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1.Labour movement movement planning new strategy
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) leadership is holding meetings with its members throughout the country to map out new strategies of confronting the government after it refused to succumb to the labour movement's demands for a reduction in sales tax and the scrapping off of a five percent development levy.
Last month the ZCTU organised a successful two-day job stayaway in an attempt to force the government to act on its demands, but the government remained steadfast in its refusal to give in to the workers' demands.
In an interview, ZCTU secretary general, Morgan Tsvangirayi said: "We had a stayaway and the government has not acted on issues we presented to them, and so we have decided to go round the country and report back to the workers. What we are telling our members is that the government is refusing to negotiate and so what do we do next?"
The labour rallies which are a new development in the history of the country, come at a time when President Mugabe has labelled the labour movement as an opposition party. Tsvangirayi has dismissed the allegations as unfounded and said the ZCTU was simply pursuing a labour agenda to deal with issues that affect workers.
Meanwhile, speculation is rife in the country that the ZCTU has decided to adopt the stance taken by the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) during the apartheid era, of becoming the pillar of resistance to the government.
The ZCTU has since December last year organised two mass actions, a nationwide demonstration against tax hikes which resulted in millions of dollars worth of property being destroyed or looted, and a peaceful two-day stayaway at the beginning of last month.
2.Mugabe should not quit alone - minister
A senior minister in Mugabe's government, Didymus Mutasa who is the ruling ZANU PF party's secretary for administration and also a member of the Politburo made an unprecedented move last week by saying all his cabinet colleagues and members of the Politburo must also step down together with president Mugabe should the electorate decide that the president must go on the ground of misgoverning the country.
In an interview with a weekly paper, Mutasa said: "What I am saying is that all those of us who have governed and ruled with the president for the past 18 years should get out with him if the reasons that he has stayed for too long and has misgoverned are genuine.
"The reason being that all of us, including those who are calling on Mugabe to step down, have been with for all these years, meaning that we have also overstayed and misgoverned the country".
3.Thirty five witnesses to testify in Banana case
The state has lined up 35 witnesses to testify in the trial of Zimbabwe's first president, Canaan Banana, who is facing 11 charges of sodomy, attempted sodomy and indecent assault.
The trial is scheduled to begin on June 1, and is expected to last about three weeks. Banana's lawyers could not immediately say how many witnesses they would call to support their client who has publicly denied the charges being laid against him.
Among top state witnesses to testify will be vice president Simon Muzenda, Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, retired army and airforce commanders General Solomon Mujuru and Chief Air Marshal Josiah Tungamirai. Current and former police commissioners, Augustine Chihuri and Henry Mukurazhizha will also be called to give evidence on behalf of the state.
Banana, a respected Methodist Church minister, academic and international peace broker is alleged to have committed the offences between 1980 and 1987 when he was state president. Last year he petitioned the Supreme Court to have his trial permanently halted, arguing that negative pre-trial publicity had contravened his constitutional right to a fair trial.
4.State loses dipping chemicals worth Z$600 000
The government has lost cattle dipping chemicals worth more than Z$600 000 as a result of corruption and poor management by officers in Chipinge district which borders neighbouring Mozambique.
According to a report carried in the Herald, the loss was discovered following an audit by the Ministry of Lands and Agriculture last week which confirmed rampant incidents of corruption and mismanagement. The missing chemicals are reported to have been sold to farmers from Mozambique whose livestock has been hard hit by tick infestation.
A statement from the ministry said the veterinary officers in the district did not have a proper books of accounts and this had resulted in misappropriation of dipping chemicals as well as some animal vaccines. The ministry has since instituted an internal investigation which is likely to see some officers appearing in court on theft and corruption charges.
5.Maize output falls in most SADC states
Maize output in most SADC states including Zimbabwe which holds the food security portifolio is expected to decrease this year following the adverse effects of delayed rains and dry spells in February.
According to the SADC food security report, only four countries, Angola, Malawi, Zambia and Swaziland will have an increased output compared to last year because they received normal or above normal rainfall.
The report said the regional maize shortfall is estimated at over a million tonnes for the 1998/99 marketing year. The reduction in production in some countries like Zimbabwe was attributed to reduced hectarage of maize as a result of fear induced by the predicted El-Nino drought.
In Zimbabwe uncertainty over land designation also resulted in a drop in production.
6.Traditional healers plan to set up college
The Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers' Association (Zinatha) plans to build a college to educate traditional healers on plant medicidnes following a marked increase in the demand for traditional medicine.
According to the chairman of Zinatha, Professor Gordon Chavhunduka, the college is expected to be opened this year, at a time when traditional medicines are fast gaining popularity, especially in the face of the AIDS pandemic. At least Z$10 million is needed to establish the college which will initially enrol 50 students.
Professor Chavhunduka said there were many people aspiring to be traditional healers, hence the need to have such a college.
If established, the college will be the first one of its kind in Southern Africa. The professor said focus during training would be on two branches, namely plant medicine and spiritual healing. The college has already been approved by the Ministry of Higher Education and Technology. He said traditional medicine was lagging behind so-called modern medicine because before independence blacks were brainwashed into thinking that the use of traditional medicine was taboo.
7.Bank loses Z$1,3 million in robbery
Six armed robbers posing as telecommunications technicians last week pounced on a suburban branch of Stanbic bank, held up workers and got away with Z$1,3 million in one of the country's biggest bank robberies since independence in 1980..
The gang members, who were dressed in Posts and Telecommunications technicians' uniforms escaped in a red Nissan truck. Police are appealing to members of the public to help with any information which might help in their investigations.
8.Government writes off first lady's debt
The government has written off much of the debt incurred by the First Lady Grace Mugabe for the construction of her mansion in Harare's upmarket suburb of Borrowdale, contrary to reports in the government-owned Herald that she had paid off every cent she owed for the house.
Reliable sources in the Ministry of Local Government and Public Construction said on completion, the house which had initially been projected to cost Z$6 million had gobbled up Z$10,5 million, mostly in materials supplied by the ministry.
The first lady has since advertised the house for sale with a price tag of Z$25 million in a move seen to represent excessive profiteering using taxpayers' money.
In a separate interview with the Zimbabwe Independent last week, the secretary for the Ministry of Local Government, Willard Chiwewe said the First Lady had paid Z$4,5 million which he believed to be the full amount for the house, and said he was unaware of the Z$10,5 million suggested by ministry insiders.
9.Government sponsors splinter union to undermine ZCTU
Wary ofthe legal and political implications of banning the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the government has resorted to undermining the labour movement through sponsoring and strengthening a splinter trade union federation.
According to an article published in the Zimbabwe Independent, the splinter union known as the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions has recently been attacking the ZCTU, accusing it of fraternising with the white community. These remarks are similar to those which the government has been singing each time the ZCTU raises its voice on behalf of the workers.
ZCTU secretary general Morgan Tsvangirayi said he was aware that the government was sponsoring the splinter union as a way of undermining the ZCTU but said Zimbabwean workers knew who their authentic representatives were and that the splinter union was doomed to fail. He described government's action sponsoring the splinter union as an act of desperation by government which has lost the mandate of the workers.
From: AfricaNN@inform-bbs.dk (Africa_news Network) Date: Sun, 26 Apr 1998 17:45:15 +0200 Subject: ZIMBABWE NEWS ONLINE #18 Message-ID: <email@example.com>
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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