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As millions starve, Mugabe builds a £2m shrine

The Telegraph

Stephen Bevan and Michael Gwaridzo in Harare, Sunday Telegraph

Last Updated: 11:29pm BST 19/05/2007

††††† Its economy is crumbling and its people are struggling to survive in
the face of nearly 4,000 per cent inflation, food and fuel shortages and the
prospect of power cuts for up to 20 hours a day. Yet Zimbabwe's president,
Robert Mugabe, is spending £2 million on perhaps his most grandiose project
yet - a monument to himself.

††††† Work has already begun on a museum, dedicated to the life and dubious
achievements of the 83-year-old president, in his home district of Zvimba,
65 miles west of the capital, Harare.

††††† "As we speak right now, ground work for the construction of the museum
is at an advanced stage," a government minister said. "The president wants
the project to be speeded up so he can open it next year, possibly after
winning the [presidential] elections."

††††† Mugabe's policies, such as the seizure of white-owned farms, are
blamed for an economic crisis in which inflation leapt to more than 3,700
per cent last month. -Unemployment is running at about 80 per cent and there
are severe shortages of staple foods such as maize and wheat.

††††† Construction of the grand edifice, which will cover an area the size
of a football pitch and has been dubbed the "Mugabe shrine", is being
supervised by the local government minister, Ignatius Chombo.

††††† Materials are understood to have been obtained from countries with
regimes friendly to Zimbabwe, such as Malaysia, which supplied the timber
for Mugabe's lavish Chinese-built residence in Zvimba.

††††† Once complete, the museum will house Mugabe's prison letters,
photographs from the war in the Sixties and Seventies against the minority
white government of Ian Smith, his old clothes and copies of his famously
fiery, and often intemperate, speeches.

††††† The museum will also display some of the many gifts the president has
received during his 27 years in office from those who have enjoyed his
patronage - most of them members of his ruling Zanu PF party. Pride of place
is expected to be taken by a 16 ft-long stuffed Nile crocodile - a recent
birthday gift from Mugabe's loyal ministers and officials.

††††† Presenting the 50-year-old male crocodile to the president in
February, Webster Shamu, minister for policy implementation, said it
"symbolised maturity, distilled and accumulated wisdom, and majestic
authority - attributes that have been characteristic of the president's
leadership during the protracted anti-colonialist struggle and even in the
current struggle against imperialist and neo-colonialist forces".

††††† It was during that presentation that Mugabe revealed he had been
discussing plans to build a "shrine" in Zvimba and that the crocodile could
be placed in it. Mr Chombo confirmed being involved in the project though he
declined to discuss the costs.

††††† "The idea has been discussed and we are moving on to the planning
stage," he said. "It would be a shrine for the local community and one that
would be used to depict the president's life history and legacy as well as
aspects of the liberation struggle."

††††† The opposition Movement for Democratic Change accused the president of
self-aggrandisement. A spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, said: "This is no time for
self-glorification for individuals, and it shows how skewed are this
government's priorities. People are struggling to survive and this will be
an island of opulence in a sea of poverty. It's going to be a white elephant
and it is a waste of state resources."

††††† Mugabe's extravagance is well-known. Besides his five official
residences, he owns a number of private houses including the most recent
addition - a palatial three-storey, 25-bedroom, £8 million residence in the
exclusive Harare suburb of Borrowdale.


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Zimbabwe says supports Mbeki's mediation

Reuters

Sat 19 May 2007, 9:59 GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe will cooperate with South African President
Thabo Mbeki's efforts to mediate between the government and the opposition
but would not welcome any "parallel initiatives", state media reported on
Saturday.

Southern African leaders asked Mbeki in March to mediate between President
Robert Mugabe's government and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC).

The request came at a meeting of regional leaders following international
criticism of Harare over the arrest and beating of a group of MDC activists,
including leader Morgan Tsvangirai, after attempting to hold a prayer rally
in the capital.

The state-owned Herald newspaper quoted Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary
Joey Bimha as saying that Mugabe's government would cooperate with the Mbeki
mediation.

"The government will therefore do its utmost to cooperate with President
Mbeki in his efforts to carry out the mandate given to him by SADC (Southern
African Development Community) and will thus not entertain any parallel
initiatives, wherever they come from," Bimha said.

Bimha did not elaborate, but he appeared to be referring to recent moves by
the Pan African parliament to embark on a fact-finding mission.

Mbeki told the South African parliament on Thursday negotiations were
proceeding "very well", without giving details.

On Friday, Zimbabwe's main opposition party said it remained committed to
negotiations with the ZANU PF-led government despite an intensified
crackdown in which many of its members have been arrested or detained.

The MDC says more than 600 opposition supporters have been abducted and
tortured by government agents since February. It says 150 activists and
leaders, including party president Tsvangirai, have sustained serious
injuries.

Mugabe's government accuses opposition activists of unleashing violence in
the townships and engaging in "terrorist" activities, a charge the
opposition denies.


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Pan African Parly defers decision on Zimbabwe mission

Xinhua

††††† www.chinaview.cn† 2007-05-19 19:47:47

††††††††† HARARE, May 19 (Xinhua) - The Pan African Parliament has deferred
to November the adoption of a resolution on a motion calling upon the House
to send a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe to probe alleged human rights
abuses this year as more time was needed to consider the issue, The Herald
said on Saturday.

††††††††† The continental assembly's bureau said it needed time to study the
Zimbabwean motion together with other recommendations put forward during the
two-week ordinary session that ended on Friday. PAP president Getrude
Mongella of Tanzania told the House that only urgent resolutions had to be
adopted.

††††††††† She said many issues were debated during the session but some of
them had been overtaken by events after having been either discussed by the
African Union executive council or at other continental or regional fora.

††††††††† Mongella said the continental parliament's bureau must be given
time to cross-check on some of the issues that had been raised during debate
before the resolutions were brought for adoption in the House.

††††††††† The deferment of the adoption of the resolution on the motion on
Zimbabwe effectively means that the PAP would have to wait until the next
ordinary session in November to resolve on whether the continental
parliament should send a fact-finding mission to the country.

††††††††† The motion was moved by South Africa's Inkatha Freedom Party
Member of Parliament Suzanne Vos and seconded by Botswana opposition party
Boyce Sebetela last week.

††††††††† A total of 149 MPs voted in favor of the motion while 20 voted
against with three other legislators abstaining.


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Zimbabwe govt to revoke unused mine claims

Reuters

Sat 19 May 2007, 8:21 GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's government has warned
miners that they risk losing mining claims undeveloped for lengthy periods
of time, state media reported on Saturday.

Mines Minister Amos Midzi told a meeting of the Chamber of Mines that
government would implement a "use it or lose it" policy to discourage miners
holding onto claims for speculative purposes without developing them, the
state-owned Herald newspaper said.

"This scenario gives the impression of a country over-prospected, yet the
truth is the opposite. There is need to open ground to serious mine
developers," Midzi was quoted saying.

"Companies should, therefore, brace themselves for the new policy 'use it or
lose it' unless, of course, under special circumstances, companies should
give realistic explanations as to why they want to keep undeveloped mines,"
he added.

Midzi said the lack of production at mines suggested speculative mine
claims, adding that firms would now be required to provide proof of mineral
discovery before claims could be registered.

Zimbabwean miners say several mines have closed down as a result of the
hostile operating environment characterised by a skewed exchange rate,
hyper-inflation -- now above 3,700 percent year-on-year -- and serious
foreign currency shortages that have made it difficult to import equipment
and spares.

Uncertainty over government's plans to boost local control of foreign-owned
mines have also curbed exploration and mine development.

Mining output declined by 14.4 percent, while gold deliveries to the central
bank were 18 percent down to just under 11 tonnes last year.

Gold production, which accounts for 51 percent of total mineral output, was
21 tonnes in 2004.


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Pay in bits and pieces

Dear Family and Friends,
The last time I had occasion to call the fire brigade was in March 2002. It
was
just a couple of weeks before the Presidential elections and a house a few
doors away was petrol bombed. Windows exploded, the roof collapsed and a raging
inferno turned night into day. The fire brigade didn't answer their phone so
I dialled the police. They said they couldn't help as they didn't have a
vehicle and were unable to alert the fire brigade as the police telephone was not
able to make outgoing calls. The fire raged out of control and finally I got
through to the fire brigade. They said they couldn't send a fire engine as it was
busy picking up† a sick person in a high density suburb. Despite my best efforts
to explain that I wasn't asking for an ambulance but a fire truck with hoses
and water, the fire brigade never came.

About eighteen months later, without any explanation, a new charge suddenly
appeared on rate-payers municipal accounts. It was called a 'fire levy' and
it had been added to our monthly accounts along with a massive increase in all
municipal services ranging from 475% for something called a development
levy, to 1600% for water. On my account for that month I wrote in big letters: "NOT
PAID:Public Protest; To be Reduced. " A hastily convened and heated public
meeting, a protest by residents to the Municipal offices and it was all over. Victory
came swiftly! The accounts were withdrawn and the increases were slashed by over 50%.

The 'fire levy,' however, became a permanent fixture on the bill.

This week Marondera residents received their monthly Municipal accounts and
were staggered to find that charges have increased by one thousand two
hundred percent. Phoning for an explanation residents are being told they can "pay
in instalments." How do you pay a monthly bill in instalments if the account is
higher than your entire monthly wage, one resident asked? 'Just pay what you
have" came the reply; "pay in bits and pieces" the man said.

†Another asked if the increase had been advertised in the press as required
under the Urban Councils act. The municipal employee said that they didn't
have to advertise in the press because they had consulted their 'stakeholders'.
Asked who these stakeholders were, the† employee declined to answer and said the
Town Accountant would know but he wasn't available. When the resident asked if he
was a 'stakeholder' as he lived in the town, owned property and paid rates, the
municipal employee said† "aaaaah" and laughed but did not answer.

†Another resident who tried to complain declined to reveal his exact address
because he is well aware of the recriminations which accompany all forms of
protest in Zimbabwe these days. He met with a very hostile response. The
Municipal employee, whose salary is paid with our rates, said: "If you don't
want to tell me where you stay, I no longer want to talk to you" and slammed
the phone down. Hardly professional behaviour for a† senior municipal employee
who has clearly forgotten just exactly where the money comes from to pay his salary.

Dialogue and plain common sense have left the caretakers of this bankrupt
town. People are complaining, more will speak out. A small picture of the bigger
picture. Until next week, thanks for reading, love cathy
Copyright cathy buckle 19 May 2007† http://africantears.netfirms.com


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Isolate Mugabe to Promote Rights



New Vision (Kampala)

EDITORIAL
18 May 2007
Posted to the web 19 May 2007

Kampala

THE European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) are wrangling over
whether or not Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe should attend the
EU-Africa summit scheduled for December in Lisbon, Portugal. The summit is
important because it seeks to discuss development and migration-issues that
are dear to Africans.

The AU insists that outsiders have no right to judge African leaders-to say
who the good guys and the bad guys are on the continent. But the AU is not
in a position to do this either, because it lacks acceptable standards for
leaders. It insists on non-interference in the internal affairs of other
states-an outdated principle that led to the collapse of the Organisation of
African Unity (OAU).

For example, the OAU held its summit in Uganda in 1976 at the height of Idi
Amin's reign of terror and the continental body proved itself irrelevant. It
was therefore shocking when the recent SADC summit in Tanzania expressed
"solidarity with" Mugabe at a time when everybody expected advice for him
not to contest in the next election. This is what makes the EU different
from African bodies.

The EU banned Mugabe and his entourage from travelling to Europe for human
rights violations. The AU knows that Mugabe does not respect human rights,
unleashes terror against the opposition, his people are starving, the
economy has collapsed and he has no ideas to reverse all these. So in whose
interest should he be propped up, ordinary Zimbabweans or himself and fellow
presidents?

The AU should have benchmarks to isolate the bad apples if it is to stand
the test of time. Mugabe should stop hiding under a would-be good programme
of land reform to cause more suffering to his people.


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CIO descend on border post

zimbabwejournalists.com

19th May 2007 23:26 GMT

By Trust Matsilele

BEITBRIDGE - Central Intelligence Organisation agents are alleged to have
descended on this border district as they move in to clamp down on
opposition supporters fleeing violence in the country and those being
deported back from South Africa.

Sources within the security department and Zimra confirmed the recent
developments saying more opposition supporters and perceived government
enemies will be victims of the huge deployment sooner or later.

With elections set for early next year, the Zimbabwe government seems intent
on leaving no stone unturned, especially the South African-Zimbabwe border
post where thousands of Zimbabweans use on a daily basis to go in and out of
South Africa.

The Zimbabwean government accuses the opposition of spreading negative
reports about the government, especially those who have left the country
hence the need to stop political violence victims from the lower echelons of
the MDC from living the country.

Political activist Joshua Rusere says the move is going to see opposition
and alleged opposition supporters being tortured and disappearing cases are
set to increase as it will become increasingly difficult to trace those who
will have crossed the border and those who will fail.

The minister of Security Security, Didymus Mutasa, who is Mugabe's close
ally is said to have dispatched about a hundred agents to the border post
since January this year.

Unconfirmed reports allege that a number of opposition supporters' passports
have been confiscated by state agents

Oliver Kubikwa from the Zimbabwe Political Victims Association says a number
of political victims who have been deported from South Africa have fallen
straight into the hands of the security agents.

Journalists, among others, are targeted by this development. Efforts to get
comment from the minister of state security's office were unfruitful as he
was reported to be attending meetings.


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U.N. Commission on Sustainable Destruction

Washington Times

TODAY'S EDITORIAL
May 19, 2007

Zimbabwe's four-digit inflation rate, the worst in the world, is one sign of
the economic shambles in this once-prosperous country. After nearly three
decades of misrule under strongman Robert Mugabe, its farms are wrecked and
its people are on the brink of starvation. It is therefore a most grisly
curiosity that the United Nations has just made Zimbabwe head of its
Commission on Sustainable Development. This, for a regime whose only
sustained activity is destruction -- the systematic destruction of lives,
communities and wealth.
††† The vote to install Zimbabwe came May 11. It was Africa's turn to elect
a chair and the governments on the continent chose Zimbabwe by a 26-21
margin in a secret vote, with three abstentions, reportedly as a gesture of
defiance to the developed world. That rings true, since it certainly could
not have been for economic reasons. About the most sympathetic face to put
on matters is that African governments are reacting in defiance to European
and American environmental and economic policies with which they disagree.
Even so, any such characterization would also be compelled on the merits to
call this vote a disgrace.
††† Zimbabwe is a country where, two years ago, the government made refugees
of approximately 1.5 million of its citizens in "Operation Clear the Trash,"
which bulldozed "unlawful" town and cities. This is a country where potatoes
are a "strategic crop." This is a country whose opposition leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, is arrested repeatedly and beaten by regime forces for the
"crime" of speaking out and holding political rallies. Now, this regime's
representatives are entrusted with an organization whose inspiring
principles include the following: "Human beings are at the centre of
concerns for sustainable development."
††† European governments were particularly opposed to Zimbabwe's candidacy,
for reasons which begin with a very practical concern. Top Zimbabwean
officials chairing the commission would not be able to travel to many
Western capitals active in international development because Zimbabwe's
abysmal human-rights record disqualifies their visas. But they very clearly
were also opposed to Zimbabwe's bid because of the mockery it makes of the
U.N. development agenda. Not even the business-as-usual of sanctimony and
the doling of cash can get underway if this thuggish regime is in charge.
††† The stage is now set for a period of even greater confusion than normal
at the United Nations on the subjects of the environment and economic
development. To the extent that this serves as further evidence of the need
for drastic change at the United Nations -- by no means a certain
proposition -- it would be a silver lining to this vote.


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Hot Seat Interview: Moeletsi Mbeki & Brian Kagoro

May 19, 2007 10:27 AM


Broadcast on 15 May 2007

Violet Gonda:
We welcome on the programme Hot Seat Moeletsi Mbeki a political analysts and brother to South African President Thabo Mbeki and Zimbabwe human rights lawyer and commentator Brian Kagoro. Welcome on the programme Hot Seat.


Moeletsi Mbeki: Thank you

Brian Kagoro: Thank you Violet.


Violet Gonda: Now I am going to start with Moeletsi Mbeki. Many believe that Africa is failing to do more about the crisis in Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe was t his week elected to Chair the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. But there has been an outcry by many who feel that Zimbabwe is completely unfit for this position and that it was the African bloc that pushed this recommendation. Now why is Africa not responding to the situation in your view?


Moeletsi Mbeki: Well I think the main reason; the main problem with Zimbabwe; why Africa is not responding; is actually Southern Africa. Itís not Africa in general. I know for a fact that many other parts of Africa especially West Africa disapprove very strongly of what the ZANU PF regime is doing in Zimbabwe. I have talked to several Presidents in West Africa and they donít support whatís happening.


The problem is that Southern African governments; who are themselves behind Robert Mugabe; one can say, behind ZANU PF, are the ones who are insisting that Zimbabwe must be put forward. If you recall; when there was an Organization of African Unity meeting; these issues were put to the background by the Southern Africa countries because if you remember there was a human rights report, which disapproved strongly of Zimbabwe. So itís the Southern African countries rather than Africa as a whole.


Violet: Now Brian Kagoro do you agree with this? The Zimbabwean Government is responsible for major human rights abuses in the country, now why are the Southern African countries not criticizing the Mugabe regime?


Brian Kagoro: I think there are several factors. The first one is that Zimbabwe is, for most of them, not a foreign relations issue. Itís a domestic relations issue. If South Africa were to admit that Zimbabwe is guilty of the violations that we have all recounted time and time again, South Africa would have to change its policy on how it treats Zimbabwean immigrants. Especially the so-called illegal immigrants and asylum seekers in the country. It will have to stop detaining them like criminals as it does in several detention centers and deporting them, sending them back home.


It would have to adopt a position consistent with an acknowledgment that there is political persecution of a certain group of citizens in Zimbabwe. So that domestic consideration affects, thatís one of them. There are economic and other factors that are linked to accepting that Zimbabwe is behaving like a rogue state. It would mean that domestically it would have to change how it structures its economic interactions in Harare; the sort of loans, soft loans, small loans, some medium size loans that are given to the Harare regime. So in a sense I think there is a huge domestic consideration because South Africaís foreign policy indicates that it has to be motivated by considerations of human rights, consistent with the ANC Charter and its history of supporting democratic struggle and development.


And for Botswana a similar problem has arisen, one similar to Zimbabwe, in the sense that if Botswana were to condemn, it has in the past raised concerns about the influx of Zimbabwean immigrants. But, if it were to out rightly condemn the Harare regime of course this would not only harm the relationship between the two countries, but would also mean that there has to be a change internally. But, there are some sentimental issues that are not necessarily economic which are related to history. And the sentimental issues take several strands. The one is the suspicion that to condemn Mugabe would be to affirm Tsvangirai as the legitimate successor to the Zimbabwean President.


And there are some in SADC; of course; whose views are that the MDC lacks depth to take over the country. That if it did so there would not be stability and that it will comprise the stability of the region. These are speculative reasonings that are not proven. But, amongst the security agencies of course the sort of spectre that is often dangled is that we saw Chiluba and the disastrous consequences for Zambia. And, that to have another Chiluba in Zimbabwe would be undesirable and of course the encouragement to labour-based opposition in South would be great as it would in other countries.


And, for Angola it is a totally different consideration. I am not sure that Angola would pride itself as being any different to Zimbabwe in terms of how it reacts and responds to way it treats the opposition. Itís not as blatant as Harare but certainly not one of the. And in other countries of course the Presidents are fairly new. Our colleagues in the Democratic Republic of Congo benefited largely from the largess and patronage of the Zimbabwean state.


Violet : Let me just go back to the issue of domestic consideration that Brian talked about. We know that there is a huge influx of Zimbabwean refugees fleeing to South Africa Ė about 40 000 a month and many of them are getting sent back, back to Zimbabwe. Now the South African government continues to ignore whatís happening next door. But an opposition official Roy Bennett was recently granted asylum in South Africa And, I understand he is the first senior opposition official to be given refugee status in South Africa. Moeletsi, does this mean South Africa is now acknowledging that there is political persecution in Zimbabwe?


Moeletsi Mbeki: Well the question of refugee status is a question that isgoverned in Africa by the OAU Ė now AU Refugee Convention. So there are a whole lot of conventions Ė the United Nations Convention, but above all the African Union and formerly the OAUís own refugee convention. So there are agreements that you can recognize people as refugees and give them political asylum. So I think itís under that context that Roy Bennett was given political asylum.


But I just want to add to a point that Brian I think is overlooking. The reality is that the opposition in Zimbabwe is a very sophisticated opposition. Really the notion that itís made up of unsophisticated people is not true. You have a huge number of NGOs supporting it, a number of academics, former ZANU PF supporters themselves, senior ZANU PF leaders, trade union leaders. So itís a fallacy to say that MDC canít run the country. MDC can run Zimbabwe better than ZANU PF, which has run the country to the ground.


I think several of the Southern African countries have opposition from the trade unions and from civil society in their own countries. Namibia for example has had opposition from its trade unions. Ben Mulenga the former President of the Namibia Mine Workers Union was one of the leaders of the opposition to SWAPO. So the question of Zimbabwe, of the MDC, is a real question its not speculation. The governments in region donít want to encourage a new type of party that has the support of the large majority of the people whose primary programme is the welfare of the people rather than of a few nationalists leaders.


Violet: You know an ANC member was recently a guest on this programme and he said that the view in Africa is that the opposition is sponsored by the West and that they are puppets of the West. What are your thoughts on this?


Moeletsi Mbeki: Ah, this is a complete fallacy. The MDC is not a puppet of the West, was not set up by the West anymore than the ANC was set up by the West. The ANC got a lot of Western support. It got sanctions, it asked for sanctions from Western countries, from the United States Congress. And it got sanctions from Western countries that didnít constitute the ANC being a puppet of the West, so that it is a fallacy that is being propagated by ZANU PF and its supporters in the region.


Violet: Now Brian given all these issues and by way of seeking solutions to the Zimbabwean crisis is SADC or the AU likely to be effective brokers of a peace deal?


Brian Kagoro: I think Moeletsi has indicated some of the dilemmas. Firstly their premise and judgment of the Zimbabwean opposition is totally misplaced. Secondly, a significant number of them fear ghosts in their own closets, skeletons in their own closets or fear that developments in Zimbabwe would replicate themselves within their own countries with the emergence of strong opposition and a social base. In my view there is a critical mass of African leaders who are not necessarily anti Mugabe or pro Tsvangirai but who are pro-democracy. Who Iíd say are interested in the emergence of a new Africa with a new image and a way of doing things and are growing increasingly frustrated by the sort of reputation or reputational hazards that allowing a Zimbabwean type of reputation to persist would impose on the continent.


So I am not sure that SADC would necessarily be the best abiders for several reasons: That they have been mired in the politics that we both described Ė that is 1. No. 2 - none of them seems to have sufficient willpower or political clout to push Mugabe beyond the current position that he has adopted. Which is that the feud in Harare or the crisis in Zimbabwe is a bilateral feud between Harare and Whitehall and the British government. Perhaps his position will change now that Blair is gone. Before, SADCís excuse for not acting was that the Zimbabwean crisis was anchored around the land issue but now that we witness human rights violations that are not related to the rest of the historical question of land in any remote way, I think that SADC no longer has any excuse. If you like Ďthe emperor is without his clothesí so to speak.


But is there political will? Is there political clout? I doubt that SADC Ė they will in closed-door sessions perhaps express concerns Ė but I doubt that they do have a strong, if you like, a strong man that will be able to reign in Zimbabwe. Are there interests on the African continent beyond SADC? Yes, I think there are several, there are many that will be interested in seeing a resolution to the Zimbabwean crisis because the crisis is not only political. I mean the political crisis has worsened other crisis like the structural and the economic crisis but the resolution of the political question is central to achieving stability and beginning to session some form of transition and then transformation in Zimbabwe. And I think that there is sufficient African leadership beyond SADC to be able to make it happen.


Within the AU we have seen positive signs from the Commission itself where it expressed concerns. But you know the restrains of diplomacy are such that once SADC has defined this as its turf and determined that it is going to do something, albeit inadequate, they have to await the outcome of that process. And of course if you are Zimbabwe who went through the Troika and another Troika and another Troika and the bilateral negotiations and all these collapsed and yet the crisis has persisted. So there would be frustrations if you are Zimbabwe. Generally I think there is a solution and that solution can be found in African leadership. But, the question is how do you then broker, how do you ensure that there are more genuine interlocutors actually are the ones who come into play as opposed to those who are interested in international public relations for Mr. Mugabe.


Violet: Thatís what I actually wanted to find out and back to the issue of SADC and m y next question could be a difficult one for Moeletsi because President Thabo Mbeki is your brother. Now he was chosen by SADC leaders in March as mediator for the crisis in Zimbabwe. Do you think he is the best man for the job?


Moeletsi Mbeki: Well I canít say whether he is the best man or not. The situation is that South Africa has been involved in the Zimbabwean crisis from the very beginning and to tell you the honest truth the ANC has been saying that Zimbabwe is a democratic country despite the fact that elections have been rigged in Zimbabwe. They have give a clean bill of health to the elections that were rigged in Zimbabwe so my own reading is not so much about this individual or that individual. The point is that Southern African countries donít really want a replacement of Mugabe, they want a reformed ZANU PF to be put in place but they donít want a free and fair election, which the MDC can win.


Violet: And you know Thabo Mbeki has received a lot of criticism for the way he is handling the Zimbabwe situation and I think at one point you were quoted saying South Africa's political elite is an obstacle in the quest to save Zimbabwe from collapsing. Now why did you say this?


Moeletsi Mbeki: No, No, No I never said that. It was the newspaper reporter who said that. I said Zimbabwe has become a Bantustan of South Africa and as a Bantustan of South Africa the economy of Zimbabwe is sustained by remittances from Zimbabweans who work in South Africa and which they send to their families and the goods that South African companies chasing after that money sent to Zimbabwe. That was my analysis the other one was by some journalist who wrote his own thing.


Violet: As a political analyst what advice would you give though to your brother in handling the Zimbabwe issue since he is the go-between, the one who is facilitating dialogue?


Moeletsi Mbeki: No, No my brother is President of South Africa. He has his advisers; he has his cabinet he doesnít depend on family members for his advise. No I donít give his erÖ


Violet: So you donít talk about the Zimbabwe situation?


Moeletsi Mbeki: No the question of him being President of South Africa is not a family matter itís a matter of democracy in South Africa. We will then emasculate our democracy if the family now becomes the ruler of South Africa. Thatís not democracy.


Violet: Now moving on to what Zimbabweans can do about their situation. Brianw hat can people realistically do to deal with their predicament?


Brian Kagoro : I think there are things that can be done internally which are to continue to advocate and fight for their rights. I think that is a duty that every citizen in every country on the continent, particularly Zimbabweans wherever they are. But there are some practical issues.


I think that the battle for Zimbabwe wonít be won in only one front. There are some who think that it can be won on the streets by a march to the State House. I am sad to say I donít share that view. There are others who think it would be simply won at a negotiating table and knowing the history of ZANU, Mugabe Ė I donít share that view in response to a constituency that is definable and defined that is powerful, it is assertive. There are others who think that the external interlocutors will actually resolve the internal crisis and as Moeletsi has already said they have their own strategic and other interests that there would be championing in the process. So my suggestions would be, perhaps, we have to think somewhat out of the box.


What are the key points of contention? There is the claim by ZANU of course that there are these sanctions against them and of course the counter by the opposition that these sanctions are necessary because you have behaved like a rogue state. You violate human rights and so in a sense ZANUís current position is that it will not negotiate until the sanctions are removed. The oppositionís position as I understand it is that there are no sanctions against Zimbabwe. There are travel bans against ZANU PF officials many of whom have declared that they donít want anything to do with the West anyway.


So here is the small question for me. If the opposition has no real stake in whether or not there are travel bans on ZANU PF, one way of upping the anti will be to suggest that ZANU PF should scrap repressive legislation, commit to the dismantling of the structural violence Ė the militia and this new type of abduction and murder of people. And, that in turn, those who have the capacity to suspend the travel bans should consider that as a quid pro quo and that if the commitments from either side are not met within a set period then of course you look at other alternatives. I think that the red herrings that have kept this negotiation from going, I donít think the travel ban are doing any particular amazing work in keeping a democracy in Zimbabwe or restraining ZANU actions and that is the only premise thatís holding them. And of course we know this is just gamesmanship.


But call their bluff in a sense. I am not sure that there would be anyone in the opposition who would want to stake their life on whether or not the travel ban stay or are removed. They are not a significant factor. For most people in Zimbabwe it would be not just economic normalization but the creation of a conducive environment, for political dialogue and discourse to happen, for citizens to exercise their rights. And this would mean dealing with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, dealing with the Public Order and Security Act - the legislation. But also dealing with the conduct and practice of violations.


So I would propose that for those; both the external actors as well as the internal actors; is that we call Mugabeís bluff on this matter. Somebody has to demonstrate that they are playing games.


Violet: Do you agree with this Mr. Mbeki? Do you think that the targeted sanctions should be scrapped as a way of getting the Mugabe regime to the negotiating table?


Moeletsi Mbeki: Well itís not up to us for non-Zimbabweans to specify how Zimbabweans should run their negotiations soÖ


Violet: At the SADC summit, the SADC leaders, that was one of the recommendations from the African leaders that perhaps the West should consider the issue of targeted sanctions.


Moeletsi Mbeki: Well I donít know what the SADC states were going to put what pressure. They didnít put an alternative pressure to the western sanctions. So I donít see that as being serious proposals. But as I was saying it is up to the Zimbabweans to say what kind of sanctions should be put where, when and so on. We had the same situation in South Africa and we demanded comprehensive sanctions against the apartheid regime but it was us the South Africans who demanded that and we said we would live with the consequences of those sanctions. So itís not for me or for us who are outsiders who are supporters of democracy in Zimbabwe to specify how the negotiation processes should happen.


Violet : You know itís been said that only Zimbabweans can resolve their issue. Now I just wanted to get your views on this. What does it mean when people say that Zimbabweans need to do something about their situation. What exactly would theyÖ


Moeletsi Mbeki: ÖNo I disagree with that point of view. In our struggle in South Africa we had support from people from all over the world including Zimbabwe. We had support from the Zimbabweans, from Tanzanians, Zambians, Mozambicans, Americans, British, Swedes, Chinese. So we had support from all over the world. When you are fighting a dictator you need a lot of support.


So I donít accept the position that only Zimbabweans can resolve the issue. And as I pointed out in any case the government in Zimbabwe uses a whole lot of international mechanisms to support itself. So that point I donít accept I think those of us who want to see peace and democracy in Zimbabwe have to support the peoples of Zimbabwe. The strategy obviously has to be developed by the Zimbabwean not by us. But the support, yes we have to carry on we cannot expect the unarmed innocent people of Zimbabwe to be able to get on top of a tyrant a brutal tyrant like the ZANU PF regime all on their own.


Violet: Ok and finally Brian Kagoro what role should Africa play in negotiating a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis in your view?


Brian Kagoro: I think Moeletsi has captured it well. There needs to be clear pressure and clear deliverables that they are demanding of their colleagues. I think it is insufficient to simply say let the Zimbabweans do something about it, as though to suggest that a regime that responses with violence to peaceful protests or even gatherings will accept the opposition coming to its doors to negotiate just like that. To even suggest, even remotely, that Zimbabweans should consider anything else other than a peaceful process that they have been engaged.


So my view is very simple and a straightforward one. Africa should put clear demands if they are going to make demands of the West around the sanctions they must make clear demands of Harare around creating the necessary conducive political environment. The scrapping of repressive legislation and also dismantling the infrastructure of violence and desisting from perpetrating or encouraging violence and in particular dealing with the political criminals that have been causing this violence.


I think nothing has been expected of the Mugabe government and it is unacceptable. So I think there should be clear censure, clear pressure and a clear expression of the fact that people want African leadership and Africans arenít happy with the descent of Zimbabwe. Not just economic descent but also the political descent that we witness. I think that ZANU caused it to itself. If it is to retain a legacy, a historical legacy, of having liberated the country it owes it to itself to ensure that the citizens have freedom, even freedom from their opponents. Ian Smith believed in democracy only for the white minority and not for the rest of the country and if ZANU is to adopt a similar position it is tragic and it is unfortunate.


Violet Gonda: Thank you very much Moeletsi Mbeki and Brian Kagoro.


Moeletsi Mbeki: Ok thank you


Brian Kagoro: Thanks Violet.


Comments and feedback can be emailed to violet@swradioafrica.com


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ZBH to Launch New Short Wave Radio Station



The Herald (Harare)†† Published by the government of Zimbabwe

19 May 2007
Posted to the web 19 May 2007

Harare

Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings is next Friday -- on Africa Unity Day --†
expected to launch a new short wave radio station, The Voice of Zimbabwe, a
Zimbabwean news and news analysis station that will broadcast
internationally.

"The station will be Zimbabwe's first world station. It will broadcast
initially for just two hours a day and gradually increase its broadcast time
until it becomes a 24 hours a day news and talk station," ZBH said in a
statement.

"Although aimed predominantly at a world audience, the station may be of
interest locally too because of its focus on news, news analysis and
discussion programmes."

It said the station would broadcast from well-equipped studios in Gweru,
adding world television broadcasts would be added to the station during the
course of the year.

The new station is headed by Happison Muchechetere, who is the station's
general manager, and has more than 20 years experience in broadcasting.

He joined the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation as a reporter in 1984 and
has held a number of senior positions with ZBH, having at different times
been head of Television Productions, Head of Current Affairs Productions and
Assignments Editor.

He trained in radio and television production in Tunisia, Holland and at
Stanford University in the United States.

He was head of Electronic Services at New Ziana for the past five years.

ZBH group chief executive Mr Henry Muradzikwa said the station would counter
the hostile propaganda of other foreign-based radio stations by providing
factual information about the real situation in Zimbabwe.

"It will not be a propaganda station. It will present the truth.

"We hope it will also give Zimbabweans an opportunity to tell their own
story.

"We plan to not only interview businespeople and other people in urban areas
but to go out to rural areas and record what people there have to say," he
said.

Muchechetere made a similar point: "We have not been created to counter or
oppose what other radio stations say.

"Our mission is to give a true picture of events in Zimbabwe.

"We will not be setting out to comment on or react to what other stations
say. We will be telling our own story, the true story of events in
Zimbabwe," he said.

The new station will give Zimbabweans living abroad and anyone abroad with
an interest in Zimbabwe the opportunity to hear reports on what is happening
in Zimbabwe and news analyses from a Zimbabwean perspective.


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Traders Cash in On Sugar Shortage, Demand Forex



The Herald (Harare)† Published by the government of Zimbabwe

19 May 2007
Posted to the web 19 May 2007

Beitbridge Bureau
Harare

SOME unscrupulous businesspeople in Beitbridge are reportedly cashing in on
the shortage of sugar by hoarding the commodity, which they later sell in
foreign currency.

The businesspeople were targeting desperate villagers in remote parts of the
district.

One villager, Mrs Ngoma Chauke, of Chikwalakwala said yesterday that a 20kg
carton of white sugar was going for R120. On the parallel market a R100 is
selling for $450 000.

However, the same quantity at local wholesalers was being sold for $140 000.

"The people are actually capitalising on the situation by charging in
foreign currency and you can imagine I bought a 20kg carton of sugar for
R120 because I had no option since I was in need of the commodity, which is
in short supply in the shops," she said.

According to the sugar industry, the shortage of the commodity on the formal
market was due to speculative tendencies.

Hippo Valley Estates chief executive officer Mr Sydney Mutsambiwa on Tuesday
told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, Industry and
International Trade that the industry faced a number of constraints at the
start of the season that included shortage of inputs.

Mr Mutsambiwa, who was presenting oral evidence before the Committee on the
sugar shortage, said about 446 000 tonnes of sugar were produced last season
out of a target of 490 000 tonnes.

By the close of the season last December, there were about 92 tonnes in
stock.

In Dulibadzimu suburb, some residents were selling a 2kg packet of white
sugar for between $80 000 and $100 000 against the gazetted price of $13
500. While the commodity was scarce on the formal market, it was
surprisingly found in abundance on the black market.

Unscrupulous business people have access to sugar at wholesale price. The
commodity would then be ferried to areas which include Chikwalakwala and
Chitulipasi where there was a ready market.

This was probably because of transport problems due to a poor road network.

The shortage of sugar has also been attributed to constraints in accessing
foreign currency to purchase inputs such as coal that was being imported
from South Africa.

At least US$45 million was needed annually by the sector to import critical
inputs that include 18 million litres of diesel, two million litres of
petrol and fertilizer.

Under normal circumstances, at least 5 000 tonnes of the commodity should be
delivered on the market every week. Illegal exports of sugar to countries
such as Mozambique were also another factor contributing to the shortage.


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Kariba dam walls still intact - consultants

UPI

HARARE, May 19, ZANIS -- Kariba Dam wall is still in a "good and sound
condition" with another inspection recommended on a ten to twenty years
basis, consultants who carried out an examination of the dam wall have said.
In a report released after the April 8 inspection of the dam wall, external
consultants hired by the Zambezi River Authority, Coyne Et Bellier of France
and Jacobs of the United Kingdom, said there was overally no deterioration
that could be a cause for concern. "The unique observations that could be
made were very encouraging in terms of demonstrating the condition of the
apron and the bank toe down stream of the wall," the consultants said. Among
the key findings were that the 'apron' concrete was in a good condition and
was free from any structural cracking possibly related to foundation
movements. The plinth and dam wall toe was found to be in 'excellent
condition' without any sign of erosion while detailed observations proved
that the erosive potential of the water current at the dam toe was very low.
The series of spillways drainpipe outlets were found to be in various
conditions without any adverse effect on the surrounding concrete, the
report revealed. The Kariba dam supplies Zimbabwe with the bulk of its
electricity requirements. ZANIS/New Ziana


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Crying Wolfowitz . . . while the United Nations bankrolls dictators

Weekly Standard

by Claudia Rosett
05/28/2007, Volume 012, Issue 35

††††† For two of Paul Wolfowitz's most prominent critics, Mark Malloch Brown
and Ad Melkert, the war over the World Bank presidency could not have come
at a better time. Whatever else the ousting of Wolfowitz has achieved, it
has done plenty to distract from the North Korea Cash-for-Kim scandal that
just four months ago was threatening to engulf the United Nations agency
piloted for the past eight years first by Malloch Brown and now largely by
Melkert.

††††† That agency is the U.N. Development Program, or UNDP, and especially
in light of the U.N. system's sudden interest in ethics, it deserves a lot
more attention. Run by Malloch Brown from 1999-2005, the UNDP is now home to
Melkert--previously head of the ethics committee at the World Bank--who has
worked since early 2006 as its hands-on manager and number two man to the
often-traveling administrator, Kemal Dervis.

††††† Despite its generic name, the UNDP is not just any old U.N. agency (or
"programme," in U.N. parlance). It is the alpha in the U.N. alphabet soup,
the U.N.'s flagship in the developing world. Its administrator is the
third-highest-ranking official in the U.N. system, and the UNDP is angling
to serve as top boss of all other U.N. agencies in the field. For years, the
UNDP has enjoyed an image as the model of a modern, more efficient
U.N.--product of the "reforms" and vast expansion of both its budget and
braggadocio under Malloch Brown.

††††† The reality is a lot less wholesome. Operating with even less
transparency than the opaque
††††† U.N. Secretariat, and now channeling more than $5 billion per year
worldwide in the name of development (at least $245 million of that
contributed by U.S. taxpayers), the UNDP has made a practice of bunking with
dictators from Algeria to Zimbabwe. It has done this while maintaining
internal oversight controls lax enough to embarrass Enron in some cases.
This January, in the Cash-for-Kim scandal, the UNDP got caught playing sugar
daddy to North Korea's nuclear extortionist regime of Kim Jong Il. It
further emerged that while forking over hard currency to Kim, UNDP officials
in Pyongyang had been storing counterfeit U.S. banknotes in their own office
safe.

††††† What has not been disclosed until now is that the UNDP in Pyongyang
was also busy shepherding and bankrolling "study tours" of the U.K. and
Europe for North Korean arms experts, stocking Kim Jong Il's research
libraries with specialized publications on global security matters, and
dispensing funds on behalf of other U.N. agencies for such ventures as
sending North Korean officials to a three-week conference on "statistics" in
Iran. This went on even after North Korea's U.N.-denounced missile and
nuclear bomb tests last year.

††††† And though the U.N. has treated Cash for Kim as an anomaly (recently
suspending UNDP operations in Pyongyang, but nowhere else), the program's
odd activities hardly begin and end with North Korea. The UNDP is also
supporting such endeavors as an upgrade for the state-owned national airline
of Syria, a mullah-approved official youth group in Iran, and a network of
women's groups in Burma that were recently accused of shaking down
impoverished villagers for forced membership fees. In Zimbabwe, the UNDP is
embroiled in unproven allegations that its vehicles have been used for
smuggling from a diamond mining venture it has been supporting--which raises
the question of why the UNDP is involved in diamond mining at all.

In defense of such dubious activities, plus many more (such as the time it
got caught in 2005 bankrolling anti-Israel propaganda in Gaza), the UNDP has
issued a stream of denials and prevarications--including the notion that one
has to break a few eggs to make an omelette.

Such outrages are the natural result of the UNDP's ever expanding mission to
plan every developing economy on the planet. UNDP programs are crammed with
new-age U.N. jargon about "capacity building," "national partners," and
"millennium development goals." What they're really talking about is
old-style, top-down central planning, done by UNDP-ocrats in cahoots with
their high-level counterparts in client governments. What the Soviet Union
called five-year plans, the UNDP calls "Multi-Year Funding Frameworks."

Especially pernicious are the UNDP policies known as "country ownership" and
"national execution." Under these arrangements, which account for the bulk
of its projects worldwide, the UNDP turns over resources and on-site
responsibility to client governments (charging "cost-recovery" fees in the
process). The idea is that the UNDP, by encouraging client governments to
design and run their own "development" projects, will persuade the likes of
Zimbabwe's dictator, Robert Mugabe, or the Burmese military junta to shape
up. Too often, especially in the most corrupt and repressive countries, the
result is that the UNDP rolls over, shoveling money and materials into the
hands of national officials, taking a cut for its services, and slapping on
top a UNDP seal of good housekeeping. The specifics of many of these
projects are shrouded from public view under such
stock labels as "Energy and Environment," or "Capacity Building for
Development Cooperation" (the name of the UNDP project that in January
covered the $12,000-plus business class airfare for a North Korean official
to attend a UNDP board meeting in New York).

For an outsider, following the more than $5 billion that flows yearly
through the UNDP system is like tracking Osama bin Laden through the caves
of Tora Bora. Headquartered in New York, across the street from the landmark
U.N. complex, the UNDP serves as the U.N.'s main development shop and
coordinating network around the globe, employing 7,355 staff plus a host of
consultants. The UNDP has offices in 135 countries, programs in 165; and in
many capitals its resident representatives have long doubled as emissaries
of the U.N. secretary general. (That's why a UNDP mission chief in Ghana was
able to help Kojo Annan, son of former Secretary General Kofi Annan, clear a
Mercedes duty-free through customs in 1998 under false use of his father's
name.) In dispensing funds worldwide--currently $3.7 billion annually for
its own projects, and $1.5 billion on behalf of other U.N. agencies--the
UNDP handles more than one-quarter of the entire U.N. system's $20 billion
annual budget.

To raise money, the UNDP relies not only on "core" donations from member
states, but according to its comptroller also operates more than 600 trust
funds, some thematic, some country specific, some project specific. None are
particularly transparent. There are so-called public-private partnerships,
in-kind donations, collaborations and cooperative arrangements with other
U.N. outfits, NGOs, and foundations. In effect, the UNDP offers itself as a
black box into which donors with almost any aim can contribute money from
almost anywhere and have it used under the UNDP label for almost anything
they might want to earmark, as long as the UNDP agrees--and apparently it
often does. For instance, last year's jaunts abroad for North Korean arms
experts were pet projects of the UNDP, the North Korean government, and
donors in Sweden and Germany.

Murk pervades this maze. The UNDP does not make its internal audit reports
available even to the 36 member states on its own executive board (which
mixes democracies such as the United States and Britain with a gang of
thugocracies currently including Algeria, China, Russia, Kazakhstan,
Pakistan, Guyana, and Belarus, as well as, of course, North Korea). What
does seep out is not promising. The U.N.'s largely toothless "external"
Board of Auditors, in a report released last year, expressed generic concern
at "the increase in project expenditure not audited," and noted that among
the nationally executed projects in 2004 and 2005 that were audited, reports
for some $1 billion worth of spending were submitted late. As of mid-2006,
more than one-quarter of these audit reports had yet to be submitted at all.

The UNDP's country offices have websites on which they post generic lists of
"sustainable" goals and programs, but stunningly little is disclosed in the
way of project details, and almost nothing about spending. At the UNDP's New
York press office, staffers can be pleasant and work long hours, but often
appear to have trouble obtaining information themselves. In response to
pointed queries, the UNDP provided some documentation for two of the 30
projects underway last year in North Korea--including the "disarmament"
project described above--then suddenly found it impossible to lay their
hands on any more. The UNDP provides no regular press briefings. This month,
the UNDP finally announced a financial "disclosure" policy. It is modeled on
Annan's farcically empty measures introduced last year for the U.N.
Secretariat, in which there is no requirement to disclose anything to anyone
outside the U.N.

Then there's Mark Malloch Brown and the upmarket house he has been renting
for years on the suburban New York estate of hedge fund tycoon George
Soros--for whom Malloch Brown has now gone to work. Reporters queried
Malloch Brown in 2005 about potential conflicts of interest in renting from
Soros while running a UNDP that by his own admission was collaborating
"extensively" with Soros's network of foundations. Malloch Brown's response
was not to provide documentation on what he claimed was an arm's length
arrangement. Instead, he denounced reporters for their "bile."

Last year, persistent questioning by Matthew Russell Lee of the Inner City
Press finally extracted from the UNDP the information that a book about its
own history, commissioned in 2004 by Malloch Brown, had cost the
organization $737,000 (including such items as salary and travel money for
the author, and purchase of copies from the publisher). The book was a paean
to the UNDP, and to Malloch Brown in particular, describing his reforms as a
model "of efficiency and effectiveness."

This is the institution and ethos that were at risk of exposure when Cash
for Kim hit the headlines. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in a brief flash
of wisdom, promised an independent audit of the entire U.N. system. But
within days, a classic U.N. cover-up had begun. Ban scaled back the inquiry
to include only U.N. agencies in Pyongyang, and turned over the job to the
housebroken U.N. Board of Auditors, who are expected to deliver their
overdue report any day now. The auditors did not visit North Korea. They
never even asked for visas.

And so, here we all are, four months later, having heard from U.N.
officialdom plenty about the pay package of Paul Wolfowitz's com panion at
the World Bank, but almost nothing more about the UNDP. At the U.N., they
call this development.

Claudia Rosett is a journalist-in-residence at the Foundation for the
Defense of Democracies.

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