planned closure of Trust Bank.

He said the move was a pre-emptive measure by the central bank
to nullify their appeal against the RBZ to the minister.

"They want to make the outcome of our appeal against the
take-over of our assets that we launched with the finance minister
academic," said Mafukidze. "But we will not allow such malicious actions to
take place. We are going to appeal."

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Troubled Falgold threatens closure

Zim Independent

Dumisani Ndlela

FALCON Gold Zimbabwe (Falgold), a subsidiary of the
Luxemburg-based Falcon Investments Holdings Societe Anonyme, has fallen on
hard times due to unfavourable gold prices and could issue a cautionary
giving notice of closure, businessdigest established this week.

The gold mining firm, which controls Venice and Dalny mines as
well as the Golden Quarry & Camperdown Tribute, has experienced acute
cash-flow problems, raising fears of possible closure in the absence of
remedial measures by the government and monetary authorities.

Sources indicated that Falgold's management had been frustrated
by government failure to address the company's concerns over insufficient
prices offered to gold producers despite numerous representations to
government and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) over the last 10 years.

The gold prices had curtailed any exploration and development
activities at Falgold's mines and the company's position had been directly
affected by the poor gold prices paid by the government over the past 10

The situation has become so dire that Falgold's finance
director, Garry Perotti, last month wrote to Fidelity Printers and Refiners,
an RBZ subsidiary exclusively responsible for the buying of gold in the
country, highlighting fears that Falgold could halt operations because of
uneconomic prices being offered for gold purchases by the RBZ.

Perotti's letter, dated May 18 and addressed to Fidelity's
managing director, Paul Musuka, was copied to RBZ governor Gideon Gono,
Mines minister Amos Midzi, Finance minister Herbert Murerwa and the Chamber
of Mines.

The letter, a copy of which was seen by businessdigest
yesterday, indicated that Falgold had suffered significantly due to a
"payment regime" discouraging exploration and development of gold mines.

"I do not mean to pressurise you, but unless the authorities
revise the gold price immediately, the company will have to place a
cautionary in the press and give notice of closure," Perotti said in the

Although the notice had been earmarked for publication at the
end of May, Falgold's management later moved it to the end of next month.

"It would be appreciated if you could inform the authorities of
the critical situation our company is in, and that should the company close,
the production of between 40 to 47 kgs of gold per month will come to an
end," said Perotti.

Perotti could not be contacted for comment yesterday as he was
reportedly out of office until next week, but Falgold's operations director,
Ian McPherson, confirmed the group was going through a very difficult period
and could issue a cautionary to shareholders soon.

"You could ask the managing director (David Beatte) about the
cautionary. I have not discussed it with him yet but it's something that we'll
have to issue according to stock exchange regulations," said McPherson.

Beatte was reportedly on a tour of mines when businessdigest
contacted his office yesterday.

Cash-flow lodgings for gold mines are 60% in Zimbabwe dollars
and 40% in US dollars.

Perotti said electricity outages had affected monthly production
by approximately 15% or seven kgs of gold amounting to $17,5 billion.

"The company increased production to 200 kgs of gold per month
in 1996. Since then, with the payment regime of government not allowing for
exploration and development expenditure, production has steadily declined to
the current level of below 50 kgs of gold per month," said Perotti.

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Zimbabwe bound to stay trapped in fuel price spiral

Zim Independent

Eric Chiriga

ZIMBABWE could be trapped in a fuel price spiral as neither an
improvement in the exchange rate nor a significant decline in international
crude oil price is anywhere near the horizon.

Analysts said movements in the oil price and exchange rate are
having a significant impact on the commodity's price in the country - and
the Zimbabwe dollar - the world's weakest and worst performing currency, was
adding its weight to the fuel price hikes.

Fuel is now only available on a quasi-official market and the
black market where private players import after having accessed foreign
currency on the parallel market.

This has had the effect of directly influencing the price of
fuel because of the sharp depreciation of the local unit on the parallel

An increase in the international oil price, now trading at an
average of US$70 per barrel, had increased the foreign currency requirement
for any fuel import orders.

International fuel prices had hovered around US$25 to US$30 per
barrel, but an invasion of Iraq two years ago and uncertainty over supplies
due to instability in the Middle East have pushed the oil prices to record

Fuel prices on the semi-official market, mainly consisting of
authorised dealers importing under the direct imports arrangement, have shot
up to between $450 000 and $500 000 per litre, from around $280 000 per
litre, within a space of less than a month.

The black market prices are around $500 000 and $650 000 per

On the official market, which is supplied by Noczim and
servicing mainly government and quasi-government institutions as well as
farmers, fuel is selling for around $48 000.

Evidently, this amounts to a very huge subsidy by the
government, already battling a huge budget deficit six months away from the
end of the current fiscal year.

The price of fuel on the semi-official market was at around $100
000 per litre early this year, then increased to between $280 000 and $300
000 per litre in April before briefly coming down to around $185 000 per

The price eventually shot to around $300 000 per litre before
settling at current levels.

While the fuel price has maintained an upward trend, the US
dollar rate on the parallel market steadily gained against the Zimbabwe

The US dollar is currently trading at around $400 000 on the
thriving parallel foreign currency market against an official market rate of
US$1:101 195.

Local companies and other importers are currently sourcing
foreign currency from the parallel market as the official market has failed
to attract meaningful receipts because of an unattractive rate.

David Mupamhadzi, group economist with the Zimbabwe Allied
Banking Group (ZABG), said the parallel market was having a significant
influence on the price of fuel.

"Zimbabwe is an importer of fuel and requires foreign currency
(for the imports)," said Mupamhadzi.

Mupamhadzi said any exchange rate movement on the parallel
market rate was directly affecting the cost of fuel imports and,
consequently, fuel prices in the country.

"Because of the shortage of foreign currency and the parallel
market being the major supplier, the behaviour of the rates on the market
also has a bearing on the pricing bahaviour," he said.

Besides the effects of the parallel market activities,
Mupamhadzi said the increase in the international oil price now has a
significant and direct impact on the local fuel price because of the lack of

"In the past, the increase in international oil prices did not
have a direct effect on fuel price because of subsidies and the absence of
private players," Mupamhadzi said.

"It was Noczim in the past," Mupamhadzi said, adding that there
are now numerous private players importing fuel but having accessed foreign
currency from the parallel market.

Mupamhadzi said there could be no stabilisation of fuel prices
in the near future as long as supplies remained constrained.

Supplies were unlikely to improve because of the unavailability
of foreign currency, he said.

"The major problem is the supply side. For price stability to be
achieved, there should be improvement on the supply side," he said.

Mupamhadzi said subsidised fuel could stabilise prices but only
if the system was implemented efficiently.

Subsidies actually resulted in Noczim, formerly the sole
procurer of fuel in the country, suffering a $1 trillion loss.

Farai Dyirakumunda, an analyst with Interfin, said there was a
direct relationship between local fuel prices and the international oil

"If crude oil prices increase, so should the price of the
refined product," said Dyirakumunda.

He added that the exchange rate had an effect on the fuel price,
and this had been worsened by the perpertually depreciating Zimbabwe dollar.

Dyirakumunda said fuel prices were unlikely to stabilise without
an improvement in the supply of foreign currency.

"Fuel supplies can only improve after addressing the foreign
currency crisis," he said.

A fortnight ago, government signed a US$50 million fuel deal
with BNP Paribas and mining concern Bindura Nickel Corporation, involving
mortgaging of minerals but there has been no improvement in supplies.

Certain sectors of government operations like the medical
fraternity which have been receiving subsidised fuel from Noczim have had
their supplies cut off or reduced, highlighting the depth of the crisis.

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US$33m tobacco sold at auction floors so far

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

ZIMBABWE has so far earned US$33,7 million ($3,4 trillion) from
18 million kg of tobacco that have gone under the hammer since the auction
floor opened on April 25, the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) said.

In its latest weekly update, TIMB said 18 073 776 kg of
flue-cured tobacco worth US$33 702 853 had been sold at the country's three
auction floors.

During the same period, farmers were paid $1,2 trillion under a
35% early delivery bonus put in place by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
to entice farmers to deliver their crops early.

This season's tobacco production declined from 73 million kg
recorded last year to 50 million kg due to late disbursement of funds,
rising production costs and excess rains.

The Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF) auction floors have so far handled
the largest volume of tobacco, with 4 265 377 kg being traded.

The Burley Marketing Zimbabwe (BMZ) auction floors have to date
handled 2 780 891 kg while the Zimbabwe Tobacco Auction Centre (Zitac)
handled the lowest volume of of 2 070 100 kg.

Zitac usually caters for large-scale tobacco farmers, while TSF
mainly accommodates smallholder farmers. BMZ attracts medium to large-scale
tobacco growers.

TIMB said crop deliveries to the auction floors last week
improved with farmers selling more than 6 million kg of tobacco.

Since the start of the tobacco selling season, auction floors
were averaging about 3 million kg a week.

A total of 8 936 368 kg of tobacco worth US$16 829 418 produced
under contract farming has gone under the hummer since the auction floors

During the same period last season, contract farming had fetched
a total of US$14 612 773 from 12 172 840 kg sold.

This season's earnings are 48% higher than earnings made during
the same period last season. This is largely a factor of inflation for the
Zimbabwe dollar component of the earnings.

Prices during the period under review have averaged US$1,98 a kg
compared to last season's average of US$1,61 The lowest price the crop has
fetched to date is US10c a kg.

Meanwhile, the TIMB has hinted that the 2006 tobacco selling
season could close earlier than usual due to a decline in crop output.

Traditionally, business started in March and usually closed at
the end of October.

This year's tobacco auction had started on a low note with
farmers unhappy with prices merchants were offering.

Although activity has improved, farmers are still advocating an
upward review of the buying price.

Industry players predict prices to average US$2 per kilogramme
this season, up from a seasonal average price of US$1,61 last year.

TIMB said in general there has been strong demand for lemon
tobacco compared to other forms of tobacco.

The highest price to date is US$2,99 for strip, A2E grade and
US$2,91 for bundle, L2L grade.

The prices have generally been firmer compared to last season
and gross earnings for the first fortnight of sales were US$1,9 million
compared to US$1,2 million for the same period in 2005.

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Price controls pose threat to Dairibord plans- CEO

Zim Independent

Eric Chiriga

GOVERNMENT-imposed price controls have posed serious threats to
the success of Dairibord Zimbabwe's plans to boost milk production and focus
on milk-based value-added products which increase margins.

This was said by Dairibord Holdings' chief executive officer,
Antony Mandiwanza, in an article published in the Zimbabwe Independent's
supplement on the company published last week.

Dairibord Holdings is a holding company for the dairy firm as
well as Dairibord Malawi and ME Charhons among others.

Dairibord Zimbabwe, which used to produce over 256 million
litres a year, had suffered a significant decline in volumes, producing 60
million litres last year.

Mandiwanza said although the government appeared to have
loosened its regime of price controls, the remaining measures still posed
significant challenges to the dairy firm.

"The company's strategy to focus on value-added products that
require less milk and are of higher margins should continue to benefit the
group's profitability," Mandiwanza said.

"However, the company will be faced with challenges of price
monitoring/controls on milk, though these seem to have been loosened," said

The government introduced price controls to cushion consumers
from high inflation on most basic goods including farming inputs like
fertiliser. Although government claims that the controls were phased out,
producers maintain that they are still in force.

Producers have blamed the controls for causing distortions on
the market and massive losses as the prices imposed are not enough to cover
production costs.

Mandiwanza said while the demand for raw milk was estimated at
an annual 120 million litres, only 60 million litres were being produced.

He revealed that Dairibord Zimbabwe, which used to be a monopoly
before privatisation, had apparently lost its market share.

Other players have since entered the dairy industry. Dairibord
Zimbabwe was once a major supplier of pasteurised milk to Tanzania and Kenya
where it sold 12 million litres per year, but the figures have since gone
down to 2,8 million litres.

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Bakers defiant on prices despite arrests

Zim Independent

ZIMBABWE bakers yesterday appeared defiant on recent bread price
increases despite a spate of arrests for overcharging, saying selling at the
official price would threaten the sector's 20 000 jobs.

President Robert Mugabe's government has said it plans to boost
wheat output this year to a record 500 000 tonnes amid fears of bread
shortages, the second staple food after maize.

The southern African country has experienced food shortages
since 2001, which Mugabe's government attributes to drought but which
critics blame on his policy of seizing white-owned land that has hit
commercial farming.

Police this week arrested more than 282 bakers and shop
assistants for selling bread above the gazetted price of $85 000. Bakers
charge between $130 000 and $160 000 for a standard loaf.

The government accused the bakers of profiteering, saying the
increases were unfair as the price of wheat has not changed despite
inflation well over 1 000%.

Wheat is a controlled commodity sold by the state Grain
Marketing Board. But bread producers say the price of flour has jumped 60%
in three months as millers imported additional wheat to meet demand. "It is
important for the consumers to understand that a loaf (of bread) is not
about flour," the National Bakers Association said in a statement, noting it
took some 22 ingredients to produce commercial bread.

Zimbabwe's economy has been in recession for eight years where
spending power in poor households has been falling in the face of rising
prices due to shortages in fuel, foreign currency and food.

Fuel prices doubled this week, forcing a hike in commuter
transport fares which analysts say would further fuel inflation, which hit 1
193 percent in May.

Most shops had no bread yesterday with bakers arguing they would
not produce at a loss.

"We are not producing bread at the moment until a number of
issues have been clarified," an official at a Harare bakery outlet told
Reuters. "But there is not doubt we are not going back to the old price,"
added the official. -- Reuter.

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Govt external debt at US$3, 9 billion in 2005

Zim Independent

Eric Chiriga

GOVERNMENT closed the year 2005 with a total external debt
outstanding of US$3,9 billion against export receipts of only US$1,7
billion. This comes on the backdrop of government recording a revenue of
only $33,4 trillion in the same period while saddled by a domestic debt of
over $15,9 trillion.

According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's (RBZ) monthly review
of January 2006, which is the latest, the government had an outstanding
external debt of US$3, 9 billion, equivalent to $402 trillion using the
interbank rate of US$1:$101 195,41. The RBZ said at the close of 2005,
bilateral and multilateral creditors were US$1,44 billion and US$1,46
billion respectively. Private creditors were zero.

The RBZ report said during the twelve months ended December
2005, government recorded revenue of only $33,4 trillion.

Out of the revenue, income and profit tax contributed $16,33
trillion, VAT ($10,55 trillion), customs duties tax ($3,86 trillion) and
exercise duty income was $1,06 trillion.

In his monetary policy for the fourth quarter 2005, central bank
governor Gideon Gono said that the country had export receipts of US$1,7

"The twelve month period to December 31, 2005 saw foreign
exchange inflows into the formal market amounting to US$1,7 billion,
compared to a total of US$1,71 billion in 2004 representing a decline of

Gono reported that total export shipments for the year 2005
amounted to US$1,43 billion a decline of 9,04% from the 2004 figure of
US$1,58 billion.

Meanwhile, the government's domestic debt ballooned to $21
trillion from $15 trillion.

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Air Zim in US$24 million debt for servicing Boeing fleet

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

AIR Zimbabwe has accumulated arrears amounting to US$24 million
in foreign debt for parts and service supplies for its Boeing fleet,
businessdigest established this week.

Sources at the airline said the arrears were made up of imported
spare parts and services rendered for the maintenance of the Boeing 767
planes last year.

The arrears have cast a pall over Air Zimbabwe's turnaround
programme which started last year.

The turnaround was based on the need to implement an aggressive
marketing programme, recapitalisation and restructuring of the airline.

"Air Zimbabwe has continued to remain in a crisis mode with
areas requiring attention being attended to on an ad hoc basis," the source

"This has crippled operations as some international suppliers
and manufacturers are no longer keen to do business with us," added the

The sources said the crisis at Air Zimbabwe could be blamed on
the mismatch between the US dollar cost and the Zimbabwe dollar revenues
derived from ticket sales.

The airline was last year heavily criticised by the central bank
for huge "cost structures" made up predominantly of high finance charges.

Agency and handling fees which are too high at 8,86% of revenue
and also averaging 5,14% of total cost and labour related costs of 22,94% to
revenue and 14,24% of total cost showing poor recovery strategies.

Air Zimbabwe spokesman David Mwenga could not immediately
comment on the issue when contacted, instead requesting written questions
which he had not responded to at the time of going to press.

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Ballooning debt dims economic recovery hopes

Zim Independent

Dumisani Ndlela

ZIMBABWE'S latest domestic debt level has cast a pall on
prospects for a quick economic turn-around and sparked fresh fears the
government's profligacy could splurge ahead of a presidential election
scheduled for 2008.

President Robert Mugabe's government has traditionally shown a
gargantuan appetite for extravagance ahead of elections, mainly to appease
state employees.

Latest statistics revealed last week that public debt, which had
significantly declined since the beginning of the year, increased to $21
trillion this month, surpassing all records since Independence in 1980.

The new figure, released by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ),
came against the background of tightening inflationary pressures likely to
be worsened by a sharp fall in the Zimbabwe dollar on a thriving parallel
foreign currency market and significant hikes in fuel prices over the past
few weeks.

Zimbabwe's debt has been growing steadily since 1980, and the
government has attributed this to efforts by the post-colonial era regime of
Mugabe to equitably distribute wealth among Zimbabweans and the expansion of
the education and health delivery systems to cater for a larger population.

Domestic debt levels had, however, been kept under check by
bilateral and multilateral support to the government, which dried up more
than six years ago following Mugabe's failure to implement viable economic
reform programmes.

Following the withdrawal of multilateral and bilateral support
to Zimbabwe by the international community, the government has been left
with no other source of funds except the domestic market.

Huge government borrowings have been compounded by high real
interest rates driven mainly by a hyperinflationary environment now
prevailing on the market.

The huge financing costs and increased domestic borrowings have
resulted in a remarkable explosion of debt, worsening the poor macroeconomic

Real economic growth has suffered significantly as a result.

The central bank governor Gideon Gono, who was appointed in
December 2003 to turn around the sickly economy, has so far had to deal with
government financing requirements in his monetary policy.

Late last year, he adopted measures making government
securities, especially treasury bills (TBs), more attractive to private
sector investors in order to attract funds to finance the large government

This has been achieved by shortening the average maturity of TB
debts and to increase the real returns on the money market instruments with
the unwelcome effect of blowing up the domestic debt.

Of the government's $21 trillion domestic debt as at June 2 this
year, $1,6 trillion is in government securities while $8 trillion in TBs and
$655 million in RBZ advances.

The interest component on TBs amounts to a staggering $10,7
trillion, way above the principal outstanding TB debt stock held by

Clearly, government has remained unfazed by the ballooning debts

Last month, the government awarded civil servants a 300% salary
hike, pushing the government wage bill to well over 50% of gross domestic
product (GDP) and raising the prospect for increased money supply growth and
consequently inflation through unbudgeted expenditure.

This, together with the latest spike in fuel and other commodity
prices, has raised the prospect of pushing inflation to breach the 2 000%

Inflation, which touched an all-time high of 1 194% year-on-year
for May, appears to be roaring towards new territory.

The May salary increments for civil servants, counted among the
least-paid in the struggling economy, followed another one in January this
year of 230%, slightly above the $30 trillion government had budgeted for
its entire wage bill.

The increases in civil servants' salaries will push the wage
bill further up by 300%, raising the prospect of increased money printing.

Money printing stokes money supply growth which provides impetus
to soaring inflation.

Money supply expanded from 177,6% in January 2005 to 590,6% in
April this year.

There are entrenched fears among economic players that the money
supply growth figures might be understated, but a number of factors could
contribute to this.

Money supply is the generation of new money - in other words, an
addition to the stock of money already in circulation.

Sources indicated that the national budget for 2006 had already
been largely spent, and a supplementary budget was expected in a few weeks
time to cater for new expenditure requirements arising from new salary

Since 2005, when the country experienced a 500 percentage points
decline in inflation, the inflation rate has soared unabated.

Gono in January made a rare admission that the central bank had
printed a whopping $21 trillion to purchase United States dollars for
repaying debt arrears to International Monetary Fund (IMF) and stave off
imminent expulsion of the country's membership of the Bretton Woods

This is besides cash printed to raise money for grain and fuel
imports, as well as for other quasi-fiscal operations by the Reserve Bank.

The government last year borrowed heavily from the central bank
mainly for grain imports against the backdrop of drought last year as well
as for fuel imports, implying that cash from the Reserve Bank was used again
to buy foreign currency.

Although the government projected that the budget deficit
out-turn for 2005 had been 3% of GDP, the IMF revealed that the Zimbabwe
government's budget deficit out-turn for 2005 was in fact 60% of GDP.

Last year, the total domestic debt grew by about 1 000%, but
this could have been understated given the remarks by the IMF.

And Gono acknowledged that the debt level was unsustainable.

Economists have often blamed the country's inflation on
government profligacy.

The cash-strapped government has resorted to an aggressive tax
collection system many view as unorthodox, if not investor-unfriendly.

Recently, the government's tax collection arm, the Zimbabwe
Revenue Authority, ordered stockbrokers to pay value-added tax on
instruments the tax law had clearly exempted.

It has raided car dealers and many companies in a bid to
generate enough revenue for dwindling government coffers, suffering severely
from a declining individual income and corporate tax base due to high
unemployment and company closures.

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Time running out for Mugabe to step aside

Zim Independent

By Jonathan Moyo

WHATEVER perspective one takes on the Zimbabwean crisis it is
now clear that the endgame has come for President Robert Mugabe.

Yet the only person who does not appreciate this self-evident
fact is Mugabe himself who is in chronic denial under the delusion that
everyone else is wrong and that he is right and mistake-free. This more than
anything else now accounts for the continuation of the Zimbabwean crisis.

It remains to be seen how Mugabe is going to play his endgame as
the crisis deepens. Will he continue to put his political interests above
those of the country and will he continue to blame everyone else but

However he plays his endgame, the outcome is certain to lead to
a radical policy change or regime change failure in which Zimbabwe will be
engulfed by unprecedented anarchy and chaos.

Because the Zimbabwean crisis has been left unresolved for too
long since 1997, and because the ruling party and government have remained
in denial about its causes and effects, the crisis has now become
institutionalised. This is what has led to massive economic collapse,
institutional breakdown and the erosion of public values.

And Mugabe has become the embodiment of the institutionalised
crisis such that his departure alone would be cathartic for the country.

An institutionalised crisis is necessarily beyond the patchwork
of policy tinkering and it will require an overhaul of one sort or another.
This is why a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe will necessarily require a fundamental
policy change in terms of a new economic vision and strategy supported by
the international community and constitutional regime change by way of a new
democratic constitution endorsed by the electorate in a free and fair

The alternative would be anarchy and chaos, which is not an
option at all.

Time is running out for Mugabe to do what Tanzania's founding
president, Julius Nyerere, did: step aside and let government be run by a
dynamic, competent and accountable leader from his party while concentrating
on gradually reduced party responsibilities.

Mugabe needs to show that he is capable of statesmanship and
that he has the leadership quality to put the national interest above his
self-preservation. So far he has failed dismally.

A Nyerere option even at this eleventh hour would give Mugabe a
face-saving opportunity which he can use to safeguard his checkered legacy
and to secure the long-term interests of his very young family. He can do
this by publicly indicating to Zimbabweans in clear and categorical terms
that he not only accepts that his time is now up but that he also
understands that Zimbabwe desperately needs a new policy framework
underwritten by a constitutional regime change.

Such a bold move by Mugabe would be much more meaningful than
his current idle and misplaced talk about building phantom bridges with the
British to nowhere from a crisis which he has created. No-one wants to build
bridges with Mugabe to help him escape consequences of his misrule.

It is important for Mugabe to clarify his future because so far
he has not been honest with himself and suffering Zimbabweans. He has been
playing hide and seek with the nation while dishing out patronage which he
confuses with patriotism and breeding cronyism and instilling fear all over
the place which he confuses with respect and loyalty.

Slightly over a year ago Mugabe hinted, not to Zimbabweans but
to the foreign media in Malaysia, that he might retire in 2008. He had also
done the same to the Kenya and Zambia media before that. But since then he
has been sending conflicting hints through his cronies who keep pretending
otherwise by telling him what he wants to hear.

Mugabe's blunt propagandists have flooded the media with
Machiavellian suggestions that, notwithstanding his old age, palpable
incompetence and growing unpopularity, he may very well seek re-election in
2008 because the Zimbabwean constitution does not have presidential term

Lost to these propagandists is the writing on the wall that
Mugabe would be humiliated big time if he dares voters in 2008 by seeking

Not to be outdone by the propagandists with whom they compete
for Mugabe's patronage under the false cover of patriotism, some security
men have been falling over each other scheming the enactment of a dubious
constitutional amendment to enable Mugabe to extend his rule to 2010 by
subverting the electoral will of the people in 2008 through a patronage
election by the two houses of the Zanu PF-dominated parliament sitting as an
electoral college.

Curiously what seems to have eluded Mugabe and his supportive
yet divided propagandists and securocrats is the God-given truth that their
boss is made of weak human flesh and has a temporary spirit just like the
rest of us and is therefore not immortal. In view of Mugabe's clear old age,
he can succumb to the inevitable.

In that case the nation can wake up to a new day without Mugabe,
just like it happened to Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo and Simon Muzenda. In that
event, the constitution as it stands would require the holding of
presidential election within 90 days.

All present unequal things in Zimbabwe being there, one can only
imagine what would ensue in those 90 eventful days given the self-evident
fact that Mugabe has not groomed a widely supported successor because he
does not want any while he is alive.

Add to this that Zanu PF does not have any rule-bound,
transparent and democratic succession plan to calm and inspire the party
faithful who have been made all these troubled years to think Mugabe is Zanu
PF and vice versa.

Further add that the opposition MDC is deeply divided and
profoundly weakened by that division such that it is currently unable to
rally the nation towards a common purpose. Neither of the factions is strong
enough to win a national and popular mandate to rule with stability.

Add that Zimbabwe's state security agencies are classically
prone to the use of brutality under the cover of law and order and factor in
that the country is in the throes of an unprecedented economic meltdown that
has rendered many out there jobless, penniless and homeless while ravaging
business enterprises.

It is without doubt that, as things stand, all hell would break
loose and there would be blood on the floor should Mugabe not wake up
tomorrow precipitating a presidential election within 90 days. Zimbabwe
would be on fire under these explosive conditions.

This real possibility of Mugabe not waking up tomorrow followed
by a 90-day election is much more serious than the glib hope or wish that
Mugabe will be around to seek reelection in 2008 because Zimbabwe's
constitution has no term limits.

The same applies to the sycophantic retort that Zanu PF commands
a two-thirds majority that can be used to amend the constitution in order to
extend Mugabe's rule from 2008 to 2010 without a popular vote. What for?

When made aware that Zimbabwe could slip into anarchy and chaos
within 90 days of Mugabe meeting his God, his propagandists and securocrats
take the delusional view that the country's security forces have an
unparalleled capacity to maintain law and order by nipping any trouble in
the bud as they did during the dreadful Operation Murambatsvina.

It is shocking that some politically ambitious security chiefs
believe that it is part of unwritten Zanu PF law that Mugabe should remain
in office until his death, as happened with Nkomo and Muzenda. They also
believe that any 90 days of chaos should Mugabe die in office would be a
great opportunity for them to move from de facto to de jure running of the

Perhaps the reason the men with guns believe this is that they
know only too well that they have been Mugabe's source of power since 1977
when some of them elevated him to the presidency of Zanu after initially
making him their spokesperson. They also know that Mugabe consolidated his
power between 1980 and 1990 through the brutal abuse of the state of
emergency inherited from Rhodesia which was controlled and run by men with
guns who also held the keys to torture chambers.

Furthermore, the securocrats know that to this day Mugabe's
closest and most trusted political and economic advisers are security
leaders of the Joint Operations Command created by Ian Smith in Rhodesia to
oppress blacks. In essence, the security men know Mugabe has been their
hostage president since 1977 and they don't want him to be replaced, except
by themselves!

What this means is that there are some delusional security men
in our midst who do not understand how, for example, the Soviet Union, East
Germany or apartheid South Africa collapsed when their security agencies
were among the world's most feared and most notorious in terms of their

The one enduring lesson from these cases of fallen security
power is that in the end politics always triumphs over the gun. This is why
Mugabe's unchallenged security strength since 1977 is now his greatest
political weakness as he now plays his endgame.

The only person best positioned to deal with this is Mugabe
himself through a much-delayed Nyerere option or better still a Nelson
Mandela one.

If Mugabe has become so self-serving that he cannot do what
everyone can see is the right thing or if his security men have become so
irresponsible that they want him to remain as their hostage while the
country is bleeding, then the people of Zimbabwe including those in Zanu PF
should do the right thing by rising up to the challenge to save the country.

There is just no other option. Otherwise, chaos is looming.

* Professor Jonathan Moyo is a political scientist and
independent MP for Tsholotsho.

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What's the justification for this Commission?

Zim Independent

THE insurance industry used to have a Commissioner of Insurance
who to all intents and purposes regulated the operations of the industry
attached to the Ministry of Finance.

The government however, after prolonged half-hearted
consultations with the industry, and to be seen to be doing something in the
context of turning around the economy, fast-tracked the establishment of the
so-called Independent Commission to oversee the industry. The reason was it's
the norm in other countries forgetting that:

* Other countries have normal operating economies;

* Commissions in other countries genuinely add value to the
industry; and

* Issues of composition of the commission, terms of reference,
budgets and funding are discussed and agreed upon before, and not after the
commission is operational.

In our case, the commission is appointed and we are told we will
be levied to foot the commission's operations. The levies, we are told,
should be paid by July 1 as there are capital and running expenses to be
attended to. Struggling as we are due to the harsh economic environment
created by the same government, the industry finds itself asking if this is
the right time to effect these changeovers.

The industry pays taxes and surely the government should cater
for this commission. If there are
no funds, why then the hurry which results in the passing on of
the burden to already struggling operators?

Besides creating jobs for the chosen few with the accompanying
huge salaries and perks, what value is the commission adding to the industry
to justify cowing us to fund them?

And as is the norm with Zimbabwe's business fraternity and
public in general, they cry foul amongst themselves but fail to muster the
guts to resist. - Robbed.

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Who are the 'we' and who are the 'they' in looting of land, mines?

Zim Independent

By Charles Frizell

THERE are certain words and phrases that we should be very
suspicious of whenever they are used by politicians and even more suspicious
when Zimbabwean politicians use them.

Politicians and especially our politicians are masters of
deception as we have learned to our cost. How many fine-sounding slogans
have turned out to be no more than words full of sound and fury, signifying
nothing? Or even worse, these fine slogans have been used to disguise
actions that turned out to be the exact opposite of what we thought they

A glaring example of this is of course the Bill supposedly to
promote freedom of information that turned out in fact to be intended to
stifle free speech. Then there was the Suppression of Foreign Terrorism Bill
that was used to entrench state terrorism against the people and the

A little reflection will show that almost every law enacted was
intended to achieve the exact opposite of the propaganda spin it was
initially given.

What we should be particularly suspicious of now is the
increasing use of the words "we" and "our" by the ruling elite.

First we had the land grab where there was much made of how "we"
should seize "our" land. This was naked deception because those from whom
the land was taken were the rightful and legal owners of that land and those
who called themselves "we" were not. The vast majority of the real and legal
owners were of course citizens of Zimbabwe. Why were these people not as
much "we" as anyone else?

In this particular case, who were the "we"? And who were the
"they"? It was initially given out that "we" were exclusively black
nationals and "they" were white citizens.

However it soon became apparent that black and coloured farmers
who did not support Zanu PF were targets as well. Many foolish things were
said at the time, and continue to be said by politicians including the
highest office in the land.

When the dust had settled it became obvious to all that this had
been nothing but a colossal exercise in looting and vote buying. When they
had served their purpose the pawns that had been used were in turn thrown
off the land to make way for the chefs - which was no doubt the long-term
intention anyway.

So in this case "we" turned out to be the usual suspects - a
small group of well-connected people in the hierarchy. But it sounded good
at the time!

Another deception of some years back was that used by the
Affirmative Action Group in order to obtain shares in large companies. They
assiduously pushed that this was "indigenisation" and was supposedly to
"empower the indigenous people".

Well, as we also know this did not empower anyone other than
certain members of the elite who obtained large shareholdings in prosperous
companies for next to nothing. Philip Chiyangwa in particular springs to
mind here, though of course he was only one of many. "The people" of course
did not benefit at all and in fact most of these businesses subsequently
went broke and the workers lost their jobs.

What is of concern now is all the talk of how "we" should
control "our" mines and "our" mineral resources. This is because agriculture
and manufacturing have already been looted and destroyed and there's now
precious little left to steal (sorry - acquire in Zim-speak).

Who does anyone think the "we" is in this case? The people of
Zimbabwe as a whole? You must be joking!

This "we" is exactly the same "we" as in all the other scams and
that "we" comprises that small clique of ever-richer hoodlums who have
systematically looted the country since Independence.

So this fine-sounding, all-inclusive "we" certainly does not
mean you. You will not benefit at all, but on the contrary you will suffer
when these mines close, you will lose your job and the economy will take yet
another dive towards oblivion. But to the looters that does not matter at
all! They do not give a damn as long as there's money in it for them.

All this talk about how "we" should control "our" mines and
minerals is already having a large negative effect because planned
investment is on hold and future investment becomes even less likely.
Zimbabwe (and most other impoverished small countries) does not have the
capital or infrastructure to develop big mining ventures; therefore we need
large foreign firms to do it for us.

It is even impossible for the country to nationalise the mines,
as certain other countries foolishly did in the past. This is because the
government is broke and cannot afford to legally purchase shares in any
company at all.

So now of course there is an increasing volume of noise saying
that "we" don't need to legally purchase these shares because the resources
are "ours" anyway. It is the disastrous land grab all over again.

The mining sector provides many jobs for Zimbabweans, and
generates much foreign currency through mineral and metal exports. It also
creates a great deal of money within Zimbabwe because all services such as
electricity, water, salaries, wages and rates are paid locally.

The government also benefits hugely from the taxes levied. But
of course it does not generate a huge amount of unearned income for a small
clique of greedy individuals with connections in the corridors of power!

Perhaps even more importantly, these mines cannot be used to buy
support in a corrosive web of patronage - as long as they remain in the
hands of the rightful shareholders.

* Charles Frizell is a Zimbabwean based in the UK.

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Poverty is not socialism

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

By Vincent Kahiya

THERE are traits of the Chinese system of governance which that
country would like to be labelled socialist. In fact, the Chinese government
would be very happy to be described as socialist to distinguish it from
Western capitalism.

This is a country that has embraced open market economic
principles, but stands accused of totalitarian governance and human rights
abuses. The rights of freedom of expression and association of workers'
representatives continue to be severely curtailed and independent trade
unions remain illegal. Political and religious activists have been
suppressed and imprisoned while there is no open and direct voting of
national leaders.

Last year Chinese premier Wen Jiabao pledged to introduce direct
elections at the township level, at least "within a couple of years".

"China will press for democratic progress, unswervingly
reestablish democracy, including direct elections," he told a news
conference prior to the 8th EU-China summit on September 5. "If we Chinese
people can manage a village, I believe they can manage a town in several
years. This system will be realised step by step."

Amidst apparent state obduracy and repression, politicians in
China have managed to steer their country towards market-driven economic
policies practised in Western capitals. They do not make any apologies about
this because it is working and it has created wealth.

"Whether a cat is black or white makes no difference. As long as
it catches mice, it is a good cat," Deng Xiaoping said.

Deng ridiculed the Cultural Revolution slogan that held it was
"better to be poor under socialism than rich under capitalism". The blunt,
practical Deng offered instead: "Poverty is not socialism."

This is their own blend of a socialist market economy. The
current mode of socialism in China is therefore different from the archaic
Maoist collectivisation and state capitalism which failed so dismally in the
1950s. It is deeply rooted in the government creating an environment for
individuals and organisations to create wealth.

In its co-operation with Africa today China is happy to
advertise the socialist tag to the continent's crocodilian dictators as a
way of winning their outright support.

Our leaders just love being called socialists or even
communists. Vice-President Joice Mujuru during her trip to China was given a
dose of this version of Chinese socialism. But then her hosts were also
quick to advise her that they were learning from the West. The statement by
Chinese Development Bank boss Chen Yuan is as revealing as it was confusing
to Mai Mujuru.

"We basically combine the socialist stance of our government
with the advanced financial market principles we learnt in Washington and
London," he told the VP. What a dichotomy!

The Zimbabwean government is gang-pressing the nation to march
East where the inhabitants of that land are looking West for education.
Yuan, in his willingness to help, advised Mujuru that his bank was prepared
to teach our authorities. I hope this includes monetary authorities - on how
to run successful banks!

Mujuru, while in China said 25 years after Independence,
Zimbabwe was developing its own brand of a socialist market economy,
borrowing concepts from China.

My major fear is that our politicians are likely to adapt the
negatives from the Chinese socialist concepts. The major worry here is
government justifying repression in the name of promoting economic reform.
Other than enacting repressive legislation to silence dissent, our
government has over the past six years developed a penchant to control the
economy by laying claim to ownership of resources and controlling industrial
and commercial processes.

Government is taking us back to the Maoist state capitalism
which China dumped in the 1980s under Deng. But Zimbabwe is far from its
quest to achieve the basics of a modern socialist market economy because the
state has failed to provide an environment which would enable economic
players to generate wealth.

It is only a properly structured economy which would enable
government to work out a proper system of social safety nets like subsidised
health and education, adequate living allowances for the disabled and the
aged and to provide affordable services among the poor.

We have however seen a systemic withdrawal of safety nets by a
government which has for years claimed to be socialist. Fees at schools and
universities are no longer subsidised. Those who cannot afford to pay the
high fees charged by state hospitals will die at home. Pensioners have been
reduced to paupers. What socialism nhai motherz?

We hope that Mai Mujuru learnt something on her trip to China
which we can implement here. But she has to demonstrate a level of aptitude
that should enable her to understand that governments have never been known
to run businesses properly.

In fact, when government tries to run businesses as is the case
in Zimbabwe government debt shoots through the roof and the private sector
cannot borrow as it is muscled out by the state.

In China, a big part of state-owned capital was in time turned
into private capital which has quickened economic transformation.

We request Mr Yuan to take our rulers through this lesson,
especially those who believe our salvation is in printing money! Poverty is
not socialism.

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Which Harare does Chombo live in?

Zim Independent


IT is staggering how gullible and foolish some church leaders
can be. Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe general secretary Andrew
Muchechetere says his organisation is "concerned with the effects sanctions
are having on the common man in Zimbabwe".

Anything that affected the common man "is not good and should be
tackled forthrightly", he declared.

This statement was issued ahead of a meeting with the MDC in
which the churchmen said they would "examine the ways in which the sanctions
that were imposed on the country can be removed".

As all the legislation involving sanctions by the US and EU
clearly stipulates how they can be removed such a meeting would be a waste
of time. There would have to be a restoration of the rule of law and an
independent judiciary, an end to political violence (ie: disbandment of
militias) and electoral manipulation, and a clear programme for political
and economic reform (ie: not delusional programmes like NEDPP but something
that addresses macroeconomic distortions).

How come the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe doesn't know
this? Why is it not making these issues of social justice fundamental to its
own ministry?

The answer is self-evident. This is a coopted and suborned
outfit concerned more with the government's legitimacy than with Christian
teaching. We sincerely trust the MDC and civil society will spell out
clearly how sanctions can best be lifted so we enjoy better governance and
an end to the misery President Mugabe's sanctions against his own people has

Muckraker was fascinated by a "conversation" Caesar Zvayi had
with Small and Medium Enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni last Saturday.
He asked some useful questions. But the answers unfortunately were mostly
uninspired and formulaic. Here is an example: "One of the key objectives of
the recently launched National Economic Development Priority Programme is
foreign currency generation. What role is your ministry playing to ensure
the realisation of this objective?"

Answer: "The policy guiding the ministry from the outset has one
of its specific objectives being to generate foreign currency through export
of products by SMEs. With regard to NEDPP, the ministry is involved in the
Growth Point Resuscitation Programme which envisages redirecting resources
to growth points for purposes of investment and production of
export-oriented goods. This would also result in employment creation,
poverty reduction, and modernisation of rural areas."

Indeed it would - if it worked. How is the government going to
"redirect resources to growth points" if there is no "investment"? What
"resources" have been earmarked for this project?

We have among us a number of Pollyanna publicists who believe
that in an ideal world it should be possible to attract investment, boost
growth and generate employment. But none of that is happening because nobody
will invest in a lawless state where ruling-party officials loot farms and
threaten businesses.

The NEDPP has started to "bear fruit", the Herald tells us on
the strength of a statement by the China Development Bank. Has anybody seen
this fruit? Has anybody tasted it? Will the Chinese prove more indulgent
with their investment capital than the Malaysians, Libyans, and Iranians,
all of whom were greeted as economic saviours but ended up disillusioned?

At least Nyoni has a background in NGO work and knows what is
required for things to get back to normal in the rural sector. She shouldn't
of course be sitting in parliament having been rejected by voters. But she
is probably more useful than certain interactive kwasa kwasa dancers we know
of who still can't tell us what their ministries do - or indeed what they
are doing there!

Zimbabwe does not have the greenback or the euro but it has
loads of minerals, Vice-President Joice Mujuru said during her trip to China
last week.

"We have some people perceiving Zimbabwe as a very poor
country," Mujuru was quoted in the Press as saying on Monday. "Yes we do not
have the greenback or the euro but we have minerals in abundance. We have
more than 600 minerals in my country."

There were glaring omissions in this rendition. Mujuru forgot to
tell the Chinese that Zimbabwe is not a poor country because inflation is 1
200%, interest rates are more than 500%, more than half the people live on
less than US$1 a day, the economy has shrunk by more than 40% in real terms
and government debt is $22 trillion. That is a picture of the rich Zimbabwe
the Chinese need to know.

On a point of advice, the 600 minerals in Zimbabwe (where did
she get this figure?) do not suddenly make us rich as long as they are not
exploited for the benefit of the populace. Minerals still embedded in the
belly of the Earth are dead capital. They are capital dead as a dodo just
like underutilised land. Does she know that the DRC, because of its land
mass and minerals, has the potential to feed the whole of Southern Africa
but its people are some of the poorest in the world?

The only consolation for her though - in case she had not
noticed - is that Zimbabwe now has its own greenback, albeit a bit
jaundiced. Let's look out for the next production from the central bank. Our
own euro beckons.

Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo wants everyone to
believe Sekesai Makwavarara is doing such a sterling job that her stay at
Town House needs extending for another six months.

Chombo reveals arrant contempt of Harare ratepayers' quest for
an elected administration and a perilous what-can-they-do-to-us attitude.

The problems with such indeterminate arrangements are that they
become so entrenched that distinguishing competency and ineptitude become
extremely hard to accomplish.

Who knows? The Commission might outlive elected councils to show
how Zanu PF has completely abandoned the principle of one-man-one vote and
usurped the people's right to choose.

What criteria did Chombo use to judge Makwavarara's

He was pleased, we are told, with the work done by the
Commission as "it achieved targets set for it".


One has to literally look for a needle in a haystack to see
which targets the Commission met.

He wishfully mentioned the increased visibility of the city in
areas such as road maintenance, street and traffic lights management,
improved refuse collection as proof.

Does the minister live in Harare? If so, which city is he
talking about? Or is he moving around the city hidden under Sekesai's
skirts? Little wonder he sees light at the end of the tunnel!

If collusion in executing Operation Murambatsvina - carried out
with a warped mentality reminiscent of colonial laws that banished natives
to tribal trust lands - is one of the criteria, no one would doubt the
Commission's surreal competency.

Perhaps Makwavarara and her fellow commissioners' quick uptake
in parroting their handlers' flair for living off the sweat of others got
them above average marks.

And how a whole government could sit down and decide to set
targets for a body to surpass its predecessors in mismanaging ratepayer's
lives boggles even the simplest of minds.

Chombo has the gall to tell everyone that elections cannot be
held in Harare due to an outstanding issue of the province's boundaries that
need to be addressed.

Surely a little help from Patrick Chinamasa would save him the

Chinamasa was able to collapse 100 constituency boundaries into
60 in no time at all and without breaking any sweat.

Without saying so, Chombo showed the catatonic fear in the
ruling Zanu PF of losing democratic elections in Harare if his ministry
dared take the risk.

Otherwise, how else would one explain Chombo describing the
Commission as having done a sterling job?

Fear of an unfettered press does not come cheap judging by the
extreme lengths Tafataona Mahoso goes to dredge up irrelevant doses of
trivia to reinforce his paranoid thoughts in his turgid weekly "African
Focus" column.

Now we are told there is media terror against the people of
Zimbabwe. This involves newspapers telling people how deprived they are of
basic necessities such as food, fuel and how a government comprising former
liberation movement mandarins has messed up their lives.

Forget about the "War on Terror" in the run-up to the 2000
elections. The disingenuous plagiary of the American version flopped

A new campaign, we are told, is a subtler mode of terrorising
Zimbabweans, courtesy of the media "to condemn and abandon the reclamation
of African land stolen by white settlers".

Mahoso fails to appreciate the obvious fact that there are still
land-short peasants scraping out a living along hill slopes and on rocky
infertile grounds nationwide despite government "reclaiming African land
stolen by the whites".

A new breed of revolutionaries can safely claim to have
successfully re-stolen that land.

Mahoso gets entangled when he says the imperialist media tells
readers of "a brutal former liberation movement in power that
would abuse the people, disregard and annul the constitution and
use any and all means to cling to power".

Sounds like an accurate summary to us! But we had a good chuckle
over the claim that the government held free elections, respected the
judiciary and obeyed court orders. Since when, this single-minded apologist
should be asked?

Predictably, he exonerates Zanu PF of any such misdeeds and
instead flays the opposition for disregarding the constitution and rejecting
election results .

How an opposition can "consistently hold free and fair general
elections" escapes us. And is the opposition in charge of food and power

Surely it's the government of the day that does that.

But it would be unreasonable to expect anything rational from
such a fevered brow. Mahoso claims Anna Tibaijuka's "inflated numbers of
uprooted refugees" is attributable to "the violence, the evil, the
brutality and genocide which the terror press has always
imagined and reported to be happening in Zimbabwe".

Whatever he's been smoking it's time to quit!

Muckraker again had a good chuckle over an AFP story on the new
football language invented by two teenagers to bring universality to the
world's biggest sport. In their book Socceranto: Birth of a language, they
include: a Maradona, a goal scored by a hand, a Pele, a bicycle kick, and a
Ronaldinho, a no-look pass. Can we propose an addition to this dictionary: a
Benjani for a person who can't score from five yards.

Has anybody been following the delusional scheme to transform
Beitbridge into a world-class city? If the government is sincere about this
project why can't it relieve some of the stress travellers have to go
through when returning to the country?

On May 31, we are told, there was one lady manning the Zimra
counter to collect $300 000 road tax.
The queue went back for several hundred metres, we gather. She
was writing out receipts in long-hand.
As a result it was taking people
three hours to reach her.
And then there are the touts who move around unmolested by

A world-class border post requires some basic organisation. The
Ministry of Finance should be involved. But we haven't heard from them for

Finally, we loved the following from a Sunday News interview
with Masvingo governor Willard Chiwewe.

Q: "As a former civil servant what experience did you bring to
the administration of Masvingo province?"

A: "Well, I do not know either."

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NEDPP requires infrastructural transformation

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

THE National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP)
very correctly gives some recognition to the critical importance of Zimbabwe
having an economically conducive infrastructure, albeit that NEDPP does not
necessarily acknowledge the very extent to which the existing infrastructure
has degenerated, has become decrepit and ineffective, and grievously hinders
existing economic activity, let alone economic growth.

Only the intentionally obtuse and myopic will deny that the
magnitude of the deterioration in energy supply services, water delivery,
telecommunications, roads, airport facilities, and much else, is gargantuan,
causing immense disruptions to the economy, deterrents to investment (both
domestic and foreign), and great discomforts and frustrations to the
population at large.

The frustrations have been very considerably exacerbated by the
fact that all have been very conscious and aware, for an extended period of
time, that much of the Zimbabwean infrastructure was progressively becoming
less and less effectual, and that the prospects of cataclysmic collapse were
rapidly intensifying.

The demoralisation and the distresses have become greater and
greater as the populace increasingly perceived gross inactivity on the part
of many of the authorities to acknowledge adequately the realities of the
circumstances, and on the strength of such acknowledgement to address the
issues, prevent further decline, restore the infrastructural resources, and
then develop them sufficiently to meet national needs.

Probably foremost in the minds of many is the pronounced
inadequacy of energy supply. For some years it has been publicly recognised
that by 2007 the southern African region would be confronted with an
insufficiency of energy supplies as demand increased. However, save for much
talk, very little appears to have been done to pre-empt such catastrophic
circumstances, with the only major exception being that Mozambique has
decided to embark upon another major hydro-electric scheme on the Zambezi.
Downstream of Cahorra Bassa, Mozambique has sourced the required funding
from the Chinese Export-Import Bank, and is vigorously pursuing the project.

However, the earliest that it will be generating power is 2010!

Zimbabwe has talked extensively of refurbishing and enhancing
its thermal power stations, of a possible new thermal power station fuelled
by Sangwa coal, and of enhancement of Kariba's electricity generation but as
yet, there is naught to be seen of the talk. Instead, the existing, rapidly
ageing, inadequately maintained, electricity generation facilities, and the
national distribution grid, has become less and less able to meet national
needs. The result is a combination of very pronounced, scheduled
load-shedding and extremely frequent power supply breakdowns in consequence
of innumerable faults.

Industry, commerce, mining, tourism and residential areas have
all been very seriously impacted upon. Some have resorted to installation of
generators, thereby increasing further the demand for limited availability
of petroleum products. Most have had to suffer the consequences of costly
production interruptions and domestic discomforts.

The immense courtesy and attentiveness of those who man Zesa's
telephonic services of faults are, unfortunately, not matched by
commensurate actions to upgrade appropriately the electricity network. And
until that occurs, not only will the discomforts continue (and probably
intensify), but investors will continue to have great reservations as to the
merits of investment.

Similar circumstances characterise the production and supply of
coal. So appallingly limited is the present capacity of Hwange Colliery
Company to meet national needs that more and more industries are having to
resort, in desperation, to using scarce foreign exchange resources in order
to import coal.

Zimbabwe has the largest deposits of quality coal in sub-Saharan
Africa, and yet it is reduced to importing ever-increasing volumes of coal
in order to keep industrial boilers operational. Incongruous and untenable
in the extreme!

Telecommunication services are yet another major hindrance to
the effective functioning of the economy. Whether resorting to land-line
services, or to any of the mobile networks, there is an ongoing aggravation,
and very considerable constraint upon economic activity, of endless signals
stating "network busy", matched only by the frequency that calls are
suddenly terminated by losses of signal, followed by endless attempts to
reconnect and a multiplicity of calls to complete one conversation resulting
in massive cost escalations highly beneficial to the "providers" of the
telephonic services, but a significant, excessive overhead burden for the

Many of Zimbabwe's major cities and towns now suffer erratic
supply of water or rationing, and almost all of them have road networks
which are fast becoming horrendous obstacle courses of gigantic pot-holes,
absence of road markings, disappearance of road signs and street
name-boards, and inoperable traffic lights and equally non-functioning
street lighting. In a great number of those cities and towns, refuse removal
has become increasingly infrequent, jeopardising health and despoiling the
appearance of the urban areas.

NEDPP proposes to address these critical issues by diverse
stratagems. In some instances it envisages privatisation (wholly or
partially) of parastatals, both in order to access capital and foreign
exchange, and in order to achieve technological advances and synergistic
benefits from entry into what is euphemistically described as "strategic

The declared intents have generally been received by the private
sector as positive, but nevertheless with some considerable scepticism, for
government's track record of progressing privatisation is not impressive.
Although privatisation has been an element of the last five economic
development or recovery programmes, there has been only one time when its
was progressed with any conviction, when government very successfully
privatised Dairibord, Rainbow Tourism Group, Zimbabwe Reinsurance Company
and Cottco, among a few other parastatals.

Few governments in the world have ever run commercial
enterprises with any great and continuing success, whilst most
privatisations in Europe, USA, South Africa and elsewhere have been very
successful. Zimbabwe now needs to replace words with deeds, with
prioritisation of privatisation being targeted at Zesa, the National
Railways of Zimbabwe, Air Zimbabwe, Cold Storage Company, Grain Marketing
Board, Tel*One, Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) and Zimpost.

Government will be released of innumerable millstones, whilst
the country will benefit from the motivation of investors to ensure
investment viability through maximised productivity and efficiency,
customer-care, sound management, technological upgrades and much else.

NEDPP also envisages resorting to Build, Operate and Transfer
(Bot), and Build, Operate, Own and Transfer (Boot) projects to ensure
development of the infrastructure. This is to be commended, provided that
the intents become realities, for such projects can provide both funding and
the technologies not available to the impoverished Zimbabwean government and
its many near-insolvent parastatals.

Arising out of previous economic programmes, government
established the Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe (now defunct) which did a
lot of constructive work, only to witness its masters disregarding all that
was done.

This time Zimbabwe must be prepared to follow through on
declared intentions, failing which the infrastructural decline will
continue, and will be a major contributant to total economic collapse.

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No profit as long as ZBH remains Zanu PF pet project

Zim Independent


"I TOOK over the chairmanship of (ZBC) when wolves were at the
door as the corporation was living from hand to mouth while the image of the
corporation in the eyes of the stakeholders was negative.When I left, we had
a very clear vision that would have made ZBC the pride of the nation."

Gideon Gono in September last year gave this spirited defence of
his role in the unbundling of the former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
(ZBC) into nine business units. Gono, who is central bank governor, was at
the time of the unbundling, chairman of ZBC.

Under his stewardship, ZBC was then diced into companies which
included Newsnet, Zimbabwe Television, Sportsnet, Kidznet, Power FM, SFM,
National FM and Radio Zimbabwe.

In most of the entities, the vision to create world-class
institutions failed to go beyond just naming them. The entities were
perennially broke to the extent of failing to pay wages.

While Gono was confident the scheme would work, we pointed out
at the time that it was bound to be a monumental failure as long as the
holding company and its subsidiaries continued to be Zanu PF pet projects
ran on partisan and not commercial lines. The project was doomed from the
start and the results of that still-birth were revealed this week when
Information minister Tichaona Jokonya decided to "restructure" the entities
into two companies: Zimbabwe Radio Services and Zimbabwe Television Services
under Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH).

As in the last restructuring exercise, the results are expected
to be devastating for media workers, dozens of whom will be shunted aside in
this inflationary environment when terminal benefits become worthless almost

Whatever government is trying to achieve now at the state
broadcaster, the results are predictable. It is bound to fail as long as it
maintains a stranglehold on the electronic media. The knee-jerk reaction by
the ministry then under Jonathan Moyo to enact laws guaranteeing the state
hegemony in the electronic media and the formation of a myriad of successor
companies had nothing to do with creating a more efficient electronic media
in the country - as Gono then wanted us to believe. It was a project
designed to entrench Zanu PF's ideals. Advertisers seeing no value in
associating with partisan programming turned to other media.

The plan this time around could see a leaner broadcasting
edifice for the same purpose: to churn out propaganda on behalf of the
state. Jokonya would surely be happy to see the broadcaster taking this
position judging by his recent statements on the need to protect the name
and person of the president and to shield the country from attacks by
"traitors" and "unpatriotic media". That means the state is not prepared at
the moment to give up control of the media.

But Jokonya knows what needs to be done. At the AU
communications ministers' conference he attended in Addis Ababa last week,
to discuss among other issues the setting up of continental radio stations,
the issue of private sector involvement came up and was taken on board.

Is it not ironic then that Jokonya announced to the nation this
week that "governments must pay for the project but we would also like the
private sector to be involved in the project", while he is putting in
measures to ensure the state tightens its stranglehold on the media?

He should not expect private companies to readily jump on board
this project when they are being shut out from participating in the
broadcast media in their respective countries.

The government is going back on its promise to ensure there is
private investment in state enterprises by first unbundling the parastatals
to create the opportunities for new capital. We are now seeing that this was
never our government's intention.

The whole exercise of unbundling of state enterprises was
ill-thought-out because there were no support structures to make the
successor companies viable, there was no capital injection, and, more
seriously, there was no plan. The government's reversal of the unbundling of
Zesa last month is another illustration of this maladroit effort.

Jokonya in announcing the "rebundling" of ZBH this week berated
Moyo for creating nine companies without putting any money into them. We
wait to see how Jokonya will make the state broadcaster a profitable entity
and a propaganda tool at the same time.

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Mugabe's Mr Micawber mindset

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

By  Dumisani Muleya

POLITICIANS are generally an optimistic lot. No matter how bad
the situation, they always put on a brave face and hope like the proverbial
Mr Micawber in Charles Dickens' novel David Copperfield  that something
better will turn up.

For those who may not have read Dickens's book, Wilkins Micawber
was modelled on a person introduced to Dickens by his younger brother Alfred

Micawber's name has become synonymous with someone who lives in
hopeful expectation.

This is certainly the case with President Robert Mugabe and his
ministers these days. As Mugabe and his entourage face the political exit
doors, they have become like Mr Micawber who always hoped - against hope -
that something rewarding would materialise.

They have no clue about how to sort out the current economic
crisis but are evidently hoping things will change! This is why over the
past couple of weeks we have been bombarded with propaganda that the economy
will soon recover under the National Economic Development Priority Programme
(NEDPP) despite evidence of a worsening meltdown.

Evidence abounds to show that the current situation is getting
worse and will deteriorate further until there are fundamental political and
economic reforms.

The political superstructure and the economic base are crumbling
under the weight of extended periods of misrule. Inflation is 1 193% and
rising. Interest rates are skyrocketing and volatile, while the exchange
rate is falling as the local currency continues to crash against base
currencies. Unemployment and poverty are also deepening. There are just too
many problems in Zimbabwe now and nothing at all to show - even to leaders
who may want have a Mr Micawber syndrome - that the economy is on the mend.

Yet we continue to be told by government that the situation is
not all that bad and NEDPP will soon make things all right. There is even a
denial of the current crisis by Mugabe's incompetent spin-doctors. The
government-controlled media recently put on a brave show trying to market a
daft spin that inflation does not really matter because it's just

In this art of dissembling, we are not told why authorities
think the NEDPP will suffer a different fate from other failed similar
programmes such as the Millennium Economic Recovery Plan, New
Economic Recovery Plan, Ten-Point Plan, National
Economic Recovery Plan and all other such programmes.

The hard-sell propaganda is pervasive although it is very
disjointed and incoherent. Mugabe last week told Beitbridge residents that
their situation will now improve under NEDPP because massive development
projects were underway.

Vice-President Joice Mujuru spent the whole of last week in
far-flung China hawking Zimbabwe's minerals resources which she suggested
are now the bait to raise funds for such programmes as NEDPP. Mujuru said
Zimbabwe was not "very poor" because it has more than 600 precious minerals.

This can't be good reason to be optimistic. Minerals which are
not mined or which are not benefiting the people - as is the case now - are
just as useless as those that are non-existent.

Mugabe and his officials are in denial and have sought to bury
their heads in the sand hoping the crisis will go away. They use rhetoric to
pretend the situation is okay. From defining policy, to policy
implementation, to trying to hide certain policy decisions or actions, the
regime is clearly locked in denial and looks off-message all the time. But
it continues to raise false hopes of recovery.

Instead of embarking on serious reforms, Mugabe and other
like-minded old-school politicians seem to rather think demagoguery -
spin-doctoring - will change things.

Taking advantage of their unlimited access to the state media,
Zanu PF politicians are taking a spin at the media wheel. They seem to be
trying hard to outdo each other in misleading the people that they will fix
the economy and in the process perform political theatrics to get hitched to
television stations and be quoted in newspapers at home and abroad.

But underneath the sludge of rhetoric that things will be okay,
they betray desperation and suppressed fear that the centre is now
collapsing. Listen to Mugabe speaking and the tinge of anger and extreme
anxiety always escapes him. The same applies to his ministers.

While they pretend to be on top of the situation, reality always
surfaces to show they are running scared. Idle talk and reveries about
economic recovery will not help anything. A Mr Micawber syndrome cannot be a

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Zim Independent Letters

Let's press for polls in Harare

THE Commission running the City of Harare is using blatanly
extortionate tactics to fund its excesses, a bahaviour which portrays its
lack of respect for the citizens of the city.

I am a part-time caretaker of a residence whose owner is away.

Prior to her departure in April she paid $10 million at the
local offices which ensured some credit.

A month later she received a bill for more than $6,5 million (ie
two months rates and water consumption). On contacting Rowan Martin offices
to enquire about the payment she had made, she was told that communication
between local offices and theirs was "slow".

The following month the bill had reached $13,5 million with
still no credit for the amount paid.

The owner, whose departure was now imminent, became so terrified
of the water being cut off that she wrote out a cheque for this amount to
the vampirish City of Harare treasury department taking her total payment to
$23 million.

A few days later while I was at work council workmen gained
access to the property and disconnected our water supplies.

I would like to inform the City of Harare that I became the
proud caretaker of a big bobbejaan spanner which I used to regain our
rightful access to water. It could also prove useful in future at the gate
to defend the rights of the owner!

Who can fail to be offended by the opportunistic scavenging that
we face from the unelected officials at Town House - those who we pay to
provide services for our social well-being?

We who pay our bills timeously are instead punished and
portrayed as bad debtors through the incompetence of the treasurer's
department. Let us lobby for democratic elections and get rid of these
incompetent men and women.

R Gunner,

Mount Pleasant, Harare.

      Shut up and seek guidance, Coltart!

      THE Bulawayo South legislator, David Coltart, has actually
been lying when he said he was a neutral party in the MDC split saga.

      Coltart belongs to the pro-senate MDC faction led by
Arthur Mutambara.

      He was being hypocritical by pretending to be neutral. I
have been closely following and analysing his comments about the situation
prevailing in the MDC, and concluded that he was biased and sympathetic
towards the Mutambara faction.

      From his comments in which he has labelled the
Tsvangirai-led MDC violent and dictatorial, one did not need to be a rocket
scientist or professor of robotics to tell which side of the fence Coltart
belonged to, or what he was trying to achieve.

       Coltart has continued to use the pro-senate propaganda
that the anti-senate faction is violent and dictatorial. Since he assumed
his role of self-appointed referee, I have not heard him speak ill about the
Mutambara faction.

      We have heard about the ills in the pro-senate faction
only from those who have abandoned it, and not from those claiming to be
neutral like Coltart.

      Coltart, like the rest in the Mutambara faction, is
refusing to accept the reality that the Tsvangirai-led faction has the
majority of MDC supporters in Zimbabwe and abroad.

      The pro-senate faction under-
      plays the large support the Tsvangirai faction has from
its full-house rallies as irrelevant. In fact, they have attempted to liken
this support to the rented crowds we witness at Zanu PF rallies.

      This is an insult to the intelligence of the majority of
supporters as it is an approval of the anti-senate's position regarding the
senatorial election and the overall conduct of the faction since the split.

      The people following Tsvangirai are no fools and they know
what they want. They have their democratic right to choose which faction to

      Coltart should keep quiet and stop seeing himself as the
most reasonable voice in the MDC.

      He should go back to his constituency and seek guidance
regarding the position to take in this MDC split from his constituents.

      Sir Tapera,


      Kawondera accident: an eyewitness account

      I AM a keen reader of your paper but I was rather taken
aback by one of your reports headed "Kawondera critically injures man in
accident", (Zimbabwe Independent, June 16), by Enock Muchinjo.

      While the fact that Kawondera did indeed injure the young
man on the said day, the report had so many inaccuracies that set me
thinking; if a renowned paper like this could print so many untruths in just
one small article, are we to believe anything else that it carries?

      I happened to be present when the incident occurred. In
fact, I was less than 10 metres away when the whole drama unfolded.

      * First, the incident occurred in the morning, around 8am
not 8pm;

      * The incident did not occur at a nightclub but at a
bottle store (paGwekwete, Unit L to be exact);

      * Kawondera was never beaten up. He actually ferried the
injured young man to hospital;

      * The whole Unit L complex comprising bottle stores and
nightclubs (even supermarkets) do not employ security guards, and where the
alleged security guards who rescued Kawondera came from is a mystery;

      * What I know is that supermarkets at the complex only
employ shop attendants who check for reciepts. If this is what Muchinjo
calls security guards then we need to give a definition of what a security
guard really is;

      * Kawondera did not take off at high speed. I even wonder
myself how he could have failed to stop the car in time. It was obvious
Kawondera was drunk. It took him more than 30 minutes to find where he had
placed his car keys;

      * The young man did not jump onto the bonnet. He was
actually sitting on the bonnet. When the car started moving, he actually
shouted in joy, shaking his green bottle in celebration. I don't know
whether in his inebriated state Kawondera saw the guy or not. When he
applied his brakes after going for less than 10 metres, the guy fell off. It
beats me how and why he failed to stop because the distance between where
the car started moving (opposite Gwekwete) and where the guy fell off
(opposite Katanga) is so short that one could not have taken off at high
speed without crashing into something. The place is literally littered with
cars parked there overnight and it was teeming with shoppers at that time of
the day. You could double check this yourselves.

      I pray that the young man recovers, and that Kawondera
learns a thing from this incident.



             Batoka Gorge should come first

            YOU rightly conclude that our wish list of
infrastuctural projects on the drawing board are beyond our means whilst we
are a pariah state "Yet another ruse by failed politicians", (Zimbabwe
Independent, June 16).

            However, when we are able to proceed in tackling our
serious shortage of electricity generation, I trust that we will not fall
into the trap of expanding generation capacity at Kariba before building
Batoka Gorge upstream because this is a "cheaper" option.

            Batoka Gorge will first allow us to run Kariba and
Batoka conjunctively to best advantage. Batoka as a "run of river"
hydroelectric dam will generate base load power while Kariba can store water
for peak power generation.

            Extra generating capacity at Kariba will be sensible
to handle peak demand decisively. Incidentally, Cabora Bassa similarly
should also be run conjunctively with Kariba (and Batoka when built).

            Chris Molam,


            No relenting on fight for new constitution

            THERE is a serious need for Zimbabwe to consider the
need for a new constitution as a way of rebuilding the nation.

            Zimbabwe is now in a serious dilemma emanating from
flawed laws that are being used by the present government to deny Zimbabwean
citizens their basic rights. The government continuously uses the Lancaster
House constitution to run controversial elections through the use of a
partisan electoral body - the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

            During the 2005 parliamentary election, the ZEC
failed to give convincing explanations in relation to the discrepancies
between the announced results over the radio and those at their command

            Flawed elections have contributed to the legitimacy
crisis of the present government and have caused the international isolation
of Zimbabwe. Our economic woes are directly caused by the lack of sound
economic policies to address the ever-escalating inflation.

            Prices of basic commodities have slipped beyond the
reach of ordinary Zimbabweans who are struggling to make ends meet. We are
faced with a situation where the unemployment rate is over 80% yet the
income of more than three quarters of those employed is far less than the
poverty datum line estimated at $52,5 million.

            A new people-driven constitution will guarantee
Zimbabweans an accountable government that is responsive to their plight.
The current efforts by the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) need
unwavering support from all stakeholders to push the government to agree to
constitutional reforms.

            The NCA annual general meeting held on May 27
resolved that there is a need to put pressure on the government through mass
demonstrations. The civic society has a task to mobilise the masses to rally
behind the cause for a new constitution.

            There is also a need for political parties to work
together with civic society, students, churches and labour to come up with a
working document that will be used as a rallying point towards
constitutional reforms. Such a document can give priority to the
NCA-proposed draft and the 2000 rejected government proposal.

            Currently, the NCA is collaborating with all those
who are cognisant of the urgent desire for the nation to have a new
people-driven constitution. These stakeholders include Zimbabweans in the
diaspora, the churches, students, labour unions and political parties. The
NCA urges all Zimbabweans to demand a new constitution without fear of
victimisation by the current regime. As the NCA, we are determined to fight
for a new constitution through protracted mass street protests.

            The NCA believes that the power of the people comes
first before the wishes of a minority egocentric political leadership that
we witness today. It is however sad to note that whilst all progressive
pro-democratic forces are advancing towards getting a new democratic
constitution, some unruly elements without direction seem to have been
bought by the government to derail the people's efforts.

            The NCA would like to urge those who frequent the
media for the sole purpose of undermining the mandate of the assembly to
instead offer pragmatic ways of urgently getting a democratic constitution.

            As the NCA, we remain resolute in our agenda for a
new constitution and Zimbabweans should not take seriously individuals bent
on diverting efforts of the masses towards achieving this goal.

            Madock Chivasa,

            NCA spokesperson.

            There are black racists too!

            My white grandniece went for her driving test in
Harare recently.

            During the test the examiner had another black young
lady, also waiting to take her test, accompany them in the back seat.

            At some point there was a brief conversation in
Shona, which my niece did not understand, but at the end of the test the
black lady told my niece that the examiner had said he always fails varungu
(whites) first time because "they have the money" .

            I this the policy of the whole Driving
Licence Examining Body?

            Also in Zimbabwe does the word "racist" only apply
to whites?



            Dedicate Sunday to the suffering

            IN a world in which torture is an everyday
occurrence, the United Nations has set aside one day, June 26 each year, as
their day in support of victims of torture.

            In Bulawayo in recent years, victims of torture and
organised violence have been offered the sanctity of the church in which to
testify, so that others may stand side by side with them and share their
tales of horror. The current government has been responsible for tens of
thousands of human rights abuses, including more than 10 000 murders of
unarmed civilians in Matabeleland in the 1980s, and most recently, the
illegal and heartless evictions known as Operation Murambatsvina, which the
UN itself estimates affected over two million people.

            School children are out of school and go to bed
hungry in this cold winter because their parents have been driven into

            Last week also saw the commemoration of World
Refugee Day. Again, this day has become one that resonates for Zimbabweans.
The government itself acknowledges that its profligate policies have driven
more than two million fellow Zimbabweans out into the international
wilderness, where they live in great hardship, suffer discrimination as
makwerekweres and exploitation as illegals.

            It is therefore with a heavy heart that I react to
the fact that church services will this weekend be held, not in solidarity
with torture victims and refugees, but in the presence of their

            The church should be a refuge and a safe haven for
those who have been tortured and abandoned. It is this government that
continues to torture and abuse people, and to give impunity to those
responsible. This government has no heart for the suffering of its people,
and church leadership should be aware that to join in solidarity with those
who have caused such great suffering leaves many victims feeling betrayed.

            It is not for President Mugabe to recommit this
country to God, as is being suggested by some church leadership. God will
judge on an individual basis, who is and who is not committed to Him; God
will judge us all by our actions and not by our words.

            Those church leaders standing with the president at
this time, argue that dialogue is necessary for progress and a return to
normality in Zimbabwe.

            But this government has given no indication of a
willingness to engage in real dialogue. Church leaders nationally and
internationally and African heads of state have been trying to talk
meaningfully with this government for years. Church leadership should be
very cautious therefore in sharing a platform with perpetrators who so far
have made no concessions and no confessions to their people. They may
sacrifice their own credibility for no return.

            Here I would like to quote Pope John Paul II who
reminded us in a message on the World Day of Peace, January 26, 1997:

            "Forgiveness, far from precluding the truth,
actually requires it. The evil which has been done must be acknowledged and
as far as possible corrected.. Another essential prerequisite for
forgiveness and reconciliation is justice, which finds its ultimate
foundation in the law of God.Forgiveness neither eliminates nor lessens the
need for reparation which justice requires, but seeks to reintegrate
individuals and groups into society, and states into the community of

            In my belief, there is a need for the leadership of
this country to admit the full and honest truth of the crimes it has
committed against its fellow Zimbabweans, to be subjected to a process of
justice for these crimes and those who have suffered must have reparation
for their losses. Only then can Zimbabwe as a nation begin the process of
reconciliation with the past and look to a brighter future blessed by God.

            I appeal to those church leaders who feel as I do,
to dedicate their Sunday services this weekend to the suffering of the
hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans left homeless a year ago by the
heartless and illegal actions of this government - and to all the others who
have suffered cruelty and death at their hands through the decades.

            Archbishop Pius Alec Ncube,


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