3857mostly Zim news
- Jul 25, 2003Century Malawi Venture Stalls
The Daily News (Harare)
July 24, 2003
Posted to the web July 24, 2003
CENTURY Holdings Limited has encountered difficulties in its expansion
into Malawi, with that country's central bank querying the destination
of funds the local financial services group used to buy a stake in a
Century bought into INDEbank Malawi in November last year through
Botswana-incorporated Century International Limited (CIL).
CIL is the Zimbabwean banking group's offshore holding arm and it has
invested US$2 million (about $1.68 billion) so far into INDEbank
Sources close to the matter said the Reserve Bank of Malawi had queried
the destination of the funds used to buy into the Malawian bank.
Century Holdings spokeswoman Farai Mangwende confirmed the
She told the Business Daily: "We confirm that there have been queries
by the Reserve Bank of Malawi regarding the destination of funds for the
payment of Century's acquisition of INDEbank."
The Malawi central bank feared proceeds from the November 2002
acquisition were externalised and were "not benefitting Malawi seeing as
the existing shareholders are in Europe", she added.
Mangwende, however, denied allegations that Century Holdings'
investment in Malawi had not received approval from the Reserve Bank of
She said the investment was "granted approval in principle" by the
Malawi central bank in November, which is why Century was able to begin
raising capital for the venture.
Responding to claims that staff seconded to Malawi had been called back
because of the setback in the project, the Century spokeswoman said
financial managers from the group had been sent out on a temporary basis
to oversee the initial development of the bank.
"The staff that had been sent to Malawi were sent there in order to
facilitate the eventual transition of INDEbank into Century," she said.
"Such staff can only go for designated periods not exceeding three
months," she added, emphasising that in terms of an earlier agreement,
the staff had been sent to Malawi on the basis of skills transfer
pending completion of the acquisition.
It was not immediately clear how the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed
financial services group would now proceed after the setback in Malawi.
But it emerged yesterday that the group had engaged the Zimbabwean
central bank and its Malawi counterpart over the matter.
At the company's annual general meeting in late April, Century
directors told investors that the southern African initiative had chewed
up nearly $40 million, which was not expensed but was reflected as
capitalisation in the group's 15-month audited accounts to December
Gary Shoko, the bank's chief executive, said the market should expect
better results and performance at the next financial results
announcement, saying that the improvement in performance was already
Zimbabwe formally appeals for food aid
24 July 2003 16:58
The Zimbabwe government has made a formal appeal for new international
food aid to stave off starvation faced by some 5,5-million people, the
United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Thursday.
"We now have the appeal in hand and certainly it has been a bit of a
while in coming," said WFP country director for Zimbabwe Kevin Farrell.
He said the government forecast a grain deficit of 711 000 tonnes until
the next main harvest in early 2004.
The government has estimated a production total this year of 900 000
tonnes of the staple maize, and state reserves total some 284 000
"It (the appeal) says government will need to import 711 000 tonnes of
maize grain in order to make up for the maize grain deficit," Farrell
The WFP received the government appeal on Tuesday and will forward it
Thursday, he said.
"We are trying to resource 350 000 tonnes on top of the carryover that
we have of a little over 100 000 [tonnes]," he told reporters.
With an average one person in two facing food shortages, Zimbabwe is
the largest recipient of humanitarian aid in southern Africa for a
second year running.
UN food agencies meeting in South Africa last month concluded that the
dire situation in Zimbabwe was caused by drought and the "current
social, economic and political situation".
Zimbabwe embarked on a controversial and sometimes violent land reform
programme in early 2000 that has seen some 14-million hectares
(42-million acres) of formerly white-owned land being seized to
redistribute to landless blacks. - Sapa-AFP
Zim detainees include babes in arms
25 July 2003 14:33
A group of 48 women demonstrators, four of them with babies, were
facing a second night in police cells in the western city of Bulawayo on
Friday for allegedly being part of an "unlawful gathering".
Lawyers were trying to secure the release of the women and the infants
but relatives said they feared that they would continue to be held
throughout the weekend.
They were arrested in Bulawayo on Thursday after protesting against
draconian legislation that legal experts say gives the government powers
almost identical to a state of emergency, including random arrest,
outlawing demonstrations and jailing journalists for criticising the
Eyewitnesses said the police first arrested a few of the leaders of the
demonstration, organised by Concerned Citizens of Zimbabwe, a coalition
of civic organisations.
Many of the other demonstrators then voluntarily handed themselves over
to police, some of them climbing into police vehicles to join their
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said ruling party
vigilantes in the last three days had embarked on a campaign of violent
intimidation in urban areas around the country to force opposition
candidates to withdraw from local government elections next month.
MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi said candidates' homes in the towns
of Kariba in remote northern Zimbabwe and in Marondera had been
attacked, and candidates had been threatened with death.
Earlier this week three MDC candidates were in hospital, one of them
with a broken neck, after ruling party militiamen forcibly barred them
from registering as candidates.
The incidents came amid growing international pressure on President
Robert Mugabe's government and on the opposition MDC to begin
negotiations to end the country's political and economic crisis.
Observers also said that signs of hope for talks emerged mid-week when
the pro-democracy party called off a scheduled walk-out of Mugabe's
annual address at the opening of Parliament, which was followed by a
cautious welcome by Mugabe, who spoke of "our brothers and sisters in
Human rights organisations say random arrests, violent suppression of
opposition supporters and denial of the protection of the law for
victims of state-driven violence is the order of the day as 79-year- old
Mugabe clings to power after 23 years in office. - Sapa-DPA
Mugabe, Tsvangirai Open Way for Talks
Business Day (Johannesburg)
July 24, 2003
Posted to the web July 24, 2003
Dumisani Muleya and Sarah Hudleston
ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe and his Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) rival Morgan Tsvangirai have taken a huge stride towards
resuming talks to resolve their country' s political and economic
In an unprecedented gesture of reconciliation, the two leaders extended
each other the olive branch, calling for co-operation and dialogue to
end the crisis.
The apparent thawing in relations between the two leaders and their
parties would vindicate President Thabo Mbeki's insistence, made
recently to US President George Bush, that behind the scenes talks were
The prospect of meaningful talks starting soon appears to have been
bolstered by the MDC's announcement yesterday that it was upgrading its
negotiation team ahead of resuming talks with the ruling Zanu (PF).
Three new members are to be added to the team, which will be led by MDC
secretary-general Welshman Ncube.
Tsvangirai said in Harare yesterday the MDC had decided to invest all
its energies in the search for a permanent solution to the Zimbabwean
"We have expanded our negotiating team, and agreed on the route to
guide the team when dialogue resumes.
"We are ready to support and participate in all efforts designed to
chart a peaceful course towards the resolution of the crisis in
governance in Zimbabwe."
Ncube led the previous round of talks which were called off by Zanu
(PF) last year. The names of the new MDC delegates have not yet been
Mugabe told a luncheon, hosted by the local government ministry to mark
the opening of parliament on Tuesday, he was happy that opposition MPs,
including MDC leader Tsvangirai, who is not a legislator, were present
during his address to parliament.
MDC MPs have in the past boycotted Mugabe's parliamentary speeches,
claiming that he stole last year's March election.
In a conciliatory tone, Mugabe said he hoped the two parties would be
able to work together despite their differences.
"I am glad that today there was that realisation that parliament must
hitherto be an honourable institution to which we belong," Mugabe said.
Tsvangirai said his party would do everything it could to ensure
"Our national executive tasked the leadership to do all it can to clear
the air for a peaceful political engagement.
"We decided to invest all our energies in search for a permanent and
lasting solution to the Zimbabwean crisis."
The Zimbabwean official opposition is still pressing ahead with its
court petition to have the results of the 2002 presidential election
The MDC's petition will be heard in the high court on November 3.
However, David Coltart, MDC secretary for legal affairs, said yesterday
that the party might be prepared to suspend the court petition should
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