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Mugabe's new rant against the West as he prepares to nationalise foreign firms

Daily Mail, UK
Last updated at 18:19pm on 24th July 2007

Zimbabwe's embattled President Robert Mugabe is expected to push through radical plans to nationalise foreign firms ahead of next year's elections as he reopened a new session of parliament.

Mugabe, 83 and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, is seeking re-election despite accusations that he has plunged the southern African state into its worst economic crisis through a raft of controversial policies.

In the first five minutes of his address to the new session of the House of Assembly and the upper Senate, Mugabe said his government was battling to turn around the economy, which he says is a victim of sabotage by Western and local opponents trying to end his rule.

Mugabe

Mugabe is flanked by service chiefs as he inspects a guard of honour before the new session of parliament

"Our economy continues to face challenges arising from the illegal sanctions imposed by our enemies," he said.

Mugabe said the new session of the House of Assembly and the upper Senate would be the last before general polls due by next March.

Political analysts say the proposed legislation before the chambers, including the constitutional bill seeking to combine parliamentary and presidential elections and the economic empowerment bill, could increase uncertainties about Zimbabwe's future.

The Constitutional Amendment Bill consolidating the electoral calendar has clauses giving parliament power to elect a new president if a vacancy occurred between elections.

Mugabe

President Robert Mugabe arrives at the official opening of parliament in Harare

Analysts say this could give Mugabe an avenue to retire after the 2008 polls with room to influence who will succeed him.

But Mugabe plans to transfer control of all companies, including foreign banks and some mining operations, to locals under the black empowerment bill would further damage an economy already hit by his other controversial policies, they say.

Mugabe, arrived for the official opening in a convertible black Rolls Royce with his wife, Grace, in a long motorcade led by police on horseback and to loud cheering by hundreds of supporters from his ZANU-PF party.

When he started speaking, Mugabe - who was wearing a navy blue business suit, a sky blue shirt and a royal blue tie - struggled with a croaky voice, before finding his normal timbre.

Zimbabwe under Mugabe largely follows British traditions in its parliamentary protocol, including opening annual sessions amid pomp and pageantry.


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Mugabe's bills pave way for takeovers

Financial Times

By Tony Hawkins in Harare

Published: July 24 2007 18:52 | Last updated: July 24 2007 18:52

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe announced three new bills designed to
tighten government control over the country's crumbling economy when he
opened a new session of parliament on Tuesday.

The new laws will force private companies to sell up to 51 per cent of their
shares to black Zimbabweans, allowing the government to take control of
mining properties and companies and establish a National Incomes and Pricing
Commission to set prices and wages for all sectors of the economy. All three
are scheduled to become law before the end of the year.

In his speech, Mr Mugabe gave no new details of the proposed Indigenisation
and Economic Empowerment Bill - which includes the 51 per cent stake
measure - which raised fears that the government might move to take over
foreign-owned companies.

In theory, the bill is aimed at empowering "disadvantaged" - black -
Zimbabweans, but it appears that this legislation could also be used to
punish what the government last week called "economic saboteurs" - the
companies that have been accused of profiteering out of the economic
collapse in Zimbabwe.

They have been the primary targets of the government's price cuts policy,
which was introduced earlier this month and was designed to halve consumer
prices.

Mr Mugabe thanked African and non-aligned countries for their continuing
support for his administration, citing the election of Zimbabwe to head the
UN's Sustainable Development Commission and the thwarting of British and
western attempts to have Zimbabwe discussed by the Security Council. He
repeated his government's accusations that Britain and its allies had
fostered civil unrest in the country in a vain effort to show that the
situation in the country was a threat to peace and stability.

As Mr Mugabe spoke, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe published fresh monetary
data demonstrating the extent to which the authorities had lost control of
the economy. The RBZ's figures show money supply growth trebling from 1,400
per cent at the end of last year to 4,212 per cent in April at which time
inflation was 3,700 per cent. The central bank revealed also that Zimbabwe's
domestic debt spiralled 290-fold between March and July while official loans
to banks increased 40-fold over the same period.

Economists say the numbers confirm that inflation, currently estimated at
around 6,000 per cent on the official index suppressed by the government, is
being driven by the central bank's "quasi-fiscal" operations - that is,
credit creation to finance government spending.

In a second report illustrating Zimbabwe's rapidly worsening crisis, the
US-based Fewsnet, which provides food security information for 17 African
countries, estimates that Zimbabwe will need to import at least 1m tonnes of
grain over the next nine months. The government has so far announced plans
to import only 400,000 tonnes of maize, mostly from Malawi. By last month,
70 000 tonnes had been imported according to Fewsnet, which says that "most
households" have not been able to meet their minimum food requirements
because of rampant food inflation and food shortages.

The UN World Food Programme has estimated that a third of the population -
about 4m people - will need food aid in the first quarter of 2008.

Mr Mugabe also announced a constitutional amendment bill that provides for
the enlargement of parliament from 150 to 210 seats and the Senate or upper
house to 84 seats from 66.


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Mugabe: Zimbabwe Price Controls to Stay

Forbes

Associated Press

By ANGUS SHAW 07.24.07, 3:07 PM ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe - Government-imposed price controls will remain because
they bring relief to Zimbabweans from "inexplicable and astronomical" price
increases by profiteers, President Robert Mugabe told lawmakers Tuesday at
the opening of parliament.

A government order last month to slash prices by around 50 percent to curb
inflation has led to acute shortages of staple foods, gasoline and many
basics, including matches needed during daily power outages.

Official inflation has soared to 4,500 percent, the highest in the world,
but private financial institutions estimate the real inflation rate is
closer to 9,000 percent.

Mugabe said the government was committed to its program to restore "price
stability."

Foreign investment, loans and development aid to Zimbabwe have dried up amid
years of political and economic turmoil after Mugabe's government began
often-violent seizures of thousands of white-owned farms in 2000.

Western nations have imposed travel restrictions on Mugabe and ruling party
leaders to protest the country's human rights record.

Blaming Western economic sanctions, erratic rains and profiteering for the
country's economic crisis, Mugabe said the new session of the Parliament
would address legislation relating to the economy, including price controls.
It will also take up changes to constitutional and electoral laws ahead of
parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for next year.

"Our economy continues to face adverse challenges emanating mainly from
illegal sanctions and successive droughts," he said.

Opposition lawmakers have criticized price cuts as a ruling party tactic to
shore up support ahead of next year's balloting.

Mugabe arrived at parliament in an open-backed vintage Rolls-Royce
(other-otc: RYCEY.PK - news - people ) limousine, escorted by a ceremonial
guard of honor on horseback carrying regimental flags and wearing white,
colonial-style pith helmets. Judges, viewed as appointees who favor the
ruling party, wore scarlet robes and horsehair wigs at the opening ceremony,
which was broadcast on state television.

Across the central Harare square, shelves at a leading downtown supermarket
were bare of cornmeal, meat, bread and other staples for the third straight
week.

At least 3,000 executives and business managers have been arrested and fined
in the clampdown on alleged overcharging. Most of those arrested - among
them several of the country's top businessmen - have been briefly jailed in
filthy police cells.

Eight shop owners jailed Monday were to appear in court for sentencing
Wednesday after state prosecutors refused to grant them bail and called them
economic saboteurs, the state-run Herald newspaper reported.

Fuel shortages have disrupted commuter transport services. Industry Minister
Obert Mpofu has ordered fuel to be sold at half the cost of importing it.


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Price Controls Devastating Rural Economy



UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

24 July 2007
Posted to the web 24 July 2007

Harare

Price controls are having a ruinous effect on Zimbabwe's rural economy,
according to small-scale farmers and civil society.

Since government launched "Operation Reduce Prices", compelling businesses
to slash prices by fifty percent in a bid combat the rampant inflation of
over 4,000 percent - and imprisoning businesspeople who did not comply -
basic commodities have been fast disappearing from shop shelves and
wholesale suppliers.

The Cold Storage Commission (CSC), the almost dormant parastatal wholesale
beef supplier and meat processing company, is being resuscitated and given
the sole mandate to slaughter cattle and distribute meat directly to
butchers. When the price control operation commenced, abattoirs argued that
it would be unprofitable to sell meat at the government's new prices.

Price-control monitors are forcing farmers to sell meat products to the CSC
at low prices; in a similar scenario, maize farmers are being forced to sell
their harvests to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) at well below prevailing
market prices.

A kilogram of beef is now supposed to sell at Z$87,000 (US$0.58 at the
parallel market rate of US$1 to Z$140,000), a sharp decrease from the
Z$500,000 (US$3.57) retail price before President Robert Mugabe's government
announced the price controls. Before the new prices were announced, cattle
sold for about Z$40 million (US$285) per head, but are now selling for Z$8
million (US$57).

Since the ZANU-PF government launched its fast-track land-reform programme
in 2000, resulting in the compulsory acquisition of more than 4,000
white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to landless blacks, diseases
and culling have drastically reduced the national herd from around 1.4
million head of cattle to about 250,000 at present.

In 2001 the European Union (EU) cancelled its 9,100 metric tonne (mt) beef
quota, worth an annual US$38 million, or about four percent of foreign
currency earnings, because of Zimbabwe's failure to control livestock
diseases: for the past seven years the recurrence of foot-and-mouth disease
has become an almost annual event.

Small scale farmers being bankrupted

Cattle are valued as a symbol of wealth in rural communities, and are also
used as draught power for tilling the land to grow crops.

Samuel Shereni, a small-scale farmer in the Beatrice area of Mashonaland
East Province, about 70km southwest of Harare, the capital, said he had lost
more than Z$159 million (US$1,140) after having to sell cattle to the CSC
instead of putting them on auction.

I was taking five cattle to an auction when a group of people, comprising
police officers, some youths and men from the ministry of industry, stopped
my truck and told me that I could only sell to a government abattoir, since
private auctions had been outlawed

"I was taking five cattle to an auction when a group of people, comprising
police officers, some youths and men from the ministry of industry, stopped
my truck and told me that I could only sell to a government abattoir, since
private auctions had been outlawed," Shereni told IRIN.

"When they said that, I thought they were just joking, but when they took
down my name and vehicle registration number, and told me to sell the cattle
at Z$8 million (US$57) within four days, I could tell they meant business. I
made a loss of Z$32 million (US$228) on each animal," he said.

Shereni, who rears cattle and grows maize on a farm inherited from his
father ten years ago, had intended to use the profit to buy dipping
chemicals for his other livestock.

"Rearing cattle is an expensive business, considering that stock-feed is
scarce and I have to buy it from a person who imports it, using foreign
currency obtained on the black market. Besides, it beats me why someone can
just tell me how and when to sell my products," said Shereni, who is
struggling to recover from the drought that slashed his crop yields last
year.

His fear is that with meat becoming increasingly scarce in butcheries, the
price-monitoring team will compel him to sell his cattle to the CSC, "but
that would certainly mean throwing me out of business".

In nearby Mhondoro, in Mashonaland West Province, Mairosi Madenga, 57, is in
a quandary as to what he would do if he were ordered to sell his cattle. The
cattle actually belong to his son, who is teaching in Namibia, and any sale
would require his consent.

The communal dip-tank supervisor maintains records of the number of cattle
each villager owns. He recently called a meeting, at which he told the
gathering that government officials had ordered him perform an audit of the
herd in the village.

"He [dip-tank supervisor] told us that government officials would be
visiting the villages to buy cattle, and he hinted that those that owned
more than seven animals would be forced to sell the excess," Madenga told
IRIN.

He felt that ZANU-PF, which came to power in 1980 after the country gained
independence from Britain, was using the price-control policy as an
electioneering strategy ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections,
scheduled for next year.

Election strategy of price controls

Villagers were being herded to evening meetings, where they were told that
"we should vote for ZANU-PF because it has shown that it cares for the
people by reducing prices", Madenga claimed, but he and others had yet to
benefit from the price-control blitz, because they had no money to buy the
commodities, even at the reduced prices.

"In any case, since the price teams started their operation, it is those in
urban areas who have benefited from whatever could be found in rural shops
because they are in the habit of following the monitoring officials and
buying commodities in bulk," he commented.

Pedzisai Ruhanya, of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a grouping of civil
society organisations, told IRIN that "the operation [Reduce Prices] itself
was ill-advised - considering the ramifications it has had on commerce and
industry - but that the government is failing to give a semblance of sanity
calls for wholesome condemnation."

The country is in the throes of a hyperinflation environment, with
unemployment levels of above 80 percent and constant shortages of power,
fuel and other basic commodities.

Shops in urban as well as rural areas have been left virtually empty by the
operation, and most businesses have been adversely affected. In one village
shop belonging to a local businessman, who preferred to remain anonymous,
only packets of salt, bags of tea, sweets and cigarettes were left.

"Ruling party youths and three policemen visited me and ordered me to sell
to them, but said they would pay me later. They said without that [paying
later] they would make sure that I never operated again, and I complied out
of fear," he said.

"What pained me even more was that the youths, who said they were part of
the price-monitoring team, went and sold those commodities at even higher
prices to those who were willing to buy, mostly local teachers, and I am yet
to receive my money from them," the shop owner told IRIN.

A number of government officials, among them police officers and an employee
of the information ministry, have been arrested for abusing their powers
during the nationwide operation.

IRIN was unable to reach a government spokesperson for comment.

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


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Zim delays monetary policy announcement

Mail and Guardian

Harare, Zimbabwe

24 July 2007 01:26

Zimbabwe's central bank on Tuesday said it was indefinitely
postponing a much awaited mid-year monetary policy statement due next week
to give time to analyse the implications of government price controls and an
imminent supplementary budget.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono has been tasked by
President Robert Mugabe's government to lead efforts to turn around an
economy battered by eight years of recession.

Gono's twice yearly statements have become the major highlights
of Zimbabwe's economic calendar but some analysts say official policies such
as last month's directive to slash prices by half continue to frustrate
efforts to revive the economy.

Gono said in a statement that he had postponed the policy
announcement as a result of "the need for more time to enable the Reserve
Bank to analyse the policy implications and way forward with regards to the
on-going government programme on pricing structures in the economy".

He added that there was also a "need for the monetary policy
statement to draw synergies from the imminent fiscal supplementary budget
statement".

Gono has previously said high government expenditure has helped
fuel inflation, which at 4 500% is the highest in the world and dramatises a
crisis that has pushed unemployment to 80% and caused shortages of foreign
currency, fuel and food.

Mugabe's government three weeks ago rolled back prices of basic
goods and services to June 18 levels after increases of up to 300% in one
week piled more pressure on desperate consumers.

The central bank chief has urged the government to be cautious
on its price crackdown after most shop shelves were left empty by consumers
scrambling to buy basic goods fearing manufacturers would reduce supplies.

Mugabe, in power for the last 27 years and seeking another
five-year presidential term next year, denies charges of economic
mismanagement and instead blames the West for sabotaging the economy to
punish him for handing over white-owned farms to blacks. - Reuters


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Cost of living in Zimbabwe up by 49 percent: Consumer council

The Citizen

HARARE - The cost of living in Zimbabwe has shot up by 49 percent,
despite the imposition of price controls, reports said Tuesday.
An average family of six required 8.2 million Zimbabwe dollars for
basic goods and services in June, up from 5.5 million dollars in May, the
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) was reported as saying.
The cost of living is way above average salaries: teachers only earn
around 2 million dollars a month while farm workers earn 96 000 dollars.
According to the CCZ, the cost of living would have been much higher
at 12.6 million dollars if President Robert Mugabe's government had not
imposed sweeping price cuts by at least 50 per cent on most goods and
services late last month.
The business community said it had had to raise prices to keep up with
soaring inflation, now estimated to be well above 4 500 percent.
The authorities have not published inflation data for two months now.
The Central Statistical Office (CSO), which was responsible for the
release of inflation data, is soon to be replaced by a new body, the
National Statistics Agency, the official Herald daily reported Tuesday.
The paper said that the CSO's figures had been queried owing to
capacity constraints and the use of statistically unsound data. - Sapa-dpa.
Last updated 24/07/2007 19:28:08


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Indigenisation noose tightens around white-owned business

Business Day

24 July 2007

Sarah Hudleston

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

Business Day Correspondent

BUSINESSES in Zimbabwe may have only five weeks before they are
forced to comply with the government's proposed indigenisation bill that
will make it illegal for most white Zimbabweans or foreigners to own a
controlling stake in a business in the country.

At a recent workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe's captains of industry
were told the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill could come into effect by
the end of next month. The minimum size of businesses affected had not yet
been established.

Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana
said at the workshop the proposed law was corrective and not racial,
according to a Merchant Banks of Central Africa report. The government
defines "indigenous" as people disadvantaged before 1980.

Mangwana said "indigenous could include Indians or people of
mixed race or even whites - such as Greeks - who feel they were racially
disadvantaged before 1980".

Clive Tasker, MD Southern Africa of Standard Bank, said the bank
had been asked for comment on the bill, and had given feedback. He did not
elaborate.

Spokesman for Barclays Vukani Magubane said yesterday Barclays
was still studying the implications of the proposed bill.

"We cannot comment until we see what is actually going to
happen," she said.


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New law to offer Mugabe quick exit

Business Day

24 July 2007

Cris Chinaka

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

Reuters

HARARE - Zimbabwe's parliament opens a new session this week to debate a
radical indigenisation bill and a law empowering the house to name President
Robert Mugabe's probable successor without holding a separate national vote.

Mugabe, Zimbabwe's sole ruler since independence from Britain in 1980, will
officially open the last session of the house of assembly and the senate
today ahead of general polls, due by March next year

Political analysts said the proposed legislation - including the
constitutional bill seeking to combine parliamentary and presidential
elections and the so-called economic empowerment bill - could increase
uncertainties about Zimbabwe's future.

"On the economic side, we are looking at a government that is, in word and
in deed, continuing with radical policies which, in respect of the farm
seizures, badly hurt the economy," said Eldred Masunungure, a political
science professor at the University of Zimbabwe.

"The nationalisation of foreign firms may have a similar impact if it is
handled as badly as the land programme," he said.

Masunungure said the Constitutional Amendment Bill, consolidating the
electoral calendar, with clauses giving parliament power to elect a new
president if a vacancy occurred between elections, could give Mugabe an
avenue to retire after the polls and still influence a successor.

"I know that the concept of a dignified exit for Mugabe has been dismissed
by some people and that there are those who believe he wants to hang on to
power for life, but I think Mugabe also knows that his future depends on
creating enough space to manoeuvre," said Masunungure.

"To me that bill gives him space for some exit, but then politics is not a
clinical game with predictable results."

Mugabe is seeking re-election next year and analysts say he is sure to use
the empowerment law to enrich supporters and consolidate ranks before the
election .

Leading economic consultant John Robertson said that black economic
empowerment and an indigenisation drive, which the government hopes will
start in October, would further damage an economy already hit by Mugabe's
other policies.

Mugabe plans to transfer control of all companies, including foreign banks
and some mining operations, to locals under the black empowerment bill. His
ruling Zanu (PF) party dominates parliament and is expected to pass the bill
before September.

"This is going to be another exercise in cronyism, grabbing companies or
shares and giving them to the party faithful," said Robertson.

Mugabe ordered consumer prices halved last month after the cost of some
foodstuffs had risen threefold, further squeezing urban workers living with
severe water and power cuts, burst sewer pipes and a suffocating political
environment.


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Zimbabwe worried about shortages of goods

Business Report

July 24, 2007

By Brian Latham

Harare - Zimbabwe's government was worried about shortages of food and other
basic goods in the country, and was prepared to help businesses rectify the
situation, trade and industry minister Obert Mpofu said on Sunday.

President Robert Mugabe last month ordered all retailers, manufacturers,
petrol stations and service companies to halve prices in order to reduce
record annual inflation, which stands at 4 530 percent, according to the
National Merchant Bank of Zimbabwe. The decree has resulted in shortages of
food and fuel at retail outlets in the country.

"We are worried by the shortages," Mpofu said in Harare.

"As government, we're working on the supply side to correct the situation
and we're asking for businesses facing difficulties to approach government
for assistance."

Zimbabwe's economy, previously the second-largest in southern Africa, has
shrunk by more than a third since 2000 because of drought and Mugabe's
seizure of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to black
subsistence farmers.

The nation was experiencing hyperinflation, in which prices rose by more
than 50 percent a month, and the annual rate might exceed 10 000 percent by
the end of 2007, the International Monetary Fund said last month.

At least 4 000 people, including shop managers and chief executives, have
been arrested since a crackdown to enforce the price cuts began, police
spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka said yesterday from Harare.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries had asked the government to lift
the price controls, Callisto Jokonya, the business chamber's president, said
in an interview yesterday.

"We've written to the president asking for an end to price controls," he
said.

"We've also submitted working papers on the turnaround of the economy."

Jokonya would not elaborate. - Bloomberg


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Archbishop Pius Ncube : a message of solidarity

----- Original Message -----
From: "Sokwanele" <info@sokwanele.com>
Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2007 11:18 PM
Subject: ARCHBISHOP PIUS NCUBE : A MESSAGE OF SOLIDARITY

Dear Friends,

Please find below a message of solidarity received today and we are told is
being widely circulated by email. This is a call from the people of
Zimbabwe, a statement on behalf of all Zimbabweans standing in solidarity
with Archbishop Pius Ncube.

Please help those distributing the message to reach a wider audience by
publishing it on your websites. We ask all your readers to pick up the
message as well and pass it on to their friends, family and colleagues.

We'd also like to remind everyone about the multi-denominational prayer
service to be held tomorrow (25 July) in Bulawayo in support of Archbishop
Pius Ncube.

What: Multi-denomination prayer service in support of Archbishop Pius Ncube
Where: St Mary's Cathedral, Lobengula Street, Bulawayo
When: Wednesday 25 July 2007, 1-2pm

Thank you!
Sokwanele

ARCHBISHOP PIUS NCUBE : A MESSAGE OF SOLIDARITY

We as citizens of Zimbabwe are appalled at the recent attempt of the State
to undermine the standing of +Ncube. We demand answers to the following
questions:

* Why was the Deputy Sheriff accompanied by ten state journalists when
serving +Ncube with a summons? This has never happened before in the history
of Zimbabwe.
* Why were pornographic images, which may or may not be of +Ncube and a
woman in what they imagined to be the privacy of a bedroom, displayed day
after day in the state run media, including newspapers and television, to
which children have ready access?
* Why is the government fighting a battle for the alleged aggrieved husband?
His rights in this case will be decided in due course in a court of law,
and it is detrimental for this case or any other to be so publicly debated
while sub judice.
* What interest does the government have in this simple civil case?

It is in the interests of the general public to know that Ernest Tekere, the
private investigator on this case, was for twenty years a very senior CIO
operative, and that he was allegedly active in Matabeleland during the
Gukurahundi campaign. The media attack on +Ncube has highlighted the fact
that he has been an outspoken critic of Gukurahundi and other government
instigated violations of human rights, and has suggested that +Ncube should
not be forgiven any transgressions, as he has spoken out about the need for
those responsible for gross crimes against humanity to be brought to
justice. In other words, we believe that Tekere has a personal as well as a
State axe to grind against +Ncube.

While it would be unfortunate if the allegations of a love affair are true,
we believe that there is no comparison between two consenting adults having
sex and the murder of 20,000 people, the displacement of 500,000 and the
total disregard for its own people that this government has shown for 27
years. A love affair would show +Ncube is capable of human frailty. The
state is guilty of crimes against humanity.

We believe that +Ncube's oath of celibacy and any breaching of this is an
issue between himself and the Church which he serves. He did not take this
oath with the nation and he should not be expected to give the nation an
explanation. We are sure that he will deal with the issue appropriately
through the Church channels, and will deal with the civil claim through the
courts.

We encourage all caring citizens to stand by +Pius Ncube in this dark hour,
as he has tirelessly stood by us all for many years. We ask him to continue
to raise his voice with ours, and to continue to campaign for the many just
causes and fair practices that he has worked for in the democracy movement.

[ends]

--
SOKWANELE - ZVAKWANA - ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Visit our website at: www.sokwanele.com
Visit our blog at: www.sokwanele.com/thisiszimbabwe


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Zimbabwean opposition lawmakers suspend boycott of Mugabe

Yahoo News

HARARE (AFP) - Lawmakers from Zimbabwe's main opposition on Tuesday
suspended their boycott of President Robert Mugabe's official functions when
they attended the opening of parliament addressed by the veteran ruler.

"This is a demonstration of our commitment and resolve to deal with the
national crisis," Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesman Nelson
Chamisa told AFP after attending the official opening of the third session
of the sixth parliament.

"The house is on fire and we can't afford to go on bickering. We believe the
on-going dialogue should be given a chance and whatever we are doing is in
the best interest and members of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) who have invested a lot of effort in the dialogue."

The SADC has mandated South African President Thabo Mbeki to broker a
dialogue between Mugabe's government and the opposition.

The MDC has in the past boycotted official functions addressed by Mugabe
following the country's last presidential polls in 2002 which the party
charged were rigged to hand the 83-year-old ruler victory.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai who has posed the stiffest challenge to
Mugabe's 27-year hold on power said he instructed lawmakers from his party
to attend Tuesday's function as a gesture of his party's commitment to
dialogue with Mugabe's ruling party.

"Over the years, the MDC has boycotted all functions and events presided
over by the 'winning' candidate," Tsvangirai said in statement.

"On 29 March 2007, the SADC heads of state resolved to appoint President
Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to broker dialogue between the MDC and
government.

"As our gesture of our bona fide belief in this dialogue, I have duly
instructed our MPs to attend the official opening of parliament."

Chamisa said the party would review its stance and decide whether to lift
the boycott as the talks progress.

In his address to parliament Mugabe called on Zimbabweans to "put Zimbabwe
ahead of parochial partisan interests."

"By putting Zimbabweans first, let us all shun retrogressive and
self-destructive tendencies and work tirelessly to see Zimbabwe emerge as a
strong, united, egalitarian and prosperous nation," Mugabe said.


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Don't hoard goods, Zimbabwe's finance minister pleads

The Citizen

HARARE/JOHANNESBURG - As Zimbabwe's supermarkets rapidly continue to
empty, Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi has pleaded with shoppers not to
hoard goods, reports said Tuesday.
Shoppers have cleared supermarkets of most basics following massive
state-ordered price slashes earlier this month.
Many goods are now only available on the black market, at
hugely-inflated prices.
Speaking in the southern town of Masvingo, Mumbengegwi said there was
no need for people to hoard goods, the state-controlled Herald reported.
He said price monitors would now be a permanent feature in Zimbabwe,
the paper added.
President Robert Mugabe's government said it was ordering the
controversial price cuts to protect consumers from greedy merchants intent
on toppling the regime.
But businesses say they were only responding to soaring inflation
rates. The authorities stopped issuing inflation figures two months ago as
the rate soared to at least 4 500 per cent.
Prosecutors in Harare meanwhile are urging magistrates to jail
businessmen for overcharging, the Herald said in a separate report.
Eight businessmen were Monday remanded in custody pending sentence for
overcharging.
Prosecutor Patson Nyazamba told the Harare Magistrates Court the eight
should be removed from society, according to the report.
The businessmen argued that they bought their goods at high prices
from wholesalers.
Independent economists have warned the price blitz could see many
businesses shutting down, bringing more misery to Zimbabweans already mired
in their seventh year of economic recession. - Sapa-dpa.
Last updated 24/07/2007 19:28:08


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Cat & mouse kind of business by wholesalers/retailers

The Zimbabwean

-Feature(24-07-07)
HARARE:
THE hype about price reductions being done at gunpoint by the Zanu (PF)
regime has been generated mainly by the anxiety shown by Zimbabweans but a
survey has shown that retailers and wholesalers are playing a cat and mouse
game with the regime.

The nation, suffering under the yoke of oppression by the Zanu (PF) regime
and under a heavy sense of uncertainty, is getting used to spending many
hours in long queues not only for basic commodities but also to get simple
things such as lotion.

The regime is trying to capitalize on the chaos it has created for political
expediency ahead of next year's elections by spewing propaganda to convince
people that the price war is working.

But a survey by CAJ News revealed that prices of goods and commodities that
are still available on the official market are being reduced mainly during
the presence of members of the crack teams deployed by government to enforce
slashes.

It has also emerged that whilst most foodstuffs have run out, retailers and
wholesalers have come up with ways of handling the regime regarding other
goods such as furniture and electricals.

A visit to furniture and electrical shops in Harare showed that goods have
only been reduced by less than 10% in fewer cases whilst at most they are
selling at the prices that were there before the price war began.

The shops are also using the tactic of marking the bulk of stock as having
been sold and thereby avoiding demands by the crack teams to display price
tags.

"These DVD players were costing $6,5 million before the war started and we
reduced to $6 million," Kevin Gakare a shop assistant in central Harare
said.

In the same shop 15 out of the 17 television sets in stock were marked as
having been sold and Gakare confirmed that was their tactic to avoid
problems with the price monitoring teams.

"We are telling them that all these have been sold and are only waiting to
be delivered to their buyers and that way we avoid problems with them," he
said.

The same situation applies for clothing retailers visited by CAJ News in
Harare. "It is impossible to
reduce these prices by the margins demanded by government because I imported
them from abroad using foreign currency purchased at the black market," an
owner of a clothing outlet said from Harare city centre's Ximex Mall.

"We would rather close shop than donate to the nation as demanded by
government."

A pair of jeans in the clothing shop was selling for $3,5 million, which is
above the gross salary for
teachers and nurses in the country.

In the case of foodstuffs, whilst they have disappeared from the official
market, the black market
is flooded by sugar, mealie meal, soap and other basic commodities and
selling at prices at times ten times higher than those stipulated by
government.

Rebranding has also emerged to be one of the ways through which
manufacturers are trying to evade the crackdown by government through
abandoning the traditionally known brands and repackaging the goods.

Industry and International Trade Minister, Obert Mpofu admitted to CAJ News
the tricks being applied by retailers to evade the price reduction campaign.

"It has come to our attention that there are various ways through which
businesses are avoiding compliance with government orders and we are
impressing upon our teams to look out for them and bring them to book,"
Mpofu said.

"These are people who deserve to be arrested and jailed because they are
fighting against
the people of this country. We are aware of campaigns by the opposition as
well as our detractors to make sure there are shortages of commodities in
the country."

The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe said the situation was getting worse for
the consumer. "The situation is becoming more difficult for the consumer
because in addition to shortages of most basic commodities, they have
started emerging on the black market and very expensive," the consumer body
said.

The situation is tense across the whole country as Zimbabweans ponder the
future with shelves in shops becoming empty on a daily basis and the threats
by government to take over business have not been translated into tangible
results.

Many workers have been laid off as manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers
closed shop during the past two weeks government has been on a warpath over
pricing modules-CAJ News.


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USAID Announces Additional Emergency Food Aid for Zimbabwe

United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Date: 24 Jul 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
announced that it is delivering an additional 47,400 metric tons (MT) of
food assistance to Zimbabwe. This donation will be distributed through the
United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and the NGO Consortium for the
Southern Africa Food Security Emergency (C-SAFE).

This additional tonnage from USAID will bring the total fiscal year 2007
U.S. food assistance to Zimbabwe to 143,270 metric tons, valued at
approximately $145 million -- meeting approximately one-third of the
assessed food emergency needs through the country's next harvest in March of
2008.

The cornmeal, bulgur wheat, oil and beans provided by the U.S. Government
will be distributed freely, based on need, to those Zimbabweans who are
unable to provide food for themselves and their families. This new
contribution of 47,400 MTs of food is enough to feed over half-a-million
people for a full six months.

Detrimental Government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) policies, coupled with poor rains
and drought conditions during the 2006-2007 agricultural growing season,
resulted in widespread crop failure and severe yield shortfalls in the
southern part of the country. The drought has exacerbated the country's
ongoing economic and political crisis. It is estimated that the number of
Zimbabweans in need of food assistance will peak at 4.1 million -- more than
a third of Zimbabwe's estimated total population -- at the height of the
hunger season between January and March 2008, according to a recent UN
report. Experts estimate that this year's maize production will leave
between one-third and one-half of the country's food requirements
unsatisfied.

"America remains committed to breaking the cycle of hunger throughout
Africa. The combined efforts of the United States Government, U.S. private
voluntary organizations (PVOs), and the UN World Food Program have averted a
widespread humanitarian crisis in southern Africa this year," said Mike
Hess, Assistant Administrator for USAID's Bureau for Democracy, Conflict &
Humanitarian Assistance. "We urge international donors to honor their
pledges for greater assistance and call on African governments to continue
the reforms that will ultimately lift their populations out of poverty."

USAID has been actively involved in responding to the food security
situation in Zimbabwe since early 2002 and has delivered more than 700,000
MT of food aid valued at more than $400 million to Zimbabwe over the last
five years, making it the largest donor of food assistance in that country.
USAID also supports emergency food aid programs in other countries in the
region including Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique.


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Is SA ready for the Zim human tsunami?

IOL

July 24 2007 at 03:35PM

Zimbabwean refugees are fleeing into South Africa at the rate of a
thousand a day, on one Limpopo farm alone, the Democratic Alliance said on
Tuesday.

"Yesterday, the DA concluded a visit to the Beit Bridge border post
and discovered that, on one farm alone, around 1 000 new refugees are
fleeing illegally into South Africa every day," DA home affairs spokesperson
Mark Lowe said in a statement.

This was in addition to the 6 000 legal Zimbabwe immigrants entering
the country.

"Some estimates put the total number at 10 000 a day," he said.

The DA had written to the SA Human Rights Commission, asking it to
look into the Zimbabwean refugee crisis.

This followed the DA's asking Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe
Mapisa-Nqakula to consider setting up refugee camps close to the border, a
request she refused.

"The minister's spokesperson, Cleo Mosana, declined the request,
stating that the refugees should be integrated into South African
communities.

"Ms Mosana neglected to mention which communities would be able to
handle enormous numbers of refugees, with no money, no shelter and no
clothing except that which they are wearing," Lowe said.

The refugee situation was set to worsen at the end of this month when
the Zimbabwean government enacted legislation stopping people from bringing
goods over the border.

"I challenge the minister to visit the border and see for herself what
real human suffering looks like. Perhaps then she will abide by her
constitutional duty to apply the provisions of the Refugees Act, and set up
a place of safety for the desperate refugees that are coming to us for
help."

Lowe said he would raise the matter in parliament. - Sapa


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8 shop owners remanded in custody as price control chaos continues


By Tererai Karimakwenda
24 July, 2007

The state controlled paper The Herald reports that 8 shop owners were on
Monday remanded in custody until Wednesday for sentencing, after they were
convicted of over charging in the government crackdown on businesses dubbed
Operation Dzikisa Mitengo (reduce prices). The shop owners were arrested on
July 20th, allegedly for overcharging on items such as fruit juice, tea,
soap and toothpaste. One business is based in Harare's city centre and the
other seven are based in the high-density suburb of Epworth.
The Herald report said prosecutor Patson Nyazamba described them as economic
saboteurs and urged the magistrate to jail them. But most of them explained
that they had bought the goods at high prices from wholesalers and pleaded
with the court for a lighter sentence. Over the past 3 weeks housands of
other business executives have been arrested and released on bail and are
still to appear in court.
Nana Ampofu, an economic analyst with Global Insight, said from the point of
view of the government of Zimbabwe failure to comply is a serious crime. But
from an economic standpoint, businesses are obliged to maintain their prices
at a level that allows them to make a profit.
Ampofu said the net effect of repressive policies being pursued by the
government is that consumers will at first be enthused because they can
access goods cheaply. But soon enough they would see fewer and fewer
products on the shelves and eventually businesses will shut down. Ampofu
described the economic situation in Zimbabwe as "messy" explaining that in
the short term the current policy may reduce inflation, but in the long term
it was not sustainable. Many businesses are reported to have already shut
down and there are serious shortages of bread, meat and many other basic
items.
In other price control news, three executives from the Meikles Africa Group
appeared before a Harare magistrate on Monday charged with overcharging for
clothes and cosmetics. The three were charged in their personal capacities
for violations at one of their shops Greatermans, in Harare. They were
remanded out of custody to August 7.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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341 Families Get Ultimatum to Vacate Catholic-Owned Farm



The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe

25 July 2007
Posted to the web 24 July 2007

Harare

MORE than 341 families living at a farm belonging to the Roman Catholic
Church near Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison have been given an ultimatum
to vacate the farm by Thursday this week after a five-year protracted legal
wrangle with the church over occupation of the property.

The ultimatum follows a Supreme Court ruling, made available last week,
allowing the appeal by the Jesuits to evict the families from the farm.

The eviction of the families from the farm they had occupied for the past 40
years is to pave way for the building of low-density houses as approved by
Harare City Council.

Speaking for the court, Justice Paddington Garwe quashed a High Court
decision to set aside an order awarded to the church to evict the families.

"In the circumstances, the appeal must succeed. It is accordingly ordered
that the appeal is allowed with costs," said Justice Garwe.

The judgment set aside the High Court's decision of April last year and
ordered that the award of November 8, 2004 should be registered as a
judgment of the High Court.

Justice Garwe heard the appeal with Justices Misheck Cheda and Vernanda
Ziyambi, who concurred with the ruling. The Jesuits had appealed against the
High Court's decision stopping it from carrying out the evictions.

The legal dispute had been dragging on for more than five years.

In March last year, the High Court ordered the Roman Catholic not to evict
the occupants, prompting the Jesuits to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The families should vacate the farm by Thursday this week or risk incurring
the cost of ejection.

However, the families, whose hopes to remain at the farm had been shattered,
say they have nowhere to go.

Some of the families said they had lived at the farm since 1930.

Addressing the residents at the farm over the weekend, Zanu-PF Harare
Province deputy secretary for lands Cde Noah Mangondo said it was a sad
development given that the families are set to vacate a place they had
called home.

The Roman Catholic Church authorised the stay of some of the families when
it acquired the property in 1902. Cde Mangondo said they were concerned
about the welfare of the families.

Cde Mangondo said meetings with representatives of the church and the
Governor of Mashonaland East Cde Ray Kaukonde would be held to determine
future of the families.

"As a party, we are concerned about the welfare of the people and we have
approached Cde Ray Kaukonde over the issue," he said.

Cde Mangondo said Government would intervene as a peacemaker. The families,
some of whom had built houses worth billions of dollars and drilled
boreholes, are set to vacate without compensation.

Ms Sarah Chidoti said that she had lived at the farm for more than 50 years.


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The case for invading Zimbabwe

National Post, Canada

James Kirchick, The New Republic
Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2007
On July 1, Pius Ncube, the Catholic archbishop of Zimbabwe's second largest
city, Bulawayo, called on his country's former colonial occupier to invade
and topple President Robert Mugabe. "I think it is justified for Britain to
raid Zimbabwe and remove Mugabe," Zimbabwe's highest ranking Catholic
prelate told London's Sunday Times. "We should do it ourselves but there's
too much fear."

The impulse to support such an invasion is difficult to dismiss, especially
when it comes from a man of the cloth who has himself weathered repeated
death threats from government thugs. Mugabe is, after all, one of the
world's most vicious dictators. Through his land seizure policies, his
violent displacement of some 700,000 people into the countryside in May,
2005, and, more importantly, his deliberate manipulation of food aid to
starve those opposed to his regime, Mugabe has for years been engaging in
what one regime critic calls "smart genocide." Rather than engaging in
wholesale slaughter, Mugabe is slowly starving his people to death at a rate
that may well be faster than what the Sudanese government is inflicting in
Darfur.

Great Britain, which was the last authority to administer Zimbabwe when the
rebel territory of Rhodesia temporarily reverted back to colonial status
from December, 1979, until April, 1980, officially handed power over to
Mugabe after he won an election marked by intimidation, violence and other
irregularities. From a moral standpoint, Ncube is right to argue that
Britain now owes it to the Zimbabwean people to remove the murderous despot
it helped install. And he is also right to see foreign intervention as the
quickest way to rescue Zimbabwe from its desperate situation.

Under international law, Britain is entirely justified in removing Mugabe
from power. The emerging legal doctrine since the adoption in 1948 of the
United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment for the Crime of
Genocide, and especially since NATO's Balkan interventions of the 1990s, has
been one that recognizes the right of the international community to
intercede in countries to prevent genocide or other grave humanitarian
crises.
From a tactical standpoint, overthrowing Mugabe would not be difficult. His
military, while formidable enough to cow the oppressed Zimbabwean people,
would be no match for a small contingent of well-equipped Western troops
backed by air power. A swift "decapitation strategy," aimed at killing or
capturing Mugabe and his top leadership, would topple his regime.

This scenario may sound familiar, but post-Mugabe Zimbabwe is unlikely to
devolve into the sectarian strife that has marred post-Saddam Iraq. To be
sure, Africa is no stranger to tribal warfare, and Zimbabwe's majority Shona
and minority Ndebele tribes have fought bloody battles in the past. But the
motivation for Mugabe's rule has long been personal kleptocracy, not the
aggrandizement of the Shonas. His reign has been universally oppressive and
has thus seriously weakened residual tribal rivalries. Everyone in Zimbabwe
is suffering, except the small coterie of ZANU-PF (Mugabe's political party)
apparatchiks living off the carcass of this dying regime.

Unfortunately, however justified, a Western invasion of Zimbabwe is both
militarily and politically problematic. For one, Zimbabwe is landlocked and
it is unlikely that a neighbouring country would provide a staging ground
for non-African troops to launch an attack. South Africa, the regional
military hegemon, has signed a series of mutual defence pacts with Mugabe
that would legally compel it to defend his regime from either an internal or
external threat.

The most feasible solution to the Zimbabwean crisis would be for African
states, led by South Africa, to exert economic pressure and, failing that,
issue direct military threats to Mugabe demanding that he abdicate power
immediately. More specifically, South Africa should give Mugabe an ultimatum
to step down from office and hand power to a transitional government working
in conjunction with the African Union and a UN trusteeship authority, or
face a swift military defeat at the hands of the far mightier and
professional South African National Defense Force.

The problem here is that South Africa's ruling African National Congress
(ANC) still sees Mugabe as a liberation hero, and views Western criticism of
him as neo-imperialist. (In recent closed-door negotiations, South African
President Thabo Mbeki reportedly suggested that Mugabe step down and accept
the adoption of a new constitution prior to the 2008 presidential
election -- to which Mugabe responded by ending the negotiations.)

Barring some massive ideological shift in the ANC, it appears that the
Zimbabwean people are either going to have to wait until Mugabe dies or
launch a mass revolt. What a shame that the British can't step in and do the
job right now.

jkirchick@tnr.com - James Kirchick is the assistant to the editor-in-chief
of The New Republic.

National Post 2007

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