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Mugabe purges security forces

Zim Online

Friday 09 March 2007

By Brian Ncube

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's national intelligence agency on Monday began deploying
its secret agents within the army and police to purge officers suspected of
backing opposition plans to revolt against the government, ZimOnline has
learnt.

In a confidential memorandum seen by ZimOnline and dated 19 February 2007,
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) Director General Happyton Bonyongwe
expressed concern over the leakage of sensitive information to the
opposition.

The memo titled, "Reversal of Mass Action," was addressed to State Security
Minister Didymus Mutasa. It blamed the leakage on senior army and police
commanders who are suspected of working with the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

"There is indeed a lot of privileged information on security that is found
with the opposition and that is alarming. However, I would like to inform
you that we will start deploying our members within the police and army on
March 5, 2007 and expect to complete the deployments on March 21.

"We will begin by targeting provincial and district commanders, who pose the
biggest threat as they are always in possession of vital documents and are
privy to information that is classified. We expect the teams to have
finished their task and reported back to us by April 30, 2007," said
Bonyongwe in the memo.

Last month, the CIO claimed that the MDC was seeking to incite worker
grievances to incite a public revolt against Mugabe warning that the revolt
had "all chances of succeeding" unless the government moved to preempt it.

Our sources said there were real fears within the CIO that some senior army
and police officers were working with the MDC to leak vital intelligence
information to the opposition party.

The deployment, they said, was meant to weed out these senior officers who
are on the "opposition's payroll".

"Mutasa tasked Bonyongwe to find ways of reversing the growing influence of
the MDC in inciting the public into revolting against the government. This
came after concerns that some senior army officers were involved in leaking
information to the MDC," said one of our sources who cannot be named for
security reasons.

Morale is said to have hit rock-bottom within Zimbabwe's security forces
with hundreds of junior soldiers and police officers having deserted or
resigned over the past few years because of poor pay and working conditions.

Political analysts say worsening hunger could at some point force junior
soldiers to openly revolt or refuse to defend the government should
Zimbabweans rise up in a civil rebellion.

Mutasa refused to comment on the matter when he was contacted by ZimOnline
last night.

"Leave me alone, I do not discuss security matters with the Press," he said
before switching off his phone.

Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said there was nothing sinister in
weeding out "enemies" within the country's security forces.

"The President's Office is free to do its duty in the way they feel is best
for them. I am also against members of the force who work against the
government which pays them," said Mohadi.

Zimbabwe is on a political knife-edge following plans by the ruling ZANU PF
party to extend Mugabe's term which was due to end next year by two more
years.

The plan has been met with unprecedented opposition from some of his closest
lieutenants in ZANU PF, while outraged opposition parties, churches and
civic groups have threatened to launch street protests to block the move. -
ZimOnline


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MDC, civic groups to defy rally ban

Zim Online

Friday 09 March 2007

By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri

HARARE - Zimbabwe's civic groups and the police are headed for confrontation
after the latter called for a rally at Zimbabwe Grounds on Sunday in
defiance of a three-month ban on rallies imposed last month.

The Save Zimbabwe Campaign, a coalition of churches, students and opposition
parties fighting for political reforms in the country, called the rally at
Zimbabwe Grounds, in Harare's working class suburb of Highfield.

Zimbabwe Grounds was the scene of violent clashes between Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party supporters and the police last month.

The main faction of the splintered MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai said the
weekend rally was meant to officially launch a campaign against plans by
President Robert Mugabe to extend his term by two more years to 2010.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade of
Unions, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), the Zimbabwe National
Students Union (ZINASU) and both factions of the MDC, all confirmed that
they will attend the rally.

On Thursday, the NCA, ZINASU and the Tsvangirai-led MDC, distributed fliers
in Harare asking their supporters to attend the rally.

"Kindly come and contribute to the push for a democratic and people-driven
constitution. Come and make a profound statement against tyranny and
dictatorship," read one of the fliers.

Nelson Chamisa, the spokesperson in Tsvangirai-led MDC, confirmed that his
party would attend the rally.

"We are not going to miss any opportunity that gives us a platform to
liberate our country. The country is in ICU (intensive care unit) so we
cannot sleep until we rectify the situation," said Chamisa.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the police will not tolerate any
unruly behaviour in Harare .

"As you are aware, there is a ban on such activities until May so we will
not allow any illegal activity to take place. In fact, we are geared for any
unruly behaviour," said Bvudzijena.

Police imposed a ban on rallies and marches around the country following
last month's running battles in Highfield with supporters of the MDC. The
MDC said the ban on rallies was tantamount to imposing a state of emergency
with the police arguing it was necessary to allow tensions to calm in
politically volatile urban areas.

Zimbabwe is on a political knife-edge as a deep economic recession takes its
toll on a population grappling with inflation of nearly 1 600 percent,
surging unemployment and poverty.

The tensions have worsened since last December following proposals by the
ruling ZANU PF party to extend Mugabe's term by two more years under an
election "harmonization" plan that will see presidential elections that were
scheduled for next year coinciding with parliamentary elections in 2010.

The MDC and civic groups have vowed to resist the plan saying the country
could not afford to have Mugabe in power for two more years. - ZimOnline


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US says Harare abusing its power to retain control

Zim Online

Friday 09 March 2007

By Tsungai Murandu

HARARE - Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU PF party is abusing its dominant position
to manipulate the political process and deny its opponents their rights,
according to a report released this week by the United States government.

According to the Country Reports on Human Rights 2006, released on 6 March,
ZANU PF has wantonly manipulated the political process to intimidate the
opposition and other groups considered hostile to President Robert Mugabe's
regime.

"The ruling party's dominant control and manipulation of the political
process through intimidation and corruption effectively negated the right of
citizens to change their government," said the report, compiled by the US
State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour.

The Zimbabwean government could be immediately reached for comment on the
report last night.

The US report comes at a time when the government has just banned the
holding of rallies and demonstrations across the country citing security
fears.

Last month, police clashed with opposition supporters in Harare after
refusing to grant the main Movement for Democratic Change wing permission to
hold a rally in the working class suburb of Highfield.

ZANU PF has used those skirmishes to ban all political meetings and
gatherings in Zimbabwe, a move critics saw as a ploy by the ruling party to
stop the MDC from making a head-start in the race towards presidential
elections tentatively set for 2008.

The MDC had intended to use the rallies to kick-off its campaign for the
presidential elections.

The ruling party is seeking to postpone the polls to 2010 after its annual
conference last year endorsed a plan to "harmonise" presidential and
parliamentary elections.

The US report cited some of the manipulations by ZANU PF as the use of
excessive force and torture to intimidate opponents, harassment of human
rights and humanitarian non-governmental organisations, and interference
with labour organisations.

High-ranking government officials - most notably Security Minister Didymus
Mutasa - have made numerous public threats of violence against
demonstrators.

The latest threat was last month when Mutasa warned that State would unleash
its apparatus against any persons trying to create trouble.

Mutasa was responding to an announcement by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions that it was calling for a two-day strike at the beginning of April.

The US government also accused the Zimbabwean authorities of using
divide-and-rule tactics by creating splinter organisations to divert
attention from real problems.

One such case is the formation of the splinter Zimbabwe Federation of Trade
Unions (ZFTU) to divide the workers.

The ZFTU comprises ruling party sympathisers and has been used as an
effective tool to confuse workers.

It is not recognised as the official labour body in Zimbabwe and has been
left out of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum, a body representing the
interests of government, labour and business.

Harare has also indiscriminately locked up opponents on flimsy charges meant
to weaken its opponents, noted the US report.

It has also deliberately failed to investigate several cases of politically
motivated murders and abductions where the perpetrators are known ZANU PF
supporters. - ZimOnline


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Act now for Masvingo WOZA women still in custody

Friday, March 09, 2007 4:35 AM

Dear All,

Urgent phoning appeal

20 WOZA members remain in police custody in Masvingo
tonight - their third night - in direct contravention
of the 48-hours maximum period allowed under the
Public Order and Security Act (POSA). Police gave the
excuse that their equipment was not functioning
properly so they could not take the statements of all
20 in time. Lawyers also blamed a go-slow at the
courts for the inability to bring an urgent High Court
application before a judge to demand their immediate
release. The group was arrested at noon on Tuesdayand
is expected to appear in court early tomorrow morning
(Friday).

The 17 women and three men are split between Masvingo
Central and Chikato Police Station. Please call these
stations and demand to know why they are insisting on
holding WOZA members illegally. You can reach them on:
Masvingo Central - +263 (0) 39 62221.
Chikato - +263 (0) 39 62308
If you have access to fax please also fax your
thoughts on this illegal detention to Masvingo Police
enquiries on 00 263 39 64026

ACT NOW FOR WOZA!

Lois


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Diamond row sucks in UN

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya

THE United Nations has been drawn into the blazing row between Bubye
Minerals Pvt Ltd and River Ranch Ltd over diamonds amid allegations that
UN-registered vehicles were being used to smuggle gems out of the country.

The squabble over United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) cars
gives a new twist to the protracted Beitbridge diamonds mine saga which has
been rumbling in the courts for a while.

Top Zanu PF politburo member, retired army commander General Solomon
Mujuru and former ruling party MP Tirivanhu Mudariki, are River Ranch
directors, while Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa, Simon Khaya Moyo's
wife, Sibonokuhle, is a Bubye Minerals director.

Bubye Minerals lawyer Terrence Hussein on Tuesday wrote to UNDP
resident representative Agostinho Zacarias querying why a UN agency was
allowing its vehicles to be used by a private company under murky
circumstances.

The letter, titled Use of UN Vehicles at River Ranch Diamond Mine,
Beitbridge, said there were two UN vehicles being used at the mine and asked
why UNDP was allowing the vehicles to be deployed there when it was aware
the mine was a contested property.

Hussein said the two vehicles were a Toyota Land Cruiser VX -
registration number 200 TCE 666 - and a Toyota Hilux whose number plate is
AAQ 9041. The Toyota Hilux is said to have been stolen from a River Ranch
employee in Johannesburg last year.

"A Central Vehicle Registry certificate shows vehicle AAQ 9041 is a
Toyota Hilux, and the registered owner of the said vehicle is the UNDP.
Curiously, the record shows that whilst you are the owner of the vehicle the
address for the said vehicle is River Ranch Mine, Beitbridge," Hussein said
in his letter to Zacarias.

"The matter does not end there. A dark blue/black Toyota Land Cruiser
VX bearing the registration plate 200 TCE 666 is presently being used by
River Ranch Ltd employees in Harare. The said vehicle is also registered in
the name of the United Nations Development Programme."

Hussein said he wanted to know why a "reputable" UN agency had allowed
its vehicles to be used in a controversial business.

"Of greater concern is how your organisation's vehicles are being used
by River Ranch Ltd who presently occupy a diamond mine in Beitbridge on
questionable title," he said.

Hussein said this was compounded by the fact that River Ranch was
allegedly involved in the smuggling of diamonds using the UN vehicles which
could not be subject to search and seizure under UN conventions.

"As you are no doubt aware, serious questions may be raised about your
organisation's involvement with River Ranch Ltd in view of the fact that
vehicles registered to the UN or any of its agencies are by United Nations
conventions and our laws not subject to search and seizure at our border
points," Hussein said.

However, River Ranch Ltd CEO George Kantsouris yesterday said
allegations of smuggling using UN vehicles were "nonsense". He said there
was nothing wrong with the mine using the Toyota Land Cruiser 200 TCE 666
because it was being driven by a diplomat accredited under the African
Management Services Company (Amsco).

Amsco is a special purpose project of the UNDP and International
Finance Corporation (IFC), a private sector arm of the World Bank,
established to address the issue of management and capacity building in
private sector companies in Africa.

"We have only one vehicle (Toyota Land Cruiser 200 TCE 666) which is
registered under the UNDP. It is being used by our chief finance officer Mr
Pradippa Susari who is accredited under UNDP-Amsco," Kantsouris said. "I'm
also accredited under UNDP-Amsco. We are fully accredited and entitled to
use TCE number plates."

Kantsouris said Hussein was trying to "construct a smokescreen" around
the court battle over the mine, which he had lost. He said Hussein's chance
to appeal to the Supreme Court after losing in the High Court last year had
lapsed and he was clutching at straws.



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CIO abandons Daily Mirror

Zim Independent

THE Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) has virtually abandoned
the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror newspapers, forcing them to close
shop this week. The Daily Mirror failed to publish on Wednesday and
yesterday

Company officials yesterday told a staff meeting that the papers had
stopped publication due to a financial crisis. Although the CIO had recently
promised to inject fresh capital into the troubled media group, management
squabbles and lack of funds scuttled their plans. The CIO three years ago
wrested control of the two papers and booted out founding publisher, Ibbo
Mandaza.

The two papers - tottering on the verge of collapse for months -
closed under a weight of debts, estimated at more than $500 million in bank
overdrafts and unpaid bills. Their advertising revenue base and print run
had shrunk to unsustainable levels, with the Daily Mirror hardly printing 2
000 copies while the Sunday Mirror was in an equally precarious position

Workers were on Wednesday told by acting CEO Tichaona Chifamba, in the
presence of deputy editor-in-chief Alexander Kanengoni, that there would be
no further editions of the papers due to shortage of newsprint, origination
material and money for salaries. Workers had not been paid since last month.

The company no longer has money to pay Sovereign Printers that had
favourable payment terms.

But sources say management was afraid to tell the employees that the
paper had closed. The sources also said there was division on the board with
some members saying the papers should apply for voluntary liquidation while
others believed the business could be saved.

The Zimbabwe Independent in August 2005 revealed details of the
acrimonious take-over of the papers by the CIO from Mandaza.

The new owners however failed to turn the paper into a profitable
business. It recently dropped colour on the front page and cut back on
pagination before it disappeared altogether from the streets on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe Union of journalists secretary-general Foster Dongozi said
the closure of the Daily Mirror would have a devastating impact on the
livelihoods of journalists as it comes on the back of the closure of other
titles such as the Daily News, the Daily News on Sunday, the Tribune and the
Weekly Times.

"It's a result of government meddling in matters that should be
entirely private," Dongozi said of the closure.

He said after revelations of the take-over, there was corporate
resistance in an environment where "professionalism and ethics had been
thrown out of the window as a result of government interference in the
running of the paper". - Staff Writer.


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High Court orders police to return Falgold gold

Zim Independent

THE High Court has ordered the Police Gold Unit in Bulawayo to
immediately return 23 kilogrammes of gold bullion worth US$408 104 to Falcon
Gold Zimbabwe Ltd and Golden Valley Mine, which it seized and has kept since
early January pending investigations for possible prosecution of an
official.

Bulawayo High Court Judge Justice Nicholas Ndou last Thursday ruled
that the Criminal Investigations Department's Gold Unit in the city
immediately return the gold to the two mining companies for subsequent
deposit with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (Fidelity Refineries) after the
two firms filed an urgent chamber application on the matter.

On January 8, members of the Gold Unit seized the gold from Falcon
Gold metallurgist Peter Mark Johnstone while he was facilitating its
delivery to Fidelity through a hired private security firm as per normal
procedure.

Falcon Gold are the officials agents of John Mack and Company (T/A
Golden Valley Mine) in Kadoma/Chakari district and had lawfully taken the
gold to Falcon Gold in Bulawayo for further processing before delivery to
Fidelity.

However, during the course of the transactions, members of the Gold
Unit seized the gold and went on to arrest Johnstone on suspicion that it
was destined for the parallel market.

Police tried in vain to have Johnstone prosecuted over the allegations
as the area public prosecutor, a Mr Nleya, declined to set down the case for
lack of evidence.

Despite Nleya's explanation, police continued to retain the gold,
forcing Falcon Gold to file an urgent chamber application.

Justice Ndou granted Falcon Gold and Golden Valley - the first and
second applicants respectively -- an interim relief pending determination of
the matter that "the gold bullion presently held by the second respondent
(police) be immediately returned to the first applicant and to be held and
retained by the first applicant until such time as the court determines the
final relief sought".

Terms of the final relief sought are that the respondent show cause to
the court why a final order should not be made.

In his judgement, Justice Ndou said it was not clear how the police
would prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.

He noted that the police had never clearly set out what they really
wanted to investigate or what precise offence had been committed. - Staff
Writer.


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MDC talks collapse

Zim Independent

UNITY talks between opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
factions have collapsed irretrievably after their self-imposed March 1
deadline for negotiations elapsed without a resolution.

The breakdown of the MDC rapprochement talks leaves the future of the
opposition looking bleak ahead of the scheduled presidential election in
March next year. The MDC split - after a damaging dispute over senate
elections - has badly weakened the party and alienated public support and
international goodwill.

Stakeholders who backed the MDC materially and morally have almost
given up on the party after witnessing its repeated failure to tackle
internal differences and behave responsibly.

They have insisted that the factions must work together if they want
their help. Its missions abroad are having difficulty sourcing firm
diplomatic and material support.

Sources said MDC talks have collapsed beyond recovery.

"The talks have now collapsed irretrievably and there will no more
negotiations," one source said. The talks collapsed after exploratory
engagements this year and last.

The spokesman for the MDC camp led by Morgan Tsvangirai, Nelson
Chamisa, said the committee dealing with the issue is yet to present its
report to the party.

"We are waiting for the committee to report back to the national
executive and national council and we will see what the findings are,"
Chamisa said. "I'm not aware that the talks have broken down."

The MDC split in November 2004 after a dispute over the senate poll.
Last year the faction led by Tsvangirai appointed a committee chaired by
Samuel Siphepha Nkomo to negotiate with a committee of the group led by
Authur Mutambara, but negotiations failed to take off, leading to the
collapse.

Diplomatic sources said this week they have ceased to look at the MDC
in its current form as a viable alternative to Zanu PF and were exploring
other avenues to see if a reformed ruling party or its faction working with
both or separate MDC camps in a new arrangement could provide a new
formation capable of serious leadership.

"The international community is no longer necessarily looking at the
MDC alone as the solution. There are countries and stakeholders who now
think a reformed Zanu PF, working with a faction or MDC camps, would be
better," a diplomatic source said. "Some actually think that the events in
Zanu PF could provide a breakthrough in the political and economic crisis."

Although the Tsvangirai faction has done well in two by-elections, the
MDC factions have performed dismally in the nationwide rural district
council elections, exposing their weakness and failure to gain ground in
Zanu PF's rural strongholds.

Observers say a divided MDC in unlikely to mount a serious challenge
even against a deeply divided Zanu PF nationally and it was therefore time
for a new dispensation. - Staff Writer.



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Police in renewed crackdown

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

THE Zimbabwe Republic Police has gone on the warpath arbitrarily
arresting and threatening opposition party supporters and members of civic
groups amid increasing street clashes.

The renewed crackdown this week resulted in more than 30 trade
unionists, student activists and opposition supporters being arrested
throughout the country.

The latest group to be taken in by police were 20 students from
Hillside Teachers College in Bulawayo, arrested on Tuesday for instigating a
class boycott which started on March 5.

Students boycotted lectures to force government to provide solutions
to the deepening educational crisis in Zimbabwe.

"The arrested students include Zimbabwe National Association of
Student Unions (Zinasu) secretary-general, Beloved Chiweshe, Hillside
Teachers College Students Union president, Tafadzwa Chengewa, Simbarashe
Mkwambo, Trust Nhubu and others from Hillside," Zinasu said in a statement.

Cosmas Gwature of the United College of Education was also picked up
from his college campus.

"The union condemns the continued victimisation of student activists,
especially the systematic targeting of student leaders," Zinasu said.

Police on Wednesday released 16 of the students while four of their
leaders were detained and released on Thursday morning without being
charged.

Zinasu said the class boycott will continue until government and the
responsible authorities in tertiary institutes met their demands.

On Saturday police arrested 14 Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU) activists attending an orientation workshops in Plumtree in
Matabeleland South.

Bright Chibvuri, the editor of The Worker, the ZCTU's official
newspaper, was arrested on Saturday while attending the workshop.

"A further 13 activists were arrested while attending a ZCTU
orientation workshop in Chegutu," ZCTU said in a statement.

Last Sunday police fought running battles with the Morgan Tsvangirai
faction of the MDC in Budiriro township.

Budiriro residents said youths barricaded roads into the suburb using
bonfires and burning tyres after police moved in to stop a rally scheduled
for Budiriro 1 shops.

"Riot police used teargas to disperse people who were gathering for
the rally on Sunday afternoon," a shop assistant in Budiriro said. "This
incensed people who retaliated by throwing stones.

The ensuing running battles forced shops in Budiriro to close down and
street vendors deserted their stalls."

Last Thursday police had been called in to disperse another political
gathering in Chitungwiza where they brought in two riot control vehicles
equipped with water cannons to contain the street battles.

MDC Chitungwiza provincial spokesman, suspended mayor Misheck Shoko,
said his party had mobilised people to march from Zengeza 2 shops to
CK-Junction to protest the deteriorating economy and to demand the holding
of free and fair elections under a new constitution.

"Police got wind of the proposed march and blocked it before it could
take place," Shoko said. "Two riot police trucks were deployed at my house
where they remained until early Wednesday morning. At 04.30 am they picked
up Philimon Chitiyo, the MDC organising secretary before calling for
reinforcements to be deployed at Zengeza 2."

Shoko said two riot control vehicles were sent to Zengeza 2 shops in
anticipation of the gathering.

"To avoid confrontation, people decided to change the meeting place to
Chitungwiza Hospital. As people gathered, riot police came in and started
beating up people to disperse them. Running battles ensured from 06.00 am
until about 11.00 am," Shoko said.

Street clashes have increased despite the ban on rallies and
demonstrations initially in Harare, its dormitory town of Chitungwiza and
Bulawayo, two weeks ago. The ban has since been extended to all major
centres, clearly showing rising political tensions in the country.

The MDC and civic groups have condemned the ban on rallies saying the
move amounted to a declaration of a state of emergency. MDC has vowed to
defy the ban.

The ban directive faces a stern test early next month against the ZCTU's
proposed two-day work boycott planned for April 3/4 to force the government
to arrest Zimbabwe's eight-year old economic meltdown.


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Hope for Zim/Cites trade agreement dim

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube

ZIMBABWE'S chances of resuming ivory trade under the Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) in June appear dim as a
battle still rages between the government and conservation organisations
over the actual number of elephants in the country.

Zimbabwe, together with other southern African countries, are lobbying
Cites for permission to cull their elephants and sell excess ivory arguing
that elephant populations in the region are too large.

However, animal groups argue that the figures quoted by the
governments are inflated.

Zimbabwe claims that it has an elephant population of over 100 000
against a holding capacity of 45 000.

The animal rights groups are lobbying Cites not to lift the ban for
southern African countries to continue trade in ivory at the June conference
to be held at The Hague.

It also emerged that Zimbabwe is reluctant to submit a bid for
resumption of ivory sales for fear that its proposal would be treated
politically by the international community.

But an animal rights group, Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCFT),
says government figures are not true as the country has never held a
cumulative audit in the last seven years.

Johnny Rodrigues, the ZCFT chairman, said the elephant population was
exaggerated.

"The figures National Parks have are estimates. There has been no
cumulative audit in the last seven years and, besides, there is a lot of
movement of elephants from Zimbabwe into Zambia and Botswana," Rodrigues
said.

He said the elephant population in Zimbabwe was being decimated by
poaching, killing of elephants to feed crocodiles and simple mismanagement
of their population.

"There are serious cases of poaching by professional hunters and
unless Zimbabwe carries out a cumulative audit National Parks should stop
talking about figures," he said.

National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority public relations
manager, Retired Major Edward Mbewe, said Zimbabwe was this year not likely
to table a proposal before the Cites conference.

"We are not planning any proposal but we will participate with other
countries. We will at the same conference defend the status quo and preserve
what we were allowed to trade in," Mbewe said.

After years of controversy, Zimbabwe in 1999 obtained permission from
Cites to sell limited and strictly monitored supplies of ivory to Japan.

Mbewe defended National Parks audits and said the noise from animal
rights organisations was due to ignorance over the elephant situation in the
country.

"Zimbabwe is not culling elephants at the moment despite the fact that
we have a Cites quota allowing us to do so and we have carried out audits.
We did a conclusive audit in 2001 where we established that we had an
elephant population of about 90 000.

"The annual growth percentage indicates that there are now over 100
000 elephants and we also rely on statistics from other international
organisations that help us with the counts," Mbewe said.

However, Zimbabwe has so far held back from culling its annual 500
elephant quota in deference to vocal international animal welfare lobbyists.

Kenya has led opposition to any resumption of trade in elephant
products, including ivory, meat and hides, saying this encouraged smuggling
by poaching syndicates.

Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe are part of the
pro-culling lobby.



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Govt appeals for US$230 million for food aid

Zim Independent

IN a move which exposes the failure of Zimbabwe's policies, government
has launched a massive US$230 million humanitarian appeal for food.

The 2007 consolidated appeal for Zimbabwe focuses on both emergency
relief and transitional support to address the causes of vulnerability of
some sections of the population.

The appeal shows that government policies have compounded the
humanitarian situation resulting in the nation seeking assistance in
virtually all sectors. Food, agriculture and health account for more than
65% of the needs in the appeal.

It comes as the provincial leadership in the two Matabeleland
provinces have asked the government to declare a state of disaster.

The two provinces, together with Midlands province, have received
erratic rainfall since the planting season began late last year.

A senior official in the Ministry of Agriculture told the Zimbabwe
Independent this week that the leadership in the two provinces had written
to government requesting that they be declared disaster areas.

Matabeleland South governor, Angeline Masuku, confirmed that her
province was in a precarious position in terms of food security but could
not be drawn into revealing whether they had made a representation to
government.

"The issue is still under deliberation," she said. "The provincial
drought relief committee is meeting this week and they will come up with
resolutions. The situation is not promising but you will get more
information on the situation from my office later."

The Swedish aid agency Sida this week handed over US$6,7 million to
the Zimbabwe consolidated appeal process.

Speaking at the event, UN resident representative in Zimbabwe
Agostinho Zacharias said the humanitarian crisis in the country was serious
and worrisome.

Sweden becomes the first country to respond to the Zimbabwe 2007
appeal.

"The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is very serious," said
Zacharias. "And it is worrisome. Humanitarian assistance is meant to be
temporary but here it has gone on for too long. Your government cannot go it
alone; they require international assistance so as to address the
humanitarian situation here."

Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Sten Rylander, who officially handed
over Sida's contribution, said Mugabe and his officials appeared not to
appreciate the humanitarian crisis in the country. He said they were
directing their energies towards economic turnaround when the real issue was
political.

The appeal was drafted by government in conjunction with the United
Nations and its implementing partners. The most acute humanitarian needs
include those of populations affected by food insecurity and cholera
outbreaks, as well as mobile and vulnerable people affected by the
fast-track land reform programme, Operation Murambatsvina, and more recent
re-evictions, the appeal docoument says.

"The more chronic issues affecting vulnerable populations include
inadequate access to basic social services, insufficient agricultural inputs
and disrupted livelihoods.

"Further impacting the overall situation in the country is the
continuing economic decline and the large number of migrants. The HIV/Aids
pandemic directly affects 18% to 20% of the population, with an average of 3
000 deaths per week," the appeal says.

Zimbabwe's population of 11,8 million people includes a number of
vulnerable groups: people living with HIV/Aids; children who have lost one
or both parents; people with severe disabilities; the chronically ill and
food-insecure communities.

Further included in this grouping are stateless individuals born in
Zimbabwe with disputed citizenship; refugees; ex-farm workers and those
directly affected by Operation Murambatsvina.

Inter-agency standing committee members participating in the
Consolidated Appeals Process expect that the situation in Zimbabwe will
require substantial humanitarian responses in 2007. The responses would
mitigate the effects of the declining economy and, particularly, its impact
on the access and quality of basic services for already vulnerable
populations.

Among the expected trends in 2007 are: a steady decline in the
availability of basic agricultural inputs; a significant food gap; a
continued need for assistance and protection of mobile and vulnerable
populations; continued impact of contentious human rights and governance
issues; and reduced resources for humanitarian programming.

This is coupled with continued economic decline resulting in a
reduction in household purchasing power, decreased access to basic social
services for vulnerable populations and the severe impact of HIV/Aids. In
this scenario, the humanitarian community will endeavour to put mechanisms
in place that will provide transitional support actions at the household and
community levels.

If fully funded, the projects in this appeal would serve to provide
food assistance to an estimated 1,9 millionpeople; provide agricultural and
livelihoods support to approximately 300 000 households; improve access and
quality of education services for 150 000 children. It is expected to
provide transitional shelter to approximately 4 200 mobile and vulnerable
populations and homeless households.

The resources will also be used to immunise 5,2 million people through
the expanded programme of immunisation; provide home-based care for over 120
000 people living or affected by HIV/Aids; assist 2,8 million in mother and
child healthcare programmes.

The appeal plans to reach three million people with messages to
promote behavioural change and prevent HIV/Aids; sensitise an estimated 1
million people on the prevention and management of sexual and gender-based
violence.

It will also provide multi-sectoral assistance to nearly 250 000
mobile and vulnerable populations; provide assistance to 100 000 returned
migrants; ensure assistance and psychosocial support to over 30 000 orphans
and vulnerable children; deliver improved sanitation services to 2,5
million; and improve access to potable water for an estimated 500 000
beneficiaries. - Staff Writers.


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Cracks in Zanu PF Byo province ahead of elections

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube/Pindai Dube

SERIOUS divisions have emerged in Zanu PF's Bulawayo provincial
leadership ahead of elections that will be held next week, the Zimbabwe
Independent has established.

Two weeks ago the party's national commissar, Elliot Manyika, wrote a
surprising letter to the Bulawayo party leadership telling them to prepare
for fresh provincial elections in the next two weeks.

Manyika did not give a reason for dissolving the party's current
executive.

Sources in the provincial leadership told the Independent this week
that this had led to the emergence of two factions in the party leadership.

The sources said one faction supports Zanu PF politburo member, Dumiso
Dabengwa and the other is controlled by former Bulawayo mayor and senator
for Bulawayo East, Joshua Malinga.

The Dabengwa faction is understood to be against President Robert
Mugabe's 2010 term extension whilst the Malinga faction supports the idea of
Mugabe staying in power for another two years after the expiry of his
current term.

At a highly charged provincial coordinating meeting held at the party's
provincial offices at Davies Hall in the city last week, the secretary for
gender, Jimmy Nleya who belongs to the Dabengwa faction, openly declared
that "for the current sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe to be removed, President
Mugabe should step down as soon as possible".

It is understood Nleya is running for the deputy provincial
chairmanship in elections scheduled for next week.

Dabengwa confirmed that at the meeting Nleya said Mugabe should step
down and they asked him to withdraw the statement but he refused.

"Yes, at the meeting Nleya said that President Mugabe should step down
but we asked him to withdraw the statement and he refused saying he was
expressing the views of most members in the Bulawayo province," said
Dabengwa.

Dabengwa also said he and Malinga were tasked by the party to work
with the Bulawayo provincial leadership.

"Malinga and myself were asked by the party leadership to supervise
and work with the Bulawayo province and not to get involved in their
day-to-day running," he added.

Nleya said people who are saying that he called for President Mugabe
to step down were those campaigning for positions in next week's elections
and wanted to tarnish his name since they are scared of losing.

"I know people who are going around saying I called for President
Mugabe to step down. They are campaigning for positions in next week's
elections and are scared of losing against me," he said.

Malinga confirmed that there were serious divisions within the party
in the province and said they needed the party's national leadership to
intervene.

"There are serious divisions within the party in the province which
need the national party leadership to intervene and to tell the truth. I don't
know what got into the Bulawayo province, there is confusion all over," said
Malinga.

The party's provincial spokesperson, Effort Nkomo, confirmed that he
received a letter from Manyika ordering that the province prepare for
elections in two weeks' time.

Nkomo said the party's Bulawayo provincial leadership had written to
Manyika seeking clarification on the issue.

"We wrote back as a province to Manyika seeking clarification on why
suddenly there are supposed to be fresh elections," Nkomo said.

On the issue of Nleya, he refused to comment saying he was not present
at the meeting.

Party chairman John Nkomo referred the Independent to Manyika whose
mobile phone went unanswered.

"Talk to Manyika on Bulawayo provincial elections. I cannot comment on
that," said Nkomo.


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Grace Mugabe embarrassed in Ghana

Zim Independent

Itai Mushekwe/Lucia Makamure

FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe this week suffered an embarrassing moment in
Ghana when she was barred from entering the late Sally Mugabe's home in
Sekondi.

Ghanaian-born Sally was President Mugabe's first wife who died of a
kidney ailment in 1992.

Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba yesterday confirmed the incident
but dismissed it as "nothing to write home about". He said the incident was
a result of a misunderstanding between the presidential delegation and
members of Sally's family. "There was a small misunderstanding between the
presidential delegation and some family members of the late First Lady,"
said Charamba.

"You must understand that the president is a married man and what
happened is a fairly normal tension in an African marriage."

Sources travelling with the president, who was in Ghana for the Golden
Jubilee celebrations, say Mugabe on Tuesday took the opportunity to make a
three-hour visit to Sekondi, the late Sally's birthplace, and laid wreaths
at his late son's tomb at Kansaworodo near Takoradi.

When the presidential party arrived at Sally's home for a courtesy
call, Mugabe's in-laws barred Grace from entering.

The sources said Mugabe held talks with Sally's relatives, including
her mother Mavis Hayfron, but his wife was prevented from entering the home
and was made to wait in the vehicle until Mugabe completed his visit.

"It was really embarrassing," sources said.

"They wouldn't let her enter the house. All attempts by dignitaries,
including the local government, rural development and environment minister
Steven Asamoah Boateng, to mediate, failed. The First Lady had to wait in
the vehicle."

Mugabe later laid a wreath at the tomb of his son Nhamodzenyika who
was born on September 27 1963 and died three years later on December 26 from
cerebral malaria. Mugabe was accompanied by, among other high-ranking
officials, Foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and president of the
senate Edna Madzongwe.


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7 years later, Zanu PF supporters trial starts

Zim Independent

Ray Matikinye

THE wheels of justice finally creaked into motion last month when the
trial of eight Zanu PF supporters charged with the murder of two villagers
for supporting opposition parties in rural Mudzi in May 2000 resumed in the
High Court on Wednesday.

Supporters of the ruling Zanu PF unleashed an orgy of violence against
opposition party members during and after the landmark general election that
year which saw Zanu PF lose 57 parliamentary seats to the newly-formed MDC.

The eight Zanu PF supporters, Garikai Gumbeze, Nyepanai Chipuriro,
Rice Chifodya, Watson Chingwena, Emmanuel Chifodya, Taurayi Nhire, Crispen
Nyamungu and a nurse at the local clinic, Enock Kuchiwa, appeared before
High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu facing two counts of murder and
three counts of assault each.

They are accused of beating to death Mationa Dzembe and Onias Mushaya
and severely assaulting Costain Moyosvi, Ephrain Musvote and the deceased's
wives.

The state, led by Joseph Mabeza of the Attorney-General's Office,
alleges that the eight, led by war veteran, Andrew Chiparamhandu, connived
to assault as punishment all members of political parties opposed to Zanu PF
in the Mudzi area.

The gang apprehended persons perceived to be members of the opposition
and assaulted them using logs, sticks, booted feet and fists on May 16 2000.

The state has lined up 15 witnesses in one of the landmark cases,
which confirms wanton use of violence by President Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF
to intimidate and coerce political support even in areas where it claims
majority support.

But the party appears to have abandoned its foot soldiers as the eight
are represented pro deo.

Attorney-General, Sobuza Gula-Ndebele recently ordered the trial of
all outstanding cases linked to political violence which occurred seven
years ago. This will include the CIO agent, Joseph Mwale, responsible for
the grisly murder in rural Buhera of MDC activists, Talent Mabika and
Tichaona Chiminya.

An estimated 150 people died, among them white commercial farmers, as
a result of politically-motivated violence triggered by President Mugabe's
violent land reform programme and fear of losing support after the
electorate reject a constitutional referendum in February 2000.


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Gono spurns foreign scribes invite, Tsvangirai to speak

Zim Independent

RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono found himself in a dilemma this week
when his office turned down a prestigious speaking engagement that was
subsequently taken up by Morgan Tsvangirai.

The Foreign Correspondents Association of Southern Africa, based in
Johannesburg, had invited Gono to be the keynote speaker at their annual
dinner tonight. A source at the association said Gono accepted the
invitation last month but on Tuesday his office said he would not be
available.

The organisers then contacted MDC leader Tsvangirai who agreed to
stand in. Then at 10am on Wednesday, the organisers received a call from
Gono to say his staff had been "too proactive" in cancelling the engagement
and that he would very much like to speak.

He was told that he was welcome to attend but would have to do so
alongside Tsvangirai.

He asked for time to reflect on the dilemma. Yesterday he decided he
wouldn't be able to speak at the same function as Tsvangirai but told the
organisers he would like to speak at any future function.

He has agreed to speak at a breakfast meeting next month.

Tsvangirai will speak on the MDC's planned campaign of protest, the
FCA said in a statement yesterday. "The International Crisis Group report
and the growing desperation in that country makes Mr Tsvangirai's address
both timely and newsworthy," the FCA said.

The Foreign Correspondents Association dinner will be held tonight at
the Hyatt Hotel in Rosebank. - Staff Writer.


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RBZ buys forex on black market

Zim Independent

Dumisani Ndlela

THE Zimbabwe dollar this week plumbed new depths on a thriving
parallel market but was still searching for a bottom on escalating demand.
Dealers said the central bank was "the mystery mover" on the market as it
had been buying aggressively from the parallel market to raise cash for
unspecified commitments.

The local unit plunged to $9 500 to the greenback after touching a
rate of $7 500 to the US dollar last week. It was at $6 600 to the US unit
the week before.

It weakened further to $17 500 against the British pound, and to
between $1 300 and $1 350 to the South African rand.

The Zimbabwe dollar had last week been trading at $1 100 against the
South African rand, from $880 the previous week.

The local unit had last week hit a low of $15 000 to the British
pound, after settling at $11 000 against the pound sterling the previous
week.

The pound had been buying $7 000 in January.

The feeble Zimbabwe dollar opened the year trading at $350 per rand
and had plummeted to $600 in January.

The local currency had opened the year trading at $3 000 and $5 000 to
the greenback and British pound respectively.

"The central bank has been buying from us for the past three weeks,"
an official with one exporting firm, speaking on condition of anonymity,
told businessdigest.

The report was yesterday confirmed by several parallel market dealers
who said the market had been severely strapped for foreign cash because the
central bank "was after all the foreign currency in the economy".

"They are now driving rates on the parallel market," one dealer said.

No comment could immediately be obtained from the central bank as its
spokesman, Kumbirayi Nhongo, was said to be in meetings.

His deputy, Tonderai Mukeredzi, requested written questions on the
issue.

The central bank's agencies were said to be sourcing the bulk of their
foreign currency from non-governmental organisations.

Zimbabwe is currently battling an acute foreign currency shortage that
has stoked severe fuel shortages and disrupted normal economic activities.

Gono in January refused to devalue the local unit, saying devaluation
was unlikely to result in "planeloads" of foreign currency into the country.
Eight devaluations since he assumed office had failed to give any spark to
the distressed foreign currency market, he said.

He kept the rate fixed at $250 to the benchmark US unit, the rate he
had fixed in July from $101 to the US unit.

It was not immediately clear why the central bank had resorted to the
parallel market, which it has declared illegal.

The movement in parallel market rates has resulted in uncontrolled
price hikes. The price of a litre of fuel increased to between $9 000 and
$10 000 per litre from between $7 000 and $8 000 per litre last week. The
commodity cost around $5 600 per litre three weeks ago.

"Exporters have not been selling since January," a dealer said,
explaining the central bank's desperation for cash.

Inflows on the formal market have been dismally low as a result of the
unrealistic exchange rate.

Independent economists project Zimbabwe's embattled currency's fair
value to end the year at a rate of $16 588 to the US dollar on the back of
surging inflation expected to breach 5 000% year-on-year this year.

The fair value is the realistic value of the currency taking into
account inflation differentials between Zimbabwe and its trading partner
countries.

It is not necessarily the official exchange rate.

Independent economists project inflation, currently at 1 593,6%, to
reach between 1 700 and 1 900% year-on-year for February.


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Goche roped in to save social contract

Zim Independent

LABOUR and Social Welfare minister Nicholas Goche was last week roped
in to rescue Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's faltering proposal for a
social contract after stakeholders recommended that it should be championed
by the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) and not President Robert Mugabe's
office.

Goche, who has always chaired the TNF as the Public Service minister,
had been sidelined by Mugabe from leading talks for the social contract
because of intense bickering within cabinet on the issue.

Plans for the social contract were being handled directly by Mugabe's
office under the supervision of Misheck Sibanda, the Chief Secretary to the
President and Cabinet.

Sibanda had already appointed Mike Bimha, the past-president of the
Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz), and Lancester Museka, the
permanent secretary in Goche's ministry, to constitute a sub-committee
expected to champion negotiations for a social contract.

Both Bimha and Museka have been officially designated "champions of
the social contract" by the National Economic Development Priority Programme
(NEDPP), a government project spearheading the country's economic revival.

There are fears this arrangement could scuttle any chances for the
social contract since Goche would be expected to report to his accounting
officer Museka under the arrangement.

A stalemate had also appeared imminent between parties to the TNF
after some stakeholders had initially refused to have Goche chairing the
TNF, saying a neutral person had to be found to lead talks for the social
contract, proposed by Gono on January 31, sources said.

Businessdigest is informed that Goche was finally roped in after it
was established that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has decreed
that governments should lead social contract projects and after the
stakeholders agreed that it would be difficult to find a neutral person to
lead the TNF.

The TNF is scheduled for a meeting on Friday next week, with sources
indicating that a deal was unlikely to be hammered out soon due to divergent
concerns among stakeholders.

Sources suggested government was developing cold feet because of
increasing calls for the adoption of the Kadoma Declaration, a document that
seems to suggest wholesale changes in the way Mugabe's regime runs the
economy.

Government was also becoming unsettled by growing calls from partners
for an immediate freeze of all unbudgeted expenditure, including a cessation
of money printing.

Sources said government could break its budget within the next two
months due to intensifying inflationary pressures and was uncomfortable with
private sector and labour calls.

Business and labour are also said to have serious differences over the
issue of incomes, with labour calling for a review of wages and salaries in
line with the poverty datum line. Industry insists on productivity-linked
adjustments.

Most of the country's industrial operations are running at below 30%
capacity.

But Johnson Manyakara, the Emcoz president, said business had already
"pysched itself to taking the pain necessary to have this 'baby' delivered".

"Business is very committed to playing its part in all processes
necessary to delivering a social contract for this nation in as short a time
as possible," Manyakara told a breakfast meeting on the issue last week.

But if stakeholders successfully hammer out a social contract, they
will still have to overcome internal wrangles within Mugabe's
administration.

Businessdigest reported two weeks ago that the social contract had
failed to win the backing of Mugabe's cabinet, with sources indicating that
various government ministers were balking at buying into several targets
Gono had prescribed for them under a holistic turnaround package announced
in Gono's monetary policy.

Businessdigest reported then that government ministers were angry with
Gono's prescriptions to ministries, saying any suggestion for ministerial
targets should have been made in private consultations rather than through a
monetary policy statement.

Most of the cabinet members, embroiled in a bitter succession battled
in Zanu PF, perceive Gono's prescription of targets to ministries as
presumptious. - Staff Writer


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Drowning in a very shallow stream

Zim Independent

By Admire Mavolwane

ACCORDING to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), a family of six
required $686 115 to cater for their basics in the month of February. The
organisation attributed this to profiteering by the business community
noting that ".business people sought to cushion themselves from the proposed
price and wage freeze by unjustifiably increasing prices of most basic
commodities".

Whilst the justifiability - which in our view is found in the same
statement - or legality of price increases is debatable, we can all figure
out what sparked off the hike in prices which pushed the cost of living for
a family of six by 49,5% from $458 986.

The classical definition of hyper-inflation is a monthly inflation
rate of more than 50%. As the nation begins to live with this reality, the
importance and use of certain variables as any sort of accurate measure
becomes questionable. Taking February as a base and converting into hard
currency, the same CCZ February figures would be much higher if calculated
using the unofficial depreciation of the local currency. For instance, using
an Old Mutual implied rate of $4 887,81 to the US dollar at the end of
January and taking its February rise to $8 088,86 would mean that the family
of six would require $759 578,11. The use of the parallel market rate would
result in steeper increases still.

A good number of Zimbabwean households, for cultural reasons, comprise
more than five or six members. As such, their personal experience of
inflation is much higher than what is measured on average. The fact that the
standard of living has "on average" halved in one month does not mean very
much since on the ground the extent is different for everyone. The situation
is summed up by the statement: "There was a man who drowned crossing a
stream with an average depth of six inches."

Labour disputes, go-slows and industrial actions that have dominated
press headlines since the year began are a direct result of the disparity
between experienced inflation and measured and generally used inflation
statistics. On one hand, employers are using these statistics as a drunken
man would use lampposts - for support rather than illumination, whilst
employees are doing the reverse.

The question is; which figures and ways of measuring inflation have
more relevance than others? We are not in a unique position in this, as the
same issues have arisen in South Africa, the United States and the United
Kingdom. The only difference is that those guys have the luxury of debating
a two or three percentage point disparity. In Zimbabwe an already
insufferable problem is set to worsen as the inflation hurricane reaches top
speed.

Another concern is the abuse, or massaging, of the statistics by those
in the position of authority. The main reason is that statistics are used
both for planning and measuring performance. For example, politicians and
central bankers whose performance rating depends on their success or failure
in meeting set inflation targets have a vested interest in conforming to
previously published figures. As Mark Twain once said, "figures do not lie
but liars figure".

In a few days time, the focus of the dispute will shift from the
amount to be paid, to when it is paid. Time value of money grows in
importance because unless it's in hard currency it will be losing value by
the minute. The moment one buys an asset, or commodity, the exchange itself
means the holder of currency starts losing value as soon as the money is in
his hand whilst hopefully the asset is gaining or at least maintaining,
value.

Exacerbating the bad effects of inflation are those decision makers
who do not appear to grasp the full impact of the scourge and are not
willing to change their ways. Although the business community has been
accused of all sorts of crimes, you have to hand it to them for being
pro-active and adjusting their terms of trade to suit the environment.

Most manufacturers' charges are now not based on the product but the
order or job. At the same time credit terms have been shrunk to cash.
Prepayments are not accepted because by the time the goods are delivered the
manufacturer would have been prejudiced.

Oddly enough, the investment market, as represented by the Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange which is supposed to be the playground of those who claim to
fully appreciate the vagaries of inflation, still operates as it did eons
ago. The stock market still settles after seven days and dividends declared
are still payable within a period of a month and a half.

With inflation racing as it is doing now the seller of shares or
receiver of dividends is disadvantaged, as by the time the money comes in
after seven or 30 days it would have lost most of its value. In other words,
unless he/she would have managed to fix the price of asset to be purchased
the seller of shares would not be able to acquire the intended commodity and
neither can he/she reinvest the money on the same basis because the price
would have moved against him.

We have not had any moves by the exchange to reduce the settlement
terms to a more reasonable period. We would also like to believe that a
three-day settlement period can easily be managed by the whole trading
system.

This would be a huge improvement but not the best as instantaneous
exchange would be more ideal. If trading conditions do not change in the
near future we envisage trading on the stock exchange to become constrained.
Selling shares today would make one look foolish tomorrow as the price would
have moved. Worse still after seven days the proceeds from the sale would be
virtually worthless.


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Govt domestic debt hits new high

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

GOVERNMENT domestic debt has soared to a fresh high of $211,1 billion,
spurred largely by huge interest payments on borrowings through treasury
bill instruments issued last year.

The debt stock had touched its previous high of $195,2 billion on
February 2.

Statistics from the Reserve Bank this week indicated that the domestic
debt stock, which consists of government stocks, treasury bills and central
bank advances, had risen by $15,9 billion inside two weeks to $211,1 billion
on February 16.

Economic analysts warned that accelerating inflation, currently at 1
593,6% for January and expected to touch between 1 700% and 1 800% in
February, was likely to push government domestic debt higher of renewed
appetite for funds due to escalating expenditure requirements.

High interest rates had helped swell the level of government debt,
analysts said, indicating that this had forced a major restructuring of debt
last year from short term debt to long term debt.

That strategy had been carried forward into the current year, with the
central bank flooding the market with long-dated treasury bill papers of one
year or longer tenors.

Indications are that the restructuring exercise was unlikely to be
unsuccessful due to the market's lack of appetite for long term investments.

Last year, government borrowed aggressively from the local market to
finance a huge budget deficit, stoking inflation which touched a record high
of 1 281,1% year-on-year during the year.

With inflation expected to touch over 5 000% this year against
official projections of between 350% and 400%, market watchers said the
market had to brace for the worst as the budget deficit out-turn could
surpass forecasts by significant margins.


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Tourism players to meet RBZ on exchange rate

Zim Independent

Pindai Dube

TOURISM industry players are set to meet the Reserve Bank Zimbabwe
governor Gideon Gono next week to discuss issues affecting the tourism
sector, businessdigest established this week.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive, Karikoga Kaseke,
told businessdigest that they had decided to engage the RBZ after realising
that most tourism service products were being overpriced due to the
overvalued local currency on the official market.

"The authorities have engaged the central bank after realising that
there was a lot of indiscipline in the sector. The governor has agreed to
meet us next week. There are many issues we are going to discuss with him
that affect the tourism industry," said Kaseke.

He said foreign currency externalisation, profiteering and the
exchange rate were some of the issues to be put on the agenda of the
meeting.

"We are going to be frank in discussing issues plaguing the sector,"
Karikoga said.

In his monetary policy statement in January, Gono said the tourism
sector was "one area where the country has potential to earn significant
foreign exchange to support the turnaround efforts".

"Meaningful upturn in this sector is, however, seriously being
constrained by pricing distortions that are making the country highly
expensive to tourists," Gono said.

Using the example of water, Gono said a 750 ml bottle of mineral
water, costing $2 800 then, yielded an effective price of US$11,2.

"(This) is way too expensive, compared to the regional and
international price of the same product at around US$2," Gono said.

"The same extremity of the distortion in the tourism sector is
reflected in the fact that at a price of $25 000, a plate of sadza and stew
in a hotel translates to a hard currency price of US$100 per plate. As a
country, therefore, we are overpricing ourselves out of the tourism market
through our internal price distortions."


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Planned drug plant hits forex snag

Zim Independent

PLANS for a multi-billion dollar drug manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe's
second largest city Bulawayo have been stalled by an acute foreign currency
crisis in the country, businessdigest established this week.

The drug manufacturing project, which was conceived three years ago,
is being promoted by the Medical Wholesalers Association of Zimbabwe (Mwaz).

"Mwaz came with plans but have failed due to the high cost of
importing the raw materials to start the project and the unavailability of
foreign currency," a source told businessdigest, indicating that the
institution's application for foreign currency from the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe had been unsuccessful.

Zimbabwe is currently going through its worst economic crisis in
history, characterised by an acute foreign currency shortage and runaway
inflation which have resulted in shortages and an escalation of prices for
essential drugs.

Mwaz chairman, Cephas Mweya-Mweya, confirmed the organisation's plans
to set up the drug manufacturing ploants but refused to give further
details.

"We are setting up a drug manufacturing project, yes, but I am sorry I
can't reveal more details about this project. What I can tell you is that we
are working with the Minister of Health (David Parirenyatwa) to see that the
project takes off," said Mweya-Mweya.

"If I reveal details it means that I am pre-empting everything which
we are doing and that would not make sense at the end of the day," he
added. - Staff Writer.


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Kadoma Declaration and its proposed solutions

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

ECONOMIC and social stakeholders have called for the adoption of the
Kadoma Declaration in talks for a proposed social contract. Businessdigest
today summarises some of the key points contained in the document and
reproduces a cocktail of suggested solutions to heal the economy.

The Kadoma Declaration, which was drafted after negotiations held in
Kadoma by the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) on August 20 2001,
identified the causes of Zimbabwe's high country risk factor and suggested
measures needed and to be undertaken by the three social partners -
government, labour and business - to deal with the risk and improve the
country's image.

The declaration defined country risk as "a premium that is attached by
nationals, residents, foreigners and international bodies on residing in,
visiting and/or doing business with a particular country" and identified its
manifestations as economic and unsustainable macro-economic variables, as
well as commercial such as trading partners lacking confidence.

The mistrust and intolerance in the expression of political views in
the country, which had given rise to political instability and apprehension
from foreign governments in engaging freely with the country, was also noted
as a manifestation of the country risk factor.

The elements of the risk identified in the Kadoma Declaration included
low confidence and/or pride in one's country; lack of patriotism; lack of
trust in institutional systems; failure of the nation to supply basic human
needs; lack of social cohesion; real or perceived selective observance of
the rule of law; insecurity; and real and perceived lack of political
tolerance.

The social partners identified the following as causes of Zimbabwe's
country risk factors:

* The failure by some of the institutions of governance to function
effectively;

* Mismatches between policy and action;

* Delays in policy implementation;

* That the overall (imbalance in the) spread of wealth in the country
and continued racial imbalance in the ownership of the means of production;

* Irresponsible utterances by politicians;

* The activities of civil groups and pressure groups as forces
affecting governance;

* Lack of political tolerance between the ruling party and members of
the opposition;

* Corruption;

* Contradictory statements by and among social partners;

* Lack of meaningful response to positive government, labour and
business policy initiatives;

* External interference in the country's affairs and;

* Lack of respect for human rights in the world of work and society in
general.

The social partners noted somberly that the risk factors had impacted
negatively on the country's economy, pointing out at the prolonged economic
depression, the skewed macro-economic fundamentals and hyperinflation, low
savings and domestic investments, premiums on doing business with the
outside world, capital flight, reduction in foreign direct investment and
donor support, lack of lines of credit and de-industrialisation, high
unemployment and underemployment and the brain drain.

The declaration noted that 75% of the population was now poor because
of the poorly performing economy and that poverty had resulted in increased
crime and that the gap between the rich and the poor was rising.

"Poverty has significantly increased fatalism among a significant
proportion of Zimbabweans. Prostitution by increasingly younger people has
continued unabated inspite of HIV and Aids," noted the declaration.

It added: "Many countries in the world perceive Zimbabwe and
Zimbabweans in very poor light. Zimbabweans are ill-treated and abused at
various immigration points in some countries and Zimbabweans are
discriminated against when trying to make commercial transactions abroad."


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Zimbabwe prices seen surging over crop worries

Zim Independent

ZIMBABWE food prices will surge further beyond the reach of consumers
as worries over another failed summer crop grow, adding new pressure to the
country's sky-high inflation rate, farmers and analysts said.

President Robert Mugabe's government has branded inflation, at nearly
1 600%, the country's number one enemy and says only a hike in farming
production would ease price pressures.

Inflation is part of a wider debilitating economic crisis, marked by
food shortages, unemployment of around 80% and some of the most drastic
contractions in per capita income ever recorded in a country not at war,
according to the World Bank.

"As farmers we had done our part but we were let down by rains in some
parts of the country... the dry spell between December and January did have
a major effect on crops," Silas Hungwe, the head of the black Zimbabwe
Farmers Union said yesterday.

The farmers and the government have not given a crop forecast for this
year but the US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service
projected the country's maize harvest at 850 000 tonnes, less than half
domestic needs.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said on Thursday a prolonged dry
spell had ravaged crops in southern parts of the country.

WFP spokesman for southern Africa Mike Huggins told Reuters the WFP
was feeding 1,5 million people in Zimbabwe "many of whom are malnourished,
in school or affected by HIV/Aids", adding that an assessment to determine
food harvest could be carried soon.

"Parts of Zimbabwe are of particular concern as early indications are
that cereal crops in much of the southern half of the country have been
decimated by a long dry spell in January and early February," the WFP said
in a statement.

Analysts said a bad agriculture season would see food prices
spiralling further and worsening the economic crisis.

"We will see another round of prices going forward as it becomes clear
that we have not managed to produce enough food to meet domestic
consumption," economist James Jowa said.

"The consequences for inflation are enormous as prices increase on
demand and imports put pressure on the currency because the government has
to use scarce foreign currency to buy food," Jowa added.

Food, which has been in short supply since 2001, accounts for a third
of the consumer basket used to calculate inflation. - Reuters.


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Tobacco floor to open Wednesday

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

THE Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) said this week it would
open tobacco auction floors on Wednesday.

Deliveries had already started trickling in from farmers anxious to
sell and pay back loans, an official told businessdigest.

Traditionally, the auction floors open in April but farmers had
lobbied for an early start to the selling season, arguing that they were
through with harvesting and wanted to sell to liquidate bank loans secured
to grow the crop.

The farmers also feared that rampant inflation could wipe off profits
should the harvested crop stay in the barns for too long.

They said it was illogical to keep the harvested tobacco until the
opening of floors in April because the rise in interest rates on loans
secured to finance tobacco growing and the rise in input such as fertiliser
and chemicals could curtail preparations for the next season if they failed
to buy the inputs early.

About 80 million kg of tobacco are expected to go under the hammer
this season, from 55,5 million kg sold last year.

Farmers had planted on a total of 40 000 hectares this season.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association (ZTGA) president, Julius Ngorima,
said the hectarage planted had been very low due to the shortage of
essential inputs such as fertiliser and diesel for tillage equipment.

"About 80 million kg are expected from the 40 000 hectares planted. It
would be an improvement from the 55,5 million kg which went under the hummer
last season," Ngorima said.

Officials from TIMB said bookings for delivery started arriving this
week and auction floors would open as scheduled.

"Farmers are looking forward to a better price of at least US$4 per
kg. Farmers are proposing a special exchange rate of $500 to the greenback.
The current exchange rate of $250 to the US dollar is too low," Ngorima
said.

The average price last year was US$1,99 per kg.

The early opening of the auction floors comes at a time when the
central bank had proposed zero balance foreign currency accounts for tobacco
growers with local banks.

A meeting between banker and the central bank is expected today to
come up with the finer details of the facility.

Bankers are understood to be pushing for a minimum bank balance of at
least US$200 per account.

The zero balance foreign currency accounts would allow growers, who
are now expected to retain 15% of their earnings in foreign currency, to
open the accounts without a deposit.

Tobacco production in Zimbabwe has declined by a total of 170,63
million kg between 2000 and 2006, from an all-time high of 236,13 million kg
recorded in 2000 to 55,5 million kg last year.


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Business exploits non-existent social contract

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

THE failed take-off of the proposed social contract last week is
probably one of the biggest non-events since Zimbabwe's economic downturn
began over six years ago.

The frenzied dramatisation of the initiative since central bank
governor Gideon Gono's proposal in January has not been matched by the
desperation in some quarters to get it off the ground.

The run-up to the so-called March 31 deadline was characterised by
scandalous price hikes and false anxiety, all triggered by misconceptions
about a social contract both in definition and operation.

In a hype reminiscent of the Y2K phenomenon, businesses sought
"compliance" through preemptive price increases ahead of the proposed price
and wage freeze.

But in the end the deadline turned out to be a damp squib. There were
no price freezes on March 1 not because the deadline was missed but simply
because there was no social contract in the first place.

The social contract did not fail to take place because it was delayed
but simply because it was not there at all. Parties to the contract only had
a preliminary meeting to discuss the issue a day before the "deadline".
There will be no other meeting on the issue until next week.

The perceived failure to meet the implementation deadline did not
however stop the disastrous effects caused by the false alarm raised among
people and business. Prices of almost all commodities are now pegged at the
anticipated inflation rate, foreign currency rate and conditions that
businesses expect to prevail by June.

Sadly, while it does not seem like the social contract will
materialise anytime soon, Zimbabweans will have to live with the price hikes
created by the "deadline". Some businesspeople now say they were not
responding the proposed price freeze but the foreign currency rate on the
parallel market.

Businesses said they were merely taking a cue from the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono's monetary policy when he proposed the March 1
deadline.

"The effective start date of the social contract freeze would be from
1 March, 2007, through to 30 June, 2007, at which time social partners will
renew the need for mutually agreed realignment," Gono said.

That statement seems to have done most of the damage because of its
declaratory tone which gave the impression that there was a date agreed on
by the social partners - labour, business and government.

What is however clear is that there was never going to be a social
contract by March 1 as the social partners had not agreed on the framework
and operations of such a programme.

A social contract by its nature is not made by the central bank alone
but rather it is an agreement between the key economic partners.

It is supposed to be signed by the social partners after consultation.
Those consultations have hardly begun.

Labour economist Prosper Chitambara said it was shocking that business
and parastatals were making concrete business decisions on the basis of a
proposal that had not been discussed.

"What Gono announced in the monetary policy statement was merely a
proposal and not a policy of action," said Chitambara.

"The central bank is only part of government which is one of the three
social partners. It (central bank) cannot make a decision on the social
contract," he said. "Business was preparing for a process that they had not
agreed to."

He said it was surprising too that people were already bracing
themselves for a social contract before the key elements of Gono's proposal
were implemented.

At the time of writing, none of the 14 requirements set by Gono for
the social contract had been met.

Gono said before a social contract could start working, the National
Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) had to be "reconstituted" to
include labour and consumers. The NEDPP is still a programme driven by
government and politicians.

Government has not moved on the proposal to carry out a survey on
incomes and prices - a key aspect that needs to be done before a social
contract is implemented.

There has been no move to come up with investor-friendly regulations
in the mining sector, indigenisation policy and ensuring protection of
foreign investment under Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection
Agreements as proposed by Gono.

Other issues which Gono said should be addressed included the need for
government to spend within its means, removal of price distortions and
restructuring of the public sector debt.

The foreign currency policy is supposed to be liberalised while
subsidies are to be removed for the social contract to work.

But the social contract goes way beyond the 14 points that Gono
suggested in the monetary policy. Before it can be implemented, the partners
must sign protocols agreeing to policies such as incomes and pricing,
empowerment, and anti-corruption and labour law reforms.

They must agree on how to deal with productivity, foreign investment,
public confidence and image promotion.

Most of these protocols have not even been written.

Labour economist Godfrey Kanyenze said the protocols could only be
written and signed if the partners agree on the causes of the problems in
the economy.

"Government, labour and business must agree on the major causes of the
problems for them to find a common solution to the crisis," said Kanyenze.

The problem with Zimbabwe, said Kanyenze, was that there was no
consensus on the causes of the current crisis.

Government is still wrapped in its discredited excuse that the crisis
is caused by sanctions imposed by Western countries in response to the land
reform.

This blame shifting still manifests itself in the speeches of
government officials including President Robert Mugabe.

According to government, inflation is caused by unscrupulous
businesspeople who hike prices randomly. Lack of industrial capacity
utilisation is blamed on companies sabotaging the economy to push a regime
change agenda. Government still believes that shortages of basic commodities
are caused by hoarding.

Although they differ on the quantum of the pay cheque because of their
conflicting constituencies, labour and business have a consensus on the
causes of the crisis.

They believe the main causes of the crisis are not sanctions but the
poisoned political environment which makes it difficult to operate business.

They blame the high risk profile caused by government's human rights
record, lack of respect for the rule of law and property rights.

They point to the foreign currency management system, government's
policy flip-flops and hostile measures like price control that hurt
business.

"The main challenge is for the social partners to at least agree on
the causes of the crisis. It will be difficult to achieve this consensus,"
Kanyenze said.

There is now a danger that the proposals might suffer the same fate as
the Kadoma Declaration of 2001 which was not signed following differences
between government and labour over continued violence.

History shows that government, business and labour rarely agree on
anything. Even if they do agree for sometime the relationship is never
sustainable.

The social contract that now seems like a new concept has been on the
table for the past 11 years.

It started in 1996 when labour came up with a document titled "Beyond
Economic Structural Adjustment Programme" which suggested social dialogue to
solve the problems. That document was never followed through.

The Tripartite Negotiating Forum, which was another attempt towards
some form of social contract, has been battling to take shape since its
formation. The National Economic Consultative Forum, another attempt to
create social dialogue, is almost dead.

In short, there will be no social contract until there is a political
solution. And that is still a long way off.


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Sure way to turn economy around

Zim Independent

By Martin Tarusenga

THERE'S no doubt we all yearn for the day this economy will begin to
turn around. Events like unexpected water and power cuts to outright shoddy
service in the financial system and transport sector continuously remind us
of an economy in shambles.

Work ethics with no explicit competitive targets, no minimum standards
of delivery, systems to ensure that any set competitive targets and bottom
lines are complied with have precipitated this bad state. There's no
motivation, incentive, consciousness or commitment to quality service - just
laissez-faire. Only in environments deficient of honesty, accountability and
transparency standards can this prevail.

There is simply no excuse for the rude, shoddy emergency taxi service
experienced in the transport sector. Equally, no excuse for the infirmity
reflected by the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce's sudden policy
change from lobbying the central bank for currency devaluation to a
compromised concurrence not to devalue.

The central bank inexcusably takes no responsibility for the
catastrophic failure of Project Sunrise and previous monetary policies,
pointing instead at stakeholders - Zimbabweans have to shoulder it.

A whole train of similar corporate events come to mind, from insurance
companies and pension funds rendering pensions valueless, failed banks -
people losing jobs, depositors losing deposits, shareholders losing out,
securities management houses running inappropriate investment policies
losing monies for investors.

All sorts of tactics to counter attempts to institute accountability
are deployed including tactics to remove attention from deeply ingrained
incompetence and greed. In consequence the economy continues to chart a
downward trend, "free fall" as others would put it.

It's sensible to consider how differences in work ethics have
contributed to the large disparities between our declining economy and those
of the developed economies. How then has Western work ethics contributed to
their achievements? Complete with luxury cars (that we so covet), planes -
long lists of achievements.

Very simply Western work ethics overriding themes are set to achieve
explicit targets subjected to established standards. These must be met
without failure by everyone from the chairman of the board to the most
junior person in corporations and public offices.

It is not uncommon for people at all levels to lose jobs whenever
targets are not met - subsequent reorganisations to reflect management
deficiencies leading to these failures invariably follow. Effective systems
to hold everyone accountable for such failure exist. Competitive targets are
set in agreement with stakeholders.

The work ethics necessarily call for constant review, by management,
of all potential threats impinging on achievement of set targets, if their
careers are to last. This means everyone contributing to the achievement of
the target must engage in this exercise and ensure that their respective
targets and hence the aggregate target is met without failure.

Identification and control of these threats, firmly focuses management
on the targeting and with high degrees of certainty.

The threats are technically referred to as risks, hence, risk
management - with credit risk management in banks, price (market) risk in
treasury management, operational risk in modern business environments,
hyperinflation risk which central banks should avoid, solvency risk in
insurance companies and pension funds. A whole range of risks are emerging
with the changing dynamics of economic environments.

Real-time risk management in these economies pervade entire economic
systems. Governments actively prescribe and enforce its explicit practice
via effective supervisory and regulatory practices - not just rhetoric!

Failure to comply attracts deterrent penalties. The supervisee, the
regulated, the supervisor and the regulator, apply it within overall
management frameworks of transparency, accountability, honesty and
responsibility - herein good corporate governance.

Senior management must be skilled and experienced with the practice if
they are to deploy appropriate skills and direct the targeting effectively -
no room for delegation which amounts to dereliction.

The design of risk control frameworks must therefore incorporate
features to ensure achievement of very competitive targets. This
competitiveness is increasingly determined at international levels,
influenced by globalisation trends.

Risk frameworks are therefore increasingly international with only
slight justifiable variations to reflect special circumstances of individual
economies. Established international risk frameworks with associated
standards are operational.

Examples include Basel II in banks, Basel Core Principles being the
bottom lines, insurance systems and securities management risk frameworks
supported by standards espoused by the International Association of
Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) and International Organisation of Securities
Commissions (IOSCO) respectively, Enterprise Risk Management applicable in
enterprises in general.

An international financial system risk control framework recognising
these and other frameworks dubbed the "International Financial Architecture"
is operational. Notwithstanding controversies about its detailed
application, economies that do not attempt to comply with its specifications
are isolated.

The architecture specifies, among other standards, 12 key standards
that economies must aim to comply with. They are grouped into transparency,
financial sector and market integrity standards - Basel Core Principles,
IAIS and ISCO standards falling in the Financial Sector group.

The African Peer Review Mechanism of Nepad is emerging as a variation
of this financial architecture to suit African circumstances.

The application of risk control in such frameworks to target
organisational outcomes help explain disparities between our economic
development and theirs.

An adoption of similar work ethics can redeem our economy from the
free fall - curb failures in the likes of the ZNCC, the central bank, right
down to that of the emergency taxi services. In this framework, the need to
deploy appropriate skills and experience, automatically arises, in all
business activities including delivery of water, electricity,financial
services, housing, transport and all.

* Martin Tarusenga is principal consultant with Systemics Consulting.


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Where Mugabe misses the point

Zim Independent

Comment

HEADLINE on South Africa's Independent Online website, "Mugabe savages
IMF, bites Pretoria", over the weekend poignantly reflects a new form of
desperation from Zimbabwe's besieged autocrat.

President Mugabe's attack on the IMF - renewed during last week's
visit to Namibia - has become legendary. In fact, we have never really
expected him to kiss the cold noses of the Breton Woods institutions.
Worrying though is the fact that he seems to go against the grain of
informed opinion on what is required to put right this economy.

Mugabe told the business community in Namibia that "if you follow the
IMF you will not go anywhere. They will always prescribe for you.

"When we don't have that capacity, then we are like economic slaves.
We go begging. There are still countries in Africa which go begging for
money to pay their civil servants, and they got independence in the 1960s,"
he said.
He said the solution to this is for African countries to "help each
other among ourselves".

The point that Mugabe has always missed in the all discourse to do
with the IMF is that Zimbabwe requires international assistance to emerge
from the economic rut. The quest for notoriety in splendid isolation has
only added to the ostracism of Zimbabwe, and with it the current decline.
His anointed emissary of economic turnaround, Reserve Bank governor Gideon
Gono, does not appear to subscribe to Mugabe's dangerous rhetoric. Gono has
instead actively promoted dialogue with the IMF and has in successive
monetary policy statements tried to cajole his master to engage with the
West. But he is losing the battle in a rather embarrassing fashion.

Mugabe, who feels cornered by the political refrain from the
opposition and from within his party to leave office, has now resorted to
lashing out at everything around him. South Africa, which has been
criticised for its softly-softly approach on Zimbabwe, now finds itself on
the receiving end.

South Africa's crime, according to Mugabe, is that it is imposing
regional trade restrictions through the Southern African Customs Union in
which the country has a dominant role. He said countries which had been
adversely affected by South Africa's policies included Botswana, Swaziland
and Lesotho.

"All countries need to grow (economically). We don't want to remain
small. Countries in the region should be allowed to enter into trade
agreements without restrictions." He added: "Where there is bigness, there
is usually a claim - inherited, historical claim - for the large partner to
want to continue to be large and to want the small ones to continue to be
small. I'm not saying this is what is happening," he said.

Then what are you saying, Mr President?

Mugabe's discomfort with South Africa's dominance in the region is
understandable. He would have loved to be in the high seat but the state of
our economy can no longer afford him that role. Mugabe's persona as the
father figure in the region has over the years been diluted by his raft of
obtuse policies which he is having problems vending. The lack of response
during last week's visit to Namibia illustrates that. His peers from the
liberation eon have all given way to younger leaders, leaving the
octogenarian like a beached whale at the heart of the regional bloc.Mugabe
is aware that Zimbabwe is no longer South Africa's largest trading partner.
Mozambique has taken over that accolade. Zimbabwe is now looking to Zambia
where it is exporting grocery items and basic equipment like ploughs.

Under his leadership, Zimbabwe can no longer claim to hold the
agriculture portfolio in the Sadc region. Zimbabwe is now easily the largest
importer of grain in the subcontinent.

While Mugabe tries to ingratiate himself with regional heads by
portraying South Africa as the bully-boy in the hood, the same leaders are
aware of the contagion effect Zimbabwe's collapse has on their economies.

One would ask what is more likely to scare away investors from the
region: South Africa's trade dominance or exportation of Zimbabwe's brand of
land reform to South Africa, Botswana and Namibia? But as has become the
norm, Mugabe never runs out of enemies to blame for the mess created by his
Zanu PF government.

Zambian Foreign Affairs minister Mundia Sikatana on Tuesday spoke
frankly about the Zimbabwe situation. "We should not pretend that all is
well in Zimbabwe," said Sikatana. "There is a serious problem and
ostracising Zimbabwe will not help solve the problems there."

Zambia, which assumes the Sadc chair in August, should walk the talk
and engage in some home truths on the Zimbabwe situation. Mugabe should not
be allowed to blame others when his backyard is burning.



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Politicians can't hide in 'tall grass'

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

By Vincent Kahiya

THE train accident which killed 35 people in Dzivaresekwa on Tuesday
has been blamed on the driver of the bus. Police forensic investigation at
the crash site has already concluded that the driver did not stop at the
rail crossing, resulting in the collision with the train.

The state, through the civil protection unit, in a measure of
rehearsed benevolence, helped to bury the dead. Politicians were at the
crash site on Tuesday declaring a state of disaster and condemning the
carnage on the roads. The politicians visited the injured in hospitals. In
such instances, our rulers usually fall over each other to portray
themselves as a concerned and caring lot to cover their culpability in
tragedies of this nature.

In Dzivaresekwa, the politicians came face-to-face with the country's
decaying infrastructure and neglect. Did Local Government minister Ignatious
Chombo see the good job Sekesai Makwavarara was doing cutting tall grass at
intersections? There are no signals at level crossings to warn of
approaching vehicles of danger because these have been vandalised. NRZ area
manager Stanley Murenje aptly captured the attitude of government towards
infrastructure development. "We can repair the signals today and tomorrow
you find them gone," he said.

This is not true of course because there has not been any attempt to
repair signals at the dangerous Paisely Road level crossing in Southerton or
in Braeside where fatal accidents have occurred before. Why can't the police
or the NRZ station law enforcers at the rail crossings to physically warn
motorists and to also protect the signalling equipment?

The railway signals where this particular accident occurred have not
worked for more than a decade.

Deputy Transport minister Hubert Nyanhongo prescribed humps to solve
the problem. But what's really required at our level crossings are
overpasses. Legend has it that the one erected along Bulawayo Road just
before Kuwadzana owes its existence to a close encounter between a
locomotive and the longest motorcade in Africa. The motorcade unfortunately
uses a few select routes where surfaces are manicured. Ever used Carrick
Creagh of late?

Politicians who were quick to blame human error for the accident
should also realise that they are part of the problem. A driving aberration
can cost lives but there are also phenomena called political errors. These
are manifest in the Zanu PF government and are responsible for a number of
deaths on our roads and trains.

* To digress a bit from the accident, two weeks ago, the state media
carried a celebratory story in which a government transport company, CMED,
was said to be seeking a Mercedes-Benz franchise. This project has nothing
to do with national development but will simply facilitate government's
easier access to Mercedes limos to pamper hapless politicians using the
little foreign currency available.

Transport and Communications permanent secretary George Mlilo, who is
also responsible for CMED, told a parliamentary portfolio committee on
Monday that the country's roads were in a poor state of repair because there
was no forex, and engineers were leaving in droves. His ministry would
rather have a Merc plant than construct an overpass.

But such capital projects do not come cheap. For a country like
Zimbabwe, this is where co-operation with rich countries is paramount. Donor
funds, grants and loans were mobilised to build roads and bridges shortly
after Independence.

The money is gone now largely due to serious errors of judgement by
the government, and yet our ruler has the nerve to describe the IMF as
"nonsense". Which road has Zimbabwe completed using budgetary allocations in
the last decade?

Meanwhile, as Mlilo said this week, existing infrastructure is
decaying faster than we can repair it.

Failure to maintain physical infrastructure invites accidents. But the
same is also true of political edifices. In the face of the current
presidential term fiasco, immediate steps must be taken to update and repair
our frayed and outmoded democratic infrastructure. The country has suffered
enough democratic accidents already.

As long as we fail to repair our political infrastructure, elections
will continue to be administered as amateurish exercises in partisan
self-interest and our rulers will continue to become even more oligarchic

Just like that of our roads and rail, democracy's infrastructure has
been grossly neglected over the years. We have been employing Nyanhongo's
methods of dealing with the problems - erecting humps before hazards. It's
called papering over the cracks.

Not surprisingly, we are paying the price. Think of it as a massive
bridge that is creaking and groaning. What is our solution to it? Cut the
grass around it and erect humps to its approaches - a fatal mistake because
that won't stop the bridge from collapsing.


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Matonga advertises the regime's delinquency

Zim Independent

Muckraker

CHIEF Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku made some contentious remarks last
week about the role of the judiciary. He said in a speech read on his behalf
at a ceremony marking the handover of equipment by the UNDP, reported by the
Herald, that a shortage of financial resources and technical capacity had
reduced the ability of the judiciary to deliver justice to an extent never
experienced before.

This challenge,he said, was compounded by issues arising from
government's implementation of the land reform programme and polarisation of
Zimbabwean society along partisan lines after the 2000 parliamentary and
2002 presidential polls.

"These developments were accompanied by legitimate calls from certain
sections of society for the transformation and indigenisation of a
colonial-inherited judiciary to reflect the new sense of social justice and
an appreciation of the centrality of the wishes of the majority in relation
to issues such as land in the development of the country and its people,"
Chidyausiku said.

"There was a sense that a judiciary inherited from the colonial system
was cast in the mould of that system of justice and could not deliver
justice to the majority, especially as they related to land ownership."

While the legal status quo was called into question by these new
forces, to others these considerations amounted to politicisation of the
judiciary. This made the Zimbabwe judiciary the subject of both national and
international discussion from varied perspectives, Chidyausiku said.

It is useful to have these views discussed. And, as the Chief Justice
points out, there will be many with opposing views. Firstly, it is not the
function of the judiciary to give effect to majoritarian impulses. That is
the function of the legislature. The judiciary should confine itself to
upholding rights set out in the constitution in the way Chief Justices Enock
Dumbutshena and Antony Gubbay unambiguously did. Where the views of the
electorate were tested on the land issue in 2000, government's populist land
policy was decisively rejected.

So who are those "certain sections of society" who believe the
judiciary should reflect the "new sense of social justice and an
appreciation of the centrality of the wishes of the majority in relation to
issues such as land."?

Mostly, it must be said, spokesmen for Zanu PF. Justice minister
Patrick Chinamasa made similar statements about indigenisation of the bench.
But anybody with an ounce of legal sense would have understood this exercise
to be about securing a pliant judiciary, not one concerned too much with the
law!

Let's bear in mind that Chief Justice Gubbay was chased from his post
by Zanu PF thugs visiting him in his chambers. No protection was extended to
him.

Since 2000, judges, some in caravans, have been beneficiaries of a
government policy that has seen the seizure of land in lawless and violent
circumstances. They have then been asked to rule on land issues. It must be
evident that anybody holding a land lease from a minister is compromised.
The International Bar Association can see that but some of our judges can't.

Chidyausiku spoke of reduced capacity on the bench. We understand that
whereas in 2000 some 300 cases a year were being processed by the Supreme
Court, that figure today is about 50. Some judges are simply not working.
Furthermore, of the 19 High Court judges currently on the bench, only five
have actually practised law.

So when we talk about capacity we are not necessarily talking about
technical assistance. We are talking about competence.

Also airing his views last week, deputy Information minister Bright
Matonga was boasting of how government had jammed foreign broadcasts to
Zimbabwe. He was responding to a parliamentary question on why government
was jamming independent radio stations attempting to broadcast to Zimbabwe.

He said he was in fact glad that the opposition had noted that
government had the power to jam broadcasts of propaganda against the state
from outside the country and indeed was jamming those broadcasts, and he was
also pleased that those people who received those broadcasts were no longer
able to do so.

He went on to state that the UK did not receive broadcasts from
foreign countries.

This is of course nonsense. There are hundreds of stations beaming to
the UK and you can listen to whatever broadcast you like in that country.
Matonga knows that perfectly well.

His boss Sikhanyiso Ndlovu was suggesting over the weekend, in
response to US sanctions, that Britain and the US were mistaken in believing
Zimbabwe would reverse its land reform programme.

Ndlovu knows that US sanctions are the result of political violence
and misrule, not land reform. The only thing the US and Britain have ever
asked on land is that government should show the UNDP a workable plan in
order to secure international backing.

Sanctions are about individuals undermining democracy. That includes
the right to receive and impart information.

By boasting of government's violation of that right, Matonga is
advertising the regime's delinquency. Ndlovu should understand that and stop
misleading the public. He said while touring Zimpapers this week that it is
the journalists' obligation to seek to understand why our country is under
siege.

He is quite right. It is the duty of every journalist to expose the
pattern of electoral violence and manipulation that has led to Zimbabwe's
isolation.

Meanwhile, the minister can draw comfort from the partisan reporting
of the official press. The Herald last Thursday deserves an award for this
appalling piece of reporting: "MDC faction leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai lived
up to his stooge image by reporting back to Western diplomats soon after his
party unleashed an orgy of violence in Harare last weekend."

Does the person who wrote that really call himself a journalist? It's
about as unprofessional as it gets. This, we can safely assume, is all OK
with the minister.

Telecel has been congratulating itself on attaining ISO9001:2001
status. The most important reason for attaining this standard, the company
said, was to ensure their business operated efficiently to meet customer
expectations.

Has anybody tried calling a 023 number recently? It is virtually
impossible. "Network busy" is the usual response. Or "the subscriber you
have dialled is unreachable".

We would love to know who dishes out these standards. They obviously
never have to make calls!

And did you know that one of the new services introduced by Zimpost is
the sale of newspapers on behalf of Zimpapers? You can imagine the stampede
by excited customers!

And then there was Nathaniel Manheru celebrating the nation's poverty
because it was nationally-owned.

"We would rather have low GDP per capita as long as it is of our own
making."

But do the victims of this delinquent nationalism agree? And Manheru
should quote Nkrumah accurately: "We would rather misgovern ourselves than
be governed properly by others," he said when introducing the one-party
state.

Manheru is over the moon following President Mugabe's state visit to
Namibia. At least there's somewhere he can go! And Equatorial Guinea.

But what we noticed was how President Hifikepunye Pohamba declined to
respond to Mugabe's exhortations on land reform at the state dinner.

Indeed, Namibia's welcome was polite rather than enthusiastic and
Mugabe was given no opportunity to climb on his soap box. "Don't try that
here," seems to have been the message from Windhoek, as everywhere now.

Let's see how Ghana goes.

By the way, the Ghanaian ambassador should not mislead gullible
columnists like Sifelani Tsiko. Ghana was not "the first African country to
achieve independence" in 1957. Sardc.net and the Herald's Itai Musengeyi got
it wrong as well. Sudan, Tunisia, and Morocco became independent in 1956.
And Ethiopia was never colonised except for the brief Italian occupation
(1936-41). Perhaps we can say Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African
country to gain independence after Liberia.

This week the "private media" was on the receiving end of Tendai Chari's
infantile rantings for not reporting "correctly" on the violence that
occurred in Highfield after police stoped an MDC rally two weeks ago. His
complaint was that the private media focused too much on "police brutality"
and ignored what he called the "mayhem which had been unleashed by MDC
supporters."

It would be difficult of course for the private media to report on MDC
supporters unleashing mayhem on the police which they didn't see. It is a
new brand of journalism that has been invented by the state media in which
hungry unarmed civilians become the aggressors. Did Chari experience the
confrontation other than through the mediation of the Herald and the Sunday
Mail we wonder?

Interestingly, Chari, a media studies lecturer, says nothing about the
police violating a court order granting the MDC the right to hold its rally.
You would expect a media lecturer to know better the implications of
violating the law with impunity.

Throughout the article Chari refers to the Zimbabwe Independent of
March 23 2007, an amazing feat indeed. But then we are no workers of magic.

It simply shows one can't trust the guy to get more intricate facts
right.

As mentioned earlier, newly-appointed Information minister Sikhanyiso
Ndlovu has joined the threadbare self-contradictory assertion by Zanu PF
that the US targeted sanctions are "a non-event". He told the Herald this
week that Zimbabwe would not be intimidated by the renewal of the sanctions.

"To us the sanctions are a non-event," said the minister. "The
sanctions have been there and we have lived with them."

Proceeding there on, Ndlovu remarked: "They (sanctions) are just meant
to cause upheaval among our people, but Zimbabweans are intelligent enough
to identify the people actually causing their suffering."

So why would "a non-event" cause an upheaval Cde Ndlovu? As for
Zimbabweans knowing what the cause of their suffering is, he is dead right
and we know who is afraid. It explains why the nation is under a virtual
state of emergency.

As for the claim that the sanctions are illegal, it is as ridiculous
as it is illogical. What authority is supposed to legitimise them outside
the US congress?

We loved the Sunday Times cartoon this week. It derived its
inspiration from the award-winning film, The Last King of Scotland, about
Idi Amin. Vrot is the Afrikaans word for rotten.

Mugabe, seated on a throne and dressed in a kilt, his country in
flames behind him, is styled "The Last King of Vrotland".

"Assured, Urbane, Insane", the cartoonist suggests.

His advisors, one looking suspiciously like George Charamba, lie
prostrate as they give him the news: "Sire, the peasants are revolting,"
they announce. "You can say that again," the king replies.


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Government oblivious to investor expectation

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

LOCAL Government minister Ignatius Chombo stated that the government
was committed to promoting investor confidence. He said the government's
strategy to achieve this is to ensure enactment of laws that facilitate the
speedy establishment of businesses and their subsequent growth.

None can credibly deny that such legislation is a motivant to
investors, be they domestic or foreign, but it is long overdue for the
government to recognise that as important as it is to remove legislative
hurdles to investment, and to facilitate the initial, and ongoing,
development of business, much, much more is needed if there is to be
substantive, greatly needed investment.

Regrettably, the government record of recognising and addressing the
key needs and expectations of investors is abysmal in the extreme.

Instead of creating an investment-stimulating environment, and one in
which potential investors are constructively motivated, the government's
performance has been a dismal one of disregarding investor needs, of failure
to provide an investment-conducive environment, and of arrogant disregard
for the fundamentals of attracting and facilitating investment.

Admittedly, the elimination of bureaucracy and excessive, unnecessary
red tape is of significance, and is in need of very urgent, governmental
attention.

However, of vastly greater importance is that investors be instilled
with confidence as to the security of their investments, and with conviction
that investments will be viable and successful, giving an ongoing fair
return on the capital, effort, technological and other inputs which
constitute the investments.

Unfortunately, little or none of that presently exists in Zimbabwe
and, as yet, there is virtually no evidence of the government even
recognising the need to meet those investor expectations, let alone any
endeavour to do so.

The first facet of pronounced investor security is prompted by
endless, inexplicit, but usually very confrontational, statements by the
Zimbabwean political hierarchy on the issue of indigenous economic
empowerment. Almost all, if not all, non-indigenous potential investors
concur that there must be widespread economic empowerment of the Zimbabwean
population.

But, having witnessed the widespread expropriation of rural lands
without compensation, but with aggression, disregard for law, justice,
equity or human rights, with violence and vandalism, and founded upon
spurious, mythical contentions of prior land theft, and of British reneging
of agreements, those who would normally contemplate investment are
inevitably fearful of future similar actions against those engaged in
mining, tourism, industry, and other economic sectors.

This fear is exacerbated by the recurrent foreshadowing by the
president and many of his ministers of imminent empowerment legislation in
respect of the mining industry, suggestive that non-indigenous investors
will be restricted to minority investor participation, while being required
to provide all, or most, of investment capital, and with a great likelihood
of not even being vested with any discretion in the selection of
co-investors.

Perceptions of possible non-indigenous, domestic and foreign investors
are that they may well be forced into accepting the government, parastatals
and the politically favoured as their co-investors, irrespective of their
suitability as investment partners.

And those recurrent state enunciations, relative to the mining sector,
are seen by many as being precursors to not only such mining sector
legislation, but thereafter to any and all other economic sectors. This
disabuses all possible non-indigenous investors, or almost all, of any sense
of investment security, motivating domestic investors to refrain from
investment, and foreign investors to focus upon alternative investment
destinations, including almost all of Zimbabwe's neighbours.

However, the causes of investor apprehensions as to investment
security extend further. No investment can be secure in an economy which is
in continuing decline, as has been the case in Zimbabwe since 1997, and
especially so when not only is there not any indication of that decline
being halted, but that there are many signs that the government is
unwilling, or unable, to take necessary actions to reverse the collapse of
the economy and that, therefore, a continuing contraction of the economy is
almost inevitable.

These very strong investor concerns and reservations are intensified
when the government not only disregards long and tried, well-proven,
economic fundamentals, when its economic policies are determined without
consideration of economic needs, but only in alignment to political
ideologies, entrenched self-empowerment and hierarchical advancement.

Moreover, it is untenable to potential investors that the economy in
which they would invest is excessively regulated by the state, with a
monolithic range of authoritarian regulation, and particularly so when such
regulations are enforced with grossly excessive strong-arm tactics,
inclusive of arrests, prolonged imprisonment prior to trials, and like
actions.

Investors seek economic environments which have a minimum of
regulation, focused only upon the protection of national security, health
and morals, upon economic conduct consistent with international norms of
ethics, integrity, and good and sound socio-economic practices.

In contradistinction, Zimbabwe has pronounced unrealistic, price
controls, exchange controls and regulations, excessive state monitoring,
labour legislation unconducive to good labour relations and unwarranted,
bureaucratic interference into business practice and economic conduct.

An intending investor also recognises that 21st century economic
circumstances are such that no country's economy can function viably when
isolated from the global economies.

Economic viability and security is contingent upon bilateral trade,
upon foreign direct investment as well as domestic investment, upon access
to developing technologies, to operational inputs, to specialist skills, to
lines of credit, and to active responsible participation in international
finance, as well as good and sound, wide-ranging international relations.

In contradistinction, Zimbabwe has not only alienated the goodwill of
the majority of first-world, developed countries, but derives an almost
masochistic glee in insulting and berating those countries, and makes no
genuine attempts to achieve reconciliation and harmonious ongoing
relationships.

It endlessly, and without foundation, alleges that such countries seek
the destruction or enslavement of Zimbabwe and its people. It castigates
them for supposed illegal sanctions, notwithstanding that such sanctions as
are imposed are not illegal, for they are not in breach of any law,
notwithstanding that most of such sanctions are only imposed upon 126
Zimbabweans, in consequence of their disregards for international law, human
rights, or association with a political grouping that fails to accept the
precepts of such laws and rights.

The only other sanctions are non-provision of finance, and Zimbabwe
cannot expect such finance when it defaults in repayment of its debts, and
in compliance with standing, universal policies of the financiers.

Zimbabwe unhesitatingly criticises bodies such as the International
Monetary Fund, World Bank and the European Union and, in so doing, worsens
its credit repute and ratings, its international image and, therefore, any
possibility of it being regarded as desirable investment destination.

Its self-promoted conflicts with the world at large, and its total
emphasis upon a Look East policy yielding very little of substance, cannot
inspire investor confidence, be the investor in the Far East, the Middle
East, Europe, South Africa, or elsewhere. Instead, they intensify the
absence of investor confidence in investor security, thereby deterring the
investment that Zimbabwe so desperately needs.


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Zim Independent Letters



Opposition must understand strategic management
I WRITE this letter after a realisation that the forces of change in
this country are failing to employ standard strategic management tools to
dislodge the regime led by one King Bob.

This message is directed specifically to Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur
Mutambara and the NCA's Lovemore Madhuku. Strategy is about winning. Period!
In this regard, there is need for them to understand the four main
ingredients of successful strategies:

* Goals that are simple, consistent and long-term;

* Profound understanding of the competitive environment;

* Objective appraisal of resources; and

* Effective implementation.

I wish to focus on the second element; profound understanding of the
competitive environment. While the advocates of change have identified the
main competitor, that is Zanu PF, they have not clearly identified the
competitive edge that it has over them, or if they have, they have not done
much to attach that advantage. In view of the fact that the resort to
stayaways has not yielded anything, they should be considering other options
given the brute force that meets those who dare to go into the streets.

It is against this background that I am offering free advice to these
forces of change.

One way of hitting the current major competitor is attacking where it
hurts most; that is the mouthpieces that are used for propaganda purposes.
Not attacking in the physical sense, but to ensure that the Nathaniel
Manherus, Mahosos and Hunis do not get the platform for churning falsehoods
and other forms of propaganda.

If a call to boycott buying the daily Pravda for at least two days for
a start, I am convinced that the direct impact on viability would force the
editors to respect the customer. After an assessment of such an impact is
done, the boycott can be extended to a week.

The beauty about this is that the police, CIO and other security
forces cannot come and teargas us to go and buy the papers. The same can be
extended to TV and radio where people will simply not pay the fees for as
long as possible. This would ensure that the Reubens and Judiths are also
denied the chance to poison us. I am sure many people are waiting to be
galvanised along those lines.

For the public to support such calls there is need for the forces of
change to articulate more clearly their goals, not only in respect of the
constitution, but economic turnaround issues. Those of us who are more
discerning are looking beyond mere removal of the current regime, but at
what is on offer beyond that.

The issue is not about faces but what would be brought to the table.
If the current opposition and other forces are failing to steer the country
along these lines, then we might need change in their structures.

Don't mourn, organise.

Little Dorit,

Harare.

---------------

Zanu PF still the same
WHEN I look back, I am left wondering whether the Zanu PF
government will ever transform. What we see today in their style of
leadership has not changed an inch; utter disregard of court orders, police
brutality, poor policies, corruption, intolerance of dissenting voices, and
an inclination towards a one-party state among a host of ills.

We all know what happened to Morgan Tsvangirai two weeks ago.
Armed with a High Court order allowing him to proceed with a rally, the
police made sure the rally never took place. This is reminiscent of what
transpired in the 1980s, when Tsvangirai was arrested after issuing a
statement condemning the closure of the University of Zimbabwe during the
days of Arthur Mutambara and Munyaradzi Gwisai who were SRC leaders then.
The duo had been arrested for allegedly writing and issuing a subversive
document to fellow UZ students.

When Tsvangirai was denied access to his lawyers, the High Court
ordered the CIO to grant him that access and also ruled that his detention
was unlawful. Soon after release the Zanu PF government ordered his
redetention, again the High Court ordered that he be released. Upon release
he was redetained again with fresh trumped up charges! Tsvangirai spent
almost a month in custody because the recklessly immoral government did not
heed High Court orders to release him.

As for Zanu PF's historic intolerance of what it views as
dissent, Edgar Tekere is a good case in hand. When he told Mugabe that he
was a protector of the corrupt and that he should be removed from the
presidency after the Willogate scandal, Tekere was fired from the party.

Now years later we realise that we have not progressed in terms
of democracy and all its tenets. Tekere has again been pushed out of Zanu PF
for telling what he thinks is the truth. I pray that one day we wake up to a
new political dispensation.

J Kaseke,

Murewa.

----------------

Zim can learn a thing or two from Kenya

KENYA is worlds apart from Zimbabwe. For example, they
have a vibrant press - it seems like at least four major English-language
dailies, none of which seems to pull any punches. For example, last week one
of them had a headline: "Who is lying, Kibaki or Raila?" (Note that Kibaki
is the president, so in the Zimbabwean context it is like having a headline:
"Who is lying, Mugabe or Tsvangirai?" That could easily merit a jail
sentence or worse in Zimbabwe.)

They even have 16 FM radio stations in Nairobi, of which
probably only three are government-run. One of these 16 is the infamous BBC
World Service, which broadcasts in Kenya 24 hours a day on FM.

Yes, under Daniel arap Moi (darling of Margaret Thatcher
and succeeding British governments) the Kenyan economy and infrastructure
deterioriated horribly, but since Kibaki got in, the economy has gone in one
direction only - upwards. It doesnt mean that Kibaki is 100% clean, it just
means that Moi was 100% dirty. It doesn't even mean that the Kenyans have to
re-elect Kibaki - just elect anyone (even a baboon, as the late Simon
Muzenda once stated) who isn't 100% dirty.

What lesson for Zimbabwe? Moi seems to have negotiated
some kind of amnesty - no-one seems to want to touch or pursue him - he
lives comfortably and safely in Kenya and even goes to functions which are
also attended by Kibaki. Mugabe should have a chat with Moi and work out the
same kind of deal. And Morgan should have a chat with Kibaki and work out
how to turn around a declining economy with shattered infrastructure.

Alex Weir,

Nairobi.

-------------

Please revamp NRZ

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) joins the
nation in mourning the sad loss of 35 lives in the Dzivaresekwa bus and
train accident. The ZCTU extends its heartfelt condolences to the families
of the victims and wishes those injured a speedy recovery.

It is disheartening to note that the country continues to
lose its citizens to such avoidable accidents.

We welcome government's move to declare the accident a
national disaster but, sadly, this will not bring back the lost lives.

However, we would like to urge the government of Zimbabwe
to seriously look into the railway system of the country to avert more train
accidents. There is need for a revamp of all the National Railways of
Zimbabwe train systems so that innocent lives are not lost.

Wellington Chibebe,

ZCTU secretay-general,

Harare.

-----------

No conspiracy there Mahoso

THE article by Tafataona Mahoso (Sunday Mail, February 25)
refers. It has become typical of Mahoso to vilify anybody who stands up to
the Zanu PF government.

Teachers went on strike to pressure for a meaningful
return for their labour and expertise. By any stretch of imagination, this
action does not constitute "regime change". Teachers are stuck between a
rock and a hard place. They have already lost the dignity and respect that
goes with the profession.

Mahoso's article is pregnant with waffle and could never
stand the test of an objective analysis. For instance, where or what is the
link between a party orgy (Goromonzi 2006) and the teachers' industrial
action? Paranoia and senility must be wreaking havoc on Mahoso. He is
obviously blind to the reality that teachers are struggling to make ends
meet. Can he not simply accept that it is not a coincidence that doctors and
nurses have also been on strike? All Mahoso sees are conspiracies, plots and
sub-plots. What a way to sing for your supper!

Joseph Mhlanga,

Harare.

----------

Nhara's arrest: Zanu PF breeding corrupt sharks

By Nelson Chamisa

THE arrest of William Nhara, a senior official in the
President's Office and Zanu PF's Harare province spokesman, for attempting
to smuggle diamonds out of the country provides ample evidence that
corruption can be traced squarely to the doorstep of Zanu PF.

With Zimbabwe losing US$80 million every week to smugglers
and racketeers, it is now quite clear that the ruling party provides the
breeding ground and the perfect sanatorium for those whose preoccupation is
to waylay the economy by plundering national resources.

The MDC believes that Nhara is but a small fish in a
bigger pond replete with corrupt sharks. Nhara is only a drop in an ocean of
kleptocracy. He is a sacrificial lamb on the altar of political expediency.

We have seen such tokenism before where Zanu PF pretends
to act on small corrupt players leaving the senior officials to go
scot-free. Many people have gone unpunished including the emperor of the
regime. The multiple farm owners in the Utete report, the looters of the
farm input scheme and the big names in the Harare International Airport
tender scam are pertinent examples.

Nhara's arrest is an indictment on the regime and a
confirmation of what we have always said that Zanu PF is the breeding ground
of corrupt tendencies and practices.

The Zanu PF president is the chief culprit in the game of
corruption. His ministers and senior officials are the star players in the
pitch of corruption.

Mugabe recently admitted that his cabinet is corrupt and
that his counterparts in the politburo, the party's supreme organ, were
involved in corrupt and shady deals, yet the culprits have never been fired
or arrested. In short, Mugabe runs a government of economic saboteurs,
gangsters and racketeers.

Most Zanu PF officials have shadowy companies which are
used as conduits for asset-stripping and raiding national wealth.

Mugabe's assemblage of corrupt people in both the party
and goverment means that he is himself the chief player in Zanu PF's
favourite game of unmitigated graft. Mugabe should be held personally
responsible for this craze of avarice and personal aggrandisement.

The MDC believes that only a new government with the
undisputed mandate of the people will be able to effectively deal with
corruption. Only a political solution whose major signpost is a new,
people-driven constitution will bring comprehensive political reforms and
new value systems where both ordinary people and those in leadership
positions should be able to respect and value the ethic of hard work and
honest living.

In the new Zimbabwe that we envisage, the MDC will make it
mandatory for all public officials to declare their assets and sources of
income, which will be subjected to annual audit.

* Nelson Chamisa, MP, is MDC secretary for information and
publicity.

------------

Stop blaming whites for woes
MAX Hastings needs to be challenged on his opinion piece
(Zimbabwe Independent, March 2).I think the time has come to stop making
derogatory statements about the white community in Zimbabwe and blaming them
for what has happened here.

It has become a fashionable trend in many articles to
first criticise whites before criticising the current regime. I agree they
(whites) made very stupid mistakes and did some unforgiveable things but
their knowledge, hard work and taxes built the infrastructure of this
country despite all the criticism and they had a small but very efficient
public administration.

I think Hastings obviously spent most of his time as a
journalist in Zimbabwe in some safe hotel where all he saw was a small nasty
microcosm of the white community.

It is a blatant lie to label the whole of the past or
present white community people with beer guts arrogantly proclaiming they
were guardians of civilisation in Africa. Perhaps that was what Hastings
expected or hoped to see. Any open-minded person can look at films or photos
of that era to dispel that image.

The truth was rightly or wrongly most whites had seen what
had happened in the rest of independent Africa and did not want it to happen
in Zimbabwe.The real reason for our problems here is much harder to stomach.

The blame for Zimbabwe's current situation and Africa's
can be laid squarely at the door of its own indigenous people who allow
themselves to be used and manipulated by their own leaders. From the most
junior councillor to the top politicians if you want arrogance and total
lack of sympathy and respect for their fellow man look no further than the
average African leader.

Most blacks with the necessary skills and ability to do
something have left to live comfortably in the lands of the former
colonisers and their only contribution to Zimbabwe is letters to this paper
from the safety of these havens.

Realist,

stone@mweb.co.zw


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Zimbabwean women carry cross of national crisis

Zim Online

Friday 09 March 2007

By Batsirai Muranje

HARARE - Every day at 5am, 43 year-old Chiedza Marufu wakes up to catch a
bus to Mbare Musika, a sprawling vegetable market in Harare's working class
suburb of Mbare.

At 22, Marufu's oldest son, Nicholas, is unemployed leaving the widowed
mother with the onerous task of feeding and fending for her small family of
four alone.

But her task is made more difficult sometimes as Harare's municipal police
often raid her market stall in Warren Park and confiscate her goods.

It is on such days that she sometimes has to go back home empty-handed,
wondering what to give to her crying toddlers, too young to appreciate their
mother's daily struggles.

For millions of Zimbabwean women, bearing the brunt of a severe eight-year
old economic crisis, the International Women's Day commemorated on Thursday
passed off without any notice.

With the world's highest inflation of nearly 1 600 percent, widespread
unemployment and poverty, and husbands retrenched from their jobs,
Zimbabwean women appear so overwhelmed with the tough task of fending for
their families through vending or cross-border trade.

"Women are carrying the cross of the national crisis," says Lucia Matibenga,
the chairperson of the women's wing of the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).

Matibenga said a survey conducted by her party's research department had
established that 67 percent of national households were headed by women.

"The tragedy is that there are no deliberate policies by the government to
empower women or to recognise their important role in society," she said
adding that there must be a paradigm shift in society's perception of women.

Matibenga said the political violence that rocked the country over the past
seven years had seriously affected women with studies conducted by her party
showing that 143 401 women had either been beaten up or raped between 2000
and 2005.

The figures are much higher that the 69 773 cases of men who had been beaten
up in politically related cases.

Matibenga blamed most of the political violence against women on President
Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party supporters.

Jenni Williams, the chairperson of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) civic
group that is calling for political reforms in Zimbabwe, said the eight-year
old crisis had seriously affected women.

"It is women who have to fend for food. Traditionally, they are the
custodians of our morals and filial unity and these responsibilities are
becoming difficult to fulfill every day that this economic crisis remains
unresolved," she said.

"There has to be a political solution to the crisis to give the crisis-weary
women some respite," she said.

Tariro Makanga, a Zimbabwean journalist specialising in women's issues, said
the current crisis had made it difficult for Zimbabwean women to mark
International Women's Day as most women were struggling under the twin evils
of poverty and political violence.

"There is virtually no reason for the Zimbabwean women to celebrate the day.
Apart from the high cost of basic commodities, women have other special
needs such as sanitary pads which they are failing to access.

"The pads have almost become a luxury because of their cost when they are
supposed to be a basic necessity for every woman," she said.

With the average Zimbabwean worker earning about Z$100 000 a month, sanitary
pads are at the lowest rung of an average family's priority list.

As the rest of the world marked International Women's Day with flowery
speeches and marches on the important role of women in society yesterday, it
was business as usual for hard-pressed Zimbabwean women such as Marufu. -
ZimOnline


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ICG report on Zimbabwe "a grandiose flight of imagination"

The Raw Story

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Thursday March 8, 2007

Harare- Zimbabwe's Information Minister Thursday dismissed
as a "grandiose flight of imagination" claims by a Brussels-based
think tank that President Robert Mugabe's iron grip on the country
was being challenged and could result in political change by next
year.
In a report released earlier this week, the International Crisis
Group (ICG) said Zimbabwe's situation was reminiscent of the last
stages of Mobutu's (Sese Seko) reign in the Congo.

"After years of political deadlock and continued economic and
humanitarian decline, a realistic chance has at last begun to appear
in the past few months to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis," the report
said.

It suggested that powerful factions in the ruling party were
against the 83-year-old Mugabe's plans to extend his rule by two
years by pushing through changes to the constitution that would allow
presidential polls to be held in 2010 instead of 2008.

"These ruling party factions might soon be willing to explore a
deal that would see Mugabe retire and be replaced by moderate party
leaders who would negotiate a transitional arrangement with the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and civil society,"
the ICG said.

The report appeared to have aroused the anger of some in
government. Recently-appointed Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu
said in a statement that the author was guilty of more than political
hallucination.

"No one within its (the ruling party's) ranks is poised to betray
the national liberation legacy that binds the ZANU-PF government with
the masses," Ndlovu said, in a reference to the 1970s war for
independence from white minority rule in which Mugabe and senior
party officials fought.

The minister insisted that the government of Mugabe - in power
since 1980 - had always been people-centred.

Tensions have been rising in Zimbabwe, where an economic crisis is
deepening. Already this year, the authorities have been forced to
find vast sums of unbudgeted-for cash to fund salary hikes for
doctors and teachers whose strikes had all but paralysed major health
institutions and some schools.

As shoppers become grimly accustomed to near-daily price hikes,
annual inflation in January reached a record 1,593.6 per cent.
Analysts predicted Thursday that the February rate could top 1,700
per cent.

Meanwhile the UNs World Food Programme (WFP) painted a gloomy
picture of food prospects for many Zimbabweans in the next few
months, warning that cereal crops in much of the south of the country
had been decimated by poor rainfall.

In its report, the ICG warned that the declining economy, rising
discontent among the police and armed forces and a new willingness
among government opponents to engage in protests had increased the
risk of sudden major violence.

But the information minister claimed that Zimbabweans were united
more than at any other time.

2006 - dpa German Press Agency

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