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

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Reuters

      Southern Africa summit seen sidestepping Zimbabwe
      Sun Aug 14, 2005 2:41 PM GMT

By Alistair Thomson

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Southern African leaders meet in Botswana this week
under the shadow of yet more turmoil in Zimbabwe, but analysts expect little
action to confront a crisis many fear could spread instability to the
region.

Heads of state of the 13-nation Southern African Development Community
(SADC) meet on Wednesday and Thursday in Botswana under growing pressure on
Africa to address Zimbabwe's woes.

The razing of shantytowns and illegal businesses prompted a fierce rebuke
from the United Nations, which says the two-month operation has left 700,000
people without homes or livelihoods and worsened a spreading food crisis.

Political analysts say the renewed diplomatic pressure was a major factor in
Nigerian President and African Union (AU) Chairman Olusegun Obasanjo's
appointment of former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano to mediate
between Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

The step was seen to reflect growing consensus within Africa that dialogue
between the country's main parties was the best way to tackle crisis in
Zimbabwe, a former regional breadbasket now grappling with shortages of
food, forex and fuel.

"This novel approach is made necessary by the impending humanitarian crisis
in that country. It is born out of the very real realisation that Zimbabwe
requires urgent attention," said Chris Maroleng, senior researcher at South
Africa's Institute of Security Studies.

"It indicates the willingness of the AU to become more forceful or more
engaged in the situation than in the past."

But Maroleng saw little prospect of SADC following suit with a public
gesture of its own.

"It (SADC) operates very much as an old boys club, and a lot may be done
through an old boys club but we never hear about it.

LOBBYING BUT LITTLE ACTION

"We may not necessarily get a public pronouncement on Zimbabwe at this
summit, but what we can be assured of is that South Africa and Zimbabwe will
use it to lobby and build a consensus around their different agendas,"
Maroleng said.

The role of economic and political heavyweight South Africa has crystallised
with plans for a large loan to help Zimbabwe meet overdue payments to the
International Monetary Fund and other obligations.

Loan negotiations have lifted the veil on South Africa's longstanding "quiet
diplomacy" with media reporting a host of possible loan conditions -- 
although South Africa has baulked at the word "condition".

South African President Thabo Mbeki has said the money could help avert
further economic strife in Zimbabwe and prevent its spread to South Africa,
while his country's official opposition has insisted tough conditions should
apply to any loan.

Reports of possible conditions such as talks with the MDC, repeal of strict
security and media laws and constitutional reform were rebuffed by Mugabe
last week. He insisted he would not talk to an opposition he regards as a
stooge for former colonial power Britain and other Western interests.

And while the loan negotiations go on, analysts said any overt discussion of
Zimbabwe by SADC leaders was unlikely.

"I'd have a hard time imagining that anyone would bring it (Zimbabwe) up,
especially as the ball is now in South Africa's court," said Ross Herbert of
South African think tank IDASA.

Herbert questioned the merit of the AU asking Chissano to mediate between
ZANU-PF and the MDC, saying: "I think it's kind of a token step to say 'Look
we are doing something'."

Mugabe's estranged former information minister Jonathan Moyo, now an
independent member of Zimbabwe's parliament, said talks between the MDC and
ZANU-PF were not an end in themselves.

"'Getting Zimbabweans to resolve their own problems by talking to each
other' is not an objective worthy of a diplomatic onslaught. You can get
Zimbabweans to talk to each other without agreeing on anything until the
cows come home," Moyo wrote in South Africa's weekly Mail & Guardian.
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Sent: Monday, August 15, 2005 5:03 AM
Subject: Second mosque destroyed in Harare

Murambatsvina update - 14.08.05
 
Last Friday I spotted the remains of the second mosque destroyed and forcibly abandoned in Harare during Operation Murambastvina.  This one had a spendid minaret, which is still standing, as are the walls - but windows and roof have disappeared.  Ironically, at one corner, abandoned in the rubble, is the remains of a large tin of vegetable oil, in red, white and blue with "USA" glaring out at any stray passer-by!
 
A friend and I had decided to visit the "model houses" at Whitecliff, to see what they are like and what is being charged, as a possible solution for the 4000 stands in Hatcliffe which will need houses.  We were given a tour by the municipal police, and not allowed to take photos even of the intriguing "rammed earth" house, as they were afraid to give permission.  Pity, but we did not want to endanger them, so respected their wish.  Such is the level of fear among ordinary people, and paranoia among our rulers.  I would have thought publicity for model houses would be welcome, if this is a genuine construction exercise.  Sadly, the rammed earth house is still far from finished, as is the pre-fab panel house, whereas one model house only had the foundations dug.
 
We noted that no one is actually living in the houses yet, and indeed none of the houses has been completed.  There are no proper doors or windows except on a couple of the model houses, which are used as site offices.  One reason for non-occupancy is undoubtedly the lack of water and sewerage!  Our guides showed us the trench they are starting to dig for the pipes - but it looks like it will take weeks to connect any house to running water or the sewerage system.  For house construction, they use water bowsers and fill up at one water point not too far away.
 
I was intrigued by a group of women sitting in the middle of the model house site, engaged in hairdressing!  One lady whisked me off to show me their brick-molding project - she came from Rusape with her group, to mold bricks at Whitecliff, which seemed very far to come for such an enterprise.  Nor did I see much sign of the brickmolding itself, only some completed bricks.  When we left, my friend pointed out that most of those women were probably prostitutes!  This explains the seeming incongruities - but what a sad state of affairs.  Most of the women probably come from nearby areas which have been destroyed in the Tsunami, attracted by a large group of men and the possibilities of the empty houses all around - what dangers lurk there, for both the men and the women!
 
After Whitecliff, we went out to Porta Farm to see what, if anything, remained.  The school buildings are still standing, one obviously built by New Life Ministries which has a big sign as you enter Porta Farm, but I estimate they will not remain standing for long, since there are no more children to attend the schools!  We hear that they are mostly help captive at Hopley Farm, facing a very uncertain future.  Such a disaster, as much energy and donor funding went into those schools and community support in general - just like Hatcliffe!  The entire place was deserted, except for a couple of youth wandering through, possibly looking for what they might scavenge.  It was here at Porta Farm that we spotted the remains of the second mosque I have seen destroyed in Harare.  The minaret was strangely evocative, especially in the silence of what is now a ghost town, with the Hunyani Hills beyond.
 
I wonder what the Muslim community is saying about this, and how many other mosques have been destroyed in this Operation?
 
Meanwhile US Ambassador to the UN's FAO and WFP, Tony Hall, visited Hatcliffe Extension on Friday and reported that he was distressed by what he saw.  Several people approached him for food and blankets, saying their children were hungry, and he heard first-hand how the people had been evicted in the coldest time of year with no notice whatsoever.  Minister Chombo also visited, and told people to buy their own poles and asbestos roofing, rather than waiting for government!  So much for Garikai-Hlalani Kuhle!
 
Trudy Stevenson MP
Harare North Constituency
 
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Zim Online

MDC wins Bulawayo mayoral election
Mon 15 August 2005
  BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe 's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party won a crucial weekend election for mayor of the country's second
biggest city of Bulawayo , to maintain its grip on urban centres.

      The MDC's candidate, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, who was also the previous
mayor of Bulawayo , polled 29 575 votes to retain the mayorship. The
candidate of President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party, Dickson Abu
Basutu, garnered 5 509 votes, while there were 262 spoilt papers in the
low-turnout poll.

      Ndabeni-Ncube's victory ensures that the MDC retains control of all
major cities except the capital, Harare , where the government wrestled
control by firing former opposition executive mayor Elias Mudzuri and his
council.

      A state-appointed commission runs the capital city and Local
Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, who oversees local government
authorities, has consistently blocked elections in Harare .

    However, the MDC should be more worried after only 35 346 people or
about 11 percent of the 300 000 registered voters in Bulawayo turned out to
cast their ballot in the Saturday poll.

      Unlike ZANU PF, which enjoys more support in rural areas, urban areas
are the MDC's powerbase and a low voter turn-out there is more a reflection
of apathy or discontent by its supporters.

      MDC Bulawayo election campaign co-ordinator Victor Moyo conceded the
opposition party was unhappy with the poor voter turn-out. But he said this
could have been because of voter fatigue after a disputed general election
last March or because most residents were too busy trying to make ends meet
in a city without adequate food or water to have bothered to come to the
polls.

      Moyo said: "We have won but we are not happy that our candidate
received the endorsement of 10 percent of the registered voters. We had
targeted to get at least 100 000 votes."

      Political analyst Felix Magalela Mafa blamed both ZANU PF and the MDC
for running lacklustre campaigns while taking it for granted that people
would flock to the polls come voting day.

      "Both parties took people for granted and didn't go on massive
mobilisation campaigns in the run-up to the elections, not withstanding
restrictive laws such as POSA and AIPPA," said Mafa.

      POSA refers to the government's Public Order and Security Act, which
among other repressive clauses bars Zimbabweans from gathering in groups of
three or more people to discuss politics without permission from the police.

      AIPPA refers to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act, which severely clamps down on the independent media and other voices of
dissension. - ZimOnline

 
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Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

Emergency medical service provider wants govt guidelines

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Aug-15

MARS - one of the country's major pre-hospital emergency medical service
provider - has implored the government to identify national guidelines on
minimum requirements for ambulance services.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony of at least 60 emergency service providers
in Harare last Friday, MARS managing director Jonasi Mushangari said it was
of no good if they continue training staff yet there was not enough
resources to attend to the emergency cases.
"We would want to urge the Ministry, (Health and Child Welfare) . to put a
legal framework that guides ambulance services on the minimum vehicle
specifications and minimum equipment required in an ambulance and then
enforce the regulations.
"What good is a professional if he/she is not adequately equipped to deal
with different scenarios encountered while at work?" Mushangari said.
A draft document on the minimum requirements has since been submitted to the
Ministry of Health and Child Welfare through the Allied Health Professional's
Council.
Mushangari said they were awaiting the Ministry's response.
He added that in order to achieve MARS' vision of making a difference in
many lives and continue offering excellent pre-hospital emergency services,
the organisation intends to introduce a diploma in pre-hospital care at
university level.
"This is in line with what is happening in the developing world and creates
greater career
options.
"It also creates a bigger pool of medical professionals thereby mitigating
the negative effects of the brain drain in the medical field," he explained.
Responding to MARS' proposals, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare
David Parirenyatwa who was the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony said
the development would be a welcome move that would see Zimbabwe rated among
the best emergency rescue service provider in the region.
The health minister said it was, however, a pity to note that some
experienced but not qualified ambulance drivers have been churned out of the
system because they did not have required entry qualifications.
"Whilst we encourage them (unqualified ambulance drivers) to acquire a full
Ordinary certificate that will enable them to meet enrolment conditions, we
are also kindly asking the coordinators of this course to explore ways of
accommodating those who might have deferred success in acquiring them,"
Parirenyatwa said.
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Business Report

The future is bleak if we ignore the plight of Zimbabweans
August 14, 2005

By Renée Bonorchis

I'm no political reporter. I'm not very astute about political nuances. But
something needs to be said about South Africa's loan to Zimbabwe.

I feel partially qualified to say something because I was brought up in
Zimbabwe and my family still lives in Harare.

As for South Africa's loan - I say yes, let's do it.

I'm tired of all the cynical naysayers who are living in a democracy, who
have freedom of speech and who have the comfort of high walls.

If those of you who are getting so uppity about this loan had to actually go
to Zimbabwe and see beggars at ever street corner in their tattered rags,
with their dulled eyes, covered in dust and skinnier than you thought a
person could be, then maybe you wouldn't be so high-minded about whether we
should give Zimbabwe some cash.

These urban dwellers are considered "rich" by those scraping by on even less
in rural areas.

Try standing at a shop till to buy some ridiculously overpriced wine and
realising the little old pensioner in front of you is struggling just to buy
bread and milk.

And you know that if they're struggling today, it will be even worse next
week when the prices have increased again.

Petrol is more scarce than it has ever been, and as for electricity it goes
off most days in Harare.

That means on a daily basis people rely on candles and wood fires or gas for
cooking, if they can afford it. For those who can, there's also no
television, no computers, no shops and no auto teller machines.

President Robert Mugabe may have got himself into this trouble, but the only
people feeling the ravages of the trouble are innocent Zimbabweans, the
majority of whom are desperately poor, literally wondering where their next
meal is coming from.

Sure, we don't know if the money for Zimbabwe will help the poor, but we
won't help anyone if we don't try.

We keep shouting about how well South Africa is doing, about how marvellous
we have become at generating cash - surely like any "rich" country we have a
duty to help our neighbours?

Arguably, it would be worse for us financially if down the road the
Zimbabwean economy collapsed altogether and we had to deal with the complete
loss of trade and millions of starving refugees.

And yes, we have issues like poverty, housing and clean water to deal with
here at home. But we are dealing with them.

The government has allocated enormous amounts of money to these problems.
The poor delivery in South Africa is not about the money - it's about the
lack of capacity to manage the delivery.

One of the noblest gestures I ever came across was when Mozambique, having
been so generously helped during its floods a few years back, offered aid to
Germany when it was hit by floods itself.

Mozambique has many more problems than we do and needs all the money it can
get.

But it was a beautiful gesture. It was a very human gesture.

And that's what our gesture would be for the people of Zimbabwe - human. It
may well save lives and we can afford it.

Whether conditions are successfully attached to the loan may not matter in
the tide of times.

The cynic in me reckons that Zimbabwe will sign to conditions with little
intention of meeting them. But I know that I won't one day be thinking to
myself "gosh, if only my tax money hadn't gone to Zimbabwe".

If none of us has any practical say about where our tax money goes on a
daily basis, why worry? We won't miss it.

I know I have a bias here, but it's all too easy for people to warble on
about taxpayers' money and accountability and the public's right to know.

These are issues that a democracy like ours has the luxury of revelling in.

Our neighbours have no such voice. Their mouths are empty, their voices have
been cut out.

To deny them help when we can afford it seems cruel and selfish.
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Mail and Guardian

      Zim informal businessmen in dire straits

      Fanuel Jongwe | Harare, Zimbabwe

     14 August 2005 08:29

            Simbarashe Muchemwa points at a heap of broken asbestos and
charred metal sheets -- remnants of his makeshift furniture shop in Harare's
Glen View township -- and shakes his head.

            "This was my means of livelihood. It's a loss that will take me
years to recover from," says the 30-year-old father of three.

            Muchemwa says he ran a burgeoning carpentry business in the
township that was renowned for its streetside furniture makers, supplying
his products to leading department stores.

            "I earned enough to feed my family, pay bills and look after my
extended family in my rural home," he says.

            Muchemwa's shop was razed along with hundreds of similar small
businesses in Glen View during the government's demolitions campaign that
left hundreds of thousands homeless and destitute.

            He now scrapes a meagre living on small repair jobs that he says
are few and far apart.

            His neighbour Mark Moyo, who used to run a barber shop, has set
up a small table in the middle of the debris where he continues his trade
using a battery-powered hair clipper.

            "I can't just give up or I will starve," says Moyo, a small
radio under the table blaring a popular religious song. "I used to employ
two assistants before my shop was destroyed, but now I earn only enough to
buy my daily meals."

            Zimbabwean authorities launched Operation Murambatsvina in
mid-May, razing shacks, homes, market stalls and small shops as part of what
it described as an urban renewal campaign.

            But the opposition denounced the operation as a campaign of
repression, while Western governments and the United Nations harshly
condemned the blitz.

            A UN report released last month said the demolitions had left
700 000 people homeless or without sources of income, or both, in cities and
towns across the country while a further 2,4-million were affected in
varying degrees.

            Opposition lawmaker Paul Madzore says up to 5 000 people lost
their means of livelihood in Glen View. Up to half of them may have gone to
the countryside, he said.

            Most former traders like Witmore Matemera have decided to "wait
and see".

            Matemera said he used to do brisk business making low-cost
wooden coffins and now spends his time hanging around with friends over a
shared jug of beer.

            "With the problem of Aids, many people are dying and some
families cannot afford to bury their dead in expensive coffins from the
funeral parlours. They came to us for affordable coffins and we were able to
feed our families," says Matemera.

            "Now, I don't know where to start from. I will just wait and see
how it ends."

            The government says it is building factory shells and market
stalls to promote orderly business.

            But Matemera said government officials told him all places are
taken up at the sites, although construction is still under way.

            The country's economy has been on a downturn over the past six
years with a three-digit inflation and unemployment hovering at 70%.

            Many who could not find jobs in the dwindling formal industry
had resorted to running small business in makeshift shops in the townships.

            A study by ActionAid International and a local residents group
in July estimated that 73% of Zimbabwe's urban dwellers were engaged in
informal trade before the blitz. -- Sapa-AFP

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From The Sunday Times (SA), 14 August

 Shacks replace houses in Zimbabwe's urban renewal

 Dingilizwe Ntuli

 Last week, about a month after the Zimbabwean government demolished people's
houses as part of Operation Murambatsvina, I went back to Harare to see what
had become of those displaced by the so-called urban renewal programme. I
stood on the ruins of what used to be Joshua Nkomo Heights. This settlement,
in Harare's western Kambuzuma township, had become home to hundreds of
former veterans of Zimbabwe's armed struggle. It had about 400 houses before
the demolition. Now, plastic shacks have sprung up from the ruins. In one of
these shacks I found Never Nyatwa, whose five-roomed house was demolished.
He vowed that he would not leave, even though the government had been
withholding food relief in an attempt to force them to move. Nyatwa lives in
the shack with his wife and 20-year-old unemployed daughter. He said they
had been told that they had to move to a holding camp or relocate to their
rural village in order to qualify for humanitarian aid. "Before the
demolition, I was a self-employed motor mechanic and sustained my family.
Why should I now move to a holding farm for handouts?" asked Nyatwa.

 Another victim, Alphios Maseko, said: "We were doing well for ourselves
until this government decided to turn us into a humanitarian case. I feel
like a child now because I can't do anything for myself. I still don't know
why houses were demolished, because, as you can see, proper houses have been
replaced by plastic shacks. Shacks have mushroomed in every destroyed
settlement," said Maseko. The ailing Maseko, who moved to Harare from
Bulawayo two years ago, said his health had deteriorated since he was made
homeless because he no longer had access to healthcare due to a lack of
income. "As you can see that I am sick, there is nothing I can do for myself
and have to be cared for by friends like a child because of a campaign I
will never understand. My condition will worsen if I move to a holding camp
because there will be no one there to care for me. I will just wait to see
if they send bulldozers again," said Maseko.

 I travelled to the next settlement, Whitecliff Farm, about 20km west of
Harare. Last month, Whitecliff Farm was a hive of activity, with servicemen
clearing the land for what the government called the "start of the massive
reconstruction programme for those displaced by the clean-up exercise".
However, last week I counted only 68 two-roomed RDP-type housing units under
construction - but there were no servicemen. Construction was at a
standstill on this particular day. About 100 prison inmates could be seen
clearing more land, helped by hordes of graduates of the National Youth
Service. These youngsters form part of the government's "building brigade",
tasked with delivering on its ambitious programme. One of the youths told me
that trucks meant to deliver building material had been grounded by fuel
shortages. Even Mashonaland East provincial governor Ray Kaukonde, a Mugabe
ally, lamented the slow pace of the reconstruction programme in his
province, where 260 units are due to be constructed. He said it would be
difficult to cope with a huge influx of thousands of people displaced from
Harare.

 As ministers and senior government officials embarked on a countrywide tour
to assess the progress of the urban renewal programme, Vincent Hungwe, a
spokesman for the team which toured Mugabe's home province of Mashonaland
West, said "the targets may be difficult to achieve", and added that there
were still some challenges in areas such as Kadoma and Murombedzi.
Murombedzi is about 60km from Mugabe's home village, Kutama. Mashonaland
West province is aiming to build about 250 housing units. In Masvingo
province, where the government aims to build 200 houses, Local Government
Deputy Minister Morris Sakabuya said "there have been problems of fuel and
concrete". The rationale behind the renewal plan was that it would bring
about orderly housing. The informal settlements, the government said, were
breeding grounds for crime and the black market, which were undermining the
formal economy. But with fuel shortages and an apparent lack of planning,
the renewal programme now looks doomed. Nyatwa, Maseko and hundreds of
thousands of others just have to hang in there and hope for the best.
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Comment from The Mail & Guardian (SA), 12 August

 Counting Mugabe's troubles

 Eric W Bloch

 Zimbabwe's government has for years pronounced that "Zimbabwe can go it
alone!", and, if necessary, would do so, and would be as successful as
Malaysia had been in the late 1990s. But, to quote trite but relevant
clichés, eventually chickens come home to roost and, as a result, the
Zimbabwean leadership has had to swallow the bitter pill of crawling on
hands and knees to solicit assistance from others to enable Zimbabwe to
extract itself from the economic quagmire to which it has been reduced. The
economy has been devastated, contracting by more than a third in the past
five years. Almost three-quarters of the employable population are
unemployed, an estimated 78% of the populace barely survives at levels below
the poverty line, while almost half the population is suffering
malnutrition, their incomes being below the food line. Zimbabwe's balance of
payments has been so negative that available foreign currency exchange does
not even meet half of its import and other current foreign exchange
outgoings, let alone service external debt.

 More than three million Zimbabweans have left the country to seek employment
or other income-generating activities in neighbouring countries and further
afield, including the United Kingdom, US and Australia. The immense "brain
drain" has further hindered any endeavours to restore the economy to even
the lowest levels of economic growth. All these ills were severely
compounded by the extent to which government has brought about the
decimation of the agricultural sector, which had, for over a century, been
the economy's foundation. Consequently, Zimbabwe is faced with a need to
import two-thirds of the nation's requirements of maize, which is the staple
diet of most of the populace, and to import more than half the national need
for flour. Then the ills afflicting Zimbabwe were exacerbated by the grossly
ill-conceived "Operation Murambatsvina". In the process more than 700 000
were rendered homeless, at the height of winter, and deprived of any
income-producing opportunities they had.

 So parlous has Zimbabwean circumstance become that the government has been
forced to swallow its pride. It appealed to South Africa for a loan of
$1-billion. All indications are that South Africa was sympathetic to the
appeal but, not unreasonably, applied certain conditions, as is normal with
any loan. That there should be conditions was too great a blow to the
Zimbabwe government's pride, so, instead of accepting the loan, Robert
Mugabe and a large entourage set off to visit Zimbabwe's special friend,
China. To their reportedly great dismay, China was not forthcoming with the
$1-billion loan. Instead, it entered into some investment agreements, sold
Zimbabwe 60 buses, advanced $6-million for food imports and bestowed an
honorary professorship upon Mugabe. Zimbabwe was reduced to only one
possibility: to appeal to South Africa again. Although a loan agreement has
yet to be signed, and its details made public, informed sources suggest that
the loan is only half of that Zimbabwe sought. A loan of $500-million has
apparently been agreed to.

 With diplomatic "double-speak", it is claimed to be unconditional, but it
appears that the funding is to become available on a phased basis, aligned
to appropriate Zimbabwean actions targeted towards achieving political and
economic stability. The first payment will be between $150-million and
$160-million, to be applied to reducing Zimbabwe's arrears with the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), which amounts to approximately
$300-million. It is expected that such a reduction of the arrears will
motivate the IMF board of directors, when it meets on September 9, not to
recommend the termination of Zimbabwe's IMF membership, but to allow the
present suspension of membership to continue. The remaining $340-million to
$350-million will then be applied to importation of critically needed fuel
to an estimated value of about $150-million, and the balance on agricultural
inputs for the 2005/06 season, including fertilisers, chemicals,
insecticides and seeds (to the extent that present stocks do not suffice).
With the Zimbabwean dollars raised from the purchase of fuel and other
imports, approximately Z$6,5-trillion will then partially fund "Operation
Garikai" (Operation Rebuilding).

 Although the $500-million loan will give Zimbabwe a substantial interim
booost, and the allegedly non-existent loan conditions may bring about a
slow-down of further economic decline, or even some limited economic
recovery, it is not enough for Zimbabwe's crucial needs. At least
$200-million is needed for food inputs, unless Zimbabwe accepts support from
the World Food Programme (which has been offered subject to food
distribution being effected wholly by independent non-governmental
organisations which would not use the food distribution as a political
tool). Yet another $100-million is needed for essential healthcare
requisites, including anti-retrovirals, and $200-million more to fund
critical and immediate import needs of commerce and industry, mining and
other economic sectors.Although the act of lending Zimbabwe $500-million is
one of neighbourly generosity, it is also one which recognises humanitarian
need and indirectly conveys significant benefits to South Africa. Without
political and economic stability in Zimbabwe, South Africa faces potential
upheaval and unrest on its borders and a further massive influx of illegal
"economic refugees".

 Dr Eric W Bloch is an economic consultant for a variety of Zimbabwean
companies and an economics commentator
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Sydney Morning Herald

China's careful diplomacy
August 15, 2005

 Australia is banking on a benign Chinese future. Several years ago China
declared its "peaceful rise"; a second world power was emerging to fill the
post-Cold War vacuum. But so sensitive is the Chinese leadership to
international perceptions that the slogan was quickly dropped in favour of
"peaceful co-existence", just in case rise implied expansionist ambitions.
The late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping warned that China should heed the
lessons of world history and "hide its brightness" because rising powers
"which choose the road of aggression and expansion" ultimately fail. The
decision by Australia to sell uranium to China and to accept assurances over
its peaceful use takes Beijing's diplomatic charm offensive at face value.
But the reality is far less clear, as China flexes its muscles well beyond
its borders.

Is the new China a globally responsible power committed to multilateralism
and international rule of law, the kind of partner Australia should trust
with its nuclear material? Or is it a rising threat to the West and its
quest for a global democratic norm, interested only in securing resources to
feed its voracious economy? Recent developments point unhelpfully both ways.

Beijing's critics, especially in the United States, are keen to judge
China's intentions by the company it keeps. The recent official visits to
China of two leading international pariahs, President Robert Mugabe of
Zimbabwe and Uzbekistan's despot, President Islam Karimov, are hardly
encouraging, especially as Mr Karimov expelled the US military from his
oil-rich nation following pledges of aid and investment from Beijing. Nor is
China's deepening relationship with Burma, where the military regime can
dismiss Western sanctions because of brisk sales to China of timber and
resources. Likewise, China's double-digit increase in defence spending and
recent anti-secession law threatening Taiwan. That China aided the illegal
nuclear program of Pakistan, which, in turn, sold nuclear components on to
the Middle East, should not be glossed over either.

But the picture closer to home is one of sophisticated Chinese diplomacy
seeking to repair past rifts with the Association of South-East Asian
Nations and bring "harmony, security and prosperity" to the neighbourhood.
This casts China as the leading player in a region keen to redraw the global
balance of power, in line with Asia's growing economic clout. By sheer dint
of size, everything China does matters, especially for Australia, which lies
within its regional zone of influence. Chinese growth shrinks global poverty
and pushes up global pollution. Its economy affects the US current account
deficit and Japanese growth and global oil prices. China is the new elephant
on the world stage. Gracefully, or otherwise, it is bumping up against even
the bit players.

China appears to be hedging its foreign policy bets, probably because no
one - even those in power in Beijing - know where its rise will actually
take it. China has accumulated a vast amount of influence based on its
potential, not its actual military or economic strength. On both counts it
lags far behind the sole superpower, the US. The world wants, and needs, to
believe the China hype - the global economy is depending on it. But with
every step China takes towards realising this power its conciliatory
rhetoric will be tested. With uranium sales, however, there is no room for
misjudgement.
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Sunday Mirror, Zimbabwe

 Gvt wants private players in electricity generation
Chief Writer

FACED with the gloomy prospect of the country facing debilitating
electricity shortages in the next two years, the newly appointed Zimbabwe
Electricity Regulation Commission (ZERC) has invited private players into
the field of electricity generation to boost the country's current capacity.

ZERC is a newly established statutory body whose prime function is to
regulate the electricity industry, create an enabling environment and level
playing field that will enable competition and promote an efficient
electricity supply industry.

ZERC Commissioner-General, Mavis Chidzonga, said the commission had realised
that all countries within the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) currently
supplying electricity to Zimbabwe would be unable to continue doing so in
the next two years.

"In 2007, Sadc countries which export electricity will be unable to do so as
their increased domestic consumption levels will prevent that. We need to
act fast, and increase Zimbabwe's electricity generation before its too
late," said Chidzonga.

Zimbabwe currently imports 35-percent of its domestic consumption levels
from South Africa power utility, ESKOM, and from the Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC).

According to Chidzonga, the invitation to submit bids has been extended not
only to companies interested in becoming competitors to power utility, Zesa
Holdings; but also to those seeking to enter into joint ventures with the
power utility that has enjoyed a monopoly since inception.

With the largest coal-bed methane reserves in sub-Saharan Africa, the
largest reserves of coal in Africa, and a number of gorges with massive
hydroelectric potential, Zimbabwe is capable of generating sufficient
electricity to meet local needs, and in addition, generating a surplus of
over 2 000 megawatts for the export market. As such, Chidzonga called on the
private sector to pursue a variety of alternatives in electricity generation
as part of efforts to meet demand.

"All those interested should look at alternative sources of power such as
natural gas or coal-bed methane," added Chidzonga.

The ZERC boss also told this paper that her commission was interested in
seeing construction of a hydroelectric power station at Batoka gorge.

Government has long expressed an intention to see the massive hydroelectric
potential at Batoka gorge harnessed and converted into electricity, but the
project has been stalled by the lack of finance on government's part.

"Batoka should definitely produce electricity. We are interested in seeing
that happening. But we are also interested in seeing private players
venturing into the DRC to set up electricity generation plants that will
supplement Zasa's current capacity," added Chidzonga.

Owing to its mountainous terrain, the DRC has been reported to possess the
capacity to supply the entire African continent with hydroelectric power.

The decision to extend invitations to private players in the generation of
electricity is a welcome development given that Zesa Holdings has been
struggling to meet energy demands in the country for over five years now.

Exacerbating the situation has been the perennial foreign currency
shortages, which have seen external suppliers threaten to cut power supplies
to Zesa Holdings over non-payment, whilst aggravating the situation through
a failure by Zesa Holdings to purchase spare parts for generators that have
broken down.

Zesa Holdings currently requires at least US$2 billion (Z$36 trillion) to
undertake various power generation projects in the next five years.

Of this amount, some US$ 800 million (Z$14.4 trillion) will be used in
expanding the Hwange and Kariba South power stations and in facilitating
expansion of coal mining projects for increased thermal power generation.
Moves to rope in private players into electricity generation are not an
entirely new concept, as government once approached South African energy
giant, Sasol Holdings last year.

The offer would have seen SASOL coming in exploiting the country's natural
gas reserves, and also building gas-energy plants in the southern parts of
the country in a deal that would have boosted Zimbabwe's electricity
generation significantly.

The deal collapsed but highly placed government sources maintain that
behind-the-scenes talks are still on between government and SASOL.

While SASOL has attempted to dispel reports that it is not involved in the
evaluation of the coal bed methane in Zimbabwe at the moment, it said it is
monitoring developments with regards to the exploitation of the resource,
not only in Zimbabwe, but also in the SADC region.

A spokesperson for SASOL, Johanne Van Rheede confirmed that SASOL had held
talks with Zimbabwean officials last year over the exploration of natural
gas reserves in the country.

"We are aware of the resource in Zimbabwe and have received a visit from
Zimbabwe representatives in 2004 to test our interest," said Van Rheede.

Recently, government intensified efforts to court foreign players and last
month ZESA Holdings signed a joint venture agreement worth US$260 million
with Iranian hydroelectric concern, FARAB Co. to finance a four-year
programme that will oversee the expansion of Kariba South Power Station.

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Irish Sun

      Britain turns down Zimbabwe`s overture for talks

       Harare, Zimbabwe, 08/14 - Britain Friday turned down overtures from
Zimbabwe for direct talks between the leaders of the two countries to ease
strained bilateral relations.

      Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe had said Monday he was ready to
meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom he has accused of plotting to
remove him from power, to iron out differences over land reforms.

      Relations between Zimbabwe and former colonial power Britain have
soured in the last five years over President Mugabe`s seizure of farms from
white farmers, to resettle landless peasants.

      Most of the 4,000 white farmers who lost their land were of British
descent, and had controlled the bulk of Zimbabwe`s prime land before the
Harare government`s controversial land reforms.

      President Mugabe, who has come under international pressure in recent
weeks to talk with the opposition to ease political tension in the country,
said he would rather meet the British premier, whom he accused of funding
and directing his political opponents at home.

      But an official of British Embassy in Harare, Gillian Dare, said there
was nothing Blair would talk to Mugabe about, insisting instead that the
Harare government should engage the opposition in dialogue as a way out of
the country`s political and economic crisis.

      "We see no point in the two leaders talking. There is nothing to talk
about because it (differences) is not a bilateral issue.

      There is no issue with Britain," said Dare, a first secretary at the
British Embassy. "Our concerns about Zimbabwe are shared by many in the
international community. (President) Mugabe needs to engage with his fellow
Zimbabweans and talk about talks with Western leaders simply detracts from
the pressing issues at hand."

      The African Union (AU) last week appointed former Mozambican President
Joachim Chissano mediate talks between the Zimbabwe government and the
opposition.

      But Mugabe insists he will not talk with the opposition, saying "the
man who needs to be spoken to in order to make him see reason resides at
Number 10 Downing Street," a reference to British Prime Minister Blair.

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Story received by email - source unknown

Sent: Monday, August 15, 2005 4:11 AM
This is just so sad....

14 August 2005

 
IN 2000, Stanley Chirume, a primary school teacher from Budiriro township outside Harare, was earning Z$8000 (about R1333) a month. Today he earns Z$3.6-million — but that translates to only about R1200. With his old salary, he could afford to rent a three-bedroom house in the township at a monthly rental of Z$1200 (about R200).Then, minibus taxis charged Z$20 a trip from the township to the city. His three children were all in boarding school, where fees were Z$2500 for each of the year’s three terms.He used to buy his three children new clothing for Christmas. But that all stopped in 2002 when the rising cost of living ate into his earnings. He used to take his family to his rural home twice a year, for Easter and Christmas — but not any more. Bus fares to his rural home in Zvishavane, about 450km south of Harare, now cost him Z$280000 a person. In 2000, the fare was Z$300.“It’s dramatic how life has changed for us in Zimbabwe. I have nothing to show for working, and if things continue at this rate, our children have no hope.“I had bought a stand for just Z$40000 in 1998 in Budiriro, hoping that one day I would be able to build a house for my family, but things took a twist when my net income continued to decrease. In the end I had no choice but to sell that stand in 2001 because I could no longer afford the high council rates for that piece of land.
“Things just suddenly changed and we had to move to a smaller house.“Now we can’t even afford to have a decent breakfast, let alone eat out, something I used to treat my family to once in a while,” Chirume said. Today, with his salary in the millions of dollars, he has downgraded from the three-bedroom house he was renting, to one with only one bedroom. Half his salary goes on the monthly rental. The rest takes care of transport and his three children’s school fees, leaving very little for food.Boarding fees at a government school are about Z$6-million a term (about R2222). “My wife is also a teacher, but still our combined salaries can’t cater for our needs. After paying school fees for our three children, we are left with nothing because what remains goes towards transport for the five of us, leaving very little for food. Worse still, most basic foodstuffs are in short supply, forcing us to buy anything available, which in most cases is expensive.“We are just barely surviving and you can imagine how it is for single parents. Things are real tough now,” said Chirume.The shelves of leading retailers, OK Zimbabwe and TM Supermarkets, have no bread, maize meal or sugar.Bread, when available, costs Z$8000; a bag of sugar costs Z$30000 on the black market — it’s not available in the shops. Maize meal costs Z$40000 for 10kg. Half a dozen eggs cost Z$16500, two litres of milk go for Z$44500.Spiralling inflation, currently pegged just above 164%, continues to erode workers’ real income as wage increases have been below inflation.Low-income earners such as teachers, policemen, nurses and the general civil service are hard hit by the erratic economic performance. Unskilled workers are even worse off.Most Zimbabweans are lodgers and the average monthly rental for a two-bedroom flat is between Z$3-million (R1111) and Z$8-million (R2963).Rentals in Harare’s townships went up threefold in the aftermath of Operation Murambatsvina, making it expensive for low-income earners.Supermarket worker Rosemary Shoko, who earns Z$1.2-million (R444) pays Z$750000 (R277) as monthly rental for the single room she shares with her teenage daughter in Warren Park, another township in Harare.“I sometimes walk to work because I simply run out of money. Transport is just too expensive for me, so I have to wake up early to walk to work if I have to save enough to keep my daughter in school.“I am lucky in that I work in a supermarket, so I get some of the basic goods like bread and maize meal when we do get deliveries, which is basically what I survive on because I can’t afford anything else,” Shoko said.The economic and social morass most ordinary Zimbabweans find themselves in was precipitated by a recession and energy crisis that started taking shape in 1997.That year, well-connected government officials claimed massive benefits from the War Victims Compensation Fund that had been set up by government for veterans of the liberation struggle.Senior government officials, including President Robert Mugabe’s brother-in-law and government ministers, claimed 90% war disability.Veterans, took to the streets, threatening to evict Mugabe from State House unless they received their money.Mugabe then ordered the treasury to release Z$4-billion (then about R2-billion) to the veterans.Within hours of the treasury releasing the money, the local currency crashed from its decade-steady rate against the US dollar of Z$8-US$1, to Z$38-US$1.The currency’s freefall and economic meltdown continued unabated and was further exacerbated by land grabs that started in 2000, scaring international markets.Foreign exchange markets suspended trading and investors in the fragile economy began to flee in droves.Food shortages arose, unemployment began to rise, thousands of professionals abandoned the country for better opportunities elsewhere, and suddenly desperation had become a part of life in Zimbabwe.The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says a low-income urban earner with a family of six requires Z$5.5-million a month to survive.The council’s Tonderai Mukeredzi said this would cater just for basic foodstuffs, transport costs, health, education and a three-room rental house.Mukeredzi said most families were battling to survive because the minimum wage was between Z$800000 and $1.2-million. “It has become difficult for most families to pull through a month. Basic foodstuffs are out of reach for most families because they earn very little.“A person, on average, has to budget about Z$330000 a month for transport, and Z$500000 a month for school fees.“We hope the selling of fuel in foreign currency will improve its availability and ease transport shortages, but again there is a danger that it might increase transport costs as it is difficult to source foreign exchange,” said Mukeredzi.Fuel is sold for US$1 a litre at designated garages. The demand for US dollars has sent the parallel or black market spiralling out of control.A US dollar fetches Z$40000, while the rand is Z$6000 on the parallel market. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe-controlled foreign exchange auction floor pegs the US dollar at Z$17000 and the rand at Z$2700.Getting foreign currency from the central bank’s auction floor is cumbersome.Those wanting to buy apply for the right to bid for the foreign exchange through their bank, and only when the central bank approves the application do they then go to the auction floors.This leads most people to go to the black market, where prices are negotiated and the hassles of paperwork are not an issue. Kingdom Financial Holdings economist Witness Chinyama said food prices were too high and wage increases were lagging behind inflation.He said the unavailability of foreign currency had worsened the situation because most companies sourced it on the parallel market, where it is expensive, and then passed it on to the consumers.“Because of the poor harvest, the cost of most agro-based commodities will continue to rise despite the fact that it’s already too expensive for most people.“We have to wait for the next harvest in April to see if the food situation will improve,” said Chinyama.He said the selling of fuel in foreign currency was a way of formalising the black market economy, but was not enough to improve the country’s forex shortages.Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Pattison Sithole said selling fuel in foreign currency alone was not enough to address the forex shortages and more needed to be done to generate resources.“It will help to some extent, but it will not solve the situation. We need to mobilise international support and attract foreign direct investment to increase inflow of resources,” said Sithole.The World Bank recently said Zimbabwe’s economy was declining at an alarming rate for a country not at war.It said GDP had shrunk by more than 20% since 2000, while agriculture registered an accumulative decline of 26%.
To economists and other analysts, it’s all a jumble of figures— but to the likes of Chirume and Shoko, and millions of their compatriots, the implosion is real and present. They feel it every time they have to decide whether to buy a loaf of bread, or take a taxi to work.
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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 13th August 2005

 
For the first Saturday in ages it rained.  But we were ready: our green
tarpaulin was strung up so that when the weather forecast proved right we
felt really smug.  All that was needed was the occasional prod with an
umbrella so that the accumulated water on the tarpaulin would deluge on
someone signing our petition!

 
And then this fellow came out of nowhere and danced for us: red bandana
keeping his dreadlocks under control, red top and red shoes.  He danced as
one possessed to the drumming of Patson, Addley, Julius, Moses, Sarah, Dumi
and others.  We thought the Vigil had the best dancers in town but now we
have competition.  We would like to sign him up if anyone knows who he was.

 
Despite the rain, there were loads of new faces including Martin from
Glasgow - we put him in touch with a good contact there.  Talking about
connections, Julius was thrilled to see Jenatry from his home area in
Zimbabwe who arrived in the UK in June.

 
We were pleased to have the Zimbabwean journalist and writer Geoff Hill with
us to enjoy the magical singing today.  His new book "What happens after
Mugabe" is selling well in South Africa and will be published in the UK in
early October.

 
 It was encouraging to have passers-by joining us at the end to sing the
national anthem.  We were particularly pleased to have Francesca with us on
her 15th birthday.  She is not Zimbabwean but asked her parents to bring her
to the Vigil for her birthday treat.  She has been emailing the Vigil
because she has relatives in Zimbabwe and has given a talk at her school
about Zimbabwe.  On her wrist was a homemade wristband saying "Make Mugabe
History" - this is an idea we hope to carry forward - thank you Francesca.

 
FOR THE RECORD: about 40 supporters came today.

 
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