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Murerwa, Gono clash head-on

Zim Independent

            Dumisani Muleya

            FINANCE minister Herbert Murerwa and Reserve Bank governor
Gideon Gono, the country's key economic managers, have clashed head-on over
policy issues as the economy continues to slide. Gono says their
relationship has become "untenable".

            The battle between Murerwa and Gono exposes widening fissures in
government over critical policy matters.

            Documents in the Treasury department reveal that Gono at one
point wanted to resign due to political pressures although last month he
changed his mind and decided to stay-put amid mounting hostility.

            A seven-page letter written by Gono to Murerwa, dated February
6, details fierce run-ins between the two, usually following visits from the
International Monetary Fund. It also shows the governor's angry reaction to
the minister's accusations that he was acting outside his jurisdiction by
venturing into quasi-fiscal activities instead of confining himself to his
monetary policy mandate.

            "Minister, I had earlier on opted to tender my resignation from
the post of governor so that you can appoint your own governor as they say
in the Finance ministry 'corridors'," Gono wrote to Murerwa.

            "I have decided, however, not to go that route for to do so is
to accept defeat, a thing I will not do. I will not resign. Never, but you
can fire me if you so wish. To be honest I now do not know anymore whether
we are working for the same government."

            Murerwa replied on the same day insisting that Gono was
operating outside his mandate. Sources said ministers have accused Gono of
acting like a "prime minister" and of running a parallel government
bureaucracy at the central bank. Gono wrote back to Murerwa on February 13
maintaining his ground.

            This created a see-saw battle between the two which is
continuing unabated, sources say.

            The Zimbabwe Independent reported on May 6 last year that
"knives were out" for Gono to leave due to policy differences and Zanu PF
power struggles.

            The conflict - a reflection of the raging Zanu PF succession
battle - has been brought to President Robert Mugabe's attention and is
being dealt with at the highest level of government. The two officials have
met Mugabe separately over the issue.

            Murerwa has accused Gono of conducting his duties without due
consultation and without his approval as the responsible minister. This has
led to clashes between them, especially over the IMF issue.

            The minister has also blamed Gono for printing $46 trillion to
"dish out without" to government and private-sector projects. The $21
trillion printed to pay the IMF arrears now features in their quarrel.

            Gono explains in the letter that when he was approached to be
governor he was given the powers to make the decisions he had taken in
pursuit of economic recovery. He said a meeting between Mugabe, Murerwa and
himself on October 30, 2003 gave him a clear go-ahead to "transform the
central bank into a developmental institution".

            He said he had always acted with the direction of the presidium,
cabinet, parliamentary subcommittees on economic affairs, as well as
private-sector stakeholders.

            Gono said this was how he came to financially support
parastatals, local authorities, agriculture, food and fuel procurement,
embassies, the ministries of defence, home affairs and "sensitive state
security organs", as well as pay the IMF US$210 million.

            He said he had also made money available for the "urgent
refurbishment of sensitive military establishments", elections, building of
infrastructure such as dams, upgrading of airports, railways, power
stations, state farms and other critical operations. Murerwa's claims, Gono
said, came as a "devastating shock" to him.

            "Now, on the advice of your trusted ministry officials, you want
to turn your back on us when in fact they were not there when you gave me a
'nod' to do these operations," Gono said in the letter.

            "Minister, for you to say that you were not being consulted is
to forget the numerous meetings we have had with both VPs (vice-presidents),
economic, social and parastatal ministers. I, therefore, feel deeply let
down by now being viewed as having 'dished out' $46 trillion 'without

            Gono said his current working relationship with Murerwa had
become "untenable, particularly in an environment where the fiscus chooses
to be theoretical about its budgetary frameworks, without due focus being
accorded to the peculiarities of the challenges confronting the nation".

            Gono said he did not understand why "each time the IMF comes
into or leaves town we end up in serious disagreements".

            The two have fought over the IMF, with Gono pressing for the
clearing of arrears while Murerwa was opposed to printing money to do so.
Murerwa was also opposed to printing money for any other purpose.

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MDC future still open-ended affair

Zim Independent

            Loughty Dube

            THE future of a united opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) is set to be decided in the coming few weeks as negotiators tasked to
chart the way forward are due to make contact with the leadership of both
factions anytime from this week, sources close to the negotiations have

            The negotiations, which were initially meant to come up with an
amicable separation of the MDC, are now likely to focus on reconciliation
after both sides indicated that there was no way the opposition could tackle
Zanu PF from a divided position.

            Sources close to the Arthur Mutambara faction said Bulawayo
South member of parliament, David Coltart, was leading an initiative to
reconcile the two camps.

            Coltart this week confirmed that he was pushing for either
reconciliation or an amicable break-up of the party without involving the

            "I have made it known to (Morgan) Tsvangirai and (Gibson)
Sibanda that I am committed to a process of mediation and I have written to
both camps with proposals on how we could go about it. Democracy in Zimbabwe
will never be brought about by a divided opposition," Coltart said.

            The MDC split in October last year over whether or not to
participate in the senate election.

            Coltart could not be drawn into revealing what other people were
working on the initiative, only saying he could not do it by himself.

            "This has to be done with others as the process will need
negotiations and compromises," he said.

            Coltart said he had indicated to the two camps that there are
respected people who should be engaged to resolve the feud amicably.

            Spokesperson for Mutambara's group Paul Themba Nyathi, when
contacted this week said he was aware of plans towards reconciling the two
factions but said it was premature to comment.

            "There are such plans but it is too early to talk of
reconciliation at the moment. It is clear that we cannot afford current
divisions," Nyathi said.

            Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson for Tsvangirai's camp, however
dismissed the reconciliation overtures saying there was only one MDC, the
anti-senate one.

            "We are aware of Coltart's plans but we do not know what he is
talking about when he talks of reconciliation and amicable divorce of the
two parties," said Chamisa.  "The MDC is united. We only have party
officials who left to form another party and we will not discuss that."

            Sources within the opposition said seasoned politician
Washington Sansole and human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa were being touted
as likely mediators in the crisis.

            Coltart confirmed that Mtetwa and Sansole were credible people
to lead the negotiations.

            "There are people like Mtetwa and Sansole that could be engaged
and if they are, they will be the right people to look at the current
differences in the opposition," Coltart said.

            Correspondence in the possession of the Zimbabwe Independent,
written to Tsvangirai and Sibanda by Coltart, laid out a plan for solving
the crisis in the fractured MDC.

            The letters explain that pro-senate secretary-general Welshman
Ncube and the anti-senate faction's Tendai Biti held informal discussions on
likely ways of separating amicably but no solution was reached at the

            Coltart in the letters said if the current problems in the MDC
were solved through the courts, the government would decide to the detriment
of opposition politics, who it wanted to work with.

            "If the vying claims to legitimacy are not settled by mediation,
they will have to be settled by the courts," said Coltart in one of the

            "If the Zimbabwean courts are entrusted with the role of
settling these issues, that in itself will play directly into the hands of
the Mugabe regime.

            "If both factions cannot agree to settle these disputes they
will in essence give the regime the power to decide through the courts how
long they want this conflict to go on for and who ultimately they want to
deal with," he said.

            "Furthermore, court proceedings will be extremely expensive both
financially and politically. I fully expect that during the next two years
the Zimbabwean public will be subjected to the bizarre spectacle of the two
factions fighting each other in court," he said.

            Coltart said issues that need to be addressed, in the event that
there is no reconciliation, include deciding on who continues to use the
party name, logo, slogans, physical assets, monetary assets and the fate of
the party's members of parliament.

            "During the last six years the MDC has acquired substantial
assets including Harvest House, other immovable properties elsewhere in the
country, motor vehicles, computers and furniture. These properties are worth
billions of dollars," Coltart said.

            "The temptation of course will be to adopt a winner-take-all
mentality but this will inevitably result in protracted litigation. The
attempted eviction of either party from the premises they currently occupy
will be met with spoliation proceedings," he said.

            "Because those proceedings  will only be able to be decided by a
determination as to which faction is the legitimate MDC, which in turn will
involve trial proceedings (because the facts will inevitably be in dispute),
they will be long, drawn out, fractious and expensive affairs. I doubt very
much whether a final determination will be reached within two years," he

            On the issue of MPs, Coltart said according to Section 41 (1)e
of the Zimbabwe Constitution, an MP can only be forced to step down when he
or she ceases to be a member of the political party on whose ticket he was

            Coltart said the concerned party would then have to write to the
Speaker for the MP to cease representing it in parliament. Coltart said it
would be folly for either of the factions to claim to have expelled MPs not
in their camp.

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Government swallows pride, appeals for aid

Zim Independent

            Augustine Mukaro

            IN a move that portrays Zanu PF's land reform as a dismal
failure, government has launched a massive US$277 million appeal for
humanitarian assistance despite the country receiving above-average rainfall
this season.

            Of this sum, food accounts for the largest single item worth
US$111 million.

            An appeal document, drafted by the United Nations and its
implementing partners in conjunction with government, shows that state
policies have compounded the humanitarian crisis resulting in the country
seeking assistance in virtually all sectors.

            Food, agriculture and shelter account for more than 65% of the

            The appeal confirms that the country faces yet another maize
deficit of more than 1,3 million tonnes this year and predicts a worsening

            "In the 2005/6 season at least three million people will require
food assistance, as the country harvests an estimated 600 000 tonnes of
maize compared to its requirement of 1,8 million tonnes," the appeal says.

            "The humanitarian situation is likely to continue to deteriorate
in 2006, particularly due to the steady decline of the economy, which will
have an adverse effect for already vulnerable populations."

            The appeal says: "Among the expected developments in 2006 are
decreases in the quality and access to basic services, deepening of urban
poverty, continued difficulty of people previously employed in the informal
sector to re-establish their livelihoods, continued emigration, new farm
evictions and deepening overall vulnerability to natural disasters."

            The appeal says the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is
further impacted by economic decline, formal and informal migration of
skilled and unskilled labour which could be countered by appropriate
government policies.

            "In 2005, the humanitarian situation was further compounded by
the government's Operation Murambatsvina, which targeted what government
considered to be illegal housing structures and informal businesses," the
appeal said.

            "The operation led to rapid growth in the number of displaced
and homeless people, combined with loss of livelihoods for those that
previously worked in the informal sector."

            The appeal aims to provide food assistance to an estimated three
million people, provide agricultural and livelihood support to 1,4 million
households, improve access and quality of education services for 93 000
children and other social services and prevent further deterioration of
livelihoods and enhance community-coping mechanisms as well as provide
protection for the most vulnerable.

            Government last launched a multi-sectoral appeal in 2004 seeking
resources to fund recovery and basic social services, in partnership with
other humanitarian stakeholders. The appeal included targeted food aid,
nutrition programmes, basic social services, support for prevention and
treatment of HIV and Aids and agricultural recovery.

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Midzi in trouble over mines policy

Zim Independent

            MINES minister Amos Midzi has run into serious trouble over his
recent statements that government plans to acquire 51% of foreign-owned
mining companies, with 25% grabbed for free.

            Government sources said Midzi had stirred a hornet's nest in
official circles and would soon be censured for his remarks by higher
authorities, including President Robert Mugabe.

            A press conference scheduled to be addressed by Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono in the presence of economic affairs ministers on
Wednesday was cancelled at the last minute to give senior ministers time to
"set the record straight by clearly spelling out that Midzi misdirected
himself in uttering those misleading statements", sources said.

            "Midzi has created problems for himself and government over the
mines controversy," a source said. "He will be censured either publicly or
in private by Mugabe or any other senior minister next week.

            His remarks have caused confusion and panic in the local
business and international communities." Midzi was not answering his
cellular phone yesterday when sought for comment.

            Cabinet was said to be divided over the matter. Sources said
ministers with interests in mining wanted the law on indigenous shareholding
while others were against it. It was also said the issue was partly a
publicity stunt by Midzi after Mugabe last month suggested he was one of his
incompetent ministers.

            After Mugabe's remarks pointed at the ministries of Mines,
Industry and Trade, and Agriculture, the relevant ministers have been
jumping around trying to be seen to be doing something. This was widely seen
as desperate bids to keep their jobs ahead of a looming cabinet reshuffle.
Mugabe said most of his ministers were non-performers but it is not clear if
he will dump the deadwood.

            However, the writing has been on the wall for Midzi over the
mining issue. Gono was recently quoted in the state media as saying the
mines debate was a "hot issue" during his recent trip to Washington for the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) executive board meeting on Zimbabwe's

            Sources said the IMF was disturbed by the policy which has the
hallmarks of nationalisation and government's chaotic land reform programme.
Midzi has been trying to do some damage control by denying that his policy
amounted to nationalisation.

            The Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines and other stakeholders have said
the policy proposals will damage mining, one of the few performing sectors
of the economy. Agriculture, the economic mainstay, and manufacturing, have
already crumbled due to policy blunders.

            The mining sector is a key pillar of the Zimbabwean economy,
earning US$626 million last year, which represents 44% of the country's
total foreign currency revenues. It contributes 4% to gross domestic

            Implats CEO Keith Rumble met Mugabe last week to discuss the
issue. Implats, the world's second biggest platinum producer, has an 86,7%
interest in Zimplats.

            Zimbabwe, holding the world's richest platinum deposits after
South Africa, is the main area of future growth for Implats. South Africa
and Zimbabwe hold about 90% of the world's known platinum reserves.

            Midzi visited Zimplats on Monday in a bid to allay investor
fears of a looming mine grab. Although he did not change his line, he
appeared to be on the retreat.

            Sources inside government who see the economy as the potential
cause of Mugabe's downfall, were angry with Midzi because they believe the
seizure of mines could be fatally damaging to an already reeling economy. -
Staff Writer.

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Torture of 'arms cache' suspects slammed

Zim Independent

            Clemence Manyukwe/Shakeman Mugari

            MORE details emerged this week of how state security agents, led
by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), abused suspects in the arms
cache case.

            This came as the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) condemned the CIO
agents for intimidating prosecutors dealing with the case.

            The LSZ said the intimidation of senior prosecutors by members
of the CIO shortly before the state withdrew before plea charges against the
six suspects arrested in connection with the discovery of arms in Mutare was

            The CIO harassed lawyers from the Attorney-General's office. Two
state lawyers - Joseph Jagada and Florence Ziyambi - were forced to flee to
Harare "in fear of their liberty" while Manicaland area prosecutor Levison
Chikafu abandoned his home for a day.

            In an interview on Tuesday, LSZ president Joseph James said
intimidation of lawyers must be condemned.

            "If the intelligence operatives intimidated members of the AG's
office, that must be condemned in the strongest terms possible. Members of
the AG's office are lawyers who are objective. They make decisions based on
fact and law," he said.

            "If at the end of the day they are told by intelligence
operatives how to conduct their cases, it is fundamentally a fix for the
administration of justice. At the end of the day it may as well be members
of the CIO who prosecute."

            Justice Charles Hungwe last week slammed the CIO and police
officers for disregarding court orders, abusing suspects and preparing an
affidavit for one of the suspects to incriminate Roy Bennett and MDC MP
Giles Mutsekwa in the alleged plot to assassinate President Robert Mugabe
and topple the government.

            Mutsekwa, together with other suspects, was arrested two weeks
ago and accused of caching arms with the aim of overthrowing government but
was later released after the state case collapsed.  Only Peter Hitschmann,
at whose house the arms were allegedly discovered, has remained in prison.
He was yesterday denied bail.

            Details presented to court show that five of the eight suspects
were jailed for 48 hours.

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Tsvangirai ups stakes

Zim Independent

            Augustine Mukaro

            OPPOSITION leader Morgan Tsvangirai has set himself formidable
targets that could determine his political future in the coming months.

            Tsvangirai, re-elected leader of a faction of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Sunday, raised the stakes by calling
for mass protests against President Robert Mugabe's regime. This could have
a bearing on his and Zimbabwe's future.

            Political analysts were however quick to warn that Tsvangirai's
political reputation would be on the line if the mass action threats were
not carried out. Buoyed by a bumper 15 000 crowd at his faction's congress
last weekend, Tsvangirai threatened to roll out mass protests, promising "to
lead from the front and to use all available resources and will-power to see
off the tyranny in Zimbabwe today".

            He said there was no need any more to wait for miracles since
people were in charge of their destiny.

            "From today, fellow Zimbabweans, kindly save a penny and stock
up where possible. A storm is upon the horizon," Tsvangirai said in his
acceptance speech.

            Government has in the past responded to peaceful demonstrations
and street protests by unleashing riot police, resulting in violent clashes,
destruction of property and arrests but Tsvangirai urged people not to be
cowed by Mugabe's tactics.

            "The regime has targeted our private space," Tsvangirai said.
"The aim is to clear any thoughts of resistance through fear."

            He said unless action was taken "we shall perish with an
illusion that this can't happen in Zimbabwe. This illusion leads many to
wait for a natural turn of events, to wait for divine intervention.that a
miracle shall dawn on us", he said.

            "Let me say, fellow Zimbabwean, we risk wasting away if we
follow that belief. We are our own liberators. Merely assuming an early end
of a dictator can be wishful thinking. These are acts of self-deception. You
may have as many wish lists as possible, the bottom line is that we must
rise and confront what is before us."

            Political commentator Eldred Masunungure said the MDC did not
have the capacity to convince people to engage in street protests and
confrontational marches.

            "To say we will engage in confrontational street protests would
be a mistaken understanding of what Zimbabweans are prepared to offer as
resistance," Masunungure said. "People lack that culture of street protest
and confrontation but are more used to withdrawing, making calls for a
stay-away a more effective option."

            However, National Constitutional Assembly chairman, Lovemore
Madhuku, said the MDC would have to join hands with civic organisations in
their call for the protests.

            "They cannot do it on their own," Madhuku said. "They would have
to join hands with other civic organisations and I am sure they will bring a
big number into the streets in protest."

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Parly committee fumes at Zimpapers boss

Zim Independent

            Clemence Manyukwe

            THE Transport and Communications portfolio committee has urged
parliament to institute contempt charges against Zimpapers boss Justin
Mutasa after he barred its members from carrying out an enquiry on the
operations of the state-owned Chronicle newspaper.

            Sources said the committee, chaired by Makonde MP Leo Mugabe,
wrote this week to the Speaker of the House of Assembly, John Nkomo, urging
him to cause contempt of Parliament charges to be instituted against Mutasa.

            They added that initially the committee wanted President Robert
Mugabe's press secretary George Charamba included as a collaborator, but his
name was withdrawn after he apologised.

            Contacted for comment yesterday, Nkomo said: "I am in Bulawayo.
I am not in Harare so I do not know what is happening."

            In an interview on Wednesday, Mugabe refused to comment on the
issue but revealed that his committee would be returning to the Chronicle on

            "After we were barred from the Chronicle three weeks ago, we
will be returning on Monday. On Tuesday we will be at the Herald," said

            Asked about the purposes of the investigations at the two
government mouthpieces, Mugabe said his committee had received submissions
from the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and workers at the papers, which are
of concern to the lawmakers.

            The committee also held enquiries into the operations of
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings and New Ziana.

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Zimbabwe determined to ascend inflationary ladder

Zim Independent

            Shakeman Mugari

            ZIMBABWE'S economic problems continue mounting, simultaneously
setting new records along the way despite government denials.

            In an attempt to exonerate itself from blame, government has
attacked Western powers, sanctions, saboteurs and even independent media.

            President Robert Mugabe is the captain of the blame team.

            Yet despite the smokescreen, the downward spiral has continued
and so has its ability to set fresh records.
            World figures for January show that Zimbabwe now holds the
record for the highest inflation rate in the world. At 782% and nudging 800%
the figure is depressing.

            When it comes to inflation Zimbabwe has beaten the world hands
down. It leads war-ravaged nations and countries that are coming out of
civil conflict.

            The figures show that government propaganda about sanctions
having caused inflation do not hold water.

            One of Zimbabwe's closest allies, Cuba, that has been under
genuine United States  sanctions for almost half a century, has an inflation
rate of 4,2%.

            Zimbabwe's closest rival is war-ravaged Iraq which is a distant
40% but is in the midst of civil war.

            Inflation in Zimbabwe is expected to reach 800% in March and
analysts say it could be as high as 1 000% by the end of the second quarter.

            With no solutions in sight and government running the money
printers, Zimbabwe is likely to continue setting dubious records.

            Figures at hand comparing inflation rates for other countries
provide an insight into the crisis.

            War-ravaged Sierra Leone has an inflation rate of 1% while
strife-torn Ivory Coast has 2%.

            In West Bank Palestine, which is virtually under military
occupation, inflation is 2,2% while Sudan, ravaged by war and drought, has
recorded 11%.

            The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), still battling for
sustained peace, notches 9% and Afghanistan, battered by years of repression
and war under the Taliban militia is at 16,3%.

            Zimbabwe also beat Eritrea and Ethiopia that have been at each
other's throats for years with an inflation rate below 10%.

            Mozambique, recovering from 14 years of civil war, is a distant
7,8% and Angola, coming out of two decades of a gruelling civil war has

            Zimbabwe does not compare with countries like Rwanda (8%) still
recovering from the devastating genocide of 1994.

            The Mugabe government also seems to have learnt nothing from its
interaction with celebrated friends in Asia where the average inflation rate
is below 3%.

            China, close to Mugabe's heart, is at 1,9% while Malaysia, whose
economic recovery Zimbabwe says it is emulating, is at 2,9%.

            Singapore, one of Mugabe's favourite stopovers, has a mere 0,3%
and indications are that it will get better.
            Zimbabwe has also outwitted its friends under tinpot dictators.
Venezuela under Hugo Chavez who is Mugabe's friend and admirer has 15,7%.

            Its erstwhile ally Libya is at 1%.

            Closer to home Zimbabwe also rules the roost. Namibia and
Tanzania that seem to have been laughing up their sleeves while publicly
urging Mugabe along the destructive path of land reform have 2,7% and 4%

            While Zimbabwe has been pillaging its economy, its neighbours
have been making significant strides. Zambia that for years has been
regarded as a classic example of economic mismanagement now looks good at

            Malawi's inflation is at 15,4% while that of South Africa - our
biggest trading partner - is floating around 4,6%. There was alarm in
Botswana when inflation hit a 12-year high of 17%two weeks ago. Smaller
kingdoms - Lesotho and Swaziland - have 4,7 and 4% respectively.

            Meanwhile, Zimbabwe will stop at nothing to ascend the ladder.
Seemingly unsatisfied with the damage so far, government a fortnight ago
announced plans to torpedo another crucial sector of the economy.

            It now plans to nationalise mines.

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Lending rates under review

Zim Independent

            Paul Nyakazeya

            COMMMERCIAL banks are reviewing their minimum lending rates
(MLR) after the Reserve Bank last week increased the overnight accommodation
rates by 50 percentage points to 780% against an inflation rate of 782% for

            Economic analysts told businessdigest that the recent increase
in rates could curtail the growth of bank loan books as borrowers evade huge
interest charges on borrowings.

            David Mupamhadzi, group economist for the Zimbabwe Allied
Banking Group (ZABG), said the market should brace for an increase in MLR
across all commercial banks as the increase in accommodation rates would put
pressure on liquidity positions.

            "The increase will put more pressure on commercial banks to
revise their rates upwards if they are to manage their liquidity conditions
under a hyperinflationary environment currently prevailing. This can only be
done by adjusting their rates," Mupamhadzi said.

            "The attractiveness of returns on savings would, however, depend
on the margin between deposits and lending rates, which is usually a huge
gap," Mupamhadzi added.

            FBC Bank became the first bank to respond to the new
accommodation rates by increasing its MLR to 560% from 460%.

            Kingdom and Stanbic Bank are now charging 500% from 460% and
400% respectively. NMB Bank is charging 560% up from 460%.

            Merchant Bank of Central Africa, Zimbank and ZABG are still
charging 500% while African Banking Corporation and Jewel Bank are lending
at 560% and 465% respectively.

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MDC in shambles: what is to be done?

Zim Independent

            Dumisani Muleya

            IN 1902 - the year before the Bolshevik-Menshevik split over the
political crisis in Russia - Lenin wrote the book What is to be done?
criticising the legal approach to his country's struggle for change.

            Lenin, who went on to lead Russia, said the approach was
ineffective and had lost sight of the main objective of the struggle - the
challenge for state power.

            Although the situation in Russia then and current politics in
Zimbabwe are very different in terms of dynamics, time and space, the one
common denominator, if no other, is that Russia was then, as Zimbabwe is
now, at a crossroads.

            There is also a parallel in terms of the breakup of the forces
for change.

            One of the feuding factions of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai held its congress last
weekend. Tsvangirai was re-elected for another five years.

            This came shortly after the recent congress of the other MDC
camp now led by Arthur Mutambara. The MDC split over last year's
controversial senate election although many agree the event was merely a
trigger of other deep-seated differences within the party, most notably
Tsvangirai's autocratic leadership style.

            The two congresses all but formalised the split of the MDC which
nearly defeated the ruling Zanu PF in 2000. Tsvangirai put up an impressive
showing in the 2002 presidential poll.

            There is a widespread view that the MDC and Tsvangirai were
cheated in both elections. The polls produced disputed results, which in
turn created the prevailing political impasse that is at the heart of the
economic crisis.

            While the Tsvangirai camp's congress was better organised and
better attended than that of the Mutambara faction, the two leaders did not
offer anything new.

            Apart from blowing hot air, Tsvangirai and Mutambara failed to
articulate new policy programmes and chart the way forward.

            They gave the impression they were up to the task but their
supporters expected new strategies for engaging the Mugabe regime. They
wanted fresh ideas and effective strategic plans to deal with the situation
in the short to medium term but only got more of the same: idle threats and
unfocused promises.

            Tsvangirai warned Mugabe of an impending "sustained cold season
of peaceful democratic resistance", whatever that means.

            During his own congress, Mutambara threatened to "outflank
Mugabe's regime in every area of political combat". On Sunday he also warned
at a rally in Bulawayo that his group would out-manoeuvre Zanu PF in the
cutthroat political battlefield but didn't say how he would go about it.

            The two leaders could not even locate their factions on the
ideological map. As it is, nobody knows what the two MDC camps stand for.
While they claim that they are social democratic parties, their policies,
which are largely influenced by a neo-liberal agenda, remain vague.

            Tsvangirai is still clinging on to the MDC's shallow Restart
blueprint, which has found no realistic purchase in local business or the
international community. The jury is still out on Mutambara who has promised
a holistic, multivariable, mathematical economic model. Critics are
sceptical but willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

            While the opposition leaders are doing their best under
extremely difficult conditions of repression and economic collapse, they are
failing to break new ground in the struggle or show dynamism.

            Tsvangirai was able to attract a huge gathering at his congress.
It seemed he wanted to show he was more popular than his rival but
congresses by definition require fairly small, manageable crowds to allow
for rational discourse. They are not political rallies.

            That is why Zanu PF, the ruling ANC in South Africa, parties in
Britain or anywhere else for that matter, except in populist regimes, do not
bring big crowds to congresses.

            There is no way serious debate, planning and resolutions can
take place among 15 000 people.
            Zimbabwe's ethnic politics have complicated the dynamics which
do not allow for simplistic reading of politics on a single-variable basis.

            While Tsvangirai was able to attract 15 000 delegates, the
danger remains if the MDC fails to reunite, his faction will lose an
important power base: the south-western region (Matabeleland and parts of
Midlands) where the Mutambara camp is dominant.

            Although the region is not decisive in electoral terms,
proportionally it was the stronghold of a united MDC. The party was mainly
entrenched in the south-western region, including parts of the Midlands, in
urban areas and in Manicaland. It failed to break into mainstream
Mashonaland and Masvingo, which are the decisive provinces.

            This means Tsvangirai's group will have to try to break into the
northern provinces (Mashonaland region) where the MDC stumbled at the height
of its popularity and could not win a single seat.

            The MDC still remains unpopular in Mashonaland East, Central and
West especially, where it has lost key areas - Kadoma and Chegutu - as
recently as three weeks ago. It has also lost municipal polls in Chitungwiza
and Bulawayo, showing it has been conceding strategic ground since the
infighting surfaced.

            The situation in Tsvangirai's camp was not helped by the failure
at the weekend to recruit credible high-profile leaders from Mashonaland and
Matabeleland as part of a strategy to move into Matabeleland and Mashonaland
to establish a serious grip.

            The parachuting in of more officials from Tsvangirai's Masvingo
home region (although he is now physically located in Buhera in Manicaland
due to a change of boundaries) will only fuel resentment in Mashonaland and

            Complaints that homeboy and village politics are taking root in
both MDC factions are growing. But the situation appears more blatant in
Tsvangirai's faction.

            The election of Tsvangirai  (president), Isaac Matongo
(chairman), Elias Mudzuri (organising secretary), Nelson Chamisa (spokesman)
and Lucia Matibenga (women's chairperson)  - seen as members of the same
ethnic group - compounds matters.

            It has also been claimed by MDC insiders that secretary-general
Tendai Biti originally comes from Masvingo. His deputy Tapiwa Mashakada
hails from there.

            There are also other senior members of the faction from the same
region. These include William Bango (Tsvangirai's spokesman), Professor
Eliphas Mukonoweshuro (Tsvangirai's advisor), Fidelis Mhashu, Innocent
Gonese, Evelyn Masaiti and even their lawyers.

            Mutambara's faction's failure to come up with a convincing
balancing act might produce the same results: resistance to the MDC in
Mashonaland. While other parts of the country matter, the original MDC's
woeful lack of support in Mashonaland and Masvingo under Tsvangirai
guaranteed its defeat. The two factions are still weak on the ground in
those regions.

            It is clear if the MDC persists with narrow factional politics -
which give a hostage to fortune to Zanu PF - it will remain firmly on the
path towards self-destruction.

            It is also evident without a broad united front - not just in
the MDC but across a swathe of the political and civic society landscape -
Zanu PF will remain in power by

            The MDC break-up has left the opposition in a complete shambles
and taken the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe five years backwards.

            Against this background, Lenin's question may still be relevant
again today: what is to be done?

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There is room for synergies

Zim Independent

            Candid Comment Joram Nyathi

            IF a crowd is what was needed, they had it. They came from all
over the country. In all shapes and sizes, and every imaginable regalia.
Quite rightly, the organisers of the congress of the MDC faction led by
Morgan Tsvangirai in Harare must have felt pleased with themselves.

            Fifteen thousand is a huge crowd and the City Sports Centre is a
small venue. Even the hostile state media that often wants to understate the
figures at Tsvangirai's rallies this time put the number at 14 000.

            The Arthur Mutambara faction which held its congress in Bulawayo
three weeks ago attracted a third of Tsvangirai's. The cynics who reported
on the congress were more interested in the shortage of food and
accommodation. And of course the sustained attacks on the robotics
professor. My verdict on both congresses is that there were no earthquakes.

            Both sides retained the names we already knew, rededicated
themselves to fight President Mugabe and change the Zanu PF culture - same
old stuff.

            But if the leaders of the two factions know what needs to be
done and are committed to the future of this nation, they should seek more
common ground. If their aim is the same then they should be able to rally
their supporters towards this common goal.

            In classical definition, they say my enemy's enemy is my friend.
Nothing strengthens the hand of the enemy more than two brothers fighting
each other. So long as both factions remain determined to fight each other,
they should know they are providing ammunition to the enemy.

            Instead of splitting the vote because they cannot agree on
leadership issues, their aim should be to lure more supporters from Zanu PF
by demonstrating that they have better ideas and are very different from it
in terms of their democratic culture.

            A starting point in this regard is recognition by both factions
that they are the left and the right hand of the same body. So long as they
share the same target and aims, there should be no conflict. So far it has
been a matter of using different forms of rhetoric. None can claim to be
more determined than the other to change the status quo.

            The complementarity should come from sharing the bigger picture
of what we want Zimbabwe to be, not necessarily who should be the leader.

            Instead, there has been undue emphasis on the superficial
"village vs ivory tower" dichotomy. Its basis is that Tsvangirai has more
support in rural areas and is closer to the people. This support has never
been demonstrated in an election. What is evident is his impact among the
urban poor for the simple reason that he appeals to their immediate
requirements - the so-called bread and butter issues. All this is fine but
too short-term.

            On the other hand you have the ivory-towerists - the more
educated Bulawayo faction - who are accused of being out of touch with the
people and therefore cannot command sufficient votes. They talk about
foreign policy and the constitution and human rights. (Ironically, Zanu PF
derided the same issues when it decided instead to put emphasis on the land
because the MDC was seen as trying to advance alien concepts.)

            The ivory tower dwellers are said to appeal to intellectuals and
the rich. In reality both factions are tapping from the same source - all
the urban dwellers who have been pauperised by Zanu's PF misrule.

            I was therefore impressed that Tsvangirai's camp has in a way
sought accommodation with NCA leader Lovemore Madhuku. While he may not be a
charismatic leader, he has shown enormous courage and consistency in his
fight for a new constitution. Tsvangirai is therefore aware of the sizeable
constituency he commands in the civic society movement.

            What is therefore vital is that while Tsvangirai is able to
appeal to the short-term demands of a hungry population, the Mutambara camp
can fortify those same needs by proposing long-term policies that ensure we
don't get lost again.

            Alex Magaisa poignantly observed recently that a leader has to
look further than the short-term wants of voters.

            Failing to do so leads into the Zanu PF cul de sac - lack of
policy initiatives to turn around the economy. Even its electoral majority
sounds hollow. What next after land reform? Which is where the opposition
has been patently paralysed as well - what after congress?

            The election of a leader should not be seen as a mere
endorsement but as a challenge. People are stuck in a quagmire and look to
the leaders for a way forward. None of the two factions can win the contest
against Zanu PF on its own - even under a new constitution. A level playing
field benefits all. It doesn't matter how many people attended the congress,
without unity of purpose we are stuck in the same rut.

            And Zanu PF is doing its uttermost to accentuate artificial
divisions in the opposition to weaken it. But the factions need each other's
capacities and abilities more than they need the sympathy of Zanu PF. They
should rise to this challenge and put their differences aside. The nation's
interests should come first.

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Govt strengthens repressive instruments

Zim Independent

            Clemence Manyukwe

            MOVES to introduce draconian laws such as the Suppression of
International Terrorism and the Interception of Communications Bills reveal
government insecurity and plans to intensify repression as the economy
deteriorates further.

            Despite its failure to prosecute opposition leaders on several
trumped up treason charges, including in the Mutare arms cache case last
week, government is working on the Suppression of Foreign and International
Terrorism Bill that will allow for a further crackdown on the opposition and
dissenters accused of collaborating with foreigners to destabilise the

            The proposed Interception of Communications Bill, details of
which were first published in this paper last week, will also strengthen the
instruments of repression.

            The law seeks to empower the chief of defence intelligence, the
director-general of the Central Intelligence Organisation, the commissioner
of police and the commissioner-general of revenue to intercept telephones,
fixed lines and cellular phones and e-mail messages sent by Internet.

            When it comes into effect the government will use it to
establish a telecommunications agency called the Monitoring and Interception
of Communications Centre manned by spies tasked with prying into private

            Analysts this week said recent developments characterised by the
crackdown on opposition MDC members following the discovery of an arms cache
in Mutare show government was running scared and wants to launch a campaign
of repression to consolidate its faltering grip on power.

            Political analyst Heneri Dzinotyiwei said the developments point
to a government increasingly defensive in the face of heightening

            "The government is becoming defensive. There is more reaction to
the loss of favour and support. That of course is not justified,"
Dzinotyiwei said.

            "But the government is failing to see the root causes of its
unpopularity. It is trying to address the symptoms. It won't succeed."

            Dzinotyiwei said by concentrating on issues such as prying onto
people's private lives, government was trying to divert attention from real
issues. He said there were no credible grounds for government to come up
with such legislation, except an attempt to curb rising discontent.

            The new legislation also appears to buttress arguments by the
African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights that in Zimbabwe: "There has
been a flurry of new legislation and the revival of old laws used under the
Smith regime to control (and) manipulate public opinion."

            The commission also slammed state security agencies, saying
"elements of the CIO were engaged in activities contrary to the
international practice of intelligence organisations".

            The CIO last week was severely criticised by Justice Charles
Hungwe for intimidating state lawyers in a bid to sustain the alleged plot
to assassinate President Robert Mugabe linked to the Mutare arms cache

            The proposed laws fall in the same category as the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Public Order and Security
Act which the African Commission has said had a "chilling effect and spread
a cloud of fear" in Zimbabwe.

            Analysts say government's insecurity in the face of the rising
tide of opposition on the political, social and economic fronts was behind
the current efforts to devise a chain of restrictive measures.

            The Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Companies Act and
the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment No 17 Act are seen as part of this.
The Reconstruction of State-Indebted Insolvent Companies Act gives
state-appointed administrators powers to enable them to forfeit to the state
shares or securities in a reconstructed company. The Act was used to
legalise the government's inheritance of businessman Mutumwa Mawere's empire
SMM Holdings under the guise of preventing its collapse and saving jobs.

            The repressive Council for Higher Education, which Mugabe said
was put in place with " a view to improving operations of higher learning by
investing council with certain disciplinary powers over students and
lecturers", will further restrict academic freedom.

            A number of student leaders mainly at the University of Zimbabwe
have been expelled and dozens others countrywide have been suspended.

            The 17th constitutional amendment was meant to deal with white
commercial farmers who were posing a headache to the government through
challenging its chaotic agrarian reform in the courts.

            The president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe Joseph James on
Tuesday said the introduction of the latest repressive laws pointed to its

            "A government which constantly passes repressive legislation
fears that it does not have the support of its people," he said. "In a
democratic society if you believe in your right to persuade the electorate,
there is no need to close the democratic space. It is only when you are not
sure of yourself that you pass repressive legislation - that is the only
conclusion one can reach."

            He said he was surprised when Media & Information Commission
chair Tafataona Mahoso this
            week called for the tightening of Aippa through the control of
distributors of newspapers and periodicals coming from outside the country.

            "He suggested that some foreign publications be subjected to
some form of scrutiny and censorship. Why is it necessary when it is said
the world is now a global village?" James asked. "Is that necessary at all?"

            Brief insight into Interception of Communications Bill

            * The law seeks to empower the chief of defence intelligence,
the director-general of the Central Intelligence Organisation, the
commissioner of police and the commissioner-general of the Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority to intercept: Fixed telephone lines; cellular phones; e-mail
messages sent by Internet.

            * When it comes into effect the government will use the Bill to
establish a telecommunications agency called the Monitoring and Interception
of Communications Centre manned by spies tasked with prying into private

            * State agencies will be empowered to open mail passing through
the post and through licensed courier service providers.

            * The Bill authorises the Minister of Transport and
Communications to issue a warrant to state functionaries to order the
interception of information if there are "reasonable grounds for the
minister to think that an offence has been committed or that there is a
threat to safety or national security of the country".

            * The Bill will compel operators to install software and
hardware to enable them to intercept and store information as directed by
the state. The service providers will also be asked to link their message
monitoring equipment to the government agency. Service providers will also
be compelled to keep personal information on clients and provide it to the
state if asked to do so.

            * Failure by service providers to, among other issues, install
the requisite software and hardware to intercept messages and transmit them
to the government agency will attract a fine and/or imprisonment of up to
three years.

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Zesa should deliver to make peace with power consumers

Zim Independent

            By Chikonamombe Mhara

            MANY households are weeping. Why? Zesa is at it again, failing
to diligently carry out its duties. Last Sunday is a day that many
households in Harare would like to quickly forget.

            Electrical appliances got damaged because of Zesa's failure to
stick to its load-shedding schedule. Fridges, television sets, radios, DVDs
etc were extensively damaged because of continuous interruptions in power
supplies in Harare and probably other towns as well.

            Executive chairman Sydney Gata and Energy Development minister
Mike Nyambuya have exhibited gross incompetence and unprofessionalism.

            What are they doing in those portfolios? Whose job is it to
inform the public about power-cuts and that they should buy surge

            I guess they do not want to advise members of the public to buy
surge protectors because in a way it will be admitting their failure to
execute their duties.

            I urge fellow consumers with sensitive electrical gadgets to buy
surge protectors to protect their valuable appliances.

            Surge protectors cost about $2 million compared to the cost that
one is likely to incur in  repairing damaged appliances.

            To Gata and Nyambuya I say: God is watching and do not say you
were not warned when asked to account for your "sins" at the pearly gates.

            What goes around comes around. You still have time to "repent"
and apologise to the masses for the damage that you are responsible for.

            If legal action were to be taken,  we could be talking of huge
amounts of money in damaged appliances.
            I advise you gentlemen  to refrain from the warpath that you are
on and make peace with the people.

            * Mhara is a Harare-based writer.

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Tsvangirai team leadership fails to inspire confidence

Zim Independent

            By Kurauone Chihwayi

            THE MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai at the weekend congress
failed to present credible leadership that could raise both public and donor

            While I have great respect for Tendai Biti and Nelson Chamisa,
the re-election of Tsvangirai as the faction's president has plunged the
whole team into crisis.

            The team that was elected into office is very risky to the
extent that no-one can expect anyone in it to form a government.

            Thokozani Khupe, Tapiwa Mashakada and Isaac Matongo are not
credible leaders but opportunists whose survival hinges on bootlicking.

            Puppetry politics will never bring democratic change to starved
Zimbabweans. The congress exposed weaknesses of the Tsvangirai leadership as
it is important to try new ways of unseating President Robert Mugabe.

            The Arthur Mutambara faction, on the other hand, appears to have
produced credible leaders at its Bulawayo congress.

            Welshman Ncube, Gift Chimanikire, Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Gibson Sibanda, Paul Themba Nyathi and Morgan
Changamire are tried and tested leaders who can work out new strategies of
bringing democratic change.
            The people around Tsvangirai are only there to use him as a
ladder to the top only to dump him when it is convenient.

            * Chihwayi is a Harare resident writing from Glen Norah A.

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No basis for talks with Mugabe

Zim Independent


            PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's wish to build bridges with the British
is evaporating with each passing day. The latest setback to talks is the
government's publication of a Mining Bill that will see the state take a
non-contributory majority share in mining developments and an eavesdropping
measure that overturns constitutional provisions on privacy of

            "We need a bridge with the British," Mugabe told British
ambassador Dr Andrew Pocock when he presented his credentials on February
16. "We politicians come and go, but the people are there at all times."

            Indeed, but the record of governance of those politicians
determines the welfare of their people. There is not much point asking for
international assistance if government policies vitiate such assistance.

            As US ambassador Christopher Dell pointed out last year,
Zimbabweans are poorer today than their parents were in 1953 despite the
billions of dollars poured into the country in development aid.

            In fact, Zimbabwean and British officials have been holding
low-level talks for some time. But those talks have gone nowhere because
Mugabe and his ministers don't understand the need for policies that improve
the lives of their people.

            The British government could never justify to parliament or
public opinion in the UK a dialogue with Mugabe that results in no change to
Zimbabwe's repressive and unproductive political climate. There has to be a
basis for such talks and that basis is clearly political and economic
reform. The two are of course inextricably linked. But there is no movement
at the top except in the wrong direction.

            Every month sees a new measure of repression brought to
parliament. In addition to the Interception of Communications Bill, exposed
by this newspaper last week, Bills piling up for approval include the
ominous Suppression of Foreign and International Terrorism Bill and the
Criminal Procedure and Evidence Bill which is designed to tighten existing
repressive laws.

            Last year a 17th amendment to the constitution withdrew from the
courts their role in upholding rights in land-related cases and enabled the
regime to withdraw the passports of its critics. A Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act introduced penalties of up to 20 years in
prison for publishing "false" information deemed prejudicial to the state.

            These measures very clearly abridge constitutional rights to
freedom of expression, movement and privacy. The latest round of arrests in
Mutare of MDC officials on the basis of a spurious conspiracy demonstrate
the growing role of the intelligence service in the country's politics and
the manipulation of the police.

            Matching these developments is the continued seizure of farms,
many covered by Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements,
and proposals by the state to take a majority shareholding in mining

            These proposals came at the very minute Reserve Bank governor
Gideon Gono was meeting with the IMF in Washington to present Zimbabwe's
case for assistance. Clearly embarrassed by the latest ministerial
clumsiness, he made it clear to the local press that the RBZ was opposed to
expropriation of any sort and that indigenisation needed to be carried out
"with strict observance of private property rights".

            What is obvious here is that a small coterie around the
president is busy sabotaging economic reform or any initiative designed to
rehabilitate Zimbabwe in the international community.

            Gono will make no headway in Washington in these circumstances.
And he has been told this. It is also no secret that Zimbabwe's friends in
the EU are finding it increasingly difficult to mount any meaningful
opposition to the renewal of sanctions every year given the complete lack of
progress on the ground.

            Mugabe and his ministers appear unable to see this. They respond
to the challenge by turning the screws. This will only compound the country's
rogue status and growing isolation.

            Even President Thabo Mbeki has washed his hands of the problem.
And Tony Blair is unlikely to choose this moment of his career to take on
another international problem!

            There will be no talks with Mugabe because there is no basis for
those talks. Blair needs an unproductive dialogue with Harare like he needs
a hole in the head. It isn't going to happen and the sooner that is spelt
out to Mugabe and his officials the better.

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Is anybody home?

Zim Independent

            Editor's Memo

            Joram Nyathi

            FARMERS are preparing for the winter wheat cropping period. But
already there is a tug-of-war between the farmers and government over the
amount of land that can be put to productive use.

            Presenting oral evidence to the parliamentary portfolio
committee on agriculture, lands and land resettlement this week, Agriculture
secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa said government had set a target of 110 000ha
of wheat under irrigation.

            Arda chief executive, Joseph Matowanyika, told the committee
they planned to put a mere 10 000ha of wheat under irrigation but this could
not be achieved because they don't have tillage equipment.

            Farmers on the other hand told the same committee that they
could manage only 45 000ha, not 110 000ha, due to a shortage of inputs such
as seed, fuel and fertilisers.

            The yawning gap between wishful-thinking and reality is evident
in the difference in targets between government and farmers who are closer
to the ground - 110 000 against 45 000ha. Representatives of the two major
fertiliser companies - Windmill and Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company - confirm
this. They told the committee they had no fertiliser in stock as they were
closed for routine maintenance until next month.

            But the real truth lay elsewhere.

            The Reserve Bank has given the fertiliser industry a measly
US$6,5 million to import raw materials against annual requirements of US$90
million. A simple calculation suggests that the industry would need to
source more than US$80 million from the black market to bridge the gap.
Should they succeed in raising this amount, that will put the price of
fertiliser beyond the reach of a majority of farmers.

            The reality is that there will be a serious shortage of
fertiliser, not just for the winter wheat crop but going forward as well
into the main farming season.

            The tobacco crop that used to be a foreign currency cash-cow is
no more. From a high of 236 million kg produced in 2000, farmers have
forecast a pathetic 55 million kg this year. Maize production is estimated
at a paltry 700 000 tonnes in one of the wettest farming seasons in a
decade. That leaves an import deficit of nearly 900 000 tonnes. As if to
complete the destruction, government has just thrown a spanner into the
works in the mining sector by proposing de facto nationalisation. That was
one of the few remaining sectors still attracting serious foreign investment
and expanding.

            Add to the fertiliser crisis lack of fuel and the effect of
power outages on industry and mining and you have an economy that is in deep

            Passing his verdict on the way forward, the chairperson of the
committee, Walter Mzembi, said they had resolved that agriculture be
declared a "strategic sector" in view of its pivotal role in the economy.
This, he said, would allow government to prioritise the sector in the
allocation of scarce resources.

            Is this an epiphany? Does a government worth its salt need
reminding about the strategic role of agriculture? What was the point of
seizing land if not its strategic importance in the economy?

            Commenting on the shortage of critical inputs (fuel and
fertilisers), a member of the portfolio committee, Senator Vitalis
Zvinavashe, wondered aloud whether "this is news"? Shortages have become
such a way of life for Zimbabweans are expected to plod on quietly - see no
evil, hear no evil and speak no evil!

            A deadpan observation really, but critical because it is
emblematic of the wholesale dearth of ideas and the arrogant attitude of
government since the 2000 election and the virtual collapse of the
opposition MDC.

            Above all, it means nothing is being done.

            The shortages will persist and there won't be an economic
turnaround anytime soon so long as we keep importing food.

            The trouble is that we believe an event, any event at all, will
necessarily mean change, more myopically, we expect an improvement. We
warned when Zanu PF won the March election last year that there wasn't going
to be any change, let alone positive change. It was the same faces, the same
failed ministers and the same culture of doing things. Apart from the
pernicious Constitutional Amendment No 17, nothing positive has come out of
Zanu PF's controversial majority.

            The current hype about corruption is nothing new. How many times
in the past have we had our hopes and expectations raised and brutally
smashed to the ground? It is all part of a game to buy time and pray that
problems will go away.

            One of the questions I have not been able to answer of late is
precisely what it is government is doing to get the economy out of the rut?
A lot has been said about economic programmes that never take off the
ground. Now we are literally leap-frogging from one subterfuge to another -
spies, assassination plots, corruption, inflation and interest rates - like
we were kindergarten kids who have to be distracted with toys while adults
do adults things. But nobody has found the nub of our problems. Officially,
everybody is quiet.

            As a symbolic affirmation of this "quiet approach" to national
crises, President Mugabe has been stoically silent over the past two weeks.
He is telling us he has no answers.

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What comes after hyperinflation?

Zim Independent

            By Erich Bloch

            AS very widely foreshadowed and feared, inflation is not only
continuing its high-speed upward surge, but is doing so at an ever greater

            After peaking at an all-time high of 623,8% (year-on-year) in
January 2004, inflation fell dramatically, creating excitement and a crisis
of expectation, to 123,7% in March 2005.

            Admittedly the latter was still horrendous in the extreme, and
almost the highest in the world, but nevertheless it reflected a decline, in
a period of 14 months, of over 500 percentage points, or more than 80%.

            However, many very rightly cautioned that complacency should not
set in, for not only was a continuing decline far from assured, but many of
the economy's characteristics were suggestive of that fall in inflation
having been primarily due to palliative measures, rather than those as would
address and remove the underlying causes of the rampant inflation.

            Government was naturally very scathing of all those who
expressed such fears and concerns, dubbing them as "prophets of doom and
gloom", allegedly set upon sabotaging economic recovery.

            Its paranoia was of such magnitude that it was almost wholly
oblivious to realities, and those realities were such that it was virtually
inevitable that inflation would resume its former upward spiral, in the
absence of constructive actions to transform the economy meaningfully,
instead of superficially.

            That oblivion to fact, complemented by governmental megalomania,
which assured its endless conviction as to its omnipotence, resulted in
ongoing destruction of the economy in general, with especial focus upon
agriculture, tourism, and investment, massively rising unemployment,
collapsing infrastructure, parastatal mismanagement and fiscal abuse.

            An unavoidable economic consequence, amongst many others, was
that the impressive downward movement in inflation was halted, and then

            From an annualised inflation rate of 123,7% in March 2005,
inflation more than doubled, to 254,8%, within the next following four
months to July 2005.

            In the next following four months inflation almost doubled again
to 502,4%, and rose by nearly 56% within the next three months to February,
when inflation reached an all-time high of 782%.

            Arguments will, as it already does, rage widely and furiously as
to the causes of the rampant upsurge in inflation.

            Government will continue its vigorous endeavours to deflect all
blame, doing so by using its greatly honed skills of attributing blame to
others, usually coupled with contentions that such others were doing so from
diabolical motives of achieving the overthrow of government, or the
destruction of Zimbabwe, or Zimbabwe's permanent subjugation, or all three.

            The political opposition reciprocally ascribes all blame to
government. Irrespective of political considerations, government cannot be
absolved from blame, for it is its bounden duty and obligation to the
Zimbabwean populace to subordinate its political ideologies and objectives
to whatsoever is necessary to assure the well-being of the populace,
including ensuring a good and sound, developing, positive economy.

            Others will blame the monetary authorities and especially so
when their policies are seen to be the causes of distorted exchange rates
and particularly so within the "alternative" markets, money supply growth,
scarcities and gargantuan rises in interest rates.

            This has been very pronounced in recent weeks, in part as a
consequence of the 169 percentage point increase in the rate of inflation in
February, and to a major extent because of the disclosures that the Reserve
Bank had been engaged in the purchase of foreign currency at exchange rates
markedly different to the "frozen" interbank foreign currency market rates,
and also to a major extent because those purchases were funded by very
greatly increased printing of money.

            This writer acknowledges that printing of money is very often a
major fuellant of inflation, but has argued that has not necessarily been
the overriding cause of recent inflationary movements. Some strongly
disagree, to which they are entitled.

            I readily acknowledge that I may be wrong, but as yet have to be
convinced - and not by those who condemn after admitting to reading only 40%
of my contentions, and who shield behind anonymity and insult, concurrently
with false allegations of my vested interests, in marked contrast to
constructive reasoning by a respected columnist in another leading weekly
business news paper.

            In remaining of my expressed opinion on the recent mammoth
money-printing, I am conscious of the views of Jerry Schuitema, in his
excellent book Econosense, where he says: "Monetarists claim that excessive
printing of money is the cause of inflation. But it is really just a
symptom . Saying that inflation is caused by too much money creation is the
same as saying that you are getting wet because you don't have a roof over
your head. You surely cannot ignore the fact that the real reason for your
sorry state is that it is raining!"

            And, when it comes to inflation, it is certainly raining in
Zimbabwe. The deluge is due to many factors. One of the most pronounced is
inflation itself. It is the enormity of Zimbabwe's inflation that is a major
cause of further, immense inflation. Very understandably the country's
workers, oppressed by a continuing erosion of their minimal spending power,
demand wage increments commensurate, at the least, with inflation. Employers
cannot, save with rare exception, agree to give those increments unless they
concurrently increase prices of their goods and services commensurately.
That is inflation!

            In like manner, when parastatals raise their charges (for

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What an obliging (stupid) fellow!

Zim Independent


            WHAT exactly constitutes free and open discussion of a subject?
Zanu PF says anything that is not "clandestine".

            Zanu PF secretary for the commissariat Elliot Manyika says that
while President Mugabe has permitted debate on the succession issue, "we do
not want any clandestine meetings".

            He was referring to the Tsholotsho episode in which six
provincial party chairmen were suspended for holding a secret meeting.

            This comes under the heading of giving a dog a bad name and then
beating it. Are members of Zanu PF not permitted to come together at a
school or hotel to discuss a candidate they can support, as they did in
November 2004?

            What is wrong with a private or confidential meeting at which
senior party members plan the position they will adopt at congress? By
calling it "clandestine" Manyika is giving a perfectly legitimate meeting a
sinister label. What we are witnessing here is exactly the same form of
manipulation we see in regard to Zanu PF's treatment of the MDC.

            The MDC is free to debate the nation's future but it has to be
"patriotic", we are told. So one side's childish and self-serving definition
of patriotism becomes the template which others must adhere to.

            At one stroke the ruling party determines the rules of
engagement. It sets the terms of debate by the language it uses.

            Mugabe promised his party a free debate on the succession issue.
But then he decided that those meeting at a school or hotel were acting
outside his remit, so he denounced and fired them.

            In fact he fired them because they chose somebody other than his
anointed candidate. And on the same day that the dissident chairmen were
meeting, he had the politburo rule that the next vice-president should be a

            Armed with this resolution it became possible for party
spokesmen like Manyika to speak of the Tsholotsho participants as agreeing
to "subvert politburo guidance".

            So there we have the ruling party's definition of democracy and
debate neatly set out. There must be no "subverting politburo guidance".

            No wonder nobody will open their mouths when the president
invites them to debate his succession! And can we take a party seriously in
the 21st century that continues to refer to one of its officials as
"secretary of the commissariat"?

            Josef Stalin would be proud.

            Talking of which, does Tafataona Mahoso have any idea how many
votes Slobodan Milosevic's party picked up in the last Serbian election?

            He told us that the former dictator and other Serb leaders had
to be kidnapped by paid mercenaries "because they enjoyed support and
security among the people who had elected them".

            He should look and see just how many people elected them before
he next attempts to mislead us. He also appears to think that only Serb war
crimes offenders have been arrested to date.

            All this in an article which accuses Financial Gazette writers
of getting their facts wrong. (A columnist mixed up Argentina and Chile.)
Let's hope none of this has anything to do with a Fingaz article that
focused on Mahoso's role as chair of the MIC.

            By the way, has he discovered yet in which decade the Long March
took place?

            We appreciate that state employees are expected to say some
pretty daft things occasionally. But Harare Polytechnic principal Steven
Rasa took the cake when he suggested all was well at the institution and
none of his students were complaining about fee hikes.

            "In fact some students had asked for a fee hike so that the
money is used to improve standards," he claimed.

            You can imagine hundreds of students lining up outside his
office imploring him to increase their fees!

            Rasa then had this to say: "Even me, if school fees for my
children are increased, I just pay."

            What an obliging fellow!

            Cuba was quick to respond to US claims that it was an unsuitable
candidate for the new UN Human Rights Council. The US had no room to talk
given its record at Guantanamo Bay, the Cuban government retorted. But the
Cuban embassy in Harare should edit the script before it sends handouts to

            One of 400 intellectuals who joined the Cuban protest against
alleged US double standards was British playwright Harold Pinter. His name
was followed by somebody called Reino Unido.

            Muckraker was puzzled. Isn't that Spanish for United Kingdom? In
other words, where Pinter hails from. And the last time we looked Guantanamo
Bay wasn't "off the coast of Cuba".

            By the way, have any of the "intellectuals" like Pinter and
Nadine Gordimer who signed the Cuban document ever protested about the
imprisonment of intellectuals and journalists in Cuba?

            Talk about double standards!

            We liked the picture in Friday's Business Herald of Minister of
Small and Medium Enterprises Development Sithembiso Nyoni reading a speech
to an audience of one person sitting on a sofa. He turned out to be the
director of the ILO's sub-regional office.

            Did she have anything of value to say, we wonder? Nyoni is of
course a notable electoral failure who was found accommodation within the
president's patronage system. Her permanent secretary Evelyn Ndlovu seems to
share some of her boss's delusional political views.

            The ministry was trying to fill the gap created by the closure
of companies, she told a parliamentary portfolio committee recently in a bid
to justify the ministry's existence. Some of them had been closed for
"political reasons", she claimed.

            "The initial closure of some of the companies was not
necessitated by the economic environment but was a response that we are
taking back our land," she suggested.

            So it had nothing to do with the toxic business climate
government's failed policies has spawned? Threats to seize companies and
mines, invasions by politically-sponsored thugs, price controls and an
artificial exchange rate had nothing to do with it?

            "After the negative reaction by some of the companies our
economy began to go down," Ndlovu suggested.

            You don't say? What qualifications does one need for this sort
of job?

            "We have asked the people to take up the challenge and come up
with projects for commercial centres like Sam Levy's Village in Borrowdale,"
Ndlovu said. "We are tired of foreign nationals dominating our towns."

            This obviously doesn't include Lithuanians!

            Muckraker was disappointed not to see Nathaniel Manheru
occupying his usual soap box last week. What could have happened? But all
became clear with a report in the same edition of Saturday's Herald telling
us that "notable among guests at the official opening" of the little-read
Southern Times' offices in Windhoek last week was "Cde" George Charamba.

            PD should insist that contributors get their copy in before they
go gallivanting on government business abroad! Information minister Tichaona
Jokonya must have caused consternation in certain circles when he said at
the opening ceremony that at the height of the liberation struggle fighters
would stop whatever it was they were doing to listen to the BBC news.

            He said he looked forward to a time when the Southern Times
would become the BBC or CNN of Southern Africa.

            What heresy is this?

            National Security minister Didymus Mutasa says the land audit
teams that have been touring the country "have not come across multiple farm
owners". This was evidence, reported The Voice, that farmers had responded
positively to the one man one farm policy.

            Is this an assurance that both former Lands minister John Nkomo
and President Mugabe were thoroughly wrong? Or is Mutasa's "intelligence"

            But there were bigger issues in the story. Mutasa said
government would delist all farms belonging to blacks that had been
mistakenly listed for acquisition.

            "I will follow a policy that no one takes a farm that belongs to
a black person and I will be delisting them," Mutasa disclosed. Thank you
for that minister. At least we now know that all the bluster about "sharing
the land" was pure deceit. It is, as we always suspected, more about race
than land utilisation. Or will you next be claiming all whites are poor
farmers who don't deserve to have their farms delisted?

            As if to confirm our suspicions about the race issue, Mutasa
couldn't see the contradiction between giving beneficiaries their ancestral
land and the vandalism going on on the farms. In his own words, he said: "It
is sad that if you give some black farmers a place with
            equipment, they sell the equipment and move on to another farm.
No, that is not land reform, it is sabotage."

            So, in Mutasa's lexicon, sabotage is not a crime so long as you
don't threaten those in power!

            Meanwhile, Mutasa told villagers and headmen in his Makoni North
constituency to speak openly about problems in their areas so that they are
solved urgently. He castigated those who "backbite" others as traitors who
can stab you in the

            His counterpart from Makoni East, Shadreck Chipanga, who also
attended the meeting, apparently didn't hear Mutasa's message. He attacked
the same headmen "for openly attending MDC meetings yet every month they are
paid by the Zanu PF government which they castigate at their meetings".

            No wonder the headmen appear confused. It starts at the top.

            zanu PF apologist Dick Chingaira is a graceless winner. He was
given a Silver Jubilee award for his "revolutionary music". Instead of
accepting the accolade with modesty, he went over the mountain tops to boast
about how people like him spent seven years in the bush to liberate the
country from white minority rule. He was equally bitter that it took 25
years for him to be recognised.

            He went on to criticise the organisers for giving Thomas Mapfumo
an award. "They should not have given him the award because he has become a
sellout ever since he went to America," declared Chingaira.

            Mapfumo sang against corruption in high places as far back as
1989. The cancer has now become endemic in government and we even have a
whole anti-corruption ministry. Senior Zanu PF officials are implicated in
the deals that see fuel finding its way into the black market instead of
farming. Perhaps Chingaira could tell us who fits the description of a

            in the midst of poverty, poor service delivery and swingeing
rate increases and service charges, the Harare council has achieved the
unthinkable: town clerk Nomutsa Chideya says now they have all the money
they need "there should be no excuse for failure." He said they were in the
process of buying vehicles, plant and equipment, workers have been given a
130% wage review and they are able to service their debt.

            This month, revealed Chideya to the Herald, they expect to
collect $850 billion from rates, supplementary charges and "other sources of

            "Out of this, nearly $300 billion will go towards salaries and
wages, leaving the city with a surplus of $500 billion."

            So why the punishing charges on struggling ratepayers? You would
expect council to ease the burden on "the chicken that lays the golden egg",
as we read in one newspaper this week.

            No, not in Zimbabwe where the commission runs the city and taxes
residents solely for its own benefit. No doubt they have enough to buy
curtains for the mayoral mansion too.

            David Bullard writing in the Sunday Times provided a lighter
look at the Danish cartoons furore. We should give the Danes a taste of
their own medicine, he suggested, by having a go at their Viking gods.

            Proposed graffiti: "Odin is raven mad." "Thor wears a thong."
"Valhalla is full of quiche eaters."

            "Pretty incendiary stuff," Bullard thinks, tongue in cheek, "and
we're publishing it only in the interests of press freedom."

            Finally, is the new Swedish ambassador, who keeps giving a
hostage to fortune by making naive statements to the government media, a
victim of Caesarian section?

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