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Violent Crackdown Fuels Deepening Crisis


02 May 2007 18:42:09 GMT
Source: Human Rights Watch

†(Johannesburg, May 2, 2007) ? The Zimbabwean government should end its
violent crackdown on the political opposition, civil society activists, and
even ordinary Zimbabweans in neighborhoods seen as opposition strongholds,
Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch
called on South African President Thabo Mbeki-who has a mandate from the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) to address Zimbabwe's
political crisis-to make human rights a central part of his planned
mediation talks between the ruling party and the opposition.

"President Mbeki has a chance to push for an end to the massive human rights
violations that are fueling Zimbabwe's crisis," said Georgette Gagnon,
deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "Leaders of SADC countries
should take a stronger stance against the appalling human rights situation
in Zimbabwe."

The 39-page report, "Bashing Dissent: Escalating Violence and State
Repression in Zimbabwe," documents the Zimbabwean government's crackdown on
peaceful protest and dissent since March. Based on two weeks of research in
Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutare, and Bindura, the report provides
first-hand accounts of the government's widespread and systematic abuses
against opposition members and civil society activists, as well as its
increasingly violent repression of ordinary Zimbabweans in Harare's densely
populated suburbs.

"Arbitrary arrests, detentions, and brutal beatings by police and security
forces skyrocketed in March and April, and continue unabated," said Gagnon.
"The Zimbabwean government is violating the human rights of its citizens
with impunity."

The Save Zimbabwe Campaign-a broad coalition of Zimbabwean civil society
organizations and members of the political opposition-attempted to hold a
prayer meeting in the Harare suburb of Highfield on March 11. As hundreds of
people streamed into the Zimbabwe Grounds, heavily armed riot police
launched a brutal and unprovoked attack on them, beating people with batons
and rifle butts and injuring dozens in an effort to prevent the meeting from
taking place. Police arrested scores of opposition members and civil society
activists, including the leaders of the two factions of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The MDC members and civil society
activists who were arrested were then held at various police stations around
Harare, and many of them were brutally beaten by police and security agents
in detention.

The report also documents how police have used disproportionate and lethal
force against unarmed activists, resulting in the death of one activist and
serious injuries to several others. At the March 12 funeral of MDC member
Gift Tandare, who was shot dead by police on March 11 in the immediate
aftermath of the prayer meeting in Harare, two MDC supporters were seriously
injured when police opened fire on mourners.

"The police jumped out of their trucks and started beating everyone there.
They were two guys who were shot at the funeral, I saw it," said an MDC
supporter who witnessed 20 to 30 police armed with guns, batons and police
dogs storm the funeral. "One was shot in the arm, and one in the leg. They
just fired. They said 'disperse, disperse, what are you doing here?' and
some people started running, and that's how the two were shot. Those of us
who didn't run were forced to lie down and beaten."

Victims of violence told Human Rights Watch, in the immediate aftermath of
the March 11 attack, that police went on a two-week rampage randomly beating
people walking in the streets, in shopping malls and beer halls in several
high-density Harare suburbs, which the authorities view as opposition
strongholds. Police also went from house to house beating people with batons
and accusing them of belonging to the opposition.

The high levels of repression in the suburbs continue. Police have imposed
an informal curfew in several suburbs, including Glenview and Highfield,
arresting and beating anyone they suspect of supporting the opposition,
especially at night.

"Right now, no one walks about after 7 p.m., unless you want a beating," one
man in Highfield told Human Rights Watch. "My nephew was beaten the other
day as he was walking home late after visiting friends. The police accused
him of being one of the MDC activists who plan acts of violence, but my
nephew doesn't support any party."

The Zimbabwean government claims that it is responding to an opposition
campaign of violence and terror in the country. The authorities have
arrested more than 30 MDC members and supporters whom it accuses of
orchestrating and conducting 11 petrol bomb attacks around the country on
police camps, a passenger train, and two stores since March 12. The MDC
denies the allegations and accuses state agents of staging the attacks to
justify a crackdown on the opposition.

"The petrol bomb attacks are serious crimes, and those responsible must be
brought to account," said Gagnon, "But these attacks do not justify the
government's violent attacks on hundreds of ordinary Zimbabweans, opposition
members and supporters, and civil society activists."

In contrast to government claims that primary responsibility for the recent
violence lies with the political opposition, Human Rights Watch found that
Zimbabwe's police forces, agents of the Central Intelligence Organization
(CIO), and groups of government-backed "youth militia" are the main
perpetrators of serious human rights violations. The government's failure to
curb abuses by these groups is likely to encourage further unchecked
violence, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch called on the Zimbabwean police and security forces to
immediately halt the use of excessive force against demonstrators. Police
and security forces must also stop intimidating, harassing, and beating
opposition members, civil society activists, and ordinary Zimbabweans. The
government must investigate and prosecute all incidents of abuse.

Human Rights Watch urged SADC to publicly call for an immediate end to the
ongoing violence and human rights violations in Zimbabwe, and for all those
found responsible to be brought to justice. SADC should deploy an
independent mission to Zimbabwe to investigate reports of human rights
abuses in line with SADC's stated objective to promote and enhance the
development of democratic institutions and practices within member states,
and to encourage the observance of international human rights obligations
under the treaties of the African Union and the United Nations.

HRW news


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Zimbabwe inflation hits new monthly high of 50.5 pct

Reuters

Wed 2 May 2007, 14:01 GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's month-on-month inflation rocketed to a new
record high of 50.5 percent in March, official data showed on Wednesday,
underlining the country's deepening economic woes.

The Central Statistical Office (CSO) also confirmed a central bank
announcement last week that annual inflation hit a new high of 2,200.2
percent in March.

The CSO, which last month postponed the release of the March inflation
figures, said monthly inflation had soared by 12.7 percentage points from
the February figure of 37.8 percent.

CSO said rising food and non-alcoholic beverage prices continued to drive
inflation.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) sees Zimbabwe's inflation racing
towards 3,000 percent by the end of the year.

The southern African country is suffering its worst economic crisis since
independence in 1980, widely blamed on President Robert Mugabe's policies,
such as the seizure of white-held farms to resettle landless blacks.

Zimbabwe's inflation mirrors a severe economic crisis mirrored by rising
poverty, 80 percent unemployment and shortages of food, fuel and foreign
currency.

Mugabe, the country's sole ruler since independence, denies mismanaging the
economy and blames Western sanctions for the crisis.


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Zim spy agency says opposition training bandits

Zim Online

Thursday 03 May 2007

By Brian Ncube

BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe's intelligence agency has accused the country's main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party of inciting junior
police officers and soldiers to desert and join a bandit force to topple
President Robert Mugabe's government, ZimOnline has learnt.

Thousands of junior soldiers and police have deserted or resigned from the
security forces over the past few years disgruntled by poor pay and working
conditions. Many have left to seek better paying jobs as private security
guards in neighbouring South Africa and Botswana.

The Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) claims in a confidential
memorandum shown to ZimOnline on Wednesday that police officers and soldiers
had in fact only left their jobs at the instigation of the MDC. The secret
agency further claims the opposition party ferried deserters to South Africa
for training in banditry and insurgency operations.

"Intelligence information gathered by our missions is that thousands of
resignees and deserters that recently quit the army and police have done so
after they had been recruited by the opposition MDC," CIO director general
Happyton Bonyongwe wrote in the memo.

The memo dated April 23, 2007 and titled, "Training of Insurgents by the
Opposition" was addressed to State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, under
whose portfolio the CIO falls. The reference number of the memo is
HB68/2007.

Mutasa refused to take questions on the matter because it involved state
security. "I do not want to talk to you on such security issues," he said
before switching off his mobile phone.

Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said police were aware the opposition
could be training anti-government insurgents but said security forces would
crush such an insurgency. He said: "Our security apparatus is very
effective. We know what they (MDC) have been up to all along and we are
ready to deal with them whenever they try anything funny."

The spokesman of the main wing of the divided MDC, Nelson Chamisa, dismissed
as "absolute nonsense" the claims by the CIO that the opposition was
recruiting police and soldiers into an anti-government insurgency force.

He said: "It is absolute nonsense and 100 percent rubbish. At no time has
the MDC ever entertained any underhand tactics to deal with dictatorship in
this country."

Chamisa said the MDC was committed to a non-violent and peaceful struggle
for democracy. "The claim (by the CIO) is a clear and desperate attempt to
portray the MDC in negative light," he added.

The charge by the CIO that the MDC is setting up a bandit army of former
soldiers and police comes as the government has intensified a crackdown
against opposition activists accused of petrol bombing police stations and
other state institutions as part of a wider plot to overthrow Mugabe.

Mugabe is also understood to have told a summit of regional leaders in
Tanzania last March that the MDC and its civic society allies were being
used by his Western enemies to commit violence and crime as part of a plot
to make Zimbabwe ungovernable and eventually bring about a downfall of the
government.

The MDC denies waging a campaign of violence or that it is behind the
bombing of police stations and instead accuses government agents of carrying
out bomb attacks in a bid to justify a crackdown on the resurgent opposition
party ahead of elections next year.

The opposition party that poses the greatest threat to Mugabe's government
despite being weakened by an internal split about two years ago says 600 of
its activists were arrested and some of them tortured by state security
agents over the past few months.

Zimbabwe holds joint presidential and parliamentary elections in 2008 and
some analysts say Mugabe and his government could lose, citing a worsening
economic crisis that is fuelling anger against the government and boosting
opposition support. - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwe 'most difficult place' in world for journalists

Zim Online

Thursday 03 May 2007

By Tsungai Murandu

HARARE - Zimbabwe remains the most difficult country in the world to operate
as a journalist, an international media rights body said.

In its World Press Freedom Review released on Monday, the International
Press Initiative noted that although Zimbabwe was currently not the most
dangerous country in the world to practice journalism, it was "probably the
most difficult."

Restrictive laws have been applied selectively and are suffocating the media
in Zimbabwe, IPI said.

It noted that independent media in the country faced a growing bureaucracy
that is motivated by the government's desire to make life for journalists as
difficult as possible.

"The result is the slow death of independent media in the country and the
disappearance of dissent and criticism of President Robert Mugabe's
government," said the Austrian-based IPI.

The media rights body praised Zimbabwean journalists for adapting to the
harsh environment created by the controversial Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

Under the Act, journalists are required to obtain licences from the
government's Media and Information Commission in order to practice in
Zimbabwe. The commission can withdraw licences from journalists who refuse
to toe the line. Journalists caught practicing without a licence are liable
to a two-year jail term under AIPPA.

Besides journalists being required to obtain licences, newspaper companies
are also required to register with the state commission with those failing
to do so facing closure and seizure of their equipment by the police.

Another law, the Public Order and Security Act imposes up to two years in
jail on journalists convicted of publishing falsehoods that may cause public
alarm and despondency, while the Criminal Codification Act imposes up to 20
years in jail on journalists convicted of denigrating Mugabe in their
articles.

The Zimbabwean government has used the laws selectively to punish
journalists and newspapers seen as critical of official policies.

At least four independent newspapers including the country's biggest
circulating daily, The Daily News, were shut down over the past four years
for breaching the government's media laws. Close to 100 journalists were
also arrested by the police over the same period.

IPI said Zimbabwe's restrictive media environment could only be improved
through the repeal of the repressive legislation, creation of a "genuine
public sector broadcaster", divestiture of the government from the
newspapers, freedom of information and introduction of voluntary media
accountability systems.

Iraq remained the most dangerous country for journalists, with 46 reporters
killed in 2006 alone.

Other dangerous countries cited in the IPI report are Afghanistan, Mexico,
Pakistan, Philippines and Sri Lanka where journalists have been murdered in
the past year.

IPI cited Ethiopia, Nigeria and Somali as some of the African countries
where journalists have found it difficult to operate in the past year. -
ZimOnline


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Harare must adopt singular and floating exchange rate

Zim Online

Thursday 03 May 2007

By Tsungai Murandu

HARARE - Zimbabwe must move towards convergence of the official and parallel
exchange rates as part of a broad-based policy package necessary to
establish credibility and minimize the cost of adjustment, according to the
International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Fund, which has not supported Zimbabwe's economic reform programme since
October 1999, said Harare would have to bite the bullet and embark on a
painful five-point stabilisation programme in order to escape further
economic turmoil.

One of the pillars of the proposed stabilisation programme would be the
liberalisation of the exchange regime by unifying the multiple rates
available on the market and removing restrictions on current international
payments and transfers.

In a policy paper released on 30 April, the IMF recommended that inter-bank
exchange rate of 250 Zimbabwe dollars to one United States greenback must be
substantially devalued immediately.

"The inter-bank rate should then be depreciated steadily toward the parallel
market rate and the unified exchange rate subsequently floated," the Fund
said.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono last week all but devalued the
Zimbabwe dollar when he announced the setting up of a Drought Mitigation and
Economic Stabilisation Fund.

The stabilisation fund saw Gono leaving the inter-bank exchange rate at $250
against the US unit while offering sellers of foreign currency $15 000 for
every greenback sold through the central bank, authorised dealers or money
transfer agencies.

This means that all other transactions requiring foreign currency would
continue to be quoted at an exchange rate of $250 to the US unit while the
central bank purchases the hard cash at 15 000 to the American dollar.

The effect of the IMF proposal would be to do away with the multiple
exchange rates and restoring confidence to the foreign exchange market.

Another pillar of the stabilization programme being proposed by the IMF
would be the transparent transfer of quasi-fiscal activities to the
government budget.

According to the Bretton Woods institution, no entity outside the Ministry
of Finance should undertake any activity of a fiscal nature, including
interest payments and subsidised credit.

This would mean that any quasi-fiscal activities carried out through the RBZ
or the Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe would have to be covered
via budgetary transfers.

"The purpose of this step, which by itself would not reduce inflation, is to
increase transparency and accountability and strengthen fiscal governance by
having actions of a fiscal nature subjected to normal budgetary scrutiny and
procedures," the IMF said.

The IMF also called for substantial fiscal tightening by reducing the
government wage bill and capital expenditure as well as from cuts in
quasi-fiscal activities, particularly subsidies to public enterprises.

Harare must also deregulate prices and impose budget constraints on public
enterprises.

"Enterprises need a hard budget constraint that requires them to cut costs
and operate at preset levels of budget subsidies and agreed pricing
formulas," the Fund said. Zimbabwean parastatals have been criticised for
being a drain on the fiscus.

Both Finance Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Gono were not immediately
available to respond to the recommendations by the IMF. - ZimOnline


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Interview Part 1: Tsvangirai, Madhuku and Mutambara

New Zimbabwe

On SW Radio Africa's 'Hot Seat' progframme, journalist Violet Gonda interviews MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai followed by a teleconference with another MDC President Professor Arthur Mutambara and NCA chairman Dr. Lovemore Madhuku:

Last updated: 05/02/2007 09:52:34
Broadcast on May 1, 2007

Violet: Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is the guest on the programme 'Hot Seat' today. Welcome Mr Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai: Thank you Violet

Violet Gonda: Now people have experienced a wave of brutality in recent days in Zimbabwe and you were one of those who was brutalised recently. Are you surprised at how brutal the regime has become?

Morgan Tsvangirai: Things that you need to make an assessment Violet is that all dictators reach a point where they have to reach a point of no return and actually raise up the stakes in the confrontation between the state and the people. We are not surprised that the regime has upped the ante in response to peoples' genuine concerns by resorting to this kind of brutal violence, but it's indicative of a regime which is under siege, which is not able to respond to the demands of the people.

Violet: And with what you're seeing on the ground right now, is 2008 a good year for elections and does the Opposition stand a chance of defeating Zanu PF with the level of violence that is currently taking place in Zimbabwe right now?

Morgan Tsvangirai: We are already witnessing the pre-emptive strike of Zanu PF characteristic of any pre-election preparations; the attack on the Opposition, dismantling of the Opposition ability to hold meetings, the seizure of Opposition equipment and Secretariat services, the targeting of Opposition activists at various layers of the Party.

It's all trying to dis-enable the Opposition from functioning normally in a democratic society. So without removing those kind of obstacles it is difficult to hold an election under those circumstances because you are going into a situation in which there is no level playing field because the Ruling Party is determining, by its own rules, the outcome.

Violet: So while preparations or negotiations for talks are underway what is being done right now to stop the violence and what is the MDC doing in terms of voter education?

Morgan Tsvangirai: Well, let's separate the two. There is a State sponsored violence by Zanu PF, State machinery against the MDC, which has resulted in over 600 people being abducted, being beaten, and, about 150 sustaining injuries that required hospitalisation. This on going campaign is, as I've said, targeting the MDC in order to weaken its ability to operate normally. So, the second part of the equation, which is voter education, becomes irrelevant because the State will always ensure that those kind of meetings don't take place. And you know, by no means, that no one is allowed to carry out voter education except the Commission which has no capacity to carry out such a mammoth task which would require a wide range of civic society to carry it out.

Violet: So, how can you have a free and fair election by next year and when there are serious media controls and a frightened population?

Morgan Tsvangirai: It is almost impossible to talk of a free and fair election in Zimbabwe under the current circumstances if the current circumstances prevail. One of the things that you have to understand is that as long as Zanu PF controls the machinery of elections it is like having a referee who throws the whistle away and joins the other team. It is almost impossible to talk of a free and fair election under the current circumstances in which the electoral machinery is militarised, the voter registration is bastardised and there is massive disenfranchisement, including, of course, disenfranchisement of Zimbabweans living abroad in the Diaspora. We can't even talk about the manner in which there is a central command of the election results. We can't even talk of the whole machinery excluding external observation so from my experience over the last seven years; the last seven and a half years; it is almost impossible to talk of a free and fair election in Zimbabwe.

Violet: So what is your vision of the way forward and what do you expect from South African President Thabo Mbeki?

Morgan Tsvangirai: We hope that President Thabo Mbeki, as he's already outlined his focus is to ensure that, and of course by his admittance, that he accepts in Zimbabwe there has never been any free and fair election and what he is focusing is to ensure that this time around the election is conducted in a free and fair manner. That it will not be a disputed outcome again which has been the source of the dispute and the source of the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Violet: And what is the status of the talks right now?

Morgan Tsvangirai: So far what has happened is that President Thabo Mbeki has written to all the political leaders in Zimbabwe; me, Mutambara and the President, Mugabe, outlining how he foresees his new mission, and we hope that he is given all the support to succeed because the country cannot afford to postpone this crisis as it has reached unacceptable levels.

Violet: Right. And, you know in your talks with President Mbeki, what is your impression about his capacity to negotiate a settlement; a peaceful settlement.

Morgan Tsvangirai: I think that one has to make a distinct distinction between his earlier initiative on quiet diplomacy as the concern of a neighbour as opposed to this initiative which has the backing of the whole SADC region. This crisis, as somebody has said, Zimbabwe cannot behave as if it has got a Chinese wall around it, but what happens in Zimbabwe affects everyone around and that is the collective concern that has been expressed by this mandate that has been given to President Mbeki.

I hope that there has been a serious paradigm shift in the approach to the crisis, that once bitten twice shy, that President Mugabe cannot be trusted to engage in meaningful principled dialogue because of his stubbornness. And I hope that this time there's enough leverage to ensure that the parties that are engaged in negotiations actually do so to a successful conclusion.

Violet: So given that his quiet diplomacy has not changed much in Zimbabwe, do you think Mbeki is an honest broker and is it reasonable to expect much from South Africaís mediation?

Morgan Tsvangirai: Well, it's immaterial who has been chosen as a mediator. All I know is that President Mbeki is the mediator who has been chosen by the region, it could be somebody else but they chose President Mbeki because of the leverage that he has on the region. And, we hope that he uses that leverage, the collective wisdom of the region and the collective pressure on the region and international community to bear on President Mugabe to come to the negotiating table.

Of course, it is not just sufficient to rely on the mediation of President Mbeki but I think that the people of Zimbabwe themselves must realise that they have to continue to mobilise pressure on the regime to realise that there is no option but to negotiate. Now, the problem we have is that people have made their own personal sceptical assessment whether President Mbeki is an honest broker or not. For me, it is not a personal assessment. I think that he has a new mandate and I think that he can act responsibly within the context of the whole SADC mandate.

Violet: You know the reason I asked that question is because it is widely believed that the Opposition is being told to follow a particular path, a path that has been agreed by Mbeki and Robert Mugabe. Now, do you think Zimbabweans will get a fair deal this time?

Morgan Tsvangirai: We have not been instructed by anyone to follow a particular path. We have put our views that in our view the most viable option is the Roadmap to legitimacy which we have outlined with three signposts, that there has to be negotiated settlement, there has to be a new constitution, that there has to be free and fair elections. We have not been directed to take any other route other than what we have already put on the table and I hope that President Mugabe and President Mbeki have got, & if President Mugabe has got any other views they should be put on the table. And, I donít think that President Mbeki, as a mediator or as a facilitator can dictate what course of action Zimbabweans have to devise, design for themselves. Let me underline the fact that President Mbeki is not the negotiator; he is the mediator, the facilitator. The negotiators are the two political, or the various political actors in the political crisis in Zimbabwe.

Violet: Now, weíve, itís been reported that Joyce Mujuru, the Vice President, has held talks with South African officials and we have heard that the two Secretary Generals in the MDC; Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti; have also held talks. But, have the political leaders themselves, for example yourself; have you held talks with Thabo Mbeki yourself?

Morgan: No, I have not met President Mbeki. I hope to do so at the most opportune time available. But, let me say that there is no way in the world where the National leaders negotiate I mean you send teams and define their mandate. In this case, our Secretary Generals went to South Africa at the invitation of the Mbekiís Office to discuss the preliminary examination of what is possible. And I think thatís what was done - to outline what we believe is the way forward. The negotiations have not started yet. And I think in any negotiating process there are always preliminary discussions in order to lay down the basis for those negotiations and this is mostly done by junior officers.

Violet: Right, and what is your commitment to a CODESA kind of arrangement with all stakeholders and not just politicians negotiating behind the scenes.

Morgan Tsvangirai: All Zimbabweans have a stake to the future of the country and it is not the monopoly of political parties to define that path for the future of Zimbabweans. I have no hard feelings whatsoever about the participation of all Zimbabweans but you know that you have to limit the number of people that will be at the negotiating table. This is a political contest and political contest require political actors. I know the concerns of civic society but sometimes it is necessary to limit the number of actors that will be at the negotiating table and in most cases it is the political parties that actually negotiate with of course, the support of their civic society allies. But, if it can be defined as to who wants to be at that table, I have no hard feelings against anyone participating in that process.

Violet: Now, Dr Lovemore Madhuku, the NCA Chairperson, says the stakeholders in the Save Zimbabwe Campaign are not being consulted at all and that the civic society is being left out. Should they not be playing a role in these talks, even at this preliminary stage?

Morgan Tsvangirai: Well, it depends who is consulting who. As far as Iím concerned, we, together with our civic society partners we briefed them of what is taking place but of course what Dr Madhuku is requesting is a formal place at the negotiations or at those discussions. I cannot determine who should be at that table. As I said, Iíve no hard and fast rule as to who should be there provided we are all guided by the fact that we need to find a way forward for the crisis. As for our civic society partners, we have a General Council. I hope that at the next General Council we will find an opportunity to brief our civic society partners as to what has been taking place. We are not hiding anything.

Violet: Who determines who participates in these talks, is it Thabo Mbeki or Robert Mugabe?

Morgan Tsvangirai: No, itís supposed to be the mediator, the mediator is the one who determines who should be at the negotiating table. And I hope that he can determine who he wants to engage and who are the main principle protagonists in the whole process.

Violet: And while this is going on, you said earlier that at least 600 activists have been either beaten or are in jail, meaning that the violence continues in Zimbabwe. Now do you think Thabo Mbeki has the capacity to persuade Robert Mugabe to adopt democratic reforms and dissuade him from using violence?

Morgan Tsvangirai: Well letís say that President Thabo Mbeki has been given a mandate. Of course President Mugabe will continue to claim his sovereignty but he has got a crisis on his hands and that crisis has to be resolved. I hope that President Thabo Mbeki will impress upon President Mugabe to stop this violence because it is not contributing to the conducive atmosphere for dialogue. It is not building the necessary confidence in the Opposition ranks and such kind of state sponsored violence may actually undermine the very same negotiating process we are all aiming to achieve.

Violet: Right, and some have said that all Mbeki has to do is threaten to close the border, like what South Africa did with Ian Smith. Do you agree with this?

Morgan Tsvangirai: Well, the tactics that, the pressure that President Mbeki will use are I canít define how he will use it but I suppose that he knows his pressure points to apply and I cannot certainly determine which pressure, which tactics to use to impress upon President MugabeÖ

Violet: And finally, Mr Tsvangirai, do you think itís in Mugabeís interests to get a new Constitution?

Morgan Tsvangirai: Well, let me be very frank, that the country is in the crisis because it is in because it has closed all democratic space and any form of reform for Mugabe is capitulation. But without reform there is no future for the country. So, he has an option. Itís a no-win situation. Without reform there is no future for the country, with reform it means that Zanu PF cannot survive the will of the people because the will of the people have already been expressed in 2002, 2005, and he knows full well that his call for recognition as a legitimate head is now hollow.

Itís like Muzorewa in 1979 where he went to an election but the election was never legitimate because it was challenged by Robert Mugabe himself. So, the current situation is that Robert Mugabe may shout, may scream, but the ultimate thing that should be upon him is that he needs the legitimacy of the people. We have reached a defining moment in so far as the next election will be very crucial in how the country is able to be rescued, is able to be saved from this current crisis. But it depends on the good will of the Ruling Party, of the Opposition in putting our heads together in finding a solution to the crisis.

But of course, this is not of the benevolence of Zanu PF, on the part of the Opposition and on the part of the Zimbabweans, itís a demand that Zanu PF must realise it has no option unless of course they want to burn down the building, in which case of course itís suicidal.

Violet Gonda: OK, thank you very much Mr Tsvangirai.

Morgan Tsvangirai: Thank you bye.

Violet Gonda: And that was the leader of one of the MDCs, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai. I then caught up with the other MDC leader Professor Arthur Mutambara and constitutional law expert and civic leader Dr. Lovemore Madhuku. Welcome on the programme Hot Seat.

Arthur Mutambara: Thank you very much for the opportunity

Lovemore Madhuku: Thank you.

Violet: I am going to start with Prof Mutambara, when you first entered mainstream or active politics last year you said the MDC needed new strategies. You said the opposition could not afford to go to elections without Plan B and also Plan C, D and E. Now elections are going to be held next year and nothing seems to be happening on the ground besides an increase in violence, what inroads have you made since last year?

Arthur Mutambara: Ya, in fact everything is happening on the ground. We are making it very clear that we donít want any election in our country without a new people driven constitution. We donít want elections in our country without electoral law reform. We donít want elections in our country without removal of repressive legislation such as AIPPA and POSA.

Our demands are very clear that before any elections in our country we must create conditions for free and fair elections and those demands are shared among the opposition parties and also shared with the civic society players as well. So we are very organised on the ground. We are very clear in our minds. We do not want to participate in a fraudulent process, which has predetermined results because when we do that we are basically legitimising criminal conduct on behalf of ZANU. So we are very clear on our minds as to what we want and how we are going to get. So our defiance campaigns in the country are to agitate for dialogue for communication between all stakeholders in a very inclusive way so that ZANU, civic society, the opposition parties can sit down and come up with minimum conditions that will allow us to have free and fair elections in the country. SecondlyÖ

Violet: But what you are seeing on the ground right now in Zimbabwe, you know with the violence, is 2008 a good year for elections and does the opposition stand any chance of defeating Zanu PF if you are being brutalised?

Arthur Mutambara: So you must understand the sequencing of our agenda. Before you discuss elections you talk constitution. Before you talk elections you talk electoral law reform. Before you talk constitution you talk about removing AIPPA and POSA. That is the first business of the day. After that then we say once we have conditions for free and fair elections Ė how do we fight those elections? How do we ensure we will win? Thatís where we come to the second agenda, which says Ė a united front informed by a single candidate principle where in every election presidential, parliament, senate, mayoral, council there will be one candidate in every constituency against Mugabe. We will make sure every vote will count against Mugabe. Thatís part two on the agenda. After we have achieved minimum conditions then we are going to make sure as the opposition in Zimbabwe, as opposition parties, we are going to close ranks. We are going to put national interests before self interests and push for a united front inspired by a single candidate philosophy as our stage two in our struggle to destroy and defeat Zanu PF.

Violet: Now Dr. Madhuku, this is what the opposition would want to see happening in Zimbabwe but with the situation as it is right now, do you see these things happening?

Lovemore Madhuku: Ya, very much so. I think the whole point that Professor Mutambara is making is that we simply have to have a clear agenda and the agenda that we have is to democratise our country. You create conditions that will allow Zimbabweans to participate fully in the political processes. So we are working on a programme of unity, fight together for a new constitution, fight together for electoral reform, and get repressive legislation removed.

Once you have these things done and clearly you can move on to the next stage, which he says really clearly Ė where the political parties have to play the role now. You know campaigning, getting one candidate and so forth. So these things can happen and they are actually happening. I think you have already seen what has already happened in the past one month or so.

Violet: Now you have been organising street protests in Zimbabwe for about 7 years and some people will say all that has been noted is the brutality of the regime. In your opinion what effect have the demonstrations had or what have demonstrations achieved so far?

Lovemore Madhuku: They have achieved a lot. What they have not achieved is to produce a new constitution but have achieved everything else that we have been intending. Conscientising the public, get people to realise what they have to do. As we speak now I am very happy that all the forces in the country believe that we need a new people driven democratic constitution. Thatís what those demonstrations have been all about and that is an achievement.

Violet: Professor Mutambara are constitutional reforms an antidote to national despair and isnít more required like accountability & transparency?

Arthur Mutambara: The constitution is a starting point. It defines the terms of reference of our struggle. Everything else follows after the constitution. As Dr. Madhuku would like to put it, ďseek first the kingdom of the new constitution everything else will follow.Ē So we believe that unless and until we resolve the issues around the constitution we canít even begin to talk about transparency, accountability Ė these are secondary matters. Once we have in place a people driven democratic constitution we then move on to resolve the issue of illegitimacy in our country, resolve the issue of governance in our country, resolve the issue of our economy, the economic stabilisation, economic recovery, economic transformation, to convert Zimbabwe from the economic crisis from poverty to the promise land to make Zimbabwe a globally competitive economy. To make Zimbabwe a country characterised by business growth, entrepreneurship, beneficiation, exports and FDI. Those things cannot happen unless and until we resolve the agenda of the big law Ė the framework sector in our country, which is the constitution. So it is not incidental it is the main agenda. And then electoral law reforms and removal of AIPPA will allow us to have these free and fair elections so that whoever is elected President they are not contested, they are not challenged by those who have lost. As long as we go through elections that are fraudulent, that are defined by a fraud we cannot have legitimacy in our country.

On brutality and violence: it is a confirmation of what we have said all along. Mugabe is a brutal dictator. Mugabe is not a liberator. Mugabe is not a land revolutionary he is simply a despot who is brutalising Africans Ė Black Africans! Who is denying Africans human rights, who is denying Africans economic rights and economic opportunities and so the violence taking place in the country Ė the torture and brutally Ė is a clear demonstration to Africans that Mugabe has become a negation of the liberation war. Mugabe has become a negation of the principles of emancipation, freedom and justice and consequently Africans in SADC, Africans in South Africa, Africans in Africa and the Diaspora must stand together with the opposition in their condemnation and fight against Mugabe. What are we doing about itÖ

Violet: We will come back to the issue of what Africa can do about the situation in Zimbabwe but I want to go back to the issue of Mugabe and the constitution. Now he has vowed that he will never allow the opposition Ė the MDC, to take power while he is alive. Now do you honestly think it is in Mugabeís interest to get a new constitution?

Arthur Mutambara: Here is the answer. Yes, Mugabe does not want to give us a new constitution. Yes, Mugabe does not want to give us electoral reforms. Yes, Mugabe does not want to give up POSA and AIPPA but what choice does he have? We are not depending on Mugabe to commit political suicide. We are not depending on Mugabe to self-destruct on our behalf! We are saying the people of Zimbabwe will force Mugabe screaming and shouting to the negotiating table. The people of the region the Africans will force Mugabe to do what is right about Zimbabwe. We are not depending on his benevolence. He has no choice but to give in to the demands of the people of Zimbabwe. In the same way that Ian Smith gave in to the people of Zimbabwe. In the same way that the South African Whites gave in to a new dispensation. He has no choice but to give justice, independence and freedom a chance in our country.

Violet: Now what about this SADC initiative. Is it reasonable to expect much from South Africaís mediation?

Arthur Mutambara: Yes, we believe that the SADC summit was a great victory for the people of Zimbabwe. Mugabe tried to grandstand and give an impression that he won at the SADC summit. That it was an excellent meeting and it was victory for him. It wasnít. He was grilled at the SADC meeting and the Africans made it clear to him they wonít allow his behaviour and conduct within SADC. What they did publicly was to do some PR to appear as if they are not taking instructions from Europe and America. But the content of that debate was positive for the people of Zimbabwe. The fact that they met to discuss Zimbabwe is victory. The fact that they came up with a mandate for Mbeki and appointed Mbeki as an inter-mediator and facilitator was victory. It is an acceptance that Mugabe has failed to run the affairs of our country.

So we have cautious optimism that something will come out of the initiative and we are saying to the West, we are saying to everyone letís allow the Africans space to intervene and try to bring about change in the country. So we are very keen to make sure that we give SADC a chance, that we give Mbeki a chance to facilitate dialogue among Zimbabweans. Mugabe lost at that summit. He tried to carry out propaganda but if you look at the details of that conference Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia gave Mugabe a roasting on the issues of Zimbabwe. And now Mbeki is operating with a regional mandate, which mandate says Ė there must be dialogue among Zimbabweans. Zimbabweans must become masters of their own destiny.

South Africa cannot succeed when there is chaos in Zimbabwe. South Africa cannot have the 2010 soccer Ė the World Cup in their country, when there is chaos in Zimbabwe. So South Africa has a vested interest to ensure that there is progress and there is dialogue and resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis for purely their own national strategic interests. There is no way in hell South Africa can have a successful 2010 World Cup when there is chaos in our country. The demise of Zimbabwe is the demise of SADC, the demise of Zimbabwe is the demise of South Africa.

Violet: But Dr. Madhuku, if there should be dialogue among Zimbabweans things seem to be going on at a higher and only political level right now what role is the civic society playing in these negotiations?

Lovemore Madhuku: Well I think before I answer that I wanted to just add a point there that the success of the SADC initiatives, Mbekiís involvement, would depend very much on what kind of pressure is going to be exerted on Mugabe internally hereÖ I think more and more pressure would have to be put before the initiative itself has chances of success. To come to your question, which is the involvement of civic society, I think we still are going to be involved. We have not yet been involved at the level of the discussions. I am not sure how much has taken place at the moment. But I believe that at some point we will be asked to get involved. But at the moment not yet.

Violet: When I spoke with you for our Newsreel programme you had said that civic society were not being consulted about this, is this still an issue with the civic society?

Lovemore Madhuku: Itís obviously an issue. But there has been some development. Some of our colleagues from the political parties have been talking to us just giving us some information on what they have been discussing with the South African officials. But that is still very much informal. We really donít know what type of negotiations are going to take place. We really are not clear on this, I should be honest with you. The civics donít know what is happening. We believe that when the time comes for us to be involved we really have to put our issues.

We are currently happy that the political parties are speaking the language that we are all sharing, the language of fighting for a new constitution, democratising space before elections. But we donít trust political parties. We know that when the time comes there will be a lot of compromises that will be made and it is at the stage of making compromises where we feel that we need to be more alert ourselves as civic society because we are obviously operating from a different angle. Political parties seek power we want to get into office. Professor Mutambara has been speaking very well but we are not ourselves believing that they will go all the way - the way he is speaking. I mean if he is going to do that then he will get all our trust but this habit that politicians tend to change and tend to make compromises and that is where we have difficulties.

Violet: And also still on that issue, will dialogue alone work and do you have faith in this Mbeki led initiative?

Lovemore Madhuku: I think we should give it a lot of chance really because at the moment it is an initiative that is coming after clear action on the ground in Zimbabwe and then itís also really blessed by SADC. Itís a SADC initiative; I think itís better to be described as a SADC initiative. And so we should give it hope but our problem here is that we continue to hear Mugabe making quite militant statements and his latest outburst recently at the Independence celebrations at Rufaro (Stadium) tends to show that he is still believing that there should be no pre-conditions relating to the 2002 Presidential election and he keeps on accusing the opposition and all of us of being puppets of the West and I believe he wants to buy time.

And if the mediation process does not take place quickly, then we run the risk that Mugabe will simply once again put in place an election time table that does not take into account the mediation efforts. And it will be at that point that two things will have to be clear.

First what SADC would say if Mugabe starts initiating electoral processes and then secondly - what the road for civic society and the opposition would say because once he initiates electoral processes there has to be a response. Either a response of saying ďwell will allow Mugabe to go onĒ Ė because let me give you an example, under the initiatives that Zanu PF has brought up is the question of trying to put Amendment 18 to the constitution.

I foresee a situation where you need two months for bills to be gazetted, which is already a process to amend the constitution the way Mugabe has been doing it. It is responses to those kinds of initiatives, which will tell whether there is any serious efforts on the part of SADC to really resolve the crisis here and also whether there is any serious effort among ourselves to respond really decisively to those kind of initiatives.

Violet Gonda: We spoke to Professor Arthur Mutambara and Dr. Lovemore Madhuku for an extended period of time about many issues and we will bring you more of that interview on Tuesdayís Hot Seat programme next week.

Audio interview can be heard on SW Radio Africaís Hot Seat programme. Comments and feedback can be emailed to violet@swradioafrica.com


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Gono on Zimbabwe's mining policy

zimbabwejournalists.com

2nd May 2007 07:10 GMT

By Gideon Gono

RE:† CLARIFICATION OF RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS FOR THE
MINING SECTOR OF ZIMBABWE.

1. Further to my interim Monetary Policy Statement of Thursday, 26 April,
2007 there have been certain fundamental happenings in the mining sector in
general and the gold and platinum group metals (PGM) sectors in particular,
that call for some further clarification.

2. This statement is meant to address two main issues;
(a) The recent shortages of foreign currency that caused critical input
shortages and subsequently crippled gold production,
(b) and the reduction of the foreign currency retention for the PGM sector
from 90% to 60% as announced last week.

3 Foreign Currency Shortages to the Gold Sector

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe takes serious note of the gold sector's
unintentional restricted access to foreign currency for the importation of
critical inputs, over the last few months. This unfortunate phenomenon
almost brought the sector to a standstill and could have seriously
undermined investors and other stakeholders' confidence in the sector.

3.1 As Monetary Authorities, we would like to assure all stakeholders of the
gold sector that:

∑ All outstanding foreign currency receivable accrued from gold deliveries
to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will be honoured in the very near
future;

∑ Outstanding applications for importation of critical inputs for the sector
are being processed with urgency to ensure the immediate return of the
sector to optimal production;

∑ For the first time in the history of the gold sector since the institution
of foreign currency retention, the sector's foreign currency retention
regime has been brought in line with that of the entire mining sector. This
is meant to spread the burden evenly across the mining sector and thereby
lighten the load on the gold sector.

∑ The 60/40 foreign currency regime together with the increase in the local
currency price from Z$16,000/g to Z$350,000/g is meant to ensure that the
sector is able to meet its local obligations without having to convert part
of the foreign currency retention into Zim Dollars to meet local operating
costs.

∑ Also, as announced, the 40% surrendered to the Reserve Bank will, as
applies to other exporters, be surrendered at the official exchange rate of
Z$250/1USD plus the Accelerator Factor of 60 referred to in the Monetary
Policy Statement.

4. Foreign Currency Retention Regime Reduction for the PGM Sector

4.1 On the PGM sector, the reduction of the sector's foreign currency
retention from 90% to 60%, in line with the entire mining sector, is meant
to create a more stable environment for the entire economy and thus provide
the enabling environment for the sector.

4.2 In general, our detailed research has established that, the mining
sector, on the average, requires about 30-40% of its foreign proceeds to
meet its local input costs.

4.3 This will also ensure that there is enough foreign currency retained for
the importation of production inputs, debt service, dividend payment etc
without negatively impacting on the sector and the economy.

5. These arrangements, in consultation with stakeholders, will be
continuously monitored and whenever necessary, reviewed to ensure their
effectiveness for the mining sector to play its critical role in the
national economic recovery programme.

6. We hope this clarification will assure all stakeholders of the Reserve
Bank's unflinching support for the mining sector which Government considers
very strategic.

7. BANK OUTPAYMENTS TO CUSTOMERS TO REMAIN AT Z$250/1USD.

Banks are reminded that the official exchange rate was not adjusted.
Accordingly, payments out have to be done at the official exchange rate
without applying the excellarator factor of 60 which applies to RBZ
resources mobilized on its behalf by the banking sector.

7.2 This situation is to prevail until further notice and any violations of
this provision by any licenced operator will invite serious consequences
including withdrawal of one's operating licence.

G. GONO
GOVERNOR
30 April, 2007


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Zimbabwe's Gono plays with figures in attempt to rejuvenate gold mining

Mineweb

Gideon Gono, Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank head, has been playing with figures in
an attempt to convince the country's gold mining industry to stay in
business.

Author: Rodrick Mukumbira
Posted:† Wednesday , 02 May 2007

WINDHOEK -

On Monday, Zimbabwe's chief banker Gideon Gono could not admit that the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) was broke as he explained measures the
central bank announced last week aimed at rejuvenating the country's ailing
gold mining sector.

On Thursday last week Gono unveiled an Interim Monetary Policy that saw the
producer price of gold increasing from Z$16,000 (black market US$0.80;
official US$64) to Z$350,000 (black market US$17.50; official rate US$1400)
per gram. He also promised that all outstanding payments for gold remitted
to the RBZ's Fidelity Printers and Refiners, the country's sole buyer of
gold, would be paid for with urgency.

As he unveiled the new policy, the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
International Monetary Fund (IMF) was also circulating a damning paper,
released a day earlier that said the central bank was technically broke due
to a range of activities, including monetary operations to mop up liquidity;
subsidised credit; foreign exchange losses through subsidised exchange rates
for selected government purchases and multiple currency practices; and
financial sector restructuring.

"The RBZ is making losses because of the costs involved in supporting
government policy through quasi-fiscal activities and keeping the currency
overvalued," said the Bretton Woods institution in its Working Paper
released on Wednesday.

With all the tact that can only be likened to that of a rocket scientist,
Gono assured gold producers on Monday that all outstanding foreign currency
payments for gold deliveries would be made shortly while applications for
critical imports were now being processed "with urgency" to "ensure the
immediate return of the sector to optimal production".

Gold miners say they are owed over US$15 million in overdue payments, some
dating back to October last year, making it difficult for them to pay for
imports.

Gono however admitted the foreign currency shortage: "The Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe takes serious note of the gold sector's unintentional restricted
access to foreign currency for the importation of critical inputs, over the
last few months. This unfortunate phenomenon almost brought the sector to a
standstill and could have seriously undermined investors and other
stakeholders' confidence in the sector."

Gono also explained that the reduction of the foreign currency retention
levels from 90 percent to 60 percent in the Platinum Group Metals sector, as
stated in the Interim Monetary Policy Statement last Thursday was meant to
create more stability for the entire economy, thus providing an enabling
environment for the sector.

"For the first time in the history of the gold sector since the institution
of foreign currency retention, the sector's foreign currency retention
regime has been brought in line with that of the entire mining sector. This
is meant to spread the burden evenly across the mining sector and thereby
lighten the load on the gold sector.

"The 60/40 foreign currency regime together with the increase in the local
currency price from Z$16,000 per gram to Z$350,000 per gram is meant to
ensure that the sector is able to meet its local obligations without having
to convert part of the foreign currency retention into Zimbabwe Dollars to
meet local operating costs," said Gono.

Gono said research into the mining sector had revealed that the sector
needed to retain between 30 percent and 40 percent of its foreign currency
proceeds to meet its local input costs.

This would ensure that enough foreign currency was retained for the
importation of inputs, debt servicing and dividend payment without
negatively impacting on the sector and the economy in general.

"These arrangements, in consultation with stakeholders, will be continuously
monitored and whenever necessary, reviewed to ensure their effectiveness for
the mining sector to play its critical role in the national economic
recovery programme," said Gono. "Banks are reminded that the official
exchange rate was not adjusted.† Accordingly, payments out have to be done
at the official exchange rate without applying the accelerator factor of 60
which applies to RBZ resources mobilized on its behalf by the banking
sector."

He however ruled out devaluing Zimbabwe dollar.

"Also, as announced, the 40% surrendered to the Reserve Bank will, as
applies to other exporters, be surrendered at the official exchange rate of
Z$250/US$1 plus the Accelerator Factor of 60 referred to in the Monetary
Policy Statement," said Gono.

Recently, the country's Chamber of Mines warned of the collapse of the gold
mining sector after noting that gold production had declined by 17 percent
on last year's data, this which it attributed to a static exchange rate,
rising costs, delays in payments by the central bank, and the on-going
clampdown on small scale miners.

In a circular to stakeholders, the Chamber of Mines said gold output fell to
1,587 kilograms in January and February and that gold remitted to the
central bank declined to 768 kilograms in February from 819 kilograms in
January.

While noting the effects of operational constraints, the Zimbabwean
government highlights rampant smuggling as having affected deliveries.


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Zim prosecutors urge court to extradite Briton

Mail and Guardian

Harare, Zimbabwe

02 May 2007 05:17

††††††Zimbabwe prosecutors on Wednesday urged a court to accept
Equatorial Guinea's request to extradite a Briton wanted on coup-plot
charges, but defence lawyers said the request lacked merit.

††††††Simon Mann, a former British special forces officer, is being
held at a top security prison in Zimbabwe after he was convicted by a court
in September 2004 for attempting to purchase weapons without a licence.

††††††Mann is due for early release for good behaviour on May 11, but
the Equatorial Guinea government has sought his extradition to face charges
of plotting to assassinate the country's president, Teodoro Obiang Nguema
Mbasogo.

††††††In closing arguments during the extradition hearing, prosecutor
Joseph Jagada said there was evidence Mann was central in planning a coup in
the oil-rich West African country and said Equatorial Guinea had made
undertakings to Harare that the Briton would receive a fair trial.

††††††"It is quite clear that Mann intended to launch a coup in
Equatorial Guinea ... there is prima facie evidence that this is what he
intended to do," Jagada told the court.

†††††† Harare magistrate Omega Mugumbate adjourned the hearing to May 9
when she will make a ruling, just two days ahead of Mann's expected release
from prison.

††††††Mann's lawyer said the court should reject the request, arguing
there was no evidence his client had a case to answer.

††††††"We urge the court to decline the request made by Equatorial
Guinea and discharge the respondent," lawyer Jonathan Samkange said.

††††††Mann, who has testified during the extradition hearing, has said
he cannot go to Equatorial Guinea because the authorities there will not
spare his life and that he would be tortured.

†††††† Jagada said Equatorial Guinea was willing to have an African
Union-appointed judge preside over Mann's trial and that the death sentence
would not be imposed if he is found guilty.

††††††Sixty-six other defendants arrested with Mann after their plane
stopped in Harare served less than one year in jail after pleading guilty to
charges of violating Zimbabwe's immigration and civil aviation laws.

††††††Eleven others, including a number of foreigners, are serving
sentences ranging from 13 to 34 years in an Equatorial Guinea jail in
connection with the coup plot.

††††††Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's son Mark,
accused of helping to fund the foiled coup, pleaded guilty to taking part
but cut a deal with prosecutors in South Africa, where he lived, to avoid
jail. -- Reuters


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Zimbabwean minister urges court to deny bail to opposition members

Monsters and Critics

May 2, 2007, 8:51 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister told a court not to
grant bail to 13 detained opposition activists because they were a threat to
peace and security, reports said Wednesday.

Kembo Mohadi issued a ministerial certificate that was presented in court on
Monday just as a magistrate was about to deliver his ruling on an
application to have the men released, the state- controlled Herald newspaper
said.

'There is real likelihood that the accused persons would undermine peace or
security if set free, therefore, refusal to grant bail and detention of the
accused persons in custody will be in the interests of justice,' Mohadi was
quoted as saying.

The ruling was postponed, and is now due to be made Wednesday.

Those detained are all members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
arrested in March and April during a government crackdown on the opposition.

They include the MP for Harare's Glen View suburb, Paul Madzore, as well as
Ian Makone, a member of the MDC national executive, and former journalist
Luke Tamborinyoka.

President Robert Mugabe's government accuses the group of staging a series
of petrol bomb attacks on targets including police stations and stores owned
by ruling party officials. The men deny the charges and say they have been
framed.

In his certificate, Minister Mohadi claimed that the detained men had
undergone military training in South Africa and that police were still
investigating.

The accused had also been directly involved in the petrol bombings that
rocked the country between March and April 2007, he said.

Last week Magistrate Lazarus Murendo, who is dealing with the case, ordered
the police to investigate the severe assault of one of the detained MDC
members, Philip Mabika, while in custody.

Several other members of the group have also been assaulted in custody,
lawyers say.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur


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MDC chairperson found dead in his sleep

SABC

May 02, 2007, 14:30

Isaac Matongo, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) national chairperson,
died in his sleep today, said the party. Nelson Chamisa, the MDC
spokesperson, said Matongo died at about 3am at his Harare home.

Matongo (60) played a role in the formation of the MDC in 1999 and was the
chairman of the party. Matongo also served as the vice-president of the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the vice-president of the National
Engineering Workers' Union.

Chamisa said Matongo's death was a blow to both the party and the country.

Matongo is survived by his wife, eight children and 13 grandchildren. - Sapa


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The loss of a truly national politician



Silence Chihuri

Like anyone else I learned of the death of MDC National Chairman Isaac
Matongo with great shock and sadness. A person's death is a terrible
development, especially when it had not been expected. Death is the only
experience that humanity can never get used to no matter how frequent or how
many people die as is happening in Zimbabwe. It is always a new and dreadful
experience when it involves the torchbearers of the national struggle.

When the MDC was formed Matongo was one of several trade unionists that
switched to full time politics alongside Morgan Tsvangirai. Quite a number
of them such as Gift Chimanikire, Gibson Sibanda, Esaph Mudhlongwa, Lucia
Matibenga and several others, quickly adapted to real politics and
demonstrated admirable political capability largely due to their activism in
trade unionism. Matongo was one of those people whose political stature grew
as the MDC party expanded and became an established and credible political
organisation.

The position of party National Chairman was defined and provided for in
Article 6 of the founding MDC constitution with his role among others, being
of overseeing the setting up of structures, particularly elections of office
bearers. This particular role Matongo pursued with great passion and brooked
no, regions or indeed, frontiers. In Zimbabwe Matongo travelled the length
and breath of the country rallying the MDC charges and setting up
structures. Matongo literally took the MDC to the people almost
single-handedly.

He would go into the thick of the remote countryside and rural areas.
Matongo was no stranger to places such as Mukumbura, Murambinda, Marange,
Hwedza, Tsholotsho, Gokwe, Mudzi, and Mt Darwin, anywhere Matongo went. He
was one of the most charismatic party chairmen to emerge in recent years and
would have compared very favourably with founding political chairmen of our
liberation history such as Herbert Chitepo. When Matongo spoke no one could
move but simply listen intently. His voice would pierce through your
political heart and soul.

Abroad Matongo was known as the man of the people because of his ordinary
nature. He was the kind of person who would have time for virtually anyone.
I started to know Matongo a few months after he had become National Chairman
of the MDC. We continued to talk over the phone until he came to the UK to
conduct the first full executive elections in June 2003. During our
telephone conversations Matongo would never stop to mention his provincial
lieutenants, the founding provincial chairmen before the MDC split.

These were people like Timothy Mubhawu the then Chair for Manicaland, Morgan
Femai, Harare; Tapera Macheka, Mashonaland West; Alois Mudzingwa Mash East;
Marima from Masvingo; Mzimba and Mlambo of Midlands North and South
respectively as well as Abraham Mdlongwa of Bulawayo. That is why I got to
know some of these most or maybe all of whom I have never really met. When I
heard of the news I phoned Mubhawu to find out, and his wife answered his
phone and she said he was taking a shower. But she did confirm that indeed
the "The National Chairman", as Matongo had become affectionately known, had
died in his sleep. How tragic!

To Matongo the provinces and district structures were the heart and soul of
the party because the MDC was seeking to establish a power base in
countryside. Matongo always emphasised how important it was for us in the
Diaspora to support the party regions in Zimbabwe regardless of wherever we
came from. I found that very refreshing because most people have always
sought to accost themselves with politicians from their regions and
boundaries yet national politics should be about reaching out to the whole
nation regardless of geographical or regional boundaries.

In June 2003 we organised for Matongo and Esaph Mudlongwa the founding
Organising Secretary to come to the UK for our elections held in Manchester.
It was their first official trip to the UK and Everisto Kamera who was to
become our Organising Secretary picked them from Gatwick Airport. When they
arrived in Manchester there was a good gathering of Zimbabweans numbering
upwards of 400 people. It was a fantastic crowd and everyone was so upbeat
especially to see our national leaders from Zimbabwe. When I met Matongo the
first thing I did was to present him with a Nokia phone.

He was not expecting this at all but I had decided to give him the new phone
because most of the time I spoke to him in Zimbabwe his phone would
occasionally go off in the middle of the conversation. When I enquired why
he complained that the battery on his old phone was giving in and was no
longer rechargeable for long periods. I joked with him and said what kind of
National Chairman was that whose phone always cut off? On a serious note, I
said to him that as national chairman of the party, he had to be able to
communicate with everyone at every time without being cut off. This touched
Matongo a great deal.

Mdlongwa was the first to address the meeting from the visiting party after
Manchester Branch Chairman Green Nyoni's welcome note. Everyone was quite
impressed with Mudlongwa account and the naturalness of his address. When
Matongo took to the podium he sealed our confidence with the visiting party
and we were witnessing the dawn of a new era of modern day Zimbabwean
politicians. The rest of his address is history but Matongo left no one,
most of who were seeing and hearing for the first time in any doubt as to
his calibre, capabilities and political charm. As he said the duty was on
every Zimbabwean to stake their claim in the process of re-democratising our
country. It was a time for change and he bellowed the MDC slogan 'Chinja'
with the thundering noise of a bull elephant

What I liked most about Matongo and probably why he was such a popular
National Chairman was that with him, you did not have to be anyone. All you
had to be was be a Zimbabwean and hard working for your party and country.
He always said to me "vafana munoshandaka imi" because he saw for himself
what potential was there and what groundwork was being laid for the party
and that was what mattered to him.

Matongo's first trip would be just the beginning of occasional visits to the
UK and other countries such as America. What struck most about Matongo was
the way he availed himself to the people during those encounters and sought
to maximise to the fullest his working visits. Matongo would make sure he
met with Zimbabweans wherever they wanted to meet him in the UK. He
criss-crossed the length and breath of the UK just as he did in Zimbabwe.

From London, Birmingham, Coventry, Leeds and Manchester in England, to
Edinburgh and Perth in Scotland. Matongo would want his trip to be
publicised as much as possible so that every Zimbabwean and friend of
Zimbabwe who wanted to meet him did so. This was in sharp contrast to
politicians such as Welshman Ncube who always sneaked into, and spirited out
of the UK without even meeting Zimbabwean people. We would actually hear
from the British 'contacts' that your SG was here did you see him? Even in
Zimbabwe Ncube is not known in the rural areas and this is why Chimankire
would quip to me in one conversation that he wanted to see how Ncube would
'market Mutambara' when he did not even know the way to Gokwe himself.'

Here in the UK we would book Matongo in some the most modest hotels and he
would occasionally opt to "come to your house for a traditional meal while
we talk". That was just how simple Matongo was and such humility and
simplicity is what endeared Matongo especially with the business leaders
that he met when he came to Scotland. These are people who expressed very
keen interest to work with an MDC government and totally liked the idea of
an African politician who was so rarely detached from the nauseating
extravagance and pomp that normally characterise African politicians.

When he last came to Scotland in 2005 I booked Matongo in the same hotel
that Silas Mangono had stayed in Edinburgh when he came in January 2002.
Like Mangono, Matongo asked that I took him home 'for sadza' while we talked
so he could see where I lived. That was after meeting Zimbabweans at the
Roxburgh Hotel. At my house he played with my then 5-year-old son while
sadza was being prepared. After the meal I drove him to his hotel and when I
picked him up at 0800 sharp the following morning, Matongo was immaculately
dressed in his grey suit and tan shoes. It was back to serious business and
even my son would not have recognised the playful and casually dressed man
he played with the previous night.

We went for meetings and Matongo was excellent and typically articulate and
spoke with the usual authority and explicitly as if he was reading from a
script. His audience were thrilled and these are people who were looking
forward to Matongo's next visit and this time with more MDC leaders for a
much more comprehensive presentation of the MDC business vision of a new
Zimbabwe. The MDC is a party that is still largely unknown in the business
world and most potential investors are still yet to know what the party
would do economically and they are willing to hear its case.

Matongo was very instrumental in quelling the problems that were befalling
the MDC here in the UK especially issues that had tribal connotations. He
kept the party united through his open door policy. Matongo faced those
difficult issues with a straight face and open mind whereas other MDC
leaders have always sought to interact selectively with Diaspora
Zimbabweans. The death of Matongo will cripple the MDC to quite a
significant. Of course like anyone else, no one is entirely irreplaceable
but only the degree of difficulty in such replacement is what matters. In
Matongo's case such difficulty in finding someone of his matching calibre
will be extremely immeasurable.

There are people who unjustifiably sought to criticise Matongo as corrupt
and also most controversially, that he was a CIO and this was why he never
got arrested. The first argument can be put to rest with the fact that
Matongo never underwent the kind of personal and material transformation
that we witnessed other MDC leaders undergoing. He could have made a fortune
for himself but he always emphasised that the party was more important than
any individual. This is what endeared himself with most people and even
myself because he was a leading example through his contributions and
conduct.

As for being a CIO and not being arrested, I think if Matongo was really a
CIO he could have done what the real CIO do and that is torture and murder
people. He must have been a very bad CIO operative who worked so hard to
establish the MDC, a party that has caused the government so many headaches
since its inception. There are people in the MDC whose actions have really
been counter productive to the opposition and these are people who could
realistically be labelled CIO's.

The strength of the MDC's structural base is largely and appropriately
attributable to some of Matongo's efforts and no CIO would work to ensure
the 'enemy' that is the MDC, would be a credible party. Matongo's stuck
admission that the MDC was yet to make meaningful inroads into the
countryside was a realisation that for the party to unsettle ZANU PF, there
was need to change is focus on the urban electorate because that alone, was
not enough to wrestle power from ZANU PF.

Some people have sought to scrutinise Matongo's personal life and therefore
question his credibility as a national leader. However, real and fully
functional democracies have a clear separation between a politician's
private and personal life and his political life. As long as the private and
personal life is not directly interfering with the politician's execution of
his duties this should not be unnecessarily mixed up. People are entitled to
a political as well a private personal life and as long they do deliver on
their political expectations they should be given credit.

I personally and strongly feel that Matongo acquitted himself quite well as
an opposition politician. It is a real shame that like some of the heroes of
the liberation struggle who died before independence, Matongo was never
going to live to enjoy the fruits of his hard work. Whether he was arrested
or not, Matongo was an extremely hardworking MDC politician. It is only sad
that in a deplorable situation like Zimbabwe where untold political madness
is obtaining, hardship rather than hard work, is now the benchmark for
political contribution.

May his soul rest in peace.

Silence Chihuri is Zimbabwean who writes from Scotland. He can be contacted
on silencechihuri@hotmail.com


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Consumer watchdog warns against maize price increase

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs -
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

Date: 02 May 2007

BULAWAYO, 2 May 2007 (IRIN) - The Zimbabwean government has raised the price
of scarce maizemeal by almost 600 percent to stimulate production, but a
consumer watchdog is warning that it will make the staple food unaffordable.

Agricultural minister Rugare Gumbo announced this week that the retail price
for maizemeal would go up by 570 percent to support a 680 percent increase
awarded to maize farmers.

The official Herald newspaper quoted Gumbo as saying that the state
monopoly, the Grain Marketing Board, would now pay maize producers Z$3
million (US$120 at the parallel market exchange rate) per metric tonne (mt),
up from Z$52,000 (about US$2) per mt, and sell grain to millers at Z$3.1
million (US$124) per mt to "stimulate maize production to levels of national
sufficiency in terms of food security".

As a result, the official retail price of a 5kg bag of maizemeal soared from
Z$3,200 (US$0.12) to Zim$21,874 (US$0.87), an increase of 583 percent. This
is in line with maize prices on the parallel market, where the commodity is
readily available.

"For the price of maizemeal to go up by such a high percentage is unheard
of," said Comfort Muchekeza, a spokesman for the Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe (CCZ).

"It spells doom for consumers, who are already battling with inflation of
2,200 percent and a [monthly] consumer basket of about a Zim$1 million
(US$40). It's actually a blow that will send many consumers tumbling,
especially considering that wages are low and prices of other consumables
continue to soar almost on a daily basis."

Most families with six members consume a 20kg bag of maizemeal every month,
which will now cost Z$78,988.57 (US$3.15) instead of Z$11,800 (US$0.47),
while average salaries range between Z$200,000 (US$8) and Z$500,000 (US$20)
a month.

"The increases will definitely push up the required amount of money a family
needs to spend on basic foodstuffs per month. We realise that many families
are living in abject poverty and could barely even afford the previous
prices," Muchekeza added.

Gumbo defended the increases, saying they were meant to cushion farmers and
cover a deficit that has sent alarm bells ringing in the southern African
country.

"We know the bearing it has on consumers, but there is absolutely nothing we
can do about it. We realised, after increasing the producer price for maize
grain, that there was need to balance the scale by increasing the price of
maizemeal," Gumbo told IRIN.

"We hope farmers will take advantage of this lump-sum offer to venture into
maize grain production to feed the country. We are currently facing a
deficit, and for the perennial shortages to go away we need to empower our
farmers."

Consumers told IRIN the increase in the price of their staple food was a
slap in the face. "I earn less than Z$200,000 (US$8) and have a family of
five. The current food basket stands at about Z$1 million (US$40) and
already I have difficulties providing for my family. Now that maizemeal
costs this much, I really don't know how we will survive; now we need the
grace of God," said Nonsikelelo Dube, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city.

Economic analyst John Robertson concurred with the CCZ and consumers,
pointing out that while the increases were a windfall for farmers, they were
a nightmare for consumers.

"Obviously farmers are happy, but what is most apparent is that consumers
are the most affected. The increases in both grain and maizemeal will help
push inflationary pressures that will lead to more suffering for the
masses," he told IRIN.

The government has already declared 2007 a drought year and the United
Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Food Programme are
undertaking an assessment of the country's agricultural system and food aid
requirements.

This year's maize harvest is expected to be less than 600,000mt, only about
a quarter of the country's annual national requirement of 2.4 million mt.

This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or
its agencies.


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Zimbabwe Youth Movement attacks divided civic society



By Lance Guma
02 May 2007

The interim president of the Zimbabwe Youth Movement, Collen Chibango, has
criticised what he called a divided civic society in Zimbabwe that has
helped to prolong Mugabe's grip on power. This, he said, was why several
groups in the country were not willing to coordinate their activities in
unison with others. Chibango said there are several individuals benefiting
financially from civic society operations and these people were holding
everyone else to ransom. The inevitable consequence, he says, is that some
of these leaders end up trying to monopolise the political space at the
exclusion of people who matter.

"This approach alienates them from ordinary people and because of this
structure you also have people coming to demonstrations expecting Per Diems
and allowances," Chibango argued. He said although resources were an
important part of any struggle, 'we need to keep ourselves close to the
people.' The former student leader said this was why some organisations
lacked grassroots membership and were only identifiable by their leaders.
Asked if it was possible to unite civic society leaders Chibango said,
'people on the ground are not divided, they want to fight hunger, they want
to fight the regime and if we put emphasis on this, unity is not difficult
to achieve.' He said people have to be empowered to effect change rather
than having an elite group of intellectuals at the forefront of the
struggle.

He told Newsreel that an added problem is that everyone knows what the
issues are and yet no one is willing to talk about them. He says as the
youth they have nothing to fear and will boldly point out where things are
going wrong in the struggle. Chibango narrated how they were looked at with
suspicion when the Zimbabwe Youth Movement was formed. He says ideological
differences will always exist but the problem was that these where being
used as a badge of honour to identify who to accept and who to reject. His
group have taken a left wing approach to their activities and say this has
invited a lot of hostility from other civic society groups. The ZYM say they
remain undeterred and will continue their current membership drive in both
rural and urban areas.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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MacGill exposes Zimbabwe tour

The Australian

Malcolm Conn
May 03, 2007
STUART MacGILL, who boycotted Australia's previous tour of Zimbabwe three
years ago, wants his team-mates to take a closer look at the desperate
situation in the crumbling African nation.
The World Cup champion's next assignment shapes as another International
Cricket Council farce, a one-day series in Zimbabwe in September against a
hopelessly under-strength side.
With Cricket Australia facing a $2million ICC fine if it fails to fulfil its
international obligations, only an independent, adverse security assessment
will prevent the tour from taking place.

This may prompt more players to take an individual moral stand, as MacGill
did in 2004.

"It's naive to think that sport and politics don't mix," MacGill said
yesterday.

"You have to look at things from all angles and make your own mind up about
the sorts of things that are important to you and that you have a bigger
part to play in the world community than just on the sporting field."

MacGill made it clear that while he felt strongly about Zimbabwe, and
believes the country has deteriorated since his refusal to tour, he was
unaware if any of his Australian team-mates felt the same.

"I don't know and I'm careful not to discuss it with anyone because I'd hate
to think I'm making their mind up for them," he said.

"I'm not an activist, I'm not making a stand, it's just something that I
didn't feel comfortable doing (touring Zimbabwe)."

The key person in MacGill's decision-making was former Zimbabwe captain Andy
Flower who, with fast bowler Henry Olonga, took the brave stand to wear
black arm-bands during the opening 2003 World Cup match in Zimbabwe to
highlight "the death of democracy" in their country.

"He pretty much said what I thought, which was 'if you're hoping to change
the world by your decision, you should probably go (tour). One man is not
going to make any difference. But if you're doing it because you don't feel
comfortable then by all means (don't go)'.

"That was the best thing he could have said to me because it was the way my
actions were going to be perceived which bothered me the most. People would
think I was trying to shake the tree a bit and that certainly wasn't the
case.

"On an individual level, there was a lot to feel uncomfortable about
travelling as a sporting team over there and so I decided I couldn't go.

"And if anything, it has deteriorated enormously."

Australian Cricketers Association chief executive Paul Marsh said the ACA
was in the process of gathering as much information as possible to put
before the players over the next few months.

"We're talking to government representatives and security consultants here
and in Zimbabwe to get the best idea possible of what the situation is
like," Marsh said.

Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young said CA was likely to send a
delegation to Zimbabwe in August to assess the situation.

"We don't have our heads in the sand ... but we have very strict obligations
under the ICC's future tours program," Young said.

MacGill believes it is tough for players to take an individual stand.

"I don't know whether the players should be in a position where they find
themselves faced with these decisions. If it is a significantly wider
community issue then possibly it should be a wider set of participants
fighting it out," MacGill said, referring to sporting bodies and
politicians.

Other players will be encouraged that MacGill, who is not a member of the
one-day team and will not be considered for this tour, experienced no
official ramifications from refusing to join the team in 2004.

"As far as selection was concerned, I can guarantee there weren't any
(ramifications) and if there was any unhappiness at board level, I certainly
didn't feel it," MacGill said.

Quite apart from the moral issues, which confront many of international
cricket's third-world countries, the ICC should dump Zimbabwe as a full
voting member because its on-field standard is in free-fall.

Zimbabwe is ranked 11th in the world behind Ireland following the World Cup.

Last year, Australia's academy side of promising youngsters toured Zimbabwe,
and flogged the national side in a series of matches.


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Let's Save our Nation

Sokwanele

Sokwanele Article : 2 May 2007
The news that Bob is going to step down after the 2008 elections should not
be greeted with relief but with the disbelief and suspicion that it so
thoroughly deserves. We know all too well from experience that this man's
word cannot be trusted and it is folly for the press to even hint that we
should expect such a kind gesture from the man who has ruined us.

There is something that seems to escape public discourse in this country and
that is the fact that this man has outwitted us from the word go. His plan
has been simple: acquire power and having acquired it, retain it all costs
as Zvobgo once pointed out to us. His problem is not greed for power as many
have tried to explain. The dilemma he has is the number of atrocities that
have been committed under his watch and now he is afraid to take the stand
and account for them. That is his problem.

Our problem, on the other hand, is we seem to be content to wait him out as
if we are the ones in besieging the country. We have given up all pretence
of resisting this man, and are now giving him permission to take the country
down with him to guarantee his natural death in office. When he dies in
office, he will have won. It is as simple as that. It is either senility or
a natural death that will drive him out of office.

This begs the question: Where is our manhood and womanhood that we are
willing to go about our business of survival without resisting the person
who has caused the mess in the first place? Where is our manhood when we
leave it to WOZA to carry the protest on our behalf? Where is our womanhood
when we stare in shock and awe when our fellow women are carted away before
our very eyes each time they try and demonstrate in the streets in
accordance with their constitutional right? Are we prepared to lose our
dignity to avoid being bashed? What are we going to tell our grandchildren
when they ask us what we did to try and stop one man from destroying our
country? Are we not men and women of honour?

Surely, since this man has decided that he is staying in office, and damn
the consequences for the country, we should take him up on his word and add
to his stomach ulcers and headaches? We know from experience that he does
not intend, will not step down from office.

How can an entire nation of people look the other way while neighbours are
arrested, abducted, tortured or simply disappeared? How can an entire nation
simply gratefully accept handouts from our children in the diaspora when we
know they are not happy there? We know that a good number of our children
are living in foreign lands with between zero and nil dignity.

All of this to allow one man to die in office, one day in the unknown
distant future, lest we annoy him? Are we willing for the infrastructure to
absolutely fall to pieces before we can begin to rebuild? Where is our sense
of outrage?

So what can you do individually to help save our country from impending
disaster?

† a.. Write to every one you know outside the country and get them to press
charges against him. He cannot get away scot free.

† b.. Write to the press in South Africa and keep the pressure on public
opinion there.

† c.. Write to your relatives who are currently outside of the country and
ask them to come and vote. In fact, ask them to start saving now for the
trip home so that their voice can be heard through the ballot box.

† d.. Encourage every 18 year old you know to register and tell them the
future is mostly in their hands. Tell them they must be the change they so
desperately wish to see.

† e.. Go home in August and December and tell your relatives two things:
tell them about the horrors of Murambatsvina, then if you do not mind, tell
them that their vote is secret and that it has always been.

† f.. Dispel once and for all the myth of sanctions.

† g.. Boycott all government press and government linked businesses. Boycott
especially those shops that you know are owned by members of the ruling
clique.

† h.. Register to vote and on the day, make sure you turn up and cast that
vote. You cannot afford to give up because you are tired of every thing,
because you think elections will be rigged, because it was painful hearing
the results the last time and whatever reasons you might have. Instead,
think of what potential Zimbabwe has.
Think back on the first three years of independence when every thing seemed
to be on track before the mask slipped. Think of where we could have been
had it not been for one man and think that we can get there but only if we
start now. We have a window period here and now before the rot gets beyond
repair.

What are you going to do?


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Bold Writer Aptly Tells the Story About Zimbabwe's Political and Economic Problems

The WIP

May 1, 2007

by Constance Manika
Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean theatre lovers have had something to talk about for the past two
weeks. Cont Mhlanga's riveting new play, The Good President, premiered here
in Harare, Zimbabwe, on April 12.

This politically charged satire, written and directed by Zimbabwe's most
controversial playwright, summarizes the country's 30 years against British
colonial rule, focusing specifically on events leading to Zimbabwe's
independence. It goes on to highlight what has happened in the 27 years
since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980. All in one tight
hour of compelling action.

The play kicks off with a scene in a police station where two police
officers are assaulting the leader of an opposition party, acted by a
look-alike of Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe's strongest
opposition, Movement for Democratic Change.

In addition to beating him up, they search his pockets and steal all his
money and leave him for dead. One of the police officers, Wangu, who had
been shown in a previous scene sadly telling his girlfriend that he had no
money to meet her demands, is suddenly ready to finance all of her requests.

These events bounce back to haunt Wangu when his grandmother comes to the
city for an eye treatment. In one of their many conversations, Wangu is told
that his father, himself a former leader of the opposition, was murdered by
state agents during the 1983 Gukurahundi, the civil war that erupted in
Zimbabwe soon after independence between two ethnic groups-the Shona and the
Ndebele.

This piece of news upsets Wangu greatly, forcing him to resign from the
police force. He feels it is pointless for him to serve the same government
that killed his father.

The play also touches on the chaos that has been generated by the
harmonization of presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in
March 2008. The beatings of opposition leaders, the banning of rallies,
military imposed curfews in the capital Harare suburbs, all of which are
shown as desperate attempts by a government to hold on to power.

It shows how the Mugabe led government is abusing its power by turning
entities such as the police and army-that survive on taxpayers' money-into
the ruling ZANU PF party's campaign material. Instead of protecting and
serving civilians, the police and army in Zimbabwe are now being used to
serve selfish political ends.

The play attempts to prove that Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, in power
since independence from Britain in 1980, was not part of the founders of
Zimbabwe's struggle for independence. Instead, Mugabe was roped in because
of his eloquence in English. He was the most educated and so he became
"president by design."

The Good President is presented in a daring and refreshingly funny manner,
despite the seriousness of the issues raised in the play.

This kind of a play is certainly a very rare occurrence in the volatile
Zimbabwean situation, where freedom of expression in any form is under
threat and can land someone in trouble with state security agents. It could
lead to a ban of the play by the state controlled Censorship Board.

But despite its blatant political content, the creator of The Good
President, Cont Mhlanga, is unmoved by the possible reprisals from the play,
especially in light of the clampdown on dissenting voices by the Mugabe
regime.

"Our job as playwrights is to write on issues that take place in society,
whether they are in favour of or against the interests of the powers that
be. It is up to the people to respond to the play in a way they might find
fit," Mhlanga says stubbornly

"Whenever I write a play my objective is to stimulate public debate and draw
public attention to specific issues, and then leave it up to the audience to
decide how they respond. I am prepared to face whatever reprisals this may
come with."

But whatever the political connotations, during the running of this play,
Zimbabwe theatre lovers can certainly unwind and laugh at their own
problems.

"People are free to generate whatever meaning they want from the play. That
is the role of theatre," Mhalanga offers.

"But as far as I am concerned, this play is about a grandmother."

Comments
G. Ryan:
Why the arts are so important! My aunt likes to take me to plays. It is a
rare treat to see Broadway productions so I go. I don't know how she picks
the plays because she never knows what they are going to be about until I
meet her with the review and I tell her about it just before the curtains
rise. The old standards just put me to sleep - especially musicals can be a
real yawn. But the occaisional political piece that really takes an
important issue in society and presents it in a way that we carry home with
us, and that we wake up with, and that we are still digesting the next
morning. For me, that is theater I can appreciate. Thank you Ms. Manika for
this story that sheds some light on the current situation in Zimbabwe. I
look forward to more stories from you and your country.

Posted by G. Ryan | May 1, 2007 6:51 AM

Alexandra:
As the news unfolds please share more about the government's response to
Cont Mhlanga's play. It is a courageous act on Mhlanga's to premiere "The
Good President" at such a volatile time in Zimbabwe. Looking back at the
artist's role historically in society, it is not to be underestimated.

Posted by Alexandra | May 1, 2007 7:37 AM

Thabelani:
It is good to see that there are individuals within Zimbabwe who are
prepared to freely express themselves artistically without fear of
retribution or victimization. That is the nature of a true democracy. I
applaud Mr Mhlanga for this and thank you for setting such an admirable
precedent for all Zimbabweans! Thank you Ms Manika

Posted by Thabelani | May 2, 2007 4:40 AM


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No celebrating for Zimbabwean journalists on World Press Freedom Day



By Violet Gonda
2 May 2007

May 3rd marks World Press Freedom Day. But for many journalists in Zimbabwe
this is far from a day for celebrations. Since March this year, Zimbabwe has
seen at least four journalists arrested and tortured and one cameraman
abducted and murdered.

The victims include former Daily News journalists Tsvangirai Mukwazhi,
William Bango (who is now opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's personal
assistant) and Luke Tamborinyoka. Tamborinyoka, who is now the Information
Officer for the Tsvangirai-MDC, has been in police custody for the last
month.

Journalists Gift Phiri and Tendai Mupazviriko have also been at the
receiving end of the regime's brutality. Another freelancer, veteran ZBC
cameraman Edward Chikomba, was found beaten to death and dumped on the
roadside.

Speaking about Press Freedom Day, Sandra Nyaira- Coordinator of the
Association of Zimbabwe Journalists- said it is a sad day that journalists
are not looking at any gains and media space is eroding on a daily basis in
Zimbabwe.
A new analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also noted that
the "Zimbabwe government has waged a relentless war on critical voices since
2000, using repressive new laws to imprison and harass journalists and
driving dozens into exile."
In spite of Zimbabwe's bad track record it did not make it to the "top 10"
worst countries that have turned increasingly repressive. Nyaira said this
does not mean the situation in Zimbabwe has improved but has actually
worsened. She said the world is becoming more and more unsafe for
journalists to practice resulting in other countries becoming more
repressive than Zimbabwe.

In its report the CPJ said: "The backsliders reflect a mixture of relatively
open countries that have turned increasingly repressive and traditionally
restrictive nations where press conditions, remarkably, have worsened."

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Mann in the middle of two African dictators

The First Post

Simon Mann, the notorious British adventurer at the centre of an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea, is due to learn his fate next week.

Following an extradition hearing in Harare today, a Zimbabwean magistrate will announce on May 9 whether Mann will be extradited to Equatorial Guinea - where he will face charges that carry the death penalty - or whether he will be free to leave prison in Zimbabwe when his sentence comes to an end on May 11, and return home to England.

In recent days, Mann (right) has become the focus of a flood of rumours and wild speculation.

An ex-SAS officer and Old Etonian, he has been incarcerated in Harare's notorious Chikurubi jail ever since he flew in from South Africa in March 2004 and was caught buying weapons and ammunition, with which to overthrow Equatorial

Will Zimbabwe send him home, or barter his life for oil from Equatorial Guinea, asks hugh russell

Guinea's president, the much-feared Theodore Nguema (pictured overleaf).

He was jailed for four years with a year's parole. In retrospect he should be grateful he wasn't able to fly on to Equatorial Guinea, where the leader of the coup, Nick du Toit, was convicted and sentenced to 34 years in jail.

President Nguema has been eagerly requesting Mann's extradition ever since - a request which the Zimbabwe courts, with typical deliberation, have been considering.

Even at the eleventh hour, the issue remains in doubt. It is thought by some that the Mugabe government will be putting pressure on the court to decide in favour of extradition. Zimbabwe needs all the friends in Africa it can get. And Equatorial Guinea is oil rich. Rumour says Nguema will reward Mugabe for the gift of Mann by offering him

---------------------------------------
Page 2

tankers of the stuff.

But another rumour, even more fanciful, says that Mann has already cut a deal with the Zimbabwe government, agreeing that if he is released he will use his considerable contacts to persuade international dealers to supply Zimbabwe with, guess what, oil.

This theory is backed up by yet another rumour - that Zimbabwe's deputy health minister, Edwin Muguti, has personally submitted a report to the court stating that Mann is seriously ill, and should therefore not be extradited on medical grounds. Muguti is said to have been highly paid for his services.

Mann's health is known to be deteriorating. He is variously said to suffer from hypertension and a hernia, to be going blind, and worse. Perhaps the truth is he is suffering from general debility brought on by the appalling conditions inside

Rumour says Nguema (above right) will reward Mugabe for the gift of Simon Mann with tankers of oil

Chikurubi jail where food is bad and TB and Aids are rife.

Because Mann, now in his mid-50s, is in a pitiful state, some observers in Harare believe that, despite the Mugabe regime's ruthless reputation, Zimbabwe will not risk international condemnation for sending a sick man to his almost certain death in Equatorial Guinea.

So, despite the many hardliners in Mugabe's Zanu PF party who would love to send this interfering white man to his doom, the smart money says he will be saved.

If so, the news will no doubt be welcomed by Lady Thatcher's son Mark, who was fined US$10,000 in South Africa for financing a helicopter charter requested by Mann.

The two men were friends. Yet there is no sign of Thatcher flying to Zimbabwe to stand by his friend's side at his time of need.

Additional reporting: Moses Moyo
FIRST POSTED MAY 2, 2007


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MacKay Offers Moral Support for Zimbabwe Opposition

Embassy Magazine, Canada

Embassy, May 2nd, 2007
By Brian Adeba

The Movement for Democratic Change gets its first Cabinet-level meeting with
the Conservative government, grateful for the moral support but hoping for
some more substantial aid after Mugabe is gone.
In what was the first time that a minister from the Conservative government
has met a leading member of Zimbabwe's opposition, Foreign Affairs Minister
Peter MacKay pledged support for democratic reforms and the respect of human
rights in the troubled southern African country at a press conference last
week.

Mr. MacKay made the comments at his office on Parliament Hill when he met
Arthur Mutambara, head of a splinter faction of Zimbabwe's main opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"Canada is with the people of Zimbabwe. What [President Robert] Mugabe has
brought on the people of Zimbabwe is cause for alarm in the international
community," Mr. MacKay said.

For his part, Mr. Mutambara thanked Canada for the moral support, but asked
for economic help in a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe.

"We want Canada to help us work beyond democracy by empowering our people
through technology transfer," he said. "At the end of the day, the buck
stops with Zimbabwe; we are going to be masters of our own destiny."

Mr. Mutambara represents a faction of the MDC that split from the main block
led by Morgan Tsvangarai, whose blood-stained and stitched head wound was
splashed across newspaper pages worldwide in March after Zimbabwean police
violently disrupted an opposition rally he was leading. The MDC split two
years ago over a dispute on contesting Zimbabwe's senate elections. Mr.
Mutambara heads the faction that was in favour of participating in the
elections.

In an interview with Embassy, Mr. Mutambara spoke mainly about Zimbabwe's
future after Mr. Mugabe is gone. While declining to mention what kind of
tangible support he had been promised by Mr. MacKay, he said the fragmented
MDC, which has been criticized for being ineffective, is putting aside its
differences and will soon present a united front against Mr. Mugabe.

"As we stand right now, there is a coalition that we are constructing in
Zimbabwe, a united front where there will be a single candidate for
president," he said.

Mr. Mutambara declined to mention who will lead the coalition, but urged
support for mediation efforts led by African countries, especially among
members of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), a regional
group of 14 countries to which Zimbabwe belongs.

Liberal MP Keith Martin, who last year sponsored a private member's motion
urging Canada to indict Robert Mugabe for human rights abuses, said he
welcomed Mr. MacKay's decision to meet with Mr. Mutambara.

"I hope it leads to greater engagement into the catastrophe that has
befallen the people of Zimbabwe," said Mr. Martin, adding that Canada should
appoint a special envoy on Zimbabwe, and support education, food security
and health projects in the country.

Florence Chideya, Zimbabwe's ambassador to Canada, said Mr. Mutambara's
visit is one of many visits to the West, adding that both parties have every
right to meet.

"However, time will tell whether this visit respects the spirit of
engagement mutually agreed to by SADC [at a summit in late March in
Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania] and embraced by Mr. Mutambara," said Ms. Chideya in
an email. The two-day SADC meeting was called to discuss rising tensions in
Zimbabwe. It appointed South African President Thabo Mbeki to promote
dialogue between Mr. Mugabe and the MDC. However, critics charged that Mr.
Mbeki's past mediation efforts yielded nothing and blasted the decision to
assign him this role.

But while Mr. Mutambara's meeting with Mr. MacKay is important, it is
unlikely to yield tangible results in Zimbabwe, said Linda Freeman,
professor of political science at Carleton University. Ms. Freeman said that
Canada, like many Western countries, finds itself in a bind because Mr.
Mugabe will interpret anything it does as colonial interference.

"This plays very powerfully in Africa, and that tends to hobble countries
from doing much," said Ms. Freeman, co-founder of the Canadian Research
Consortium on Southern Africa.

Among Western leaders, there is a mixed feeling about Mr. Tsvangarai's
leadership, and Ms. Freeman said Mr. Mutambara is trying to position himself
as a possible candidate.

"Mutambara is probably trying to see if there is any movement, if one can
probably break this log jam, he will be well-positioned to take advantage of
that moment," she said.

But though it appears the MDC has made moves to unite and present a united
front, Ms. Freeman said a potential for instability in the opposition exists
because of infiltration by government security agents, especially in the
Tsvangarai camp.

"It's not a done deal and there's no certainty that it will hang together,"
she said.

brian@embassymag.ca


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A New Zimbabwe: Getting a good deal

Comment from The Mail & Guardian (SA), 19 April

Lindsey Hilsum

Alphabetical misfortune dictated that the president of Zimbabwe should be
the last African leader to shake the hand of the Chinese President, Hu
Jintao. I almost felt sorry for Robert Mugabe as he loped across the
reception room in the Great Hall of the People and the cameras whirred for
the 42nd time. At last November's Africa Summit in Beijing, he was just one
among dozens craving Chinese investment, loans, aid and political support.
In his dotage, Mugabe sees the events of 30 years ago more vividly than the
present. He characterises Chinese interest in Zimbabwe as the actions of a
friend in solidarity, dating back to the days of the liberation struggle.
"You gave us all the means with which we prosecuted our struggle and I say a
good friend is one who stands by you when you are in trouble," he told Liu
Zhufeng, the Assistant Minister for Construction, who visited Harare with a
13-strong delegation of Chinese businesspeople in March, a few days after
the United States and Britain had condemned police attacks on the
opposition. In Mugabe's view, Zimbabwe was "being faced by a struggle
against great powers", and China was its ally.

The view from Beijing is quite different. "It's quite easy for Chinese to
become rich in Zimbabwe," said Wu Jiangtao, dubbed "the most successful
Chinese businessman in Zimbabwe" in a story carried by the official news
agency, Xinhua, in January. In February, China Business News ran articles
about the relative merits of starting furniture, glass and steel parts
factories in Zimbabwe. Wang Wenming, described as "a former business
diplomat to Africa", told of a Chinese garment factory that recouped its
initial investment in the first year. The Chinese are in Africa for
business, raw materials and to shore up African support over Taiwan and
other matters of Chinese concern in the United Nations. They do not care if
a state abuses human rights, but nor do they like instability and conflict
that may interfere with the viability of their investments. Zimbabwe is
important only inasmuch as it helps the Chinese project.

Nor are the Chinese blind to Zimbabwe's problems, despite the rhetoric of
support for the government carried in the official media. "The Zimbabwean
people seem to be closer and closer to the edge of tolerance," said a
Shanghai newspaper in mid-2006, in a report quoted widely throughout the
Chinese media. "Although the national security police are everywhere, the
people can't help complaining in public. No one has a good word for the
current government." All of which is good news for a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe.
Resentment against China is widespread, as Chinese traders selling cheap
goods widely derided as "zhing zhongs" have replaced indigenous businesses
wiped out by Operation Murambatsvina. Then there are the stories of the
buses from the Chinese company First Automobile Works that never moved from
the garage, and the Air Zimbabwe planes that never flew. The opposition is
angry because the Chinese provided the technology that jams SW Radio Africa,
and the weapons the government bartered for tobacco and gold.

But resentment and anger will not help the economy recover. While Zimbabwe
descended into its nightmare, the world outside changed. The West continued
its long-term retreat, and China started to penetrate Africa. Managing
Chinese investment and interests is one of the biggest challenges facing
African governments in the first part of the 21st century, and a post-Mugabe
Zimbabwe will be no exception. China has a well worked out policy towards
Africa, but fragmented, often ill-governed Africa with its different,
sometimes competing states, has no coherent policy towards China. As a new
government in Harare figures out its priorities, it will need to develop a
pragmatic stance, preferably in concert with South Africa, which has a more
mature approach to China than most African countries.

Take the March visit of the construction delegation. Mugabe wanted Chinese
companies to build rural homes because he sees rural Zimbabweans having
"more loyalty than the urban people". A new government in Harare would
probably want a rapid programme of urban regeneration to help those still
destitute after Operation Murambatsvina. Chinese companies might be the best
placed to provide low-cost housing. Keen to get contracts, Chinese companies
often undercut their Western competitors. State-backed, their services may
be bundled with loans or barter deals. This could be exactly what Zimbabwe
needs. Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, told me: "Another two years of
this, and Zimbabwe's economy could still recover. Beyond that, I just don't
know." That was five years ago.

Zimbabwe's economy will never look as it did before. Commercial farming can
contribute to a new economy but it is unlikely to return to its previous
dominant position, so new sectors must rise. Zimbabwe has the world's
second-largest reserves of platinum; China is now the world's largest buyer.
Mugabe may delude himself into thinking that Chinese investment is some sort
of charitable project but a new government must strike a good bargain.
Chinese businesspeople and diplomats negotiate down to the wire, so a new
Zimbabwean government must be prepared to take a tough stance. This is not a
colonial relationship, but a modern exchange - willing buyer, willing
seller. On joint ventures and long-term supply contracts for platinum and
other minerals, the Zimbabwean government needs to hold out for good working
conditions, a ban on the import of unskilled labour and reasonable tax
revenue. Of course, the Chinese will threaten to go elsewhere, but there are
a limited number of places they can go. Zimbabwe is in a strong position.

The biggest factor working against Zimbabwean national interests will be
corruption. The Chinese have no compunction about bribing to get a deal that
works for them. Any new government in Harare will be unable to negotiate
effectively with the Chinese if individuals taking decisions can be
persuaded to back down by inducements. When Mugabe goes - whether a
political compromise or death carries him off - Western governments and
international financial organisations will rush to Zimbabwe's rescue. Huge
amounts will be promised, vast numbers of foreign experts will offer their
services. But maybe one of the most helpful things Western donors can do is
to help Zimbabweans deal with the Chinese. And maybe the best thing
Zimbabwe's new rulers can do is to discard any anti-Chinese sentiment they
may harbour and concentrate on getting a good deal. That, after all, is what
will benefit the Zimbabwean people, as they emerge from the long years of
poverty and repression.

Lindsey Hilsum is Channel 4 News Beijing correspondent. Additional research
by Kuang Ling


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The "Jewel of Africa" no more


Wednesday, May 02, 2007 - FreeMarketNews.com

When comparing the fortunes of African nations, it would be difficult to
find two more disparate stories than those of Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Books
could be written (and some day will) on this topic, but for now, excerpts
from two recent news posts themselves speak volumes.

Of Tanzania, Jackie Steinitz, writing in Resource Investor notes:

"Tanzania is geologically well endowed, with deposits of gold, base and
ferrous metals, diamonds, gemstones, coal and a number of minerals such as
phosphates, gypsum and kaolin.

"However during Julius Nyerere's presidency from independence in 1964 until
his resignation in 1985 the country was run under a system of African
socialism, self-reliance and ujamaa, a policy involving a return to
traditional African family life. During this period foreign investors
largely withdrew from mining; the sector declined to just 0.8% of GDP.

"Since liberalisation in 1986 the country has opened up, welcomed foreign
investors and Tanzania now offers a number of advantages for mining. It is a
politically stable multi-party democracy, nationals speak just one language
(Swahili), there is a strong and transparent mining code, and a favourable
tax regime. Foreign investment in the mining sector over the last 10 years
has totalled $2.5 billion; gold has boomed with production up from 6,000
kilograms ten years ago to more than 45,000 kilograms in 2005. Mining now
accounts for 2.7% of GDP and is projected to account for 10% by 2025."

Compare the above to current events in down-at-the-heels Zimbabwe, once
known as "the jewel of Africa." Allafrica.com's Shakeman Mugari writes of
recent events there, stating:

"ALL gold mines this week stopped processing gold due to an acute shortage
of foreign currency needed to import cyanide, a key chemical in bullion
production.

"Miners said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had failed to pay them gold
delivered since October last year.

"Almost all major mines have closed their production mills because they have
run out of foreign currency to import essential chemicals...

"Gold mines are supposed to receive 67% of their gold sales in foreign
currency while the remainder is paid in Zimbabwe dollars at a price of $16
000 a gramme. However, since October they have not received either the
foreign or local currency component for gold delivered to the central bank.
The regulations state that miners are supposed to be paid half their monies
within four days and the remainder within 21 days of gold deliveries."

Staff Reports - Free-Market News Network


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Alert! The Peoples' Court in Rugare

30 April 2007

RUGARE- Residents testifying in the ongoing tribunal workshops were on
Saturday 28 April 2007 categorical in their rejection of the illegal
commission running the affairs of Harare and promised to intensify their
anti-commission campaign until elections are held in Harare.

The residents, as witnesses in the CHRA Peoples' Court, highlighted the
level of hypocrisy by the regime and the state of helplessness that has
engulfed the communities of Kambuzuma, Rugare and Warren Park. They outlined
in graphic detail how their lifestyles have deteriorated under the imposed
Sekesai Makwavarara-led commission since its appointment in December 2004.

In his testimony, David Hove, the Chairperson for Ward 14 in Kambuzuma said
he wondered why the commission remained at Town House while service delivery
was deteriorating.

"The Commission was not voted into office. The residents of Kambuzuma have
never held a meeting with this commission," Hove said. "We want to elect our
own leaders at Town House and help each other to develop Harare into a model
City." Other testimonies came from residents of Rugare, and Warren Park.

The casting of the CHRA Tribunal heard the case between the residents of
Rugare, Kambuzuma and Warren Park vs. the Chairperson of the illegal
commission Sekesai Makwavarara and her superior Ignatius Chiminya Morgan
Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and Urban
Development.

Members of the cast are University of Zimbabwe (UZ) students Kennedy Masiye,
Wallen Chiwawa, Andrew Mutsiwa (Judiciary), Terrence Chimhavi (Narrator),
Francisca Midzi (Prosecutor), Farai Nhende (Interpreter), Sindisa Ndlovu
(defense counsel), Wellington Mahohoma (Chombo), Danai Mabuto (Makwavarara)
and Moreblessing Mudzingwa as the court orderly.

The play will be showcased in 18 locations across Harare and seeks to
highlight the extent of the collapse of service delivery, the undermining of
the judiciary by the State and the wishes of the residents in the arena of
local governance.

Residents participate in the mock trials (Tribunal) as State witnesses. The
testimonies place emphasis on service delivery, the rule of law and how they
relate to the unfolding local governance crises in Harare. The play's focus
on the two faces of repression at local government level is a milestone in
CHRA's development of an effective and creative advocacy tool.

The play uses previous High Court rulings on the commission.† A Guilty
Verdict was reached in Rugare and the residents ululated in unison,
revealing the depth of their suffering under an imposed regime.

The Commission is illegal! Elections for Harare now!
Ends
"CHRA for Enhanced Civic Participation in Local Government"

†For details and comments please write to us on chrainfo@zol.co.zw, or visit
us at Exploration House Corner Robert Mugabe Way and Fifth Street. You can
also call us on 011 862 012, 011 612 860, 0912 924 151 and 011 443 578 or
visit our website www.chra.co.zw

Precious Shumba
Information Officer
Combined Harare Residents Association
Mobile: 011 612 860
Tel: 04-705114
Website: www.chra.co.zw


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Those licensed to kill should die by the sword

zimbabwejournalists.com

2nd May 2007 07:25 GMT

By Chenjerai Chitsaru

THE recent death of Edward Chikomba was the most shocking of the murders
reportedly perpetrated by those whose bounden duty, ironically, is to
protect the lives of ordinary citizens.

There was something cold and calculated about this latest killing of a
seemingly innocent citizen going about his business without any suspicion of
performing an illegal or subversive act.

If it is true that all he did was take video footage of Morgan Tsvangirai
after he had been bashed while in the police cells, then it must be
concluded, even by those who have not become paranoid about what has been
called "government'sanctioned" killings,† that this was as political a
murder as the attempt on Patrick Kombayi's life and the murder of Edwin
Nleya.

In the first case, the perpetrators were duly arrested and brought to court
and even sentenced.

Their reprieve through an amnesty of sorts was the worst form of political
interference in the law that can be imagined.

Edwin Nleya's killers have never been arrested, let alone brought to
justice. Similarly, the murderers of Cain Nkala remain at large, as the man
or men who murdered, seemingly in cold blood, of an opposition activist in
the aftermath of the aborted 11 March Save Zimbabwe Campaign prayer meeting
in Highfield.

Gradually, it would seem, Zimbabweans are becoming aware that we have in our
midst citizens who are licensed to kill.
How else can we describe these people? For instance, the murderers of
Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika seem to have been positively identified.

The only reason why they have not even been arrested cannot be explained
with anything other than the reason that they are licensed to kill and
cannot be touched by the law which applies to all of us.

We are entering a new, terrifying era in which, in the name of "fighting
terrorism", the government has decided to employ well-trained security
people who can abduct citizens in the dead of night, kill them and not a
leave a trace of their ever having been involved in the dastardly act.

This is not to say that our security situation can now be likened to that in
the Darfur district in the Sudan, Mogadishu in Somalia, Baghdad in Iraq or
any of those genuinely terror-ridden locations in the world.

It can only make sense if the government is preparing to declare a state of
emergency, laying the foundations for a postponement of the 2008 elections
because it would face an Herculean task to rig them.

Clearly, there are now present in every department involved in the electoral
process citizens who can spot the rigging as it takes place and make a huge
noise about them their voices will be heard in Vladivostok and the outer
skirts of Shanghai.

For the government to risk a free and fair election in 2008 might entail a
terror campaign of such terrifying proportions it will cow most citizens
into abandoning all efforts to cast their ballot or vote for the ruling
party for fear of reprisals.

Rarely has the government displayed such naked fear of the opposition as it
did when it decided to give a victim of police brutality a "State-assisted"
burial because of the fear that a proper, opposition-sponsored burial might
degenerate into a massive anti-government display which could get completely
out of hand.

The only reason why the ruling party and the government are both as jittery
as a cat on a hot tin roof can only be related to its fear that the results
of the 2008 elections might turn out to be the only ones in recent history
that it might not be able to "fix".

Moreover, there is much evidence that, perhaps for the first time in its
history, Zanu PF is grievously divided on exactly how to handle an
opposition party which, though itself divided into two, seems still capable
of mounting a formidable challenge where it matter most - at the ballot box,

One group in the ruling party, dominated by the defence people, who are
mostly war veterans, seem to be advocating a thorough-going campaign of
violence to frighten the wits out of the opposition.

It's difficult, though, to ascribe the recent killings to any of the top
people in the defence forces. This is more likely to be the work of the
intelligence chiefs, said to be closest to President Robert Mugabe, and
constantly feeding him on a regular diet of fear of the Unknown - they
cannot guarantee an election victory and would not like to be blamed if the
worst happened.

The worst-case scenario is a Zanu PF and Mugabe defeat, resulting from a
blend of the anti-Mugabe vote from disaffected Zanu PF elements and a
rejuvenated combined MDC vote, spurred by well-established anti-Mugabe
sentiment within the rank and file of the ruling party.

What complicates matters for the opposition and for the country in general
is a decision by Mugabe and the intelligence chiefs to take the high road of
eliminating all leaders of the opposition groups, or their most effective
public figures.

The attempted assassination of Nelson Chamisa, for instance, must have been
sanctioned at the highest level. The would-be assassins had to be people
licensed to kill. To this day, not one of them has been picked up, let alone
identified.

What Zimbabweans must now appreciate is that their government, although
claiming to the outside world that it is democratic and is fending off
attempts by the forces of evil to destabilize the country is openly waging a
campaign of murder and mayhem against its own citizens.

There may not be an official campaign to eliminate all opposition voices,
but there must be tacit agreement among a group of the leadership that, to
protect their political future and that, perhaps, of everything they have
built up over the years, including fortunes in land, mining† and other
business enterprises, they must go for broke.

What encourages them is the fact that so far, nobody has been officially
charged over the many atrocities committed against the people, beginning
with Gukurahundi.

That not one person has been arrested in connection with the recent murders
suggests clearly that the government and Zanu PF are satisfied that they
could raise the stakes - go for more murders - and still not face the danger
of any kind of backlash from the people.

This would be foolishness of the worst kind. Not even Zimbabweans are as
docile as to ignore a wholesale campaign to kill and kill people only
because they are trying to assert their rights as citizens.

In many African countries ruled by ruthless dictators and a single party
engaged in killings and kidnappings of opponents, the people have eventually
triumphed, even after huge losses of life.

But they have triumphed, sending the dictators fleeing with their tails
between their legs.

In most such cases, the countries - Somalia is an example - have degenerated
into non-states, run by warlords. They have suffered such economic
stagnation, recovery has been difficult to imagine.

For Zimbabwe, this would be the final† humiliation: a country which, at
independence in 1980, promised to set an example for the rest of the
continent, for peace, stability and prosperity† ending† up as a typical
backwater, an underdeveloped African country, run by an oligarch, enriching
itself on the enslaved sweat of the people.

In their graves, Benjamin Burombo, Masotsha Nldovu, Herbert Chitepo, Joshua
Nkomo, and even Mbuya Nehanda would turn and curse.just curse the people
licensed to kill.


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Botswana union wants tough action on Mugabe

Zim Online

Thursday 03 May 2007

Own Correspondent

GABORONE - Botswana's workers' federation says President Festus Mogae and
other Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders must confront
President Robert Mugabe over the ongoing the repression of workers in
Zimbabwe.

Addressing hundreds of workers to mark International Labour Day in Gaborone
on Tuesday, Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) president Japhta
Radibe said SADC leaders must act against Mugabe.

"We should ask our President (Mogae) and SADC to warn Mugabe to stop the
terrorism on workers. Are you failing to warn Mugabe? Let's warn Mugabe,
tell him, Mugabe basopi! Basopi Mugabe!" said Radibe.

Radibe said the policy of "quiet diplomacy" adopted by most SADC leaders to
deal with Mugabe and Zimbabwe was not working adding that regional leaders
must speak out more forcefully against the repression in their troubled
neighbour.

"The repression of workers in Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Iraq etc and the dingy
sweat pots across developing countries, should anchor our thoughts on the
day such as this," he said.

At least three million Zimbabweans are living outside the country after
fleeing hunger and political persecution at home. Some of the Zimbabweans
are living illegally in Botswana in search of menial jobs.

Relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana have been frosty over the past few
years with the Gaborone authorities accusing the Zimbabweans of stoking
crime in their country while Harare says Botswana ill-treats its nationals
who visit that country. - ZimOnline


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Apology to Conjwayo

The Zimbabwean

We wish to apologise to Mr Philip Conjwayo for the the distress and anxiety
suffered by him as a result of the article "Apartheid spy reveals SA role in
Gukurahundi" published in The Zimbabwean Vol.3 No.15, 19-25 April 2007. At
no time since his release on 1 July 2006 has Mr Conjwayo, or any member of
his family or any other representative,† communicated with any
representative of any media organisation. - Editor


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Africa: Weather hazards assessment for 3 May - 9 May 2007

Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET)

Date: 02 May 2007

- Rainfall in Somalia is not as heavy as it was during the last two weeks.
There is still the potential for flooding along the Shebelle river, however
as the precipitation makes its way down stream.

- A slow start to the season is responsible for short term dryness in
portions of Afar in Ethiopia and nearby parts of Eritrea and Djibouti.

1) Rainfall has been below normal in parts of eastern and southern Kenya.
Moisture deficits have continued to rise during the past several weeks as
areas to the north and east received rain.

2) Heavy rainfall is possible along parts of coastal Kenya and Tanzania.
This could result in localized flooding.

3) Heavy rains during the past two weeks have raised river levels along the
Shebelle River. River levels are starting to return to normal, but the
possibility of localized flooding remains.

4) A slow start to the season has allowed moisture deficits to begin to grow
in part of the Afar region of Ethiopia. Nearby parts of Djibouti and Eritrea
are also experiencing short term dryness.

5) Normal to above normal rainfall continues to fall in Belg producing areas
of the southwestern Ethiopian highlands.

6) Dry conditions in southern Africa have lowered crop yields, degraded
pasture land and reduced water resources. Drinking water has also
significantly been reduced in Marondera and Bulawayo, Zimbabwe Relief is not
expected to return to the region until the next wet season.

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