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Zimbabwe food prices 'up 10-fold'

BBC
Zimbabwean child at a rubbish tip
Some Zimbabweans have resorted to scavenging for food
The cost of buying groceries in Zimbabwe increased almost 10-fold in 2005, according to the country's independent Consumer Council.

Its report found that the price of a loaf of bread rose by 1,157% throughout the year to 44,000 Zimbabwean dollars (55 US cents; 32p). Milk rose 1,718%.

The runaway prices have caused living standards to plummet, especially since unemployment has risen to 80%.

The Zimbabwean government's own figures put the inflation rate at 502%.

Yet this figure is calculated on a broader selection of goods and services, some items of which have recorded smaller price hikes than essential food products.

Land seizures

Zimbabwe's economy has now been in sharp decline for six years, with severe fuel and food shortages contributing to the sky-high inflation.

While the United Nations says this is because of mismanagement by the government, Mr Mugabe instead puts the blame on sanctions imposed by Western nations following his controversial seizure of white-owned farms.

More recently, the UN and Western nations have attacked the demolition of thousands of homes and market stalls, a move strongly defended by the government as an urban renewal drive.

The Consumer Council's end-of-year report said 2005 had been an "agonising" year for Zimbabwean consumers.

Aid agencies estimate that 70% of Zimbabwe's 12 million population now survive on one meal or less a day, while the UN World Food Programme expects to feed some three million Zimbabweans next month.

The Consumer Council is now urging people to shop around for the best price and engage in "lawful informal trade, small-scale business and other income-generating activities".


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Ugliness behind beautification project

Newsday

After "cleaning" of illegal homes, vendors in Zimbabwe six months ago,
thousands remain displaced

BY XAN RICE
SPECIAL TO NEWSDAY

December 29, 2005

CHITUNGWIZA, Zimbabwe - As he inched his pickup truck through the
rubbish-strewn streets here one recent afternoon, Misheck Shoko slowly shook
his head. Rubble lay all around the modest houses, broken chunks of bricks
and concrete that make Zimbabwe's largest black-only settlement look like a
disaster zone.

"You would think there had been an earthquake here," said Shoko, 45, the
burly mayor of Chitungwiza, home to more than a million people and a
45-minute drive from the capital, Harare.

The force that swept through Zimbabwe six months ago was no act of nature.
Spearheaded by police units equipped with bulldozers, Operation
Murambatsvina (Clean the Filth) was billed by the government as an urban
beautification campaign. Illegal housing was to be stamped out and street
vendors, blamed for fueling the black market, removed.

Chris Maroleng, Zimbabwe analyst with the Institute for Security Studies,
based in South Africa, said the demolitions actually were designed to punish
and disperse the urban poor, who supported the opposition in the March
parliamentary election.

By Shoko's estimate, 40 percent of the dwellings here - mainly small houses
built alongside larger family homes - were razed. A July report by UN
special envoy Anna Tibaijuka said the "disastrous venture" cost 700,000
people their homes, livelihoods or both - an astonishing number for a
country of just 12.7 million people.

If the scars of the two-month operation are plain to see, the fate of the
victims is not. After the demolitions, thousands of displaced people were
taken to makeshift camps outside major towns. The government promised a huge
building drive to provide what it considered new, official housing for them,
and formal markets for the hawkers and traders.

But the camps were disbanded and today there are few significant
concentrations of displaced people anywhere in the country. Ask Zimbabweans
like Shoko, who fought during the war for independence, where the victims
are now and they will say "everywhere."

Many have returned to the rural areas where they grew up. Some have slipped
over the border into South Africa or Botswana, following millions of their
countrymen who already had fled the economic hardship.

Others squeezed into neighbors' houses that were left standing in the
high-density suburbs. "We are now sleeping four in a tiny room," a young man
said earlier this month as he tried to sell a bag of oranges late at night
in Harare. He asked to be identified as "Michael," not wanting his real name
used for fear of retribution by the police. "Where else can we go?" he
asked.

President Robert Mugabe has described claims of mass homelessness as
"nonsense."

"Where are the thousands?" he said in a television interview last month.
"You go there now and see whether the thousands are there."

He is right: The vast majority of the displaced people are - of necessity -
invisible. They have to be. "These people have had to find somewhere else to
live; otherwise, they will be picked up, fined and have their shelters
destroyed again," said David Chinombe, an activist for the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change party in the southern Masvingo province. "So
they are not homeless on the streets, but they do not really have homes."

Maroleng, the analyst, said the government worsened the existing
socio-economic crisis when it forced people back to rural areas or to double
up in the towns.

"Instead of affecting 700,000 people directly, it has affected millions,
because these displaced people are now dependent on others," Maroleng said.

The shock of the destruction is still being felt nationwide. Near Chivu, a
small town south of Harare, a man who gave his name only as "Edward" was
thumbing a lift late last month. Out of work since 1997, his only income
came from renting out the small house he had built on his father's property
in Chitungwiza.

"When I heard my house was destroyed, I was paralyzed," said Edward, 37, who
is married and has two children. "That was my investment for the future."

Farther south, in Sese on the road that leads to South Africa, the famed
Shona sculptors and carvers have sold their wares to tourists for decades.
The only reminders of that life are piles of broken bricks and mortar - the
sorry remains of stalls they built years ago, only to have them burnt down
by the police in July.

Some vendors still place a few crafts next to the road - an illegal act now
that informal trading is banned. They say they have little choice; like tens
of thousands of vendors, gold panners and hawkers, they must break the law
simply to earn a basic living.

"Why did they do this to us?" asked Pambaniso, a young carver. "Our parents
sent us to school with the money from tourists."

Across the road is one of the few signs that the government's Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle (Live Well) - meant to mitigate the effects of the
destruction - even exists. About 20 concrete booths are being built for the
150 vendors who used to work from here - a move the government says will
make the trade legitimate. But the stalls are too few and too small, the
carvers say. There is no word on when they will be ready.

Progress on the housing program is even more glacial. Jan Egeland, the UN
humanitarian relief coordinator who visited Zimbabwe early this month, said
it would take decades at the current pace for the government to provide
permanent housing for the displaced.

An angry Mugabe, who had met with Egeland, called the envoy "a damned
hypocrite and a liar" for criticizing Zimbabwe's failure to let the United
Nations help the displaced. He also saw a plot by Britain, the former
colonial occupier he accuses of trying to oust him.

"I am going to tell the [UN] secretary general not to send us men and women
who are not his own but agents of the British," Mugabe said.


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No Christmas lights for rotting Harare

From The Saturday Argus (SA), 24 December

When you've been living in Harare long enough, you learn to look on the
bright side of this city's descent into darkness. There was no electricity
at Harare's international airport one day last week. That was a relief. "We
can't scan passports today," said a grinning immigration officer. His
scanner is linked to a government data bank of passport information of all
arrivals and departures. A few days earlier President Robert Mugabe's
officials had begun withdrawing passports from "enemies of the state" -
publisher Trevor Ncube, opposition politician Paul Themba Nyathi, and trade
unionist Raymond Majongwe. Unusually, the Central Intelligence Organisation
operative otherwise permanently stationed at the entrance to the immigration
hall to scrutinise passports wasn't at his post. So that afternoon
travellers had a relaxed passage through the airport as clouds gathered
outside ahead of the daily summer thunderstorm. Scanning equipment was
installed at the airport three months ago after Mugabe signed a
constitutional amendment which allows him to cancel passports or refuse to
issue them to citizens he doesn't like. Zimbabwe passports record the
holder's "profession" and journalist is written there, on the bottom left
hand corner of mine so it was pleasant to get through departure formalities
without worrying that I might be penalised.

A few days earlier the electricity went off during Mugabe's annual state of
the nation address. That was also a relief. The power cut meant neither
state radio nor television could cover it and so we were all spared the
grating and tedious delivery of yet another political sermon. Mugabe has a
stock of international conspiracies he scapegoats for the state of the
economy which he has trashed and the millions whose lives he has destroyed.
Rain fell in sheets that afternoon and kept the city dark through the night.
The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, Zesa, not so long ago the
best-run power utility in Africa, is now so broke it cannot keep the lights
on in central Harare, or in the leafy suburbs, or in the ghettoes. As I
drove west across the city for a United Nations press conference that
evening, Harare looked desolate. No street lights, dark shop windows. And
certainly no Christmas lights! The only glow came from a few sparks
scattered by the rain from pavement fires which had been burning rubbish.
Harare's garbage was rarely collected in 2005.

Harare's flesh is rotting off its classy bone structure. The once- glorious
avenues of flowering trees are dying of neglect, sidewalks and bicycle
tracks are composting back to earth. Dust to dust. Driving past Mugabe's
official residence in bright sunlight the next morning, I was struck by the
extraordinary contrast between his world and that of his people. There are
no potholes on that stretch of road. Banks of shrubs and neatly-clipped
lawns edge the high walls around his residence and a series of boreholes
powered by a generator keep the sprinklers twitching merrily in the midday
heat and the grass green. Maybe he doesn't see the decay through the tinted
windows of his armour-plated stretched limo. Or maybe he just thinks; "B...
you Jack, I'm alright."


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Mugabe clamps down on central bank corruption investigations

Zim Online

Fri 30 December 2005

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe has ordered Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) officials to seek approval from his office first before investigating
senior government and ruling ZANU PF party officials accused of corruption.

The directive also requires the central bank, which has spearheaded a
crackdown on corruption against Mugabe's ministers, to consult with the
government's intelligence ministry before embarking on any other "sensitive"
investigations, according to a memo sent to the RBZ.

"Investigations that could involve senior government officials should
first be reported to the President's Office for direction. Senior government
officials include Cabinet Ministers, permanent secretaries and directors.

"The Ministry of State Security should always be fully briefed on any
matters that might be deemed sensitive to the State," read part of the terse
memo.

Sources said the directive comes as the RBZ planned to launch a
massive blitz on Mugabe's ministers and senior ZANU PF officials who are
accused of dealing in foreign currency through their hunting, game safaris
and tourism interests.

The RBZ under Gideon Gono, has spearheaded a massive campaign against
corruption by Mugabe's ministers and senior business leaders often with
embarassing returns.

The memo, dated December 19, was copied to the head of the RBZ's
Financial Intelligence Inspectorate and Evaluation Division, Mirirai
Chiremba.

Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba could not be reached for comment on
the matter last night while State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa refused
to take questions from ZimOnline, saying: "Issues relating to the state
security ministry are not for the public domain anywhere in this world."

Several of Mugabe's ministers and senior ZANU PF officials have been
arrested over the past two years for corruption and violating the country's
foreign exchange regulations. Former finance minister Chris Kuruneri spent
more than a year in remand prison after he was accused of externalising huge
sums of foreign currency.

A senior ZANU PF official and former parliamentarian, James Makamba,
also spent some months in remand prison after he was accused of breaching
the exchange regulations. He has since fled to the United Kingdom.

But several other cases in which top officials of Mugabe's government
were also accused of corruption have in the past been quietly swept under
the carpet.

Sources at the RBZ said the move by Mugabe to force the central bank
to seek approval first before investigating cases of corruption was intended
to block the bank from carrying out investigations that could touch a raw
nerve.

"Mugabe should have got unnerved by some of the investigations because
they became too close for comfort. The cricket saga was one such
investigation as it emerged that some money in foreign currency had been
paid to Mugabe as tokens.

"A new wave of investigations were also planned on several high
ranking figures and Mugabe wants to ensure that only those he wants to go
are netted," said a source.

Mugabe is a long-standing patron of Zimbabwe Cricket whose two bosses
were embroiled in a messy standoff with senior Zimbabwe cricket players who
accused the duo of gross mismanagement and corruption.

The two cricket bosses, Ozias Bvute and Peter Chingoka, who were
arrested last month for allegedly externalising huge sums of foreign
currency and breaching the country's exchange regulations, were recently set
free after the Attorney General's office declined to prosecute the duo
citing lack of evidence. - ZimOnline


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Raw sewage delivers sucker punch to festive spirit in Harare

Zim Online

Fri 30 December 2005

HARARE - Five-year old Edwin Tarusarira stands knee-deep in a pool of
sewage in Harare's poor suburb of Kuwadzana.

For Tarusarira, the "new pool" opened up new forms of recreation for
him and his small circle of friends despite the serious dangers of
water-borne diseases that lurk in the dirty waters.

In contrast to the bright Christmas lights in Harare's First Street
Mall, residents here say it was the pungent smell from the raw sewage
flowing freely in the streets that literally extinguished the Christmas
spirit.

"It is difficult to convince these children that this is dirty water
and that they may contract diseases," said 26-year old Mutsa Tarusarira,
wiping off a thick cake of dirt from her son.

"What this means is that I have to keep an eye on him for the whole
day or else he will swim in this dirty water. I wish the council could fix
these problems for once and let us enjoy the festive season in peace," she
said.

Tarusarira's neighbour, Agnes Gahada, said she had to take her son to
her sister's house in Avondale, a middle-class suburb in Harare, for the
Christmas holiday where conditions are better.

"I was forced to take my son elsewhere because of this looming health
time bomb. The burst sewer pipes are a recurrent problem here. We have
reported this problem to council several times but nothing has been done,"
she said.

Social services, like all sectors of Zimbabwe's economy, have crumbled
after years of gross mismanagement and under-funding. President Robert
Mugabe's government, battling a severe five-year economic recession, has
also failed to maintain infrastructure in cities and towns because there is
no hard cash to buy spares.

Zimbabwe is battling a severe foreign currency crisis after Mugabe
disrupted the country's key agricultural sector - the country's biggest
foreign currency earner - through his often violent seizure of white-owned
land for redistribution to landless blacks five years ago.

Most suburbs in Harare have gone for weeks without running water,
forcing residents to fetch water in unprotected wells. Rubbish bins have
also not been collected for months because of the crippling fuel shortage
gripping the country. Traffic lights in the city have been vandalised with
no sign that anything was being done to repair them.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party and civic
groups blame the crisis in the cities on mismanagement by Mugabe's
government in power since independence from Britain 25 years ago.

An opposition-led council running the city was last year kicked out by
the government and was replaced by a commission headed by Sekesai
Makwavarara. But the problems in the city have continued unabated.

While Harare commission gloats over its endless turn-around strategies
to restore order, the city is literally suffocating under a plethora of
problems ranging from burst sewer pipes to mounds of uncollected rubbish.

The burst sewerage problems are a microcosm of Zimbabwe's failed
economy. Residents in Kuwadzana say the problems are also symptomatic of the
collapse of the country's economy under Mugabe's tutelage.

For Gift Kondowe, the burst sewer pipes really spoiled his holiday as
he had to grapple with stinking raw sewage right on his doorstep in addition
to the "usual" problems of shortages of basic foodstuffs like bread and
cooking oil.

"Our house was like an island surrounded by this vast pool of sewege.
The stench is unbearable and mosquitoes feast on us at night. We are at
great risk," he said. - ZimOnline


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Report on housing and tenure security for farm workers in newly resettled areas

IN DEPTH:
TITLE: Report on housing and tenure security for farm workers in newly
resettled areas
AUTHOR: Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Land and Agriculture
CATEGORY: Zimbabwe
DATE: 10/16/2005
SOURCE: Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe, SARPN
SOURCE WEBSITE: http://www.sarpn.org.za

SUMMARY & COMMENT: Little attention has been paid to the land needs of those
who have been working and living on the commercial farms o Zimbabwe. Loss of
employment means loss of right to reside on the farm. This local NGO (Farm
Community Trust of Zimbabwe FCTZ) workshop addresses the issue of tenure
security and proposes ten policy options.
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Report on housing and tenure security for farm workers in newly resettled
areas

http://www.sarpn.org.za/documents/d0001750/index.php

Executive Summary

Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe (FCTZ) is a registered local
non-governmental organization PVO number 3/99. FCTZ major objective is to
improve the quality of life of vulnerable groups in former large-scale
commercial farming areas and rural informal settlements. The organisation is
operational in the four provinces of Mashonaland East, West, Central and
Manicaland.

FCTZ promotes the livelihoods of vulnerable people living in former
large-scale commercial farming areas and rural informal settlements through
facilitation of community development, communication, and advocacy and
lobbying those who can facilitate change. To achieve this goal, FCTZ
implements several programmes including: Research, Advocacy and Lobby;
Sustainable Livelihoods; Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC); Health;
HIV and AIDS; Basic Education; Gender and Microfinance.

Since its inception, FCTZ has seen Advocacy and Lobby as central in
achieving its main objective of improving the welfare of vulnerable groups
in former large-scale commercial farming communities. The objective of the
FCTZ Advocacy and Lobby programme is to raise awareness on vulnerable groups
in target areas in particular to sensitize policy makers, local authorities
and other stakeholders who in turn influence favorable policies on
vulnerable groups.

FCTZ has identified Parliamentary Committees as critical to the attainment
of its objectives. The organisation has in the past worked closely with, the
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Service Labour and Social
Welfare and has engaged its members through farm tours, workshops and
meetings. In October 2005, FCTZ engaged the Parliamentary Portfolio
Committee on Lands and Agriculture on issues of access to housing and
security of tenure for vulnerable groups in former large-scale commercial
farming areas.

The central issue in Zimbabwe since independence has been the resolution of
the land question. At independence the land question had three major
components:
unequal and inequitable land distribution:
insecurity of tenure, and
unsustainable and sub optimal land use. (Government of Zimbabwe 1998)

While the benefits of land reform in terms of a more equitable distribution
of land and an easing on pressures on communal areas have been discussed at
length, relatively little attention has been paid to the land needs of those
who have been working and living on the commercial farms. Farm workers live
with pronounced insecurity about their future. By reason of their origin and
biography most have little access to extended family, "safety nets" and have
no claim to land in the communal areas.1 They have been extremely dependent
upon their employers to satisfy their basic needs, to an extent unlike any
other group of employees in Zimbabwe.

The absence of tenure security meant that the right to residency on a farm
was tied to the employment status of the individual. Loss of employment
would automatically mean loss of right to reside on the farm. FCTZ believes
that as we now enter into the consolidation and productive phase of the land
reform programme, it is imperative that we address the issue of tenure
security for the farm worker community. It is against this background that
FCTZ held a workshop to discuss the various policy options to address the
issue of housing and security of tenure for farm worker communities in newly
resettled areas between 14 and 156 0ctober 2005.

FCTZ, together with other stakeholders including farmer and farm worker
organizations, relevant government departments, RDCs, members of the media
and other NGOs made presentations to the Parliament Portfolio Committee on
Lands and Agriculture during the workshop. The workshop, which was held at
Troutebeck Inn in Nyanga came up with a number of recommendations as a way
forward on the issue of housing and tenure security for farm worker
communities.

The workshop concluded that farm workers constituted communities whose
livelihoods were dependent on the commercial farm owner prior to and after
the Land Reform Programme. The farm worker communities were, therefore,
considered the most vulnerable group residing in these areas. The workshop
also noted the need to address the security of tenure of new farmers to
create an enabling environment for employment creation.

The following is a summary of the recommendations made the by the workshop:
1. Government should provide security of tenure for farm workers through the
establishment of rural service centers
2. Government should allocate land to those farm workers who want to farm
3. Government should speed up procedures for conferring security of tenure
for
new farmers
4. The right to residency on a farm or any form of housing should not be
tied to
the employment status of a farm worker
5. The government should consider using NSSA funds to launch a housing
scheme
for farm worker communities RDCs should designate rural service centres
which
would provide residential accommodation for farm workers and other service
providers in newly resettled areas
6. There is need to establish a quota system for the allocation of land to
farm
worker communities
7. Government should support new farmers to generate employment for the
already experienced labour force
8. Each district in the country should come up with a skills register of
farm workers
to facilitate the employment of farm workers and link them to farmers
9. Under utilized land should be made available for farm worker resettlement
10. There is need to carry out educational meetings and workshops on birth
registration procedures with the farm worker community and the Registrar
General's Office to encourage registration of the communities.

Footnotes:
1. Research carried out by Famine Early Warning Systems, Farm Community
Trust of Zimbabwe and the Agriculture Labour Bureau in 1998 indicated that
only 40% of permanent (male) farm workers maintain a rural home.

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Zimbabwe to import more power from Congo

TCMnet

[December 29, 2005]

(Comtex Energy Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)HARARE, Dec 29, 2005 (Xinhua via
COMTEX) --Zimbabwe is to import an extra 50
megawatts of electricity from the neighboring Democratic Republic
of the Congo (DRC), local newspaper The Herald reported on
Thursday.

Zesa Holdings executive chairman Sydney Gata was quoted as
saying that this would result in the DRC power utility Snel, which
currently supplies 100 MW to Zimbabwe, increasing the amount by 50
percent.

In addition, Zimbabwe's power utility Zesa Holdings has
contracted a Chinese firm to help in its expansion program of
Hwange and Kariba power stations.

This comes at a time when Zesa Holdings and South Africa's
Eskom have entered into an agreement with Zambia to supply 300 MW
to the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation following the closure
of that country's biggest power station along Kafue River after
damage caused by heavy rains last Saturday.

The contractual agreement between his organization, on one hand, and Zesa
Holdings and Eskom, on the other, would see Zambia
getting 300 MW in a move expected to minimize the impact of the
shutdown.

Gata said his firm would embark on a massive expansion drive
from January as measures to improve power supply in the country
continue.

Zimbabwe's power utility has also struck strategic deals with
several regional and international companies, which would result
in improved capacity and service.

Gata said Zesa Holdings had held meetings with their regional
counterparts to improve their working relationship and cooperation.

"A few days ago we were meeting with regional power companies
just to maintain relations with our neighbors and I am glad to say
that everything went on well with suppliers from Zambia, Mozambique and the
DRC," he said.

Energy supplies from the DRC would be increased next month, he
said.

Zambia and Zimbabwe have the strongest inter-connector and
Zambia had offered to assist in stabilizing the country's power
supply, he added.

Zimbabwe imports 35 percent of its energy requirements from its
neighbors.

Zesa Holdings has been struggling to meet demand for power
owing to foreign currency shortages, resulting in the power
utility introducing intermittent load-shedding.


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Fuel Crisis Hampers Food Aid Efforts

Zim Daily

Thursday, December 29 2005 @ 12:04 AM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is setting up a logistical and
information management centre in Zimbabwe to coordinate the movement of food
aid to at least three million people threatened by starvation spawned by
prolonged drought and Operation Murambatsvina.

The country office is expected to coordinate logistical and
transport operations, intervene where local bottlenecks are identified, and
liaise with donors and UN agencies, WFP communications director Robert
Michelle told zimdaily from Johannesburg yesterday. The setting up of the
office come as UN FAO is also setting up a regional emergency coordination
office at the regional centre in Harare to look at the sort of interventions
that FAO can take towards tackling the unfolding crisis.

WFP and FAO warned last week that millions of people were on the
brink of famine in Zimbabwe due to acute shortages of fuel to move food aid
to the starving millions. Zimbabwe has faced grave food shortages over the
whole year following three successive droughts and President Mugabe's policy
of seizing prime land from white farmers and redistributing it to black
peasants. Mugabe argues this is a belated writing of colonial wrongs.

Zimdaily heard that more than 1 million metric tonnes of food
will need to be imported over the next three months to meet the minimum food
needs of the population. Almost three million people in the famine
threatened Zimbabwe need immediate emergency food assistance of some 400 000
metric tonnes, the two agencies said. Given the gravity of the findings by
assessment teams in a survey conducted by FAO and WFP, the two humanitarian
agencies have called on donor governments worldwide to respond quickly and
generously with food aid donations to "avoid widespread hunger from
developing into a humanitarian disaster."

WFP country spokesperson Makena Walker said despite the rains
that continue to fall in most parts of the country, donor attention was
"still turned to the immediate crisis and they see as we do, the grave
crisis which lies ahead in light of acute shortage of grain." Michelle said
the WFP will ensure that vessels are offloaded expeditiously and moved out
efficiently. WFP is trying to increase the "discharge rate" - the amount
that can be offloaded from a vessel a day. A "one stop shop" for customs
clearance procedures for trucks and rail traffic between South Africa and
Zimbabwe was already being discussed, Michelle said. He added that WFP was
also asking for special privileges to reduce border tolls.


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ZIMRA Imposes Compulsory Forex Exchange At Border Posts

Zim Daily

Thursday, December 29 2005 @ 12:04 AM GMT
Contributed by: Reporter
The government of Zimbabwe through its revenue Authority ZIMRA
is not stopping at anything in its bid to spruce up depleted foreign
currency reserves. The authority capitalised on the festive season visits by
Zimbabweans working in neighbouring countries to impose a compulsory foreign
currency exchange at the congested Beitbridge Border Post and the Plumtree
entry. ZIMRA is charging a minimum of 500 South African rands and Botswana
Pula for exchange, failure to surrender the currency will attract a
confiscation of goods as a penalty measure.

"We were faced with a double trouble situation, the South
African immigration officials were slow in attending us, on the other side
the Zimbabwe Immigration authorities forced us to change the currency at the
border", said Courage Simango, a Zimbabwean based in South Africa who had
visited his parents in Chiredzi during the holiday.

Zimbabwe is bereft of the much needed foreign currency due to
the unattractive exchange at the official market as well as Mugabe's
'jungle' policies which have scared away the much needed investors. Most
foreign currency dealers use the black market because of its competetive
exchange rates. The South African Rand fetches $14 000, US dollars
reciprocating a $92 000 whilst the Botswana Pula invites a $17 000 on the
sprawling black market, which far beats the recently introduced interbank
exchange mode.

Reserve Bank Governor recently introduced a competitive
interbank market in a bid to curb the black market. The move is proving
futile as the competitive black market is thriving on hiking the rates
thereby luring potential 'customers'.


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Residents turn to cemetery for water

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Dec-29

WARREN Park D residents in Harare have resorted to fetching water for
domestic use from the nearby Warren Hills Cemeterey because of water
rationing introduced by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa)
throughout the country.
When The Daily Mirror crew visited the graveyard adjacent to the western
high-density suburb yesterday, scores of residents were queuing to draw
water from taps dotted around the graveyard.
The taps are less than 10 metres from the graves.
The people said their suburb had now gone for two days without water,
forcing them to venture into the cemetery even at night for the precious
liquid.
"It is just water and we drink it no matter where it comes from. What we
know is that the water is safe and as good as any from any other tap," a
resident Thomas Chabata said, adding that people go to the cemetery even at
around 2am to fetch water.
"We are not afraid of the graves because they are just pillars and rocks.
"We do not know the people lying underneath and we are not related to them,"
said one elderly man who refused to be identified.
He said he needed the water to wash vegetables he would later sell at a
vending mart at the nearby Pfukwa Shopping Centre.
Most of those interviewed who were seemingly resigned to the reality of
fetching water from the graveyard said they were not scared of fetching
water from the cemetery at any time.
They said they found nothing amiss in drawing water from the cemetery,
adding that because of the perennial cuts experienced, the residents have
from several years ago resorted to the cemetery as a source of water. "We
always fetch water from here whenever there is no water. Even mourners
gathered in this cemetery sometimes come to fetch water from houses close by
and there is nothing wrong with it. Sometimes we fetch the water from nearby
plots," another resident Ngonidzashe Machingura said.
Many Harare homes have been going for days without water following Zinwa's
water demand management schedule meant to equitably share the scarce
resource among all residents.


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Pro-Mugabe supporter in charge of asylum applications in Pretoria



By Tichaona Sibanda
29 December 2005

MDC activists based in South Africa are outraged over reports that a
top official dealing with Zimbabwe asylum seekers has openly declared his
sympathy towards Robert Mugabe.

Rodgers Mudarikwa, spokesman for the Zimbabwe Action Support Group
said a DRC national, working for the Pretoria government at Marabastad
refugee reception office is constantly frustrating Zimbabweans because of
his open support for the regime in Harare.

'He told me point blank and in front of 4 witnesses that he is a great
admirer of Robert Mugabe because he helped the DRC government from foreign
aggression,' said Mudarikwa.

ZASG named the official is a Mr Pierre from the DRC. He is acting
director of the refugee reception office, in the absence of a regular
director who has been working well with Zimbabwe support groups.

Before he was assigned to be the acting director, we used to process
close to 20 people per week with the Home Affairs ministry in Pretoria. But
after he came on board, the whole system is now bogged down because of his
reluctance to process the applications.

'What makes us angry is the fact that he has the audacity to question
the sincerity of Zimbabwean asylum seekers. Who is he to ask us that,' said
Mudarikwa.

To add salt to the wound, the official is also a refugee who was
granted that status when he fled the DRC. The ZASG said they were in the
process of writing a letter to the authorities there to transfer the
official from the refugee office.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Zimbabwe authorities to take over a week to clear deportees from SA



By Tichaona Sibanda
29 December 2005

It's reported that authorities in Harare will take over a week to
clear the 160 people who were deported from South Africa aboard a chartered
flight on Wednesday.

Our correspondent Simon Muchemwa told us from Harare on Thursday that
the authorities were checking whether all those returned were not 'first and
foremost' fugitives from the country who had fled to South Africa.

'The problem is most of those deported on Wednesday do not have travel
documents, and we are told among them there are several people who are not
Zimbabweans, but were found using Zimbabwe travel documents,' said Muchemwa.

The vetting process will also be delayed as a result of the festive
break, because most officials are still on holiday.

'This is a bureaucratic delay because the majority of those people are
women and children. Surely they can't be classified as fugitives. They are
people who had gone to South Africa to try and earn an honest living,' he
said.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Hunting dogs face extinction

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe

From Pamenus Tuso in Bulawayo
issue date :2005-Dec-29

THE number of hunting dogs in some parts of Africa has diminished from about
500 000 at the turn of the last century to the current 3 000, thus adversely
affecting the ecosystem.
The disturbing scenario followed a research carried out by Painted Dog
Conservation (PDC), an organisation based in Dete.
The research showed that the dwindling figures meant the dogs, which hunt in
packs, faced extinction.
It also said that a great proportion of the dogs are either in unsafe and
prey-depleted areas or in protected areas where the low numbers do not
represent a sustainable population.
It then suggested a review of the management policies and measures to
strengthen painted dogs' conservation reserves in the country and improve
the methodology of the wild canines census and forecasting.
The research noted that Zimbabwe still remained a stronghold of the species
in the world with over 700 distributed around the Hwange and Gonarezhou
national parks and the Zambezi Valley.
"Road kills, direct persecution by farmers and snares take a heavy toll on
packs that leave the protection of National Parks and impose a severe drain
on the parks. Diseases transmitted from domestic dogs is also a threat and
populations have been wiped out from it", read the research report.
Lions and hyenas also posed a great danger to the continuity of wild dogs as
the beasts devour their pups. The problem is further complicated by the fact
that only one pair in a pack breeds annually.
Other members of the pack assist in the feeding, protection and rearing of
the puppies. The dogs care for their sick and injured by regurgitating food
or licking wounds clean when necessary.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Africa had half a million-painted dogs
in 39 countries. However, systematic bounty hunting and road kills have
decimated the dog's population to a mere 3 000 in Zimbabwe, Tanzania,
Botswana and South Africa.
So far, PDC has managed to relocate dog parks from sensitive farming areas
through the development of non-invasive captive and release techniques.


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Africa's year of democratic reverses

BBC

By Patrick Smith
Africa Confidential editor

The winds of change blowing through Africa's palm trees have changed
direction this year.

The political news out of Africa gets worse as the economic news
improves.

After a decade of triumphs for Africa's democrats - the ending of
apartheid in South Africa, the ousting of Congolese tyrant Mobutu Sese Seko
and free multiparty elections in Ghana, Kenya and Senegal - several regimes
have reverted to violent repression and election-rigging to cling to power.

Despite this, African economies are growing on average at 5 per cent a
year, better than they have since the 1970s, say the IMF and the World Bank.
National incomes may be rising but so is social inequality, fuelling
political tensions.

The UN's Human Development index says incomes per head are stagnating
and life expectancy rates are falling.

The fruits of higher growth are not going on social development.

Awkward questions

That raises more awkward questions as 2005 - the year of Africa -
draws to a close.

The campaigners in Africa and the West who called for more aid, less
debt and fairer trade for Africa and bolstered British government efforts to
negotiate a better deal for Africa from the rich countries' G8 club have won
important concessions.

But in most states, regime security trumps the development imperative.

More than 30 African states have abandoned single party rule in favour
of some variety of multiparty elections since 1990 but now the wind is
blowing back.

After Ethiopia's disputed national elections in May, government forces
shot more than 80 people dead and arrested 8,000 more after clashes with
oppositionists in Addis Ababa.

In Tanzania, the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi was accused of rigging an
election victory on the volatile islands of Zanzibar in October.

And in neighbouring Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni, in power for
two decades, persuaded parliament to allow him to a third elected term, then
presided over the arrest of leading opposition candidate Dr Kizza Besigye.

Tyrants unchecked

This embarrasses Britain's Africa enthusiasts: Ethiopia's Meles and
Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa were appointed to British Prime Minister
Tony Blair's Africa Commission, and Britain is the leading aid giver to the
Museveni regime in Uganda.

More importantly, it's a reversion to political relativism in Africa
which tolerated the worst tyrants and kleptocrats on the principle that
every regime has something to hide.

The list goes on.

This year Gabon's President Omar Bongo, in power since 1967 won
another seven-year term; Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore, ally of
warlord Charles Taylor, circumvented the constitution to get another
five-year term; Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo unilaterally postponed
elections which were to signal the end of the country's civil war; and
Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe bludgeoned and starved the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change into defeat.

Not all the blame should go to the incumbents.

Many opposition movements are weak and divided.

And Western governments' indignation is highly selective: oil-rich
states such as Angola and Equatorial Guinea escape censure while
resource-poor states are pilloried.

Sad end

But the biggest tests are in Africa's own institutions.

The African Union, set up in 2002, has been a huge improvement on the
old Organisation for African Unity, known as the dictator's trade union.

The AU has adopted a credible development plan known as Nepad, and
introduced a revolutionary system of peer review under which member states'
commitments to democracy and human rights are measured by independent
monitors.

The AU sent 5,000 African peacekeepers to the Darfur region where
Sudan's Islamist regime has been accused in several high-level UN reports of
mass murder and ethnic cleansing, as well as training and arming ethnic
militias.

Although the Sudan government failed to block the deployment of AU
troops in Darfur, it has persuaded the AU to hold its summit in Khartoum
next month (January) to dampen growing criticism.

The UN Security Council has referred Darfur to the International
Criminal Court in the Hague.

Several senior Sudanese officials, including President Omar al-Bashir,
are under investigation but they refuse to recognise the ICC's jurisdiction.

Allowing Khartoum to host the AU summit and President Bashir to chair
it blatantly contradicts the AU's avowed democratic ethos, Sudan
oppositionists and human rights campaigners say.

For many, Bashir's leadership of the AU will resurrect the dog days of
the OAU when it elected Uganda's Idi Amin as chairman while he organised the
massacre of thousands of his fellow Ugandans.

A sad end to the year of Africa.


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Tsvangirai to ride storm, but party weak - analysts

New Zimbabwe

By Cris Chinaka
Last updated: 12/30/2005 00:26:30
ZIMBABWE opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has seen the party he founded
split in two by bitter feuding, but analysts say he is likely to ride out
the storm as the main challenger to President Robert Mugabe.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lurched into its deepest
crisis since it was formed in 1999 after party rebels rejected his call to
boycott November elections for a new Senate which critics saw as part of
Mugabe's push to consolidate his power.

Tsvangirai and his followers stayed away from the polls but the opposing
faction took part, leading to a rancorous dispute over who really represents
the political opposition in Zimbabwe.

Analysts say that while the dispute has weakened the MDC -- long seen as the
only viable challenge to Mugabe's 25-year grip on power in Zimbabwe -- it is
too early to write Tsvangirai off.

They say he is likely to emerge as the leader of the largest MDC faction at
a national congress in February expected to see the formal split of the
party.

"While the MDC has suffered as a result of this feud, Tsvangirai's image as
an opposition figure, his image as a man trying to win power from Mugabe has
been enhanced by the attacks still coming through the government's
propaganda machinery," said John Makumbe, a political scientist at Harare's
University of Zimbabwe.

"The more they focus on him, they more they are telling the people that they
see him as a threat," Makumbe, a longtime critic of Mugabe's government,
told Reuters.

A senior western diplomat in Harare concurred, saying Mugabe's government
still clearly regarded Tsvangirai as its main opponent -- and that many
western governments were also betting on the veteran politician to emerge
victorious.

"For us, he is still the leader of the opposition and we don't think the
situation will change," he said.

Tsvangirai ordered the boycott of the November 26 poll on the grounds that
it would lend legitimacy to a government that he accuses of election rigging
and increasing political repression, charges echoed by Western governments.

His internal opponents, led by MDC Secretary General Welshman Ncube, said
the party had to participate to remain viable and fielded a number of
candidates, ending up winning seven of the 66 seats in the upper chamber of
parliament.

Since the election antagonism between the two factions has grown as each
side seeks to persuade party members, foreign diplomats and the general
population that they represent the party's future.

To the glee of Mugabe's governing ZANU-PF party, they have played out their
differences in the media, trading insults, "suspending and expelling" each
other and electing different provincial party officials ahead of the
February congress.

"It's very clear now that these people are not going to be able to work
together, and every day they are demonstrating this fact," Makumbe said.

Ncube's faction has branded Tsvangirai a dictator, saying he sought to
overrule internal democratic processes to order the poll boycott. But its
legal appeal to get a court endorsement of its "suspension" of Tsvangirai
was thrown out by the High Court.

On the other hand, Tsvangirai -- backed by the leaders of the MDC's powerful
youth and women's leagues -- labels his adversaries as sell-outs working for
Mugabe's benefit.

Political analysts say the feud has effectively split the MDC into two
parties, both of which are fighting for the MDC brand name amid a deepening
economic crisis seen in severe food, fuel and foreign currency shortages and
rising unemployment.

Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of political pressure group National
Constitutional Assembly, said while Tsvangirai appeared to have the numbers
on his side, the real test would be to see who is able to capitalise on
growing national frustration.

"The people of Zimbabwe are looking for a leadership that is able to
articulate their views and organise with them how they can realise their
political and economic programmes - and that is the challenge that is here
and that is ahead," he said.

The Harare-based diplomat said Western governments had not reached any final
public verdict on Tsvangirai and the MDC, and were waiting to see what
happens after its party congress.

"Obviously no one is saying that they (the MDC) are what they were before
these problems. They do look weak but at the same time no one is buying this
story that they are dead and buried," he said - Reuters


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Illegal aliens seek police protection from mob justice

From The Cape Times (SA), 29 December

By Janine du Plessis

Pretoria - A group of illegal immigrants who sought refuge at Wierdabrug
police station at the weekend, fearing they would become victims of mob
justice, are to be deported to Zimbabwe. The group had fled their community
after residents allegedly threatened to hunt down illegal immigrants after
the body of a man was found in Choba, near Olievenhoutbosch, on Christmas
Day. Residents went on the rampage on Boxing Day as news spread that the
man's body had been found in his home with multiple stab wounds. They blamed
illegal immigrants for the murder. Police spokesman, Inspector Lucas
Sithole, said the man had apparently spent Christmas Eve in the company of
foreigners. "Later a suspect was found and it was learnt that the suspect
and the deceased stabbed each other and the suspect was hospitalised. The
community started gathering and rioting, blaming illegal immigrants from
Mozambique and Zimbabwe for the murder. They demanded that police remove
them from the informal settlement," said Sithole. The angry crowd eventually
forced an unknown number of foreigners to seek refuge at the Wierdabrug
police station in Centurion. Thirty-two of the illegal immigrants within the
group are from Zimbabwe and were taken to the Lindela repatriation centre to
be deported to their home country, said Sithole.

Olievenhoutbosch resident Friedman Lukhele said: "Criminals told the angry
community members they would hunt down illegal immigrants and bring them to
book. However, they in fact used the tense circumstances to steal their
cellphones, DVDs, electrical appliances, food, anything they could lay their
hands on. They also ransacked kiosks and street vendors." Lukhele said the
community was angered by the criminals' actions. On Tuesday, deputy area
police commissioner Nick Sithole met with community leaders to encourage
them to work with police and not take the law into their own hands. "We will
not tolerate people making unfounded allegations and attacks. They are
innocent until proven guilty. We spoke to them as police about their
apparent problem with illegal immigrants to sort the matter out," said
Sithole. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe officials detained more than 160 Zimbabweans
who were deported from South Africa as illegal immigrants, state radio in
Zimbabwe was quoted as saying yesterday. Regional officials estimate that up
to two million Zimbabweans have sought economic refuge in South Africa in
the face of a long-running political and economic crisis which President
Robert Mugabe's critics say has forced a quarter of Zimbabwe's 12 million
people abroad.


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Botswana benefits from Zim fuel crisis

Mmegi, Botswana

JOEL KONOPO
Staff Writer
12/29/2005 3:36:29 PM (GMT +2)

Petroleum suppliers in the northern part of Botswana have
experienced a boom in sales as Zimbabwe continues to suffer fuel shortages.
"It is true that retail sites in the north have realised increased volumes
due to fuel problems in Zimbabwe," Corporate Communications manager for BP
Botswana, Mahube Mpungwa said.

"Fuel stations from Ramokgwebana to Tonota have been realising
increased sales. We are prepared, we have the demand forecast for such
areas," he added.

During the festive season, fuel points in Francistown have been
frequented by long queues as a majority of Zimbabweans resort to Botswana in
search of fuel. Most of the queues have become a common feature and are
getting longer by the day as Zimbabweans travelling from as far as Harare
bring huge containers to buy fuel in bulk.

Zimbabwe's fuel scarcities are partially occasioned by
inadequate foreign currency. In addition, the government's reluctance to
increase the prices of fuel has worsened the crisis. The fuel crisis, which
has prevailed for the past two months, has paralysed Zimbambwe's transport
and manufacturing sectors. Botswana government officials say there are no
restrictions on the quantity of fuel a customer can buy.

Meanwhile, an official at BP Botswana has told Mmegi that they
are not ordering any new stockpile of leaded petrol from South Africa. This
is meant to comply with the move to phase out leaded fuel. "The remaining
stock pile will be sold up to depletion. Phasing out leaded petrol is a
process. It will take time until the depletion of super volumes," BP Project
manager, John Mokwena said.

An official at the Department of energy, said government is
fully prepared for the phasing out of leaded petrol. "Of the five fuel
stations we surveyed this morning, four are prepared," said an officer who
spoke on condition of anonymity yesterday. "For the other one, management
told us that they have been experiencing problems with their refineries in
South Africa as they have been operating at low capacity, so they pleaded to
continue selling leaded petrol next year. Generally, we are safe," she said.

Mmegi, 2002


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State Appoints Investigator to Probe Zctu



The Herald (Harare)

December 29, 2005
Posted to the web December 29, 2005

Harare

GOVERNMENT has appointed an investigator to probe the affairs of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) following allegations of gross
embezzlement of funds, corruption and breaches of the umbrella labour body's
constitution against the top leadership.

The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Nicholas
Goche, yesterday assigned Mr Tendai Chatsauka, an auditor by profession, to
carry out the task.

The appointment was made in terms of the Labour Act, which allows the
minister to have the financial affairs of registered employer organisations
and unions investigated.

Cde Goche said the appointment follows an inquiry held last month in which
allegations were levelled against the labour body's general council.

According to the Labour Act, if there is reasonable cause to believe that
property or funds of any trade union, employer organisation or federation
are being misappropriated or misapplied, or that the affairs are being
conducted in a manner that is detrimental to the interests of its members,
the minister may order that such trade union, employer organisation or
federation be investigated.

Cde Goche said the Government had realised that there was need to take
action against the labour body after numerous complaints from ZCTU
affiliates.

"There were various allegations by affiliates of the centre (ZCTU) and a
number of alleged abuses reported -- including financial misappropriation --
and more concern on the misappropriation of ZCTU funds and the payment of a
$15 million salary to the ZCTU president (Mr) Lovemore Matombo contrary to
the centre's constitution," the minister said.

Cde Goche said he had outlined to the investigator his terms of reference
and discussed with him the vital importance of sticking to the facts of the
matter so as to come up with true and fair findings.

"I met with the investigator this morning (yesterday) and emphasised on the
need for him to carry out the investigations in a professional and not to
target investigations at individuals, but establish facts," he said.

The investigator is yet to give the time needed for the wide-ranging probe
of the labour movement's affairs.

Among other tasks, the investigator is required to probe the operations of
the informal sector project account, which is alleged to be not in line with
the ZCTU constitution, and the financial administration handbook, among
other standing rules of the body.

The investigator will also investigate the manner in which the ZCTU bought
properties in Harare, Chinhoyi, Gweru, Masvingo, and Bulawayo and other
alleged irregularities concerning property purchases elsewhere.

The ZCTU leadership is accused of gross mismanagement, corruption,
embezzlement of funds and violation of the labour movement's constitution,
ignoring the plight of the workers and engaging in political activities.

The probe follows the infighting that has rocked the ZCTU.

The continuing internal conflict has culminated in the dismissal of three of
the labour body's trustees under unclear circumstances.

The three trustees -- Mr Charles Gumbo, Mr Benson Ndemera and Mr Leyson
Mlambo -- had also written to the minister, saying that their sacking from
the ZCTU was illegal.

Some disgruntled affiliates of the ZCTU -- led by Mr Nicholas Mazarura of
the Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Workers' Union -- had made a similar
call to the minister following the dismissal of their leaders.

This followed the clandestine sacking of five general council members from
the ZCTU.

Those dismissed were Mr Edmund Ruzive and Mr Joseph Midzi, both from
Associated Mine Workers' Union of Zimbabwe, Mr Mazarura, Mr Langton Mugeji
(Zimbabwe Leather Shoe and Allied Workers' Union) and Mr Farai Makanda
(Transport and General Workers' Union).

The five were sacked for allegedly bringing the name of the labour body into
disrepute, a claim they hotly disputed.

However, national executive members of the affected affiliates countrywide
have reaffirmed their support for the suspended leaders.

The affiliates have come up with proposals meant to ensure that the labour
body returns to its founding principles.

The ZCTU leadership denies the accusations of corruption, misappropriation
of funds and neglect of workers.

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