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

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Zim Independent

Treger probe steers clear of party chefs
Vincent Kahiya
SENIOR Zanu PF politicians sit on the Treger Holdings board which was
responsible for authorising foreign currency transactions for which the
company's subsidiary, Treger Industries, is now being prosecuted.

The Zimbabwe Independent has also learnt that Anti-Corruption and
Anti-Monopolies minister Didymus Mutasa is a former director of Treger

Records at the companies registry show that Zanu PF secretary for
administration Emmerson Mnangagwa and secretary for finance David
Karimanzira sit on the Treger Holdings board by virtue of Zanu PF's
shareholding in the company. Karimanzira, who heads the committee currently
investigating ruling-party companies, replaced Mutasa on the Treger's board.

Police two weeks ago arrested 13 board members of Treger Industries on
allegations of externalising $39 billion in foreign currency. They recorded
warned and cautioned statements before they were released.

The politicians' role in Treger Holdings could however escape public
scrutiny as police have now decided to prosecute Treger Industries, the
corporate entity, and not its directors.

Contacted about his role yesterday, Karimanzira would only say: "I've no
comment on that."

Mutasa confirmed that he "used to attend board meetings at Treger Holdings".

The change in the target of prosecution followed submissions by Treger's
lawyer, Jonathan Samkange, who argued that the directors of Treger
Industries executed decisions by the holding company whose directors should
be charged instead. That could have entailed charging senior Zanu PF
officials as well.

On Monday Samkange began negotiations with police officers investigating the
case over who should be charged with externalising foreign currency.

Samkange argued that the police could not charge directors of a subsidiary
company but only those of the holding company who made policy decisions. He
said, alternatively, the police could charge the subsidiary company and not
its directors. The second option prevailed.

Samkange yesterday confirmed that police would charge the company and not
the 13 directors.

"Yes, they will now charge the company and not the 13 they originally
arrested," said Samkange. "If they wanted to charge directors, they should
have gone for the directors of the holding company because they are the ones
who make decisions."

Observers believe the change of approach will protect senior Zanu PF
officials from investigation. Quizzing Karimanzira would have been
embarrassing as he is the chairman of the committee set up to investigate
the goings-on in companies owned by Zanu PF.

Regarding Zanu PF's collective responsibility in the Treger Holdings case,
Mutasa said it was up to the police to effect arrests if they felt that a
crime had been committed.

"The decision to arrest rests with the police," said Mutasa yesterday. "It
is up to the police to decide who to arrest."
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Zim Independent

Nkomo cracks whip
Dumisani Muleya
RULING Zanu PF political heavyweights are seething over what they see as
rampant indiscipline by ambitious newcomers amid an escalating succession
struggle in the party.

Official sources said yesterday that Zanu PF bigwigs were infuriated by
growing "rogue politics" permeating party structures ahead of a critical
congress in December.

The issue of indiscipline and intensifying infighting was discussed at a
long Zanu PF politburo meeting on Wednesday which lasted late into the

A senior politburo member close to the meeting said Zanu PF spokesman Nathan
Shamuyarira, who last week appeared to come under fire in the government
press from his deputy Jonathan Moyo over President Robert Mugabe's Sky News
television interview, tabled a document by party chair John Nkomo on the

"Shamuyarira tabled Nkomo's document and it was discussed. Almost everyone
in the party is worried about this infighting but the party has resolved to
deal with the issue once and for all," the official said.

"There is pending but unspecified action that will be taken against
power-hungry individuals creating confusion by attacking senior party

Shaumuyarira could not be found for comment. "He is not in, phone tomorrow
morning," a secretary in his office said.

Sources said Zanu PF officials indicated during the politburo meeting that
ambitious individuals were now overreaching themselves by attacking or
defying superiors, including Vice-President Joseph Msika.

Ugandan researcher David Nyekorach-Matsanga, who was instrumental in
organising the Sky interview, last week circulated an e-mail statement
accusing Moyo of being "over-ambitious and flying too high".

Matsanga attacked Moyo in vitriolic terms after he was barred from entering
Zimbabwe. He said Moyo was a "ranting and shallow-minded propagandist who
has sapped the moral authority of the president".

Nkomo's document on discord in the ruling party was partly reflected in his
weekly column in the Zanu PF mouthpiece, The Voice, last Sunday. It
complains about indiscipline and personal attacks by officials against each

"Differences of perception, which may lead to differences of opinion, are
sometimes inevitable. However, these must, within the revolutionary
establishment that our party is, be aired procedurally through the organs of
the party," Nkomo said.

"It should never be the case, even when aspiring candidates are jockeying
for positions at whatever rank within the party and its leadership, that we
deploy verbal or other arsenals against each other."

Msika yesterday said he could not comment on the issue as it was Nkomo's

Asked about attacks on senior party members such as war veterans leader
Joseph Chinotimba's remarks about Nkomo on land allocation on Monday, Msika
said: "We are going to deal with them. They are now losing direction."

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Zim Independent

Zanu PF youths aid nuns in farm seizure
Munyaradzi Wasosa
IN a new dimension to land reform, three nuns, working with Zanu PF youths,
have occupied Malabar Farm in Darwendale, the Zimbabwe Independent has been

Spearheading the invasion are the Little Children of the Blessed Lady (LCBL)
Order superior-general Sister Helen Maminimini, regional superior Sr Electa
Mubaiwa, a "farmer nun" only identified as Sr Notvurgo, and Zvimba district
lands officer Stanford Katonha.

Malabar Farm is a sub-division of the original Hunyani Estates and is now
owned by Les Harvey who is leasing it to Sagar Farming (Pvt) Ltd whose
directors are Arthur and Ansy Swales.

In an interview this week, Arthur Swales said: "On May 3, Katonha and the
nuns visited us and said we had 24 hours to vacate the farm to make way for
them. We explained to Katonha and the nuns that Minister Joseph Made did not
register the Section 8 order (of the Land Acquisition Act) timeously with
the (administrative) court and therefore it was ineffective."

A Section 8 notice is an acquisition order that government serves on the
owner of a farm being acquired subject to the service of a Section 5
preliminary notice (of intention to acquire the farm).

In terms of Section 7 of the Act, the Agriculture minister has to apply to
the Administrative Court for confirmation of the acquisition within 30 days
after service of a Section 8 order.

Failure to do so renders the acquisition defective and invalid.

Made served the Section 8 acquisition order on December 1 last year but did
not file an application in the Administrative Court within the 30-day

Sagar is thus still the legal lessee of the farm despite it having been
listed for compulsory acquisition in August last year.

The new owners of an acquired farm are required by law to present a Letter
of Offer with a ministerial approval to occupy the farm.

The nuns failed on several occasions to produce it.

Swales said Katonha issued a threat to the farm workers to leave.

"Katonha addressed our 80 workers and demanded that they leave immediately
as the nuns were prepared to retain only four workers," Swales said.

Five LCBL employees illegally living in the farm compound have been fencing
off the invaded land using wire allegedly stolen from the main perimeter
fence. The 874ha farm produces tobacco on contract for Tobacco Sales Ltd and
seed maize for Seed Co.

Swales said Katonha, working closely with the nuns, allegedly invited about
30 Zanu PF youths to invade the farm around midnight on May 15.

The youths are said to have rounded up the farm workers and made them chant
Zanu PF slogans.

Sr Notvurgo, who expressed an interest in Sagar's farm equipment, demanded
two tractors, irrigation equipment and other farm implements, Swale said.

The equipment is bonded to Barclays Bank under a notarial bond drawn up by
legal practitioners Scanlen & Holderness as security for seasonal financing
to the company.

According to the Land Acquisition Act, Sagar is entitled to remove any or
all of its moveable assets.

The company has managed to relocate most of its irrigation equipment to a
safer place for security reasons.

The youths told the Independent that Katonha instructed them not to allow
Sagar to remove any more equipment.

The Independent visited the farm this week and saw the youths who have
raised the national flag close to the farmhouse.

The paper heard that the nuns have targeted the farm since 2002. In November
2002, Swales was accosted by a group of six LCBL nuns led by Maminimini,
asking for land alongside the Manyame River.

Swales prepared 10 hectares for them in the interests of co-existence.

They subsequently demanded more land.

The Independent has in its possession a copy of a letter signed by
Maminimini to Swales declaring the nuns' intention to occupy the farm.

In the letter, dated February 9 2003, Maminimini admitted she lacked farming
skills despite their intentions to diversify into commercial agriculture.

"Since we lack farming expertise, and Sister Electa and myself are already
too busy with administration in the congregation, we have decided to form a
board of directors to help us run the farm efficiently," Maminimini said.

She even asked Swales to join the board, because "you are a very experienced
farmer on the spot".

According to the letter, Maminimini sought to keep the new farming venture
secret from her board.

"The three of us, Sr Electa, yourself and me will continue to deal with
matters regarding ownership or handing over of more land (because) the
(LCBL) board does not discuss that," Maminimini said in the letter.

Swales said the nuns' action was irregular.

"We do not want to interfere with the government's land reform programme,"
Swales said.

"It's just that it is not being done in a regular and legal manner."

He said the nuns forced him to give them more land last year.

"In March 2003 Maminimini declared the nuns' commercial farming interests
and demanded title deeds to the farm," Swales said. "Under extreme duress,
we agreed to let them use a further 20 hectares of arable land.

"The nuns clapped their hands and thanked the Lord for 'their farm' and
assured us that they would never allow Malabar to be issued with a Section 8

Meanwhile the youths camped on the farm are now demanding a share of the
farm's spoils "for our projects".

In an interview, Maminimini admitted LCBL's involvement and pleaded with
this paper not to reveal their complicity.

"We do not want this story to be mentioned or published because it will
tarnish our good image," Maminimini said.

She claimed that the nuns were solving the issue with Sagar.

"We are sorting out the issue by ourselves," she said. "If you respect us
just leave us alone."

Quizzed if their invasion had the church's approval, Maminimini declined to
comment and refused to answer further questions.

In an interview yesterday, Bulawayo Archbishop Pius Ncube expressed shock at
the nuns' actions.

"This is news to me, and it definitely was not with the blessing of the
church," Ncube said.

"If a nun, a priest or even a bishop steals, it's definitely wrong because
it's against God's law," Ncube said.

Sagar wrote to the Minister of Special Affairs in the President's office
Responsible for Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, John Nkomo, in February
asking to stay on the farm until the expiry of Sagar's contract with TSL on
October 31.

This would facilitate the grading and marketing of the current tobacco and
seed maize crop to best advantage.

Nkomo is yet to respond.

About 80 000 kg of tobacco valued at over US$160 000 is expected to be
realised from sales to TSL, while 120 tonnes of strategically essential seed
maize is expected to be harvested.

Katonha, who did not deny his involvement in the invasion, declined to

"I will not discuss that issue with you because it's not possible for me to
do that," he said.
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Zim Independent

Zim's poll rules backward says Tsvangirai
Gift Phiri
OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai is
seeking the intervention of international election observers to help improve
electoral standards in Zimbabwe.

"While we are doing as much as we can to campaign for a review of our
electoral standards, it is important for international observers to help us
to achieve our goals in this national assignment. Our electoral standards
are still very backward. They are a source of instability," Tsvangirai said
in his weekly message.

Zimbabwe goes to the polls in March next year. The MDC is continuing its
preparations for the parliamentary elections confirming earlier assurances
that the MDC will participate despite the killings, violence and threats.

Pressure is getting harder and the obstacles to organising free elections
are increasing every day, according to Tsvangirai.

The MDC leader lashed out at Sadc government - as distinct from
parliamentary - election observers whom he accused of legitimising
fraudulent ballots.

"We are disturbed by the conduct of official observers from the Sadc region
who are quick to find adjectives to puff up public explanations in an
attempt to justify what could clearly be a fraud," Tsvangirai said.

"They choose to blame administrative bottlenecks, which they conveniently
assume to be natural, instead of condemning openly questionable electoral
practices in their own backyards."

The MDC leader said when confronted privately, the same official observers
admit their mistakes, but raise spurious arguments about stability,
solidarity, the liberation struggle and the fact that it is normal for
elections to present difficult challenges in Africa.

Since 2000, Zimbabwean elections have sparked immense political controversy
and divided the Sadc region, Africa and the international community. The
divisions are clearly visible between political parties, civil society and

During the 2000 parliamentary election and the 2002 presidential election,
observers from South Africa, Nigeria and Sadc governments generally approved
of the outcome.

Tsvangirai said local independent observers disagreed with them -
"justifiably because we lost close to 300 lives and billions of dollars in
destroyed property to Zanu PF thuggery".

Other observers such as the Sadc parliamentary forum, the European Union and
those from the Commonwealth, led by a Nigerian, criticised the elections as
less than free and fair.

Tsvangirai said the failure of African leaders to restrain each other or
merely to acknowledge evil intentions against the people has made it
possible for dictators to bludgeon their way into office.

"Presidents Bakili Muluzi, Joachim Chissano, Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo
Mbeki visited Zimbabwe in an attempt to find a solution to what they clearly
saw as a crisis from Robert Mugabe's self-proclaimed victory," said

Tsvangirai. "Still nothing significant happened to assist Zimbabweans, or
better still to push the Mugabe regime to change the nation's electoral

The MDC leader said Mugabe's regime went on to constrict the democratic
space by promulgating repressive laws that have pushed the political
environment to a stage of heightened internal tension thereby closing off
all avenues for principled political dialogue.

Tsvangirai said international observers need to move into the country early
enough to observe the electoral process right up to the counting of ballots.

"We recommend a period of at least 90 days before the election day.

Observers and monitors, as stakeholders, must put pressure on Mugabe and his
regime to open up political activity to all interested parties and
individuals in Zimbabwe. They must impress upon the regime that for a
democracy to be seen to be effective everybody, or at least the majority,
must recognise an election, and an election result," said Tsvangirai.
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Zim Independent

Hostile to business
Shakeman Mugari
ZIMBABWE has one of the most hostile business environments in Africa,
according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) report released in Maputo this

The Switzerland-based WEF's annual Africa Competitive Report ranked Zimbabwe
as one of the worst investment destinations in Africa.

Zimbabwe is at the bottom of the rankings based on a survey of world
economic leaders in 25 African countries surveyed in areas of macroeconomic
environment, macroeconomic stability and governance.

The ranking coincides with another report by Transparency International,
which shows Zimbabwe continued to drop in the corruption index. The report,
produced this week, revealed that Zimbabwe's average Corruption Perception
Index score has continued to decline, from 4,2 in 1998 to 2,3 last year. The
points range between 10 (clean) to 0 (highly corrupt).

According to the index, Zimbabwe is the third most corrupt country in
Southern Africa after Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, both
countries just emerging from debilitating civil wars.

Transparency International noted that average CPI scores for countries in
Africa have continued to decline despite strategies adopted to fight graft.

The WEF report on the other hand noted that Zimbabwe's economic demise was
self-inflicted because of misguided policies. It made reference to the
country's battered human rights record which has been the subject of
widespread international condemnation.

"Zimbabwe has seriously backtracked in the areas of individual freedom and
human rights, with the efficiency and stability of its economy suffering
greatly from self-inflicted and misguided policies," the WEF said.

The report ranked Zimbabwe 22nd out of 25 countries on the growth
competitiveness index due to lack of rule of law, intimidation of
opposition, violent elections and government's iron-fisted rule.

The government has also nullified individuals' property rights through
hurried land laws, used to justify its seizure of white-owned commercial
farms, it said

Botswana continues to be the most conducive investment destination in
Africa, coming first in six categories.

The report cited the country's democracy and fiscal stability. South Africa
was ranked third on the growth competitiveness index
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Zim Independent

Zambezi water project stalled
Loughty Dube
WORK on the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project has not yet taken off despite
the injection of $2 billion by government in the current financial year and
the payment of $300 million advance fees to the main contractor, a report
compiled by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) on the progress of
the project has indicated.

The Zinwa progress report was presented to the Bulawayo City Council's
future water supplies and water action committee two weeks ago.

The report also says Hope Mount Services, a company formed by Matabeleland
Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT) and Zimbabwe/Malaysia (Zimmal) to spearhead the
ambitious pipeline, has failed to disburse US$60 million to kick-start the

According to the Zinwa report, Hope Mount Services was expected to disburse
the US$60 million 60 days after the signing of a Build Operate and Transfer
(BOT) agreement with the Ministry of Water Resources and Zinwa on May 15

"The agreement for BOT was signed between the Ministry of Water Resources
and Infrastructural Development, Zinwa, and Hope Mount Services representing
MZWT and Zimmal on 15 May 2003," the report said.

"Disbursement of US$60 million was expected 60 days after signing the
contract but to date it has not been made available by Hope Mount Services."

Under the new agreement, Hope Mount Services will be the financier of the
project, MZWT the overseer while Zinwa will be the supervising authority.

The water project has been on the drawing board for the past 90 years but
has been put on the back burner by previous governments and is now expected
to cost in excess of $33 billion.

However, progress on the first phase of the project, which is the
construction of the Gwayi-Shangani dam, has been compromised after it
emerged that the Chinese company contracted to work on the project has not
returned to the site after being paid $300 million before the December
holiday last year.

However, Zinwa is understood to be making efforts to reverse the terms of
the contract and induce the Chinese company to accept payment in local

The report says that meetings between the government and the Chinese
contractor have been lined up in a bid to have the contract executed in
local currency.
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Zim Independent

No shortcuts, Mugabe tells aspiring Zanu PF MPs
Augustine Mukaro
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has dealt a major blow to parliamentary hopefuls who
wanted to fast-track their entry into parliament next year by
short-circuiting party rules.

In an interview screened on ZTV on Monday, Mugabe said Zanu PF would not
endorse candidates imposing themselves on constituencies and those claiming
to have been chosen through "consensus".

Mugabe's statement this week confirms Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo's
disclosure last week in the Zimbabwe Independent that all aspiring
candidates must observe the party's primary election process.

This comes at a time when Information Minister Jonathan Moyo and other
aspiring Zanu PF parliamentary candidates have offered themselves without
going through primaries in the constituencies they intend to contest in the
2005 election.

Moyo, who is currently an unelected MP, has been setting up development
projects in the Tsholotsho constituency. He has already made a public
declaration that he wants to be MP for the area.

A host of other Zanu PF politicians, including Masvingo provincial chairman
Daniel Shumba and his Manicaland and Mashonaland West counterparts, Mike
Madiro and Philip Chiyangwa, have also declared themselves as candidates for
Masvingo Central, Mutare South and Chinhoyi respectively.

In the interview, Mugabe said the primaries would be held shortly before or
after the party's congress in December.

Mugabe's disclosure effectively means that the aspiring candidates will have
to go back to the drawing board and face a rigorous selection process
through party structures.

Sources in Zanu PF said aspiring candidates are first selected at lower
organs of the party such as district co-ordinating committees for
verification purposes. Provincial election directorates then deliberate on
the proposed names before presenting them to the national commissariat,
which presides over a meeting of the national elections directorate to
review the submissions.

The candidates' profiles are then submitted to the politburo for further
review before approval.

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Zim Independent

Govt lines up Ndebele paper
Gift Phiri
THE government is finalising plans to set up an Ndebele newspaper designed
to cover Matabeleland provinces with Zanu PF propaganda ahead of the
parliamentary election scheduled for March next year, the Zimbabwe
Independent has established.

The vernacular newspaper, understood to be strongly supported by President
Robert Mugabe's information chief Jonathan Moyo, will be published under the
ambit of the Bulawayo-based government mouthpiece, the Chronicle.

The Zimbabwe Newspapers Group (Zimpapers), the holding company for
government-controlled newspapers, has already lodged an application for
licensing of the newspaper with the media regulatory body, the Media and
Information Commission (MIC).

MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso could neither confirm nor deny that Zimpapers
had applied for registration of the envisaged Ndebele publication.

"That is confidential information. We do not announce plans that are still
in the pipeline. We have a lot of applications but it is not for us to go
around announcing them. It is up to the person lodging the application to
disclose," Mahoso said.

Government sources said plans to set up the Ndebele paper were mooted by
Moyo, who said the paper "would tell the story of Zimbabwe to people in
Matabeleland in their own language".

"The overall aim is to counter reports in independent newspapers that Moyo
considers hostile to Mugabe," said a source.

The ruling party in the last general election lost in Matabeleland
provinces. In Bulawayo, for instance, eight of the parliamentary seats and
29 municipal seats were all won by the opposition Movement for Democratic

Moyo has recently been on a drive to smother the entire sub-region with
ruling party propaganda. The government recently signed a memorandum of
understanding with Namibia, which will culminate in the launch of a
propaganda mouthpiece titled the New Sunday Times.

Said Moyo about the setting up of the paper: "We need media that do not
apologise about their nationalist and pan-Africanist roots."

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Zim Independent

NRZ in cash squeeze
Loughty Dube
THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has for the second month running
failed to pay its workers on time as its cash crisis deepens.

Workers at the parastatal were supposed to be paid their May wages last
Friday but the NRZ, in a special notice sent to workers, acknowledged that
it was facing cash flow problems.

Workers at the parastatal are however seething with anger over the late
payment of their wages. The NRZ, with a workforce of 9 000, says the wages
payments will be staggered starting this week.

The NRZ is reeling under a huge wage bill estimated to be over $12 billion
as a result of massive wages increments and the award of a hefty cost of
living adjustment to workers at the beginning of this year.

"It is with regret that the administration has to advise that due to our
current cash flow problems the railways is unable to meet the pay out dates
of 28 and 31 May 2004," says the notice signed by NRZ acting general
manager, Lewis Mugwada.

"Accordingly, the May, 2004 payroll will only be disbursed on a staggered
basis with effect from 4 June, 2004."

New wage and salary awards by the NRZ have seen the lowest paid workers in
the Grade 11 category getting between $1, 4 and $ 1,6 million while those in
white collar jobs and artisans receive up to $6 million per month.

Workers in middle management are earning well over $5 million while senior
managers are taking home over $15 million per month.

Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railways Union secretary-general Gideon Shoko said the
workers were demoralised by the move but would wait for Friday (today)
before taking any action.

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Zim Independent

Call for alliance on Sadc rules
Staff writer
THE International Crisis Group (ICG) has called for the formation of a
democratic alliance between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) and civil society to force the ruling Zanu PF government to comply
with Sadc norms and standards on free and fair elections.

The ICG says the envisaged alliance would make a strong regional diplomatic
offensive and formulate smart strategies for non-violent protests that will
bring pressure to bear on the ruling party to ensure conditions for free and
fair elections in 2005.

Zanu PF intends to win the March 2005 parliamentary election at any cost.
The party has effectively banned civic meetings by enacting repressive
legislation such as the Public Order and Security Act, retired impartial
judges, militarised political stru-ctures, and systematically arrested and
beaten activists.

"Zanu PF not only wants to win, but it wants a two-thirds majority to make
constitutional amendments that entrench its rule under (President Robert)
Mugabe," the ICG said in a statement sent to the Zimbabwe Independent.

"It has no intention of conducting free and fair elections but will
endeavour to garner as much legitimacy as possible in the process,
especially in the eyes of its Sadc allies."

The ICG said Zimbabweans and the international community, especially Sadc
countries, should agree on benchmarks and a timeframe to ensure that the
electoral process in the run-up to Zimbabwe's forthcoming parliamentary
election meets the Sadc norms and standards for free and fair elections, a
protocol to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.

High levels of violence and intimidation have characterised all recent
Zimbabwean elections.

The ICG said if the MDC ignores recommendations to set benchmarks for the
forthcoming parliamentary vote, it will be trapped in a fundamental
strategic dilemma.

"If it contests the elections it will legitimise a patently flawed electoral
process, managed and controlled entirely by the ruling party. When it loses
the election, as it clearly must, its plaintive cry that the election was
neither free nor fair will be ignored by invited observers," the ICG said.

"If, on the other hand, it boycotts the election, it would lose all its
seats without a fight, and leave every government institution in the hands
of the ruling party. It should also be remembered that if, against all odds,
the MDC won the election, the president and his executive would still hold
the reins of power. This power could be exercised to severely curtail the
effectiveness of an MDC-dominated legislature," the ICG said.

To avoid this dilemma, the group said, it was imperative that an
international consensus is found on the dividing line between a relatively
free and fair election process and one that is so flawed that it should be
declared null and void.

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Zim Independent

Maya joins MDC
Shakeman Mugari
IN a significant political move, National Alliance for Good Governance
(Nagg) president Shakespeare Maya has dissolved his party to join the
opposition Movement For Democratic Change (MDC), the Zimbabwe Independent
can reveal.

MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi confirmed yesterday that Maya had joined
the party.

"Yes I can confirm that Shakespeare Maya has joined our party (MDC)," said
Nyathi. "I am not sure when he joined but he is now our member."

Asked whether this was a form of opposition coalition ahead of next year's
election, Nyathi said the move meant that the whole Nagg party was now part
of the MDC.

"In this case it would mean that the whole party has moved to MDC. It means
more people share our vision." It is not clear how many other members the
party had.

Maya is due to announce his move to the MDC today at a press conference. He
could not be reached for comment yesterday

Maya's move signals the death of Nagg which was widely seen as an extension
of Zanu PF - which could make it an uncomfortable partner for the MDC.

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Zim Independent

State editors want to gatecrash Swedish trip
Itai Dzamara
STATE media editors were this week making last-minute attempts to be
included in the group of journalists leaving tomorrow for Sweden to study
the media framework there.

This came after Information minister Jonathan Moyo had blocked journalists
in the state media from going to Sweden. Communications manager at the
Swedish embassy Sizani Weza said Moyo had issued a directive last week to
reporters from the state media advising that they shouldn't be part of the
visit to Sweden.

Five journalists from the state media, one from ZBC and four from Zimpapers,
had been cleared by their editors to undertake the tour and had applied for
Swedish visas.

Kristina Svensson, Ambassador of Sweden to Zimbabwe, confirmed this week
that state-media journalists had withdrawn from the study tour after
receiving a directive from government.

However, through the Zimbabwe Association of Editors (ZAE), formed earlier
this year, state-media editors went to the Swedish embassy this week asking
to be included in the trip.

Willie Mponda, the secretary-general of ZAE on Wednesday wrote to the
Swedish embassy in Harare saying: "After an executive meeting yesterday, it
was resolved that we should send two representatives to the study tour to
Sweden and the following will represent the Association - Willie Mponda
(secretary-general) (and) Remington Jari Jari (committee member).

The Swedish embassy in Harare has since responded to the request by
forwarding it to Stockholm for consideration. The state-media editors are
now unlikely to make it to Stockholm in the time remaining.

Asked whether their resolution to take part in the trip would not jeopardise
their relationship with Moyo, Muponda said: "What politicians say does not
affect our editorial decisions. We don't take directives from politicians."

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Zim Independent

Forex parallel market was inevitable says Robertson
Ngoni Chanakira

AS business executives and politicians skip the country before they are
hauled before the courts facing charges of trading on the foreign currency
parallel market, economist John Robertson has come out strongly in their
support arguing government should shoulder a bigger burden of the blame.

Robertson says the country's hyperinflationary environment should also be
taken into consideration because it created impossible conditions for
citizens engaged in normal business activities.

"Falling foreign earnings and rising demand that was sometimes exaggerated
by acute scarcities caused inevitable increases in the number of Zimbabwe
dollars that buyers would be prepared to offer sellers of foreign exchange,"
Robertson told business executives gathered in Harare recently.

"In this way the parallel market became the only functioning market for
foreign exchange. Every importing company that survived through the years
from 2000 to 2003 came to depend upon money sourced from the parallel market
as none of them had the slightest prospect of buying foreign exchange at the
official rate from any licensed foreign exchange dealer in the country."

He said every exporting company also came to depend on the additional
Zimbabwe dollars they could obtain by trading part of their export proceeds
at the rising parallel market rates.

"In essence without the parallel market exchange rate, every company
producing commodities, goods or services for export would have been forced
into bankruptcy at some stage between 2000 and 2003," Robertson said.

His sentiments echo those of prominent lawyer and former Minister of
Justice, Advocate Chris Anderson who, when defending Telecel Zimbabwe in its
case on charges of breaching the country's foreign currency regulations,
said the company was doing business in good faith.

"The state benefited in the sum of $24 billion and after this it is now
asking for a mandatory sentence to be imposed. How can this be justified?"
Anderson asked .

He however submitted that Telecel's dealings on the parallel market were not
because it was not aware of the law but arose from foreign currency

Gono's policy changed the face of the country's financial sector and sent
shock waves within the community.

NMB Holdings bosses Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Otto Chekeche and Francis
Zimunya left the country before they were hauled before the courts.
So did Intermarket Holdings founder and chief executive officer Nicholas
Vingirai, Barbican Holdings boss Mthuli Ncube and, more recently, Africa
Resources chairman Mutumwa Mawere.

Already in the cells awaiting their fate are Telecel chairman and Zanu PF
politburo member James Makamba and Finance and Economic Development minister
Christopher Kuruneri.

There have been widespread calls for an amnesty for those caught on the
wrong side of the exchange control rules and regulations dealing with
externalisation of the country's foreign exchange resources or dealing on
the illegal parallel market.
In his monetary policy review in April Gono said while the central bank had
taken a "softer and more understanding approach to parallel market
transgressions" because of circumstances prevailing before he took over
office, he however rejected the suggestion that a blanket amnesty be
extended to those who externalised foreign currency under one guise or the

"The granting of any amnesty is the prerogative of the head of state and
therefore such calls for a reprieve should not be directed at the central
bank as has been the case recently," he said.
He said law enforcement agents would still continue to pursue and discharge
their functions of investigating offenders under their own enabling statutes
and this should not be construed as the work or initiation of the Reserve

President Robert Mugabe at several gatherings has said no amnesty will be
granted to wrong-doers because they were saboteurs trying to destroy the
economy to undermine his government.
He said the net would close in on all and sundry including members of his

Robertson however said because the Zimbabwe dollar had not been permitted to
float in response to domestic inflation since the beginning of 1999, the
official exchange rate soon became a seriously misleading measure of the
value of Zimbabwe's currency.

"During the whole of 1999 and up to August 2000, and again during the months
from October 2000 to the end of 2003, the official exchange rate was held at
fixed levels that, because of inflation, soon bore no relation to the real
value of the currency," he said.

The official rate was about US$1: $38 from January 1999 to July 2000.
It then moved to $53 in August and $55 in September where it stayed until
the end of February 2003.

"Then the rate of $824 was adopted, but ostensibly only for exporters,"
Robertson said. "Reserve Bank statements said that the official rate
remained at $55 to US$1 and this official position was maintained until the
Reserve Bank auction system started on January 12 2004."

He said when the $824 rate was announced, the central bank gave an assurance
that it would be reviewed every quarter to prevent the need for such harsh
adjustments in the future.

"However, this undertaking was not honoured," Robertson said. "Inflation
continued to increase at an accelerating rate and by the end of 2003 another
significant increase was long overdue."

He said there appeared to be an "unbelievable degree of professional
incompetence" among the authorities responsible for the management of
Zimbabwe's exchange rates.

"However, on closer examination it has become evident that political control
and interference in financial matters has prevented the responsible Reserve
Bank and government officers from exercising their authority," Robertson

"Inflation, generated by declining export revenues and mounting shortages of
imported goods and by huge deficits, placed considerable pressure on the
exchange rate of the Zimbabwe dollar. A basic economic truism is that the
domestic value of a currency and its value in terms of the currencies of
other countries must bear a mathematically defined relationship. Any
deviation from a logical correlation will lead to the currency becoming
over-valued or under-valued."

He said the parallel foreign exchange market began to emerge while the fixed
rate was still at about US$1:$38.

He said by the time the currency auction system was adopted in January the
instability experienced in the banking system in earlier weeks had led to
the liquidation of some foreign currency holdings as borrowers tried to
repay high interest rate loans.

"As the country's inability to pay in advance for essential imports caused
increasingly disruptive and damaging shortages, importers had no option but
to offer attractive rates of exchange to any exporters, tourists,
cross-border traders, expatriates or currency traders who had foreign
exchange for sale," Robertson said.

"The emergence of the parallel market on which these transactions were
carried out soon came under the regulatory forces of any open market. Set
procedures were adopted and respected by buyers and sellers, many of whom
were introduced to one another by the banks who were holding foreign
currency accounts on behalf of clients or assisting other clients with
import advice and documentation."

Robertson pointed out that Air Zimbabwe, Noczim, embassies, the United
Nations, and even the RBZ, sourced money from the parallel market and there
was therefore no justification for penalising bankers.
"Government should accept full responsibility for the entirely predictable
behaviour patterns that emerged," he said. "Its own active involvement in
the parallel market was ample proof of the inadequacy of the laid-down
policy directives and the maintenance of these defective measures
year-after-year is proof of the incompetence of the policy-makers."

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Zim Independent


Four wasted years as Zanu PF goes it alone

IT is now one year since President Thabo Mbeki assured the international
community there would be a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis within a year.
His officials underlined the June deadline in subsequent statements.

That deadline has now arrived and Zimbabwe's crisis is deepening by the
week. There has been no progress on dialogue and no movement by government
to reform the lopsided electoral architecture.

President Mugabe's remarks during his recent Sky News interview should have
removed any doubts as to his indifference both to the situation on the
ground and to dialogue with the MDC.

When Mbeki visited Harare in December it was hoped that he had made some
progress towards engineering talks between the two political parties. There
was an assumption, which he fed in a number of statements, that a consensus
was emerging on the need for talks.

When German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder visited South Africa in January he
was told talks were about to begin. Speaking in Pietermaritzburg during the
recent South African election campaign, Mbeki said he envisaged
parliamentary and presidential polls in Zimbabwe taking place

Meanwhile, Zanu PF and the MDC are worlds apart. Any hope of dialogue has
been eclipsed by the ruling party's preoccupation with winning the March
election. There can be little doubt that it will get its wish. Everything
that was defective and biased in the ruling party's favour in 2000 and 2002
is still in place. If anything its in-built advantage has increased.

Skewed electoral laws are being tightened to confine voter education to the
Mugabe-appointed Electoral Supervisory Commission. The voters' roll remains
a closely guarded secret. And Posa, which Mbeki assured the world would be
repealed, is still very much in evidence preventing opposition rallies and
making their spokesmen liable to prosecution for statements that would be
considered normal discourse in an election context. That will not of course
deter Mugabe and his spokesmen from saying what they like about the
Voters will be unable to make an informed choice given the state's monopoly
of broadcasting and its closure of popular newspapers.

A court case this week revealed how individuals implicated in political
murders in Buhera in 2000 had been protected from prosecution for four

It is now over four years since Mbeki became involved in the search for a
solution to Zimbabwe's problems at the Victoria Falls mini-summit in April
2000. It needs patience, South African officials tell us. How much patience?
Five years or ten? Because what we have here, whatever the best intentions
of Mbeki and his officials, is a monumental failure of South African
diplomacy. Other presidents such as Bakili Muluzi of Malawi and Joachim
Chissano of Mozambique, who have been drawn in, have little to show except
privately expressed exasperation.

Perhaps most disappointing for Zimbabweans has been South Africa's
abandonment of its regional commitment to human rights, good governance and
the rule of law. Mbeki's spokesmen have often appeared to endorse misrule by
claiming they were not going to "shout from the rooftops". A simple
statement of principle appears to be beyond them.
But what will Pretoria say of the March election: that it was legitimate or
free and fair when they know perfectly well it can't be when the Sadc
parliamentary forum's electoral standards are being studiously ignored?

Mbeki has said democratic elections are fundamental to development.
Mozambican leaders have said their new electoral law must be acceptable to
Renamo and not passed by a 51% Frelimo majority in parliament. It is called
consensus and it drives all successful societies.

But it is wholly absent in Zimbabwe where an obdurate leader and his
squabbling subordinates are placing their own selfish needs above those of
the nation. The intention may be, 1980-style, to assert the electoral
superiority of Zanu PF and then seek to absorb what is left of the
opposition. But having deterred voters from exercising their democratic
right and hijacked the election there will be no national mood for that sort
of "unity".

Zanu PF had a chance to mend the gaping fissures in the fabric of the nation
and chose instead to bludgeon the country into submission. If South Africa
endorses that, it should not be surprised when Zimbabwe's crisis becomes its

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Zim Independent

Eric Bloch

Zimbabwe's bad image self-created

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and his plethora of obsequious ministers who
fawningly will do and say whatsoever he requires of them - in particular the
minister of fiction, fable and myth - habitually seek to blame Zimbabwe's
distraught economic conditions upon Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair.

They also blame the hundreds of thousands of "Rhodies" - being whites who
emigrated from Zimbabwe during the years of the liberation struggle, or over
the 24 years since Independence. Some very necessarily emigrated because
their abhorrent and unacceptable racial beliefs would have made life
untenable in the independent Zimbabwe.

Many others had little alternative but to emigrate, because the equally
abhorrent and unacceptable racism of the post-Independence regime rendered
their lives impossible, with the government promulgating oppressive and
unjust laws to deprive them of all, or virtually all, of their worldly

Contrary to the state's false justifications of the legislatively enabled,
virtual "theft" of their farms, their homes, their crops, their equipment
and their livelihoods, most of them had invested a lifetime of diligence,
intense work and all capital they had. They did so to develop and use those
farms for not only their own benefit, but also the support of more than 300
000 farm workers and their families, and as the mainstay of the country's

The government would have one believe that there is no foundation to the
contentions that reflect Zimbabwe in a negative and adverse light. They wish
all to believe that Zimbabwe is a democratic state which preserves absolute
law and order, pursues racial harmony and reconciliation and wellbeing for

To the government, all suggestions to the contrary are not only devoid of
fact, but are the malicious and evil stratagems of Blair, the "Rhodies" and
their cronies, not only to denigrate Zimbabwe, but either to destroy it or
assure its recolonisation. And the government further claims that these
virulent enemies of Zimbabwe reinforce those actions against Zimbabwe by
also motivating the application of economic sanctions.

Most thinking people dismiss these claims with the contempt they deserve,
for evidence on the ground is very pronounced as to the real reasons for the
sad economic plight that is Zimbabwe's lot. The evidence is equally manifest
that, in reality, almost all Zimbabwe's economic ills can be laid fairly and
squarely at the feet of Zimbabwe's government.

It is the government's ill-advised, destructive policies that are the
principal causes of the economic malaise that afflicts Zimbabwe. It is also
those policies, and concomitant actions, that have given Zimbabwe its
appallingly bad international image, and it is that image that is the main
deterrent to foreign direct investment into Zimbabwe, to trade growth and to
the considerable touristic patronage which Zimbabwe would otherwise enjoy.

However, the astounding development a fortnight ago was that when Mugabe
surprisingly accorded Sky News an exclusive interview, much of what he said
corroborated many of the allegations that are the foundation of Zimbabwe's
loathsome image abroad. Certainly it was not his intent to provide such
corroboration, but provide it he did.

The number of times that he did so in the interview was great, but a few
examples should suffice to make the point. On the issue of whether or not
the 2002 presidential election was free and fair, the Sky News interviewer,
Stuart Ramsay, suggested that there were significant irregularities, such as
the closure of polling stations before many had been able to vote, confused
voters' rolls, and the like.
The president's response was: "Sure, there might have been hitches here and
there and there are always hitches, not just here but even in democratic

Usage of the word "even" was extremely telling, for effectively the
President was, for the first time, acknowledging that Zimbabwe is not a
democratic country. And the absence of democracy is a significant factor
which discourages donor development funding, investment and trade.
Ramsay pursued the electoral issue further, stating that "one of the
concerns of the international community . . . has been the level of
political violence . . . ". The presidential response was not to deny such
violence. He did not suggest that the guardians of law in Zimbabwe strive to
prevent or, at least, contain political violence. Instead, he impliedly
admitted to that violence, and on the part of the political party led by
him, for he said to Ramsay:
"You are just looking at violence, alleged violence affecting Zanu PF. What
about the other side . . . ?"

Apparently, he felt he had not sufficiently acknowledged the extent of the
violence and the lawlessness in Zimbabwe for, when Ramsay said that he had
"met people who have been beaten and they say they are beaten for putting
out leaflets calling for industrial action", the President did not deny such
acts. Instead, he sought to justify them by saying: "But you will get those
actions even in Britain".

Most viewers were undoubtedly conscious of the spuriousness of that
statement, and instead received reaffirmation that Zimbabwe's government saw
nothing wrong when violence is wrought against those that differ with it.

The interview also focused upon Zimbabwe's impending food crisis. Despite
the fact that the World Food Programme says that urban food shortages are
approaching critical levels, and despite the fact that a United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) memorandum says that the tonnages projected by
the Zimbabwean government crop assessment cannot possibly be realised, and
that the estimates are completely impossible of materialising, the President
was adamant to the contrary.

The evidence of impending disaster is incontrovertible, but the President
chose to ignore the evidence, and instead to believe the estimates. Has
there been a single instance in the last five years that the Ministry of
Agriculture has been able to issue a correct crop assessment? No! The
president not only claimed that there would be enough food this year to feed
all, but went as far as to claim that there would be a surplus!
Unfortunately, Zimbabwe's far-mers, indigenous and the few remaining white
farmers and the populace know otherwise. So too do leading, authoritative
international organisations, donor states and others.

With that knowledge is the recognition that the food crisis, when it occurs,
will impact very markedly upon the economy. Addressing the crisis, without
the cavalierly rejected international humanitarian aid, will place an
immense burden upon the exchequer. It will heavily drain Zimbabwe's scarce
foreign currency resource. It will fuel inflation, negating much of the
achievements of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono. And the tourist does not
wish to come face to face with intense poverty, hardship and misery.

Still on the issue of agriculture, the President claimed that Zimbabwe has
"an agricultural system second to none in Africa". When tobacco production
has fallen by over 60% in three years, grain production has fallen by 75% in
the same period and thousands of farms have been vandalised and decimated,
such a statement defies belief. And the results of such disbelief include
yet further losses of confidence in the economy and in the government's
ability to run it. The reluctance to accept realities was further
demonstrated when the President said: "The whites who were here were mere
actor farmers, ill-educated and we brought in a system which is much more
enlightened than the system they had."

It was those whites or, more correctly, their antecedents, who 100 years ago
turned uncultivated, unutilised lands into flourishing fields. They were the
ones who developed agriculture to an extent that it fully fed Zimbabwe,
exported to the region and earned much of the country's foreign exchange

And it is those whites who are now being welcomed with open arms by Zambia,
Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria and elsewhere. Are all those
countries wrong, and only Zimbabwe right? Surely not!

These and many other responses by the President to Sky News served directly
and indirectly to confirm the poor impressions much of the world has of
Zimbabwe, its economy and its lack of adherence to fundamental principles of
human rights and good governance. The interview showed beyond doubt that,
unfortunately, Zimbabwe's bad image internationally is self-created, no
matter how much Zimbabwe may like to pretend otherwise. And until Zimbabwe
recognises that reality, and does something about it, the economy will
continue to head downwards.

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Zim Independent


SMoyo's Al Jazeera a big yawn

"A BIG yawn" is the best way to describe what was billed as "an exclusive
interview with President Robert Mugabe" by Newsnet on Monday night.
We thought it would be something to match the Sky News interview Mugabe had
last week. Instead it was one of those dull "specials" that Newsnet churns
out after a free ride with the president. The only thing that turned out to
be exclusive was that the interview was conducted on a plane somewhere
between Addis Ababa and Cairo.

But how can one have an "exclusive interview" that has no questions? It
appears Reuben Barwe was doing his voice-overs somewhere on board while
Mugabe was having a quiet monologue on his own in another part of the plane.
It was difficult to tell what question, if any, Mugabe was responding to as
he rambled on.

We thought the president would be tackled on the serious problems facing
Zimbabwe. That he would give a feisty defence of his disastrous policies.
Instead he went on and on about the AU security organ.

The only useful disclosure was that the general election will be held as
scheduled in March and that there will be primaries for all aspiring Zanu PF

It would be useful to hear from ZBC viewers how they think they benefited
from the interview. Because, to put it bluntly, it was a complete waste of
time. Is this really how Mugabe wants to be remembered in his twilight
years? Is this the much-vaunted "national" response to Sky News: a
dysfunctional, meandering private discourse free of challenge or relevance?
Is this Zimbabwe's Al Jazeera?

Do we recall Mugabe saying recently that he doesn't read any media except
the Herald? If that's true, we pity him. The Herald can never say anything
now unless it bears Jonathan Moyo's imprint. Which is to say the paper looks
as if it is being increasingly used to fight the minister's political
These in most cases have nothing to do with the so-called national interest
or sovereignty but everything to do with personal advancement.

Of late media attacks have been directed at old-guard nationalists who have
been with Mugabe since the days of the liberation war such as Joseph Msika,
John Nkomo and Nathan Shamuyarira.

In Msika's case we all know the gripe is over Kondozi Farm. When government
talked about a one-man one-farm policy we didn't think that in the end a
parastatal such as the inept Agricultural and Rural Development Authority
would turn out to be a beneficiary. Why should it be allocated land ahead of
the needy?

It is difficult not to feel just a little sorry for Dr David
Nyekorach-Matsanga who was unceremoniously bundled out of Harare airport
recently when he tried to visit the country. The former Ugandan Lord's
Resistance Army spokesman had no difficulty getting in on previous

Matsanga was instrumental in securing approval for the Sky News team's
documentary on Zimbabwe and subsequent presidential interview which seems to
have annoyed the hell out of the ministerial Big Head who has appointed
himself Chief Gate-Keeper to the nation's highest office. (That is of course
in addition to doubling up as Minister of Justice, Attorney-General, Police
Commissioner, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Agriculture.)

The message sent to Matsanga in the departure lounge was unambiguous: "I am
the only authorised gate-keeper around here. By applying elsewhere you have
questioned my immense authority over the media and dared to challenge my
growing monopoly on power."

We hold no brief for Matsanga. He was an uncritical admirer of the regime
that has now spat him out. And he was a virulent critic of the independent
press. But the manner of his going has illustrated as nothing else could the
abuse of power that is taking place by those who deal in state retribution.
Because he didn't genuflect before the Big-Headed one and instead approached
his ostensibly senior party colleague, he has paid the price.

Forget his unyielding loyalty to the throne; he defied the Gate-Keeper and
thereby exposed the president to a hostile interview. Never mind the mantra
that the president is his own best spokesman. That claim has been abandoned
now in favour of the fawning interview by approved eunuchs of the Newsnet
court who invite their subject to share with viewers his Solomonic wisdom.

Matsanga has achieved a small measure of revenge for his humiliation by
circulating as widely as possible an e-mail attack upon his present nemesis
that is typically as wild and defamatory as its recipient can be. Nobody
will profit from that sort of exchange. They deserve each other.

But we will be interested to see what sort of "researcher" Matsanga turns
out to be when he produces the evidence he now says he is hunting down.
Muckraker is sceptical. This could be another Kenyan project that turns out
to be less than enlightening!

Readers who may be wondering why the Sunday Mail's Lowani Ndlovu sounds
suspiciously similar to Nathaniel Manheru were given a clue last Sunday as
to where this mendacious defence of political delinquents is really coming
from. Ndlovu accused the Independent's editor of using his newspaper "to
publish patently defamatory words like 'immoral little boys' in reference to
some cabinet ministers whose only sin was to stand by government's policy
and decision to evict (Piet) de Klerk from Kondozi."

So where a vice-president uses those words in an interview, the Independent
is forbidden to use them in case they apply to "some cabinet ministers"?
What form of new censorship is this, where a newspaper is not allowed to
publish an interview with the nation's vice-president because state
newspaper columnists, clearly reflecting the views of their over-ambitious
handlers, say so?

And who could John Nkomo be thinking of when he told the Independent last
week that aspiring ruling party MPs should not be allowed to claim a
constituency without the preliminary consultative procedures being followed?
Should we have spiked that interview as well?

Ndlovu seems to think that Nkomo misled the public when he said he had not
signed any letters reversing so-called land reform. He said Nkomo's denial
was "unconvincing" because there was a "well-orchestrated diabolical and
thus systematic effort to reverse the land reform" by bureaucrats "against
the backdrop of political inaction by those who should politically supervise
the bureaucracy".

But he didn't give a single example of a new farmer who had been evicted.
Nor one white farmer who has been given back his farm illegally. Why are
Ndlovu's so-called new farmers being evicted so craven that they will not
come out in the open and be identified by name? Are these the same brave
soldiers who reportedly spearheaded the so-called Third Chimurenga and are
always threatening to go back to the bush to defend land reform, we wonder?

Ndlovu last week suggested we had described all photos of British and
American soldiers brutalising Iraqis as fakes.

The only ones we branded as fakes were those that turned out to be fakes.

But whatever the facts, Lying Lowani is obliged to distort them. BBC claims
of torture and rape at youth training centres turned out to be "totally
false", we are told.

Really? And what about all the other documented cases of torture and rape
since 2000? Are they "totally false" as well?

The latest Amnesty International report is very clear. "There was an
escalation in state-sponsored attacks on critics of the government,
particularly supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change,"
it states. "The perpetrators of human rights violations continued to enjoy
impunity and allegations against state agents remained without

Well done to Sunday Mail reporter Andrew Ncube. He was able to defend
himself recently by using his karate skills, the newspaper reported last
Ncube was returning to town from the university when he was set upon by a
gang of thugs. They grabbed him by his belt and then cut it with a knife.
But he was able to frighten them off.

"They used a knife to cut my belt," he said. "I don't know what they wanted
to do but I think I saved my life by demonstrating my karate skills."
But this was not before they had searched his pockets and removed his money,
his ID card, ATM card and cash, the paper reported.

No doubt next time Andrew will remember to demonstrate his skills at an
earlier stage of the proceedings.

Joseph Chinotimba said this week unless John Nkomo "comes out in the open
and acts like a minister" - that is bows to the wishes of the war veterans -
they will be forced to wear their straw hats once again.

The Herald translated this as a reference to the farm occupations of 2000.

Instead of wearing his straw hat once again and threatening government
officials or the tiny handful of white farmers who are still left on the
land, why doesn't Joseph Chinotimba try and win a democratic election?

That would show he can do something other than being an overpaid municipal
policeman and general Zanu PF enforcer!

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Zim Independent

Zimbabwe spends US$79,5m on fuel
Ngoni Chanakira
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, once the country's major fuel
deal broker, says the country has so far spent US$79,5 million importing

The cash was raised from the weekly foreign currency auctions held by the
central bank on Mondays and Thursdays.

Gono said this was against exchange control approvals for fuel for the
period January 8 to May 27, amounting to US$115 million.

In an exclusive interview with businessdigest on Friday Gono said most of
the foreign currency had been allocated to traditional fuel importer BP and
Shell who received US$6,5 million from the amount which is 12,9% of the
total proportion allocated by the central bank.

Following closely behind BP and Shell is Country Petroleum, which has
received US$4,1 million from the central bank, which is 8,3% of the total

There are currently 46 major fuel importers in Zimbabwe that benefit from
the RBZ's auction system.

Zimbabwe has been facing a serious fuel crisis resulting in kilometres of
queues springing up countrywide.

However the fuel situation has improved a little but prices have been
increased for the product.

"With the new auction system that we introduced in January it seems the fuel
situation has improved," Gono told businessdigest. "Cumulatively, a total of
US$50,2 million was allotted at the auction so far for the importation of
fuel and other petroleum products such as oils, gas, paraffin and
lubricants, since the inception of the auction on January 12. The total
amount allocated for fuel at the auction represents 17,8% of the total
amount allotted through the auction of US$282,9 million as at May 27."

He said other transactions for which foreign currency was being dished out
by the central bank included pharmaceuticals, maize, seeds, aircraft and

Gono, former chief executive officer of the Jewel Bank, has been at the
centre of fuel negotiations with his institution bankrolling deals by
organising off-shore funding for the commodity especially from Kuwait.

The prominent banker also facilitated trade deals between Zimbabwe and
Malaysia, culminating in the latter agreeing to accept local currency in
payment for imports.

Gono said in Auction 38, which was the last auction held at the time of the
interview, oil companies submitted bids valued at US$3 million.

He said this together with the amount allotted through the auction brought
the total amount of foreign exchange which went towards the importation of
fuel to US$79,5 million.

Fuel importers who benefited from Auction 38 were Mobil Zimbabwe (US$764
000), BP and Shell (US$679 508), Wonder Petroleum (US$177 724), Caltex
(US$125 226), FSI Trading (US$95 179), Mberengwa Enterprises (US$58 850),
Fylke Trading (US$45 486), Velvet (US$17 903) and Wedzera (US$11 009).
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Zim Independent

Price controls set to return
Shakeman Mugari
GOVERNMENT is planning to bring back price controls in an effort to stop the
sudden surge in basic commodity prices.

The Ministry of Industry and International Trade is understood to be
compiling a list of basic commodities whose controlled prices would be
gazetted in the near future, sources in the ministry's consumer relations
department said.

The decision comes on the back of drastic increases slapped on commodities
by retailers and manufacturers in an effort to remain viable.

The consumer affairs department of the ministry has been directed by the
minister to carry out an urgent price study that would culminate in the
gazetting of the controlled prices.

Commodities on the controlled price list would include bread, cooking oil,
maize meal, baby food, and milk.

Sources in the department said agricultural essentials would also be
included on the list.

There is unconfirmed speculation in political circles that government also
plans to use the price controls as a campaign to spruce up its image ahead
of next year's parliamentary election.

Government has over the past month insisted that the price of basic
commodities must come down in tandem with the inflation rate which has been
slowing down.

In defiance of government's directive, industry has however increased the
price of commodities by between 12% and 25%, a move that has angered state

The transport industry has since increased fares, ostensibly to cover the
cost of fuel and spare parts.

The government has however vowed to crackdown on commuter operators that
charge unstipulated fares.

The Acting Minister of Industry and International Trade Olivia Muchena could
not give further details saying she was "only an acting minister".

"We have not discussed the issue of price controls at the moment. In any
case I am only an acting minister. I would not have the actual details. Why
don't you speak to the NECF, they held a discussion on that issue," said

In an effort to gather public views on the price increases the National
Economic Consultative Forum, which has strong links to the industry and
trade ministry, last week organised an urgent meeting to discuss the pricing

The controls are likely to witness a repeat of what happened two years ago
when government introduced wide-ranging controls resulting in serious food

In response retailers withdrew the controlled commodities from the shelves -
giving rise to the black market.

The controls were however lifted last year following an outcry from

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Zim Independent

Exchange rate needs reviewing, says parliamentary committee
Staff Writers
THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, Industry and
International Trade has described the stipulated 25% taken by government on
foreign currency earnings as a "disincentive" to exporters.

In a report tabled in parliament recently, the committee said the current
exchange rate should be reviewed upwards to benefit exporters and that the
time-frame for foreign currency usage should be revised.

The committee said the time-frame should be revised from the current 30 days
to 45 or 60 days.

"While the foreign currency auction system introduced by the Reserve Bank
has made forex easily available," the committee said in its report, "it has
been observed that the 25% at US$1: Z$824 acts as a disincentive to
exporters as profit margins are almost eroded by this arrangement."

The committee said an industrial and export strategy should be established
through the introduction of export credit facilities and guarantees which
should be closely monitored to avoid leakages into other markets other than
in export production.

The committee said convergence of exchange rates should be managed according
to terms of trade fundamentals with key trading regional markets.

It also recommended that government should put in place measures that would
see the re-entrance of foreign investors who were continuing to leave the
country in droves.

"Those foreign investors from friendly countries and technology (should) be
mobilised for investment in existing and new capacity," the committee said.

The export incentives that were introduced by the Reserve Bank have been
criticised for not restoring profitability but only reducing the amount of
losses that were being made by exporters.

Economic analysts said individuals were under the impression that exporters
were making vast amounts of profits by virtue of their previous realisation
on the parallel market yet in practice exporters were subjected to huge cost
increases for a very long time.

They said there was need to boost the country's image as an attractive
investment destination for foreign investors who could come in as strategic

"There should be a deliberate effort by the government to ensure adherence
to transparency and accountability and should show a credible commitment to
fight against corruption and enhancement opportunities for support
regionally and internationally," the committee said.

The committee, after consultations with key stakeholders, agreed to tackle,
among other challenges, the interest and exchange rate distortions in the
economy and persistent high government budget deficits.

It admitted that strained relations with some countries and the
international donor and financial community were working against efforts to
revive the struggling economy. -

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RBZ our parastatal, says Chapfika
Ngoni Chanakira
THE Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development David Chapfika
yesterday said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is similar to a government
parastatal because it simply carries out decisions made by his ministry.

Chapfika said the central bank simply implemented financial policies that
had been made by the ministry in general and government in particular.

He said the RBZ was similar to the Grain Marketing Board and the
Agricultural Rural Development Authority, which took instructions from the
Ministry of Agriculture.

The sentiments come as observers have expressed concern about the country's
financial state of affairs, saying while the central bank was trying its
best to shore up the struggling economy, the Finance ministry was busy
allowing government to gobble funds.

They have said unless the fiscal policy works hand in glove with the RBZ's
monetary policy the economy will not get back to its 1980-1985 levels when
it was one of the most vibrant in the region.

Chapfika said while the national budget was currently under control, he
could not rule out supplementary budgets, which have continued to burst the
nation's coffers.

"We might have emergencies so we cannot rule out supplementary budgets," he

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Election could slow down recovery
Shakeman Mugari
JUST when government thought the ailing economy was improving, analysts warn
that the impending election period could worsen the situation and scuttle
claims of an imminent recovery.

They say that Zimbabwe's negative international image could deteriorate
further if the past election experience is anything to go by.

The analysts note that violence, a crackdown on opposition supporters and
fears of vote rigging could dampen hopes of economic prosperity together
with unbudgeted spending.

Political commentator Brian Kagoro said the current electoral framework
creates a platform for intimidation and violence during the election period.

"The commotion usually associated with Zimbabwean elections will put
pressure on the economy. The political impasse is already damaging the
economy. An election marred by violence, intimidation and allegations of
rigging will kill it," said Kagoro.

"Much depends on the outcome of the elections. The electoral framework, if
not changed, will worsen the economic situation. It could mean more
violence, intimidation and even rigging - all of which will damage the

Experts warn that investors' perceptions about Zimbabwe are likely to
deteriorate as government embarks on efforts to intimidate the opposition,
media and civic organisations.

They say the stage for another economic depression has already been set by
events in recent by-elections in Zengeza and Lupane, which were largely
marred by violence.

Zimbabweans in the diaspora are very reluctant to repatriate their money,
saying the economic climate is unstable and they are not guaranteed
political and economic security back home.

Analysts say the outcome of the elections could also have a telling impact
on the economy.

They say a dark cloud will continue to hover over the country if observers
feel the elections were not free and fair.

Previously the international community has disputed results, saying the
elections were not free and fair. This has resulted in Zimbabwe being
isolated from international forums and having credit lines withdrawn.

"If the international community think the election is not free and fair then
our plight could worsen," Kagoro said. "The history of elections in Zimbabwe
is not encouraging at all. The outcome of the elections will also determine
the fortunes of the economy."

Government has been in a self-congratulatory mood over signs of recovery
since the appointment of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono.

Gono has tried to kick-start the ailing economy with his new monetary policy

Analysts however point out that this alone cannot do the trick and political
goodwill is needed to accompany the monetary policy statement.

These marginal gains, political and economic experts say, could however be
reversed by a marred election.

Companies too are more likely to take a cautious stance towards production
as we approach the elections.

Uncertainty in the business community could lead to reduced domestic
investment and production.

Tourism, which used to be one of the major foreign currency earners, is
likely to ground to a halt if violence erupts again during election time.
History has shown that the post-election period also offers no respite for
the tourism industry.

The farm invasions that were rampant during the peak of the fast track land
resettlement programme have caused a dip in tourism figures.

International tourists now regard Zimbabwe as a very risky destination.

"The tourism industry is still in the doldrums due to the country's bad
international image. The coming elections could certainly see a dip in the
industry," said a tourism executive.

"The general attitude internationally is that elections in Zimbabwe are
characterised by political violence. This perception could certainly be with
us during the next elections."

As Zimbabwe draws closer to the election, which promises another gruelling
battle between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and Zanu
PF, daggers have already been drawn.

The Zimbabwean dollar has depreciated against major international currencies
such as the United States dollar, British pound, Botswana pula and the South
African rand.

During the week ending April 8 for example, the Zimbabwe dollar depreciated
by 1,2% against the US dollar. It also depreciated by between 0,1% and 3,1%
against other major currencies.

The depreciation has also caused gradual fuel price increases and the sudden
hiking of commuter fares.

Transport and production costs have also skyrocketed and, according to
analysts, will keep increasing unless economic prospects improve.

Prominent economist John Robertson says inflation will increase to 600% by
the end of 2004, casting doubt on the Reserve Bank's optimistic projection
of 200% by December.

Robertson says the Zimbabwe dollar will plunge to an unprecedented US$1:$18
000 during the same period.

He has also warned of serious food and foreign currency shortages during the
second half of the year.

Robertson said the election period would lead to more economic chaos.

"The elections will have a tremendous impact on investment. We must realise
that the damage caused by the last elections is still with us," Robertson

"I can foresee a serious food and forex shortage. If things get worse in
terms of political violence business might grind to a halt."

The prices of basic commodities recently also shot up drastically.

Bakers have however justified the bread increase saying they are importing

Last year Zimbabwe only managed to produce four months worth of wheat and
bakers have now had to supplement this with regional imports.

"Things will get worse before they get better," Robertson said.

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Zim Independent


A tale of madness we already knew

RECENT revelations by the state-controlled media that some newly-resettled
farmers are being evicted to pave way for original white farmers are further
proof of the chaos and confusion that have characterised this Zanu PF land
reform programme from the start.

Despite attempts by the Herald and the Sunday Mail to place the blame on the
doorsteps of a few individuals in the Ministry of Lands, we all know that
this so-called Third Chimurenga has been a tale of madness from the moment
Zanu PF-hired thugs masquerading as war veterans were allowed to cause havoc
on the white-owned farms soon after the February 2000 referendum.

It is now all too easy for the shallow-minded scribes at Zimpapers to
sympathise with a handful of unfortunate resettled farmers who are now
losing "their" farms after investing a lot of money and energy on them in
the past two years, yet the same sympathy was never extended to the white
farmers who were forced to leave their farms and many years' worth of hard
labour and investment.

I hold no brief for white farmers because I know none personally, and I
don't have any grudge against genuine war veterans (my father was one - God
bless his soul), but I believe it makes a mockery of our political system to
have important government policies made from the rumblings of illiterate and
uneducated clowns like Joseph Chinotimba whose only academic cap he has ever
worn in his life is a straw hat.

Hudson Taivo,

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Economic recovery an illusory myth

AM I being unduly pessimistic in forecasting that the "economic recovery"
now under way, according to Zanu PF praise singers, will be as illusory as
the previously much-touted "tourism recovery?"

I have just returned from a brief visit to Victoria Falls. The town is a
virtual ghost town as far as international visitors is concerned.

Almost half of the recently re-opened Elephant Hills Hotel is in "mothballs"
and its occupancy rate is perhaps 10%.

On one day last week, I was told that only one person was checking into the
hotel on that day.

Visiting the restaurant one evening I witnessed the Ndebele traditional
dance group performing for an audience of two diners (not counting the hotel

I visited the Kingdom Hotel twice in the early evening. On both occasions
the casino area was completely empty and the number of people dining could
be counted on the fingers of one hand.

The same story was repeated at the Victoria Falls Hotel. Its famous
verandah, with its magnificent view, had not even a solitary guest partaking
of a sundowner.

Viewing the incredible Falls was as always, awe inspiring. But I doubt that
there were more than a couple of international visitors sharing the
experience during the time I was there.

The simple fact remains that neither a tourism recovery nor an economic
recovery will take place until there is a return to good governance -
governance that respects the rule of law, respects property rights, respects
universal democratic values, is free of violence and free of human rights

The sooner this happens the better for all Zimbabweans, but it won't happen
unless people work positively for such changes.

Those who assist in the propping up of the present regime which has
inflicted such damage on the country are merely prolonging and worsening our

Everett Scott,

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Zim Independent


Not all whites stole land

IN reply to President Mugabe's statement at Independence celebrations this
year regarding anyone having any grievances on land to write in, he was
referring to the whites who have left and are now post delivery men and
milkmen in New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

In 1980 a lot of Zimbabweans bought land and developed it. This was not
given by the colonial powers. It took years to pay installments and develop
the land which was bought through the then Agricultural Finance Corporation
(AFC), now Agribank.

This land was available to every race - blacks/whites/coloured - and some of
the white farmers' neighbours were blacks who bought land in the same areas.

We have had land seized from whites only and the excuse - we stole it from
the blacks! My neighbours are still there and I have kept in touch with

Why were our yearly installments accepted if this was the case and the
agreements not cancelled in 1980? I made payments for four years during the
Smith regime and 16 to the present government.

Why did the present government accept my payments after 1980?

Some of the younger generation were only born in the 70s and had put
everything into their farms only to have it taken away in the prime of their
lives. They didn't even know anything about colonial 1890.

This makes one recall President Mugabe's speech back in 1980 at Cooksey Hall
in Chinhoyi. After listening to the president speaking we thought we had
been wrong about him and gave him a standing ovation.

I purchased the book Mugabe by David Smith and Colin Simpson (1980) and
still have it in my possession. President Mugabe stated he would not
interfere with property, see pages 169, 197 and 206.

His subordinates were still grabbing farms as of May 20 - some in their
names and one or two in their wives' names. These could be named if

My grandparents ran a trading store in Zvimba (Chikaka Store) close to
Kutama Mission and several Italian fathers and nuns used to visit quite
regularly. They also ran a dispensary at Chikaka store on behalf of the
mission for minor ailments and treatment to spare the community having to
walk about 20km back to the mission. This was done as a community service
for no charge. My grandmother was a German nurse.

I have no intention of leaving Zimbabwe, having lost three ranches and the
cropping farm to resettlement exercises.

I cannot find a job as a milk or post delivery man in Chinhoyi as there is
no milk and the average person cannot afford the postal service charges, let
alone the envelopes.

Having posted four letters three months ago to New Zealand, the US,
Australia and Canada at an average of $10 400 per letter, not one has
reached its destination. Possibly our ex-Zimbabweans haven't delivered them
yet or kept the stamps.


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Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

Thought control
Iden Wetherell
ALARM bells started ringing this week with reports that the state was
attempting to oblige Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to divulge details of
mailings deemed objectionable or dangerous.

The requirement is contained in a proposed addendum to providers' franchise
contracts sent out by Tel*One with whom ISPs are tied by the umbilical cord
of fixed-line telephony.

Zispa, the local association of ISPs, has correctly pointed out that it is
not their function to police the Internet. Nor would it be practical to do
so. They cannot be expected to store the thousands of mailings they handle
every day.

They would be obliged, the addendum says, to provide tracing facilities of
messages to Tel*One or government officials where such information is
required for investigation of a crime or in the interests of national
security. There is also reference to the enforcement of "cyberlaws".

The use of networks for "anti-national activities" would be an offence, it

That wording would indicate where this is coming from. The move reflects a
heightening of the paranoia felt in the upper echelons of power. President
Mugabe and his advisors, instead of regarding the Internet as an instrument
of knowledge and freedom, see it as a tool of "imperialists".

Speaking at a conference on the information super-highway in Geneva last
year, Mugabe described the Internet as a tool used by "a few countries... in
quest of global dominance and hegemony".

Only China, North Korea, Burma and Cuba, as far as I know, restrict Internet
access. Most governments sensibly regard it as undesirable to do so except
where individuals have broken the law, for instance regarding child
pornography. But I can understand the authorities here seeing it as a
dangerous ally of the democratic forces. It is already an offence in
Zimbabwe to engender hostility towards the president. That, we argue,
unfairly protects Mugabe from legitimate criticism when he is at the centre
of national debate.

Zimbabweans use the Internet to communicate with each other both at home and
in the diaspora. Websites abound providing news and views that are accessed
by thousands of people every day. This newspaper was the first to go online
in 1996. A significant proportion of our readers access our pages via the
Internet and we can receive detailed breakdowns of how many people, and
where, are looking at specific pages.

But it is not so much newspapers that government - or its wholly owned
telecoms company - is seeking to regulate by its latest move. It is the
websites and mailings of Zimbabweans in the democratic movement who are
telling the real "Zimbabwean story". The authorities have made no secret,
for instance, of their desire to locate the people behind Zvakwana, a
popular site that advances democratic ideas and reports on the activities of
the civic sector.

In forcing ISPs to provide details of mailings, the authorities are
attemptinto circumvent a Supreme Court ruling in March which struck down
clauses in the Post and Telecommunications Services Act (Potsa) that
authorised the state to give orders to intercept postal articles and

The Law Society of Zimbabwe had in 2003 sought a ruling on the
constitutionality of the provisions. In their judgement the Chief Justice
and his colleagues, after nearly a year of deliberation, decided that the
sections of Potsa that authorised such interceptions were null and void
because they interfered with the right to privacy.

Zispa has asked Tel*One to clarify its request which is currently couched in
woolly terms. (What for instance is "anti-national": Zanu PF's depredations
or democratic discourse?) ISPs have said they are prepared to cooperate with
authorities in investigations into such legitimate concerns as terrorism or
where a specific crime has been committed. But they would quickly forfeit
the confidence of their clients if they became snoops for the government
which, despite its boasts of political mastery, appears more insecure by the

Why should the onus of monitoring e-mails be placed on ISPs who in any case
do not have the capacity or resources to do so? Requirements regarding the
enforcement of "cyberlaws" are poorly thought out. There is no international
agreement on regulation of copyright. The latest David Bowie release, for
instance, can be legally downloaded. Many other MP3 files can't.

Because of zero public confidence in the state broadcaster, Internet usage
in Zimbabwe is relatively high. There were as many as 100 000 registered
users in 2002. There will be a lot more today.

Attempts to clamp down on ISPs in the hope of containing dissent can be
linked to the bid by officials in the Information department of the Office
of the President to cultivate alliances with state media outlets in the
region and thus lessen dependence on Western sources. We saw a result of
that policy this week with a glowing account of Swapo's choice of candidate
to succeed Sam Nujoma as president of Namibia. There was much talk of "safe
hands". We can expect more of this sunshine journalism in the future.

Which is why people will turn to the Internet and to Zimbabwe-focused
broadcasters overseas. Zimbabweans are hungry for news. And they are fed up
with being told what wonderful leaders they have when living standards have
plunged to pre-1975 levels.

If their experience on the ground does not match the claims being made by
their leaders and their captive press a credibility gap is bound to emerge.
No amount of panel-beating and Pollyanna perspectives can satisfy that
desire for information that is accurate and timely.

Dinosaur regimes which believe they can extend their tenure on power by
muzzling news outlets like the Internet or making others such as ISPs do
their dirty work of policing political messages are bound to fail. News can
no longer be so easily regulated.

That is one of the admittedly problematic facts of the world we live in. And
the sooner this government comes to terms with it the better.
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