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UK calls for monitoring of Zimbabwe poll

Reuters

Tue 19 Feb 2008, 18:44 GMT

LONDON, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Britain called on Tuesday for effective
international monitoring of next month's Zimbabwean elections, saying
conditions for the poll were "far from free and fair".

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has announced presidential, parliamentary
and municipal elections for March 29 and is seeking another five-year term
to extend his 28-year rule of the once-prosperous southern African country.

"Zimbabwe is suffering from an economic, humanitarian and political crisis
for which President Mugabe is directly responsible," British Foreign
Secretary David Miliband said.

"The conditions for it (the election) are far from free and fair. We are
pressing for effective international monitoring and for states in the region
to require the election to meet international standards...," he told
parliament.

The opposition is concerned the elections will not be free. Mugabe has been
widely accused of rigging the last three major elections and of using
security forces to quell dissent.

Mugabe faces a challenge from Simba Makoni, a former ally who is running for
president as an independent and who has vowed to make the crumbling economy
the campaign's focus.

Critics say government mismanagement has plunged the country into a crisis
marked by soaring poverty, widespread malnutrition and chronic food and fuel
shortages.

Mugabe says the problems are the result of sabotage by Western powers
opposed to his policy of seizing white-owned farms and redistributing the
land to blacks. Relations between Zimbabwe and former colonial power Britain
have been fraught. (Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)


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Shortages worsen as ZANU-PF diverts resources to elections



By Tererai Karimakwenda
February 19, 2008

As much as Zimbabweans would like their hardships to disappear when they
cast their vote at the ballot box on March 29, it is the elections
themselves that are now reportedly making the daily struggles even worse.
There are reports that the ruling party is diverting basic goods, already in
short supply, to their election campaigns. Much needed supplies of
mealie-meal and fuel were reportedly used by ZANU-PF candidates during the
primaries. The party is also allegedly building stockpiles of goods to be
used during the elections and for Robert Mugabe’s birthday bash in
Beitbridge on Saturday.

Meanwhile life for ordinary Zimbabweans has become even more difficult.
Journalist Angus Shaw described the conditions on the ground as “appalling”.
He said groups of up to 40 workers meet as early as 5:00 a.m. so they can
walk to work together because they cannot afford to pay for transportation.
Many walk a distance of at least 15 kilometres to work. Shaw spoke to a
security guard who quit his job recently because it was cheaper to stay at
home rather than go to work.

Petrol is selling at an average of Z$10 million per litre. An average trip
to the city centre from the high-density areas of Harare costs about Z$4
million. A trip from Harare to the town of Murehwa, a distance of about 100
kilometres, costs Z$30 million. Despite all this, reports indicate that the
government recently commandeered supplies of fuel from petrol stations for
use in ZANU-PF campaigns.

As for the daily food staple, mealie-meal, Shaw said there was some
available in the shops briefly last week. This was due to a price reduction
that had been announced by the National Pricing and Income Commission . This
government appointed commission set the price of a 10 kg bag of “mealie” at
Z$9 million. Shaw said the supplies did not last long and shortages are
reported again in many areas.
A report in a Monday bulletin from the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(ZESN) said there was "widespread vote buying in Zanu PF" during the party's
primary elections. Aspiring ZANU-PF candidates were allegedly selling scarce
commodities such as soap, cooking oil and sugar to the electorate at heavily
discounted prices.

The ZESN report alleged that one government minister distributed free sports
kits and money for school fees. Another minister is alleged to have promised
scarce cellphone lines to voters. The report also said that the state Grain
Marketing Board had "played an active role in the campaigns" by enticing
voters, using corn meal. Some voters were allegedly given 50 kg bags of corn
meal at a rally.

Shaw said the entry of former finance minister Simba Makoni into the
presidential race had brought some excitement about the elections, but
mostly in intellectual circles. But ordinary Zimbabweans that the journalist
speaks to at bus stops told him they would register a protest vote against
government for destroying the economy.

.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Makoni has backing of ex-generals

IOL

††††††Basildon Peta
††††February 19 2008 at 11:55AM

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's reliance on the army to keep him
in power now rests on shaky ground.

Two former heads of the Zimbabwean armed forces are solidly behind
former finance minister Simba Makoni's rebellion against Mugabe.

Interviews with highly placed Zanu-PF officials have confirmed that
General Vitalis Zvinavashe and General Solomon Mujuru have been part of
Makoni's plans.

The elaborate plot was hatched after the Zimbabwean president blocked
Makoni's nomination as the ruling party's candidate at a special congress in
December.

The sources said it had always been easy for Mugabe to rig elections,
since the army ran the elections, but that this would be much more difficult
against Makoni.

Other senior army officers have helped to inspire Makoni's rebellion.
In party circles he is supported by Zanu-PF stalwarts, including politburo
member Dumiso Dabengwa, party chairperson John Nkomo and vice-president
Joseph Msika.

Officials said the fact that no senior person within Zanu-PF had
openly condemned Makoni since he announced his move more than a week ago,
was evidence of his wide support within the ruling party.

"The task of condemning him (Makoni) so far has been seized upon by
lunatics like (war veterans leader) Joseph Chinotimba," said a senior
Zanu-PF official.

The only senior member of Mugabe's inner circle to have publicly
commented on the Makoni move, cabinet minister and Zanu-PF secretary for
legal affairs Emmerson Mnangagwa, was very mild in his remarks.

Mnangagwa, who has been doing the bidding for Mugabe in the succession
race, announced that Makoni had automatically expelled himself from the
party.

Mugabe has yet to make a pronouncement on Makoni's move, all of which
is in sharp contrast to the normally immediate and virulent attacks launched
by Mugabe and his cronies against opponents.

Mugabe abruptly postponed the sitting of the nomination court on
Friday.

Sources said that was because he had been severely shaken by Makoni's
move and wanted to ensure that Makoni was not joined by disgruntled members
who had lost out in the primaries.

Zvinavashe said in 2002 that the army would never salute Tsvangirai as
president, because he had not fought in the liberation struggle.

But, recently, Zvinavashe has been openly critical of Mugabe, saying
that Mugabe was betraying the struggle for democracy with his decision to
cling to power at all costs.

This article was originally published on page 9 of The Mercury on
February 19, 2008


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SA burying its head in the sand on Zim election: MDC

Zim Online

by Patricia Mpofu† Tuesday 19 February 2008

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s main opposition on Monday accused South Africa of
burying its head in the sand and refusing to acknowledge evident obstacles
to free and fair polls in its northern neighbour.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said the political
field remained tilted in favour of President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF
party with polls less than six weeks away.

Suggestions by South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
that President Robert Mugabe could in the weeks left implement reforms
agreed with the opposition that would facilitate a fair contest were wrong
and signified Pretoria’s unwillingness to call a spade a spade, the party
said.

“The tragedy we have as Zimbabwe is that we have regional friends that are
refusing to call a spade a spade,” said Nelson Chamisa, spokesman of the
main faction of the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

“How can you speak of free and fair elections when the country does not have
an independent electoral commission and the opposition still cannot freely
organise political meetings?” he added.

Zimbabwe, which is grappling with its worst ever economic crisis, next month
elects a new president, parliament and local councils.

Dlamini-Zuma told journalists that the chance of a free and fair election in
Zimbabwe was "good" if all the agreements reached in talks between MDC and
Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF held under the mediation of South Africa were
implemented.

"All those things should be implemented now in the run-up and during the
election - if they implement, then the prospects should be good,"
Dlamini-Zuma said on Monday.

The Zimbabwean parties agreed a raft of changes to tough security and media
laws that critics say Mugabe had used to cling to power. They also agreed on
a new constitution - that the MDC says would have ensured free and fair
elections - but which Mugabe has refused to implement.

Analysts say despite a collapsing economy and worsening food shortages,
Mugabe’s government looks likely to win elections thanks to an opposition
torn apart by divisions over strategy, personality clashes and leadership
wrangles, which undermines its ability to exploit Zimbabwe's economic
crisis. - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwe says Bush pre-judging elections

Zim Online

by Thenjiwe Mabhena Tuesday 19 February 2008

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s government on Monday accused United States President
George W Bush of unfairly prejudging the country’s elections next month as
not free and fair even before a single ballot was cast.

Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said criticism by Bush, who has used
his Africa tour to criticise the Harare administration and call for
democratic polls in Zimbabwe, was a call to the Western establishment to
denounce victory by President Robert Mugabe’s government regardless of
whether elections were free and fair.

“They (US) are trying to prepare the ground for the loss of their sponsored
stooges,” said Ndlovu.

He was referring to the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party that the government accuses of being a puppet of Britain and the West,
a charge the opposition party denies.

Bush has labelled Mugabe a “discredited dictator” who is guilty of gross
human rights violations, stealing elections and ruining Zimbabwe’s once
brilliant economy.

The US leader used a press conference he addressed Sunday with Tanzanian
President Jakaya Kikwete to call for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe,
adding he was looking forward to a time when the people of Zimbabwe would
regain their freedom.

But Ndlovu accused the American President of wanting to poke his nose into
the affairs of a sovereign country.

“It is unfortunate for a President of a country like the USA to speak like
that about a country which is a sovereign state and not a province of
America,” said Ndlovu. “We have always held peaceful elections on time and
we are guided by the laws of Zimbabwe. We are on record that we want free
and fair elections.”

Zimbabwe, which is grappling with its worst ever economic crisis, holds
local government, parliamentary and presidential elections on March 29.

Analysts say an unfair playing field coupled with political violence and
intimidation of opponents guarantees Mugabe’s government victory at the
polls despite its clear failure to break a vicious inflation cycle that has
left consumers impoverished and the economy in deep crisis. - ZimOnline


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Hard-Pressed Zimbabweans Experience Yet Another Surge In Prices

VOA

By Ntungamili Nkomo
Washington DC
18 February 2008

Prices of essential goods and services surged again in Zimbabwe this past
weekend as the cost of a commuter ride from the suburbs of Harare and
Bulawayo into the city centers jumped from Z$3 million (US$0.50) to Z$5
million dollars.

The price of gasoline rose to Z$70 million (US$10) from Z$40 million a
liter, reflecting extreme scarcity of the commodity on formal or parallel
markets. Until fairly recently, the U.S. dollar cost of a liter of fuel had
remained stable at around US$1.00.

Maize meal, a Zimbabwean staple food, was fetching Z$40 million for 10
kilograms, from 15 million previously. Some experts said a report last week
from the Central Statistical Office putting inflation at 66,000% might have
triggered the surges.

But Harare economist Rejoice Ngwenya told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe the rises signaled a failed economy on its knees.


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Zim goes bananas

The Times,SA

Published:Feb 19, 2008

.. Bus fares go up halfway through a ride

.. Bread price doubles every two days

I’m not an economist, but I don’t believe the inflation rate is the official
66000percent. It’s closer to 150000percent. I know this sounds crazy, but we
Zimbabweans are used to it.

Here, prices don’t go up, they are “adjusted upwards” — constantly. Even the
prices of goods that haven’t been on the shelves for months go up all the
time.

Halfway through a ride, a bus conductor will tell you that the fare has gone
up. When I went to Mutare in December, the fare was Z$1.5-million (about
R150). As I write, the fare is Z$25-million.

The price of bread doubles every two and a half days. And the price differs
from shop to shop. A loaf of bread usually changes hands about three times
before it reaches its final destination, and its price increases each time.

In January last year, teachers went on strike, demanding a salary of
Z$200000 a month. Now they are demanding Z$1.7-billion a month, and with
good reason. At present they are earning the equivalent of R300 a month.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced a 10-million-dollar note last month
and already Zimbabweans are carrying large numbers of them. The previous
highest denomination was the $750000 note, printed two weeks before.

Hyper-inflation a ffects the price of everything, no matter how big or how
small.

A cigarette will cost Z$500000 if you buy it on a pavement.

A pint of beer is going for Z$7-million. Some things can hardly be bought
with money. Most landlords want rent in foreign currency, even though this
is illegal. Others prefer lodgers to pay with groceries instead of local
currency.

How are people coping with this madness? They are no longer alarmed at the
price of a scarce product; they are relieved at having found it.

Many people buy groceries as a hedge against inflation. For example, a
2-litre bottle of orange juice was selling for Z$9-million in January. I
bought 10 bottles. The juice costs Z$17-million a bottle as I write.

Some employees buy foreign currency as soon as they get cash. When they need
Zimbabwean dollars, they simply sell some of the foreign currency.

When you ask the price of a product in a store, the shop assistant might
tell you: “You’d better buy this today as the price will be doubling
tomorrow.”

There are pitiful consequences to inflation. I have seen people visiting
relatives in hospital hungrily eat food meant for the patient. I’m sure some
people visit just to get a meal.

The prison service has said it can no longer afford to feed prisoners
properly. It is giving prisoners single mangoes as a meal.

Most Zimbabweans bury their dead wrapped in cloth because coffins cost an
average Z$2.5-billion.

Hospital staff steal medicines, and patients are required to buy their own
syringes, needles, drips, bandages and tablets.

Junior doctors and nurses are on strike most of the time.

Petrol sells for Z$50-million a litre. It was less than half that last
month.

The Zimbabwe dollar is now trading at 7$million to the US dollar, up from
Z$2-million last month.

.. Namate is a veteran journalist based in Harare


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Zimbabwe - Mugabe's biggest con yet

Mens News Daily

February 18, 2008 at 10:05 pm

When Mugabe does it, he always does it big, real big. His largess is often
so breathtaking that most find it hard to comprehend, let alone digest. He's
doing it again.

First it was Gukurahundi where he oversaw the slaughter of at least 20,000
people in the Matabeleland and the Midlands Provinces. He used his personal
extra-legal military unit, the 5th Brigade, which was trained by North Korea
to do his dirty work. Whilst this genocide was going on, Mugabe was the
darling of the West and a blind eye was turned on his excesses.

When he saw his grip on power under threat in 2000 and 2002, he blatantly
rigged more elections and ordered his storm troopers to invade and violently
confiscate at least 4000 farms from fellow white Zimbabweans. In the
process, over one million black farm workers and their families lost their
homes and livelihoods and became refugees in their own country.

Today Zimbabwe starves.

A few years later, he implemented Operation Murambatsvina where he literally
destroyed the homes and livelihoods on over 700,000 Zimbabweans. Quiet
diplomacy kept the lid on this atrocity.

To top it off, last year he ordered all businesses to slash their prices in
half and thousands of businesses went under as a result.

Throughout his rule, Mugabe has perfected the rigging mechanisms necessary
to win elections but this time the pressure is on to have free and fair
elections and given the numbers, he has a real problem.

Some months ago, Mugabe's advisors warned him that conditions in the country
had become so bad that if an election was held, he would suffer a
humiliating defeat. His worst fears were confirmed as he was told that
Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC now commanded the overwhelming majority of support
in Zimbabwe.

Enter Mugabe's new con - Operation Makoni.

In the Polit Bureau, his strategists developed a comprehensive and detailed
plan to get Mugabe and zanuPF out of their predicament. The plan involved
the fabrication of a split in the party and the creation of the perception
that zanuPF was falling apart. Later, when the votes are counted, there
would be "enough" votes from the so-called disaffected zanuPF (Makoni)
faction and zanuPF (Mugabe) faction to form a "coalition" government. As a
sweetener, another small unimportant party would also be included.

The plan would be that Makoni would pull out of zanuPF with a bit of stage
managed acrimony. He would then "play" a magnominiously role to the
electorate which would be desperate enough to see him as their saviour. This
would be re-enforced especially if it was marketed in such a way that there
was an illusion that Makoni had the support of certain key
strongmen/kingmakers from zanuPF. Many analysts say that ZanuPF have always
kept the public guessing. That's why these so-called strongmen remain an
illusion to this day.

A week before the Makoni "split", Makoni held another secret meeting with
Mugabe to add the finishing touches to their plan.

Makoni then went out and told Zimbabwe that he "felt their pain" and called
on Zimbabwe to rally behind him and stand as a united front against Mugabe.

The Mutambara MDC splinter faction fell for it almost immediately and
naively answered his call. However, within an hour of Mutambara's irrational
announcement, Makoni caused them major embarrassment by saying he would not
agree to any alliances. By doing this, Makoni effectively neutralised
Mutambara and his splinter faction.

One down and one to go.

The question on many people's lips is, will Tsvangirai also fall for this
deception? To date it seems not. In fact Tsvangirai is keeping his distance.

It is common knowledge that certain western countries such as the United
States, United Kingdom, certain Scandinavian countries and Canada are quite
prepared to accept a reformed zanuPF. Mugabe's minders in South African are
well aware of this. South Africa desperately needs the Zimbabwe problem to
go away before the 2010 Soccer World Cup. If not, the world cup venue might
be in jeopardy if Zimbabwe explodes.

The real dilemma for zanuPF has been to find a way to repackage Mugabe to
become more acceptable to the international community. The realisation is
that they can't, so this is their way of doing it. It kills two birds with
one stone by giving Mugabe a safe way out and it also solves the succession
issue in such a way as to keep Mugabe safe from prosecution at the Hague.

Known as "Operation Makoni" it forms part of an intricate web of deceit to
re-package and give a face-lift for a NEW zanuPF formation to become more
internationally acceptable. The resources of zanuPF and their jingles in
branding Makoni are being done in the classic zanuPF way. Their propaganda
news vehicles are in full flight as they spread dis-information and
deception through local and international media.

The sudden announcement of the March election was a deliberate ploy to
confuse and rush the opposition into going into this election. Mugabe needed
this to happen as part of the deception in order to confuse the real
objectives.

Mugabe has already done enough to rig the outcome and has prepared the
ground for a "semi" free and fair election that certain Western countries
will gladly accept, especially if there is a "coalition government" in
place.

Mugabe is being very quiet at the moment. He's watching the fall-out being
generated and he's playing a waiting game in preparation to further
manipulate the situation.

This is Mugabe's only way out and it is becoming clearer by the day that his
"pup" is being well and truly bought by the West.


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The Tsvangirai-Makoni question: the results

New Zimbabwe

By Dr Alex T. Magaisa
Last updated: 02/19/2008 08:48:02
NOTHING could have prepared me for the avalanche of correspondence in
response to the last article entitled ‘Can Tsvangirai Make the Ultimate
Sacrifice?’.

Eliciting reaction from the public makes the whole enterprise of writing
worthwhile and not even the most crude of comments can dampen it – it is one
of the hazards of the job, which pales into insignificance when one
considers the hazards miners and soldiers have to risk in their daily lives.

It is, perhaps, testimony to the traffic generated by the New Zimbabwe.com
website and also to the high levels of general interest in the political
questions facing the nation.

The provocative character of the article was deliberate. It provided a
useful medium to gauge the reaction of the public to the presidential
candidates, on the nomination day. The article performed the role very well,
eliciting a large number of responses from members of the public.

It certainly did a better job than a simple quantitative poll because most
readers gave reasons for their opinions, which provided qualitative
substance to their positions. The fact that it was published in the Zimbabwe
Independent, meant that reaction was also available to those in Zimbabwe
that might not have had access to the website version.

I would, therefore, like to express my gratitude to all those who took their
time to read and comment on the article. In writing the article, I, of
course, took some risks and I do not harbour any ill-will against those who
thought it was biased in favour of Dr Simba Makoni. Of course, I would like
to see some unity of purpose in the opposition because I do not think that a
divided opposition stands a chance against the wily old fox that Robert
Mugabe is.

There were two key indicators that I was looking for in the responses:

First, the reaction towards the Makoni bid for the presidency and to gauge
his chances – to what extent could he attract support from the MDC’S
traditional base?;

Second, the reaction towards Tsvangirai – to what extent his traditional
base still stands by him despite Makoni’s intervention.

The methodology employed is crude and not without its weaknesses, not least
the fact that it is restricted to those who have access to the internet and
email and also may include those in the Diaspora who will not necessarily
vote in the elections. The exclusion of the key rural voters in particular,
is a fundamental drawback. I have also taken into consideration the problem
that not all readers who had an opinion reacted to the article. This may be
because they did not have access to the internet by the time of compilation
of the results or they simply agreed or disagreed absolutely that they saw
no reason to write back.

Thankfully, some of these weaknesses are mitigated by the qualitative data
evidenced by the reasoning provided by respondents. I have also generously
assumed that each respondent represents a potential voter, their present
location notwithstanding. Having said that, I emphasise that this is purely
a rudimentary exercise and is in no way designed to substitute rigorous
scientific research.

These weaknesses aside, I like to think that we can still put this
rudimentary information to some constructive use.

The bulk of the respondents provided really considered opinions, whose
substance and critical basis is highly valued. I will outline some general
observations after outlining the results.

Responses

• By 12 noon on Sunday February 17, 2008, 61 responses to the article had
been received and each expressed an opinion on the candidacy of Makoni or
Tsvangirai or simply remained neutral/undecided. The opinions were
classified into three categories: the Pro-Makoni, the Pro-Tsvangirai and the
Neutral.

• 21 respondents were clearly pro-Tsvangirai, arguing that he should remain
the presidential candidate for the MDC even if the opposition remains
divided.

• 20 respondents thought that it was a good idea to have Makoni as the sole
presidential candidate against Mugabe.

• A further 18 constituted the neutrals or the undecided – they were not
sure. These may be referred to as the ‘fence-sitters’ or perhaps the ones
carrying the ‘swing vote’.

• Only 2 were unconvinced with either Tsvangirai or Makoni. They saw them as
being simply irrelevant as Mugabe was sure to win.

The results show a fine balance between Makoni and Tsvangirai, though the
latter seems to have a slight edge. The balance is evident when these
quantitative results are considered in the context of the comments from
those in the neutrals category.

Neutrals

The neutrals may be undecided on Tsvangirai and Makoni but they are very
sure that they would like to vote for the opposition in order to change the
face of Zimbabwe’s leadership. They just don’t know whom to vote for at this
point because they are confused and they also think many of their countrymen
are similarly confused. There is an indication that the Makoni bid has
created some uncertainty within the electorate.

They are attracted to Makoni but feel that they have been duped too many
times before by Zanu PF to fully entrust him with unqualified allegiance.
They feel betrayed by Tsvangirai’s failure to unite the opposition prior to
the election. Most of these neutrals have a soft spot for Tsvangirai and
could probably vote for him in any event because as one put it ‘at least, he
is the devil we know’ and feel they know too little of Makoni to take that
risk. There is a commonly held view that Makoni’s bid has come late in the
day and that may prove to be his undoing, because especially in the rural
areas, he is not well known as compared to Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

Pro-Tsvangirai

The pro-Tsvangirai respondents are very sceptical of Makoni’s intentions.
The widespread opinion is that his candidature is part of the Mugabe plot
and some go as far as to theorise that he is part of Mbeki’s conspiracy
under the cover of ‘Quiet Diplomacy’.

Two theories are prominent in their minds: either that Makoni is meant to
divide the urban vote, where he is likely to win some sympathisers or that
Makoni will win and give Mugabe a safe exit because he is less likely to
take a retributive approach against the current regime.

This group is not convinced by the circumstances of Makoni’s emergence as a
presidential candidate and feel that it is him, the new comer who should
seek to come under Tsvangirai’s wings and not the other way round. Also in
evidence is the mystification of Zanu PF – the typical view that it is far
too sophisticated and so powerful that no one can outwit it. Those who claim
to be on the ground are also convinced that the majority of the people in
the streets support Tsvangirai and not Makoni.

Pro-Makoni

The pro-Makoni respondents have been ready to give him the benefit of the
doubt. They feel that he is genuine and are not ready to accept the
conspiracy theories. Some of them, however, feel that his timing could have
been better and that his chances may be limited because the challenges he
has to surmount are many given the lack of time before the elections.

They most likely represent the group that has traditionally been unconvinced
by the opposition leadership and, therefore, see a viable alternative in
Makoni even though he is untested as an opposition politician. They also
claim to be looking at things from a practical viewpoint - and one went as
far as to argue that if there is indeed some rigging, it might even benefit
Makoni and not Mugabe, assuming that the Makoni group has power over those
that traditionally assist Mugabe in elections.

Swing Voters and the One Candidate Policy

Assuming that this small sample can be taken as a rudimentary indicator of
the opinions in the country and given the fine balance of support between
Makoni and Tsvangirai, a deciding factor will lie with the decision of the
swing voters in the currently neutrals group. This is a group that will
require work, for Tsvangirai to retain their confidence and for Makoni to
demonstrate that he is worthy of their trust. Whoever gets their trust and
confidence is more likely to succeed in carrying the opposition vote.

But a crucial point here is that all but two of the respondents are prepared
to vote for the opposition candidates. I have taken into account that
die-hard Zanu PF supporters did not find good reason to respond to the
article and therefore that they are inadequately represented in the sample.
Nonetheless, one might discern the fact that if there was one opposition
candidate, it is likely that he would earn the bulk of the 59 opposition
support. Arguably, a one candidate policy is more likely to achieve the
intended objectives.

That, in a nutshell, was the major point of my initial paper. It helped that
it was provocative in its suggestion because it drew the needed reaction. It
could have been a suggestion for Makoni to sacrifice for Tsvangirai but it
is unlikely that it would have drawn the same response. To the extent that
it sparked the debate and drew the reactions it did, I stand pleased with
the effect of the article.

General Observations

I must, however, point to some general observations:

First, few probably realise the implications of a four-horse race such as we
now have. The Electoral Act states under Section 110 that the winning
candidate must get "a majority of the total number of valid votes cast".
This simply means that he must get at least 50% plus one of the valid votes
cast in the election. If no candidate gets this percentage, there will be
another election which must be held within 21 days, in which only the two
best candidates of the first round will participate.

If there is a tie in the second round, parliament will be required to sit as
an electoral college to decide between the two candidates. This has
interesting implications on what might happen. Now, there is a very good
chance that Mugabe might come second in the first election but the winning
candidate will not get the necessary majority. This would lead to a run-off,
between Mugabe and the first winner, a situation that could well be brought
forward through a single candidate policy because it is unlikely that the
obscure Langton Towungana will get more than a handful of votes to affect
the first election. Either way, this election is likely to produce a strange
set of results. Zimbabwe could well end up with a President decided not by
the people but by Parliament.

Second, one of the unsavoury traits of Mugabe’s followers is that they are
generally contemptuous of anything that appears to be anti their leader.
Worse, they tend to carry their message in words and deeds that one would
not expect of decent people. That is why they restrict media space.

Unfortunately, that trait seems to have crept into opposition circles.
Indeed, some are wont to take it upon themselves to get angry on behalf of
their leaders, displaying similar traits that they are supposedly fighting
against. This is unfortunate.

One Tsvangiari supporter theorised that I have been promised a post in
Makoni’s cabinet if he wins. Yet another theorised that I have been bought
by Tsvangirai to ‘destroy’ Makoni! Yes, those are some of the absurdities
that conspiracy theorising produces! Tolerance of and respect for free
speech is fundamental if we are to move forward as a society.

Finally, I wish to quote one respondent who made an interesting observation.
He said that whilst Zimbabwe has some of the highest rates of literacy in
Africa, unfortunately it seems also to have the lowest rates of political
literacy. A very sobering thought indeed, as Zimbabwe approaches very
important elections.

Alex Magaisa is based at Kent Law School, UK and can be contacted at
wamagaisa@yahoo.co.uk


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Election a ritual to legitimise Mugabe, says rights group

Zim Online

by Wayne Mafaro and Simplicious Chirinda Wednesday 20 February 2008

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s March 29 elections will be held in a repressive
environment marked by intimidation and organised violence, effectively
reducing the polls to an exercise to simply validate President Robert Mugabe’s
controversial rule, a human rights group said on Tuesday.

Joining a growing chorus of disapproval and condemnation of political
conditions in Zimbabwe ahead of elections on March 29, the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) said because of an unfavourable environment, polls
would neither serve the interest of democracy, the country nor the people.

“The 29 March 2008 elections will be held in a repressive environment
replete with intimidation and organised violence and will simply become a
regular self-legitimating ritual by the government of Zimbabwe,” the CZC
said in a report.

“In the view of the coalition, the elections will not serve the interests of
democracy, the country or the people,” the civic alliance added.

The CZC is an alliance of human and civic rights groups, churches, women's
groups, the labour and student movements campaigning for a democratic
settlement to Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis.

It said the beatings and torture of main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
and other civic activists by the state security agents last March was
indicative of a political environment that cannot produce both democratic
processes and outcomes.

Draconian security and press laws – some inherited from previous colonial
governments – were another hindrance to democratic polls, the civic
coalition said.

Mugabe’s government agreed to change some of the security and press laws
during talks with the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party
that were brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki. But human rights
groups say the amendments were piecemeal and inadequate.

The CZC said with less than 40 days before the polls, independent newspapers
such as the Daily News, Daily News on Sunday, The Tribune and The Weekly
Times remain banned while Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party enjoy monopoly
on coverage by state-run newspapers, radio and television.

“This continued assault on freedom of the press and expression remains an
aberration to the administration of free and fair election,” it said.

ZimOnline was unable to get an immediate comment on the civic coalition’s
report from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission that is in charge of running
elections and ensuring they are free and fair.

United States President George W Bush, who is on a trip to several African
countries, has also questioned conditions for democratic polls in Zimbabwe,
labeling Mugabe a “discredited dictator” who is guilty of gross human rights
violations, stealing elections and ruining his country’s once brilliant
economy.

The Zimbabwe Catholic Church’s human rights arm last week said hurried
preparations for the polls coupled with inadequate voter education have
greatly reduced prospects of a truly democratic vote.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a debilitating economic crisis critics blame on
misrule by Mugabe and that is seen in the world’s highest inflation rate of
more than 66 000 percent and shortages of foreign currency, food and fuel.

Analysts say truly democratic polls are a key requirement to any plan to
pluck Zimbabwe out of a deepening crisis. - ZimOnline


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ZANU PF supporters brutally assault nine teachers' union officials

Zim Online

by Patricia Mpofu Wednesday 20 February 2008

HARARE - Nine Zimbabwe teachers' union leaders were on Tuesday hospitalised
after they were severely assaulted and tortured by militant supporters of
President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party.

The ZANU PF supporters abducted Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe
(PTUZ) secretary general Raymond Majongwe and his colleagues as they
distributed flyers on the streets of Harare denouncing the collapsed state
of education and urging teachers not to report for duty until their salaries
are reviewed.

They were taken to the party's Harare provincial headquarters on the east of
the capital's central business district where they were severely assaulted,
incurring serious injuries, according to their lawyer Tafadzwa Mugabe.

However, in a bizarre twist the police did not arrest the ZANU PF militants,
instead turned on the PTUZ leaders who they are charging with violating a
tough government law prohibiting the publishing or distribution of
information considered subversive to the interests of the state.

"All the nine are hospitalised in Avenues Clinic (a private hospital in
Harare) under police guard," Mugabe said.

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said he was unaware of the incident and
unable to comment.

The beating and torture of the union leaders comes as political pressure
group, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC), warned on Tuesday that a
repressive environment marked by intimidation and organised violence had
effectively reduced next month's elections to an exercise to simply validate
Mugabe's controversial rule.

The CZC, which is an alliance of civic groups, churches, women's groups, the
labour and student movements campaigning for a democratic settlement to
Zimbabwe's crisis, said because of an unfavourable environment polls, would
neither serve the interest of democracy, the country nor the people.

Zimbabwe is due to hold joint local government, parliamentary and
presidential elections on March 29.

Analysts say an unfair playing field coupled with political violence and
intimidation of opponents guarantees Mugabe's government victory at the
polls despite clear evidence it has failed to break a vicious inflation
cycle that has left consumers impoverished and the economy in deep crisis.

Mugabe - who turns 84 next week and is seeking another five-year term to
complete more than three decades at the helm - denies his government is
responsible for Zimbabwe's collapse and has promised a landslide victory in
March to once again prove he has the backing of ordinary Zimbabweans. -
ZimOnline


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US embassy warns citizens in Zimbabwe ahead of elections

Zim Online

by Simplicious Chirinda Wednesday 20 February 2008

†HARARE - The United States (US) embassy in Harare on Tuesday issued a fresh
warning to its nationals living in Zimbabwe advising them not to travel to
politically volatile areas in the run-up to next month's elections.

The US embassy said there was a great risk of politically motivated violence
around the country as tensions rise ahead of the 29 March presidential and
parliamentary poll.

"The national election season in Zimbabwe may pose a security threat to US
citizens in Zimbabwe," said Jayne Howell, the US
embassy chief consular in a statement released to the media.

"The US Embassy urges US citizens who live, work, or are traveling in
Zimbabwe to maintain a high level of vigilance . . .
(they must) avoid visiting high-density suburbs, industrial zones, and
unfamiliar areas," said Howell.

Recent elections held in Zimbabwe over the past eight years have sparked
violence mostly blamed on President Robert
Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party supporters and veterans of the country's 1970s
liberation war.

The travel warning comes hardly a month after the US State Department in
Washington issued a similar warning to its nationals to stop visiting
Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwe government has in the past scoffed at the US travel warnings
arguing that the warnings were not necessary
and were only meant to cause unnecessary panic among potential tourists.

US President George W Bush earlier this week called for free and fair
elections in Zimbabwe next month adding that the
people of Zimbabwe deserved a democratic government that respects human
rights. - ZimOnline


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Tsvangirai to Launch MDC Election Campaign



SW Radio Africa (London)

19 February 2008
Posted to the web 19 February 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

MDC President Morgan will this Saturday launch his party's election campaign
programme and manifesto at Sakubva stadium in Mutare, according to one of
his top aides.

Party spokesman Nelson Chamisa told us they expect a bumper crowd at the
launch this weekend, where a number of activities have been lined up.

'Its going to be a big event for us because the President (Tsvangirai) will
also launch both his presidential campaign programme as well as those for
the parliamentary and council elections. All the top leadership of the party
would be there including all our candidates for the forthcoming elections,'
Chamisa said.

Tsvangirai will also spell out the party's plans for its first 100 days in
office if the MDC gets elected into power. There are five key priority areas
which the party hopes to tackle to bring back normalcy to the country.

Though Chamisa would not be drawn to disclose the contents of the manifesto,
it is believed it dwells at length on economic stabilization and
reconstruction, national intergration, law and justice and the need for a
new constitution.

'It's a brilliant document and we have intelligence that Zanu-PF and other
people have managed to clandestinely get hold of it and are busy
plagiarising some of its contents,' Chamisa added.

The manifesto, a policy document that has taken the MDC two years to draft,
also summarizes the findings of the party on what needs to be done to
stabilise the economy. Additionally it spells out how the party will bring
about reconstruction and development with a complete restructuring of the
economy and social systems.

The 185-page document sets out the MDC's complete vision on the way forward
and exactly how they expect to achieve set goals and ambitions. Analysts who
have seen the document say it is one of the best policy documents to ever
emerge from the country since Independence in 1980.


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Robert Mugabe Faces Serious Split Within Zanu-PF Ranks



SW Radio Africa (London)

19 February 2008
Posted to the web 19 February 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe is facing a battle for the soul of his ruling
party, as senior members openly rebelled against him and filed their
nomination papers as independent candidates last week Friday.

Disunity in the ruling party boiled over last week, when probably for the
first time since independence dozens of Zanu-PF candidates filed their
nomination papers to compete against each other in certain constituencies,
some of them in strongholds of the party.

Those who registered to compete against fellow party members did so after
the party failed to resolve widespread disputes during its primary
elections. The rows over the conduct of the primaries saw at least three
ruling party aspiring candidates winning court orders against their losses.

In Masvingo, Central House of Assembly constituency Eddison

Zvobgo (Jnr) successfully filed his nomination papers and will fight it out
against the official party candidate, Edmund Mhere.

Another notable seat where two ruling party candidates will fight against
each other is the Masvingo senatorial seat, where veteran politician,
Dzikamai Mavhaire is pitted against Maina Mandava, the official Zanu - PF
candidate.

Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi registered as a Zanu-PF candidate to
challenge Josaya Hungwe for the Chivi-Mwenezi senatorial seat. In addition,
Tranos Huruva and Clifford Mumbengegwi, both registered as Zanu-PF
candidates for the Chivi North House of Assembly seat in Masvingo.

In Manicaland's Makoni West Nation Madongorere, an ex-CIO operative and a
former mayoral candidate for Harare, registered as a Zanu-PF candidate
although the party had endorsed Joseph Made as the official party candidate
for the House of Assembly seat. Bongayi Nemayire and Sheila Mahere will also
contest on a Zanu-PF ticket in the Makoni North House of Assembly seat.

Political analyst Isaac Dziya said the ruling party has been severely shaken
by internal divisions and things have been simmering for the past six
months.

'I am not surprised at these recent events because people are tired of the
dictatorship. The effects of the economic situation do not cushion even the
die hard supporters of Mugabe. Everyone is suffering just like everyone else
in the country and this includes Zanu-PF supporters right across the
country,' Dziya said.

Former finance minister Simba Makoni started the ball rolling when he
announced that he was standing as an independent presidential candidate. He
has since been expelled from the party. It's expected all those who have
defied party rules, in effect registering two candidates in one
constituency, will also face expulsion.


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'Zim cholera outbreak under control'

IOL

††††February 19 2008 at 09:10AM

A cholera outbreak in Mashonaland East and Central provinces that
claimed at least 11 lives is now under control, the state-controlled Herald
reported on Tuesday.

The Minister of Health and Child Welfare Dr David Parirenyatwa said
the epidemic task force committee was on the lookout for any suspected
cholera cases in Nyamukuyo Village in Mudzi.

"We are no longer receiving overwhelming reports on cholera from
Mudzi. The outbreak is under control," he told the Herald.

Dr Parirenyatwa said although some areas were inaccessible because of
the recent floods, the situation was "under control".

In Mashonaland Central Provinces Muzarabani area, the Provincial Civil
Protection Unit chairperson, Dr Cremence Chuma, who is the Provincial
Medical Director, said although nine cases were reported only one person was
still being treated at Chadereka camp.

Eight others were treated and discharged.

Dr Chuma said five malaria deaths have so far been confirmed, four of
which were from Kairezi Village while the fifth was from Chadereka Village.

The cholera, according to Dr Chuma, was believed to have originated
from fish brought in from Mozambique, the Herald said.

"The situation is under control but we are still expecting more
reports on the outbreak," said Dr Chuma.

Minister Parirenyatwa said Zimbabwe recorded more cholera outbreaks
during the period 2006-2007 than previous years because of sewage bursts and
erratic water supplies.

More diarrhoea cases were reported during the same period in the
high-density suburbs of Mabvuku, Tafara, and Hatcliffe and Chitungwiza.

In Mabvuku and Tafara, nearly 800 residents were treated for watery
diarrhoea, the Herald said.

To minimise diarrhoea cases, Dr Parirenyatwa urged residents to boil
drinking water, wash hands with soap before eating and after using the
toilet. - Sapa


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Huge heroin bust on Zim border

IOL

††††February 19 2008 at 02:31PM

Two men were arrested while trying to smuggle nearly R750-million
worth of heroin into the country at the Beit Bridge border post from
Zimbabwe, Limpopo police said on Tuesday.

"Police and customs officials stopped a truck yesterday (on Monday),
and trailer in a routine check and found them both empty. The narcotics dog
unit that we have at the border post reacted positively and [we] found a
hidden compartment in the base of the truck," said police spokesperson,
Captain Dennis Adriao.

"The compartment was opened and [in it] was found 1 363kg of pure
heroin with a total street value of R 749 650 000," he said.

The men, both South Africans, are facing numerous charges and police
are not ruling out that the two may have been involved in other similar
crimes.

No court date has been set yet and investigations were continuing, he
said.

Adriao said various government departments had worked closely together
in the inspections and this had resulted in numerous successes. - Sapa


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Zimbabwe Christians say no hope for Mbeki-brokered talks

19 February 2008

Harare (ENI). The Zimbabwe Christian Alliance, a network of church and civic
bodies, says it no longer has any hope that inter-party peace talks brokered
by South African President Thabo Mbeki will achieve any results before
Zimbabwean elections scheduled for 29 March.

The talks were initiated by the Southern African Development Community at
its heads of state summit in the Tanzanian commercial capital,
Dar-es-Salaam, in March 2007. The inter-party talks were intended to promote
dialogue between the ruling Zanu-PF party and the main opposition Movement
for Democratic Change party.

"As a Christian alliance, we welcomed the SADC-initiated talks," said the
ZCA. "However, our excitement turned to scepticism due to the lack of clear
objectives and accountability on the part of those involved," the ZCA said
in a pastoral letter released on 18 February. "The exclusion of civil
society and churches meant that there was no one at the table to act as
watchdog."

Zimbabwe's problems include human rights abuses blamed on the government,
and perpetrated mainly against opposition party leaders and their followers
or those perceived to be opposed to the government. The government of
President Robert Mugabe accuses the MDC of bringing hardships on the people
by calling for international sanctions in order to assist a regime change.

Other problems facing the southern African country include soaring inflation
which the government states was 66 000 percent as of December 2007, but
which the International Monetary Fund says has surpassed 150 000 percent.
Unemployment is more than 80 percent. Mugabe, in power since the country's
independence from Britain in 1980, has denied running down the once
prosperous nation, blaming sabotage by Western countries and the local
political opposition.

While Mbeki says he remains optimistic about a negotiated solution, MDC
leader Morgan Tsvangirai says the South African president has failed to
confront Mugabe on his "dictatorship and repressive policies" which were
likely to render the March elections not free and fair.

"The SADC talks failed to produce tangible results in terms of creating a
conducive atmosphere for free and fair elections," said the Zimbabwe
Christian Alliance. "There were many international figures who were
interested in assisting in solving our crisis. President Mbeki kept them out
by confidently claiming that his soft diplomacy was working and that the
talks were on course and would yield the desired result."

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Subscribe online to the Daily News Service and receive around 1000 full-text
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www.eni.ch

© 1994 - 2008 Ecumenical News International.


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NCA does not support political parties

NCA Statement:

The National Constitutional Assembly has noted a letter published recently
on the Zimbabwe Standard claiming that the organisation is fully behind the
MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

The NCA would want to clarify to individuals and the country at large that
the organisation does not support any political formation but support
principles, values and processes that can usher in new people driven
constitution and a democratic dispensation in Zimbabwe.

The NCA since it finds Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC being the only
presidential candidate who has fought with the people for a people driven
constitution renders its support to him. The MDC is among all the parties is
one whose ideology for a people driven constitution resonate with the NCA’s
and as such we will work with all who are committed to seeing this very
important document be written by the people of Zimbabwe

The MDC leader has since 1997, fought alongside the people of Zimbabwe in
their quest to realise a people driven constitution. The NCA has an open
door policy to all organisations, civic and political parties and any who
believes in proper constitution making processes becomes friends with the
organisation.

The NCA would want to stress that the reason why the organisation does not
support some political formations is that they have expressed disregard for
the people of Zimbabwe. The MDC stood by the NCA in the Senate issue
(Amendment Number 17)

The NCA will not support political formations who come making promises of a
constitution after elections knowing very well that ZANU PF has been power
since 1980 and has not provided that constitution. In this regard the NCA
notes that even though the MDC is going into this election they have
expressed it to the nation that they are committed to a new constitutional
dispensation. They are still even up-to date pushing for a people driven
constitution.

Experiences in Kenya and Zambia have also taught the people of Zimbabwe that
a person is not voted in power for simply promising a new constitution as
the NCA strongly believes that any democratic election follows a democratic
constitution.

The NCA has not supported Dr Simba Makoni on principle grounds that he
believes a constitution will only come after an election which is the same
reason why the NCA oppose ZANU PF.

The NCA has also not been sympathetic to the faction led by Arthur Mutambara
on the basis that they principally chose a different route on constitutional
making process when they acceded to the 17th amendment which saw senators
being added to Zimbabwe’s bureaucratic order.

The NCA wants to make it clear that it does not blindly support the MDC led
by Morgan Tsvangirai as the letter in the Standard suggests. The
organisation was the first to attack Tsvangirai fiercely when his party
agreed to the 18th amendment.

Lastly the NCA wants to dismiss the content which suggests that the civic
society is not important. The NCA would want to clarify that the NCA has
been doing a noble job which among others has been calling for people driven
constitution which people of Zimbabwe should write. The importance of civic
society in developing democracies and matured democracies can not be
over-emphasized.

Maddock Chivasa
NCA Spokesperson


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Moeletsi Mbeki says SADC fears emergence of democracy in Zim



By Tererai Karimakwenda
19 February, 2008

Moeletsi Mbeki, the outspoken brother of South Africa’s President Thabo
Mbeki, this week revealed why he believes that the Southern Africa
Development Community (SADC) has continued to support Robert Mugabe, despite
his obvious failures and their negative effect on the region. The younger
Mbeki is currently the deputy chairperson of the South African Institute of
International Affairs, an independent think tank based at Witwatersrand
University in Johannesburg.

Writing in The Sunday Tribune in South Africa, Mbeki said he believes that
Zimbabwe's neighbours are “mollycoddling”Mugabe because they have
short-sighted leadership and a fear of the more democratic political forces
that are emerging in Zimbabwe. He wrote that the emergence of these “new,
well-organised, cosmopolitan and vocal constituencies that were no longer
interested in the politics of race, but in the accountability of governance,
has struck fear in the hearts of established rulers, not only in Zimbabwe,
but in the whole of Southern Africa.”

Mbeki’s brother Thabo, who was appointed the regional mediator on the
Zimbabwe crisis, was criticised for refusing to publicly acknowledge that
Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF are responsible for the country’s drastic decline
due to their failed policies. His mediation efforts were also dismissed as
being favourable to Mugabe and the ruling party.

Moeletsi Mbeki points to the emergence of the MDC in Zimbabwe as a threat to
regional dictators because the party’s key objectives were to fight for a
more democratic constitution, to combat corruption and to re-organise the
grossly mismanaged national economy. Accountable leadership is also part of
the agenda. Mbeki believes It is this “fear of fundamental social and
political change” that explains the region’s solidarity with ZANU-PF and
Mugabe.

He says that 20 years after independence in 1980, Zimbabwe had become a
transformed society with new black players prominent in business, mass
media, organised labour, civil society and other professions. But the ruling
party, ZANU-PF remained unchanged. “In fact, the opposite had happened, it
had fossilised”, wrote Moeletsi.

He believes the new black elites simply replaced the former white colonial
elites and the exploitation of the black masses has continued. Mbeki says
this explains the fear of new parties such as the MDC and also explains the
support for the Mugabe regime by SADC states, despite the negative effects
Mugabe has caused in neighbouring countries.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Moyo furious with MDC challenge

New Zimbabwe

By Fikile Mapala
Last updated: 02/20/2008 04:03:11
THE independent MP for Tsholotsho Professor Jonathan Moyo is furious with
the MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara after it fielded a candidate to
challenge him in Tsholotsho North against a reported “gentlemen’s agreement”
that he would be left a clean field to fight Zanu PF.

The MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai did not field a candidate in the
constituency for the March 29 elections.

Mgezelwa Ncube successfully filed his nomination papers on Friday to stand
against Moyo -- sending a clear indication that the opposition faction had
reneged on the unwritten pact.

Alice Dube will represent Zanu PF in the constituency which Moyo – just
kicked out of his ministerial post -- won in 2005, beating Zanu PF and MDC
candidates.

Moyo is said to have already expressed his disappointment with MDC
(Mutambara) secretary general Welshman Ncube, a sentiment further expressed
in discussions with the Tsvangirai faction’s secretary general Tendai Biti
and spokesman, Nelson Chamisa.

“He is very furious with the Mutambara faction for reneging on an earlier
agreement which had allowed Moyo to face Zanu PF with the support of the two
MDC factions in Tsholotsho. He is phoning everyone and protesting what he
thinks is an act of betrayal by the Mutambara group,” a source revealed.

Chamisa confirmed that the two MDC factions had entered into an agreement
with the Tsholotsho MP not to field candidates in the newly-created
Tsholotsho North constituency.

Chamisa said: “We did not field a candidate in Tsholotsho North constituency
because we made an undertaking that we would allow the sitting MP to fight
against Zanu PF with our support. The idea is to support all progressive
forces fighting against Mugabe in order to achieve democratic change in
Zimbabwe.”

Chamisa said he was surprised that the Mutambara faction had fielded a
candidate in Tsholotsho North against a mutual but informal undertaking to
back Moyo.

He also confirmed that Moyo had telephoned him about the Tsholotsho debacle
but refused to shed more light on the details of the discussion citing
confidentiality.

Moyo declined to comment on Tuesday, saying he was driving to Bulawayo.

Priscilla Misihairabwi, the MDC’s (Mutambara) deputy secretary general said:
“We tried repeatedly to discuss with Moyo his intentions about the
Tsholotsho seat but we got nowhere with that.”


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Media Talk - Zimbabwe elections - Will Mugabe win again?

13 Norfolk Place, W2 1QJ

£7 (online), £8 (regular)

Thu 28 February 2008 at 7.30pm

With Christina Lamb (The Sunday Times), Gugulethu Moyo (Programme Lawyer,
International Bar Association), Tererai Karimakweda (SW Radio Africa),
Baffour Ankomah (New African - TBC).
Moderated by Adam Roberts (The Economist).

With Zimbabwean finance minister Simba Makoni challenging Robert Mugabe in
the March elections, the country looks set for another political stand-off.

Our panel discusses how the upcoming elections will change the situation in
this poverty- and inflation-riven country. Can things still get worse?

Christina Lamb – award-winning journalist and Zimbabwe specialist. Her
stories have appeared in the Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and Financial
Times, among others.

Gugulethu Moyo - Programme Lawyer, International Bar Association and
commentator on Zimbabwe.

Tererai Karimakweda - journalist with SW Radio Africa, specialising in
Zimbabwe.

Baffour Ankomah – editor of the British-based New African magazine. TBC.

Moderated by Adam Roberts - London-based journalist at The Economist,
specialising in Africa. Former southern Africa correspondent for the
publication, based in Johannesburg. He has reported from Zimbabwe several
times and covered both parliamentary and presidential elections there.

Please book online at www.frontlineclub.com

For more information please call 0207 479 8950.

Frontline hosts a weekly program of ground-breaking documentary screenings,
discussions that examine the role of the media, and evenings with some of
the world’s best journalists, photographers, filmmakers and cameramen. It is
London’s leading centre for discussion and debate on the issues that shape
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All Frontline events are open to the general public, unless otherwise
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Please note that as of the 1st of January 2008 the price for tickets
purchased on the door goes up to £8 for talks and £6 for screenings. The
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Events at Frontline at a glance:
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Tue 26 February at 7.30pm- Insight with Ming Campbell- War, Politics and the
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Wed 27 February at 7.30pm - Frontline Confidential with Nick Davies-
Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media – £7 (online) £8
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year on from the ‘surge’- £7 (online) £8 (regular)

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Birthday present for Mugabe

conservativeeurope.com

Posted, February 19, 2008

Strasbourg, 19th February 2008 -- The EU has renewed its sanctions targeted
against the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Under the sanctions, which have been
extended until 19th February 2009, key figures in the regime are prevented
from travelling to Europe and are subject to an asset-freeze.

Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, who has spearheaded the attack on the Mugabe regime
in the European Parliament, commented:

"I am reassured by the renewal of these sanctions. Mugabe will be 84 on
Thursday and this is exactly the birthday present he deserves.

"But the EU has a poor track record in upholding its own sanctions policy.
After all, it invited Mugabe himself - top of the banned list - to its
EU-Africa Summit last December.

"The EU has not bothered to update the list of targeted individuals. There
is no mention of Gideon Gono, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, who
has been the willing instrument of Mugabe's disastrous and oppressive
economic policy, nor of Leo Mugabe, the President's own nephew and a
prominent member of the Zimbabwean Parliament.

"We are coming up to another crucial moment for Zimbabwe, with Presidential
and Parliamentary elections due on March 29th. International observers have
effectively been excluded from monitoring the electoral process and the
opposition faces daily intimidation from a desperate regime.

"The EU should be calling on President Mbeki of South Africa, who is
supposed to be performing a mediation role in Zimbabwe, to insist that
international observers and the international media are given unrestricted
access to ensure free and fair elections."

Geoffrey Van Orden is Defence Spokesman for the Conservatives in the
European Parliament and Conservative MEP for the East of England


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Dlamini-Zuma voices hope for credibility of Zimbabwe’s poll

Business Day

19 February 2008

Hopewell Radebe

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

Diplomatic Editor

THE credibility of Zimbabwe’s elections next month would depend on the
ability of President Robert Mugabe’s government to implement all the new
laws agreed upon during the negotiations, Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana
Dlamini- Zuma said yesterday.

If Mugabe implemented the legislation that the opposition and civil society
deemed essential to render the elections free and fair, this would also
herald President Thabo Mbeki’s mediation efforts as a success.

Dlamini-Zuma was speaking at a press conference with her visiting New
Zealand counterpart Winston Peters, who emphasised the world’s interest in
the establishment of proper conditions on the ground to restore the
integrity of Zimbabwe’s elections. He said all interest groups in Zimbabwe
had to have the opportunity to participate without intimidation.

“Unless an election is free and fair it is not an election, ” Peters said.

Dlamini-Zuma said it was vital that legislation agreed on between the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and ruling Zanu (PF) in talks mediated
by Mbeki be put into practice.

“If they implement the laws passed by Parliament around security,
information, media and all those laws … the prospects for free and fair
elections should be good,” she said.

The South African government was hoping that “all those things be
implemented now in the run-up to elections and during the elections”,
Dlamini-Zuma said.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) lauded Mbeki’s mediation
efforts between Zanu (PF) and the (MDC), despite the MDC insisting they have
failed.

Mbeki had briefed the SADC summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last month on
the status of negotiations between the two . The SADC secretariat said the
two parties had reached agreement on all substantive matters relating to the
political situation in Zimbabwe.

This included the constitution, electoral laws, security legislation,
communication legislation, and matters relating to the political climate in
Zimbabwe, such as the land question, sanctions, politically motivated
violence and external interference in the country.

Peters, whose government has imposed a series of sanctions against Mugabe
after he allegedly rigged the 2002 re-election, said New Zealand would only
have “positive thoughts for Zimbabwe” if the elections were fully
democratic.


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Investors still eye Zimbabwe

The Times, SA

Feb 19 2008 6:24PM

††††††††††††
By Michael Hamlyn, I-Net Bridge Published:Feb 19, 2008

†††††††††††† An asset management company with offices in Harare reckons
that European investors remain interested in Zimbabwe as an investment
destination because of the promise of a relatively rapid turnaround in the
economy once the politics return to normal.

††††††††††††John Legat, the Harare-based chief executive of Imara
Asset Management, part of the Botswana-registered Imara financial services
group, reported on positive feedback from presentations in investment
conferences in London and Munich.

††††††††††††Legat said that there was a good deal of discussion about
the Imara theory that parallels existed between Brazil in the 1980s and
Zimbabwe today.

††††††††††††"Despite the country’s problems, international investors
have still made impressive gains in Zimbabwe at a time when returns in many
developed markets have been disappointing," Legat said. "One internationally
focused fund with a strong stake in Zimbabwean equities last year made gains
of 18% in US dollar terms with an 84% gain over three years."

††††††††††††He said Zimbabwe still had a robust and relatively
sophisticated equity market - with values at bargain basement levels.
Seventy-nine companies are listed on the Zimbabwe stock exchange versus 54
in Kenya.

†††††††††††† The Imara presentations also pointed out that a wealth of
natural resources and tourist infrastructure offer ready-made building
blocks for rapid economic revival, given the necessary policy adjustments.

††††††††††††"Zimbabwe is not being written off," Legat said. "It is
being carefully scrutinised by private and institutional investors in major
European centres."


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New SA plan for receiving Zimbabwean refugees

Business Day

†19 February 2008

Wilson Johwa

Political Correspondent

SA IS preparing a better contingency plan to handle the potential increase
in the number of Zimbabwean refugees when elections are held next month.

Tara Polzer, of the Forced Migration Project at the University of the
Witwatersrand, said a plan was being prepared by the government with
assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The blueprint was a product of the provincial and local government
department’s national disaster management centre. But the lead agency was
expected to be the home affairs department, which could not comment
yesterday.

Although similar contingency preparations were in place for Zimbabwe’s 2002
and 2005 polls, those plans involved arrangements for the immediate welfare
needs of people crossing the border and some discussion on their
registration.

The new plan was expected to be better because “there is a clearer
allocation of departmental responsibilities”.

Polzer hoped the latest plan would clarify how SA would deal with the
arrivals beyond the immediate period, and with Zimbabweans already in SA.

The plan should also address the continuing deportations of Zimbabweans from
SA.

Since 2000, elections in Zimbabwe have been accompanied by violence and
intimidation. Earlier this month, a nongovernmental organisation, the
Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum, said violence by state security agents in the
past year had “tainted” next month’s election.

It is believed there are 1-million Zimbabweans living in SA, although
accurate estimates are difficult to come by.

A recent report by the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights
said the government’s migration policy, which was geared towards security
and population control, not only criminalised migration, but also fuelled
xenophobia.

Polzer believed a bigger crackdown on Zimbabweans already in SA could
aggravate the situation.

“If you cut these supply lines, it is possible that more people would have
to come to SA because they will have no basis to survive in Zimbabwe,” she
said.


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As I See It



Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)

COLUMN
19 February 2008
Posted to the web 19 February 2008

Michael Dingake

Makoni, a damp squib? Opinion is divided in Zimbabwe, here and abroad, over
Simba Makoni's rebellion against President Robert Mugabe. There is palpable
excitement in some quarters, how Makoni's defection might impact on the
presidential and general elections scheduled for March 29, 2008 in Zimbabwe.
Others think Makoni's defection is a non-event, while others have adopted a
wait-and-see attitude.

But why are those who are excited about the event, excited? According to
reports, Makoni is not breaking alone from Mugabe's political vice. Makoni,
it is reported, is backed by many a heavy-weight of the ZANU-PF inner
circle: First Vice President Joseph Msika, Dumiso Dabengwa, the former ZIPRA
intelligence supreme, former commander of the Zimbabwean army and spouse of
Vice President, Joyce Mujuru, Vitalis Zvinavashe and Ibbo Mandaza the
ZANU-PF intellectual luminary and others not yet disclosed. Apparently the
revolt against Mugabe has been simmering for many months, if not years.

To the outside world and particularly those in sympathy with the majority of
Zimbabweans, who are on the receiving end of Mugabe's tyranny, prospects of
the final outcome of current developments are music to the ears. Imagine
Zimbabwe's economy restored to its former glory of bread basket of the
region, instead of the basket case abyss scenario of the present! One can
imagine the millions of economic refugees streaming back to the homeland, to
pick up the individual pieces of their dear lives and begin the arduous task
of rebuilding the economy of their country devastated by a political maniac,
who believes his elevation to leader of the liberation war against another
maniac of a different colour, Ian Smith, was a licence to play God the
almighty and pretend to be monarch of all he surveys, in Zimbabwe, SADC, AU
and the world. One can imagine it will be hard to bring down the inflation
rate, now estimated at a mind-boggling 66 000% to single digit figures,
acceptable in the region and in the world. Optimists and people of goodwill
see the advent of Makoni, the rebel, as a godsend in the almost godforsaken
situation, next door.

On the other hand, there are some who pooh-pooh the belated advent of Makoni
and his cronies. They believe the woebegone situation in that land is almost
irretrievable. Who is Simba Makoni, they ask. Where has he been? How can he
bring about positive changes in the political developments in the country,
when he still swears by ZANU-PF? Can a ZANU-PF adherent overturn the
policies he has helped formulate and endorsed all these years, so
assiduously, especially since 2000, when the venom of the war veterans, was
unleashed over the unsuspecting compatriots?

Doubting Thomases' skepticism is not farfetched. Mugabe is a brute, a
dictator, a tyrant, a cock-a-hoop political charlatan whose political
mainstay, in Zimbabwe and SADC is the pillorying and lampooning of the likes
of Blair and Bush as the instigators of his and Zimbabwe's woes; but Mugabe
could not have formulated and executed these policies and programmes alone.
He acted in concert with his party, his cabinet and particularly with
comrades in the politburo, the highest and innermost structure in ZANU-PF,
in which Makoni served. What Mugabe is guilty of, Makoni and the rest of
them, cannot be inculpable of. People do not see how the 'rebels' can
suddenly extricate themselves from the mess they, Mugabe and ZANU-PF have
plunged the country into. The leader of MDC, is not alone in describing
Makoni as 'old wine in new bottles." There are some who are actually
thinking Makoni is ZANU's political stunt to prolong Mugabe and ZANU-PF
leadership in Zimbabwe politics. A political decoy! There is certainly a
mixed reception to the news of the emergence of Makoni, the political
dragon-slayer. How can he do what he says he wants to do, while a loyal
member of ZANU-PF? Yes, he wanted to stay ZANU-PF, though Mugabe has
frustrated his mole ambitions by expelling him forthwith, before he could
take many for a wild-west gallop! Observers feel he lacks the political
party image of the Chimurenga heroes, for example late Tongogara or even the
disgraced Edgar Tekere, to be an instant magnet!

Not all observers dismiss Makoni out of hand, nor believe he wields a
Messianic wand. If speculation about his backers is true, then Makoni may
yield dramatic results at the approaching presidential elections. The men
and women whose names are bandied around as being behind Makoni, are
certainly not people of political straw. They are political heavyweights,
whose role in the Chimurenga is widely acknowledged and whose names have
remained of household validity, in the independence epoch. They may not
command as much veneration, as the name, 'comrade Bob,' but their names are
not to be sniffed at, particularly at this moment of tension and anxiety,
when the well-wishers and helpless Zimbabweans are groping around, dreaming
dreams to reverse the politico-economic meltdown prevailing in the country,
threatening to write off Zimbabwe as a failed state. To be over and done
with, the stalemate!

The days of miracles have long passed. Nowadays, miracles are painstakingly
planned and hatched in the dark corridors of political subversion, in the
underground. If Makoni and his co-conspirators have been working at their
plot craftily, for some time, building subterranean structures which can
deliver a miracle on March 29, 2008, then, why not?

We definitely know, Makoni is standing for presidency against Mugabe.
Assuming he wins, what then? He cannot rule without a loyal Parliament, in
terms of the country's constitution. Since Makoni is standing as an
independent, to win power, he needs a clear majority of independents who
support him. He cannot depend on MPs who belong to ZANU-PF or MDC, to defect
suddenly from their parties to support his dispensation. There is the catch!
Mutambara faction's support must be welcome to Makoni, but it is a
metaphorical drop in the ocean, if the world has to see the back of comrade
Bob.

It is hoped Makoni underground machinery, has been so oiled, and so good,
that it has identified likeminded independents in all the parliamentary
constituencies up for grabs in next month's elections; otherwise all the
media hype is naught but a damp squib!


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ZIMDEN-UK meeting, future of Zimbabwe report



DATE:††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 16/02/2008

VENUE:†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† MANCHESTER

ZIMDEN-UK, managed to organise a very successful meeting that was well
attended in Manchester on Saturday (16/02/2008), themed, “The Future of
Zimbabwe”.

The meeting was organised by the Zimbabwe Development Network-UK (ZIMDEN-UK)
to try and organise debate about the forthcoming Zimbabwean Presidential
elections earmarked for the 29/03/2008.† The emergency of Dr Simba Makoni in
the political arena and his candidature in the Presidential race was also of
importance to the debate.

ZIMDEN hosted this important meeting in Manchester for Zimbabweans in
Diaspora to debate future Zimbabwe policy issues that they feel would be of
beneficial to the nation, regardless of one’s political background.† The
majority of the Zimbabwean meetings in UK have been more of sloganeering,
blame culture, suspicions than debating issues that may assist or shape the
future Zimbabwe.

The meeting was chaired by Durani Rapozo, an expert in International
Relations and also Coordinator of ZIMDEN-UK.

The panellists were excellent and articulate in their openness on issues
they thought on 3 Zimbabwean Presidential candidates for March 2008.
Jennings Rukani(rukanijennings@hotmail.com), a UK based Zimbabwean
politician who was one of the panellists defended the coming of Makoni into
the political arena and openly stated that he will support his candidature
and also mobilise resources for him.† Silence
Chihuri(silencechihuri@hotmail.com), a Writer and Political commentator
based in Scotland was cautious and reminded people to scrutinise future
Zimbabwean leaders before they join the band wagon of worshipping leaders as
if they are messiah/God.† Virginia Ncube(Virginiancube@yahoo.com), former
MDC-UK Executive member talked of the need of having policies in future
Zimbabwe on the need of empowering women unlike the ones that are hand
picked by politicians who do not represent the interests of majority of
women.† Everisto Kamera(KameraEveristo@aol.com), a Political analyst, also
defended Makoni† and also talked about his experiences he saw when he
visited South Africa, the suffering Zimbabweans were enduring in that
country, highlighting in the process the sad death of a determined cadre and
activist, Adonis Musati at Foreshore, Home Affairs Department’s Cape Town
office on 2 November 2007.

A lot of questions were raised by Zimbabweans at the meeting and some are;

-†††††††††† Why Simba Makoni coming now and the logic behind his timing and
the wisdom?

-†††††††††† Is it not another ZANU PF ploy or strategy to split opposition
votes?

-†††††††††† Why Makoni declares his candidature after failing to be a ZANU
PF candidate?

-†††††††††† Why did he dither for months and even meet Mugabe before
announcing his candidate?

-†††††††††† How can he run an election without a structure?

_††††††††† Why are the people backing him not coming out?

Morgan Tsvangirai also got a bashing from Zimbabweans who openly questioned

-††††††††††† Whether he will be still an MDC leader after 29th March 2008.

-††††††††††† Corruption and nepotism in MDC was raised by a lot of people as
the case of Matibenga and dissolving of MDC-UK led by Tapa/Mutyambizi-Dhewa
as an example.

-†††††††††† MDC having lost its soul and now driven by opportunists

-†††††††††† MDC was accused of being naÔve in signing the amendment 18 of
the constitution rather than fight for a new constitution

-††††††††††† Dictatorial tendencies of Tsvangirai had destroyed MDC.

-†††††††††† The failure of two MDCs to unite

Mugabe was also criticised for having clinged on to power for quite a long
time and destroyed a country that was once the jewel of Africa

-†††††††††† Most people had the view that the 29th March were done elections
as they believe that Mugabe would rig them

-††††††††††† Mugabe was also accused of genocide in Matebeleland

-††††††††††† Destroyed social fabric of Zimbabweans, through corruption,
nepotism and tolerance.

Most of the people were worried for their children that a future Zimbabwean
government should allow dual nationality so that they can retain the
Zimbabwean identity.† Foreign Policy, Land Problem, Gukurahundi, The Role of
diaspora in investing in Zimbabwe and also energy policies were discussed.

Most of these questions were also passed on to panellists who responded
well.† Jennings Rukani defended Makoni by stating that Makoni would not
betray the people of Zimbabwe for the sake of pleasing the past (Mugabe) and
stated that he is genuine in his vision for Zimbabwe and the Zimbabweans
should not squander this final opportunity to resuscitate the country.
Everisto Kamera re-iterated that these elections are a choice between
tyranny (Mugabe) and change (Makoni). Makoni’s coming in as an independent
is nothing new as precedence was set in countries like Malawi with
resounding success.

ZIMDEN-UK encouraged people to rally behind the person they like for
Presidency as it is part of democracy.† While Zimden urged audience to rally
behind a presidential candidate of their choice, there appeared to be
consensus that Simba Makoni was the best candidate deserving a chance.
There were few people who were sympathetic to Tsvangiarai while the 84 year
old ZANU PF candidate was completely ruled out. The spirit of the meeting
which was attended by people of all walks of life and of different political
persuasion debating together was quite an achievement.† ZIMDEN in few weeks
will organise meetings in Scotland, London and Derby/Leicester to rally
behind Zimbabweans in debating policy issues.† The future ZIMDEN meetings
will also focus on issues relating to business and investments in Zimbabwe.

by

Durani Rapozo (ZIMDEN-UK Coordinator)

For more ZIMDEN-UK events, feel free to contact on, zimden_uk@yahoo.co.uk


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Stop being swayed by this Makoni comedy

Zim Online

by Ian Sibanda Wednesday 20 February 2008

JOHANNESBURG - While nearly most Zimbabweans were stunned by Simba Makoni's
dramatic announcement to "stand for the presidency", Makoni is still to
convince me that he has what it takes to rescue Zimbabwe.

I would like to believe that Makoni's entry into the presidential race is a
truly ZANU PF theatric strategy of extending the same political figures to
continue to dominate the political playing field and dominate the economy.

Makoni and his masters in and out of ZANU PF have presided over the
political suffocation of the opposition and an economy that has been taken
five decades back.

They are all to blame for Zimbabwe's collapsed health and education delivery
system that has reduced every Zimbabwean into destitution and sending many
into exile.

All what we are calling for in Zimbabwe is not the change of who is who in
the ruling regime. We are talking of changing the entire system of
governance.

This is what should be in the minds of all suffering Zimbabweans come
election day on 29 March. Let the opposition's much needed votes not be
spilt by Makoni's bid.

Why should Makoni want to deceive suffering Zimbabweans into believing that
the problem is Mugabe and not his party?

Makoni is part and parcel of the cronies presiding over the collapse of
Zimbabwe's economy. Now if Makoni and his supporters are for change, I feel
they should answer the following questions to the electorate:

Where was Makoni when the MDC and other democratic forces were formed in
1999 to fight for political change in Zimbabwe?

Where was Makoni when the economy started crumbling in 1998-2000?

Where was Makoni when policies hostile to economic development were
enunciated by Mugabe and his government?

Makoni, as a technocrat, saw the mass exodus of professionals into the
diaspora. He saw how the people were bludgeoned into submission during
Operation Murambatsvina.

Makoni was also in government when Mugabe presided over the Matabeleland and
Midlands massacres in the early 1980s.

I think all what Makoni wants is to win the presidency and ensure that him
and his handlers continue to protect their economic gains and continue the
looting and oppression of ordinary Zimbabweans.

This should never be allowed to happen. We saw it happen in the past, hence
we have the MDC and other forces calling for a total change.

Whether he has been "fired or he resigned from ZANU PF," Makoni remains ZANU
PF at heart and still remains the very Makoni who presided over the
suffering of the majority at the behest of same political party.

What he and his supporters are doing is totally an insult to our collective
democratic mentality; they think that this regime by another or independent
name will change. Never!

The suffering masses should never be hoodwinked into this political
comedy/theatre and should remain resolute as before behind the forces of
genuine change in Zimbabwe.

People should never be swayed with just about 40 days to go into a crucial
election.

Let Makoni's move only affect the ZANU PF regime because the net effect to
this move is to achieve nothing for the suffering masses but only to please
the ruling party's untouchable elite.

* Ian Sibanda is a political commentator and MDC activist based in
Birmingham, UK


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Coventry wins two more medals in US

Zim Online

by Nigel Hangarume Wednesday 20 February 2008

HARARE - Zimbabwe's Olympic champion Kirsty Coventry capped her campaign at
the Missouri Grand Prix in the United States with two more titles on Monday,
two days after her world record performance.

Coventry won the women's 200m individual medley as well as the 100m
backstroke to finish the long course swimming tournament in Columbia with
three titles.

The 24-year-old superstar on Saturday broke a 16-year-old world record in
winning the 200m backstroke with a time of 2min 06.39sec.

On Monday, Coventry won the 200m medley with an African record of 2min
10.08sec, which was also the best ever at a US open.

Her winning time of 59.47sec in the 100m confirmed her as the second-fastest
swimmer in the event behind US star Natalie Coughlin, who missed the final
one day after shattering her own world record in the heats.

Coventry is Zimbabwe's only medal hopeful at this year's Olympics in
Beijing.

At the last edition, Coventry won gold in the 200 backstroke as well as
silver in 100m backstroke and bronze in individual medley.

Coventry is hot favourite to be named Zimbabwe's Sportsperson of the Year
again after she won a record seven gold as well as three silver medals at
last year's All-Africa Games.

The Sports and Recreation Commission was last night scheduled present the
2007 Annual National Sports Awards finalists, including Coventry, in
Harare. - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwe wants full probe into accident

Zim Online

by Own Correspondent Wednesday 20 February 2008

HARARE - Zimbabwe's government on Tuesday said it would ask for a full
investigation into the cause of an accident that killed five Zimbabweans who
were being deported from South Africa.

The accident occurred last Saturday when a police truck ferrying about 50
illegal immigrants rounded up from South African streets and farms to
Zimbabwe collided with a bakkie near the town of Musina, just before the
border.

Four people were killed on the spot and one more person died later, while
several more people were injured in the accident that once again cast the
spotlight on the controversial way South African authorities treat illegal
immigrants from Zimbabwe.

Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi told ZimOnline: "We will ask for a full
investigation on what happened .. at the moment the picture is sketchy but
our officials are pursuing the matter. If it is human error, I am sure the
culprits will be brought to book."

At least three million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the country's 12 million
population, have fled political repression and economic collapse into
neighbouring countries, particularly South Africa where the majority stay
illegally.

South African police and immigration authorities often round up illegal
Zimbabweans - who they accuse of stoking up crime in the country - and
deport them back to Zimbabwe.

However churches, human rights groups and the Pretoria-based Zimbabwe Exiles
Forum (ZEF) that defend the rights of immigrants have accused the police of
xenophobia and unjustifiably tarnishing the image of virtually every
Zimbabwean immigrant as a criminal.

ZEF said in statement that Saturday's horrific accident was partly a result
of South Africa's "inhuman" policy of routinely rounding up Zimbabweans
seeking refuge in South Africa and forcing them back to their home country.

The Forum, which has in the past accused South Africa of "terrorizing"
Zimbabwean immigrants, challenged Pretoria to accept a request by the
African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) to probe ill
treatment of refugees in the country. - ZimOnline

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