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Impoverished Mozambique becomes new shopping destination for shortage-hit Zimbabweans

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: November 15, 2007

MBARE, Zimbabwe: Buses pull in at the chaotic terminus here, roofs stacked
with supplies of rice, sugar, corn, salt, soap, powdered milk and soft
drinks from crisis-hit Zimbabwe's eastern neighbor, Mozambique.

They were the latest arrivals from Mutare, a former sleepy Zimbabwean border
town 260 kilometers (160 miles) from Harare, transformed this month into a
busy trading hub after Mozambique scrapped visas for Zimbabweans.

A 25-kilogram (55-pound) bag of Pakistani rice was on offer this week in
Harare's western suburb, Mbare, for 25 million Zimbabwe dollars, twice the
monthly salary of a teacher. That amount is US$25 (€17) at the dominant
black market rate but US$830 (nearly €570) at the official rate.

Regular buyers at the bus station could probably get the rice for less and
double their money on the black market. White shoppers, presumed to be
better off, generally pay more.

"Thirty meters. Take it or leave it!" said a vendor who gave his name only
as Ephraim. In street parlance, a million Zimbabwe dollars is a meter.

Just across the border from Mutare, a trading post has sprung up in a
wasteland known as Pamimango, or "the place of the mango trees" in the local
Shona language.
The nearest town, Manica, lies 18 kilometers (12 miles) inside the border.
While Mozambique is among the world's poorest countries, devastated by three
decades of civil war that ended in 1992, its currency is stable and official
inflation is close to single digits.

Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis since independence in 1980 has spurred
official inflation of nearly 8,000 percent, the highest in the world.

Mozambique is closer to Harare, the capital, than South Africa, Zambia and
Botswana, which are the usual destinations for Zimbabweans shopping for food
and other essentials.

Police at Mbare bus park and an adjacent market have been given the power to
enforce a ban on carrying firewood without a permit from the state Forestry
Commission.

Authorities said the move this week was meant to stop indiscriminate tree
felling. But with daily power outages across the country, wood has become
the most common fuel for cooking. Cooking fires have appeared even on the
balconies of city apartments.

Ephraim, the vendor, said he bought wood from bus drivers and hauled it on a
cart to the nearby market.

"What will people do now?" he asked, but added that in a few days police
likely would turn a blind eye in return for a bribe.


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Mugabe vows crisis-hit Zimbabwe won't collapse

Reuters

Thu 15 Nov 2007, 15:34 GMT

By Nelson Banya

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on Thursday that
the country would soon boost agricultural production to survive what he said
was a plot by "Western destructive forces" to bring about its collapse.

Speaking as his government launched a $6 million bio-diesel refinery built
as a joint venture with a South Korean firm just outside of Harare, Mugabe
said his land reforms -- blamed for Zimbabwe's economic crisis -- would soon
begin to bear fruit.

"Zimbabwe was never there to collapse and shall never be there to collapse,"
he said.

Mugabe's critics say his controversial policy of seizing white-owned farms
to resettle landless blacks with little farming experience has brought the
economy to its knees.

Zimbabwe suffers from the world's highest inflation rates and chronic food,
fuel and foreign currency shortages.

Mugabe, 83, accuses Western powers, mainly Britain and the United States, of
sabotaging the economy to undermine his administration. He faces few
political challenges at home.

Analysts say the country's economic woes pose the biggest threat to his rule
but the veteran leader vowed Zimbabwe would never crumble under their weight
and scoffed at international sanctions against his government.

"We have once again demonstrated that the ill-fated illegal sanctions
against the innocent people of Zimbabwe can never subdue our resilience and
inner propulsion to succeed and remain standing as a nation," he said.

The fuel plant, with a capacity to produce 100 million litres of diesel
annually, should mainly provide fuel to farmers resettled under the land
grabs.

Official statistics say the farming sector requires almost 120 million
litres of diesel annually, while the country's total diesel demand is
estimated at about 1 billion litres.

"Once wholly customised, this plant will, at full capacity, yield a
production level of 100 million litres of diesel per year, meeting virtually
all the agricultural sector's diesel requirements," Mugabe said.

"As government, we are also working tirelessly to ensure that this coming
agricultural season marks a lasting turning point in the country's economic
fortunes."

The southern African country, once one of Africa's most promising economies,
suffers from the world's highest inflation rate and food, fuel and foreign
currency shortages.


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Mugabe commissions Zimbabwe's first biodiesel plant

Yahoo News

Thu Nov 15, 9:51 AM ET

MOUNT HAMPDEN, Zimbabwe (AFP) - President Robert Mugabe on Thursday
commissioned the first biodiesel production plant in oil-starved Zimbabwe,
vowing that the country would "never collapse."

"As a nation we have once again demonstrated that the ill-fated sanctions
against the innocent people of Zimbabwe can never subdue our resilience and
inner propulsion to succeed and remain on our feet as a nation," Mugabe told
guests at the plant's official opening.

"Soon, our economy will be paying us back the dividends of the seedlings of
progression we are planting across different productive sectors.

"Zimbabwe was never there to collapse, is never there to collapse and will
never be there to collapse."

The Transload biodiesel plant, 15 kilometres (10 miles) northwest of Harare,
is a joint venture between a Zimbabwean and South Korean firm.

Mugabe said the plant could pump 100 million litres of biodiesel annually at
its peak from cotton seed, soya beans, jatropha and sunflower seed.

The project could save the country 80 million US dollars, he said.

"As a people, we have demonstrated that the dark clouds of our hard times,
particularly those sown by Western destructive forces, have their silver
lining by way of not just strengthening our resilience, but also of
deepening our scientific research and stimulating our innovativeness,"
Mugabe said.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of an economic crisis characterised by high
inflation perched at nearly 8,000 percent, mass unemployment and chronic
shortages of fuel and basic foodstuffs like sugar and cooking oil.

Fuel stations often go for months without deliveries while long queues form
at the few that do receive supplies.

Mugabe blames the economic collapse on targeted sanctions imposed on him and
members of his ruling elite by the European Union and the United States
following presidential polls in 2002 which the main opposition and Western
observers say were rigged.


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Zimbabwe Inter-Party Negotiations Reportedly Make Progress

VOA

By Peta Thornycroft
15 November 2007

After many delays negotiations in Harare between the ruling ZANU-PF and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change have reached a critical point and
the parties have reportedly agreed to new laws governing elections due next
year. Peta Thornycroft reports for VOA.

Robert Mugabe (file photo)
President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the two factions of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change are considering a set of new election laws
likely to be presented to parliament in the next few weeks.

Southern African diplomatic sources say the measures were agreed in South
Africa-facilitated talks between the parties which have been under way since
March.

Revising the electoral laws is seen as essential by government critics
because last-minute changes introduced by Mr. Mugabe in the 2002
presidential election prevented thousands of people from voting. The changes
included dramatic reductions in the number of polling stations in urban
areas, considered opposition strongholds. The remaining polling centers were
unable to cope with the number of voters.

Other amendments to laws governing the pre-election period reportedly are
already at the government printer. These include reforms to allow all
contesting political parties greater access to state media.

Sources say the new legislation, the first item on the negotiating agenda,
could be presented to parliament within weeks, providing negotiations do not
break down. A new interim constitution is also being considered.

The next three items on the negotiation agenda include reforms to
legislation governing media, security and property laws.

The fifth item on the agenda is called political climate.

During elections since 2000 opposition supporters have been killed,
kidnapped, beaten and arrested when they campaigned in traditional ZANU-PF
strongholds in rural areas.

Observers say South Africa will have to play a decisive role to improve the
political climate and ensure Zimbabweans experience freedom of political
choice.

However, the simultaneous presidential, parliamentary and senate elections
must be announced next month, ninety days ahead of polling day which is
currently scheduled for March. President Mugabe's term also expires in
March.

Observers say this leaves very little time to legislate and implement every
thing agreed at the talks. They warn that South African mediators will
likely have to persuade ZANU-PF to delay elections beyond March, so that the
effects of new electoral freedoms can take hold.

Political observers say the final agreements reached by the parties are
likely to include several major compromises which may not be acceptable to
their supporters in both parties. This could also cause delays as party
leaders lobby for support for the deals among the rank and file. But they
say the negotiations present an opportunity for a new beginning.

African diplomats from the region who asked not to be named but are closely
following the talks say they are encouraged by the progress aimed at ending
Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.

President Mugabe, 83 years old and in power for nearly 28 years, is expected
to be endorsed as the ZANU-PF presidential candidate during a party congress
next month.


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SA happy with progress in Zim

News24

15/11/2007 12:00† - (SA)

Pretoria - South Africa is happy with the progress that has been made
regarding efforts to resolve the problems currently facing Zimbabwe, says
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Aziz Pahad.

President Thabo Mbeki was mandated by the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) heads of state and government extra-ordinary summit held in
Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, in March this year to facilitate talks between the
Zimbabwean government and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC).

In that light, Mr Pahad said the government believed it had been
consistently working to meet the mandate handed out to SA at the SADC
extraordinary summit.

Mr Pahad was addressing the media on the progress made by the International
Relations, Peace and Security (IRPS) Cluster in the implementation of their
Programme of Action (POA) and the consolidation of the African Agenda, in
Cape Town, on Wednesday.

'SA to facilitate dialogue'

He cited as a reflection of the progress made, the unanimous acceptance by
all relevant stakeholders in Zimbabwe, of the Constitutional Amendment Bill
No 18, which sought to harmonise presidential, parliamentary and local
government elections as from 2008.

Pahad said: "SA will continue to facilitate dialogue between the government
and opposition parties, including representatives from civil society in
order to resolve the remaining challenges facing Zimbabwe leading up to the
2008 general elections.

"Our primary focus remains ensuring an outcome that expresses the free will
of the people of Zimbabwe as a critical element of opening avenues to tackle
the serious socio-economic crisis."

He further expressed government's confidence that many of the outstanding
issues that were being discussed would be successfully resolved to ensure
that free and fair elections were held next year.

Finance ministers meet in Zambia

The deputy minister said: "We are focusing on ensuring an outcome that will
determine that the free will of the people of Zimbabwe is expressed and that
avenues to tackle the socio-economic challenges will be found."

Mr Pahad explained that SADC finance ministers had met in Zambia, where they
reviewed the report by the SADC Executive Secretary Tomaz Augusto Salomao on
the economic situation in Zimbabwe and what SADC could do to help the
Zimbabweans emerge from that crisis.

"All the finance ministers have now returned to their capitals and after
consultations with their capitals they will determine the next step.

"SA is quite happy with the progress being made in the facilitation efforts
and we think even if there are some difficulties, the process has been
placed on the right track," emphasised Pahad.

Regarding the progress with respect to the SADC Regional Economic Agenda,
Pahad said the SADC had noted that there was considerable basis for
declaring the SADC Free Trade Area by the time of the 2008 SADC Summit,
which would be hosted by SA in July.


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Imports ordered off Zim shelves

News24

15/11/2007 11:30† - (SA)

Chris Muronzi

Harare - The National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) has ordered
retailers selling imported goods to clear existing stocks by next week and
adopt a new pricing model based on the official exchange rate.

NIPC chairperson Godwills Masimarembwa told the state daily, The Herald,
that all businesses with imported stock must sell it by Thursday next week
to allow for a new pricing model.

"We held a meeting with business last week on Friday informing them to clear
stocks by November 22 on the basis of existing prices. From November 23
restocking should be on the basis of the official exchange rate," he said.

Masimirembwa also warned that buying or sourcing foreign currency on the
black market and factoring it into the price would not be tolerated, saying:
"We want to stop this nonsense."

He attacked companies for depending on foreign currency handouts from the
central bank saying firms should generate their own forex.

The head of the price control commission added that prices should not be
indexed using parallel market rates regardless of the source of foreign
currency.

Zimbabwe is facing an acute foreign currency shortage made worse by the
withdrawal of balance of payments support by the IMF after the troubled
country refused to institute sound economic reforms.

Masimarembwa said imported products with local equivalents will be priced at
par, whilst imports without local equivalents will attract a 50% mark-up
based on the official rate.

"In respect of manufacturers who are exporters and acquit earnings with the
Reserve Bank we will adopt opportunity cost in the model, using an
investment window as a basis for costing. Instead of using 30% we shall use
an opportunity cost window that translates to 270%," he said.

Although Masimarembwa said his commission was keen to work with business in
pricing goods, the announcement last month triggered many angry responses
from the troubled business community.

"The businessman deserves a reasonable return on investment, but consumers
should be able to afford the goods. Under the current pricing formulas it is
like a dog chasing its tail and the burden is being passed onto the
consumer," added Masimarembwa.

The paper added that businesses are shedding crocodile tears while raking in
profit margins in excess of 100% through rampant price hikes, some of them
unsanctioned by the price monitoring commission. However, businesses say the
NIPC is not reviewing prices with the urgency required.

President Robert Mugabe four months ago ordered prices of goods to be
slashed by 50%, an order that caused massive shortages of goods.

Zimbabwe has the highest inflation rate in the world now close to 8† 000%


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New Forex Policy 'Paralyses' NGOs


UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

15 November 2007
Posted to the web 15 November 2007

Harare

Zimbabwean non-governmental organisations (NGOs) claim their operations have
been paralysed since the Reserve Bank raided their foreign currency accounts
(FCAs).

In his mid-year Monetary Policy Statement at the beginning of October,
Gideon Gono, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), said NGOs would
now maintain 'mirror accounts' that would reflect how much money they had in
the bank while the actual money would be kept by the RBZ.

Under the new arrangement NGOs have to seek the reserve bank's permission to
use their money. NGOs who spoke to IRIN said many of their programmes had
ground to a near standstill, as the central bank was taking as long as 3
weeks to approve the release of foreign currency.

In justifying the swoop on NGO funds, Gono said the move, which affected all
corporate FCAs, had been taken to ensure "judicious allocation of the scarce
foreign currency reserves", besides boosting exports.

"What this means is that with immediate effect all corporate foreign
currency account balances at authorised dealers are to be lodged at the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, such that each bank maintains mirror accounts for
transactions tracking purposes," he said.

"It is important to note that while individuals, embassies and international
organisations' FCAs will remain with authorised dealers, balances for all
non-governmental organisations are to be transferred and centralised at the
Reserve Bank." FCAs belonging to UN agencies were also spared.

In return, Gono offered a range of investment deals in the "spirit of
preserving and promoting the welfare of our generators of foreign currency,
who are the geese that lay the golden eggs."

Predictably, the NGO community is concerned about these developments.

Control over programmes

Fambai Ngirande, communications and information manager of the National
Association of Non Governmental Organisations (NANGO), an umbrella body for
all NGOs operating in Zimbabwe, told IRIN an emergency meeting was held by
members after the announcement.

"At the meeting there was speculation that the reserve bank would end up
deciding on behalf of NGOs whether programmes being undertaken were relevant
or not," he said.

"Another concern was that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe would end up taking
over foreign currency belonging to NGOs from the FCAs at compulsory exchange
rates, in line with the spirit of the Indigenisation and Economic
Empowerment Bill." The bill intends to ensure at least a 51 percent
shareholding by indigenous black people in most businesses.

Several NGOs that spoke to IRIN said although it was initially implied that
the RBZ would take only 2 days to approve NGO funds, delays of between 2
weeks and up to a month were being reported.

"There are concerns regarding the inexplicable delays on money transfers.
Some NGOs mentioned 2-week delays, while others said traveller's cheques for
NGO officials travelling across the world for meetings were being turned
down," said Ngirande.

An NGO working in the food-security sector is still waiting for approval of
a request for funds for research on the levels of nutrition among children
in rural areas.

"It has been 3 weeks since we submitted our request for our money. Our
problem is that we cannot speak out because we could be deregistered, but
the truth of the matter is that the welfare of thousands of children is
being compromised by the takeover of FCAs by the Reserve Bank," said a
senior official of the NGO.

The NGOs said they were suspicious about the move targeting them amid
regular attacks by the government, which accuses NGOs and civil society of
supporting the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change,
and of using their resources to campaign on behalf of the opposition.

Although the official exchange rate is Z$30,000 to US$1, on the illegal but
thriving parallel market US$1 is fetching Z$1.5 million.

Two years ago, President Robert Mugabe did not assent to the NGO Bill,
which, among other things, sought to control funding destined for NGOs. The
bill was brought before parliament amid strident accusations that NGOs were
supporting the opposition.

Election ploy?

An official of a human rights NGO told IRIN that the reserve bank policy
appeared to have been designed to frustrate their operations. "There was a
huge outcry when the government tried to deregister NGOs through the NGO
bill, but it is our belief that the current move is designed to ensure that
we do not operate to expected capacities," the official commented.

"There appear to be punitive measures against the NGO community by the
government through the central bank. Strangely, the policy was announced a
few months before next year's elections."

An official at a commercial bank, through which requests for foreign
currency are made by NGOs, said the RBZ demanded to know three issues: "The
RBZ insists on knowing the identity of the NGO, the amount required and who
the beneficiaries are, before processing the requests."

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


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Illness rises as desperate residents seek safe water in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

UNICEF
UNICEF Image
' Tsitsi Singizi
Twice each day, Emily Ncube, 72, travels five km with a 25-litre bucket of water in order to ensure that her four grandchildren have safe water.

By Tsitsi Singizi

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, 14 November 2007 ' Twice each day, Emily Ncube, 72,†struggles to hoist a 25-litre bucket of water onto her head. It is a gruelling chore for the frail women but a better option, she says, than making another trip to the clinic with a sick grandchild.

'I look after four orphaned grandchildren,' said Ms. Ncube. 'Last week, the smallest one, Nobuhle, had a serious stomach ache. I know it was caused by the water from the nearby wells. That water is not clean.'

The water and sanitation situation in Zimbabwe's second largest city is dire. Residents of Bulawayo have access to just one-third of the globally accepted 20-litre minimum for daily water usage ' a situation that is complicated by nearly four years of drought, economic difficulties and the AIDS pandemic here.

Families desperate for water

Long queues at the few functioning water points can be seen as early as dawn. After school, children with huge containers line up to collect water for the next day's supply.

As desperate residents seek alternative sources of water, unsafe shallow wells are being dug in many of the city's high-density suburbs. Meanwhile, sanitation conditions have become threatening because, lacking water, residents can no longer use the latrines in their homes.

Unsurprisingly, incidents of diarrhoea are rising as a result of contaminated water and poor hygiene.

Improving hygienic practices

'Where there is a lack of safe water and sanitation together with poor hygiene practices, conditions become hazardous for women and children,' said UNICEF's Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr. Festo Kavishe. 'Illnesses and diarrhoea outbreaks such as these significantly contribute to child mortality.'

According to the Bulawayo health authorities, more than 2,500 cumulative cases of diarrhoea have been reported since the end of August, an average of around 40 per day.

In response, vital information on hygiene and diarrhoea is being circulated to improve hygienic practices in the community.

Provision of safe, clean water

With assistance from the Canadian International Development Agency, the UK Department for International Development† and the Swedish AID Agency, UNICEF continues to work to improve the situation in Bulawayo.

Working with a coalition of non-governmental organizations based in Bulawayo, UNICEF has drilled 10 boreholes and is rehabilitating 75 others.

Seven 10,000-litre water tanks have been provided to some of the city's schools. Oral rehydration salts to treat diarrhoeal dehydration, water treatment tablets and washing soap have also been distributed.

'We've worked around the clock, but there remains a need for investment in a much more sustainable water and sanitation system,' said UNICEF's Officer-in-Charge of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Maxwell Jonga.


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Ex Mugabe's guard testifies from exile

Africa News, Netherlands

† Posted on Thursday 15 November 2007 - 09:55

† Fidelis Zvomuya, Pretoria, South Africa

† Justine Chikomo is an ex Presidential Guard in his home country,
Zimbabwe. Like many of other soldiers, he has deserted the army to settle in
neighbouring South Africa, where he hopes he can find a better paid job and
take care of his family.

†† Apart from the economic meltdown, a pre-emptive military coup† is also
thought to be another reason behind this desertion. Most of these deserters
are too young to be wedded to the liberation struggle as their families are
suffering the same economic deprivation as many other Zimbabweans.

† Despite the doubling of their salaries, the uniformed forces are very
unhappy and are seeking economic refuge in neighbouring countries. It is
reported that more and more officers are leaving the once committed and
brutal government security agency, the one held responsible for the climate
of terror in the country.

† He says even though he might be getting enough money to put in his pocket,
have food on his table everyday, his thoughts are always back home to his
family wondering what they are having at the moment.


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Chair of Media Commission Retained Despite Bias Against Publisher Applying for Licence



Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

PRESS RELEASE
15 November 2007
Posted to the web 15 November 2007

The government has controversially retained Dr. Tafataona Mahoso as the
chairperson of the restructured state-controlled Media and Information
Commission (MIC) which will look into the Associated Newspapers of
Zimbabwe's (ANZ) application to be duly licensed despite court findings on
his bias against the publishing company.

On 30 October 2007, Dr. Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the minister of information and
publicity, said the new MIC board had been constituted in line with court
rulings directing ANZ, publishers of the banned "Daily News" and "Daily News
on Sunday", to approach the ministry in respect of its application for
registration as a publishing company in terms of the repressive Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

Ironically, the minister directed the new board to deal with the ANZ
application and pay "particular attention to the law and parameters set by
all court rulings made on the matter".

While the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe welcomes Dr.
Ndlovu's directive for the board to look into the ANZ application in line
with the "parameters set by all court rulings", the minister should however,
clarify the terms of reference that will govern the adjudication of the ANZ
application in view of the existing court findings against Dr. Mahoso's bias
in the matter. It should also be made clear whether a reconstituted MIC
which is still answerable to the minister and the Executive can be trusted
with the independent and impartial adjudication of the ANZ application in
view of the courts' findings against Dr. Mahoso.

This is an issue that is central and key to the impartial resolution of the
ANZ matter. The question that should then be addressed is whether the
ministry is complying with judicial decisions by allowing a reconstituted
MIC chaired by Dr. Mahoso to preside over the ANZ case.

The role that Dr. Mahoso will play in the ANZ matter should be made public
as it has a bearing on the government's respect and adherence to decisions
made by the courts, especially where it concerns his bias against the
publishing company.

The government should clearly and unambiguously demonstrate its sincerity
and impartiality towards final resolution of the ANZ legal battle to be
declared duly licensed as directed by the courts. To allow Dr. Mahoso to be
involved in this matter, unless we are advised otherwise, does not inspire
confidence that the process will be impartial.

MISA-Zimbabwe also notes with concern that as executive chairperson of the
MIC, Dr Mahoso wields tremendous power which might have a bearing on the
outcome of the adjudication of the ANZ application.

The minister should also make public the criteria he used in appointing
Chinondidyachii Mararike, Charity Sally Moyo, Edward Dube, Tendai Joseph
Chari and Ngugi Wa Mirii to the new MIC board and whether the appointments
were made in compliance with the provisions of the repressive and
restrictive AIPPA. Section 40 of AIPPA, which deals with the appointment and
composition of the MIC, stipulates, among other things, that at least three
members of the board should be nominated by an association of journalists
and appointed by the minister after consultation with the president and in
accordance with any directions that the president may give him.

These issues should be done in the spirit of transparency and
accountability; otherwise the whole process will be a farcical charade.


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Mbeki hints at political reforms before 2008 elections



By Tichaona Sibanda
15 November 2007

South African President Thabo Mbeki on Wednesday gave a hint there could be
political and electoral reforms in line with the SADC election guidelines,
before next year’s general elections in Zimbabwe.

He was responding to a question raised in parliament in South Africa.
In a written reply to a question by Cheryllyn Dudley, MP and chief whip of
the African Christian Democratic party, Mbeki disclosed that negotiators
were crafting the conditions necessary for holding free and fair elections,
by drawing guidance from the SADC guidelines governing
elections.

‘These principles, among others, advocate for the adherence to principles
such as full participation of the citizens in the political process, freedom
of association, political tolerance, equal opportunity for all political
parties to access the state media and equal opportunity to exercise the
right to vote and be voted for,’ Mbeki said.
Cheryllyn Dudley told Newsreel on Thursday that Mbeki’s pronouncement on
next year’s polls was significant because it would force the Zanu-PF
government to adopt the SADC election guidelines, to which they’re a
signatory. But she argued the outcome of the negotiations should be the
barometer of whether or not Zimbabwe would have free and fair polls.

‘Though I’m not yet convinced Mugabe will comply with the guidelines, at
least it gives us the necessary ammunition should the elections be disputed.
In a way what this also means is that the political situation on the ground
today cannot be ignored where the ruling Zanu-PF has an upper hand against
the opposition,’ Dudley said.

She said Zanu-PF still has unfettered access to state resources and public
media for its campaigns, while the majority of the opposition survived on
shoestring budgets. Dudley also argued that there was a real need to level
the playing field, which is currently tilted very far in favour of the
ruling party.

Mbeki was appointed by SADC in March to mediate between Zanu-PF and the MDC
in a bid to find a solution to the country’s political and economic crisis.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas
Goche are attending on behalf of the government, while top officials
represent the MDC from its two factions, Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube.
South Africa’s Local Government Minister Sydney Mufumadi is chairing the
discussions.

The MDC is demanding that elections due in March next year be free and fair.
Their other demands include international control of the elections that
millions of Zimbabweans abroad be allowed to vote, a new voters’ roll and
the appointment of an independent Zimbabwe Election Commission to supervise
the polls.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Wilson Moyo: "If it was easier to access documents, it would make our lives more bearable"


November 2007 (PlusNews) JOHANNESBURG, A year and a half ago, *Wilson Moyo,
45, was a white-collar worker enjoying a comfortable life in Bulawayo,
Zimbabwe's second city. After fleeing the country for political reasons he
is now homeless, jobless and living in a shelter in Johannesburg's inner
city.

He is also HIV-positive, but with no documentation and no income, he has
been unable to access antiretroviral (ARV) treatment or even consult a
doctor. He is now facing a long wait to obtain the asylum-seeker papers that
would grant him the same rights to treatment as a South African.

"I was staying in Bulawayo; I had my own house there and I was married with
two kids, a boy and a girl. I'd been working as a credit controller for
almost 17 years. Then I got involved in political activities and from that
time my life was threatened. Some time last year, around May, when things
got really bad, I decided to leave my country and come to South Africa.

"At that time I wasn't all that sick, but I thought at least it's better, in
a foreign land, to know you're healthy, and I like to read a lot, so I was
coming across these issues dealing with HIV and AIDS. I thought, let me just
go and check so I'm in a position to protect myself. I passed through Park
Station [Johannesburg's central train station] one day and they'd put tents
there for testing so I went in.

"It was a big shock [to learn my status], especially with all the problems I
had by then. The place I was sleeping, we were staying three to a bed and I
was used to having my own bed and my own things, so already I was stressed.
I didn't tell anyone, even my family back home. The first people I told was
when I went to a support group because there I met people who had the same
problems like me.

"I was referred to Hillbrow Clinic [in an inner-city suburb]. I went to the
reception and the clerk there said, 'Can I have your ID [identity
document]?' and when I said I didn't have any ID, they said, go and bring
it. I couldn't explain further because I knew I wouldn't get anywhere.

"After that I was disappointed, because I'd thought about it and found that
this was not the end of the road, there was still life after HIV. The best
thing was to fight on and get treatment and continue living a normal life,
but the problem was how to get the proper documentation to get treatment.

"At that time I didn't even know there was asylum - I found out from the
support group. They told me about how the permit allows you the same rights
as a citizen, including the right to treatment. I tried to go to [the
Department of Home Affairs in] Pretoria on several occasions, but it was so
difficult because the queues were so huge.

"I once slept there for three days, having nothing to eat and without having
washed. The last day, when I was number eight in the queue, I was pulled out
by these guys who were getting bribes from people. They said I should give
them R100 (US$15) to be in that queue, which I didn't have.

"I started not to feel well, so I tried Johannesburg Hospital but they told
me I needed to be referred from Hillbrow Clinic. You have this fear that if
you tell them the truth they will call the police.

"My hope is that if the situation at home can change, at least I'm a
qualified somebody there. If I was there doing a good job, I could pay for
ARVs. Here, even if I'm documented, I'll end up doing menial work because
most people here, they detest foreigners; it's very unlikely I'll get a job
that demands my skills and experience."

*Not his real name

ks/he

[ENDS]

[The above testimony is provided by IRIN, a humanitarian news service,
but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations.]


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Air Zimbabwe plane seconds from disaster

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 11/16/2007 02:16:55
AN AIR Zimbabwe plane was seconds from a runway crash at the country’s main
airport on Wednesday night due to a power cut, it was confirmed Thursday.

Zanu PF’s national chairman and the speaker of the House of Assembly John
Nkomo was among the passengers who were travelling from Bulawayo to Harare.

At the time the incident occurred some parts of Harare, including the Harare
International Airport, were experiencing heavy rains.

The plane, a Chinese-built MA60 which has a capacity of 60 passengers, was
saved from crashing on a blacked-out runway when the pilot was notified of a
power cut shortly before landing.

Air Zimbabwe’s corporate communications manager Pride Khumbula said: “Upon
approach to land at Harare International Airport, Air Zimbabwe flight UM232
from Bulawayo to Harare on Wednesday 14 November 2007 was advised by Civil
Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) Air Traffic Control that there was a
power outage at Harare International Airport. The flight was asked to hold
back from landing for 10 minutes, and landed on back-up.”

She added that questions regarding supply of power to the airport must be
referred to CAAZ.

A New Zimbabwe.com reader who was on the plane wrote on our discussion
forums: “On the MA60, from Byo, on the descent into Harare Airport, suddenly
(from what we were told later) the pilot it seems realises there is
insufficient light on the runway.

”We circle for a few moments, but the pilot has to put the bird down because
of strong winds.

”Not a smooth landing at all, bumping up and down and nearly sliding off to
the side of the south runway. Except for one minor injury, everybody safe.
Not once have I've ever felt so helpless. I am to travel to Byo again next
Monday for some seminar, but just the thought gives me the jeepers!”

Our reader added: “But I can say one thing: We do have some damn good pilots
around.”

Zimbabwe is experiencing daily black-outs. The country's regular cuts in
power and water supplies are blamed on acute shortages in hard currency,
gasoline and imported spare parts.

The country imports around 40% of its power from South Africa, DR Congo and
Mozambique.


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MDC Will Survive Negative Media Focus

African Path

November 15, 2007 10:36 AM

Izzy Mutanhaurwa

MDC has been in the news lately; most of the reports have been negative. The
arm-chair pundits have come out in full force, some going as far as saying
that MDC lacks the capacity to govern all based having read a few negative
newspaper reports. Some have gone on to say that the President is not
capable of leading, we should find a new candidate for 2008. For the real
comrades, the genuine party cadres the issue has been the same, remember how
negatively MDC was portrayed after Chikwata left in 2005 they professed the
death of MDC, when some of the misguided elements within the dissolved UK
executive leaked confidential internal emails to The Herald we survived
another onslaught of negative media focus.

Then last month everyone had an opinion on the 18th Amendment, the
negotiations, after Lucia Matibenga was relieved of her post as Chairwoman
for the Women's Assembly, the Anti-Tsvangirai coalition came out some saying
the party has split, it did not help that here in UK we have negativity
attracted by the antics of our little Mugabe the man who says he wont go
Ephraim Tapa, defying the vote of the province to step down, arranging
illegal meetings plotting mini-insurrections all being reported by the
media.

MDC has never been the darling of the media, the only sympathetic voice was
the yester years Daily News, with exceptions from Trevor Ncube's owned
titles. We are threat to Zanu PF we have always been since the formation of
the party so Zanu Pf through its state machinery of the CIO they plant
negative stories meant to portray MDC as weak, being led by a weak leader
they say. Some have gone as far as to say MDC will not win the forthcoming
elections. But true proponents for change will know that the real MDC led by
Morgan Tsvangirai is the only viable solution for Zimbabwe. We are almost
there as it dawns on Zanu PF that its era is tethering to an end they will
always churn out rubbish reports printed in their government mouth-piece The
Herald, the Gono bank-rolled New Zimbabwe and all the other outlets that do
not see it as smear campaign meant to weaken MDC's position as we gear
towards 2008 elections.

People have been asking me what is my opinion on the rumours that Simba
Makoni wants to start a new party. I think people should be alerted that
this could be a ploy by Zanu PF together with the CIO to divide the votes
ahead of the forthcoming 2008 elections. With the outcome of the
negotiations determining whether MDC will participate into the forthcoming
harmonised elections then Simba Makoni's reported party must be another Zanu
PF extension meant to hoodwink the electorate and in the event that MDC does
not participate then Simba Makoni's party will offer legitimacy to the
result that Thabo Mbeki wants so much to be legitimised irregardless of the
outcome.

Surely if its not that, why today in 2007 when half of the population of
Zimbabwe have fled the country? What sudden revelation has inspired Simba
Makoni to form his own party? There are others that are saying this what
Zimbabwe needed, really is what we needed? Some have gone on to say this is
the only man that can beat Mugabe, is he really? Because I will tell you
that President Tsvangirai is the only person that has beaten Mugabe in the
stolen 2002 Presidential election. The same saviour tag was attached to
Professor of Robotics Arthur Mutambara when arrived on the scene to lead the
dissidents together with Weshman Ncube, Trudy and others that are inspiring
Tapa and Co in UK. There is only ONE MDC, that lead by Morgan Tsvangirai
anything else is cannon fodder.


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No money to pay magistrates, government says

New Zimbabwe

By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 11/16/2007 03:48:37
THE Zimbabwe government is unable to award striking magistrates any salary
hikes this year, a top government official said Thursday.

Chisi Chaitezvi, the acting secretary in the Ministry of Justice told the
parliamentary portfolio committee on justice that treasury had told him that
there was no money to meet the magistrates’ wage demands.

Salary increments could only be effected in January next year, he said.

The revelations will escalate the stand-off between the government and
magistrates who have been on strike for the past two weeks, demanding
increased pay.

Zimbabwe is going through its worst economic crisis in history, with
inflation of over 8000%. Salaries are immediately wiped off by the runaway
inflation.

Chaitezvi said even though there was no money, “the employer” had admitted
that salaries that were being given are low.

“Today I discussed with the Public Service Commission (PSC). The employer
said they are going to rectify the problem, but are not able to do so this
year because the budget is constrained,” Chaitezvi said.

Chef magistrate Herbert Mandeya said the strike started at Rotten Row Court
in Harare before spreading.

He described the situation as bad and added that “people were rotting and
rotting in police cells” as there was no one to attend to cases.

Heads of station at magistrate’s courts around the country have been told to
report for work and in some cases, police prosecutors have been asked to
help by processing remands for all cases, the committee also heard.

A trigger to the strike action, according to some court officials, was a
government decision to award salary increases to regional magistrates and
chief law officers in the Attorney General's Office.

The two groups are understood to have been awarded salary increments of
between $90 and $140 million, effective last month. Officers in the
provincial courts were left out of the deal.

Magistrates earn about $20 million, (about £6.50) on the thriving parallel
market.

Zimbabwe’s judiciary system is currently faced with a high turnover of
senior and experienced staff who are leaving in droves in search of greener
pastures in neighbouring countries like Botswana, South Africa and Namibia.

The Bulawayo Magistrates' Courts are operating with 11 magistrates instead
of a prescribed establishment of 20. Graduates from the University of
Zimbabwe's law department hardly spend a year with the public service as
they quickly resign to join private practice where the remuneration is
better.

Zimbabwe’s public sector workers bear the brunt of the country's economic
collapse. Teachers and health workers routinely go on strike.


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Mutare Police Block 'Final Push' Play



Financial Gazette (Harare)

15 November 2007
Posted to the web 15 November 2007

Stanley Kwenda
Harare

Police in Mutare on Monday stopped the staging of the politically-charged
play, Final Push, produced by Silvanos Mudzvova of Vhitori Entertainment.

The play was supposed to have been performed at Courtauld Theatre in Mutare
but had to be stopped at the last minute after suspected state security
agents threatened the theatre house with closure if it hosted the play.

Mudzvova and a fellow actor, Antony Tongani and cameraman James Jemwa were
last month arrested while performing the play in Harare. They were
subsequently forced to perform the 45 minute long play 12 times while in
police custody.

Mudzvova said," The show was supposed to have been staged at 7 pm in Mutare
but, on the day, I received a phone call from Nicholas Moyo of the National
Arts Council (NAC) warning us not to go ahead with the play, ostensibly
because our organisation was not registered."

Surprisingly, the play had premiered in Harare and was performed for a few
days before the arrest of the trio. The Media Institute of Southern Africa
(MISA) then took it to Quill Club. Despite the harassment and intimidation,
Mudzvova has vowed to continue a scheduled national tour to stage the play.

"A NAC official, Ruswa in Mutare, alerted the Law and Order section but
despite such threats we will not be intimidated and won't bow to this kind
of harassment," said Mudzvova.

"The state security agents might not like the play but we will take it take
it to the people. They could try anything but what we know is that they
don't have laws to stop us. This is our work and we know no other."

Theatrical plays have become a platform for actors to "freely" express
political views as other avenues of free speech have been closed by
draconian laws.


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We will besiege ZINWA: Belvedere residents

15 November 2007,

Residents in Belvedere have threatened to demonstrate against the Zimbabwe
National Water Authority (ZINWA). The threats come following water cuts that
are making life unbearable. Residents in Belvedere have gone for the last
one week without tape water. A month ago residents in the same area went for
two weeks without water. The water cuts caused cholera outbreaks and
disturbed the normal flow of life. Women with infants had trouble washing
napkins and bathing school going children. There was no drinking and bathing
water.

CHRA Ward five members wrote a petition to ZINWA which has not had a
response. It is against this background that residents in the area have
agreed to mobilize each other and demonstrate against ZINWA. Belvedere
residents also complain about unattended to sewer bursts which pose health
hazards. Despite the poor services offered by ZINWA residents continue to
receive ballooned bills of between 5 and 25 million dollars. The Minister of
water resources and infrastructure development Engineer Munacho Mutezo has
condemned the bills as highly unrealistic. He ordered the ZINWA board to
investigate allegations that bills are being illegally inflated by ZINWA
staff. It remains to be seen whether any perpetrators will be brought to
book.

Water cuts are not peculiar to Belvedere as most suburbs in Harare are
plagued by nauseating water cuts. CHRA receives reports of water cuts daily
and encourages residents to challenge the incompetence of ZINWA. CHRA
continues to advocate for the reversal of the administration of sewer and
water services to local authorities. These local authorities must be run by
democratically elected leaders who are not driven by the whims and caprices
of party political patronage. Local authorities and the Minister of Local
government Dr Chombo must employ Town Clerks and other critical staff on the
basis of merit and qualification and not on the basis of political party
affiliation.

Farai Barnabas Mangodza
Chief Executive Officer
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
145 Robert Mugabe Way
Exploration House, Third Floor
Harare
ceo@chra.co.zw
www.chra.co.zw
†Landline: 00263- 4- 705114

Contacts: Mobile: 0912638401, 011443578, 011862012 or email info@chra.co.zw,
programs@chra.co.zw and admin@chra.co.zw


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Illegal immigrants face deportation

IOL

†††† November 15 2007 at 03:24PM

By Lavern de Vries

In the wake of the death outside Home Affairs offices of Zimbabwe
seeking refugee status, many people queueing for legal documents at Home
Affairs offices in the province could be arrested and deported.

A joint R800 000 operation has been launched in the province by police
and the Department of Home Affairs which will target:

.. "Hotspots" of illegal immigrants.

.. People who have already been denied refugee status.

.. Marriages of convenience.

.. Foreign nationals engaged in criminal activities.

The drive, named Operation Umbrella, was due to have kicked off at the
beginning of this month, but has been delayed.

About 12 specially trained police officers, all highly skilled, were
being diverted from their normal duties to head the unit, sources said.

Home Affairs spokesperson Jackie Mashapu said: "The strategy is to
deal with illegal immigrants, not refugees.

"Refugees are legal. They get the papers to confirm their status. We
want to deal with illegal immigrants.

"When a person is arrested, that person will be questioned to
determine his intentions (for being in SA). Each case will be dealt with on
its merits."

But Mashapu was unable to explain how refugees who had yet to obtain
papers would be dealt with.

"A person is a refugee when he or she had been awarded refugee status
by obtaining the correct papers and a refugee is therefore legally in the
country."

According to a source who declined to be named, R600 000 would be
spent on deportation costs, while R200 000 was to be spent on
administration, such as overtime pay and travel expenses for visits to
outlying areas such as George and Paarl.

Community Safety MEC Leonard Ramatlakane would not comment on the
cost, saying only that the project was "well-resourced for delivery".

"It is a project which requires two departments to work together for
the challenges we face ... it is difficult to manage the challenge of crime
with those who have no status or those with some status, especially in the
period we are heading into, which is one where crime peaks," Ramatlakane
said.

Operation Umbrella was already functional, he said.

But sources close to the project claimed several problems had caused a
delay.

These included an inability to find drivers for two trucks meant to
transport illegal immigrants and the recent flooding of the Home Affairs
offices in Barrack Street in the city centre.

Refugee advocacy group People Against Suffering, Suppression,
Oppression and Poverty (Passop) has slammed the plan, saying that if the
government intends deporting illegal immigrants, the group would mobilise
the masses in protest action.

Passop's head, Braam Hanekom, said the information had come as a great
shock.

He said he would meet Home Affairs portfolio committee chairperson
Patrick Chauke to obtain his opinion on the planned operation.

The Consortium for Refugees and Migration in SA (Cormsa) also
criticised the initiative, labelling it unfair.

"There is no efficient and effective service in place that allows for
refugees to apply for status," said spokesperson Duncan Breen.

He said the organisation called for the suspension of the campaign
"until the department allows for free and fair access for all applicants".

The consortium has requested that if the initiative goes ahead as
planned, police will handle the arrests appropriately, as "people are being
arrested for immigration irregularities and not crimes".

This article was originally published on page 1 of Cape Argus on
November 15, 2007


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Panic in Mugabe's bunker

The First Post††††
Moses Moyo in Harare

His plans to kill or discredit his critics destroyed by leaks, Zimbabwe's
dictator is losing his grip

The First Post's exclusive reports of Robert Mugabe's plots - first to
assassinate his critics, including ex-Archbishop Pius Ncube, then to destroy
Ncube with charges of sexual misconduct - have enraged Zimbabwe's President.
But publication has caused him temporarily to call off the conspiracies.

Scenes reminiscent of the last days of Hitler were witnessed at a late-night
meeting at State House, called by Mugabe on Monday. The President raved and
screamed at his top security men, threatening to sack some of them,
including Central Intelligence Organisation boss Happyton Bonyongwe, unless
they put a stop to the damaging leaks.

Bonyongwe confessed to the president that the latest plots against Ncube
which were attempting to link the former Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo
with false charges of sodomy, adultery and deliberately spreading Aids, had
all fallen apart, thanks to The First Post's reports. Several of those lined
up to make accusations against Ncube had already disappeared.

Mugabe, frothing with rage, screamed at the hapless chief: "Get out of the
kitchen if you cannot handle it, Bonyongwe. Since when have you failed to
handle your boys? Or maybe you are one of those that think I should leave my
job."

Then he ordered a visibly shaken Bonyongwe to call off the anti-Ncube
campaign for the moment, and instead launch a manhunt to track down the
informants who gave information to The First Post - and "deal with them
first."

The government has been unable to pass off the reports about the Ncube
honeytrap and the attempts on his life and reputation as fiction, because
The First Post showed documents about the plans, passed to me at great risk
by my sources.

Mugabe has now ordered that in future there must be no paperwork about such
plots, and all briefings must be made strictly by telephone or in person,
face to face.

The Monday night meeting was at the highest level of government. It
included, apart from Bonyongwe, the defence forces commander General
Constantine Chiwengwa, the army chief Phillip Sibanda, air force chief
Perence Shiri, police commissioner Augustine Chirhuri, and the home and
defence ministers, Kembo Mohadi and Sydney Sekeramayi.

Significantly absent was Security Minister Didymus

Mugabe planned to link Pius Ncube with false charges of sodomy, adultery and
deliberately spreading Aids

Mutasa, who is out of favour because of his involvement with the 'magic
diesel' affair.

When I spoke to Pius Ncube yesterday I warned him that the hiatus in the
attacks on his reputation was only temporary. He told me: "I am not worried.
I have said before that I only fear God, and Mugabe is not God. I will
continue to fight for a better life in Zimbabwe."

FIRST POSTED NOVEMBER 15, 2007

http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk?storyID=9517
November 15, 2007


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Namibia: Land Reform Reproducing Poverty



UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

15 November 2007
Posted to the web 15 November 2007

Johannesburg

Namibia's land reform programme is a "zero sum game" that merely swaps one
form of poverty for another in its current resettlement programme, according
to an independent report on attempts to find a equitable solution to
racially skewed land ownership.

The Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), a non-governmental human rights
organisation based in the capital, Windhoek, said in a report reviewing the
achievements so far of Namibia's land reform programme, No Resettlement
Available, that "most [resettlement farms] are not doing very well; in fact,
it is not apparent that any are."

The size of the farms allocated and the agricultural methods practiced were
among the problems identified. "Black farmers get smaller units than white
farmers held, but remain stuck with the same plan to be livestock farmers,"
said the report.

"Since even the larger white farms were not very profitable, this
apportionment is both setting black farmers up to fail, and failing to
reconceptualise a new Namibian agricultural order that could both feed the
growing population and provide reasonable incomes to the new black
commercial farmers."

Namibia, which won its independence from apartheid South Africa in 1990,
inherited a colonial division of land in which about half the agricultural
land is owned by 3,500 white farmers. Farms average about 5,000 hectares in
the north of the country and 10,000 hectares in the south, while nearly 1
million black Namibians live on "heavily overgrazed" communal lands.

The large commercial farm of the apartheid era, an old an inefficient
structure of agriculture, is being reproduced in a diluted form

The report by Willem Odendaal, of the LAC's Land Environment and Development
Project, and Sidney Harring, Professor of Law at the City University in New
York, said the government's agrarian policy had failed to adapt to the
demands of a modern Namibia or benefit African farmers.

"Dividing large farms into units of one-fifth to one-seventh the size [of
the original farm] - being the typical resettlement farm size - not only
applies the failed colonial model [of cattle farming], but further weakens
it, in that farms of such small sizes cannot succeed. The large commercial
farm of the apartheid era, an old and inefficient structure of agriculture,
is being reproduced in a diluted form."

Namibia is an arid country of about 825,400sq km, of which only about 100sq
km are suitable for dry [non-irrigated] crop cultivation; it suffers drought
in six out of every 10 years and its growing population of about 2 million
people has seen "several hundred thousand blacks ... crowded off ...
communal lands and move to sprawling squatter camps surrounding every town
in Namibia," the LRC report said.

Slow pace of land reform

The Namibian government, like those of neighbouring South Africa and
Zimbabwe, has made land reform a central policy tenet, and "government's
resettlement scheme has placed 800 farms in black hands in the 17 years
since independence", the report noted.

"This is about 12 percent of all farms, or less or than one percent a year,
so the process will take over 100 years to complete, depending on what
proportion of white commercial farms the government plans to place in blacks
hands before deeming the process complete."

Sakkie Coetzee, executive manager of the Namibian Agricultural Union, which
draws it membership from mainly white commercial farmers, told IRIN that
according to their records, "more than 1,000 farms" or about 16 percent of
commercial farmland, had been transferred to previously disadvantaged
people.

He said the agricultural capacity of the country was "overstated" and the
"perception of large [farms] is not necessarily the right perception", owing
to the country's predominantly dry climate and paucity of surface water,
which required economies of scale to produce sustainable farming. The policy
of subdividing farms was "devastating" and under such a regime the new
"farmers would never make it".

Coetzee, whose farmers' union officially supports land redistribution,
attributed the policy of creating smaller farming plots to the influence of
such institutions as the World Bank's one-size-fits-all approach, which
meant that while a small plot in Ghana might be sustainable, this was not
the case in Namibia.

He said the union was attempting to "convince the government to rethink and
redesign their policies, as the global practice was seeing farms getting
bigger and bigger because of the higher production costs".

New agrarian model required

The report recommends an overhaul of the agricultural sector, from the
"apartheid era" agricultural colleges emphasising cattle farming, to new
farming methods such as "crop cultivation and tropical agriculture".

Tropical agriculture is usually labour-intensive subsistence farming and
cash-crop production, using techniques like moveable cages that confine
animals to feeding on weeds, the use of crop residues as litter in the
cages, disposal of human waste in deep pits that are later planted with
trees, and the use of ashes as fertiliser and in soap production.

The LAC cited numerous failures in the division and resettlement of
commercial farms, from not granting land title and "leaving poor people in
some kind of tenant relationship with the government [which] is not
empowering them," to a lack of transparency, the absence of any support for
resettled farmers and the overblown bureaucracy of "the Ministry of Lands
and Resettlement - and the government generally".

"Given the small number of people involved, what the ministry and staff
actually do is not apparent. For example, resettling 9,000 people in 12
years amounts to fewer than 800 a year, hardly more than 125-130 families.
Yet it takes a staff of perhaps 1,000 government employees to do this work,"
the authors pointed out.

"Almost all of the 209 or so resettlement farms have staff of the ministry
on their premises or in a nearby town, yet it is not obvious that these
people are well trained and performing their duties."

Resettlement Farms

The "poor record keeping" also meant that the exact number of people
resettled on these farms was uncertain, and "many have already left the
rural poverty of the resettlement farms, and more leave every day," the LAC
said.

While white commercial farmers were heavily subsidised with both capital and
large numbers of livestock by past German and South African colonial
governments, "resettled farmers have neither, and are left to an
impoverished lifestyle which is often as bad or worse than the one they had
prior to joining the resettlement programme".

The report identified an unpalatable conundrum: "Any 'average' resettlement
process will move five 'disadvantaged' families to a farm at the same time
that it removes six farmworkers and their families to homelessness and
poverty ... each resettlement process displaces as many as it resettles."

Commercial farms are one of the country's major employers, while farmworkers
and their dependents comprise an estimated 222,000 people, but many
farmworkers do not want to be resettled because of negative experiences
suffered by others.

Even as poorly paid farm workers, they have their basic needs met: they
receive a regular salary, are allowed to have chickens, small stock and
perhaps even cattle, and live in reasonably good housing. All of this
disappears on a Namibian resettlement farm

"Even as poorly paid farm workers, they have their basic needs met: they
receive a regular salary, are allowed to have chickens, small stock and
perhaps even cattle, and live in reasonably good housing. All of this
disappears on a Namibian resettlement farm."

The authors suggest the adoption of a land-reform model used in South Africa
as alternative: farmworkers are trained to perform management roles and
provided with higher skills levels, with the intention that land title could
gradually be handed over to farmworkers or other poor people with the
requisite skills to operate the farm.

Both South Africa and Namibia have trod delicately around the issue of
expropriation, given the experiences of neighbouring Zimbabwe, and both
countries place great emphasis on the rule of law.

The LAC report recommends an "increased pace of expropriation", but that
pace "depends on public confidence that land reform is being successfully
implemented at grassroots level, i.e., that small black-owned farms are
being created successfully."

The Ministry of Lands and Resettlement was not available for comment.

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

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