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Business must take leadership role in the process of change

Zimbabwe Independent 2/6/06
  Peter Moyo, managing director of international insurance broker, Alexander Forbes, in South Africa, was the guest speaker at the recent annual Zimbabwe Independent Quoted Companies Survey reception and award ceremony. Here is the full text of his speech:
IT is nice to be in Harare after a long time. I have not been here since December 2002. Harare is the first city that I ever worked in, back in 1982 as an articled clerk straight after leaving school at Goromonzi.
It is fitting that the theme of this year’s survey is "persevering beyond survival". There is every reason to question whether Zimbabwean companies are operating in a fit economy.
There are questions whether the Zimbabwean companies are fit to compete in the global market. There are quite frankly questions as to whether Zimbabwean companies can really survive into the future.
The headline in today’s Business Day, in South Africa, was "Zimbabwe meltdown of concern to SA". The paper quotes the South African deputy foreign minister as saying that inflation is at 1 000% and the prediction is that it can get worse.
Surely this is cause for concern. It must, I guess, be more cause for concern for the Zimbabwean people than the South African people.
Surely we can’t say the country is fit. Surely there are question marks as to how long the companies and indeed the people of Zimbabwe must persevere. We also can’t say the Zimbabwean businesses are fit.
At the time of its demutualisation Old Mutual Zimbabwe was a good contributor to the overall Old Mutual. Today a giant in the Zimbabwean economy is accounted for purely on a dividend basis.
It makes no difference to the bottom line of Old Mutual even if you only looked at the South African business. Other countries are playing a much bigger role as trading partners with South Africa. At one point in time Zimbabwe was one of South Africa’s biggest trading partners. South Africa may not be the benchmark but this illustrates the point.
I guess what I have said so far is not news to any of you. The question that we have to ask is where to from here. I do not propose to have all the answers. I don’t. I do have views, however.
What is happening in Zimbabwe today is not only a test for the Zanu PF government. It is a test for all the people of Zimbabwe; it is a test for all the business people of Zimbabwe.
There are fortunately parallels between what is happening in the country and the business world. There is a lot business can bring to the party in getting the country on the road to recovery.
I have a view that people that have more to lose must be the people that have to act. Zimbabwean businesses and the Zimbabwean people have more to lose than politicians. In business for change to happen there must be a burning platform.
There is already a burning platform in Zimbabwe. So change is inevitable.
We know in business that there are situations that require total change not an incremental change. Reversing what we have done and where we are is not going to get us back to where we ought to be. Fixing employment will not bring back all the chartered accountants that have left the country. Zimbabwe needs more than that.
Like a company undergoing change, it is a totally new vision that this country needs. The world has moved and Zimbabwe has gone backwards. To catch up, the country needs drastic change.
Unfortunately the change that one is talking about in Zimbabwe is not the change from a calf into a cow but, the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. We in business know that when you talk about this kind of change, you need a total re-think, you need fresh ideas, you need in most cases new people.
In business and in history we also know that no such change has ever been led from the palace.
The Zimbabwean politics and economy are too precious to be left only to politicians. The change cannot be driven only by politicians. In business we know that for any drastic change you need to take all the main stakeholders along.
Business cannot therefore afford not to play a meaningful change in the transformation of the country. Business is besides an important stakeholder.
Some of the most successful changes we have seen in South Africa have been ones where business has taken the lead.
The financial sector charter is a case in point. It was led and managed by business from beginning to end. When government drafted the mining charter, business was not involved. It almost went bad. Business woke up too late. Fortunately business leaders got involved and the mining charter today works for all of us.
We can’t therefore sit back and expect the government to lead the change. We have to dedicate resources to it. When we worked on the financial sector charter I worked on it for a good 12 months with a serious devotion of my time, similarly the CEO of Standard Bank put a lot of his time into it. The president and general secretary of ABSIP worked on it. I pulled out a general manager from Old Mutual to work on the project virtually full time for almost a year.
We could not wait for someone to determine our destiny. I believe today business in Zimbabwe is at that juncture.
I know the Zimbabwean situation is more dire than that. We have to accept that there is a serious management of the culture that needs to happen if Zimbabwe is to be successful. In business we know that for any change to be successful there has to be a clear plan backed by systems and processes to support the change.
We have possibly one of the best constitutions in the world in South Africa, yet it has taken us almost a decade to get to grips with our crime situation. Our systems and processes were not aligned to our intentions. We had a police force that was trained to extract a confession from an accused by beating the hell out of them. If you do that today, you cannot secure a conviction.
You may have read in the judgement relating to the allegations against the former South African deputy president, the judge alluded to the fact that the police had not read to him his rights. It affected the judgement. Russia had some of the best plans when it came to its transformation. Harvard professors were involved. The whole system failed because the culture, the processes and systems were not supportive of that change. If the Zimbabwean transformation is to work someone has to be thinking about that today.
In business we know that a lot of change fails at the people and at the culture levels. Unfortunately these are the things that we have to start fixing now if the transformation of Zimbabwe is going to be successful.
What culture do our people have now? Can this culture take us into a new world? We need to think about that and define the culture that will get us to a successful future. I believe business has a role to play in this. Big business is always involved in the political set up in the US. I think it is time business got involved in the political set up in the country.
Look at the Jews in the United States of America; they always get what they want irrespective of the party in power. They are involved.
For me this is more than a political issue. It talks to the emergence of a new crop of people, people who are not tainted. People that are not going to be doing it for their image, people that quite frankly do not need the job. People that Bill George calls authentic leaders. We are fortunate that we still have some good business people in Zimbabwe.
In business we know that for people to be good leaders, they need to be prepared for the jobs and they must have the experience to do it. Choosing the right leader is one of the most important things that shareholders have to do, and choosing the right team is one of the most critical things a CEO has to do.
We can also bring this thinking in the transformation of the country. In business we have people that have successfully led their enterprises. Is there no role for these people in public life? Look at the former successful business people that are involved in public life in the US.
In business we have a culture of accountability. I know that if I do not deliver there are consequences. This is the culture that we need to engender as Zimbabwe moves forward. It is yet possible to have a culture of accountability in the political arena.
If you analyse almost all the business failures in the world, you will never find one that failed because of bad luck. It is generally greed and in some cases poor management. We also need clean leaders. This is a prerequisite for any meaningful transformation; Leaders that people can follow and trust. We know in business you can’t lead effectively if you are not trusted. Besides leadership presupposes that there are followers.
I am not qualified to say who the players ought to be. All I know is that today Zimbabwe needs a strong team, a team that can lead and be trusted.
I think as business leaders you will be failing the country if you do not take a leadership role in the transformation of the country. I know it is easy to say this from afar, but I believe it.

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Don’t hold your breath

Financial Gazette

ZIMBABWEAN millers are minting it without a sweat by exploiting flaws in the country’s porous grain distribution system.

They are buying maize from the government agent at $600 000 per tonne and selling it back to the parastatal for an unbelievable $31. 3 million per tonne.
And the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) chief executive officer, Retired Colonel Samuel Muvuti wants us to believe that the irregularities — euphemism for corruption — in the trading of maize will be nipped in the bud. How we wish we could believe him! But we know better to ignore his bluster as empty rhetoric. We have heard such hollow pledges before. Yet we can count the grand total of corruption-related indictments on the fingers of one hand.
This will not be the first pledge by a government or quasi-government institution to get to the bottom of corrupt activities and the all-pervading cupidity characterising Zimbabwe today. And it certainly will not be the last. It is therefore a foregone conclusion that, despite the overwhelming evidence of corruption, the maize scandal will be another dead case. Quickly and quietly this issue will, like many before it, be swept under that thick, impregnable carpet of political convenience, even though there is clearly a case of corruption. There is no plausible reason for us to believe otherwise.
Lest we are accused of issuing a verdict before we have heard any of the evidence, we will cite outstanding examples where the long arm of the Zimbabwean law has not been long enough to reach many suspects in corruption cases despite the obvious damage inflicted on the economy: the banking scandal, where psalm-singing bankers who exuded church-deacon prissiness abused depositors’ funds, the multiple farm ownership racket, the abuse of the VIP Housing Scheme and the War Victims Compensation Fund as well as the ongoing looting of minerals and commercial farm equipment.
There is more. Farmers linked to the ruling ZANU PF, most of whom benefited from the controversial land reform programme, are known to have abused the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe fuel facility under the guise of using the precious liquid for farming activities. In the last quarter of 2004, a plethora of fuel companies believed to be owned by influential politicians were also implicated in the abuse of foreign currency allocated by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe through the auction system for fuel procurement purposes.
In all these cases, which expose the government’s failure to identify problems before it is too late to solve them, government was not only reluctant to pursue them to their logical conclusion but was also not keen to name and shame the culprits, most of whom remain faceless up to this day.
The question is: Why did government stall without even giving a good explanation as to why the identities of the indisputably corrupt individuals were never made public or why they remain on the loose? The answer seems to lie in the fact that, ninety-nine out of a hundred times, in any probe on corrupt or illegal activities, the trails often lead to prominent political figures. In the latest case, in which the culprits are unknown to all but a handful of GMB officials, we wouldn’t be surprised if ties between some of the millers and senior GMB officials are suspiciously extensive and go beyond the normal business relations that suppliers and clients might have.
This is the major reason why, as we have said before, even though naming and shaming the culprits and releasing any other relevant information on these cases would have served the specific public interest by exposing waste, fraud, abuse and criminal activity — thus promoting public sector transparency and accountability — government will not do it.
The identifiable harm of such a lucid exposé to the ruling ZANU PF outweighs the public interest! It is parochial party politics and not national interest that defines the red lines that government wouldn’t dare cross, which is why in most such cases law enforcement agents are so intimidated by the political dimension and sensitivity of these cases that they do not handle them in a routine manner. It is against this background that in 2004 there were deafening calls for clemency and leniency from self-serving politicians who wanted the executive to pardon corruption-accused people for crimes they had not even been tried for! Thus there is an inescapable impression that the decisions to investigate and prosecute suspects in such cases rests solely with the ZANU PF upper echelon.
To this end, doubts will always linger over government’s sincerity, drive, commitment and passion over the much-vaunted anti-corruption crusade for which there is very little, if anything, to show. Indeed, it will take an incredible leap of faith to believe that government will ever up the ante in its half-hearted fight against corruption.

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Recovery only possible after political change, experts say

Financial Gazette
National Report

Charles Rukuni Bulawayo Bureau Chief

IT’S a tug-of-war. Zimbabwe says it will turn around its economy in six to nine months. Experts say that’s impossible.

A highly sceptical population just waits, more likely to believe those that say it is impossible to turn around the economy because there are no signs to that effect.
What is more visible is the increasing hardships that the average Zimbabwean faces every day — school fees that have skyrocketed, the cost of transport that has gone up, and the daily struggle to make ends meet.
Economic experts are now paying more attention to Zimbabwe as the presidential elections scheduled for the first quarter of 2008 draw nearer. Their focus is on President Robert Mugabe who has ruled the country since independence 26 years ago, making him the 19th longest serving ruler in the world.
Four other African leaders beat him. These are Omar Bongo of Gabon ranked 7th, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya who is in eighth place, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea and Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola ranked 17th and 18th, respectively. Bongo has been in power since 1967.
Zimbabwe has been in the spotlight largely because of its controversial land reform programme and the proposed indigenisation of its mineral wealth. With President Mugabe having publicly stated that he is stepping down when his current term expires, most of the international economists are looking at post-Mugabe scenarios. Some argue that Zimbabwe’s fortunes will only improve once the octogenarian has left.
Despite the economic meltdown, most people are puzzled about how Zimbabwe has survived up to now. Local economic commentator, Tony Hawkins, in a paper presented at a security conference at the University of Pretoria last month said eight years into economic decline that has cut gross domestic product (total wealth) by 40 percent and halved income per head, Zimbabwe was still standing. “The oft-predicted collapse, implosion, meltdown has yet to happen,” he said.
Perhaps the explanation lies in the reason for the collapse. Even here experts do not agree. The government says the economy is on its knees because the country is being punished by the West for taking land from whites. This has been worsened by persistent droughts as well as sanctions imposed on the country by the European Union and the United States. The two say sanctions are targeted at individuals and not the country.
The International Monetary Fund blames it on inappropriate economic policies including loose fiscal and monetary policies, a fixed exchange rate and price controls.
Craig Richardson, an economics professor at Salem College and author of “The Collapse of Zimbabwe in the Wake of the 2000-2003 Land Reforms”, blames it on the haphazard land reform programme. President Mugabe, he says, tampered with property rights and investors moved their capital to safer countries.
“Property rights,” he says, “are analogous to the concrete foundation of a building: critical for supporting the frame and the roof, yet virtually invisible to its inhabitants.”
Though reduced to a basket case, almost everyone agrees that Zimbabwe can recover, “quickly” for that matter. But they differ on who will do it and how it should be done.
The Zimbabwean government is convinced it can do it. All it needs is commitment. It has marshalled all key secotrs to do that — the government, business and labour. And much to the chagrin of many who are crying militarisation, it has brought in the security forces to stop vandalism and to protect investors, or so it says.
Critics say the present programme is going nowhere. “Zimbabwe is a country on the edge,” say Todd Moss and Stewart Patrick in an article in the latest issue of the Africa Policy Journal. “It may technically be at peace, but it is suffering war-like trauma to its polity and economy.”
Moss and Patrick argue that Zimbabwe would have to be bailed out by the international community with the United States and Britain playing a key role. But they are adamant that this help should only be provided once President Mugabe is gone.
“No donor should provide assistance to the government at the present time since a recovery is impossible with the current leadership,” they say, adding, “but there is no time to waste in developing a multilateral framework to respond to the transition that is unavoidably coming to Harare.”
In a move that seems to be aimed at speeding up the change, they say: “There is also no reason to keep this contingency planning effort secret. Diplomatic etiquette notwithstanding, there would be considerable benefit to making this an open and consultative exercise. Letting Zimbabwe’s people know that they have not been forgotten and that the world stands ready to help once Robert Mugabe is gone could even help bring about that day a little sooner.”
Ironically, they also state that the main impetus of recovery has to come from within Zimbabwe itself. “Any revival will depend on domestic groups willing to reconcile and organise to rebuild and, fortuitously, the country has a wealth of capable people (many of whom are abroad) who can contribute to a rebound.”
Richardson, on the other hand, believes that recovery will be centred on the restoration of property rights.
“The prospect of land reform can be appealing, even seductive to developing countries with large disparities in wealth — a simple matter of extracting resources from a less deserving rich minority and redistributing them to a more deserving poor majority. Yet . . . the outcomes of fast-track land reform have enormous potential to backfire, leaving everyone worse off than before,” he says in a message that seems to be aimed at South Africa and Namibia which are grappling with how to solve their land problems and have publicly stated that they might follow the Zimbabwean example.
But Zimbabweans do not have long to wait to judge for themselves whether the country is on the road to recovery or not. They should see results by the end of this month. The government has given itself 90 days to raise US$2.5 billion in cash or investment. The 90 days are up at the end of this month.

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Gono warns speculators

FInancial Gazette
National Report

Rangarirai Mberi Senior Business Reporter
as Zim dollar tumbles to new low
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono has threatened action to end the “speculation” he blames for a surge in parallel market activity that has driven the Zimbabwe dollar nearly 40 percent down since last week.

The Zimbabwe dollar fell from around US$1: $220 000 — where it had stayed steady for over a month — to around $300 000 yesterday, driving fuel prices up nearly 70 percent and throwing the central bank’s anti-inflation drive into further danger.
Analysts say a flood in liquidity — the amount of Zimbabwe dollars in circulation — has driven demand for forex as people rush to hedge against inflation by buying and holding hard currency.
Part of this demand has come from civil servants, some of whom had their salaries raised by as much as 300 percent in May.
Without saying how he planned to drain that liquidity from the market and take some pressure off the Zimdollar, Gono issued a stark warning: “Let all my colleagues in the banking sector be warned. The days of speculators will soon be over, very soon.”
There was $13 trillion on the market last week, and it was seen in surplus this week.
A new $100 000 note goes into circulation today, the latest evidence of how inflationary pressures remain strong despite a medley of policy measures that Gono has introduced over the past year to try and slow prices down.
The RBZ boss sees inflation peaking at 1 200 percent, but the sudden rush in parallel market activity is likely to push the rate higher, analysts say.

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Parirenyatwa Hospital a health risk

Financial Gazette
National Report

Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter

THE National Blood Service of Zimbabwe (NBSZ) has threatened to discontinue blood supplies to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals — the country’s premier public health facility — over an outstanding debt. The debt runs into billions of dollars.

In another indication of the inexorable deterioration of the country’s health delivery system, impeccable sources said that the NBSZ threatened to discontinue supplies to the hospital owing to a drawn out default on debt payment. They said the NBSZ took the decision to induce the hospital to honour its debt.
Eddington Muchokwani, an NBSZ official, yesterday confirmed that his organisation had threatened to limit supplies to Parirenyatwa. He, however, said the hospital continued to receive blood packs. “Parirenyatwa Hospital is receiving normal blood supplies,” said Muchokwani. “A threat about the limiting of supplies was made after outstanding bills ran into billions. This was, however, suspended when a payment arrangement was agreed on,” he added.
Parirenyatwa chief executive officer Thomas Zigora disputed the debt claims.
“We don’t owe any money to the NBSZ except for current supplies,” said Zigora. “What we know is there is limited supply of blood at NBSZ.”
Administrative sources at Parirenyatwa said the NBSZ was supplying the hospital with blood units for emergency cases such as surgical operations and for patients experiencing bleeding. They said the NBSZ was now demanding patients’ diagnosis before releasing blood packs, in order to identify those suffering from life-threatening ailments.
The NBSZ has already reported that its blood bank is running low owing to a critical shortage of foreign currency to source blood bags and test kits. This was worsened by the decline in the number of blood donors.
Owing to the blood supply shortage, a feature of the grinding economic crisis gripping Zimbabwe’s once-envied health delivery system, nursing sources said they had now been instructed by their matrons to administer iron supplements to anaemic patients.
Hospital personnel warned that some patients at the hospital could be endangered due to the drying up of blood supplies.
Meanwhile, in the hospital’s wards, nurses disclosed that they were using one pair of gloves to attend to four patients instead of the stipulated one pair per patient.
“We make sure that when we bath the patients we don’t take off the gloves until all of them are through but now there is a risk of passing on skin infections and some patients are going for days without being cleaned,” said the sources.
The sources also reported that mortuary attendants were using plastic bags to handle dead bodies due to a critical shortage of gloves.
Zigora said the hospital was ‘rationing’ gloves to curb growing cases of abuse.
“Yes like every supply, steps will be taken to curtail abuse. We have gloves but we know that they can be used for other purposes,” he added without elaborating.
The drying up of blood supplies and shortages of gloves at the country’s prime public referral hospital reflects a litany of woes besetting Zimbabwe’s public health institutions, which are already reeling from acute shortages of medication, equipment and utensils as well as an exodus of experienced practitioners.
Last month Parirenyatwa ran out of coal supplies, a situation which virtually paralysed autoclaving machines, which are used in the sterilisation process, at the hospital.

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Disputes on sales of immovable property

Financial Gazette

Matters Legal with Vote Muza

RECENTLY, during my routine court appearances I made an interesting, and at the same time worrisome discovery.

Listening to a majority of cases that came up for determination on the day in question, I realised that most of the disputes, including the one for which I came to present an argument on, were disputes revolving around sales of immovable property. My own further investigations have subsequently confirmed that week in and week out, our courts are saturated with disputes of this nature as well as a sizeable number of divorces.
Upon further reflection, and pondering, I also realised that due to the nature of our economy, most individuals are rushing to invest in immovable property, and as a result, the business of selling houses or land has become a safe playing field for conmen who also include some dubious estate agents.
The police is inundated with complaints emanating from victims swindled of their hard earned income by these uncouth elements. Much, however as the police might strive to stamp out this prevalent crime, the desperation of some home-seekers, who rush to part with their money without doing sufficient investigation invariably complicates matters.
Another disadvantage faced by victims of this malaise is that most perpetrators escape conviction of the crimes of theft by false pretences or conversion because the modus operandi cause the matters to be civil in outlook, rather than criminal.
Having failed on the criminal front, an attempt to seek compensation in the civil courts usually yields nothing because the smart conmen are spendthrifts, elusive and usually indigent, thereby leaving their victims clutching at nothing.
The modus operandi takes many, but obvious forms. One common one is where a seller of a property negotiates with a purchaser today, and tomorrow, turns around, and negotiates a second sale with another unsuspecting purchaser. Usually the capricious and criminally minded seller then swiftly passes on title deeds to the second purchaser, because in these times of inflation, he will have paid more than the first purchaser. The other form is where outright smooth taking criminals “sell” non- existent houses or land using well-crafted but fake title deeds and in this process they get assistance from unscrupulous accomplices at the office of the Registrar of Deeds, or officials in charge of housing at town council offices.
Those individuals who are not careful enough, or those who do not seek legal advice through honest reputable lawyers, end up yelling and in tears having lost fortunes.
Notwithstanding that most victims are Zimbabweans who are in the so-called diaspora, and who may not have a chance to read this column I have felt compelled to give advice on this subject so that those who are careful enough will avoid the pitfalls that others have stumbled into.
In doing so, I shall first outline the law, for the sake of better understanding. The case of Crundal Brothers (Pvt) Ltd vs Lazarus NO. and Another 1991 (2) ZLR (SC) laid down the law regarding rights of parties in cases of a double sale of immovable property.
The Supreme Court stated the position of law in this way:
Where A sells a piece of land first to B, and then to C, the rights of the parties are as follows;
1. Where title deeds have been given to C, C acquires an indefensible right if he had no knowledge, either at the time of sale, or at the time he took transfer, of the prior sale to B, and B’s only remedy is an action for damages against “A”.
2. If however, C had knowledge at either of these dates, B, in the absence of special circumstances affecting the balance of equities, can recover the land from him, and in that event C’s only remedy is an action for damages against “A”.
Any further attempt to elucidate the above position will be tedious and unwarranted.
Going by the example of the first facts situation given above it goes without saying that even if one may be the first to negotiate an agreement with a seller, if one does not push to get title deeds, and such title passes to a subsequent purchaser, that will be the end of the matter, and the only remedy available is to seek damages from the seller. In practice such a process will not only be cumbersome to pursue but will cause the victim to incur more financial loss through legal expenses.
Purchasing of immovable property, no matter how desperate one is, must never be done quickly as if one is buying bread across the counter. Careful investigation of the intentions of sellers, as well as the records held at either the Deeds Office or offices of local councils must be carried out.
A patient and diligent search through the assistance of lawyers who are knowledgeable about appearance of title deeds will assist in revealing the position of ownership. Where it is discovered that the property is jointly owned, the law requires that the other joint owner also be part to the agreement of sale. That is not all.
A physical inspection of the property is always called for to ensure that one is not purchasing a dummy. Where one is purchasing from private property developers, one must make sure that the seller was granted a subdivision permit and a compliance certificate, and even further making sure that the land was properly surveyed and a diagram approved by the surveyor-general is available. For without these the seller will virtually be constrained as far as passing of transfer is concerned.
Agreements of sale must also be prepared through reputable estate agents who are registered with the Estate Agents Council so that in the event of fraud or embezzlement purchasers can be indemnified. Those purchasing council properties must similarly convince themselves that the purchaser is the true owner and that council approval to dispose of the property has been granted.
It is better to take time and incur moderate costs through employing reputable lawyers and estate agents than be stingy and suffer a lot of financial loss through carelessness and rushed decisions.
lVote Muza is a legal practitioner with Gutu and Chikowero legal practitioners.
He can be contacted on E-mail:

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Firms resort to coal imports

Financial Gazette

Staff Reporter
Supply problems at Hwange still unsolved
Supply and production problems at the country’s largest coal producer Hwange Colliery Company limited are forcing companies to import expensive but inferior quality coal from South Africa and Botswana.

About three listed companies have told The Financial Gazette that they are now importing coal, a critical input in their production processes, from the region.
ZSR chief Patterson Sithole said his group has resorted to importing coal until Hwange overcomes operating challenges at its mines.
Sithole added that he was optimistic Hwange would resume supplies should it overcome its challenges.
Meanwhile, Delta Beverages chief executive Joe Mutizwa told this paper last week that refineries are facing unstable coal supplies due to disruptions to production at Hwange, forcing Delta to import coal from Botswana to augment supplies from the smaller Sengwa coal mine in Zmbabwe, owned by RioZim.
Said Mutizwa: “We are importing coal from Botswana. Sengwa coal is not suitable, but we have to muddle through that until Hwange is back on stream”.
Hwange is struggling to recover after it hit an aquifer at its main underground mine. The company needs drainage equipment, which costs several millions of American dollars.
Coal delivered to Hwange Power Station (HPS) last year stood at 2 million tonnes up from a previous 1,9 million tonnes delivered in the prior year. Sales declined from 1 022 497 tonnes in the previous year to 831 614 tonnes owing to low production from its new underground mine which was commissioned in the first quarter of last year while coal exports stood at 39 067 tonnes down from 99 514 tonnes in the prior year.
“Coke sales of 196 523 tonnes were 10 percent above the tonnage achieved last year. This product is a high revenue earner for the company. There was a significant off take of coke to the export market especially during the first half of the year.
“Coke export for the year amounted to 105 927 tonnes and were 40 percent above the sales achieved in the previous year,” said the company in a statement accompanying its results.
“Gas supply to ZPC’s Hwange Power Station increased from 19 million Nm3 due to improved plant availability throughout the year,” added the company.
Hwange is the largest coal producer in the country and is listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange and the Johannesburg Securities Exchange.

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EU protests over sanctions

FInancial Gazette

Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter

EUROPEAN Union (EU) ambassadors accredited to Harare have hit out at what they say are distortions by government officials and the public media regarding the targeted sanctions slapped on President Robert Mugabe and his ruling elite by the bloc.

Government officials frequently blame economic sanctions for the country’s mounting economic woes.
In a statement released this week, Austrian Ambassador Michael Brunner — whose government holds the EU presidency — and Ambassador Xavier Marchal, the head of the European Commission, disputed official government pronouncements that there were sanctions against the generality of the people of Zimbabwe.
They said statistics at hand showed the EU continued to inject funds to support Zimbabwe’s various social and humanitarian programmes for the benefit of ordinary people.
“As Presidency, Commission and Member States of the European Union, we would like to put the following again on record: there are no economic EU sanctions against Zimbabwe. There have never been economic EU sanctions against Zimbabwe. Far from wishing to add to the distress of Zimbabwe’s people, the EU remains a strong trading partner of Zimbabwe,” the two diplomats said in a joint statement.
The EU imposed targeted sanctions on President Mugabe and members of his party and government in 2002 after the disputed presidential elections, which the EU refused to endorse.
The EU, like the United States, which also applied targeted sanctions on ruling party and government officials, cited a growing democracy deficit, disrespect for human rights and a breakdown in the rule of law. The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council extended the targeted sanctions by a further year in January this year.
In their statement this week, the EU ambassadors said restrictive measures against Zimbabwe included an arms embargo and targeted measures against about 100 individuals that involve a travel ban and a freeze on personal assets.
“There are no trade or economic sanctions. Financial support for projects has indeed been suspended, except for those in direct support of the population, particularly in the social sectors. The measures have no adverse impact on the economy of Zimbabwe or the well being of its people,” the statement added.
The ambassadors said the EU took more than 30 percent of Zimbabwe’s exports, adding that in 2004, Harare had a trade surplus of 261 million Euro (ZWD34 trillion at the present inter-bank exchange rate) with the 25 EU member states.
The statement said individual member states such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, were Zimbabwe’s most important markets in the EU, each accounting for about 20 percent of Harare’s total exports to the Union.
In addition, between 1980 and 2005, the total amount spent by the EU for support for the development of Zimbabwe was close to 1,2 billion Euro (ZWD156 trillion). In 2005 alone, the EU and member states were Zimbabwe’s greatest humanitarian donors, funding health and educational projects to combat poverty, HIV/AIDS and malaria, among other projects. EU funded support implemented by the Commission, not including bilateral support from the EU member states, amounts to 70 million Euros.
US President George Bush has also renewed, for another year, targeted sanctions on Zimbabwe’s leaders. Washington also vehemently disputes assertions the sanctions it imposed on President Mugabe and his top officials hurt the general populace.
During his now famous address at Africa University in Mutare last November, US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, said there was too much misinformation about sanctions.
Dell said: “You might be surprised to learn that Zimbabwe actually has a trade surplus with the United States. It exports more goods and services to the US than it imports.”
According to Dell’s statistics, US imports from Zimbabwe were US$76.2 million in 2004 while its exports amounted to US$47.3 million during the same year. The US ranked fourth in 2004 among the major destinations for Zimbabwe’s exports. The UK ranked second.
“To me this is clear evidence that, despite assertions in the press and by government officials to the contrary, there are no blanket sanctions against doing business in Zimbabwe and the effects of sanctions is confined to the senior people they are meant to hurt,” said Dell.
The Australian government, another critic of the government’s economic and political policies, late last year added 127 names on the list of ministers and ruling party officials barred from doing business with Canberra.

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Trudging down sorrow lane

Financial Gazette

Diamonds & Dogs
We have not reached the bottom yet
Puppy Zimra   The taxman has done very little to spruce up his image in the eye of the public in the past few years.

Moreso in the eye of stock market participants. Last year the taxman worked in cahoots with the rest of the bureaucratic society to drag the pace of an otherwise red hot stock market by ushering in the 5% withholding tax.
After an impasse which lasted close to a month the authority relented to broker pressure and resolved to charge 5% on sales only. Though remaining malicious, the move was a clever one because buyers would not feel pain getting in.
It has been happy days since, at least until the esteemed taxman started scavenging for more money from stock market participants through the broker community last week.
In came the advent of value added tax, VAT, on stock market trades. The result was the absence of trades Monday. There is unlikely to be much activity until the taxman and brokers reach some amicable settlement. Meanwhile the greedy authority will be losing revenue from the stock market by way of withholding tax and stamp duty.

Bull Terrier
Zimbabwe Dollar
After months of false rejuvenations, the Zimbabwe dollar has finally come home to roost.
The false rejuvenations were not quite acts of defying gravity because they were induced by the central bank’s policy of unsustainably high interest rates that lasted a calendar quarter since February. Coming to the market with promises of returns which no one else in either public or private sector would ordinarily expect to make unless they were printing money led hoards of investors to pile their money on treasury bills.
When the first maturities fell due the hitherto stable Zimbabwe dollar started to show signs of strain. This was caused by the RBZ policy shift where they brought back negative interest rates. Seeing that there was no value investing in treasury bills in light of the rising inflation expectations, the rational investor decided to convert their money to foreign currency.
One has a feeling though that this is what the central bank had been doing over the past three months, printing a lot of unsustainably overvalued Zimbabwe Dollars only to use them to buy undervalued US dollars from exporters and other players.
One also can extrapolate that the bank failed to pick up the kind of volumes they were expecting to pick up judging from the way government and quasi-government institutions still decry the scarcity of foreign currency in the system.
The result of the currency shock is going to affect all and sundry. The market rate for the US Dollar had moved to ZWD280,000 by Friday last week. Currency linked commodities like fuel had already been adjusted upwards by most dealers. Diesel was now fetching $280,000 at some service stations. The consequence of a sharp increase in the price of fuel will lead to another round of price increases.
The unfortunate bit is that even at ZWD280,000 to the greenback, foreign currency is still in short supply. Market economics then tells you we have not reached the bottom as yet.

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Church leaders playing to gallery?

Financial Gazette

National Agenda by Bornwell Chakaodza

IT was indeed with the utmost sadness and distress that I watched on Zimbabwean television last Thursday men of the cloth laughing uproariously when President Robert Mugabe made reference to Archbishop Pius Ncube's public statement that he was praying for the President's death.

It was as if these men of the cloth were attending a stage show rather than a serious meeting with the President. For me, I did not think and feel that there was anything to laugh about. Unless of course they were simply playing to the gallery in the style of the Central Committee members of the ruling ZANU PF party.
Regardless of whatever they subsequently discussed in the meeting that was closed to the Press, the church leaders had given the game away. Perception is everything in this world. For us the public, to see the clergymen roaring with laughter at a non-laughing matter is the greatest disservice these men of the cloth can do to this nation. And I dare say that it is a measure of how far from the ways of God some of the churches and church leaders have taken this country.
And matters were not helped when the leader of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches delegation to the meeting, Bishop Peter Nemapare said: "We know we have a government that we must support, interact with and draw attention to concerns. Those of us who have different ideas about this country surely must know we have a government which listens". Really? Are you sure Bishop that you know what you are talking about? This government listening? Really? The mind boggles! Perhaps ZANU PF might listen to you now Bishop but I happen to know that many well-meaning Zimbabweans have been bashing their heads against a brick wall for a very long time now.
More questions must be seriously asked of Bishop Nemapare: How many times have Zimbabweans and non-Zimbabweans alike offered friendly advice to government? How many times during the past six or so years have men and women of goodwill warned the government against the folly and consequences of its actions? Has the government listened? If President Mugabe and the government as a whole had listened to all the warnings and friendly advice freely given over the years, would we be in this gigantic mess right now? Come on Bishop. Be true to your deepest nature and tell the truth, nothing but the truth! The truth will set you free Bishop.
I am saying all these things not to dismiss the meeting between President Mugabe and the church leaders out of hand but to draw attention to the enormity of the task ahead. In our present predicament, any dialogue between the state and the broader civil society is something to be welcomed and supported but it must be dialogue based on truth and justice and ultimately leading to practical solutions to our problems. Anything else will be a complete waste of time.
True church leaders have the courage and moral conviction of the Son of God whom they claim to follow. Zimbabwe is in dire straits and the divine mandate of the church therefore can never be confined only to matters purely spiritual. Gospel imperatives tell us that the church is and should be deeply concerned about the whole issue of the struggle for freedom, for justice and reconciliation. This task is a task that the church cannot in any way be absolved of. There is absolutely no way the church can hand over that responsibility to others. To me, that is the central mission of the church in our struggle for economic justice and political normalisation in this country.
The last thing that Zimbabweans want to see are church leaders preaching a gospel which in many respects appears to be far removed from the actual suffering of the people. The days are long gone when believers and church goers happily sang abdicating songs such as: "This world is not my home. I am passing through. My treasures are laid down way up beyond the blue . . ."
Passing through when the ruling elites are having it good all the way and enjoying the largesse at the expense of the majority of Zimbabweans. No. Let every Zimbabwean live well, eat well and equally enjoy whatever material wealth the country can offer. It is not the will of God that the majority of Zimbabweans must suffer like this as a result of misgovernance and poor political leadership.
Church leaders can only become a tremendous force for change in this country if they are candid and fearless in their discussions with the powers-that-be. Respect yes but grovelling like little children before the authorities will not get them anywhere. Whatever they present to the political authorities must be based on truth and on what is actually happening in the lives of people and communities.
That is why Archbishop Pius Ncube (minus his praying for the President's death) stands as the most celebrated example of a Christian leader's capacity to expose wrongdoing and corruption at the heart of government. There are others of course, notably Christians Together for Justice and Peace as well as the recently-formed Christian Alliance who are refusing to compromise their Christianity in the face of evil. They are taking a very clear and unambiguous stand on the crisis that is currently stalking this land and we can only give thanks to God for that.
Indeed, there have been, throughout the ages, those rare people, good men and women who make the world the theatre of their operations in the pursuit of freedom, justice and reconciliation.
Names that immediately come to mind include Bishop Donald Lamont, Bishop Kenneth Skelton and Father Michael Traber (who died recently — may God bless his soul) in the then Rhodesia, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Father Trevor Huddleston in apartheid South Africa, Reverend Martin Luther King in the United States and Pastor Martin Niemoller in Nazi Germany. These names as well as other Christian leaders in our part of the world and elsewhere not mentioned here understood very clearly the essential link between the Christian faith and its God-given mandate to fight for the poor, the hungry and the oppressed. The Scriptures in fact emphatically reflect all this.
This is the context within which I felt very sad that the church leaders who met President Mugabe did not avail themselves of the opportunity to be as clear on the
Zimbabwean crisis as I would have liked them to be. There is talk, talk and talk everywhere without action. This is the greatest challenge we are facing at the moment. What we do not have in this country is the moral and political will to translate the rhetoric into practical policy and action. Zimbabweans are restless and impatient for change. It is really a race against time and the onus is on the church leaders to prove the pessimists and the sceptics wrong.
Otherwise the feeing will persist that Bishop Nemapare and his delegation went to see President Mugabe for a chat and a cup of tea as if they do not have tea in their homes. The Zimbabwe Council of Churches has a major challenge to overcome in this regard.
Zimbabweans need to be convinced that the church is serious about making change and not just engaged in rhetoric. The dialogue of the deaf has been with us for years and years now.
Events since the February 2000 referendum have shown that except for Archbishop Pius Ncube and a few other Christian leaders, there has been a conspiracy of silence on the part of the church over the destruction of this once beautiful country. It was as if the collapse of the economy and the subsequent misery that the Zimbabwean people are presently suffering was of no concern to the church. At least the pact of silence is now being broken, albeit unconvincingly but it is a small step in the right direction anyway.
I am all for plastic laughter but not when there is serious work to be done. Even the language and tone of Bishop Nemapare's interview after meeting with the President gave the government much more comfort and succour than it deserved — lending credence once again to the fact that the church is divorced from the realities of the people that it purports to represent.
The church in Zimbabwe must therefore get real. I am not an authority on the Bible myself but I do know that church leaders should not be in the business of handing propaganda gifts to governments. Churches and church leaders are in the business of confronting issues truthfully, of making themselves available as channels of truthful information, of correct interpretation, of the challenge of their churches in order to further the whole process and the struggle for economic recovery, political normalisation, tolerance, forgiveness, love, justice and reconciliation in this our beloved Zimbabwe.

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ZC face suit overdissolved provinces

Zimbabwe Independent 2/6/06

DISGRUNTELD Zimbabwe cricket stakeholders have moved to take legal action against Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) over the disbandment of established provincial associations by the union.

IndependentSport has established that the stakeholders have engaged an international lawyer who is “also a cricket personality of repute with experience in legal matters” to sue ZC. The name of the lawyer could not be established but sources say he has already started working on the matter.

A fortnight ago, the ZC interim board dissolved the Mashonaland Cricket Association, Mashonaland Country Districts Cricket Association, Matabeleland Cricket Association and the Matabeleland Country Districts Cricket Association and created new and smaller provincial structures in a move the stakeholders say was illegal, unconstitutional and part of a process to eliminate critics of the union in the cricket set-up.

The disbandment of the old provinces and setting up of new ones was a directive from the government-controlled Sports and Recreation Commission to structure the game in accordance with the country’s geographical and political provinces. — Staff Writer.


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Chigwedere urges 'jihad'

Zimbabwe Independent 2/6/06

SPORTS minister Aeneas Chigwedere has launched an astonishing attack on the
Confederation of African Football (Caf).

In a TV interview in Harare on Wednesday, Chigwedere accused the Cairo-based
body of institutionalised bias.

He claimed that English-speaking countries in southern and east Africa were
being marginalised by Caf.

Chigwedere said that Zimbabwe needs to "join hands with other governments to
launch a war" against the organisation headed by Cameroonian Issa Hayatou.

Chigwedere's outburst follows Zimbabwe's unsuccessful bid for the 2010
African Nations Cup finals.

Mozambique and Namibia were also among the bidding countries that failed to
make Caf's shortlist of four when presentations were made in Cairo last

Nigeria, Libya, Angola and joint bidders Gabon and Equatorial Guinea were
shortlisted after a selection process the Mozambicans later described as a

Speaking at length on national television, Chigwedere said that Caf must
give more countries a chance to host the Nations Cup.

"A whole region of Africa is being marginalised, and we have to press for a
rotation system between regions," an incensed Chigwedere said.

He fumed: "It's a war, and we'll campaign as governments, and we need to
convince heads of states that we're being marginalised."

Chigwedere, who headed Zimbabwe's bid delegation in Cairo, said that the
country is in the process of lodging an appeal with world governing body,

Should that fail, Zimbabwe would consider taking its case to the
International Court for Arbitration in Sport.

"We're doing it for long-term purposes, we're not fighting a Zimbabwean
battle, it's a war for southern Africa, for central Africa, for east Africa,
these regions are being discriminated against."

Since the inception of the African Nations Cup in 1957, only one country
south of the Equator has hosted the tournament - South Africa in 1996.

Caf had indicated that countries that had not hosted the competition would
be given preference in the hosting of the 2010 edition.

"It's very clear that there's a conflict of political or cultural
 interests," said Chigwedere.

"The whole belt being marginalised is largely of former British colonies,
where Christianity is the main religion.
"How can Egypt have been allowed to host four times when it's only come to
southern Africa once?
"We'll fight so that things will be different beyond 2010, but if we're
ignored, we'll consider other options such as breaking away from Caf,
whatever that may mean." - BBC Sport.

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Zim, Zambia offer study in African contrasts

Zimbabwe Independent 2/6/06

ZAMBIA and Zimbabwe share one of southern Africa’s longest rivers, the mighty Zambezi, but their economies couldn’t be further apart.

After years in Zimbabwe’s shadow, Zambia is now praised by the International Monetary Fund and Western donors for its economic management, while its southern neighbour — once the regional economic star — is viewed as a “pariah”.

Zambia’s thriving economy and stable politics stand in sharp contrast to the economic chaos and political travails engulfing the government of President Robert Mugabe.

Zimbabwe’s annual inflation tops 1 000%, the highest in the world, while its people struggle through regular shortages of everything from petrol to basic food staples in an economy which has shrunk by almost a third since 2000.

Zambians, who once flocked to Zimbabwe for work, have seen their kwacha currency make steady gains against the US dollar as inflation remains low and economic growth speeds up.

The currency’s gains have mainly been driven by surging prices for copper, the economic mainstay and chief export.

Analysts say Zambia is one of the few beneficiaries of Zimbabwe’s woes, which many blame on mismanagement by Mugabe.

“Even if Zimbabwe recovers, Zambia has become the main destination (for foreign investors) because it has established itself,” said Ignatius Chicha, head of treasury at Citibank in Lusaka, adding debt relief granted under the Highly-Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative had added to the attraction.

The two former British colonies’ diverging fortunes come to life on the shores of the Zambezi, where Zambia and Zimbabwe share one of the world’s tourism wonders, Victoria Falls.

Zambian pleasure boats packed with foreign tourists from new luxury hotels drift among the hippos, while on the Zimbabwean side most boats remain anchored with no paying customers.

In nearby Zimbabwean curio markets, prices fluctuate wildly, with a stone sculpture originally advertised as costing US$50 quickly offered for 50 South African rand (US$8) and finally bartered for a second-hand pair of running shoes.

Zambia’s tourist arrivals rose to 649 867 last year from about 412 675 in 2003 and officials say the numbers will grow to over a million in two year’s time, roughly matching Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe, once the main regional tourist draw, has seen visitor traffic and earnings drop by 60% over the last five years, and some former white Zimbabwe hotel owners have relocated across the river to Zambia’s Livingstone.

Hoteliers are not alone in taking a fresh look at Zambia.

The World Bank is due to reward Lusaka this year for improved economic management by coordinating a massive debt write-off, reducing Zambia’s foreign debt to just US$502 million from US$7,1 billion a year ago.

Until recently, the kwacha was the poor relation to Zimbabwe’s dollar. In the 1990s, when Zimbabwe was still riding high, one Zimbabwe dollar could fetch 78 000 kwacha. But in today’s market the exchange rate is almost exactly reversed.

“The economic erosion in Zimbabwe is both amazing and saddening because that is a country many of us used to rush to to buy merchandise during our economic depression, but it is now in ruins,” said James Dube, a Zambian trader whose parents originally came from Zimbabwe.

“It is now a reverse of things as Zimbabweans buy most of their goods from Zambia. The only difference is that we don’t harass them as their customs and immigration officers used to harass us,” Dube said.”

However, the strong kwacha could cause problems for Zambia, with some analysts saying it poses a major threat to plans to diversify the economy from copper and cobalt mining.

“Zambia still has a narrow economic base. It remains vulnerable to any future correction in copper prices, and the possibility of related portfolio capital outflows,” said Razia Khan, head economist at Standard Chartered Bank in London.

By some measurements, Zambia still lags Zimbabwe, once one of the most developed countries in the region.
Zimbabwe’s average life expectancy, infant mortality rate, school enrolment and literacy rate are all better than those of its northern neighbour. But in some areas, the gap is closing.

Zambia’s economic growth rate, in decline for most of the 1990s, rose to average 4,8% over the last four years, hitting 5,4% in 2005 and forecast at 6% in 2006.

Zimbabwe, by contrast, has seen its economy shrink over the last six years, with output falling by almost a third amid the collapse of commercial agriculture following Mugabe’s move to seize white-owned farms to give to landless blacks.

“Mugabe has indeed ruined Zimbabwe’s economy,” said Chileshe Mulenga, a professor of economics who heads Lusaka’s Institute of Economic and Social Research. He said Zimbabwe’s crisis would have a spillover effect on its neighbour.

“Zimbabwe’s land policy has harmed the entire region because tourists and investors look at the Zimbabwe crisis not in isolation but as a regional problem,” Mulenga said.

Some Zambians are also worried.

“I am not proud to see Zimbabwe in ruins and hope things can change for the better because I can feel the impact of their economic problems,” said John Mayeya, a Lusaka trader who has taken in two young relatives from Zimbabwe.

“We will have more economic refugees if things get completely out of hand in Zimbabwe,” he said. ­— Reuter.


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Gono hunts for lifeline

Zimbabwe Independent 2/6/06

RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono left for Russia on Wednesday, hardly a
month after visiting Moscow and just over a week after returning from South
Korea in search of an economic rescue package, it was learnt.

Gono has been looking for a lifeline to save Zimbabwe from headlong decline.
Sources said Gono was expected to meet Russian government officials and
businessmen for talks on a possible financial and investment package that
could help staunch the current economic haemorrhage. His trips are in
connection with the recently launched National Economic Development Priority
Programme, an economic recovery plan.

It is understood Gono will mainly be targeting investors in the mining
sector where Zimbabwe has been trying to secure foreign direct investment
although its efforts have largely been scuppered by property rights

Sources said government had now resolved to use minerals as security to
obtain foreign loans and other forms of aid to save the crumbling economy.

This week government secured a US$50 million fuel deal with French bank, BNP
Paribas ­- the first with a major European institution in years - with
Bindura Nickel Corporation providing part of its product as security.

This raised fears government could mortgage mineral resources to secure
lines of credit to prolong its stay in power.

"Zimbabwe has over 40 minerals and we should leverage these minerals, even
if they are still in the ground, to get value," Gono said at the signing
ceremony of the fuel deal on Tuesday.

Government has of late been brandishing the country's platinum and yet to be
verified uranium reserves as bargaining chips for economic aid and
investment. It is said the Russians are keen to enter Zimbabwe's mining
sector although their concerns over Zimbabwe's sovereign risk are similar to
those of other investors.

Sources said Gono's globe-trotting betrayed extreme anxiety in the corridors
of power over the economic meltdown.

Zimbabwe has been trying to secure help from countries in the Far East - in
particular China - under its "Look East" policy but not much has
materialised so far.

China has established its interests in other African countries such as Sudan
and Sierra Leone where the economic environments are beneficial despite the
countries' recent civil wars.

Gono's forays into Russia and South Korea were seen as an attempt to widen
the catchment area for foreign direct investment and lines of credit. In
March Gono raised a storm in the United States when he tried to capitalise
on his visit to the International Monetary Fund meeting to mobilise mining
investment. The issue raised concern because Gono tried to use his
invitation by a civic organisation to Capitol Hill to drum up investment in
what was pitched as a potential violation of his visa conditions as he is
under US targeted sanctions.

Zimbabwe has been finding it difficult to get investment and lines of credit
due to its hostile business environment and poor credit rating. The country's
high political risk - magnified by blatant breaches of property rights and a
bad macroeconomic climate - has also made it hard to get investment and

However, sources said authorities believe the mortgaging of minerals might
open lines of credit to import essentials. "Minerals will come in handy as
guarantees for lines of credit which have dried up in recent years," an
official source said.

Zimbabwe fell out with multilateral lenders when it embarked on a
controversial land reform programme from 2000 that has alienated the
international community. Since then foreign direct investment has all but
dried up. - Staff Writer

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Suspended Byo war vet leader assaulted

Zimbabwe Independent 2/6/06

Pindai Dube
SUSPENDED Bulawayo war veterans’ association executive chairman, Themba Ncube, was on Tuesday assaulted by people believed to be aligned to Dumiso Dabengwa as the battle for control of the Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association (ZLWVA) took a nasty turn this week.

Dabengwa, a Zanu-PF politburo member in Matabeleland, is one of three senior liberation war fighters tasked by President Mugabe to restructure the association, a move viewed as meant to dilute the association’s growing belligerence on the succession issue.

The others are retired army general Solomon Mujuru and retired army commander, Vitalis Zvinavashe.

Narrating the incident to the Zimbabwe Independent, Ncube said three men whom he identified as retired colonel and former Zipra logistics officer, Thomas Ngwenya, David Mbizo and Khulekani Ncube, who are also members of ZLWVA, stormed his office in the city centre and demanded the association’s date stamp before assaulting him.

He said when he refused to hand over the date stamp the three assaulted him with clenched fists and kicked him all over his body.

“They kept telling me that a meeting was held by the Zipra high command that decided the war veterans date stamp be taken away from me. After they failed to convince me they assaulted me,” he said.

Ncube said war veterans in Bulawayo should realise that ZLWVA includes both former Zanla and Zipra members and should not be fooled by elements who believe that the association is solely for Zipra members.

He said he reported the matter at Bulawayo Central police station and a docket was opened under case number CR8318/06.


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South Africa has no understanding of real Zim situation - Bennett

Zimbabwe Independent 2/6/06

By Andrew Meldrum in Johannesburg
FUGITIVE Zimbabwean politician Roy Bennett revealed this week that South Africa refused him asylum on the grounds that he could expect good treatment and a fair trial in Zimbabwe.

Bennett, national treasurer of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), fled Zimbabwe in March after government alleged that he led a coup plot in Mutare.

Bennett denies the charge and the charges against most other co-accused were dropped for lack of evidence.

One accused, Michael Hitschmann, remains in jail and his lawyer charges that he was tortured. Bennett is still wanted by police.

Bennett, a former MDC member of parliament, was imprisoned at the order of Zimbabwe’s parliament for one year in 2004 for shoving Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, who had insulted him. Bennett said in Johannesburg on Tuesday that the threat of another spell in jail forced him to leave the country.

“I fled Zimbabwe, the country that I love, because the government trumped up charges that I was the head of a plot against (President Robert) Mugabe,” Bennett said at his first public appearance since he arrived in South Africa.

“I have been in Zimbabwe’s jails and my body went cold at the thought of going back there. The conditions I experienced were horrible and the jails can only have become worse since the economic meltdown. I am convinced that if I stayed in Zimbabwe I would either be rotting in a cell or they would have done away with me

South Africa’s Home Affairs department responded to Bennett’s application by saying there was no evidence that his questioning or prosecution by the authorities would amount to persecution.

“There is really no evidence indicating that you’re (sic) questioning or prosecution by the authorities would amount to persecution,” it said. “Surely the courts in Zimbabwe are impartial and are able to assert the rights of individuals?

“(MDC leader) Morgan Tsvangirai’s recent trial is a case in point; on October 2005 he was acquitted of treason. Therefore, objectively, on the facts apparently prevailing there is no real risk of you being persecuted should you go back to your country of nationality.”

Bennett said the South African letter shows that President Thabo Mbeki’s government does not understand the situation in Zimbabwe.

“I am of the hope that they (the South African government) are without a real understanding of the situation in Zimbabwe, and hence the softly-softly diplomacy that is taking place,” said Bennett of the rejection of his asylum bid. He said that the decision for him to go to South Africa had been discussed with the MDC leadership.

“One of my reasons for seeking asylum here is to help the government of South Africa to understand the plight of people in Zimbabwe fully,” he said.

Bennett said he will appeal South Africa’s refusal to grant him refugee status.

“South Africa has an independent judiciary and a functioning democracy and I believe I will get a fair hearing, something I was denied in Zimbabwe,” said Bennett. He said he will be supported by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, South African Lawyers for Human Rights and Amnesty International, which he said will present compelling evidence that he is at risk of mistreatment if he returns to Zimbabwe.

“It is high time the South African government recognises that Mugabe is a despot and a dictator who uses totalitarian rule, institutionalised torture and violence and institutionalised theft. Mugabe is not just destroying Zimbabwe, once the jewel of Africa, he is pulling the whole region down,” said Bennett.

“There’s no need to be embarrassed about this, the man is a tyrant. The problem of thousands of Zimbabweans flooding into South Africa will not stop until the misrule of Zimbabwe stops and until the mismanagement of our economy stops.” He said the South African government needed to recognise the MDC as the official opposition.

“We can’t be pushed aside, we are the legitimate opposition in Zimbabwe.”

After speaking to the press, Bennett addressed a gathering of Zimbabwean exiles in Shona. “Do you want to stay here in South Africa?” he asked them. “No!” they answered. “We must all work for a new constitution to lead to free and fair elections in our country.”

Bennett said Zimbabwe’s economic decline is causing terrible hardships to all Zimbabweans. He said, however, it would be possible to undo the economic damage of recent years, and to bring about reconciliation among Zimbabweans.

“Once we have good governance in Zimbabwe, the goodwill is there in Zimbabwe and within international institutions, to revive the economy,” he said. “I do believe there has to be a justice commission whereby those who committed acts of plunder, rape and murder need to be dealt with.

“There needs to be an amnesty period within which people need to be given time to declare what they have taken, and to put it back into the economy.”

He downplayed the factional divisions in the MDC. “There is no split in the grassroots of the MDC,” said Bennett, who recognises Tsvangirai as party leader.  “I don’t view it as a split — I see it as a few individuals pursuing their own agenda. We are all working for the same thing, to bring back democracy to Zimbabwe, and I hope, in time, we will be able to join together again.”

Bennett said South Africa could provide a base for the Zimbabwean opposition to organise.

“We would have freedom to bring people from Zimbabwe for workshops, to mobilise funding without fear of persecution and to be able to do what I should be able to do at home without fear or favour because I believe there is democracy here,” Bennett said.

He also said he would work to unite the fractured MDC and civic organisations.


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CBZ's Jewel shines on

Zimbabwe Independent 2/6/06

By Admire Mavolwane
CBZ Holdings is the new entity that started operating in 2005 after the restructuring of the operational structure of the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) necessitated by the acquisition of Datvest Asset Management from Interfin Holdings.
The asset management company was acquired during the first half of the year. Thus, CBZ Holdings is the holding company for the commercial bank, CBZ Bank Ltd, a registered commercial bank whose services encompass merchant and commercial banking and the provision of financial services in the form of hire purchase, leasing, business loans and other related forms of finance. It is also the holding company for Datvest Asset Management which is one of the biggest "independent" asset management firms in the country.
Major shareholders of CBZ Holdings are Absa Group Holdings of South Africa with 25,78%, followed by the Government of Zimbabwe with 17,19% and Libyan Arab Foreign Bank with 15,04%. The Libyan Arab Foreign Bank became a shareholder of the bank, probably in part payment for fuel which that country has availed to Zimbabwe a few years ago.
However, with government remaining a fairly significant shareholder in the bank, CBZ is perceived as possibly sitting on some injudicious exposures due to this association, an assertion that the bank’s management (repeatedly) insist is erroneous.
The group has also been criticised by some sections of the analyst community for its refusal to give straight answers and levels of disclosure regarding the price it paid for Datvest Asset Management and the issue of its exposure to TeleAccess.
Financial review
Following the sudden change in the fortunes of banks after the structural dislocation in the sector following the high profile collapse of a number of indigenous banks in 2004, 2005 was the year of consolidation.
It was the year in which CBZ was expected to shift its model more towards the Barclays and Standard Chartered vanilla banking type.
In 2004, the group experienced a 465% growth in relatively cheaper retail deposits to $708,7 billion, benefiting from the flight to quality. This growth continued in 2005 with a 910% increase in customer deposits to $7,2 trillion. Buoyed by this growth, net interest income grew by 340% to $2,7 trillion.
However, the impact of the high interest expenses incurred in the first half — 27,7% vs. 47,1% in June 2004 for net interest margin had the impact of reducing the net interest margin from 45% to 36% and hence the lukewarm growth in net interest income.
Non-funded income, which comprises fee and commissions, foreign currency trading revenues, marking to market gains/losses grew by a factor of 4,5 times to $717 billion obviously benefiting from the consolidation of Datvest. Consequently total operating income grew by 341% to $3,4 trillion.
With revenue’s growth outpacing the 247% increase in operating expenses to $690 billion, by almost hundred percentage points, the cost to income ratio improved from 28% to 21%, which was by far the lowest in the industry.
Provisions grew by 201% to $205 billion (H1: $110 billion), bringing the total provisions to $320 billion, of which $133 billion were deemed specific, $118 billion general and $69 billion was suspended interest.
However, these provisions at 5% of total advances were towards the lower end with the sector. In fact, it was less than the banking sector average of 8% of total book and given that most of the advances were to agriculture (35,8%), $1,5 trillion out of $4,2 trillion, the provision seems a bit too conservative.
After accounting for outflows in the form of taxation, attributable earnings of $1,6 trillion were achieved. This reflects a year-on-year growth of 420%. This was the highest growth rate recorded in the sector -— on an earnings growth basis CBZ comfortably grabs the crown.
The commercial bank contributed $1,4 trillion whilst Datvest weighed in with $136 billion. The balance sheet grew from $2,6 trillion to $14,1 trillion, making CBZ the second biggest bank in the country after Standard Chartered and firmly overtaking Barclays. The holding of money market assets increased 576% to $4,3 trillion as the bank became more active in the TB market.
Most of the deposits alluded to earlier were channelled into TBs which grew by 6,7 to $4,2 trillion. Growth in advances was aggressive — given the economic environment — up 255% to $4,2 trillion, of which $1,2 trillion was in the form of the higher yielding and more riskier overdrafts and $1,3 trillion in RBZ-funded advances, mainly ASPEF Funds.
In total, interest-earning assets grew by 439% to $12,5 trillion. Interest bearing liabilities, mainly in the form of customer deposits, grew by 498% to $8,7 trillion, while foreign currency deposits showed the highest growth rate of 1 000%.

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Independent, MBCA invest in the future

Zimbabwe Independent 2/6/06

THE Zimbabwe Independent and MBCA Bank, in association with Environment Africa, have chosen to invest in the future of the country by launching Asakheni Awards.
"Zimbabweans have two choices today: To agonise or organise. When we agonise we dwell on the negative: No power, no water, no future. All it serves to do is give us ulcers but no solutions," said Albert Gumbo, MBCA’s head of marketing at the project’s launch.
Asakheni was one of those possible solutions, he said. Asakheni is siNdebele for "let’s build".
"It is an initiative that seeks to popularise the concept and practice of corporate citizenship. What is corporate citizenship? Basically defined, it is the ‘ability of businesses to make profits without compromising the ability of future generations to make a living’. It means businesses must behave responsibly by taking on sustainable business practice as a way of life," Gumbo said.
He added: "It means that timber and mining companies, for instance, must not only provide jobs and say we have done enough for the community but must, in addition, take responsibility for rehabilitating the environments from whence they take the natural resources to make a profit. Put simply, it means we must try and guarantee a future for our children and our country."
Asakheni will recognise, across eight sectors, those companies and organisations that have done the most to give back to society without creating a dependency syndrome.
An example that springs to mind is the Thandi initiative in South Africa.
Gumbo said the Capespan group in South Africa, through its foundation, made a decision to support the South African government’s land transformation effort.
In an effort to encourage joint ownership and empowerment through capacity building, Capespan offered shareholding to about 300 workers as well as training black wine makers to "create world-class black fruit growers", according to Nazeem Sterras, chief executive of the Capespan Foundation.
The initiative produces wine, grapes, lemons and oranges which are now sold under the fair trade label to supermarkets in the United Kingdom.
"It is a model that can be adopted in Zimbabwe with results that go beyond our grower schemes, which in themselves are a good example of corporate citizenship. Sustainable giving is corporate social investment as opposed to cheque book philanthropy," says Gumbo.
He adds: "We can revive the ability to dream for all sections of the community in Zimbabwe by taking a leadership position that inspires other leaders to want to invest in the future of our great country in a sustainable way."
The competition is open to retail, IT, manufacturing, financial services, tourism, mining, agro-processing and oils and petrochemicals.
The winners will be announced at a glittering ceremony in November. Full criteria and entry forms for the competition will be announced in a supplement in the Independent.
"Asakheni becomes part of the many efforts that like-minded people across the nation are pursuing to ensure a sustainable future for our country.
"It is our social responsibility and it is called corporate citizenship," said Gumbo. — Staff Writer.


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Russians engage Zim over telecoms deal

Zimbabwe Independent 2/6/06

Augustine Mukaro
RUSSIAN businessmen are in talks with state-owned telecommunications companies, Net*One and Tel*One, to form a parallel telecoms firm that will operate fixed and cellular telephone services in Zimbabwe, it has emerged.

Sources said a Russian business delegation from the country’s state foreign trade company, Tyazhpromexport, that was in Zimbabwe last month, met Net*One and Tel*One officials for talks on a possible US$300 million investment proposal which would see a new telecoms company formed.

The company would be jointly owned by Tyazhpromexport, Net*One and Tel*One.

Gono’s 12-member delegation undertook a 10-day trip to Moscow early last month to explore business opportunities.

Gono was accompanied by Transport minister Chris Mushohwe, Net*One boss Reward Kangai, and Tel*One CEO Wellington Makamure who were seeking technical partnership agreements and loans.

Although government has tried to distance itself from the deal, it recently ordered Russian planes for Air Zimbabwe, which the national airline engineers resisted on technical and safety grounds.

The Russians made presentations on their proposals at Tel*One’s Runhare House headquarters on May 11 and then at the Net*One building. They proposed to contribute capital amounting to US$300 million on condition that they become the majority shareholders, while the government telecoms firms would bring other resources such as infrastructure and personnel into the venture.

The presentations were made in the presence of officials from the Transport ministry and the State Enterprises Restructuring Agency (Sera).

Sources said ministry and Sera officials had misgivings about the Russian proposal for legal and policy reasons.

They said government policy did not allow local telecoms companies to be foreign-controlled. They also said it was not possible at the moment to guarantee that Net*One and Tel*One’s licences could be used by a new company because the law does not allow for that.

The Russians are expected back in the country this month to pursue discussions, although the deal appears to have hit a brick wall.

Sources said the Russians did not want to invest directly in Net*One and Tel*One because the two companies were debt-ridden.

Tel*One is reeling under a US$350 million debt to foreign telecoms companies. It is heavily indebted to British Telecom, South Africa’s Telkom, the African Development Bank, Netherlands’ ING-Bank, France’s Banque Nationale de Paris, Kredittanstalt fur Wiederaufbau of Germany, Norway’s Eksportfinans, Overseas Economic Cooperation, Itochu-D and Eximbank of Japan, the Bank of China and the African Banking Corporation.

This makes Tel*One all but bankrupt as the debt outstrips its balance sheet, assets and monthly income of $100 billion.

Analysts have also warned that the Russian initiative could be frustrated by restrictive Zimbabwean investment laws.

The sources said the Russians were expected back in the country early this month to finalise the deal and possibly sign a Memorandum of Understanding.

Tel*One public relations executive Phil Chingwaru could neither confirm nor deny the Russian proposal.

“Government would be better placed to answer those questions since it is our sole shareholder,” he said.

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Tsvangirai shelves protests

Zimbabwe Independent 2/6/06

Ray Matikinye
MOVEMENT for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s diplomatic charm offensive to drum up support appears to have temporarily put a planned “cold winter of resistance” on the back burner in favour of international intervention to help end Zimbabwe’s crisis.

Sources in London say Tsvangirai told supporters in the British capital on Saturday that the purpose of the MDC struggle was “not to unlawfully overthrow President Mugabe but to crank up pressure on his government and enable fundamental negotiations on constitutional matters leading to free and fair elections”.

Tsvangirai said any protests against government would be based on non-violence and lawful resistance.

Zimbabweans should therefore not be misled to think that the party wants an unlawful removal of Mugabe, he said.

The MDC appears to have softened its stance adopted at its national congress in March where Tsvangirai promised to lead protests to “remove Mugabe”.

Most MDC supporters were bracing for a showdown with government over deteriorating living standards and a collapsing economy blamed largely on President Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF party.

But indications are that hard-pressed Zimbabweans will have to wait a little longer before the “cold winter of resistance” begins.

Party insiders told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the MDC was putting together an engagement package that Mugabe will find “very hard to resist”. The package will determine Zanu PF’s sincerity in moving the country forward.

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