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Seizure of journalist's passport highlights worsening autocratic rule in Harare

Zim Online

Fri 9 December 2005

HARARE - Zimbabwean journalists, human rights lawyers and political
analysts last night roundly condemned the government's seizure of top
journalist Trevor Ncube's passport saying the move highlighted escalating
autocratic rule by President Robert Mugabe in the face of a disintegrating
opposition.

The biggest representative body for journalists in the country, the
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, said it feared the seizure of Ncube's travel
document could be the beginning of a "new wave of government efforts to
silence the media and deny people the right to free movement."

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights director Arnold Tsunga, said the
move by immigration authorities to seize a citizen's passport was a
disgraceful act, adding that the government had "no justification whatsoever
to take away Ncube's passport."

But University of Zimbabwe political scientist and top government
critic, John Makumbe, said the passport seizure - which comes only weeks
after Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party bolstered its grip on power with a
landslide victory in a November 26 senate election - was not entirely
unexpected.

With the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party
bickering and disjointed, the seizure of Ncube's passport was meant as a
warning to the media and other government critics on the price to pay for
opposing Mugabe and ZANU PF.

He said "I think it is unfortunate but at the same time expected . it
is part of the government's efforts to silence the private media and other
critics. The media is always a difficult terrain for any dictatorial regime
hence the efforts to try and silence Ncube."

Ncube's passport was seized at the airport in Zimbabwe's second
largest city of Bulawayo in the full glare of his family yesterday on his
return from his base in South Africa.

Although the government last August controversially amended Zimbabwe's
constitution to allow it to withdraw travel documents from its citizens in
the "national interest," it has not passed an Act of Parliament setting
specific guidelines as to which offences warrant the withdrawal of
passports.

Human rights lawyers say the absence of specific guidelines gave
immigration authorities too much and unacceptable power to curtail the basic
freedom of movement of citizens. They also say the seizure of passports is a
vindictive measure by Mugabe to punish opponents.

A former editor of the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, Ncube now owns
the paper and its stable mate, the Standard. The papers are among the few
remaining truly independent papers in Zimbabwe. Ncube's highly regarded
South African title the Mail and Guardian, is a leading critic of Mugabe's
rule.

The seizure of Ncube's passport is the first time the Harare
government has taken the passport of a citizen since changing the
constitution.

The government defends the new passport seizure law as necessary to
curtail the movement of citizens who campaign against the economic interests
of the country abroad by urging foreign governments to impose sanctions on
Mugabe and his top officials.

Mugabe, his wife Grace and top officials of his ruling ZANU PF party
and government are under targeted visa and financial sanctions from the
United States, European Union, New Zealand, Australia and Switzerland.

The Western nations imposed the sanctions on Mugabe and his
lieutenants as punishment for the failure to uphold democracy, rule of law
and human rights.

But many more Zimbabwean journalists, civic leaders and members of the
MDC are expected to have their passports withdrawn after the seizure of
Ncube's travel document. - ZimOnline


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Fuel price hikes deliver bleak Christmas for Zimbabweans

Zim Online

Fri 9 December 2005

HARARE - A bleak festive season beckons for crisis-sapped Zimbabweans
as pressure piles on prices of basic commodities to increase - thanks to a
new round of fuel price hikes and an anticipated surge in transportation
costs.

The price of fuel went up in the past week in response to the
relaxation of import regulations on the product announced by Finance
Minister Herbert Murerwa last week.

Presenting his 2006 budget statement last Thursday, Murerwa said the
Zimbabwean authorities would now allow private companies and individuals to
import the product and aligned duty on fuel imports to the ruling interbank
exchange rate.

This opened flood-gates as private importers brought in the
commodity - in severe short supply since March this year. A litre of petrol
now costs between Z$90 000 and Z$120 000, up to five times the price fixed
by the government until last week.

Prices of most basic commodities shot up this week in sympathy with
the new fuel prices, with the cost of the staple maize-meal rising from
around $175 000 for a five-kilogramme bag to $320 000 in the space of a few
days.

Analysts this week warned that Zimbabweans should brace for further
price shocks towards Christmas as the full effects of the fuel price
increase sink in.

"When people have to pay fuel at these levels it means people will end
with less and less money for everything else" said Harare-based economic
analyst, John Robertson.

He added: "Consumers will find it increasingly difficult to find money
to buy food, to pay for health, education and other services - but people
were already struggling, this fuel thing is just one of the many problems
people have to face."

An economist with a Harare commercial bank, who declined to be named,
concurred with Robertson saying: "Naturally, we expect the prices of other
goods and services to respond to the increases in fuel prices."

But the economist said the hike in the price of fuel was no guarantee
that Zimbabwe's pumps would never run dry again adding critical to
availability of fuel was the availability of hard cash private importers
require to pay foreign oil firms.

He noted that shortages of fuel were certain to persist for as long as
the source of foreign currency remained the twin official channels of the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe-managed auction market and the inter-bank market.

"For as long as the official sources of fuel are dry and it is private
importers who are bringing in the commodity, we should expect fuel prices
to continue rising in reaction to the depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar
and the increases in global oil prices but not much improvement on the
availability of the commodity," he added.

The only other source of hard cash is the parallel market where the
exchange rate depreciates every day and is seen worsening in coming weeks as
importers scrounge around for funds ahead of the annual shutdown to stock up
their operations with imported raw materials.

"I, therefore, don't see things really improving in the short to
medium-term as long as the real issues are not addressed," said the bank
economist, referring to the restoration of investor confidence and
implementation of predictable economic policies.

More hardships for poor Zimbabwean citizens are expected to come from
the recent change in policy on carbon tax on motor vehicles. According to
Murerwa, starting January 1 next year, Zimbabwean drivers will now be
required to pay carbon tax on the use of their vehicles based on fuel
consumption as compared to the current situation where the levy is charged
based on engine capacity.

The new policy will have the effect of increasing transportation
costs, with resultant increases in prices of basic commodities and bus
fares. Already Zimbabweans are struggling to survive on their meagre
salaries and cannot afford to demand more pay from their over-stretched
employers.

Carbon tax is a controversial tax introduced by President Robert
Mugabe's regime about two years back as a levy on motor vehicle emissions.

Financial services group Zimbabwe Financial Holdings (FINHOLD), in an
analysis of Murerwa's budget, said the change in the way the carbon tax was
computed was likely to raise the transport cost component of the consumer
price index used to calculate the country's rate of inflation.

"Moreover, to the extent that all goods have to be transported to the
market using vehicles that consume fuel, the effect of such a change is to
raise the general price level, resulting in a higher rate of inflation,"
said FINHOLD.

Analysts project that the latest round of price increases would push
the country's annualised rate of inflation, already one of the highest in
the world, beyond a record 700 percent by month-end. - ZimOnline


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Danish farmers ask court to force Harare to uphold investment protection deal

Zim Online

Fri 9 December 2005

HARARE - The Danish owners of two farms near Harare have asked the
High Court to compel President Robert Mugabe's government to uphold an
investment protection agreement with Copenhagen by prohibiting a court judge
and a former soldier from seizing portions of their farms.

In an application in which State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa,
Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Police Commissioner
Augustine Chihuri are cited as respondents, the Danes want the court to
order the government to remove High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu and George
Manhiwa from parts of their Marirangwe and Aldington farms.

The application, which also cites Bhunu, Manhiwa and Attorney General
Sobhuza Gula-Ndebele as respondents, was filed on December 2. It has not yet
been set for hearing.

Bhunu last month seized 269.67 hectares of land on Aldington while
Manhiwa took 205 hectares on Marirangwe. The two said they were taking the
land because it was offered to them by the government in terms of the Land
Acquisition Act that allows the state to seize white-owned farms for
redistribution to blacks.

But the Danes, Lisbeth and Mads Kirk, argue in papers filed with the
court that their farms cannot be expropriated or nationalised in terms of a
1996 bilateral agreement between Zimbabwe and Denmark.

In her affidavit to court, Lisbeth said Article 3 of the agreement
obliged the Harare administration to give Danish investors "fair and
equitable treatment.. encompassing basic right to protection of investment."

She added that Article 5(1) of the same agreement specifically
provided that investments and properties of investors from the two
countries, "shall not be nationalised, expropriated or subjected to measures
having effect equivalent to nationalisation or expropriation."

The Kirks - whose appeal is the first time a foreign investor has
attempted to challenge in court Harare's frequent disregard of bilateral
commitments during its land redistribution exercise - want the court to
nullify the seizure of their land by the state and to order Bhunu and
Manhiwa off their farms.

Gula-Ndebele, the government's chief lawyer, could not be reached
yesterday to establish how the state would plead in court.

Mugabe's government has however in the past publicly said it would
abide by all bilateral commitments although on the ground allowing hordes of
its supporters to invade whatever farm they so wished regardless of whether
it was covered by an investment protection agreement.

And the seizure of portions of the two Danish-owned dairy and crop
producing farms is part of a fresh wave of farm invasions that has seen more
than 60 of the few remaining white farmers driven off their land in the past
four months.

This, despite calls by influential Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor
Gideon Gono and Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa on farm invasions to stop
to allow the mainstay agricultural sector to recover and spur economic
growth.

The chaotic and often violent farm seizures that Mugabe says are meant
to restore land to its original black owners from whom it was stolen by
white colonialists have seen food production dropping by about 60 percent to
leave Zimbabwe dependent on food aid over the past five years.

About three million Zimbabweans or a quarter of the country's 12
million people require more than a million tonnes of food between now and
the next harvest around March/April 2006 or they will starve, according to
United Nations estimates.

The farm seizures have also caused a flight of foreign investors from
Zimbabwe, further compounding the country's six year economic recession
initially triggered off by the 1999 withdrawal of financial assistance by
the International Monetary Fund. - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwe Cricket seeks government help to resolve crisis

Zim Online

Fri 9 December 2005

HARARE - Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) on Thursday invited the government's
Sports Commission to help resolve problems affecting the sport.

Speaking after a meeting of stakeholders to discuss the current crisis
rocking the multi-billion dollar sport, ZC vice-chairperson Ahmed Ebrahim
said the organisation had written to the government commission asking it to
intervene to help restore order.

"I have written a letter, to be delivered today, to the Sports
Commission seeking their intervention and assistance," Ebrahim said.

"I've highlighted a number of resolutions which I believe should be
put in place, such as the call for a full forensic audit and also for a
committee to manage the daily running of the institution (ZC)."

ZC is going through turbulent times after chairman Peter Chingoka and
managing director Ozias Bvute were arrested on allegations of illegally
dealing in foreign currency.

The two have since been released from police custody after Attorney
General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele declined to prosecute, saying evidence gathered
by the police was not watertight against the cricket officials.

Senior cricket players including captain Tatenda Taibu, have also quit
the game in protest over the leadership of Chingoka and Bvute whom they
accuse of gross mismanagement. - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwe Crisis "Worsening as we Speak" - UN's Egeland

VOA

By Studio 7
Washington
08 December 2005

United Nations humanitarian relief coordinator Jan Egeland returned from
Zimbabwe to U.N. headquarters Thursday and reported progress with Harare on
expanding food relief and AIDS care, but was unable to convince officials
including President Robert Mugabe to let the U.N. set up tents to shelter
thousands of displaced people.

"The humanitarian situation in the country is serious, and it is worsening
as we speak," Mr. Egeland told the U.N. press corps. "It is heartbreaking to
meet with AIDS orphans - there are a million of those today in Zimbabwe. It
is heartbreaking to meet people who are fearing the future because of food
insecurity which is affecting the majority of the people - prices are
spiraling.as food is becoming increasingly scarce."

His message to Harare was,"Help me help you help your people," said Mr.
Egeland of his talks with the president and other officials. He cited
progress on the distribution of food and outreach to those living with HIV
and AIDS, and on reducing bureaucratic obstacles which have serious hindered
humanitarian workers in the country.

"We want now to try to have a one-stop shop on the government side, a
one-stop shop within (the U.N.) on the humanitarian side for the
nongovernmental organizations and others who have had many obstacles in
their work in the country," he said.

But he was unable to convince the government to reverse its stance against
erecting tents as temporary shelter for the many thousands left homeless by
the demolition of shantytowns and other structures deemed illegal from late
May onward.

"It is incomprehensible that they tore down tents which we put up in
October," he said. "We hope now we should be able to work more freely in
lifting shelter standards as and when we can." But Mr. Mugabe was "very
against tents," and officials generally "believe that tents give an
impression that there is a crisis in the country."

"I tried to explain that we use tents in Europe, we use (them) in North
America, we use (them) all over Asia, and it is the first stage in a
three-stage shelter program," moving on to pre-fabricated temporary shelters
and in time to permanent construction. But he said that at the current rate,
this progression could take "decades" in Zimbabwe.

Despite having issued tough statements to journalists on his way back to the
U.N. - London's Guardian newspaper quoted him as saying the Harare officials
responsible for the demolition campaign should face criminal prosecution -
Mr. Egeland took a relatively diplomatic tack in his briefing to the
international press in New York.

U.N. sources said Mr. Egeland was to brief the Security Council on Dec. 19
and make recommendations which could include sanctions if Harare should
continue to obstruct international efforts to relieve Zimbabwe's millions of
homeless and hungry.


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Opposition does Mugabe's dirty work

The Telegraph

By Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 09/12/2005)

Zimbabwe's opposition party has collapsed into bitter division and vicious
infighting, leaving President Robert Mugabe unchallenged despite the ruin
that he has brought on his country.

The Movement for Democratic Change, which in 2000 came close to toppling the
octogenarian leader and has for years suffered at the hands of thugs, is now
doing Mr Mugabe's dirty work for him.

The Daily Telegraph has spoken to victims of the party's violent civil war,
including Bekithemba Nyati, who lost an eye during an attack by a mob from a
rival faction.

Mr Nyati, 26, who joined the MDC when it was launched in late 1999, was set
upon while guarding a stadium in the second city, Bulawayo, ahead of a rally
by Morgan Tsvangirai, the party president.

"I was at the main gate and it was after midnight when about 100 youths
entered the stadium," he said.

"They grabbed me and put a padlock on the gate and trapped me. I whistled to
call for help so they pushed me to the ground and smashed my head and face
with a log.

"I was bleeding all over and when they ran away I went out of the stadium to
some houses nearby for water and help.

"I heard them running around looking for me so I went back into the street
and started walking to a clinic. The police arrived and took me to
hospital."

Three days later his right eye was removed in a clinic. "They told me that
my eye was so damaged that my brain would be affected if it wasn't taken
out," said Mr Nyati, a messenger with a law firm, who is married with two
young children. Today he will be measured for a glass eye.

"I am feeling fine but unhappy that the MDC is so divided and that I was
attacked by party members, all of them from my home city, Bulawayo."

Police arrested 18 MDC members that night who were released two days later
without having to pay bail.

Two days before Mr Nyati came within an inch of his life, another MDC
activist, Samuel Musaka, had his front teeth knocked out by an MDC member.

Mr Musaka told police that he was assaulted by Gibson Sibanda, a driver for
the party's vice-president.

Last Sunday, Timothy Mubhawu, an MDC MP for Mabvuku, a working-class
constituency on the eastern edge of Harare, was attacked by youths attending
a rally addressed by Mr Tsvangirai.

"I was sitting at the top table waiting for the rally to begin and a member,
who is known to me, called me aside and asked to speak to me," said Mr
Mubhawu.

"I went with him and he and three others started beating me up and I had to
leave. They must be expelled."

At the same rally a group of activists burned T-shirts with a printed
picture of a senior member who had been attacked by party youths six weeks
ago when leaving the MDC's national headquarters in Harare.

The first violent incident of note occurred 14 months ago when Peter Guhu,
the party's director of security, was brutally assaulted by youths after he
attempted to clean up the party's affairs.

In May another eight members were whipped and trampled on by youths in the
party's boardroom. Youths suspended for that violence were subsequently
reinstated. The party's disintegration into two main factions followed
bitter rows over the recent elections for a second tier of government, the
senate.

Mr Tsvangirai and his supporters believed that participation in the poll was
futile. The other faction, unofficially led by Welshman Ncube, the party's
secretary-general, said the MDC had no option but to fight elections to
defend its political space.

Mr Ncube's group only managed to field 26 candidates for 50 contested seats,
and lost all but seven, giving the ruling Zanu-PF a huge majority.

His faction had emerged as a force in the party out of frustration with Mr
Tsvangirai's leadership, and out of tribal rivalry. Mr Ncube is from the
Ndebele tribe, Mr Tsvangirai is Shona.

Last week the rival groups tore up the party's constitution to try to vote
out each other's members. Different people are taking their dispute for
adjudication to courts presided over by judges appointed by Mr Mugabe, who
have been instrumental in keeping the MDC in its place.

In the 2000 elections, the party nearly defeated Zanu-PF in what was widely
held to be a rigged election. Since that defeat it has struggled to find a
coherent strategy to oppose Mr Mugabe's iron rule. David Coltart, the MDC
legal secretary, has remained neutral but is not trusted by either faction.

He has refused to sanction party funds to provide legal aid to those
arrested in connection with the attacks.

Mr Coltart has called on the MDC's disciplinary committee - which last week
tried to suspend Mr Tsvangirai from his post, accusing him of violating the
party's constitution - to investigate the incidents of violence.

"When violence is not checked it is like letting the genie out of the
bottle," said Mr Coltart. "It is deeply distressing."


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Housing will take decades - UN

News24

09/12/2005 01:18 - (SA)

New York - Zimbabwe will need decades to build new shelter for the estimated
700 000 people left homeless by President Robert Mugabe's slum-destruction
campaign, the UN humanitarian chief said Thursday.

The government will soon finish building 5 500 homes for police and
government officials.

But it had torn down tents erected by UN workers and doesn't want any more
built, relief co-ordinator Jan Egeland said soon after returning from a trip
to Zimbabwe.

"They believe that tents give the impression that there is a crisis in the
country," Egeland said.

"In Zimbabwe, with the speed they have now, it will take decades" to put
people in permanent housing.

Mugabe's government vehemently denies UN claims that the slum-destruction
campaign, begun with little warning on May 19, has caused a crisis in
Zimbabwe.

It claims the campaign, named Operation Murambatsvina, or Clean Out Trash,
is an urban-renewal drive.

Egeland said he had made clear in his meetings with Mugabe and other top
officials that the evictions had contributed to a larger crisis in Zimbabwe,
where food shortages are getting worse, prices are rising and 40% of adults
have HIV.

"We believe it was one of the worst things at the worst possible moment in
Zimbabwe," Egeland said.

Yet there was some progress, Egeland said.

The government will allow the United Nations to build 2 500 semi-permanent
structures to house some evicted.

The government also agreed to cut some obstacles to doing humanitarian work,
and will give the World Food Programme greater access to rural areas.

"If we work together we can break the vicious circle, and I hope we are now
turning a corner in this regard in Zimbabwe," Egeland said.

In July, a UN envoy released a report that condemned the government for the
campaign, calling it a "disastrous venture" and demanding that those
responsible be punished.

Egeland said he stood by the findings of the envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, and
stressed that he had reiterated that support to the government.

Zimbabwean officials have rejected it and accused Tibaijuka of bias.

"It's always a principle I have that I am as frank and open with the
government representatives as I am with the media," Egeland said.

"We stand by Anna Tibaijuka's report from A to Z."


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A fight from the get-go

Mail and Guardian

Godwin Gandu | Harare

09 December 2005 06:00

Zimbabwe's notorious Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) is
running amok in the Midlands province, allegedly terrorising supporters of
the yet to be launched United People's Movement.

The party is an initiative of former Zanu-PF members who fell
out of favour with the ruling party. President Robert Mugabe's erstwhile
spin doctor Jonathan Moyo and former central committee member Pearson
Mbalekwa are its only public figures. Several political commentators,
academics and business people have been linked to the party but have thus
far not publicly declared their association.

Mbalekwa this week told the Mail & Guardian that the CIO has
hounded the United People's Movement (UPM) and made it difficult for the
party to "organise". He claims a UPM official in the Midlands province was
arrested and taken to the CIO headquarters in Gweru on November 15 for
setting up party structures.

"It was a harrowing ordeal. He was severely tortured and
beaten," Mbalekwa lamented.

In the small asbestos mining town of Zvishavane, about 120km
south of Gweru, another party organiser had gone into hiding after the CIO
inquired about his whereabouts.

Intelligence Minister Didymus Mutasa did not respond to several
requests for comment.

The first sign of the government's interest in the UPM came at
an election rally two weeks before the Senate poll, when Mugabe dismissed
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as "dead and buried" and
warned ruling party supporters to "stay away from Mbalekwa".

"He [Mugabe] is aware that with the demise of the MDC and the
divisions he is aware of within Zanu-PF, a good chunk of our supporters
would be from Zanu-PF because the majority of its membership is sick and
tired of the way he is ruining the economy," Mbalekwa said.

According to the Zanu-PF defector, the UPM has its origins in
the Tsholotsho gathering last year that was aimed at ratcheting up support
for Rural Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa's failed bid for the Zanu-PF
vice-presidency.

Mnangagwa, long touted as the brains behind the UPM, this week
again denied links to the party and threatened the Zanu-PF Midlands
coordinating committee in his home province with expulsion if they
associated with the UPM. His rebuke comes just days before the annual
Zanu-PF congress scheduled for this weekend.

Mbalekwa ditched Zanu-PF in May over the controversial Operation
Murambatsvina that the United Nations estimates left 700 000 families
homeless. A former CIO operative himself, he bemoaned the ruling party
turning "state institutions into Zanu-PF instruments".

"It is not the role of the CIO to go around harassing civilians.
Zim-babwe is supposed to be an independent state but the lack of freedom is
manifesting itself in the fear Zimbabweans have today of the army, CIO and
the police, the same instruments that are supposed to safeguard their
freedom. They are independent but not free," Mbalekwa asserted.

Asked why he thought people would support his party in view of
the CIO crackdown Mbalekwa said: "We expected that . knowing how Zanu-PF has
been operating in the past. We know Zimbabweans have gone beyond the culture
of fear."


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Winner takes all as Zimbabwe lies in ruins

The Telegraph

By David Blair, Africa Correspondent
(Filed: 09/12/2005)

The political struggle is over in Zimbabwe and President Robert Mugabe has
won.

The decline of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change into a
squabbling rabble crowns a remarkable run of triumphs for the old dictator.
With his opponents falling over themselves to commit political suicide, Mr
Mugabe's grip on power is more secure now than for most of the last decade.
Only death or voluntary retirement will end his reign.

Any visions of a popular uprising sweeping Mr Mugabe away are pipe-dreams.
Instead, he is free to plan his future.

The outlines of what will unfold in the next few years are clear. Mr Mugabe,
81, has promised to stand down when his term ends in 2008. With the
opposition prostrate before him, there is no reason to break this pledge.

He will retire to a lavish mansion, designed in the style of a grand Chinese
pagoda, in the most affluent corner of the capital, Harare.

A deferential dauphin has already emerged. Mr Mugabe's successor will, in
all likelihood, be Joyce Mujuru, the new vice-president. No dictator could
possibly hand over to a more pliant, loyal and malleable figure.

Mrs Mujuru is an intellectually limited woman, who has risen through the
ranks of the ruling Zanu-PF party precisely because she lacks any
discernible ability.

Her only distinction is that during the war against white Rhodesia in the
1970s, Mrs Mujuru was known as "Comrade Spill Blood".

Her husband, Solomon, is a retired general and former army commander. She
will take orders from him and from Mr Mugabe.

The despot will retire, secure in the knowledge that no one will investigate
the atrocities of his blood-soaked rule or probe his involvement in
countless corruption scandals.

Mr Mugabe has even shaken off the international pressure provoked by his
misrule. In any event, Mr Mugabe does not care what the West thinks of him.

The only outside power capable of forcing his hand is South Africa. But
President Thabo Mbeki has consistently refused to use this leverage.

Even Britain, once his leading critic, has fallen silent. Christopher Dell,
the US ambassador in Harare, regularly exposes the regime's excesses.

But nothing is heard from Rod Pullen, the British ambassador. He probably
calculates that any public criticism would allow Mr Mugabe to play the
anti-colonial card.

But the old tyrant does this anyway - and Britain's failure to speak out
amounts to a surrender to intimidation.

Meanwhile, Zimbabweans endure an economic collapse on a scale almost unknown
in peacetime history.

Inflation runs at 411 per cent and at least one third of the economy has
been wiped out since 2000.

The contrast with 1980 could not be greater. Then, he inherited one of
Africa's most developed countries with a sophisticated, diverse economy.

At first, Mr Mugabe earned fulsome international praise with his message of
racial reconciliation. His economic management was cautious and pragmatic.
Yet lurking behind everything was his absolute determination to hold power
at whatever cost.

When he felt threatened in the 1980s by the late Joshua Nkomo, the leader of
the minority Ndebele tribe, Mr Mugabe launched a brutal campaign of
repression, killing thousands.

His response to the emergence of the MDC was predictably violent. The
tragedy is that repression worked.

Mr Mugabe's triumph is Zimbabwe's catastrophe.


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Victims of bulldozer denied UN tents

The Telegraph

By David Blair in Johannesburg and Peta Thornycroft in Harare
(Filed: 09/12/2005)

Thousands of people are sleeping in the open because President Robert Mugabe
has refused to take tents from the United Nations for those left homeless by
his demolition of the poorest townships.

Mr Mugabe declined to accept any temporary shelters when he met Jan Egeland,
the UN under-secretary for humanitarian affairs.
Mr Egeland was visiting Zimbabwe to assess the aftermath of the bulldozing
of "illegal structures" in the townships, which destroyed the homes or
livelihoods of about 700,000 people.

"The situation is very serious in Zimbabwe when life expectancy goes from
more than 60 years to just over 30 years in a 15-year span," said Mr
Egeland. "It's not just a crisis - it's a meltdown."

He cited Aids, food shortages and the "total collapse in social services".

Mr Mugabe, having razed swathes of housing earlier this year, called on the
UN to fund new homes for those left without shelter.

But he refused to accept tents, even though they could be provided quickly,
and demanded permanent homes.

"We are not Arabs," he is said to have told Mr Egeland during talks in
Harare.

The president's official spokesman, George Charamba, said tents were
contrary to Zimbabwe's culture. "We are not a tents people. We believe in
houses," he said.

However, many victims of the demolitions have no shelter at all. John
Mawire, 30, lost his home and depends on food from aid agencies to support
his two sons, Kudzayi, eight, and Newman, five.

"I just want a hand from whoever can help," he said.

The business where he once worked in the township of Mbare was also
bulldozed, depriving Mr Mawire of his livelihood.

"I am happy if I could have a tent," he said. "We want the donors to give us
a tent, or money for building materials to rebuild our cabin."

Mr Egeland pointed out that the UN provided tents in humanitarian
emergencies all over the world.

He said: "If they are good enough for people in Europe and the US who have
lost their houses, why are they not good enough for Zimbabwe?"


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Zimbabwe pilots to offer training in South Africa

SABC

December 09, 2005, 06:30

A group of flying instructors from Zimbabwe, who will assist with basic
flying training in South Africa, will start their work in February.

Carlo Gagiano, the chief of the South African Air Force (SAAF), said this
while speaking at a parade ceremony at the Langebaanweg Air Force Base on
the Cape West Coast.

The two Sadec countries recently signed a memorandum of understanding with
regards to flying training. Gagiano says the Zimbabwean flying instructors
can play a meaninful role in transforming the SAAF.


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Another Victim Of Mugabe's Policies - Sheraton Pulls Out Of Zimbabwe

Zim Daily

Friday, December 09 2005 @ 01:06 AM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent

The five-star Sheraton Hotel in Harare faces closure amid
reports that the US franchisor Starwood refused to extend the management
contract beyond December 31. One of the three biggest and most prestigious
hotels in Zimbabwe, the Sheraton Harare is managed on contract by United
States of America-based Starwood Hotels, the owners of the Sheraton brand.

Sources close to the developments said the hotel lost the
franchise because it has regularly failed to pay management and franchise
fees. The five-star hotel is owned by Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG), a company
in which the government of Zimbabwe has 17 percent stake. A Libyan
investment firm, Lafico-fca, holds 14.1 percent and French hotel operator,
Accor-Afrique, controls 34.61 percent of the Group. Local investors own the
remainder. Zimdaily understands that Starwood Hotels' management contract
was signed in 1993. RTG chairman Ibbo Mandaza confirmed that the hotel had
lost the franchise but denied that RTG was losing the contract because of
deferred payment of management fees.

"Remember there has been some recession experienced in the
tourism industry. Yes it is true that we had an accumulation of management
fees to Starwood, but we cleared that earlier this year," Mandaza said.
Zimdaily heard that the bill had ballooned to US$1 million over four years.
Mandaza however conceded that since the decline of the tourism industry in
2000, RTG, which has been operating under international brands and
franchises, has experienced difficulties in generating both local and
foreign currency to pay management fees for the brands. Mandaza said the
hotel has suffered from low occupancy rates and reduced revenues since
recession gripped the local tourism industry four years ago.

Once the fastest growing economic sector, tourism nosedived as
foreign visitors cancelled bookings fearing political violence and
lawlessness in the country. Mandaza expressed the hope that RTG would
continue running the hotel once it resolved its financial difficulties,
saying the company had sought help from top authorities: "We have engaged
the highest levels of monetary policy authorities and government who are
assisting us to deploy solutions which are sustainable and mutually
acceptable to all concerned."

Pleading with international creditors to be patient with
defaulting Zimbabwean companies in his most recent monetary policy review,
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono said: "My appeal to
creditors is that they should give these companies sufficient time to pay
their obligations without taking actions that might in the end disadvantage
both parties." Gono has led efforts to persuade millions of Zimbabweans
living and working abroad to send home hard cash, which is needed to help
companies such as Sheraton Harare meet their foreign debt commitments. But
the governor last month admitted that his efforts have so far failed to
yield much. Mandaza said the hotel has seen an increase in operational costs
and profits stymied by the current economic problems, blighting virtually
every sector of the economy. Recently the US government trawled sanctions
against Harare over increasing human rights violations.


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Australia Extends Sanctions to Top Executives



The Herald (Harare)

December 8, 2005
Posted to the web December 8, 2005

Harare

THIRTY-SEVEN Zimbabwean business executives, legal practitioners and
academics have been added to the list of Government officials barred from
either visiting or dealing with that country in a development that has
baffled many.

The Australian government, through its central bank, on November 30, 2005,
released an expanded list of 127 "ministers and officials" under the
targeted sanctions.

"At the direction of the Australian Government, the Reserve Bank (of
Australia) has expanded the list of individuals restricted by these
financial sanctions to include new members of, and persons associated with,
the Government of Zimbabwe.

"All transactions involving the transfer of funds to, by the order of, or on
behalf of such persons are prohibited," reads a statement from the bank's
media office based in Sydney.

The Australian Embassy in Harare was evasive as at first it indicated that
responsible authorities were locked up in a meeting and later said no-one
could comment.

They referred this paper to the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Among surprising inclusions is publisher and journalist Trevor Ncube, who
owns The Standard and The Independent, two of the country's private
weeklies, and the Mail and Guardian of South Africa, which are all critical
of the Government.

Some business people added to the list include Dr Eric Bloch who sits on the
Reserve Bank Advisory board, Infrastructure Development Bank chief executive
Charles Chikaura, public transport operator Ben Mucheche, prominent Chegutu
farmer Kenneth Musanhi, Finhold chief executive Elisha Mushayakarara and
Dairibord chief executive and Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries immediate
past president Antony Mandiwanza.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Davison Mugabe is also on the
list together with Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Mr Luxon
Zembe and Standard Chartered Bank chief executive Mr Washington Matsaira.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Association immediate past president Mr Duncan Miller,
Zimbabwe Development Bank chief executive Mr Cornelius Maradza, Zesa
Holdings corporate communications director Mr Obert Nyatanga, Ziscosteel
chief executive Dr Gabriel Masanga, Minerals Marketing Corporation of
Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Onesimo Moyo, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority
chairman Mr Emmanuel Fundira and prominent banker Enoch Kamushinda are also
included on the list.

Economist and farmer Mr Jonathan Kadzura has also been roped in together
with chartered accountant Mr Ngoni Kudenga, Zesa Holdings chief Dr Sydney
Gata, academic and former diplomat Professor George Kahari, National Foods
managing director Mr Ian Kind, RBZ board member Mrs Grace Slava Chella and
Mrs Rudo Faranisi.

Fugitive academic turned banker Dr Mthuli Ncube has also been included on
the list even though he fled the country last year when his Barbican
Holdings faced collapse.

Ministry of Finance accountant-general Ms Judith Madzorera has also been
included on the list together with Agribank managing director Mr Sam Malaba
and Zimbabwe Revenue Authority chair-man Dr Gibson Mandishona.

Legal practitioner and chairman of the National Social Security Authority Mr
Edwin Manikai has also not been spared, as is the case with former Air
Zimbabwe boss Mr Rambai Chingwena and ex-Central African Building Society
(CABS) boss Mr Graham Hollick.

RBZ Governor Dr Gideon Gono, who is also on the list, said he remained
unaffected by this development.

"There are too many challenges to preoccupy my mind in this economy beyond
worrying about where I am welcome or not.

"As I have said before, no amount of pain and suffering imposed on me, my
team and my family is too much pain to endure in my quest to contribute to
the turnaround of this country's economy.

"History and the people of Zimbabwe alone will judge whether my efforts are
detrimental to the well-being of this country," said Dr Gono.

The head of the RBZ media office Mr Kumbirai Nhongo said the statement from
the Reserve Bank of Australia's media office was unfortunate.

"It will be inappropriate for me to comment on the quality of operations of
other central banks. All I can say is that as central banks we have norms of
behaviour which preclude us from attacking one another and I will not be the
first to be drawn to comment on such issues," he said.

Business people were caught by surprise as previously, travel or financial
sanctions have targeted politicians and Government officials.

Many said they were surprised by the fact that their names were on the list,
some fell short of dismissing the report as fictitious.

"Are you sure that my name appears on the list? I have not had a chance to
look at it," asked Mr Miller.

Hwange Colliery Company managing director Dr Godfrey Dzinomwa could not
believe that his name formed part of the list.

"Am I really on the list?" he asked. "Well if my name appears on that list
there is no justification whatsoever.

"They think that anyone who is in the forefront in the revival of the
economy is their enemy."

Mr Mandiwanza described the new addition of business people onto the list as
"nonsensical".

"It is a desperate action by the Australian government and I do not care
about my inclusion on the list since we do not do any business with
Australia.

"I do not understand the criteria they used to come up with the list and as
far as I am concerned I would not challenge them if they think I have to be
on the list," he added.

Mr Nyatanga could not believe that he had been included on the list for
targeted sanctions.

"I do not think it is me. However, if that is the case they should know that
we work to implement Government policy because that is what we are there
for.

"If there is anything that Government does with the Australians that
benefits the country we also benefit and that is why I say our duty is to
implement Government's policy.

"Zesa is in the energy sector and it does not do any business with
Australia.

"As such, the only people that matter to us in that respect are Asians where
Government has adopted the Look East Policy," said Mr Nyatanga.

Dr Bloch said his inclusion was based on the fact that he is one of the
advisors to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono.

"I am still considering whether I should make a representation to the
Australian government but I believe in doing what I can to turnaround the
economy.

"My involvement is not political and it is out of my concern for the poor,"
said Dr Bloch.

Australia's actions are, apparently, desperate attempts to rope in the
business community in its war with Harare with the ultimate objective of
achieving destabilisation and regime change in this country.

It was also puzzling to note that the target sanctions, previously
restricted to black Zimbabweans believed to be active in keeping the present
Government in power, have been extended to whites believed to be assisting
the country's economic revival efforts.

The list, which was updated on November 24 according to the statement,
contains gross anomalies that have left many doubting the authenticity of
the Australian government's source of information.

For instance, Dr Bloch is said to be 24 years old, having been born in 1981
according to the list while RBZ's legal chief Mr Fortune Chasi is said to
have been born on November 17 1980.

Vice President Mujuru is still being referred to as the Minister of Water
Resources while some who are now late, such as businessman and former Harare
Mayor Mr Solomon Tawengwa have been included on the sanctions list.


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JAG Open Letters Forum No. 402

Email: jag@mango.zw; justiceforagriculture@zol.co.zw

Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to
jag@mango.zw with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Letter 1:

Dear JAG,

Good progress has been made with the preparation of my paper. To those who
have responded to my call for help my grateful thanks. To those who
haven't I would welcome your point of view as to what should be done to
address the situation in Zimbabwe.

Today Fiona and I move to Bournemouth. Our computer will be switched off
at about 0900 GMT this morning. Once reconnected I will advise details of
my new email address.

Best wishes.

Jeremy

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Letter 2:

Dear Family and Friends,

Having just come to terms with writing cheques using millions of dollars,
working out how many zeroes to add and being very careful about counting
digits on the ends of prices before I purchase things, this week all that
carefully accumulated knowledge became rather pointless. I spent one
afternoon this week listening to the Minister of Finance presenting
Zimbabwe's 2006 budget. Millions were gone completely and all the figures
were billions and trillions. I sort of lost the thread right near the
beginning of the budget presentation when I heard the announcement that the
national football team had been allocated 10 billion dollars. I already
have to consult my dictionary to work out how many millions make a billion
but when I tried to tap in ten billion dollars to see how much each player
may get, it didn't work. My calculator has only got enough digit spaces for
nine billion and after that it reverts to gobbledy gook and so I just sat
in stunned open mouthed silence listening to next years budget.

It looks like the way things are going in Zimbabwe, and the speed at which
they are getting there, I might not have to worry about how many zeroes to
add to get billions after all. A lot of the numbers being used in the
budget this week were in trillions and unless some clever cookie invents a
bigger calculator, hey, I'm out! My dictionary tells me that a trillion is
a million million but that until quite recently it used to be a million,
million, million - either way there are just too many zeroes and my head
spins in dizzy circles trying to understand it all.

It wasn't just numbers getting my head spinning this week but also quite a
large number of words. The Minister of Finance announced that agriculture
had declined by 12.8% in 2005 but that this would change dramatically and
agriculture would increase by 14% in 2006. He said: "Government is
committed to enforce utmost discipline in the agricultural sector. Any
disruption of farming activities is not in the national interest and will
not be tolerated." This statement was met with jeers, scornful laughter and
derisive comments by MP's in the House. It comes at a time when commercial
farming continues to be the most dangerous and uncertain occupation in a
country where millions of people go to bed hungry every day. In the last
three months over 60 commercial farmers have been thrown off their
properties; last week a commercial farmer in Harare West was murdered and a
dairy farm in Beatrice which produces nine thousand litres of milk a day
was besieged by none other than a High Court Judge who demanded the owners
leave as this was now his farm. Nine thousand litres of milk, by the way,
at last week's price, was worth 270 million dollars a day - no wonder his
Honour wanted the farm! So, the Minister's stern words are painfully hollow
because without political backing, enforcement at all levels from the
bottom right up to the top and plain and clear instructions to Zimbabwe's
police - and judges - they are mere words. What a shame words don't fill
tummies.

Zimbabwe's budget in 2007 will, by all accounts have to be in Zillions and
I shudder at the thought because my dictionary doesn't define a zillion it
just says it is an "indefinite large number." Oops.

Until next week, love cathy.

Copyright cathy buckle 3rd December 2005.
http://africantears.netfirms.com
My books "African Tears" and "Beyond Tears" are available from:
orders@africabookcentre.com

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Letter 3:

DEAR FRIENDS OF BALLY VAUGHAN,

Thank you for your support, patronage and interest, particularly over the
last few trying years. Without you, we certainly could not have made it so
far!!

This note serves to clarify the position at Bally Vaughan Farm, in answer
to numerous queries we have received from various folk, over the last few
months.

Bally Vaughan Game Park was built up over 20 years by Kathie and the late
Robin McIntosh, as a pioneering, non-consumptive wild life project, on land
considered at the time to be waste land. A scenic 1000 acre game park
dotted with massive whale-back granite domes was stocked with 22 species of
wild life, including buffalo and elephant, and a 12 bed luxury lodge
established in the game park, named Mwanga Lodge after a magnificent
indigenous hardwood tree species in the area.

As Robin had such a passion for wild life, he was constantly taking on
orphaned or endangered wild life, and caring for them in a growing
menagerie around the main homestead. Soon, it became necessary to establish
a bird and animal sanctuary specifically to cope for needy animals and
birds. Thus Robin and Kathy chose a portion of the game farm just below
Mermaid's Pool, which was ideal for the various orphaned animals and
especially water fowl. The sanctuary was named the Bally Vaughan Bird and
Game Sanctuary, and to it was added a Restaurant (The Duck and Grouse
Restaurant) and Fast Food outlet ( The Gazebo ), to serve visitors. This
facility has become a very popular retreat for families and groups over
weekends, where an opportunity is afforded to tour a sanctuary filled with
fascinating creatures ranging from peacocks, to lions. An affordable gate
fee covers access to the sanctuary.

Robin McIntosh's death in September 1999, took us all by surprise. He was a
dynamic farmer with a passion for wild life, and virtually single-handedly
built up and ran a multi-faceted farming and wild life operation, on Bally
Vaughan. His sudden passing, posed a serious challenge to the future of
Bally Vaughan! Then in January 2000, Kathie called upon the assistance of
her daughter, Debbie ( a fully qualified Professional Guide, and teacher )
and son-in-law Gordon ( ex National Parks Warden for just under 20yrs, and
Professional Hunter ) Putterill, to assist in managing wild life and
tourism operations on Bally Vaughan. Greatly compounding the loss of the
"head and organizer of operations" in Robin, came the upheavals since 2000,
which are known to us all, the details of which, I shall omit for now.

As an ex " Zoo Keeper ", attempting to step somewhat, into such a capable
man's shoes as Robin, greatly raised my respect for and admiration of his
sheer talents, capabilities and energies! It has also done the same for my
appreciation of those many highly capable, adaptable, determined and
industrious folk, loosely referred to as "Farmers " for so many years of my
life!

A welcome development to the situation at Bally Vaughan, was the
involvement and contributions being made to the needs of our orphaned,
injured or newborn members of the "menagerie" by Sarah Carter. Sarah's
extra-ordinary patience, love and management of animals needing "high care"
has been remarkable. And it is thanks to her efforts that many of the
wonderful characters on display at the Bird and Game Sanctuary, are there
at all! One notable example is Khan, the young male leopard born on the
farm, and hand raised in Sarah's home! Sarah used to help with our orphaned
wild life on a part time basis, but has now come on board full time, ( a
welcome development! ) and is operating the Bally Vaughan Bird and Game
Sanctuary under lease.

The long and the short of it all is that Bally Vaughan Game Park / Mwanga
Lodge, and Bally Vaughan Bird and Game Sanctuary is still on the map, and
is still functioning! We have a great team on board, and look forward to
making progress / further contributions both to conservation and animal
welfare, and to providing an inspiring natural retreat to all the folk who
visit us and support us, "far from the maddening crowd".

The first rains have fallen, and the game park is under-going a miraculous
transformation from a barren dry landscape, to a vibrant green vista
replete with swirling flocks of European Bee Eaters, and newborn zebra
foals "finding their feet" in a brave new world. Experience it in style
from the comfort of Mwanga Lodge, or explore it on a day safari. The view
from an elephant back ride will never leave you.

We are only 40km from Harare! By visiting our Bird and Game Sanctuary, or
joining us on a day safari or over night experience at Mwanga Lodge, your
contribution will help support the needs of a vast array of wild life here
at Bally Vaughan. Plus, we offer a great wild life experience to boot!

Gordon and Debbie Putterill
BALLY VAUGHAN

gamepark@mango.zw
www.ballyvaughan.co.zw

Contact :-
Sarah Carter
Bally Vaughan Bird and Game Sanctuary
www.ballyvaughan.co.zw

or :
Janet
Mwanga Lodge
gamepark@mango.zw
Tel: 04-776341
--------------------------------------------------------------------
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
for Agriculture.


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Erratic Coal Supplies Hamper Tobacco Curing



The Herald (Harare)

December 8, 2005
Posted to the web December 8, 2005

Harare

ERRATIC coal supplies are hampering tobacco curing with some farmers
resorting to firewood, thereby compromising the quality of tobacco that
should only be cured by either washed coal peas or coal cobbles.

Agriculture Minister Dr Joseph Made yesterday said A2 farmers with tobacco
ready for curing were desperate.

"I am pleading on behalf of the farmers that here we are, way behind again,
without the necessary material that would enable our farmers to properly
cure their tobacco and come up with a high quality product," Dr Made said.

He said, once again the blame was on his ministry when in actual fact some
A2 farmers were failing to maximise production owing to factors ranging from
lack of commitment by some commercial banks to finance the farmers and
dragging of feet by other supporting sectors.

Hwange Colliery Company acting marketing and public relations manager Mr
Mandla Mangena yesterday confirmed that there had been problems in the
mining of coal owing to servicing of the dragline.

"The dragline is now back from service and we are now making our usual
production and supplies to the farmers," Mr Mangena said.

He attributed the slow supply of coal to farmers to few wagons to ferry the
coal to designated points countrywide.

"On average we load up to 15 wagons a day and sometimes as less as five
wagons. Each wagon carries 40 tonnes of coal."

Mr Mangena said at least 120 wagons were needed to adequately cater for all
the farmers in the country.

"We are producing over 6 000 tonnes of coal per day and it is enough for the
country's daily needs in various sectors that include electricity and for
hospitals if there are modes to transport the commodity."

Dr Made said agriculture remained the mainstay of the country's economy,
hence the need to always question the actions of some people and sectors who
seemed not to understand the importance of the land reform programme.

He said although there were bound to be hurdles along the way, all
stakeholders needed to show commitment by understanding the plight of
farmers and supplying inputs such as fertiliser and providing tillage on
time.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union president Mr Davison Mugabe said farmers
were supposed to access coal through commercial banks which directly pay
Hwange Colliery.

"There is no coal and the bulk of commercial farmers are financing their own
activities," Mr Mugabe said.


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Fuel Prices Shoot Up



The Herald (Harare)

December 8, 2005
Posted to the web December 8, 2005

Harare

FUEL prices have shot up to $120 000 per litre as oil companies are now
openly selling privately-imported diesel and petrol on the market.

Official fuel prices increases were last effected in September from $10 000
for petrol to $22 300 and $20 800 a litre for diesel, up from $9 600 per
litre.

The gazetted prices have however become uneconomic owing to the fall in the
value of the Zimbabwe dollar which is now trading at $73 000 to the
greenback.

Some fuel companies are selling the commodity using a complicated system of
coupons while others are openly accepting cash.

Other oil companies were awaiting cheap Government fuel supplies at the
regulated prices of around $20 000 per litre and were not sure whether the
authorities had given suppliers the green light to charge their own market
prices.

It is understood that most companies were using last week's sentiments by
the Minister of Finance Dr Herbert Murerwa that it was "critical that market
pricing mechanisms be embraced, which are central to ensuring the viability
of industry, as well as the well-being of consumers" to mean that there were
no more price controls.

Dr Murerwa said this would bring back most products that had disappeared
from the formal market but were finding their way onto the black market.

It is also understood that the latest increases in the price of fuel were
necessitated by the cost of importing the commodity.

Government relaxed conditions of importing fuel to allow local companies as
well as individuals to make direct imports.

The Minister of Energy and Power Development, Lieutenant General Michael
Nyambuya, could not be reached for comment last night.

However, an official at the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe said the new
prices were meant to recover the full cost of importing the fuel.

"There has not been any price increases as far as we are concerned. They
(filling stations) are charging the prices to recover their costs of
importing the fuel into the country," said the official, who declined to be
named.

A survey carried out by The Herald yesterday showed that some service
stations run by Exor, Royal Oil and Mobil were selling fuel at between $100
000 and $120 000 a litre.

According to an attendant at Exor in Kamfinsa, they were importing their own
fuel and supplies were steadily coming into the country.

However, they were only selling the commodity to motorists who wanted 20
litres or more. For 20 litres one has to fork out $2,4 million.

"Fuel is abundant here and if you want you can buy your coupons and get as
many litres as you want.

"Even if you want to fill up drums, it's up to you," the attendant said.

At a Mobil filling station along Mutare Road, fuel was readily available and
was being sold at $110 000 a litre.

There were no queues at the filling stations visited yesterday. A handful of
motorists could be observed filling their tanks.

Zimbabwe has been facing fuel shortages owing to the unavailability of
foreign currency arising mostly from the constraints of the illegal
sanctions imposed by some Western countries.

At present, the country imports refined petroleum products.

Fuel imports account for up to 25 percent of the country's total annual
import receipts.

According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the country is estimated to earn
US$1,96 billion from exports, of which US$500 million goes towards fuel
imports.


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Poor Infrastructure Stalls Progress in Gokwe



The Herald (Harare)

December 8, 2005
Posted to the web December 8, 2005

Fidelis Munyoro
Harare

GOKWE, Zimbabwe's prime cotton growing area, is facing acute transport,
water, health and communication problems because of poor infrastructure
which is hampering development in the area.

Poor road network is causing much suffering to people in Kana, Mbungu and
Ndandura in Gokwe South as there are no buses plying theses routes.

The same acute transport shortage is experienced in Zumba, Mashame, Sikwiti
and Choda in the northern part of Gokwe as some bridges that collapsed over
the past years are still to be repaired.

In an interview with The Herald recently, Chief Mkoka, Mr Wilson Nkomo,
expressed concern over lack of development in the area.

Chief Mkoka said the most disturbing thing was the death of sick people,
especially pregnant women and those attacked by malaria, on ox-drawn carts
on their way to Kana Mission Hospital, the only health facility for the
entire community.

The buses which used to ply the Gokwe-Kana route pulled out in October last
year and people were now using lorries which rarely come to the area because
of poor roads.

"In most cases people spend three to four days waiting for transport which
is hard to come by," said Chief Mkoka.

"People are forced to use the slow ox-drawn carts to take their sick
relatives to Kana Mission Hospital for treatment, but the sad thing is that
a number of them are dying on their way."

Chief Mkoka said the poor infrastructure has caused many teachers to abandon
the area while clinics were being run by unqualified staff who always refer
the sick to the Roman Catholic-run Kana Mission Hospital for treatment. The
chief called on the Government, through District Development Fund, to
intervene and ensure that the roads are repaired.

He said Gokwe, if given enough support, has the capacity to produce enough
maize to feed the whole nation and cotton to earn the country a substantial
amount of foreign currency.

In Chireya, people are forced to fork out $200 000 to travel a distance of
20 kilometres by lorries whose drivers take advantage of the acute transport
shortage to charge exorbitant fares.

Gokwe-Chireya legislator Cde Leonard Chikomba and the DDF have so far
donated over 300 bags of cement to repair Katsvanzva Bridge linking Zumba,
Madzivazvido, Mashame and Choda.


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Mandaza Suspended Again



The Herald (Harare)

December 8, 2005
Posted to the web December 8, 2005

Harare

FOUNDING editor-in-chief and chief executive of the Zimbabwe Mirror
Newspaper Group (ZMNG) Dr Ibbo Mandaza was yesterday issued with a fresh
letter to suspend him soon after collecting his court order that allowed him
to go back to work.

Dr Mandaza had on Tuesday won a reprieve to continue work at the ZMNG after
High Court judge Justice Bharat Patel declared his suspension null and void.

The order was only signed yesterday and when Dr Mandaza collected it, his
joy ended prematurely after the newspaper group handed him a fresh
suspension letter.

Justice Patel had nullified the previous suspension letter on the basis that
it was defective because it did not specify the grounds for Dr Mandaza's
suspension.

ZMNG vice chairman Mr John Marangwanda said the board had now issued and
served Dr Mandaza with a fresh letter of suspension that specified the
grounds for his suspension.

"The grounds are... three counts of fraud. Act or conduct inconsistent with
the fulfillment of the express or implied conditions of his employment as
chief executive officer and editor-in-chief and willful disobedience to a
lawful order given by the employer," he said.

"All this has been done because we as the employer have reasons to believe
that acts of misconduct have been committed and that we will take this
matter to its logical conclusion in terms of the Labour Relations
regulations."

When contacted for comment, Dr Mandaza's lawyer Mr Joseph Mandizha of
Mandizha and Company said they were in the process of considering the letter
of suspension.

Mr Mandizha said his client would shortly be going back to court for
redress.

He said the letter of suspension handed over to Dr Mandaza yesterday invited
his client to resign.

In his order, Justice Patel said: "Respondents and all their agents and
directors as the case may be, be and are hereby interdicted, prohibited and
restrained from holding or continuing any disciplinary proceedings with
respect to applicant's unlawful suspension."

Dr Mandaza said the action by the company board to issue him with the fresh
letter of suspension was a clear breach of the court order.


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Bird Flu Statement



Accra Mail (Accra)

December 7, 2005
Posted to the web December 8, 2005

No bird flu risk for consumers from properly cooked poultry and eggs Chicken
and other poultry are safe to eat if cooked properly, according to a joint
statement by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World
Health Organization (WHO) issued to national food safety authorities.
However, no birds from flocks with disease should enter the food chain.

FAO/WHO made the statement to clarify food safety issues in relation to the
current avian influenza crisis. The statement has been issued through the
International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN).

In areas where there is no avian influenza outbreak in poultry, there is no
risk that consumers will be exposed to the virus via the handling or
consumption of poultry or poultry products.

Cooking of poultry (e.g. chicken, ducks, geese, turkeys and guinea-fowl) at
or above 70°Celsius throughout the product, so that absolutely no meat
remains raw and red, is a safe measure to kill the H5N1 virus in areas with
outbreaks in poultry, FAO/WHO said.

This ensures that there is no active virus remaining if the live bird has
been infected and has mistakenly entered the food chain. To date, there is
no epidemiological evidence that people have become infected after eating
contaminated poultry meat that has been properly cooked.

Poultry

From the information currently available, a large number of confirmed human
cases of avian influenza acquired their infection during the home
slaughtering and subsequent handling of diseased or dead birds prior to
cooking. FAO and WHO emphasize that in the process of killing and preparing
a live bird for food, slaughtering poses the greatest risk of passing the
virus from infected or diseased birds to humans.

Most strains of avian influenza virus are mainly found in the respiratory
and gastrointestinal tracts of infected birds, and not in meat. However,
highly pathogenic viruses, such as the H5N1 strain, spread to virtually all
parts of an infected bird, including meat. Proper cooking at temperatures at
or above 70°C in all parts of the product will inactivate the virus.

When a diseased bird is slaughtered, defeathered and eviscerated, virus from
the bird can transfer to humans through direct contact. Infected poultry
excrete virus in their secretions and faeces. Exposure might also occur when
the virus is inhaled through dust and possibly through contact with surfaces
contaminated with the virus.

In areas where marketing of live birds is common, the practices of home
slaughtering, defeathering, and eviscerating increase the exposure to
potentially contaminated parts of a chicken. These practices therefore
result in a significant risk of infection in areas with outbreaks in
poultry.

It is not always possible to differentiate infected and non-infected birds
in outbreak areas. Some avian species, such as domestic ducks, may harbour
the virus without displaying symptoms. Therefore, people need to be fully
informed about preventive measures, including the use of protective
equipment. The practice of slaughtering and eating infected birds, whether
diseased or already dead, must be stopped, FAO and WHO warn. These birds
should also not be used for animal feed.

Even in areas or countries where outbreaks are currently occurring, the
likelihood of infected poultry entering an industrialized slaughtering and
processing chain, and eventually being marketed and handled by a consumer or
a restaurant worker, is considered to be very low, FAO/WHO said. Good
hygienic practices during preparation and cooking poultry at temperatures of
70°C or above will further contribute to the safety of cooked poultry meat.

Proper vaccination of domestic poultry is considered to be a useful tool as
part of an overall integrated strategy for the control of Highly Pathogenic
Avian Influenza. It must be implemented in accordance with existing
standards and procedures for vaccination. With appropriate monitoring
programs in place, vaccinated poultry can enter the food chain without
particular risk for the consumer.

Eggs

Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus can be found inside and on the
surface of eggs laid by infected birds. Although sick birds will normally
stop producing eggs, eggs laid in the early phase of the disease could
contain viruses in the egg-white and yolk as well as on the surface of the
shell.

Proper cooking inactivates the virus present inside the eggs. Pasteurization
used by industry for liquid egg products is also effective in inactivating
the virus.

Eggs from areas with outbreaks in poultry should not be consumed raw or
partially cooked (i.e., with runny yolk), FAO/WHO advise. To date, there is
no epidemiological evidence to suggest that people have been infected with
avian influenza by consumption of eggs or egg products.

Recommended good hygienic practices to reduce exposure to the virus in areas
with outbreaks in poultry

-No birds from flocks with disease should enter the food chain.

-Do not eat raw poultry parts, including raw blood, or raw eggs in or from
areas with outbreaks in poultry.

-Separate raw meat from cooked or ready-to-eat foods to avoid contamination.
Do not use the same chopping board or the same knife. Do not handle both raw
and cooked foods without washing your hands in between and do not place
cooked meat back on the same plate or surface it was on prior to cooking. Do
not use raw or soft-boiled eggs in food preparations that will not be heat
treated or cooked.

-Keep clean and wash your hands. After handling frozen or thawed raw poultry
or eggs, wash your hands thoroughly with soap. Wash and disinfect all
surfaces and utensils that have been in contact with the raw meat.

-Cook thoroughly: Thorough cooking of poultry meat will inactivate the
virus. Either ensure that the poultry meat reaches 70°C at the centre of
the product ("piping" hot) or that the meat is not pink in any part. Egg
yolks should not be runny or liquid.


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Legal action imminent against Zimbabwe govt: Ncube

SABC

December 09, 2005, 07:45

Trevor Ncube, the owner and publisher of the Mail & Guardian in Zimbabwe,
says he is considering legal steps after his passport was confiscated upon
landing in Bulawayo.

The Zimbabwean government has barred him from returning to South Africa.

The confiscation of Ncube's passport is based on recent constitutional
amendments which allow the withdrawal of citizenship from those the
government deems to be "harming the country's interests".

Ncube says government has made a list of enemies of the state.


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U.N. official calls visit 'heartbreaking'

Washington Times

By Betsy Pisik
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
December 9, 2005

NEW YORK -- The U.N. official in charge of humanitarian relief yesterday
described a four-day visit to Zimbabwe as "heartbreaking" and expressed
frustration with the government's handling of crises in food, housing and
AIDS.
Although the government of President Robert Mugabe had begun to erect
permanent shelters and seek outside assistance, aid director Jan Egeland
said the effort was far too little to accommodate the desperation he saw in
the cities of Harare and Bulawayo.
"Zimbabwe is in a deep crisis," Mr. Egeland told reporters. "There are
millions of people with their backs to the wall trying to feed themselves."
Inflation is up to 400 percent, while food stocks in Zimbabwe, once the
marketbasket of southern Africa, are dwindling. Power and water shortages
are increasing. Life expectancy has dropped from 60 years to 32, Mr. Egeland
said.
He described grandmothers caring for AIDS orphans, and families living
in open fields and in shelters fashioned out of branches and plastic
sheeting. Still others have crowded into the homes of friends or family,
creating desperate health and sanitation conditions.
The United Nations put up tents, but the government tore them down in
October, Mr. Egeland said, because the tents created the appearance of a
crisis.
Additionally, U.N. and other aid groups have been unable to penetrate
overlapping layers of red tape to deliver emergency supplies and erect tents
and sanitation.
"At the speed they have now, it will take decades to put people in
permanent shelter," he said.
Human rights groups and aid organizations also have criticized the
government, saying it has tried to coerce people to leave the cities and
relocate to the country, where jobs and government services are scarce.
In May, Mr. Mugabe ordered soldiers and police to begin tearing down
shantytowns and many marketplaces, leaving more than 700,000 already
impoverished Zimbabweans homeless or jobless.
Another 2 million have been affected by the program, which the
government describes as urban renewal and others characterize as a brutal
effort to consolidate political power and punish the urban areas that
supported rival parties in the last election.
A U.N. report on Zimbabwe's Operation Sweep Out Trash said the
springtime destruction "was carried out in an indiscriminate and unjustified
manner, with indifference to human suffering and, in repeated cases, with
disregard to several provisions of national and international law."

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