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3857mostly Zim news

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  • Christine Chumbler
    Jul 25, 2003
      Century Malawi Venture Stalls

      The Daily News (Harare)

      July 24, 2003
      Posted to the web July 24, 2003

      Chris Goko

      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
      Malawian bank.

      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
      Malawi.

      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
      development.

      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
      Malawi.

      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
      2002.

      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
      evident.

      *****

      Zimbabwe formally appeals for food aid

      Harare

      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
      tonnes.

      "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
      said.

      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

      Harare

      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
      regime.

      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
      arrested colleagues.
      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
      the opposition".

      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
      Johannesburg

      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
      crisis.

      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
      taking place.

      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
      crisis.

      "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
      announced.

      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
      negotiations resumed.

      "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
      overturned.

      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
      talks resume.
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