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Desperate effort to save MDC


Njabulo Ncube
War of words rages on Sinister CIO moves alleged
MOVEMENT for Democratic Change president Morgan Tsvangirai will meet his
deputy, Gibson Sibanda, today in what could be a last ditch effort to end an
internal crisis that has rocked the opposition party over participation in
next month's Senate elections.

Tsvangirai yesterday maintained that he did not recognise the 26 candidates
who were nominated for the November 26 election on the MDC ticket, branding
the nomination process a "fraud".

The MDC leader's spokesman, William Bango, said Tsvangirai "had not shifted
an inch regarding the senatorial polls," but was pressing for "a political
solution to what is a political problem."

"Mr Tsvangirai is seeking a political solution to this. He does not believe
in retribution. He wants to initiate a process of national healing in the
party so that, through debate and discussions, the party can focus on
challenges before it, that is, to deal with dictatorship. There has to be a
healing process. Remember there is no dispute over principles of the party
but only the Senate. He wants to give dialogue a chance," said a
conciliatory Bango.
Party sources said today's meeting between the two former trade unionists
would be the starting point in attempts to break the impasse.

The latest development comes as it looked increasingly likely the party
could mount its worst campaign for a major election since its inception in
1999 and the landmark 2000 parliamentary poll in which the MDC almost ended
ZANU PF's reign.
In a further twist to the political intrigue, several provinces this week
disowned candidates standing on the party's ticket in the Senate election,
reiterating their position to boycott the poll while also citing the
unprocedural manner in which candidates were selected.

The pro-senate faction of the party insists the MDC will contest in Harare,
Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South, Midlands, Mashonaland West and
Masvingo. However, provincial executives from Harare, Midlands, Masvingo and
Mashonaland West this week said they did not sanction the registration of
candidates in their provinces, charging that some of the candidates were not
party members.

The sole MDC candidate in Masvingo, Hilda Sibanda was, according to
documents at hand, suspended from the party in August for helping to
campaign for former Masvingo Central legislator Silas Mangono, who stood as
an independent candidate in the March parliamentary election. Mashonaland
East provincial chairman Alois Mudzingwa and provincial secretary Frank
Chamunorwa have since migrated to Harare province, where they will stand as
MDC candidates in the Mabvuku-Tafara and Mbare-Hatfield constituencies,
respectively, but the Harare province refuses to recognise their

Chamunorwa and Mudzingwa, who was the MDC's candidate for Murehwa North in
March, left MDC officials wondering how they had managed to transfer from
the Mashonaland East constituencies to Harare.

The Midlands North provincial executive also disowned the three candidates
who will battle it out for Senate seats in the province. Provincial
secretary Edgar Sithole said a provincial executive meeting held on October
21 had resolved not to participate in the poll. "The province resolved not
to participate in the senatorial elections and minutes of the meeting are
available," Sithole said, adding that the province would not provide any
The Mashonaland West executive has also taken a similar stance on the
election, saying the four candidates nominated on Monday were unsanctioned.

"The two candidates from Hurungwe West and Kadoma are not our members, the
other two are in our structures, but they did not come from our wards and
districts so we do not know where they are going to get about 800 polling
agents since our structures are refusing to participate," the executive said
in a fax signed by provincial chairman Japhet Karemba.

Following Monday's nominations, which confirmed a split in the party, and
shocking claims made by St Mary's legislator Job Sikhala that the feud in
party had been sparked by a row over funds donated by Ghana, Nigeria and
Taiwan, leaders of the two opposing factions spoke in more conciliatory
tones, although they maintained their positions on the contentious Senate

MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube, believed to be the leader of the
pro-senate faction, which also includes four of the most senior party
officials including Sibanda, this week broke his silence, telling SW Radio:
"The MDC has potential to resolve these problems and recover from the

"I can tell you there were compelling arguments for non-participation and
equally compelling arguments for participation and what the council had to
do at the end of the day was to make a value judgment as to which tactfully
and strategically would best serve the interests of the party.

"I hope the MDC leadership will rethink and reflect seriously on the things
which bind us together as individuals in the same party and those are the
founding values of the party. As long we can have a re-commitment to those
values, then I have no doubt in my mind that we will find the solution to
the problem that we face at the moment," Ncube said.
Both sides, however, will have to make concessions if the costly impasse is
to be broken and a détente reached.

Tsvsangirai, on one hand, believes the pro-senate position taken by some of
his colleagues has been hijacked by state security agency, the Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO), while Ncube called for the "renunciation of
all forms of violence as instruments of political organization and
recommitment to the MDC principle of democratic decision making."

Sibanda last week accused Tsvangirai of complicity in acts of violence
perpetrated on some party members over internal differences.

Bango yesterday said Monday's nominations had exposed the CIO's hand in
compounding the MDC crisis. "He (Tsvangirai) knows the secret service has
hijacked the differences over senate. He knows it has come out in full force
to capitalize on the dispute. A lot of what's happening is a product of CIO
work and the other guys in the party who had a legitimate difference with
their colleagues have had their own views hijacked and distorted by the
secret service in an attempt to amplify or exaggerate the divisions.

"Mr. Tsvangirai is very clear that the involvement of the CIO has a positive
spin in that all CIO projects and schemes to destroy the MDC during the past
five years have failed dismally," Bango added. "The involvement of the CIO
will achieve the opposite effect as it galvanizes people against the state
and reminds them of the ultimate goal of fighting the dictatorship," Bango

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SA airline gives AirZim fresh headache


Rangarirai Mberi

SOUTH African low cost airline this week began daily flights on
the Johannesburg-Harare route, posing a fresh threat to national flag
carrier Air Zimbabwe. will charge R729 for the flight, lower than the route average.
Bookings opened on Tuesday. Air Zimbabwe is currently charging $12 million
for the same trip, which is at a premium to's fares, even at
parallel market currency rates.
An Air Zimbabwe official confirmed this week that the national airline would
soon raise its airfares in tandem with exchange rate movements.
Air Zimbabwe, unable to increase frequencies due to its small, ageing fleet,
is already lagging South African Airways (SAA) on the Harare-Johannesburg
With the South African national carrier already flying into resort town
Victoria Falls,'s arrival could see a further shrinkage in Air
Zimbabwe's share of the market.
Some of's flights on the route would be run jointly with British
Airways, executive director Gidon Novick said.
"The people we are targeting are currently either travelling by road or not
travelling at all," Novick said.
Low cost airlines have seized significant market share from larger South
African airlines by offering low cost flights that strip out the excess
luxury that traditional operators price into airfares.
Offering a no-frills service helps low cost airlines to afford knocked down
charges, thereby selling far more seats than the larger airlines.
Attempts by Zimbabwean investors to set up airlines to rival Air Zimbabwe on
the domestic market have failed in recent years.
Two airlines, Zimbabwe Express Airlines and Expedition Airlines, folded due
to high costs and sluggish bookings.
Their undoing was imitating Air Zimbabwe's business model, and not offering
an alternative, experts said then.
Air Zimbabwe spokesman David Mwenga said this week he was unaware of's plans to offer direct competition to Air Zimbabwe on the
lucrative route.

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Disaster looms at Hwange


Njabulo Ncube

A CATASTROPHE of alarming proportions is lurking at Hwange National Park
with reports the devastating drought is decimating hundreds of wildlife
daily at the country's largest game park.

The wildlife crisis at one of southern Africa's renowned wildlife
sanctuaries comes at a time when the entire southern African region is
experiencing a crippling drought. In Zimbabwe alone, nearly four million
people are estimated to be in urgent need of drought relief.
As the drought takes its toll on wildlife, it also emerged the country's
depleted national herd had also been heavily knocked, with the majority of
Zimbabwe's livestock reportedly in poor condition.

Officials at Hwange National Park and wildlife enthusiasts in Matabeleland
North where the national park is located spoke this week of a serious crisis
unfolding at the park, claiming as many as 100 elephants had perished due to
thirst and hunger in the past month.

They said the park, estimated to be home to the largest population of
elephants with about 30 000 , is faced with an acute shortage of water which
threatened all the animals in and around concessions in the area. The park
is also home to over 100 species of mammals and nearly 400 of birds.

Wildlife enthusiasts said boreholes sunk at the massive game park, the 19th
Century royal hunting ground of the Zulu warrior King Mzilikazi, had long
dried up leaving the thousands of animals on the verge of death due to

"I personally counted up to 100 elephants that died as a result of the
drought. The situation is so serious that some of the animals are walking
dead. It's just a matter of time before all the animals are wiped out unless
it rains anytime soon," said a safari operator in the area, speaking on
condition that he is not named. "Carcasses of dead animals litter the park,
the park smells of decaying animals," added the safari operator. He said
apart from elephants, zebras, buffaloes and some small game had been
decimated by the drought; a situation he said urgently needed government

"This is a blow for indigenous safari operators that benefited from the
governments land reform programme. The crisis at the park does not augur
well for the tourism business," he said.

"We are loosing clients. Tourists don't want to see suffering animals as is
happening in Hwange. It's a crisis, which the media in the country is
ignoring. We might end up without wildlife to talk about," he said.
Authorities this week said they were yet to make a count at Hwange National
Park to determine the extent of the crises.

Major Edward Mbewe, the public relations manager at National Parks and
Wildlife Management, said the authority was aware of the effects of the
drought at Hwange National Park and was moving with speed to address the
water shortages at the park, a vital foreign currency earner for the

Mbewe said the shortage of diesel had long been addressed with several
thousand litres having been made available to try and drive pumps at the

"We are doing something," said Mbewe. "The source of the problem is the
drying up of natural water resources at the park," he said, adding that more
than $2.5 billion was needed to improve the pumping system at the park.
Tourism players benefiting from Hwange National Park were also chipping in
with donations to avert the looming crisis. Shearwater Adventures said on
Tuesday donated 400 litres of diesel to the National Parks and Wildlife

Wildlife farmers in the Hwange Safari Concession said the acute shortage of
diesel had also hampered National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority
efforts to operate boreholes in the park.
It is understood the wildlife authority needed 50 000 litres of diesel to
drive boreholes at the park which had been rendered useless due to lack of

Hwange National Park comprises the Main, Sinamatella, the Robins and
Exclusive camps. The main camp is situated at the main entrance to the park
and has numerous pans and pumped waterholes all of which had long dried up.

"We are concerned about the terrible situation at the park hence this
gesture of our social responsibility," said a spokesman for Shearwater

Renson Gasela, the Movement for Democratic Change shadow minister of
Agriculture and Resettlement, has accused the government of not caring about

"The country needs not only maize for the starving population but stockfeed
as well. If we take we livestock into consideration, the country needs to
import more than 1.8 million tonnes of grain to cater for both humans and
livestock," he said.

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Police probe into ZUPCO graft case almost complete


Chris Muronzi

INVESTIGATIONS into the high profile corruption case at the Zimbabwe United
Passenger Company (ZUPCO) are almost complete amid indications that the case
would be handed over to the Attorney-General's office soon for advice and
possibly prosecution.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the force is hoping to record two
warned and cautioned statements before surrendering the case implicating
ZUPCO chairman Charles Nherera, to the AG's Office.

"Investigations are continuing in this graft case. We are waiting for two
statements but after that is done, the case will be in the hands of the AG,"
said Bvudzijena adding: "We should be finishing the investigations soon. We
are interviewing different witnesses. We don't have a time frame on the
conclusion of the investigations."

Transport baron Jayesh Shah of Gift Investments and Nherera crossed swords
after the ZUPCO chairman alleged that Shah had told state security agents,
the police and ZUPCO board members that he had solicited for a bribe to
facilitate the purchase of buses by the public transport operator.

The bribery allegations, which were also captured on an audiotape, have also
sucked in senior government officials.

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Dollar searches for bottom


THE Zimbabwe dollar fell against key currencies on the new interbank
currency market yesterday, but uncertainty kept the exchange rate unsteady.

Banks quoted the benchmark US dollar in a wide range between $60 000 and $95
000, traders saying the local dollar would head even lower once traders
gained more confidence in the new market.

At the central bank's currency auction market, companies withdrew their
foreign currency bids this week, dealers said.

A committee of commercial bank treasurers, the Treasurers' Forum, was set up
last Friday to establish structures for the interbank trading system.
Meetings were held at the central bank, but players were divided on the
opening rate and over how the market would work.

Zibusiso Nkomo, head of the Treasurers' Forum, was unavailable for comment
yesterday. However, dealers reported there was still uncertainty as to how
the market would operate.

"The market is so used to being led by the hand nobody wants to take
leadership," a dealer said yesterday.

But according to central bank governor Gideon Gono, the RBZ will not be
involved in the market: "We have said to the market 'determine your own
rate'. We've thrown it into a fish pond; let the fish fight it out on their

He ruled out lifting a ban on bureaux de change.
A sign of the uncertainty was the wide differences in rates between banks.
By mid-afternoon yesterday, CBZ had the greenback at $78 305, Zimbank at $62
000, FBC Bank at $73 000 and Stanchart at $58 200. On Thursday, a Barclays
branch had quoted $94 500, but another indicated $82 000 yesterday. - Staff

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Tekere bitter over Senate snub


Felix Njini

EDGAR Tekere, the veteran nationalist whose comeback bid to mainstream
politics suffered a jolt last week, opened up this week saying he is bitter
and disappointed with the manner in which his name was struck off the list
of ZANU PF candidates vying for Senate seats.

The maverick former ZANU PF secretary-general jettisoned from the party in
1988 for failing to follow party protocol, has ended his 17-year sojourn in
the political wilderness to rejoin the ruling party and was, until last
week's emergency politburo meeting, coasting towards the reintroduced

His dream was last week shattered after the politburo dropped the firebrand
politician - who became the first person within the ZANU PF leadership to
publicly oppose President Robert Mugabe's China-style one-party agenda -
from the final list of candidates contesting the November 26 elections.
Tekere's readmission into ZANU PF is still hanging in the balance after his
request was referred to the party's national disciplinary committee, chaired
by the ruling party national chairman, John Nkomo.

Tekere, the only candidate to be dropped from the list of 50 ZANU PF
candidates eyeing seats in the bicameral parliament, this week said he was
disturbed by the outcome of the Politburo meeting chaired by President

The former firebrand said: "I am disappointed by the decision taken by ZANU
PF and I do not know what to do. I will wait for them. If he (Nkomo) wants
me, he has to come to me," said Tekere who also complained of ill health
during the telephone interview. "There is no logic to what has happened and
I do not understand. I will understand better when I talk to Nkomo," Tekere

But Nkomo said he was not aware of any ZANU PF officials who had approached
Tekere to come back into ZANU PF. The ZANU PF national chairman said the
members of the disciplinary committee were looking into 'Tekere's
application for re-admission into ZANU PF.'

"I do not know about any party officials who approached Tekere. I only know
that we are dealing with his application letter," said Nkomo adding; "When
he left the party, that was the same corridor he used (disciplinary hearing)
and now that he wants to come back, it is the same entry point."

Nkomo's comments virtually put paid to speculation swirling in Harare that
Tekere could still make it to the upper house, albeit courtesy of an
appointment by President Mugabe, who would want to have a leash on his
rebellious former comrade. President Mugabe is empowered by the Constitution
to appoint six non-constituency senators, in addition to the 20 members of
the lower chamber.

Just before his sacking from the ruling party, Tekere had appeared to be
mounting a serious political challenge against the establishment, an issue
some political analysts said this week was not likely to be easily forgotten
by ZANU PF's jittery old guard.

At the time of his sacking, Tekere had charged that "democracy was in the
intensive care unit." He had earlier publicly castigated his party
colleagues for corruption and wanton violation of the leadership code of

In April 1989, he joined forces with disgruntled sections of the student
movement and
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workers to form the Zimbabwe Unit Movement.
ZANU PF insiders said Tekere's comeback had been a source of discomfort to
some party bigwigs strategically positioning themselves in the
faction-ridden party as the battle to succeed President Mugabe in 2008
reaches fever pitch.

"The succession battle, which has taken centre stage lately within the
party, comes to the fore when veterans like him (Tekere) want to make a
pronounced come back in a party they left a decade ago," said a senior
politburo member.

Politburo sources however, said Tekere had been dropped because he does not
carry a ZANU PF card.

While Tekere was dropped from contesting the senate elections, the Politburo
accepted Dzikamai Mavhaire's candidature. The outspoken Mavhaire served a
two-year suspension after he called for 'Mugabe to go' in Parliament. This
has prompted critics to say ZANU PF only forgives and forgets selectively.

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Dunlop gets forex for President's tyres


Charles Rukuni

BULAWAYO - The future of tyre manufacturing giant, Dunlop Zimbabwe, is still
uncertain as the company was only given US$300 000 to manufacture tyres for
one specific client.

Contrary to reports that the company had been allocated US$350 000 to enable
it to reopen and revert to a three-day working week, managing director, Phil
Whitehead, said the company had only been allocated $300 000 specifically to
manufacture tyres for the President's office.
"From this amount we had to import tyres worth US$87 000 because we do not
manufacture them leaving a balance of US$213 000," Whitehead said.
He said they had imported raw materials, which arrived in the country on
Monday, but this would be exhausted in four days.
Whitehead said he was disheartened by reports especially in the mainline
media that gave the impression that things were likely to improve at the
tyre manufacturing plant when nothing of the sort was happening.
Last week, there were reports that the company would soon embark on toll
manufacturing for a Chinese company.
"Right now we have a backlog of nine weeks for tyres needed by the police
and army. But we cannot supply them. We also have a backlog of nine weeks
with our creditors, so they cannot supply us with raw materials," Whitehead
"We require US$300 000 a week, which means we have outstanding orders worth
US$2.7 million and owe our creditors the same amount. The last time we
received foreign currency was on July 26 and this was only US$300 000,
enough for a week.
"Whitehead said the two major problems the company faced were the shortage
of foreign currency and arrears with their creditors.
This was likely to be compounded by the abolition of the foreign currency
auction system and the introduction of the open market announced by the
central bank governor last week.
He said up to now locally manufactured tyres were cheaper than imported
ones. But if the open market rate rose to the parallel market level then the
price of tyres would have to increase by up to 150 percent.
"Government is our largest customer. Are they likely to accept a 150 percent
increase in price?" he asked.

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Shocking corruption at ministry


Felix Njini
Billions of dollars lost in vehicles, fuel abuse
AN internal audit at the Ministry of Higher Education and Technology has
revealed pervasive corruption, with billions of taxpayers' funds alleged to
have been misappropriated through rampant abuse of vehicles and fuel

The internal audit, carried out by the chief internal auditor in the
ministry, a Mr. M. Mupondori has revealed that vehicles worth more than $3.3
billion were procured from local car dealers by ministry officials without
going to tender.

Procurement expenditure above $1 billion should go through a formal tender,
according to laid down procedures for government departments.

"This regulation and rule was therefore, violated in the procurement of
motor vehicles valued at $3.3 billion," said the report.

The report also reveals that the ministry's accounting officer together with
the director of finance and administration forced colleges to surrender
various amounts of money to enable them to purchase the vehicles.

Colleges which surrendered various amounts include Bulawayo Polytechnic
($150 million), Joshua Nkomo Polytechnic in Gwanda ($300 million) and Kwekwe
Polytechnic ($80 million). Harare Polytechnic, Mutare Polytechnic, Gweru
Technical College and Westgate are among the largest contributors with
figures ranging from $500 million to $550 million.

Funds earmarked for office equipment, furniture and fittings, machinery and
plant and equipment were diverted to buy the unusable vehicles, the audit

"The audit observed that colleges are complaining about their failure to
operate efficiently because their funds were siphoned off by head office to
finance the unbudgeted procurement of these vehicles," said Mupondori in the

The audit also concluded that ministry officials did not follow tender
procedures when they purchased the vehicles.

"With such an intentional top management overriding of pertinent procurement
regulations, kickbacks cannot be ruled out as the only carrot. This is fraud
and corruption," charged the auditors.

The report also reveals that the permanent secretary in the ministry,
Washington Mbizvo, has eight vehicles allocated to him which include a
Pajero, Mazda Eagle, Defender, Peugeot 607, while the Minister, Stan
Mudenge, has three vehicles - a Prado, Mazda B2500 and a Mazda Eagle.

The deputy minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu does not have an official vehicle, the
audit report revealed.
"The allocation and distribution of ministry vehicles can only be described
as corrupt, it is not fair, not reasonable and not honest," said the

The auditors strongly recommended that Mbizvo 'returns ministry vehicles
that are in the use of non-civil servants including vehicle no.820-170N
which is used by his wife, Mrs M. Mbizvo."

In another shocking example of inadequate controls on government property,
ministry officials are also failing to account for 32 vehicles belonging to
the ministry.
Some cars are reported to be parked at the homes of senior ministry
officials while some could have been taken to their farms.

There are 28 other vehicles, which are not accounted for in the vehicles
"Ministry vehicles not located at the ministry are feared to have been
stolen, stripped or misused, not only by greedy and dishonest civil
servants, but also by non-civil servants who have no right to use government
vehicles at all," said the audit.

There are also allegations of rampant abuse of fuel coupons with the finance
director alleged to have at one time squandered 1 000 litres of fuel in 48
The abuse of state property has compounded the cash-strapped government's
problems, putting a further strain on the budget deficit.

Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere has also been fingered for abusing
government vehicles following an accident involving his son Gwinyai, who was
driving a ministry vehicle while running errands at Chigwedere's Goromonzi

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Provincial governors get powers to regulate, register NGOs


Njabulo Ncube

THE government, whose attempts to fetter non-governmental organizations hit
an unexpected hitch after the NGO Bill failed to take off, has moved to
grant provincial governors power to register and regulate the sector.

The ZANU PF government has an uneasy relationship with NGOs, which it
accuses of working with opposition groups.

Guidelines released to Harare-based NGOs recently indicate that the office
of the provincial governor will now be involved in the registration
process of NGOs under the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Act through
the Ministry of Public Service Labour and Social Welfare.

New applicants for registration will be required to
obtain clearance letters from district officers. The clearance letters are
obtainable after a vetting process.
Organisations already in operation are required to "regularize their
position with the governor's office."
No time frame for such regularisation has, however, been set, according to
sources in the NGO community.

NGOs, which have been jittery over a Bill, which seeks to monitor their
operations and bar foreign funding of local non-governmental organizations,
received an unlikely reprieve when President Robert Mugabe refused to assent
to the legislation.

However, the government's move to restrain the sector has already seen many
donor agencies cutting or suspending funding altogether, to the detriment of
many developmental and relief projects throughout the country.

The National Association of Non-governmental Organisation (NANGO) this week
reacted angrily to the new operational guidelines, saying they would further
curtail the operations of the sector.
"The NGO sector was not consulted in the formulation of this policy.

"The Legal and Humanitarian representative structures within NANGO are
currently analyzing the implications of these developments with a view to
coming up with a set of recommendations, which will be table before a
broader NGO community at a meeting to be convened in the not too distant
future," NANGO said in a statement.

NGOs operating in Harare and Bulawayo have already sought audience with
their respective governors in light of the latest development.

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Old Mutual to axe scores of workers


Chris Muronzi

FINANCIAL services giant Old Mutual is wielding the axe on scores of
employees to do away with staff excess to its requirements while at the same
time seeking to contain spiralling costs.

In a circular issued this month, Old Mutual invited staff to take up
voluntary retrenchment packages but hinted it might go the route of
compulsory retrenchment if the offer fails to attract sufficient takers.

Sources said the circular dated October 5 incensed the militant Zimbabwe
Insurance Employees' Union (ZIEU), which this week described the proposed
exit packages as "peanuts."

Old Mutual is offering one year's salary, $6 million stabilisation
allowance, pay in lieu of leave, prorated bonus and 75 percent of monthly
salary for each year of service as part of the package.

Lawrence Gonye, the diversified group's assistant general manager-human
resources, said a wave of company failures seen in the past and declining
disposable incomes have caused a huge dent on Old Mutual's revenue.

Old Mutual had embraced new technology and processes, which also requires
fewer people to operate.

"In the event that the company does not get sufficient offers to adequately
reduce staff numbers, it will proceed with the route of compulsory
retrenchment via the Ministry of Labour in terms of Statutory Instrument 186
of 2003.

"Since such retrenchment will be negotiated, Old Mutual is unable to give
any detail of the extent of the package that will be arrived at. However, in
the event that Old Mutual is compelled to go the route of compulsory
retrenchments, it will have no option but to identify individuals who are
surplus to its requirements," said Gonye.

Meanwhile, the vocal ZIEU announced this week that the industry had reached
a deadlock in salary negotiations with the issue now being referred for

The union's organising secretary, Farai Mupopori, accused the employers of
negotiating in bad faith. The employers, he said, have offered a minimum
wage of about $3.4 million, a far cry from the $10 million demanded by ZIEU.

ZIEU has also asked for a 172 percent salary increase across the board to
cushion its workers from the high cost of living but the employers said they
could only afford 15 percent.

"In essence we are saying the employer is negotiating in bad faith and lacks
seriousness. The matter is being referred to an arbitrator. An arbitrator
will sort that issue after the position has been ratified by the National
Employment Council," said Mupopori.

"In the event that the company does not get sufficient offers to adequately
reduce staff numbers, it will proceed with the route of compulsory
retrenchment via the Ministry of Labour in terms of Statutory Instrument 186
of 2003.

"Since such retrenchment will be negotiated, Old Mutual is unable to give
any detail of the extent of the package that will be arrived at. However, in
the event that Old Mutual is compelled to go the route of compulsory
retrenchments, it will have no option but to identify individuals who are
surplus to its requirements," said Gonye.

Meanwhile, the vocal ZIEU announced this week that the industry had reached
a deadlock in salary negotiations with the issue now being referred for

The union's organising secretary, Farai Mupopori, accused the employers of
negotiating in bad faith. The employers, he said, have offered a minimum
wage of about $3.4 million, a far cry from the $10 million demanded by ZIEU.

ZIEU has also asked for a 172 percent salary increase across the board but
the employers said they could only afford 15 percent.

"In essence we are saying the employer is negotiating in bad faith and lacks
seriousness. The matter is being referred to an arbitrator. An arbitrator
will sort that issue after the position has been ratified by the National
Employment Council," said Mupopori.

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Succession issue key to resolving Zim's ills


Crisford Chogugudza

WHEN President Robert Mugabe first announced his intentions to retire in
2008, l and many others paused a little and wished 2008 was like next year
or so, it sounded like it was very near but quite far in reality. It appears
most Zimbabweans at home and in the diaspora cannot really wait that long
for the man to resign.

President Mugabe's announcement and subsequent re-announcements to retire
seem to have fallen on deaf ears because the plan does not address the
immediate problems of the country which may be resolved if he announced that
he is resigning in 12 to 18 months. The complex nature of the country's
problems require a succession plan to be put in place sooner rather than
later. Again, some people's renewed interest in the ZANU PF succession plan
stem from the 'failure' of the once mighty opposition MDC party to unseat
the increasingly unpopular but crafty ZANU PF leader through the polls.
Some have questioned the logic of having elections whose results do not
reflect the popular will of the electorate in a meaningful way. President
Mugabe can be succeeded by members of his own party or by the opposition
through democratic elections or a bloodless popular uprising akin to the
Orange Revolution in Ukraine.
President Mugabe has committed a litany of errors which have made
Zimbabweans sink deeper than such countries as Mozambique, Central African
Republic, Malawi and Tanzania in the UNDP development index. President
Mugabe does not seem convinced that his continued occupation of the State
House is increasingly becoming more of a liability than anything. He is not
at all concerned about the rapid death of the Zimbabwe nation state and the
decadence of the economy. The man carefully talks about succession to soften
people's minds and divert their attention from matters important to their
daily lives to remotely important issues such as UN reform and his obsession
of the Blair-Bush alliance in world politics. He uses the succession debate
so tactfully in the same way he talked about land reform to absolve himself
from the obvious blame on the current status quo which has made some of us
especially in the diaspora lose our pride and respect among fellow Africans.
The ZANU PF ruling elite does not seem to understand how crucial a properly
planned succession plan could help in resolving our current problems at
home. In the UK, the ruling Labour Party is already openly discussing Tony
Blair's succession, the opposition Conservatives (Tories) are doing the
same. In France and other progressive democracies of the West and elsewhere
succession is more of a palatable topic than it is taboo in Zimbabwe. Closer
home in Botswana, Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa, succession
plans proved to be very effective and had a stabilising effect on the
economies and politics of the above countries. This is debatable though in
the case of Tanzania and Zambia.
Early succession to President Mugabe has never before been as important to
Zimbabweans as it is now. The issue of succession will always help people,
business and industry to plan ahead in a predictable fashion.
It is manifestly true that President Mugabe's hostile foreign policy against
the West compounded by archaic and ineffective economic policies is
reminiscent of the banana republics of the 1970s and 80s. These poor
policies being promulgated and directed at ill-informed and expired
intellectuals operating in a constitutional dictatorship are largely
responsible for the current state of affairs in Zimbabwe.
Conventional wisdom states that you do not fight the West, UK and US in
particular, irrespective of how seemingly vindicated your course could be -
the result is that you will be ignored and condemned to starvation if you
are a small country.
The MDC on their part have a responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe,
especially the urban folk to try and introspectively reanalyse their own
policies and leadership style and possibly effect some changes at the top.
This may be the only way they can ever succeed in reclaiming the people's
stolen mandate. If the MDC does not reflect very seriously on their
leadership structures and style, they run the risk of being relegated to the
very fringes of national politics and could remain in opposition for the
next 20 years as happened to President Abdullah Wade of Senegal.
Essentially, the MDC needs to behave like a government in waiting. What this
means is replacing the party president or the president replacing some of
his rotten apples who, like their adversaries in ZANU PF, are ineffective,
impotent and becoming increasingly irrelevant to the contemporary
geo-politics of Zimbabwe.
Finally, succession to President Mugabe should be openly debated and done
properly to ensure an orderly transition. President Mugabe's early exit from
office, not power because he does not have it anymore could be one of his
greatest contributions to the people of Zimbabwe in recent years.
Zimbabweans need to be liberated from ZANU PF bondage.
It is also unfortunate that the 1980s slogan 'long Live President Mugabe'
seems to have turned into reality.

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Lop off the zeros


EDITOR - I am tired of counting zeros on financial figures. If we are to
remove these useless zeros on prices and on bank savings and everything
else, what will be the economic implications, considering that our currency
is no longer exchangeable across the borders?

Is there anything wrong if someone who earns $3 000 000 per month is said to
earn $3 000 and the mealie-meal and rent s/he was paying is also reduced by
the same zeros and the savings s/he has in the bank is also reduced by the
same number of zeros? Won't that save us useful time and also conserve
precious ink and paper?

I am no economist but I don't see how this can't be done. Where else is our
currency used that we might be afraid it may mitigate against us?
I would be happy if the authorities could give us a detailed response if
this is not workable, and not just dismiss this argument without furnishing
us with facts.

This should be the starting point in introducing the new currency announced
by governor Gideon Gono.

Livison Kahondo

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Interfresh closes down flower subsidiary


Chris Muronzi

HORTICULTURAL concern Interfresh Holdings Limited is closing down its prime
flower subsidiary, Smithfield, due to viability problems.

"Smithfield, a 12-he-ctare hypercium growing and exporting operation, which
struggled because of volatile and weak stem prices and production falling by
40 percent is being closed down on viability grounds," Inter-fresh chairman
Lishon Chipango said.
The move brings a fresh challenge to Inter-fresh as the horticulture group
has had to contend with compulsory acquisition of its land by government.
Interfresh has, however, restructured its operations over the years to
remain profitable. Reve-nue streams have, in recent months, been boosted by
volumes from the group's Mazoe Flo-wers and Bloomfield Flowers, which
recorded a 73 percent growth buoyed by Euro-denominated exports.
The Interfresh business is made up of Mazoe Citrus Estates, Mazoe Flowers,
Marlon Trading, Wholesale Fruiters, Citi-fresh, Interspan, Trans-fruit,
Intercrop and Marlon Trading.

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Zim fast-tracks grain imports from SA


Njabulo Ncube

ZIMBABWE has, in recent weeks, accelerated grain imports from South Africa
to avert hunger stalking the former breadbasket of southern Africa, The
Financial Gazette can reveal.

Grain industry sources last week spoke of huge consignments of grain coming
through the border town of Beitbridge, a claim confirmed by the South
African Grain Information Service (SAGIS).

Of South Africa's total maize exports of 60 498 tonnes for the week to
October 14, the bulk of 45 048 tonnes of white maize was destined for
Zimbabwe compared to 21 377 for the week ending October 7, statistics
released by SAGIS last week revealed.

Harare, desperate to import grain to avert starvation in and around the
country, had predicted a bumper harvest of 2.4 million tonnes of grain.
However, statistics show the country harvested between 500 000 and 800 000
metric tonnes of grain and needs to import about 1.2 million tonnes of grain
to replenish depleted silos at the Grain Marketing Board.

According to SAGIS, smaller amounts of white maize went to eight other
African countries, with Angola buying 4 817 tonnes and Botswana 4 364
Independent food security experts predicted that about 4 million people in
Zimbabwe are in urgent need of food handouts until the next harvest in May.

Recently, the government, which has flatly refused to appeal for
international food assistance, citing conditions attached to the handouts,
admitted it urgently needed to import 222 000 tonnes of maize to feed around
2.2 million needy people in its books.

The country would need about US$240 million to import 1.2 million to cover
the next eight months. Alternatively, it needs to import 150 000 tonnes a
month for the next eight months to cover the 1.2 million tonnes deficit.

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Lifeline for Zim's exporters


Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWEAN exporters have been thrown a lifeline through Africa Forfeiting
Limited (AFL), an international company that has busted trade barriers
pinning down the region's export potential by coming up with a new product
that takes funding-related worries off their shoulders.

Born out of research that highlighted arbitrage opportunities within the
region's interest and exchange rate regimes, AFL, which has identified
Melfast Factoring Company (MF), as its partner in Zimbabwe, carries with it
answers to a myriad of impediments that had handcuffed local and other
regional states' abilities to grow their exports.

Simply put, arbitrage is the art of exploiting yield-disparities in
different centres. These profitable spots have become particularly useful to
Zimbabwe - in the throes of a sharp interest rates spike compounded by
biting foreign exchange shortages.

The prohibitive cost of money is now an albatross around Zimbabwean
exporters' necks when viewed against their competitors basking in the glory
of relatively stable economies. On one hand, the International Monetary
Fund's (IMF) presence in the key competing states has all but sealed
Zimbabwe's fate, which has not received balance of payments support from the
Fund since 1998, but has rebooted confidence in markets leveraged by the
all-powerful global lender on the other.

Through its latest product offering aptly named Product Forfeitare (PF), AFL
addresses the exporter's limitations by helping access lines of credit
facilities and ensuring invoices are paid upfront.

In essence, the exporter is guaranteed of cash-flow support free of the
heavy interest rates existing locally through early payments availed without
collateral among other things.

Collen Magurah, an executive director for AFL, said the interest and
exchange rates disparities make it easy for his company to access lines of
credit facilities cheaply on behalf of clients, regardless of the deterrent
high political risks in their backyards.

While the product is tailor-made for all exporters, irrespective of their
size, it has definitely opened new frontiers for the greenhorns with no
capacity to scan the regional environment and do due deligence on potential

In an environment where lending rates have scaled past 400 percent, not many
small to medium-size exporters have the wherewithal and patience to wait for
90 days before receiving payment for the products.

"We (AFL) realised that countries like Zimbabwe
may need to take advantage of the lower interest rates within the region by
taking advantage of this product to access foreign exchange lines of credit
facilities without any major hassles. Local companies should take advantage
of this opportunity otherwise they will be left behind as this product also
targets other regional markets," said Magurah.

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Seeing the big picture


TWO major developments that will certainly have far-reaching consequences on
industry and commerce happened last week. These are the establishment of the
interbank foreign exchange market and the upward review of key interest
rates in line with inflationary pressures. And it was about time too!

As noted in one of our editorials four months ago, this is nothing short of
victory for pragmatism because it denotes not only the ability to listen to
the voice of reason but also reckoning the influence of realities.

We have said it before that no exchange rate regime is likely to serve all
countries at all times - the choice is the country's own. It is a question
of best-fit and not one-size-fits-all. In other words issues concerning
exchange rate policy entail delicate balancing because exchange rates can
influence or be influenced by other macroeconomic variables. But there is no
denying that in Zimbabwe's case, the policy of gradual devaluation has had
adverse consequences.

It is also pertinent to note that floating the local unit brings the
exchange rate in line with the expectations of the International Monetary
Fund, which has had problems with government over what the fund views as
misguided macroeconomic and structural policies. The Fund last August said
the Zimbabwe dollar was overvalued by 63 percent. The exchange rate is not
only now more realistic but the devaluation is also of paramount importance
in that Zimbabwe is moving towards meeting the conditionalities of the IMF,
from which it cannot remain estranged. Which is why, in our own estimation,
biting the bullet by allowing the local unit to free-float against the
greenback shows that the monetary authorities have decided to operate rather
than use the tried but failed time-buying tactics of outpatient therapy.

We welcome this not only as a cathartic turning point but also a bold move
considering the weighty political and nationalistic connotations matters
concerning devaluation had assumed. Despite overwhelming evidence that
political rhetoric notwithstanding, the Zimbabwe dollar could not be
defended, the idea of devaluation had become sacrilegious and its proponents
were labelled economic saboteurs. The country's political leadership got
bent out of shape over the slightest hint of devaluation.

The free-float strategy, though belated, is therefore a positive development
because we believe that the US dollar is worth whatever the markets are
prepared to pay for it. Not only that but allowing the value of the dollar
to be established by market forces also allows the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
to implement monetary policy far more effectively. It provides the means for
avoiding the ineffectiveness of direct controls.

Of course in welcoming the long overdue devaluation, we are mindful of the
fact that, coming as it does against a background of dented international
credibility, the move can only mean tough times ahead for Zimbabwe. This is
especially more so given that the country might have to seek recourse to
international financiers to cushion the blow of the currency devaluation.

This happened to the Philippines in 1997 following the exchange rate mayhem
which was touched off by prolonged speculative pressure on the country's
currency from hedge funds. Having said that, it is important to emphasise
that this does not however take away the need for a change in Zimbabwe's
exchange rate policies. Our only hope now is that when they finally set
their ground rules, the interbank foreign exchange market players will do so
to assure the integrity of interbank flows.

The other highly contentious issue is that of interest rates. Raising the
accommodation rate to 415 percent and 430 percent for secured and unsecured
lending respectively, has already raised a hue and cry from industry and
commerce. Critics are arguing that the high interest rate regime will
inevitably further slow down the economy by causing business failures and a
high rate of unemployment in the short-term.

There is no arguing that the move might indeed spawn recession in the
near-term. But then again, that is the short-term cost of a long-term
solution! It is painful but necessary because it would be difficult to tame
inflation and bring it down to double-digit levels without causing any
unpleasant effects, as it is next to impossible to make an omelette without
breaking eggs.

It is also instructive for those critics who are saying that the interest
rate hike was "a bit on the high side" to realise that in other countries
where economies are firing on all cylinders, even without visible
inflationary signals, high interest rates have been employed as a
pre-emptive strike to head off the inflation scourge. It is all about
understanding the underlying factors and seeing the big picture.

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Plaudits to Gono for accessibility


THINGS are so dire, contradictory, complex, confusing and illogical in
Zimbabwe that very few public officials have the courage to look
stakeholders in the eye and try to explain what is going on.

In many countries, the main complaint about the dissemination of public and
government information centres around the esoteric jargon used.

Doctors, lawyers, the military, educators etc have their own reasons for
using special jargon that is not easily understood by others. The motive may
be to "soften the blow" or make some aspect of an unpleasant reality more
palatable to the listener.

Spin-doctors struggling to put across hard-to-sell policies and actions also
pitch in from time to time with their own brands of verbal gymnastics. The
overriding impression one gets is that no matter how unrealistic their
objectives may be, the proponents of these different approaches are at least
trying to court and woo audiences so as to win them over to their way of

I have always felt that the difference between what happens in these other
countries and ours is the contemptuous, patronising, taunting and downright
confrontational and threatening approach public officials here adopt whether
it is in interviews, at rallies, conferences or other occasions.

Listening to some of these officials, even on television, is an
energy-sapping affair, which often leaves one with a sour taste in the
mouth. Instead of being persuaded by these officials' venomous outpourings,
audiences more often than not feel harangued - hardly the best way to
influence people and win friends.

If you are a cash-strapped Zimbabwean struggling to survive from one day to
the next, you can hardly believe the Utopian scenarios that various public
officials paint in their speeches and then try to force down your throat.
Listening to their glib, deceitful, self-preserving and point-scoring
politicking when you have to constantly confront the gruelling realities of
economic survival on the ground is like getting a kick in your rumbling

Things are bad, but officials make them far worse by refusing to accept
realities and persisting in trying to hoodwink the suffering masses to
accept their jaundiced personal whims that are induced by living in opulence
amid pervasive human misery, as the gospel truth.

One public official who has, however, demonstrated that he is a different
kettle of fish altogether is Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Gideon Gono.
Now, I am the first to admit that economics and topics like monetary policy
are Greek to me. I gave up trying to understand the mysteries of how an
economy works a long time ago. The only aspect of economics I have come to
appreciate the hard way over the last few years is inflation, mainly because
it has relentlessly hit me where it hurts most - my empty pocket! What I am
going to say in this piece is therefore not about the success or otherwise
of Gono's policies, but the genuine attempt he has made to communicate with
the people.

I have often watched the breakfast meetings the RBZ boss has held throughout
the country and marvelled at his courage in being prepared to face tough
questioning and harsh comments with dignity and civility. Evasive and
hot-tempered politicians, some of whom are to blame for the prevailing
economic shambles, should take a leaf from his book because he is willing to
consult widely with stakeholders regardless of their political affiliation.
Most importantly, he has demonstrated a rare ability to listen
empathetically and that way has been able to get feedback from the horse's
mouth - a missing link in most other policy formulation initiatives.

When Gono was first appointed governor about two years ago, I remember
remarking in this column how his efforts to establish a transparent and
open-door policy were a breath of fresh air in an environment where most
other officials depended on angry and deceitful outbursts. to avoid facing
realities and taking responsibility for their actions. Whatever else Gono's
weaknesses may be, in my book, he has passed the test for accessibility,
accountability and pragmatism with flying colours. The fact that he has
maintained this approach over the last two years proves it was not a gimmick
when he first embarked on it. How I wish we had more public officials like
him in this country. Most of our self-inflicted problems would not look as
daunting as they do now because the people would be free to voice grievances
and suggest solutions.

Gono's pragmatism and willingness to engage in meaningful dialogue instead
of just going through the motions, was much in evidence when he addressed
members of the diplomatic community this week to update them on the latest
goings-on and developments on the economic front.

Something really caught my attention when he was discussing the issue of
Zimbabwe's debt to the International Monetary Fund. After explaining how the
money to make recent remittances to the IMF had been raised, he thanked
those countries that had voted to ensure that Zimbabwe, which was facing
expulsion, got a reprieve a few months ago.
He did not end there, but - surprise, surprise - proceeded to thank even
those countries that voted for Zimbabwe's expulsion, because, he said, their
motives were noble - they wanted to see this country doing better. I ask
you, how many of our "know-all-and-never-wrong" politicians would be as
gracious and open-minded in accepting constructive criticism?

Someone has said, "Successful publicity over the long haul must be grounded
in works that the public defines as good, motives that the public accepts as
honest and presentation that the public recognises as credible."

Lest I be accused of being gushing, let me hasten to say I am aware that
Gono is a fallible human being who, like the rest of us, has no doubt made
mistakes. But in my view he still stands head and shoulders above the rest
for consistently endeavouring to be open, accountable, accessible,
encouraging and optimistic under difficult conditions.

Most importantly, he has tried to engage
Zimbabweans in genuine dialogue in the search for solutions rather than
rhetorically try to browbeat them into submission. Contrary to what many of
our macho politicians think, these are not signs of weakness.

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