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Zimbabweans pray under heavy police guard

IOL

April 14 2007 at 04:33PM

Harare - Zimbabwe police allowed an opposition prayer meeting to take
place on Saturday in the second city of Bulawayo despite earlier threats to
stop the gathering as an illegal anti-government protest.

President Robert Mugabe's government has in the last two months used
riot police to break up opposition rallies.

Main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and dozens of other members
of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) sustained serious injuries on
March 11 after being arrested by police at an aborted prayer rally in the
capital Harare.

In Bulawayo, journalists said police officers, in uniform and in plain
clothes, watched opposition figures, labour and student leaders, rights
activists and clerics filing in and out of a township church for the protest
prayer meeting.

"They did not stop the meeting but they watched from some distance,
from a police station near the church," one journalist told Reuters by
telephone from Bulawayo, southwest of Zimbabwe.

On Friday the government said it might stop the gathering because it
could be turned into an illegal opposition protest.

Organisers of the vigil, the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, said in a
statement on Saturday they were determined to defy any attempt to stop the
prayer meeting despite fears of a police crackdown.

"The leadership of the campaign once again reiterates its commitment
to the resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis in total defiance of the
brutality being perpetrated by the state security agents," it said. "We
deplore the use of violence by those that are in power."

Tsvangirai, who is nursing wounds sustained in police custody, did not
go to Bulawayo but some of his MDC deputies went to the meeting which was
co-organised by Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube, one of Mugabe's most
vehement critics.

The influential Zimbabwe's Catholic Bishops' Conference last week
joined Ncube -- who has largely been a lone voice from the Catholic
leadership to tackle the government publicly -- in accusing Mugabe and his
officials of running a corrupt government and abusing the political rights
of Zimbabweans.

Mugabe and his officials have not responded publicly to the criticism
by the Catholic Church, which some analysts believe could have a greater
influence in persuading him to discuss political reform than attacks from
elsewhere.

Mugabe, a practising Catholic, has traditionally taken a hands-off
approach to critics within the Catholic Church, the largest Christian
denomination in Zimbabwe.

The 83-year-old Mugabe accuses Zimbabwe's former colonial power
Britain of leading a Western campaign to oust his government as punishment
for seizing and redistributing white-owned commercial farms to landless
blacks. London denies there is such a plot, and the MDC says it is not a
puppet party.

Reuters


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Rights activist lambasts inaction over Zimbabwe

Yahoo News

Sat Apr 14, 11:17 AM ET

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (AFP) - A leading rights activist on Saturday castigated
the Southern African Development Community and the African Union for their
inaction in the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

The secretary general of the World Alliance for Citizen Participation Kumi
Naidoo told a prayer meeting in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo that the
"SADC and AU should be closed down if they cannot take action in the
collective interests of the citizens they represent.
"Even minus the politics, the economic meltdown is evident and as Southern
African citizens we are getting fed up of their non assertive action."

Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn for the past seven years
characterised by world-record inflation, high unemployment with the majority
of the population living below the poverty threshold.

Scores converged at a church in Zimbabwe's second city Saturday for the
prayer meeting convened by a coalition of rights and opposition groups for
an end to the political and economic crisis in the country.

The meeting, organised by groups under the aegis of the Save Zimbabwe
Campaign, was attended by at least 300 people including Church leaders, from
Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries, rights activists and leaders of the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The three-hour service held at St Patrick's Catholic Church in Makokoba
suburb came just over a month after security beat up MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and scores of party activists and gunned down a local party
official as they blocked a prayer rally in Highfields township in the
capital.

Several opposition activists were hospitalised following the crackdown which
was followed by a ban on political rallies in most parts of Harare.

Police had initially declared the Bulawayo church meeting illegal saying the
organisers did not get mandatory police clearance.

But the organisers argued that the prayer meeting was exempted under the
Public Order and Security Act which outlaws political rallies or processions
without police clearance.

A spokesperson for the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, Useni Sibanda, said they
received a call late Friday saying the meeting could go ahead.

Sibanda said the latest police decision was a victory for the Church in
Zimbabwe. "We never applied and did not have to go to court. To us it means
the church's space is still being protected."

Outspoken Roman Catholic Archibishop Pius Ncube said the State's decision to
allow the service to go ahead "shows they (the government) realize
resistance is growing and if they stopped the meeting, they would have
provoked trouble because people are suffering and are becoming more
militant."

The actual service itself was a solemn event with clerics from various
denominations giving updates of the social situation in Zimbabwe.

Representatives of political parties and civic organisations were also given
time to speak despite police instructions that political leaders should not
speak.


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Detained Zimbabwe opposition lawmaker charged with terrorism

Yahoo News

Sat Apr 14, 5:27 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - A Zimbabwean opposition lawmaker and 12 activists arrested in
a crackdown last month appeared in court charged with terrorism, banditry
and sabotage, their lawyer said Saturday.

Lawyer Alec Mucahdehama said the prosecution claimed Member of Parliament
Paul Madzore and his co-accused underwent training as "bandits, saboteurs,
insurgents or terrorists."
"The prosecutor Austin Muzivi alleged that between December last year and
March this year, the 13 went to Pretoria and Orange Free State in South
Africa to undergo military training on how to terrorise the government,"
Muchadehama told AFP.

The prosecutor "added that they were taught to make and use firebombs", said
Muchadehama.

The group was among scores of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC,
opposition) officials and supporters who were arrested in what police said
was a crackdown on fire bombers accused of a series of attacks across the
southern African country.

Harare magistrate Gloria Takundwa remanded the suspects in custody until
Monday, when their lawyer is expected to protest against the assault of the
MDC activists during their arrest and while in detention.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has denied accusations that MDC members
were behind the spate of bombings, saying they were were framed.

"The false allegations against the MDC are not new," Tsvangirai said in a
statement on Thursday.

"You will recall that a few months after the presidential elections of 2002,
malevolent charges of treason were bought against me. These things are not
new to us. For months in 2002 we were labelled terrorists and saboteurs".

Long-standing political tensions deteriorated last month when state security
agents assaulted Tsvangirai and scores of supporters and shot dead an
opposition activist as they broke up an anti-government rally.


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Jailed Old Etonian 'refused' vital surgery

The Telegraph

By Byron Dziva in Harare
Last Updated: 1:16am BST 14/04/2007

Zimbabwe's authorities are risking the life of Simon Mann, the Old
Etonian and former SAS officer accused of plotting a coup in Equatorial
Guinea, by denying him critical surgery, say his lawyers.

Mann, who has spent the last three years in a high security prison
outside the capital, Harare, needs an urgent hernia operation to avoid
"life-threatening complications".

His lawyers wrote to Patrick Chinamasa, the justice minister, asking
for Mann to be transferred to a private hospital for the operation. The
specialist who had agreed to carry it out, Dr Edwin Muguti, is also deputy
health minister in President Robert Mugabe's regime.

"Our client has been very sick and after undergoing some tests he was
identified to be suffering from a hernia by the prison doctor," wrote Mann's
lawyers.

They asked for "permission for our client to be operated on" and to
remain in hospital for a recovery period. This request was made in January.
So far, the authorities have not replied and Mann has not received any
treatment. The alleged mercenary leader was arrested at Harare international
airport three years ago. Mann was detained along with 69 other alleged
mercenaries who were supposedly bound for the oil-rich West African state of
Equatorial Guinea, where they planned to overthrow the regime.

Mann, who holds dual British and South African citizenship and lived
in Cape Town, was convicted of trying to buy illegal weapons, allegedly for
use in this abortive coup. His friend, Sir Mark Thatcher, later admitted
helping the planned coup by paying for the hire of a helicopter which -
without his knowledge - would have been used in the attempt to overthrow
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

Mann is due to be released from prison next month. But he is fighting
an attempt by Equatorial Guinea's regime to extradite him.

If his latest legal battle fails, Mann will be consigned to Black
Beach prison in Equatorial Guinea's capital, Malabo, where conditions are so
harsh that some inmates have starved to death.


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Forced out of their homes again

The First Post

Ifound Batsirai sitting on a pile of her belongings by the side of the road, in the Harare suburb of Hopley. Her baby was strapped to her back in the traditional 'mbereko' or shawl. And she was in tears.

"Two men and a lady knocked down my door and threw all my things out. They said I have a poisoned political mind because I attended an MDC rally," she told me. "Now I am homeless."

Batsirai is the victim of a new wave of political evictions, a Mugabe election tactic to disperse supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), making it difficult or impossible for them to vote in next year's elections.

For Batsirai and many of her friends and neighbours this is the second time they have been victimised. In 2005, Mugabe's notorious Operation Murambatsvina (Clear Out The Trash) resulted in hundreds of

Mugabe is continuing to evict families to stop them voting for the opposition next year

thousands of destroyed homes and displaced families. The international outcry was so great the government hurriedly built basic dwellings for the homeless. In Harare the new buildings - some little more than rough shelters - were sited in the Hopley and Whitecliffe suburbs.

These areas are now being targeted again by the militia of the ruling Zanu-PF party. The exercise is co-ordinated by government minister Ignatius Chombo, who is in charge, ironically, of local government, public works and urban development.
Already more than 20 families in Hopley have been evicted, all previously identified as MDC supporters. Without a permanent address they will be unable to vote.

The evictions are also designed to terrify. Another MDC man told me: "We no longer wear our MDC badges around here. To do so is to risk your house - and even your life."

FIRST POSTED APRIL 14, 2007


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Zimbabwean inflation expected to worsen: IMF

SABC

April 14, 2007, 08:00

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is now predicting that inflation in
Zimbabwe could reach the 5 000% mark by the end of this year. That is 1 000%
higher than initial predictions.

Abdoulaye Bio-Tchane, the IMF director for Africa, says if the situation
does not change soon Zimbabwe will be among the poorest of the poor nations
in the world. Zimbabwe is already grappling with the highest inflation in
the world, far above those of countries that are in conflict.

Neighbours to pay the price
Bio-Tchane says neighbouring countries are still going to pay a heavy price
for Zimbabwe's deteriorating situation. An estimated 2 million Zimbabweans
have crossed into South Africa seeking a better life.

However, the IMF revealed that besides Zimbabwe, all other countries on the
continent are doing exceptionally well. Mozambique is the only country that
has managed to reduce rural poverty, and achieved 8.8% growth irrespective
of increases in oil-prices and natural disasters which hit that country
early this year.


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SADC Executive Secretary Meets Govt, EU Officials



The Herald (Harare)

April 14, 2007
Posted to the web April 14, 2007

Harare

VISITING Sadc executive secretary Dr Tomaz Salomao continued with his
mission yesterday as he met senior Government officials and representatives
of multilateral agencies in the country.

Dr Salomao met Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono, Finance
Minister Cde Samuel Mumbengegwi and European Union commission
representatives.

Although details of the meetings were not immediately available, sources
close to the diplomat said the meetings centred on how the country could be
assisted from the economic challenges it is facing.

This was in line with the mandate from the recently held Sadc extraordinary
summit in Tanzania.

The summit also appealed to Britain and her Western allies to remove illegal
sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and recognised the legitimacy of President
Mugabe who was re-elected in 2002 presidential elections by beating MDC
faction leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.

The meeting with the EU Commission was to impress upon the bloc on the need
of the International Monetary Fund to give financial support to Zimbabwe
since the country cleared its arrears under the General Resources Account.

Discussions with the EU also centred on the need for the grouping to lift
the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

"This is just a preliminary visit the executive secretary is undertaking. He
will return soon with his team of technical experts for a week-long working
visit and tour farms to assess the land reform programme.

"The team will also visit other cities, small towns and rural areas to
assess the situation," said a Government spokesman.

Dr Salomao, who is set to return to his base in Botswana today, also toured
Sadc projects in the country.

He visited the Southern African Power Pool and the Sadc Research and
Documentation Centre.

The executive secretary on Thursday met President Mugabe.


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From the Zimbabwe Vigil - what's on



Key members of the Zimbabwean Christian Alliance which spearheads the Save
Zimbabwe Campaign are arriving in the UK next week. The Save Zimbabwe
Campaign is the umbrella organisation from which the MDC and civic bodies
are campainging for change. Their date of arrival is not certain as visas
and flights are still being sorted out but we are hoping they will be here
on Wednesday.

Wednesday, 18th April - MDC UK Demonstration and March on Zimbabwe
Independence Day
MDC UK has asked us to pass on an invitation to all Vigil supporters to join
them in expressing their anger at what 27 years of Mugabe have done to
Zimbabwe. At 10 am meet outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London
WC2. At 11 am the group will march to the South African High Commission in
Trafalgar Square. From SA House, they will march to the House of Commons.
In the afternoon they will move on to the Lesotho High Commission (7 Chesham
Place SW1) and the Ghana High Commission (13 Belgrave Square SW1). Contact
Jaison Matewu, MDC UK Organising Secretary (07816 619 788) for more
information and the whereabouts of the group during the day.

Saturday, 21st April, 2 - 4 pm - Special Prayer Vigil for Zimbabwe
Please join us in prayer for Zimbabwe. We have invited many churches and
groups to be with us this day and we are very pleased that Christian
Alliance members will also be able to join us (subject to their travel
arrangements going to plan).

Monday, 23rd April, 7.30 Zimbabwean Christian Alliance at the Central London
Zimbabwe Forum
If the Christian Alliance members are in the UK on this date they will be
coming to speak at the Forum. Please book this date to hear at first hand
what is happening back home. Provisional Venue: first floor, main bar,
Strand Continental Hotel, 143 The Strand WC2R 15A. From the Vigil, a 10
minute walk along the Strand away from Trafalgar Square after Waterloo
Bridge but before Somerset House. Nearest underground: Temple (District and
Circle lines) and Holborn (Piccadilly and Central lines). If the Venue
changes it will be posted on www.zimvigil.co.uk by the end of Sunday, 22nd
April.

More Armchair Activism
Visit http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/974640253?ltl=1176052292 to
sign a petition saying "Boycott 2010 World Cup if South Africa continues to
ignore human rights abuses in Zimbabwe".

Vigil Co-ordinators
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk


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Mugabe Must go

African Path

April 13, 2007 09:10 PM

In this day and age when Africa is
faced with countless problems and calamities. The people of Africa and their
friends (If any) MUST work tirelessly to bring peace and stability. Peace in
this case forms the foundation of everything else to follow. Looking back to
the trend, we see there are always wars and rumors of war almost all the
time in Africa. Whatever and WHOEVER the cause of such must be exposed and
be held accountable. Accountability here sounds very suspicious to me as I
write this due to the fact the very people who are the culprits are the same
ones who head the institutions of law and power.

Peace must be pursued by all means. Case in point - Zimbabwe, all the
suffering is being caused by one man. No one's life is worth two lives so;
we should never sit and watch while people keep dying all because of one man
or a group of them. Robert Mugabe the President and dictator of Zimbabwe
needs to be given two alternatives. Leave peacefully or be removed. Let's
not forget that while we listen to all the noise being made, someone's bank
account is growing and they will do everything possible to protect their
interests.

Do we have to wait for another Iraq? I am against killing human beings, but
I also have some brains. If Saddam Hussein had been had been taken care of,
Iraq would never have been where it is now. Hundred of thousands of Iraq's
and coalition forces have died, all because of one man? I never get this
reasoning and finally they hanged the guy. My point is, problems needs to be
taken care of before they get out of hand. Everyone with common sense knows
that while solving a problem, you fix the source. Likewise, all these
problematic regions in Africa needs an alternative means to bring peace.
They have tried diplomacy enough times and we all know that doesn't yield
the expected results anymore.

For one, we need to look at our problems as Africans and come up with our
own alternate solutions. If that means throwing democracy out of the window,
so be it further more its democracy only when it's in the best interests of
the west. Zimbabwe's economy has gone down the drain, the common man is
suffering, Institutions are falling apart, and children are dying. After it's
all said and done, this country will be left at a stone age state. Nothing
will be working, the entire infrastructure will have broken down and of
course the human capital will all be lost. This is why there is urgency is
this matter. This man needs to be taken care of soon and very soon.

The west is watching and have been watching but I don't think they see much
for them in there so they are going to watch from the sidelines. Let's not
forget Rwanda and Burundi where thousands of lives were lost. This is a
ticking time bomb, once the old man grows desperate, you never know what he
will do, and that's why I suggest action as soon as possible. After Mugabe
is gone, focus will shift to the next hot button (Darfur, Somalia, Chad) in
the continent and before long, Africa will be a safer and better place to do
business and fulfill its people's dreams.

I still believe that Africa's problems are common sense problems, one
doesn't need to think too hard to get a solution. DON'T GIVE UP ON AFRICA;
STOP THE PLUNDER BY THE FEW.


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The day after Mugabe

Comment from The Mail & Guardian (SA), 12 April

(The introduction to a collection of essays on Zimbabwe's future)

Mark Ashurst and Gugulethu Moyo

This week is the 27th anniversary of Zimbabwe's independence - an occasion,
as often before, for President Robert Mugabe to remind his beleaguered
countrymen of their many achievements. The former schoolmaster has sought to
fashion a people in his own image. Most Zimbabweans are industrious,
principled and often socially conservative. For two decades they voted,
overwhelmingly, for Mugabe. In the classroom of their new nation, the
country's founding father embodies a spirit of relentless striving. His
severity and unflinching resolve are hallmarks of a man who notched up six
university degrees. Discipline was always a priority, enforced -
sporadically - by violence of surgical precision. Educated by Jesuits, he
remains an observant Catholic. He is a regular congregant at Sunday Mass in
Harare - even while religious leaders, at home and abroad, denounce him.

Zimbabwe today is bereft of optimism and self-confidence. But as recently as
a decade ago, Mugabe's record was routinely cited as an inspiration to his
neighbours. A nation that boasted just two black engineers at independence
in 1980 has nurtured an educated middle class, which, as a proportion of
population, is the biggest in Africa. As their homeland deteriorates, these
model pupils have turned against their president. The professionals and
technocrats who might lead an economic recovery now swell the ranks of an
ever-growing diaspora - many of them in South Africa and Britain. The
economy they have left behind is out of control. Most Zimbabweans eke out a
living at the margins of the formal sector, their efforts ravaged by
hyperinflation. A large proportion of the rural population survive on what
they can grow from the soil, insulated from spiralling prices but
perpetually hungry. Even those who have work rely increasingly on
remittances of foreign currency from family and friends abroad.

This supplement offers an assessment of what has gone wrong and what might
be done to revive Zimbabwe's fortunes. Many of its problems will outlive the
83-year-old president, and the remedies will bring more pain. The end of
apartheid has fundamentally changed the economic landscape of Southern
Africa, and Zimbabwe is out of step with the liberalising agenda of its
neighbours. The proud claim that Zimbabwe is the "breadbasket" of Africa is
now, at best, an anachronism. For all its fertile farmland, Zimbabwe is a
small and landlocked country. When a "new management" finally takes power
from Mugabe, its first tasks will be to diversify an economy still dependent
on a few key crops. The contributors to this supplement are united in their
criticism of Mugabe, but this supplement is not cheerleading for Zimbabwe's
battered opposition. Nor do these pages aspire to optimism. Their first
purpose is to assess the prospects for lasting change. Zimbabweans are in
desperate straits, but this is not a counsel of despair. As we go to press,
there is encouraging, albeit tentative evidence of renewed effort to break
the gridlock in Harare.

The vicious beatings meted out last month to opposition leaders appear to
have been a tactical mistake by Mugabe. As Brian Raftopoulos observes in
these pages, the president's self-styled posture as a latter-day folk hero
has been reduced by the television pictures of his African critics battered
in police custody. The image of a brave nationalist doing battle against
imperial domination is harder to sustain when the faces emerging from
hospital are black. Mugabe, of course, is determined to fight on. He plans
to stand again for re-election in 2008. For him, stepping down would not be
just a political concession, it would also represent total defeat - the loss
of a lifetime's accumulation of power as well as the complete deflation of a
megalomaniacal sense of pride and self-importance. He would rather gamble
another election to legitimate his rule.

He has long been sustained by the support of party loyalists who, given a
choice, would prefer to see him retreat to a quiet retirement, if not a
state funeral. That choice may at last become reality as rivals with close
ties to the military and state security services contemplate a challenge -
although Mugabe has outmanoeuvred them before. An alliance of Joice Mujuru,
wife of the former army chief Solomon Mujuru and probably the military's
choice, with her chief rival, the veteran securocrat Emmerson Mnangagwa,
would pose a formidable threat to Mugabe. Their perspectives are regrettably
absent from this survey, although not for want of trying by the editors to
solicit contributions from within the ruling party. Some analysts now see a
handover from Mugabe to one or an alliance of these contenders as the best
way of assuring an orderly transition and avoiding civil strife. This would
provide a "dignified" exit to Mugabe, especially in the wake of a 2008
election victory. British Prime Minister Tony Blair has adopted a similar
strategy for his own retirement, just months away. But even though there is
rampant speculation that he will hand over to those known to covet political
power, there is little evidence that Mugabe is, at this stage, ready to hand
over to the contenders.

In the meantime, the opposition has little option but to watch and wait.
Divided and, until recently, subdued, the "two MDCs" have failed to learn
from past mistakes. Joram Nyaathi counsels a renewed effort to bring about
electoral reform, coupled with a nationwide programme of voter education.
But even if they are spared the repression and retribution of Mugabe's state
security, opposition prospects rest more on the hope of mistakes by the
ruling party than on any initiative or strategy of their own invention.
Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's former minister of information, ascribes Zanu PF's
enduring support in rural constituencies to the influence of its "political
commissars". These are conduits for a system of political patronage that
encroaches on every aspect of public life - a "de facto one-party state",
according to Moyo. If only he could be trusted to mean what he says. Moyo's
abrupt metamorphosis, from presidential apologist-in-chief to independent
agitator, has more than justified Mugabe's long-standing suspicion of this
political maverick.

Such are the contradictions of Zimbabwe today. South Africa's northern
neighbour is a burlesque outpost of dead empire, a place where illusion vies
constantly with reality. Officially, Zimbabwe is a functional democracy.
Opposition MPs sit in Parliament and the MDC runs local government in urban
and rural centres - nominally so, in most cases, as its elected officials
are almost powerless. In this ossified regime, dissent becomes synonymous
with treachery - a proposition that, inherently, leads to violence. In
reality, Mugabe sits at the helm of a finely calibrated system of executive
dictatorship, where power is a shifting centre, located somewhere between
the president, the army, the state security apparatus and a diffuse network
of party patronage. In this violent and stubbornly undemocratic universe,
Stephen Chan, a seasoned chronicler of Zimbabwean nationalism, detects a new
irony in the likely influence of Pretoria.

Armed with a new mandate from the Southern African Development Community,
President Thabo Mbeki has spoken with renewed confidence of his chances as a
mediator. He is "sure" that Mugabe will retire. Mbeki's policy of
encouraging negotiation between the main parties looks certain to bring
greater leverage for South Africa. A curious end to Mugabe's lifelong
campaign for national sovereignty, but some kind of progress all the same.
Western influence has not helped Zimbabwe, and never less then when Britain
turned a blind eye to the massacres in Matabeleland by Mugabe's notorious,
North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade in the 1980s. But, as Richard Dowden
suggests, relations with the old colonial master are not beyond repair. Once
South Africa has brokered a successor, the international development
agencies will return, armed with fast-increasing aid budgets. Some of the
white commercial farmers, descendants of the old Rhodesia, will follow them
into new, managerial roles - alongside the Chinese and Libyans, who are
Zimbabwe's new settler class.

The transition to a new kind of country will not be rushed. But such is the
constitutional and economic bankruptcy of Mugabe's regime that sweeping
change has become inevitable. Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian Nobel laureate,
recently compared Zimbabwe to the slave plantations of the 18th century.
Now, as then, a condition of serfdom cannot go on forever. Soyinka's
comments followed a speech to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Britain's
abolition of the slave trade. Addressing the Commonwealth Society in London,
he pointed to the sorry legacy of colonial settlement and the economic
slavery apparent in the poorest parts of the developing world. The weary
promises of "never again", uttered first in the wake of the Holocaust and
again after the Rwandan genocide, have proved unequal to the rape and
pillage in Darfur.

During questions, a Zimbabwean regretted that Soyinka had made no mention of
the recent beatings of opposition leaders in Harare. Another objected that
Britons should feel proud of their country's part in sending Royal Navy
ships to stop the traffic in slaves - it was only fair, after all, to judge
the protagonists of history against the standards of their own time. Soyinka
disagreed. He replied that it would be quite wrong to interpret the past
according to the standards of any other era. This was the first condition of
progress. Enlightenment is a critique of the past. "And that," he added,
"deals with the Mugabe question." It is a vivid analogy, as Zimbabweans
contemplate 27 years of independence: Robert Mugabe, the great liberator, a
captive of his own violent history. "He is still living on a slave
plantation," Soyinka concluded. "All we can do is pray for him."

Mark Ashurst is director of the Africa Research Institute, London. Gugulethu
Moyo is a Zimbabwean lawyer who works on Southern African issues for the
International Bar Association


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Outside looking in

http://africantears.netfirms.com/thisweek.shtml

A Letter from the diaspora.

Saturday 14th April 2007
Dear Friends,
The South African papers over the Easter weekend were full of comment and
analysis of how Thabo Mbeki was going to tackle the problem of Zimbabwe and
what particular hurdles he might face in dealing with Mugabe. It was pretty
much agreed that it was not going to be easy for the South African President
to influence Robert Mugabe. Demonising him as just another crazed African
dictator is not helpful; the truth is that Mugabe is a complex and enigmatic
character who inspires both fear and respect. It is sometimes hard to
remember when one hears the claims of near-deity from some of his followers,
that Mugabe is human with ordinary human as well as political problems.

Reports that Mugabe had flown off to Malaysia to spend Easter with Grace and
the children combined with a piece in the British tabloid The Sun that the
trip was intended 'to rescue his marriage' set me thinking. Then, last
week's Zimbabwean carried a story which suggested that Grace had been out of
Zimbabwe since the middle of March, supposedly on a business trip. According
to usually 'reliable' sources, Grace had gone off in a huff after a
disagreement with her husband over the country's political situation and his
stated intention to contest the 2008 election.

At first glance it seemed no more than salacious gossip, irrelevant to the
current political crisis in the country but the story might have more
significance than at first appears. Consider the facts; Grace is Mugabe's
second wife, the mother of his children and some forty years younger than
her 83 year old husband. Over the years Zimbabweans have consistently
dismissed her as unintelligent, greedy and a shopaholic whose only interest
is in being First Lady with all the privileges and power that entails. Her
public appearances have shown her unsmiling, generally behind large dark
glasses and seemingly completely bored with whatever ceremony is taking
place. Such is her public persona; if indeed Grace is 'just in it for the
money' then it seems curious that she is opposed to her husband staying in
office where she can continue to enjoy all the perks that go with his job -
despite the occasional boredom.

I tried putting myself in Grace's expensive shoes and I think it must be
quite an uncomfortable place to be! She must know that her husband is the
most feared man in the country, she can't move around freely, her life is
not her own and she can never be quite sure that she or her children are
safe. 'Well,' you might answer, ' She knew that when she married him'. Ah,
but she didn't know then - none of us did - that the country would descend
to near bankruptcy, lawlessness and violence. I am certainly not suggesting
that Grace deserves our sympathy; what I am saying is that perhaps, her
state of mind may have some relevance in the current stalemate. Here's an 83
year old man who has enjoyed absolute power for 27 years. As his wife, Grace
has never been loved, by her husband or the people in the way Sally Mugabe
was and she must know that. Mugabe's personality, characterised as it is by
arrogance and messianic self-delusion, is such that he is never going to
admit it's time for him to go. As the wife of the President of a pariah
state, Grace has very little to look forward to and maybe that's why she
wants him to 'take the gap' now - before it's too late and she is the wife
of a convicted war criminal.

Will this have any effect on Robert Mugabe? Is it possible that his young
wife's opinion will have any sway with him or will his stubborn desire to
remain in power for life combined with his fear of prosecution prove
stronger than the desire to save his marriage? Whichever way you look at it
the truth is that Mugabe is beset with problems - personal and religious. He
is a practising Catholic and last weekend the Roman Catholic Bishops'
Pastoral Letter was forthright in its condemnation of the violence being
meted out on the opposition. Mugabe's ministers may deny that the violence
is happening - Kemba Mohadi's recent interview on SW Radio was yet another
laughable example of ministerial idiocy - and Mugabe himself may claim that
the onslaught is justified because the opposition are no better than
terrorists. But when even his wife and his Church are acutely uncomfortable
with his behaviour, perhaps the old man will be forced to listen before it's
too late? Miracles do happen!
More later.
Ndini shamwari yenyu. PH


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Zimbabwe Tobacco Market in Trouble

Iran Daily

HARARE, Zimbabwe, April 14--Zimbabwe stands to lose millions of dollars in
potential earnings from tobacco as international buyers are flocking to
Malawi, shunning the local auction floors where a dispute over prices and
the exchange rate have delayed the selling season.
According to AllAfrica.com, this comes as it also emerged that local farmers
are smuggling their tobacco out of the country to get better prices. The
farmers say they will hold on to their crop until the central bank agrees to
their demands for a special exchange rate.
Farmers who spoke to business digest said merchants who had arrived a week
after the scheduled opening of auction floors on March 14 left the country
for Malawi a fortnight ago where auction floors opened last week. Some
former commercial white farmers displaced by the land reform program are now
based in Malawi.
The Zimbabwe Tobacco Growers Association (ZTGA) confirmed that international
buyers had become impatient with the prolonged deadlock and are seeking
better deals in Malawi.
"Zimbabwe stand to lose millions of dollars to Malawi if the stalemate
continues. The country's traditional international buyers are flocking to
Malawi whose crop production has been increasing over the years," ZTGA said.
ZTGA said farmers are also smuggling tobacco to Malawi to seek better
returns to remain in business and to prepare for the next season.
Zimbabwe has lost its place among the world's top five tobacco exporters due
to dwindling output largely caused by disturbances on farms, lack of
critical inputs and a fixed exchange rate.


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South Africa's neighbours stake out World Cup revenue potential

The Raw Story

dpa German
Press Agency
Published: Saturday April 14, 2007

Johannesburg- Competition is fierce among South Africa's
neighbours to attract business around the 2010 football World Cup,
the Saturday Star newspaper reported.
Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and Zimbabwe are all vying for a
share of the World Cup pie by seeking to attract qualifying teams to
train in their countries in the run-up to the tournament, the
Johannesburg paper reported.

The potential tourism revenue of the World Cup has also not gone
unnoticed in the region, prompting governments to step up plans for a
single travel visa for the region.

Botswana's Environment, Wildlife and Tourism Minister Kitso
Mokaila said he was optimistic that his country would benefit from
World Cup tourism.

Botswana has also established a task force to come up with a plan
on how to woo qualifying teams to train in the country, the Star
reported.

Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe are also looking at ways to
improve sports training and tourism facilities.

The world football body FIFA has given Swaziland 10 million rand
(1.4 million dollars) towards the upgrade of its only national
stadium, Somholo, and the country also expects to have a new
international airport by 2010.

Cash-strapped Zimbabwe has plans to built a new world-class
soccer stadium as well.

Like South Africa, which has hired former Brazil coach Carlos
Alberto Parreira to whip its Bafana Bafana side into shape, countries
in the region are also keen to boost the performance of their teams
for the first World Cup on the African continent.

The 14-country Southern African Development Community has plans to
launch a new under-17 football tournament in 2007 and hoped to get at
least four teams from the region into the finals, the Star said.

Meanwhile, in the host country, a bid by an environmental group to
halt construction of a new 68,000-seater stadium in Cape Town
received a setback Friday when it failed to get an urgent High Court
hearing.

Cape Town Environmental Protection Association will make a fresh
bid Monday to obtain an urgent interdict staying the partial
demolition of the current Green Point stadium, the first phase in the
building of the 2.9-billion-rand arena.

The old arena had already been 75 per cent demolished by Friday.

2006 - dpa German Press Agency


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Gono Warns Against Price Hikes



The Herald (Harare)

April 14, 2007
Posted to the web April 14, 2007

Harare

RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono has issued a stern warning
on manufacturers and retailers who continue to increase prices, saying the
days for such misdemeanour are numbered.

The net was also closing in on parallel market dealers, he said.

This comes in the wake of rampant price hikes of most goods and services
despite previous warnings against such malpractices.

Addressing the clergy and the business community in Mutare yesterday, Dr
Gono said the full wrath of Government would soon descend on them, adding
many had mistaken Government's civility for a weakness.

"Don't think we don't know who is profiteering and who is doing what. But we
have not acted out of tolerance hoping this madness would stop but there
will come a day when we will say enough is enough. Such a day has come,"
said Dr Gono.

Concerns were raised during the meeting that the rate at which prices were
going up, with some products changing prices at least six times a week, were
not sustainable.

"Businesses say costs are rising everyday even those of products already on
the shelf. What justification is there? These are paper profits and Zimbabwe
does not have space for such traders," he warned.

Prices of most basic goods and services have continued to skyrocket since
January, taking over from the price spirals witnessed in November and
December last year.

The unprecedented increases have left most basics beyond the reach of many.

A person earning about $200 000 a month can only buy a 2-litre bottle of
cooking oil, two bars of laundry soap and a 10kg packet of unrefined
maize-meal from his or her salary.

This state of affairs had seen consumers making a desperate call on the
Government to act to protect consumers.

Chairman of the Heads of Christian Denominations in Zimbabwe and the
presiding Bishop of Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe, Bishop Trevor
Manhanga, also lamented the spirit of profiteering that has engulfed some
members of the business community.

"To the business community, I want to say that people are going to simply
refuse to take the services you offer," he said.

Dr Gono also lamented instances where commuter omnibuses were charging
double fares for a single trip.

A case in point was a trip from Highfield to the city centre where commuters
would pay for a ride to Rothmans along Simon Mazorodze Road and were made to
pay another fare for the second part of the trip into the city.

"Such behaviour cannot be explained by any economic fundamental. This cannot
be allowed to continue."

Responding to questions on the merits and demerits of price controls, Dr
Gono said it was not the Government's policy to introduce price controls
willy-nilly but stressed that the business community had to meet its end of
the bargain by coming up with sober pricing formulas.

"It would be a sad day for our country were we to introduce wholesale price
controls. I do not believe we will do that but business should begin to be
sensitive to the plight of the consumers," he said.

On the foreign currency parallel market, Dr Gono said there were a few
barons in the market who, each morning, determined the trading rate of that
particular day, holding the rest of the economy to ransom.

Such practices would not be allowed to continue a day longer.

"The sad thing is that it's not the barons themselves who go out there. No!
Ukada kuvatarira unoona varikutenga vacho vasina kana bhutsu (If you look
closely at those buying foreign currency you will notice that some of them
will not even be putting on shoes as they are only used as fronts)," he
said.

However, some of the barons were known and soon they would face the full
wrath of the law.

Yesterday's meeting is the second such gathering as efforts for a
stakeholder buy-in on the social contract gain momentum.

The first meeting was held in Harare last month and Rev Manhanga said many
such meetings were lined up in other parts of the country as the church
seeks to play an effective role in reviving the economy, in this instance,
through a social covenant.


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Bail denied for activists as state comes up with new charges

From SW Radio Africa, 13 April

By Lance Guma

On Friday High Court judge Tedius Karwi denied bail to Glen View legislator
Paul Madzore and 5 MDC office workers, including Luke Tamborinyoka and
Brighton Masimba, saying the police needed more time to investigate. The
judge proceeded to give the state up to 25th April to deliver its evidence.
In the meantime the activists remain in remand prison. Defence lawyer Alec
Muchadehama queried the system being employed saying the police should first
investigate before arresting his clients. 'How do you arrest first then
investigate later?' he said. He expressed concern that the judicial system
is being used to try and sanitize what is clearly a campaign of terror
against the opposition. Initially the activists were being charged with
masterminding and carrying out a string of petrol bomb attacks on several
government targets. But on Friday the state, as if unsure the initial case
would stick, decided to place new charges saying the MDC officials received
military training in South Africa's Orange Free State.

Muchadehama says they now have to lodge an urgent chamber application in the
Supreme Court to have the matter resolved. He says the state has absolutely
no evidence and his clients were suffering in remand prison for nothing. As
if to emphasize his point Justice Karwi ordered the release of one activist
Stanley Mutsembi because the bombing in question took place while he was
already in police custody. Muchadehama told Newsreel most of his clients
faced a similar situation. Hospital and opposition sources estimate that
over 600 activists have been hospitalized following brutal abductions and
torture. Mugabe's regime is accused of trying to cripple the opposition by
targeting its entire leadership. Several police stations, houses and
business premises owned by Zanu PF sympathisers have been petrol-bombed in
the last few weeks. Mugabe is accused of masterminding this wave of violence
to justify a brutal crackdown on anyone who is in active opposition to his
rule. A Zanu PF militia group called Chipangano, a newly created unit called
Department 5 and other groups in the security services, are allegedly being
used to create the violence and abduct opposition officials.

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