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Arms cache suspect a licensed dealer

Zim Standard

            By Walter Marwizi

            PETER Hitschmann, an ex-Rhodesian soldier at the centre of an
"arms cache" discovery that has resulted in more than a dozen  arrests is a
licensed arms dealer and a hunter, The Standard can reveal.

            The State accuses Hitschmann and several other suspects of
working with the hitherto unknown Zimbabwe Freedom Movement in order to
overthrow the government.

            But his lawyer, Trust Maanda of Henning Lock Donagher law firm,
said any charges against Hitschmann, who does not dispute that he owns some
firearms since he is a dealer, would not stick in a court of law untainted
by politics.

            "Look at the Firearms Act. An arms dealer can keep arms for sale
or just keep them. He did not commit any offence. Hitschmann is also a
hunter who has used his firearms to deal with problem animals in Mutare," he
said, adding that police had taken away Hitschmann's licence.

            The lawyer would however not say whether all the arms, which
were being displayed by the police, belonged to Hitschmann. "My client has
not had a chance to see all the weapons that are being shown by police since
he has been locked up since Monday. We don't know if there are any additions
or fabrications."

            Hitschmann, Mutare North MP Giles Mutsekwa, Knowledge Nyamhuka,
Thando Sibanda, all members of the opposition MDC and two policemen
Wellington Tsuro and Edwin Chikutye appeared before a Mutare magistrate
Fabian Feshete yesterday after their lawyers made an urgent application for
their release. They were in detention more than 48-hours. The matter is set
to be heard in Mutare tomorrow morning.

            Yesterday, they were charged with conspiracy to possess weapons
for purposes of insurgency, banditry, sabotage and terrorism under Section
10 of the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).

            The State said the group had conspired to assassinate President
Mugabe, businessman and Zanu PF activist Esau Mupfumi and Chipinge South MP
Enock Porusingazi during the 21st February Movement celebrations held in

            The State said the suspects had also hatched a plan to kill the
President before he arrived at the venue.

            Part of the State outline reads: "To achieve this, the group
agreed to spill oil on Christmas Pass highway when the motorcade would be
approaching, so that the motorcade would slip and get involved in an

            They had also " agreed to throw tear smoke canisters in tents
where the 21st February Movement celebrations were going to be held so as to
cause panic, disturbance to ordinary people in attendance", the State added.

            In court, the lawyers for Nyamhuka, Sibanda, Tsuro and Chikutye
said their clients had been tortured by police while in detention at Adams
Barracks in Mutare in an effort to force them to confess their involvement
in the alleged assassination. Mutsekwa, who is the MDC shadow secretary for
defence, had no complaints against the police.

            While Maanda, one of the lawyers, confirmed to The Standard
earlier that Hitschmann had been tortured by security details who wanted to
force him to confess his involvement and that of others, the ex-Rhodesian
soldier, in a strange turn of events, told the court yesterday that he had
no complaints against the police. Then he disowned his lawyer preferring to
represent himself. He raised no objections to being remanded to 15 March.

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GAPWUZ booted off Chidyausiku Farm

Zim Standard

            By Foster Dongozi

            THE General Agricultural and Plantation Workers' Union of
Zimbabwe have referred their dispute with Chief Justice, Godfrey
Chidyausiku, to the National Employment Council for Agriculture after union
representatives were reportedly ordered off his farm two weeks ago.

            Gertrude Hambira, the GAPWUZ secretary general, told The
Standard that three unionists visited the judge's Arusha Farm on Mutoko road
to investigate allegations of unfair labour practices.

            However, Chidyausiku has denied ever ordering the unionists out
of his farm. "That is not true. They were never denied  access," he said.

            Chidyausiku grows cabbages and tomatoes, among other crops.

            Hambira said when representatives drove onto the farm, they met
Chidyausiku who told them he was not prepared to talk to them.

            "The union representatives proceeded towards the homestead but
their vehicle broke down. A person who identified himself as Kundi, a
relative of Chidyausiku offered to drive them to the main road but on the
way out, they met the judge who allegedly ordered them out of the vehicle
saying they could not get a ride in his car."

            The representatives then walked to the main road for lifts to
Harare, Hambira said.

            "When they returned to tow the union's truck from Chidyausiku's
farm the following day, they found that two tyres had been deflated and the
reason why the tyres were deflated or who did it is open to speculation,"
Hambira told The Standard.

            When asked if he was aware that the GAPWUZ truck had its tyres
deflated, the telephone connection was lost.

            In her letter to the NEC for Agriculture, Hambira wrote:
"Efforts by our officers to address the following allegations have been
fruitless. Non- payment of allowances, non-payment of leave days, signing of
contract forms, NEC dues, non-functional workers' committee, health and
safety issues."

            Under section 63 of the Labour Relations Act, the Agriculture
NEC has powers to go to farms and make enquiries.

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500 000 starve in drought-hit Mat South

Zim Standard

            By Gibbs Dube

            GWANDA - A crippling drought has devastated Matabeleland South
Province, where more than 500 000 people who have not received food supplies
since November last year are in urgent need of relief aid.

            Relief agencies, senior government officials, community leaders
and villagers have indicated that the humanitarian crisis is being ignored
by the government at a time when the provincial leadership has requested
that the region be declared a national disaster.

            "We are facing a crisis in this region as more than 500 000
people are starving. Most people have no access to food because there are
virtually no maize supplies from the Grain Marketing Board," said senior
government official who declined to be named.

            He said although provincial leaders recommended early this year
that the province be declared a national disaster, there had been no
response from central government.

            "Government's food security assessments can be likened to
navigation without a compass. People should know better than take government's
promises on food self-sufficiency at face value. It's about time Zimbabweans
stopped listening to 'no Zimbabweans will starve' gibberish," said another

            According to top officials of several non-governmental
organisations, the food crisis has worsened during the past two months due
to serious shortages of maize-meal.

            "There is definitely a humanitarian crisis in this region with
most people failing to source maize. I believe that the government should be
serious about this issue because people are really suffering in most parts
of Beitbridge and Gwanda South," said one of the officials.

            Community leaders and villagers in some parts of Gwanda South
visited by The Standard revealed that they have failed to source maize from
the GMB since November last year.

            Village head Durban Pida of Tibeli Village, in Nkalange communal
lands, said most villagers were struggling to afford a decent meal a day
with most of them surviving on caterpillars and pounded roots of an
indigenous tree commonly referred to as mtopi.

            The situation is the same in Mbuzimbili and Zwabagwamba communal
areas in Gwanda South, where village heads have been holding on to more than
$48 million for the purchase of maize from the GMB.

            Village head Ezekiel Nare of Zwabagwamba village said: "Our
situation may be worse than any other place in this region because we last
received maize supplies in October last year. We have been told that there
is no maize at the GMB each time we send people for maize.

            "Out of the total 270 bags of maize we paid for last October, we
only received 100 bags. We have been told that we cannot be given the
outstanding 170 bags because of the maize crisis in Zimbabwe."

            His views were echoed by several villagers in the district
including Boniface Dube, the village head of Mbuzimbili Village in the
Selonga communal lands.

            "We are in serious trouble here because people are starving.
They have nowhere to go to source maize-meal. The shops are empty and the
GMB does not have maize. Right now, I have over $24 million that was paid by
villagers so that we can source maize from the Gwanda GMB depot," Dube said.

            He indicated that the money was raised during the past three
months but efforts to get maize have been in vain.

            The community leaders, non-governmental organizations and
government officials noted that government should move in to avert a
humanitarian crisis.

            Governor for Matabeleland South, Angeline Masuku, was not
available for comment although senior officials indicated that she was
worried about the food crisis in the region.

            If declared a national disaster, the region is likely to open
floodgates for national and international humanitarian assistance.

            The region has been hit by several droughts since independence
in 1980 with the worst recorded in 1991 in which thousands of people faced
serious starvation.

            Although government has over the years proposed the traditional
isiphala senkosi/zhunde ramambo concept as a measure of ensuring food
security in Zimbabwe, critics say it has failed dismally.

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All set for Tsvangirai's MDC congress - Chamisa

Zim Standard

            By our staff

            THE stage is set for the anti-Senate MDC two-day congress to be
held this week at the City Sports Centre in Harare.
            Nelson Chamisa, the spokesman for the faction said just over 10
000 delegates were expected to flood Harare for registration on Friday
before the congress roars into life on Saturday and Sunday.
            "This congress is going to be a tribute to all the brave women
and men of Zimbabwe who sacrificed their lives, property and were beaten and
disabled by the Zanu PF regime because they were members of the MDC.
            They played a very important role in their brave fight for a new
Zimbabwe. We are going to acknowledge their supreme sacrifice and we will
not let them down by allowing the MDC to fall into the hands of people
working against the interests of Zimbabweans."
            Chamisa said the congress would prove they were the legitimate
MDC which has the backing of the people of Zimbabwe.
            "The Zanu PF regime is having sleepless nights about the
congress and that is why we have witnessed different attempts to destabilise
our congress," he said.
            The congress, whose theme is Rallying People for a New Zimbabwe,
would among other things see Tsvangirai making a report, elections for
office bearers, constitutional amendments and a programme of action to
confront the dictatorship, he said.
            The pro-Senate MDC held its congress in Bulawayo and Professor
Arthur Mutambara emerged as its new leader.
            The anti-Senate faction is expected to have a smooth election
for its top leaders.
            Tsvangirai is expected to retain the post of party president
with Makokoba Member of Parliament, Thokozani Khuphe, expected to be elected
deputy president unopposed.
            Isaac Matongo is also expected to retain the post of national
chairman unchallenged while Tendai Biti and Ian Makone are expected to lock
horns for the post of Secretary General. Matobo legislator, Lovemore Moyo is
eyeing the post of deputy secretary general.
            Former Chimanimani legislator, Roy Bennett, is the front runner
for the post of treasurer.
            Gertrude Mthombeni and Elias Mudzuri are front runners for the
position of national organising secretary.
            Chamisa said the fact that they were requesting contributions
from members did not mean they had run out of money, although like every one
else, they were experiencing difficulties.
            "Even parties like Zanu PF which loot State resources request
funding from their members. The MDC belongs to the people and we are asking
them to assist and we are grateful for the overwhelming response that we
have received from members."

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47 attend political party launch

Zim Standard

            By our staff

            BULAWAYO -- Forty-seven Bulawayo residents attended the launch
of a new political party, the Patriotic Union of MaNdebeleland (PUMA) led by
the former president of the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association, Leonard Nkala.

            The audience at the Large City Hall was mostly made up of people
above the age of 40 years who appeared to be the target group of the party
whose major thrust is the empowerment of the minority Ndebeles.

            The party, launched under the theme "Nothing for us without us",
unveiled its manifesto which proposes the division of Matabeleland and the
Midlands into 10 provinces based on King Mzilikazi's traditional boundaries
before the collapse of the Ndebele nation in the 1800s.

            Speaking at the official launch, the interim chairman of the
party, Dumisani Matshazi, disputed reports that the party was an ethnically
based organisation saying those were remarks of people who wanted to derail
the objectives of PUMA.

            "Tribalism has been used to scare the people of Matabeleland
from emancipating themselves from Zanu PF hegemony. We will not succumb to
fear because I am prepared to die for the Ndebele cause," said Matshazi who
is also a minister of religion.

            Matshazi said the people of Matabeleland had been deprived of
basic necessities such as access to health facilities, education and
reliable water sources supposed to be provided by the government.

             He said people of Matabeleland wanted their own government but
without necessarily becoming a separate State from the rest of the country.

            "We want to have our own legislature and other arms of
governance so as to remove the chains of oppression from our people. It is
unfortunate that some of our people enjoy freedom when they are outside the
country and we will redress that," said one of the interim executive

            The party took a swipe at the 1987 unity accord signed between
PF Zapu and Zanu PF saying it had only benefited a few individuals while
most of the people in Matabeleland were still suffering because of the
country's mismanagement under the Zanu PF.

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Goche throws farming sector into confusion

Zim Standard

            By Foster Dongozi

            COMMERCIAL farm workers numbering close to 300 000 are preparing
to go on strike after  the Minister of Labour, Nicholas Goche, threw the
farming sector into confusion when he commented on workers' wages.

            Goche had urged farmers to pay farm labourers $665 000 a month -
a move that could raise conflict of interest as he is also a farmer.

            The strike has the potential to cripple the agricultural
industry, which is at its crucial pre-harvest stage.

            He recently told a Mazowe farmers' meeting - most of them Zanu
PF members - that farm workers deserved a miserable monthly wage.

            "The $1.3 million being demanded and the letters being
distributed by some farm workers' representatives pertaining to the illegal
salaries should not be taken seriously until the formal agreement on the
actual salary has been made," Goche, who is responsible for the welfare of
workers, was quoted as saying.

            The minister also placed a notice in a newspaper after farmers
allegedly telephoned his office to find out how much they should pay their

            The notice read: "My ministry would like to inform farmers that
the National Employment Council Agriculture is negotiating for minimum wages
for the period January to April 2006. As a way forward, in the interim,
farmers should pay the $665 000 minimum wage for the general agriculture and
$1 100 000 for both the agro and timber sectors in the industry."

            An average family of six in Zimbabwe needs $28 million to meet
its basic requirements.

            However, the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers' Union
of Zimbabwe has come out fighting, declaring that Goche was "uninformed".

            Gertrude Hambira, the GAPWUZ secretary general, said contrary to
Goche's statements, a new minimum wage had already been agreed between the
union and representatives of farmers.

            "It would appear that the minister's statements were issued from
an uninformed perspective. Officers in his ministry are quite aware of the
developments and it is quite unfortunate that the minister had to issue such
press statements without seeking clarification from his officers."

            She said Goche's statements were confusing the farmers and the
workers and her offices had started receiving reports of conflicts between
workers and farmers following the confusion.

            Others had already resolved to go on strike for a higher wage.

            "The correct position is that wage negotiations in the
agriculture sector were long concluded and an agreement was reached during
the month of December 2005."

            Hambira showed The Standard copies of the signed agreements,
which in part read as follows: "The parties to the NEC Agriculture, GAPWUZ
and Agricultural Labour Bureau agreed to increase the wages from $665 000
per month to $1 300 000 with effect from January 2006. The agreement for the
agro (tea) sector was reached on December 16 2005, increasing the wages from
$1 100 000 to $2 200 000 while the agreement for timber workers was reached
on February 18 2006, increasing the wages from $1 100 000 to $2 800 000."

            Hambira dismissed Goche's statements urging farmers to ignore
statements circulated by GAPWUZ.

            "It is the responsibility of the union to disseminate
information to the members on the outcome of the negotiations. It is absurd
for anybody to suggest that we should not communicate with our members. That
is absolute nonsense," said the combative Hambira.

            She urged Goche to push for better working conditions for
commercial farm workers.

            "Minister Goche should ideally be trying to ensure that the
conditions of workers are improved. The work we do on farms is very hard and
our members need proper nourishment to do that work," Hambira said.

            When The Standard sought Goche's comment on Thursday, he was
singing a different tune.

            "I am very much informed; don't call me uninformed, I think you
should withdraw that statement."

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Cash strapped CSC fails to pay workers

Zim Standard

            By Nqobani Ndlovu

            BULAWAYO - The Cold Storage Company (CSC) owes creditors US$33.5
million (Z$3.4 billion) which has resulted in the parastatal failing to pay
more than 1 000 workers during the past two months.

            The Standard established last week that CSC is operating at 20%
of its normal capacity, a situation that has worsened the financial position
of the company.

            The debt comes at a time when the parastatal is reportedly
facing a host of problems including failure to pay workers.

            CSC chief executive officer, Ngoni Chinogaramombe, said the
financial position of the company was being worsened by the loss of its
fresh beef export quota to the traditional lucrative European Union markets.
He made no comment about the government's much talked about "Look East"
policy and the reported vast new markets the government has opened up.

            The company has not been exporting to the EU due to the outbreak
of the foot and mouth disease in 2001 and the  most recent being reported in

            "We have an outstanding debt of US$33.5 million. We are
currently operating at 20% of  normal capacity, but with the resumption of
fresh beef exports to the EU, possibly by December and to the Far East by
June, we hope to be back to our normal operational position," Chinogaramombe

            Quasi-State companies are facing financial difficulties and are
currently relying on funding from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to stay
afloat under the Productive Sector Facility and the Parastatal Reorientation
Programme, which started last year in February.

            Recent reports say that the central bank governor Gideon Gono
warned President Robert Mugabe that parastatals were in a state of collapse
and were worsening Zimbabwe's economic crisis.

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Media role in in the spotlight

Zim Standard

            By Our Staff

            A baseline study on how far media organisations in the region
have gone in developing plans of action on Gender and HIV and AIDS is due
for release on 3 May - the occasion marking International Press Freedom Day.
            The release of the study is part of an audit exercise arising
from the September 2004 Gender and Media Summit and will coincide with
efforts to develop HIV work place policies for media organisations
throughout Southern Africa.
            The second Gender and Media Summit is due to be held in South
Africa in early September this year. It is expected to focus on a review of
the achievements made since the 2004 Summit and identify the way ahead.
            Announcement of the release of the results of the baseline study
was made during a video conference at the World Bank offices last week, part
of activities to mark International Women's Day that linked Harare to sites
in Johannesburg, South Africa, Maseru in Lesotho, London in the United
Kingdom, Lilongwe in Malawi, Lusaka in Zambia, Paris in France with
representation from Angola, Mozambique and Namibia.
            Chair of the Gender and Media Southern Africa Network (GEMSA)
and executive director of Gender Links, Zimbabwean Colleen Lowe-Morna, led
the discussion, which considered how media diversity could be transformed
into a vehicle for democracy, while at the same time being good for
            Discussants also heard about the latest frontiers on media
research and monitoring, through presentations from London, Johannesburg and
            The video conference provided a platform for auditing
achievements made since the 2004 summit, but it also helped discussants draw
up a road map for the future in the way the media ought to be covering
issues on gender and HIV and AIDS.
            Media houses had since the 2004 summit responded by creating
enabling environments in their newsrooms with the establishment of desks
covering issues on gender and HIV and AIDS.

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Wilting crops written-off in three provinces

Zim Standard

            By Valentine Maponga

            ZAKA - Many rural Zimbabweans are bracing themselves for yet
another year of food shortages as adverse weather conditions took a heavy
toll on crops in parts of the country.

            Despite experiencing heavy rains over the past months,
traditionally dry areas have received poor rains since the beginning of the

            The country's southern provinces of Matabeleland, Masvingo and
Manicaland which experienced the driest spell during the last season, have
also been affected this year.

            A recent visit to Zaka District, about 300 kilometres south of
Harare revealed that crops were already a write off. According to the
villagers, the area last received good rains in December.

            The villagers said they had lost hope of ever getting anything
from their fields which were turning into pastures for their malnourished

            In many parts of Zaka and Bikita districts, farmers had already
started appealing for food aid. "We hope the government will be able to
supply us with food because we will definitely get nothing from the fields.
Our rivers, however, have water because some areas up there have received
enough rain," said Susan Mutsvene of Zaka.

            Another villager, Masimba Munemero, said the only people who are
going to get "a little something" from their fields were the ones who
planted early.

            "We are bracing for another tough year. For most of the people
here, I think last year was much better because people managed to get a few
bags of maize," Munemero said.

            Newly resettled farmers in the perennially dry Masvingo province
are also struggling as witnessed by the state of farms along the
Masvingo-Harare highway.

            In areas where adequate rains fell, most resettled farmers have
failed to take advantage of the recent rains due to a serious shortage of
critical inputs.

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Mnangagwa fights lawsuit, wins reprieve

Zim Standard

            By Gibbs Dube

            BULAWAYO - Lawyers representing Minister and former Speaker of
Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa in a $112 billion lawsuit have requested the
High Court to probe the disappearance of legal documents relating to the
case in which Gweru businessman Patrick Kombayi was granted an order to
attach the minister's property.
            The revelations by the Minister's lawyer, Nicholas Mathonsi of
Coghlan and Welsh instructed by Dzimba Jaravaza and Associates, come a week
after Mnangagwa was granted a temporary reprieve following the rescission of
a High Court order instructing the Sheriff to attach his property.
            Last August the High Court ordered the Sheriff or his deputy to
attach Mnangagwa's property valued at $112 billion after Kombayi filed a
US$20 million lawsuit claiming that the minister defamed him in a book,
Simon Vengayi Muzenda and the Struggle for and Liberation of Zimbabwe.
            However, the minister applied for the rescission of Justice
Maphios Cheda's default judgement. Mehluli Sibanda of Coghlan and Welsh
successfully applied for the reversal of the writ of execution against
Mnangagwa's property.
            In last week's judgement, Justice Nicholas Ndou ordered "that
the judgement taken by default against applicant on 2 August 2005 be and is
hereby rescinded and that the costs of this application be borne by the
respondent (Kombayi)".
            In a letter to the Registrar of the High Court last Wednesday,
the minister's lawyers said several documents relating to the case had gone
missing, raising eyebrows over the handling of the matter.
            Mathonsi in his letter said the rate at which the documents had
disappeared from the High Court records "suggests that the record is being
tampered with in an alarming way".

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Traders cash in as maize meal shortage reaches crisis level

Zim Standard

            By our staff

            BULAWAYO - THE maize meal shortage in Zimbabwe has reached
crisis proportions.

            In Bulawayo, for example, two small teacups command $35 000
while in Harare, 500g cost $50 000, but there is a critical shortage of the

            Maize meal joins a plethora of other basic commodities such as
fuel, electricity, sugar, salt, tape water and cooking oil which are not
readily available.

            President Robert Mugabe is on record saying aid organisations
should take food aid to other starving people and not choke Zimbabweans with
food donations. Nearly five million Zimbabweans are expected to face food
shortages this year, according to international aid organisations.

            Some families now spend more than a week without eating the
staple sadza/isitshwala.

            An average family of six has to spend at least $350 000 a day
for a plate of sadza lunch and supper as it needs at least eight packets of
black market maize-meal.

            The black market traders in Bulawayo told The Standard that they
were sourcing the commodity from various small-scale milling companies who
usually sell maize meal at night in order to avoid detection by police and
security agents.

            Black market traders say they are recording brisk business from
maize meal sales although they were aware of the critical shortage of the
commodity in the city.

            One of the vendors based at Renkini Country Bus Terminus,
Sithabile Mdlongwa, said: "It is now a question of survival of the fittest
among city residents. As long as we make money, we are not concerned about
the serious shortage of maize meal."

            Backyard millers have found a ready market for maize meal as the
commodity is now fetching $400 000 and $850 000 for 5 and 10 kg pockets

            The shortages have raised fears that schools in Matabeleland may
close down due to the critical shortage of maize meal.

            Among the schools likely to be affected are Wanezi Mission,
Mtshabezi High School, Usher Secondary and Gloag Ranch Mission.

            Bulawayo Residents' Association (BURA) chairman, Winos Dube,
blamed the system of zoning millers by the government for the continuing
shortage of the commodity.

            Dube said the government blundered by zoning small  millers to
supply the high-density areas with big commercial millers taking care of the
less populated low-density suburbs.

            "Millers with a higher capacity should have been made to supply
the high- density suburbs. Big millers are currently supplying the central
business district and low-density areas instead of the high-density suburbs.
This has created chaos resulting in small millers taking advantage of the
people by channelling the commodity to the black market," Dube said.

            The government has introduced a zoning system in a move that is
designed to bring transparency in the distribution of maize meal and close
any loopholes for the black market traders, but queues for the commodity
remain a common sight in Bulawayo.

            Bulawayo Metropolitan Governor and Resident Minister, Cain
Mathema, who released the government-zoning list, refused to talk to this
newspaper when contacted for comment.

            Mathema said: "Tshiyana lami (Leave me alone). You are a
problem . I have no comment. You only want to distort information."

            The government has since launched a crackdown on the country's
millers accusing them of stockpiling grain in the face of the deterioration
of maize supplies in the south-western parts of Zimbabwe. However the
crackdown has not resulted in the availability of more maize meal on the

            Reports say teams from the Joint Operations Command, which
comprises security officials, have been dispatched to search for grain at
milling plants around the country.

            Senior Zanu PF officials have of late been found breaking the
country's grain laws by moving the commodity to other parts of the country
in pursuit of quick gains.

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Soldiers everywhere worry UPP

Zim Standard

            By our staff

            THE United People Party (UPP) has expressed concern over the way
Zimbabwe is increasingly being run by military personnel.

            In its position paper titled: Preserving and Prospering the
Nation of Zimbabwe, UPP notes that control and protectionist tendencies by
Zanu PF have led to corruption taking centre stage in the country, with
businesses and properties being expropriated at will.

            "State security agents or their proxies now dominate the running
of key businesses (Grain Marketing Board, Agriculture and all parastatals)
including the national electoral process.

            "Key national and strategic issuers are directed by the Joint
Operations Command (JOC) and not the Cabinet. The JOC, a group of the Army,
Police and the Central Intelligence Organisation meets weekly to define the
rule, power play and governance of the country.

            UPP led by Daniel Shumba, who is the interim president said in
simple terms, "Zimbabwe is run as a dictatorship".
            "The power play of the country, should one care to observe, is
controlled by the same group of people, faction and tribe within Zanu PF
that also dominates the JOC."

            The party said Zimbabweans needed peace, food, shelter, security
and prosperity among other things.

            "The country has descended into abject decay, reducing the
electorate to poor, starving, desperate people, easy to manipulate and
overwhelm. We have to stop the Zanu PF arrogance and bullish tactics."

            Meanwhile there are reports that UPP has intensified a
recruitment drive in areas that are predominantly Zanu PF strongholds.

            The party is reported to be capitalising on the disgruntlement
in Zanu PF, which stemmed from a crackdown launched by President Mugabe last
year to quell the so-called Tsholotsho rebellion.

            The effect of the drive seems to be mainly attracting the
attention of Zanu PF in Masvingo province, where Shumba was a provincial
party chairman.

            A witch hunt to flush out UPP members is underway amid reports
that the party officials fear Masvingo could be a hub of UPP politics before
the party strengthens its structures in other areas.

            Even war veterans have been rocked by divisions over UPP, which
is establishing branches in many areas.

            The provincial War Veterans' Association, led by Isaiah Muzenda,
held a meeting recently, which sought to expel war veterans suspected of
being sympathetic to UPP.

            One of the targeted war veterans, who declined to be named, told
The Standard that a motion to expel anyone linked to Shumba was moved but
failed to win support.

            Another source added that Muzenda was being used by the
provincial leadership who fear that Shumba could be very powerful in the
province if he got the support if war veterans.

            Muzenda told The Standard said the association was not prepared
to work with anyone who is not Zanu PF.

             "We have been receiving reports of some certain individuals who
are working with UPP and our message to them is clear. If they have joined
another party then they cannot continue to be our members. You can't
separate Zanu PF and war veterans association ever!" he said.

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Govt debt erodes savings

Zim Standard

            By Our Staff

            GOVERNMENT policies are to blame for the erosion of the country's
savings and the plight of pensioners, a local economist said on Tuesday.

             The State moved to reduce interest rates in a bid to contain
its domestic debt but local economist, John Robertson says this has been at
the expense of the country's economic growth. The economist told employers
at a breakfast meeting organised by Price Waterhouse Coopers to discuss the
annual salary survey on Tuesday that Zimbabwe's failure to increase savings
should be blamed solely on government's policies.

             "Part of the problem comes down to policies. The government
could not raise the value of the tax needed so they decided in 2001 to
reduce rates to bring down government debt but that has been at the cost of
savings," Robertson said.

             Government resorted to borrowing from the domestic market after
it was snubbed by international creditors. This week the International
Monetary Fund overturned a decision to resume financial assistance to the

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Relief as RBZ acts

Zim Standard

            marketmovers with Deborah-Fay Ndlovu

            THE stock market rose on Wednesday as the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe began to inject liquidity into the money market but worries over
government legislation could prevent a full recovery in the equities,
analysts warned last week.

            Government announced a Cabinet approval of amendments on the
Mines and Minerals Act that will allow locals to take 51 % stake in foreign
owned mines in a move that has sent shivers in the performance of mining

            Other stocks are also reeling from government legislation with
exporting counters failing to make headway because of volume based exchange
rate while there are creeks in financials because of systematic risks
emanating from the closure of Sagit Financial House.

            Investors are also wary that financial institutions might not
meet the new minimum capital requirements.

            The stock market had been depressed until last Wednesday when it
upped 2.10% to close at 33,674,280.76 points after the money market had
record deficits totalling $5,5 trillion the previous week that sent interest
rates spiralling.

            Wednesday's recovery was a shock to the market with an analyst
attributing the gains to volatility of the market that has seen investors
taking positions in blue chip counters.

            "Those are definite winners and investors who know they would
never lose on blue chips. So what is happening now is that with the increase
in interest rates, investors who are still on the stock market are adjusting
their portfolios and taking positions in the blue chips and currency hedged
counters," said the analyst.

            Wednesday's gainers included Econet which upped $15 000 to $240
000 ahead of its dividend pay out next week. CFI closed $1 700 higher at $11
200 on news that it had announced Biosafety facilities to avoid potential
risks of bird flu.

            Cottco which analysts expect to release good results recovered
$1 500 on Wednesday to  $12 000. Losses were in Colcom which was down $10
000 to $25 000. Finhold lost $8 000 to $22 000 while AFDIS shed $2 000 to
$16 000.

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Chegutu, a shallow victory for Zanu PF

Zim Standard


            THE MDC let down their mayoral candidate in Chegutu, while Zanu
PF must be embarrassed that after marshalling its big guns all it could
manage was to mobilise a mere 3 236 voters - 901 more than the opposition
candidate, the outgoing mayor whose party is divided and enfeebled.

            In the run up to last Saturday's mayoral poll in Chegutu, Zanu
PF assembled a formidable campaign team comprising President Robert Mugabe,
the Governor for Mashonaland West, Nelson Samkange, Webster Shamu, the MP
for Chegutu, John Mafa, Zanu PF's provincial chairperson for Mashonaland
West, Zanu PF's political commissar, Elliot Manyika, the President of the
Senate, Edna Madzongwe, the Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity,
Bright Matonga, the President's cousins, Leo Mugabe and Patrick Zhuwao, and
the Secretary for Information, George Charamba.

            To ensure maximum crowd turnout, they roped in popular
entertainer Hosiah Chipanga.

            However, on Saturday the poll figures told a different picture,
undressing claims that a massive rally turnout - especially a forced one -
necessarily translates into higher voting numbers on election day.

            Mashonaland West is Mugabe's home province and Chegutu is less
than 100km from Mugabe's rural home at Kutama.

            Not even the orchestrated donation by Mugabe of computers to 10
schools in the province and offers of maize meal to voters could excite
residents of Chegutu to come out and vote for Zanu PF's Martin Zimani,  This
was hardly the "burial"  of MDC that the ruling party had hoped for!

            Voters, long accustomed to being fed a diet of promises,
decided they had enough of being taken for fools.

            The votes losing candidate Francis Dhlakama garnered - 2 335 -
demonstrate clearly that had Morgan Tsvangirai and his entourage waded into
the battle in Chegutu in support of Dhlakama the party would have retained
the seat safely. But thanks to his ambivalence, he delivered Chegutu into
the hands of Zanu PF. In the January local authority polls in Chitungwiza,
Tsvangirai's faction of the MDC took part in the elections. However, in
Chegutu he decided on an irrational policy shift to abandon their candidate
and giving Zanu PF a free hand.

            Many people have suffered from Zanu PF's coercion and will
question Tsvangirai's ambivalence.

            Zanu PF will now feel emboldened to move against the remaining
MDC mayors in Bulawayo, Gweru, Kariba and Masvingo. The people who support
the opposition are entitled to expect their party to rally behind them at
such critical moments.

            While many will question the wisdom of the MDC's strategies,
Zanu PF knows that the writing is on the wall and that it is living on
borrowed time - thanks to a factious and discordant opposition.

            It is time we established the ground rules on what percentage of
the total registered voters must take part in a poll for a person to deserve
office as a councillor, mayor or MP  - not this farce of  6 000 voters
determining the fate of a town with more than 20 000 registered voters. By
any definition this was a hollow victory for Mugabe right on his doorstep.

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Power to the people - really?

Zim Standard

            sundayopinion by Marko Phiri

            THE bane of African politics is not necessarily the ages old
vices of corruption, violation of human rights, electoral fraud, tinkering
with the constitution, politicisation of the uniformed forces and so on.

            While all these and more have turned good men and women into war
mongers and merchants of hate, the obsession by politicians - both ruling
and pretenders to the throne -  to make collective decisions for their
supporters without bringing pertinent issues to a referendum, for example,
has marked out Africa as a place where politicians have assumed the
omniscience of an oracle.

            While ruling parties have been known to claim that by virtue of
occupying the seat of power  they make decisions based on a populist vote
that sprang them to power, opposition parties tend to have a hard time
proving they make decisions with the consent of and onbehalf their
grassroots foot soldiers.

             A look at the MDC fallout brings to the fore these issues. The
pro-Senate camp has taken the route of Zanu PF's "guided democracy" where
supporters simply endorse decisions set by leadership without the supporters'
say in how those decisions werereached.

            Without taking anything from Arthur Mutambara, elected leader of
the pro-Senate faction, it has to be asked where leaders come from. We have
seen the imposition of candidates in Zanu PF with disgruntled members
inviting the ire of party bigwigs after they decided to stand as independent
candidates. Now with what is happening in the pro-Senate MDC, do these chaps
not leave themselves exposed to claims that they are taking many leaves from
the Zanu PF book of political manoeuvring?

            It is apparent party loyalists were "guided" on who to spring to
the driving seat and this interrogation is based on the overwhelming
endorsement of the good professor. Is it not too good to be true for all
provinces to endorse a man virtually unknown in the streets of Sizinda,
Nkulumane and other constituencies claimed by the pro-Senate faction?

            These questions have to be asked and not in the manner of
casting aspersions at the pro-Senate faction by rather how it has chosen to
conduct itself and what this means aboutlocal politics. We have enough of
this from the ruling party where leaders imagine themselves as indispensable
sages while supporters merely echo slogans like the legendary empty vessels.

            Another angle to look at all this is at Parliament. The
pro-Senate faction says it has themajority of seats in the legislature
vis-à-vis the anti-Senate faction therefore they would be the legitimate

            However, the logical progression of that sophistry would be that
the people who voted for the parliamentarians claimed by the pro-Senate camp
also endorsed the participation in the Senate.

            What are the supporters themselves saying, that is if they have
been given any opportunity to air their sentiments? Or they are rendered not
necessarily gifted in the province of intellectual interrogation?

            Now because what has also been thrown into the already raging
factional fires is the matter of the $8 billion allotted to the opposition
under the Political Finances Act which would have been a "united" MDC
entitlement, claims of who represents the interest of the people inevitably
reach ridiculous heights with unverifiable claims of drawing thelargest
voter allegiance.

            But now that there is also bickering over party regalia, the
argument again is based on who is the legitimate MDC and that legitimacy,
the factions would like to believe, rests within courts of law not the
people who broke their backs and lost their lives to a party loved and
followed with passion at its inception in a fashion eerily reminiscent of
religious cults.

            This, no doubt, signals the death of popular politics thought
here at one time to be epitomised by the emergence of the Movement for
Democratic Change.

            Because the assumption of who the masses want as their last
action hero has tended to form the political philosophy of African despots,
what then becomes of opposition politics when factions claim the majority
support of what would now be very nebulous
            constituency or electorate?

            How do they get to the hearts and minds of what would now be
erstwhile supporters? Amid all these questions emerge an electorate battered
by "ballot fatigue" and the next thing we see is voter apathy, and worst of
all the perpetuation of a very repressive status quo.

            Who decides these important matters if not the people
themselves? Politicians make the assumption that they know what is best for
the people and therefore the country.

            The people's struggle was long usurped by intellectual and other
differences, and the winner will definitely not emerge from either of the

            The losers and winners are pretty obvious: The losers are the
people who fervently chanted "Chinja Maitiro Guqula Izenzo" in June 2000.
And the winner is... Zanu PF! And all this because politicians imagine they
know everything.

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Women make huge strides, but aluta continua

Zim Standard

            sundayfocus by Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem

            THE International Women's day has been marked every 8 March for
almost a century (the first being March 8 1911) in  honour of women,
celebrate their achievements and focus attention on the continuing
challenges facing the full realisation of the fullest potential of women as
equal citizens with equal rights as men.

             It is a day to recommit everyone to the motto: women's rights
are human rights.

             It is not just a "Women's Day" per se even if that is how it is
popularly celebrated. It is about gender awareness and democratic struggles
to make the world a better place for all its inhabitants, men and women.

            There is no denying the fact that women have made tremendous
advances globally and in Africa in the past few years. There are many
visible pointers in the growing numbers of women in top political positions
including Ministers, MPs and in the judiciary.

             And last year, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, of Liberia, finally broke
through the ceiling by becoming the first popularly elected female head of
state in Africa. That victory means that women no longer have to rely on the
good will of men in order to hold or aspire to political offices.

            The truth is that most of the women who had been Vice Presidents
on this continent have largely been "appointed" by a "kind" male president.
An unwritten convention in suchpatronage is to go for women "who will not
cause trouble" and who will be "forever
            grateful" to the "appointing authority".

            Johnson-Sirleaf has now put paid to that. No longer would an
African woman's political ambition be limited to the second position as a
kind of political accessory for Presidents and political parties seeking
political correctness and looking for women's crucial votes. They should go
for the top most jobs in their own right and by merit rather than as someone's
widow, spouse, partner, daughter, or "good girl".

            It is not just in politics that African women are making giant
strides. Just look around in the other fields: economy, community, civil
society groups and NGOs, education, academia, the professions, etc.

            These achievements are not due to magnanimity on the part of
the men who are still very much in charge of  the largely patriarchal power
structures in the society but the outcome of wider struggles, sometimes
provoking incremental reforms and sometimes the result of prolonged
conflicts and smashing of old prejudices and social attitudes.

            Women as women and as part of the democratic struggles together
with menhave won and continue to struggle for more victories in new
frontiers. No doubt a changing consciousness and awareness is improving men's
attitudes and creating men who may not be as hostile to the advancement of
women as their fathers or grand fathers.

            But the fact that we can still point at women in top places mean
that it is not yet common place.

            There are many challenges ahead.  In some countries where women
have made giant strides in formal political institutions  like Uganda or
Rwanda for instance, there is a tendency to see the progress as the "gift"
of the president thereby inculcating  a kind of political gratitude that
promotes political cronyism to the detriment of the wider interests of women's

            Even in countries such as South Africa where the gender gains
are part of a widerprogressive movement and liberation agenda there is a
tendency to make women  feel perpetually grateful to the ruling party!

            There is a challenge of making sure that as the representation
increases so also will be the quality of life for the vast majority of women
and poor men too. The limited quota approach is mainly incorporating women
into the exploitative and oppressive system not tearing the system down. The
men who control and benefit from that system can live with tinkering with
the system that way.

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Women lament failure to access Aids drugs

Zim Standard

            By Bertha Shoko

            AS Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating
International Women's Day last week on Wednesday, the Women Coalition of
Zimbabwe lamented the failure by many women to access voluntary counselling
and testing services (VCTs) and HIV and Aids treatment.

            This year's theme for the day is: Women in Decision Making.

            The Women's Movement also spoke out strongly against
gender-based violence which they said contributed to the high HIV infection
rates in Zimbabwean women and women in other parts of the world.

            In a statement to mark International Women's Day, the Women and
AIDS Support Network (WASN) said it has "sad reflections" on the lives of
women in the country. WASN said it was particularly saddened by the high
cost of Anti Retroviral Drugs (ARVs) that are now out of reach of most

            Said WASN: "Women remain the most infected and affected people
by HIV and AIDS which is claiming many lives. Women are dying prematurely of
AIDS because of a number of factors, which chiefly include lack of access to
HIV related treatment due to poverty.

            " In a country where the vast majority of women are living under
the poverty datum line it is difficult for them to purchase these drugs if a
doctor prescribes them. In cases where the woman is working it will be
difficult for her to weigh her options of buying food, pay rentals and then
be able to purchase her medication for every month for the rest of her

            ARVs now cost between $4 and $6 million for a month's supply,
depending on the drug line an HIV-positive person is taking. The Ministry of
Health and Child Welfare (MOHCW) is currently running heavily subsidised ARV
programmes countrywide. However many people, the majority of them women,
have failed to enrol on these State-run programmes because they have failed
to expand due to limited resources.

             WASN also spoke against the increased cases of gender-based
violence saying this abuse predisposes women to HIV and Aids.

            Approximately 57% of people living with HIV in southern Africa
are women and more than 52% of people that die of AIDS in southern Africa
are women (UNAIDS, 2005).

            In another message, the Zimbabwe Women's Resource Centre and
Network (ZWRCN) said creating a society that respects and upholds the rights
of women should be a national agenda. These rights include; right to life,
health, education and decent accommodation.

            ZWRCN said this year's theme Women in Decision Making "prodes
every one to take stock of their individual and collective contribution to a
society that protects and advances women's rights to equal opportunities and

            Said ZWRCN: "Challenges for us as a society, however, manifest
in the continued wanton disregard for the right to enjoy rights guaranteed
in the international instruments Zimbabwe is signatory to.

             "Violence against women, increasingly ending in death,
continues to negate all the efforts made to ensure that women become more
actively involved in decision-making not only in the public sphere but at
family level."

            The Southern African Aids Information Dissemination Service
(SAfAIDS) said the major barriers to effective participation in leadership
and decision making for women included the deeply ingrained cultural and
traditional stereotypes around the role of women, institutional cultures and
health challenges like HIV and AIDS.

            Said SAfAIDS: "The intersection of the HIV and AIDS crisis with
poverty, unemployment, lack of education, and responsibilities for caring
for sick family members further limits opportunities for women and girls to
contribute meaningfully to development.

             "Although the impact of HIV/AIDS on women in Africa has been
well documented and lamented by global leaders like Nelson Mandela and Kofi
Annan, little progress has been made in addressing the fundamental drivers
of the epidemic which include gender inequality, cultural and traditional

             To mark International Women's Day, SAfAIDS also called on all
women in leadership positions to take a stand in addressing the epidemic.

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Zim Standard Letters

      Tsvangirai's MDC faction showing Zanu PF traits
            I was bemused by an advert from the anti-Senate faction of the
MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai, which appeared in your newspaper on Sunday.

            The advert invited "members and sympathisers in the fight for
democracy and a new Zimbabwe, wishing to contribute towards the party's
second national congress, to make their donations to the party".

            The advert then listed the dates of the congress as being 17 -19
March 2006 and indicated that it would take place at the City Sports Centre.

            "Once again, the party hopes all committed cadres and
sympathisers will contribute towards the rallying of the people for change
as we seek to realise the nation's vision for a new Zimbabwe and a new
beginning," the advert declared.

            I have a few problems with the advert and the thinking behind
it. First the anti-Senate faction does not have money, but goes ahead and
plans its congress over three days. I am dismayed because such thinking is
no different from Zanu PF. The lack of money has never stopped Zanu PF from
doing anything. That is why it has gone and printed more money.

            In fact, President Robert Mugabe despite his Economics degree
once expressed surprise at the notion that a country could ever go broke.

            I would have preferred to see the anti-Senate faction doing
things differently and leading by example. By asking people to contribute
money it is acknowledging that it has no money but it nevertheless expects
its rank and file membership to have money.

            I find this an interesting contradiction and one I frankly did
not expect from a party claiming to be an alternative to the current

            What do I mean? I would, if I were party of Tsvangirai's faction
have decided that we would do with as little inconvenience to our members as
possible. The fact that they can stick with the faction is testimony enough
of their commitment and support for Tsvangirai's faction.

            I would, if I were in Tsvangirai's faction, have explored ways
of condensing the congress into one-day. Sadly they have chosen to rival
Zanu PF's big bash in Esigodini. How do Tsvangirai and company feel feasting
for three days, when they are fully aware that at the end of the congress
the delegates will return to face hardships at home or in their houses? The
sad thing is they are trying to compete with Zanu PF and allowing Zanu PF to
set the tone and agenda of the competition. This may cost them considerable
support and sympathy.

            I would, if I were in their shoes, have asked members in Harare
to help put up delegates from out of town; I would have trimmed the
delegates to a more manageable but representative figure; I would have
ensured that the whole congress is over and done within one day - all the
people would understand the rationale for this, especially at a time of food
shortages and disease outbreaks. Above all I would be fighting to
demonstrate that as a party we can do what the ruling party did at a
fraction of the cost.

            That is the kind of leadership I expect from a party putting
itself up as a serious alternative.

            M Moyo

            Govt's $8b ploy to destroy MDC
                  ALLOW me an opportunity to express my views on the $8
billion offered to the MDC faction, which used to be led by Professor
Welshman Ncube but is now headed by Professor Arthur Mutambara.

                  It is quite clear that the ruling party is trying to
create an impression that it is closely aligned with the faction which
benefited from the money disbursed.

                  The Minister of Justice, Legal; and Parliamentary Affairs
released the money to one faction when he knew very well that there was a
misunderstanding between the two parties.

                  Patrick Chinamasa knew very well that each faction had
some sitting MPs. The pro-Senate has 22 while Morgan Tsvangirai has 18,
which means the funds should have been shared equally on the basis of the
number of parliamentarians. Chinamasa's decision shows clearly that Zanu PF
is trying to weaken Tsvangirai's faction by denying it its entitlement. This
is an attempt to sabotage the national congress of Tsvangirai's faction, due
to be held on 17 - 19 March 2006.

                  My advice to Tsvangirai is not to be intimidated by the
dirty tactics. He should fill all the positions vacated by the pro-Senate
MDC members. But he should allow genuine members of the MDC to contest any
position he/she wishes, provided he/she has the right to do so. The MDC has
a lot of supporters who have suffered a lot during the past 26 years. We
cannot be misled by a party that is being used by Zanu PF and one which has
not done anything to stop corruption, sky-rocketing prices, soaring
inflation, deteriorating standards of both health and education. The list is

                  We must be careful not to fall into the same trap that
resulted in Zapu being swamped and the marginalisation of its former members
even though they are in Cabinet.

                  They were accorded less important ministries. It is for
this reason that Vice President Joseph Msika's statements are not taken
seriously. This is the marginalisation that I refer to. The ball is in our

                  W A

            MDC split exposesTsvangirai
                  THE 1989 demonstrations that took place at the University
of Zimbabwe led by Professor Arthur Mutambara, Munyaradzi Gwisai and others,
who were then student leaders, propelled the dismissed MDC president Morgan
Tsvangirai to greater heights.

                  The 1997 ZCTU organised riots were the second stage of
resistance by the vigilant and brave Zimbabweans who were getting fed up
with Mugabe's administration, especially after the destructive Economic
Structural Adjustment Programme, which left a legacy of poverty and misery
among the ordinary people of this country.

                  Even after the riots, Tsvangirai was still not ready to
leave the ZCTU to help form the Movement for Democratic Change.

                  When Mutambara came to Zimbabwe in 2003, Tsvangirai felt
unsettled because he knew pretty well that Mutambara was his master. A
Zimbabwean is a Zimbabwean even if he stays in the US for 20 years. The
split in the MDC has exposed Tsvangirai's poor administrative skills.

                  Tsvangirai has Vice President Joseph Msika's habit of
uttering degrading and dehumanising sentiments in public.

                  Mutambara has all the ingredients of a powerful and
visionary leader whose focus and progressive thinking has silenced Robert
Mugabe and other envious critics. Call a spade a spade.

                  Tsvangirai can spend the whole year analysing the recently
elected pro-senate MDC president but Tsvangirai can never keep a good man
down. The freedom train is on a roll!

                  Kurauone Chihwayi
                  Glen Norah

            Mugabe's terrifying depths of paranoia
                  IT is with weary eyes that I continue to read articles in
which President Robert Mugabe still believes that the  independent media in
Zimbabwe is driven by foreign forces.

                  Why is it so strange for Mugabe to think that it is not
possible for native Zimbabweans to run and write for these publications?
No - the faceless foreigner is to blame.

                   When paranoia creeps into the depths of your mind it is
too terrifying to think that the people you liberated do not all stand in
awe of you. You gave them freedom and they used it to move on.

                  But obviously, to Mugabe, this can not be  - not "his

                  Zimbabwe is populated by individuals of high literacy,
astute business skills - you try running a company in Zimbabwe - and steely

                  Just remove the corrupt public sector and the suppressive
head of state and replace them with a half way normal situation and Zimbabwe
will recover in a few years.

                  We all look forward to that day.

                  Annetta Holmes
                  Port Shepstone
                  South Africa

            Ray of hope for long suffering teachers
                  IT was very pleasing that at long last the plight of the
teachers' salaries was mentioned by President Robert Mugabe.

                  Though it has taken him so long to realise the very low
salaries of teachers, at least it gives teachers countrywide a ray of hope
of a better living standard in the immediate to medium term. Teachers in
Zimbabwe have become a laughing stock because of their present very low
salaries, which everyone is aware of.

                  After the President's concern, the committee that will be
appointed to look into teachers' salaries should also consider the number of
years of experience of each teacher. This is because in the past a teacher's
experience was not taken into account.

                  Teachers of varying experience were bunched together and
as such it was very disappointing to the more experienced teachers.
                  It is hoped that this anomaly will be rectified once and
for all.

                  D R Mutungagore

            Chombo blinded

            WHY has the Minister of Local Government been so blinded by
Harare Town Clerk, Nomutsa Chideya, on many issues about the running of
council? Let the man be brought to account for the following:

            Exposing residents of Harare to dirty drinking water; pot holes
that litter our roads; burst sewage pipes; broken down traffic lights;
uncollected mountains of refuse; and broken down street lighting.


            Pricing scam

            THE practice of inflating the prices of old stock in
supermarkets is a cause for concern to customers who are already harassed by
economic hardships.

            The following is my experience in the week ending 4 February. I
bought a packet of Williards porridge oats at a supermarket in High Glen
(Budiriro) for $135 000. Two days later, the identical packet, with the same
expiry date - 30 April 2006 was selling for $319 000 at supermarket in
Harare's First Street - the same price as those with an expiry date of 31
May 2006.

            I had it scanned at the till to make sure. When I asked the
manager why this was so, he could not give an explanation. The same product
also cost $319 000 in Bon Marche but at least that store doesn't have as its
slogan, "Lower prices to the people".

            Sr Eileen Clear


            'Zimbabweans are more British than the British'
                  I am glad that Professor Arthur Mutambara addressed the
issue of patriotism in his recent speech. Patriotism and brotherhood should
be top of the agenda of any African country that wishes to emancipate itself
from the continued cycle of neo-colonialism.

                  I believe it is immaterial whether this issue of
patriotism is a Zanu PF creation or a Mutambara creation.

                  I do not deny that macroeconomic policy is also an urgent
matter, but I believe that Zimbabwe having one of the most diversified
economies in Africa, and despite being in so-called economic disrepair still
remains one of Africa's richest countries in terms of GDP per capita.
Therefore, with relatively good governance and strict macro-economic
policies, Zimbabwe is likely to recover from this economic crisis

                  The main problem Zimbabwe and indeed Zimbabweans have is
of a more social nature and that is indeed patriotism. Having been in the
Diaspora several times I have often heard non-Zimbabwean nationals both
European and African that Zimbabweans, despite their skin colour and accent
were remarkably unAfrican. I remember one of my professors remarking that
Zimbabweans were in fact "more British than the British".

                  It is through lack of patriotism that many Zimbabweans
discriminate each other according to ethnicity and in some instances
astonishingly socio-economic class. Indeed, I've heard some Zimbabweans
refer to this very British notion.  It is due to lack of patriotism that
many Zimbabweans refuse to be seen to promote Zimbabwean arts, religion and
other aspects of culture.

                  Lack of patriotism has caused many Zimbabweans to tell
lies about their country and their president, in order to secure refuge in
foreign lands. Lack of patriotism has caused Zimbabwe to be a laughing stock
among other blacks who view us as a bastard race which is in dire need of
going back to its roots.

                  It is unpatriotic individuals who commit espionage at the
cost of our country's integrity. It is through patriotism, that every man,
woman and child shall do the best they can for their country. It is through
patriotism that our leaders will govern well in order to benefit their
people and not their pockets and those of foreign banks.

                  It is important for current and future leaders to address
this issue without necessarily labelling it a Zanu PF or MDC phenomenon and
to take genuine measures to address this issue because the way Zimbabwe is
going, I believe our children will have no heritage to call their own.


            Massive corruption in 'Garikai' housing
                  I have been employed by the Department of Housing at
Remembrance Drive for the past 10 years and want to draw attention to the
embarrassing level of corruption which is taking place in the allocation of
74 stands in Southerton.

                  The names of the Minister of Local Government and the
chair of the commission running the city of Harare are being peddled left
right and centre by top officials in order to instil fear and fuel
corruption. They say the names of the beneficiaries of the stands are
directives coming from the minister or the chair of the commission.

                  We know there have been people who for years have been on
the housing waiting list. Some of them are working and earn good salaries
and ought to benefit as they have the resources and have been on the housing
waiting list.

                  One of the officials has corruptly invited people from
ZBC, Zanu PF and Ministry of Local Government to take up the stands in
Southerton. These people already own houses elsewhere and are beneficiaries
of "Operation Garikai". ZBC crews are being rewarded for covering news items
that involve some of these officials.

                  At the height of "Garikai" some 60 stands were allocated
to church people under what was called a co-operative of pastors. The
beneficiaries were not victims of "Murambatsvina". The authorisation was
said to have come from the chair of the commission running the city of

                  There are hundreds of council workers with no houses yet
they were left out. The way the scheme has been handled is a shame. I
suggest auditors be called in to conduct an exercise into the list of the
"special people" and establish whether they ever applied for stands, how
long they have been on the housing waiting list and whether they have the


            Log in Chigwedere's own eye
                  I would like to respond to Minister Aeneas Chigwedere's
claim that Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) is led by incompetent
people, as reported by The Chronicle of 21 February, 2006. Well, for now, I
will neither agree nor disagree with his claim.

                  My point is; heyi mnumzana (mister), please remove the log
or dirt in your eye so that you will see clearly the incompetence on your
part before pretending to be a clean minister. What efforts did you as the
responsible sports minister make to ensure Zifa had all the resources they
require at any given time for them to take the Warriors to the world cup?

                  Was it Zifa's incompetence that fundraising was still in
progress after the Africa Cup of Nations had begun? Remember your suggestion
that all schools in Zimbabwe should have one uniform? Remember the unheard
of school fees hike which was backdated? Can we say these were ideas from a
competent minister or otherwise?

                  In short, as a Cabinet minister, you are one of those whom
the President celebrated the eve of his birthday by lambasting.

                  Lizwelibolile Ncube

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