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I'll beat Robert Mugabe, says former ally

The Telegraph



By Peta Thornycroft in Johannesburg
Last Updated: 2:07am GMT 28/02/2008

Robert Mugabe is to blame for the suffering of the Zimbabwean people,
his former ally and main rival for the presidency has said.

.. Profile: Simba Makoni
Simba Makoni, 57, served in President Mugabe's government from the
moment the country won independence from Britain in 1980.

But his decision last month to challenge Mr Mugabe in the March 29
polls reflects a growing dissatisfaction among leading figures in the ruling
Zanu-PF party, who have grown tired of the 84-year-old president and baulk
at his determination to remain in his post as the country rapidly
disintegrates.

"Zimbabwe is in the condition it is in because of a failure of
leadership," said Mr Makoni, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

Mr Makoni, who will run as an independent candidate after he was
expelled from Zanu-PF for daring to challenge the president, said that this
realisation had come to him over several years.

"There was not a 'St Paul on the road to Damascus' awakening," he
said. "It wasn't an event, it didn't just happen, it was going on as the
situation evolved - that this is not the correct way for our people."

With an estimated four million Zimbabweans needing food aid, and with
inflation officially running at more than 100,000 per cent, Mr Makoni
predicted he would win by a landslide.

"We will win resoundingly, by 70 per cent plus," he said. "The people
who are supporting me in Zanu-PF and in other quarters, agree with me that
the country is ripe for change at the highest level, that the country needs
to take a different direction, a positive direction."

The destruction of Zimbabwe's economy dates from 2000, when Mr Mugabe
began seizing white-owned farms.
Mr Makoni is calling for an end to race-based policies.

"What we had in Zimbabwe in 1980 was a national government, we had
people from different parties and different ethnic groups. We offered the
African continent, if not the world, national reconciliation, so I am merely
reactivating those values."

But whatever a candidate's vision, winning an election in Zimbabwe is
not just a matter of crosses on ballot papers. Mr Mugabe is widely regarded
as having stolen the last poll in 2002 - and the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) believes that a fair ballot is impossible.

With the ruling Zanu-PF having control over the media and police, the
MDC is participating in the elections only under protest. A new constitution
that would have changed the political climate was recently agreed but Mr
Mugabe announced the election before it could be implemented.

Mr Makoni's campaign alleges it has been victim to "dirty tricks". He
was unable to leave Harare to campaign in rural areas yesterday because
registration plates for his vehicles were not available. Meanwhile, his
printers had supposedly run out of paper to produce fliers.

"I wish and hope and expect this election will be free and fair," Mr
Makoni said. He added, however, that he had no access to the state
television broadcaster or to the national daily newspapers.

"I respect our president. Up to Feb 5 [when Mr Makoni formally
announced his candidacy] we had a good, cordial relationship. I don't know
what he feels now."

So what of the comments Mr Mugabe has made since then, comparing him
to a prostitute and a frog? "I am puzzled," replied Mr Makoni. "You had best
ask him about that."


Profile: Simba Makoni

Last Updated: 2:22am GMT 28/02/2008

Simba Makoni was the youngest minister in Robert Mugabe's first
cabinet after independence in 1980.

From a rural peasant background in eastern Zimbabwe, he had gone into
exile from white-ruled Rhodesia, spending seven years at Leeds University
and Leicester Polytechnic, and finishing with a doctorate in pharmaceutical
chemistry.

Mr Makoni, now 57, combined his studies with activism against colonial
rule, acting as Zanu-PF's representative in western Europe.

He later rose to become finance minister, but resigned from the
cabinet in 2002 - some say he was sacked - when Mr Mugabe refused to accept
his advice to devalue the Zimbabwe dollar.


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Zimbabwe court dismisses presidential hopefuls' candidacy bids

africasia.com

HARARE, Feb 28 (AFP)

A Zimbabwe court has dismissed two presidential hopefuls' bids to overturn a
decision that resulted in the rejection of their nomination papers, state
media reported Thursday.

Former ruling party official Daniel Shumba of the United People's Party and
Advocate Chiota of the Zimbabwe's People's Party had their applications
thrown out separately, the state-run Herald reported.

The high court dismissed the appeals, saying the two had not filed their
papers with the nomination court within the stipulated time.

Four presidential candidates were endorsed by nomination courts to contest
the March 29 polls, which will see veteran President Robert Mugabe being
challenged by his former finance minister, Simba Makoni.

Makoni said he had decided to run after consulting fellow members of the
ruling ZANU-PF and others over the country's economic ruin. He was later
expelled from the party, but confirmed by the nominations court as an
independent presidential candidate.

Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai is also among the
candidates taking on Mugabe, as well as an obscure independent challenger,
Langton Towungana.

The nomination papers for William Gwata of the little-known Christian
Democratic party were rejected for failing to satisfy the criteria.


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Stop insulting one another, says Zim presidential candidate

Earth Times


Posted : Thu, 28 Feb 2008 08:31:06 GMT
Author : DPA

Harare A little-known independent candidate for the Zimbabwe presidential
elections said Thursday that Zimbabweans should stop "hurling insults" at
each other. Zimbabwe's three main candidates for the March 29 poll are
longtime incumbent President Robert Mugabe, main opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and ex-finance minister Simba Makoni.

But a fourth candidate, independent Langton Towungana, who few had ever
heard of before nomination courts sat earlier this month, has emerged in
favourable reports in the state media which are traditionally hostile to
opposition candidates.

Towunga, who is from the western tourist resort of Victoria Falls and who
has already been interviewed on prime-time TV, said in an interview Thursday
with the state-controlled Herald that Zimbabwe had to engage the
international community if it wanted to turn around the economy.

Zimbabwe's economy is in its worst crisis since independence in 1980, with
annual inflation at more than 100,000 per cent and critical shortages of
essential drugs, some foods and foreign currency.

"We are one nation. We are Zimbabweans. Let's understand each other because
we cannot develop the nation by hurling insults at each other," Towungana
said.

The Herald which is the only daily left in Zimbabwe since armed police shut
down the popular Daily News in 2003 carried a much shorter report on a tour
of high-density suburbs by Tsvangirai.

The paper said the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader had
commiserated with Harare residents for the suffering they were going
through.

But, the Herald added, the sufferings were "ironically caused by the MDC
which urged the West to impose economic sanctions against Zimbabwe."

Britain, the US and the EU have imposed targeted sanctions on more than 100
top ruling party officials. In the extremely unlikely event Towungana wins
the polls, he told the Herald he would ask established MPs from other
political parties to form a government, as long as they were not "criminal."

"I am flexible to work with anyone as long as you are not a criminal. We
need to go back to the fundamentals if we are serious about turning around
the fortunes of the economy," he said.


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Hard to tell there's an election coming


Photo: IRIN
Tepid election campaign
HARARE, 28 February 2008 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe votes in a month's time, yet there is little evidence on the ground that the country is about to hold one of its most crucial elections since independence from Britain in 1980.

For the first time, Zimbabweans will elect their local councillor, parliamentary representative, senator and president in one poll on 29 March. But there are hardly any signs of the usually frantic campaigning ahead of any election: no posters, no door-to-door canvassing. So far the political parties have put on a lack-lustre show.

Useni Sibanda, the national coordinator of Christian Alliance, an organisation of church leaders advocating for the return of democracy, told IRIN: "We have structures throughout the country, including rural areas, and our members say there is nothing to indicate that we are almost 30 days away from the elections."

As a result, few people were aware that elections were taking place. "Many say they have not received any voter education from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission [ZEC]." There are fears that the ZEC does not have the capacity to conduct such elections.

ZANU-PF's commissar, Elliot Manyika, told local journalists that the ruling party's manifesto and its launch date were still being finalised. The ruling party has also not finalised its list of official candidates, as many constituencies now have more than one candidate representing ZANU-PF.

"There is a lot of tension in ZANU-PF following the split caused by former finance minister Simba Makoni, who is challenging [President] Mugabe in the presidential election," said political commentator Justice Chinhara. "There is so much bitterness and uncertainty caused by the fact that the ZANU-PF heavyweights behind Makoni have chosen to remain under cover."

Makoni is expected to launch his manifesto and unveil his candidates this weekend at a rally in Bulawayo, in Zimbabwe's second city.

''If ZEC can take more than a week to publish a list of candidates which is inaccurate, I shudder to imagine what will happen during national joint elections''
So far only a faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), led by Morgan Tsvangirai, has launched its election manifesto. Tsvangirai had threatened to boycott the elections but his faction said it would take part under protest.

The MDC had refused to participate because the government had not fulfilled pledges made during talks brokered by the Southern African Development Community and presided over by South African President Thabo Mbeki, to relax security and media laws internationally regarded as undemocratic.

The 210 constituencies in the country have been split into 1,958 wards. Utoile Silaigwana, deputy chief elections officer of the ZEC, told local media that they had set up a national logistics committee to mobilise resources for the elections. The Air Force of Zimbabwe and the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, which imports fuel, were part of the committee.

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the other MDC faction, said they still had concerns about the independence of the ZEC. He claimed the recent delimitation exercise by the ZEC had created many constituencies in rural areas, which have tended to favour ZANU-PF, and had added a very small number of constituencies in urban areas, which have largely been regarded as MDC strongholds.

Reports of glitches in the electoral process have begun to emerge: aspiring candidates submitted their nomination papers on 15 February, but the commission only released the list of candidates on 24 February; some candidates' names have been misspelt, some have been identified with the wrong political party.

Logistical and other problems

There is no pre-election voter education either. "We received a letter from ZEC to stop voter education and to seek approval from them and we have done so," said Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, executive director of the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), whose organisation has for years provided this service.

''Moyo said it was 'disingenuous' to question the legitimacy and integrity of the ZEC, and the claim that the delimitation exercise had been partisan was 'totally baseless'''
"However, there are a lot of logistical problems that could be encountered during elections, like roads and bridges that were washed away by [the recent] floods, which could hamper the distribution of election material. Power cuts which could affect the counting exercise, and a poor communications network that could affect the transmission of results."

Chipfunde-Vava said the voting procedure was unknown. "It is not clear ... if voters will receive one ballot paper at a time, or all four papers at once, which would require extensive voter education," she said.

"While it would be up to the political parties themselves to talk about pushing the election date to later in the year, as a pressure group we feel that it is important to have a good election, the outcome of which should not be contested."

Simon Khaya Moyo, Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa, told a briefing in Pretoria on 26 February that all concerns and criticism related to ZEC's functioning were unfounded. "I am satisfied with the work of ZEC to date."

He said the ZEC officials and others from civil society, such as the ZESN, have embarked on a national voter education campaign. The country's law enforcement agencies have also "tightened security", with a countrywide ban on carrying "dangerous weapons" such as knives, guns, machetes, etc. He maintained that the political parties "have started campaigning in earnest".

MDC faction spokesman Chamisa said rallies and meetings were still being barred, and Priscillah Misihairmbwi-Mushonga, another official from his party, claimed that the police had continued to harass campaigners. Opposition leaders were also not being given much coverage by the state broadcaster.

The Christian Alliance's Sibanda said the initial hiccups were an indication that poor organisation could mar the elections. "If ZEC can take more than a week to publish a list of candidates which is inaccurate, I shudder to imagine what will happen during national joint elections."

Moyo said it was "disingenuous" to question the "legitimacy" and "integrity" of the ZEC, and the claim that the delimitation exercise had been partisan was "totally baseless." He pointed out that the urban province of Harare, the capital, an opposition stronghold, had the maximum number of constituencies.



[ENDS]

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


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Zim ruling party gears for manifesto launch

IOL

February 28 2008 at 04:22PM

At least 4 000 Zimbabwe ruling party delegates were expected to arrive
in the capital Harare on Thursday ahead of the official launch of Zanu-PF's
election campaign and manifesto, reports said.

War veterans are among those attending the launch by longtime
president Robert Mugabe on Friday. The event will be held at the Harare
International Conference Centre, at a glitzy city hotel.

Former teacher and guerrilla fighter Mugabe, 84, is hoping to win a
fourth term in office in the March 29 polls. He has been in power since
independence in 1980.

But he faces a stiff challenge in the shape of two strong candidates:
former finance minister Simba Makoni and main opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai.

The ruling party is running election messages in state media with the
words: "Do not sign away your beautiful Zimbabwe."

Zanu-PF maintains a vote for anyone but Mugabe is a vote for
Zimbabwe's former coloniser, Britain and its Western allies.

Large posters of Mugabe have been stuck on lamp-posts and even inside
bus windscreens. - Sapa-dpa


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Mugabe awards salary increment to military

afrik.com

Other civil servants claim their fair share

Sources said army personnel were pleasantly surprised to find
relatively large amounts of money in their usually empty bank accounts after
the government deposited huge sums to cushion them against rampant
inflation, which rose beyond 100000% last week, the world's highest.

Thursday 28 February 2008, by Bruce Sibanda

from our correspondent in Harare

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's beleaguered government has awarded huge pay rises
to the army ahead of critical elections next month in a bid to calm the
restless military.

But the move is set to backfire on him as there is a growing strife among
the bulk of civil servants who have been left out in the latests hefty pay
rises. Union leaders have threatened industrial action if their members are
not awarded salary increases similar to those received by soldiers.

Mr Mugabe's bankrupt government this month awarded hefty pay increases to
disgruntled soldiers in an apparent move to buy their loyalty ahead of
crucial joint elections on March 29.

The move is widely seen as an attempt to pacify the soldiers who have been
restive due to poor working conditions and low salaries. The opposition
accuses Mugabe's government of vote-buying and ballot-rigging. The army is a
pillar of strength in Mugabe's embattled regime.

Mugabe's verbosity

Mr Mugabe is facing a stiff challenge from former finance minister Simba
Makoni and main opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan
Tsvangirai.

Mr Mugabe has described Makoni as a "political prostitute" and behaving like
a "puffed-up frog", while saying Tsvangirai is a "puppet" of the west.

Surprise, you have been awarded an increment !

Sources said army personnel were pleasantly surprised to find relatively
large amounts of money in their usually empty bank accounts after the
government deposited huge sums to cushion them against rampant inflation,
which rose beyond 100000% last week, the world's highest.

The army got windfalls of between Z$1bn and Z$3bn in salaries depending on
the rank this month, while teachers got Z$500m on average. Leader of the
pro-government Zimbabwe Teachers' Association Tendai Chikowore warned
teachers would go on a full-scale industrial action next week if the
government did not urgently undertake a major salary review to put them at
par with soldiers.

Others claim their fair share

Said Mr Chikowore, "Our members are now very impatient. We are consulting
all provinces this week and I must say we are under pressure to call for
industrial action," he said.

The militant Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe accuses Mr Mugabe's
regime of being "insensitive and discriminatory" by giving soldiers hefty
salaries, while "impoverished teachers and other civil servants get peanuts
every month".

The government which employees all civil servants is responsible for paying
the salaries of soldiers, police officers and Central Intelligence
Organization (CIO) operatives through its various employment commissions.

Government sources say CIO agents who did not receive the windfalls that
were received by soldiers this February are also bitter and have sent a
delegation to approach CIO director general Happiton Bonyongwe with their
grievances.

Bonyongwe has been linked with Zanu PF factional fighting, with strong
suggestions he is associated with former finance minister Simba Makoni who
has launched a bid for the country's presidency.


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Mugabe rival takes campaign to ZANU-PF stronghold

Reuters

Thu 28 Feb 2008, 16:13 GMT

By Nelson Banya

NYAMAPANDA, Feb 28 (Reuters) - A former ally challenging President Robert
Mugabe in Zimbabwe's election next month took his campaign to a ruling party
stronghold on Thursday, promising to arrest the country's economic slide.

Simba Makoni -- who was expelled from ZANU-PF for contesting the
presidency -- hit the campaign trail with a foray into a province that has
delivered big wins for Mugabe in past polls.

The former finance minister was mobbed as he moved around Nyamapanda, a
small rural settlement on the border with Mozambique, 240 km (150 miles) to
the east of Harare.

People jostled each other to catch a glimpse of him at a sleepy shopping
centre, which briefly sprang to life after the arrival of a convoy of sports
utility vehicles accompanying the candidate.

"My name is Simba Makoni, I've come to introduce myself to you and to
confirm that I've entered the presidential race," Makoni said, shaking hands
of curious villagers.

"We need your support so we can return power to you, the people, and so we
can reclaim our country which is being destroyed by a minority."

He frequently removed a baseball cap in the sweltering heat to reveal his
face and chat with onlookers.

"Oh, so that's him?" one vegetable vendor quipped as she was handed a
campaign leaflet bearing Makoni's face. "I have only heard about him."

Makoni, who faces Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change, is standing as an independent candidate in the March
29 poll and has ruled out a formal alliance with the opposition.

He will officially launch his campaign at a rally in Zimbabwe's second
largest city Bulawayo on Saturday.

MILLION-DOLLAR BANANA

A woman who identified herself only as Rebecca said she had not heard about
Makoni before, but became animated when his officials spoke about the
economy.

"This used to be such a busy place and business was good for us, but now
things have become so expensive people cannot buy and traffic through the
border post has dwindled markedly," she said.

"I never thought we would one day sell a million-dollar banana," she said, a
confirmation of skyrocketing prices that have pushed inflation past 100,000
percent, the world's highest.

At another stop, a man who said he was a teacher, sparred with Makoni's
campaign staff.

"If he wins, how is he going to govern?" the man asked. "How will he form a
government without a party and without candidates running for parliamentary
seats?"

Makoni promised to unite Zimbabweans and end a crippling economic crisis
that has resulted in shortages of food, fuel and electricity and left four
in five people without jobs.

At Mutoko -- a major rural business centre 140 km outside Harare -- scores
gathered around his convoy, chanting his name.

"It's great, it's uplifting," Makoni told journalists after his tour. "The
mood is good, the people are ready for this campaign." (Editing by Marius
Bosch and Mary Gabriel)


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Simba Makoni is getting up steam

The Economist

Feb 28th 2008 | HARARE
From The Economist print edition

President Robert Mugabe may face a real challenge in the election on March
29th
TRUE to form, Robert Mugabe celebrated his 84th birthday last week in high
style, jovially dismissing his latest serious challenger for the presidency
as a prostitute and a frog. But Simba Makoni, who was kicked out of the
ruling ZANU-PF after he broke ranks last month to declare his candidacy for
the presidency in an election on March 29th, is shaping up to be no joke for
the incumbent.

Untainted by corruption, he is appealing to ruling-party and opposition
supporters alike, especially the urban middle class and the young. His
detractors admit he is competent. His surprise candidacy has breathed life
into a poll that most observers presumed would be a shoo-in for Mr Mugabe.
Immediately after Mr Makoni's declaration, thousands of people rushed to
register. Eager volunteers throng his leafy campaign headquarters in the
centre of Harare, the capital.

Morgan Tsvangirai, one of the two leaders of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC), which split three years ago, still has quite a following,
especially among urban working-class voters, and he still gets credit for
opposing Mr Mugabe and his ZANU-PF for the past nine years. But feuds have
weakened both parts of the MDC. Its appeal in rural areas is weak. And a
smaller faction of it, led by Arthur Mutambara, has now endorsed Mr Makoni.

The former finance minister says he will try to embrace all political
groups, including decent people from ZANU-PF, after he has won the election.
"We believe the crisis is bigger than one group and requires the total
mobilisation of this whole nation," he says. Though Mr Mutambara has
endorsed Mr Makoni, Mr Tsvangirai seems loth to close ranks before the poll.
Mr Makoni claims that most of ZANU-PF's leadership supports him. None of the
ruling party's heavyweights publicly admits to backing him; they will almost
certainly hedge their bets until the election. But few have criticised him
or tried to block his candidacy.

At a local level, grumbling in the ruling party is getting louder; bickering
and division have marred its primaries. A long-standing ZANU-PF man running
for a council seat on March 29th under the party banner admits that the
party has lost its vim since independence and no longer attracts the young.
Corruption, he laments, is endemic. "We used to laugh at Nigeria over
corruption," he says. "Not any more."

Mr Makoni has launched his electoral ship with aplomb; it already seems
surprisingly well-equipped. Ibbo Mandaza, one of Mr Makoni's advisers, says
there is a team in every constituency. Businessmen and people from
Zimbabwe's 3m-strong diaspora are said to be opening their wallets. Scarce
fuel has been organised and scores of rallies and events scheduled across
the country before polling day.

Though no picnic, opposition campaigning looks a bit easier than in previous
elections. According to the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), there
has so far been little violence. Mr Mandaza says the ruling party's
"machinery of violence" has collapsed. The ZANU-PF man standing for a local
council says he now openly engages with his opposition rivals. A headmaster
in a rural area east of Harare says that campaigning is much easier this
time around. The opposition is contesting almost all parliamentary and local
seats in his area-a ruling party stronghold. That did not happen last time.

But does this mean Mr Mugabe is on the skids? It is hard to gauge the
electoral weight of rural voters, who provide most of ZANU-PF's support, but
it is certainly heavy. "This is where the election will be won or lost,"
says Sydney Masamvu of the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based
think-tank. A recent redrawing of the electoral map increased the weight of
rural constituencies in parliament.

The ZANU-PF candidate for a local council predicts that, though Mr Makoni
has the ability, vision and record to be president, he will make few inroads
in rural areas, which the ruling party has controlled through intimidation
and patronage-for instance, by distributing land, equipment and food to
card-carrying party members. The rural headmaster also says Mr Makoni has
little chance outside the towns unless his campaign takes off, which will
require immense energy and organisation. "People here know Robert Mugabe and
Morgan Tsvangirai, but not Simba Makoni," he says.

Moreover, many voters who detest Mr Mugabe are suspicious of Mr Makoni. Some
MDC people say he may even have been planted to divide the opposition in the
towns. "He needs to say who backs him," says one. Others who have been
fighting Mr Mugabe's regime for years dismiss him because he was in
ZANU-PF's leadership for so long. On the other side, diehard Mugabe fans
think him a traitor.

Mr Makoni dismisses such concerns. "There's nowhere I go in the country
where I am not greeted by name," he says, adding that he is "nobody's tool".
But he does not disavow his long service in ZANU-PF governments. "I accept
collective responsibility, but it does not operate on unanimity." He says he
tried to change the party from within, always speaking out against bad
policies. He is banking on a groundswell of support to loosen ZANU-PF's grip
in the rural areas. He is embarking on a country tour that will last until
the election, starting with a rally in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city and
capital of the deeply disgruntled Ndebele minority.

Much will also depend on whether he can ensure that the election is not
stolen. ZESN doubts the electoral environment can allow for a free and fair
poll. A new constitution and reforms of repressive media and security laws
were agreed on during negotiations between the opposition and the ruling
party overseen by Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's president. But they will not
be implemented before the poll.

There is no independent radio or television. The voters roll, which Mr
Makoni's team is combing to spot and correct discrepancies, is highly
unreliable. His people are also training thousands of polling agents to
staff the 11,000 voting stations. They expect other tricks, such as the
ruling party providing too few ballot papers in urban polling stations,
where the opposition is strongest. But Mr Makoni's team thinks sympathisers
in ZANU-PF will give valuable tip-offs to help stymie the rigging.

The presidential poll is a two-round affair. Mr Mugabe could well win the
first round-but Mr Makoni's planners and the MDC bet he will fail to get
more than 50% of votes cast. If they are right, the momentum should be with
the challenger.


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Civil service disputes over salaries intensify



By Tererai Karimakwenda
28 February, 2008

More civil service workers are reported to be walking off their jobs this
week after government failed to increase their salaries to satisfactory
levels. As their monthly pay showed up in their accounts earlier this week,
workers at the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) and the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) downed their tools. It is believed
workers at the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) are also contemplating
going on strike soon. Inadequate salaries and poor working conditions are at
the centre of the disputes with government.

Our Harare correspondent said the ministry of justice has also been hit by a
series of strikes as officials in the judiciary join magistrates who have
been on strike for some time.

Muchemwa said the situation was worsened by the discovery this week that
Robert Mugabe had secretly used a presidential decree to order huge salary
increases for the police and military. It is believed this was to ensure
their loyalty in the period leading to the polls set for March 29th.

Muchemwa explained that most civil servants are making between Z$300 million
and Z$600 million. Mugabe increased the police and military salaries to
Z$1,200,000 for low end privates and up to Z$3 billion for their superiors.

Our correspondent said it was news of the increased military and police
salaries that caused the other civil sectors to strike. They now want the
same pay scale.

Muchemwa added that teachers from the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe
(PTUZ), who have been on strike since the beginning of the year, were joined
by teachers from the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) this week. This
is the second time that Zimta, which is largely perceived as being
sympathetic to government, has joined the more outspoken PTUZ in their
strike over salaries.

Government does not seem to have any solution for this economic crisis. With
annual inflation officially over 100,000%, any salary agreements with
government are bound to become meaningless within weeks and workers will be
back at the negotiating table asking for more. Observers continue to insist
that only a resolution of the broader political crisis can solve the
economic problems.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Gwanda South Parliamentary candidate dies



By Tichaona Sibanda
28 February 2008

The Mutambara faction of the MDC was dealt a blow on Tuesday when their
parliamentary candidate for Gwanda South, Glory Mukwati, died after
suffering a massive stroke.

Party spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said Mukwati showed no signs of
ill-health and that his sudden death has come as a shock to many people who
knew him. He suffered the stroke when he was driving to Gwanda to deliver
campaign materials to the constituency.

'His death is tragic for Zimbabwe for the simple reason that he was a
professional man who is known to have promoted education not only in the
region but all over the country. He is somebody who established a number of
teaching aids to the extent that he was very prominent in the education
system,' Themba Nyathi said.

The long serving educationist was due to contest the Gwanda South seat
against Ephat Mdlongwa of the MDC (Tsvangirai) and Zanu-PF's Orders Mlilo,
in next month's elections.

The MDC expects elections in the constituency to be postponed to a later
date. According to Themba Nyathi, Section 50 of the electoral act says if a
candidate dies before an election, they would call for a by-election.

'What this means is that we expect the elections in Gwanda South to be
postponed in accordance with the electoral act to allow us to submit
nomination papers for another candidate. When this is done, we expect ZEC to
call for a by-election,' Themba Nyathi added.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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MISA-Zimbabwe Alert Update: Journalist challenges illegal ban


Alert Update
28 February 2008
Journalist challenges illegal ban

MISA-Zimbabwe has engaged prominent Zimbabwean lawyer Selby Hwacha under its
Media Defence Fund facility to challenge the illegal ban imposed by the
Media and Information Commission (MIC) against senior journalist Brian
Hungwe.

On 28 February 2008 Hwacha told MISA-Zimbabwe that he was already working on
the case but could not immediately shed details pertaining to the matter.
Ironically the letter notifying Hungwe of the ban does not have the full
names of the author of the document in question. The letter in question
simply bears a signature on behalf of the MIC.

The MIC which ceased to exist in January 2008 following the signing into law
of amendments to the repressive Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (AIPPA), notified Hungwe of the ban in a letter dated 26
February 2008.

Hungwe, a former correspondent with the South African Broadcasting
Corporation (SABC), on 27 February 2008 confirmed to MISA-Zimbabwe that the
MIC had imposed a one-year ban against him backdated to 20 August 2007
following his appeal against its earlier decision banning him from working
as a freelance journalist in Zimbabwe. The MIC's illegal ban will be in
force until 19 August 2008.

The MIC ceased to exist on 11 January 2008 when President Robert Mugabe
signed the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act No.
20 of 2007.

MISA-Zimbabwe therefore insists that anything purportedly done by the MIC
after 11 January 2008 is of no legal force and should be declared null and
void.

MISA-Zimbabwe condemns in the strongest terms the MIC's decision as it is
not only illegal but vindictively designed to curtail media freedom and
freedom of expression ahead of the 29 March 2008 elections. The continued
existence of the Dr Tafataona Mahoso- led Media and Information Commission
is not only illegal but an affront to media and freedom of expression
rights.

Several other journalists are likely to be similarly victimised ahead of the
elections thereby limiting access to diverse views, opinions and ideas
throwing into serious doubt the freeness and fairness of the March polls.

background

Hungwe's agony dates back to 2006 when he was approached by the BBC who were
interested in engaging him as their correspondent in Harare. The BBC and CNN
are among some of the foreign news organisations banned from reporting in
Zimbabwe. The MIC, however, dragged its feet when it came to accredit him in
that vein culminating in its decision on 20 August 2007 suspending him from
the roll of journalists for a one year period for allegedly contravening
Sections 90 and 79 (5) of AIPPA as read with Section 6 of Statutory
Instrument 169 C of 2002.

He appealed the decision but the MIC in a letter dated 26 February 2008 and
seven months later, informed him that it was not in a position to entertain
his appeal "as there is no basis in law for such an appeal now".

The MIC is a creation of the repressive Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (AIPPA) which was promulgated in 2002. However the recent
amendments to AIPPA did away with the MIC. In its place will be the Zimbabwe
Media Commission (ZMC) which will be composed of nine members who shall all
be appointed by the President from a list of not fewer than 12 nominees
submitted by the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.

The ZMC which is empowered with the accreditation of journalists is still to
be constituted.

For any questions, queries or comments, please contact:

Nyasha Nyakunu
Research and Information Officer
MISA-Zimbabwe


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Integration And the Migrant Migraine



UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

27 February 2008
Posted to the web 28 February 2008

Johannesburg

The goal of Southern African regional integration is being set back by the
outflow of Zimbabwean migrants to neighbouring countries, according to
researchers.

An estimated three million Zimbabweans have emigrated as a result of the
county's economic and political crisis, many of them heading to neighbouring
South Africa and Botswana. Their arrival has triggered a rise in xenophobia
as locals complain about competition for jobs and rising crime rates.

Ayesha Kajee, programme director of the International Human Rights Exchange
at the University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg, South Africa, noted
that "the influx of both political and economic migrants has been
unprecedented" and regional integration efforts "have since been pushed to
the sidelines".

An integral part of the 14-member Southern African Development Community's
(SADC) goal of regional integration is the principal of "free movement of
people". In 1995, the SADC secretariat prepared an initial Draft Protocol on
Free Movement of Persons that would underlie the right to entry, residence
and establishment, eventually leading to the abolishment of controls. South
Africa, Namibia and Botswana rejected the proposal.

After much deliberation, a watered-down version was accepted in 2005, in
which "removal of controls" was replaced by "progressive minimisation of
control". "SADC has agreed vaguely at a policy level on integration and the
free movement of people, but implementation on a domestic level into legal
frameworks has been poor," said Kajee.

"The movement of Zimbabweans - not only into South Africa but into Botswana
and elsewhere - has effectively, if temporarily, removed the issue of free
movement from the table," Loren Landau, Director of the Forced Migration
Studies Programme at the University of the Witwatersrand, told IRIN.

For Zimbabweans looking for a better life, its wealthy neighbour, South
Africa, has acted as a magnet, attracting skilled, unskilled and
undocumented migrants. Peter Ncube* smuggles people across the no-man's land
between Zimbabwe's southern town of Beitbridge and the South African border
post of Musina. He says the people who pay the US$50 for his services are
desperate.

"The people are scared but there is no [other] solution. Grandmothers,
grandfathers, mothers, fathers and children, they [want] to come to South
Africa to look for a job ... so they can support their families," he told
IRIN.

"Migration of people between Zimbabwe and South Africa has been a regional
pattern throughout history. As social and economic relationships change,
people will always migrate to pools of stability," noted Peter Vale, Nelson
Mandela Professor of Politics at South Africa's Rhodes University, in
Grahamstown, Eastern Province.

However, while the flow is popularly seen in South Africa as strictly one
way, in reality it is seasonal and complex. Analysts have found that
Zimbabweans often enter South Africa to trade or pick up odd jobs, and then
return home.

The Lindela detention and repatriation centre at Krugersdorp, about 120km
from Johannesburg, is evidence of the South African government's
determination to crack down on undocumented migrants. Those held here
awaiting deportation have been picked up in regular police raids targeting
"illegal aliens".

According to the International Organisation of Migration, 177,514
Zimbabweans deported from South Africa passed through their reception centre
in Beitbridge since it opened in May 2006.

Superintendent Maggy Mathebula, the police chief in Musina, does not accept
that the daily detention of Zimbabweans caught crossing illegally into the
country is pointless. "It is true that they keep on coming back. If we
deport a truck in the morning, in the afternoon half of the people who were
deported in the morning are re-arrested again. But it's our duty, we have to
do it, again and again."

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]


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Election 2008 - Meet Your Candidates

----- Original Message -----
From: Trudy Stevenson

Election 2008 - Meet Your Candidates

Northside Community Church
Wed 5 March
4.30 for 5 pm - 7.30 pm

Prof Rudo Gaidzanwa - Chisipite Senatorial - Ind
Margaret Dongo - Chikomo Senatorial - Ind
Trudy Stevenson - MP Mt Pleasant - MDC
Miriam Mushayi - MP Harare West - MDC
Gladman Mukumbuzi - MP Harare North - Ind
and Councillors Wards 7, 9, 17, 18 and 42

Police have been notified.
____________________________________________________
Please pass on to others interested in positive change. Thank you.


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Full Dams Do Not Translate Into Water Supplies

IPSnews


By Tonderai Kwidini

HARARE, Feb 28 (IPS) - Heavy rains in Zimbabwe and in the catchment areas of
its major rivers in December and January have filled most of the country's
dams to capacity. Yet, many urban households do not have water.

Shupikai Macheka of Mabvuku, a high-density suburb on the outskirts of the
capital -- Harare -- talks despairingly about the lack of water in the area.
"It's hard to live without a single drop of water for four months, but we
are getting used even to all the diseases that come with it. If we had a
way, we could have left this place for other areas where water is sometimes
available."

Mabvuku is an over-crowded, working class area located 20 kilometres east of
Harare's central business district. The suburb was built during the colonial
era as a dormitory settlement for industrial workers employed at the nearby
heavy industries. It was not designed for the kind of population that it is
supporting at the moment.

Since the Zimbabwean government launched Operation Murambatsvina in 2005 the
population density of Mabvuku has increased substantially. (The initiative
is also referred to as "Operation Restore Order"; however "murambatsvina" --
a Shona term -- is more accurately translated as "clear the dirt".)

Murambatsvina was touted as a clean-up operation to rid Harare of unsightly
squatter camps. Government bulldozers flattened shacks and forced residents
to squeeze into small, single family units in areas such as Mabvuku.

But, authorities did very little to upgrade Mabvuku's water and sanitation
system, built in the 1950s, to enable it to cope with the influx.

As you approach the settlement there is an overpowering stench of excreta
wafting out of burst sewer pipes and toilets that have not been flushed for
days due to the lack of running water.

"As you can see, we are in a mess. One wonders where the hell is the water
when Lake Chivero is said to be filled to capacity and newspaper front pages
always show pictures of it spilling," said Macheka. Lake Chivero is the
largest water supply dam for Harare.

The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has just released statistics
showing that Lake Chivero was at 103.8 percent of its capacity in January.
Figures nationwide indicate that Zimbabwe's major dams were at 94.5 percent
of their combined capacity.

Since taking over the water supply and sanitation system in Harare in 2006,
the parastatal has routinely blamed dry taps on water shortages caused by
drought. Now that the drought has passed, ZINWA is still not able to fulfill
its mandate of providing water in the capital and towns where it has taken
control of water systems.

Established by an Act of Parliament in 2004, ZINWA has faced stubborn
resistance in all centres where it has taken over. Due to fierce opposition,
ZINWA has temporarily given up its battle to assume control over the dams
and water reticulation system in Bulawayo, the country's second largest
city.

Residents of urban centres object to ZINWA because it has a poor track
record of maintaining water supplies, while local authorities are interested
in retaining control over their water infrastructure because it provides a
good source of income.

Residents of Harare are irate about the continued water shortages, and even
angrier about the lack of adequate communication from water authorities as
to the cause of this problem. They say that ZINWA never advises communities
about measures it might be taking to rectify the situation.

"It's all excuse after excuse, while they have sunk boreholes at their homes
and buy mineral water from the shops. But what about us, the poor? Who shall
do it for us," asked Macheka.

The lack of potable running water has increased health risks in the area. In
a two-week period in January more than 400 cases of cholera, diarrhoea and
other water borne diseases were reported in Mabvuku, prompting Zimbabwe's
Minister of Health and Child Welfare, David Parirenyatwa, to declare the
situation there a disaster.

In the aftermath of this calamity, the government declared that it would
sink 3,000 boreholes in Harare and other urban centres starting with the
most seriously affected areas, such as Mabvuku.

While IPS was speaking to Macheka, a pick-up truck marked "ZINWA, water is
life" zoomed around a corner on a main avenue in the heart of Mabvuku,
pulling behind it a large tank of water.

"We have brought you clean drinking water," said a ZINWA official as
residents carrying an assortment of water containers scurried around the
vehicle. But after only eight people had filled their water tins the tank
was empty, and the pick-up drove off.

Mabvuku residents now find themselves relying on boreholes at the Circle
Cement Company and the Maximum Support Police Camp.

Circle Cement, a large cement manufacturing company located near Mabvuku,
purifies its own water and allows residents to make use of its supplies.

The Maximum Support Police Camp is a state security base where senior police
officers reside. Several boreholes have been sunk there to provide the
officials with water.

In either case, Mabvuku residents have to walk several kilometres to fetch
their water; but for many of them, this has become a way of life.

Deputy Water Resources and Infrastructure Development Minister Walter Mzembi
says government is in the process of recommissioning idle waterworks
stations to increase capacity.

"We are going to revive the bio-gas digesters that have been lying idle as
well as water treatment plants that were last used long back," he told IPS.

The bio-gas digesters have the potential to produce gas to run four of the
water authority's broken down water and sewer treatment works.

The water provision problems in Mabvuku form part of a larger economic and
political crisis in Zimbabwe that has resulted in hyper-inflation,
widespread unemployment and shortages of basic goods. The government also
stands accused of extensive human rights abuses. (END/2008)


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UK provides Zimbabweans with 5 million for vital drugs

United Kingdom Department for International Development

Date: 27 Feb 2008

The UK Government today announced 5 million to buy much needed medicines
and supplies to help prevent the collapse of basic health services in
Zimbabwe. Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International
Development, explained that the Emergency Vital Medicines Support programme
will benefit the most vulnerable Zimbabweans, including the elderly,
pregnant women and children.

Douglas Alexander said:

"Currently, 70% of medicines needed to provide district health services in
Zimbabwe are out of stock, and within a few weeks, this figure could
increase to 90%. The UK is providing 5 million emergency support to ensure
that the poorest and most vulnerable Zimbabweans are able to access the
vital medicines that they require.

"The UK funds will be supplemented by other donors, and will be managed by
UNICEF to ensure that the money does not pass to the government of Zimbabwe.
This is a good example of how by working together international donors can
have a much bigger impact on the lives of poor people in Zimbabwe than by
working alone."

The Emergency Vital Medicines Support Programme will ensure that all health
facilities across all districts in Zimbabwe will be stocked with the most
essential medicines and supplies in order to support the continued delivery
of quality prevention and treatment services. The programme will buy
medicines identified as the most essential for meeting national health
policy goals and reducing mortality, and will particularly focus on:

- Children under five;

- Pregnant women;

- Adults over 65; and

- The prevention and treatment of transmissible diseases including HIV,
malaria and TB.

This new support will contribute significantly to the goal of providing
everyone with access to primary and referral health services, no matter
where they live. The Emergency Vital Medicines Support Programme will also
strengthen monitoring and evaluation systems already in place in order to
ensure that drugs are distributed equitably and efficiently to those who
need them most.


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Action Needed Against Unproven HIV/Aids Treatments


Human Rights Watch (Washington, DC)

PRESS RELEASE
28 February 2008
Posted to the web 28 February 2008

Geneva

The United Nations and its member states are failing to address serious
threats to life and health posed by the promotion of unproven AIDS "cures"
and by counterfeit antiretroviral drugs, Human Rights Watch said today.

In an article published yesterday, "Dangerous medicines: Unproven AIDS cures
and counterfeit antiretroviral drugs", in the peer-reviewed journal
Globalization and Health, Human Rights Watch cited examples of the promotion
of unproven AIDS treatments in countries as diverse as Zambia, Mexico, South
Africa, Thailand, India, and Zimbabwe. The article also discusses how the
absence of regulation or monitoring for counterfeit antiretroviral medicines
threatens the lives and health of thousands of people living with HIV and
AIDS, even in regions like Southeast Asia where counterfeit pharmaceuticals
are widespread.

"Fake cures have been promoted since AIDS was first identified," said Joseph
Amon, HIV/AIDS Program Director at Human Rights Watch and author of the
article. "In the era of expanded antiretroviral treatment programs, the
failure of governments to monitor these false claims and ensure accurate
information about life-saving antiretroviral drugs undermines global efforts
to fight AIDS."

Gambia and Iran deserve particular scrutiny, according to the article. In
both countries, officials at the highest levels of government have been
directly involved in the promotion of unproven therapies. International
condemnation of their actions, however, has been absent or muted.

In Gambia in February 2007, President Yahya Jammeh claimed to have developed
an herbal cure for AIDS that was effective in three days if people taking
the treatment discontinued taking antiretroviral drugs and refrained from
alcohol, caffeine, and sex. Following the announcement, Gambian journalists
who criticized the so-called cure were fired, and the UN resident
coordinator in Gambia, Fadzai Gwaradzimba, was permanently expelled for
asking for scientific proof of the treatment's effectiveness.

Since Jammeh's announcement, scant global attention has been paid to the
availability of effective AIDS treatments in the country. Last week,
however, the Gambian government announced with much fanfare that Jammeh had
been awarded an honorary degree in Herbal and Homeopathic medicine by the
Brussels-based Jean Monnet European University. In accepting the degree,
Jammeh announced that he had discovered cures for obesity and impotence,
adding to his previously declared "cures" for infertility, diabetes, and
asthma. According to the President's office, hundreds of people have taken
the remedies for HIV/AIDS. Gambian authorities have failed to provide
information on the degree to which patients taking the medicine had freely
volunteered to do so, and also on independent verification of the health
outcomes.

Also in 2007, the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced the
discovery of "IMOD" (an abbreviation for "immuno-modulator drug"), an herbal
AIDS treatment made from seven local Iranian herbs. The government has
promoted the drug as a "therapeutic vaccine" and as the "first choice" for
treatment in resource-constrained developing countries. The President's
Office for Technology Cooperation has also promoted the remedy and sought
partners for joint marketing, clinical trials and manufacturing. According
to news reports in November, the Iranian Minister of Health and Medical
Education stated that all patients with advanced HIV disease-more than 1,500
overall-would be treated with IMOD.

Human Rights Watch called on the United Nations to put pressure on countries
promoting unproven AIDS treatments to provide complete, accurate information
about effective HIV/AIDS treatment and to correct false and misleading
information about unproven therapies.

"Countries are gambling with the lives of people living with HIV by
promoting unproven AIDS remedies," said Amon. "The UN should condemn this
practice and work with governments and civil society groups to ensure that
effective AIDS treatment and information about it are provided."

In 2006, the United Nations issued a declaration on HIV/AIDS committing all
member states to pursue "all necessary efforts" to scale up HIV/AIDS
treatment programs towards the goal of providing universal access to
HIV/AIDS treatment by 2010.

"Access to effective medicines is an indispensable part of the right to the
highest attainable standard of health," said Amon. "Billions of dollars that
are being spent on scaling up antiretroviral treatment will be undermined if
governments ignore the threats posed by unproven AIDS treatments and
counterfeit drugs."

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