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Zimbabwe rivals resume crisis talks

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24123907-12335,00.html

From correspondents in Johannesburg | August 04, 2008

ZIMBABWE'S rival parties resumed power-sharing talks on overnight, one day
before the expiry of a deadline to conclude discussions over ending the
country's ruinous political crisis.

After nearly a week-long break following suggestions the talks were
deadlocked, negotiators met again in South Africa to resolve the crisis,
which intensified after President Robert Mugabe's controversial re-election.

"They started this afternoon," said Mukoni Ratshitanga, spokesman for South
African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been mediating the talks that have
been held in a secret location.

He said more talks were to occur on Tuesday, but declined to provide further
details.

A spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Tapiwa
Mashakada, confirmed the party's negotiators had returned to Pretoria for
today's meeting.

Zimbabwe's state-run Sunday Mail quoted an anonymous source saying
representatives for both sides had arrived in the South African capital.

The meeting came after a bomb exploded at Harare's main police station
yesterday, shattering windows and damaging 13 offices and a kitchen, but
causing no injuries, police said. It remained unclear who was responsible.

"We are not going to speculate or jump to conclusions until we have gathered
all the evidence," national police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said. "We are
leaving our investigations very open."

The talks had broken up on Wednesday as negotiators flew home to consult
with their leaders amid suggestions by the MDC that discussions on
power-sharing between Mr Mugabe and rival Morgan Tsvangirai were deadlocked.

Mr Mbeki flew to Harare for talks with Mr Mugabe after the adjournment and
also met Mr Tsvangirai in Pretoria.

The South African leader, who has faced heavy criticism in the past over
accusations of treating Mr Mugabe with kid gloves, said in Harare the talks
were "progressing".

There have since been signs that the two-week deadline set out in a July 21
deal laying the framework for discussions would not be met, with Mr
Tsvangirai saying last week the timeframe was "not inflexible".

Mr Ratshitanga said overnight the deadline should apply only to the number
of days spent negotiating.

"That two weeks has got to be looked at from the point of view that they did
take a four- or five-day break to go and consult," he said.

Mr Tsvangirai finished ahead of Mr Mugabe in the March first round of the
presidential election, but boycotted the run-off, citing rising violence
against his supporters that left dozens dead and thousands injured.

He announced his withdrawal five days ahead of the June 27 election, and Mr
Mugabe pushed ahead with the vote despite widespread calls to postpone it,
handing himself a sixth term as president.

The two arch-rivals recently held a rare face-to-face meeting.

Mr Tsvangirai said his first-round total gives him the right to the lion's
share of power, but sources in his party said recently Mr Mugabe's
negotiators had so far only offered him one of several vice presidential
posts.

The ruling party has insisted Mr Mugabe must be recognised as president as
part of any deal, since he won the June 27 vote.

In a television interview last week, Mr Tsvangirai declined to comment on
his or Mr Mugabe's respective roles in any interim government, but said the
84-year-old president should be allowed an "honourable exit" from power.

He also stressed that a transitional government should last no more than two
years.

Mr Mugabe last week expressed his "total commitment" to the negotiations,
which also include an MDC splinter faction led by Arthur Mutambara,
insisting they were "going well".

"We would like to see the speedy conclusion of the talks ... and successful
outcome so that we can focus in the future our attention around our
economy."

The former British colony's economy has been in meltdown since Mr Mugabe
began a chaotic land reform programme at the turn of the decade, and
inflation now stands at a staggering 2.2 million percent, according to an
official estimate.

While Mr Mbeki has avoided public criticism of Mr Mugabe, other regional
governments have been more outspoken.

Botswanan Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemane said his country may boycott an
upcoming regional summit if Mr Mugabe clings to power without a negotiated
settlement.


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MDC sticks to its guns

http://zimbabwemetro.com/news/mdc-sticks-to-its-guns/

khuphev MDC sticks to its gunsAs talks resume today,the MDC leadership has repeated that power sharing talks in South Africa should not usurp the will of the people and they will not accept any deal that does not give its President Morgan Tsvangirai a substantive position.

Earlier there were reports that ZANU PF negotiators had been instructed to negotiate around a third vice president position for Tsvangirai.

Presumptive Parliament Majority Leader and MDC Deputy president Thokozani Khupe,MDC-Makokoba., said Tsvangirai’s leadership of a transitional government was “non-negotiable”.

“Yes. It is non-negotiable. That is our position and we are not moving from that position,” Khupe told Reuters after a meeting organised by civic groups and South Africa’s COSATU on Thursday.

“The will of the people must be respected and this is why we are saying the transitional government must be led by Tsvangirai for a period which is not going to exceed two years … and create an environment where a free and fair election is going to be held.”

On Saturday Sam Sipepa Nkomo,MDC-Lobengula-Magwegwe., MDC Home Affairs Secretary told local press that the MDC-T would not accept any deal that denies Tsvangirai executive powers, warning that the talks “would rather collapse or not move forward unless Mugabe is offered a ceremonial post or forced to retire”.

“We will simply walk out of the talks and there are no two ways about it and that is why we have come up with two key works in Ndebele and Shona. We have said if Mugabe refuses to step down under the talks, then Busa Sibone or chitonga tione,” Nkomo said.

He was addressing civic society leaders, politicians from across the political divide, senators, house of assembly members, lawyers, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and pastors who attended a breakfast meeting in Bulawayo organized by Bulawayo Agenda.

Tendai Biti & Welshman Ncube
MDC Chief Negotiators, Tendai Biti & Welshman Ncube

The comments follow earlier comments by Sen.David Coltart,MDC-Khumalo., who described as a non starter a non executive post for Tsvangirai.

“The general consensus that I’ve gleaned is that he will be offered a substantive post. A third vice president wouldn’t provide him with any power and simply is a non-starter.’ he said.

Already it has emerged that the Mutambara MDC faction and ZANU PF negotiators are pushing for an amendment of No. 19 so as increase appointed senators from five to 11. ZANU PF and Mutambara’s chief negotiators,Patrick Chinamasa and Welshman Ncube lost their seats in March’s election.

Also being discussed in South Africa is an constitutional amendment that would effectively scrap the holding of parliamentary by-elections in the event of a Member of Parliament dying.

The deceased ’s party would replace him without having to go through a by-election. In most SADC countries like Botswana when an MP dies he is simply replaced with an appointed Special MP from the party that held that seat until the next election. It is presumed that voters had already chosen their representative.


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Botswana to boycott SADC summit

http://www.mmegi.bw/index.php?sid=1&aid=32&dir=2008/August/Friday1

†Friday, 01 August 2008

OLIVER MODISE
Correspondent

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Phandu Skelemani,
says Botswana will boycott the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
summit if Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is invited.

On August 16, 2008, SADC member states go for the organisation's 28th
Ordinary Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. Indications are that SADC
member states are split on whether to allow Mugabe to attend the coming
summit. Nevertheless, Botswana has already taken a stand.

In an interview, Skelemani said if Mugabe is invited to the summit, the
gesture might give the impression that Mugabe is the legitimate head of
state when in fact Botswana does not recognise his March 27 victory. "Until
they have agreed on whatever formation of government, Botswana will not be
attending the meeting with those that want him to attend," said Skelemani.

South African President, Thabo Mbeki, is currently facilitating talks
between Mugabe and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai in a move aimed at resolving the current political impasse in
Zimbabwe. The Foreign Minister said that he hoped the negotiations process,
currently, ongoing to resolve the Zimbabwean electoral feud are completed
before the summit convenes.

In a separate interview, the head of corporate communications at the SADC
secretariat, Leefa Martins, said she was not in a position to say if Mugabe
will attend or not.

"It is an Ordinary Summit that takes place every single year and has thus
become an ordinary annual event of all the SADC heads of state and
government, so much so that the invitations that go out are a mere
formality," said Martins. Martins revealed that there is no urgency to
confirm who will be attending the summit.

Martins did not say whether Mugabe will be invited to the summit. "I am not
aware if there are any of their Excellencies who are not attending. But as
this is their normal ordinary summit that they normally attend, we believe
they will be attending and we will only know if any of them are not
attending when they have said so," she said.


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Zimbabwe's main police station hit by blast: police

Yahoo News

Sun Aug 3, 7:39 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - A bomb blast at Harare's main police station damaged offices
but there were no casualties, authorities said Sunday, as talks on resolving
Zimbabwe's political crisis were set to resume.

"A bomb exploded at Harare central police station yesterday (Saturday) at
about 1845 hours (1645 GMT)," national police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena
said in a statement.

"The army bomb disposal unit summoned to the scene recovered the remains of
a detonated explosive and one live explosive."

He said the explosives had been "planted" in the first floor which houses
offices of the criminal investigation department, adding that 13 offices and
a communal kitchen were affected.

"Doors and furniture were flung open by the force of the explosion and items
of furniture were strewn all over the floor," Bvudzijena said, adding that
nobody was hurt in the blast.

The police complex is adjacent to one of the capital's busiest bus stations.

The explosion came hours before negotiators for the ruling and opposition
parties were due to resume talks on Sunday for a power-sharing government to
end Zimbabwe's political crisis.

A spate of fire bombings occurred last year targetting police stations, with
police blaming the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party,
which rejected the claims.


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Dignity among the people in Zimbabwe

http://www.thecourier.com.au/news/local/news/general/dignity-among-the-people-in-zimbabwe/1234102.aspx

3/08/2008 11:58:00 PM
TO OUTSIDERS Zimbabwe appears a violent basket-case of a country.
Inflation is out of control, people are beaten or killed as a result of
their political beliefs and once-productive farms and industry are no
longer.

It is a reality not disputed by former Zimbabwean and now Ballarat resident
John Petheram, who returned to Australia recently after spending a month in
his homeland visiting family and friends.

But he is worried people will write off Zimbabwe as being beyond help. He
says despite the many reports depicting turmoil, there is still a degree of
normality and dignity in the lives of many Zimbabweans.

Much of his visit was spent with relatives living in a relatively peaceful
part of the country, in the highlands near the Mozambique border.

On this and previous visits he travelled freely throughout the country. His
friends and family still go about regular daily activities _ working,
shopping, cooking and socialising. They find a way to cope with power, phone
and

water cuts.

The most obvious sign that all is not well are the massive wads of cash
people are required to carry because of the near-worthless Zimbabwean
dollar.

Dr Petheram, 65, has fond recollections of his life there when there was
``relative harmony between the races, a multicultural university and growing
black representation in parliament".

He said in the 1960s the United Kingdom was unsatisfied with the rate of
progress towards majority rule in Rhodesia, which was self-governing, unlike
other British colonies in Africa.

When Britain threatened to force constitutional change, there was a
Unilateral Declaration of Independence. International sanctions were applied
and a guerilla war started.

Mr Petheram was conscripted and for several years would do six-week stints
of army service followed by six weeks back at his job as an agricultural
adviser.

In 1977 with no progress towards political settlement, Mr Petheram took a
job in the Middle East and then moved with his family to Australia in 1978.
At the time he was concerned about inter-tribal violence and an exploding

population. After Zimbabwe achieved independence in 1980, the inter-tribal
violence was curbed with the massacre of 20,000 Matabele people.

Mr Petheram describes Zimbabwe as a ``confusing enigma".

``All sorts of amazing things happen in Zimbabwe, despite what's going on in
politics," he said.

``In one month and travelling over 1000km in Zimbabwe I never felt unsafe or
threatened ... Everyone I met was friendly and polite. I naturally avoided
areas that were being targeted by the Zanu PF party.

"I think their thugs and youth brigade are mainly embarrassed by what they
are asked to do."

Cars are frequently searched at government road blocks. Dr Petheram said
police were ordered to do this and to check for pamphlets or other documents
that supported the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change.

Inflation has made life very difficult for the poor and those requiring
medical attention.

Dr Petheram's mother recently spent time in a Zimbabwean hospital at $Z1
trillion a night, equal at the time to about $30. Many families survive with
the help of relatives who send foreign currency to them.

Along with the decline in farm production, infrastructure has been
neglected.

Of the three hydro-electric turbines at Lake Kariba on the mighty Zambezi
River, only one is working.

Dr Petheram still feels the pull of Africa and has returned 11 times over
the past 30 years to visit national parks, "which are beautiful, wild and
welcoming".


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Clasping hands to bring peace

Comment from The Pretoria News (SA), 2 August

Hans Pienaar

It sounds like a bar-room joke: a Tutsi general meets a Catholic nun and,
not knowing what to do, ends up in an arm-wrestling match. They both end up
winning. Except, says American peacemaker Howard Wolpe, that it really
happened, in the small town of Ngozi in northern Burundi. Well, if it was a
joke, you might hope it would feature somewhere in the Zimbabwe talks, the
dealmakers with their elbows on the South African-sponsored whisky bar,
perhaps not to test each other's Superman qualities but to share the Johnnie
Walker whisky both sides are said to like. At the heart of the Zimbabwe
crisis is the refusal of President Robert Mugabe to relinquish power. After
several years of trying, President Thabo Mbeki got representatives of the
three main parties together to talk over a power-sharing alternative, and
Mugabe joined his arch foe Morgan Tsvangirai for a surreptitious brunch in
Harare.

This week the "dialogue", as a memorandum of understanding calls it, broke
down, but the somewhat frazzled facilitator Mbeki insisted they would
continue today. Whether or not a deal is in the offing this weekend, or only
in several months' time, in the view of the man in the street, there are
still many bridges ahead to cross. All have to do with how to get two
belligerent parties, one of which swore never to serve the other, to work
together to salvage what is left of the country. On the face of it, Burundi
and Zimbabwe cannot be compared. The first lost a third of its population in
a genocide; whatever you want to say about Mugabe, and however loathsome his
actions in Matabeleland were, the two are not in the same massacre league.

Yet Wolpe, who heads the Project on Leadership and Building State Capacity
of the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington DC, is one expert who insists
that Burundi has a lot to teach the continent, including Zimbabwe. At an
audience of the Centre for Africa's International Relations at Wits
University last week, he explained his work - and one could immediately see
what the connections between the two crises were. Burundi exploded into war,
whereas one of the features of the Zimbabwean crisis is that the
population - to the great puzzlement and exasperation of commentators with
roots in South Africa's mass democratic movement - has been so loath to rise
up against Mugabe.

A key African problem that Wolpe posits is the "zero-sum game" played by so
many belligerent groups in African conflicts, or the "winner takes all"
mentality. One is used to this phrase being applied to the supposed
unAfricanness of the Westminster parliamentary system, where the winning
party in an election, if only by one vote, becomes the new government. But
Africa's parties and militias demonstrate the phrase's real meaning - of the
men with the guns insisting that they should have everything: parliament,
radio stations, weaponry, mining concessions, ex-colonial homes...It is easy
to see that this militarist mindset still persists in Zimbabwe, and has
always been the basis of Zanu PF's approach to power. This year a minister
referred to non-Zanu PF voters as cockroaches who should be dealt with as
such, echoing the famous description of Tutsis by Hutu extremists during the
Rwanda genocide. For Africa's armed groups, seizing the reins of government
is just another arrow in the quivers of power over their adversaries, says
Wolpe.

But when it comes to conflict resolution, they are not the only parties at
fault. His work at the Woodrow Wilson Centre "comes out of frustrations that
I experienced both as a diplomat and as a policy maker... in the Congress",
where Wolpe served for seven terms before becoming Bill Clinton's special
representative to the Great Lakes. Diplomats, he discovered, had the right
gravitas and the right connections to bring parties to the negotiations
table, but often were unable to get real peace. Very few envoys ever get any
training in how to manage conflict resolution. Through the years they have
developed a "checklist approach", in which they impose organograms of
impressive-looking programmes on belligerents. A ceasefire is followed by
peace talks, which lead to a power-sharing deal, and then demobilisation and
re-integration of rebel soldiers in the national army. Because the
underlying problems are not being dealt with, this is where the peace often
breaks down.

Look no further than the DRC, where "re-integration" has led to new abuses
of civilians and even more charges of rape by soldiers, all leading to new
breakaway militias taking to the bush. "We have a tendency," Wolpe told a US
radio station, "to put a lot of pressure on the leaders in a conflict to
come to the table, to sign agreements, but we do nothing to really work
directly with their mindsets. "There is no reason, therefore, to believe
that the day after they have signed an agreement they would see their
conflict or each other any differently than the day before they signed that
agreement, and so it is not surprising that, within five years, most
societies that have signed agreements are back at war." Wolpe's alternative
is simple: training, training and training, to change the military mindsets.
This comes down to practically learning a set of very ordinary skills: the
nitty-gritty of negotiating, when to shake hands and when to wink, the art
of communication, how to assess perceptions of oneself, and how to
collaborate on simple tasks.

"We do not think it is very useful to lecture people, to preach to them
about human rights or about democracy. The challenge is to get people to
begin to comprehend their interdependence, to see each other as part of the
same political universe so that they will not dehumanise their adversaries."
This is where the Tutsi general and the Catholic nun come in. Wolpe and his
project team designed a series of interactive, simulatory, role-playing
games when they began with their peacemaking in Burundi in 2003. To break
the ice, they asked a number of key players in Burundian society, from both
the Hutu and Tutsi sides, to arm-wrestle with each other. Each pair of
arm-wrestlers would form a team, and score points when either's backhand
touched the table. The general and the nun were quick to realise that by
letting each other win, they would score the most points. Since 2003, more
than 100 leaders and army commanders from all sides in Burundi have been
trained in a range of skills, enabling them to build trust and a sense of
commonality.

Wolpe claims his team needed only three days to get groups on fiercely
opposing sides to work together. Another successful game was setting
imaginary oil prices for imaginary oil-producing countries. Instead of the
contest raising prices, they eventually hit rock bottom because of
competitors' fears that the other side would undercut them with ever cheaper
prices. Wolpe said this taught the valuable lesson that what one side might
see as an attack was often a defensive measure. A little of the outcome was
evident during the meeting of Burundi's main rebel leader, Agathon Rwasa,
government army generals and emissaries from the international community in
Magaliesburg, North West, recently. It was touching to see the circle of
staid diplomats, young and pretty technocrats, intense intelligence types
and lounging soldiers taking hands and praying with Rwasa, who afterwards
confessed he wasn't particularly religious.

So what was Wolpe's prescription for the Zimbabwean crisis? The thick veil
of secrecy over the dialogue might hide all sorts of carpet games between
the Tendai Bitis and the Patrick Chinamasas - anyone for skittles under the
coffee table? Wolpe did not hesitate with a suggestion, what one might call
"Zim socks", or, more accurately, "SimSocs" for "simulated societies". Four
participants are assigned to four imaginary regions with different sets of
resources, manpower, political structures and the like. SimSocs was devised
by William Gamson in 1966, and is used widely in the US to train
sociologists. Because they can see what the others do and why, SimSocs works
very well to help put belligerents in each other's shoes. Wolpe believes
this ability is one of the keys in any conflict resolution. But will this
really work in the Zimbabwe case? The key would be for Zanu PF bigwigs,
especially, to acknowledge that they are still playing a "zero-sum" game
after all these years, when it is not necessary. Tsvangirai is said to have
told Mugabe during their brunch that they are all Zimbabweans, and that no
foreigners would be at the dialogue table.

Playing a zero-sum game in a country that every now and then has to lose the
zeroes of its constantly inflating currencies is a contradiction in terms.
But SimSocs teaches another lesson. One of the scenarios that is shown up
beautifully, says one student who has played in a SimSocs game, is that of a
dictatorship. It was fascinating, he said, to watch how molly-coddling a
dictator just eggs him on to go ever further. That South Africa is
molly-coddling the dictator Mugabe can no longer be in doubt. Even if Mbeki
delivers a deal, it would be several years too late, a Pyrrhic victory in a
Potemkin village stretching from the Zambezi to the Limpopo. The odds would
be stacked against it achieving Zimbabwe's resurrection. Another theme in
Wolpe's approach is the "huge gap between the political class and the mass
of the population". Central to bridging the gap is to bring influential
civilians - listed as such by all the sides in a conflict - into the
process, and give them training too. This has long been the call from
various Zimbabwean civil organisations, the unions and the churches. Mbeki
has declined their offer. Perhaps he is the one who should play a game of
Zim socks, with lots of holes in them.


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Zimbabwe's bizarre treasure bonanza

IOL

††††August 03 2008 at 09:02AM

By Special Correspondent

This week, Zimbabwe's hard-pressed consumers were given a break, the
first in many hard years. Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe, removed 10 zeroes from Zimbabwe's currency.

Zimbabweans at first greeted the news as a non-event "until we
realised the implications of the old silver coins having now been
re-introduced. It dawned on us that the old coins form part of the new
currency, so they are worth 10 billion times their face value," said a man
who did not wish to be named.

This resulted in a joyous nationwide treasure hunt. Zimbabweans are
now searching in the backs of cupboards, under beds and in toy boxes looking
for the previously unloved and unusable coins.

They had been discarded years ago when the first spurt of
hyperinflation made them irrelevant and just too heavy to carry around.
Lucky treasure hunters located their stash in biscuit tins, plastic bags and
drawers.

Jane Gondiwa, a local banker, says she is going to devote this weekend
to finding two camphor cream jars that she is sure are full of Z$5 coins
(now each worth 50 billion Zimbabwe dollars).

There is a rare festive mood on the streets full of shoppers lugging
bags of coins, delighted that a 50c coin is now worth Z$5-billion and that
silver coins are once again useful currency.

Some shoppers are using the opportunity to buy reasonable quantities
of meat, sugar and other staples that have been lacking from their diets for
some years. Bottle stores are doing a roaring trade.

Elsa Honeybags, a housewife, discovered Z$300 worth of silver coins in
receptacles being used as doorstops. This bought 20kg of sugar. Before Gono
devalued the dollar, Z$300 was not worth one South African cent but her
collection is now worth the equivalent of Z$3-trillion (or 300 new Zimbabwe
dollars).

Her housekeeper, Lena Sithole, spent most of the day with her head in
her hands because she had given her coins to her four-year-old to play with.
In a similar incident, two years ago Jennifer Jones donated her bag of coins
worth about Z$1 000 to her nephews. This bought them two pieces of chewing
gum.

These coins would now buy a teenager a very "cool" outfit.

Zimbabwe is no place for the mathematically challenged. A few weeks
ago, a six-year-old was given Z$500 billion for pocket money and said:
"Mommy, you know I can't buy anything in the tuck shop for less than a
trill." This demonstrates mathematical aptitude far beyond her years but is
now the norm in schools across Zimbabwe. Her parents do not know how she
will react to being given a mere Z$100 for pocket money next week.

In Zimbabwe, almost all essentials and some luxuries are available
either from informal traders or small shopkeepers.

There is a flourishing barter system in the informal sector.

As an example, Honeybags exchanges one litre of cream for a bar of
green soap, and 11 bags of manure is swapped for a kilogram of rice. Two
litres of milk pays for her weekly visit to the hairdresser. Petrol sells
for US$1,50 a litre and is commonly used as a basis for pricing and
calculating costs.

Outsiders often ask how Zimbabweans cope day to day, living with
inflation and exchange rates of magnitudes that boggle the mind.

The answer lies partly in the thriving informal sector. But even if
this did not exist, a different solution would be found. "We Zimbabweans do
two things well: we laugh, and we make a plan," said one.

*Names have been changed to protect people's identities

This article was originally published on page 1 of Sunday Independent
on August 03, 2008


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Uncovering how Zimbabwean tycoon takes advantage of political crisis

http://en.afrik.com/article14203.html

John Bredenkamp, the Zimbabwean tycoon linked to £20m of payments made by
BAE Systems, has ridden political upheaval to become one of his country’s
richest international businessmen.

Sunday 3 August 2008

by Michael Peel, William Wallis and Christopher Thompson in London

Over a four-decade career that has taken him from Harare’s tobacco auction
floors to Downing Street, he has shown himself an opportunist whose business
dealings have come under attack from the United Nations and non-governmental
groups.

After flourishing under the white minority regime of Ian Smith, he later
allied himself to President Robert Mugabe’s post-independence government and
built up substantial British assets, including residences in Berkshire and
London’s Mayfair.

Patrick Smith, editor of Africa Confidential, the London-based newsletter,
said: “On a continent where businessmen progress through a combination of
hard-nosed pragmatism and personal networks, Bredenkamp is in the premier
league.”

Mr Bredenkamp’s history has come under the spotlight again following the
emergence of documents showing he is a beneficiary of Kayswell Services, an
offshore company paid at least £20m ($40m, €25m) by BAE between 2003 and
2005.

Mr Bredenkamp, who was born in 1940, began his career when he took a tobacco
auction house job found for him by one of his teachers at Prince Edward, a
top Harare state school.

By the late 1960s, he was captaining the Rhodesian rugby team and busting
tobacco export sanctions imposed by the United Nations after the Smith
government’s unilateral declaration of independence from Britain in 1965.

Mr Bredenkamp later expanded into oil procurement and dabbled in sports
management. His spokesman said his clients included Nick Price, the
Zimbabwean golfer, and Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion.

Mr Bredenkamp’s new line of business took him to a Downing Street reception
in the mid-1990s with John Major, the cricket-loving UK prime minister at
the time.

One of Mr Bredenkamp’s most controversial business ventures was mining in
the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. UN investigators concluded in
2002 that some of his business interests had illegally exploited mineral
resources, although he denied the allegation.

Mr Bredenkamp’s main business venture today is Breco, an international
private equity group set up after he sold his Casalee tobacco company for
$100m in 1993. He also has longstanding – if opaque – links with the arms
industry in southern Africa, although he says he has always complied with
arms sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe by the European Union in 2002.

He was a business partner of Billy Rautenbach, a fellow white Zimbabwean
wanted by South African police, before the two fell out over a mining deal
in the DRC.

Mr Bredenkamp was detained for several days last year in Harare’s notorious
central prison over alleged passport irregularities, a case his spokesperson
said was later dismissed.

It was another exotic twist in a career governed by a pragmatism exemplified
by the aphorism on the Breco website that “in Africa, it is essential to
work with change, not against it”.

It is a mantra that has helped Mr Bredenkamp make money, at the expense of
inviting criticism about the ever-shifting business and political
relationships he has exploited to do so.

The Financial Times


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Arab businessman takes steps to clear his name

From Arab News, 3 August

An Arab businessman accused by the United States of links to the Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe's regime has firmly denied wrongdoing and has taken
immediate steps to clear his name, according to a press release. The current
furor centers on the US government's incorrect contention made on July 25,
2008, that Thamer Al-Shanfari, former chairman of the defunct Cayman-based
mining company Oryx Natural Resources Ltd. (ONR), was involved in supporting
the Mugabe regime through his company. Al-Shanfari denied that he is linked
to the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe and has made an application to the US
Treasury to remove his name from their sanctions list and clear his name. He
expressed deep shock at the error in placing him on the sanctions list as a
result of his alleged links with ONR. Al-Shanfari's solicitors, the
London-based firm The Khan Partnership, are filing an application to the US
Treasury this week. Lawyer Hassan Khan pointed to the simple fact that his
client's involvement in Oryx ended on Dec. 12, 2002 when he resigned as
chairman.

"It is unacceptable that our client has been falsely accused in this way,
based on a wholly inaccurate factual source presented to the US authorities
and when the facts show that he has had no involvement in the company since
2002. Since that time control of the mine and the company has moved on
several times: First African Diamonds Ltd. took over operation of the mine
in November 2005, at which time production of diamonds actually ceased; Oryx
then went into liquidation and into the control of liquidators Grant
Thornton LLP (April 2007)," he said. "We are taking formal steps to clear
his name, beginning with a formal application to the US Treasury to have his
name removed from the sanctions list. We will also be inquiring of the US
authorities, through court action if necessary, as to the source of their
inaccurate information and taking appropriate steps against the inaccurate
source to ensure that these fabrications immediately cease," he added.


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HIV cure “found”! Really?

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/?p=1939

August 3, 2008

By Joshua M. Dziba

A recent news headline on the online Zimbabwean news site, NewZimbabwe.com proclaimed that an “HIV cure (had been) ‘found’”.† We felt that a clarification to this report is necessary, so as to avoid giving false hope to the millions of those who are infected with the HIV virus, but more specifically, to avoid confusion within our Zimbabwean community who read NewZimbabwe.com.

The reporting by NewZimbabwe.com was based on an interview granted to an American television news station, by two University of Texas Medical School (Houston) researchers who are behind the reported breakthrough.† However, none of the USA-based NEWS agencies, and certainly none in the medical scientific community seem to be proclaiming an absolute breakthrough in the fight against AIDS, from the findings by Dr. Paul Sudhir, contrary to the NewZimbabwe report.† It is the purpose of this statement, to clarify what the reported findings by Dr. Paul Sudhir are, and also to explain the real implications of these findings, for people currently living with HIV/AIDS.

Firstly, it is important to point out that no verified, effective AIDS cure has been discovered or developed anywhere in the world as of today.† Even as the XVII International AIDS Conference kicks off in Mexico City, Mexico on August 3rd 2008, there is unlikely to be reports of the finding or the discovery of an AIDS cure at this world forum.

Soundly tested scientific findings and breakthroughs in the respectable medical research community in the USA and indeed worldwide, are reported through scientific publications and/or meetings, and not through the press.† Prior to any such publication of findings though formally recognized scientific platforms, it is extremely difficult to verify the authenticity of “breakthroughs” reported through the press.† Thus far, we have not been able to identify publications or scientific meeting reports that give further details on Dr. Sudhir’s breakthrough, beyond what has been reported through the press.

The USA-based press agencies that have reported on Dr. Sudhir’s research have also spoken only of† “promising research that may lead to an AIDS cure” and not of the actual discovery of an AIDS cure.

This statement does not in any way seek to challenge Dr. Sudhir’s claims, but merely seeks to clarify his findings in view of the possible confusion that may be created by the story headline on the NewZimbabwe.com news site.† So without going into the scientific merits, or lack of merits thereof, in Dr. Sudhir’s research, this report will simply provide a layman’s explanation of the reported findings.

One of the major reasons why the HIV virus has proven so difficult to fight thus far, is its ability to mutate or change its characteristics rapidly.† So when targeted with various therapeutic challenges, either in the laboratory or in a clinical setting, the HIV virus is almost always able to change or transform itself, so that whatever characteristic, or weakness in its character, was targeted by the said therapeutic challenge, is no longer effectively targeted.† As a result, this leads to the virus acquiring what is often referred to as resistance.† So resistance in this sense is spoken of in terms of a specific drug or class of drugs.† So a patient on one drug, who develops resistance to that drug, is then put on a new drug, to which the HIV virus is not resistant.

What Dr. Sudhir’s research is reported to have discovered, is that there is a part of the HIV virus, which actually does not change or which is incapable of transforming naturally.† So, in theory, challenging this part of the virus with some therapeutic intervention should enable scientists to attack and destroy the virus, without the virus being able to transform itself so as to overcome the drug or whatever therapeutic intervention is being used. Dr. Sudhir reports that his theory has been successfully tested in their lab, and in animal experiments, and it has held up.† HOWEVER, no human tests of this theory, are reported to have been conducted, at this stage.

The development of medical drugs follows a prescribed paradigm, which was set-up in order to test the effectiveness of drugs before they are given to people, as well as to ensure the safety of such drugs when they are eventually given to humans.† As is often said in the medical research community with regards to cancer, if our aim was simply to treat cancer in mice, we would have cured cancer many years ago.† The point being made here being that many new strategies effectively cure cancers (and other targeted diseases) in animal models during research, but that success in animals does not often translate into success with humans.

Many theories, which sound plausible in principle, have failed to yield successful drugs for this reason.†† At the surface of it, Dr. Sudhir’s theory sounds like a breakthrough theory, but that does not immediately translate into a breakthrough cure for “HIV infection” or AIDS.††† What Dr. Sudhir reported to the press are the findings of what is termed the “basic” or ”preclinical” stages of his research.† As mentioned before, we have not even been able to identify the actual scientific reports of this basic stage of his research yet.† So, this basic research likely has not even undergone peer-review or scientific scrutiny beyond Dr. Sudhir’s lab.† Only after this has been done, will the research be allowed to progress on to the three stages of human trials or “clinical trials” that eventually decide whether a theory is turned into a blockbuster drug. The stages of the clinical trials are defined as follows:

  • Phase 1 Trial: Clinical trial conducted to evaluate the safety of a drug or therapy. How a drug should be administered (e.g. oral, injection) and dose levels are also evaluated. Phase 1 trials typically involve a small group ranging from 5 to 50 patients, depending on the disease indication.
  • Phase 2 Trial: Clinical trial conducted to further evaluate the safety of a drug or therapy and to evaluate its efficacy. In addition, researchers focus on determining optimal dose levels. Phase 2 trials typically involve a larger group than Phase 1 trials, approximately 15 to 200 patients, depending on the disease indication.
  • Phase 3 Trial: Clinical trial conducted to confirm the efficacy of a new drug or therapy. Trial participants are usually included in one of two study groups: one which will receive the new drug being evaluated, and one that receives an already approved, current standard of treatment. Phase 3 trials can enrol anywhere from 50 to 5,000 or more patients.

The extensive work required before a therapeutic strategy can be adopted as a viable treatment paradigm in humans usually means that it takes around 10 years or more to successfully develop such a therapy. The work reported by Dr. Sudhir only marks the completion (assuming they have completed the work they reported to the press) of the basic or initial stages in what is often a long path in drug discovery and development.

The reporting on this case and similar cases, which have tremendous implications for many Zimbabweans and others in the world, therefore serves to highlight the need for responsible journalism, so as to avoid giving false hope where there may be none, and also to avoid leading readers into irresponsible actions.† HIV/AIDS|ZIMBABWE CHARITY, INC. will respond to questions from concerned readers, on our forums, to further address any prevailing ambiguities regarding the report on Dr. Sudhir’s findings.

Dr. Sudhir’s findings do not in any way indicate that we are closer to finding a cure for HIV infections, any more than we were, say a month ago.† At best, the findings simply indicate that a new avenue in the search for such a cure has now opened up, and it still remains to be seen whether this avenue ultimately bears any better fruit than other similarly hopeful avenues that have already been traversed and explored before, since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

References:

YouTube Video of Dr. Sudhir’s research: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLf-DC4HV6o
Dr. Sudhir’s interview with Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,395941,00.html

(This article was first published by HIV/AIDS|ZIMBABWE CHARITY, INC. (HAZ). Joshua M. Dziba is the Executive Director of HAZ, a Zimbabwean non-profit organization with operations in the Zimbabwe, the USA and representation in Canada and the United Kingdom).

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