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Last-minute court plea prevents fast-track extradition for Mann

The Telegraph

By Peta Thornycroft, Zimbabwe Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:06am BST 11/05/2007

Simon Mann, the former SAS officer, came within hours of being placed
on a plane and deported to Equatorial Guinea, The Daily Telegraph has

Immediately after a Zimbabwean magistrate ruled on Wednesday that
Mann's extradition could go ahead, he was taken from his cell in Chikurubi
maximum security jail outside Harare.

The alleged mercenary, who stands accused of plotting to overthrow
Equatorial Guinea's dictator, was allowed to change out of his prison
clothes. Mann was moved away from the cells and held in another area of the

Although no one told him that the court had approved his extradition,
Mann guessed that he was about to be sent to Equatorial Guinea's capital,
Malabo, where prisoners routinely starve to death in the notorious Black
Beach prison.

But Jonathan Samkange, Mann's lawyer, managed to obtain an order from
the magistrate suspending the extradition pending an appeal to the High
Court. This appeal is expected to be heard next week.

Mr Samkange visited Mann yesterday and told him about the magistrate's
ruling. "He took the news well. He is being treated differently in prison
now as technically he is now being held for deportation as he has served the
sentence [for buying arms] for which he was sent to prison," said Mr

"The government's plans to deport him legally to Equatorial Guinea
went wrong at the last minute. If we had not got an order in court
immediately after the extradition order was handed down, he would already be
in Malabo."

Mann, who needs an urgent hernia operation, has no doubt that his life
hangs in the balance. The Old Etonian was arrested at Harare International
Airport along with 69 other alleged mercenaries, all from South Africa, in
2004. The group was en route to Equatorial Guinea, where they allegedly
planned to overthrow President Teodoro Obiang Nguema in return for a share
of the country's oil wealth.

If Mann is extradited, he will stand trial in Malabo for plotting the
coup. While Equatorial Guinea has pledged not to hang him, a lengthy
sentence in Black Beach prison, where Amnesty International reported in 2005
that prisoners survive on one or two bread rolls a day, could be fatal.

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Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea boost ties after botched coup plot

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: May 10, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's biggest hotel and leisure group has signed a
multimillion dollar deal to develop seaside tourism in Equatorial Guinea and
has already began building a five star hotel there, the official Herald
newspaper said Thursday.

Zimsun chief executive Shingi Munyeza confirmed the deal to the Herald, a
government mouthpiece, but wouldn't go into further detail.

"I cannot comment on issues that may have a material impact on our share
price or operations," he said. "The Equatorial Guinea project is sensitive
and we are handling it similarly."

The news came a day after a Zimbabwe court ruled that former British special
forces officer Simon Mann should be extradited to Equatorial Guinea to face
charges of being one of the ringleaders of a failed coup attempt there in

The alleged coup plot and trials have strengthened ties between Zimbabwe and
Equatorial Guinea, which are both considered to be among Africa's worst
violators of human and democratic rights and both blighted by corruption.

The two countries signed a mutual extradition treaty following the alleged
coup plot. Last month Zimbabwe rolled out the red carpet for a "friendship
delegation" of senior officials from Equatorial Guinea.
Mann and 70 others were arrested in Zimbabwe in March 2004, when their
aircraft landed at Harare airport, allegedly to collect weapons bought from
Zimbabwe's state arms maker en route to West Africa. He completed his jail
sentence for violating Zimbabwe laws on Wednesday.

Harare magistrate Omega Mugumbate on Thursday refused Mann bail before his
appeal against extradition on grounds of a "high likelihood" he would
attempt to abscond. His lawyers had said he needed medical treatment.

No date has been set for the appeal. In extradition hearings, Mann's
attorneys argued he risks an unfair trial, torture and possible execution in
Equatorial Guinea.

The Herald said Equatorial Guinea's massive oil reserves made it the world's
fastest growing economy in 2004, but that despite this it was one of the
world's least developed countries, making it ideal for infrastructure
investment with high returns for Zimbabwean enterprises.

Zimbabwe has the fastest shrinking economy outside a war zone, according to
the International Monetary Fund, and faces acute shortages of hard currency,
gasoline, food and most basic goods. Its own tourism industry has crashed in
six years of political and economic turmoil.

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Mugabe faces fresh resistance

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's plan to seek re-election for another five
years is in jeopardy as top Zanu PF officials build up resistance to his
controversial candidacy which could translate to rule for life.

Mugabe's latest plan - drafted after his initial 2010 proposal was
blocked - has started collapsing due to rising resistance, especially from
retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru's faction. After thwarting the
2010 bid, the Mujuru camp now wants to stop Mugabe in his tracks again.

Justice minister Patrick Chimanasa on March 30 presented Mugabe's plan
to the central committee which entailed the proposal to amend the
constitution to hold joint parliamentary and presidential elections in March
next year. Local government polls will be held in January.

The plan also says the presidential term will be reduced from six to
five years to ensure harmonisation of polls. Parliament will be expanded
with the Lower House seats increasing from 150 to 210 and senate seats to 84
from 66. Senators had been expected to be chosen on the basis of party lists
in proportion to the number of seats obtained in the Lower House.

And parliament, sitting as an electoral college, would elect a
successor if the president cannot continue in office for whatever reason.

However, these proposals - which are largely part of Mugabe's
self-preservation measures -- are fuelling Zanu PF wrangles and divisions.
Instead of consolidating Mugabe's candidacy, the plan has only helped to
widen cracks in the collapsing Zanu PF edifice, threatening Mugabe's attempt
to extend his rule.

Sources said the party was divided over Mugabe's candidacy because he
was now an electoral liability. The proposal that parliament should elect a
successor if the president cannot continue opens up the post to vote-buying,
critics say.

Some Zanu PF officials are opposed to the whole idea of amending the
constitution to retain Mugabe in power because of the economic meltdown.

Further internal divisions have emerged over plans to call for a
special congress to endorse Mugabe's candidacy confirmed amid muffled
protests on March 30. Mujuru's faction is privately disputing the claim that
Mugabe was ever endorsed, arguing the issue was railroaded without debate by
a group of presidential loyalists led by Elliot Manyika.

Manyika and a group of presidential adherents have been fiercely
fighting in Mugabe's corner. Two weeks ago Manyika said the party would hold
an extraordinary congress to endorse Mugabe's candidacy, but this is also
being disputed.

"It has been the tradition of the ruling party to call for a special
congress to officially nominate the ruling party's presidential candidate
for any impending election," Manyika said in the party mouthpiece, The

"The extraordinary congress is called by the central committee that is
also going to have an extraordinary session on Friday (last week)."

But Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa - who in terms
of the party constitution is the secretary for the presidium (the president,
two vice-presidents and chairman) when congress convenes - said yesterday
Manyika's claims were untrue.

"It's not true, the president has not said so and we have never done
that before," Mutasa said. "Why should we have an extraordinary congress
when we have just had an extraordinary central committee meeting? They
(media) are confusing an extraordinary congress with an extraordinary
central committee session. Ask them about that."

Told that in fact it was Manyika who has been saying so, Mutasa said:
"That's not true (that a special congress is coming)".

Asked if it was true Zanu PF holds extraordinary congresses to
officially nominate a presidential election candidate, he said: "It's not
true, we have never done it before". Mutasa has the constitutional mandate
to organise an extraordinary congress and is obliged to give at least a
six-week notice before the meeting.

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NMB swindled of US$4 million

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

THE Reserve Bank and police are investigating a case in which NMB Bank
was reportedly defrauded of US$4 million by one of its managers.

Sources at the top commercial bank said the central bank's
surveillance unit and the police's fraud squad had been investigating the
case for the past two weeks.

Preliminary investigations show that the money, equivalent to $69
billion on the official market, was siphoned into a Swiss bank account in
Zurich. The money belonged to individual foreign currency account holders,
non-governmental organisations, embassies and exporters who have accounts
with the bank.

RBZ governor Gideon Gono could not be reached for comment as he was
said to be in Marange on a fact-finding mission in the diamond mining area.

NMB chief executive David Hatendi was also not available for comment
by the time of going to press last night.

The Zimbabwe Independent understands that the alleged fraudster, Shame
Mandara, who was an assistant manager in the treasury department, has since
fled the country. He flew from Charles Prince aerodrome to Kariba last year
and crossed into Zambia.

The sources said the suspected theft was a well-constructed plan which
could have involved other managers at the bank. They said the fraud went on
for about six months before it was detected by the bank's auditors following
a tip-off from an employee who had moved to another bank.

The sources said the fraud started last year soon after the RBZ
returned the management of foreign currency accounts to commercial banks.

The money was transferred through a personal foreign currency account
using falsified documents. In some cases the suspect claimed that the money
was meant for repayment of an RBZ loan. That loan, sources say, never

The RBZ's surveillance unit and police fraud squad last week recorded
statements from senior managers at the bank, including Hatendi. Other
managers said the suspect was using his own foreign currency account to
siphon the money. The stolen money is more than the bank's total assets as
at December 31, 2006 which stood at $60 billion.

The bank last year made an after-tax profit of $6,9 billion. NMB was
the first bank in 2004 to lose its foreign currency trading licence for
violating foreign exchange regulations.

The suspected fraud is the first in which a local bank has lost such a
large amount since the collapse of ENG Asset Management in early 2004.

Four NMB directors escaped the country three years ago after they were
implicated in the externalisation of foreign currency. Some of the directors
have since been cleared of the allegations. It is not clear what measures
the central bank will take to deal with the issue. Last year Gono said he
did not have an "appetite for curatorship" but would not hesitate to use it
to safeguard depositors' funds.

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University lecturers to strike

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

ACADEMIC staff at state universities nationwide are set to go on
strike on Monday over lack of progress on salary negotiations with their
respective councils, an official has confirmed.

Benard Njekesa, the president of the Zimbabwe State Universities Union
of Academics, said in an a telephone interview on Wednesday that academic
staff at all state universities had resolved to go on strike on Monday if
they did not get any positive response to their demands.

Njekesa said the current quarterly salary negotiations had been
stalled at nearly all universities and academic staff at the institutions
had resolved to resort to industrial action to push for "realistic reviews
of our salaries which have seen the majority of us failing to report for

"There has not been any meaningful progress on our salary
negotiations. We agreed that we would have salary negotiations quarterly but
we have not got a positive response from our employers. As a result, we
filed 14-day notices to our respective councils to go on strike if our
demands are not met. The notices are due to expire on Friday (today). At the
National University of Science and Technology (Nust) management has asked us
to withdraw but we are not changing our stance until we are satisfied with
what they are going to offer.

"Most of us are failing to come to work. We cannot afford transport
and basic commodities. We are failing to make ends meet under this
hyperinflationary environment. That's the most important issue - salaries.
So if we do not get any response, we at Nust have resolved to go on strike
with effect from Monday. I understand this is the same resolution reached at
all universities," said Njekesa.

Asked what figures the union was looking at, Njekesa said he was not
at liberty to discuss that, adding that all they were asking for was
"realistic salaries in tandem with inflation.

"Prices of goods are going up on a daily basis. If I give you a figure
today, tomorrow that will have been eroded by inflation. In fact even the
quarterly negotiations we agreed on lat time are not relevant given the way
prices of goods and services are going up daily. So I cannot give any
figures at the moment," said Njekesa.

The scheduled strike by the universities' academic staff comes amid
calls for bi-monthly salary payments compatible with the Poverty Datum Line
by the Public Service Association.

Midlands State University Lecturers Association president Livingstone
Makonde said in a telephone interview on yesterday that members were
awaiting feed back from the national university council's chairman a Mr Dube
whom had a meeting with Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Stan Mudenge
on Monday.

"There was a meeting between the Minister and the State universities
council chairman on Monday and we are awaiting feed back from him. We are
expecting to have a meeting locally on Monday after which we shall decide to
on the next course of action," he said.

Contacted for comment on the impending strike, a Mrs Mudzi who was
acting permanent secretary for the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education
this week however said the Ministry was not aware of the impending strike by
the lecturers.

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Mann files appeal

Zim Independent

LAWYERS representing Simon Mann yesterday filed an appeal in the High
Court against a magistrate's ruling that he be extradited to Equatorial
Guinea. The lawyers said the magistrate did not consider credible evidence
presented by the appellant. The lawyers argue that the magistrate failed to
say how and why she arrived at her decision.

Jonathan Samukange, who is appearing for Mann, filed the appeal papers
yesterday afternoon asking the High Court to grant an order for Mann not to
be extradited to Equatorial Guinea. He argued that Mann should instead be
released from Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison and deported to England.

Samukange submitted that the presiding magistrate erred in granting
the application by Equatorial Guinea in light of the evidence led in court.

In the appeal papers at hand, Samukange further argued that the
magistrate erred in not considering the provisions of the Extradition Act,
Part Three in particular which requires that a prima facie case should be

He said the magistrate also erred in stating that the Mann should have
proved that he would be tortured, adding that the court failed to appreciate
that the appellant is only required to establish a reasonable apprehension
that he is likely to be tortured.

"The evidence from Mr (Andrew) Chigovera (an expert on international
humanitarian law, a former commissioner of the African Commission on Human
and Peoples' Rights, and a former attorney-general of Zimbabwe) and the
documentary evidence from reputable organisations established that the
appellant's apprehension was reasonable," the grounds for appeal read.
"The court did not consider whether appellant is likely to receive a
fair trial and did not give any reason why it ignored the evidence of Mr
Chigovera and that of the various reports where previously accused persons
had not received fair trials inclucing Nick du Troit.

"It is clear from the judgement that the court did not apply its mind
to its obligation in terms of the Act and in particular when the court
stated that Zimbabwe will not be violating its domestic and international
obligations if the appellant is extradited without giving reasons why it
came to such conclusions and why the expert evidence from Mr Chigovera was
not considered which was to contrary view."

Samukange pointed out that Chigovera had stated in his evidence that
by extraditing the appellant, Zimbabwe would be contravening both
international and domestic obligations and he was not challenged on this

He argued that the court should have stated whether it was rejecting
evidence on this point as no witness from Equatorial Guinea had contradicted

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'Nkomo crafted Posa'

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube

FORMER Home Affairs minister and now Speaker of Parliament John Nkomo
crafted repressive media provisions in the Public Order and Security Act
(Posa) that government has been using against critics, politburo member
Dumiso Dabengwa has revealed in court.

Dabengwa, a former Home Affairs minister before Nkomo took over, made
the revelations under cross examination from Job Sibanda of Job Sibanda &
Associates in the case in which former Information minister Jonathan Moyo is
suing Nkomo for $2 billion.

Dabengwa told the High Court that he penned the original version of
Posa while he was still Minister of Home Affairs but the Bill did not
include provisions on the media.

Dabengwa said Nkomo added the media restrictions when he took over the
ministerial post. Section 15 of Posa deals with publishing or communicating
"false statements" considered prejudicial to the state.

The section makes it a criminal offence for a person inside or outside
the country to communicate a statement that is wholly or materially false,
and which promotes public disorder or endangers public safety; adversely
affects the defence or economic interests of Zimbabwe, undermines public
confidence in the security forces and disrupts any essential service.

Meanwhile, Section 16 of Posa deals with issues of undermining the
authority of, or insulting the president. It prohibits the making, publicly
and intentionally, of any false statement (including an act or gesture)
about or concerning the president or acting president if the person knows or
realises that there is a risk or possibility of engendering feelings of
hostility towards or causing hatred, contempt or ridicule of the president,
whether in their official or personal capacity.

Sibanda's cross-examination of Dabengwa stemmed from statements
allegedly made by Nkomo when he presented his evidence in chief in which he
alleged that Moyo was ruthless with the media. Sibanda then asked Dabengwa
to tell the court who penned and introduced Posa to parliament.

"The Public Order and Security Act was drafted during my time as
Minister of Home Affairs but it was withdrawn and was never taken to
parliament. Nkomo introduced it in parliament and it sailed through as law
with the provisions on the media," Dabengwa said.

Moyo is also accused of being the architect of the draconian Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) that has seen four
newspapers shut down and several journalists arrested while foreign news
agencies have been banned from operating in the country.

Dabengwa is now the chief witness in the case after Moyo withdrew the
lawsuit he had filed against him.

Earlier Dabengwa had told the court that he had no hard feelings
against Moyo for bringing the lawsuit against him.

"When he brought the lawsuit against me, I was very angry with him but
later I realised that with the damage that he had incurred on his
reputation, he had singled out John and myself as targets in a way to
vindicate himself."

"I have no ill feelings against the plaintiff but only feel sorry that
he decided to listen to people who exaggerated what had taken place in
Tsholotsho. They misled him," Dabengwa said.

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' Manyika fuelling divisions in Byo '

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

BULAWAYO political heavyweights are up in arms against Zanu PF
national commissar Eliot Manyika for fuelling divisions in the province by
allegedly supporting the former war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda- led

Highly placed sources said politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa and
Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu dressed down Manyika during an
explosive politburo meeting last Wednesday when they were updating the
ruling party supreme decision-making body on developments resulting in the
aborted elections.

Sources said the veteran politicians charged that Manyika was not
qualified to preside over the elections because he was a junior politician
and biased. They accused him of showing clear allegiance to the Sibanda-led
faction. They recommended that a neutral person be seconded to preside over
the potentially volatile elections.

"The matter had to be referred to the presidium to come up with people
that would be acceptable by both factions to handle the restructuring
exercise," the source said.

A fortnight ago, Zanu PF's attempt to hold restructuring elections
failed after feuding factions in Bulawayo - one led by Jabulani Sibanda,
believed to be backing Emmerson Mnangagwa in the succession race and another
group backed by Vice President Joseph Msika, Dabengwa, and the Zanu PF
national chairman John Nkomo - failed to strike a common understanding.
Manyika, who is accused of subtly aligning himself with the war veterans
group was forced to cancel the election and ordered an audit of the party's
grassroots structures on May 12-13.

Sources said the presidium then recommended that party chairman John
Nkomo should oversee the restructuring of Bulawayo Province assisted by
other senior party officials. Politburo member and BulilimaMangwe Senator
Eunice Moyo this week told the party structures that Nkomo will this weekend
audit party structures in Bulawayo in preparation for provincial executive

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As Blair bids farewell, will Mugabe stick to his word?

Zim Independent

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's chief nemesis Tony Blair yesterday said he
was leaving office next month, while Mugabe is seeking to extend his term by
a further five years.

Government insiders say Mugabe has been telling his senior officials
that he will leave once Blair quits. Sources said he repeated this remark to
a ZBC journalist during his censored birthday interview in February.

Blair said yesterday he would be stepping down on June 27.

Mugabe has been in power for 27 years and this makes him one of the
longest serving leaders in the world. All liberation struggle-era leaders in
the region have since left office except Mugabe, but he is currently under
growing pressure to quit because of political repression and economic

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown is likely to take
over from Blair who has presided over 10 years of unprecedented economic

Mugabe has been fighting a war of attrition with Blair since the
British leader came to power in 1997. The two started clashing head-on at
the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, in
October 1997. The conflict stemmed from land reform in Zimbabwe and later
Mugabe's repressive rule.

Two years later Mugabe and Blair clashed again during a Commonwealth
meeting in Durban, South Africa, with Mugabe calling Blair a "gay gangster".
Their conflict soon became a permanent feature of Commonwealth meetings
until Mugabe angrily withdrew from the club in 2003 in protest against the
organisation's refusal to lift its suspension of Zimbabwe and endorse his
disputed re-election.

Mugabe then escalated his abuses against Blair calling him a litany of
insults including "white supremacist" and "born-again imperialist" for
leading international opposition to his government.

At a rally last month, Mugabe supporters celebrated Blair's imminent
departure from office with a huge placard reading: "We will see Blair's

Blair's record has gained him plenty of friends around Africa despite
losing the affection of the British public.

The outgoing prime minister forced African issues up the global
agenda, particularly when Britain chaired both the European Union and the G8
group of rich nations in 2005.

Blair called Africa's problems of poverty, disease, trade injustice
and conflict "a scar on the world's conscience" and also earned plaudits for
sending troops to pacify Sierra Leone.

"He is increasingly unloved in his own country, but he still has a
great rapport with Africa," said Patrick Smith, editor of UK-based Africa
Confidential newsletter. "Some of his early actions in Africa symbolise the
high point of his premiership. Some regard Sierra Leone as perhaps his
single finest moment."

As opposed to the Iraq debacle, Blair's action in the West Africa
nation - where British troops in 2000 helped defeat rebels notorious for
hacking off limbs of civilians in drug-crazed killing sprees - was hailed as
a model of humanitarian intervention.

"The average Sierra Leonean is very grateful to the role played by the
British in the war, albeit that it was a little bit late," said Sierra
Leonean businessman Vincent Kanu.

Despite Blair's laudable intentions for Africa, strongly rooted in his
Christian beliefs as well as his Labour Party's socialist roots, some
analysts say delivery fell short of what the continent needed.

While Blair and fellow campaigners achieved significant cuts in Africa's
debt burden, the huge increases in aid announced in 2005 have yet to
materialise and global trade rules remain weighted against poor nations.
Furthermore, despite repeated appeals and efforts, Blair has failed to
mobilise a good enough international response to Sudan's Darfur crisis to
make a real difference on the ground.

And the Iraq factor still weighs heavy in Africans' judgement of
Blair. "He got people thinking about Africa and that is good," said Kenyan
teacher Paul Nyeko. "But Iraq was wrong. All the money it cost could have
saved people."

In North Africa, Blair brought about a rapprochement in Britain's
relations with Libya following years of estrangement largely as a result of
the 1988 Lockerbie plane crash.

As Blair prepares to resign on June 27, Africans are turning their
attention to his successor Gordon Brown. The Scot also has a strong track
record of speaking up for the continent and was instrumental in some of the
debt deals.

Blair "will be remembered as a well-meaning, well-intentioned friend
of Africa but one who failed to deliver", said Professor Robert Schrire of
Cape Town University.

"A Brown succession may be more advantageous...Brown's record so far
(on Africa) is one of delivery."

Blair is expected to venture into the lucrative US lecture circuit
after he steps down. But he will probably take a short break first. However,
there is one place he would certainly not be welcome to relax after the
rigours of a decade in office - Harare. - Reuters/Staff Writer.

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Chinamasa, Gula-Ndebele 'tug-of-war' stalls AG Bill

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

A STAND-OFF between Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and Attorney
General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele over who should have control over the AG's
Office has stalled progress on the Attorney General's Bill which is expected
to address issues in the department despite consensus on its provisions by
parliament last year.

The Bill, which was initially tabled before parliament in April last
year and went through various committee stages before being approved by the
Parliamentary Legal Committee, has been stalled owing to personal
differences on its provisions between Chinamasa and Gula-Ndebele while the
department continues to lose qualified staff seeking greener pastures.

The exodus of experienced and qualified staff who were hoping for an
improvement in their conditions of service through the enactment of the
Bill, is impacting on the effectiveness of the department in representing
state cases in the courts.

Despite consensus on the provisions of the Bill by parliament, there
is nothing the House of Assembly can do to expedite its enactment as the
incumbent minister - Chinamasa - a former Attorney General himself who wants
to maintain the status quo, has the discretion to bring it back to the house
in terms of parliamentary rules.

According to concerned legislators and law officers from the AG's
Office who spoke on conditions of anonymity, the stand-off between the two
senior government officials was affecting the legislative process to the
detriment of the AG's Office.

Chinamasa revealed the stand-off between him and Gula-Ndebele as the
sticking point on the progress of the Bill during a meeting with staffers at
the Bulawayo Magistrates' Court in November last year.

Five months down the line there has not been any progress in
addressing the impasse despite the matter being referred back to Cabinet for

Responding to questions from journalists at the Bulawayo Press Club,
Speaker of Parliament and Zanu-PF national chairman John Nkomo said the
impasse could only be solved within the ruling party as it was a policy

"It's unfortunate that parliament cannot do anything about that. There
are no rules that make it mandatory for any sitting minister to table a
particular Bill. A minister has the prerogative to present a Bill or
withdraw it and parliament can only wait until it is brought back.

"Under the circumstances, the matter can only be resolved through the
party. It's an issue we are discussing and we hope it will be solved
amicably to enable the Bill to be taken back to the House," said Nkomo.

However, there has not been any progress on the Bill since then amid
concerns from stakeholders.

"I'm sure that most of you are aware of the fact that the delay in the
progression of the AG's Office Bill is over a tug-of-war between myself and
Cde Gula-Ndebele.The problems centre on who should control the department.
This is particularly a policy issue and we hope we will soon find a solution
to it.

"The Attorney General's Office Bill should have long been passed and
the delays in taking it through Parliament are because of the tug-of-war
that I have been talking about," Chinamasa was quoted as saying in a
Bulawayo based State controlled daily on November 6, ,2006.

He pointed out the outstanding problem was where officers from the AG's
Office should report.

Efforts to get a comment from Chinamasa and Gula-Ndebele on the latest
on the issue were fruitless as they were reported to be attending meetings
while their mobile phones were not reachable.

Zanu-PF secretary for information and publicity Nathan Shamuyarira
referred questions to John Nkomo when reached for comment on Wednesday.

"Talk to John Nkomo or Chinamasa himself. Talk to the originator of
that news article," said Shamuyarira.

Pressed on whether the matter was ever discussed within the party, he
maintained still had no comment and referred questions to the two officials.

Contacted for comment on Wednesday afternoon, Nkomo said he was in
court and asked to be contacted later.

Commenting on the stalling of the Bill, MDC legislator David Coltart
said it was unfortunate that the legislative process was being affected by
the two officials despite consensus by both ruling and opposition

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Mirror saga persists

Zim Independent

Itai Mushekwe

THE Zimbabwe Mirror Newspaper Group's troubles deepened this week with
Ibbo Mandaza, the legal owner and publisher of the group's two titles, the
Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror, threatening litigation against a proposed
rights issue by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) who seized
control of the titles two years ago to recapitalise the defunct papers using
public funds.

His lawyers, Joseph Mandizha of Mandizha & Associates, responded to a
letter addressed to "shareholders" sent by the group's chairman Jonathan
Kadzura on April 25 calling upon shareholders to inject capital to the tune
of $5,3 billion on a pro-rata basis to boost liquidity of the embattled
papers, which he said were in "serious financial dire straits".

Kadzura said the company was grossly undercapitalised and required
equipment amounting to $3,8 billion plus working capital of over $500
million. Mandaza's renewed battle to block the Mirror's rights issue and
subsequently laying the ground to restore ownership of the papers come at a
time when well-placed sources yesterday revealed that the CIO have received
$38 billion from the government and Reserve Bank to purchase a printing
press as a contingency measure of cutting printing costs should the papers

Mandizha argues in response to Kadzura's letter dated May 9 that his
"purported" chairmanship of the Mirror group are devoid of locus standi to
call for a rights issues and that he should forthwith stop the rights issue
call as there has never been a shareholders agreement between the Southern
African Printing and Publishing House (Sappho) owned by Mandaza with other
corporates, while his actions are contemptuous of an existing High Court
Order. The lawyer expects to hear from Kadzura substantively "by the 15th
instant" failing which the litigation will ensue.

"It is not necessary that we remind you of our client's pending
contempt of court proceedings against you via HC 2493/07. However, as your
conduct suggests a short memory, we hereby do so," said Mandizha.

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Another useless venture

Zim Independent

Vincent Kahiya

THE current economic meltdown appears to have blinded the Zanu PF
government to issues that history should have taught them. While history is
generally considered to be the best teacher for decision-makers, for the
government of President Mugabe it appears to be the inspiration to continue

This week the magistrates' court ruled that British ex-serviceman
Simon Mann who has been incarcerated here for the past three years on
charges of possessing fire arms and entering the country illegally should be
extradited to Equatorial Guinea to face treason charges.

Mann, a former SAS commando, was arrested with 61 others when their
plane landed at Harare international airport in March 2004. The group was
accused of stopping off to pick up weapons from Harare while on their way to
Malabo to oust strongman President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. Mann said at the
time that he and his co-accused were on their way to the Democratic Republic
of Congo and needed weapons for a security contract at a mine.

He was sentenced to seven years in jail, but the term was later
reduced. Most of his co-accused, convicted of aviation and immigration
offences, were released in 2005.

The court's decision this week fitted very well in government's plans
to have Mann sent to West Africa for further punishment. The merits of the
magistrate's ruling raise eyebrows as the judgement appeared to negate
evidence from former Attorney General Andrew Chigovera, the International
Bar Association, and Amnesty International that there was a strong
likelihood that Mann would not receive a fair trial in what is one of the
most repressive states in the world.

Mann's lawyers have since appealed and higher courts will test the
accuracy and fairness of this ruling.

The court decision is however not the most worrisome facet of this
Mann saga. If anything, it is the gullibility of the Zimbabwean political
aristocracy that has seen them getting into bed with anyone who appears to
want to make friends with this pariah state. The intentions of the one
making the advances are not seen as important.

Prior to Mann landing at Harare International Airport with a group of
suspected mercenaries, not many in this country, even in President Mugabe's
government, knew anything about Equatorial Guinea or its president Obiang.
Most didn't even know where it was. But this small despotic state has become
one of Zimbabwe's most valued allies largely because it has oil, a commodity
we do not have.

But there is now all the evidence that this relationship is premised
on Zimbabwe's ability to deliver Mann for trial in Malabo. He is the
ultimate price Zimbabwe has to pay to get assistance.

After the arrest of Mann and his colleagues, Zimbabwe and Equatorial
Guinea quickly put together an extradition treaty to allow exchange of
prisoners. Various trade agreements have been signed between the two
countries and President Obiang has since been here on a state visit. Last
October the Ministry of Industry and International Trade and Zimtrade were
organising an exhibition of Zimbabwean goods in Equatorial Guinea. Zimtrade
said the objective of the exhibition was to expose Zimbabwean manufactured
products to the emerging market as well as opening up new ones.

It said companies that were invited to participate in the exhibition
were those involved in food processing, furniture, leather products and
footwear, textiles and clothing, construction, telecommunications,
pharmaceuticals, agriculture processing machinery, agricultural inputs and
jewellery; all this for a country with a total population of about 500 000
and barely any roads or other communications.

During his visit to Namibia in March, President Mugabe said Zimbabwe
would receive crude oil from Equatorial Guinea, notwithstanding the fact
that Zimbabwe does not have a refinery. All the same, Zimbabwe has already
received fuel worth US$24 million from Equatorial Guinea which it has been
struggling to pay for.

This paper revealed last month that the government wanted to use
diamonds controversially mined from Marange to amortise the debt. The
government was keen to settle the debt before President Mugabe's visit to
Equatorial Guinea. In face of the latest development, the president will get
a hero's welcome in the small West African state, the same hero's welcome he
received when he visited Kinshasa after Zimbabwe's military campaign in the
Democratic Republic of Congo and when he visited Mozambique at the end of
the conflict there. He was their liberator and that is the end of the story.
Zimbabwe's economy is what it is today partly because of its participation
in the DRC conflict. All official gobbledygook about investment
opportunities and contracts to rebuild that country has fallen on its face
as Zimbabwe can only watch while South African companies have moved in to
set up businesses. The same is true in Mozambique. The deals with Equatorial
Guinea are headed for the same dustbin of state irrationality. Zimbabwe may
soon get fuel from Equatorial Guinea but there is every chance that the
country will fail to pay for it.

The 2002 television footage of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi
crossing into Zimbabwe on foot from Zambia and then making a grand entry
into Harare again on foot was meant to pitch him as our saviour. He had oil
which Zimbabwe desperately needed. Trade deals were signed with Libya. They
got a shareholding in CBZ bank, they were promised investment in state
institutions. But the deal still fell through because Zimbabwe had no
foreign currency to pay for the fuel. There is really nothing to show for
the Libyan tie-up. At least the one with the DRC brought to Zimbabwe Rhumba
groups. Equatorial Guinea is headed the same way. Remember the Anambe Stars?

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Outrage over lawyers' arrests, assaults

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

POLICE brutality against human rights defenders, civic groups and the
opposition continues to rise with lawyers becoming the latest victims.

Five legal practitioners were briefly detained and assaulted on
Tuesday when police violently broke up a protest march by a group of about
50 lawyers.

The lawyers, most of them in their gowns, were holding a peaceful
demonstration outside the High Court in Harare to protest the arrest of
their colleagues, Alex Muchadehama and Andrew Makoni. The protest was also
against defiance of court orders by the police.

Minutes into the demonstration, riot police armed with AK-47 assault
rifles dispersed the group of peaceful protesters.

Some of the lawyers were badly beaten in the process. Law Society of
Zimbabwe president, Beatrice Mtetwa, and four others, were then singled out
and arrested.

They were driven to an open space in Eastlea and, in full view of
passersby and motorists, brutally beaten with batons on the buttocks, feet,
legs and back and then left to find their way to safety and medical

Mtetwa said the lawyers were on their way to hand in a petition to
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa on the harassment of lawyers.

"We have since made a report to the police but as you are aware, no
action is going to be taken," Mtetwa said. "We will convene a meeting soon
to come up with a response to this brutality."

This public assault on the legal fraternity is a slap in the face of
Sadc and Thabo Mbeki's mediation in the political crisis in Zimbabwe.

Muchadehama and Makoni were arrested last Friday when they were
defending jailed opposition activists accused of petrol bomb attacks. They
were on Monday charged with obstructing justice and freed on bail after
spending the weekend in police cells. State prosecutors alleged the
attorneys submitted "falsehoods" to a Harare magistrate's court on April 30
over alleged petrol bombings of Zanu PF Mbare offices.

The International Bar Association drew the Zimbabwean government's
attention to international standards, in particular, the provisions of the
Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which provide that governments must
ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions
without intimidation, hindrance or harassment.

"The arrest and detention of Mr Makoni and Mr Muchadehama is another
example of the precarious situation in which human rights lawyers work in
Zimbabwe," said executive director of the International Bar Association,
Mark Ellis.

"We are witnessing an extremely worrying turn in the rule of law
situation in Zimbabwe. Mugabe's government has escalated attacks on
political dissenters in recent weeks and no effective international action
is being taken to stop the flagrant violation of international law in that
country. Lawyers who denounce these attacks on fundamental freedoms and
defend victims are now targets," added Ellis.

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Chinese pull out of IDC

Zim Independent

Kuda Chikwanda

A CHINESE investor has pulled out of the Industrial Development
Corporation (IDC)'s gas extraction project in Lupane citing unclear policy
on mining and government's constant interference in operations.

Lupane Gas was formed in 2001 by government, with IDC as the
implementing agency, to embark on coal bed methane exploration.

The Chinese company engaged under government's National Economic
Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) pulled out of the US$7 million deal
leaving IDC stranded.

The Chinese investor was also not impressed by the projected financial
returns and the political risk associated with the country, sources at IDC

The project mooted in 2001 was supposed to start in June but sources
told businessdigest it is highly unlikely that it will start by then.

IDC public relations advisor, Derek Sibanda, denied that the
parastatal ever had a Chinese partner for the methane gas project.

"We don't have Chinese partners. We are still looking for an equity
partner to undertake the exploratory work," Sibanda said.

IDC managing director Mike Ndudzo is however on record as having told
the media last year that the company had secured an equity partner in China.
He made the statement soon after a visit to China by a business delegation
which was led by Vice President Joice Mujuru last June.

The deal was one of the investments which government said was going to
boost foreign currency inflows under NEDPP.

Government said NEDPP was going to raise US$3 million by the end of
last year by selling part of its shareholding in state companies to foreign
investors. Most of the deals have not materialised. Under the arrangement,
the Chinese investors would have bought a 49% stake in the project.

IDC, the implementing partner, was going to receive US$7 million from
investors for the initial exploratory work.

IDC and its local partners would have retained the controlling stake.
The initial phase work included the construction of a US$12 million mini gas
plant to prove the viability of the project. It is understood that
government - through IDC and its local partners - would have provided the
balance of US$5 million for the construction of the mini gas plant. Other
local partners in the project were Zesa Holdings subsidiary, Zimbabwe Power
Company, Scientific Industrial Research and Development Centre, Hwange
Colliery Co Ltd, Chemplex Holdings and Shangani Exploration.

Zesa Holdings acting CEO, Ben Rafemoyo, said he was not aware that the
Chinese had pulled out. "We had been very happy that an investor had been
found, but if indeed it is true that the foreign investor pulled out, then
it's sad," Rafemoyo said. "We probably will need to sit down with IDC and
see if Zesa can also look for technical partners while IDC is at the
fore-front of the project."

The project would have seen the extraction of an estimated 665 000
cubic metres of methane gas per annum during the exploratory stage.

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AirZim February debt hits US$18 million

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya recently in Luanda and Kinshasa

AIR Zimbabwe which this week reintroduced the Harare-Luanda-Kinshasa
route continues to sink into the red with revelations that its foreign debt
stood at a whopping US$18 million ($4,5 billion on the official exchange) at
the end of February.

The debt has been accruing for the past 15 years and is likely to
continue mounting in the face of worsened foreign currency shortages.
Purchases of Jet-A fuel and lending fees form the bigger part of the debt.

Central bank governor Gideon Gono recently said the bank was helping
AirZim with a hand out of US$600 000 a week to cover its rising operational
costs. AirZim this week said it expected the new route to raise $1 billion
per week. The $1 billion translates to about US$4 million at the interbank
rate but that will not help reduce the debt because there is no foreign
currency in the country.

The national airline which made its first profit in 10 years under
acting chief executive, Captain Oscar Madombwe, has been struggling for the
past 20 years. Its fleet of planes has contracted from 18 at Independence to
the current eight. Six are operational while the other two have been
grounded for almost a year.

Chief executive, Peter Chikumba said the reintroduction of the
Harare-Luanda-Kinshasa was part of the airline's turnaround programme. Air
Zimbabwe stopped flying to Luanda in January 2001 because of the civil war
in Angola. The Kinshasa route stopped in March 2002 after Lignes Airines
Congolais (LAC) of DRC failed to pay US$4 million to AirZim.

"The flights to the DRC and Angola will run weekly on Mondays using
the 105-seater Boeing 737 aircraft, which also has a cargo capacity of four
tonnes," said public relations manager, David Mwenga.

AirZim is currently studying the possibility of expanding its
tentacles into more regional destinations such as Entebbe in Uganda, Kigali
in Rwanda, Bujumbura in Burundi, Windhoek in Namibia, and Maputo and Beira
in Mozambique. There are also plans to fly into Cape Town, Durban,
Mauritius, Antananarivo in Madagascar, St Dennis in Reunion and Addis Ababa
in Ethiopia.

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Normality is only but temporary

Zim Independent

By Admire Mavolwane

THERE is no doubt that along with hyperinflation comes a whole host of
problems for everyone and more so those in decision making positions. In the
corporate world strategies and business plans become highly perishable,
whilst in the policy making domain it would appear that it becomes a
challenge to resolutely implement previously stated policies. Otherwise how
else can the policy u-turns that the economy has been subjected to be

Take the emotive issue of price distortions. In the January 2007
monetary policy review, effort was invested in elucidating the detrimental
effect of the then Grain Marketing Board's pricing structures. At that time
the utility was purchasing grain from farmers at $52 500/tonne and selling
it to the millers at $600/tonne. Round tripping of maize bought at some
depots, re-emerging the next morning as a delivery is said to have cost the
utility huge sums of money. This advice from the central bank seemed to have
been heeded as a few weeks later the responsible ministry announced a new
pricing structure which saw millers paying $58 000 for a tonne.

Late last month the government announced a new producer price of $3
million/tonne for this season. At the same time a top up price of $1,2
million/tonne courtesy of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was unveiled. As a
result, a maize farmer will effectively realise $4,2 million /tonne for his
labours. The GMB price implies a producer price inflation of 5 614% over the
last season whilst the RBZ top up scheme is one of those things.

Contrary to the advice from the central bank to do away with the
inexplicable pricing structure where GMB buys and sells below the
acquisition cost it was announced that the utility will be selling maize to
millers at $2,1 million per tonne.

This means that a $900 000/tonne loss will be incurred by the
parastatal and this will increase to $2,1 million/tonne after accounting for
the RBZ bonus. These costs will be borne by the whole economy at some point
in future. Recall what one great economist once said, "there's no such thing
as a free lunch".

Turning to corporate results, Ariston kicked off the March earnings
reporting season, releasing its interims for the six months ending March 31
2007. The horticulture group's fortunes are to a great extent affected by
the exchange rate and weather. The group is thus subject to variables that
it has little control over.

It is common knowledge that the exchange rate was, in the period under
review, fixed at $250 to the US dollar, at the same time the gap continued
to widen when compared with the parallel market rate.

When the current financial year opened the parallel market exchange
rate was estimated at $1 000, only for it to slump to approximately $20 000.
The problem for Ariston and its peers is that working capital requirements
track the parallel market rate whilst 32,5% of revenues were realised at
$250. This distortion imposed a tax on revenues and required management to
be innovative on the utilisation of the balance of 67,5%.

The weather was both kind and cruel to the group. Although less than
normal rains were received, its distribution pattern gave the tea crop a
good "flush". As a result a good quality crop is expected. However, on Kent
Estate, situated close to Norton, the below-average rainfall will exacerbate
an already shaky water situation.

After having sunk to its lowest in terms of production, volumes within
the group are picking up again. Tea volumes were up by 47%, whilst the
number of flower stems increased by 9%. At Kent, broiler output went up by
34%. Against this background, revenues increased at an above inflation rate
of 3 615% to $26,4 billion.

Operating income before biological assets revaluation grew by 10 450%
to $14,7 billion as the corresponding margins improved from 20% to 55%. The
benefits from a number of efficiency programmes initiated a couple of years
ago, better working capital management following the rights issue last year
and stringent cost controls are beginning to bear fruit, hence the
remarkable recovery in margins.

A fair value adjustment on biological assets of a hefty $39,8 billion
saw total operating profit of $54,2 billion being realised. From this, $14,3
billion was debited as financing costs. This amount is made up largely of
exchange losses on the US$1 million Afrexim loan that the group accessed
last year. Discounting the fair value adjustment would see this financing
cost provision almost wiping out the $14,7 billion profit recorded at
operating level.

However, with the massive fair value adjustment which has grown from
being 52% of revenues to 149%, all other growth rates thereafter become very
robust. In the end attributable earnings of $30,2 billion were declared.

In the outlook, production volumes are expected to better last year's
and the financial performance of the group should get a timely boost from
the increase in the effective exchange rate. We are not sure whether it is
appropriate to indicate that the fair value adjustment will, given the
movement in the exchange rate and inflation, also be much higher.

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Indigenous banking revolution underway

Zim Independent

Shakeman Mugari

THE government and the central bank are working on a plan to transform
the banking sector through the creation of four large indigenous financial
institutions want to rival they established foreign-owned banks.

The move will intensify activity in financial market through mergers
and acquisitions already planned in the sector this year.

The plan, mooted in 2003, will centre on FBC Holdings, ZB Holdings,
CBZ Holdings and ReNaissance Financial Holdings.

The four financial institutions will rival the large foreign-owned
financial institutions and will be used to help fund government operations
and activities.

This week businessdigest can reveal that almost all major acquisitions
that have been made in the financial sector over the past two years are part
and parcel of this operation.

Sources say all acquisitions in the sector that will be made in the
next few months will have to comply with this grand plan or they will be

The broader plan, tosources say, is to create large indigenous
financial companies that will be used support government's plans.

"They want to create a strong locally controlled financial sector
around the four institutions. The idea is to have a strong sector that
government can rely on," said a source at the central bank.

"It's a deliberate plan by the government," he said.

Events over the past three years show that the plan is already
beginning to take shape. FBC Holdings has already acquired Southern Africa
Reinsurance and the Zimbabwe Building Society but sources say they are still
in the market looking for further takeover preys.

The approval of CBZ's takeover of British-owned Beverley Building
Society for £3 million was part and parcel of the broader plan. CBZ, owned
17% by government, is understood to be working on taking over a local
insurance firm. The transaction is likely to be completed by the third

CBZ chief executive Nyasha Makuvise told businessdigest that the plan
was to form a complete financial services company.

ZB Holdings, in which government has a 19% shareholding, recently took
over Intermarket Holdings. Intermarket has interests in asset management,
stockbroking, building society, corporate banking and insurance.

This means that three of the country's four building societies in the
country have already been swallowed into the plan.

The three banks will rival Barclays, MBCA, Standard Chartered Bank and

The fourth member of the plan is ReNaisance which is on the verge of
completing its takeover of First Mutual Limited. FML is the second largest
insurance company after Old Mutual.

Sources say within the next eight months the market will see the
transformation of the sector following this pattern.

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Interfresh gets Dutch courage

Zim Independent

Kuda Chikwanda

NEGOTIATIONS between Interfresh Ltd's subsidiary, Interfresh Flowers,
and its Dutch partners, Netherlands Floriculture Investments, to restructure
the existing ownership and marketing relationship are at an advanced stage
and are expected to be completed by June this year.

The flower division lost its exclusive marketing arrangement when it
made way for a Dutch third party to market 20% of the company's produce as a
means for creating competition for Netherlands Floriculture Investments, the
traditional marketing agent. It however did not divulge the name of the
third party, nor when the third party was engaged.

However, Interfresh Flowers aims to embark on a bush replacement
programme for Interfresh Flowers aimed to accelerating yield recovery,
following a 22% reduction in export volumes.

The division also suffered the loss of key management to the region.
The flower division registered an operating loss of $83 million last year.
As a result, Interfresh Flowers has embarked on a bush replacement programme
for Interfresh Flowers which will soon be accelerated to ensure yield
recovery following a damaging 22% reduction in export volumes, worsened by
loss of key management.

This is to enable the division to take advantage of increased
international demand for roses, coupled with rising prices.

"Negotiations are in progress to restructure the relationship with our
foreign partners to enable the business to realise its full potential,"
Intermarket chief operating officer, Taurai Makaure said.

Interfresh Citrus - which owns Mazoe Citrus Estates and Citrus
Projects - rode on the back of increased demand for citrus products despite
the fact that farm disruptions in Chegutu affected outgrowers' capacity to
meet demand, slashing volumes by 44%.

Farm disruptions in Chegutu and the granulation disease that has hit
the area last year resulted in production volumes for Interfresh Citrus
increasing by a marginal 6%.

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NRZ workers go slow over pay rise

Zim Independent

Pindai Dube

NATIONAL Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) workers this week went on a go
slow demanding a 750% wage increment with immediate effect.

In Bulawayo engineers, train drivers, security officers and supporting
staff refused to work demanding assurances that their salaries would be
reviewed. The workers want a 750% pay increase backdated to January this

The lowest paid worker currently earns about $250 000. Commuters who
use the freedom train were left stranded.

Contacted for comment Zimbabwe Railway Workers Union (ZRWU) deputy
secretary general, Washington Chitima, could not confirm or deny the job
action but said the union leaders were negotiating for a pay rise.

"Negotiations for salary reviews are currently going on between our
union and the management," he said.

Workers who spoke to businessdigest maintained that morale was at its
lowest at the parastatal due to poor pay.

"Morale is very low at the moment, currently we are on go slow and any
time from now we will stop coming to work altogether," said the workers.

NRZ public relations spokesman, Fanuel Masikati dismissed reports of a
go slow, saying the trains were grounded because of a technical problem.

"I have heard about that (go slow) but what I can tell you is that it's
just a rumour which started on Workers Day last week. "The reason why the
commuter trains failed to take off is because of a technical fault, which
has since been rectified."

NRZ has been operating below capacity for the past 21 years.

Last month NRZ general manager Mike Karakadzai told the Parliamentary
Portfolio Committee on Industry and International Trade that the struggling
parastatal last transported its maximum freight capacity of 18 metric tones
in 1985.

He said in 2005 the NRZ nearly collapsed due to under-capitalisation
and poor management.

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Ariston sweats for $30b profit after labour exodus

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

ARISTON Holdings this week said its $30 billion post-tax profit for
the half-year to March 2007 was achieved after pain and sweat as the
economic crisis drove critical labour out of tea estates into illegal gold
and diamond mining activities.

The bulk of the workers left Ariston's tea estates in Southdown area
east of Chipinge to eke out a living in the diamond fields of Marange.
Others crossed the border into Mozambique to trade.

The agro-based company said it had lost 2 000 workers over the past
two years.

"Two years ago we had a head count of 6 000 workers and we are now
down to 4 000," Ariston managing director Kumbirayi Katsande said at an
analysts briefing this week.

Katsande said the company would however not replace the workers but
will instead buy machines to do the job.

"We will not go back to high labour numbers. We will mechanise.
Handpicking tea brings good quality but if we mechanise we compromise on
quality but increase volumes," he said.

The group said it would use the proceeds of last year's $1,2 billion
rights offer to purchase implements to cover the void left by the workers.
Farm labourers are the most underpaid workers in the country but have been
attracted by better prospects offered by the informal sector.

Ariston's competitor, Tanganda, recently said it was worried by the
high labour turnover on its estates.

Ariston's turnover was up by 3 615% to $26 billion, up from $711
million recorded during the comparative period last year. Operating income
surged 10 450% while at $69,41 headline earnings were 5 823% up driven by
positive results in Southdown and Kent Estate.

Katsande said the positive margins were achieved under tough

Interest rate volatility, a stagnant exchange rate and the further
reduction of the retention limits for exporters worsened the situation,
Katsande said. "It is very tough out there, it is not easy but we are happy
we were not running around for workers' salaries," Katsande said.

He said the second half had started on a brighter note.

Margins were expected to improve following the introduction by the
central bank of the drought fund which allows exporters to change their
foreign currency at $15 000.

"The RBZ has restated the exchange rate which has given us a timely
relief but they must continue to review to enable us to deal with the
effects of a constant exchange rate in the last six months," he told

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Tourism industry far from recovery

Zim Independent

Shame Makoshori

THE breathtaking landscape on the fringes of Lake Kariba is home to
one of nature's greatest events.

A spectacle that sees the migration of thousands of wild animals from
the expansive forests, down the undulating mountains overlooking the Zambezi
into the grassy floodplains that sandwich the still waters in search of
fresh food.

Between April and October every year, as pools dotted across the
mountain ranges begin to dry up and pastures turn from lush green to straw
yellow, herds of impalas, elephants, buffaloes and other animals, sensing a
change in the air strategically position themselves close to the lake waters
for a six-month congregation that usually ends soon after the onset of the
rainy season.

After the rains, the perpetual hunt for fresh grass drives the beasts
southwards back to the mountains and further south of Tashinga National
Park, into rural Nyaminyami in a permanent cycle of migration driven by the
millennia-old and instinctive search for green grass.

Between 1990 and 1996 when Zimbabwe's tourism industry experienced a
robust growth, close to 300 000 tourists visited the Zambezi Valley, touring
places like Bumi Hills, the Ume River and Tiger Bay, to witness first hand
the attractions offered by one of Africa's most sought after spectacles.

The popularity that hit these destinations was an epitome of what
transpired across most destinations in Zimbabwe before government embarked
on its violent approach to solving a simmering land dispute with former
colonial power, Britain.

Foreign currency receipts spiralled from less than US$50 million in
1980 to US$232 million in 1996, but began to plunge, reaching US$61 million
in 2003 in response to the assault and murders of white commercial farmers
and political opponents of the state.

The impact was evident during a visit to Kariba last year.

Most safari lodges have crumbled and tall grass has replaced their
once well-maintained yards.

The boom has been replaced by a massive recession and most
entrepreneurs have crossed the border into Zambia because the foreign
currency-generating tourists are no longer coming.

Wild animals, once a cheap source of foreign currency for the country,
were roaming uninterrupted.

The reason for the deterioration of what once promised to be one of
the backbones of Zimbabwe's economic growth?

Poor prioratisation in marketing.

Taking a cue from political dynamics that have tended to view Asian
countries, especially China, as the panacea to Zimbabwe's economic turmoil,
the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has shifted attention to the east,
pumping billions into cultivating a market that has clearly demonstrated no
positive returns for over half a decade.

The ZTA's 2006 annual report indicates that despite the endless
official trips to market Zimbabwe in Asia last year, only 6 000 more
tourists were registered compared to the previous year.

Most of them sought businesses opportunities rather than holidays.

Ironically, tourism traffic from Europe and America, source-markets
which government considers hostile, have remained the drivers of the
industry in 2006 registering a combined 130 000 arrivals.

Asia registered a 19% growth from 31 000 to 37 000.

Tourism industry experts this week said government had wasted
resources to attract a mostly third world market whose travelling patterns
were erratic at the expense of money-spinning Western countries.

The annual report indicates that even when Asian tourists came into
the country, their average stay in hotels had averaged two to three nights
compared to those from the traditional Western markets whose average stay
ranged between two and 13 days.

This has inflicted a serious knock on the industry.

Instead of focusing on the high value but low volume Western markets,
Zimbabwe has witnessed a desperate effort to build mass tourism with little
impact on the economy.

In 2003, 2,2 million tourists came to Zimbabwe and the country
generated US$61 million, but 1,2 million tourists who arrived in 1997 before
the "Look East" policy generated US$204 million for the economy.

Tourism minister Francis Nhema admitted this week the marketing
campaign in Asia has had too many political overtones than actual work on
the ground which had derailed all the positive forecasts.

"We are not marketing China more," said Nhema. "I think there had been
better marketing efforts in Western markets than in China because we did not
stop marketing."

He argued that new markets took time to respond, adding it would take
a long time for Zimbabwe to begin enjoying the benefits of the current
marketing efforts.

"Unless we start balancing the frequency of flights to China, the
number of tourists will remain low. British Airways flies into Zimbabwe more
frequently than Air Zimbabwe's flights to China," he said.

Overall, foreign tourist arrivals took a 47% surge from 1,5 million in
2005 to 2,2 million in 2006.

But while the ZTA claims the whole statistical cycle was based on the
World Tourism Organisation (WTO) definitions, the numbers gave a false
impression that the sector is resurrecting when across the country
everything seems to be crumbling.

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Zimbabwe crisis goes beyond talks

Zim Independent

By Tawanda Mutasah

IN his 1988 autobiography, No Life of My Own, Frank Chikane,
director-general in the office of South African President Thabo Mbeki, makes
an important suggestion on how to view history.

History, Chikane reflects, can either be viewed as a series of events
that just happen, or as a daily construct of struggle "for or against the
goal of securing justice". Chikane opts for the latter approach, observing
that, under it, passivity has no place.

As Chikane supports Mbeki in beginning to implement the southern
Africa regional leaders' mandate to achieve political dialogue in Zimbabwe,
should Zimbabweans adopt an active or passive approach to this historical

It is submitted that while it may perhaps be careless to dismiss Mbeki's
effort a priori, it would be irresponsible to leave Mbeki to his designs.

Here is why:

Mbeki's effort is soliciting views on the next elections from the top
leadership of the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
and from Zanu PF. While that is obviously necessary, it is evidently not

The crisis in Zimbabwe not only goes beyond the question of dialogue
between the MDC and Zanu PF, but also beyond elections. It touches on
fundamental issues on which a range of actors including women's
organisations, civic coalitions, business, trade unions, professional
associations and churches have organised and pronounced over the years.

In any event, Mbeki's effort, so far premised on encouraging dialogue
between the MDC and Zanu PF, finds at least 600 activists and leaders of the
one side to such dialogue having been abducted and tortured in the last few
weeks, many afraid to sleep in their own homes for fear of unaccountable
security operatives. These are the people supposed to intelligently process
a settlement for the country.

Mbeki's effort finds information staff and other functionaries of the
country's main opposition party nowhere near their operating offices, being
either in detention or on the run, and these are the people supposed to be
the nerve centre of processing views on key political questions that must be
settled in a transition effort.

Even if it were accepted that the next elections are an important
bridge for Zimbabwe to exit its multifaceted crises, and therefore that they
are correctly at the top of Mbeki's discussion notepad, the South African
presidential effort arrives when - between the time of the Sadc mandate and
now - Mugabe has already pre-empted a number of the very fundamental
questions on which a settlement must be negotiated with respect to

President Mugabe is already moving on the expansion of parliament and
senate in an economy where citizens go hungry and without basic medicines;
he is proceeding on partisanly controlled constituency delimitation
processes; on deciding that a quarter of the country's citizens in the
diaspora will not vote; and on intensifying the application of Nazi-type
security and media laws that prevent alternative views from organising and
being heard.

Mugabe has chosen to go below even the dishonest standard of the man
who hurriedly cleans up the frontage of his house in preparation for a
visitor. Instead, Mugabe has used the interval between the Sadc meeting in
Dar es Salaam and now to create conditions that will significantly diminish
the contribution of any negotiations to the resolution of the Zimbabwe

With recent official pronouncements purporting to have deregistered
non-governmental organisations, Mbeki or his people will fly into Zimbabwe
to find even food-distributing civic entities lying prostrate under a new
sword of Damocles. They will find two human rights lawyers having been
detained for doing their work.

In this kind of context, Mbeki's office has said that, much like his
"quiet diplomacy", the talks will happen behind closed doors. National
Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku has rightly queried: "How
do you resolve such a complex and enduring crisis as Zimbabwe's behind
closed doors?"

To all this must be added the premise on which the Sadc mandate, and
presumably Mbeki's efforts, is based. According to the Sadc communiqué that
mandated Mbeki to get the MDC and Zanu PF to the table, the bloody and
fraudulent elections of the last few years in Zimbabwe were free and fair.

It is time to say forthrightly that, in the current context, elections
are meaningless. Mugabe himself was aware in 1979 at Lancaster House that
being railroaded into elections when Ian Smith partisanly controlled key
institutions such as the army, intelligence and police was a no-brainer, and
that is why that matter constituted an important element of negotiation.

Also, yes, elections are important. But are we not at a point where we
need to work towards a transition that also gives Zimbabwe at least a basis
for transformation from the sins of oppression and national collective fear
so movingly voiced in the lamentations of the nation's Catholic bishops?

Does the Zimbabwe crisis not encompass accountability and national
reconciliation with respect to political killings, torture and other human
rights abuses in our country; restoration of the rule of law, recovery for
the economy, and economic justice for those whose vacant eyes stare
hopelessly from the queues of the nation's now inhospitable hospitals?

It would seem that there is one way to go if as Zimbabweans we have to
take the nation's destiny into our hands. Rather than watch Mbeki talking to
the few senior political leaders that are able to fly between Pretoria and
Harare, Zimbabweans need to invest the reserves of energy, intellect and
creativity that abound in a National Constitutional Conference and
constitutional negotiation process.

Not only is this critical for the achievement of an even playing field
for the comprehensive elections that are forthcoming at presidential,
parliamentary, senatorial and mayoral levels, it is the surest ground on
which the nation could renew itself.

To claim that there is no time to do this now may be an argument that
is reckless about people's lives. What is the alternative? The cost of not
doing it now is continued arbitrary rule, continued alienation from the
nation-state of sizeable numbers of our citizenry, and - the worst spectre -
another round of deeply flawed and violent elections leading to another five
to 10 years of a crisis of legitimacy for the state.

The time is literally now to start organising for a serious National
Constitutional Conference to take place say by either July or August and to
involve a representative and broad cross-section of people from the MDC,
Zanu PF, non-governmental organisations, social movements, faith-based
organisations, trade unions, business, students, professional bodies and

The country is not starting from ground zero: input documents are
there in the various charters that have been produced by workers, women's
organisations, proposals by business on the resolution of the economic
crisis, the constitutional drafts of both the National Constitutional
Assembly and the Constitutional Review Commission, the roadmap to the
restoration of legitimacy as put forward by the main opposition party, and
various African norms and standards on elections, democracy, women's rights,
public service broadcasting and other key areas of a national social

A major part of the genesis of today's national crisis is that, at the
birth of Zimbabwe, the people's sovereign opportunity to articulate the
fundamentals of new statehood in a we-the-people convocation was supplanted
by closet discussions between two armed groups at Lancaster House - the
Rhodesian Front and the Patriotic Front.

"We don't want another Lancaster," argues Jacob Mafume of the Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition, "where President Mbeki becomes the new Lord
Carrington. We want a process that is owned by Zimbabweans."

And surely Mbeki would approve. The Convention for a Democratic South
Africa process was not a closet affair of five or so political leaders. The
process established five working groups, each made up of 38 delegates and 38
advisers, mandated to work towards the creation of a climate for free
political activity, determining basic constitutional principles and framing
transitional procedures and timetables.

The draft constitution published on July 26 1993 was the result of
such work, complete with its framing of a Transitional Executive Council,
being, in the specific exigencies of South Africa then, a multiracial body
that was to share executive power with FW de Klerk during election

Zimbabwe deserves no less. In Zimbabwe's case the base documents and
processes exist, and therefore a much shorter period is needed for serious
constitutional discussions, and the resultant adoption of a transitional
constitution and arrangements conducive for free political activity.

* Tawanda Mutasah was the founding convenor and chair of the National
Constitutional Assembly.

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Diabolic is the perfect description

Zim Independent


IT was perhaps inevitable that the government should attempt to make
political capital from the Harare International Festival of the Arts (Hifa),
which closed on Sunday after another successful run. Audiences were exposed
to the "Zimbabwe reality", the Herald told us.

Obviously, the Herald's theatre critic missed the bit in the opening
show, attended by over 8 000 people, in which performers were made to lie
down and were "beaten".

The audience got that "reality" loud and clear with chants of "March

The show started with the compere announcing: "Tonight I am your
leader. I will tolerate no opposition." There followed a dance in which what
looked like urban activists and a pickaxe gang in suits and dark glasses
squared off. Then the pickaxe gang laid into the protestors whose prostrate
bodies were carried off.

The significance of the dance was crystal clear to the audience. So
was the meaning of Bob Marley's Redemption Song.

Generally, this was a more outspoken Hifa with not-so-hidden messages
in many of the performances.

Which is why we were a little surprised to see executive director
Maria Wilson making some naïve remarks about the media. She "castigated some
local journalists", the Herald reported, "for giving the world a negative
view of Zimbabwe". To illustrate her point, she said having a picture of a
battered Nelson Chamisa circulated around the world made it appear as if all
was not well in Zimbabwe.

Muckraker was a little confused by this. Was it wrong of the media to
publish pictures of Chamisa? Should we have pretended it didn't happen so as
not to disturb Hifa visitors?

We can't believe that was Wilson's point. More likely she was saying
something slightly different about the Chamisa beating and its impact
abroad. But whatever the case, she gave a hostage to fortune at the hands of
the Herald.

Too much subtlety doesn't pay! She was joined in her media-bashing by
a Malawian poet who said the image of Zimbabwe had been moulded in the West.
That presumably included the detention of human rights lawyers which
everybody heard about as the festival got under way!

Generally, the view was that Hifa occupied some much-needed democratic
and cultural space. It got off to a rocky start when a few editorial
opportunists at the Mirror group attempted to hold the event hostage by
demanding accreditation for their moribund journalists, some of whom occupy
office space leading out onto the Charter House balcony, a traditional venue
for Hifa launches.

Told that they didn't have a product, the Mirror hacks became
indignant. "Give us accreditation or we won't allow you access to the
balcony," was the message.

A lavish spread had been prepared and it would have been difficult for
the organisers to relocate. So they relented and agreed to accredit three
Mirror reporters. But seven turned up demanding to be given the prestigious
red band.

Still on the subject of the media mill, there was disbelief in
newsrooms when George Charamba went on TV on World Press Freedom Day to say
journalists weren't paid enough.

He is of course right. And those who are the worst paid are employed
at the government-owned Sunday News. These are the guys, by the way, who
loyally reported that "tens of thousands of people visited the Trade Fair"
on its final day, Saturday, April 28. Yet they are paid peanuts for their
extravagant praise of what has become the Zimbabwe International Fleamarket
and clearly none of them remember when it was a thriving and successful
showcase for products from around the world.

What is Ignatious Chombo doing declaring who can vote? Surely that is
the function of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission?

He was quoted in the Herald on Monday announcing a date for local
government polls and offering the franchise to aliens born in Zimbabwe.

He also seemed to be involved in determining the size of urban wards.

But shouldn't all this be the preserve of the ZEC?

Chombo has meanwhile been busy conferring with fellow Catholics on the
recent pastoral letter. He waxed indignant claiming that two bishops, five
priests and "over a dozen" church members agreed with him that the letter
was "hateful, unfair, inaccurate, too general and to some extent diabolic".

He doesn't of course name his collaborators in this protest so we can't
be sure if they really exist. So here's the challenge for you, Cde Chombo.

As a good Catholic we would hate to catch you telling whoppers. We are
sure the two bishops and five priests have the courage of their convictions
and are prepared to speak out against their wayward colleagues. So let's
have their names so we can check out your story.

As for diabolic, isn't that the perfect description of the wicked
regime that beats people near to death for exercising their legitimate right
to protest?

What surprises us is that it has taken so long for the Zimbabwe
Catholic Bishops Conference to find its voice. We recall them pussy-footing
around the CCJP Gukurahundi report in 1997, never quite finding the courage
to endorse it.

And we have now the shocking scandal of Anglican prelates who are
happy to identify themselves with tyranny and brutal repression.

The Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Croydon, who was reported in the
Herald as accusing the British media of "peddling lies" about Zimbabwe
during a meeting with Cephas Msipa, has now clarified his position.

At no point did he say the British press had lied about Zimbabwe, he

"What I said was that they shouldn't complain about poor reporting of
Zimbabwean affairs if journalists were banned from the country and had to
rely on second-hand information," he told a British-based weekly paper.

A man calling himself a journalist from the Herald approached him, he
said, and claimed to have evidence that Church of England groups supported
the MDC.

"Of course I denied the assertion and asked him why on earth anyone
would wish to recolonise Zimbabwe."

All rather different from the Herald version isn't it!

Meanwhile, Anglican bishops have complained that their church's
episcopal letter, condemning sanctions and framed in language which mirrors
that of the ruling party, was penned by the Bishops of Harare and Manicaland
(Nolbert Kunonga and Elson Jakazi) and two others in Central Africa.

The Bishop of Masvingo, the Rt Revd Godfrey Tawonezvi, says he didn't
even get to see it.

"I did not sign the statement and I know that most bishops did not
sign since the statement was written after the bishops had left Zimbabwe,"
he said.

Muckraker recently published a mailing on the Internet from an
anonymous Anglican bishop asking for support from Americans for Zimbabwe's
fight against neo-colonialism. He appeared to be preparing for a trip to

We haven't heard anything since.

And still on the subject of "peddling lies", how did Ephraim Masawi
manage to get away with his facile claim that "foreign media houses were
using Zimbabwean journalists to effect their agenda of regime change"?

Did any of the journalists present on World Press Freedom Day in
Bindura tell him that the whole nation yearns for regime change? They want
an end to a regime of tyranny, oppression and looting of national resources.
They want a regime that is accountable and honest. They don't need any
Americans to tell them that!

If Masawi has any evidence that "foreign media houses were using
Zimbabwean journalists" let him produce it. Otherwise he should shut up.
World Press Freedom day is for the press, not for delinquent ministers to
advertise their ignorance.

We were dismayed to see on the Ministry of Home Affairs website that
the Times correspondent Jan Raath is still advertised in a photo as "Reuters
correspondent Young Rath" and that the person in the caption is actually not
"Young Rath" at all but Australian ambassador Jon Sheppard.

We hear that this was part of the document taken by President Mugabe
with him to Dar-es-Salaam as "evidence" of MDC terrorism.

We hope this is not true because it would be very embarrassing to have
such blatant inaccuracies included in a document which the government wants
its allies to take seriously. Will somebody please alert John Kufuor before
he is handed a copy.

And while we are talking about blatant inaccuracies, why does Caesar
Zvayi continue to suggest that Ian Smith lives on his farm in Shurugwi? He
hasn't lived there for years. Shouldn't a political editor know this sort of

A report from London published in the Johannesburg Sunday Times says
former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba has been found guilty in the High
Court of plundering R320 million from his people. He used the stolen money,
the report says, to indulge his taste for clothes, jewellery, cars, luxury
homes and hand-made high-heeled shoes.

His people, meanwhile, were struggling to live on R7 a day. He managed
to spend R8 million at an exclusive Swiss clothes shop!

Chiluba was an outspoken admirer of President Mugabe and his land

Since the fiasco called land reform we have been taught a new
vocabulary: that Zimbabwe is not facing a crisis but mere "challenges". This
sounds nice for those who make money through motivational tricks. In real
life things work differently.

This week Zesa announced it will step up load-shedding. Due to acute
power shortages and to help winter wheat farmers meet their targets,
domestic consumers will get power for only four hours a day for the next
three months, that is in the evening from 5-9pm.

What this means is that the whole of Zimbabwe will return to the Dark

It means now thieves and robbers can safely terrorise city dwellers
knowing full well they will be hard to detect in the dark. Electrical
gadgets will be reduced to museum artifacts.

This is not because ratepayers cannot pay for electricity but because
of lack of forward planning despite warnings many years back of a regional
power deficit. If this is not a crisis, then we do not know what is.

Finally, the Herald carried a cartoon on Tuesday by Innocent Mpofu
showing a supposedly independent electoral official teaching Morgan
Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara, and Lovemore Madhuku how to learn to accept

Missing from the class were Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Dumiso Dabengwa,
Sethimbiso Nyoni, and Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Perhaps Mpofu could show us next week a Zanu PF class being taught

No it's not German, it's very much Zimbabwean and it was first taught
in Harare South.

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Mythical intent to privatise parastatals

Zim Independent

By Eric Bloch

ON a number of occasions over the years, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) has urged the government to privatise public sector entities, but save
for a few privatisations in the 1990s - primarily the Cotton Company of
Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Reinsurance, Rainbow Tourism Group, Dairibord and CBZ
Bank, all of which were very successfully disposed of by the government -
there has been a steadfast resistance to all calls for privatisation.

In his 2006 year-end monetary policy statement, RBZ governor Gideon
Gono repeated previous privatisation recommendations, saying: "It is
critical that government implements the already accepted and noble
privatisation programme."

He amplified thereon saying: "Resolute implementation of the
privatisation programme remains a viable route through which government can
unlock immense value, both in local and foreign exchange terms. As a
strategic structural intervention, privatisation is beneficial to the
economy in the following three important ways:

* The involvement of private sector participation broadens the scope
for managerial effectiveness, as well as scale-economies which improve
overall productive efficiency in the entities concerned.

* This way, former burdens on the fiscus are hived off the government's
books. The resources so freed in the national budget can then be re-directed
to other priority areas, such as social outlays in the form of social safety

* Improved productivity in parastatals will also directly help share
up supply response in the rest of the economy, which reduces inflation."

The governor added that:

* The disposal of some stakes in the parastatals and other government
owned investments unlocks valuable revenues to finance government
operations. This mitigates the need for monetary finance of the budget
deficit which is typically inflationary.

* When carefully rolled out, privatisation can be used as a bona fide
source of foreign exchange. In the case of Zimbabwe, there can be no better
time to raise foreign exchange through any means possible than now. More
foreign exchange will enable the government to carry out broader
infrastructural projects, as well as support needy social sector areas like
HIV/Aids, TB and malaria prevention.

* Thus, any further procrastination in this area will have needlessly
continued to deny government immense revenue opportunities, in the process
prolonging the turnaround journey.

The governor added that the RBZ "estimate(s) that if carefully
implemented, the privatisation process can unlock between US$2-3 billion,
which will resolve the current strain in the foreign exchange market" and
that the core principles which should guide the privatisation programme

* attainment of fair market value for national assets;

* zero-tolerance for corruption;

* empowerment of Zimbabweans;

* transparency; and

* the full involvement of interested parties.

It is not insignificant to note that two months prior to the governor's
comprehensive focus upon privatisation, which expanded substantially upon
his many previous calls for governmental disinvestment action, former
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa, when presenting his 2007 national budget
statement, had intimated the government's intent to progress privatisation.

However, actions speak louder than words, and based thereon there is a
continuing deafening silence. Despite 27 years of repeated declaration of
intentions to progress privatisation of the parastatals and other public
entities, naught has happened other than the five successful privatisations
of the 1990s. Instead, ever more parastatals are created, such as the
Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe.

Clearly, the government's declarations of privatisation intentions are
nothing other than hollow and empty words, devoid of any genuine intent.

Undoubtedly that is because, first and foremost, none of the ministers
and permanent secretaries under whom the parastatals fall are willing to
experience any contraction of their empires and reduction of their control
and authority over economic issues.

Secondly, the existence of parastatals enables the ruling party, as
the government, to exploit the opportunities in favour of, and benefits to,
favoured colleagues and associates.

And perhaps the most pronounced reason for lip service to
privatisation is that the government totally abhors the concepts of a free,
deregulated economy driven by economic fundamentals, and instead favours one
of absolute, unimpeded governmental controls.

The consequence is that none of the privatisation benefits identified
by the RBZ and others, and as proven to materialise by the five previously
successful privatisations and by the numerous successes of other countries,
including the USA, most European countries, South Africa and many others,
are being attained in Zimbabwe.

Instead, the economy continues upon its endlessly downward decline.
That decline is accelerated, and exacerbated, by the magnitude of
inefficiencies of many of the parastatals, whether due to capitalisation
constraints, mismanagement, non-availability of technical skills,
misguidedly controlled pricing policies, lack of foreign currency, or

Prime examples are the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority with
never-ending power outages due to infrastructural generation or distribution
faults and inadequate generation resources, and NetOne, whose
telecommunication inadequacies impact most adversely upon the economy, with
endless inability for users to effect intercity, regional and international

Yet a further prime example is the Zimbabwe National Water Authority,
whose only abilities appear to be contamination of Harare's water supplies,
expropriation of water storage, reticulation and distribution
infrastructures of local authorities, continuous imposition of charges (even
for water not supplied by it, such as urban residents' borehole water
suppliers), non-delivery of adequate water supplies to urban authorities,
and delay of remuneration payments to employees.

Clearly, therefore, any and all declarations by the government of
privatisation polices are devoid of foundation and wholly mythical, with
Zimbabwe as a whole, and the economy, consumers, and the government all
suffering the consequences.

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Rigging evidence is there in black and white

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

By Vincent kahiya

THE catholic bishops' Pastoral letter of last month appears to have
grossly incensed President Mugabe who last week made veiled threats at the
prelates. The clerics have suddenly found themselves on the list of those
who have taken "a dangerous route" of standing up to those responsible for
Zimbabwe's democratic deficit.

Mugabe found to be offensive assertions in the letter that elections
had been rigged and that "colonial structures and institutions of
pre-independent Zimbabwe continued to persist in our society".

President Mugabe told a Zanu PF Central Committee meeting last Friday
that it was a lie that elections had been rigged.

"It is a lie to say elections have been rigged. Why do they not tell
us in which areas the elections have been rigged?" said Mugabe.

Are we supposed to believe the claim that elections in Zimbabwe have
been held in a free and fair environment? The fact that his African comrades
and other suborned international observers have declared the elections
largely free and fair does not launder Zimbabwe's tainted electoral system,
deliberately designed to deliver predetermined outcomes.

That the Zanu PF government has put in place machinery to sway
election results in its favour is too common place to be missed. The MDC,
which has been a victim of this electoral fraud, this week failed to respond
to Mugabe's statement that elections were free and fair. This is despite the
fact that after the disputed 2000 polls, the party filed 40 petitions
contesting results in constituencies won by Zanu PF. In the 16 petitions
that were heard by the courts, seven were judged in favour of the MDC,
effectively nullifying the result.

This is the evidence of the rigging of elections which President
Mugabe challenged the Catholic bishops to produce. It is there in black and
white in High Court judgements. In Buhera North, where Morgan Tsvangirai was
the candidate, the judge ruled that corrupt practices in the form of undue
influence, which was not of a "trivial, unimportant and limited character",
forced him to declare the election result void.

In Chiredzi North, the judge said that corrupt practices had not been
proved, but the widespread violence and intimidation of the electorate
negated the concept of a free election, and she therefore declared the
election void. In Gokwe North, the judge ruled that the candidate had not
taken precautions to prevent corrupt practices and the ones that took place
were "not trivial, unimportant or of a limited" character.

In Gokwe South the MDC candidate was severely assaulted and a rumour
spread that he had died. The court declared that Zanu PF was guilty of
corrupt practices and the result declared void. Hurungwe East and Makoni
East were also voided on account of widespread intimidation.

In the Mutoko South constituency, the judge noted that the MDC
candidate had been kidnapped by war veterans and brought to a meeting where
the Zanu PF candidate was present and forced to contribute to the ruling
party's campaign.

MPs who were deemed by the courts to have been fraudulently elected to
office went through their full five-year terms on a technicality that Zanu
PF had appealed against the High Court rulings.

The balance of the cases were not heard largely because "there were no
judges" to hear the cases. How convenient this was for Zanu PF. In response
to Mugabe, the clerics can also point to the fact that military men have
been appointed to run elections.

I vividly remembered in 2002 enquiring from the army whether Brigadier
Nyikayaramba - who had been appointed chief elections officer - was still a
serving officer in the army. The response from army PR was that he had
retired a few weeks prior to his appointment. But after the presidential
poll the brigadier was appointed to head a brigade. He was recently
photographed in uniform at a SeedCo ceremony.

Violence which claimed dozens of MDC activists and commercial farmers
between 2000 and 2002 is well-documented. Does this not constitute rigging?

There is no running away from the fact that the electoral paying field
must be levelled to ensure that parties can campaign freely and that they
have equitable access to state media.

Perhaps Zanu PF leaders do not see how the electoral playing-field is
tilted in their favour. In fact they believe that is what it should be, just
as they believe that the police are allowed to beat up opposition leaders
and their supporters and of late lawyers.

The rigging has already started. The duty of the press is to expose

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Broaden talks agenda

Zim Independent


IT would have been nice to see the joint proposal for talks made by
the two MDC factions to South African president Thabo Mbeki. It would have
been better still to have seen Mbeki's letter to both the MDC and Zanu PF.

The proposed talks between the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change and Zanu PF, if ever they take off the ground, are too important an
event to be left in the hands of the two parties. The deep structural and
institutional transformations required for Zimbabwe to make a transition
from the current economic recession and political tyranny to a lasting
recovery and a new democratic culture call for the involvement of more than
a few politicians in their quest for power. Their agenda is necessarily too
narrow to cover the desires and aspirations of the generality of

So far as we can tell, Zanu PF is not in a hurry to engage in
dialogue. It is in denial about the existence of a crisis in Zimbabwe,
acknowledging only "challenges" it vainly blames on so-called Western
sanctions. President Robert Mugabe has repeatedly denied accusations of
economic mismanagement and that his land reform is a huge failure as a tool
of black economic empowerment. He finds it comfortable to blame the
occasional drought and nameless economic saboteurs in his own party.

Mugabe again denies charges of authoritarian rule. In a cynical way,
he appears to believe that beating up opposition leaders and their
supporters represents an enforcement of the rule of law. That includes a ban
on basic civil liberties such as assembly and association. While these are
guaranteed in the constitution, satanic sections of the Public Order and
Security Act ensure none of them can be freely enjoyed without breaking the

This means that while Zanu PF can campaign freely, opposition parties
cannot do the same. Even though the law merely requires the police to be
informed of a planned meeting, this has been twisted into an authorisation.
All this is compounded by an unofficial ban on opposition voices in the
state media.

Given the involvement of the CIO, the police and the military in the
conduct and running of national elections, Zanu PF has an unassailable
advantage. It is something that Zanu would never want to surrender easily,
something that makes Mbeki's mission nearly impossible before he has begun.

On the other hand, the MDC's demands are too narrow because of its
State House syndrome. It wants a new constitution, a repeal of repressive
laws like Posa, an independent electoral commission and international
supervision of the electoral process. As a bargaining chip, they challenge
President Mugabe's legitimacy based on the claim that the 2002 presidential
election was stolen.

These demands are not only shallow but shaky and short-term. They don't
address the serious structural and institutional problems which have
produced the current dictatorship, which will keep reproducing itself
whatever face we have at State House. Real revolutionary change in the
culture of a people and its oppressive institutions cannot be achieved in
the limited context of winning an election, that is, within 10 months to
March next year. But the MDC appears to believe that removing Mugabe as an
individual translates to democracy - hence the purported promise of immunity
to Mugabe which the party can't guarantee.

National Constitutional Assembly chairman Lovemore Madhuku has called
for the involvement of other key stakeholders from the very beginning,
arguing that politicians tend to make "too many concessions" in their hurry
to get to State House. Madhuku is right and part of the problem is that the
MDC is coming to the negotiating table from a very weak position with
nothing tangible to sell to Mugabe. His decision to run in next year's
election is a defiant gesture - to demonstrate that his legitimacy doesn't
depend on the MDC's goodwill.

Mugabe has also consistently outwitted the MDC leadership as a
strategic thinker, running circles around the party and forcing it to react
to his dictates. After insisting that they wanted elections next year in an
impetuous response to a ruse by Mugabe about the 2010 project, the MDC must
now turn around again and demand a postponement of the synchronised polls if
it hopes to wring electoral concessions from Zanu PF.

It is important to look for points of engagement and fight for minimum
achievable requirements in the context of the Sadc guidelines and principles
on the holding of democratic elections. Sadc leaders must stamp their
authority on this point if they want to retain a modicum of credibility. A
demand by the MDC for an overhaul of the electoral system would require a
transitional authority and would most likely push elections to 2010.

This is probably where the choice of Mbeki as mediator was a big
mistake by Sadc given his preoccupation with his own succession politics in
the ANC and that his term of office ends in 2009. It is hard to see how he
can devote his undivided attention to Zimbabwe's intractable conundrum given
the intransigent postures adopted by both the MDC and Zanu PF.

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Hectic, taxing but interesting

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

By Dumisani Muleya

I WAS recently part of a group of about 200 journalists from all over
the world which visited the United States for nearly a month on an exchange
programme to study US political and socio-economic structures, including the

The trip, which took us from Washington DC to Isleta Pueblo (the local
equivalent of Binga) and meeting politicians, visiting TV and radio
stations, newspapers, communities and cultural events, was hectic and
taxing, yet interesting.

Everywhere we went in the US - metropolitan cities, farms and
villages - Zimbabwe was an issue for all the wrong reasons. The country's
image is battered, largely because of repression (note the recent brutal
attacks on opposition leaders and lawyers) and the economic meltdown.

If it were a corporate brand, it would by now be damaged beyond
repair. As a nation we are now a laughing stock around the world just
because of a corrupt and incompetent dictatorship.

All the same, the trip turned out to be a great learning curve. It
practically demonstrated the good, the bad and the ugly of the US. The good
face of the US shows its sociable people in their collective cultural
diversity and ways of life, futuristic infrastructure and highly developed
institutions, including media houses, and economic and technological
advances, which combined make the US the largest economy and the only
superpower in the world.

The US is a vibrant and dynamic society. The politics are contested in
a civil manner. There is no killing or bashing of opponents simply because
they hold different views! There is often a great deal of debate on major
public policy issues. No doubt, we have a lot to learn from this.

For a society whose history is littered with racial oppression and
division, new ground is being broken in mainstream politics now with a black
man whose father came from Kenya giving Democrat front-runner Hillary
Clinton a serious challenge - at least so far - for their party's nomination
in the presidential election race. Already two blacks (whose ancestors used
to be considered 3/5 of a person) have been secretaries of state (foreign
ministers). The capital city, Washington DC, has a black mayor. US politics
are slowly but surely changing.

The country has a complicated - some say sophisticated - federal
system of government. The checks and balances in the constitution, intended
to endure for ages and to be adapted to various crises of human affairs, are
strong and this prevents cavalier dictatorship. President Bush, a
Republican, currently has to battle with a Democrat-dominated congress.

However, an attempt to unravel some of the many strands that enter
into this complex US tapestry reveals deep-seated problems in the American
system. Its guiding doctrines and actions, especially focusing on a power
that proclaims global hegemony, can be dangerous.

US foreign policy is particularly a problem. While US administrations
(a lot of Americans don't always agree with this) trumpet democracy and
freedom, they have double standards informed by the philosophy that "we have
no permanent friends or enemies, but permanent interests".

This sort of rigid dogma, especially under the current government
which operates at the extreme end of the traditional US policy spectrum,
discredits the noble cause of democracy. Iraq is a case in point.

Critics say the US still has racial profiling although it's now more
subtle. Two outspoken newspaper publishers (one black and the other
Hispanic) we met at the University of Kentucky's School of Journalism, told
us of institutionalised racism and economic marginalisation of minorities.

Poverty is rife in black-dominated states of the south. The New York
Times recently ran a story on rising mortality rates in Mississippi among
blacks due to material deprivation. This is the downside of the US.

These kinds of issues were contested terrain during our heated
debates. They were discussed forthrightly and frankly. The only trouble was
that when it came to the Middle East question our colleagues from there
choked with emotional intensity!

I went for the tour with a very sceptical, but open mind. We have
always been taught through books and practice that a good quality journalist
has to be sceptical even when things appear straight-forward. We need to be
a disbelieving species (this is even more relevant to the US media now after
the Iraq War) to ensure we don't write stories without interrogating them.

However, my scepticism in this case largely stemmed from my readings
on the subject of the US exchange programmes whose thrust and purpose after
WWII was to sell American culture to the world. If one reads a book titled
Propaganda Inc by an American Professor, Nancy Snow, they will clearly
appreciate what I'm saying.

Despite my reservations the trip in the end was frankly speaking
useful. It helped me gain profound insights into the social, economic and
political structures of the US.

Via academic lectures, seminars and symposiums, the trip highlighted
to me current US media trends and dynamics. I also had a better opportunity
to observe the operational practices, standards and institutions of the US
media, which was our main objective.

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Zim Independent Letters

Unfair ZITF coverage

THE Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Company is dismayed by the
deliberate misrepresentation and sensationalisation of facts about ZITF 2007
that continue to be published by the Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard.

The company respects the diversity of views and welcomes criticism as
long as it is done genuinely and presents the truth. We have nothing to

Facts and figures about ZITF are readily available to anyone who
requires them, but your reporters (Kholwai Nyathi and Pindai Dube) decided
to ignore them completely.

Of note is the story published by The Standard, April 22 headlined
"Government hijacks business talks in Bulawayo." The story states that:
"Standardbusiness last week learnt that the Ministry of Environment and
Tourism instructed the ZITF committee which organises the IBC not to invite
and book any business organisations or executives who are not aligned or
sympathetic to Zanu PF."

From whom did he learn this? He did not interview me or any of my
staff. The story therefore is short of an authentic and reliable source as
the said reporter did not take it upon himself to check with us. Such levels
of deliberate sensationalism and fabrication are not only unfair but very

ZITF is a multi-sectoral business forum whose mandate is to promote
business exchange without favour or discrimination.

We respect different opinions within the society but we cannot
tolerate deliberate distortions, which are far from the reality on the

The same reporter went on to write in the Zimbabwe Independent that
only five foreign companies were participating at this year's edition in a
story headlined: "Only 5 foreign companies at ZITF: worst trade fair in 48
years" published on April 27.

He goes on to compare five foreign countries to 90 foreign exhibitors
last year. Dube does not seem to know the difference between foreign country
representation at ZITF and foreign exhibitors. He needs to understand that a
country can bring a number of companies as exhibitors under its national

From where did he get his figure of five when we had more than double
that number of countries each representing several companies.

ZITF accepts constructive criticism as long as it is not intended to
counter the efforts that the company is doing to play its part in improving
our economy.

The company does not take kindly to deliberate distortions meant to
give a gloomy picture about its efforts. We look forward to more
professionalism and less cynicism from journalists.

DJ Chigaru,

ZITF general


Much to be addressed before granting amnesty

I HAVE read with great interest the discussions surrounding the
amnesty offer to Robert Mugabe by Morgan Tsvangirai.

I do not intend to discuss or argue the merits, and the lack of,
regarding granting Mugabe amnesty, but to discuss the provisions of any
amnesty to Mugabe. I wish to limit my contribution to the following points:
the meaning of amnesty, mandate for offering amnesty and modalities of
offering amnesty.

My little research gives me the meaning of amnesty as a general pardon
for offences, especially political offences, against a government, often
granted before any trial or conviction. It is also defined as a law, an act
of forgiveness for past offences, especially to a class of persons as a
whole. And also as a forgetting or overlooking of any past offence.

Note the following words in the above definition: pardon, offences,
before trial or conviction, class of persons, forgetting or overlooking.

One therefore has to ask: On whose mandate is Tsvangirai taking the
decision to offer Mugabe and his cohorts amnesty? Is it for the beatings
that he has personally received recently? If so, let's not forget there were
over 20 000 killed and over 500 000 tortured Gukurahundi victims. Where do
their views fit?

The question of Tsvangirai's mandate is critical for a number of
reasons especially that if the amnesty is for crimes since 2000. There is a
question of whether there has been adequate consultation with victims'

It is also critical because if the amnesty is for Gukurahundi crimes
then there is an even bigger question on the mandate as Tsvangirai by virtue
of being an active Zanu PF member at the time, was an accomplice and
therefore requires amnesty himself and is therefore ill-qualified to grant
his accomplice at that time (Mugabe) amnesty.

With mandate questions addressed, the question of modalities for
granting amnesty also arise. Does one grant amnesty on a "see-no-evil,
hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil" basis where nothing is demanded of the culpable
but a blanket laid over the past?

What of, for example, Talent Chiminya's children who want to know that
their father's life was not in vain and wish for something tangible to come
of it?

What of the Gukurahundi victims' children who still can't get birth
certificates and identity cards as their disappeared parents have never been
acknowledged as dead? What of the need for psychological closure that often
requires details, as gory as they may be, of how their loved ones came to
their end?

Does one grant amnesty on a truth and justice basis where the truth is
sought and leniency is made the order of the day? Or does one grant amnesty
on a truth and reconcialliation basis where the truth is sought and
sentences are passed on the culpable?

The questions of meaning, mandate and modalities cannot be divorced.
Principles need to be the order of the day if we are to change Zimbabwe for
the better.

Zwide ka Langa,

Can someone up there do something

I WRITE to appeal to the commanders of the uniformed forces (that is
police, army and prisons) to immediately come and dismantle an illegal base
established by their members in conjunction with street kids at Mohamed
Mussa Wholesale in Kenneth Kaunda Avenue between Angwa and Orr Streets.

The base is used by the above officers' counterparts to fight and
prevent ordinary citizens from buying sugar.

The policy of the only sugar outlet for the public in the city is to
sell a single 2kg packet of sugar per person on a first come first served
basis at $3 200 in order to accommodate as many households as possible.

Contrary to this, uniformed officers devised tactics aided by the
private guards employed at the outlet to ensure that no ordinary person buys
sugar from this outlet.

Some of the tactics involve the guard driving ordinary people queuing
for sugar 15 metres from the selling point which is a cage by design.

The gap created is then filled in by the street kids and uniformed
officers thereby automatically becoming the first to enter the cage whose
entrance is also manned by fierce street kids and once in the cage they don't
come out but continue to circulate inside buying several packets and handing
them to colleagues outside the cage who immediately send it to the black
market for $20 000. You really wonder if these officers are genuine or on
duty. Just imagine the same officer circulating in the cage for six hours in

The soldiers and police minus prison services forces beat civilians
who may be fortunate enough to enter the cage thereby causing confusion in
the cage. During the confusion they drive every one out of the cage and
together with the street kids they are the first again for the second time
to enter the cage using the new fake order created.

This group of officers and streetkids continues to circulate until the
outlet closes. The only things you go home with are baton stick wounds and
new vocabulary that will make the devil run for cover. Please somone up
there, do something.

Tsvikiri Ndezvevashe,


Stop harassing lawyers
THE Zimbabwe Institute condemns in the strongest terms the brutal
attack on lawyers who were marching to the High Court of Zimbabwe on Tuesday
in protest against attacks on them in the course of carrying out their
lawful work.

The march was sparked by the arrest of two lawyers, Alec Muchadehama
and Andrew Makoni who have been representing MDC activists in recent months.
The police refused to allow the two lawyers access to legal practitioners
and family. They were also denied food.

Lawyers who sought to represent the two were themselves threatened
with arrest and assault.

Three High Court orders were issued for various things, including
access by lawyers and doctors and family, and food, and ultimately, for
their release. All the court
orders were totally ignored by the police.

A representative of the Attorney General, Richard Chikosha, was
allegedly assaulted by one Assistant Commissioner Mabunda, for consenting to
a court order.

Lawyers, like many other citizens and groups that include civil
society, media and the opposition have come under increased pressure from
the regime since the beginning of this year as the state seeks to retain its
unpopular and illegitimate hold on power.

In the past two months over 600 citizens, including opposition and
civil society leaders have been abducted and brutally tortured in police

Tuesday's attack on the president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe,
Beatrice Mtetwa, and other lawyers is not acceptable.

The only defence and protection available to the citizens has come
from human rights lawyers who have represented them against a wide range of
fabricated charges. No single case has been successfully prosecuted against
democratic activists and leaders.

As a result the government is increasingly turning their attacks on
lawyers seeking to intimidate them against representing victims of
government attacks.

Lawyers are now routinely attacked and intimidated in the course of
their work.

The increasing attacks on human rights defenders and the courts spell
a greater threat to the citizens of Zimbabwe and send the signal that the
regime is still determined to close what remnants are left of democratic

We call on the international community and Sadc in particular to
condemn this latest assault on the people of Zimbabwe and to speak with a
united and stern voice.

Isaac Maposa.

Zimbabwe Institute director.

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