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Lawlessness, violence destroying Zimbabwe: bishop

Zim Online

by Nqobizitha Khumalo Tuesday 26 February 2008

HARARE - Lawlessness and violence perpetrated by those entrusted with
ensuring law and order are destroying Zimbabwe, a prominent bishop told
church, civic and opposition leaders who gathered in Harare on Monday to
pray for peaceful elections next month.

Zimbabweans choose a new president, parliament and local councils on March
29 but observers say a repressive environment marked by intimidation and
organised violence against perceived government opponents renders the polls
unlikely to be free and fair.

Acting Anglican Bishop of Harare Sebastian Bakare said chaos in the run-up
to the polls was promoting anarchy in the country and called on Zimbabweans
to pray for an end to the violence and lawlessness.

"We are experiencing chaos in the country which is promoting anarchy. The
environment of lawlessness is destroying us," who was part of three-member
committee of senior bishops that met President Robert Mugabe and main
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai last year in a bid to broker dialogue
between the political rivals.

The clergymen have said they will step up their bid to facilitate dialogue
especially in view of the evident failure of South African President Thabo
Mbeki's bid to broker a lasting solution to Zimbabwe's deepening political
and economic crisis.

Bakare, who was among four individuals who received awards during the prayer
meeting for championing justice and peace in the country, said violence that
is prevalent in the country had undermined respect for human rights.

He said: "The country has no respect for individuals. Those who are supposed
to bring peace to the country are the ones perpetrating violence . . . we as
Christians should pray for an end to all this."

Others to receive awards from the Christian Alliance that convened the
prayer meeting were Father Nigel Johnson of community radio station, Radio
Dialogue, South African Women's Institute for Migration Affairs Joyce Dube
and Bishop Paul Verryn of the Methodist Church in Johannesburg.

Dube and Verryn have played a prominent role in helping shelter and feed
thousands of homeless Zimbabwean immigrants in South Africa.

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 100 000 percent and shortages of foreign currency, food and fuel.

Mugabe - in power since Zimbabwe's 1980 independence from Britain and
seeking another five-year term that could take his rule to more than three
decades - denies ruining the economy and has promised a landslide victory in
March to prove he still enjoys the support of ordinary Zimbabweans. -
ZimOnline


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MDC candidates arrested for meeting supporters

Zim Online

by Chenai Maramba Tuesday 26 February 2008

KAROI - Two opposition election candidates were on Monday being held by
police after their weekend arrest in Karoi town, more than 200km north-west
of Harare, for allegedly meeting supporters without permission from the
police.

The two, Godfrey Gumbo and Maireva Gudo Nziramasanga, who belong to the
faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party led by
academic Arthur Mutambara, are expected to appear in court today to answer
charges of violating the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

The tough Act prohibits Zimbabweans from meeting in groups of more than
three to discuss politics without first seeking permission from the police.

Police commander for Hurungwe district, under which Karoi falls, Gilbert
Dube refused to discuss the arrest of the candidates when contacted by
ZimOnline.

MDC spokesman Gabriel Chaibva described as spurious the charges against
Gumbo and Nziramasanga, the party's candidates for Hurungwe Central and
Hurungwe North constituencies respectively.

"Our members are in police custody and the charges are spurious as POSA is
being used against us," he said.

According to eyewitnesses, armed police last Friday night stormed a house in
the small town's Chikangwe low-income suburb where the two MDC politicians
were meeting supporters to explain their party's policies ahead of elections
next month.

"The two were arrested on Friday night as we had held a meeting at a local
house in Chikangwe suburb. Police said we had an unsanctioned political
meeting which is illegal under POSA," said a witness, who did not want to be
named for fear of possible reprisals.

The arrest of the MDC candidates comes as the Zimbabwe Human Rights
Association (ZimRights) reported at the weekend that local police commanders
in some parts of the country have imposed unofficial curfew in their areas,
illegally restricting movement of people in the evenings.

ZimRights cited the suburbs of Manyame Park, Zengeza and St Mary's in the
opposition stronghold Chitungwiza city where it said it had received the
most reports of police imposing unofficial curfew that it said were meant to
stop residents from using the night to campaign for the opposition.

Zimbabwe holds local government, parliamentary and presidential election on
March 29.

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


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Makoni rules out coalition with MDC

Zim Online

by Own Correspondent Tuesday 26 February 2008

JOHANNESBURG - Former Zimbabwe finance minister Simba Makoni on Monday ruled
out forming a coalition with the opposition because it would alienate senior
ruling ZANU PF party leaders who are backing him.

Makoni is challenging President Robert Mugabe in the 29 March election that
will also feature Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and a little-known independent candidate Langton Towungana.

There has been speculation in Zimbabwe that Makoni and Tsvangirai could
forge a formidable coalition to take on Mugabe, who is seeking a fresh
five-year term next month.

"There are a large number of people in ZANU-PF who share my proper vision. I
don't want to alienate those people by forming a coalition with one entity,"
said Makoni in an interview with South Africa's Talk Radio 702.

Makoni, who was fired from ZANU PF for challenging Mugabe about three weeks
ago, says he has the backing of senior ruling party officials who are fed up
with Mugabe's nearly 28-year rule.

The former finance minister said there was no need for an alliance with the
MDC as he was already in a "coalition with the people of Zimbabwe."

Tsvangirai had already discounted joining up with Makoni who he dismissed as
"old wine in a new bottle" whose agenda was to reform the governing ZANU PF
and ensure that the same ruling elite retained power.

Analysts say Makoni's decision to go it alone in the polls could split the
opposition vote and hand victory to Mugabe on a silver platter.

The March polls is the most dangerous for Mugabe coming as Zimbabwe grapples
with its worst ever economic crisis that has manifested itself in the world's
highest inflation of over 100 000 percent, shortages of food and every basic
survival commodity. - ZimOnline


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The Zimbabwe we want: a conversation with Roy Bennett - Part One

Zim Online

by Mutumwa Mawere Tuesday 26 February 2008

Part 1

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe was born out of the womb of a brutal, unjust and
unconstitutional colonial system.

Regrettably, no serious foundational and construction issues of the post
colonial state occupied the minds of not only the founding fathers of
Zimbabwe but citizens in general to the extent that no serious attempt has
been made to create a consensus on the kind of ideology, values and morality
that should underpin the post-colonial state.

At 28, the country has come of age and yet the political discourse even at
this eleventh hour of change suggests that more effort needs to be exerted
to locate the change agenda in broader context than the political actors
that may be on stage.

Zimbabweans will make a choice about who should become their president for
the next five years on 29 March 2008.

However, it is evident that an investment is urgently required to improve
political literacy of not only the registered voters but all interested
parties who must and should play a part in helping shape the destiny of the
country.

Over the last eight years, the political landscape of Zimbabwe has been
dominated by two major political groupings i.e. MDC and ZANU-PF.

ZANU-PF inherited the colonial state and it is evident that the members of
MDC would not be satisfied with any post-Mugabe construction in which they
will play second fiddle to anyone.

At independence, the attitude of ZANU-PF was not dissimilar to the attitude
of MDC and it is not farfetched to suggest that if ZANU PF did not win the
1980 elections, the liberation struggle was going to continue.

Although the liberation struggle was prosecuted with the sole objective of
restoring sovereignty to the people, it is instructive that only ZANU PF was
advanced as the only authentic custodian of such sovereignty.

In such an environment, elections do not really matter and yet Zimbabwe
finds itself in 2008 at the crossroads and painful choices have to be made.
Fatigue is evident but hope is missing in action.

When a new beginning is about to come, it is normally evident as it was
after the Lancaster House constitutional talks were successfully completed.

What is different about 2008 is that the two political actors President
Mugabe and Tsvangirai who have dominated the political scene for the last
eight years are not prepared to accept the inevitable that Zimbabwe needs to
turn a new leaf.

The country's future has regrettably now been reduced to the fate of these
two individuals.

Rationality has now been subordinated to political expediency. Mugabe cannot
imagine a day in which he would call Tsvangirai his commander-in-chief and
at the same time, Tsvangirai regards Mugabe as illegitimate.

The MDC has accepted that the outcome of the forthcoming elections has been
predetermined and yet no consensus exists on how to respond.

The polarisation of the Zimbabwean politics is largely a reflection of the
architecture of the colonial state where no democratic avenue existed for
change.

Mugabe has not accepted that there is no better Zimbabwean than him to
preside over the state and equally Tsvangirai has made the point that real
change must situate him in the State House.

The Rhodesian economy is on its knees and Mugabe is not convinced that he
may be a liability rather he genuinely believes that the future of Zimbabwe
is brighter under his watch.

On the other hand, Tsvangirai is convinced that he has paid his school fees
and the scars that have been inflicted on his body must be rewarded with a
new address at State House.

Whether the people of Zimbabwe are tired of this kind of political bickering
is no longer an issue for the two opposition parties.

Until recently, the two individuals were the only principal political actors
but this has changed with the emergence of Simba Makoni as a candidate.

Many have associated the worldview of Mugabe with his political party and
yet the reality may suggest that ZANU-PF has failed to establish itself as a
party of principles and a shared political morality.

Mugabe has dominated the party for too long to the extent that his
personality has now become part of what many people perceive to be ZANU-PF.
What Mugabe thinks usually becomes the order of the day.

At independence, Zimbabweans adopted a Republican constitution underpinned
by a shared desire to create a new society founded on republican values.

Although the colonial state was founded on the premise that it was
irresponsible to give natives civil rights, it is not evident after 28 years
of independence that Zimbabweans notwithstanding the election rituals are
any more free to shape and define their destinies than at independence.

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was expected to introduce a new
culture in Zimbabwean politics and on the eve of the forthcoming defining
elections it is significant that Roy Bennett, Treasurer of the party, shared
his insights on the kind of Zimbabwe he and his party wants to see.

Bennett was a beneficiary of the colonial system that Mugabe fought against
and yet at independence, Mugabe was magnanimous enough to embrace his former
adversaries.

Having carefully read Mr. Bennett's interview with Ms. Violet Gonda of SW
Radio Africa, I thought it is important to capture some of the significant
issues that he addressed so as to enhance the quality of conversations that
are taking place among not only Zimbabweans who have a direct interest in
the outcome of the elections but friends of Zimbabwe who may have an
indirect or remote interest in the future of the country.

Although the interview covered a whole range of critical issues that help
define the kind of thinking that informs the MDC, I thought it is important
to locate Bennett's thinking in a broader context of key construction and
foundational principles that I feel were overlooked by all concerned in the
enterprise of post colonial nation building.

Article 28 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides as follows in relation
to the qualification and election of the President:

†(1)†A person shall be qualified for election as President if-

(a)he is a citizen of Zimbabwe by birth or by descent; and

(b)he has attained the age of forty years; and

(c)he is ordinarily resident in Zimbabwe.

(2)The President shall be elected by voters registered on the common
roll.

(Subsection as amended by s.2 of Act 15 of 1990 - Amdmt No.10).

†(3)An election to the office of President shall take place within
ninety days-

(a)before the term of office of the President expires in terms of
section 29; or

(b)after the office of President becomes vacant by reason of his death
or his resignation or removal from office in terms of this Constitution;

as the case may be.

It is evident that there is nothing in the constitution of Zimbabwe that
says that an interested citizen must belong to a political party for him/her
to be eligible for the highest office in the land.

Any democrat who believes in the supremacy of the constitution would find it
hard to criticise any Zimbabwean who registers and whose nomination is
accepted by the Court to run for the office of President.

However, nomination of Simba Makoni has exposed not only ZANU-PF but MDC's
lip service commitment to the constitutional order that ought to have
informed the post colonial democratic regime.

Mugabe has already made his comments about Makoni preferring to label him as
a prostitute only because he chose to offer himself as an independent
candidate after being dismissed from the party following his decision to
offer himself as available for nomination as a candidate for the post of
President.

If America was Zimbabwe, it is not difficult to imagine how Obama would have
been treated for imagining that the Zimbabwean promise included satisfying
his aspiration to lead his people to a new destination.

There is nothing that would have stopped Makoni from being nominated as a
candidate for the state Presidency under the ZANU-PF ticket because for
anyone to be eligible for the post, the Nomination Court has the final say.

There is no provision in the constitution that a candidate has to be the
President of a political party to be eligible for nomination.

The involvement of political parties in the nomination process has tended to
undermine the constitutional order in that the process used has been fraught
with problems to the extent that in the case of both MDC and ZANU-PF, there
is no consensus on the candidates nominated.

It is unlikely that the test used for Makoni will be applied to all the
parliamentary candidates who elected to challenge the parties and proceeded
to get their names nominated as party candidates outside the party list.

To the extent that President Mugabe purports to be a democrat, it is ironic
that he would have a problem in Makoni exercising his democratic right to
offer his name to be considered by the people.

The President took an oath to respect and uphold the constitution of the
country and yet he is the first person to criticise Makoni for doing what
the constitution entitles him to do.

If the President's views are contrary to the provisions of the constitution
as they appear to be, then surely he has disqualified himself from being the
head of state.

† .. Do not miss Mutumwa Mawere's second instalment on the Zimbabwe
elections tomorrow


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Mugabe begs China for £25bn to fix economy

The Scotsman

A DESPERATE Robert Mugabe has asked China for a £25 billion loan to help
repair Zimbabwe's shattered economy.
The state-controlled Herald newspaper said industry and trade minister Obert
Mpofu had confirmed the request by the Zimbabwean government.

Mr Mpofu said the grant would help the Zimbabwe authorities "to take care of
our immediate and future long-term requirements".

It would also help stabilise the economy, he said.

Analysts warn that the crippling economic crisis could prove Mr Mugabe's
downfall in next month's polls. For the first time, the 84-year-old
president faces two tough challengers: Simba Makoni, the former finance
minister, and the main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, who has already
indicated he will ask for international help to rebuild the economy if he
wins.

Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate reached 100,580.2 per cent last month.

The full article contains 147 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.
Last Updated: 25 February 2008 10:25 PM


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In Zimbabwe's Matabeleland, Villagers Travel Far, Wait Long For Maize

VOA

By Jonga Kandemiiri
Washington
25 February 2008

A severe shortage of the Zimbabwean staple maize meal has obliged some
villagers in the provinces of Matabeleland North and South to spend weeks
camping in queues at millers and supermarkets awaiting a chance to buy a few
bags.

Villagers in the districts of Binga, Lupane, Tsholotsho, Hwange and Mangwe
have been obliged to travel long distances to find maize meal, local sources
said.

Villagers thronged a Lupane miller which is under contract to the state
monopoly Grain Marketing Board, but the miller was said to have been unable
to meet demand.

Flooding in the wake of heavy rains in January cut off many parts of
Matabeleland and the GMB has stated that it has not been able to deliver in
certain areas.

Mangwe lawmaker Edward Mkhosi of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change formation led by Arthur Mutambara told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that maize hoarding by ruling party officials
intending to use it to influence voters before March 29 national elections
has made things worse.

Elsewhere, water shortages in Gweru, the Midlands, worsened over the weekend
to the extent that police had to be called in to restore order as residents
of the high-density suburb of Mkoba fought over access to a water borehole.

Gweru correspondent Taurai Shava filed a report.


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Calm and Tolerance Urged Ahead of Zim Polls

OhMyNews

Campaigning has gone into top gear as politicians trade barbs

Ntungamili Nkomo

†††† Published 2008-02-26 04:48 (KST)

Diplomats and political commentators are urging calm and tolerance between
political parties ahead of Zimbabwe's crucial general election as they fear
tensions may spill into a Kenyan-style implosion, casting the troubled
nation into turmoil.

Zimbabweans go to the polls on March 29 to elect their president,
legislators, senators and councilors amid an unprecedented economic crisis
blamed on skewed policies and corruption by the government. Inflation is
officially at 100,000 percent, but independent analysts and the
International Monetary Fund estimate it at over 150,000 percent.

Essentials are in short supply and food shortages are widespread. Anger is
mounting against President Robert Mugabe who is seeking reelection, and
analysts fear the nation could slide into violence should the veteran
politician manipulate the ballot in his favor.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has already threatened
unspecified action if Mugabe steals the ballot. On his part, Mugabe has
described as "provocation" a move by his former ally, Simba Makoni, to
challenge him in the presidential race. The former finance minister was
kicked out of the ruling ZANU-PF after publicizing his bid two weeks ago.

"As things stand, we fear there could be violence between government
loyalists and opposition stalwarts if Mugabe is reelected, and it becomes
apparent he has stolen the election. By the same vein, we believe he won't
accept defeat," commented a Western diplomat stationed in Harare, the
capital.

"Kenya is currently on fire sparked by a disputed election and really, we do
not want to see that same situation obtaining here. We urge tolerance and
calm. Political parties should shun violence. And this can only be achieved
if government puts in place a mechanism ensuring a free and fair election,"
the diplomat urged.

Traditionally calm, Kenya exploded into an orgy of ethnic cleansing in
December after a general election won by President Mwai Kibaki. Kibaki's
reelection riled followers of Raila Odinga, leader of the opposition Orange
Democratic Movement, who accused Kibaki of rigging the election.

Kibaki derives his support base from the dominant Kikuyu tribe while Odinga
is backed by the Luo group. The two ethnic groups have engaged in brutal
battles that have, to date, claimed more than 1,000 lives.

Zimbabwe, however, is ethnically stable, and people do not align with
parties on tribal basis.

African diplomats are also worried about Zimbabwe's forthcoming polls,
warning that the country had become a "hot potato needing special handling,"
according to sources.

Civic groups observe that intimidation and vote buying by ruling party
politicians are on the increase as the nation trudges towards the polls,
which observers say could be decided by a run-off.

Inter-party clashes would surge in the next few weeks, observes political
scientist, Mandlenkosi Gatsheni.

"There will definitely be violence as both the ruling party and the
splintered MDC seek to dominate the political arena.

"Mugabe has said that he will definitely win. He is very confident. The
opposition is also banking on public discontent with ZANU-PF; and they are
also confident of victory. They believe the state of the economy will win
them support. If therefore, either party loses, there is bound to be
violence," but we urge calm," Gatsheni says.

The campaign trail for Zimbabwe's polls gathered momentum at the weekend
with barbs-trading politicians, crisscrossing the country under the
sweltering summer heat rallying supporters.

Mugabe, who kicked off his campaign at a lavish bash to mark his 84th
birthday at a dusty football pitch in southern Zimbabwe, denigrated Makoni
as a hapless frog and dismissed MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai as a
puppet of the West. Mugabe has also described Makoni as a political
prostitute.

Both Makoni and Tsvangirai promptly retaliated. Addressing his party
faithful at a rally in Mutare, Tsvangirai said, "Robert Mugabe is one of the
greatest tyrants of the 21st century.. All of Zimbabwe is in the custody of
a dictatorship. We're all bleeding, but we're marching on. We're weak with
hunger, but we're stronger with anger."

Makoni, for his part, dubbed his former master a "cultist."

Zimbabwe has experienced fierce politically motivated violence in previous
elections resulting in the death of hundreds of opposition supporters and
ordinary citizens who were suspected by ruling party militants of being
opposed to their establishment.

Rights groups warn that violence could spiral out of control as government
loyalists seek to retain power by any means possible.

"We are a nation at a crossroads and many people are already fearing for the
worst. But we urge tolerance and respect of the electoral processes and
outcome by politicians," says blogger, Nation Sibanda.


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Zimbabwe Rights Group Charges Police Enforcing Unofficial Curfew

VOA

By Patience Rusere
Washington
25 February 2008

A Zimbabwean human rights group says police in Chitungwiza, a Harare
satellite town, have been restricting the free movement of citizens,
especially young people, in certain areas through the imposition of
unofficial curfews.

Information Officer Edwin Sakhala of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association
said the group has received reports of police in Manyame Park, Zengeza and
Saint Mary's telling youths to go home after 8 p.m. in the evening.

Sakhala told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
the trend started in January and may be related to the upcoming March 29
elections


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Zimbabwe State Media Ordered To Stop Running Voter Education Spots

VOA

By Carole Gombakomba
Washington
25 February 2008

Zimbabwe's state broadcasting establishment has stopped airing radio and
television public service spots created by the Zimbabwe Election Support
Network, a civil society group which deployed thousands of election monitors
in the 2005 general elections.

The move by Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings was said to have come at the
orders of Ministry of Information Permanent Secretary George Charamba,
better known as the principal spokesman for President Robert Mugabe, a
candidate for re-election.

Sources cited a memorandum, subsequently leaked, from Charamba to management
of the state broadcasting entity, ordering it to stop running the public
service spots explaining procedures for national elections to take place on
March 29.

Zimbabwe Election Support Network Chairman Noel Kututwa told reporter Carole
Gombakomba that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has written to his group
to say it is forbidden from airing such ads, considered to be a form of
voter education, which the commission says it alone is allowed to carry out
under Zimbabwean law.


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Land dispute enters holy ground as sacked bishop seizes cathedral


Anglican split deepens after Mugabe's security forces back renegade
clergyman

† Chris McGreal in Harare
† The Guardian,
† Tuesday February 26 2008

The Rev Christopher Tapera laid his altar on a wooden table outside the
granite walls of Harare's Anglican cathedral and told the assembled
worshippers that if they wanted to find the devil they only needed to look
toward the locked and barred church.

"The bishop is the devil in disguise. He has been sent by the devil to
destroy the church. The devil is living in the cathedral," said the priest.

The worshippers locked out of the cathedral for Sunday's service generally
agreed that it was Satan's work. But the devil many had in mind was Robert
Mugabe, as a politically driven battle for control of Zimbabwe's Anglican
church mirrors the country's history with its own unilateral declaration of
independence, land grabs and a stolen election.

The Anglican church, the second largest denomination in Zimbabwe, has split
after the bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, declared an independent
diocese, ostensibly in a stand against the tolerance of homosexuality by
Anglicans in Britain and the US.

But the clash is more widely seen as a struggle over the church's efforts to
rid itself of Kunonga, 58, who has called for the killing of Mugabe's
opponents, taken over a white-owned farm and inaugurated unqualified priests
and bishops who had led a campaign of violence against dissenting
congregations.

Last month, the Church of the Province of Central Africa dismissed Kunonga
as bishop. But the sacked clergyman refused to relinquish control of the
cathedral or the accounts and has launched flying attacks on services at
churches that refuse to recognise his authority.

The new bishop of Harare, Sebastian Bakare, was installed at a ceremony in a
sports centre because access to the cathedral was blocked by heavily built
men who described themselves as Kunonga's bodyguards. The police refused to
act on a high court order giving Bakare access to the church.

"The same methods used to invade the farms is the method used by Kunonga to
invade our cathedral," said Bakare.

"It's very much politically driven. Political involvement is clear in the
way that Kunonga promised to deliver the diocese to Zanu-PF [the ruling
party]. His protection from arrest is telling, even though he is defying
high court orders left and right."

In contrast, the police last week did arrest the high court's deputy sheriff
as he arrived with bolt-cutters to enforce a writ permitting Bakare to hold
a service in the cathedral. The police then baton-charged and detained the
congregation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Rev Rowan Williams, waded into the
affair by calling on Kunonga to "look into his soul" and condemning "the use
of state machinery to intimidate opponents of the deposed bishop of Harare".

But Kunonga defended his alignment with Mugabe by saying the Anglican
authorities were a colonial relic defending the interests of whites whose
farms were confiscated.

"The west should stop demonising Mr Mugabe. He is a man who was
democratically elected and redistributed land which the white man had taken
away," he said.

Kunonga was appointed bishop of Harare seven years ago after a disputed
election saw him beat a popular white critic of Mugabe's human rights
abuses. He promptly used his new position to eulogise Zimbabwe's president
and purge the church of more than half its trained priests, some of whom
were driven into exile in England.

In their place he ordained men with little theological training, including
Zanu-PF officials, two cabinet ministers and students expelled from the
Roman Catholic seminary.

As hostility to Kunonga grew, he became the first Anglican priest in Africa
for a century to be hauled before a special ecclesiastical court to answer
accusations, almost all from black parishioners, of inciting violence
against Mugabe's opponents, intimidating critics and misusing church funds.

The court adjourned in disarray after Kunonga's legal team lodged 17 pages
of technical complaints. A Malawian supreme court judge hearing the case,
James Kalaile, resigned, saying: "I have not in my years as a judge in
Malawi or elsewhere heard anything like this dispute. I will contact the
archbishop and ask him to appoint another judge." The court did not sit
again.

Kunonga was rewarded for his loyalty with a sprawling white-owned farm near
Harare, from which he promptly evicted 40 black workers and their families.

But realising that a growing tide of hostility within the church threatened
his position, Kunonga unilaterally declared the Harare diocese independent
and began laying the ground for his elevation to archbishop of a breakaway
Anglican church.

As the two Anglican factions battled for control of church property, a high
court judge, Rita Makarau, last month ordered Kunonga to give Bakare and the
majority of Anglicans who support him access to all churches in Harare.

In her ruling she said the legal fight "gives the impression that the church
has lost its focus, and instead of fighting the good fight and seeking the
kingdom of God first, church members are fighting each other and are seeking
earthly power and control of church assets".

But Harare's chief police officer, Fortune Zengeni, sent a letter to
Anglican churches ordering that only priests aligned with Kunonga be
permitted to hold services. He said he did so on the orders of the country's
police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, a close ally of Mugabe.

State security agents and riot police broke up services by priests opposed
to Kunonga. In December, a group of Kunonga supporters, including three
priests, descended on St Andrew's parish church, beat up parishioners
holding a meeting, and told the priest, also a Kunonga backer, he was no
longer wanted and confiscated the keys to the church residence and car.

The divisions are starkly illustrated at St Luke's parish, where the rector
and the curate, who support rival camps, both live within the church
grounds.

The Kunonga-supporting curate, Barnabas Machingauta, holds Sunday services
attended only by his wife, children and maid. The rector, Thomas Madeyi,
preaches two hours later to a full house.

Kunonga attempted to take over St Luke's last month. As the service began he
threw the religious artefacts from the altar to the floor, sat on a chair in
front of it and harangued the congregation. Madeyi could not believe what he
saw.

"The police arrived and Kunonga told them to arrest me for defying him as
bishop for refusing to hand over the church keys," he said. "The police said
we had to stop everything. If you are not for Kunonga you cannot pray in the
church. So we moved to the church hall and started praying there.

"Kunonga called the police back and they arrested me for disturbing the
peace because I wouldn't cooperate with Kunonga."

Kunonga says the confrontations will end because he claims total authority
over the churches no matter what the high court says.

"After the several meetings that we had, the skirmishes will be a thing of
the past," he said. "No unlicensed priest will go and conduct a church
service at any parish. No parallel services will be allowed in the
parishes."

But with almost every congregation in Harare against him, Kunonga installed
a clutch of new bishops at the weekend. They include Morris Brown Gwedegwe,
whom Kunonga sacked several years ago for misusing church funds, and Alfred
Munyani, a lay preacher who became a priest less than two years ago.

Just a week earlier, Munyani had been one of those accused of assaulting
worshippers who had tried to pray at the cathedral.


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February 2008 Newsletter to Bulawayo South Constituents



Dear Friends,

Harold Wilson once said that "a week is a long time in politics" and it
certainly is. Since I last wrote to you in January there have been dramatic
and unforeseen political events that have taken place in Zimbabwe.

The gerrymandering of Bulawayo South

In the run up to the elections Bulawayo South Constituency has been
completely changed in the delimitation exercise. The old Bulawayo South
Constituency has been divided up into 3 new House of Assembly constituencies
and is almost unrecognizable. Wards 24, 25 and 26 - the high density working
class areas of Nketa and Emgwanin - have been formed into a new constituency
called Nketa. Ward 6 - Bellevue, Newton West, Barham Green and Belmont - has
been combined with Ward 21 - the high density Sizinda/Tshabalala area of the
old neighbouring Nkulumane constituency to form the new Bulawayo South
constituency. Finally Ward 5 - Hillside, Hillcrest, Burnside, Four Winds -
has been combined with Wards 1 and 2, the city centre and North End, to form
a new lone narrow constituency called Bulawayo Central that stretches from
Burnside in the south some 40 kilometers to the airport in the north! This
is truly Zanu PF gerrymandering at its worst.

After winning the party vote in terms of the MDC constitution to contest the
old Bulawayo South Constituency I was given the right to choose which new
constituency to stand in. I chose to stand in Nketa as that is where the
bulk of my project work has been done. Having made that decision the
leadership of the MDC decided that I needed to move to the Senate as we do
not have any lawyers there at present and in the new Parliament we want to
bolster the work we do there. As a result I will be standing in the new
Senatorial seat of Khumalo which is a massive constituency covering more
than half the area of Bulawayo - it covers the entire area east of the
Matopos Road, Lobengula Street in the city centre and the Victoria Falls
Road. Like the Bulawayo Central House of Assembly seat it stretches from the
southern boundary of Bulawayo to the airport in the north. The decision of
the leadership was conveyed to the MDC Bulawayo South District committee on
Friday the 8th February. I was
†deeply touched by the tears shed in that meeting as the people I have
worked with during the last 8 years expressed their sorrow that we would no
longer be working together. In response I have undertaken to form an Nketa
Development Trust and will continue to work on developmental projects in the
Nketa House of Assembly constituency.

Hugely energetic primary elections (for example there were none less than 7
candidates who contested the primaries for the new Nketa seat) conducted by
our structures have selected the following superb team to represent the MDC
in the area formerly known as Bulawayo South:

†Nketa House of Assembly constituency/Emgwanin Senatorial seat
Senator - Senator Rita Ndlovu - the incumbent Senator
MP - Stanlord Ndlovu - a manager of CABS and the chairman of the old
Bulawayo South District Committee
Councillor Ward 24 - Clr Litshe H. Keswa - the incumbent councilor
Councillor Ward 25 - Robert Donga
Councillor Ward 26 - Benjamin Moyo


Bulawayo South House of Assembly constituency/Mzilikazi Senatorial seat
Senator - Senator Sibangalizwe Msipa - also an incumbent Senator
MP - Jethro William Mpofu - a bright young man who has been heavily involved
in civic work for over a decade
Councillor Ward 6 - Jennifer Bent - a hard working member of the MDC for the
last 8 years

Bulawayo Central House of Assembly constituency/Khumalo Senatorial seat
Senator - David Coltart
MP - Japhet Gwanje Ndabeni Ncube - the feisty Mayor of Bulawayo who stood up
to ZINWA
Councillor Ward 5 - Dr. Gary Ferguson - a well known and much loved medical
practitioner.

We have a great team and I urge you to all vote for each one of them all.

The collapse of the MDC coalition talks with the MDC (Tsvangirai)

In my January newsletter I wrote that I was "confident that agreement
(regarding a coalition) would be reached shortly".† My optimism was
misplaced and on Sunday the 3rd February news broke that the talks had
broken down. My optimism was based on the hard work we had done since August
2006 to reach agreement and the knowledge that the two management committees
of both formations had reached agreement to form a coalition by mid January
this year. A detailed written agreement was drawn up and all that remained
was for National Councils of both formations to ratify the agreement. Our
National Council ratified the agreement on the 2nd February. Tragically
Morgan Tsvangirai was unable to reign in power hungry elements in his
formation, mostly from Matabeleland, and as a result the original principles
agreed to were reneged upon by the MDC Tsvangirai (MT) formation. The
leadership of the MDC (MT) had argued that they enjoyed the overwhelming
support of the people of Matabeleland -
a claim already undermined this past weekend with the failure of the MDC
(MT) to nominate councillors in tens of wards throughout Matabeleland,
ironically including Ward 6.

The news of the failure to form a coalition was deeply saddening. I have
always believed that the best way to beat the Mugabe regime was through a
united opposition. It was astonishing to hear that the collapse of the talks
was greeted favourably by many in the leadership of the MDC (MT) formation.
For example on the 4th February a prominent MDC (MT) National Executive
member sent out an e mail stating, and I quote, "The decision was received
favourably across the country."† Another senior leader of the MDC (MT) told
me that after the coalition agreement talks collapsed many of his colleagues
were "euphoric". The same e mail mentioned above described the depression
felt by us in the MDC - it said, and I quote, "There was a profound sense of
gloom at the hotel where the Mutambara group was caucusing yesterday in
Harare."† There was indeed gloom because we understood along with the rest
of the nation how irresponsible the actions of the MDC (MT) were in failing
to agree to a un
ited opposition to confront the Mugabe regime.

With the benefit of hindsight it appears that there was simply no desire to
form a coalition with us amongst certain elements of the leadership of the
MDC (MT), especially amongst its Matabeleland leadership. That feeling is
reinforced by the recent revelation that the MDC (MT) has in fact entered
into a pact with Jonathan Moyo in Tsholotsho North Constituency. It is
ironic that they are happy to enter into a pact with the former Zanu PF
cabinet Minister partly responsible for the destruction of the Daily News
but not with erstwhile colleagues. It is also hypocritical in the extreme
for them to criticise Simba Makoni's entry into opposition politics when
they themselves are prepared to work with Jonathan Moyo. Objectively
Jonathan Moyo did far more damage to the MDC whilst in Zanu PF than Simba
Makoni ever did.

Simba Makoni

In a move that took us all by surprise Simba Makoni announced on the 5th
February that he was going to stand as an Independent candidate in the
Presidential election. Although there had been much press speculation about
this many wondered whether Simba Makoni would have sufficient courage to
take a stand against Robert Mugabe. If the announcement came as a surprise,
so too did the reaction of the people in Bulawayo and in many places
throughout the country to the announcement. I never realised the level of
grassroots support for Simba Makoni until the day after his announcement
when my phone started ringing. Since then I have been told by many people
from all walks of life that they believe Simba Makoni provides the best way
out of the mess that Zimbabwe finds itself in today. Responding to these
developments the MDC National Council met in Harare on Sunday the 10th
February and unanimously agreed to mandate the management committee to enter
into coalition talks with Simba Ma
koni.

That has now resulted in Arthur Mutambara standing down from the
Presidential election in the national interest and in broad agreement being
reached with Simba Makoni that we will not contest Senatorial, House of
Assembly and Council seats against each other. In short we have now agreed
to support Simba Makoni's candidacy for President. Ironically what we had
hoped to achieve with the MDC (MT) - a coalition - we have now achieved with
Simba Makoni. I should stress that we are standing as a separate political
entity and those elected under the MDC will represent the people in
Parliament as MDC members as they always have in the past. I and my
colleagues, many of whom have long and consistent records of opposing the
Mugabe regime, have no intention of changing course now at the eleventh
hour, fifty ninth second, of his rule. We believe that in the context of the
MDC (MT) formation refusing to form a coalition with us, and in the context
of the remarkable reaction from the votin
g public to Simba Makoni's announcement, this provides the best chance the
nation has of ending the Mugabe regime's rule.

We are reinforced in that belief by the events that unfolded in nomination
courts countrywide which have revealed very serious deficiencies and ongoing
divisions within the MDC (MT) formation. Aside from the failure to field
councillors in many Wards throughout Matabeleland the emergence of the
Kombayi/Matibenga faction within the MDC (MT), and the nomination of its own
candidates in some 22 constituencies mainly in the Midlands (but also in
Matabeleland North, Mashonaland West, Central and East, Harare and Masvingo
Provinces) will seriously undermine Morgan Tsvangirai's ability to attract
the same support he enjoyed in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the 2002
Presidential elections.† In 2002 Morgan Tsvangirai won the Presidential
election narrowly by some 70000 votes because he enjoyed overwhelming
support in urban areas and the rural areas of Matabeleland and Midlands.
Unless he can maintain that support he will be hard pressed to win. The
failure of the MDC coalition agre
ement and the serious divisions within the MDC (MT) formation may seriously
undermine Morgan Tsvangirai's support base. A successful campaign needs
electricity, unity and optimism if it is to gather momentum and ultimately
win countrywide; without that it will falter and lose.

Whilst most people I have spoken to in the last two weeks are enthusiastic
about our decision some have raised one of two questions - some fear this is
just another Zanu PF "trick"; others argue that in any event Simba Makoni
does not deserve our support because of his past association with Zanu PF.

I do not think this is a trick. It is illogical for Mugabe to put forward a
candidate who will take away much of his own vote. Mugabe must have known
about the provision in the Electoral Act which states that a Presidential
candidate has to get an absolute majority ( over 50%) to win the
Presidential election. All that Simba Makoni has to do to deny Mugabe that
clear majority is to take away just 10% of the vote Mugabe got from Zanu PF
supporters in 2002. If Mugabe does not get a clear majority in the first
round he then will have to face off again in rerun against the opposition
candidate who came second. That rerun has to be within 21 days of the 29th
March and will be a straight fight with no danger of the opposition vote
being divided - Mugabe's worst nightmare. It would just be sheer lunacy for
Mugabe to have concocted a plan that could backfire so badly in this way.
Also if it is a trick why did Mugabe delay the nomination day and then
conduct a purge of all those he th
ought were supporting Makoni? If it is a trick why is there such deep
consternation in Zanu PF about this development? If it is a trick why has
Mugabe in the last few days spewed out such venom against Makoni calling him
a prostitute and a frog?

But the most compelling argument why this is not a trick is the following.
When the MDC coalition agreement collapsed on the 3rd February Robert Mugabe
was presented with his best possible election environment - a united (on the
surface at least) Zanu PF against a divided MDC. Why possibly would Mugabe
destroy that by allowing his own party's "unity" to be fragmented just two
days later when Makoni's bid was announced? It is just absurd to think that
Mugabe would have consented to such a thing.

I do not think that a person's past should automatically bar him from a role
in government. I am more concerned about where he stands NOW and in the
FUTURE. All of us have done things in the past we are not so happy about.
Many of the current MDC leadership were members of Zanu PF during the
Gukurahundi and did not speak out. There are others in the MDC (MT)
leadership who are now critical of Simba Makoni who were given senior
appointments by Mugabe during the Gukurahundi period and never spoke out
publicly against what was happening. There are others who are now in senior
leadership positions in the opposition who were either members of Zanu PF or
who considered standing for Zanu PF right up to the 2000 referendum. But
that is all in the PAST and I do not believe that anyone should be
automatically disqualified because of positions they have held in the past.
If a person shows genuine repentance - a turning away from the past - that
person should be eligible for support.

The Bible - 2 Chronicles 7:14 - has some words of wisdom for the situation
we face in Zimbabwe today:

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray
and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from
heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

I think we can see in Simba Makoni a person who has turned from the past and
is prepared to turn his back on the evil perpetrated by Zanu PF. In all the
research I have done into Gukurahundi there is no evidence whatsoever to
show that he was in anyway involved in that crime against humanity. As far
back as the early 1990s he expressed deep concern about Zanu PF policy but
believed that he should work within to reform. Since then the factual record
shows that Simba Makoni had the guts to stand up to Mugabe in 2002, has
never taken a farm, has never been involved any corruption scandals and now
has shown exceptional bravery in challenging Mugabe in the Presidential
election. In the last year he has spoken out publicly and boldly against the
regime's abuses including the torture of opposition leaders last March. All
who know him personally, diplomats included, state that he is a man of
integrity. The respected Washington Post newspaper wrote on the 20th
February 2008 that "Simb
a Makoni is viewed by U.S. officials as a smart, honest technocrat."

I have been greatly encouraged by his recent statements and his policy
positions on a whole range of issues including the need for a new democratic
constitution and genuine reconciliation. His statement that he is more loyal
to his country than he is to his party is noteworthy. In his manifesto Simba
Makoni states that he wants to "address national issues that separate and
divide us as a nation" and to "institute a process of national healing and
reconciliation". He also wants to "restore Zimbabwe's standing within the
international community". These are acknowledgments that all is not well in
our nation. But this is a national responsibility - we all have to "humble
ourselves".† We all have to acknowledge mistakes that we have made. Now is
certainly the time for us to reach out to moderates in Zanu PF who are more
loyal to their nation than they are to their party. We must always remember
that just as Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the United States knows
that he canno
t win the Presidential election in the US without attracting Republican and
independent support, so too the opposition must recognise that it cannot win
our elections unless we attract substantial numbers of Zanu PF supporters to
vote for a new, democratic Zimbabwe.

As we go to vote, and if we want to heal our nation, we should ask ourselves
the following 2 questions:

1. Who of Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni is most likely to defeat Robert
Mugabe? We must always keep in mind that until Mugabe leaves office there
will be no new dawn and healing in our land. That is the first and most
important step we have to take. My view is that irrespective of Morgan
Tsvangirai's great qualities of courage and perseverance he has not managed
to unite his own party, never mind the nation and to that extent will be
hard pressed to attract substantial support right across the country. On the
contrary in the short time since announcing his candidacy Simba Makoni has
excited the electorate right across the political spectrum and will
undoubtedly, if supported enthusiastically by us all, attract massive
support from all quarters. In short he stands the best chance of beating
Mugabe.

2. Who, after winning an election, will be the most competent to govern and
to stabilise and grow our economy? There is no doubt in my mind that Morgan
Tsvangirai will go down in history as one of the most important men who
broke Zanu PF's back; but that does not mean that he is now the best person
to pull Zimbabwe out of its economic quagmire. Zimbabwe is in such deep
trouble that it will take a collaborative effort from many patriotic
Zimbabweans to restore her. Unfortunately Morgan Tsvangirai has not managed
to build an effective and cohesive team during the 9 years he has been in
leadership. In contrast a recent independent poll conducted in Zimbabwe
found that most Zimbabweans view Simba Makoni as a level headed person who
does have the skills to lead Zimbabwe out of its current mess. He also
enjoys much respect in the diplomatic community.

Accordingly I urge you to vote for Simba Makoni for President and for your
local MDC candidates in the Senatorial, House of Assembly and Council
elections. I sense that there is a remarkable new mood in the country and
despite the fact that the Mugabe regime will try to rig the result it will
fail to do so. That is because, firstly, there is a tidal wave of feeling
that it is time for Mugabe to go and, secondly, because for the first time
ever those responsible for rigging the elections in the past are not united
themselves. That will make it well nigh impossible for those trying to rig
to get away with their criminal behaviour.

We each have a role to play in restoring pride to our land. The first and
most important step is to make the effort to go and vote on the 29th March
2008 for leaders who have the desire, the integrity and ability to transform
Zimbabwe. In closing, especially as this will be last newsletter to you as
MP for Bulawayo South, thank you all for the support you have given me as
your MP for the last 8 years.

Yours sincerely,

The Hon. David Coltart MP


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