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Inflation Hits 355 000%

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 15 May 2008 21:51
YEAR on year inflation for the month of March surged to 355 000% from
the February figure of 165 000% as prices rose on the back of increased
money supply to finance the 2008 harmonised elections.

Top government sources said the inflation figures for March had
initially been projected at 406 000%, but were still being computed as the
Central Statistical Office (CSO) continues to fiddle with the consumer
basket.

"The CSO were instructed last month to change the consumer basket. The
basket is forever changing." said one Ministry of Finance official. "It
remains uncertain whether the go ahead will be given to them to release the
figures."

Food and non-alcoholic beverages continued to be the major drivers of
inflation in March.

No figures were provided for month-on-month inflation figures for
March nor for money supply growth since December last year.

"They are still busy doing that," the official said. "When they come
up with a new basket, they are told to dump certain products and substitute
them with cheaper ones. However, they will soon run out of cheaper products
to use."

The CSO acting director, Moffat Nyoni, confirmed that the CSO had been
having difficulty in coming up with a stable consumer basket.

"We have the method and the formulae," Nyoni said. "It is what you
feed into the formulae. We have just too many gaps and we find the data
available somewhat troubling."

Nyoni said the CSO had not computed substantive inflation data for the
months of February, March and April owing to these challenges.

"The more data we have, the more investigations we conduct, the more
confident we become," Nyoni said.

"However, when we consider the data that we have, we just don’t feel
confident releasing inflation figures."

However, the CSO projection, sources said, has placed inflation for
May at over 1 200 000% if the trend continues.

Nyoni would not confirm these developments.

"I am not aware of that. We have not even computed inflation for these
past months," he said.

The figures come at a time the RBZ has introduced higher denomination
bearer cheques notes to counter the adverse effects of inflation.

The central bank introduced the $500 million bearer cheques for the
public and the $5 billion, $25 billion, $50 billion agro-cheques for
farmers. The new notes come hardly two weeks after the introduction of the
$250 million bearer cheques.

Economist John Robertson said the acceleration of the year-on-year
inflation rate reflected the compounded effect of prices that were rising
every week.

"Prior to this, prices used to double once a month, then they doubled
twice a month and now they are doubling every week," Robertson said. "It is
a compounding effect causing the rate to accelerate tremendously."

The CSO last released inflation figures in January when the
year-on-year rate was 100 580,2%. Prior to that, the year on year inflation
rate for December was 66 212,3%.

By Kuda Chikwanda



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Mugabe Allies Against Run-off

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 15 May 2008 22:35

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s close allies are opposed to the looming
presidential run-off which they fear will fuel political violence and
economic disintegration.

Information to hand shows Mugabe’s associates have advised that the
potentially explosive run-off should be avoided to pave way for a negotiated
political settlement.

The run-off date is due to be announced today. Sources said it could
be in June, although electoral authorities have indicated it should be held
within 90 days from May 2. The MDC said yesterday it would not accept the
run-off delay.

Independent MP Jonathan Moyo is challenging the run-off delay in court
today.

The sources said Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono has advised Mugabe
that it would be better to avoid the run-off and settle for talks.

They said Gono made a case to Mugabe last month that this would
prevent a further assault on the economy and limit the meltdown.

Gono’s position was at variance with that of the Joint Operations
Command (JOC) who want Mugabe to fight on.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces chief General Constantine Chiwenga, Police
Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Prisons Commissioner retired
Major-General Paradzayi Zimondi, Army Chief of Staff Major-General Martin
Chedondo and Brigadier-General David Sigauke have said they would not accept
opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai if he wins.

The generals’ position is shared by Zanu PF senior politburo member
Emmerson Mnangagwa who is Mugabe’s chief strategist for the run-off.

Mnangagwa’s rivals in the camp led by retired army commander General
Solomon Mujuru want Mugabe to quit, not enter the run-off. They started
their campaign well before the elections.

Regional leaders, led by South African President Thabo Mbeki, are said
to be pushing for a negotiated solution or government of national unity, but
Mugabe and his clique of hardliners are resisting this.

Mbeki is said to be of the view that a run-off would not resolve the
country’s deepening problems but worsen them.

The sources said after the March 29 elections, the service chiefs told
Mugabe to dig in but close advisors like Gono suggested a negotiated
settlement.

Zanu PF sent out feelers to the MDC through Nicholas Goche, but talks
quickly collapsed as the two parties were poles apart.

Tsvangirai has confirmed this, although Zanu PF claims the MDC
approached it first.

It is understood Gono wrote for Mugabe a detailed document arguing his
case. He is said to have also argued that the run-off would drain whatever
resources government has left.

Sources said government — which has no usable foreign currency — needs
about US$60 million to fund the run-off.

Government is currently unable to import essentials due to chronic
forex shortages.

The campaign matter was discussed at his party’s politburo meeting on
Wednesday and will be raised at today’s key central committee meeting. Zanu
PF is likely to use the central committee to launch Mugabe’s campaign.

Tsvangirai is expected to return home today after more than a month in
self-imposed exile in Botswana and South Africa from where he visited a
number of leaders in the region and across the continent in search of a
breakthrough to current problems.

He is expected to address his party caucus of MPs and senators in
Harare which started meeting yesterday.

Gono said in a local weekly last week he was convinced “scorched earth
policies” during the run-off would not achieve anything, except further
damage the economy and social fabric. He said unless parties exercised
restraint during the run-off, “there may be no Zimbabwean economy to talk
about”. He said political violence would only fuel divisions.

Gono, believed to be considering resigning due to political
interference in his job, said if not carefully managed the run-off would
“spell disaster for the economy”.

His view is said to be shared by a number of senior Zanu PF officials,
except those in the Mnangagwa faction, who think the run-off would leave the
country in political and economic ruin.

Asked about his advice to Mugabe, Gono said: I’m not a superintendent
or advisor in politics, but in the financial sector”. He said in any case he
does not discuss his briefings with Mugabe in the media.

He denied he was considering resigning. “That’s just a perception, I
have heard that story a hundred times before,” he said. “I will do my job
given to me by my principals at any given time. Right now I’m still there,
but I won’t last a day longer than my principals want me to.”

It is said Gono still has political ambitions which he wants to pursue
after his term has expired in December. “Don’t compartmentalise or regiment
me into politics. After this I can be a farmer, businessman, banker,
lecturer or even a tea boy,” he said.

Some in the security establishment believe Mugabe should not contest
the run-off because he is likely to lose and exit in a humiliating fashion.

They think alarms bells were loud enough in the first round and he
should quit to avoid an embarrassing crushing.

By Dumisani Muleya


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Mbeki 'shocked' At Zim Violence

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 15 May 2008 22:28

SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki last week confronted President
Robert Mugabe on post-election violence after a probe team he sent to
Zimbabwe uncovered shocking evidence of largely state-sponsored brutality
against opposition supporters in rural areas.

Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that Mbeki raised "great
concern" about the violence when he met Mugabe in Harare last Friday
afternoon soon after receiving a brief on political violence from the
investigators.

Mbeki was appointed by Sadc last year to facilitate dialogue between
Zanu PF and the opposition MDC. The sources said the head of the probe team
made up of ex-army generals, Lieutenant-General Gilbert Lebeko Ramano, met
Mbeki for several hours and told him they had uncovered evidence of brutal
violence against the opposition.

Ramano, the source added, told Mbeki that in a few cases members of
the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC were also involved in counter-violence.

The generals during their investigations met government, Zanu PF and
opposition officials, civil society and other stakeholders. They also saw
victims of the political violence, some of them with lacerations, scars and
broken limbs.

The team reportedly declined to entertain police chief Augustine
Chihuri’s attempt to give them a colonial context of the situation obtaining
in the country. Chihuri, the sources added, was reminded by the generals
that their mandate in Zimbabwe was to probe current political violence.

Mbeki, the sources said, was shown some of the evidence of the
violence and was reportedly shaken.

"After the briefing with the generals at the South African ambassador’s
residence, Mbeki met Mugabe at State House for three hours and raised
concern about the violence," one of the sources said. "Mbeki reportedly told
Mugabe that a run-off in an atmosphere of violence would produce a disputed
result.

Mugabe, the sources said, agreed with Mbeki that the violence should
be brought to an end, but tried to convince the South African leader that
MDC youths were provoking his party members.

Since the Mugabe/Mbeki meeting, the Zimbabwe government and Zanu PF
have been issuing statements deploring violence.

Police in Masvingo this week said they had dismantled political bases
in the province that were being used to unleash violence, while Zanu PF in
Mashonaland Central launched an anti-violence campaign.

On Wednesday Zanu PF’s politburo met in the capital and also condemned
violence. The source said Mbeki was convinced that a run-off could not take
place in the tense climate.

Last week, his special envoy on Zimbabwe, Kingsley Mamabolo, also said
the environment in Zimbabwe was not conducive for the run-off now expected
about or after July 31.

On Wednesday Sadc — which is expected to monitor the run-off — said
the political environment was not yet suited for a free and fair
second-round poll.

“We can’t say the playing ground is safe or will be fair, but we are
there to create a conducive environment for everybody to be confident,” Sadc
executive secretary Tomaz Salomao said.

Sadc is expected to hold an extraordinary meeting on Zimbabwe soon.

Political violence intensified in Zimbabwe after the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) confirmed on May 2 that Mugabe and Zanu PF had
lost to the MDC and Tsvangirai in the March 29 poll.

The sources said Mugabe told Mbeki during their meeting that the
run-off would be delayed because ZEC needed funds to replenish election
materials, among other logistics.

Mugabe reportedly told the South African leader that ZEC wanted to
delay the run-off by at least six months.

“Mbeki pledged to mobilise funds for the run-off,” another source
said.

By Constantine Chimakure


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. . As Lawyer Asks High Court To Bar Army

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 15 May 2008 21:36
PROMINENT lawyer and MDC MP-elect for Buhera West, Advocate Eric
Matinenga, has filed an urgent High Court application seeking an order to
bar Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Constantine Chiwenga from deploying
soldiers whom he accuses of harassing villagers in his constituency.

Chiwenga is being sued in his capacity as Commander of the Zimbabwe
Defence Forces.

The army has denied involvement in the violence that has gripped the
country since the elections in March.

Matinenga said he was prompted to make the application after "certain
disturbances" by soldiers in his constituency. Matinenga said it was common
cause that the country was at peace with no internal or external threats to
it.

"In my humble submission, it is the duty of the Zimbabwe Republic
Police to keep law and order," Matinenga said in the court papers.

"In circumstances where perhaps the Zimbabwe Republic Police fails to
do so, members of the army are invited to assist the Zimbabwe Republic
Police.

The police have not called upon the military authority to assist in
law enforcement in Buhera West. The Zimbabwe National Army is in full
control and is harassing civilians for the simple reason that they voted for
the MDC and not Zanu PF."

He said the disturbances were being caused by members of the Zimbabwe
Defence Forces who were presently deployed in his constituency.

"Soon after the announcement of the parliamentary election (results)
by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, I received numerous reports of army
units harassing the civilian population, mainly by assaults and in some
cases kidnapping. The victims are all defenceless members of the MDC."

Matinenga said a senior army officer identified only as Major Svosve
was behind the army terror campaign in the constituency.

Svosve, Matinenga alleged, was involved in a recent kidnapping and
detention of an MDC youth leader for three days.

"I was shocked at the extent to which members of the MDC were being
harassed, humiliated and beaten by members of the army," he said.

An MDC councillor, the lawyer averred, was subjected to the "most
humiliating and horrific experience" at the behest of the army.

The MDC legislator said he expected soldiers to be professional and
apolitical.

"It is common cause that in terms of the constitution and indeed in
terms of the Defence Act, members of the Zimbabwe National Army are supposed
to be professional and be apolitical," Matinenga said.

He alleged that some "drunken" members of the army were reportedly
forcing villagers to attend campaign meetings for Mugabe ahead of the
presidential election run-off.

"This (army being apolitical) is certainly not the case in Buhera
where members of the army are taking it upon themselves to campaign and
promote the political interests of Zanu PF while at the same time denouncing
and beating up members of the MDC party," he said.

Last month, Svosve allegedly stopped the lawyer and his supporters
from celebrating his victory in the Zanu PF stronghold.

Matinenga claimed the army called a meeting at Mutasa on May 4 but he
did not attend for fear of a confrontation with Svosve whom he had clashed
with at the aborted victory celebrations. Matinenga defeated Tapiwa Zengeya
of Zanu PF in the March 29 polls.

Matinenga also accused the army of misusing government resources to
further political aims.

"Taxpayers’ resources are being used against civilians and for the
furtherance of a particular political party’s agenda," he said.

He also warned that the conduct of army personnel in Buhera posed
"serious danger" to villagers if the High Court failed to intervene.

Matinenga’s lawyer, Chris Mhike, in his certificate of urgency argued
that: "The assaults, harassment and humiliation appear to be ongoing and are
in fact on the increase. For this reason, this Honourable Court has to
intervene by making an important judicial pronouncement that defines the
constitutional functions of the defence forces in case they have forgotten."

By Bernard Mpofu


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We Have No Hand In Violence: ZNA

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 15 May 2008 21:33
THE army has admitted that it has deployed soldiers on the ground but
has denied that the deployments are part of a wider plan to intimidate
people into voting for President Robert Mugabe in the second round of the
presidential poll.

Mugabe faces MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai in a run-off that should be
after July 31.

Reports from various parts of the country have suggested that army
personnel have been deployed to ensure that voters are intimidated into
voting for the 84-year-old Zanu PF candidate seeking to turn the tables on
his bitter rival, Tsvangirai.

In response to questions fielded by the Zimbabwe Independent last
week, ZNA spokesperson, Major Alphios Makotore said that the high visibility
of army personnel on the ground should not be "misconstrued as a commitment
to political violence" on the part of the defence forces.

He said the deployment of soldiers was part of the ZNA’s operational
commitments that are in pursuit of community assistance programmes by the
army.

"These operational commitments, as cited above, naturally result in
increased visibility of soldiers and officers in the communities they will
be operating in.

"…This presence of troops in persuit of community assistance should
never be misconstrued as commitment to political activities," said Makotore.
"As clearly spelt out in the Defence Act, the ZNA is an apolitical army
which should never be used to further political aspirations of any
individual political party."

He cited Operation Maguta/ Inala, Garikayi/ Hlalani Kuhle, Outreach
Malaria Control and Cholera Campaign, and disaster relief programmes to the
Muzarabani community as some of the projects undertaken by the army as part
of its community service programme.

Responding to reports that the army was on high alert, he said the ZNA
was in a position of readiness for any eventuality that might arise in cases
of an escalation of violence beyond civilian control.

"As regard to the state of readiness of the army, we would like to
reiterate that the army has the onerous responsibility of ensuring security
and safety of Zimbabwe and its citizens. At any given time, the army has to
observe certain states of readiness which makes it operationally possible to
carry out duties efficiently without any compromises to national
sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence," he said.

Since the announcement of the March 29 general election results,
reports from the MDC suggest that state security agents and Zanu PF militia
have killed 32 of the party’s supporters, while thousands of families have
been displaced countryside.

By Nkululeko Sibanda


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Muradzikwa Defied Ndlovu

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 15 May 2008 21:12
FORMER Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) boss, Henry Muradzikwa,
was this week fired for defying an order by Information and Publicity
minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and permanent secretary George Charamba to deny
positive coverage to the MDC on either radio or television.

Muradzikwa was shown the exit on Wednesday after close to two years at
the helm of the country’s sole national broadcaster.

Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that broadcast
journalist and Zanu PF apologist Happison Muchechetere was expected to take
over from Muradzikwa.

The sources said Muradzikwa had openly defied Ndlovu and Charamba’s
orders arguing that he only took instructions from the ZBH board chaired by
Zimbabwe Newspapers chief executive officer Justin Mutasa.

Muradzikwa, the sources said, was instructed to enforce a media
blackout on the MDC, as well as bar the party from placing advertisements
with the national broadcaster.

At a meeting held at Pockets Hill, the ZBH headquarters, a fortnight
ago, Ndlovu ordered ZBC not to give the MDC positive coverage until after
the presidential election run-off between President Robert Mugabe and the
opposition’s Morgan Tsvangirai.

Ndlovu, the sources added, also barred the flighting of MDC
advertisements on either television or radio. Muradzikwa, however, the
sources said, was of a different opinion and said he would seek clearance
from the ZBH board for him to implement Ndlovu’s directive.

"He told them that since he was employed by the board, he would seek
the board’s indulgence in executing the said orders," one of the sources at
ZBH said.

"They tried to pressure him into submission but he stood his ground
and repelled the pressure."

The sources said Ndlovu and Charamba felt they had been undermined by
Muradzikwa’s stance and they instructed Mutasa’s board to get rid of the
former editor of the Sunday Mail and editor-in-chief of the country’s news
agency Ziana.

The sources said a host of allegations have now been lined up against
Muradzikwa.

He stands accused, among other things, of "wining and dining" with
forces working against Zanu PF and Mugabe.

His sin, sources said, was that he allegedly gave independent
presidential candidate Simba Makoni "red carpet reception" when he came to
ZBC-TV for a recording on his election campaign.

Muradzikwa, the sources added, was also accused of failing to use
television and radio to effectively campaign for Mugabe. Muradzikwa, the
sources added, was also accused of financial impropriety.

Yesterday, the former University of Zimbabwe lecturer said he was not
given any reason as to why he was fired except to be informed that "the
shareholder has lost confidence in you".

"There was no specific reason why I was fired," Muradzikwa said.

"It’s only the part of the letter which says the shareholder had lost
confidence in me that probably says something about the reasons of my
dismissal."

He refuted allegations that he was responsible for Zanu PF’s loss in
the elections, saying he stuck to the Broadcasting Services Act schedules
that govern the operations of the state broadcaster during elections.

"I religiously stuck to the statutes governing our operations as a
broadcaster as given in the amended Broadcasting Services of Zimbabwe Act.
Nobody had the right to instruct me on how to act as this was outside law,"
Muradzikwa argued.

"We all made sure that we stuck to the laws and I believe I was right
in that approach."

He flatly denied financial impropriety during his tenure at ZBH.

Meanwhile, Zanu PF has set up an information and publicity production
team to spearhead President Mugabe’s presidential election run-off campaign.

Mugabe will square up against the MDC’s Tsvangirai in the run-off
expected on or before July 31.

Sources in the ruling party said Patrick Chinamasa would chair the
committee, which is also made up of Information and Publicity deputy
minister Bright Matonga, former ZBC chief executive officer Chris
Mutsvangwa, and radio and television personalities Hugo Ribatika and Tichafa
Matambanadzo, among others.

"The Chinamasa committee will be responsible for producing Mugabe’s
campaign jingles, posters and T-shirts, among others," one of the sources
said. "It will also be responsible for crafting Mugabe’s campaign manifesto
in the run-off."

The sources said the committee took over from the one that was jointly
chaired by Zanu PF secretary for information and publicity Nathan
Shamuyarira and Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, which spearheaded
the March 29 harmonised elections campaign.

The Shamuyarira-Ndlovu committee comprised members drawn from the
information departments of Zanu PF and the government.

The party’s theme for the run-off is "100 percent Empowerment: Total
Independence."


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Bloodbath In Mash Central

Zim Independent

Local
Thursday, 15 May 2008 20:51

THE attack on villagers at Mapondera in Chiweshe communal lands in
Mashonaland Central early last week left the community traumatised. Six
people were reportedly killed while scores were injured in the village
bloodbath, a microcosm of escalating post-election violence gripping the
country.

"They grabbed me, threw me to the ground and stripped me naked," said
Fungisai Dofo (28) as he narrated his ordeal to the Zimbabwe Independent
from his hospital bed, an hour before he died on Saturday. "As if possessed
by evil spirits, they started beating me up and in the process one of them
crushed my testicles with his boot."

Harare-based lawyer Shepherd Mushonga, a newly-elected MDC MP in the
neighbouring Mazowe South constituency, in an interview this week said he
helped to bury six party activists murdered last week.

"I helped to bury all of them. It was an excruciating experience.
Villagers were shocked and they are currently living as prisoners of fear.
The killings were systematic and brutal," Mushonga said.

"The villagers were rounded up, they had their hands and legs tied up
with wires and their private parts tied with cables."

Dofo was one of the six people killed in the village. He died at
Howard Hospital which is teeming with injured victims of the raid on the
village. At least 50 people were injured in the sweeping attack by a group
of alleged state agents on May 5.

Those who died include Wilson Emmanuel (34), Tapiwa Meda, Joseph
Madzuramhende (29), Jeffy Jemedze and Alex Chiriseri (53).

There was no confirmation of Madzuramende and Meda's deaths.

Police spokesman Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka last night said he
was not aware of any reported deaths in the area.

"Honestly speaking, there has not been any reported deaths in the
area," said Mandipaka. "If there are any such incidents, they are reported
to us and investigated." He said he was checking with the relevant police
station to find out if there were any deaths reported in the area.

Asked how many incidents of political violence had resulted in deaths,
Mandipaka could not provide any figures and disputed MDC statistics which by
yesterday showed that 40 people had died as a result of political violence.

"There is nothing like that; you can quote me on that. Let them
continue with their figures," he said.

The Independent is in possession of a postmortem report by Dr HS
Mukungunugwa, a government doctor who examined Chiriseri at Concession
Hospital on May 9. The postmortem, requested by Assistant Inspector
Masikati, says the deceased had "fractured left 8th rib, swollen genitals,
assault marks and bruises on the chest.

"As a result of the foregoing examination, I’m of the opinion that the
cause of death was multiple body injuries due to severe assault," the report
says.

The report was requested by a policeman at ZRP Chombira Station on May
9.

Emmanuel died at the Avenues Clinic in Harare after four days in the
intensive care unit.

His nephew Bernard Pungwe narrates. "They called us to a night meeting
last week on Monday and we initially thought it was going to be a normal
gathering but it turned out to be horrific.

"They rounded up people from three villages and said they wanted to
re-educate us about the history of Zanu PF and the liberation struggle. When
we were there, they started calling out names of people they wanted to come
up front. Emmanuel was among them. They said the victims must confess they
voted for the MDC. When the three men refused to say anything they were
taken into the dark away from the crowd.

"Next we heard the whips and screams. Every time someone screamed hard
the chairman of the meeting would stop his lecture and say: ‘Listen to the
traitors, they are dying’."

Jemedze died at the Avenues Clinic.

"He had been badly beaten and his testicles were swollen. He was
beaten with sticks and barbed wire," an eyewitness said.

Dofo, an opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activist,
told the Independent he was viciously attacked by Zanu PF militants
allegedly alligned to the party’s MP for Mazowe North, retired Major Cairo
Mhandu.

Efforts to talk to Mhandu the whole week failed. MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai routed Mugabe in the presidential election first round. The
second round is due in August. However, a wave of political violence is
rocking the country ahead of the run-off.

Dofo said the brutal assault by the menacing political gang left him
shaken. "I was walking along the road coming from my field at around 6pm on
Monday (May 5)," he said.

Four men confronted me and started asking political questions. They
took me to a mountain nearby where they beat me to the ground, stripped me
naked and assaulted me until I passed out. They beat me with a blunt object
and stones," he said.

"One of them had a pistol, so each time I tried to scream for help he
would threaten to shoot me. They beat me up as if I was an animal. They
wanted me to ‘confess’ that I had voted for the MDC during the recent
elections."

After talking for about 30 minutes, Dofo started groaning with pain
and shifting agonisingly on his tiny hospital bed with blood-tainted sheets.

At that point the nurses ordered us out. People left in the ward said
they heard Dofo speak to his wife his last words: “Listen Melody, they have
killed me for nothing, these Zanu PF people, just because I’m MDC. I am
dying, take care of our kid.”

After a short while Melody came out of the hospital ward wailing. It
was clear Dofo had gone. A nurse confirmed he was dead. His family members
and relatives were devastated.

Villagers were beaten with barbed wire tied to sticks, gun butts and
blunt objects at Chaona business centre.

Some suffered broken legs, arms and severe body injuries. Women were
whipped on their backs and sustained deep cuts.

They had to undergo skin-grafting treatment.

There is a reign of terror in the rural areas.

The MDC claims 40 people have so far been killed in
politically-motivated violence, but government denies the reports. The
international community has expressed outrage at the violence.

The US State Department Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labour
said last week there was a “campaign of terror” in Zimbabwe.

”In the aftermath of the March 29 elections, Mugabe’s ruling Zanu PF
has unleashed a wave of political violence designed to cow opposition
members and supporters into submission and deter them from voting during the
run-off election,” it said.

“Soldiers, police, war veterans and youth militia loyal to the ruling
party have been deployed in rural areas throughout Zimbabwe to
systematically intimidate voters through killings, beatings, looting of
property, burning of homes and public humiliation.

“Women, children and the elderly have not been spared. Civil society
groups, particularly those involved in election monitoring, and humanitarian
organisations charged with providing desperately needed food assistance also
have been targeted.”

It said over 700 documented victims have received medical treatment
for post-election violence-related injuries, while 200 have been
hospitalised and required surgical procedures.

“Many more victims are undocumented and there are increasing reports
that government authorities are preventing victims from accessing medical
treatment,” it said. “At least 18 deaths have been confirmed.

Victims have suffered severe beatings, fractured bones and severe
burns.

Hundreds of opposition supporters have fled their homes in fear. Homes
and businesses throughout rural areas have been burned and cattle and other
livestock slaughtered. At least 6 735 persons have been displaced.”

Human Rights Watch last week accused the army of spreading a “reign of
terror”, but the army dissociated itself with the ongoing violence.

Government spokesmen have been spinning yarns in a bid to cover up the
bloody trail of violence.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa recently said the MDC was “lying”
that Zanu PF was behind political violence and challenged it to produce
evidence to back its claims.

“They are lying about that to please their Western handlers and want
to use it to appeal for international intervention,” he said.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa hit back: “Chinamasa is lying through his
teeth to the whole world. He knows the truth. Violence has reached alarming
levels and his party is behind it.”

South African President Thabo Mbeki last Friday visited Zimbabwe to
meet Mugabe over the issue of violence as international pressure mounted on
him to put a stop to it.

A South African team of retired senior officers led by retired Lt Gen
Gilbert Ramano has unearthed shocking evidence of violence engulfing the
countryside.

The team briefed Mbeki on the dire situation before his tense meeting
with Mugabe last week.

Mbeki was understood to have been horrified by the briefing. His envoy
on Zimbabwe, Kingsley Mamabolo, said last week there was violence in the
country and the run-off could not take place in a climate of fear.

After Mbeki’s visit government started climbing down, saying political
bases and structures of violence by “main parties” had been dismantled. The
Zanu PF politburo which hardly ever condemns violence came out on May 14
calling for a cessation of political hostilities.

Southern African Development Community (Sadc) executive secretary
Tomaz Salomao said this week conditions for a free and fair poll currently
did not exist.

Zimbabwe, currently reeling from a protracted political and economic
crisis and rapidly becoming an Orwellian society, has a long history of
political violence mainly associated with elections.

Mugabe has said he has “degrees in violence”, while his former
Information minister Nathan Shamuyarira has said “Zanu PF has a long and
successful history of violence”.

By Dumisani Muleya and Shakeman Mugari


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Mechanisation Debts Balloon

Zim Independent

Business
Thursday, 15 May 2008 20:32
GOVERNMENT is in a quandary over what to do with huge debts it is owed
by farmers who benefited from the farm mechanisation programme following the
changes to the exchange rate, businessdigest can reveal.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe liberalised the foreign exchange rate
policy, a move which immediately pushed the rate two weeks ago from US$1:$30
000 to US$1:$210 million. Beneficiary farmers under the farm mechanisation
programme were supposed to pay for the farm equipment at the old rate of $30
000 for one US dollar.

However, the rate changed before the RBZ — through its fiscal
absorption arm, Fiscorp — could invoice the farmers for the tractors since
the exercise began last year.

Farmers are now supposed to pay their debts using the new interbank
rate but this has caused consternation in government circles.

Some quarters in government are now pushing for the farmers to pay as
little as $2 billion for a tractor that costs US$40 000 on the open market.

Other government officials are understood to be pushing for a total
write-off of the debt as they argue that most farmers will not be able to
pay the new prices which have been pushed up by the movement in the exchange
rate.

They want the programme to be treated like a national project which
government undertook to help farmers.

This proposal is tied, of course, to political support for the
government.

Whichever route is taken, government is set to endure a staggering
loss which would run into quadrillions of dollars, at the new interbank
rates, for the equipment which includes tractors, combine harvesters,
planters, hay bailers, dumper trucks and disc harrowers.

Over 2 725 tractors, 105 combine harvesters, 466 planters and 210 hay
bailers were disbursed under the three phases of the mechanisation
programme.

Inquiries to Fiscorp, the company responsible for collecting the
loans, revealed the glaring anomalies surrounding the equipment.

Farmers have been given different explanations on the payment system.

Others have been told that they should wait for the central bank’s
announcement on what price they should pay while others have been told to
come and pay what they owe at the previous exchange rate of $30 000.

"They (Fiscorp) told me to just come and pay what is on the
agreement," said a farmer who got a tractor under the programme.

However, most farmers were never invoiced nor are they aware of what
they are supposed to pay.

MDC agricultural secretary Renson Gasela who also received a Case
International tractor said he had not been invoiced and that his attempt to
be appraised by Fiscorp on the extent of his debt had proved to be
fruitless.

"I checked with the RBZ sometime ago how much was due but I was not
told," Gasela said yesterday.

"I have not been invoiced but I have been informed that other
beneficiary farmers have been paying as little as $2 billion for each
tractor they received."

The RBZ said it was not aware of any such developments which it
described as false.

"That is bullsh**t. That is trash, there is nothing like that," said
Munyaradzi Kereke, special advisor to RBZ governor Gideon Gono.

"You can print it but you know the consequences."

However, senior government and ruling party officials dominate the
list of beneficiaries who have not yet paid for their farm equipment.

They include former deputy speaker of parliament and Zanu PF bigwig
Kumbirai Kangai, Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, Indigenisation and
Economic Empowerment minister Paul Mangwana and Registrar General Tobaiwa
Mudede.

The list also includes Foreign Affairs deputy minister Reuben
Marumahoko, deputy minister for Industry and International Trade, Phineas
Chiota and former GMB boss Samuel Muvhuti.

By Kuda Chikwanda


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Willing Buyer,Willing Seller?

Zim Independent

Business
Thursday, 15 May 2008 20:28
RECENTLY the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe made some notable policy changes
as far as the exchange rate determination is concerned.

For almost a decade, the Zimbabwean economy has been operating under
various fixed exchange rate regimes.

The recent changes suggest that the authorities might have realised
the negative effects of fixed exchange rates, hence a shift to a
market-oriented determination of the exchange rate. Basically, the RBZ has
floated the Zimbabwean dollar.

Whether it will entirely eliminate the parallel market, remains to be
seen. One thing to note though is that there is still a huge appetite for
foreign currency, which is not necessarily addressed by the RBZ priority
list, and consequently that unsatisfied demand may still provide a platform
for a parallel market.

What for instance will happen to people that require foreign currency
to pay for the pay-per-view TV subscriptions?

Given the demand for foreign currency in the market it is highly
unlikely that those who apply for funds to go for holidays or shopping trips
will be considered.

In evaluating the exchange rate policy shift, it is perhaps prudent to
analyse the rationale often advanced by multilateral agencies such as the
IMF and others, when advocating market-based exchange rate systems.

Zimbabwe is a developing country and such a policy can have a positive
impact on our balance of payments position.

The logic is that by floating the exchange rate, you create a
mechanism through which a current account balance of payments position in
disequilibrium will eventually be restored to equilibrium.

A balance of payments deficit caused by a decrease in the demand for
Zimbabwean exports, will lead to a shortage of foreign currency. The fall in
the value of the Zimbabwean dollar causes the price of Zimbabwean exports to
decrease in hard currency terms and the price of foreign imports to increase
in Zimbabwe dollar terms.

Consequently, the demand for Zimbabwean exports increases and the
demand for imported goods decreases.

The deficit shrinks and the balance of payments returns to
equilibrium. All things being equal, this in turn will help domestic
industry to compete freely and can translate into increased production
(assuming of course that price controls are lifted).

Thus, the Zimbabwean government and the RBZ need not worry about
having to manage their balance of payments
situation. If they allow the exchange rate to fluctuate freely any
disequilibrium will automatically be restored to equilibrium. The attention
of government can then be focused on achieving other broad objectives such
as inflation reduction, employment creation, economic growth and poverty
reduction.

Given that the Zimbabwean economy has been influenced to a large
extent by the parallel market for too long, the recent policy changes will
likely benefit the economy in allocating the scarce resource efficiently.

Zimbabweans in the Diaspora can now eliminate the risk of sending
money through bogus money transfer agencies.

There are also potential negatives associated with the recent policy
shift. Firstly, the relaxation of the exchange rate controls, besides
shocking the economy, may increase inflationary pressures. Although a
depreciating currency will help our country’s exporting sector, the cost of
imports will invariably rise, also leading to cost push inflationary
pressures. Those people and companies whose livelihoods or operations rely
on the consumption of goods with high import content will experience
difficulties.

For companies with external liabilities denominated in foreign
currencies, the exchange rate depreciation will have a negative effect on
their balance sheets as they will experience both economic and transaction
exposure. The associated reduction in net worth for the affected companies
will result in an increase in the risk premium on borrowing.

All in all the central bank must be commended for the bold move to
float the exchange rate. However, unless this is complemented by other
reforms such as addressing budget deficits, limiting usage of seigniorage
which results in unsustainable currency emissions as reflected by the growth
of money supply, and elimination of the disastrous policy of price controls,
then the benefits of the reforms may not be felt.

In addition, as Zimbabweans we must accept that our efforts will have
to be complemented by an injection of foreign exchange somewhere, for this
economy to be kick-started onto a recovery path.

Anything short of that, the economy will simply experience continued
depreciation in foreign exchange rates. For at the heart of our economic
challenges lies the supply issues, even of foreign currency, which need to
be addressed.


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NIPC, Business In Tug-of-war

Zim Independent

Business
Thursday, 15 May 2008 20:21
TENSION is rising between the business community and the National
Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) following the recent increase in the
prices of basic commodities after the liberalisation of the foreign currency
exchange rate policy.

Businesses are arguing that the NIPC is no longer relevant because the
prices of basic commodities are now being decided using the exchange rate on
the new interbank market.

They say that NIPC should not interfere with the pricing of basic
commodities because they have no control over the exchange rate on the open
market.

This week Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Callisto
Jokonya said price controls were no longer relevant as they are hurting
business and consumers as well.

"It has to be dynamic and move with the exchange rate; if the exchange
rate goes up on a daily basis, prices must also change daily," Jokonya said.

The NIPC is angry that businesses have reviewed their prices without
approval.

They insist that they are still relevant in the economy because their
businesses might take advantage of the situation to profiteer.

"It is unnecessary for businesspeople to effect new prices as no one
has incurred the costs that they are claiming to have because banks have not
started selling foreign currency," said NIPC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa.

This week, prices of most basic goods shot up as they reacted to the
new liberalised exchange rate market which was announced by the central bank
two weeks ago.

For instance the price of a loaf of bread went up to $170 million from
$80 million; a packet of milk now costs $160 million, up from $80 million.

For a 2kg of sugar, one has to fork out $480 million, from $48
million.

On the parallel market a 2kg packet of sugar was this week going for
$600 million.

A 12kg packet of potatoes was going for $2 bliion, up from $1 billion
last week.

A 2-litre bottle of fruit juice which was previously $200 million is
now at $800 million.

Masimirembwa accused businesspeople of taking advantage of the new
system to increase prices.

According to Masimirembwa, one company has applied to price a 2 litre
bottle of cooking oil at $2 billion.

Last week, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president, Marah
Hativagone, said prices would go up in response to the liberalisation of the
exchange rate.

"Obviously the prices will go up, at the same time the NIPC will be
breathing down our necks, it is not good for any economy," Hativagone said.

She said inflation is likely to get to 1 000 000% soon, saying there
is need for the central bank to take additional steps to correct the
exchange rate before the situation gets out of hand.

A manager with a local supermarket said prices were going up with each
delivery.

"I’m not sure why it has been like this but almost all our suppliers
have hiked prices and likewise, we have also increased prices," said the
manager.

"We ordered ten tonnes of sugar only to be told that we have to top up
the money because what we had paid is only enough to cover three tonnes."

An economic analyst with a local merchant bank said the escalation of
prices is not a new phenomenon and is not in any way related to the
liberalisation of the foreign exchange rate.

He said the price hikes could be attributed to the election aftermath
which saw growth in terms of money supply.

"In as much as liberalisation has taken place, it is insignificant to
attribute price increases to the freeing of the exchange rate market; it can
only be said so if the price increases are unprecedented of which some could
have been hiked to match the product import parity."

Businesspeople who spoke to businessdigest said though the price
increases have resulted in the availability of most basics that had
disappeared from the shelves, they were afraid that the NIPC might come
after them or worse still a price blitz could occur.

"Goods are returning to the shelves but we are hoping that
Masimirembwa does not invade our shelves because reducing the prices will
result in hoarding and promotion of the parallel market," said another
supermarket manager.

Analysts said the exchange rate coupled with daily events happening
within the economy was the cause of the escalating prices of basic goods and
services.

"When factors affecting inflation are put into totality, it leads to
expectational pricing; people tend to overdramatise their pricing system,"
said Witness Chinyama, an economic analyst with Kingdom Bank.

He said due to the fact that there was less production taking place,
the normal chain of manufacturer to retailer through the wholesaler had been
distorted with many middlemen coming, putting their own mark up resulting in
the escalation of prices.

"The depreciation of the Zimbabwean dollar against other major
currencies and asset pricing inflation could be another factor contributing
to the increase in prices."

By Jeslyn Dendere


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CZI Calls For Pricing Formula

Zim Independent

Business
Thursday, 15 May 2008 20:18
THE changes in the foreign exchange system and the movement in the
rate means that companies have to review prices everyday.

At the moment trends show that companies are changing their prices in
line with the movement in the exchange rate.

This has however clashed with the National Incomes and Pricing
Commission (NIPC)’s demands that prices should have a shelf life of three
months. Tensions are already running high. Business reporter, Jesilyn
Dendere spoke to Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president,
Calisto Jokonya about the issue.

Dendere: What is the current relationship between CZI and the NIPC? We
hear the relations are frosty because businesses are changing their prices
in line with the movement of the exchange rate, which is contrary to the
demands of the NIPC.

Jokonya: We don’t have a personal vendetta with the NIPC, we have
never had any, we just don’t agree on price controls because they don’t
protect the consumer or the producer.

Dendere: What is the relevance of price controls in light of the
changes in the exchange rate?

Jokonya: Personally, I think they dont work because they actually harm
the consumer. It forces the consumer to buy what they don’t want simply
because it is cheap. The consumer should be allowed to have a choice but all
the same it is the law, we have to work around the law.

The most important thing is that price controls must be proactive in
the sense that they should take into account all costs incurred. They have
to be dynamic and move with the exchange rate. If the exchange rate goes up
on a daily basis, prices must also change daily. If it lags behind the
foreign exchange rate, it ceases to be relevant. If it doesn’t take this
into account making it practical becomes difficult.

Dendere: From what you are saying business will be happy to see the
NIPC dismantled. The problem is that government still wants them to
continue. So what should the NIPC do to remain relevant?

Jokonya: What they need to do is to always approve pricing formulas so
that companies will apply in formulaic manner as and when the exchange rate
moves up, and then it makes it more feasible. That was our understanding
when the NIPC came on board that they would approve pricing formulas.

In that respect they have to let the system function.

Dendere: But they are not doing that. They are setting prices. The
problem is that they can’t match the changes because of the exchange rate
movement. Why do you think they should continue to be around?

Jokonya: The NIPC is an act of parliament so any changes have to be
made in parliament but at the moment there is no parliament or any
presidential power to instill changes or repeal the act. This is a
parliament issue but parliament is not sitting. As law abiding citizens we
have to stick to the law as it is.

Dendere: How will the changes in the foreign currency exchange
policies affect businesses?

Jokonya: It is going to enhance business because now businesspeople
can go out there and look for foreign currency without going to the black
market, that’s the way to do business in any economic environment. It is
happening the world over.

In a way it encourages people to work hard and at the same time
promoting a formal way of doing business. It also eliminates indiscipline
which is something that we don’t want in the business community. The black
market was illegal. At least now, it won’t be a crime for one to be found
with foreign currency in their pocket

Dendere: Have any changes been noted within companies since the
inception of the willing buyer, willing seller system?

Jokonya: Though it is still too early to come up with a conclusion,
yes changes are beginning to show as evidenced by the queues in banks with
businesspeople selling and buying foreign currency, the parallel market
dealers have not been as active.

Dendere: How has business responded to the new $300 trillion SPPC
Mitigation Fund. Other analysts have argued that it is not enough to cover
the damage caused by the adverse effects of price controls.

Jokonya: It is not damage as such and money is never enough. From my
own understanding, the fund was put in place to help the vulnerable (poor),
instead of subsidising everybody. It should be for those who cannot afford.
It will mainly help those who are in the food industry so as to increase
production and revive the economy.

Dendere: NIPC says businesspeople have distorted the monetary
statement to suit their drive to have price controls removed — is this how
business has interpreted the statement, have you as business called for the
removal of price controls?

Jokonya: The statement is very clear to everybody, the governor made a
suggestion and gave advice to the NIPC that they should accommodate changes
that are occurring and NIPC has got to take cognisance of all factors in
their pricing system.

As far as the central bank is concerned, the NIPC should accommodate
all the dynamics of what is happening in the economy at the moment.

NIPC has to accept that things are changing, accept that foreign
currency is a key component in production and that its rate is changing
daily. We are not saying it be abolished, it is governed by an act of
parliament, it is law we cannot dispute that. What we are saying is they
need to realise that there are changes coming into the act. It requires
dynamism from all sectors.

Dendere: NIPC says businesspeople are taking advantage of the new
foreign currency exchange rate system to hike and apply for ridiculous price
increases.

Jokonya: That is a misinterpretation of what is happening in the
economy at the moment. Does the NIPC agree that the foreign exchange rate is
changing daily? If they are aware, what do they expect business to do. In a
way, it is a suggestion that business is the enemy.

They should not ignore issues to do with viability in the production
cycle. Business has to remain viable at the same time observing the law.
Business cannot afford to run at a loss in this economy.


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NIPC To Continue With Price Controls

Zim Independent

Business
Thursday, 15 May 2008 20:12
PRICES of goods and services have increased dramatically following the
liberalisation of the foreign currency exchange policy.

The business community now feels there is no need for price controls
and that the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) is no longer
relevant because cost build-ups will be transparent and justified. Business
reporter Kuda Chikwanda spoke to the NIPC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa
about their new role.

Chikwanda: How does the NIPC operate following the liberalisation of
the foreign currency market? Is there justification for continued use of
price controls?

Masimirembwa: There have been suggestions from government that the
NIPC should concentrate on the three controlled and 16 monitored products. I
firmly believe that the NIPC still has a key role to play. There is even
acknowledgement by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) that the NIPC should
continue to play the role of controlling and monitoring these goods. It is
the form and nature of our role which needs to be looked at as regards the
exchange rate.

Chikwanda: Is business justified in describing price controls as
unnecessary in the new dispensation?

Masimirembwa: I think that business leaders have distorted the first
quarter Monetary Policy Statement (MPS) to suit their bid to have price
controls removed. It is clear that the RBZ governor Dr Gideon Gono
acknowledged the implications of the NIPC in respect of the controlled
goods.

Dr Gono accepts there is a role for the NIPC and it is wrong for the
business community to say the liberalisation of the exchange rate means
price controls are removed and that the NIPC no longer has a role to play.
Personally, I feel they need to look at why the NIPC was formed. By and
large from the 1990s until last year in 2007, market forces ruled.

But the parallel market was not stable and was pushing prices up,
which then saw government intervening through the price blitz. The cause of
intervention was the failure of market forces because they had failed to
stabilise causing consumers to suffer. The NIPC was brought in to ensure
goods and services are priced according to scientific methods.

Chikwanda: You have railed against businesses for turning to the
parallel market to meet their needs after the RBZ failed to meet their
demands. How do you expect businesses to remain operational given your
demands and expectations?

Masimirembwa: The survival of businesses is not our only concern. The
survival they talk about has to be looked at in the totality of the context.
Businesses have to survive as well as workers too. The NIPC was brought in
to bring sanity in the market.

We said to industry, you can’t abandon good corporate governance, for
the sake of survival. In other words, corporates can’t stand and say they
deliberately disobeyed the laws of Zimbabwe, went to the parallel market for
survival and thus expect the consumers to bear the brunt of brutal market
forces.

Chikwanda: Is the NIPC still interested in controlling the prices of
goods and commodities despite clear indications that the cost build-ups are
genuine and transparent and inclusive of interbank charges for foreign
exchange?

Masimirembwa: Dr Gono highlighted the priority areas for foreign
currency. However, I must dutifully point out that liberalisation is not
complete as banks are not yet selling foreign currency.

The RBZ is yet to come up with a priority list on the foreign currency
to be sold. Applications coming up now are purely speculative as no one has
incurred the costs of buying foreign currency at interbank rates. As such,
any applications we get, we are looking at them as if they have been buying
foreign currency on the parallel market. We want proof of foreign currency
purchases.

Chikwanda: The RBZ set up the Strategic Products Price Controls
Mitigation Fund to make up for the adverse effects of price controls which
it said infringed on producer viability. Is there no contradiction between
your justifications for price controls as you try to hide behind anti-price
control RBZ?

Masimirembwa: Businesses still need assistance and distortions will
always arise. If a company accesses the Basic Commodities Supply Side
Intervention (Bacossi) facility, it enjoys certain advantages than
businesses that haven’t benefited from this facility. It is still absolutely
necessary to supervise some sectors of the economy. By the same token, we
also have to guarantee food security. It is also my view that the official
exchange rate of US$1:$30 000 has not been abolished.

The NIPC is proceeding from the basis that the RBZ recognized the 3+16
products as priority items in terms of pricing and the implication for food
security. That is why Bacossi and the Agricultural Sector Productivity
Enhancement Facility (Aspef) are continuing.

Food security demands that government ensures that basic commodities,
whether imported or not, are not unilaterally increased on the basis of a
cost build-up based on the interbank rate.

Chikwanda: It seems you are desperately seeking your mandate and new
terms of reference from the RBZ in defining what the NIPC is supposed to do
in this new dispensation.

Masimirembwa: Not at all. Our scope of functions is much broader than
merely pricing. The NIPC deals with hoarding, shortages of commodities,
especially in this environment and other unscrupulous practices such as
where a retailer forces someone to buy a basic commodity together with
another product whose line is not moving. We also look at the impact of wage
and salary increments on production costs and act as a point of reference
for National Employment Councils in wage negotiations.

Chikwanda: The NIPC has been accused of fuelling of scarcities through
imposition of ridiculously low prices. Businesses believe that these low
prices you impose have brought on artificial demand and promoted hoarding.

Masimirembwa: What the business community is saying is that it prefers
products and commodities to be unaffordable while appearing on shelves. The
reason why people are flocking to buy products outside the country is
because they are much cheaper. The NIPC is saying on a broader perspective
the question is why are businesses not producing? I want to give an example
of the sugar industry. Production is adequate for the nation but where is
the sugar? It is being hoarded by business people? The mindset that business
has does not augur well with us.

Chikwanda: I thought people go to neighbouring countries to buy things
they can’t find here.

Masimirembwa: Yes but people also look at the prices. The prices here
are very high. The business people here go beyond pegging their prices at
parallel market rates. They multiply the rates in anticipation of future
rate changes.

Chikwanda: How is that their problem when we all know that the rate is
not stable at all? It changes everyday.

Masimirembwa: It is their problem. Look at a normal TV set for
example. The price they are selling for here is many times what it costs in
Botswana. They are multiplying by huge percentages. It’s speculative.

Chikwanda: That makes you irrelevant in this case because you have no
control over the interbank rate.

Masimirembwa: Well but what can we do? We can’t do anything about it.
The rate is moving too fast. The rate has almost doubled since the
introduction of the interbank system because the banks are battling to stay
ahead of the parallel market. Prices are galloping because of that.

Chikwanda: But significant market risks exist that have deterred
foreign capital from coming here. Of concern has been failure by government
to guarantee security from unwarranted takeover.

Masimirembwa: At the same time, Zimbabwean balance sheets are being
used to support foreign operations. Why are they not disinvesting from
Zimbabwe? Are they prepared to disinvest? No, because Zimbabwe is a sound
economic destination.

Chikwanda: There have been reports that the NIPC is being used as a
political tool to not only attack businesses owned by opposition MDC members
but also Zanu PF politicians who have fallen out of favour with the
leadership? How true is this?

Masimirembwa: Nothing can be further from the truth. The NIPC
inspectorate fights unscrupulous business practices and hoarding, and will
target anyone guilty of this. Our message to business leaders is that if you
are caught, don’t cry foul. There are no sacred cows and we will be harder
on chefs and leaders as they are supposed to lead by example.


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Mugabe's Win Problematic

Zim Independent

Opinion
Thursday, 15 May 2008 19:32
A WIN by President Robert Mugabe in the anticipated presidential
election run-off against the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai will render the country
ungovernable given that there is now has a hung parliament, analysts have
said.

The analysts said in a hung parliament there would be two
possibilities for Mugabe if he were to cling on to power — form a coalition
government or dissolve parliament.

In legislative language, a hung parliament is one in which no one
political party has an outright majority.

This situation is normal in many legislatures with proportional
representation such as Germany or Italy which allow for parliamentary
coalitions to obtain a majority, or in legislatures with strong regional
parties.

According to the results of the March 29 elections, no party won an
absolute majority in either the House of Assembly or Senate.

In the House of Assembly, the Tsvangirai-led MDC won 99 seats, Zanu PF
97 and the other MDC headed by Arthur Mutambara 10. Another seat went to
independent candidate Jonathan Moyo, who was backed in the polls by the
MDC-Tsvangirai.

The two MDC factions have since entered a legislative pact and now
have a combined 110 seats against Zanu PF’s 97. Moyo is reportedly part to
the agreement. In the senate, the combined MDC and Zanu PF are tied with 30
seats each and it is the result of the presidential run-off that would
decide which party will control the chamber.

The analysts argued that it will be the outstanding 33 senate seats
that will be crucial to both Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

Whoever wins the run-off will have the power to appoint 10 provincial
governors and five other non-constituency senators. The other 18 seats would
be occupied by traditional chiefs.

"Traditional chiefs have over the years been loyal to Mugabe and
whatever the outcome of the run-off we expect them to back Zanu PF,"
political scientist Michael Mhike said. "That means if Tsvangirai wins he
will have 45 seats in the Senate and Mugabe 48. If you combine the Senate
and House of Assembly seats, the MDC would end up with 155 seats and Zanu PF
145."

Mhike said in the unlikely event that Mugabe romps to victory, Zanu PF
would have 63 seats in the Senate against the MDC’s 30. If the House of
Assembly and the Senate seats were combined Mugabe would have 160 seats and
the MDC 140.

"In that scenario, Mugabe will have the majority in both houses
combined but will not be able to pass laws because the MDC will be
controlling the House of Assembly, and he will be in charge of the Senate,"
Mhike explained.

He argued that even if Tsvangirai wins, he would not be able to pass
laws in the Senate as Zanu PF would be in the majority.

"We have a hung parliament and in such a situation there is need for
cooperation between the parties in parliament. If there is no cooperation,
then the country will be ungovernable," Mhike added.

A Zimbabwean lawyer based abroad, Alex Magaisa, last week said if
Mugabe wins the run-off, he might use his victory to deal with his
succession problem in Zanu PF.

He argued that since he would have a majority of 160 parliamentarians
in both the Senate and the House of Assembly he will resign to pave way for
the two houses to sit as an electoral college to elect his successor.

"The new provision is important because the political party that has a
majority of parliamentarians who constitute the electoral college will
determine the next president," wrote Magaisa in a weekly newspaper. "This is
where the combined parliament becomes acutely relevant."

He said the 33 remaining senate seats were crucial because they offer
"a great opportunity for Zanu PF to roll out its succession plan and perhaps
find a way for Mugabe to extricate himself from the mess on his own terms."

University of Zimbabwe political science professor Eldred Masunungure
said a Mugabe victory would render the country ungovernable.

"There is no way Mugabe can rule when his party is a minority in
parliament," Masunungure said. "He will be in office, but he will not be in
power and will not rule effectively in such a scenario and a government he
will create will be dysfunctional."

He argued that the only option for Mugabe would be to dissolve
parliament and call for fresh elections hoping he would win the polls.

"President Mugabe’s choices are limited, but he can dissolve
parliament and call for fresh elections in the hope that he will garner more
seats than the opposition," Masunungure argued.

The analysts argued that it would be impossible for Mugabe to push new
legislation through parliament, as the MDC would not assent to any Bill in
the House of Assembly.

Moreover, the analysts argued that the MDC could refuse to pass
Money/Finance Bills and this would be tantamount to a vote of no confidence
in the president and government, which must culminate in the dissolution of
parliament.

"If President Mugabe has to pass laws such as the Finance Bill and if
parliament rejects it, then it would be difficult to rule the country in
parliament’s current state," Masunungure averred.

Even one of Mugabe’s confidants, Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono,
last week said the legislative impasse would result in retrogressive tugs of
war in parliament and suggested that there should be a pre-run-off pact
between the MDC and Zanu PF that puts the interests of the country first. He
warned that the attendant hung parliament was such that no individual
political party could easily transmit the interests of voters through
legislation "without having to go through the inevitable process of winning
favour and support from the other parties."

"The risk is, therefore, that critical pieces of progressive
legislation, may suffer needless blockades on the altars of political
expediency, whilst the business and effectiveness of governance is seriously
compromised," Gono said.

"In the likely ‘stop-go-mode’ it is not far-fetched to postulate the
possibility of the legislative arms failing to pass national budgets,
supplementary budgets and other emergency funding programmes, which would
throw the country into serious governance problems, resulting in more
pressure on the central bank as ministries would naturally fail to discharge
their duties without financial resources."

The RBZ czar suggested that consideration be given to the
establishment of a "mutually binding pre-run-off pact" spelling out the
expected behaviour of both the MDC and Zanu PF regardless of who emerges the
victor in the second round.

Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma emphasised that the passage of
legislation required the participation of both the Senate and the House of
Assembly.

"Thus, in terms of Paragraph 1 of Schedule 4 to the Constitution, any
Bill, except Money/Finance Bill, can originate in either house and, subject
to the Constitution," Zvoma said in a recent analysis of the bicameral
parliament, "each house is free to make any amendments to any Bill that
comes before it.

By Constantine Chimakure


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Erich Bloch: Social Contract Essential To Economic Recovery

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 15 May 2008 19:27
IN his 2008 first quarter Monetary Policy Statement, the governor of
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Gideon Gono deplored Zimbabwe’s failure
to implement a social contract with conviction and constructiveness,
perceiving so doing to be a prerequisite of a comprehensive economic
recovery.

He said: "As monetary authorities, our hearts are heavy at the
realisation that well over 16 months down the road since we first advocated
the urgent adoption of a social contract in early 2007, this virtuous path
has not been fully followed through.

Had we collectively shown maturity, tolerance and a burning desire for
a better Zimbabwe through the adoption of the social contract, we would not
be having today’s widespread shortages of basic commodities and other
economic ills afflicting us."

He justly contended that had a social contract been pursued with
determination "our inflation level would have by now receded to
single-digit", and that "by now we would not be suffering from the scourge
of price controls". He stated that, in contradistinction "we allowed
sectoral and personal bravados and selfish interests to rule the day and now
we are paying the price, and it is a very heavy one indeed.

We allowed political expediency to override the virtues of a noble
programme which was meant to deliver a better Zimbabwe for all Zimbabweans."

In particular, with great forthrightness, he said: "Events over the
past years, and more so over the past few months and recent weeks, have
clearly shown that it is not just naÔve, but utter folly, to separate the
economy from the politics of the day."

Pursuant to these forcefully expressed views, he submitted that what
therefore "is needed is a radical political maturity by all Zimbabweans, and
an audacious policy shift" by all social partners in Zimbabwe to break away
from the shackling "business as usual" mindset, and appealed to "all
stakeholders, comprising government, labour, business and civil society to
put Zimbabwe first and go back to the negotiation table for the
establishment of a mutually agreed and implementable social contract."

To reinforce his contentions (the validity of which cannot credibly be
disputed), RBZ published a supplement to the Monetary Policy Statement,
detailing "The role of social contracts in macro-economic stabilisation and
achievement of national cohesion".

It noted that a social contract is an agreement by all stakeholders
which, in the case of Zimbabwe, should be targeted at inflation reduction,
macroeconomic stability, recovery and growth. In particular, the social
contract would be "underpinned by several protocols, prominent of which is
the Incomes and Prices Stabilisation Protocol." The objectives of those
protocols would primarily be:

*Management of prices and incomes movement;

*Promotion of macroeconomic stability, economic recovery and
sustainable socio-economic development;

*Ensuring that price restraining measures have regard for cost factor
developments;

*Improvement in productivity levels and enhanced production capacity
utilisation;

*Employment creation;

*Skills development, retention and attraction;

*Attraction of local and foreign investment;

*Ensuring availability of foreign currency within formal system, for
all legitimate transactions, with reduced exchange rate price distortions;

*Driving export growth, with assured exporter viability;

*Reduction of smuggling and "other leakages";

*Restoration of foreign lines of credit.

The focus upon a substantive social contract, which is one that all
stakeholders "buy into" without reservation, and with unqualified conviction
and determination, is not an exercise into hypothesis, without foundation.

Over the past 80 years, almost every recovery of economies that had
been horrendously decimated had a cornerstone of a social contract. Such
contracts have been the foundations of the economic recoveries of
innumerable countries.

Thus, Gono was proposing recourse to a tried and proven vehicle to
restore Zimbabwe’s economic wellbeing.

The examples of success driven by social contracts are very many. They
include Germany’s Weimar Republic which, from 1922 to 1924, suffered
inflation exceeding 800 billion% (which makes Zimbabwe’s horrific
hyperinflation seem insignificant!). After it, admittedly belatedly,
resorted to a comprehensive social contract, inflation fell to single digit
levels within less than three years.

In the 1970s, Israel and Italy suffered gargantuan economic declines,
characterised by immense inflation, vast reductions of Gross Domestic
Product to negative levels, enormous state funding deficits, surging
unemployment, and collapsed value of currency.

The same circumstances pertained in the 1980s in Brazil, Bolivia and
Ireland, and in Argentina and the Czech Republic in the 1990s, to name but a
few of many countries that have, over the last 30 years grossly mismanaged
their economies, but where the maturity of stakeholders was such that they
collaborated with real intent to reverse the economic ills, and who
subordinated political and other aspirations to the overriding need to
achieve economic recovery and remove the ongoing suffering of the majority
of the populations of their countries.

Zimbabwe’s economy will not enjoy real recovery until government,
business and labour have a real willingness to work together, and to place
national interest before their own.

First and foremost, the National Incomes and Pricing Commission must
be dissolved, and price controls by the state discontinued, save for wholly
strategic, basic commodities and, instead, the contracting parties must
agree to a total freeze of all prices, salaries and wages, and governmental
imposts, save and except for adjustment when necessary in response to
factors exogenous of Zimbabwe.

Concurrently, there must be effective measures to restore productivity
in all economic sectors, with especial focus upon agriculture, manufacturing
and mining.

Real emphasis is needed upon creating an investment conducive and
facilitative environment, and upon restoration of harmonious, cordial
international relations.

Of equally great importance is that there be determined efforts to
reduce and contain governmental expenditures.

Until these measures are unhesitatingly pursued, through the medium of
a social contract, the economy’s continuing decline is inevitable.


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Muckraker: Blessed Are Those Who Travel On Zhing-zhongs

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 15 May 2008 19:22
A RATHER confused message coming from The Post in Zambia. Just as
thousands of Zimbabweans are suffering a terrible onslaught from Zanu PF as
punishment for voting for the opposition, the newspaper publishes an
editorial attacking the MDC for its Western links.

Opposition leaders had every right to campaign to remove President
Mugabe, the editorial said, "but it’s treacherous for them to do so on the
back of national failure".

So let’s get this straight: if Mugabe’s disastrous policies and
populist posturing have brought the country to a state of collapse, it is
"treacherous" to say so?

This is the sort of misplaced nationalist nonsense that has
contributed to the structural failure of states like Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Instead of responding ourselves lest we be accused of harbouring an
imperialist agenda, let’s provide space for the Progressive Teachers Union
of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), an affiliate of the ZCTU, which last weekend took out
full-page advertisements to acquaint the public with the plight of teachers
in outlying areas who have been the targets of Mugabe’s thugs.

"We are very disappointed by the manner in which our African brothers
and sisters have handled the Zimbabwean crisis," the PTUZ said. "Zimbabweans
are made of flesh and blood; they do not need Westerners to tell them that
they are being beaten. Sadc and the AU must stop chasing the shadow of the
imperialist ghost and listen to what the majority of Zimbabweans are saying.
When our nationalist leaders say they are reclaiming land from the white
minority we take it that the land is needed for farming and not to bury us
when we die of hunger and politically motivated violence."

Equally confused is Patrick Chinamasa who says government will not
invite Western observers to monitor the presidential run-off unless
sanctions are removed.

First of all, what is a ruling-party official doing setting the rules
for an electoral contest in which their leader is a player? This is once
again a case of the candidate becoming the referee. Secondly, according to
the Sadc Mauritius protocol on elections, it should be the function of the
electoral commission to determine which observers it wants to invite, not
the regime which has an interest in securing a favourable coverage.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has already proved itself deeply
compromised. By allowing Chinamasa to arrogate to government the role of
setting rules, imposing conditions and handpicking observers, the commission
is further abdicating responsibility for the conduct of the run-off.

Already we have seen a Zimbabwean editor arrested for carrying
opinions by an opposition leader that are deemed prejudicial to the state
and to judges, even though those opinions form part of the public discourse.
And trade union leaders are incarcerated for criticising the regime on
Workers Day, May 1. They were denied bail when there was no danger of them
absconding.

Chinamasa has previously said we have the right to criticise judges
but that was when the judiciary was considered hostile to Zanu PF’s
machinations!

Foreign journalists have been prosecuted for covering the first round
without accreditation even though Aippa was amended after inter-party talks
to remove provisions on compulsory accreditation.

Everywhere there is evidence of state intrusion which will intensify
now Mugabe is seen as vulnerable to defeat. The small clique around him that
believe he was deprived of victory by a Western plot and MDC manipulation
now want to make sure they control the electoral process more effectively.

As for sanctions, it does not appear to have dawned on Chinamasa that
there will be no change there until the state puts a stop to violence.
Sanctions were imposed in response to the violence and electoral
manipulation that surrounded elections in 2000 and 2002. Now the state has
unleashed the same dogs of war, it thinks the West will simply fold its arms
and watch.

That will not happen. International opinion is appalled by reports
from organisations such as the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human
Rights which have documented the terrible injuries people have suffered for
daring to oppose Zanu PF or because members of their families dared to vote
against the ruling party.

Journalists in the state media seem unable to report facts on the
ground without spinning the story so it is unrecognisable alongside the
original version.

The visit by US ambassador James McGee and other diplomats to a
hospital in Chiweshe on Tuesday provides a good example. Here is the Reuters
version: "The United States condemned Zimbabwe’s government on Tuesday for
its ‘harassment’ of the US ambassador and other diplomats questioned by
police after visiting post-election violence victims at a hospital.

"The diplomats were on their way back from visiting a rural hospital
to see victims of post-election violence. They were also held up at the
hospital and questioned by security officials over their reasons for being
there…".

Now compare that to what the Herald said: "Yesterday (Tuesday)
Ambassador McGee wanted to travel to Centenary in Mashonaland Central
province where he intended to visit hospitals that MDC-T claimed were
treating the party’s supporters who were allegedly assaulted by Zanu PF and
government agents. He however was stopped at a roadblock near Glendale where
police asked him to produce a note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
confirming his journey and actions."

Wouldn’t an ordinary reader conclude from this that McGee was on his
way to Centenary when he was stopped at Glendale and prevented from
proceeding any further? In fact he spent some time at Mvurwi District
Hospital and Howard Mission Hospital in Chiweshe and was able to film the
extent of the injuries inflicted on MDC supporters. It was a useful trip.
But he was stopped, along with the other diplomats, on his return journey.
There was then an altercation with the police and others that lasted for
about one hour and 20 minutes during which threats were reportedly made
against a US diplomat.

But the Herald was so busy injecting George Charamba’s opinions and
implicating "hired journalists" in the story that it omitted to actually
relate what happened. The Herald chose not to mention for instance that
McGee was accompanied by envoys from Britain, the European Union, Japan, the
Netherlands and Tanzania.

How useful is a newspaper that can’t even tell its readers what
happened?

Still on the subject of wayward journalism, we were interested to note
that Tafataona Mahoso continues to claim that up to 1 000 "former Rhodesian
white farmers" returned to Zimbabwe in March 2008 and celebrated the MDC’s
"fraudulently announced victory" as having terminated African land
reclamation.

This fictional episode was contained in the fake document Tendai Biti
was accused of authoring before his lawyers wrote to the Herald. Mahoso
continues to circulate the claim in the Sunday Mail even though he provides
no evidence.

We are sure he would not want to be accused of circulating an
unverified report. So we await the evidence that between 750 and 1 000
"former Rhodesian white farmers" returned to the country in March.

By the way, if they are formerly white, what colour are they now? And
who counted them?

The Sunday Mail carried full-page ads last weekend from Air Zimbabwe
to promote their Chinese MA60 planes on the occasion of their third
anniversary as part of the AirZim fleet.

These planes have not enjoyed a universally acclaimed reputation. But
they have been embraced by some of AirZim’s regular customers including
Pastors Tom and Bonnie Deuschle and our columnist Eric Bloch.

Bloch says while the MA60 is not without fault, "its deficiencies are
not of magnitude or major substance". Phew, that’s OK then.

Bloch drew attention to the unstable access stairs but the airline
says the problem has been resolved. Then there is the vibration and engine
noise. But this only affects passengers in the front rows. Bloch says he
always books a seat in the back row where there is less noise.

"Not only do I thereby avoid the vibration and noise," he says, "but I
am then seated closest to the bar, the loo, the exit and the wonderful air
hostesses. (What more can one want?)"

We hope Eric will be careful about using the exit when in flight. And
those "wonderful" air hostesses should be left alone to get on with their
work.

Meanwhile, one’s confidence is hardly helped by the blessing pastors
Tom and Bonnie gave the zhing-zhong planes. But at least they are spending
their money on congratulating AirZim instead of handing it over to the
president, which is when we last took issue with them!

A number of readers have called and written to express their horror
over conditions on Friedawill Farm near Chinhoyi where deputy Reserve Bank
governor Edward Mashiringwana was reported to have seized the farm while the
owner was absent and refused to allow the NSPCA to provide food or water to
the animals. This had led pigs, demented by thirst and hunger, to consume
their young.

It is extraordinary that at every monetary policy review Gideon Gono
deplores the arbitrary seizure of farms as being bad both for agricultural
productivity and investor confidence.

Then his deputy in a case widely reported seizes a farm and proceeds
to behave with extraordinary cruelty to the livestock.

The farm’s owners had a court order barring Mashiringwana from
occupying the property.

So here we have contempt of court, disruption of production, and
cruelty to livestock. What impression will that make on Gono’s investment
drive? What has the governor got to say?

Meanwhile, Gono must stop making a noise about sanctions. Why should
donors and others be expected to help such a lawless state when his own
staff are implicated?

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has described as
"laughable" claims by a senior Zimbabwean government official that the arms
shipment carried by a Chinese ship had made its way into this country, The
Namibian reports.

The ITF, along with many other international trade unions and civil
society, actively campaigned that the ship, An Yue Jiang, be forbidden to
offload the weapons ordered by the Zimbabwean government at regional
harbours. It left Luanda on Tuesday last week after it was allowed to refuel
and the ITF said by late Friday morning the ship was approximately 120
nautical miles off the coast of Namibia.

So who was the joker identified by the ITF as making them laugh with
his claims that the cargo had already reached Harare?

Bright Matonga of course. He often makes us laugh as well. We don’t
doubt that the regime is making strenuous efforts to obtain the weaponry on
board. But if we had to choose between Not-so and the ITF it would be a
no-brainer. Not-so is a comic of note. The ITF is a serious outfit.

Muckraker’s message to Not-so: The next time your government boots out
Cosatu members, try to think of the consequences. What goes around comes
around.

The same goes for journalists. How many enemies has this regime made
over the past few years? Just as a matter of interest, has it made any
friends? Has it pursued Dale Carnegie’s policy of winning friends and
influencing people? Not by the look of it.

Its only friends seem to be dubious columnists such as Canada-based
Stephen Gowans who is evidently prepared to countenance the assaults on MDC
supporters and salute Zanu PF’s decision to fight the MDC.

Can you imagine somebody sitting in the comfort of Canada warmly
approving what he describes as Zanu PF’s policy of "turmoil, disruption and
fighting"? No wonder all Zanu PF’s friends turn out to be foreign or
foreign-based.

Gowans, Peter Mavunga and Reason Wafawarova can’t stand the heat in
the Zimbabwean kitchen so they pursue their undergraduate anti-imperialist
struggle from the safety of those countries they purport to hate. What
hypocrites!

We liked the following paragraph from the semi-literate The Voice
newspaper. It followed the release of the election results.

"This means that a run-off is scheduled between President Mugabe who
scored 43,2% and puppet Morgan Tsvangirai who got 47,9%".

In other words the people of Zimbabwe voted for a puppet and rejected
the authentic voice of the nation. Time to dissolve the ungrateful people!

We were also interested to note the worry in ruling-party circles,
reflected in The Voice, that the MDC’s democratic resistance committees were
being armed.

What is their worry exactly? That MDC supporters might actually resist
the vicious bullies who have been unleashed against them? We can’t have
that. And have you noticed how the Herald characterises violent farm
occupations as war veterans "visiting" farmers to "discuss" land issues?

In a front-page story on Tuesday the Herald told us police in Masvingo
were dismantling "political bases" set up by "some parties" in the province.

Now if those "some parties" had been MDC, can you imagine the Herald
omitting to say so?

Also of interest this week was an editorial in the Sunday Times on the
subject of the in-fighting at the SABC where CEO Dali Mpofu suspended news
chief Snuki Zikalala and was then himself suspended by the board. Parliament’s
communications committee in turn passed a vote of no confidence in the
board.

This all relates to rivalries at the top of the ANC.

"This messy state of affairs shows the danger of the ruling party
deploying its activists to run important state institutions which are meant
to be independent and serve the people of South Africa," the editorial said.
"Besides undermining the independence of institutions of democracy, this
ensures that the institutions suffer when the activists fall out of favour."

This has resonance for our own situation where state officials are
attempting to subvert ZBC and Zimpapers for their own partisan purposes.
These are institutions that are meant to serve all Zimbabweans, not just a
discredited ruling clique that long ago lost the nation’s trust.

Just as South Africa’s head of state is losing ground in the struggle
for hearts and minds, so Zimbabwe’s unpopular leader is desperate to cling
to every source of power.

At ZBC this week CEO Henry Muradzikwa was apparently fired for not
parroting the Zanu PF line hard enough. A new political commissar is moving
in at Pockets Hill.

But those who are prepared to be suborned at ZBC, Zimpapers and
elsewhere should take note of the fate that awaits their South African
counterparts. A parliamentary select committee on communications is flexing
its muscles.

Zimbabweans have had enough of partisan news control designed solely
to prop up a fading dictatorship. They want to see professional standards
restored and those responsible for deliberately misleading them held to
account. There can be no Nuremberg defence here. They may be "only following
orders" but that won’t help them to escape popular judgement and the
judgement of their peers.


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Editor's Memo: SA Must Contain Hate Crimes

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 15 May 2008 19:19
VIOLENCE against Zimbabweans and other foreigners flared up in
Johannesburg’s Alexandra Township on Sunday as locals used whips and guns to
attack foreign-born residents on Sunday.

Wire reports said two immigrants were killed and 40 others were sent
to hospital after the attack. Several women were raped.

The governing African National Congress this week slammed the
xenophobia calling on South African nationals to treat the violence as hate
crimes. In a statement this week the Congress of South African Trade Unions
(Cosatu) attributed the xenophobia to "intolerable levels of poverty,
unemployment, crime, and the shortage of housing in poor communities".

It is true that unemployment and mounting poverty among South Africans
at the bottom of the economic ladder have provoked fears of the competition
that better educated and experienced migrants can represent.

Latest figures from Statistics South Africa show that unemployment in
the country is considered high at 23% as of September last year. With an
estimated three million illegal immigrants in South Africa, competition for
space and resources is a key causative factor of xenophobia.

But then the phenomenon should not be viewed in the context of running
battles in the townships and illegal settlements. Xenophobia has also been
viewed in the context of Zimbabweans and other nationalities who are
repatriated or those in holding camps waiting to be sent back home.

The danger with this view is that it negates other subtleties in the
debate around the subject. A report by the United Nations Human Rights
Commission Special Rapporteur on racism, discrimination and xenophobia in
South Africa in 1998 cautioned against forced repatriation of immigrants.

"The repatriation of illegal persons to their own countries is clearly
an ineffective means of dealing with illegal immigration. The measure is
purely a short-term one which takes no account of regional economic
disturbances, economic factors being the main cause of immigration into
South Africa," the report said.

This was before the influx of Zimbabweans illegally crossing the
Limpopo into South Africa in search of employment and fleeing persecution at
home. This recommendation by the UN has resultantly been mothballed.

The enforcement of immigration laws in South Africa in many instances
presupposes that Zimbabweans there are illegal immigrants who should be
screened at every opportunity hence it is not surprising for a professional
to be stopped by a policeman on the street and asked to produce a passport.
This manner of dealing with the immigration problems appear to disregard the
fact that South Africa requires Zimbabwean skills and no amount of
xenophobia can erase this phenomenon.

Recent research has shown that South Africa, despite its high
unemployment stats, still lacks crucial skills. The research says the
fast-growing information technology sector has at least 70 000 vacancies,
which should reach 114 900 by 2009. The education sector is also expected to
face a shortage of up to 35 000 teachers by 2008, while more than 5 000
expatriate engineers are required in the energy sector. More engineers and
artisans are required in South Africa to build infrastructure for the 2010
soccer World Cup.

The South African government could be worried that rising xenophobia
and related violence against foreigners could hurt its ability to attract
skills. But at the same time it has to address an immigration problem that
is growing bigger as the crisis in Zimbabwe deepens.

This is a difficult balancing act for a country whose cash registers
are filled with monies brought in by foreign traders daily.

"South Africa would not be the centre for continental trade if it was
not for the influence of the immigrants. The retail sector is expanding
because of the large volume of continental customers arriving daily," said
Jacob van Garderen, a researcher with the Refugee and Migrant Project of
South African Lawyers for Human Rights.

Like most countries in this invidious position, South Africa will at
the end of the day welcome useful immigrants who assume the glorified
collective name of expatriates and be less generous when dealing with the
less useful ones — the economic refugees.

In European countries immigrants were welcomed with open arms to do
certain menial work which the locals held in contempt. The immigrants mainly
from Eastern Europe have become part of the society and are respected in
their own right for their industry. One thinks of the Poles in Britain.

Can Zimbabweans who are prepared to work on farms in South Africa and
Botswana be recognised in the same light?

Perhaps yes, because immigrants into this country from Zambia, Malawi
and Mozambique 50 years ago came in to do not-so-glorious jobs on the farms,
in municipalities as cleaners and others worked as domestic servants. They
were accepted here because they were willing to do these jobs which locals
were disparaged.

The tide has turned on the Zimbabweans and our professionals are today
prepared to scrub floors and tend gardens across the borders. We have gone
the full circle because of the crisis at home.


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Candid Comment: Election Run-off Is A Non-Starter

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 15 May 2008 18:46
I AM not voting in the presidential run-off, regardless of when it’s
going to be. It’s a conscientious objection.

Though legally mandatory, the proposed run-off is a charade which I
cannot persuade my conscience to justify.

If it were within my power, this is one election I would urge
Zimbabweans to boycott for its utter uselessness to national wellbeing. It
is heartless and downright dishonourable to traumatise Zimbabweans with
another election for the hollow pleasure of two politicians.

The MDC leadership, which is quick to accuse everyone who disagrees
with it of buying a lifeline for President Mugabe, says it will participate
in the run-off "under certain conditions" when one would have expected a
more robust response. What could be more blatantly contrived to give Zanu PF
and Mugabe a lifeline than another senseless election in an economy already
wrecked by years of policy failures and trade sanctions?

I also object because the outcome of that election won’t resolve the
current political deadlock even if the MDC brought observers and monitors
from Venus. If they are being forced to take part in the election because of
a legal technicality — the 50% plus vote — it is because they refused to put
the interests of the nation first on March 29.

Even if we agreed that President Mugabe has become unelectable, I
believe either party could easily have won the synchronised March elections
if their two leaders were more concerned with people’s wellbeing. The basis
of the contest was the same — land.

From the point of national empowerment, Zanu PF’s position on land and
indigenisation is unassailable. On the other hand, using neoclassical,
liberal economic indicators such as inflation, unemployment, food shortages,
industrial capacity underutilisation and the corruption which has
accompanied the land reform process, the MDC could have turned the tables by
exposing how Zanu PF had failed to execute a noble programme.

Instead, the MDC unduly prioritised dealing with multiple farm owners
and those involved in the mechanisation programme, further hardening
attitudes among beneficiaries. (Who said multiple farm ownership was a crime
and was it a Zanu PF invention?)

So what caused a run-off election?

Mugabe rejected leadership renewal in his party. So you have a
peculiar situation where people voted for a Zanu PF MP but rejected its
leader. Morgan Tsvangirai allowed himself to be fooled by power-brokers in
his inner circle who told him he was so popular there was no need to "make
every vote count".

People’s calls for a united front were spurned and now both parties
want the same brutalised electorate to make another sacrifice in a contest
which could have been settled with finality on March 29.

The debate is not whether Mugabe would have accepted the result if
Tsvangirai had won by the legal margin. Nobody says he will accept defeat in
a run-off. The point is that the debate would be less complicated: a
president who lost an election but won’t relinquish power versus an
opposition leader who won with the requisite margin but is being denied
power.

For all practical purposes, Tsvangirai won. Yet technically he didn’t
and by the same token Mugabe is legally the president until the outcome of
the run-off resolves the impasse. Unity by the MDC now is too late.

From their stupefied reaction to the election debacle, Mugabe has made
up his mind that they are confused and is not going on anybody’s else terms.

Which is really my point, that an election run-off won’t solve our
political, and by extension, the economic crisis.

Political leaders must sit down and talk. Given the position the MDC
and its backers have adopted and that of President Mugabe and his advisors,
neither will accept the result. The outcome of any run-off will be of no
more than historical significance.

The dialogue need not be confined to the Thabo Mbeki mediation effort.
Whatever its outcome, it must never have the whiff of having been engineered
and imposed by outsiders. It is our primary duty to lay the foundations of
the Zimbabwe we want.

Why am I calling for a national boycott of the run-off? So that the
voter turnout is so low both men will be ashamed to claim victory.

The run-off has a few unpalatable possibilities. People are persuaded
to vote with a few broken limbs here and there.

A few dead bodies are not beyond the "minimum force" necessary to make
people see the light. Mugabe wins and the MDC protests. It’s business as
usual until Zanu PF resolves its succession issue. The crisis deepens while
overfed politicians bicker.

The other scenario: "Safe" urbanites believe rural folk have been
"emboldened by the beatings" and so Tsvangirai will win with a crushing
margin. Let’s accept the possibility that he wins. Mugabe protests and tells
Tsvangirai to go and rule over the Bamangwato tribe. How does the MDC react?
Exactly as now — the hallmark of bewildered paralysis which has allowed Zanu
PF to recover from a staggering defeat.

Enter the African Union fronted by Sadc. It pushes for dialogue to
wring out a win-win situation. The MDC cries foul; Zanu PF set the terms.
Another interminable process begins all over again.

Then the international community, led by Britain and the United States
with their high-pitched diplomacy. (Their propensity to cry earlier and
louder than the aggrieved has not helped the MDC deal effectively with the
soiled image of its conception.)

Mugabe tells them to go hang. Anybody who tells you US and British
diplomacy still has an unqualified influence in the region, let alone in
Zimbabwe, beyond newspaper headlines, is ignorant of the change dynamics
which have occurred in North-South relations since 2000.


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Comment: Sanctions Can Only Be Lifted In Harare

Zim Independent

Comment
Thursday, 15 May 2008 18:37
PRESIDENT Mwanawasa is President Mugabe’s latest target of insult and,
understandably, his government is not amused by this latest act of
provocation by the Zimbabwean authorities.

This week Patrick Chinamasa opened up on Mwanawasa who is also Sadc
chair for failing to parrot the Zimbabwean refrain that the West must lift
sanctions on Zimbabwe.

"We have not heard him calling for the lifting of sanctions," said
Chinamasa. "We have been adversely affected by the sanctions as they are
creating an uneven field of play."

The bluster against Mwanawasa was then followed by a cartoon in the
state paper, the Herald, on Wednesday mocking the Sadc chair as having been
mum on sanctions, withholding relief maize, deporting Zimbabwean traders,
and toeing the British line on Zimbabwe. Mwanawasa has not exactly been the
flavour of the month from a Zanu PF point of view since his attempt to
mediate in the Zimbabwean crisis last month. By calling a special summit on
Zimbabwe, Mwanawasa crossed swords with the Zanu PF government which expects
regional leaders to cheer it on at every turn.

When Mwanawasa described Zimbabwe as a sinking Titanic a year ago,
pressure was exerted on him to recant the statement.

But regional leaders’ perceptions of the government of President
Mugabe are changing and this resonated in the Zambian government’s reaction
to the attacks on their leader as reflected in the Times of Zambia this
week.

Chief government spokesperson, Mike Mulongoti, in an interview with
the newspaper, said Zimbabwe should quickly resolve its problems by holding
free and fair elections before talking about the lifting of sanctions.

He said it was surprising that the Zimbabwean government had allowed
the Herald to heap abuse on President Mwanawasa and at the same time ask him
to assist the country.

"The Zimbabweans need to exercise humility and show decency because
they cannot insult President Mwanawasa and at the same time ask him to help
them because as Sadc chair he has done what he can."

Mulongoti said Zimbabweans should hold elections and whoever emerges
the winner would then address the sanctions issue because to talk about
sanctions now may be premature. He said President Mwanawasa from the outset
had done everything possible to help resolve the problems in Zimbabwe and
the entire world was watching the situation.

"It is surprising that Mr Chinamasa, the man who lost an election is
very vocal and bitter," he said.

The latest episode is of immense significance as it points to a new
course in regional diplomacy with regards the Zimbabwean issue.

It is no longer business as usual for President Mugabe.

The defeat of Zanu PF in House of Assembly elections and President
Mugabe in the presidential poll — albeit with Morgan Tsvangirai failing to
garner an absolute majority — means our dear leader is no longer regarded as
the formidable political force his handlers still want us to believe he is.
He will now find it difficult to recruit regional leaders to fight in his
corner in the contrived duels with the United States and Britain.

The Sadc heads who only last year at a summit in Tanzania resolved
that sanctions should be lifted have remained quiet on the subject.

They are aware that the targeted sanctions cannot be lifted by
shouting at the West. The process of undoing the sanctions starts and ends
with Zimbabweans’ ability to achieve consensus on key national issues to do
with governance and respect for the rule of law. Corrective measures cannot
be effected from regional capitals but only from Harare.

In Tanzania Sadc heads appointed Sadc executive secretary Tomaz
Salomao to look at the economic situation in Zimbabwe and come up with
proposals on what needs to be done. The process of doing something about the
situation has not moved an inch.

The reason they have not moved in to help is because there has not
been any movement in Harare.

From Zanu PF’s latest statements on sanctions, we get a sense that the
party wants to use the sanctions pretext to hang on to power for as long as
possible.

We now have state-sponsored NGOs which have been roped in to push this
line to give impetus to future state action on sanctions. The latest example
is a group of lawyers who claim to be promoting justice at a time when other
lawyers are being incarcerated for doing just that.

Zanu PF has now set new conditions of engagement with regional leaders
in their quest to mediate in the current crisis. As pointed out, top of the
agenda for any mediation process will be the lifting of sanctions — a sure
way to slow down processes necessary for a change of guard in our politics.
If the region remains consistent on the need for a settlement in Zimbabwe
before sanctions can be lifted, then Mugabe has painted himself into another
political corner.


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Zim Independent Letters

† Can We Trust Mbeki To Mediate For Us?
Letters
Thursday, 15 May 2008 19:16
AS any sane Zimbabwean I am anxious to see the speedy resolution of
the problems bedevilling our beautiful country and as a result I was
naturally drawn to question current efforts being made towards this end by
Thabo Mbeki.

In an effort to understand what the term mediator means I made the
effort to research the definitions of the term.

One definition describes a mediator as an impartial observer who
listens to both sides separately and suggests how each side could adjust its
position to resolve differences.

From another definition a mediator was described as a person with whom
parties to a dispute meet, in an effort to have the mediator assist them in
reaching a mutually acceptable decision.

Unlike an arbitrator, the mediator does not impose a decision on the
disputants; rather, he attempts to help them find a solution acceptable to
them.

From these descriptions, one understands the scope and boundaries of a
mediator’s operations and is in a better position to make an objective
judgment.

Upon looking at the descriptions I realised that Mbeki does not
possess, at least from the mandate given to him, the power to wave a magic
wand and make all our problems go away.

He does though have a responsibility to be impartial and to listen and
respond to both sides’ point of view. On that I find that he is found
wanting.

His recent visits to Harare have done nothing to show his impartiality
as he made bold declarations that seemed to favour the point of view of one
party at the expense of another.

Although he claims that he was misquoted in the "no crisis" statement,
it is incumbent upon him to project the image of an impartial mediator. For
his role as a mediator to be effective image is of the essence and hence for
that to be compromised is a serious point of concern.

An example being the image Kofi Annan had as an impartial mediator in
the Kenyan crisis and how expeditiously he worked to resolve it. Mbeki’s
recent visit to Zanu PF, only one party to the conflict, is yet another
issue of great concern along with his seemingly aloof nature in catering for
the concerns for the opposition.

NM,

Harare.

-----------------
Tsvangirai Not A New Beginning
Letters
Thursday, 15 May 2008 19:14
I’M a Zimbabwean victim of Robert Mugabe’s brutality enjoying Canada’s
protection since coming here as a political refugee in 2003.

However, I’m sickened by the West’s one-sided coverage of the ongoing
electoral fiasco in Zimbabwe. The unrelenting anti-Mugabe avalanche in the
Western media is clearly an effort to conceal the West’s complicity in
Mugabe’s murderous rule.

Following scattered incursions by apartheid South Africa-sponsored
rebels in southern Zimbabwe in the early 1980s, Mugabe unleashed his
ruthless, North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade military unit. The unit
exterminated 20 000 innocent villagers.

Mass disappearances, beatings, gang rapes abound. Hundreds were burned
alive. Some victims were forced to dig their own graves. Some were forced to
sing songs praising Mugabe before being executed.

The international community neither intervened nor chastised Mugabe.
In 1984 Scotland’s Edinburgh University awarded Mugabe an honorary doctorate
of law degree.

In 1986 the University of Massachusetts awarded Mugabe the same
honorary degree. Michigan State University honoured Mugabe in 1990. In 1994,
he became the Knight Commander of the Order of Bath, knighted by Queen
Elizabeth II.

Zimbabwe’s crimes grabbed global headlines only after the post-1999
killings, which claimed 300 lives from both the MDC and Zanu PF. But now
these killings included about a dozen white Zimbabweans. The state had also
started repossessing white-owned farms to give to landless black peasants.

What’s worse, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change is also complicit in Mugabe’s crimes and the continuing
violence in Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai was a fully subscribed member of Mugabe’s Zanu PF party. He
even held the rank of "political commissar". He never spoke out. According
to The Independent (UK) in 2004, he said Mugabe was once "my hero, and the
hero of the liberation struggle".

The international community is justified in condemning and isolating
Mugabe, but coddling Tsvangirai is acting complicit. Tsvangirai is Mugabe in
democratic disguise. In 2005, his veto of a majority vote in the MDC
National Council supporting participation in Zimbabwe’s senate elections
split the party.

In July 2006, politically-appointed thugs brutalised MDC MP, Trudy
Stevenson, with whom I worked briefly in the 1990s, and left her for dead.
She identified her attackers as Tsvangirai supporters.

On paper and in the biased Western media coverage of the Zimbabwe
crisis, things will change, but in reality they’ll stay the same. While
Mugabe represents the last detour toward Zimbabwe’s final descent into hell,
Tsvangirai represents a false beginning.

Obert Madondo,

Toronto.

-----------------
Land Grabs Central To Economic Decline
Letters
Thursday, 15 May 2008 19:12
I LISTENED to former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan’s appeal for the
creation of a green revolution in Africa with keen interest.

He mentioned the importance of having the correct inputs for the
farmers of Africa. Among the inputs he mentioned fertiliser and seed but I
believe it would take a lot more for agriculture to prosper.

After nine years of conservation and extension work in all of Zimbabwe’s
regions, along with 43 years of farming experience in the Mazoe Valley, I
venture to suggest that the great success of commercial agriculture between
the years 1950-2001 are as a result of the following conditions which were
slowly introduced over the years:

*Secure tenure of surveyed holdings;

*Correct sized economic units for each ecological region;

*Adequate infrastructure;

*A ready supply of low interest short and long term loan finance;

*Adequate expertise;

*Supplementary irrigation where rainfall is erratic and;

*Orderly marketing.

If African governments aimed to incorporate these seven components
into their agricultural policies the great success that was Zimbabwe could
be repeated elsewhere in Africa.

After the land grabs starting in 2000 of most of the commercial farms
in Zimbabwe and ultimately the settlement of people who lacked farming
experience, a system of command agriculture was introduced.

Seven years later every aspect of production has declined. Yields have
spiralled steadily downwards since and the aforementioned seven components
have been completely ignored or at best been paid lip service.

The 2007/8 agricultural season was heralded as the "mother of all
seasons" even though dismal results are again becoming evident despite the
above average rainfall. The major casualty is the nation’s main staple food,
maize.

The parlous state of agriculture in Zimbabwe demonstrates the futility
of applying command structure elements to an industry that operates best
under free market conditions. The marketing structure is chaotic and the
black market thrives at the ordinary consumer’s expense.

Concerned Observer,

Glendale.

-----------------
Please Investigate The RBZ
Letters
Thursday, 15 May 2008 19:10
THERE seems to be an unholy pact between your newspaper and the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor wherein you desist from robust
investigations into the conduct of the RBZ as an institution and the Reserve
Bank governor as an individual.

Our roads are awash with brand new expensive double-cab vehicles
purchased and imported by the RBZ. Indeed, the Reserve Bank yard in
Mabelreign (along Sherwood Drive) is full of brand new minibuses and trucks
all allegedly imported by the RBZ.

Quite obviously, a substantial amount of scarce foreign currency was
used to import these vehicles.

One would have expected your reporters to carry out thorough
investigations into the exact amount of foreign currency that the RBZ used
to purchase these vehicles (and the origins of the foreign currency).

It is common knowledge that the country needs to import food as our
acquired farms have not produced enough to feed the nation (due to the cruel
machinations of the West, we are told). Why have you not confronted the
governor about his decision to priorities the purchase of luxury vehicles
when the masses face starvation?

The manufacturing industry has almost ground to a halt because the RBZ
has not allocated adequate foreign currency to that sector.

Our hospitals have been experiencing a chronic shortage of medicines.
The country does not generate enough foreign currency to import medical
supplies, and yet the RBZ deems it fit to import brand new double-cab
vehicles.

For obvious reasons we cannot expect government newspapers to
investigate these issues.

Your failure to keep the nation informed about the obscene excesses at
the RBZ can only adversely affect your credibility in the eyes of the
public.

Thabani Mpofu,

Harare.

-----------------
Mugabe Must Not Lecture Our Children On Character
Letters
Thursday, 15 May 2008 19:07
AFTER the initial boost to our hopes at the beginning of the vote
counting, the endless delays led me into a state of complete misery as the
defeated president simply put a halt to the announcing of results.

In last week’s Independent (May 9-15) it was mentioned that the
run-off — which in reality is not even required — could be in 12 months
time!

How much more misery can this man inflict on the people of our
country? It is certainly not his country, as expressed by the will of the
people. In the same edition it is stated that a "clique of ruling party
hardliners ... are working... in a bid to ensure he wins the run-off by fair
means or foul". It is sickening.

The defeated president hung on in order to entertain school children
the day before Independence celebrations on April 18 with his pearls of
wisdom.

Reported in the Herald of April 18 was that exhausted mantra: "Never
shall this country be a colony again..." But what about the Chinese? What
about the Zanu PF mafioso? Are they not the neo-colonialists who have
plundered the once prosperous Zimbabwe?

"We can borrow from other cultures but not British..." said he in his
Saville Row suit.

"You should show friendship, love for the poor..." Really? Did you or
your relatives have your houses and businesses smashed by the xenophobic
debacle called Murambatsvina, sanctioned by this man?

ZBC reporters such as Reuben Barwe and Judith Makwanya gloated over
these crimes against humanity — even reporting that the people were happy to
have their abodes knocked down. Barwe and Makwanya must stand up and face
their complicity in these crimes against humanity when the time comes.

" ...and work to unite people…" Gukurahundi. The most horrific era in
the post-Independence history of Zimbabwe with gross human rights violations
recorded, implicating many high-up politburo members who must also be
prosecuted for their crimes against humanity.

"You should develop a good habit, a good habit that would develop into
a good character, a good character for a good destiny." Is this the
character that has created our economic, political and social malaise? Is
the man mad? Has he ever shown our children a good destiny?

These are the words of a man bereft of any meaningful or important
ideas. A lost soul to be sure and not someone who should be lecturing
children on good character and habit!

Umbrage,

Groombridge, Harare.


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Mugabe party maps out run-off campaign strategy

africasia

HARARE, May 16 (AFP)

Senior members of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's ruling party were to
meet Friday to map out a campaign strategy for a delayed run-off election
ahead of the expected announcement of the poll's date.

The central committee of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF), which normally meets four times a year, was holding a special
session, the first after its veteran leader was beaten at the polls for the
first time.

Mugabe, who at 84 is Africa's oldest leader and has ruled the former British
colony since independence in 1980, was beaten by opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai in the disputed first round of polls held on March 29.

But Tsvangirai, with 47.8 percent of the ballots failed to garner enough
votes to avoid a run-off.

ZANU-PF sources said Friday's meeting would examine decisions taken on
Wednesday by the party's politburo, Mugabe's inner party cabinet.

The country is due to hold the new round of presidential elections before
the end of July, a near 10-weeks delay from the originally expected date.

The actual date should be known by end of the day Friday, according to the
country's electoral commission.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has criticised the delay
fearing that it would be used by Mugabe's loyalists to intensify a campaign
of violence after his first-round defeat. It has urged southern African
leaders to call an emergency summit to discuss the crisis.

The ZANU-PF meeting comes a day after the army and police chiefs met with
local church leaders to discuss the political violence that has engulfed
parts of the country since the original polling day.

Human rights groups and the opposition have accused the military of having a
hand in the violence but the army has denied any links to the attacks that
the opposition says has claimed more than 30 lives.

According to a report in state media, police commissioner general Augustine
Chihuri had told the church leaders that both ZANU-PF and MDC had set up
bases across the countryside from where violence was being orchestrated, but
police were now in the process of dismantling them.

The opposition has frequently accused the police of being partisan when
responding to political violence calls, in many cases arresting the victims
in place of the perpetrators.

But Chihuri said the police could only urge parties to desist from violence
as they were not in control of party structures.

Violence in the country has escalated since the poll, and human rights body
Amnesty International said Thursday that Mugabe's supporters were forcibly
recruiting youths to carry out attacks on suspected opposition supporters.

Seen as a post-colonial success story in the first decade-and-a-half after
independence, Zimbabwe's economy has been in freefall since 2000 when Mugabe
embarked on a land reform programme which saw thousands of white-owned farms
expropriated.

Eighty percent of the workforce is unemployed while the official inflation
rate in February stood at 165,000 percent -- the highest in the world.


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Zimbabwe urges churches to help fight violence

Reuters

By Cris Chinaka 59 minutes ago

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean security chiefs have urged church leaders to
help stop rising violence ahead of a delayed run-off election in which the
opposition hopes to oust President Robert Mugabe.

Official results showed opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in
the disputed March 29 poll, but not by enough votes to avoid a run-off. The
electoral commission is due to set a date for the second round on Friday.

The ruling ZANU-PF's policy-setting central committee will also hold its
first meeting since the March elections, in which the party lost its
parliamentary majority to the opposition for the first time since
independence in 1980. The meeting is expected to map out Mugabe's campaign
strategy.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper said the government was stepping up
efforts to avoid an escalation of politically motivated violence ahead of
the second round ballot.

"It is understood that (defense forces commander) General (Constantine)
Chiwenga appealed to the church leaders to urge their congregations to work
towards peace while political parties were also implored to desist from
violence," the daily Herald said on Friday.

The MDC blames the government for violence in which it says 40 of its
members have been killed, scores have been wounded and more than 1,000 homes
burnt or destroyed in attacks by gangs wielding whips, axes and clubs.

ZANU-PF denies responsibility, accusing the MDC of unleashing the violence
to discredit Mugabe.

Neighboring states, including economic powerhouse South Africa, are
concerned the instability and economic turmoil in Zimbabwe could take their
toll on them too.

The Herald said police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri told church
leaders on Thursday the police was dismantling political bases set up by
both ZANU-PF and MDC around the country where acts of violence had been
committed.

The security chiefs have previously said they would not allow Tsvangirai and
his MDC to rule the country.

POST-ELECTION VIOLENCE

The MDC accuses Mugabe of unleashing his militias in the countryside since
the March elections, both to punish voters who supported the opposition and
to intimidate them ahead of the next round of voting.

The opposition says youth brigades, the army and veterans of a 1970s
independence war have been deployed to galvanize support for the 84-year-old
Zimbabwean leader and former guerrilla hero.

The government denies the accusations, and has repeatedly denounced acts of
violence and called for calm.

The MDC on Thursday called for an urgent meeting of countries in the region
to avoid "rivers of dead people." It rejected a delay in the run-off
election announced by the government, but stopped short of saying Tsvangirai
would only participate if the timeline was upheld.

Zimbabwe's electoral commission said on Wednesday the presidential run-off
could be delayed until the end of July -- four months after the original
poll.

The MDC says the run-off should be held by May 23, in line with laws which
say the vote must be held within 21 days of the election results, which were
announced on May 2.

The MDC says authorities have banned a rally on Sunday at which Tsvangirai
was due to kick off his campaign for the run-off. The United States
condemned the ban.

(Additional reporting by Nelson Banya; Writing by Caroline Drees; Editing by
Matthew Tostevin)


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Protecting Zimbabwe

The Namibian

Friday, May 16, 2008 - Web posted at 8:45:48 GMT

DESMOND TUTU
JOHANNESBURG - Although the Chinese ship that was carrying arms to
Zimbabwe, the An Yue Jiang, has reportedly turned back, we don't know where
else President Robert Mugabe's military and paramilitary forces may be
acquiring weapons.

In light of the escalating violent repression of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change - and of those whose support apparently
helped the MDC to prevail in the presidential election, the results of which
have still not been announced after four weeks - an international arms
embargo on Zimbabwe is urgently needed.

In addition, we call on the African Union, with the support of the
United Nations, to send an investigative mission to Zimbabwe to determine
what additional measures may be required to carry out the internationally
accepted "responsibility to protect."

The concept of the "responsibility to protect" was adopted unanimously
by the UN World Summit in 2005.

Yet, it remains controversial because it is often assumed that it
implies the use of military force for purposes of humanitarian intervention.

We believe, as was recognised at the UN World Summit, that military
force should only be a last resort when needed to prevent or halt
large-scale loss of life.

The first step is to gather reliable information so that it is
possible to know what international measures are required to prevent a
disaster.

In the case of Zimbabwe, it is extremely difficult to obtain such
information.

Mugabe's regime has systematically shut down independent media,
attacked independent civil society organisations, denied visas to foreign
journalists, and has arrested and beaten journalists who nevertheless enter
the country.

Foreign observers were present when the voting took place in Zimbabwe
on March 29, and their presence helped to ensure that the election itself
was peaceful.

The observers have long since left the country, however, and the
reports that have filtered out suggest that in some parts of the country,
Mugabe's opponents are now experiencing a reign of terror.

The Constitutive Act of the African Union provides in Article 4 the
"right of the Union to intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of
the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely: war crimes,
genocide, and crimes against humanity [as well as a serious threat to
legitimate order]."

Here too, however, actual military intervention should only be a last
resort.

In the case of Zimbabwe, for example, it is possible that sending in
unarmed observers from other African countries would be sufficient.

Their presence and ability to provide objective information might
prevent continuation or further escalation of the violence of the last few
weeks to the point where it would require military intervention.

Unarmed observers could also help to ensure that emergency
international food assistance, on which much of Zimbabwe's population now
depends for survival, is distributed equitably, without regard to the
political leanings of those requiring it.

Earlier this year, the African Union, through the good work of former
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, averted a calamity in Kenya after a
disputed election led to widespread violence.

The danger in Zimbabwe appears to be comparable.

Once again, the African Union, with the support of the UN, should
provide the leadership that would demonstrate that Africa has the capacity
and the will to resolve a great crisis in a manner that mitigates the
suffering of African people.

* South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a Nobel Peace Prize winner.


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Pre-Election Sweeteners for Voters

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Already wielding the big stick, the government has eased economic
restrictions in hope this will buy votes for Robert Mugabe.

By Happiness Chikudo in Harare (ZCR No. 146, 16-May-08)

As Zimbabweans continue flocking to the banks to offload foreign currency in
the wake of a major monetary reform, traders thronged border crossings this
week to import scarce commodities after the government scrapped duties on
some food imports.

Analysts are agreed that President Robert Mugabe has introduced these
economic measures with a view to securing victory for him in the forthcoming
second round of the presidential election.

In the first round, held on March 29, Mugabe lost to Morgan Tsvangirai,
leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, MDC, but election officials
ruled that neither candidate had won the 50 per cent majority needed for
outright victory.

On May 16, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced that the second
round would be held not within the normal 21 days from the date the
first-round result was announced, but instead within 90 days, which means
the deadline is August 12.

ZIMBABWEAN DOLLAR PLUMMETS

For the past two weeks, the banks and other financial institutions have been
busy as people rush to exchange foreign currency, especially United States
dollars, for Zimbabwean money.

Since the Zimbabwean dollar has become increasingly worthless in recent
years, this was a major turnaround.

It followed an announcement by Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe, RBZ, on May 2 that the currency would no longer be traded at a
fixed rate.

Gono acknowledged that the current exchange-rate mechanism was not working.
Until that point, the official rate had been held at 30,000 to the US dollar
since September 2007. Before Gono’s announcement, the Zimbabwean currency
was trading at upwards of 100 million to one American dollar on the illegal
black market.

He said the foreign exchange market had to work properly if the country was
to achieve economic stability and cut inflation. Year-on-year inflation was
somewhere over 150,000 per cent at the last count.

The central bank chief noted that over 80 per cent of Zimbabwe’s imports
were items of crucial importance like machinery and spare parts,
electricity, fuel, chemicals and “other essentials” – in which he presumably
included the major food purchases that have been necessitated by the
collapse of the country’s agriculture.

The immediate result of freeing up the exchange rate was a massive loss of
value for the Zimbabwean dollar as it hurtled towards its true market value.

Gono made his announcement on a Friday, when the rate was still posted as
30,000 to the US dollar. When trading resumed on Monday, May 5, the official
rate leapt to nearly 169 million, not thousand, to one.

That meant that all of a sudden, the authorities had access to significant
amounts of hard currency that would previously have passed them by. Illegal
currency trading was all but wiped out as black marketeers struggled to keep
pace with the banks. People who would previously sold foreign currency on
the black market because the banks offered such a ridiculously low rate were
now opting for safer and legal transactions on advantageous terms.

By May 16, one American dollar was worth 255 million or so of the Zimbabwean
currency.

HIGH IMPORT DUTIES SWEPT AWAY

On May 13, government spokesman Sikhanyiso Ndlovu announced a second major
policy reversal. Import duty charges on basic commodities including cooking
oil, rice, salt and margarine were scrapped with immediate effect until
August 12.

The 90-day suspension was needed in order to ensure there was a “constant
supply of imported basic commodities that have been augmenting local
supplies”, said Ndlovu.

He explained that high tariffs, which in some cases reached 100 per cent of
an item’s value, was reducing the amount of goods imported into Zimbabwe.
Until then, that had seemed to be precisely the point of punitive duties –
to stop scarce foreign currency going abroad to buy imports, and to attempt
to reduce a trade deficit caused by the depressed export capacity of this
unproductive economy.

Basic items like foodstuffs, soap, toothpaste and washing powder have been
in short supply on the official market since last July, when Mugabe ordered
all businesses and industries to cut the prices of goods and services almost
in half. This crude anti-inflationary measure proved counterproductive as
goods disappeared from the shelves in panic-buying and shops could not
afford to restock.

Since the restrictions on acquiring foreign currency curbed the ability of
commercial firms to buy from abroad, much of what was available in Zimbabwe
was supplied to markets and street vendors by informal cross-border traders.

The suspension of customs duties immediately sparked a stampede to the
borders with neighbouring South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia, as
people used their new freedom to buy goods abroad either to stock up at home
or to resell as a way of making some extra income.

POLITICAL CALCULATION

The liberalised economic environment created by the currency flotation and
this week’s lifting of customs duties clearly has a political backdrop.

The increased impoverishment of much of the Zimbabwean population is perhaps
the main driver of wide-scale public discontent with Mugabe, and the reason
why he performed so poorly in the March 29 polls. Despite its apparently
iron grip on the country, his ZANU-PF party was defeated by the MDC in the
parliamentary election, even losing seats regarded as safe.

Now the security forces and ZANU-PF militias have been deployed in a
campaign of violence in a bid to break support for the opposition ahead of
the second round.

The currency and duty measures add a carrot to the stick now being wielded
by the authorities.

“How do you explain that the waiver on duty was for three months with effect
from May 12 until [the election deadline of] August 12?” said a ZANU-PF
insider, speaking on condition of anomymity. “This date allows the president
to polish his election machinery.”

Ernest Mudzengi, a political analyst with the National Constitutional
Assembly, a non-government pressure group, agreed.

“He has his eyes on the presidential run-off,” he said, referring to Mugabe.
“It is also an admission by the government of Mugabe that the
command-economy policies have failed dismally and that the country has not
been able to feed itself for the past eight years. It is all an election
gimmick to hoodwink voters as the country braces for a run-off.”

An increased supply of foreign currency in the banking will allow the
government to import food and pay Zimbabwe’s neighbours for electricity
supplies, avoiding assuaging hunger and avoidingembarrassing blackouts in
the midst of a crucial election. Many regional states have grown impatient
with the government’s late payment of electricity bills.

Mudzengi suggested that access to foreign currency would help the
authorities bankroll their election campaign.

According to John Robertson, an independent economic and political analyst,
“The government needs foreign currency for a lot of things, among them to
repay the FCA [foreign currency accounts] of embassies and international
organisations that were raided by the RBZ before the March 29 elections.”

In his May 2 statement on monetary policy, bank governor Gono admitted that
for several months, corporate firms, foreign embassies, non-governmental
organisations and some international organisations had experienced “delays”
in accessing their foreign currency accounts at the central bank.

Robertson added, “While the main reason might be to replace FCA accounts
taken from embassies, gold producers and others, the element of the
elections cannot be ruled out. The ZEC [Zimbabwe Electoral Commission] has
already said it is broke. Gono needs to find hard currency for a lot of
things, including running the election and importing food.”

EXTRA GIFT FOR FARMERS

In his statement, Gono also gave notice that the fourth phase of the
“mechanisation programme” – which provides farm machinery in rural areas –
would be unveiled in July. Ahead of the March 29 elections,
Gono used RBZ funds to hand out tractors, ox-drawn ploughs and other farming
equipment.

ZANU-PF has traditionally drawn its support from rural voters, while the MDC
was seen as more urban-based – at least until the recent elections, when it
out-performed the ruling party even on its home ground.

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for Tsvangirai’s faction of the MDC, said the
pledge to unroll the next phase of farm mechanisation programme “can’t be a
coincidence”.

“It is part of ZANU-PF vote-buying. We have maintained that Gono has, and is
still, funding ZANU-PF’s violent campaign. The state security agents beating
up opposition supporters in the rural areas are paid from RBZ coffers,” he
said, as the MDC announced that the number of its supporters killed in
election violence had reached 32 by May 13.

The authorities are clearly calculating that a combination of intimidation,
well-funded electioneering and sweeteners for the population will secure a
landslide for Mugabe.

Happyness Chikudo is the pseudonym of a reporter in Zimbabwe


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No number on attack victims

IOL

††††May 16 2008 at 02:59PM

Authorities assisting foreign nationals displaced by recent xenophobic
attacks in Alexandra said on Friday they did not have exact numbers of how
many people had been affected.

Alexander police station officer Constable Neria Malefetse said that
well over a thousand people were seeking refuge at the station on Friday.

On Sunday, three people were killed and about 60 injured when mostly
foreign nationals - mainly from Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe - were
attacked.

They were apparently accused of crime and taking jobs from local
people.

Police have arrested more than 50 people for various crimes,including
rape, murder and robbery.

Those attacked have been taking shelter at Alexandra's police station
as well as other police stations in the area.

On Friday, Malefetse said people were still "coming and going" - so it
was difficult to calculate the overall number of displaced residents in the
area.

She also said some people were reluctant to give their names or put
themselves on any kind of list, so this made collecting statistics
difficult.

Malefetse said it was difficult to keep tabs on people's movements.

"We do get different people every day."

She said some people only came to the station for safety at night and
then left during the day.

The police's mandate was to take care of the people and so they had
not even tried to establish exact numbers.

Malefetse said some foreign nationals wanted to return home.

Others wanted to stay because they hoped the situation would subside.

City of Johannesburg spokesperson Gabu Tugwana said the municipality
also did not know exactly how many people were displaced.

What they did know was how many people they were caring for.

However, Tugwana said day and night numbers were "very different".

In Alexandra about 300 and 400 people were being fed at night, whereas
during the day it was about 215.

At the Bramley police station, there were about 150 people present
during the day and about 200 at night.

Tugwana said it was the responsibility of organisations like the Red
Cross or home affairs to collect the "minute data of the measure of the
problem.

"We are the supportive structure," he said.

Johannesburg metro police spokesperson Superintendent Wayne Minnaar
said 23 people had slept in a Methodist church in Diepsloot on Thursday
night to keep safe.

Red Cross spokesperson Freedom Ngubeni said their register from
Thursday counted 740 people currently displaced.

She said overall the number of people displaced was not a thousand but
somewhere in the hundreds.

Ngubeni said most people wanted to go back home to their countries of
origin.

"They are tired of this war."

She said the Red Cross really needed help with donations.

Women needed sanitary towels and the organisation needed blankets.

Anyone who could assist should contact Mr Mthembu on 011-873-6364. -
Sapa

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