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Full text - Biti presents Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/?p=19882
 

July 16, 2009

Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti

Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti

THE following is the full text of the Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review presented in the House of Assembly by the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, on Thursday, July 16, 2009:

pdf_small Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review – July 2009


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Biti announces salaries for civil servants

http://www.swradioafrica.com

By Lance Guma
16 July 2009

Finance Minister Tendai Biti used a budget presentation Thursday to announce
that civil servants will now be paid salaries, in place of the current flat
US$100 allowance. He also scrapped import duty on all Information
Communication Technology (ICT) products like computers and cell phones. Duty
on capital investment equipment will be scrapped while duty on basic
commodities will be waived until November this year. Those importing
passenger type motor vehicles of 15-20 passengers will pay duty of 15
percent beginning August.

Biti did not give specific figures on how much teachers and other civil
servants will now earn in place of their allowances, but Newsreel
understands the Public Service Commission will make the announcements. The
last few weeks have seen several demonstrations from the Progressive
Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) demanding an increase in their wages. It
means they will have to wait a bit longer to be able to assess the new offer
from government.

Information Communication Technology Ministers Nelson Chamisa told Newsreel
he was happy that Biti's budget had acknowledged the importance of ICT in
developing the country. He said the scrapping of duty on products like
computers and cell phones should see an increase in the use of such devices,
both in the urban and rural areas.

Minister Biti meanwhile also announced that people with Zimbabwe Dollars
trapped in their accounts will have these converted into foreign currency.
He did not disclose what rate would be used in doing this. He quipped that
this was 'putting a tombstone on the graveside of the Zimbabwe dollar.' He
urged banks to encourage a 'cashless society' were people used credit and
debit cards, instead of carrying huge sums of money around.

Turning to agriculture, the Minister said he had allocated US$146 million to
help with inputs for small scale farmers. He said the government had a
target of 2 million metric tons of maize for next season, compared to this
years 1.2 million metric tons. Biti also used his speech to urge a
resolution of all the outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement
(GPA) saying without this foundation all their efforts would come to
nothing.


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Zimbabwe economy to grow 3.7 percent: minister

http://news.yahoo.com/

1 hr 53 mins ago
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's Finance Minister Tendai Biti on Thursday predicted
that the country's economy, ravaged by years of hyperinflation, would grow
by at least 3.7 percent by the end of the year.

Presenting the country's half-year national budget to parliament Biti also
ruled out the return of the Zimbabwe dollar in the near future, increased
the salaries of civil servants and slashed import duty on key raw materials.

"The country's GDP (gross domestic product) is poised to grow by 3.7
percent," Biti told lawmakers at a sitting also attended by Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai and deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara.

"The figure of 3.7 percent is a very pessimistic one," he said.

"The economy remains fragile and unable to sustain the return of the
Zimbabwe dollar," he added.

Biti said the growth would be spawned by "buoyant mineral prices on the
international market" and increased production in the manufacturing sector.

But he warned the economic "green shoots" were no reason for complacency,
urging the country's political leaders to stick to a power-sharing agreement
between Tsvangirai and long-ruling President Robert Mugabe, meant to haul
the country back from the brink of collapse.

"The green shoots of recovery that are beginning to sprout don't mean we are
out of the woods," Biti warned.

"Key to confidence building is the desire by all our partners to see that
the political agreement is working, the global political agreement is being
implemented to its letter and spirit and that there's no policy reversal.

"I urge our principals to ensure the credibility and integrity of the global
political agreement is respected not in terms of having tea together," he
said.

He bemoaned the state of the economy with its low revenue base and 70
percent of the meagre collections being swallowed by wage payments.

"Payment of a decent wage to our civil servants remains a priority," Biti
said. "The payment of the 100 US dollars, while welcome, has proved
inadequate."

The government was increasing the salaries of civil servants and the
salaries would vary according to experience and position, Biti said.

"The public service commission is working out a pay structure they will
announce in due course. I wish to commend civil servants for their
resilience."

Zimbabwe's unity government started paying civil servants in US dollars in
February to counter near worthless local salaries.

The move came after civil servants such as teachers, nurses and doctors
downed tools last year demanding that they paid in hard currency.

Zimbabwe's once-vibrant economy was shattered by a decade of world-record
hyperinflation that has left half the nation dependent on international food
aid, while unemployment was last estimated at 94 percent.


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Zimbabwe to vary state wages, issue bonds: report

http://af.reuters.com

Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:58am GMT

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe will change wages for state workers in a
mid-year budget review on Thursday and will also announce plans to issue
government bonds for grain purchases, a state-owned daily newspaper reported
on Thursday.

Analysts said they also expected Finance Minister Tendai Biti to cut some
taxes as part of reforms by a new unity government to lure foreign investors
to the battered economy.

The Herald quoted Biti as saying that he would also soon introduce proposals
in parliament to retire millions of dollars of debt incurred by Zimbabwe's
central bank in financing government programmes and when it raided some
private foreign currency bank accounts.

Biti said he was also going to announce what would happen to Zimbabwe dollar
deposits and cash which was rendered useless when the government introduced
the use of multiple foreign currencies in January to tame hyperinflation.

Wages for state workers, currently set at a flat monthly allowance of $100,
would be changed.

"We are going to vary the amount earned by civil servants," Biti said.

"The government will issue a paper for the support of the GMB (Grain
Marketing Board)," he added.

"We will issue grain bills in the sum of $10 million at a rate of about
seven percent and that will ensure that GMB will be adequately funded."

The GMB had recently been allocated $2 million for grain purchases, but the
state agency was saddled with a $1.5 million debt to farmers.

HYPERINFLATION

In January, Harare lifted a ban on the use of foreign currency to stem
hyperinflation that had rendered the Zimbabwe dollar almost worthless.

The move left Zimbabwe without an interbank market and reduced the central
bank to a simple supervisory role as it lacked foreign currency reserves to
be banker of last resort.

Eric Bloch, a businessman and leading economic commentator, said he expected
Biti to cut some taxes, including on oil imports, to try boost an economy
many say was destroyed under President Robert Mugabe's controversial
policies.

"The economy needs massive support to get off the ground, and investors are
looking for incentives, respect for private investment, security of tenure
and a competitive tax regime."

"The government is broke, I think the minister has an opportunity to
demonstrate that it is trying to address some of the outstanding issues," he
said.

A unity government formed by Mugabe and old arch-rival Morgan Tsvangirai,
now Zimbabwe's prime minister, says it needs about $10 billion in foreign
aid to help repair an economy which last year suffered an inflation rate of
over 230 million percent.

But many Western donors say they will only give massive support needed to
rebuild pot-holed roads, bare hospitals, dilapidated schools and ease 90
percent unemployment when the new administration has implemented radical
reforms.

Many Western countries imposed sanctions on Mugabe's ZANU-PF government over
charges of human rights abuses, vote-rigging and its seizures of white-owned
commercial farms for redistribution to blacks without paying compensation.

Mugabe, 85, and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, says
Zimbabwe's once-prosperous economy has been wrecked by sanctions and that
his land policy is aimed at correcting colonial injustices.


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Zimbabwe TV blacks out Finance Minister's budget statement

http://www.zimnetradio.com

By KING SHANGO
Published on: 16th July, 2009

ZIMBABWE - HARARE - State television on Thursday blacked out the eagerly
awaited supplementary budget presentation by Finance minister Tendai Biti.

The patently biased ZTV, broadcast a cartoon as Biti was presenting his
mid-term fiscal review policy to parliament.

Earlier, the infrastructure to beam the event live was set up outside
parliament, with a ZBC outside broadcasting van stationed outside the august
house.

It was not immediately clear why the ZTV did not beam the supplementary
budget statement.

This is the first budget statement that has been presented to Parliament
without live broadcast.

ZTV has shown its open bias in the inclusive government. The MDC information
department has been forced to write to ZTV CEO Happison Muchechetere
complaining about the blackout of party activities and the Prime Minister's
functions and press briefings.

The blackout of the Finance minister's statement was said to have been on
instructions from the information ministry, pointedly from George Charamba,
the permanent secretary in the ministry.

Charamba was not immediately available for comment.

With a civil servants' strike looming, Biti was expected to announce
improved benefits for state workers. Civil servants have already made it
clear they are ready to down tools if Biti cannot find the money to increase
their salaries.

At present, all civil servants earn the same - a paltry US100 a month and
teachers were particularly eagerly awaiting the budget statement.

Business was also miffed by the decision to blackout the supplementary
budget.

"Its surprising that they have taken this decision given how important this
presentation is," said a financial analyst in Harare.

Biti was expected to give an assessment of the performance of the unity
government against its agreed action plans and how much money government has
raised so far.

He has said it was presentation of his report card on the performance of the
economy.


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Police still detaining MDC activist after Monday's chaos

http://www.swradioafrica.com

By Tichaona Sibanda
16 July 2009

MDC activist Patrick Danga, who was arrested by the police while restraining
ZANU PF MP Patrick Zhuwawo from manhandling an MDC MP, is still detained at
Harare Central police station. Zhuwawo is also Robert Mugabe's nephew.

The MDC MP for Mutare Central, Innocent Gonese, told us on Thursday that
Danga has not been taken to court and is still detained, and yet the real
criminals, who threw bottles and disrupted proceedings at the
All-Stakeholders constitutional conference, remain free.

'In spite of there being video footage of the perpetrators of the chaos, to
date, no arrests have been made. Instead, an innocent young man, Patrick
Danga, whose only crime was trying to restrain Patrick Zhuwawo who was
manhandling Amos Chibaya (MDC) a member of the select committee, got
arrested,' Gonese said.

Gonese, who is the MDC chief whip in Parliament, blasted the police and the
attorney general's office for applying the law selectively. He said the MDC
believes all people must be equal before the law, adding 'these values must
be enshrined in a new people-driven constitution and inculcated in all our
law enforcement agents whose loyalty must be to the constitution and the
laws of the land and not to a political party.

'Just on Monday.in full view of television cameras, rogue elements of ZANU
PF, including legislators and war veterans, caused mayhem at the Harare
International Conference Centre but the police simply folded their arms and
took no action,' he said.

Equally disturbing he said, is the failure to prosecute various ZANU PF
luminaries who have been implicated in cases of the illegal mining and
smuggling of diamonds, gold and other precious minerals. Others have been
implicated in various shady deals but again nothing has happened, complained
the MP.

Commenting on the suspension of Chipinge West MP Mathias Mlambo from
attending Parliamentary sessions, the Mutare central legislator said this
was a calculated objective of achieving sinister political ends.
Mlambo was suspended from Parliament on Wednesday after he was recently
sentenced to 10 months in prison on trumped up charges of public violence by
a Chipinge magistrate.
The MP maintains his innocence and claims the charges he faced were
concocted by ZANU PF with the help of the police. The MP said he was working
with lawyers in the capital to lodge an appeal at the High court against the
suspension.

'In this instance one does not need to be a rocket scientist to figure out
that the intention of the politically motivated prosecution of members of
Parliament of the MDC is to reduce its numbers in Parliament,' Gonese added

He said the exuberance with which these cases have been pursued contrasts
sharply with the failure of the police to arrest the thousands of criminals
who were responsible for the madness that characterized last year's
presidential run-off.

'Police have been given reports of names of people who committed various
crimes such as murder, arson, public violence and rape but significantly,
virtually no arrests have been made,' he said


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President Mugabe warns NAM

http://www.newsnet.co.zw/index.php?nID=16238

Posted: Thu, 16 Jul 2009 13:30:34 +0200
The Head of State and President Cde Robert Mugabe has warned that the
Non-Aligned Movement faces renewed attempts by some western powers to
interfere in the internal affairs of the movement's member states.

The Head of State and President Cde Robert Mugabe has warned that the
Non-Aligned Movement faces renewed attempts by some western powers to
interfere in the internal affairs of the movement's member states.

Addressing the 15th NAM Summit in the Red Sea Resort town of Sharm El Sheikh
in Egypt, President Mugabe said "The big brother is watching " state of
affairs among NAM states is a grave danger to international peace and
security and should be dealt with decisively.

The President explained that the severity of the machinations by the western
has often manifested itself in the use of surreptitious and illegal attempts
to abuse the UN Security Council to unjustly push developing countries
through the imposition of illegal and unilateral sanctions and other
intimidatory measures and in some cases outright naked aggression against
those without military might where the western powers seek the overthrow of
constitutionally elected government , through regime change.

Cde Mugabe explained that attempts have also been made to introduce new
concepts of international law in order to impose extra-territorial laws on
developing countries.

Zimbabwe has been a target of these machinations by those who wanted to
abuse the UN Security Council to unjustly impose punish Zimbabwe through the
imposition of international sanctions, a move that was blocked by Russia,
China, SADC, NAM and the African Union Cde Mugabe said.

The reform of the UN system is one of the ways of addressing the unwarranted
international interference, said the President, and called on NAM to assert
the movement's demand to demand for the reform of the world body and its
principal organs especially the Security Council.

On the second day of the summit which ends in Sharm -El-Sheikh this
Thursday, President Mugabe was given the honour to preside over the summit
as he chaired the summit.


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Knives out as Mzembi accused of MDC links

http://www.thezimbabwetimes.com/?p=19870

July 16, 2009

By Owen Chikari

MASVINGO - Tourism and hospitality minister Walter Mzembi has described
so-called Zanu-PF hawks who are been lobbying for his ouster from the party
as "foolish and immature".

Mzembi's critics, led by self-styled war veteran and pioneer of farm
invasions Joseph Chinotimba have lobbied the party to expel Mzembi for
allegedly aligning himself with the mainstream MDC led by Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai. Mzembi was part of Tsvangirai's delegation on his recent
tour of Europe and the United States.

Chinotimba had been reportedly been lobbying hardliners in the Zanu-PF
leadership to either suspend or expel Mzembi from the party.

Addressing hospitality and tourism players in Masvingo Mzembi said those in
the Zanu-PF leadership who had been calling for his expulsion were "foolish
and immature".

"I was on a trip which was sanctioned by cabinet and to say I am now an MDC
supporter is certainly foolish", said Mzembi. "After all what is wrong with
travelling with the Prime Minister?

"This is an inclusive government and we can not waste time listening to
people who roam the streets of Harare with nothing to do but to discuss me

"This shows that some of us in Zanu-PF are still immature and need
education."

Sources in Zanu-PF say Zanu-PF hardliners have viewed Mzembi as an MDC
supporter since he accompanied Prime Minister Tsvangirai on his
international tour in June.

Chinotimba had earlier on said that war veterans had lined up a number of
demonstrations starting in Masvingo, Mzembi's home town, to press for his
expulsion from the party.

Turning on the land issue Mzembi said that the government will remove all
farm invaders who settled themselves on the shores of lakes or water
reservoirs.

The minister said as party of his strategy to revive the country's tourism
sector he will make sure that all those occupying pieces of land located on
the shores will be removed.

"We are not against the land issue but we want to make sure that come 2010
we are ready to get as many tourists as possible", said Mzembi.

The minister's remarks come at a time when there are reports that hordes of
people invaded land around the shores of Lake Mutirikwi the country's
largest inland body of water.

The invaders, mostly Zanu-PF supporters, are allegedly occupying the plots
amid reports that the new Masvingo governor who will take charge at the
beginning of next month would want a land audit.

Lucia Matibenga of the MDC-T is the governor and resident minister-designate
for Masvingo Province.

"We are occupying these plots so that when the new governor comes she will
find us in place", said one of the farm invaders who requested anonymity.

"We have to make sure that when these political changes take place they will
find us already on the land".

"We are not going to listen to what Mzembi is saying because he is not the
Minister of Lands or the Minister of Agriculture. After all we are going to
make sure that he is suspended from Zanu-PF."


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Chegutu farmer laments government's denial of land attacks

http://www.swradioafrica.com

By Alex Bell
16 July 2009

A beleaguered Chegutu farmer, whose farm has been over run by land invaders
working for a top ZANU PF official, has lashed out at the government for
repeatedly denying that the current wave of land invasions are happening.

Ben Freeth from Mount Carmel Farm has relentlessly tried to hang on to the
land that even the human rights court of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) has ruled rightfully belongs to his family. Freeth's
father-in-law Mike Campbell, who he co-owns the land with, led the legal
challenge in the SADC tribunal against the government last year. Campbell,
and the more than 70 farmers who joined the case, walked away victorious
with a ruling that declared the land 'reform' programme essentially
discriminatory. The government was ordered to protect the farmer's right to
their land, and make compensation to those who had lost land.

But SADC has been openly defied, and the renewed offensive against the
remaining commercial farming community got underway in earnest earlier this
year. Since then, almost 100 farms have been forcibly taken over, more than
100 farmers are facing prosecution for being on their land, and thousands of
farm workers have been left jobless. The farm attacks themselves have often
been violent, and those farmers who have refused to leave their properties
have faced continued harassment and intimidation. The farmers even returned
to SADC seeking an implementation order against the government. The Tribunal
ruled that the government was in contempt by defying the earlier ruling, but
this ruling again has been ignored.

The Chegutu farming community has been the worst affected by the offensive
to remove the remaining commercial farmers off their land. Earlier this year
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara and a delegation ordered by Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, toured the affected farms in Chegutu to see for
themselves the extent of the farm attacks. A shocked Mutambara ordered all
the land attacks to cease and the land invaders off the farms, and
Tsvangirai was seen to be doing the right thing by handing over the
responsibility for investigating the attacks to the Joint Monitoring and
Implementation Committee (JOMIC). But Mutambara's order was completely
ignored within hours of him leaving the area.

Tsvangirai went on to play down the land attacks, calling them 'isolated
incidents' that had been blown out of proportion by the media. JOMIC has now
reportedly followed in the footsteps of the government's leaders by denying
that the land invasions, witnessed by the Deputy Prime Minister, have taken
place. In an unpublished preliminary report by JOMIC on the land attacks,
JOMIC co-chairperson Welshman Ncube dismissed the incidents as mere
'disturbances' that were caused by uncooperative farmers refusing to hand
over their land to holders of offer letters.

Freeth on Thursday expressed his anger, saying what is happening on his land
is theft with impunity that is being supported by the police and the
government. Invaders hired by ZANU PF top official Nathan Shamuyarira have
completely taken over Mount Carmel, and have repeatedly used violence to
threaten and harass Freeth, his family and his staff.

"If he (Ncube) were to come here right now he would see Minister
Shamuyarira's men busily reaping thousands of US dollars worth of sunflowers
in broad day light with complete impunity using our tractors on land that we
have court orders and international judgements protecting," Freeth
explained.

The new invasion at Mount Carmel started in April and since then it has been
an ongoing battle to get support from the police and the government. Freeth's
workers have been beaten, abducted and hospitalised; houses and sheds on the
property have been broken into; people have been terrorised; water has been
cut off by the invaders for weeks and they have plunged the workers into
darkness by cutting off their electricity; tens of thousands of productive
fruit trees have been left without irrigation, fertilisation or spraying.

"Police know all about it and refuse to arrest anyone or even stop them
despite the two High Court orders saying the invaders must be evicted and
the SADC Tribunal judgement saying that Mike Campbell and his family and
workers should be allowed to farm without disturbance," Freeth said.

Freeth questioned how the government can continue to "condone theft and
thuggery with lies and with silence in a starving country with no job
creation and no investment taking place?" He explained that a full
investigation needs to get underway into the illegal activities taking place
on all the invaded farms, but he expressed doubt this would ever take place.


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Suspension of Hon Mlambo part of a sinister plot

http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk

16 July 2009

By MDC Pressroom

The MDC is dismayed by the purported suspension of the Honourable Member of
Parliament for Chipinge West, Hon Mathias Matewu Mlambo, from attending
Parliamentary sessions and executing his duties as a Member of Parliament.

This emanates from his dubious conviction on trumped-up charges of
obstructing the course of justice against which he has noted an appeal. In a
normal situation where the rule of law is applied uniformly and the law
enforcement agencies such as the police and the judiciary discharge their
duties in a non-partisan manner, one would understand the application of the
provisions of the law such as section 42 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

However, we have pointed out before that the law is being applied
selectively with the calculated objective of achieving sinister political
ends and in this instance one does not need to be a rocket scientist to
figure out that the intention of the politically motivated prosecution of
members of Parliament of the Movement for Democratic Change is to reduce its
numbers in Parliament.

Apart from Hon Mlambo, Hon Shuah Mudiwa and Hon Meki Makuyana have been
convicted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment in excess of six months to
ensure that they are prevented from attending Parliament. Hon Trevor
Saruwaka's trial on trumped up charges of public violence commenced in
Mutare on the 6th of July 2009 and will continue on the 20th of July 2009
while Hon Blessing Chebundo is due to be tried in August and at this rate
one wonders how many members of Parliament the MDC will have by the end of
the 7th Parliament. Is it a coincidence that these excessive sentences were
imposed after an earlier attempt to prevent Hon Lynette Karenyi from
attending Parliament was foiled and found to be legally untenable as she had
only been sentenced to pay a fine and the provisions of section 42 (1) were
clearly not applicable.

The exuberance with which these cases have been pursued contrasts sharply
with the failure of the police to arrest the thousands of criminals who were
responsible for the madness that characterised the so-called Presidential
farcical run-off of June 2008. Reports have been made to the Police on the
various crimes that were committed such as murder, arson, public violence
and rape but significantly, virtually no arrests have been made. Equally
disturbing is the failure to prosecute various Zanu-PF luminaries who have
been implicated in cases of the illegal mining and smuggling of diamonds,
gold and other precious minerals. Others have been implicated in various
shady deals but again nothing has happened.

Just on Monday, the 13th of July 2009, in full view of television cameras,
rogue elements of Zanu-Pf including legislators and War veterans caused
pandemonium and mayhem but the police simply folded their arms and took no
action. It is perplexing that the Speaker of the House of Assembly and
President of Senate together with members of Parliamentary Select committee
can be pelted with bottles of mineral water and have a constitution
conference disrupted by unruly elements at the International Conference
Centre with impunity.

In spite of there being video footage of the perpetrators of the chaos, to
date, no arrests have been made. Instead, an innocent young man Patrick
Danga whose only crime was trying to restrain Patrick Zhuwawo who was man
handling Hon Amos Chibaya, a member of the select committee, got arrested.
He has not been taken to court, but is still detained at Harare Central
Police station and yet the real criminals remain scot free.

This culture where the victims become the accused and the perpetrators
remain untouched must come to an end. It is in this context that the
prosecution of members of the Movement for Democratic Change particularly
its elected representatives must be seen for what it is- a cynical and
diabolical attempt to reverse the gains that the Party achieved in its
historic win of 29 March 2008 Harmonised elections.

There is therefore a need to revisit the provisions of section 41 of the
constitution which purport to deprive a Member of Parliament of his or her
rights as an elected representative of the people where he or she has noted
an appeal. Equally it deprives constituencies of representation in
circumstances where the conviction may be set aside or the sentence reduced
to less that six months.

This can not be retrospectively rectified and as we move forward in crafting
a new people-driven constitution, these are issues which should be looked
into so that never again will we have a situation where the law can be
abused to achieve political objectives.

The Movement for Democratic Change is a Party of Excellence and it believes
all people must be equal before the law. These values must be enshrined in a
new people -driven constitution and inculcated in all our law enforcement
agents whose loyalty must be to the constitution and the laws of the land
and not to a Political Party.

Hon Innocent Gonese
MDC Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs


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New crackdown on Zimbabwe miners

From The Daily Nation (Kenya), 16 July

By Kitsepile Nyathi

Harare - Zimbabwe is preparing to re-launch a military crackdown on illegal
diamond miners in the eastern part of the country, risking an international
ban on its precious stones. Only a fortnight ago, the Kimberly Process (KP)
the international diamond certification group gave the Zimbabwean government
up to next week to demilitarise the area. A KP team led by Liberian deputy
mines minister Mr Kpandel Fiya dispatched to investigate reports of human
rights abuses at the Chiadzwa diamond fields concluded that security forces
were looting diamonds and committing atrocities against civilians. The team,
which will release its final report this month end, also recommended that
the soldiers must be withdrawn immediately. But state media reported:
Operation Hakudzokwi (You don't return) which was jointly carried by
security personnel to restore sanity at Chiadzwa diamond fields is bouncing
back bigger and more re-invigorated to deal once and for all with illegal
diamond dealers and panners, says the governor and resident minister for
Manicaland province, Cde Chris Mushowe. Mr Mushowe who is a strong President
Robert Mugabe ally was said to have given a strong warning to illegal
diamond dealers and panners to stop forthwith their unlawful activities as
they will have no-one but themselves to blame when the operation is
reinvigorated. At the height of the operation that began in August last year
and claimed hundreds of lives according to human rights groups, Mr Mugabe's
spokesman Mr George Charamba said the troops were employing shock therapy.

Last month, the New York based Human Rights Watch said 800 soldiers were
deployed and villagers were forced to reclaim gullies with their bare hands.
The injured were denied medical care and victims were reportedly buried in
mass graves. The government said there was no evidence to back the claims.
Mr Fiya told Zimbabwe's Mines Minister, Mr Obert Mpofu at the end of the KPs
mission that villagers recounted tales of senseless violence. Our team was
able to interview and document the stories of victims, observe their wounds,
scars from dog bites and batons, tears and on going psychological trauma, Mr
Fiya said. "I am from Liberia Sir, I was in Liberia through out the 15 years
of civil war and I have experienced too much senseless violence in my
lifetime, especially connected to diamonds. In speaking with some of these
people, Minister, I had to leave the room. This has to be acknowledged and
it has to stop." University of Zimbabwe political scientist Mr Eldred
Masunungure said the military was not likely to leave the diamond fields
because influential people from Mr Mugabe's previous administration were
benefiting from the disorder. It is a political minefield because there are
powerful forces that are being touched, he said. The Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe says if properly the Chiadzwa diamonds can generate up to US$200
million a month for the bankrupt government.


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Southern African countries to develop power line

http://www.reuters.com

Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:38pm EDT

* New power line to ease transmission congestion

* Southern African countries plan to raise generation

By Nelson Banya

LIVINGSTONE, Zambia, July 16 (Reuters) - Four Southern African countries
have agreed to develop a $225 million power line that would allow an extra
600 megawatts to be transmitted around the region, an official said on
Thursday.

The project is expected to be completed in the last quarter of 2010. It
seeks to connect Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia -- all of which plan
to boost the amount of power they generate in coming years -- in a project
known as Zizabona.

It will ease congestion on a transmission corridor to South Africa, the
region's largest consumer of electricity which is battling to meet demand.
It also will allow the four countries to export more power and to trade
energy with each other via a regional power pool.

The project also will allow easier transmission of hydropower from the
Democratic Republic of Congo to South Africa and the rest of the region.

"The four utilities will develop, build and own the transmission
infrastructure. This project seeks to reduce losses and congestion on the
SAPP central corridor," said Musara Beta, an official from Zimbabwe's ZESA.

ZESA is one of the four promoters of the project along with Zambia's ZESCO,
Nampower of Namibia and the Botswana Power Company. He was addressing a
power conference hosted by the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).

The Zizabona transmission line will extend from the Hwange substation to a
switching station near Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, into Livingstone, Zambia.
The line will also link Pandamatenga in Botswana and the Zambezi substation
in Namibia.

"The project clearly would serve the national electricity needs of all four
member countries and the interconnector would also ... decongest the central
corridor," Beta added.

With the region facing increased power shortages, the SAPP is turning its
focus to smaller initiatives with relatively short timelines in order to
meet growing demand, which experts say will peak at 100,000MW in 2025.

Apart from the Zizabona link, Zimbabwe's ZESA has also proposed the
construction of a 160 kilometre transmission line to increase the
north-south transfer capacity of the Zimbabwe network to 600MW, against the
current 200MW.

The proposed Central Transmission Corridor (CTC) project is to be jointly
developed by ZESA, which would have a 20 percent shareholding in the
venture, while prospective private investors would take up the additional 80
percent.

ZESA chief executive Ben Rafemoyo said the project would require $100
million.

Rafemoyo said the CTC had reached a long-term agreement with South Africa's
Eskom, which is seeking to import more power from the DRC and Mozambique to
meet domestic demand.

"Eskom are the long-term offtaker. Key terms of the contract, including
tariffs, have now been agreed with Eskom," he said.

CTC expected to raise long-term debt against the security of the Eskom
offtake, according to a project document by ZESA. The CTC project is
expected to be complete by December 2012 and is expected to significantly
reduce costs associated with congestion and lead to more efficient power
trading.


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Rampant corruption rocks the City’s Treasury

16 July 2009

 

CHRA has received disturbing reports from some sources within the Harare City Council to the effect that there is rampant corruption in the City Treasury. It is alleged that ratepayers’ money is leaking from the City Treasury to ZANU PF coffers. The news comes in the midst of the City’s failure to restore quality municipal service delivery claiming that they are facing financial constraints.

 

Sources within Council have pointed out that the City’s Finance Director; Mr. Zvikaramba has fallen out of grace with Councilors who accuse him of approving the disbursement of funds from the City Treasury without Council approval. It has been revealed that a couple of thousands of dollars are finding their way out of the City Treasury and they are allegedly feeding into ZANU PF coffers. There are some allegations that the ZANU PF party is continuing with its tradition of heavily relying on the City of Harare for its financial survival. Mr. Zvikaramba is said to be receiving instructions from the Minister of Local Government to release money from the City Treasury. Some Councilors have pointed out that this is the reason why the Minister of Local Government, Ignatius Chombo, continues to heavily interfere with the affairs of Town House. They have also said this is the reason why the City’s former Finance Director, Mr. Mubvumbi was relieved of his duties on flimsy allegations which the Minister has failed to substantiate to date. The Councilors said that Mubvumbi was professional in his work and he would not release money anyhow; a situation that subsequently led to his unfair suspension. The Minister of Local Government’s strong support for Zvikaramba emanates from his (Zvikaramba’s) allegiance to the Minister rather than to the Council.

 

Residents are deeply concerned with these incidences of corruption that have the potential to permanently cripple the City’s financial capacity and take away any hope for the revival of quality municipal service delivery in Harare. These reports come barely six months after 300 of the Council’s cattle disappeared from the City’s farm at Crowborough. The sad thing is that the Minister did not do anything to bring the culprits to book.  Residents cannot continue to pay their hard earned money to satisfy the greed of inconsiderate politicians and we thereby make the following demands;

 

 

CHRA remains committed to advocating for good, transparent and accountable local governance and lobbying for quality municipal (and other) service delivery on a non partisan basis.

 

Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)

145 Robert Mugabe Way

Exploration House, Third Floor

Harare

ceo@chra.co.zw

www.chra.co.zw

 Landline: 00263- 4- 705114

Contacts: Mobile: 0912 653 074, 0913 042 981, 011862012 or email info@chra.co.zw , and admin@chra.co.zw

 


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Binga - a place with forgotten people

http://www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe/archives/4431
 

Shared borehole

It only takes a visit to Binga to instill in one, just how totally decimated that part of the country has been over the last ten years. The Tonga people had succeeded in building themselves a life here, fifty years after the construction of Lake Kariba had forced them into what is possibly the most arid and inhospitable terrain in Africa.

They had adjusted to a life of herding cattle, subsistence farming where there is little or no rainfall, wood carving for tourism, and fishing for those lucky enough to be relocated fairly near the lake.

But in recent times, as their dislike of the hated ruling party became obvious, the wrath of Zanu-PF descended on them, turning a tidy little colony into the dusty begging bowl that it is today. Politics, in spite of the GNU, is still spoken of in hushed voices, many Zanu PF supporters had been moved in to Government positions here to keep an eye on the people, and the entire Binga area, a total of 1500 hectares, with a population of 130 thousand, has been under siege virtually since the constitutional elections in 2000.

A visit to a “growth point”, just south-west of Binga, showed us just how the economic and political upheavals of the past few years had affected the rural community. They are desperately poor. The rains were not too bad this year, but with a lack of seed and fertiliser, the impoverished community was unable to capitalize on the unusually high rainfall and crops are sparse.

Cotton crop

Cotton is one crop that does fairly well in Binga and the Cotton Marketing Board had a fairly good system running before the political wheels fell off the country. At the foothills of the Chizarira Mountains I saw the remnants of what once was a good subsistence cotton crop. Great piles of giant hessian bags marked “Cotco 2008” were everywhere awaiting collection. It was very dirty poor grade cotton, the bags were already rotting in the boiling sun, and cotton - someone’s livelihood - was spilling out and blowing away in the wind.

Cotton crop

“They will come and get it one day, when a price has been negotiated” was the calm response to my question.

“One day” is an indifferent term in Zimbabwe time; it could be weeks, months or years, but someone will come “one day” and collect it, as sure as day turns into night.

Terminology has moved on in Zimbabwe. We now do not speak of “Change” or “Chinja”. We do not say wistfully with almost every breath “When things change”; we now speak of “When things get better” - and so it seemed this way too in Binga. I never fail to be proud, but always astounded, at how self-effacing, how humble, and peaceful Zimbabweans can be in the face of hardship and despair.

Logistics play a big part in rural Binga’s economy. What trucking company will come all this way, on a road that shatters your bones to pieces, when diesel is short yet again, and hard currency is hard to come by? No doubt the cotton farmer will be paid with the peculiar “Government Voucher” which allows him to buy at certain supermarkets around the country. How many of them are in Binga, I wonder?

Thankfully the “User”, the local name for the US$, does not devalue and the farmer may one day get some goods, or some cotton seed to replant for when “Things come right” - hopefully not when its too late.

Generator

Another glaring anomaly in this remote Binga district was the incongruous sight of a mighty brand-spanking-new Kipor Generator, officially marked with some sort of reference number. It must have been all of 100 Hz, enough to provide power to a hotel, but sitting as proud as punch in a pole and wire lean-to, goats nestling against it cosily for the shade!

Next to the giant sunshine yellow generator was a brand new grinding mill, untouched by human hands, pristine and unsullied. Not a gram of maize had been ground by it. It was a gift from the ‘ruling-party’ Zanu-PF, prior to the elections in 2008. This donation is a big expensive effort to bribe the Zanu-PF loathing community into voting for it. Which consortium of brilliant government intellectuals had thought of this interesting scheme? How does one come across hundreds of litres of diesel to run this mighty machine in the middle of darkest Africa? It is such a gigantic beast, one would probably be looking at one litre an hour at the least, and where were the spares and where was the maintenance program ? All of this is irrelevant, I assume, because the real point was to try secure votes!

Grandmother harvesting berries in tree

A generator of this size in a community where survival requires musika pods and umcaga berries to be harvested from trees by elderly grandmothers? Where bullfrogs and flying-ants are a delicacy? Where one single hand-pump borehole must supply a community with villages as far as twenty kilometres away? Where cattle, sheep, goats and humans drink from the same hand-pump?

But the goats were comfortable and the yellow peril stood proud and tall. The people smiled ironically at the machine as they walked past to the hand-pump borehole, carrying endless buckets on their heads. There’s no folling the people of Binga - they now this machine is yet another useless legacy of proof of a government with its back once seriously against the wall.


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Political Thuggery & Compromises – Zimbabwe’s Tragedies

For the most part, the inclusive government was a pragmatic solution to Zimbabwe’s political quagmire. We all know that the formation of the inclusive government was inexplicably shrouded in secrecy. But there was no reason why the inclusive government’s Global Political Agreement brazenly omitted even an addendum on how to seriously deal with human rights violations, the most disturbing aspect of Zimbabwe’s contemporary politics.

Concerns that bringing to justice those who committed atrocities would deplete political capital and spirit of inclusive government are outrageous. It is the height of insensitivity to those aggrieved.

Unfortunately the atrocities did not end by instituting the inclusive government. Instead they are continuing to this present day. The unpleasant reality is that, more likely than not, they will escalate come election time. The whole point of bringing this to light (to justice If I had my way) is to cause those abductors, murderers, torturers, asset grabbers and rapists to completely surrender. Doing so also prevents any future recurrence of such heinous crimes on innocent civilians.

Talk of the Ministry of National Healing, better call it Ministry of National Concealing, the starting point should be to reveal the terrible crimes against humanity that were committed by the Zimbabwe’s politicians. As it stands, the Ministry smacks of a national healing among politicians seeking to rehabilitate one another at the expense of bringing true relief to those who suffered terribly from various crimes ranging from rape, murder, torture, maim, injury, for instance.

The main reason Nuremberg trials were immediately carried out soon after World War II was to clean the system of residual Nazis and to make sure that no such crimes would ever be committed against innocent citizens ever again. The process would later on be dubbed ‘Denazification’. As a result perpetrators were properly tried and those found guilty were punished according to the crimes they committed.

The road to destruction started when the Fuehrer Adolf Hitler convinced the German public that the problems of the German nation were to be squarely blamed on the Jews. Is that not an all-too-familiar Zimbabwean / African escapism? Blame the white men and his ‘West’ for all your problems. It’s not about your corruption, mismanagement or looting of national resources. Not even about an unpopular President getting ready to rule eternally while Zanu PF is still boasting of a monopoly of incompetence.

While the Nuremberg-type trials are a remote possibility in Zimbabwe at the moment, some movement towards Dezanufication is long overdue. Recent disturbances by Zimbabwe’s own residual ‘Nazis’ at the All-Stakeholder Constitutional Conference remind us of that history will repeat itself if no remedial steps are put in place as a matter of urgency.

Like Denazification, Dezanufication is a political imperative necessary to remove active lawlessness and those who subscribe to torture doctrine from Zimbabwe’s peace-loving communities. There are people out there who believe that they are still above the law the same way they broke the laws yesteryear with impunity. We all saw how the recent Constitutional Conference in Zimbabwe was called off having been run over by the same ‘war vets’ who previously brutalized defenseless citizens while unrestrained by (immune to) law enforcement.

Isn’t it ironic that all the members of the regime who committed atrocities were rewarded by the inclusive government? But one would think that they at least have a sense of collective guilt as to be ashamed of their horrible recent past. Wouldn’t this be the opportune time for them to withdraw into some form of personal purgatory and begin to work and lead for a better Zimbabwe free from violence given the Gehenna that they created for the people of Zimbabwe?

For a fact we know that thousands of people succumbed to political violence, economic failure, hunger and poverty as well as unnecessary and preventable diseases. The net result was a plundered civilization and a return to the medieval times. For instance, we witnessed a country without functioning hospitals and schools.

This week, Zimbabwe was again beamed internationally for the wrong reasons, just a laughing stock. Recently the Prime Minister was on a critical international mission to woo investors, against backdrop of a fragile coalition which he tried hard to conceal. Wasn’t that the same undercutting by Zanu PF he suffered  he was promoting Zimbabwe as a safe investment destination only to coincide with news of escalating violence and political thuggery? Where does one get the motivation to invest in a lawless society? What guarantees one’s security of his/her investments given Zimbabwe’s notoriety for asset-grabbing in the name of reversing colonial injustices (whatever that means)? What about the state of property rights?

The lesson that we are also getting here is that for those of us who believe in the MDC change agenda, we need to learn patience as it was never going to be easy dealing with people who have ruled for three decades uninterrupted. However our politicians should also listen to those who are criticizing the inclusive government, who hold different views about how to move forward. It is true that some of the greatest patriots are those who criticize the government of the day because they care deeply about their country and they want the best for its citizens.

The inclusive government should be fully supported so that a stable and legitimate government can soon be put in place, born out of free and fair elections. A new constitution means everything to all Zimbabweans and to the International community. Any decision by MDC to pull out of the inclusive government will certainly play into Zanu PF’s hands as naturally preferred by many of Mugabe’s compatriots belonging to his kleptocratic camp.

 I have no doubt that the Prime Minister ‘plays dumb’ on many occasions even though it appears as if he is sycophantically appeasing Mugabe. He knows that in the grand scheme of things, getting a new constitution acceptable to the people of Zimbabwe will probably be one of his the biggest achievements.

However in my previous article (available on www.nationalvision.wordpress.com) I warned against the perfidious game of political correctness. Simply summarized, we have a Prime Minister who has a tough and delicate balancing act: being careful not to rattle Mugabe while at the same time not losing his mojo as a leader of an opposition that has been hardwired to hearing anti-Mugabe rhetoric (justifiably so, especially before the inclusive government). The third factor is that the man himself has also morphed into a co-leader of a nation.

People have to understand that Mugabe joined the inclusive government much against the will of many powerful politicians and security chiefs who populate the corridors of power. They know that their power privileges are slipping away very fast hence the attempts to subvert the process of re-writing of the new constitution. At least for that reason I give Mugabe credit.

For now, Ignore Arthur Mutambara, the Mugabesque Deputy Prime Minister, who is trying to buy more time for the inclusive government, the same way he bought his way into Zimbabwean politics. It’s understandable for him to call for five more years because his political future without the inclusive government is as clear as mud.

However engaging in unnecessary compromises has the potential to raze the party to the ground. For instance, there is nothing to compromise on unilateral Tomana and Gono appointments. There is nothing to compromise on the continuing malicious arrests of your MP’s facing concocted charges. There is nothing to compromise on continued farm invasions. There is nothing to compromise on the rule of law, free press and illegal detentions. Our outrage and condemnation of rule of thuggery must be unequivocal. There is nothing to compromise on a people-driven Constitution. The inclusive government cannot unilaterally decide to run for five years.

With Attorney General Johannes Tomana in charge, dockets have conveniently vanished and many more are disappearing each extra day he stays in office. Only in Zimbabwe can that happen! Tomana is the same AG at the center of a firestorm of criticism having been unilaterally appointed by Mugabe in direct violation of GPA terms, the basis of the inclusive government.   Retention of Mr Gono and Mr Tomana undermine the mission to bring change in Zimbabwe. Insisting on retaining these two hardliners proves a point that there is a deep-seated insidious agenda.

We should all think about how Zimbabwe came to be what it is today – A banana republic. As an advocate of the inclusive government myself, we cannot expect the Prime Minister Tsvangirai to undo overnight what we all allowed to happen for three decades.  Obviously there will be missteps along the way and we should be able to point at them loudly. With the same measure, it is every progressive Zimbabwean’s responsibility to educate fellow brothers and sisters who are enslaved as agents of political thuggery that they are in actual fact fighting against their own interests. They are simply being used by cold-hearted politicians for personal gain.

It will be a tremendous achievement if one day, our politicians on both ends of the political spectrum lay down their political differences to fight for a better Zimbabwe, a better Africa. It is unconscionable that a nation with such abundant wealth and skills base is the World's leading case of economic destitution.
For more info visit www.nationalvision.wordpress.com


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Switzerland forced to unfreeze Mobutu assets

http://www.swissinfo.ch

July 16, 2009 - 1:52 PM

The Swiss foreign ministry says it has no alternative but to end the
freezing of assets belonging to the late dictator of Zaire, Mobutu Sese
Seko.
Its decision, announced on Thursday, followed a ruling two days ago at the
Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona.

The court rejected a citizen's appeal by Basel University criminologist Mark
Pieth to keep a freeze on the assets in Swiss banks valued at SFr7.7 million
($6.68 million).

Pieth had opposed returning the funds to Mobutu's heirs, who he alleged were
suspected of criminal activities in what is now the Democratic Republic of
Congo.

The foreign ministry said it did not agree with the situation but there was
nothing more it could do.

"[The foreign ministry] deplores this outcome, which ends 12 years of
freezing of the assets in which all options to come to a fair solution were
attempted", it said in a statement.

Change legislation
It said the case underlined the need to change legislation to prevent
similar situations in the future.

The ministry said it had informed the banks and the parties concerned
through their lawyers on Wednesday.

Switzerland blocked assets deposited by Mobutu and his clan in 1997
following a request from the country's government.

In 2008, Swiss authorities agreed to keep the assets frozen so that a
Congolese government lawyer could initiate proceedings in Switzerland to
block the assets and enable the competent legal authority to decide how to
deal with the case.

But in April this year, the Swiss Prosecutor's Office said the statute of
limitations had run out in the case and the assets should therefore be
handed over to Mobutu's heirs.

"Considerable lengths"
Thursday's statement argued that the Swiss government had gone to
"considerable lengths" to bring the case to a satisfactory end.

Mandated by the government, the foreign ministry had helped the parties
concerned to find a solution.

However, the lack of support over a long period from the Congolese
authorities, together with the inflexibility of the Mobutu heirs, meant that
it was not possible to reach an agreement, the statement added.

The foreign ministry said the requirement finally to make restitution to the
Mobutu assets underlined the need to adapt Swiss legislation to prevent
similar cases from recurring.

It was instructed by the government in December last year to draft a law
making it possible to confiscate and to return illicit assets of so-called
politically exposed persons.

This legislation is now being drafted and a bill should be ready by next
year.

Progress
After the ruling, Pieth told the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper he was unable to
continue his legal fight - "I've used up all my ammo."

He added that it would be wrong to portray all dictators as mafia bosses,
but said there were individual criminal regimes to whom that description
applied.

"The Mobutu regime tortured and killed opponents en masse in order to
consolidate its power, get rich and exploit the country over decades. Robert
Mugabe is doing a similar thing in Zimbabwe," he said.

Pieth believed however that it had become harder for dictators to hide
illegally acquired fortunes in Switzerland.

"The problem is that a bank doesn't know, just like that, who's behind a
corporation - potentates don't use their real names. But imagine a bank
taking money from Mugabe, despite the fact that they must realise what's
going on. That would be so bad that they'd probably worry about their
licence. We've taken a big step forward."

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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I hate being idle

From ZWNEWS, 16 July

The plight of Zimbabwean asylum seekers in the UK, who are not allowed to
work, was highlighted in a report publishes this week. Based on a survey of
Zimbabweans in the UK, and more detailed interviews with some of them, the
study shows the loss of skills associated with enforced worklessness, with
negative effects on both the asylum seekers and the communities in which
they live. People seeking asylum, and those who remain in the UK after their
asylum claims have been rejected, are routinely refused permission to
undertake formal employment. As one of those surveyed put it; "It doesn't
make sense to me that someone who is able-bodied and mentally fit to work
cannot do that. I think the whole point is just to frustrate one to the
point where you say I've had it, I'm leavingā€¦"

Zimbabwean asylum seekers are perhaps uniquely fit to slot easily into the
UK workforce. They speak English and are products of an education system
which shares many features with the UK system. And they tend to be well
qualified. Of those surveyed, 64% had attained O-Level (GCSE) standard, over
a third had reached A-Level, 13% had studied to degree level, an 6% had
post-graduate degrees. Teaching was the profession which featured most among
the survey group, with almost half of respondents having worked as teachers
or lecturers, but there was also widespread experience in the
administration, finance, health care and retail sectors. Yet only 8% were
given permission to work, with the result that most had to rely on the
generosity of others. 30% reported having been homeless, and 21% having
suffered from hunger since coming to the UK.

As one asylum seeker put it; "I have been left destitute and I play hide and
seek with Immigration. I have sometimes resorted to prostitution to get
money for food and clothes not out of choice. I was never a prostitute in
Zimbabwe. But life is tough here. I want to be granted asylum here and work
legally." The report's authors urge the government to recognise the
contribution these skilled asylum seekers could be making to the UK economy,
and grant them permission to work if their cases are not settled within six
months. They also want an end to the Foreign Office and the UK Border Agency
working at cross-purposes, with the Foreign Office recognising the serious
human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, and the Border Agency working flat out to
send people home.

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