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Zimbabwe's government to blame for people's plight

Rutland Herald

May 28, 2006

Having just returned from Zimbabwe on a mission with the human rights group Amnesty International, I can testify personally to the economic freefall described in a May 14 article that appeared in the Sunday Rutland Herald and Times Argus.

However, the article ignored the root cause of the humanitarian disaster engulfing the nation's 12 million citizens: the ruthless violations of civil, political and economic rights by the government. Last year's destruction of homes that displaced 700,000 people, the endemic corruption fostered by a pliant judiciary and one-party rule, and the denial of food aid to perceived anti-government areas are just a few examples.

Zimbabwe will recover: Its people's history of perseverance in struggle is inspiring. It is an honor to support the work of courageous Zimbabweans who seek true democracy, the rule of law, and legal and medical assistance for those jailed and tortured by the current regime.

Rowly Brucken


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Govt splashes $600b on MPs' vehicles

The Standard

THE government will in the next few weeks doll out more than $500 billion for the purchase of luxurious 4x4 twin cab vehicles for Members of Parliament and Senators at a time when most Zimbabweans are wallowing in abject poverty, The Standard has established.
Over 80% of Zimbabweans are poor and cannot afford even one single proper meal every day.
Despite this glaring poverty, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has already released about US$350 000 (about Z$36,4 billion) for the purchase of top-of-the range Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota vehicles for the legislators. A total of 191 MPs and Senators are eligible under the Member of Parliament Vehicle Revolving Fund (MPVRF).
Impeccable sources said the central bank has pledged to release about US$150 000 (about Z$15, 6 billion) every week for the purchase of the vehicles.
"They have agreed to release about US$150 000 on a weekly basis until all of them (legislators) get the vehicles," a source at Parliament said.
Already, Parliament has made orders to several car dealers in Harare.
An official with Haddon Motors last week confirmed receiving an order for 24 Isuzu Twin Cabs from Parliament.
The official said: "I can confirm an order of 24 vehicles but cannot for now act on it because we are still waiting for payment."
The official said each Isuzu vehicle costs US$25 500 (about Z$2,652 billion) plus VAT of $3, 3 billion, which will add up to $5,952 billion.
The Clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma, on Friday confirmed that the central bank had released part of the money for the purchase of vehicles for legislators.
"The Reserve Bank has so far released US$350 000 and has assured the board (MPVRF board) that it will release about US$150 000 every week depending on the availability of the foreign currency," Zvoma said.
He said each legislator had been awarded a ceiling figure of US$30 000 although most of the vehicles had an average price of US$24 000.
"When value added tax is added, the amount will be slightly more," he said. Zvoma said MPs who served in the 2000 parliament would get first priority, followed by those elected in March 2005 while senators, who only got into office in last November, would also be considered.
"The fund was unable to support all the MPs last year because there was not enough allocation as some of the money was channeled to grain as there was a drought," he said.
Zvoma said the government had a 100% loan recovery rate on those who previously benefited.
"In terms of recovery rates, we have about 100%. We don’t have problems on that," said Zvoma, who defended the purchases saying the luxurious vehicles would enable the legislators to navigate any terrain. Questions submitted to the central bank’s public relations officer, Tonderayi Mukeredzi, had not been responded to by the time of going to print.
Economists fear that the release of the money could send tremors into the country’s precarious economy.
Bulawayo-based economist, Eric Bloch, said the current state of Zimbabwe’s economy cannot sustain such a luxury.
"It is in countries like Zimbabwe that you find MPs and senators being given loans to buy cars. In other countries, Ministers are the only ones entitled to such loans," Bloch said.
Economic commentator Jonathan Kadzura said it would be better for the legislators to forgo the purchase of the vehicles until the economy recovers. He said the money, which is in foreign currency, could have been used in the manufacturing or farming sectors.
"The principle may be correct but the timing is very wrong because every Zimbabwean is suffering. It is not the time to extend such loans," Kadzura said.
Zimbabwe is undergoing serious economic recession characterised by a four-digit inflation figure, high unemployment and shortages of basic commodities. About 3,5 million people in the country are surviving on food relief from international donor organisations.

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MDC accepts granting Mugabe immunity

The Standard

THE anti-Senate faction of the MDC will allow President Robert Mugabe to be granted immunity from prosecution as part of a broader initiative by the international community to find a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis.
MDC Secretary General, Tendai Biti who is on a two-week tour in Europe with leader Morgan Tsvangirai was yesterday quoted by Reuters saying Mugabe could be allowed to escape prosecution if that would help to bring Zimbabwe back to the road to recovery.
Mugabe stands accused of widespread human rights violations. He has refused to leave power amid speculation that he wants to hang on until 2010.
Addressing a press conference in the UK on Friday, Tsvangirai said a plan was already in place that would ensure a smooth transition of power.
Tsvangirai said: "In this plan we demand negotiations by key institutions on the establishment of a Transitional Authority and the convening of a Constitutional Conference to draft this new people-driven Constitution, subject to a referendum, and a window for healing will be provided through the repeal of repressive laws such as POSA and AIPPA, and the liberalisation of airwaves."
He added: "At the same time Zanu PF must dismantle its informal arms of violence in the shape of the youth militias or Green Bombers. Thereafter, free and fair elections must be held."
Tsvangirai said he welcomed reports that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan wanted to intervene as a part of fresh international involvement in the crisis.
He said: "The people of Zimbabwe welcome and support any genuine attempt to resolve the crisis. However, we now await fuller and clearer details of this new intervention."

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Senator wants Mugabe made life President

The Standard

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe should die in office, a grovelling senator told the Upper House of Parliament recently.
Making a belated birthday message to Mugabe, Senator Chief Musarurwa from Mashonaland East told fellow senators that Mugabe should be allowed to be a life President.
"Madam President (Edna Madzongwe), all the words that I have said about the President of this country have to do with wishing him to live until the Almighty decides to call him because we wish that he becomes a life President of this country.
"We know that from African tradition, chiefs are not removed from power. It is only through death that they are removed," Chief Musarurwa said.
Mugabe, who turned 82 on 21 February, this year has remained in power despite widespread criticism of his 26-year rule. There is mounting speculation that he wants to hang onto power until 2010. He has however not quashed those rumours. Chief Musarurwa said he wished Mugabe many more years in office.
"The President was anointed to be a leader of this country and we wish that he should grow old to the extent that his back is rubbed with cow dung and until the followers know that his duty is to take care of this country, until there are no such things as corruption and until there is peace and equal distribution of land in this country."

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Mugabe turns to churches for truce with EU

The Standard

By Foster Dongozi
IN desperate attempts to halt the country’s continued descent to economic ruin government is reportedly courting church leaders to approach European and US leaders to reverse crippling travel sanctions imposed on the Zanu PF leadership, The Standard understands.
In addition, the church leaders have been tasked with coming up with suggestions on how the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank could be influenced so that lines of credit to Zimbabwe can be re-opened.
On Thursday, President Robert Mugabe hosted a group of church leaders in a move that has been blasted by other church leaders.
There is a perception that some of the members of the clergy who met Mugabe are Zanu PF apologists.
Church insiders said one of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches leaders  a relative of a Zanu PF former government minister  suppressed a damaging report on last year’s March Parliamentary elections.
ZCC was one of the accredited election observers.
After meeting Mugabe, the head of the ZCC, Bishop Peter Nemapare addressed journalists and was quoted as saying: "We know we have a government that we must support, interact with and draw attention (to concerns).
"Those of us who have different ideas about this country surely must know that we have a government which listens."
Reports that Harare wants the churches to broker a peace pact with Europe and the US come amid media speculation that Mugabe has roped in long time ally, Tanzania to help him secure a meeting with British Premier, Tony Blair.
However, church leaders who spoke to The Standard said they were surprised that nothing appeared to have been said by the government’s praise singers about last year’s "Operation Murambatsvina" which was launched at the onset of winter.
Bishop Levee Kadenge, the convenor of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, a grouping of churches countrywide, said church organisations were shocked that some leaders were singing praises of a regime that had brought suffering on its own people.
He said: "We refer to such people who praise political leaders as court prophets. But then I suppose after being given a lot of sadza at State House, our colleagues were obliged to sing praises of the government. Right now I am in Bulawayo and there are money shortages. People are suffering because of the government sanctioned ‘Operation Murambatsvina’ and I feel that is what the church leaders should have told President Mugabe."
Jonah Gokova, the director of the Ecumenical Support Services, was equally critical of the delegation.
He said: "Those church leaders have missed a big opportunity to be in solidarity with the poor and suffering people of Zimbabwe. The suffering has been caused by the bad policies of the same government that they were praising. I don’t know if the leaders were representing the views of their church members."
"Murambatsvina" left nearly one million people homeless and without livelihoods after the government demolished market stalls from where vendors sold their wares.
Thousands of school children were forced to abandon their education following displacement.

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'Bearer cheques not money' - magistrate

The Standard

A CHINHOYI magistrate has ruled that bearer cheques cannot be regarded as currency in a landmark ruling that could have major implications on people intending to go out of the country with Zimbabwean money.
Mashonaland West magistrate Evangelista Kabasa made the ruling last week in a case in which Richard Floyd Mambo and Nigel Manhoko were facing charges of contravening a section of the Exchange Control Regulations after police in Kariba found them in possession of $575 million stashed in their Toyota Corona vehicle.
The two claimed they were on their way to Zambia to buy photocopiers and that they wanted to use the money to pay duty for them on their way back.
According to court records the two wanted to deposit the money with Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officials but before they could make any declarations, police officers in plain clothes asked them to accompany them to Kariba Police Station. Their car was searched and the money found inside.
Their lawyers, Lewis Uriri of Honey and Blackenberg and Tapiwa Muchineripi of Muchineripi and Associates, argued that the two could not be charged as the $1 000 note was the highest currency denominator.
"This is quite apart from the fact that the exhibits (bearer cheques) are not currency as defined in the regulations under which the accused are being charged."
The lawyers argued that the bearer cheques were not currency "but mere negotiating instruments governed exclusively by the Bills of Exchange Act".
The magistrate ruled that in any case, bearer cheques were of no value outside Zimbabwe, as they were not regarded as currency.
In her ruling, the magistrate ruled: "I find the defence’s argument appealing and with merit, if the argument is correct, it follows that there was no exportation or attempt to export currency as defined by law. It is a well-reasoned argument by the defence, which I tend to agree with. I therefore am persuaded to rule in favour of the accused."

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VAT will 'kill' stocks: brokers

The Standard

Market watch By Deborah-Fay Ndlovu

STOCKBROKERS have warned that value added tax payments could lead to a spate of company closures and loss of confidence in the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
Brokers boycotted the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange on Monday after the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority insisted on value added tax payments backdated to 2004.
While Deputy Fina-nce minister David Chapfika said the issue had been resolved with brokers agreeing to pay a 13% of the commission income they have earned since the introduction of VAT in 2004, a stockbroker insisted to Standardbusiness they had resolved not "to budge"’ as they feared the impact of the VAT payments on the operations
"We had a meeting yesterday (Tuesday) as brokers and resolved that we were not going to trade until the issue with ZIMRA is resolved. ZIMRA has said they want their money but we cannot budge because we could become insolvent," the stockbroker said.
He added: "People will lose confidence in the stock market going forward. Now they are stuck with a piece of paper and not able to sell shares."
While ZSE boss, Emmanuel Munyukwi could not be reached for comment; this paper understands that the ZSE held meetings with the Ministry of Finance lobbying for a reversal of the decision "in the interest of the bourse".
The impasse left investors with minimal options of where to place their money. Most turned to the money market resulting in funds being awash.
That coupled with TB maturities saw short-tem interest rates declining to 50 % for 7 to 14 days. The highlight of the week was the increase in the bank rate to 850% for secured lending and 900% for unsecured lending.
The move prompted by the Reserve Bank to quell speculation, resulted in the increase of the 91-day TB rate to 401%. Monetary authorities had decreased the rate to 350%.
A dealer with a local bank however questioned the rationale of decreasing the 91-day TB rate in hyperinflationary conditions.
"It just goes to show the confusion at the central bank. These people are out of ideas. I cannot quantify its rationale. We cannot have the rate coming down when there is inflation," said the dealer.
He said there were hopes that interest rates will increase in the long run so investors can get real returns on the money market. The RBZ also allotted one-year tenders, which analysts said, raised considerable interest among investors.
"People have realised that the one-year TB is an attractive instrument because its performance is always above inflation," said Terrence Mazango of Highveld. The one- year tender is linked to the Consumer Price Index with an additional margin of 2%.
Mazango however said the paper could be liability to the central bank in the long run if inflation continues on an upward trend.
"The view from the RBZ is that inflation will come down and if it does then the one-year tender will be a cheap source of funding. If inflation does go up it will be an expensive instrument to maintain in the long run. The RBZ will end up paying a lot for interests," he said.
A dealer said investors were flocking for the tenders because they had nowhere to place their money.

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Charge less for Garikai, firms told

The Standard
Charge less for Garikai, firms told
GOVERNMENT has commandeered cement manufacturers to extend the 15% discount on all sales to "Operation Garikai" by another four months.
Standardbusiness heard last week that an offer made by the companies last year to help the government housing reconstruction operation was due to expire in August.
Under the agreement, cement sold to "Operation Garikai" contractors would attract a 15% discount uo to August 31. A meeting held on Monday, however, extended the window period to 31 December.
Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu, his deputy Phineas Chihota and Christian Katsande —the ministry’s Permanent Secretary — and other officials attended the meeting with the cement manufacturing industry.
Gavin Stephens, chairman of the Cement and ConcreteInstitute confirmed to Standardbusiness on the extension of the window period saying it was a culmination of discussions between the two parties.
Stephens said the industry had offered a 15% discount on all sales "as a contribution to the reconstruction programme".
The extension of the window period is likely to impact negatively on the cement-manufacturing sector currently operating at 40% capacity. The industry has over the years been affected by the price controls effected on the product.
There are three cement manufacturing companies — Portland Holdings, Circle Cement and Sino Zimbabwe — operating in the country.
"Operation Garikai" was embarked last year to build houses for people who had been affected by the internationally vilified "Operation Murambatsvina" that is said to have made more than 750 000 families homeless, according to the United Nations.
Efforts to get comment from the Industry and International Trade ministry were unsuccessful last week. Mpofu was said to be away while Katsande was attending a meeting when Standardbusiness called the ministry Friday.

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Call them whatevear: they keep Zim going

The Standard

By Deborah-Fay Ndhlovu
IT is pay week but for Sam Kurerwa that is a non-event. His salary and payslip are something to laugh about.
As soon as he has read that little piece of paper, he picks up his cell phone — obviously not bought from his salary — calls an unidentified receiver and makes an appointment to sell something far removed from his regular job as a clerk before dashing out of the door.
Sam’s life is something that many Zimbabweans identify with. With salaries pegged below the poverty datum line of $41 million per month, many locals have found other ways to supplement their income, leading to a new breed of office workers-cum-businesspeople.
Analysts are however at quandary over what to call them. There are even some who make outrageous accusations that these "office workers" are holding the nation at ransom.
The general feeling though is that hardly what these workers make out of their "businesses" contributes to the gross domestic product. With Zimbabwe’s GDP projected to decline by 4.7 % by year-end, expectations in some quarters are that these new breed of "entrepreneurs" should at least contribute to the growth of the economy.
But many of them are not registered with any business organisation and it will be hard for the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to follow up on them. A local economist says this cannot be expected of them because most are speculators, out to survive at whatever cost in the face of the current economic hardships.
"There is really a thin line between entrepreneurs and speculators. For example an entrepreneur in a viable economic environment would re-invest profits into improving infrastructure because business is sustainable and demand is high. At current level most lack the critical mass, the greenfield investments that make up an entrepreneurs," said a local economic analyst who declined to be named.
Interfin analyst, Farai Dyirakumunda, however prefers to call them "entrepreneurs" by virtue of the fact that they are fulfilling a demand for products in short supply.
"They are responsive to opportunities that have arisen in the market," Dyirakumunda said. He however agrees that some of them are mere speculators.
"When you have a shrinking economy then it is inevitable that people will try to adapt to an informal setting because the incomes from the formal sector are inadequate. People do profiteer with some selling controlled commodities and selling them on the black market," Dyirakumunda said.
The analyst however contends that the new breed of entrepreneurs has helped to the keep economy "standing".
"There should be some money trickling in and that is how the economy is still standing. GDP declined by 40 % over the past five years but somehow the economy has been prevented from total collapse by these informal activities and Diaspora money," he said.
Another analyst said he would have called them "independent contractors" save for that most are making abnormal profits by exploiting anomalies in the market.
"I will call them independent contractors because they seek to satisfy shortages in the market. But some are speculating by making abnormal profits through spotting anomalies in the market," he said. David Mupamhadzi of ZABG calls them "moonlighters".
Kurerwa, a part-time fuel merchant prefers to call himself "a commodity broker".
"I definitely cannot live on my salary. I am not married and things are so tough for me. Once I have paid my rent I have nothing left from my salary and yet I have to eat. So what else can I do but to sell fuel. Things are slow now because a lot of garages are selling the commodity but a few months ago I was really making a good buck," Kurerwa said.
From Kurerwa who sells fuel, to the upcoming lawyer who waylays clients bound for his law firm or the clerk-cum-cross-border trader who is selling wares from outside the country, it has become obvious that the majority of Zimbabweans can now not live on their salaries alone.
The gap between managerial and non-managerial salaries continues to grow with latest findings showing that a low level employee earned $2 million per month in 2005 against $250 million for a senior company executive.
Kurerwa says people like him will continue to find ways of "bridging the gap" but to many analysts, most of these extra incomes could be unsustainable should the Zimbabwean economy recover.
"We did not see too many people going into business in the past. If things change, the economy will refomalise and I do not know if these people will be able to adapt," said Dyirakumunda.
However, even the most optimistic economists say Zimbabwe’s recovery is not pegged for recovery any time in the near future and for Kurerwa and many like him, it means continuing to jiggle between formal employment and the big bucks that come from "speculating".

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Urgent need for a rainbow coalition to unseat Mugabe

The Standard

I was one of the people who attended the meeting which was organised at the Small City Hall by Bulawayo Agenda on Wednesday 17 May 2006. The meeting had been called specifically to address the topic: The Split in the Opposition, Any Hope for a Rainbow Coalition.
It is very unfortunate that the speakers who included Tendai Biti, Paul Siwela and David Coltart, failed to address the question. They acted in typical political fashion. They came to advertise their different organisations.
They stole from us, the participants, an opportunity to listen to a fruitful discussion. I would like to urge Bulawayo Agenda to address this issue. When we go to meetings we do not go there to have speakers brag to us. We go because we are concerned citizens who want to see a better Zimbabwe.

I think that the need for a rainbow coalition is very urgent. I am afraid, though, that there are men like Siwela who say that they would only go into a coalition with only those who advocate for a federal state. That, I think is misguided.
We need a rainbow coalition so that we can have the power to unseat the government of Robert Mugabe. It is Mugabe’s government that started and managed a warped land redistribution programme. It is because of Mugabe’s government that now we can not afford to have three decent meals a day. It is because of Mugabe’s government that we no longer have any health workers.
Most of the problems we have today are a direct response to the government’s corrupt tendencies where respectable government ministers loot productive farms like Kondozi and still go unpunished.

My plea to the politicians is that they must, for a minute, throw away their egos. I want them to start thinking about forming a rainbow coalition in order to save the children of Zimbabwe from a tyranny that threatens their lives. I know all the politicians who addressed the Bulawayo Agenda meeting are always assured of a meal. They will always sleep under a roof and they will never spend more than 10 minutes waiting to buy sugar.
These politicians can afford to set conditions for a rainbow coalition. We, the people out here can no longer afford that. We want a new dispensation. We want the opposition politicians to come to the round table together with civic society so that we can draw up a road map that will help us to remove Mugabe and his corrupt government so that we can save the children of Zimbabwe.
The need for a rainbow coalition is very urgent and we urge all opposition politicians to start working towards making this a reality. If they do, we the children of Zimbabwe will thank them forever. But if they do not, then the court of history must surely judge them.

Busani Moyo

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Demystifying Mutambara's political delusions

The Standard
Demystifying Mutambara's political delusions
Sunday view By Pedzisai Ruhanya

WHEN Arthur Mutambara, the leader of the pro-senate Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) entered Zimbabwe’s political powder keg, there was some sense of optimism that the robotics professor would champion the re-unification of the two feuding sides of Zimbabwe’s biggest parliamentary and local government opposition party although it was clear to some critics that he had "tainted" himself by taking a position and then seeking to be the arbiter in a crisis in which he was an interested party.
However, as this opinion seeks to argue, Mutambara has failed to live up to those expectations because he dismally could not locate and elucidate to the MDC supporters in particular and Zimbabweans in general the root causes of crisis obtaining in Zimbabwe and what needs to be done.
When Mutambara came from South Africa to lead the break-away faction of the MDC he sought to identify what he called re-branding of the MDC as his priority. He also argued that the MDC did not have an ideological underpinning and needed one and then started to preach and coin the nationalism mantra as his faction’s rallying ideology.
I want to argue that Mutambara missed the point and hence the beginning of his political misfortunes. This is so because in my view the MDC is a social democratic party which tries to rally the workers, students, peasants and the poor to attain political, economic and social justice in the country after years of political and economic plunder associated with President Robert Mugabe’s administration for more than two decades now.
It seems clear the MDC is seeking for people power based on the rule of law and the restoration of the country’s international membership by removing its pariah status currently haunting the regime in Harare. Therefore I refuse to accept this as a matter that Mutambara would wish to convince Zimbabweans as an issue of substance worth rallying the starving people of Zimbabwe and the restoration of law and order which is urgently needed in the country.
Further on that issue, I want to posit that Mutambara wanted to mislead Zimbabweans into believing that the crisis in Zimbabwe is a crisis about an opposition party which does not have an ideology. I want to falsify that theory by arguing that the crisis in Zimbabwe is a crisis of legitimacy and governance not an ideological crisis as Mutambara would want us believe. It is a crisis of legitimacy and governance emanating from allegations of election rigging and the use of violence against political opponents in the 2000 Parliamentary elections, 2002 Presidential election and the 2005 Parliamentary elections.
For the record, Mutambara should find time to peruse some High Court rulings pertaining to the MDC election petitions in which more than six parliamentary election outcomes including the Buhera North result where Morgan Tsvangirai stood against Kenneth Manyonda were nullified on the basis violence, arson and in the case of Tsvangirai the burning to death of Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya at Murambinda Growth point on 14 April 2000.
The legitimacy of the regime in Zimbabwe has been a result of the generality of Zimbabweans and the international community refusing to accept past election results on the basis electoral manipulation and the use of state-sponsored violence against political opponents. This is the reason why legal and political science scholars have rightly argued that the Harare regime is a de facto but not de jure administration.
Also of note is the creation of an infrastructure of violence by the Zanu PF government through the establishment of youth militia and its use in political violence against opponents of Zanu PF. It should also be noted that accompanying this was the militarisation of fundamental state institutions such as the Electoral Supervisory Commission whose chief executive officer during the 2002 presidential election was Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba.
The government also made it a point that its wishes would prevail in the courts by purging the High Court and Supreme Court of senior and most independent judges while appointing its allies who were going to deliver favourable rulings. This could be seen in that five years after the High Court made rulings in election petitions in 2001 and appeals were made to the Supreme Court, until today, the Supreme Court has not heard those cases and they have since been overtaken by events because the life of that Parliament is over.
This brings me to the next argument where Mutambara told journalists in the Midlands that Tsvangirai lost in 2000, 2002 and 2005. It remains mysterious where he got this kind of information and has the guts to tell Zimbabweans some of them victims of murder, abductions and arson that they lost the elections.
Most unfortunate for Mutambara, he was speaking in the Midlands province where one Biggy Chitoro the leader of the war veterans in Mberengwa created torture camps leading to the brutal murder of one Fainos Kufazvinei Zhou prior to the June 2000 Parliamentary elections. This kind of terrorism like the murder of thousands of innocent Zimbabweans in the Midlands and Matebeleland provinces are still fresh among survivors of that state terror.
It is mind-boggling that Mutambara fails or refuses to acknowledge these issues as the reasons behind Zimbabwe’s pariah status and want to make unfortunate and misplaced political scores by saying Tsvangirai lost those elections. This kind of political naiveté will further alienate Mutambara from the generality of victims of state violence each time there is an election in the country.
It seems clear that given the above, the MDC is not in power not because they lacked an ideological crisis but because the incumbent regime used extra-legal means to hang on to power. More so, the incumbent refuses to play by the democratic rules of the game in its conduct of the electoral process in the past elections.
It is therefore critical for Mutambara to appreciate the nature of the crisis in Zimbabwe before he starts showing off through parading his professorship as if he is the first Zimbabwean to attain that status. Mutambara could take time to consult his colleagues in his faction before he makes public pronouncements that are at variance with the history of the country during the years he was out especially as it relates to how Zimbabwe is where it is today.
I would advise him to appreciate the history of the country from February 2000, the Constitutional Referendum month, the farm invasions and the murders associated with it and the subsequent electoral disputes to date so that his public outbursts are in line with Zimbabweans’ views on the electoral history of the country to date.
It is clear that from a political science point of view, Mutambara has failed to appreciate the issues at hand I would recommend him to seek free lessons from Professor Jonathan Moyo, who I think despite his mistakes during his flirtation with the Harare regime has the proper attributes of a political scientist. It is my view that instead of spending his time showing Zimbabweans how educated he is, the robotics professor should address economic and political issues that resonate with the struggling majority of Zimbabweans.
He should do so by working with others in civil society and opposition to find a common strategy and democratic resistance front to confront the regime and establish a democratic culture in Zimbabwe. This would not be achieved by pouring vitriolic attacks against political opponents and civic society organisations who do not agree with his views especially the shocking ones relating to Tsvangirai having lost elections in 200, 2002 and 2005. If he differs with other opposition and pro-democracy forces, Mutambara should seek audience with them and appreciate where they are coming from before he sinks into political doldrums.

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Japan slams Malawi for honouring Mugabe

The Standard

By Frank Phiri
TOKYO, Japan – one of the richest countries in the world and a member of the G8 – says it is not pleased with President Bingu wa Mutharika’s soft treatment of Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe.
The Tokyo government has also expressed disapproval of the political and financial support that China and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) is rendering to Mugabe’s regime.
But Malawi’s Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said on Thursday gover1nment does not regret honouring Mugabe.
"By morally and materially supporting Mugabe and his regime, Malawi and anyone else, will be setting a bad precedent. It is a tragic reflection of governance in your country and all those that are worshipping this dictator," Dr Sadaharu Kataoka, advisor to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, said in Tokyo.
Kataoka, who advises Koizumi on African affairs and is also associate professor of the School of International Liberal Studies at Waseda University, was addressing African journalists on a tour of duty of Japan.
He said Japan and other members of the world’s eight most industrialised nations would maintain a hard line policy against Mugabe by sustaining travel and economic sanctions on the Harare administration.
"Japan and other members of the G8 maintain a travel ban policy on Mugabe. We stopped economic ties with his government because he and his family are practising personalised politics. This has sunk Zimbabwe, which was a big exporter hitherto, into serious economic and governance problems," Kataoka said.
The foreign affairs expert said Japan and the developed world was surprised to learn of Mutharika’s hero-worshipping of Mugabe during his recent state visit to the country.
But Kaliati described Kataoka as a bad advisor to Koizumi "if his statement were meant to discredit our government. We do not regret honouring Mugabe and people from other countries should not interfere with issues that do not concern them. Malawi is not going to follow whatever they say. He (Kataoka) is not a good advisor," said Kaliati.
Kataoka said equally disturbing was the laxity of South African President Thabo Mbeki to whip his northern neighbour in line with expectations of the donor community and the cash-strapped people of Zimbabwe. "If it was Nelson Mandela, Mugabe would have started to listen. The venerable Mandela would have put the necessary pressure on him, but Mbeki appears lax," he said.
Kataoka said Japan was also protesting China’s sweeping policy and financial aid to Mugabe and other African countries as this could undermine democracy on the continent and reinforce dictatorship. He said China was a communist dictatorship which looked bent on pampering other African dictators.
"China is building roads, stadiums and other infrastructure in Africa using its prisoners. It is also supporting a number of African countries militarily. This is not by the will of the people of China but communist dictatorship. Japan as a democracy protests such ideologies," said Kataoka.
China has recently been pumping a lot of money to Zimbabwe, which sources say has helped Mugabe’s administration clear outstanding debts with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and top up salaries in the civil service to cushion a bludgeoning inflation of about 1000 percent.
The government of Hu Jintao is also making in roads in West Africa where it has staked more than US$100 million for rehabilitating and building football stadia in Ghana, which is preparing to host the African Cup of Nations in 2008.
This month, President Bingu wa Mutharika went ahead to name a road in Blantyre after Mugabe despite advice from civil society that doing so would set a bad precedent. Diplomats were also reported to be angry with wa Mutharika’s kid gloves over Mugabe. Malawi’s exports to Japan were pegged at K3.6 billion as of last year according to figures at Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro). The country sells tobacco, tea, coffee, and fish to Japan.

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Domestic Violence Bill is just the beginning

The Standard

AFRICA is known to have fought against many injustices in the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial eras but the struggle for women and men to disband and dismantle patriarchy which for years has justified wife battering, rape, forced marriages of girls, polygamy and domestic violence remains outstanding.
The many arguments advanced by some writers as to why the Domestic Violence Bill should not be enacted is a clear testimony that they are still bound by beliefs, practices, myths and attitudes of patriarchy.
Patriarchy does not have a space for women whether they are black or white. When a woman speaks out or attempts to make a breakthrough into a male dominated field she is stereotyped, harassed, jeered at, beaten up and replaced with an "African morally correct" woman with a subdued voice.
Some of the recent contributions have come from defenders, authors and architects of patriarchy. Rape of young girls is a daily occurrence with the youngest rape victim in Zimbabwe aged three days.
Women are battered, sexually enslaved, maimed and sometimes left for dead, economically abused, murdered and in a recent tragedy in Buhera, four men murdered a woman because she could not breast feed.
Violation of women’s rights is now the order of the day and 60% of new infections are with married women in Zimbabwe. There is need to consult widely on facts and figures on Domestic Violence before downplaying ongoing efforts to have the Bill enacted into law.
Zimbabwe may be the only country without a specific act of parliament to protect children, women and men in the home from domestic violence. I felt really depressed last week at a regional workshop in South Africa to learn that most of the neighbouring countries enacted the Domestic Violence Bill and all their women, children and men are living harmoniously in the homes.
The Domestic Violence Bill is just but one of the million demands from women in line with the Millennium Development Goals. The Domestic Violence Bill is only the beginning as all marriage laws that allow men to have many wives and forbid women to do the same are in the pipeline.
Betty Makoni
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe

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New initiative to reposition tourism drive

The Standard
New initiative to reposition tourism drive
SEVERAL initiatives are expected to take off before the end of the year in a new drive aimed at promoting Zimbabwe as a tourist destination, The Standard can reveal.
Delegates to the just-ended Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe congress held at the Great Zimbabwe monument in Masvingo have agreed on rebranding of Zimbabwe as a tourist destination.
While the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority will run with the programme, it is expected to be informed by input from the various players in the industry because now more than ever, there is much more to rebranding a tourist destination than new advertisements and new destinations.
A number of products that will inform the rebranding of Zimbabwe as a tourist destination are the restaurants and hotels and the extent to which recent renovations have been undertaken.
For example Cresta Jameson Hotel and the Rainbow Towers, formerly The Sheraton, have undergone or are undergoing major changes that will see them being repackaged products.
One of the immediate initiatives agreed at the Great Zimbabwe congress is transforming the Beitbridge border post into a tourist-friendly gateway.
Tourist traffic
This initiative seeks to ensure that officers receive new orientation that makes them ambassadors and promoters of tourism with the idea of increasing the flow of tourist traffic into the country.
To this end the ZTA has assembled a taskforce aimed at ensuring that when tourists arrive at Beitbridge their documents are processed speedily, because when visitors are held up at the border posts it creates the perception that perhaps they are not really welcome.
Already the taskforce team last week was in Beitbridge to try and drum the same message to both Immigration and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority officials that Zimbabwe is now ready to play a whole new ball game in its efforts to attract more tourists to the country.
It is hoped that this new interpersonal approach will produce dividends, demonstrating the critical role that tourism plays in foreign currency generation.
The new initiatives coincide with last week’s official launch of the national airline’s MA60 aircraft acquired from China.
Part of the initiatives include the launch of a website for the hospitality sector and re-launch of the sector’s magazine with a view to ensuring it is circulated more widely. In the past, the magazine, Hospitality, was viewed as an internal document, purely for the consumption of members. That is set to change with a more aggressive approach to marketing tourism.

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Drug shortages blight fight against cholera

The Standard

A cholera epidemic has flared sporadically in Zimbabwe since late last year, but shortages of drugs, staff and serviceable vehicles have prevented the authorities from stamping it out.The latest outbreak, reported over the weekend, has claimed 15 lives and infected 45 people in the northeastern town of Guruve, 150km from the capital, Harare.
A senior disease control officer told IRIN the numbers affected could be much higher, as health teams have been unable to cover the more remote parts of the district.
"The problems we face in Guruve are exactly what we have experienced in all the other areas where cholera outbreaks have been reported since January. There is a crisis in the supply of medicines and essential drugs, personnel, and even cars to get to places we believe need thorough check-ups," said the official, who asked not to be named.
According to Portia Mangazira, acting co-ordinator of the ministry of health’s epidemiology unit, the situation in Guruve was under control, and prevention teams were being dispatched around the district.
"We have been responding to outbreaks since the beginning of the year and they have all been contained, although the recurrence rate remains high," said Mangazira.
Health Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa admitted that foreign currency shortages and an exodus of specialist staff meant his ministry faced huge challenges in running an effective disease control unit.
"Fuel and transport problems have also crippled a lot of control operations. However, we have managed to deploy the few resources [we have] with some effect over disease-hit areas," Parirenyatwa told IRIN.
He acknowledged the reduced capacity of the disease control unit as a result of Zimbabwe’s long-running economic crisis and the exodus of skilled staff. "The rate at which the diseases have been recurring is proof that we are failing in total epidemic control. A lot of work needs to done in rebuilding the unit, but we are not sure if we are going to be able to attract and retain highly qualified staff," Parirenyatwa said.
Blessing Chebundo, chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on health and child welfare, said the failure of disease control mirrored the rot in the entire public healthcare system.
"The problem at disease control has been growing with the crisis since 2000. Every year we remind the government about the need to replenish the health sector, but the usual excuses are budgetary constraints, and promises of reforms that never  work out or pay. The problem is with government, not the ministry or an isolated department," Chebundo told IRIN.
Since the start of the rainy season in December, hundreds of people have died from recurrent cholera and malaria outbreaks. Six years of unrelieved economic crisis, triggered by the government's land-reform programme and policy blunders, have crippled Zimbabwe's social welfare system, previously one of the best on the continent. -- IRIN

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Broaden currency debate

The Standard
Broaden currency debate
Sunday Opinion By Webster Zambara

THE last week of January 2006 will be remembered for the bad it brought with it on the economic and social front. Urban and rural transport went up by between 50 and 80%, respectively. Beverages went up 40%. The black market fuel went up significantly too.
These events preceded the announcement by the Reserve Bank governor Dr Gideon Gono that a new $50 000 bearer’s cheque will be in circulation on 1 February, to be followed by the introduction of a new currency later in the year.
It is the introduction of a new currency that I am writing on, not because price hikes are irrelevant but we are so much used to them now that we accept them as the norm. The introduction of a new currency, on the other hand, is spirally of a much deeper level than just an exchange of notes and coins for goods and services, especially in a hyperinflationary environment that we are in.
Of interest is also the fact that the IMF team was in the country during that period.
I am neither a banker nor an economist, so I promise I will not digress to peace and conflict issues that I articulate with so much passion.
The price increases and introduction of a higher denomination of the bearers’ cheque may be attributed to a number of factors but as a layman I will focus on two aspects; the global geo-politics and a weak economy. While these two are so much related, I would like to interrogate the second one first simply because it is the nearest to the lay person.
Our economy is so weak that the central bank governor and the Ministry of Finance failed to handle the extra-yearly wages to our hardworking but poverty-threatened civil servants in a manner that is not financially explosive. The fact that almost every Tom, Dick and Harry could predict a price increase after pay rises for civil servants tells volumes of the state of our economy. I felt so touched as a retired teacher myself.
Gono even predicted a rise in inflation, which he once declared the nation’s "enemy number one", to rise further before receding. Much has not been said about what exactly will lead to the decline. Let me hasten to say that the end of hyperinflation does not mean the end of suffering or extreme poverty.
Far from it! I should say to the government’s economic team that if they are brave, heroic, steadfast, earnest and honest, they could turn our impoverished, hyperinflationary country into an impoverished country with stable prices.
I know I irk some people by saying it so candidly that we are a very poor country. Professor Jeffrey Sachs (2005:20), distinguishes between three degrees of poverty; extreme (or absolute) poverty, moderate poverty and relative poverty. To him, extreme poverty means that households cannot meet basic needs for survival. They are chronically hungry, unable to access healthcare, lack the amenities of safe drinking water and sanitation, cannot afford education for some or all of the children, and perhaps lack rudimentary shelter and basic articles of clothing such as shoes. (Prof. Jeffrey Sachs is the architect of the Millennium Development Goals. and a chief economic advisor to the UN Secretary General).
Is this not what we are seeing in Zimbabwe today? Our municipalities are at pains to tell us that the water they pump is safe for drinking, on a day that it comes. Uncollected stinking garbage is with us everyday. In any case, do you know that in our country there are some people who spend the whole year without making or receiving a phone call? Do you accept that in Zimbabwe there are people who spend the whole year without boarding a bus, car or any automobile?
Let me go back to my point of departure that we are eagerly looking forward to a new currency in a weak economy. To make our currency a convertible currency the Zimbabwe dollar should be pegged at a stable value from the start of any reforms. To do that Zimbabwe will need foreign currency reserves, which could be put in a highly visible stabilisation fund. This means reviving our forex-earning agro-commercial production, which is the mainstay of our economy.
Let me take tobacco for example; simply because I used to teach that Zimbabwe’s highest foreign currency earner is the golden leaf. Then it raked in over 30% of our total earnings. In the year 2000 we produced 262 million tonnes of the crop. I can’t recall exactly how much we grossed, but last year we only sold 69 million tonnes of the same crop. This year we produced even less than what we produced last year. This is the same with maize production and other agricultural products. We wait to hear why we did not produce enough now that the rains came in abundance.
Our other forex earners came from mining and tourism, and these sectors are in shambles too. These three sectors could provide our currency with a real foreign currency stability we need. I mean, our economy at the moment is just so weak that introducing a new currency needs a double thought.
I find serious disparities in having a "Look East" policy and at the same time trying to please the very West that we are giving our backs to. The geopolitics of the world has changed drastically since the time of the Cold War. It’s now a question of fundamentals in a globalised world rather than simply the direction one looks to.
From a humanitarian point of view, renewed debt servicing is completely inappropriate. I hold forth vigorously that renewed debt servicing will crush the living standards of already impoverished people, and has potential to politically destabilise the country.
We afford to pay back the IMF when our hospitals are empty? I wish we would revise our foreign policy so as to be able to deal with anyone economically. That way, I humbly believe, we can even negotiate for postponements of our debt servicing as we get our priorities right. Successful change requires a combination of technocratic knowledge, bold political leadership on fundamental economic realities and a broad social participation. We will not go it alone.
I look forward to a day where, as Zimbabweans, we will have stopped spending our daily lives searching for goods on the black market, or queuing up for goods in front of empty shops. On that day, we will not be poor millionaires.


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Business must unite against Mugabe's tyranny

Business Report

May 28, 2006

By Basildon Peta

Johannesburg - The dismal failure of Zimbabwe's business sector to forge a united front against President Robert Mugabe's "commercial hooliganism" was the biggest nemesis of South African investors trying to ward off a controversial plan to nationalise the country's mining assets, said analysts.

As it emerged this week that there were deep divisions within the Zimbabwean government over the plan to force foreign mining companies to relinquish majority equity to the state, analysts lamented the fragmented approach by the South African-led Zimbabwean business community in dealing with the Mugabe establishment. They said the approach was detrimental to the cause of business.

"The business sector has the power … to influence change, but not when it is as fragmented as it is here," said a Zimbabwean consultant economist, John Robertson, who also advises big corporations.

All the South African investors who have flooded Zimbabwe to take over mainly mining corporations are interested in doing their own thing and protecting their own turf at the expense of working towards an integrated approach that may benefit everyone in the end.

Business Report is authoritatively informed that deep divisions within the Zimbabwean government have pitted greedy politicians - who fear that their unfettered honeymoon under the authoritarian Mugabe might be over soon and hence want to accumulate as much wealth as possible - against the more realistic technocrats who are sympathetic to foreign investors and who believe that forcing multinationals to relinquish majority stakes to the state is as unsustainable as the white land seizures that have destroyed Zimbabwe' farm-based economy.

After amassing several large-scale commercial farms for themselves, their children and relatives, the top politicians want majority equities in mining houses to be ceded to the state as demanded by Mugabe to pass on to their consortiums at a later stage.

Some of the ministers have already abused their positions to acquire exclusive prospecting zones in several mining areas and some have interests in smaller-scale mining operations but want leeway to get to the big stage.

Their poor consortiums cannot afford outright buyouts of empowerment stakes in foreign mining houses, officials said.

Authoritative sources said the technocrats at the ministry of mines wanted a phased empowerment approach in the mining sector similar to the South African model. This would be a phased relinquishing of "realistic levels of equity" either to the state or to Zimbabwe's private sector over a 10- to 15-year period.

"Many of Zimbabwe's mineral resources, especially platinum, are unexploited and still need huge investments. We, therefore, need to build the confidence of foreign conglomerates to invest in extraction and in any other value-adding technologies," said a well-placed official in the mines ministry. "Forcing the companies to give majority equity to government or even establishing 50-50 partnerships will bring us back to square one … The government simply has no money or expertise to invest in these capital-intensive projects."

Officials said it would be better if Mugabe's government avoided being an equity partner in mining ventures and restricted itself to playing a facilitative role for black players who could raise money to be equity partners with the South Africans.

Some black-owned conglomerates such as the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed TA Holdings have expressed an interest in venturing into mining and would probably have the credibility to raise the cash offshore required to partner with foreign mining companies and fulfil Mugabe's preferred indigenisation sentiments.

Officials said another proposal by the technocrats was to exempt specific mining projects needing huge foreign cash injections from being asked to cede equity to the state as originally announced by mines minister Amos Midzi. This was the compromise proposal that giants such as Impala Platinum (Implats) were pushing for.

The draft changes originally announced by Midzi would require foreign mining conglomerates to immediately cede 25 percent equity to the government of Zimbabwe without payment. The remaining 26 percent would be acquired over a five-year period and paid for from dividends.

Although they don't acknowledge it publicly, South African mining companies have withheld development projects worth billions of rands at their mines in Zimbabwe pending clarity of the government's nationalisation plans. Mugabe reiterated his stance to party supporters last week that Zimbabwe's mining resources should be majority controlled by the state for the benefit of Zimbabweans.

At the time of going to press, it was not clear whether Mugabe would be persuaded by the recommendations of the technocrats from his mines ministry or those from the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines.

But officials agreed with Robertson and other analysts that the failure by the business sector in general and the mining sector in particular to forge a united front was detrimental to their interests.


"They [mining companies] come here one by one like children queueing up for lunch," said another mines ministry official.

Zimbabwean-born South African businessman Mutumwa Maware, whose asbestos and gold mines were nationalised under a decree issued by Mugabe, urged investors to learn from his experiences and to forge a "united front against Mugabe's commercial tyranny and hooliganism".

Implats chief executive Keith Rumble met with Mugabe more than a month ago to safeguard his company's interests in Zimbabwe. Since that meeting, Mugabe has repeated his resolve to seize mines on several occasions. Anglo Platinum (Angloplat) spokesperson Simon Tebele said that his company was still in talks with the Zimbabwe government.

Tebele refused to comment on suggestions that the failure to forge unity within business was hugely counterproductive.

He also declined to confirm or deny information that Angloplat had scaled down investments at its flagship Unki Platinum Mine in central Zimbabwe. Implats head of corporate affairs Bob Gilmore had not returned several calls left for him at the time of going to press.

Implats controls most of Zimbabwe's platinum reserves around the Chegutu/Ngezi area. It benefited greatly when Australia's BHP Billiton abandoned its Chegutu Platinum Mine several years ago. Impala has previously said it was involved in negotiations with the Zimbabwe government. It is understood that the company was withholding R6 billion worth of investment into its Zimbabwe mines pending the final outcome of Mugabe's nationalisation plans.

But Mawere warned firms to tread cautiously. "I am a victim of 100 percent nationalisation under a decree issued by the same government that is negotiating with other asset owners in Zimbabwe.

"Why would Implats have confidence that they will be secure when even blacks like me, in whose names Mugabe want to control the same resources, are not secure and can get victimised?"

If business played a role in helping defeat apartheid through sanctions, then business could certainly forge a united front against "commercial tyranny" in Zimbabwe and help in creating an acceptable business environment.

A South African court dismissed criminal charges raised by Mugabe against Mawere, whose minerals were marketed via South Africa. But that did not stop Mugabe from proceeding with the seizures. It seems Mawere had incensed Mugabe by refusing a top post in Zanu-PF. He has also won a case against the Zimbabwe government in the British courts, but all his efforts have been to no avail as Zimbabwe's government would not let go of his confiscated assets.

Sources say Mzi Khumalo, who operates five large gold mines in Zimbabwe, and produces 51 percent of Zimbabwe's total gold output, has long struck a good working relationship with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and has managed to get a deal to repatriate part of his profits back to South Africa despite a foreign currency crunch in Zimbabwe.

"He perhaps has no reason to want to work with anyone else … here for a common approach for the moment," said a mining official.

Robertson said the government of Zimbabwe believed in intimidating everyone into acquiescence. It had in fact institutionalised the mentality of intimidation against the mining community. But because businesses were the real producers and had the wealth, they could easily employ their power.

"Business has the power but it is not using that power," Robertson, Johannesburg-based Zimbabwean economists Lloyd Mutore and Trymore Madondo said. South African businesses perhaps feared losing their mining rights to Chinese and Russian investors who are courting Zimbabwe.

"But by being passive, they will still lose anywhere … For them it is a lose-lose situation unless Uncle Bob is perhaps out of the picture," said Mutore.

It was also not certain whether the Chinese and Russians would invest where others have left.

The Zimbabwe Independent reported last week that Chinese conglomerates had now stopped work at various infrastructure projects in Zimbabwe due to lack of payment.

South African investors have not only taken over Zimbabwe's mining sector, they have invested in other listed Zimbabwean conglomerates abandoned by Western investors. MTN is reportedly in negotiations to take over the government's NetOne cellular company, the second largest. Absa has taken over the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe and Nedbank was reportedly considering investing in the Merchant Bank of Central Africa.

"It seems the guiding principle for South African businesses is to invest cheaply now in the hope that the Mugabe era would be over soon and then they start reaping the rewards," said Mutore. - Independent Foreign Service

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Comment : Medical doctors need government approval

The Standard
THE one certainty that seems to drive Zimbabwe is an obsession to punish anyone who appears to have escaped the hell that this country has become.
The latest such move is a mandatory requirement for medical doctors within the SADC regioan to seek clearance from the government before recruitment in the region. That is entirely unnecessary and only serves to demonstrate the level of parochialism that informs such policy.
It is open to abuse with only those "approved" by or with links to Zanu PF succeeding.
The presence of Zimbabwean medical practitioners in foreign countries must be celebrated because it is beneficial to the country. They gain more exposure to the complexities that define modern medicine, making them internationally acceptable. It also equips them for the challenges that Zimbabwe’s health sector faces.
Zimbabwean professionals in the Southern African region not only remit foreign currency to their relatives back home, but they make frequent visits. Both processes yield inflows of hard currency from which the country benefits.
The current lack of enthusiasm for the Homelink project is not because there is no money to remit. It is because Zimbabweans in the Diaspora know the government is against them. Evidence of this is found in laws that bar Zimbabweans outside the country from participating in elections. The proposed requirement will — if SADC governments are so naïve as to enforce it — see them suffering from a worse brain drain. They have been able to plug their skills shortages by recruiting Zimbabweans, but if they become party to Harare’s vindictiveness they will not only lose professionals from this country but their own nationals will become nervous, fearing such laws will be visited upon them.
The net effect of this will be to recruit expensive professionals from Europe and America. Few countries have economies that can sustain such an option.
But for Zimbabwe the likelihood is that medical professionals may elect to leave the country forever, taking their skills where they are welcome. Zimbabwe will be the poorer for it.
At a time when the government appears to pride itself in engaging stakeholders, it is surprising that the medical profession was not consulted for its input.
In 1999 the government appointed a Commission of Inquiry into the Health sector. The report has never been made public, but it is doubtful that the recent proposal is one of the recommendations from the Commission because it is totally unproductive and ill-informed.
Whatever the government may say, the proposal is clearly a violation of the rights of the medical practitioners and can be challenged under both the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and other international conventions to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.
The government is good at investing its time and energy in conjuring up punitive measures. It is time to redirect this energy for the greater good of Zimbabwe. Health professionals are fleeing the country because of poor conditions and because of the trauma of watching patients die when staff knows that, with drugs many lives could be saved. This assessment is vindicated by recent visits to various health centres by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health.
In April this year medical practitioners presented a set of recommendations they believe are part of the solution to Zimbabwe’s health crisis.
The government must stop acting as if it is determined to exile all its professionals.

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White Zim farmer finds new heaven in Zambia

The Standard

By Shapi Shacinda
PENYAONSE FARM, Zambia - Graham Rae says he would never go back to Zimbabwe — even if it meant getting his land back.
Rae, 48, who now lives in neighbouring Zambia, is one of several hundred white farmers who fled Zimbabwe because of President Robert Mugabe’s campaign to redistribute white-owned farms to landless blacks.
"I have no intentions of returning to Zimbabwe," said Rae when asked whether he would consider a reported offer by Mugabe’s administration to allow white farmers to submit applications to run farms under new 99-year leases.
Rae said militants from Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party tried to kill him before he left in 2001.
"They planned to cut off my head because they said I was a serpent," said the farmer who owned a 1 100-hectare farm near Bindura in northeast Zimbabwe.
Rae, his wife Bernadine and their three children fled under cover of night after a tip-off that he could be killed. Now, they live on Penyaonse Farm, perched on a hilltop, 45 km northeast of Zambia’s capital Lusaka.
Land remains an emotive issue across southern Africa, where despite the end of colonialism and apartheid huge ownership imbalances remain with much land still in white hands.
In Zimbabwe, once one of Africa’s most promising economies, the government launched a programme of land seizures in 2000, stripping white farmers of their property in a move critics say is partly responsible for the near total collapse of the once thriving commercial agriculture sector.
As Zimbabwe declines, its neighbour Zambia has begun to prosper, and authorities say the 300 Zimbabwean farmers who have arrived since 2000 have played a role.
Rae takes pride in being part of efforts to expand Zambia’s agriculture sector but, like others, he too is grappling with problems caused by the strong kwacha currency.
Rae owns a 15% stake and management rights in Zambezi Ranching and Cropping Ltd, the holding firm for Penyaonse Farm. The farm is majority-owned by two Zambians.
Five years ago, only 100 hectares of Penyaonse was cultivated but Rae has changed that, putting 2 500 hectares under white maize, seed maize, wheat, soya beans and tobacco.
Tobacco production has increased since Rae arrived five years ago, there are 2 500 workers compared to 150, and the number of beef cows has doubled to 8 500.
But now Rae plans to cut tobacco output by 45 percent, because of high production costs, and boost maize production.
The kwacha has gained more than 30 percent against the dollar over the last 12 months in a trend driven mainly by surging prices for copper, Zambia’s economic mainstay.
Rae and other Zimbabwean farmers borrowed money to expand their output, and authorities have been full of praise.
Tobacco output has risen to 50 million kg in 2006 from around 5 million kg before 2000. The Zimbabwean farmers are also growing maize and other cash crops.
"Since the arrival of the farmers from Zimbabwe, tobacco output has increased significantly and more jobs have been created," Jewette Masinja, the head of the Tobacco Association of Zambia told Reuters.
Masinja said the farmers had also introduced new farming methods and improved soils to enhance yields. Farm experts say the new arrivals have helped boost Zambia’s total white maize output to 1.2 million tonnes this year from 860 000 last year.
Rae also supports 96 families through an outreach programme for growing tobacco on the fringes of Penyaonse and has opened a medical clinic for workers and communities nearby.
He is looking forward to one day becoming fully Zambian.
"We feel welcome here because the government and the people have supported us so much and I now want a Zambian passport," he said, a wide grin lighting up his face. -- Reuter

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