The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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Daily Record

UNBOWED Aug 11 2003

††††† Whipped, tortured & burned by 40-strong lynch mob but Scots refuse to
quit farm in Zimbabwe

††††† Cara Page Exclusive

A SCOTS family tortured and beaten in Zimbabwe have vowed to stay in their
home.

Norma Saul, 72, and her husband Ronnie, 68, lost their own farm 18 months
ago to supporters of president Robert Mugabe's land seizure campaign.

They found work managing another farm outside the capital, Harare.

But the mobs targeted the farm and attacked Ronnie before luring the
couple's son, Jamie, 39, into a trap.

The elderly couple, originally from Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, are too frightened
to talk about their ordeal in detail because their phones are monitored.

Norma said yesterday: "I can't talk about what happened but we are all fine.

"We are working here for an absentee landlord for a minimal wage and a free
house and electricity.

"We've lost our own farm and home and feel like 50 years of our lives have
gone down the drain."

She added: "We have no choice but to wait and see if we get compensation.
Financially, we can do nothing else.

"But we are still together and you get to be resilient. There is no use
throwing your hands in the air and crying."

Norma's sister, Jean Sherrie, of Dalry, Ayrshire, described their ordeal.

She said: "They were absolutely terrified and thought Jamie was going to
die. They are left with nothing."

She said Ronnie was told to open the gates of the farm, which they were
managing for an absentee white landlord, by three youths who said they
wanted to discuss "important business".

When they got inside, they attacked him and were joined by six other men who
had been hiding nearby.

Jean said: "His hair was tied with rubber in tight knots all over his head
and he was doused with water.

"They put the hosepipe under his shirt with the water running.

"Norma was in the kitchen with one of the men who wouldn't let her out. They
were emptying her cupboards and taking all her food."

Norma managed to phone Jamie but the phone was grabbed by one of the
attackers who told him to send an ambulance as his mother was "seriously
ill".

The lie was designed to lure Jamie to the farm, where he was brutally beaten
by the group, which had grown in number to about 40.

Jean said: "The ambulance arrived and they turned it away. Then Jamie
arrived and they tied his hands and feet with rope and wire. The rope was so
tight his hands turned blue.

"They made him kneel down and beat him with chains, sticks and whips made
from fan belts."

Jamie's left leg was beaten with a burning log from a fire.

Another thug delivered a karate chop to his neck and smashed him in the
face, breaking his nose.

Norma feared her son would be killed and managed to break free from the
kitchen.

She threw herself on top of him to protect him and suffered a broken thumb
and severe bruising.

Jean said: "She thought he was going to die and threw herself in the middle.
I think she was very brave."

Jamie's wife eventually raised the alarm after failing to hear from her
husband for many hours.

Jean added: "They brought in a local mediator and my sister and family were
eventually allowed to leave and get medical attention.

"Jamie was treated for cuts to his eyes, bruising and burns to his leg.
Ronnie had bruising. They were all terribly traumatised."

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The Scotsman

The evils of total power

The veteran novelist Doris Lessing spoke frankly about her feelings towards
dictator Robert Mugabe last night at the Edinburgh International Book
Festival. The author, who grew up in Zimbabwe, spoke of the damage Mugabeís
regime had caused to the country and how she would have like to seen him
ousted by force.

"I sometimes regard the old days with nostalgia, but then you canít just
invade someone elseís country. Though it would have been good for Zimbabwe
if somebody had; the country is going down the drain."

However, she said would oppose any such action on principle, as she did the
war against Iraq. "You have a little problem: it was illegal. Not that Iím
not very glad that Saddam has gone, but it was illegal.

"Everybody knew there was going to be a war, Bush wanted a war, and little
Blair trotted along saying, ĎYes, yes, yes.í This was an illegal war, and
now we have to deal with the consequences. Other people can now say: ĎThe US
did this, we can to it too.í The legal structure in this world is frail
enough without that."

Lessing questioned the idea that Mugabe and his inner circle were corrupt
from the beginning. She said: "In 1956, I met the man who is now one of his
most unpleasant associates, and he was the most idealistic young student you
can imagine. In his early days, Mugabe drew up a document called the
Leadership Code, saying that no one in high position should own more than
one farm, and so on, but his followers ignored it. At that point we should
have said this is a weak man, a bad man.

"For years, liberals - and I include myself - have stood back and watched.
What has happened has been unspeakable but we have made excuses for Mugabe.
We should have known, but we did nothing."

However, Lessing questioned whether removing the dictator should be seen as
a solution to all the countryís problems. "Mugabe has created a caste of
fat-cats, a ruling cast. If he goes, they will still be there. Thousands of
young men have been brutalised and corrupted, there is a generation of
children without parents because of AIDS. What Africa should be thinking
about is how to rescue these kids, with or without Mugabe."

Lessing - who was banned from southern Africa in 1956 for her outspoken
views - was taking part in a discussion event on the subject of dictatorship
with the writer and journalist Christopher Hope, whose book Brothers Under
The Skin: Travels in Tyranny has just been published. He described the book
as "an attempt to explain to myself" why tyrants have so much in common,
from a limited vocabulary of ideas to extraneous facial hair.

"I can only describe power as a curious perfume which overwhelms you," he
said. "Dictators deliberately destroy the lives of their own people and do
it with equanimity, merriment and a degree of acclaim."

Hope was critical of the South African government for not doing more to
topple the Mugabe regime.

"The present South African government supports, condones and sits on its
hands with regard to Zimbabwe in the same way as the last white government
did with Ian Smith. However," he added, ironically, "if the British army is
in the business of removing dictatorships in distant parts of the world,
thatís the best news. I have a little list."

The international flavour of the day continued in the first of a series of
events featuring writers from the recent Granta list of Young British
Novelists. Monica Ali, reading a section from her highly acclaimed first
novel, Brick Lane, evoked the spirit of a Bangladeshi village in the memory
of an immigrant woman living in Tower Hamlets. David Peace writes about the
Yorkshire of Peter Sutcliffe while living in Japan, and Dan Rhodes, author
of the intriguing Timolean Vieta Come Home, inhabits largely a country of
his own imagination.

It took a dose of sharp Glasgow humour from Ian Pattison, best known as the
creator of Rab C Nesbitt, to turn our thinking back to Scotland. In a witty
and insightful hour, he posed a number of pertinent questions about how we
see ourselves, about writing, comedy and crime novels.

Fed up with crime books told from the viewpoint of angst-ridden detectives,
his first novel, Sweet and Tender Hooligan, views events through the eyes of
the criminal, a Glasgow gangster.

"Jimmy Boyleís A Sense of Freedom is one of the best crime books to come out
of Scotland in recent years. But we donít like criminals writing about
crime. We like it to be written by nice middle-class authors who fret about
school fees, someone we can trust to lead us out at the other side. We want
the sanitised version." He questioned the billing of his book as a
"hilarious" dark comedy, although he agreed that it did contain a few
laughs. "When you write comedy, itís written through you like Blackpool
through a stick of rock. You try to write Hamlet, but you canít."

As well as penning a new sitcom, The Crouches, which starts next month, set
in a black working-class family in South London, he is working on his second
novel.

"I tried to write my great Scottish novel, but my editor said ĎDonít be
sillyí, so I went back and re-wrote it and put in a corpse."

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Yahoo News

Doris Lessing says Mugabe and Blair must go
By Paul Majendie


EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Outspoken novelist Doris Lessing firmly believes that
both Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Tony Blair must
quit -- but for very different reasons.

Lessing, who lived most of her childhood in what was southern Rhodesia and
then came to Britain in 1949, was particularly trenchant in an interview
with Reuters about the leaders of the two countries she has called home.

But the feisty 83-year-old author said "You cannot equate them," labelling
Mugabe a crook and calling Blair "a fantasist. I think he believes all this
nonsense he talks."

Lessing, hailed by critics as one of the icons of 20th century literature,
certainly did not mince her words over either leader and issued dire
warnings over Zimbabwe, where she moved as a child aged five.

"Mugabe has created a whole cast of fat cats. When Mugabe steps down -- if
he does -- they will be just as bad as Mugabe."

"There are hundreds of thousands -- if not more -- of young men and women
who have been totally brutalised. There are also so many AIDS orphans you
cannot count them."

Lessing, attending an Edinburgh Book Festival discussion on dictators, said:
"Mugabe has created this ruling class, this layer of very ruthless thieves."

In the discussion on dictators, she said that the war in Iraq to topple
Saddam Hussein was illegal. "Bush wanted a war. Little Blair trotted along
and said Yes, Yes, Yes."

SCORN FOR BLAIR

Her scorn was palpable for Blair, whose decision to go to war against Iraq
has deeply divided his compatriots.

"In the past, what this man has dished out to us would have had him out of
office by now," she said.

"We have these totally lying people -- Tony and his gang. They lie all the
time. They have no respect for themselves or us.

"I have never voted Tory (Conservative) in my life but I would vote Tory to
get rid of this lot. They are all shockers."

Lessing, considered a feminist heroine for her ground-breaking novel "The
Golden Notebook," had little time for today's feminists who she argues have
turned men into silent victims in the sex war.

"They should be using all that energy changing society," she said.

Switching from politics, Lessing's eyes light up as she recounts the plots
from "The Grandmothers," a series of four novellas that is being published
in November.

For this razor-sharp octogenarian has no intention of putting her pen down.
"It is what I am. I am a storyteller. I think about stories."

Lessing, famed for her novels "Martha Quest" and "Briefing for a Descent
into Hell," has written two acclaimed volumes of autobiography but will not
be bringing them up to date. "The rest would involve a lot of my close
friends. I could not write it."

Her diaries will be going to Britain's University of East Anglia but she
concluded: "I have burnt one or two diaries which might conceivably cause
trouble."

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Mugabe's ties to the architect of apartheid

Christopher Hope has met his fair share of tyrants, but non fascinate him so
much as Hendrik Verwoerd, the man who created apartheid South Africa, and
Robert Mugabe, who is following in his footsteps

Monday August 11, 2003
The Guardian

I was about five when I met my first tyrant. His name was Hendrik Verwoerd.
We lived close to each other in one of those green Johannesburg suburbs that
named its streets after Irish counties: Kerry, Wexford, Donegal. So much in
South Africa conspired to remind one of somewhere else. I sometimes think it
helped people to forget that, for half a century, we had been locked up in
an institution for the mentally disabled. My Irish grandfather used to say
to me: "Christopher, shall we be taking a walk and stare at the Doctor?" I
didn't know Verwoerd was a tyrant then, and I'm sure he didn't know either;
it's a role you have to grow into. My mother said, "That man spent the war
knitting socks for Mr Hitler." The year I'm talking about was 1948: that was
my year for staring hard.
Verwoerd, genial and pink, with a lick of thick pale hair and flinty eyes.
It was his skin I noticed first: it was stretched tightly over his bones
like a drum skin. Each afternoon we went walking past the Doctor's house and
my grandfather would lift his stick, wave it at the sky and curse softly to
himself. The black man assigned to act as my nanny also behaved oddly when
we were about to pass the place. He hurried me to the other side of the
road, as if the house hid some terrible contagion. I just stared. I tried to
work out what sort of socks the Doctor would have been knitting for Mr
Hitler.

What Verwoerd pioneered was a way of making tribalism respectable across
Africa and, once he'd found a method, the contagion raced across the
continent together with a covey of modish words - "self-determination",
"autonomy" - that made it so popular, and still does. Perhaps no other
leader in Africa today more closely resembles Verwoerd than Robert Mugabe.
They hate so many of the same things, and they see as their destiny the duty
to save their people and their country from gangs of marauding enemies,
gays, Jews, British liberals and traitorous sell-outs among their own tribe.
They seem linked across time in an uncanny way.

Verwoerd came to be seen as embodying what Afrikaners call kragdadigheid, a
word which might best be translated as "fighting spirit". He dreamed of an
unsullied Afrikaner purity, and his vision galvanised his people. His power
was based on delusion and lies, and the wish of his followers to be
deceived. His fanaticism, which came to stand for Afrikaner intransigence,
was not Afrikaans at all: it was too pure, too dogmatic. It was the fire of
the convert, the terrifying certainty of the newly won-over, the interloper,
the messianic outsider. Like St Paul, that other furious apostle of absolute
belief, he was a convert to the faith he made his own. His deadly enthusiasm
for purity of "the blood" and "die volk" was at odds with the fact that he
wasn't an indigenous Afrikaner at all.

No one said so, of course, that would have been heresy. In many ways,
Verwoerd was precisely the sort of person Afrikaners instinctively disliked:
a foreigner. His parents had been Dutch immigrants and young Hendrik had not
been born in South Africa. He was an intellectual in a society that equated
intellectuality with sedition. He was a theorist in a land where theory was
scorned. He was a fastidious and strangely mild man in a society where the
quintessence of masculinity was someone who kicked around a ball, the
servants, his wife or the children, often at the same time, and such energy
was regarded as healthily South African.

The Verwoerd family had emigrated to South Africa from Holland, a fact they
never liked to dwell upon. They came to stand for sacred racial purity, but
when Betsy Verwoerd and her children climbed aboard the old tram that
trundled past the Zoo Lake in Park View, the suburb of Johannesburg where I
lived, my aunt would dig me in the ribs and we'd stare, even though we knew
staring was bad manners, because, so the rumour ran, Verwoerd's wife, Betsy,
sombre and austere, was not entirely 100% classifiably and certifiably
"white".

I had not come across another quite like Verwoerd until Mugabe began to
mimic the old Doctor. The resemblance was so uncanny I sometimes wondered if
they were not perhaps related. Verwoerd was an elected tyrant who crossed
the line between government and religion: like modern tyrants, he reversed
Charles Peguy's dictum - that what begins in mysticism ends in politics.
What began for Verwoerd in crude racial politics ended in mystical ethnic
subdivisions.

Verwoerd believed that South Africa was a victim of a worldwide conspiracy,
directed by Britain, which wanted to destroy the Afrikaner. Britain was the
old enemy, the coloniser, the destroyer; Britain had tried in successive
wars against the Boers, to liquidate the Afrikaners, on the battlefield, and
in the concentration camps established by Lord Kitchener, and then by
economic might. This is Mugabe's belief too.

In order to safeguard the Afrikaner liberation struggle, Verwoerd ran a
programme of racial cleansing unlike anything seen before. He did it with
the support of his party, which had a huge majority in parliament. The force
used to separate out the black population and drive them into distant
homelands was never done by decree, it was done by parliamentary procedure -
votes. The modern world, said Verwoerd, was keen on democracy, and so he
would achieve his vision with the help of democracy. He would not hammer
apartheid into place, he would vote it into being. He did so with
parliamentary lawyers who drafted bills making all forms of dissent illegal,
immoral and even sacrilegious. He did it with the enthusiastic help of his
party press, who throughout his rule were so servile that Afrikaans
newspapers made the old Soviet papers seem positively bolshy.

Verwoerd ignored the legal opposition and he beat, imprisoned and allowed
his police to murder his more rebellious opponents. He did it with the help
of the courts who applied those laws unquestioningly - in 50 years of
apartheid, no judge ever resigned rather than continue to work in a system
which victimised most of the population.

He destroyed the parliamentary system which he so scrupulously exploited by
packing the senate with his place-men. He instituted a system of censorship
so severe it resembled the Vatican Index. He accused his local critics and
the press of being in the pay of communist powers, he expelled foreign
journalists, he controlled the state media. He maintained that the Afrikaner
was the "true" African who had been robbed of his land by the British during
the Boer war. He said that blacks occupied land that rightfully belonged to
whites and they were to be driven off that land and stripped of their farms.
They were illegal squatters, "temporary sojourners" in white South Africa.

When the Commonwealth asked him to think again, he replied that his was a
sovereign state and would brook no outside interference. When the
Commonwealth lost patience and it seemed South Africa was about to be
expelled, Verwoerd got in first and fired the Commonwealth.

Just as Mugabe is cheered in many African councils, the Doctor was supported
in his delusions, in his icy dedication, in his dreamy tyranny, in his
absurd ideas of ethnic purity and the sacredness of Afrikaner blood, by most
of his white compatriots. It was a career of almost unrelieved destruction,
and it left his country so badly wounded it has still not recovered. It is
40 years since Verwoerd went, struck down by an assassin in parliament, at
the very seat of his power, but the scars are still fresh.

And at almost every step, Mugabe has followed suit.

Tyrants are pneumatic, they puff up like beach balls, like giant dirigibles,
they inflate and grow bigger until they loom over the land like horrible
Hindenburgs. I learned this by watching Verwoerd and others of the
tyrannical kidney - but none so closely resembled my old neighbour than
Mugabe. They are peas in a pod, brothers under the skin. Perhaps that's why
Verwoerd, when I saw him first all those years ago, seemed to be so tightly
enclosed in his skin. A terrible emptiness under high pressure. Baleful
balloonmen. Eventually they pop, but it is always too late, and the mess is
terrible.

∑ Extracted from Brothers Under the Skin by Christopher Hope, published by
Macmillan on Friday. To order a copy for £15.99 plus p&p (rrp £17.99), call
the Guardian book service on 0870 066 7979.

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Short denied responsibility to Zimbabwe

Mark Lobel
Monday August 11, 2003
The Guardian

Clare Short informed the Zimbabwean government in 1997 that the election of
a Labour government "without links to former colonial interests" meant
Britain no longer had "special responsibility to meet the cost of land
purchases", according to documents obtained by the Guardian.
However, ministers maintained conditional support for the regime's land
reform programme and distanced themselves from campaigner Peter Tatchell's
attempt to arrest Robert Mugabe for human rights abuses. In a letter to
Zimbabwe's minister of agriculture, Kumbirai Kangai, Ms Short said: "We do
not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the cost of
land purchase in Zimbabwe.

"We are a new government from diverse backgrounds without links to former
colonial interests."

The then international development secretary's letter did offer qualified
support for land reform, stating: "We do recognise the very real issues you
face over land reform... we would be prepared to support a programme of land
reform that was part of a poverty eradication strategy, but not on any other
basis."

Despite the increasingly violent nature of Mr Mugabe's land redistribution
programme, the government continued to offer conditional support. A 1998
draft message from Tony Blair to the Zimbabwean president, also obtained by
the Guardian, states: "My government recognises that the present pattern of
land ownership needs to be fundamentally changed. We remain willing to
assist with a land reform programme which is transparent and fair and has
the support and participation of beneficiaries and stakeholders."

But this insistence on the support of stakeholders, such as white
landowners, infuriated Mr Mugabe. At the Commonwealth summit in 1999 he
said:"The Conservatives were more mature. This government is inexperienced.
I am not the only Commonwealth leader who believes that," he said.

Bilateral relations deteriorated further when the human rights activist
Peter Tatchell ambushed Mr Mugabe's limousine and tried to perform a
citizen's arrest when he visited London for talks with the then Foreign
Office minister, Peter Hain.
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The Telegraph

Home Office 'cruel' to wife of Briton who fled Mugabe
By Richard Savill
(Filed: 11/08/2003)

The Home Office has been accused of "cruelty and ineptitude" over its
handling of a visa application by the South African wife of a British
citizen who was forced to flee President Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe.

Averil Pratt, a teacher, who has been married to her husband Steven for 31
years, was told she would have to leave Britain by today and return to
Zimbabwe to apply to re-enter this country.

However, at the 11th hour, following protests by her MP and inquiries last
week by The Telegraph, she has been told she can stay and that her
application is "a priority".

The couple, who live in a rented cottage in Harberton, Devon, arrived in
Britain in February to rebuild their lives after intimidation by mobs forced
them to abandon their farm in the South Marondera area of Zimbabwe, 60 miles
from the capital, Harare, where they lived for three decades.

Mrs Pratt, 53, was permitted to remain in Britain for six months but was not
allowed to work. She expected her application for a spouse visa to be
straightforward.

However, she was later advised the rules had changed, and that she would
have to return to Zimbabwe to apply. In addition, vital documents went
missing at the Home Office.

Her MP, Anthony Steen, protested in June to the Home Office that she was "a
genuine asylum seeker and, moreover, a British citizen's wife seeking a safe
haven from a despotic and brutal regime".

The Home Office told Mrs Pratt last month that her application to Lunar
House, London, was invalid as her passport and marriage certificate had not
been included. Mrs Pratt was adamant that they had been.

After a further protest, the Home Office told Mr Steen the missing items had
been found with a caseworker in Sheffield.

In a second letter, Mr Steen wrote: "Ironically the Pratts left Zimbabwe
because of the brutal Mugabe regime and hoped to be treated with some
compassion in Britain. How misplaced their trust was. Your department's
cruel and inept handling of this case beggars belief."

Mr Pratt said it would be difficult for him to cope on his own as he had an
amputated right forearm following a shooting accident.

When The Telegraph inquired about Mrs Pratt's position last week, the Home
Office refused to discuss individual cases.

But yesterday, Mr Pratt, 53, said the Home Office had now informed him
indirectly that his wife's case was being reviewed. The application would be
"a matter of priority".

Last night, Mr Pratt, who was born in Zimbabwe of British parents, and is
now working for a charity for the disabled, said: "We came to Britain
prepared to live in a state of flux for some time. However, we had hoped
that it would have been easier to sort out Averil's situation.

"We accept there is a process that has to be adhered to. The problem is that
it has not been. They have lost documents.

"After everything else we went through in Zimbabwe, we have been asking,
'Why is this happening to us'?

"We are stressed out and extremely angry. However, I feel very positive
having had this news this weekend."

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The Herald

Fuel, cash shortages affect travellers

By Maria Dzikiti
FUEL and bank note shortages made life difficult for those who wished to
travel this Heroesí holiday.

Those who at least managed to access cash still failed to travel owing to
the obtaining fuel crisis.

Bus operators failed to obtain extra fuel allocations using the recently
introduced coupon system.

By yesterday afternoon hundreds of people were stranded at Mbare Musika and
still hoping to get transport to their rural homes.

"We get only 5 000 litres of diesel for a fleet of 68 buses, restricting us
to just 10 buses a day," said an inspector from Musasiwa Bus Service.

"We get deliveries from Monday to Saturday but on Sundays we donít receive
anything."

Out of the 10 buses from Musasiwa Bus Service available to ply the
Masvingo-Harare route, only three were operating.

The inspectors said the Chiredzi route, which covers Chivhu, Bikita, Chivi
and Zaka districts, required at least 15 buses yesterday.

Scores of people had made efforts to travel between Friday and Saturday but
the shortage of buses affected them.

Yesterday morning, the Police Riot Squad was summoned to Mbare to restore
order when the situation got out of hand.

"I wanted to go to Mt Darwin on Saturday but I failed because there were too
many people and buses were few," said Mrs Hillary Nyamhundo.

"Today I donít even know whether I will make it because there is only one
bus on that route."

Despite the obtaining cash crisis, most people said they had been saving
money for the holidays.

"I have been saving money for the past weeks and I also borrowed some from
my workplace," said Tendai Munzvengi destined for Chiredzi, which now costs
$9 000 a single trip.

"As you can see I am empty handed, I canít afford groceries for my
relatives."

Mr Leroy Mudakureva who was travelling to Kadoma said he had to borrow money
to see his family in Kadoma, which he had not seen for almost a year.

Zimbabwe has been experiencing fuel shortages due to lack of foreign
currency and previous financial mismanagement at the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe, once the countryís sole importer of fuel.

But the situation has not improved even after the advent of private fuel
importers who sell the commodity at exorbitant prices.

Most people said they were travelling home to get maize to beat rising
maize-meal prices.
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Sunday Times (SA)

MDC goes all out for dialogue

Monday August 11, 2003 07:20 - (SA)

HARARE - Zimbabwe's main opposition party said it had been forced to take
"risky" actions as a way to facilitate dialogue with the country's governing
party.

"We as a party have taken risky measures as way of creating a conducive
environment for dialogue with the Zanu-PF," said Morgan Tsvangirai, leader
of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

The MDC leader who now faces fresh treason charges for organising
anti-government protest marches, accused President Robert Mugabe's party of
driving the country to ruin.

Of late the MDC has toned down its confrontational stance to prefer dialogue
because "Zanu-PF has not idea on how to solve" Zimbabwe's crises.

The opposition party has ended its boycott of state occasions addressed by
Mugabe.

It has also dropped the contentious issue of Mugabe's legitimacy from a
draft agenda it is proposing for resumed talks with the ruling party
following recent overtures by church leaders to get the two sides to start
meeting again.

The MDC said Zimbabwe on the "brink of collapse" as more than half of the
population face starvation while inflation stands at more than 365 percent.

Electricity and fuel supplies are erratic as the country has run dry of
foreign exchange to import them, while local bank notes are also in short
supply.

Unemployment levels have unofficially hit more than 70 percent and 75
percent of the population live in abject poverty.

The MDC said, having recognised the "gravity" of the situation, chose to
resort to talks in a bid to solve the crises.

"We have chosen the path of dialogue in the hope that this will bring about
a speedy and peaceful resolution of the country's problems and stop all the
suffering," Tsvangirai said in a statement.

Tsvangirai now faces two treason charges for trying to oust Mugabe from
power after the High Court on Friday refused to drop those charges against
him.

The MDC last month ended a boycott of Mugabe's address to parliament as a
conciliatory move to break the long-standing impasse with the government.

Talks between the two broke down in May of last year after only the agenda
was drafted.

AFP
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