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10 million dollar note...

Yahoo News

Zimbabwe to introduce new banknotes

HARARE (AFP) - New banknotes, including a 10 million dollar bill, will go
into circulation in inflation-ravaged Zimbabwe this week, the central bank's
governor said on Wednesday.

Less than a month after announcing a similar move, Gideon Gono said the new
notes would provide much needed relief to consumers who often have to go
shopping with sacks of cash.

"With effect from Friday (January 18), the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is
releasing the following bearer cheques into circulation: one million dollars
(officially worth about 33 US dollars/22 euros), five million dollars and 10
million dollars," Reserve Bank Governor Gono told a news conference.

"Further to provide relief and convenience to the transacting public, daily
cash withdrawals have been increased from the current 50 million zimdollars
to 500 million per individual. This takes effect from Friday," he said.

Last December 19, Gono announced the immediate introduction of higher
denominations of banknotes in a bid to tackle cash shortages fed by runaway
inflation.

The following day, 250,000, 500,000 and 750,000 zimdollar notes officially
came into circulation.

Gono had expressed hope at the time that the new notes would mean "cash
shortages will be a thing of the past" but they continued unabated.

The southern African country is gripped by an economic crisis, characterised
by the world's highest rate of inflation officially put at around 8,000,
shortages of basic foodstuffs such as cooking oil, and mass unemployment.

"As monetary authorities we once again assure the nation that we are in full
control of the currency situation in the country and it is never our
intention, nor is it part of our philosophy, to cause unnecessary pain to
fellow Zimbabweans," Gono told reporters.

"In this regard, the central bank will continue to formulate and implement
tangible solutions to the challenges that the financial sector is currently
facing for the benefit and convenience of the public."

The bank governor said the situation was being exacerbated by what he termed
as "indiscipline" and corruption.

Speculation "has become endemic in our country and this is now disrupting
the free circulation of cash in the economy".

"There is growing evidence that part of what we see as cash queues at banks
is partly an indication of inflated demand for cash as some depositors have
developed a perpetual habit of withdrawing their entire savings even if they
have no immediate need for cash," he added.


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Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe statement on the cash situation and stabilisation measures

New Zimbabwe

16 JANUARY 2008

1. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

1.1 The cash situation in the economy remains an area of policy priority to
the Central Bank.

1.2 The rise in inflation, increases in salaries and the disruption in the
smooth circulation of local currency by cash hoarders, parallel market
dealers and other illegal traders, continue to conspire to create the cash
shortages currently prevailing in the economy.

1.3 As Monetary Authorities, we recognise the plight of the majority of
depositors and the general public as they seek to carry out their genuine
day-to-day transactions.

1.4 In the same vein, however, the Central Bank would have failed to carry
out its statutory responsibilities if we ignored the destabilising effects
of cash dealers and the negative forces that we unearthed during SUNRISE II.

1.5 As Monetary Authorities, we once again assure the Nation, that we are in
full control of the currency situation in the Country, and it is never our
intention, nor is it part of our philosophy, to cause unnecessary pain to
fellow Zimbabweans.

1.6 In this regard, the Central Bank will continue to formulate and
implement tangible solutions to the challenges that the financial sector is
currently facing for the benefit and convenience of the public.

2 LESSONS DRAWN FROM SUNRISE II

2.1 Following the implementation of SUNRISE II, noticeable respite was
breathed into the market, as people accessed cash though others failed to do
so ahead of the festive season.

2.2 SUNRISE II also richly enlightened us to better understand the following
peculiarities characterising our financial system:

(a). Our countrywide surveys indicate that high inflation and frequent
salary adjustments tend to accelerate the demand for cash, as employees
would want to immediately convert their earnings into cash to allow them to
buy goods and services ahead of anticipated future price increases. The
critical learning point we got on this is that, as Monetary Authorities, we
need to continuously align cash withdrawal limits and currency denominations
to anticipated changes in prices.

(b). Through various under-hand schemes, supported by covert complicity by
some banks, companies and some individuals were beating the set cash
withdrawal limits by operating multitudes of accounts within same banks and
across different institutions.

(c). There is growing evidence suggesting that part of what we see as cash
queues at banks is partly an indication of inflated demand for cash, as some
depositors have developed a perpetual habit of withdrawing their entire
savings, even if they have no immediate need for the cash.

(d). Indiscipline, smuggling of minerals, corruption and speculation have
become endemic in our economy and this is now disrupting the free
circulation of cash in the economy.

(e). Some of the big companies including wholesalers, retailers, fuel
dealers, cellular network providers, newspaper houses and some bus operators
have become the epicentres of economic destabilisation.

(f). A number of these institutions are abusing their status as high-volume
cash spinners to become notable parallel market players. It was surprising
to note that some of these cash spinners were among the top cash withdrawers
from banks.

(g). The Central Bank also noted a steady erosion of ethical banking
practices, where banks have observing and in some cases facilitating
malpractices by their clients particularly through side banking
arrangements.

2.3 Other causes of the cash shortages are:

(a) Widespread informalisation of the economy.
(b) Hyperinflationary pressures
(c) Periodic rise in demands-school fees/elections.
(d) Parallel market activities for forex, fuel, basic commodities and
corruption/smuggling of minerals, fertilizers, etc.
(e) Sub-economic national policies in the area of subsidies especially with
regard to forex, fuel, grain and fertilizer purchases that are creating room
for price-arbitrages which benefit only a few with access to such
commodities.
(f) Long judicial back-logs, weak prosecution and lenient sentences to
offenders.
(g) Sanctions and their impact on money printing facilities.
(h) Low denominations relative to demand for cash and inflationary
pressures.
(i) Size of our budget.

2.4 Equipped with this critical information the Central Bank is working flat
to correct the underlying structural mis-alignments in the financial sector,
some of which had resulted in the inflated demand for currency that we are
seeing today.

2.5 In order to deal decisively with the cash situation in the economy, the
Central Bank is implementing the following interim relief measures.

3. NEW MEASURES

3.1 With effect from Friday, 18th January 2008, the Reserve Bank is
releasing the following bearer cheque denominations into circulation:

$1 million;
$5 million; and
$10 million

4 CASH WITHDRAWAL LIMITS

4.1 Further, to provide relief and convenience to the transacting public,
daily cash withdrawal limits for individuals have been increased from the
current $50 million to $500 million per day. This measure also takes effect
from Friday, 18th January 2008.

4.2 The cash withdrawal limit for corporates, has also been increased to
$500 million per day, with effect from Friday, the 18th of January, 2008.

4.3 Corporate bodies are called upon to negotiate tailor-made banking
arrangements for their employees so as to enable them to enjoy the increased
cash withdrawal limit for individuals.

4.4 As Monetary Authorities, we have been, and shall remain alert to the
special needs of our farmers, as well as some mining operations, which have
genuine requirements for cash to pay for their employees who may not have
direct access to banking facilities.

5 ANTIMONEY LAUNDERING LAWS

5.1 In terms of section 11 of the Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of
Money Laundering Act [Chapter 24:24], businesses and traders are required to
deposit their daily cash takings into the formal banking system by the next
business day.

5.2 We also call upon all businesses and service providers to accept
non-cash means of payment available in the economy as it is bad and an
unfair business practice to insist on cash payments only.

5.3 Such practices may compel authorities to institute strict and deterrent
measures.

5.4 In the same vein, we call upon fellow Zimbabweans to shun
self-destructive practices such as cash hoading, parallel market trading and
other illegal activities which disrupt the flow of currency to and from the
banking system.

6 EXPECTED IMPACT OF MEASURES

6.1 As Monetary Authorities, we are confident that the above interventions
will eradicate the prevailing queues, freeing up people to concentrate on
gainful productive activities.

6.2 Over the outlook period, greater focus will be placed on measures that
will tackle the high inflation imbalance currently prevailing in the
economy.

6.3 With low and stable inflation, the symptomatic problems of cash
shortages, export underperformance and the general decline in the standards
of living for the majority of our people will become a thing of the past.

6.4 It is against this background that the Reserve Bank will continue to
make the clarion call for unity of purpose in increasing our overall
national productivity levels as the lasting weapon against inflation.

7. FINANCIAL SECTOR CONFIDENCE AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

7.1 On a separate but related note which touches on the credibility or
otherwise of the Bank, the last two weeks have witnessed sustained negative
comments on the Central Bank’s internal systems and corporate governance
procedures.

7.2 A grossly serious misrepresentation of facts and reality on the ground;
infact, the opposite of the truth has been made against the Reserve Bank by
those who are infact supposed to represent it and project facts as they
stand and nothing else.

7.3 The result of such shocking utterances and misrepresentations has been
to shake the confidence of the banking public, the industry and some of our
key stakeholders who know us better.

7.4 It would be sub-judice, improper on our part and unprocedural for the
Reserve Bank to comment further on matters that are before the courts,
except to assure the Nation that when the whole truth, supported by
appropriate due diligence, documentation and chronology of events is
eventually revealed, as revealed it will be, the receding confidence of some
stakeholders will be hoisted to unprecedented levels.

7.5 To this end, the financial sector is urged to uphold the highest forms
of corporate governance standards for which we are well known as a Central
Bank.

7.6 Whatever the Banks and us do, it must withstand inter-generational
scrutiny, must withstand any investigation by any competent authority from
any quarter, foe and friend, within and outside our borders. This is the
commitment to which the Governor and his team wish to see and are happy to
subject themselves at the Central Bank and in the entire financial Sector.

8. SPECIAL PROGRAMME FOR OUR UNIFORMED FORCES

8.1 Our experiences under Sunrise I and II has also vividly pointed to the
need for special financial arrangements to be made to bring banking services
closer to our Uniformed Forces, given their contextual deployments,
countrywide, as part of their National Duty.

8.2 To this end, I am pleased to report that in due course, a special
programme will be unveiled to cater for the special needs of this critical
sector.

9. NEED FOR HIGH LEVELS OF CORPORATE SOCIO-ECONOMIC RESPONSIBILITY

9.1 As Monetary Authorities, we wish to point out that whilst the
introduction of higher denominations will solve the cash shortages, there
may be the unintended consequence of rising temptations for Business to
raise minimum prices on some commodities to the highest cash denomination.

9.2 When this happens, the whole objective of solving the cash shortages and
to bring convenience to the people will be defeated.

9.3 Against this background, we call upon Business and all the other service
providers in the economy to exercise greatest levels of corporate
socio-economic responsibility and resist this unsustainable, and
unjustifiable temptation.

10. TRANSMISSION OF ECONOMIC DATA

10.1 As Monetary Authorities, we would like to also take this opportunity to
urge those whose responsibility it is to measure and publish economic data
in our economy to timeously do so, particularly in the area of inflation
data.

10.2 Under the current scenario, economic players are feeding their planning
systems based on wild guesstimates that are way out of line with reality,
further compounding the imbalances in the economy.

10.3 As a Nation, we should not shy away from genuine areas where our
collective efforts should, and will sure address.

Thank You.

DR G GONO
GOVERNOR
RESERVE BANK OF ZIMBABWE

16 JANUARY 2008


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Talk in Zimbabwe of New Political Party Gains Momentum

VOA
 

16 January 2008

Speculation about a new political force challenging Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been circulating for many months.  But as time runs out before presidential elections in March, it appears more likely that there may be a challenger from Zanu-PF to take on President Mugabe.  Peta Thornycroft has this report for VOA.

Zanu-PF's Simba Makoni (2001 file photo)
Zanu-PF's Simba Makoni (2001 file photo)
The Zimbabwe Independent, one of Zimbabwe's two independent weeklies, reported last Friday that the candidate who would challenge President Robert Mugabe would be former finance minister Simba Makoni, a long-time member of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

It was long believed in Harare that if President Mugabe retired, Makoni would be backed by one of the two main factions in Zanu-PF to replace him.

But all that died earlier this year when President Mugabe made it clear that he would not tolerate opposition within Zanu-PF.  He said he was going to stay in power, probably for life.

Most of the top Zanu-PF leaders are fearful of opposing President Mugabe.  Many have benefited financially during the nearly 28 years Mr. Mugabe has been in power.  

Now a group of businessmen, including some in exile, senior civil servants, and other influential people, mostly still in Zanu-PF, are examining options to put Makoni's name forward as a candidate for the next presidential election.  The Independent named former top civil servant and publisher, Ibbo Mandaza as organizer of the group.

Makoni has friends in both factions of the divided opposition Movement for Democratic Change.  Some of them say that if supporting Makoni was the only way of ending President Mugabe's rule, they would consider it.

The Movement for Democratic Change has been brutally persecuted, particularly by Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organization that reports directly to President Mugabe.

The Movement for Democratic Change is now a shadow of the vibrant party that nearly defeated Zanu-PF in a general election in 2000.

A key to the fairness of the polls due in March is being presented to parliament this week; a map of political districts that has been drawn up by government officials.

Several opposition legislators say the map has been drawn to undermine their strength.

South African President Thabo Mbeki is trying to end a deadlock in talks between Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change before the elections.

Tendai Biti, one of the MDC's two negotiators, says opposition activists plan to go to the streets next week to protest poverty and to call for free and fair elections.

All previous MDC street demonstrations have been banned or brutally broken up, so observers say they will be watching to see whether President Mugabe stands by new security legislation, he has signed, that is intended to make it easier for Zimbabweans to demonstrate


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JAG - urgent compensation/legal communique, Dated 16 January 200

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

JAG Hotlines: +263 (011) 610 073, +263 (04) 799 410.  If you are in trouble
or need advice, please don't hesitate to contact us - we're here to help!
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Last week over 70 farmers attended an impromptu "think tank" meeting at the
CFU to discuss the issue of "Joinder applications" with the Campbell case in
the High Court of Zimbabwe or in the SADC Tribunal.

The CFU has called a meeting for tomorrow, for all farmers, as a follow-on
from last week's meeting.  Compensation/Restitution issues are also on the
agenda and the Valuation Consortium and other unspecified "interest groups"
will be in attendance.

As the vast majority of displaced farmers now reside in Harare and this
meeting will be the start of CFU's tour of the Farming Districts; and
especially considering that legal issues and Compensation/Restitution issues
are on the agenda, it is imperative that all farmers, especially displaced
farmers attend.  This is regardless of membership or otherwise of the CFU.
Rest assured the JAG Team will be there.

DATE: 17th January 2008
Venue: Art Farm Hall
Time: 9.30am for 10.00am

THE JAG TEAM


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Opposition vows mass protest against Mugabe's rule

Yahoo News

Wed Jan 16, 5:28 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's main opposition on Wednesday vowed to stage
protests in the capital Harare next week to demand free and fair elections
and a resolution to the country's mounting economic crisis.

"We have decided to march on January 23," Tendai Biti, the Secretary General
of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) told reporters.

"Our march is a statement against poverty, against the failed state. Our
march is a demand for our cash, for drugs in our hospital.

"We are marching because we are pressing the case for the democratic demands
we have been making and that is the demand for a new constitution, the
demand for free and fair elections.

"We are saying to the people of Zimbabwe we're taking the struggle for
democratisation, the struggle against dictatorship from the boardrooms to
the streets," he said.

Presidential and parliamentary polls are expected to be held in Zimbabwe in
March.

Biti said MDC lawmakers and senior party officials would lead the march,
dubbed the "New Zimbabwe Freedom March", which is expected to start from the
MDC headquarters in central Harare.

He lamented the country's economic crisis which he said was unheard of even
in countries emerging from war.

"Our country is at crossroads as a result of man-made mismanagement,
misgoverning and an unbelievable capacity to score own goals, lack of love
and attention from a government which has totally abandoned its functions,"
Biti said.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of economic crisis with inflation officially put
at nearly 8,000 percent although independent economists put it at around
50,000 percent.

"It's within this background of a deficit state, of a failed state that the
weight of responsiblity on the shoulders of the MDC has increased. It's the
MDC that's filling in that deficit. We have to provide the leadership that
Robert Mugabe and cronies are not providing."

Mugabe, 83, who has been in power since the nation gained independence in
1980, is his ruling ZANU-PF party's presidential candidate in the March
poll.

Previous protests by the opposition have been brutally broken by state
security agents who invoked the tough security laws which ban rallies and
protests without police approval.


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S.Africa sees progress in Zimbabwe crisis talks

Reuters

Wed 16 Jan 2008, 10:20 GMT

PRETORIA, Jan 16 (Reuters) - There appeared to be "real movement forward" in
talks to end Zimbabwe's political crisis and reach a deal to pave the way
for elections, South Africa's Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad
said on Wednesday.

Echoing comments on Tuesday by Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern who said a
deal might be just days away, Pahad said Zimbabwe's government and main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change seemed to have agreed on all
substantial issues in talks being mediated by South Africa.

"It seems to me from all the leaked reports and what the (Irish) prime
minister was saying yesterday, we can see some real movement forward in
trying to resolve these outstanding issues," Pahad said.

Pahad, who is not on the team overseeing the negotiations, said the main
stumbling block appeared to be whether to introduce agreed constitutional
changes before Zimbabweans vote in general elections currently scheduled for
March.

The MDC said on Wednesday it planned a protest march next week to
demonstrate against a crumbling economy and press for a new constitution it
says will guarantee a free and fair poll.

Ahern suggested on Tuesday the final obstacles to a deal between the ruling
ZANU PF and MDC might be only days away. (Reporting by Paul Simao, editing
by Stella Mapenzauswa and Mary Gabriel)


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DA doubts Mbeki's assurances on Zim

IOL

    January 16 2008 at 03:17PM

The assurance given by President Thabo Mbeki to Irish Prime Minister
Bertie Ahern of an imminent breakthrough in negotiations between Zanu-PF and
the opposition is the latest in a long catalogue of previous assurances, the
Democratic Alliance's spokesperson for foreign affairs, Tony Leon said on
Wednesday.

"Evidence provided from the President's past handling of the crisis
reveals that this could be yet another a false dawn," said Leon in a
statement.

This followed Ahern's meeting with Mbeki at Pretoria's Union Buildings
on Tuesday where it was announced that Zimbabwean parties engaged in
negotiations were close to finalising a policy document that would cover all
the important issues needed to ensure a free and fair election.

Referring to an earlier meeting between Mbeki and American President
George W Bush, Leon said that Mbeki's assurance that President Robert Mugabe
would step down within a year had led to more suffering of the Zimbabwean
people.

"With the benefit of hindsight it now seems that the President was
simply buying time for Mugabe," he said.

Leon said that for "real" progress to continue in Zimbabwe, Mbeki
needed to ensure that for elections to take place, international observer
missions be allowed to monitor the elections without any hindrance and that
elections should take place after the enactment of mutually agreed
constitutional amendments.

"The people of Zimbabwe and South Africa deserve more than another
false dawn. If President Mbeki's assurances given yesterday (Tuesday) amount
to mere filibustering or vaporising, he will be severely judged by both
history and the international and local communities.

"If he has brokered a meaningful breakthrough to resolve the crisis in
Zimbabwe then he will have performed a great service to the region and the
wider world," said Leon. - Sapa


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Zimbabwe schools order children to bring own food

Zim Online

by Farisai Gonye and Nqobizitha Khumalo Wednesday 16 January
2008

HARARE – Zimbabwean schools, hit by severe food shortages, are demanding
that children bring along their own supplies, while a teachers’ union said
no learning will take place at most schools that opened for the new term
yesterday because of a serious shortage of teachers.

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said some boarding
schools – several of which cut short the last term after running out of
food - may have to delay opening because they did not have food to feed
students.

PTUZ secretary general Raymond Majongwe said nearly all the schools across
the country would have to start the new term with less than adequate
teachers after thousands of teachers left the country over the past five
years to look for better paying jobs abroad.

He said poor salaries paid school-teachers have only helped worsen the
situation with hundreds of teachers unable to travel to schools for the new
term because they do not have money for bus fare despite the government last
week advancing loans to teachers and all civil servants to ensure they were
able to report for work.

"Our reports indicate that many schools will not open. These are clearly
signs of the virtual collapse of (the) education (sector)," said Majongwe,
whose union has warned teachers may go on strike to press for more pay and
better working conditions.

Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere confirmed the difficulties that schools
and teachers were facing but said all schools should open for the new term
while the government looked into the myriad problems affecting the education
sector.

"They are saying they have problems with budgets and food but we are saying
they should open while the problems are being looked at," said Chigwedere, a
former headmaster himself.

Neither the PTUZ nor the Ministry of Education were able to provide
statistics of schools, if any, that were unable to begin lessons yesterday
because of a shortage of teachers or boarding schools that had delayed
beginning the new term, with the situation expected to be much clearer
during the course of the week.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of a debilitating political and economic crisis –
blamed on repression and wrong policies by President Robert Mugabe – and
seen in hyperinflation, a rapidly contracting GDP, the fastest for a country
not at war according to the World Bank and shortages of foreign currency,
food and fuel.

The public education sector has not been spared. Once the pride of Africa,
Zimbabwe’s schools have crumbled in step with the spectacular economic
collapse.

School administrators have appealed to the government’s National Incomes and
Pricing Commission to be allowed to hike fees to raise cash to maintain
schools, buy food and learning equipment for students.

The commission allowed schools to provisionally raise fees by 600 percent,
which school authorities say is not enough given Zimbabwe’s runaway
inflation officially estimated at more than 8 000 percent as at end of last
September but which some independent analysts say could be more than 24 000
percent.

This has left schools with no option but to ask children to bring their own
food supplies or they would starve.

A snap survey by ZimOnline reporters in Matabeleland North and South
provinces showed most schools were asking children to bring along groceries
such as maize-meal, cooking oil, beans, salt, rice and sugar.

Most school heads would not answer questions on the matter, saying they were
not authorised to speak to the press but parents confirmed to reporters that
they were being asked to buy groceries for their children.

“The goods demanded at my child’s school include 4kg packet of rice, 10kg
bag of maize-meal, 2kg sugar, and 4kg of beans,” said Thamsanqa Moyo, who
has a child attending Empandeni secondary school near Plumtree in
Matabeleland South province.

Moyo said the groceries were on top of the $24 million required as tuition
fee for the term.

As parents battled to buy groceries for their kids, they also worried about
school uniforms that are in short supply after a controversial government
price freeze that it said was meant to bring down inflation resulted in
shortages of commodities.

“I have not been able to buy the complete uniform for my boy, one because I
can’t get it from the uniforms supplier and two because I no longer have
cash after all the other expenses,” said a Bulawayo man who said his child
attended Mpopoma high school in Zimbabwe’s second largest city. - ZimOnline


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Business says water crisis crippled operations

Zim Online

by Thenjiwe Mabhena Wednesday 16 January 2008

HARARE – Zimbabwe business leaders on Tuesday said an acute water crisis
affecting Harare had crippled production in a manufacturing sector, already
facing serious viability problems due to a hostile operating environment.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), regarded as the voice of
business in the country, said hardest hit by the water shortage were
beverage manufacturers, milk producers and foundry makers that consume
higher quantities of water.

CZI President Callisto Jokonya told ZimOnline: “It (water crisis) is very
serious. Water is a significant input to raw materials and this (shortage)
stops the whole production. Without water nothing will be produced.”

Jokonya did not say how much industries could have lost directly as result
of the severe water shortage that began last week after a power failure at
the capital’s main water treatment plant.

The water crisis that the government claimed could be over by end of this
week has seen industries and residents in Harare and its dormitory town of
Chitungwiza without treated water.

Hospitals, hotels and other business have had to resort to borehole -- and
even swimming pool water in the case of hotels – to keep operations going.

“We have been affected since the weekend and we have been using the few
boreholes we have to ensure our toilets are attended to,” said Thomas
Zigora, chief executive of Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals one of the
biggest referral centres in the country.

Hotel workers admitted ferrying buckets full of water from swimming pools to
hotel rooms but said the water was for guests to bath.

The Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights (ZDHR) said the water shortage was a
violation of residents’ rights and could lead to serious outbreaks of
diseases in a city where abject poverty and hunger are rife.

 “It is a clear violation of people’s rights. The health delivery system is
severely compromised by the lack of water, “ said ZDHR programmes
coordinator Primrose Matambanadzo.

 Two Harare’s low-income suburbs of Tafara and Mabvuku were last year hit by
a severe outbreak of cholera-like diarrhoea, health experts blamed on
chronic water shortages and the accumulation of refuse.

The water crisis is only one on a long list of troubles that include
shortages of food, power, medicines and hard cash that the capital’s
residents - like everyone else across Zimbabwe -- have to deal with as the
country grapples with a severe recession critics blame on mismanagement by
President Robert Mugabe’s government. ZimOnline


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Villagers Flee Police Backlash in Nyanyadzi, Manicaland



SW Radio Africa (London)

15 January 2008
Posted to the web 15 January 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

A ferocious police backlash in Nyanyadzi in Manicaland has forced hundreds
of villagers to flee their homes and seek refuge in the nearby mountains,
after authorities turned the bustling area into a hunting field.

On Sunday heavily armed police were sent to the business centre, 80km south
of Chimanimani, to flush out suspected culprits responsible for the death of
CID Detective Sergeant Robert Katini. He was stoned to death last week by a
mob, after he killed an illegal diamond dealer.

The business centre and the surrounding areas have been cordoned off and all
shops were closed Monday. The area is deserted and police seem to have
imposed a curfew, according to witnesses.

The late Katini and fellow Detective Assistant Inspector Gondo, both from
the CID minerals Section, were in Nyanyadzi to arrest illegal diamond
dealers under an operation code-named 'Tshuma Igolide' when the incident
happened.

On the day the two detectives -- who were travelling in an unmarked police
Mitsubishi Triton -- went to the business centre in the company of two
informers, pretending to be prospective buyers.

It's reported that Hardlife Jambayo of Dirikwe Village under Chief Muusha in
Nyanyadzi, and Silas Munhuta, approached the car and told the occupants that
they were selling diamonds. Jambayo and Munhuta then took the two detectives
to a room to seal the 'transaction.'

According to the police the detectives produced their police identification
cards and told the suspects that they were under arrest.

A fight broke out and the detectives came under attack. Katini produced his
pistol and is said to have fired warning shots into the air to scare away
the suspects. This only aggravated the situation as some of the suspected
illegal dealers who were at the business centre joined in and attacked the
policemen with stones.

Det Sgt Katini then shot Jambayo in the stomach and he collapsed and later
died. The attackers then stoned Katini who died on the spot.

Police chiefs have now ordered the deployment of over 200 police in riot
gear and assisted by dogs. Since Sunday the force has been indiscriminately
beating up villagers after vowing to bring to book all those responsible for
the death of Katini.

The MDC spokesman for Manicaland, Pishai Muchauraya, said the crackdown has
targeted 'anything seen moving in the area.'

'Everyone has been caught up in the crackdown, whether you are Zanu-PF, MDC
or neutral. They are going for people thought to be harbouring the suspected
culprits. The police are going door-to-door and the area now resembles a war
zone,' Muchauraya said.

Muchauraya said they protested on Monday to the senior police officer in the
province about the fierce crackdown. Senior Assistant Commissioner Benge
promised to look into the issue, but made it clear they would only downsize
the scale of their operation after netting the criminals.

'We are a few months away from a crucial general election and this sort of
operation sends the wrong signal to many people in the area. Though it looks
a genuine operation, the way its been conducted will be interpreted as
political repression because of its indiscriminate nature. They should be
following up leads or suspects and not the whole community,' he said.


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Schools Chaos As Parents Battle Cash Shortages & Fee Hikes



SW Radio Africa (London)

15 January 2008
Posted to the web 15 January 2008

Lance Guma

There were scenes of chaos in and around most banks in the country as
frantic parents battled long winding queues, to secure cash to pay school
fees and buy new uniforms. With the economy in spectacular collapse, banks
are struggling to supply enough notes to service an inflation-ravaged
system.

A parent speaking to Newsreel on Tuesday said they had been in a bank queue
since 4am and all they managed to get was Z$30 million. This is despite the
fact he has to pay Z$180 million in school fees for his child. The only
other non-cash route entails a bank transfer to the school (RTGS) or a bank
cheque. The problem however is that the minimum amount for an RTGS is Z$200
million and there are reports some schools are refusing to accept bank
cheques. Confidence in the banking system is at all time low and cash
transactions are the favoured method.

Thousands of parents also got a rude awakening this week as they tried to
buy new uniforms for their kids. Primary school uniforms are Z$56 to Z$70
million. Socks alone can set you back Z$15 million. The cost of a secondary
school uniform can be as much as Z$130 million. The addition of a blazer
costs Z$500 million. This in a country where only about 20 percent of people
have formal employment, bringing in an average income of about Z$15 million
a month.

Adding to this very difficult situation for parents is a recent move by the
National Incomes and Pricing Commission to sanction 600 percent school fee
hikes, beginning January this year. For example schools that were charging
Z$40 million last year will now be charging Z$280 million per term. Under
these 'controlled' fees the most expensive school will be Z$910 million per
term. But with hyper inflation the schools say the fee structures are too
little to sustain their operations.

There are reports that some schools are shutting down their boarding
operations to cater for day scholars only. Foundation of Knowledge Academy
(FOKA) in Norton had still not opened its hostels by Tuesday, leading to
speculation they will remain closed until government stops trying to control
their fees. Boarding schools are harder to run because in the 3 months that
make up a term, the price of food required to feed the students changes
daily. Most schools like FOKA were resorting to top up fees, but even this
strategy has seen them clashing with government's pricing commission.

Mugabe's regime continues to shun sound economic advice and blames everyone
but themselves for the economic crisis. Increasing political repression has
meant political decisions dominate economic policy and because of this the
country has nose-dived into a collapse of all essential services. Water,
electricity, fuel, food, drug and other shortages are now part and parcel of
the Zimbabwean life.


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Zim Schools fail to open

The Zimbabwean

HARARE
Several schools in Harare and Chitungwiza have failled to re-open for the
new term and have sent their pupils home due to lack of teachers.

Uncertainty over fees and levies has also contributed the confusion at most
government schools here. There has never been such a huge absence of
teachers in Zimbabwe before.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said it was still
gathering statistics but “seriously worried by the massive exodus of
teachers”.
PTUZ secretary general Raymond Majongwe, added that many teachers have not
availed themselves for the opening of the new term as many had left the
country or have joined  the informal sector.
The militant teachers union has been calling for a salary review for
teachers saying they should now earn more than Z$500 million from the
current figure of below Z$50 million per month.
“We were told to go back home for the second day, and the headmaster merely
said they were still organizing the issue of staff,” a Form 3 pupil at
Zengeza High School in Chitungwiza said. “There were less than five teachers
and we understand the rest of them have either left the country or are
pursuing other things.”
Students at Highfield High School in Harare were told that the school fees
and levy had been increased to Z$48 million from last year’s Z$2,5 million.
The same situation prevails at the majority of schools after government
approved increases of 600% in fees and levies.
“But that is ridiculous,” Gerald Moyo, a parent in Harare said. “Where do I
get such money for my three kids when I earn less than $Z30 million per
month?”
Education, sports and culture minister Aenias Chigwedere reiterated the
hardline stance of the Zanu (PF) regime by threatening to “use the law
against schools charging exorbitant fees”.
Private schools have hiked fees by even higher margins with some boarding
schools charging in excess of Z$1 billion.


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Zimbabwean Capital Without Running Water For A Second Straight Day

VOA

By Patience Rusere
Washington
15 January 2008

Most Harare residents remained without water on Tuesday despite assurances
from authorities that the flow would be restored to some residential areas
by then as a step toward re-establishing normal conditions throughout the
capital by Thursday.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper said electric power was restored at
the Morton Jaffray Waterworks, though the Zimbabwe National Water Authority
told the paper it needs a third electricity feeder to keep water pumps
running. There remains a good deal of confusion about what exactly has
caused water pumps to stop.

ZINWA management could not be reached due to congestion on phone networks.

The Herald reported that Tafara and Mabvuku in Harare, and Ruwa and
Chitungwiza in the metropolitan region were supposed to have water back
Tuesday. But a survey of residents in those areas indicated that water
service had not been restored.

Lawmaker Timothy Mubhawu, who represents the Tafara-Mabvuku constituency for
the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai, said
the water crisis remains serious in those Harare districts.

Combined Harare Residents Association Information Officer Mfundo Mlilo told
reporter Patience Rusere that the Herald report shows the government
realizes the severity of the water crisis problem and may provide
significant funding for water treatment.


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Corruption driving Zimbabwe's inflation

New Zimbabwe

By Gilbert Muponda
Last updated: 01/16/2008 11:30:25
WRITING on this website last week (read), I gave a quick comparison of
Zimbabwe’s high inflation at 24 000% compared to the next highest which was
Burma/Myanmar at 40%.

Zimbabwe and Burma are both under sanctions. The two countries are also very
close allies of China. They both possess massive natural resources. And the
Chinese have been keen to maintain the relationships so as to access Rubber,
Oil, Steel, Gold, Copper, Nickel, Timber and other natural resources.

So the question that comes to mind is: if these two nations share such
similarities, how come Zimbabwe’s inflation is so high at 24 000% and Burma
is only at 40%?

Part of the answer lies in corruption, so in this article, I seek to
establish the link between inflation and corruption. Corruption in finance
and economics is at times called rent seeking. Inflation is correlated with
corruption.

A resource-rich country, Burma, like Zimbabwe, suffers from pervasive
government controls, inefficient economic policies, and rural poverty.
Lacking monetary or fiscal stability, the economy suffers from serious
macroeconomic imbalances - including rising inflation, fiscal deficits,
multiple official exchange rates that overvalue the Burmese kyat, a
distorted interest rate regime, unreliable statistics, and an inability to
reconcile national accounts to determine a realistic GDP figure.

It’s clear that Zimbabwe and Burma have a lot in common and their high
inflation is partly due to similar policies. Burma is rated the most corrupt
country in the world. And its inflation is the second highest in the world
after Zimbabwe.

Corruption is a general concept describing any organised, interdependent
system in which part of the system is either not performing duties it was
originally intended to, or performing them in an improper way, to the
detriment of the system's original purpose. Political corruption, meanwhile,
refers to dysfunctions of a political system or institution in which
politically elected officials seek illegitimate personal gain through
actions such as bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, graft,
and embezzlement.

"Rent seeking" is a closely related term in economics. In some nations,
corruption is so common that it is expected when ordinary businesses or
citizens interact with government officials (for example someone selling a
passport form). The end-point of political corruption is a kleptocracy,
literally meaning the “rule by thieves”. It should be noted that a
government is not and cannot be corrupt. It is only the individuals who may
become corrupted.

Monetary policy rests on the relationship between the rates of interest in
an economy; that is the price at which money can be borrowed, the total
supply of money and inflation. Monetary policy uses a variety of tools to
control one or both of these, to influence outcomes like economic growth,
inflation, exchange rates with other currencies and unemployment. Once one
of these components is corrupted through any manipulation, such as the
direct release of funds from the issuing authority to the public such as
black market forex runners, then the system becomes corrupt and feeds
directly into inflation. This is so because of the general market’s lack of
confidence in the currency, which loses value at any alarming rate.

In economics, rent seeking occurs when an individual, organisation, or firm
seeks to make money by manipulating the economic and or legal environment
rather than by making a profit through trade and production of wealth. The
term comes from the notion of economic rent, but in modern use of the term,
rent seeking is more often associated with government regulation and misuse
of governmental authority than with land rents.

Rent seeking generally implies the extraction of uncompensated value from
others without making any contribution to productivity, such as by gaining
control of land and other pre-existing natural resources, or by imposing
burdensome regulations or other government decisions that may affect
consumers or businesses. While there may be few people in modern
industrialised countries who do not gain something, directly or indirectly,
through some form or another of rent seeking, rent seeking in the aggregate
may impose substantial losses on society.

Most studies of rent seeking focus on efforts to capture special monopoly
privileges, such as government regulation of free enterprise competition
(like fixing exchange rates as in Zimbabwe). Other rent seeking is held to
be associated with efforts to cause a redistribution of wealth by, for
example, shifting the government tax burden or government spending
allocation.

If the international markets regard a domestic government as conducting an
irresponsible monetary policy, such as excessive growth in the money supply
or unduly low interest rates (Bacossi), then there will be capital flight
from that market. Other central banks will not help when called upon to.

The reported release of $2.1 trillion to a private firm on the basis of a
verbal agreement undermines the credibility of the RBZ. The reported
relationship between the RBZ and individual money changers would appear to
be generally corrupt, and must be investigated further as it undermines the
RBZ’s reputation. Once the RBZ becomes involved in such corrupt practices,
then there is need to provide more checks and balances to ensure the
national purse does not becomes someone’s back pocket.

Zimbabwe’s fixed and unsound foreign exchange rate policy aids corruption
and in turn feeds the hyperinflation. A simple example will clarify the
point. Assuming one approaches the RBZ and accesses US$1000 at the official
rate of US$1: Z$30,000, it means you pay the RBZ Z$30 million. Then you walk
across the city to Fourth Street or take the US$1,000 to Road Port and you
meet one of the RBZ’s runners who offers you a rate of US$1: Z$4,000,000.

So, for your RBZ-sourced US$1,000 you get a whooping Z$4 billion. Magic! So
within one morning, Z$30 million becomes Z$4 billion. Since this is a
sweeter than honey, at around 2PM you rush back your suitcases of bearer (or
is it burial?) cheques to the RBZ and buy more forex. This time around, you
are loaded with Z$4 billion, which can buy you a massive US$133,000. And by
now, from a mere millionaire in the morning, you are now in a respectable
neighbourhood with Z$533 billion (US$133, 000 times Z$ 4,000,000).

From the above analysis, it’s clear the fixed exchange rate accompanied by
corruption feeds the hyperinflation cycle. There has to be corruption for
you to access the US$1000. And once you have this money, even if you are a
very serious business, you would be very foolish to try and buy equipment,
stocks or whatever it is you said you were going to buy! You simply take the
US$ to the RBZ runners at Road Port, then sell it to them at Z$4,000,000 and
go back to the RBZ and buy some more US$ at Z$30,000. So for each US$, you
make a profit of Z$3,970,000.

As a result, you keep doing this and why would you bother to go and open a
proper business which produces bread, soap and candles when you clearly know
once operation Dzikisa Mutengo comes, you can lose all your “hard earned”
profits. This trend is highly inflationary which explains why it’s not
advisable to fix the currency especially if there is no other major source
of forex.

As can be seen above, our enterprising friend turned Z$30,000,000 into Z$533
billion within a day. There was no production involved; yet he had a ready
buyer for the forex (RBZ runner). This is how inflation gets out of hand. No
matter what policing you do, as long as such loopholes exist, then you have
to keep running to stay at the same place.

This vicious cycle is further enhanced by other not-so-properly-structured
facilities such as Baccossi, which lends money at 25%. One wonders why 25%?
Why not 15% or 300%? These cheap funds are disastrously inflationary.
Assuming Cde Cell-Phone Farmer gets a Baccossi facility of Z$1 billion, it
is clear there is an incentive to take it or some of it to Road Port. But if
he is more daring, then he could simply get the ‘burial cheques’ to the RBZ
and buy say US$1000 at US$1: Z$30,000. Once he disposes the US$1000 to an
RBZ runner at Road Port, then he instantly becomes a billionaire.

With his new found wealth, the next week he can go back to the RBZ and pay
off the Z$1 billion loan and remain with Z$3 billion profit before he even
starts any production. But since the money is almost free at 25%, when
inflation is at 24,000%, he is better off holding on to the money and
spinning it more. Or just lend it to the RBZ by buying treasury bills, which
yield more than 300% with your cost being only 25%.

I hope this clearly explains why we end up with a trillion dollar house,
billion-dollar car, million-dollar bed and a thousand dollar box of matches.
Cde Cell-Phone Farmer would be a trillionaire or is it a quadrillionaire
without any production whatsoever at his farm, thanks to facilities like
Baccossi and fixed exchange rates. Please note nobody really knows why we
have an exchange rate of US$1: Z$30,000 and Baccossi interest of 25%. Why
not lower, and why not higher? Hopefully someone didn’t consult the infamous
‘diesel mystic’ to come up with the interest rate or fixed exchange rate!
These rates can’t be so divorced from reality as in inflation and trade
deficit. Should this happen, the ‘mazhero’ will be back with a vengeance!

From a theoretical standpoint, the moral hazard of rent seeking can be
considerable. If "buying" a favourable regulatory environment is cheaper
than building more efficient production, a firm will choose the former
option, reaping incomes entirely unrelated to any contribution to total
wealth or well-being. This results in a sub-optimal allocation of
resources — money spent on lobbyists and counter-lobbyists rather than on
research and development, improved business practices, employee training, or
additional capital goods — which retards economic growth. Claims that a firm
is rent seeking, therefore, often accompany allegations of government
corruption, or the undue influence of special interests. This affects
inflation since money will exchange hands without any production or value
addition.

Rent seeking may be initiated by government agents, such agents soliciting
bribes or other favours from the individuals or firms that stand to gain
from having special economic privileges, which opens up the possibility of
exploitation of the consumer. It has been shown that rent seeking by
bureaucracy can push up the cost of production of public goods. It has also
been shown that rent seeking by tax officials may cause loss in revenue to
the national purse (Zimra).

Corruption also undermines economic development by generating distortions
and inefficiency. In the private sector, corruption increases the cost of
business through the price of illicit payments themselves, the management
cost of negotiating with officials, and the risk of breached agreements or
detection. Although some claim corruption reduces costs by cutting red tape,
the availability of bribes can also induce officials to contrive new rules
and delays. Openly removing costly and lengthy regulations is better than
covertly allowing them to be bypassed by using bribes.

Where corruption inflates the cost of business, it also distorts the playing
field, shielding firms with connections from competition and thereby
sustaining inefficient firms, which fail to produce to meet demand. And the
shortage of goods will result in inflation as all the money available chases
after the little that’s available.

Besides pushing inflation, corruption also generates economic distortions in
the public sector by diverting public investment into capital projects where
bribes and kickbacks are more plentiful. Officials may increase the
technical complexity of public sector projects to conceal or pave way for
such dealings, thus further distorting investment. Corruption also lowers
compliance with construction, environmental, or other regulations, reduces
the quality of government services and infrastructure, and increases
budgetary pressures on government.

University of Massachusetts researchers estimated that from 1970 to 1996,
capital flight from 30 sub-Saharan countries totalled US$187bn, exceeding
those nations' external debts. In the case of Africa, one of the factors for
this behaviour was political instability and corruption, and the fact that
new governments often confiscated previous governments’ corruptly obtained
assets. This encouraged officials to stash their wealth abroad, out of reach
of any future expropriation.

In contrast, corrupt administrations in Asia like Suharto’s have often taken
a cut on everything (requiring bribes), but otherwise provided more
conditions for development, through infrastructure investment, law and
order.

Gilbert Muponda is a Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur, living in exile. He can be
contacted at gilbert@gilbertmuponda.com


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Condemnation for Zimbabwe government intervention in Christian service


The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has unequivocally
condemned the arrest of Christians who were charge with the crime of holding
unauthorised service – only pro-Kunonga service may be held.
By: Christian Today Australia
Posted: Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 11:19 (EST)

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has unequivocally
condemned the arrest of Christians who were charge with the crime of holding
unauthorised service – only pro-Kunonga service may be held.

Currently, the Zimbabwe Anglicans are divided between former Anglican
bishop, Nolbert Kunonga, and the current Anglican bishop, Sebastian Bakare,
since the former bishop had his licence revoked after illegally splitting
with the Central African Anglican province citing the homosexuality issue.

Dr. Williams, in a press statement, said he was appalled that the state
machinery could be used to intimidate opponents of the deposed bishop and
added he stood in unity both with the bishops in the Province of Central
Africa and also in Harare.

The secretary-general of the Anglican Communion, Reverend Kenneth Kearon,
also expressed his disquiet over the Zimbabwean government intervention in
church activities, saying they were resorting to violence which was ‘deeply
deplorable.’

“The situation with respect to the Anglican Church in Harare is a matter
of grave concern to all in the Anglican Communion,” Revd. Kearon said.

“Bishop Kunonga's close ties with President Robert Mugabe are of deep
concern to many and the resort to violent disruption has been widely
deplored.”

This concern where Bishop Kunonga was seen as too close to the Zimbabwe
government was expressed by Revd. Kearon. His remark was supported by Dr.
Rowan Williams who revealed his frustration at Bishop Kunonga refusal to
maintain an independent line from the government.


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Zimbabwe issues new flood warnings amid heavy rains, situation worsens in Mozambique

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: January 16, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Officials in economically ravaged Zimbabwe issued new
warnings Wednesday of floods, as fears grew that flooding in neighboring
Mozambique would be more extensive than in 2001 when 800 people died.

Mozambican authorities said at least 60,000 people had been evacuated and
22,000 houses were under water. But they were optimistic they could keep
loss of life to a minimum — seven flood-related deaths have been reported so
far — thanks to their disaster prevention strategy.

Torrential rains in Zambia and Zimbabwe have swollen the mighty Zambezi
river — Africa's fourth longest — to well above the flood limit, with
valleys in Malawi and Mozambique bearing the brunt as the waters hurtle down
toward the Indian Ocean.

Zimbabwe's state radio said Wednesday that flooding risks were on the
increase as the water flowing from the Zambezi into the Cahora Bassa dam in
Mozambique was pushed back upstream into the Muzarabani and Dande areas of
Zimbabwe where at least 600 villagers have already lost their homes, crops
and livestock in flood waters.

The official Herald newspaper said the government offered flood victims 220
kilometers (140 miles) northeast of Harare in Muzarabani — which means flood
plain in the Shona language spoken in the region — food, parcels of land on
a state-owned agricultural estate and assistance to build houses on higher
ground. The government also promised to help evacuate people at risk from
the waters.

At least 27 people have died in Zimbabwe, where rains since early December
are reportedly the heaviest since record keeping began in the colonial era.
Most of the victims were swept away by flooded rivers.
In rain-lashed towns, drinking water and power outages have worsened.
Chronic shortages of hard currency and the world's highest inflation have
made it difficult for utilities to buy imported equipment.

In Mozambique — which is one of the world's poorest countries — contingency
planning began last October for this year's rainy season.

Two helicopters are monitoring the river valleys, said Paulo Zucula, the
director of the National Institute for Natural Disasters Management. Crews
"are telling the boats where to find isolated groups of people," said
Zucula.

Rescuers are using 16 motor boats, 10 of them on the Zambezi, assisted by
the canoes of local farmers and fishermen.

Zucula said authorities were moving the displaced directly to areas
previously set aside for such resettlement. Families are expected to build
their own houses, and in return they are given food.

The charity World Vision noted the peak of the rainy season was due in
mid-February.

"Disaster prevention work is helping to reduce the likelihood of a high
death toll like we saw in 2001," World Vision emergency officer Amos
Doornbos said. "But those affected are the very vulnerable whose crops were
wiped out last year and who have now lost their livelihood again."

In Zambia, President Levy Mwanawasa was headed to his country's south to
survey flood damage, and appealed to foreign donors for financial aid. A key
road linking eastern Zambia to the capital city was cut off Tuesday due to
flooding.

At least one flood-related death, of a man swept away in Zambia's flooded
Magoye river, has been reported.

___

Camillo contributed to this report from Maputo, Mozambique. Associated Press
Writer Joseph J. Schatz contributed from Lusaka, Zambia.


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Makoni, Tsvangirai & Mutambara: wise men from the East?

New Zimbabwe

By Dr Alex T. Magaisa
Last updated: 01/17/2008 02:41:18
THE Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe is a land of the incredible beauty. The
great mountain ranges from Nyanga, Chimanimani down to Vumba form a stunning
landscape that showcases the best of nature’s choreography.
The misty peaks, sharp and jagged granite spikes, the mixture of exotic and
indigenous forests competing for space on the undulating landscape
punctuated by streams and rivers, combine to create an almost serene
atmosphere.

It overlooks a rolling countryside, beautiful valleys and perennial pools,
which, some natives swear, are sacred. It is over this incredible landscape
that, every day, the sun makes its glorious entrance into Zimbabwe.

With such a rich and beautiful backdrop, it is, perhaps, natural that the
natives of this beautiful land are a cheerful lot, endowed a priceless sense
of humour.

Just as it delivers the backdrop to a brilliant sunrise, this land has
bequeathed to the Zimbabwean nation a multitude of great sons and daughters
in various fields of endeavour. But few have had luck in politics.

Few are highly spoken of as Chief Rekayi Tangwena, the man who led a young
Robert Mugabe to join the guerrillas in Mozambique at the height of the
liberation struggle in the 1970s. He symbolises the struggle against land
dispossessions by the minority regime in the 1960s. The man is a legend. And
then there is Herbert Chitepo, Zimbabwe’s first black barrister and a
revered leader of the then revolutionary Zanu party – but a life brutally
severed in its prime.

Edgar ‘Twoboy’ Tekere, is another veteran of the liberation struggle, the
man who was by Mugabe’s side as they were led to Mozambique by Chief
Tangwena. Ever the independent man, he was one of the first to wriggle out
of Mugabe’s grip in 1989. Through the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM), he led
serious opposition to Mugabe’s leadership and ridiculous plans for a
one-party state in the 1990 elections. They were brave efforts but they were
in vain. Over the years, he rolled over to the margins, only making
occasional comments, and only recently a book. The only remaining chance is
as a prop, not a leader of men and women.

The story of this region would be incomplete without mention of the Reverend
Ndabaningi Sithole, the original Zanu leader. But he too, fell by the
wayside and attempts in the 1990s to summon opposition when he returned from
exile did not achieve tangible support. The Zanu PF leadership never forgave
him, even in death.

The list of luminaries native to these eastern lands, ranging from politics,
business, academia to sport is so long it could fill a whole book. But one
cannot help but detect a common thread running right through the political
careers of the sons of this land: so much promise, so much potential but
always destined for an early sunset.

With such a rich political background, it is no surprise that two men
leading the current struggle against Mugabe hail from this beautiful land of
the Samanyika. Both Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai have roots in
this land. But they too, like their eminent predecessors, have encountered
great obstacles in their respective paths towards national leadership. Their
talent and appeal is undoubted but a combination of factors has ensured that
they are yet to crack the leadership code.

It is interesting, therefore, that the man reported variously in the media
to be the latest in the line of Mugabe’s challengers is yet another
illustrious native of Manicaland. But beyond the shared geographical origin,
there is little to connect the new man, Simba Makoni, and fellow
challengers, Tsvangirai and Mutambara. The man, Simba Makoni, has been Zanu
PF through and through. Zanu PF flows in his veins.

One of the youngest of the post-independence cabinet, it was not long before
he was designated to the then young regional organisation SADCC (now SADC),
where he served as General Secretary for many years. Critics say his tenure
at SADCC is not without controversy, though the charges have never been
clear.

It was thought that he was earning apprenticeship in the science of
government, in preparation for eventual leadership of the country. After
all, he was a young man who could only learn and wait for his chance later
in life, presumably, when the old hands retired. But he returned, waited and
the old hands are refusing to retire, though the country is collapsing.
Along with like-minded counterparts in the party, he must be a frustrated
man.

Makoni has a certain stature, urbane appearance and exudes an aura that
makes his presence difficult to ignore. There is an air of sophistication
about the man which, even suspicious anti-Zanu PF folks cannot dismiss. He
looks and carries himself like the modern, 21st century leader, suave and
well-spoken, a refined politician that you could possibly trust with the
future. It is no surprise, therefore, that his name is often mentioned, when
people have talked about credible “alternatives from within”, a euphemism
for internal opposition within Zanu PF.

The reaction of the leadership, going by the vitriol spewed in the state
media, seems to indicate a high level of discomfort with reports of the
manoeuvres of the pro-Makoni group. If he didn’t pose a threat, they would
dismiss him out of hand; not even mention him – but they are dedicating
whole columns to it. Someone somewhere is feeling uncomfortable.

Yet he too suffers from charges similar to those that have dogged his fellow
native of the East – Mutambara. It is the questions that enquire into his
whereabouts during the many ears that people have been suffering. Why was he
quiet all along?, people are bound to ask before entrusting their allegiance
to his leadership.

Margaret Dongo once called his likes “Mugabe’s wives” – a reference to their
submissiveness and inability to openly challenge Mugabe. Mutambara has
called them cowards, for the same reason. There is also the charge that he
is still “one of them”, which, even if it lacks basis, is a public
perception that is difficult to dislodge.

But more importantly, there is the question whether he has sufficient
grassroots support that is necessary to make an effective challenge. Being a
capable and marketable politician to the urbane, sophisticated voter is one
thing. Attracting the passionate and faithful allegiance of the
foot-soldiers in the streets and rural enclaves is quite another, perhaps
more arduous task. The MDC controls the urban vote and he would struggle to
win their hearts and minds carrying a Zanu PF ticket. The rural vote is even
harder to capture, a task made worse, without sufficient time to set up
structures.

But, who knows, perhaps the discontentment within Zanu PF is so profound
that Makoni has powerful backers that could capture the structures and
deliver the much-needed grassroots support? It is likely that Makoni knows a
lot more than we do about the rotten core of the Zanu PF political machine.

The enormity of his task, though, cannot be underestimated. There is simply
no time between any official announcement of political intentions that have
been strongly rumoured of late and the proposed election in March. Perhaps
he and his backers wish to exploit the “shock-value” that comes with the
announcement just prior to the election, giving instant vitality to the
political campaign. A lot will depend on how well the news of his challenge
will be received, if it happens at all. It is a huge but brave gamble.

There is a sense that he is viewed favourably by the international
community, by which reference is made to the West. He is the one Zanu PF man
who has consistently appeared and spoken at such grand occasions like the
World Economic Forum.

His public views have tended to be critical of the path taken by the
Zimbabwe government, if not in principle, then in terms of implementation.
This has caused consternation within the party, Information Minister
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu reportedly referring to him as a “sell-out” in the wake of
his more recent critical statements. That the BBC made a grand affair of
reporting his emerging challenge is also indicative of the reception that he
is likely to get in the Western media. There has long been a view that the
most effective challenge to the Mugabe regime would be from those within his
party.

Whatever the case, there are some positive aspects about the developments.
It has long been known that there are reformists within Zanu PF, although
they have been too scared to come out. The party has always presented itself
as a strong unit, surviving the rough waters of internal factionalism but
there has always been disgruntlement simmering under the surface. A split
Zanu PF is more likely to divide its electoral base than split the
opposition vote. To that extent, the current opposition need not fear.

But one hopes that the reported internal opposition in Zanu PF is not a ruse
engineered to further the overall party cause to retain power: create an
appearance of division designed to achieve a greater objective. But the
reaction of the leadership suggests this is more serious. And there are far
too many reputations to protect to be used in such clandestine machinations.

These are interesting times. The new entrance could either fall flat
completely or reinvigorate politics in Zimbabwe, as the country heads
towards yet another election. But Makoni, Tsvangirai and Mutambara may look
back at the path well travelled by illustrious sons from their shared native
lands. They will find that none of them made it, despite the abundance of
talent, courage and charisma. They are just but three men joining a long
list of celebrated sons and daughters that have tried and failed.

They stand there, like the biblical wise men from the east, but whether one
or all of them bear good news to an expectant nation is yet to be known.

Meanwhile, the sun will rise beautifully over the Eastern Highlands, just as
it has done for centuries. The hills have eyes, they say. Sure enough they
have seen signs and daughters try and fail. It remains to be seen whether
they will witness success, and live to tell generations to come.

Alex Magaisa is based at Kent Law School, UK and can be contacted at
wamagaisa@yahoo.co.uk or a.t.magaisa@kent.ac.uk


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MDC must abandon talks

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 16 January 2008 11:24
John Makumbe

It has now become very clear that the ruining Zanu (PF) party of Robert
Mugabe does not intend to hold free and fair elections come March 2008. I
have always stated that the master of deception, Zanu (PF), is leading the
MDC up the garden path. Sometimes I am astounded by the level of naivete
that the MDC displays from time to time regarding the political machinations
of Mugabe and his party.
It befuddles my mind how any politically conscious Zimbabwean can ever
imagine that they can ever agree to implement measures that will result in
them being democratically ousted from political office. I have also
consistently stated that if Mugabe ever accepts conditions that effectively
promote free and fair elections then he does not qualify to be labelled a
dictator.
A dictator cannot be removed from political office through legitimately
democratic means. It therefore stands to reason that all that the MDC and
Zanu (PF) have agreed upon through the mediation talks is little more than
efforts aimed at hoodwinking the SADC and the generality of the people of
this country.
The insistence by the deceptive Zanu (PF) that the allegedly agreed
transitional constitution should only come into force after the 2008
elections is a clear indication that Mugabe and his party are not in any way
serious about resolving the worsening Zimbabwe crisis.
The MDC owes it to the people of this country to insist that no elections
shall be held under the current Lancaster House Constitution which the
stinking Mugabe regime has amended some eighteen times since Independence.
History has amply demonstrated that any elections held under this deceptive
constitution would necessarily be contested because the legal basis is
grossly deformed and defective. Indeed, the only reason why Zanu (PF)
prefers to hold the 2008 elections under the current constitution is that it
can effectively manipulate the whole electoral process to its own advantage.
The MDC will have sold the people of this country right down the river if it
agrees to participate in the 2008 elections under the current constitution.
The MDC must also insist that all the agreed changes to the various laws in
this country should come into force before the holding of any elections. We
are aware that the opposition MDC is currently experiencing problems in
holding campaign rallies, especially in rural areas.
It is imperative that all political parties are able to stage campaign
rallies anywhere in the country before there can be elections that can be
deemed to be free and fair. Further, there is no way that all the agreed
changes can be effected by March 2008. It is therefore obvious that the Zanu
(PF) plan to hold the elections in March is aimed at ensuring that none of
the agreed changes to the status quo will have any meaningful impact on the
electoral process and results.
Sadly, the MDC had foolishly sold its heart and soul to Zanu (PF) when it
voted in support of Constitutional Amendment 18 and the peripheral
adjustments to POSA, AIPPA and the BSA. In many ways, it is a little too
late to cry foul now for the MDC. Perhaps the only way to salvage the
situation is to refuse to participate in the forthcoming deceptive
elections.
Let the rotten Mugabe regime sweat it out. Allow Thabo Mbeki to inform the
SADC that the mediation talks have reached a deadlock. Why should the MDC be
used to legitimise and clean up the filthy dictator? Regime change is
imminent and there is no need to panic. The people of Zimbabwe are
strong-willed and determined to resist the tyrant to the bitter end.


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Q&A: ‘We Want to Prepare Voters For the Election and the Post-Election Scenario’

IPSnews

Interview with Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the NCA

HARARE, Jan 16 (IPS) - "If you run an inherently unfair election it will
lead to political unrest in a post- election scenario," Lovemore Madhuku,
chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) told IPS.

"We are seeking to explain how a flawed electoral system like the one we
have in Zimbabwe can easily be manipulated, resulting in an election losing
value," Madhuku explained.

The NCA -- a grouping of Zimbabwean citizens and civic organisations
including: labour movements, students and youth, women, churches, business
groups, human rights organisations and political parties -- was formed here
in 1997 to campaign for constitutional reform. Zimbabwe is still using an
outdated 1979 Lancaster House Constitution.

NCA received worldwide acclaim following a successful "NO" Vote campaign
during the February 2000 referendum on a new constitution. Since then, the
NCA has been at loggerheads with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s
government.

The organisation is now organising what it calls a "special type" of voter
education campaign in rural areas ahead of presidential, parliamentary and
local government elections to be held in March.

IPS Zimbabwe Correspondent Tonderai Kwidini spoke to Madhuku about the new
campaign:

Lovemore Madhuku: It is a special type of voter education. We are basically
educating people on why it is necessary for them to go and vote in an
election, explaining in detail why it is also important to vote in an
election, which is free and fair.

We are seeking to explain how a flawed electoral system like the one we have
in Zimbabwe can easily be manipulated resulting in an election losing value.

Essentially we are telling them that an election is not just joining a queue
and casting a ballot but it is about voting with confidence without any fear
that the election might be rigged. We are emphasising a new people driven
and democratic election.

IPS: You to call it a "special type" of voter education?

LM: It is not technical in nature but simply seeks to arm the voter with the
capacity to challenge a voting anomaly. If people go to vote expecting
change, if it does not come, they must be satisfied with the outcome and
understand fully why it did not come.

We want to cultivate a post election environment where Zimbabwean citizens
will understand why a certain result will have come out. We want to prepare
voters for an election and the post-election scenario. The elections will
not have any meaning if they are held in the current hostile environment.

IPS: Zimbabwe is going to have elections in March. Are there any signs that
the people you are reaching will have reason not to vote?

LM: Absolutely. There is still lack of freedom in the country. The media is
still muzzled. Newspapers -- which were closed -- are yet to be opened, and
everything is still being done as a secret and yet elections are a public
event. Freedom of association and assembly is still not there and Mugabe is
still using the all-powerful state apparatus to crush any descent including
the all powerful police and army forces.

IPS: In the aftermath of the post-Kenyan election violence what can Zimbabwe
learn as it goes into an election in March?

LM: The biggest lesson is that an independent electoral body, which is
transparent, should run the election and that there should be a very
transparent and quick way of solving electoral disputes.

If you run an inherently unfair election it will lead to political unrest in
a post election scenario. The other lesson is that elections are not a
simple issue that any person can just play around with, manipulating
results, and runaway with it.

IPS: When did you start this campaign and whom are you specifically
targeting?

LM: We started in November 2007 and intensified it around Christmas time
through Christmas parties because we wanted to take advantage of the
increased numbers of people who were in the rural areas at that time for the
festive holiday. We are not targeting any specific group of people -- ours
is a broad-based campaign reaching out to all Zimbabweans of different walks
of life.

We are running this programme on a village level. So far we have been to
Manicaland Province [eastern Zimbabwe] and Mashonaland East and Central
[central Zimbabwe].

IPS: Zimbabweans -- as witnessed by voter apathy experienced in recent
elections -- seem to have lost interest in the country’s electoral process.
How are you cultivating voter interest at this time of hopelessness?

LM: It is this hopelessness that we are trying to take away from them and
cultivate interest by preparing them for the post-election scenario where
probably the change that they might be hoping for will not come. We want
them to still be able to pick up the pieces after the elections and ask
‘what can we do.’ We will come back and emphasise the need for a democratic
and people centred constitution.

IPS: What has been the response to the campaign?

LM: It has surprisingly been overwhelming -- although many people have been
asking why they should be participating in an election whose electoral
frameworks are not fair.

We have been telling them that it is important for them to vote, but we
emphasise what sort of environment they should be voting in. As NCA we have
been advocating that it is useless to participate in an election until the
country gets a new democratic constitution --but we cannot stop those who
want to participate in elections.

IPS: During the last presidential elections Zimbabweans were expectant and
went to vote eagerly expecting that their vote will finally bring an end to
Mugabe’s rule. But, that did not happen and opposition groups claimed
electoral fraud, do you share the same view?

LM: The problem is that the opposition gospel has been that Mugabe must go.
They have not been preparing people for a scenario, which will happen if
Mugabe does not go.

IPS: Your organisation has been at odds with the government?

LM: There have been interferences from the police and state security agents.
We are still waiting to hear from owners of the homesteads that we visited
if they received any reprisals for hosting our programmes.

IPS: Are you working with any other organisations, which are also involved
in voter education campaigns, such as: Artists for Democracy in Zimbabwe
Trust (ADZT), Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN), and Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC)?

LM: Not necessarily. These partners are dealing with technical aspects of
elections, such as voter registration, while we are into civic education of
the old type.

IPS: Do you think there is enough electoral information being channelled to
the people of Zimbabwe with just under two months to go before the election?

LM: There is clearly not enough. Everything is being done in secret. All we
hear is that the delimitation commission is parcelling out constituency
boundaries -- how that is being done only God knows. We do not even know how
many voters have been registered so far, it all remains Mugabe and his party’s
secret.


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'These queues have become unofficial MDC rallies'

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 16 January 2008 11:29
BY CHIEF REPORTER
HARARE

Serious cash shortages across the country and queues of thousands of
angry depositors outside banking halls worsened in the last week, playing
havoc with the election campaign of President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu
(PF) party.
Pavements in the centre of the capital, Harare, are clogging daily as
queues wind sometimes in three coils round the block and depositors wait for
around six hours to be served. In downtown Harare, people sleep in sanitary
lanes in banking lines stretching sometimes 100-metres long.
Often the reward is minimal. Many banks are still rationing their
customers to between Z$20million and $50 million. But the need is frequently
desperate, demonstrated by the occasional fist fights over queue jumping.
At points along the queues, knots of people can be seen talking, often
animatedly.
"These queues have become unofficial MDC rallies," said a security
guard at one commercial bank downtown Harare. "Everybody shouts about Gono,
Mugabe and Zanu (PF)."
Central back chief Gideon Gono blames the crisis on cash barons who he
accuses of holding on to huge sums of cash, which he claims is fuelling the
black market.
His desperate measures last month to introduce three higher
denomination notes, a Z$250,000 note, a Z$500,000 and Z$750,000 bill have so
far been a spectacular flop.
Maria Moyo, an office clerk queuing for cash at Beverly Building
Society along Robert Mugabe Avenue, launched into a furious tirade against
Gono and Mugabe when she was approached by The Zimbabwean to comment on the
cash crisis.
"Gono and Mugabe are monumental failures and they should just go," she
charged. "Can you believe that I have not been able to withdraw my bonus
which I earned on December 15 and this January 14? This is money I worked
for. It wasn't a donation."
Another furious depositor at CBZ said he had totally lost confidence
in the banking system and said he was better off doing "pillow banking."
Economists say the shortage of cash in the country is not a result of
cash barons as Gono claims, but that the Z$100 trillion currently in
circulation is inadequate for 11,9 million people.  Experts say if this cash
is divided equally among say six million economically active people, there
would only Z$16,6 million for each person, only enough to buy a 50ml tube of
Colgate toothpaste.
"The country is operating in a hyper-inflationary environment, which
requires huge volumes of cash to complement the skyrocketing prices in the
economy," Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group chief economist David Mupamhadzi
said.
Godfrey Kanyenze, chief economist for the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions, which is weighing mass protests over the cash shortages, said there
was no incentive for keeping cash in the bank.
"What's the point of depositing money when you can't get it out?" he
said.
Critics say Gono, as an unelected official has become overly powerful,
and many wonder where he gets the power to change rules governing
privately-owned money without having to go to Parliament, without
consultation with the financial sector or commercial bankers.
Just two weeks ago he unilaterally reversed a decision to phase out
the Z$200,000 note, after persuading individuals and retailers to deposit
the bill with banks, saying it would be as "good as manure" after December
31. He claimed the note had been siphoned out of the banking system by black
market foreign currency dealers.

 


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Mutambara MPs see easy ticket in Tsvangirai

Nehanda Radio

16 January 2008

By Elijah Mangwengwende
WITH only two months left for the historic harmonised elections, (providing
a chance, God willing, to liberate Zimbabwe hopefully once and for all), I
am surprised that the MDC leadership is still dithering on whether to unite
before the elections.

I read almost daily that the issue stopping the potential unification is
that some sitting MDC MPS want to cling on to their constituencies without
going through primary elections just for the silly reason that their terms
were cut short by two years.

These are the people who cry for democracy day in and day out while they are
trying to hang on to their dear “jobs” as MPS. Politics is not a life
career; its not employment. Politics is service to the people, whether for
one day or for ten years. But politicians must get the mandate to serve from
the people. It is a shame that the noble idea to achieve unity will be
scuttled by a few selfish people. I doubt very much if some of our
politicians are there to serve Zimbabwe and its people. Power indeed
corrupts.

One point that the MDC MPS should remember is that people did not elect them
because of their election promises or their standing in society. People vote
for the party above individuals. They should ask former MP Munyaradzi
Gwisai. He will tell them the truth about MDC supporters.

Although there is a great potential of dividing votes in favour of Zanu-PF
in the event that Arthur Mutambara and Welshman Ncube chose to cause
confusion through fielding separate candidates, I don’t think it will be of
great significance. I know the people of Zimbabwe know what they want, who
they want to govern them and in the case of MDC I am sure there is no need
for debate, MDC supporters know their leader, in Gwanda, Matobo, Nyanga, and
Buhera and across Zimbabwe people only know Morgan Tsvangirai.

So if the MDC unites it is only because some members of the breakaway
faction now realise that their political careers could be over within two
months. Take Priscilla Misihairambwi Mushonga in Glen View. Can she stand a
chance against any candidate supported by Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti?
Take Job Sikhala in St Mary’s; does he stand a chance against any candidate
representing the mainstream MDC of Morgan Tsvangirai?

People have short memories, I remember in 2000, soon after elections we had
to move around with Remius Makuwaza introducing him to the people way after
he had won the elections. When the people voted they were just looking for
the MDC symbol, not the individual candidate. The MDC started as a project
to liberate Zimbabwe and that dream goes on with or without anyone who
thinks he or she is so important that Zimbabwe cannot do without them. The
struggle continues, driven by people.

With or without unity, the people must decide who represents them through
primary elections to avoid in-fighting and permanent damage within the
movement. Anyone who dreams of retaining a seat unopposed must join any
undemocratic party they want. I am confident that the Tsvangirai MDC will
never allow people to hang onto their seats without going through primaries.
Nobody should be above the MDC except for the masses.


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Part Of Zimbabwe Opposition Declares Itself Ready For March Elections

VOA

By Carole Gombakomba
Washington
15 January 2008

The Zimbabwean opposition formation led by Arthur Mutambara has declared
itself ready and willing to take part in March elections despite complaints
from a rival faction and civic groups that say time is too short to organize
national elections.

The government of President Robert Mugabe, who seeks re-election, stepped up
the pace late last week by gazetting legislation amending security, media
and electoral laws which passed with bipartisan support in December. The
publication of the amendments signaled that Mr. Mugabe had signed them into
law.

Optimists say the amendments make for a more level electoral playing field –
but most opposition politicians say much more must be done, and that an
election date cannot be set until opposition-ruling party crisis resolution
talks are completed and the resulting accords put into effect, especially in
violence-prone rural areas.

Civil society legal experts said they were carefully examining whether
elections can be legally held in March, given that an election date has not
been announced, and that President Mugabe has yet to dissolve parliament and
call a general election.

They said the legal issues were complicated by last year's passage of a
constitutional amendment providing for simultaneous local, general and
presidential elections.

But spokesman Gabriel Chaibva of the Movement for Democratic Changve
grouping led by Arthur Mutambara told reporter Carole Gombakomba that his
formation believes the laws are clear and it is ready to contest elections
in March.


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Dialysis equipment lies idle in government hospitals

The Zimbabwean

 Wednesday, 16 January 2008 13:19

HARARE-DIALYSIS equipment that was brought into the country from overseas
last year is still lying idle at state hospitals while renal patients are
forking out huge sums of money every week to access treatment at a private
hospital in Harare.
Several government hospitals have been hard-hit by massive exodus of
specialists citing poor salaries as well as poor working conditions.The
Renal Services of Zimbabwe has appealed to the relevant authorities to
finalise with the suppliers, the paperwork, which is delaying the
commissioning of the equipment.In 2006 government initiated the bringing in
of at least 80 dialysis machines from abroad and these were distributed to
state run hospitals bearing in mind the geographical set up.Mpilo hospital
in the south region got 20 machines and in the north, Harare where the
majority of referral patients are sent got 40 machines, with 20 of them
being set up at Harare hospital and the other 20 at Parirenyatwa.
Chitungwiza received the remaining 18 machines while Masvingo, Gweru and
Mutare were expected to be catered for soon. However, all the machines are
still lying idle at the four state run hospitals while renal patients are
travelling as far as Bulawayo to access treatment at the private Harare
Hemodialysis centre. Chairman of Renal Services of Zimbabwe Dr Obediah Moyo
said "despite efforts by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to have
the machines installed as a matter of urgency, delays by the supplier to
finalise the paperwork is hampering their use," he said.
A patient on hemodialysis requires at least 13 hours of treatment per week
which translates to about an average of at least 4˝hrs on the machine at a
time.Dr Moyo who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Chitungwiza hospital
said the country is recording increased cases of renal failure due to
several conditions like hypertension which constitutes about a third of
renal patients. When the dialysis unit at Parirenyatwa hospital was still
operating an average of 60 patients could be attended to on a daily basis.
The procedure involves the cleaning and filtering of blood, getting rid of
harmful wastes and extra salt and fluids. It also controls blood pressure
and helps your body keep the proper balance of chemicals such as potassium,
sodium, and chloride. - CAJ News.


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Heavy Rains a Disaster for Farming

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Government mismanagement of the farming sector blamed for compounding
problems caused by massive flooding.

By Mike Nyoni in Harare (AR No. 150, 16-Jan-08)

Zimbabwe’s farmers had an auspicious start to the New Year, with heavy rains
which began in earnest on December 3. But analysts warn that the country
might nevertheless experience its worst food crisis yet, because of
widespread flooding which has revealed that the authorities were
poorly-prepared and had no back-up plan.

While there were early warnings that Zimbabwe would see above-normal
rainfall levels over the 2007-08 season, the government failed to advise
farmers when they should start planting.

Farmers were in a quandary over when they should start planting in earnest,
because in the past, October rains have been followed by a dry interval in
November and December, wiping out the young crops. People have then been
forced to replant from inadequate seed resources, and in drought years when
the rainy season has ended prematurely around March, the crops have been a
write-off.

Insufficient supplies of seed for the staple cereal, maize, and shortages of
fertilisers are a persistent problem, caused by the critical lack of foreign
currency in the economy over recent years.

This time round, there are widespread fears that the incessant rains
pounding the country could lead to crop failure, due to waterlogging and the
lack of sun.

In what some observers see as an early sign of climate change in Zimbabwe,
the month of December was described as the wettest since records were first
kept 127 years ago. The rains have led to massive flooding in most countries
in southern Africa, resulting in loss of life, livestock depletion and crop
destruction.

“In agriculture, we say rain makes grain, [yet] in Zimbabwe this year at
least we must say rain makes starvation,” said Renson Gasela, a former
general manager of the state monopoly Grain Marketing Board, and now
secretary for land and agriculture in one of two factions of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.

In the case of Zimbabwe, analysts say, the situation will be made worse by
the lack of forward planning. For example, when the authorities began
distributing tractors, harrows and ploughs to newly-resettled farmers in
October under the Agricultural Mechanisation Programme, it was already too
late - the equipment was never going to reach the majority of beneficiaries
in time for planting. Thus, when the rains began in early December, even
those who had received free seed and fertiliser from the government had not
done their planting.

Moreover, the seed available fell far short of the projected need. The
government had set a target of two million hectares under maize, which works
out at 50,000 tons of seed. However, only 30,000 tons were available at the
start of the rainy season, with the shortfall expected to be met through
imports from China.

“Limited quantities of seed were only available [at the] beginning of
December,” said Gasela. “This was obviously too late for the planting
season. What this means, therefore, is that there was not enough seed for
the targeted two million hectares. Most of the seed went to the soldiers for
Maguta.”

Maguta is a programme launched by the government three years ago to involve
military manpower in agriculture, in a desperate effort to boost food
production.

Gasela said that as of the end of December, less than 730,000 of the target
two million hectares had been planted.

“The incessant rains have prevented any further planting,” he said. “The
planted crops are waterlogged, are suffering from nitrogen deficiency and
are in need of sunshine. There is an acute shortage of top dressing
fertilisers. GMB [Grain Marketing Board] has none. The shops have none. The
country has none.”

President Robert Mugabe’s government appears to be in denial about the scale
of the shortfall in agricultural inputs. In response to the heavy rains this
week, the Department of Agricultural Extension Services advised farmers to
“increase fertiliser application on their crops to counter increased
leaching and waterlogging”. It did not explain where the farmers should
source the extra fertiliser.

Major fertiliser producers such as the Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, Zimbabwe
Phosphate Industries and Windmill have drastically scaled back production,
citing the high cost of raw materials and a lack of the foreign currency
needed to buy them. They have also accused government of setting sale prices
too low for them to be able to run at a profit.

Zimbabwe has experienced serious food shortages since the government
embarked on a land reform programme in 2000 which displaced white commercial
farmers and settled many senior ZANU-PF, army and police officials on
formerly productive lands.

Mugabe has often blamed food shortages on droughts, an excuse which will be
hard to sell this year.

Donors are likely to face renewed requests for food aid for hungry
Zimbabweans in the coming months.

“There will be massive shortages of food,” said Gasela. “With what reasons
do you approach donors after such a good rainfall season? When there is no
rain, Zimbabweans starve; when there are good rains, Zimbabweans still
starve.”

Mike Nyoni is the pseudonym of a journalist in Harare.


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No middle ground for crops between drought and deluge


BULAWAYO, 16 January 2008 (IRIN) - After six years of drought, the forecast
was that Zimbabwe was set for good rains and a decent harvest this season -
and then came the deluge.

The country has been pounded by torrential rains, with December 2007 the
wettest month in 127 years, according to the metrological department.
Localised flooding has claimed 21 lives, affecting around 5,000 people along
the southeastern border with Mozambique, and a further 3,000 in Muzarabani
district in the northeast of the country.

At the end of December the government declared a national disaster, with
emergency units keeping a close watch on flood prone areas, UN agencies
reported.

Farmers in flood-affected districts, who had planted early, trying to take
advantage of the predicted good rains, have seen their crops drowned, along
with hopes of a marketable surplus.

"We prayed for the rains but the rains have now caused us pain and
suffering," said a despairing Esther Chiwodza, a communal farmer in the
low-lying district of Chiredzi in Midlands Province.

She invested in seeds and fertiliser and planted early in October. "All the
crops I spent my entire savings on have been washed away and there is no
prospect of saving any crops, as the whole fields are waterlogged and the
remaining crops will not survive the current rains."

Neighbours lost livestock and homes collapsed. "After the rainy season is
over everyone in my village will become a candidate for food aid, and if the
donor agencies do not come we will starve to death," said Chiwodza.

Zimbabwe Farmers Union president Silas Hungwe said while the heavy rains had
delayed planting in some areas, and crops were waterlogged in others, it was
too early to tell what the impact on national production would be.

"We pray that we get a two to three weeks' let-up in rainfall so that we
save some of the crops, but if that does not happen then our crops will
die," Hungwe said.

Over 50 percent of Zimbabwe's grain is produced in the Mashonaland provinces
in the north, and Manicaland Province in the east; areas that have escaped
the worst of the flooding, noted James Breen, the UN's Food and Agricultural
Organisation regional emergency agronomist.

However, continued heavy rain will leach out what little fertiliser farmers
have been able to afford, "and that will have an effect on yield", Breen
said.

Farmers who lost their early crop would struggle to replant: "the
availability [of fertiliser] might be there, but the money to buy it might
not", he added.

Zimbabwe's food security situation has been precarious for the past six
years as a result of drought and an economic crisis that has seen inflation
hit a world record, and foreign exchange shortages squeeze fuel and spare
part supplies.

Over 4 million people - a third of the population - are expected to need
food aid until the harvest in March, which the government had predicted
would be a bumper crop. But while the heavy rains may play havoc with that
forecast,  Breen said they could help with the recovery of drought-hit
pasture in the livestock belt of the south and west of the country.

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


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A Zimbabwean visits South Africa



Bulawayo Morning Mirror

AN HYENAS ViEW OF LIFE !

A visit to Gauteng in South Africa is an experience not to be missed,
especially if one's
vehicle boasts Zimbabwe registration plates !!

Visiting Zimbabweans in Joburg can be identified quite easily because their
mouths hang
open awkwardly in a kind of looney grin, a cross between that of Disney's
Pluto the dog
with his tongue hanging out, and the inane leer of that hyena in The Lion
King, I forget
momentarily what his name is ..... was it perchance "Ed" ?

All these wonderful goods on the shelves for sale ? Oh my goodness, oh my
goodness ......

My sister in law cannot get over how excited I get about the smallest
things, things which
actually irritate the locals, but which give me immense joy.

Bread, hot fresh, soft sliced bread, sitting in aromatic mountains on the
shop shelves !!
Zimbabwe bread is usually baked at home or purloined from the back door of
the bakery
(sans anything even remotely resembling a plastic bag ) where queues stretch
as far as the
eye can see.

Milk, rows and rows of icy white containers and actually purchased in a
supermarket !!
Zimbabwe supermarkets have not had milk for many months now, rather go with
your
container to an unhygienic alley and decant your litre into an old mazoe
bottle (a very very
very old mazoe bottle as mazoe left our shelves six months ago !!)

Oh the joy of visiting a service station and saying "fill er up !!" with a
flourish !! In
Zimbabwe one keeps one's fuel in a 44 gallon drum in the store room and one
measures it
with a wooden stick to see that it does not "evaporate" and then decants it
gingerly (do not
spill a drop please Sebastian( who is my faithful retainer) !!) it is liquid
gold and very very
desirable !!

OMG And while you are at it Seb, check the oil and water, (the last time I
had my oil and
water checked at a garage was about five years ago !)

And the radio, oh the glorious multitudes of channels, all worth listening
too, lovely music,
brilliant diction, excellent commercials, how I miss a good old fashioned
radio show .....

Yesterday I went to the butchery section in a Cresta supermarket... (tongue
lolling out a la
Pluto ) ..... I fondled the meat lovingly, vacuum packed beautifully in
clean strong hygienic
packaging.. pink and beckoning.....

The last time I bought meat in Zim t arrived in a bloody lump in a second
hand fertiliser
bag, on the back of an open truck ..... I waved aside the flies and repacked
the meat into
used second hand Spar carrier bags, sucking the air out through a straw, a
kind of
Zimbabwean vacuum speciality of which the rest of the first world is totally
unaware !!

I gaze in awe at the "roller meal" the staple diet of 99% of Zimbabweans.
Packaged neatly
on S.A. supermarket shelves, in military rows.

I shudder as I remember my last roller meal purchase in Zimbabwe.

I was summoned secretively by "Under Cover Brother" who met me on the street
corner,
we drove together in chatty silence to an abandoned house in Killarney
Bulawayo, where a
sixty KG bag of "maize meal" was hoisted into my truck, courtesy of the
Zimbabwe
National Army !!

Much much changing of crisp new $750 thousand Zimbabwe dollars was
undertaken, and
after tasting said "maize meal" with a practised tongue to establish it was
not sand, I
sailed off happily with my bounty, leaving "Under Cover Brother" happily
arguing with RSM
Moyo about the booty !!

But back to a Zimbabwean in Gauteng in Zim registered number plates ....

I am an instant hit at every service station, every parking area, every
single intersection!!
Waves, smiles, thumbs up, the open handed MDC wave..... I get an aching face
and an
aching arm, as I greet the hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean exiles who
live in
Johannesburg and who are thrilled to see a Zim number plate and a friendly
face from
"home"..

After making excited small talk about whereabouts we are all from, and
talking about the
sad sad situation back home, my final spiel is always "Come home in March
and vote" your
country needs you like never before !!


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ZIMBABWE/UK: No welcome mat for asylum seekers


LONDON, 16 January 2008 (IRIN) - The British government's loud condemnation
of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe led many Zimbabweans to assume they could
find easy refuge in the United Kingdom: the reality for asylum seekers has
been far less straightforward.

According to Home Office figures, around 20,000 Zimbabweans sought asylum in
Britain between 2000 and 2007; of those, 4,807 applications were
successful - 944 of that total making it on appeal.

In 2000 - a year of state-sponsored election violence and land seizures in
Zimbabwe - 95 percent of 1,010 asylum applications were refused. In 2002,
after European governments condemned the conduct of presidential elections
held in March, 62 percent of 7,655 applications were rejected.

The number of asylum applications by Zimbabweans fell sharply from 2002, but
in 2006 began to rise, reaching 1,650 requests; the trend continued in 2007,
according to the Home Office. Successful applications, in terms of initial
asylum decisions made before appeals are heard, were stuck at just 8 percent
between 2004 and 2006, but rose to 19 percent in the last quarter of 2007.

A Home Office spokesperson, speaking to IRIN on condition of anonymity,
denied that the immigration department was setting the bar unfairly high for
Zimbabweans. "We know that the human rights situation is bad in Zimbabwe,
but not everyone is at risk," she said. "Every case is treated on its own
merits and those who need protection will get it; the remainder would be
encouraged to go back voluntarily, failing which they will be removed
forcibly."

No safety guarantees

The Refugee Council, the largest organisation in the UK working with asylum
seekers, insists that deporting failed Zimbabwean applicants heightens their
risk of persecution when they get home. "At the moment it's not safe to
return anybody to Zimbabwe, as their safety cannot be guaranteed," said
council spokesperson Hannah Ward. She alleged there were "anecdotal stories"
of people ill-treated once back on home soil.

For the past two years, forced removals of Zimbabwean asylum seekers has
been suspended due to a court case, but late last year the government won an
appeal against that decision, "and we are now in a legal limbo", said Ward.

"We've called it hypocritical that in countless statements the government
has condemned the Zimbabwean regime, but in the last two years the
government has been pursuing a really expensive court case fighting to be
able to remove Zimbabwean asylum seekers back to Zimbabwe," she argued.

Those caught up by the current legal dispute are denied the right to work or
claim benefits. According the Refugee Council, between October 2006 and
September 2007, 210 Zimbabweans opted to join a voluntary return programme,
qualifying them for a free bed and three meals a day. "We're worried people
agreed to go home to get that support," said Ward.

Aside from Zimbabweans seeking refugee status, there are many more believed
to be living and working in the country illegally. Chipo (not her real name)
spent six months in prison for using false papers to work as a child carer.
After completing her sentence she has spent a further seven months in Yarl's
Wood, a detention centre for immigration offenders and failed asylum
seekers. "They lock the door behind you wherever you go," she complained.
"The food is terrible and you cannot afford to buy any alternative with the
75 pence (US$1.50) they pay you per day." Chipo is awaiting an immigration
appeal hearing.

Gill Butler of the Yarl's Wood Befrienders, a group that visits and supports
the 400 people held in the facility, is blunt in her criticism of the
detention centre. "This should not be happening in a country that claims to
be civilized, human beings should not be treated like this," she told IRIN.

The criteria for asylum status is already extremely strict, but with media
coverage in Britain demonising refugees, "I think there is a concerted
policy effort to look for reasons to deny people asylum and to find ways to
remove them from the country," said Ward. "From our point of view, it's not
just Zimbabweans but asylum seekers in general."

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


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MDC-UK plans London demonstration



By Tichaona Sibanda
16 January 2008

Hundreds of exiled Zimbabweans are expected to stage a demonstration on
Saturday in the British capital to demand their right to vote in the
upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.
Organisers of the protest march, which starts in Trafalgar Square and ends
outside Zimbabwe House, are hoping the occasion will be graced by the
presence of the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

The Archbishop famously cut up his dog collar during a live BBC interview in
December last year and said he will not replace it until Robert Mugabe is
out of office. He said his gesture was prompted by the fact that Mugabe had
‘taken people’s identity’ and ‘cut it to pieces’ forcing him to do the same.
Jaison Matewu, one of the organisers of the MDC demo said apart from the
Archbishop, speakers will include Zimbabwe based MDC national organising
secretary Elias Mudzuri and Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro, secretary for
International Affairs. Also lined-up to speak is the Labour MP for Luton
North, Kelvin Hopkins.

‘I urge all fellow Zimbabweans to come to Trafalgar Square by 12 midday.
From the meeting point we will march to Zimbabwe House where our speakers
will address us,’ Matewu said.
Organisers are hopeful the demonstration will attract a lot of people as the
majority of exiled Zimbabweans are fed up with what is happening back home.
Matewu said this was the time for all Zimbabweans to come together and show
their disgust of the regime that has messed up the country.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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MDC to press ahead with demands for a new constitution



By Tichaona Sibanda
16 January 2008

In contradiction of reports of an imminent breakthrough at the South African
brokered crisis talks between Zanu-PF and the MDC, the opposition insisted
on Wednesday it would press ahead with its demands for the introduction of a
new constitution.

Since Tuesday, most major news outlets have led with reports that there
appears to be ‘real movement forward’ in talks to end the country’s
political crisis and reach a deal to pave the way for elections.

President Mbeki on Tuesday briefed the visiting Irish Prime Minister Bertie
Ahern on the outcome of his latest talks with the negotiating teams from
both sides. Mbeki reportedly told Ahern he would, in the next few days, be
engaged in some of the final aspects of the negotiations.

Even after Mbeki’s meeting with negotiators over the weekend in Pretoria
there still remain a number of ‘sticking points’ that stand in the way of an
agreement. A spokesman for the South African opposition Democratic Alliance
party, Martin Slabbert, said what this meant was that the talks were still
deadlocked and nothing of significance has happened even at the weekend
talks.

‘Evidence of this is the MDC’s plan to hold a protest march next week
Wednesday to demonstrate against a crumbling economy and press for a new
constitution it says will guarantee free and fair elections scheduled for
March. The man who has called for this protest is none other than Tendai
Biti, the MDC’s chief negotiator to the crisis talks,’ said Slabbert.

Slabbert told Newsreel that since Mbeki had made a public commitment to find
a lasting solution to the crisis, it was imperative for him to ensure that
elections in Zimbabwe only take place after the enactment of mutually agreed
constitutional amendments.

‘The people of Zimbabwe and South Africa deserve more than another false
dawn. If President Mbeki’s assurances given yesterday (Tuesday) amount to
mere posturing, he will be severely judged by both history and the
international and local communities,’ Slabbert said.

The MDC and Zanu-PF have agreed on a new draft constitution but there is a
deadlock over when it should be adopted. The MDC want it implemented before
national presidential and parliamentary elections, while ZANU-PF want it
after the vote.

Biti, the secretary-general of the Tsvangirai led MDC, on Wednesday briefed
journalists in Harare saying they were planning a ‘freedom walk’ intended to
highlight the suffering of Zimbabweans.

The MDC will also use the march to demand a new constitution before the
elections. Biti said the opposition had notified the police as required by
law and would meet law enforcement agents this week to discuss the protest
march, which has been set for January 23rd.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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