News roundup 27/04/06

Young communists demand SA action on Zimbabwe

JOHANNESBURG - The militant and powerful Young Communist League of South Africa has castigated the Southern Africa Development Community and Africa Union leaders for shielding Robert Mugabe's dictatorship in Zimbabwe.

g a demonstration at the Zimbabwe Consulate on Independence Day the YSL demanded an end to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe and called on African leaders to force Mugabe to leave office.
Addressing more than 3000 people, including demonstrating South African security guards, at Library Gardens the Secretary General for YCL Buti Manamela
said South Africa should consider stopping trade relations with Robert Mugabe’s regime as these were only benefiting the elite Zanu (PF) leaders.
“They are walking on red carpet while the people of that country are still living under massive poverty and unemployment. The Zanu (PF) regime has unleashed 26 years of hell on its people and cannot be allowed to continue,” said Manamela.
“The economic situation in Zimbabwe, with more than 950% inflation, massive price increases in food prices, soaring unemployment and low wages, becomes more and more unbearable especially for the youth,” he added.
The YCL leader bemoaned the way the South Africa government was handling the Zimbabwe crisis and said South Africans could no longer stand by and watch.
Hundreds of demonstrators braved chilly weather and light showers to hand over a petition at the closed consulate offices, demanding an end to state-sponsored violence, access to food for ordinary people, an end to human rights abuses and suppression of press freedom.
The YCL are also demanding an open and consultative process that will result in a constitutional review and the immediate resignation of Mugabe. – Own correspondent

Residents say Commission must go

HARARE – The state controlled Herald newspaper has reported that the Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating the operations of the illegal Harare City Commission, headed by Sekesai Makwavarara, regarding corruption, mismanagement and flouting of laid-down procedures. The paper has been reporting her every move in what seems to be a campaign to destroy her, but the Combined Harare Residents Association chairman Barnabus Mangodza said the entire Commission running the capital needs to be replaced by an accountable elected council.
Observers in Harare believe Makwavarara has either fallen out of favour with some top officials or become a liability. Makwavarara was once the darling of the same state paper now tarnishing her. The Herald ignored her excesses, corrupt tendencies and lack of accountability after minister Chombo appointed her to the illegal Harare Commission. She immediately took over a productive farm and was seen lounging there paying no attention to agriculture or the farm workers. Now a series of incidents showing her as a greedy official have been published week after week.
Mangodza said none of this matters as far as the residents are concerned. They have been calling for fresh elections for a long time and this campaign against Makwavarara is the Commission’s own internal problem. He said: “They should not just get rid of her and replace her with another illegal Commission, but remove the entire group and put in a democratically elected council that will be accountable to the residents.”
The Herald and other state papers are regularly used by those in power to tarnish the images of their political rivals. Makwavarara just happens to be the latest target.
– Tererai Karimakwenda, SW Radio Africa

Mudarikwa fired

JOHANNESBURG – The Zimbabwe Action Support Group (ZASG) has fired its embattled coordinator, Rodgers Mudarikwa for alleged corruption, maladministration and fraud.
ZASG Chairman, Remember Moyo confirmed this week that Mudarikwa had been relieved of his duties as the organisation’s coordinator and been replaced by Lovemore Chikandiwa, who is on an interim basis awaiting elections to choose a substantive coordinator.
Some MDC politicians and activists have also expressed concern about Mudarikwa’s conduct of business in the party, particularly in Johannesburg. He had been elected deputy organising secretary for MDC South Africa while awaiting the elections in June.
Efforts to get comment from Mudarikwa proved fruitless by the time of going to press.
Mudarikwa is accused of sourcing funds aimed at raising bail for Remember Moyo, who in the past five months was in police detention for holding two passports. He allegedly diverted more than R5 000 (about Z$150 million) for his personal use instead of paying the bail for Moyo. – CAJ News

35 percent bonus to tobacco farmers

HARARE – Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono this week announced a 35 percent bonus to farmers for early delivery of tobacco to the auction floors in a bid to inspire quicker sales of the crop that generates badly needed foreign currency.
Farmers who delivered their crop before 31 July will get the full bonus while those bringing their tobacco after July but before August 31 will get a reduced bonus of 15 percent. No bonus will be paid for deliveries after August, the RBZ chief said.
The central bank chief also said the government was cancelling a special price support scheme that allowed growers to retain 15 percent of their earnings in hard currency.
Gono said: “The cut-off date of 31 July 2006 (for 35 percent bonus) takes into account unanticipated logistical challenges experienced by growers during the preparation of the crop for marketing.
“Tobacco sales made after the cut-off date and before 31 August 2006 shall attract a reduced delivery bonus of 15 percent. Thereafter the element of delivery bonus shall not apply.”
The RBZ chief, tasked by President Robert Mugabe to spearhead Zimbabwe’s economic recovery efforts, said farmers would be paid for their crop in local currency at the prevailing interbank rate.
“Monetary authorities are aware that the tobacco industry requires between US$30-35 million for inputs, and current initiatives to mobilise foreign currency exchange are expected to improve availability of this scarce resource in the market. This support frame work will allow farmers to unlock working capital resources in preparation for the 2006/2007 tobacco growing season.”
The interbank market where the local dollar hovers around 99 000 to the American unit lags behind the illegal but thriving foreign currency black market where the green back fetches above Z$130 000. Most businesses and private citizens rely on the black market for foreign currency. – ZimOnline

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