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Zimbabwean opposition activists injured while in custody, say opposition officials

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: March 31, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Nine opposition activists who were to be arraigned on
charges of attempted murder and illegal weapons possession all required
medical attention for injuries sustained since their arrests, doctors said.

One of the activists collapsed in the courthouse, and the judge agreed to
lawyers' appeals to adjourn Saturday's hearing and allow them to get medical
treatment, opposition officials told reporters at the Harare magistrates'
court.

Doctors and staff at private medical facilities where the detainees were
taken under police guard said the nine - who were detained on Tuesday and
Wednesday - appeared to have been assaulted while in custody.

The medical staff asked not to be identified, saying they feared reprisals.

Attorneys for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change were seeking a
further court ruling ordering the activists' immediate release.

The nine activists were to have been charged with attempted murder in
alleged petrol bombings and possessing illegal weapons and explosives, but
the hearing was adjourned before they could be arraigned.
Lawyers believe they could face additional charges relating to terrorism
that carry much harsher sentences of life imprisonment or the death penalty
under the nation's sweeping security laws.

Zimbabwe's ruling party, meanwhile, endorsed President Robert Mugabe on
Friday as its candidate in next year's presidential elections, shrugging off
international criticism of the clampdown on opposition activists and
papering over internal divisions about the country's economic meltdown.

The 145-member decision-making body also agreed to bring forward
parliamentary elections, scheduled for 2010, by two years to coincide with
the presidential poll.

Next year's poll would allow Mugabe to say in power until 2013, when he is
nearly 90.

He has vowed to go ahead with the elections even if the opposition does not
contest.

The main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai earlier this week said his
party will boycott next year's poll unless democratic reforms made it free
and fair, declaring the opposition would never "go into an election that is
predetermined."

The endorsement by the central committee of the ZANU-PF party of Mugabe -
the only leader since independence from Britain in 1980 - came after an
emergency southern African summit that gave its public backing to the
83-year-old leader.

Thursday's summit in Tanzania ended with the appointment of South African
President Thabo Mbeki to mediate in Zimbabwe's crisis and a decision "to
promote dialogue of the parties in Zimbabwe."

Mbeki has been criticized at home and abroad for his insistence on a quiet
diplomacy approach to Zimbabwe. Previous attempts by South Africa since 2002
to bring Mugabe and the opposition to the negotiating table have been
short-lived and there are doubts it will be revived after Mugabe's
endorsement Friday and new assaults on activists.

However, Mbeki expressed his optimism that his mediation role would succeed,
South African Broadcasting Corporation radio reported.

"We are always optimistic," Mbeki said in an interview. "I think everybody
in Zimbabwe recognizes the fact that there are problems, that these problems
need to be solved and the fact that it needs a united response of the people
of Zimbabwe.

"So the best we can do is to encourage them to engage one another ... and
hopefully they will find one another and produce a solution that the country
needs," he said.

Mbeki was also forthright in rejecting attempts by either side to set
preconditions, the radio reported.

The South African president also brushed aside claims that the region was
not taking firm enough action to stop a further deterioration of the
situation in Zimbabwe.

"Whatever happens in Zimbabwe impacts immediately on all of us in the
region," Mbeki said. "I don't know why anybody should want to assume that we
are less concerned about Zimbabwe than somebody who is thousands of
kilometers away when we have to carry the burden of the problem."

Tsvangirai and several other top colleagues are recuperating from injuries
inflicted in beatings when police crushed a prayer meeting in Harare on
March 11 that the government said was a banned demonstration.

Mugabe acknowledged that police used violent methods against Tsvangirai and
other opposition supporters and killed at least one activist. Referring to
injuries suffered by at least 40 others in custody, Mugabe warned
perpetrators of unrest they would be "bashed" again if violence continued.

Speaking in the local Shona language, Mugabe said Friday that Tsvangirai
"asked for it."

"Tsvangirai stop it now," he said, in reference to government accusations
that the opposition is to blame for a wave of unrest and petrol bomb
attacks, allegations the opposition has repeatedly denied.


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Licence to lay a a land to waste

Sunday Herald UK

African leaders may have backed Robert Mugabe's brutal rule, but, as Fred
Bridgland reports from Harare, Zimbabweans are paying a heavy price

AN EXULTANT Robert Mugabe returned home this weekend from an African summit
in Tanzania that backed his despotic rule in Zimbabwe to be greeted by an
endorsement by his party that he run again for president next year in an
election that will ensure he rules until he is nearly 90.

But the shock decisions by the African heads of state in Dar es Salaam and
by the central committee of the ruling Zanu-PF party virtually ensure that
Zimbabwe's long-running social, economic and political crisis will now end
in extreme violence. The African leaders, in endorsing Mugabe, called on
Western nations to end sanctions against him and his top lieutenants.

Prior to the Dar es Salaam summit, all experts, Zimbabwean opposition
members and key factions within Zanu-PF, said tottering Zimbabwe could not
survive another year of Mugabe's rule. Instead, the country faces another
six years of Mugabe-ism, because on the evidence of all elections since the
end of the last century, the next poll - in just 12 months' time - will be
heavily rigged and marked beforehand by heavy violence against anyone who
dares to challenge Mugabe's and Zanu-PF's hegemony.

Mugabe was so triumphant that he openly acknowledged to his fellow African
leaders that Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), had, on his orders, been severely beaten by police
last month while on his way to a prayer meeting. After five days of assaults
in detention, Tsvangirai emerged with a suspected skull fracture, a damaged
eye and bruises all over his body. Police also shot dead MDC supporter Gift
Tandare while on his way to the prayer meeting. Mugabe told a rally on his
return from Dar es Salaam: "Of course he Tsvangirai was bashed. He deserved
it. Yes, I told them the African heads of state he was beaten, but he asked
for it. I told the police, beat him a lot.' He and his MDC must stop their
terrorist activities."
Mugabe's triumph comes against the background of a national economy that is
now virtually dysfunctional. Inflation exceeds 1700% and is rising. Eight in
10 people are jobless, and a majority of the 11 million citizens still
inside the country survive on remittances from more than three million of
their compatriots who have fled into exile.

The dire gap between Mugabe's stated ideals and the grim reality are seen
starkly near the 66-year-old Nhowe Mission school and hospital more than 100
kilometres southeast of Harare. Here, David Stevens became the first white
farmer to die in Mugabe's controversial and economically disastrous "land
reform" programme.

Under Mugabe's reforms, land was forcibly taken from white commercial
farmers and redistributed to landless blacks in the hope that they would
begin an agricultural and social revolution.

But today, Stevens's Arizona Farm, once one of the country's most successful
tobacco-producing operations, is derelict, its buildings collapsing and its
fields reduced to a vista of tall weeds and encroaching bush.

Two journalists from one of the country's last independent newspapers, the
weekly Zimbabwe Independent, have been investigating what happened to the
farms of the first two white farmers to be killed under Mugabe's reforms.

Augustine Mukaro went to Arizona Farm to assess what has happened to it
since Stevens was beaten and tied up with wire in a police station on April
15, 2000, by so-called war veterans, a vigilante group personally loyal to
Mugabe. Stevens and his black foreman, Julius Andoche, were then taken from
the police station by the war vets into the bush where both were shot dead.

Loughty Dube went to Compensation Farm, on the other side of Zimbabwe, some
500km southwest of Arizona Farm, where, three days after Stevens's murder,
the owner, Martin Olds, was battered with iron rods by the vigilantes before
being shot dead. As in the Stevens case, police refused to go to Olds's
help.

Dube reported that all the infrastructure on Compensation Farm, which was a
thriving safari and wild animal conservation operation, is burned out and
abandoned. All the animals, including a herd of rare sable antelope and
Olds's herd of 1000 pedigree cattle, have been slaughtered.

Peasant subsistence farmers settled by the government on the land have been
unable to produce crops because the government has failed to provide them
with irrigation equipment and other inputs such as fertiliser, necessary for
minimal agricultural production.

Mukaro's and Dube's discoveries on the farms only mirror what is clear to
the naked eye in a country that until the beginning of this century was
dubbed the breadbasket of Africa. For hundreds of kilometres, on once-prime
farms there are no workers in the fields, no stands of ripening maize, no
smoke coming from the flues of tobacco barns and no cattle or sheep getting
fat on the grass that still grows tall. Indeed, there is little sign of life
or production at all.

The United Nations recently launched a $215 million appeal for food aid for
Zimbabwe amid grim projections that this season's grain yields will only
represent half the nation's annual requirements.

With severe drought exacerbating the crisis, Lovemore Moyo, deputy chairman
of the MDC, said: "People in the rural areas are on the brink of starvation.
The strongest may survive this - the others won't, as long as Zanu-PF uses
food as an electioneering tool." Mugabe and Zanu-PF have been accused of
withholding international food aid from people who do not possess Zanu-PF
membership cards.

The initial land invaders, mostly war veterans, were themselves pushed from
the farms so they could be redistributed to top Zanu-PF party officials,
senior army, air force and police officers and compliant judges and
journalists. Few of the powerful and privileged "new farmers" are producing
crops while the rest lack the skills to produce even on a subsistence level,
deputy agriculture minister Sylvester Nguni recently admitted.

Visiting Stevens's Arizona Farm, once recommended by the Commercial Farmers
Union as a model to be replicated throughout the country, Mukaro said he
found the main working compound burned to the ground and deserted. "The
dereliction makes any right-minded person question whether the people who
abducted and murdered Stevens in 2000 were driven by hunger for land or
simply inspired by greed and racial hatred. Over and above all, did they
really desire land for farming?

"People in the area know who killed Stevens, but the police have never
questioned the man."

Mukaro said the wasteland that today marks Arizona and all surrounding farms
illustrates how the new farmers were "dumped on farmland without the
necessary equipment, knowledge or financial backing to prepare them to take
over from the fleeing whites. The farmers are failing to utilise the land in
the same manner as the previous owners. Most said they had no resources,
such as draught power or fertiliser."

Mukaro met the current occupant of Arizona Farm, Marian Shangwe, who has
taken occupancy of the farmhouse to sell beer to teachers from Nhowe
Mission. "All teachers come to drink from here," said Shangwe. "Nhowe does
not allow the sale of beer from their premises, so teachers have nowhere
else to go."

To date, no-one has been arrested or prosecuted for the murder of Martin
Olds. The same applies to his 72-year-old mother, Gloria, whose body,
riddled with 18 AK-47 bullets, was discovered on the neighbouring Silver
Springs Farm two years after her son's murder.

On Compensation Farm, devoid of wild animals, cattle and crops, Dube spoke
to Thulani Mupande, who was moved on to the property with his family shortly
after Olds was killed. He said life was difficult because the government had
not fulfilled its promises to drill boreholes to support crops. Most of the
"new settlers", he said, had quit the farm, taking with them engines
installed by Olds to pump water for cattle.

"We are all praying that it rains, but the skies are not opening up," said
Mupande. "We are all going to starve again this year if it does not rain."

Chris Jarrett, former chairman of the local farmers' association, told Dube:
"There were thousands of sable and impala on the farm but all were hunted by
the war veterans when they moved into Compensation. Now there is absolutely
nothing.

"The situation is sad. Commercial farmers in Nyamandlovu where the Olds farm
is located were supplying the whole country with butternuts, tomatoes,
beetroot, maize, tobacco, paprika, onions and cabbages. But now all you get
from these farmers is a few buckets of maize."

On the other side of the country, Mukaro quoted an agricultural expert as
saying: "Nationally, agricultural output has predictably declined,
relegating government efforts to a national joke."


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Madam deputy takes the fight to Mugabe

The Sunday Times
April 1, 2007

Former bosses of army and secret police poised to act against Mugabe as
Zimbabwe collapses
RW Johnson and Laura Thomas, Harare
Zimbabwe's embattled president, Robert Mugabe, is facing open rebellion by
his deputy after he denounced her and her husband on television last month
for their untoward ambitions.

Joyce Mujuru, the vice-president, is a veteran of the liberation war in
which her nom de guerre was Spill Blood. She flew to South Africa last
weekend with her husband Solomon, the former head of the army.

They conferred with Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, South Africa's deputy president,
and are understood to have referred openly to Mugabe's fears of a military
coup. According to South African intelligence sources, they complained about
his "paranoid delusions".

Solomon has been a power behind the throne ever since independence and has
become one of the country's richest men, with 16 farms and many other
business interests.

Joyce tried to resign from the government two weeks ago but Mugabe refused
to let her go, fearful of having her outside the fold and of becoming
alienated from a man as powerful as Solomon, who still has the confidence of
the military high command.

Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the information minister, described talk of a resignation
threat as "a complete falsehood which was the work of Zimbabwe's political
enemies who dream for such a development to happen", but he convinced no
one. Unconfirmed reports continue to suggest that Solomon has met Morgan
Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), to discuss a government of national unity in the postMugabe era.

At last week's meeting of the Zanu-PF politburo, Solomon, who has been
assiduously wooing western embassies, waited until Mugabe had left before
holding forth passionately about the need for Zimbabwe to reengage with the
international community - now seen as his backers.

Meanwhile Mugabe, who feels threatened by the Mujurus' dissidence, has
increased the pressure on Solomon by attempting to nationalise the Marange
diamond mine in which Solomon has a large interest. The army occupies the
diamond diggings and shoots any trespassers on sight. But no mining is going
on and it is not clear whether the army obeys Mugabe or Mujuru.

For Mugabe the Mujurus make a dangerous and formidable political couple.
Solomon and his wife live in separate houses, but it seems that Solomon
still calls the shots. He is reputed to have fathered illegitimate children
by a number of younger women. Joyce, a keen Salvation Army member, has found
herself having to support some of these younger women and their offspring.

Last Friday Mugabe, 83, secured the agreement of Zanu-PF's central
committee - which he handpicked - to nominate him as its candidate in next
year's presidential election. Should he succeed he could rule Zimbabwe until
he is 89.

The central committee's decision still has to be confirmed by the party
congress in July. However, Mugabe treats it as a foregone conclusion.

"I have 83 years of struggle, experience and resilience and I cannot be
pushed over," he told supporters. Sources in Harare believe that it will now
be for the two key faction leaders - Solomon Mujuru and Emmerson Mnangagwa,
the former head of the secret police - to strike before July or risk losing
everything as the country plunges ever deeper into economic chaos.

Both men have substantial business interests at stake and with party
institutions failing to deal with the crisis, the question is whether they
will feel forced to take action.

"The situation is too desperate and Mnangagwa and Mujuru are being badly
squeezed both by Mugabe and the financial crisis. The only thing holding
them back is lack of agreement between themselves," a businessman close to
Zanu-PF said last week.

Mugabe also intends to change the rules so that if he dies or resigns in
office, there will be no general election. Instead parliament, heavily
dominated by Zanu-PF, will choose his successor.

Harare's police are still fully deployed in the townships, which have been
under curfew for a month now, with all political meetings banned.

However, the popular anger and desperation caused by political repression
and the economic problems - with inflation running at more than 1,700% -
make for a febrile mix.

There is little cash to be had since Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve
Bank, forced through a law requiring garages to sell petrol at the official
rather than the black market price. Most garages have responded by simply
refusing to trade. They are no longer providing fuel nor pouring Zimbabwean
dollars into the hands of black market currency dealers.

"No economic crisis like this can go on for long without something
happening," said one Harare-based businessman. "With no fuel, little cash
and food unaffordable, life is damn near impossible even for those of us who
are comfortably off. Can you imagine what people in Chitungwiza [Harare's
biggest township] feel like?"

Last month's crackdown on opposition activists, with hundreds arrested,
beaten and tortured, is seen as a preemptive strike by a regime grown
fearful of its own people.

Both the army and the police are conscious that they alone now keep Mugabe
in power and both are becoming nervous. Off-duty army officers are willing
to say over a drink that if faced by thousands of protesters on the street
they would be unwilling to shoot them down, even if ordered to do so. The
regime, knowing this, does all it can to prevent such crowds from forming or
getting into town. It is the police who are on the front line, particularly
the elite Police Support Unit (PSU).

Recruited from the toughest slums and given hard training, the PSU is still
a formidable and extremely loyal force. It has new Chinese and Israeli
antiriot equipment and is used for special operations. It was PSU members
who beat up Tsvangirai and MDC leaders last month.

Even the PSU has to worry these days, however. Because the regime is
desperately short of foreign exchange, the unit, like the rest of the
police, has been rationed to just five bullets for each officer.

Moreover, the police as a whole are nervous about finding themselves on the
wrong side if the army should go against Mugabe. They have no appetite at
all for a confrontation with the far better armed military - and the army
has plenty of ammunition for its AK47s.

Already some army officers have begun to make it known to the PSU that they,
too, have families in the townships, that some of their relatives have been
victims of "police atrocities" and that they have a fair idea of who was
responsible. One source close to the PSU described its mood as "very
apprehensive".

"Mugabe is cornered by the collapsing economy, foreign pressure and by his
party rivals," said the businessman close to Zanu-PF. "His priority seems to
be to smash the MDC to make sure Tsvangirai can never succeed him. But he's
also desperate to grab enough foreign exchange to pay for electricity, to
keep Air Zimbabwe going and to keep the regime alive."

He added that if Mnangagwa and Mujuru try to instigate a coup against Mugabe
they will be taking a huge risk, "but they, too, are cornered and the
question soon is going to be whether they can afford not to".

Getting worse

Average wage: Z$200,000 (£11) a month

Carton of milk: Z$48,000 (£2.50)

Price of litre of petrol: Z$19,000 (£1.05) but almost unobtainable

Price of bread: up 375% last month to $7,000 (38p), virtually unobtainable

Price of bus tickets: up 350% last month

Teachers' union threatens strike after last month's 535% pay rise almost
wiped out


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Mugabe rivals hope for Mbeki intervention

The Telegraph

By Peta Thornycroft, Zimbabwe Correspondent
Last Updated: 11:26pm BST 31/03/2007

††††† Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party rivals are pinning their hopes on South
Africa's president, Thabo Mbeki, to salvage their political future, after
they were comprehensively outflanked by the wily Zimbabwean leader last
week.

††††† President Mugabe's internal critics had suggested they might be ready
to take him on when Zanu-PF's 145-member central committee met on Friday.
Instead they found themselves outmanoeuvred and outnumbered.

††††† The committee not only endorsed him as its candidate for next year's
presidential poll, but also agreed to bring forward parliamentary elections
which had been scheduled for 2010.

††††† These will now run alongside the presidential ballot and the party's
chances will be enhanced by its decision to increase the number of seats in
parliament and the upper house, the senate - paving the way for possible
constituency gerrymandering.

††††† Behind the closed doors of the party meeting, it was a classic Mr
Mugabe performance. There was no chance for debate or opposition in an
auditorium stuffed with Mr Mugabe's supporters and those of another Zanu-PF
faction leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who dutifully supported the president.

††††† More than 80 buses had been hired to bring people to the party
headquarters. Inside, it was pure extravaganza as liberation war songs from
long ago got the crowd going. Choreographed by his generals and his former
mistress, Zanu-PF women's league chairman, Oppah Muchinguri, they sang, beat
their breasts and ululated in ecstasy.

††††† Lurex sparkled on ample bosoms and traditional ladies wore wraparounds
with the face of a younger Robert Mugabe bobbing on their backsides. Mr
Mugabe, grinning broadly, raised his fist, and strutted out of the
auditorium in victory.
††††† Supporters of party heavyweight Solomon Mujuru, the man on whom Mr
Mugabe's opponents had been pinning their hopes, said they had no chance,
thanks to the singing and dancing.

††††† But Mr Mugabe and his supporters had already done the groundwork. The
statement of "solidarity" from the Southern African Development Community,
SADC, in Tanzania, which had met in Dar es Salaam the previous day, was an
essential prop for Mr Mugabe's carefully choreographed production.

††††† The result was that there was no debate about Mr Mugabe's candidacy
and his position was further boosted by the decision to increase the number
of MPs, giving Zanu-PF more leeway to gerrymander constituencies and ensure
that the 30 non-constituency MPs currently appointed by Mr Mugabe will in
future be able to claim to have been popularly elected.

††††† The state Herald newspaper said the Zanu-PF leaders felt the nation's
voters were under-represented in the legislature and needed more
constituency seats.

††††† The meeting did vote to cut the presidential term from six years to
five which would allow Mr Mugabe to say in power until 2013, when he would
be nearly 90.

††††† His opponents can clutch at two straws. One is that the economic
situation remains catastrophic, with the inflation rate in March expected to
top 2000 per cent, and that is undermining support for the president even
among some of his most loyal followers.

††††† The other hope is Mr Mbeki, who was appointed by his peers at the SADC
meeting in Tanzania to mediate the crisis in Zimbabwe.

††††† Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposing Movement for Democratic
Change party, said Mr Mbeki must take bold steps to outline an unambiguous
timetable for dialogue. The only hope for the country was a new
constitution, an overhaul of unjust electoral laws and free and fair
elections.

††††† "The proposed dialogue might offer Zimbabwe one last chance," he said.
"Zimbabwe is at the crossroads and cannot slide further into chaos and the
abyss. Quite clearly, a decisive end must be found to the Zimbabwean crisis.

††††† "Such dialogue is as necessary as it is long overdue, but such
dialogue cannot take place under such conditions of thuggery and violence
against the opposition."

††††† But Mr Mbeki's early record in Zimbabwe is one of failure and
duplicity. He has repeatedly been accused of sticking to his softly-softly
diplomatic approach while his northern neighbour continues in crisis.

††††† Mr Mugabe has run circles around him and other African leaders who
have approached him in the past. He revels in confrontation, plotting and
conniving and is the ultimate master of political puppetry.

††††† Yesterday afternoon Paul Madzore, an opposition member of parliament
who was arrested by police on Wednesday, collapsed outside the courthouse in
Harare.

††††† Mr Madzore, MP for the Glen View area of Harare, and his wife Melody
Kuzvinetsa, were picked up in an early raid on their home.

††††† After Friday's five-hour meeting, Mr Mugabe accused Western
governments - especially Britain and America - of funding his opponents.


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Mugabe's opponents strive for united front

Independent, UK

As Zimbabweans face six more years of despotic rule, the sparks of an
uprising glimmer. By Daniel Howden
Published: 01 April 2007

A lone policeman with an assault rifle stands under a sign painted with
jaunty blue letters. It reads: "Machipisa station welcomes you, Feel free!"
The 10ft wire fence tells you that this black joke is lost on the
inhabitants of Highfields, one of the Zimbabwean capital's largest and
poorest townships.

It was inside these walls that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was held
down on the floor in front of his arrested supporters and beaten so savagely
on 11 March that doctors thought his skull had been fractured.

Robert Mugabe, who on Friday swept aside his critics to pave the way for
another six years as president, said last week that the police had every
right to "bash" Mr Tsvangirai. It is illegal to protest, he argued, and
those that do so are "terrorists" and will be "bashed".

This kind of double-speak is as much a part of everyday life in this country
as fuel queues, power cuts, price rises and hunger. Every morning The Herald
newspaper will condemn the latest "terrorist act" by the opposition, the
Movement for Democratic Change, and editorials will call for a tightening of
security at the airport to protect passengers from "thugs". The paper is, of
course, state-owned and government run, as is every surviving media outlet
in the country.

The "thugs" in question were members of Mr Mugabe's own militia who gathered
at Harare international airport a fortnight ago to prevent the opposition
spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, from travelling to Brussels. They beat him to the
floor, then fractured his eye socket with iron bars.

The "terrorist acts" that the President briefed his fellow African leaders
about last week in Tanzania have so far consisted of isolated reprisals
against police stations and minor acts of sabotage against railway lines.
But there are no street protests, no demonstrations of opposition.

Sitting in the shade of a tree in his garden at home in Harare, Mr
Tsvangirai still carries the marks from his brutal encounter with the
police. A baseball cap pulled over his scarred scalp and large black rings
circling his eyes, he is in the mood for realism. "It's not realistic to
expect mass protests," he says. "The way the cities were designed makes it
impossible."

The country's two main cities, Bulawayo and Harare, were built by British
colonists and based on a defensive blueprint, concentrating the commercial
areas in the centre, while the bulk of the black population was housed
outside the city in townships.

"Here, the people are excluded from the city, it was a deliberate colonial
design," says the MDC leader. "People have to be bussed into the centre,
making it easy for police to seal it off." So the opposition will content
itself with boycotting school fees, work "stayaways" and withholding taxes,
and wait for the regime to implode. Something, it argues, has to give.

Zimbabwe has become a nation haunted by extraordinary statistics: the
highest inflation in the world, nearly 1,800 per cent; the largest
population loss to migration in peacetime, 25 per cent; the lowest life
expectancy in the world for women, 34.

The quiet fury at this crisis finds its most eloquent voice in the Catholic
Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube. Sitting in a safe house on the outskirts
of the second city, Mr Mugabe's most fearless and relentless critic speaks
quietly and deliberately, with his eyes almost closed and fingers folded in
prayer.

"Zimbabweans are very timid," he says. "We are not willing to be self
sacrificing. We don't seem to get the idea of dying for your country. I was
hoping the politicians would do it, but it seems they have no appetite."

Two years ago, when a staggering nationwide campaign of slum clearances and
looting of street markets, dubbed Murumbatsvina, or "drive out rubbish",
displaced half a million people and destroyed the livelihoods of millions
more, the opposition could not mobilise a mass response. "Morgan has been
useless," says the archbishop. "Murumbatsvina was the best time [to
mobilise], people were angry."

He is equally scathing about South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, who last
week refused to criticise Mr Mugabe in public. "He is a damn fool. When Bush
came, he said, 'I will make you my point man,' and Mbeki said, 'I will sort
it out.' He hasn't sorted anything out. All we need is a bit of leadership
and we can get [Mugabe] out. "

The real simmering anger is beginning to show in the dangerous, night-time
world of Harare's townships, whose names, Highfields, Glenview and Hatfield,
recall the country's colonial past. Gangs of youths have begun a nightly
ritual of burning tyres and barricades that echoes the unrest during the
apartheid era of South African townships such as Soweto.

There is growing concern among opposition figures that the closure of all
democratic space for protest - all political rallies and gatherings have
been banned for three months - will force a bloody showdown . As one student
leader put it at the memorial service for a Harare activist murdered by
police: "If they make peaceful revolution impossible, they make violent
revolution inevitable."

That is a possibility that Arthur Mutambara, the younger leader of one of
the two divided factions of the MDC, refuses to rule out. "What we face is a
dilemma. It is freedom or death. Our people have been traumatised by this
dictator, but our people can rise up. They drove [Ian] Smith out of town.
Surely they can do so again against this tyrant, Robert Mugabe."


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Get ready to sprint-shop where the living ain't easy

Japan Times
Sunday, April 1, 2007

A ROUGH GUIDE TO ZIMBOBWE

Very recently, I had the opportunity to see the 83-year-old head of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. The contemptible cranium was traveling at high speed in a convoy of shiny black Mercs, souped-up and overcrowded army trucks, police cars and motorcycle outriders.

News photo
Your columnist considers what to do with thousands of grounded Zimbabwe dollars: Light a fire or save for sanitary purposes? PHOTOS (c) PAXTON IMAGES
News photo
A mere 20,000 Zimbabwe dollars (lately devalued to Z$ 20) will buy a fabulous little red fruit like this. Only plutocrats can afford a tomato sandwich.

I, and very likely every other poor chump of a motorist delayed by the hastily thrown-up police cordon, watched "the Big Man" zoom through the Namibian capital of Windhoek with a mixture of frustration and impatience. And in my case revulsion. All the passengers on the Air Namibia flight that had been ordered to maintain a holding pattern for 30 minutes until Mugabe's plane turned up (late as usual) no doubt also sympathized.

Bread basket to basket case

Mugabe! What can I say? When he inherited Zimbabwe (formerly the British colony of Rhodesia) from white rule in 1980, he had in his hands the grain basket of southern Africa. By the standards of sub-Saharan Africa, the country was an economic giant. It was blessed with fertile soil, magnificent national parks, a functioning infrastructure and a vigorous export market.

He then turned it into a basket case of global proportions.

Unemployment currently stands at more than 70 percent. The inflation rate is the world's highest (1,500 percent annually). A third of the population has fled into exile; another third live well below poverty levels that would shame an Ethiopian famine. Hundreds of thousands are homeless thanks to Mugabe's vicious "Remove Filth" campaign to bulldoze informal settlements and shanty towns. Agriculture has collapsed. The government has just publicly acknowledged that its treasury is bankrupt. Human-rights violations are routine. All protests in the capital are banned. And once-prosperous white-owned farms are now rotting and neglected.

A fellow journalist took a photograph of a team of malnourished cows pulling a tractor that was pulling a plow. The tractor had run out of juice.

Nice job, Bob!

Mugabe: Economic adviser

The interesting thing about "the head with the Hitler mustache" that sailed past me on that hot, car-clogged afternoon was that I knew later in the day it would be addressing a collection of fawning African dignitaries on the subject of economic development.

That deranged head would -- get this! -- be recommending strategies! Offering advice!

I watched the convoy recede. And a thought occurred. Alright, I'd read the stats, I'd seen the pictures of riot police in action and young drunken rent-a-thugs seizing white-owned farms and beating the owners and staff, I'd talked to many black Zim refugees (some of whom had been forced to personally dismantle their shops, houses and business premises because they'd neglected to join Zanu-PF, the ruling party) -- but I'd not been to Zim recently. Not seen things first hand.

I decided that it was time to go shopping!

A fistful of dollars

First things first. Money. I'd obviously need that. I approached a Zimbabwean exile named Blessing. I asked him if he had any. He asked me why I wanted Zim dollars.

News photo
A cartoon rendition by Paxtonian pal Dudley Viall of Zimbabwe's "Big Man" in command of his failed but formerly fabulous ship of state.

I told him that I intended to go on a bit of a spree in the Zim capital, Harare, and, you know, I needed some. Three days later he delivered an envelope. Attached was a breakdown of what the notes (and there were a lot of them) could buy.

There was also an explanatory letter. "With soaring inflation, the people of Zimbabwe have been finding it difficult to wield their large wads of cash," he had written. ATMs had become overwhelmed and shop tills simply didn't have the space to store the incoming bills, he explained. The government-controlled central bank eventually rose to the challenge last August. It erased three zeros from all the notes.

Z$ 1,000 became Z$ 1.

Z$ 10,000,000 became Z$ 10,000. And so on.

I have a 3-year-old daughter and she has some coins and dollar bills issued by the Bank of Toyland (Taiwan). The new Zim dollars looked slightly less convincing.

An Executive Summary of my newfound purchasing power went thus:

For Z$ 1, Blessing assured me, I could buy "absolutely nothing." For Z$ 5 "absolutely nothing." Same deal with the new Z$ 10 note. (Why waste money printing the things? They weren't even sufficiently large to serve as toilet paper! I couldn't help wondering. Blessing said he couldn't help wondering, too).

For a few dollars more

Serious shopping action began with the Z$ 20 bill. I was now in the "one small sweet" league. Hey!

Things brightened further.

Should I cough up 20 bucks (formerly 20,000 bucks) I could, with luck, locate myself a "nice, good-looking tomato." If I wanted to put my nice, good-looking tomato into a sandwich , I'd need to up the stakes slightly. Z$ 1,000 (formerly Z$ 100,000) for a loaf of bread. Then I'd have to cough up Z$ 5,000 for sufficient butter and condiments.

After that, a cheap bottle of Scotch to round off my breakfast, perchance? Z$ 25,000. Maybe Z$ 50,000.

Currently the highest denomination note available is Z$ 20,000, and that is the only bill ATMs bother with. In a country where a modest monthly grocery bill for a single young professional man (who has to boil his breakfast porridge on firewood cut from decorative street trees because of power cuts) costs Z$ 500,000, Mugabeland is still printing Z$ 1 bills!

I decided that I needed a bigger wallet.

Wacky Races

The blessed Blessing has been out of Zimbabwe for some time (nearly two months), and I soon learned that his advisory -- while no doubt accurate at time of delivery -- was seriously obsolete.

Supermarkets in Harare are currently in Wacky Races mode.

Employees race around like hares from shelf to shelf changing product prices. They have to move fast. The shoppers move faster. The latter have become sprint-shoppers because they want to get their hands on items at the old prices (yesterday's prices) before the shops' employees can get there to rocket them up to current rates.

The electronic tills frequently have no idea what is going on. And neither do staff or shoppers. Arguments break out.

"The price tag says this banana is Z$ 60. You are charging me Z$ 70!"

"Our people can't change all the price tags in time! It was Z$ 60. But now it is Z$ 70."

Getting to the supermarket is a chore. Harare's city buses, purchased by Mugabe's government from China, frequently fail to work, arrive, depart or do anything one might reasonably expect a bus to do. That's due to malfunctions, fuel shortages and spare-parts shortages.

Pirate taxis fill the void, but nobody knows what the fares should be. In fact, nobody knows what their money is actually worth.

I ask a young man where he gets his potatoes. I can't find any.

"Musina. South Africa," he says.

Take note, all you dear Japan Times shoppers: Skip Mugabeland (aka ZimBobwe). The craft goods are first rate but they are all being sold in other countries. By exiles.

Take note economists: Don't invite Mugabe.

Assassins! Snipers! That head shot could have been a cinch! Where are you people when a nation needs you?

The Japan Times


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Rectors add voices to Mugabe row

The Scotsman

MURDO MACLEOD POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (mmacleod@scotlandonsunday.com)
EDINBURGH University is under increasing pressure to strip Robert Mugabe of
his honorary degree after past and present rectors demanded action against
the Zimbabwean dictator.

Current rector Mark Ballard said it was "untenable" for the university not
to remove Mugabe's honorary doctorate and said he was mobilising support for
him to be stripped of the award at a meeting next month.

Former rector Lord Steel, once a friend of Mugabe - and who sat next to him
at the award ceremony - also said the doctorate should be revoked.

Scotland on Sunday revealed last week that Edinburgh had taken the first
steps towards withdrawing the honour but critics of Mugabe questioned the
university for taking so long and failing to clearly state its position.

Last week, Mugabe defied the predictions of pundits who believed his time
was up amid mounting dissent and Zimbabwe's economic collapse. A summit of
African leaders backed him, while a rebellion within his party petered out.
Yesterday his ZANU-PF party endorsed him as their presidential candidate for
the next elections in 2008.

Ballard said: "I think that the university must strip Mugabe of his degree
and I think the university is in an untenable position by not doing so.

"I fully support the students' campaign on this matter and it is clear, from
meetings of the General Council - which involves graduates - that university
alumni feel very strongly about this. They don't approve of the link between
the university and this tyrant and they, and I, want this to be acted on as
soon as possible."

Ballard said that he would be mobilising support for the removal of the
award in advance of the next meeting of the University Court, the supreme
authority at Edinburgh, at the end of May. It is understood the court will
discuss the Mugabe issue.

Steel, who was close to Mugabe when he was the opposition leader in exile in
the UK during the 1970s, sat beside the African leader at the awards
ceremony in Edinburgh in 1984. The then Liberal leader attended the
graduation in his official capacity as university rector.

He said: "I think the degree should be rescinded. He should be stripped of
it. The university should make an exception in his case and remove the
award."

Steel added: "Unfortunately, I don't think it will make him think and
reflect, I just wish I thought it would. I think he changed quite
dramatically after the death of his first wife Sally. But every step that's
taken to show the world's disapproval is a help."

The former European Court judge Professor Sir David Edward added his voice
to those calling for the degree to be revoked.

Edward, an Edinburgh graduate, as well as a professor of law at the
university, said: "The university has to be very careful in dealing with
cases like this otherwise you run the risk of being seen to be open to
pressure, but I think this is a special case and I think he should have the
degree removed."

While both Steel and Edward stressed that such a process would take time,
critics of the Zimbabwe regime called for the university to move more
urgently.

Some campaigners have challenged Edinburgh simply to issue a declaration of
intent that the degree will be revoked and then work out the mechanics of
the rule book later.

Euan Wilmshurst, the Director of Action for Southern Africa, the successor
to the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the UK, said: "I think it ridiculous that
the university can be dragging its heals on this, when the daily brutality
of this man, especially against women and trade unionists, is clear for all
to see. It should announce immediately that the degree has been withdrawn."

He added: "If the 25 disparate governments of the European Union can get
together and agree resolutions and sanctions against Mugabe, then it surely
cannot be beyond Edinburgh University to agree what to do. Their core role
is after all not the propping up of African dictators. Such a step by the
university would be seen as a nail in his coffin."

A second university is preparing to strip the tyrant of an honorary degree.

The University of Massachusetts said their ruling body was looking into how
they might revoke the Law doctorate he received in 1986. The award has been
brought into focus by the fact that Massachusetts awarded an honorary degree
to US presidential candidate Barack Obama last year, prompting comparisons
between a black Democrat and a black dictator.

A spokesman said: "The university is reviewing the matter right now and
seeing what we can do and how we might go about it, with a view to removing
the award. Right now, we don't have a procedure for removing an honorary
degree, and so anything like this might require a meeting of the trustees of
the university. That is still to be decided, but we are working on it."

A spokesman for Edinburgh University said: "We are actively reviewing the
matter."


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Cup pay held back from Zimbabwe

The Telegraph

By a special correspondent in Harare, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 11:39pm BST 31/03/2007

Zimbabwe's cricketers, home after their early exit from the World Cup, have
been told that they will not get paid until June. The match fees were
US$2000 (£1000) per game plus US$500 for a half-century.

It will also be June before the players start getting their salaries in
foreign currency. The players are paid in Zimbabwe dollars, and with the
currency losing value daily, the salaries have been effectively reduced to
nothing.

What makes it particularly hard for the players is that their contracts
contain a clause stating that they will be available for all matches
organized by Zimbabwe Cricket.

This effectively means that they cannot play club cricket in England this
season. If any of the players joins an English club, ZC will almost
certainly withhold the money for breach of contract.

ZC managing director Ozias Bvute knew that some players would join clubs in
England after the World Cup and were likely not to return.
The inter-provincial four-day Logan Cup is due to start in April, and a
number of A-team tours have been planned as the country prepares for a
return to Test cricket in November.

"We have been told that we cannot join clubs in England," said a player who
would only speak anonymously, "but at the same time we will only get our
money from the World Cup in June. This means we will be stuck here until
June, and if we join clubs in England we will lose all our money as we would
have breached our contracts."

Zimbabwe Cricket are believed to be in the red, already operating on an
overdraft with a large amount of the World Cup money having been spent
before it has even been received.

. Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has hit back at local media and rejected
match-fixing claims after his team's shock World Cup exit and the murder of
coach Bob Woolmer.

Inzamam, in his first press conference since the traumatic events, said it
was "unfair" to talk about match-fixing. "The team had been playing and
winning matches. There were no such comments. Now they are spreading such
rumours," he said, referring to comments by former players.

Pakistan lost their opening match to the West Indies by 54 runs before a
humiliating three-wicket defeat at the hands of Ireland on Mar 17.

The following day, Woolmer was found strangled in his hotel room. Woolmer's
death has sparked one of the most complex murder investigations in Jamaican
history. It also triggered speculation about possible links to match-fixing
and illegal betting.

The Pakistan team was finger-printed and provided DNA samples, with Inzamam
among three members of the entourage questioned twice.

A downbeat Inzamam lauded Woolmer's services, calling him "a great man and a
very sincere and dedicated coach". "The media did not provide the support
and encouragement the players needed," he said. "I was blamed for everything
as if I was running the cricket board and dictating the selection
committee."

Meanwhile Pakistan Cricket Board chief Nasim Ashraf said that two senior
police officers would leave for Jamaica tomorrow to join investigations into
Woolmer's murder. "I have no doubt that our players are innocent," he added.

He also revealed that the existing contracts system will be replaced by
performance-based deals. He said the move was designed to reduce the
influence of the players and to hand power back to the management.

"A new contract system will be put in place within the next 90 days," he
said.

Ashraf also revealed that a three-man review committee would be set up to
examine Pakistan's performance in the World Cup.


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Teenage victim of asylum scandal faces deportation



Jamie Doward, home affairs editor
Sunday April 1, 2007
The Observer

The home office is seeking to deport the Zimbabwean teenager who exposed a
major sex-for-asylum scandal in the Immigration Service, The Observer has
learnt.
The move comes as the government prepares to deport hundreds of Zimbabweans
in anticipation of winning a crucial test case next month that would allow
it to resume deportations. The government is also sending letters to
hundreds of Zimbabwean asylum-seekers telling them they should consider
returning home - despite the near collapse of the country's economic and
political stability and increasing state-sponsored violence.

The 19-year-old, known only as 'Tanya', found out last month that her claim
for asylum has been rejected. She says she 'would rather die' than return to
her home country, which has been plagued by violence as the Zimbabwean
President, Robert Mugabe, battles to exert his authority and see off rival
political factions.
Last year Tanya was at the centre of the Observer investigation that
resulted in the Home Office minister, Tony McNulty, being moved from his
post. The exposť revealed allegations that officials in the Immigration
Service were offering to help asylum seekers with their applications to
remain in the UK in return for sex. One official was sacked from his job and
is now the subject of a criminal investigation. Other examples of serious
malpractice came to light following the scandal.

The move to deport Tanya was condemned by MPs last night. Her supporters
fear for her safety because she claims to have been raped by a senior ally
of the Mugabe regime. In addition she was married to a member of the
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

'I'm ashamed by the callous attitude of the Home Office,' said Kate Hoey,
who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on Zimbabwe. 'What message does
this send to vulnerable women around the world, let alone in Zimbabwe, about
attitudes to victims of sexual abuse in the UK?'

Hoey accused the government of operating a blanket policy by seeking to
return all Zimbabwean asylum seekers. 'The Home Office should be trying to
do what is morally right, not just ticking boxes to meet bean counters'
targets so ministers can reel off statistics,' Hoey said. 'Can they tell me
how many teenage girls' lives have been wrecked by their failure to act?'

Conservative MP Richard Benyon said he was concerned there had been an
attempt to sweep the scandal exposed by The Observer under the carpet. He
added that the government were guilty of double standards by allowing the
families of senior Mugabe Zanu-PF officials to visit Britain. 'It's a
grotesque situation,' Benyon said. 'The person who decided to send Tanya
back does not understand the political situation in Zimbabwe.'

Last night Tanya told The Observer of her fears for the future. 'Going back
to Zimbabwe is not an option,' she said. 'Even death is better. My husband
was shot in Zimbabwe. The situation is getting worse and I'm really scared.'

The Home Office is also seeking to deport the son of MDC activist Lucia
Matibenga, who was beaten by Zanu-PF supporters last autumn. 'The Home
Office dispute who my mother is,' said Joel Matibenga, 25. 'It's not safe
for me or my family to go back.'

In recent weeks, the government has taken a series of adverts in the
Zimbabwean expatriate press in Britain urging asylum seekers to return to
their home country. The Zimbabwean Association, one of the organisations
that represents asylum seekers in the UK, fears the move will increase the
number of Zimbabweans going into hiding in a bid to escape deportation.

The government is prevented from returning Zimbabweans after the Court of
Appeal blocked the move. However, it is using a test case to appeal against
that ruling and intends to start returns if it wins. A ruling is expected
within the next couple of months.

Tanya is to lodge an appeal against her deportation ruling later this month.
But the Home Office remains unconvinced of the merits of her case. The
department says it sends failed asylum seekers back to their native
countries only if their lives are not at risk and judges each case on its
merits.


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Disaster looming

7days, United Arab Emirates

Published on: Sunday, 1st April, 2007

Zimbabwe's political and economic crises are set to deepen further following
a decision to have octogenarian leader Robert Mugabe, already in power for
27 years, seek a new term in elections next year, analysts said yesterday.
The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic-Front (ZANU-PF)'s top
decision makers decided in Harare that despite growing domestic opposition,
Mugabe would stand again for elections next year.
Commentators say the decision spells disaster for the southern African
country whose economy is already on its knees and could see a rise in
political unrest.
"It's a very serious decision which signals a sure direction towards the
continuation of economic collapse and will deepen the political crisis,"
said constitutional reform activist Lovemore Madhuku.
Eldred Masunungure, a university of Zimbabwe political scientist, said
everything depended on the policy decision the leadership adopts, "but if it
is business as usual, clearly it will be disastrous. it means the country
will slide irrevocably down the drain".
There will be "a total collapse which will see popular unrest in the
†country", said Madhuku.
"The fear is that there will be so much unrest that the country will break
down. to the levels we have seen in some west African countries where they
have had civil wars," he added.
"Disaster is in the making. It will accelerate the economic meltdown," said
Wellington Chibebe, the secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congres of Trade
Unions.
Opposition within Zimbabwe has soared in recent months with inflation now
the highest in the world at 1,730 per cent and forecast by the International
Monetary Fund to climb up to 4,000 per cent by year end.
Four out of five people are out of work and live in abject poverty.


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Mugabe's parting gift to the MDC. But is he away for real?



Silence Chihuri

Confirmation by the ruling ZANU PF party's Central Committee that President
Robert Mugabe will be the party's candidate for the umpteenth time in the
forthcoming presidential elections could be a priceless parting gift to the
people of Zimbabwe. That will of course be conditional upon the only
credible contender, the MDC, putting its act together and claiming an
overdue victory because the same means to rig elections and to ruthlessly
suppress opponents would still at Mugabe's disposal.

To all Zimbabweans who understand the state of politics in our motherland
today, it is an open secret that President Mugabe is at his weakest ever
since his political career. The ruling ZANU PF party is at its most
dysfunctional state and is rocked by divisions that have never been
witnessed before in its forty-year plus history. However, Mugabe is still as
canny as ever and the old man has shown yet again, that regardless of his
brutal pursuits, he is the same erstwhile politician we have known for all
this time. Mugabe knows how to rally his ZANU PF charges around himself and
the hardly surprising outcome of the Central Committee is the best latest
example.

Mugabe knows the art of putting his critics in their places and consigning
ambitious peers into the dustbins of his party. Joyce Mujuru has been shown
by Mugabe that he is the man in charge and that he is not going anywhere.
The ringing endorsement of Mugabe by his colleagues in the impotent SADC
group of nations that were rounded off at home with the Central Committee
vote will be a real source of a sore head for Mujuru. Maybe that will give
her an opportunity and motivation to show exactly what she has up her sleeve
because the alternative will be an abrupt halt to a political career that
had become something of a roller coaster of late. If Mujuru or her husband
for that matter, has the ability to stop Mugabe then this is the time for
the general to retire from retirement and spring to action because the young
old man is here to stay.

The next few weeks will be crucial for Mugabe to consolidate his grip on his
restive party and he is not going to employ and new tactics that we have not
seen before. He will be simply following the same user guide and that is
setting up a team of experts in propaganda machinations as well ensuring the
ruthlessness of the ZANU PF repressive machinery is heightened. With the
silence of the African leaders in the face of the brutal attacks of
opponents, Mugabe will be descending heavily on the MDC especially, and any
other political contenders to come by his way. The militias, the police, the
army, the dreaded CIO, will be all out in full force to ensure the
impossible happen and that is Mugabe wins. This pattern of violence will be
perpetrated throughout the election campaigns and right into the polling
stations and will then be topped up by the actual rigging of the elections.

Equally for the MDC, the party should sense real victory here and seek to
reclaim once again that short-lived dominant position in Zimbabwean
politics, because this is the chance to seize the moment. All those prayers
that people have been directed to the heavens and all the pleas for
salvation have now been answered through Mugabe over-stretching his luck and
survival instincts too far. I can now picture the same scenario in which
Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya did the same thing in 2004 by underestimating his
unpopularity and ignored the advise to step down rather than facing the
humiliation of a historic defeat at the hands of the then unstoppable NARC
Rainbow Coalition. History will definitely repeat itself because no one can
ever envisage a situation whereby Mugabe will ever capitulate because the
man knows his tracks and they are not ones that can be covered at this
juncture because they are now just too deep for concealment. The only cover
Mugabe sees for his tracks is to die in office but neither that is now
guaranteed as well because Mugabe and his ZANU PF bunch face real death at
the polls.

But that would be incumbent upon the MDC Party reorganising itself in more
or less the same style as Kenyan NARC, an putting up a united front against
ZANU PF and winning the elections for the people of Zimbabwe. The ball has
been put firmly in the MDC court and there will be no scapegoating that
could have any credence should the party enter the election in the current
scattered format and lose again. Not even the common rigging anecdote will
be admissible to the ears of Zimbabweans. The Zimbabwean people will be
looking for nothing short of victory from the MDC this time and no excuse
will substitute that victory. There could never any more urgency for unity
of purpose and restoration of the people's confidence in the party that had
instantly become their preferred political organisation and source of hope.

There will be substantial support for a united MDC than for a splintered
party and there will be multiple benefits in maximum utilisation and
synchronisation of resources. There will be no rewards to be reaped from the
unwise and treacherous splitting of scarce votes through dual candidacies
and the fight will be and should be, a straight two horse race between ZANU
PF and the MDC because there is no other political entity worthy any notice
in Zimbabwe at the moment. This is a moment when all the desperate poring
into the ramshackle ZANU PF party searching for the so-called reformed and
progressive forces would have to be abruptly called off. That was an
extremely desperate and dangerous measure that would have seen the country
simply being turned upside down through an alternating hand of the same
devil.

There is now greater urgency for the MDC party between now and the polls to
conduct business in manner that would seriously depict a real potential
government in waiting because between now and then, this will be the last
but most important stroll towards governance. But such big moments do not
come cheap and there will be need to sacrifice little egos and dismount from
the little summits of pride and execute business in the national interest.
The opportunity is now here and the occasioning could never be more timely
and tempting for the principled and the reasonable. Victory could never be
more certain for a party that has suffered so much at the hands of a brutal
regime. Salvation could never more beckoning to a people that have seen so
much misery and unwarranted deaths among their lot.

Should the MDC fail to unite and motivate the people of Zimbabwe to come out
in full force and vote this evil regime out of power and out of their lives,
then the culpability of the supposed messenger of salvation will be just as
severe as that of the messenger of death that ZANU PF has been to us for
years now.

Silence Chihuri writes from Scotland. He can be contacted on
silencechihuri@hotmail.com

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