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Civic groups say no let-up on Zim rights abuses

Zim Online

Friday 17 November 2006

BANJUL - Zimbabwean civic groups attending the 40th ordinary session
of the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) in The Gambia
on Thursday rejected assertions by a government delegation that President
Robert Mugabe was addressing human rights concerns in the southern African
country.

The civic groups spoke out after the government delegation told the
opening session on Wednesday that Harare was addressing human rights
concerns following proposals earlier this year to set up a Zimbabwe Human
Rights Commission.
The government delegation also maintained during its presentation that
reports of human rights violations in the country were grossly exaggerated
and were solely meant to embarrass the Harare authorities.

But yesterday, Zimbabwean civic that are attending the session in the
Gambian capital of Banjul hit back at the assertions insisting there has not
been any improvement on the ground in the human rights situation in the
country.

The groups, among them the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA),
the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) and the Zimbabwe Human
Rights Forum said Harare had stubbornly maintained a raft of repressive
laws against hapless citizens.

"In both the 39th (held last year) and this session, the Zimbabwean
government announced the setting up of a Human Rights Commission," said
Wilbert Mandinde, the legal officer of MISA-Zimbabwe in his presentation to
the commissioners.

"However, the continued suppression of people's freedoms by the same
government is clear indication of lack of goodwill by the government.

"Moreso, we believe that a Human Rights Commission cannot be set and
(made to) operate in an environment replete with repressive legislation such
as the one in Zimbabwe," added Mandinde.

Earlier this year, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the
government was planning to set up the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to
deal with issues of human rights abuses in the country.

But civic groups and pro-democracy groups have been highly critical of
the plans saying the Harare authorities were the least qualified to monitor
human rights issues after they were implicated in serious human rights
violations over the past six years.

Speaking at the same gathering in Banjul, the Zimbabwe Human Rights
NGO Forum said while it agreed in principle with the setting up of such a
Commission, "the respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms has not
been cultivated in Zimbabwe."

The Forum cited, among other examples, the brutal assault of Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) leaders last September by the police and
state security agents for attempting to demonstrate in Harare over worsening
economic hardships in the country.

The Forum said Harare had continuously ignored calls by civic groups
to repeal obnoxious legislation such as the tough Public Order and Security
Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA).

"We have drawn the attention of the Zimbabwe government to the fact
that the human rights operating environment in Zimbabwe cannot sustain an
independent, impartial and effective Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.

"The fact that court orders are still being disobeyed, the rule of law
is disregarded, the absence of commitment to a permanent constitutional
reform process and the perpetuation of unfavourable pieces of legislation
all speak against setting up of a National Human Rights Commission," said
the Forum in its presentation.

The Banjul summit ends on 29 November.

Western governments and human rights groups have often accused Harare
of flouting the rights of its political opponents.

But Mugabe, in power since the country's independence from Britain 26
years ago, denies the charges insisting the charges are trumped up to
tarnish his government's image. - ZimOnline


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Zim cattle rustlers wreak havoc in Botswana

Zim Online

Friday 17 November 2006

RAMOGKWEBANA - In this remote village of Matshelagabedi, in
north-eastern Botswana, 67-year old Philemon Malikongwa says life here will
never be the same again.
Each night, the sound of barking dogs suggest more trouble for him and
other fear-struck villagers who live at the mercy of predatory cattle
rustlers, from Zimbabwe.

For the past 40 years, Malikongwa, a subsistence cattle farmer, says
he and his fellow villagers had lived in peace in this dry part of Botswana.

For him and many other villagers here, livestock farming is an age-old
tradition that is their only source of livelihood.

But daring raids by desperate Zimbabwean cattle rustlers is forcing
most of these farmers to reconsider their options - forcing them to make
fundamental changes to their lifestyle.

The farmers say they are under serious threat from a new breed of
highly organised cattle rustlers from Zimbabwe who are using mountain bikes
to negotiate the rough terrain in the country.

The farmers say the cattle rustlers are carrying out daring forays
into Botswana stealing hundreds of cattle and small livestock in single
overnight raids.

"We have lost hundreds of cattle over the past few years and we are
still losing more," says Busang Busang, a communal farmer from the nearby
Sekokwe village.

"The bicycle gangs are can drive a whole village's herd across the
border in one night. We understand that the cattle are sold or exchanged for
goods in Zimbabwe.

"Although the police are doing their best, it appears that this is one
war that they cannot win," said Busang.

The Botswana government, accused by the Harare authorities of
ill-treating its nationals who visit that country, has stepped up police and
military patrols in villagers along the border with Zimbabwe.

But even the heavy presence of the Botswana security forces has failed
to dissuade the cattle rustlers from breaching the notoriously porous border
frontier at will.

Large numbers of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants continue to cross the
border into Botswana at illegal entry points fleeing an unprecedented
seven-year old economic crisis at home.

Relations between Zimbabwe and Botswana are strained with the Gaborone
authorities accusing illegal Zimbabwean immigrants of stoking crime in their
country.

"Many people are slowly abandoning cattle farming because they do not
see any sense in raising herds that will be lost to thieves one day," said
another Botswana villager.

He said most of them no longer report crimes to the police because
property stolen on the Botswana side of the border can be quickly stashed in
Zimbabwean villages within minutes.

"If your house is ransacked or you can't find your livestock for just
one day, you should quickly give up all hope of recovery and start accepting
your loss," he said.

To make matter worse, even if the police recover stolen cattle from
Zimbabwe, the cattle are quickly put down on arrival as part of Botswana's
disease control policy.

Police in Matsiloje village told ZimOnline that although crime had
reached unprecedented levels in villages along the Zimbabwe border, the
fault sometimes lay with the Botswana cattle farmers.

"The farmers blame us for not doing enough to stop it, but they should
know that the illegal Zimbabwean immigrants they employ and underpay are not
here to work for charity.

"They are here to seek riches and the farmers should know by now that
any underpaid poor man who finds himself in charge of a big herd can be
strongly tempted to steal. That is exactly what happens here," said a senior
police officer who spoke to ZimOnline on condition of anonymity.

He said some of the cattle rustlers were on 'revenge missions' after
they were expelled by the Botswana farmers without receiving their wages.

Another cattle herder told ZimOnline: "Some employers literally hand
their Zimbabwean employees over to the police shortly before pay day so that
they can be arrested and deported.

"Those are the ones who lose everything when former cattle herders
come to steal the equivalent of their dues with all the interest added," he
said.

Botswana agriculture minister Peter Siele said the government was
aware of the problem of cattle rustling along the border with Zimbabwe.

Siele said police patrols were being intensified on both sides of the
border while efforts to find a lasting solution to illegal immigration and
cross-border crime were being sought out.

But for cattle farmers, such as Malikongwa and hundreds others in
Matshelagabedi, such efforts to find a lasting solution to the crisis may
come a little bit too late. - ZimOnline


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White farmers shun compensation exercise

Zim Online

Friday 17 November 2006

HARARE - Zimbabwe's white farmers are shunning a government exercise
that began this week to pay compensation for improvements on farms seized
during a controversial land reform exercise six years ago, ZimOnline has
learnt.

In a notice published in state newspapers since last week, President
Robert Mugabe's government invited the former commercial farmers to contact
the Ministry of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement for their compensation.

Sources within the Lands Ministry told ZimOnline yesterday that the
call had received very few takers because of the paltry amounts that the
cash-strapped government was offering to the dispossessed white farmers.

"We published the list over the weekend but there has been a terrible
response over the matter," said the source. "It seems the owners are not
happy with the compensation the government is proposing."

ZimOnline understands that the lowest paid commercial farmer would
walk away with a paltry Z$421 000 while the highest paid farmer will collect
Z$10 056 000.

A spokesperson of the largely white Commercial Farmers Union (CFU),
Emily Crookes, confirmed that their members had not responded positively to
the government's call.

"We have received very few calls from our members showing interest in
the compensation exercise. But we have advised our members to get the
details in writing rather than shun the exercise completely.

"Of course the farmers are not happy with the compensation plan as it
does not factor in the land," she said.

The Zimbabwe government has sternly refused to pay compensation for
the land saying it will only pay compensation for improvements on the farms
such as boreholes, dams and buildings.

State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who is also in charge of the
government's land reform programme yesterday confirmed that there has been a
lukewarm response from white farmers over the offer.

But Mutasa insisted that the government would forge ahead with plans
to pay off the farmers.

"We are not worried at all over the poor response. It could have been
better had they come to our offices with their grievances.

"But we will not pay for the farms. Compensation is just for the
improvements made. The farmers did not buy the farms - they displaced our
ancestors," said Mutasa.

Commenting on the compensation system yesterday, Renson Gasela, an
agricultural expert and senior official in the splintered opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, dismissed the proposed monetary
figures as "ridiculous."

"The figures are just pathetic that's why the government has kept them
a secret. Only a thoroughly desperate farmer can take up the offer," he
said.

At least 600 out of an estimated 4 500 white farmers are still on
their land after Mugabe seized thousands of farms as part of his government's
land reform programme.

But the farm seizures have resulted in massive food shortages over the
past six years because the government failed to support the new black land
owners who were resettled on the farms. - ZimOnline


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Harare impounds DRC rail coaches

Zim Online

Friday 17 November 2006

BULAWAYO - The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has impounded 50
passenger rail coaches destined for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
after the central African country failed to replace coaches they had hired
from Zimbabwe.

The NRZ hired out 25 coaches to the Congo Railroad Company (CRC) at
the height of the Congo civil war in 1998. But the NRZ refused to collect
the coaches after the war in 2003 because they were in a seriously
dilapidated state.

Sources at the Zimbabwe rail company said the CRC refused co-operate
when the NRZ demanded compensation for the damaged wagons.

But two weeks ago, the NRZ impounded the 50 coaches which were on
transit to the DRC from South Africa and has since been refusing to release
the coaches until their dispute with the CRC has been resolved.

A delegation from the DRC arrived in Zimbabwe on Tuesday last week and
had been unsuccessfully trying to negotiate for the release of the coaches.
The coaches are however still stuck in Bulawayo.

NRZ board chairman, Brigadier General Douglas Nyikayaramba, confirmed
to ZimOnline yesterday that the NRZ was holding on to the coaches but sought
to downplay the row saying they were close to striking a deal with the
Congolese over the matter.

"There is no misunderstanding here. We had hired the passenger coaches
to the DRC railways but the coaches are now wasted and in a state of
disrepair. So we called them over to negotiate on how the NRZ coaches would
be replaced.

"I am happy to say an agreement has been reached and what is now left
is to appraise our governments on the deal," said Nyikayaramba, a retired
soldier at the helm of the struggling parastatal.

The NRZ is now a shadow of its former self after years of
mismanagement and under-funding. Non-functioning communication systems as
well as serious defects on train wagons have contributed to serious rail
accidents in Zimbabwe over the past few years. - ZimOnline


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Women demand 50-50 share of political power

Zim Online

Friday 17 November 2006

HARARE - At least 50 Zimbabwean women demonstrated in Harare yesterday
demanding a 50 percent share of the country's political power.
The demonstration was organised by the Women in Politics Support Unit
(WIPSU), a civic group that promotes the participation of women in issues of
governance.

The demonstrators, who included three legislators from the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, marched from Africa
Unity Square in central Harare to the Harare Gardens wielding placards
demanding an equal share of political power.

Some of the placards read: "The time for 50 percent women's
representation is NOW."

Addressing the protesters, Harare North legislator Trudy Stevenson
said women should demand equal representation in all elections in future
beginning with the upcoming urban council elections.

"We need 50-50 percent representation (with men) right now. We need to
begin with the forthcoming council elections," she said.

Human rights groups say although women make up 52 percent of Zimbabwe's
12 million population, they are not represented meaningfully in positions of
governance. For example, out of the 10 provincial governors in Zimbabwe,
only two were women.

In addition, only 22.2 percent of women are represented in political
positions in the country.

"Fifty-two percent of the women's population being represented by 22.2
percent in politics is not justifiable," said Rutendo Hadebe, the director
of Women in Politics Support Unit (Wipsu) and one of the organisers of the
protest. - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwe to compensate dispossessed farmers

Mail and Guardian

Harare, Zimbabwe

16 November 2006 10:59

Zimbabwe on Thursday invited more than 1 000 white farmers to
collect compensation for property seized during a controversial land-reform
programme launched by President Robert Mugabe's government.

In a four-page notice published in the state-run Herald
newspaper, secretary of lands Ngoni Masoka said dispossessed farmers should
contact the ministry urgently.

"The schedule below summarises details of farms whose
compensation has been fixed in terms of Section 29 B of the Land Acquisition
Act," Masoka said in a statement.

"The former owners or representatives should contact the
Ministry of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement as a matter of urgency in
connection with their compensation."

Zimbabwe launched its controversial and often violent land
reforms seven years ago, seizing at least 4 000 properties formerly run by
white farmers and pledging to redistribute them to landless blacks.

Mugabe said the measure was aimed at rectifying historical
wrongs and imbalances favouring British colonial settlers and other white
farmers.

He turned a blind eye when bands of veterans of the country's
1970s liberation war led the farm seizures, often occupying them after
violent attacks. The move led to a slide in agricultural production, once
the bedrock of the Zimbabwean economy, which is now labouring under
four-digit inflation and previously unheard of food shortages.

At least 500 white farmers still remain in Zimbabwe while many
others have emigrated to other countries such as Zambia, Mozambique and
Nigeria. - Sapa-AFP


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Farmers' group calls Zimbabwe's compensation offer for seized land a sham

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: November 16, 2006

HARARE, Zimbabwe: The government on Thursday asked more than 800 white
farmers to claim compensation for properties seized under the state's land
redistribution program, but the main farmers' support group described the
proposed compensation as "daylight robbery" in Zimbabwe's hyperinflationary
economy.

The group Justice for Agriculture, representing hundreds of displaced white
farmers, said that a four-page notice in state media Thursday calling on
former landowners to lodge claims for compensation with the Agriculture
Ministry was a sham intended to convince outsiders that the farmers were
being fairly treated.

In five previous notices, the government had said compensation would not be
paid for land, but only for buildings and improvements made on some 5,000
properties seized from white farmers since 2000 in an often violent program
that the government says is meant to return lands taken from blacks during
the colonial era.

"It is nothing short of daylight robbery," said John Worsely-Worswick, head
of the support group.

Since the land seizure program began, nearly 15,000 blacks have received
parcels of former white-owned land for commercial agricultural production.
Another 141,000 families received small plots.
But the often chaotic seizures disrupted Zimbabwe's agriculture-based
economy, plunging the former regional breadbasket into its worst economic
crisis since independence in 1980. At more than 1,000 percent, official
inflation in Zimbabwe is the highest in the world, and the country also
suffers acute shortages of food, hard currency, gasoline and essential
imports.

In the past four years, nearly 300 displaced whites have accepted offers
worth 5-10 percent of the independent valuation of their farms, with some
taking the money because "they were destitute and couldn't pay medical bills
or put food on the table," Worsely-Worswick said.

Those who accepted compensation offers forfeited ownership and title deeds
to their land.

He said independent surveyors had valued one farmer's large cattle, corn and
tobacco property at the equivalent of US$1 million (?787,400), but he was
offered compensation of 5 million Zimbabwe dollars (US$20,000; ?15,750) - or
about enough to buy a secondhand car or four of the latest cell phones
available in Zimbabwe.

The Commercial Farmers Union also said some of its white members had been
forced to accept minimal compensation because of their indebtedness and
"personal circumstances."

"We are advising farmers to follow up and find out what the situation is so
they simply don't lose their compensation rights by default," union
spokeswoman Emily Crookes said.

Last week, the government launched a program to issue 99-year leases to
black farmers allocated land seized mostly from white farmers.

President Robert Mugabe described the first 128 leases as a landmark in his
redistribution program that would improve farm production by giving new
farmers security of tenure for more than a generation.

The land remains state-owned, but loans for production can be secured
against buildings, dams and other facilities on it.

A handful of displaced white farmers are expected to get leases, but not on
their former properties, and white farmers' support groups have expressed
skepticism over the lease program.

An estimated 400 white farmers are still working on their original farms,
but seizures have continued, with at least 30 receiving eviction notices
from the government in recent weeks.


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The Language of Violence

Institute for War and Peace Reporting

Over the years, Mugabe's utterances have become ever more coarse and
callous.

By Temba Gumpo in Bulawayo (AR No. 83, 15-Nov-06)

"Mugabe uses the rhetoric of revolution to excuse repression," a prominent
liberation war veteran, Wilfred Mhanda, observed recently of the harsh and
offensive language that Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's head of state, frequently
uses.

Zimbabwe's late vice president Joshua Nkomo recalled in his autobiography,
The Story of My Life, that he had a humiliating encounter with Mugabe in
1981, when Mugabe was prime minister. As a cabinet minister, Nkomo asked the
premier whether reports about the secret training of a private army were
true, although they had not been discussed in cabinet. Mugabe retorted with
an arrogance and vehemence that has become characteristic, "Who are you? Why
should you be consulted?"

Nevertheless, Nkomo soon got his answer in the most horrific of ways. What
was to become the Fifth Brigade, a crack army unit answerable directly to
Mugabe, was being trained clandestinely in Zimbabwe's Eastern Highlands by
more than a hundred military instructors sent from North Korea by the
dictator Kim Il Sung in preparation for a ruthless crackdown on the Ndebele
people of Nkomo's home provinces in Matabeleland.

The assault by the 3500-strong 5th Brigade on the Ndebeles, in the west and
south of the country, began in January 1983. By the time some 20,000 Ndebele
villagers had been massacred and countless others tortured and terribly
beaten, Mugabe said the operation - launched by Colonel Perence Shiri, one
of Mugabe's former guerrilla chiefs - had been necessary to weed out Ndebele
dissidents who wanted to topple him.

But many analysts believe the assault was directed at the Ndebele as a
whole, not just the radicals in their midst. "Throughout Matabeleland as a
whole [dissident] numbers never exceeded more than 400 at the peak of
[their] activity," said Zimbabwe historian Martin Meredith of the Ndebele
"revolt" in his book "Robert Mugabe: Power, Plunder and Tyranny in
Zimbabwe".

Meredith went on, "They [the dissidents] had no coherent policy other than
to commit random sabotage. Some were ordinary criminals. They had little
popular support and their reputation for murder, rape and coercion made them
even less popular."

As the mass murders by Shiri and the 5th Brigade in Operation Gukurahundi (a
Shona word meaning, "The early strong rain that washes away the chaff before
the spring rains."] continued, Mugabe dismissed protests from Nkomo with the
warning, "If you try something I will crush you." In a speech on his own
Shona ethnic territory, Mugabe described Nkomo as "a cobra" whose head must
be crushed along with its body -- Nkomo's PF-ZAPU party and its supporters
were based in Matabeleland.

When Nkomo protested that the 5th Brigade was killing and beating up the
civilian population, Mugabe told him that in dealing with an insurgency "it
is difficult for the army to distinguish who is a dissident and who is not.
People should not hide dissidents".

The real motive behind the Fifth Brigade's storm of terror was to cow the
Ndebele, destroy PF-ZAPU and establish a one-party state with Mugabe at its
head, which he achieved in 1987.

When Catholic peace and justice activists accused Mugabe and Shiri of
conducting a reign of terror in Matabeleland that included "wanton killings,
woundings, beatings, burnings and rapes [that had] brought about the maiming
and death of hundreds of people who are neither dissidents nor
collaborators", Mugabe responded by warning a gathering in rural
Matabeleland, "We have to deal with this problem quite ruthlessly. Don't cry
if your relatives get killed in the process ... Where men and women provide
food for the dissidents, when we get there we eradicate them."

Over the years, Mugabe's language has become ever more coarse and callous.
In 1998, the then editor of the weekly Standard newspaper, the late Mark
Chavunduka, and his chief reporter Ray Choto reported an alleged coup
attempt within the armed forces. They were arrested by police who handed
them to the army, whose interrogators tortured the men so severely that they
had subsequently to be flown to Britain for several months of treatment in a
London clinic under the protection of the Medical Foundation for the Care of
Victims of Torture.

Asked for his reaction to the torture of the journalists, his fellow
citizens, Mugabe told Voice of America radio, "The army had been provoked. I
will not condemn my army for having done that. They can do worse things than
that."

When he launched the brutal confiscation of white commercial farmland in
2000, which plunged the country into anarchy and a spiral of economic
decline, he warned farmers who resisted, "We have degrees in violence ...I
will be a Black Hitler ten-fold!"

There followed a period when the laws of the land were virtually suspended
as Mugabe launched his so-called "fast-track" land reform programme,
ostensibly to resettle poor blacks but in reality to destroy what he
perceived as the power base of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change, MDC - the white commercial farmers and their mainly black workers.

After narrowly winning the parliamentary election of July 2000, which was
marked by unprecedented countrywide violence, Mugabe told his ruling ZANU PF
congress in the following December, "We must continue to strike fear into
the heart of the white man. The white man must tremble." White farmers were
assaulted, tortured or killed on their farms after Mugabe intensified his
verbal attack, describing them as "enemies of Zimbabwe who will die" if they
resisted the invasions of their homes and properties.

But MDC supporters and farm workers bore the brunt of Mugabe's fury that an
opposition party had dared try to remove him from power. It is estimated
that at least 200 people were killed and thousands of others injured in the
lead up to the subsequent presidential election in 2002, widely criticised
as fraudulent but which maintained Mugabe in power.

When the MDC recently announced plans to launch mass protests at the start
of what its leader Morgan Tsvangirai said would be "a cold season of
democratic resistance", Mugabe responded in Shona, "Be warned. We have
trained armed men and women who can pull the trigger." He said the army
would deal ruthlessly with "those planning illegal regime change on behalf
of Tony Blair and George Bush". Mugabe's spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira also
boasted that his boss and ZANU PF have "a long and successful history of
violence".

When the country's top trade union leaders attempted to demonstrate in
September this year for improved basic wages and the provision of
anti-retroviral drugs for Zimbabweans dying from AIDS at a rate of more than
3,000 a week, Mugabe ordered a police assault. The trade unionists were
hospitalised with broken limbs. Mugabe said he had no apologies to make to
the "pot-bellied" labour chiefs, and went on, "They [protesters] will be
beaten up, so there is no apology for that ... We cannot have a revolt to
the system. Some are crying, 'We were beaten up.' Yes, you were beaten up.
When the police say move, move. If you don't move, you are inviting police
to use force."

MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti said that under Mugabe Zimbabwe had become
"a predator state characterised by tolerance for violence". Mugabe's
predeliction for violence was demonstrated yet again in May 2005 when he
launched Operation Murambatsvina (Operation Drive Out the Filth) in a
nationwide blitz against urban slum dwellers and informal traders perceived
to be mainly supporters of the opposition. United Nations Secretary-General
Kofi Annan's special envoy on human habitat, Anna Tibaijuka, said the
campaign "was executed with military ruthlessness with no regard for human
suffering". She estimated that 700,000 to a million people had been left
homeless and without a source of livelihood.

As his militias and police bulldozed, sledgehammered and torched the homes
of the poor, Mugabe commented, "Our cities and towns had become havens for
illicit and criminal practices and activities which just could not be
allowed to go on."

In January last year, when three to four million people were desperately
hungry as a result of crop failures and the farm invasions, Mugabe refused
international food aid for the starving, saying foreigners were "foisting"
food upon unwilling Zimbabweans, before adding, "We are not hungry. We don't
want to choke on your food."

Targets of Mugabe's hatred are numerous. But while attacking foreigners,
white farmers, Ndebeles, political opponents and others, he retains some of
his most vindictive rhetoric for homosexuals. He has branded gays
"un-Christian" and "un-African" and as "lower than pigs and dogs". He
attacks his most hated foreign enemy, Tony Blair, by calling him a "gay
gangster" and blasting him for having homosexuals in his cabinet while
boasting in Shona that his own cabinet is full of amadoda sibili (real men)
who can distinguish between "Adam and Eve and Adam and Steve". He once said,
"Homosexuals have no rights whatsoever. If pigs and dogs don't do it, why
must human beings?"

While Mugabe throws out insults like confetti, he dislikes them so much when
aimed at him that his government introduced the Public Order and Security
Act, POSA, which makes it an offence to say anything that risks "undermining
the authority of or insulting the President". This prohibition includes
statements likely to engender "feelings of hostility towards" the president,
cause "hatred, contempt, or ridicule" of him, or any "abusive, indecent,
obscene, or false statements about him personally, or his office".

One businessman was convicted of "insulting" the president after saying
Mugabe had "printed useless money" - something nearly every Zimbabwean
agrees with since inflation topped 1,200 per cent. A bus passenger was
jailed after a Central Intelligence Organisation agent listened to him
arguing with his brother and telling him not to be "thick-headed like
Mugabe".

Under the law, South Africa's much loved Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop
Desmond Tutu would go straight to prison in Zimbabwe. Tutu in several
speeches has said Mugabe will only be remembered for being power crazy,
adding, "Mugabe seems to have gone bonkers in a big way ... [He is] on the
slippery slope to perdition."

But perhaps Tutu, unlike ordinary Zimbabweans, would escape prosecution,
just like the man who has been dubbed the "Tutu of Zimbabwe", the country's
senior Roman Catholic cleric, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube.

Ncube is the most outspoken and fearless Zimbabwean critic of Mugabe, but
the head of state, himself a Catholic, has as yet refrained from prosecuting
the archbishop.

When it comes to insults, Archbishop Ncube has gone just about as far as it
is possible to go. "We are all praying that the Lord will take Mugabe away
soon," he once told IWPR. "Everyone is fed up with him, including his own
[party] people. We're all hoping against hope that something will happen."

He has said many similar things, once describing the president as a
"deceitful, cunning and sly criminal ... a lip-service Christian, a mere
murderer watching his people sink".

The archbishop enrages Mugabe so much that he has accused the prelate of
"Satanic betrayal" for opposing English cricket tours of Zimbabwe and has
denounced him as an HIV-positive homosexual who rapes and impregnates nuns.

In one of his responses, Archbishop Ncube said, "I don't think Christ would
have survived in Zimbabwe. Mugabe's government doesn't like people who speak
the truth. Plenty of people [who criticise the government] have died
mysteriously. Christ wouldn't have had a chance."

Temba Gumpo is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.


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Five year plan to battle HIV/AIDS on farms launched



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

HARARE, 16 Nov 2006 (IRIN/PLUSNEWS) - Zimbabwe's government is launching a
five-year plan to combat HIV/AIDS in the agricultural sector after realising
the impact of the pandemic on farming.

The initiative, 'Zimbabwe Agricultural Sector Strategy on HIV and AIDS ' -
coordinated by the agriculture ministry, with support by the UN Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and other nongovernmental organisations
(NGOs) - is seeking to mobilise financial and human resources to halt the
spread of the disease on farms, reduce stigma against people living with
HIV/AIDS, fight gender inequality and domestic violence, and facilitate
treatment for infected people.

The agriculture ministry, which concedes that it has lacked a clear policy
on HIV/AIDS, intends to establish an agricultural management information
system to monitor various issues related to health and service delivery, and
accurately assess the cost of HIV/AIDS to farming communities and the extent
to which farmworkers and agricultural-sector employees are vulnerable to the
disease.

According to the Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey, 18.1 percent of
sexually active adult people in a population of about 11.5 million are
infected with HIV - the sixth highest prevalence in the world.

"HIV and AIDS is affecting personnel from the agricultural sub-sectors, that
is, the ministry of agriculture and its departments, the parastatals under
the ministry, private-sector providers, the farming community and
agri-business. Therefore, the integrity of the sector should be protected
against the impact of HIV and AIDS. In the absence of a strategy, the
agricultural-sector response to HIV and AIDS has been erratic and
uncoordinated," the ministry said in a statement.

Vulnerability in the agriculture sector was heightened by factors such as
worker migrations during harvests, which led to long periods away from their
families when they often stayed at centres that "have been identified as
hotspots for HIV infection".

"The Ministry of Agriculture and its departments, parastatals and commercial
farms have experienced an increase in absenteeism of staff due to illness,
attendance of funerals and the need to care for the sick," the ministry
commented.

More disturbingly, there has been a "decline in crop varieties, and changes
in cropping patterns, as high labour-demanding cash crops may be abandoned",
with subsistence farmers being forced to sell cattle and donkeys used for
draught power to meet care and treatment expenses.

Around 70 percent of the population depends on agriculture, which provides
more than 60 percent of the raw materials used in the manufacturing sector
and contributes up to 45 percent of the country's exports.

Low literacy levels in farming communities, caused by a shortage of farm
schools, made it difficult to communicate anti-AIDS messages effectively,
while "poor housing conditions on commercial farms and in research station
compounds result in overcrowding and a breakdown of social norms, ...
[which] encourages risky sexual behaviour."

Government's response to HIV/AIDS in the sector has been limited to
appointing people to a few positions in the agriculture ministry's
headquarters in the capital, Harare, and provincial offices, who merely hand
out condoms and basic information without any clear strategy.

The fight against HIV/AIDS in agriculture has been carried out mainly by
community-based nongovernmental organisations, farmers' unions and HIV/AIDS
service organisations, some of whom have established nutrition and herbal
gardens, and community fields for infected and affected people.

Gift Muti, deputy secretary-general of the General Agricultural and
Plantation Workers Union (GAPWUZ), which represents some of Zimbabwe's
400,000 farmworkers, welcomed the "positive" initiative, but cited poverty
as one of the main reasons for the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"From even before independence [in 1980], farm workers have tended to be
poorly paid and live in abject poverty. This makes it easy for them to be
infected because women are easily forced into prostitution, while sex is the
main source of entertainment, since farm owners only provide them with
beerhalls," Muti told IRIN.

Muti, whose poorly funded organisation distributes food to sick farmworkers,
said it was common for girls younger than 18 years to marry, while divorce
and extra-marital affairs were run of the mill among farmworkers.

Since the government launched its fast-track land reform programme in 2000,
in which farmland was redistributed from white farmers to landless blacks,
Zimbabwe's economy has gone into freefall. An annual inflation rate hovering
around 1,000 percent has seen unemployment rise above 70 percent, while
shortages of foreign currency have caused food, fuel and electricity to
become scarce commodities.


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Interview: Archbishop Pius Ncube

New Zimbabwe

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SW Radio Africa's Violet Gonda interviewed Archbishop Pius Ncube for the
programme, Hot Seat which aired Tuesday. Here is the full transcript of the
interview:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Last updated: 11/15/2006 10:45:22
Broadcast on Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Violet Gonda: Welcome to the final segment of the debate on the recently
launched church discussion document called The Zimbabwe We Want: Towards A
National Vision For Zimbabwe.

It's been said the church is in a very difficult position. Being critical
hasn't really made an impact and being soft hasn't helped either. Is the
church now trying to confront wrong, but without offending the regime? These
are some of the issues discussed on the program with one of the signatories
to the document, Catholic Archbishop for Bulawayo Pius Ncube.

Some critics have described the document as being too soft, like Thabo Mbeki's
quiet diplomacy on Zimbabwe. So I started by asking the cleric if he agreed
with these sentiments.

Archbishop Pius Ncube: Ya I think it's true. You see I think someone leaked
among these three bodies of Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe
Council of Churches and the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference, somebody
leaked it to the Government and then the Government was demanding that
before it's published certain passages should be removed. And so I've seen
that it's been really toned down.

It's not the real original document that we agreed upon as Churches. They've
cut it down into a very, very soft document but perhaps still it can be used
as a discussion document. But I don't like the bullying of the Government.
This Government has done enough harm; enough bullying, they are causing
suffering on people and now they must come over and bully us, the Churches.
That was supposed to be our document, not their document. I'm pretty angry
about this.

Violet: When you say that certain passages were removed or the Government
ordered certain issues to be removed from the document, do you remember
which parts were actually removed from the original document?

Archbishop Pius Ncube: I haven't studied it altogether, but, for instance, I
was looking at the media and we were pointing out how the Government is
pushing us around in media and it's causing, there's no liberty of
expression, and the Government goes to add only one sentence; cuts down the
whole paragraph. It says 'the media is polarised and is not always working
for national unity', that's all that they write. So that they cut down the
document to favour them. Anything that was quite strong referring to the
Government and all the problems that they ought to address they didn't
address. They cut it down and they softened it, so that it's really like
decaf; decaffeinated tea you know. The strong side and all the issues that
they feel strongest about, they've really toned them down.

Violet: Now, there were others.

Archbishop Pius Ncube (continues): .but, I haven't finished comparing
because I lent my document to somebody, somebody who is researching, this
person is a student involved in studying current issues involving Churches.

Violet: Would you also agree with critics who say that there are quite a lot
of issues or other things that were not dealt with in detail, like
Gukurahundi, the Youth Militia and torture. Would you agree with this?

Archbishop Pius Ncube: Yes, Gukurahundi was mentioned but it's too soft.
Gukurahundi was a very serious issue, 20 000 lives is no joke, and to just
play it down just like that; I'm not happy. There's also issues of impunity.
These criminals, sponsored by the Government, they always go out and cause a
lot of distress. They murder people and so forth, and afterwards they are
then exonerated and a law is passed so that amnesty is granted to them. So,
this constant impunity, going back to days of Ian Smith, this Government
also is guilty of impunity. The wrong and evil things where people are
excused and let to go scot-free when they have actually done a lot of harm
to the nation and to certain individuals and even been involved in murder
and gross corruption.

Violet: Now, with what you are saying some people have said that the Church
is trying to confront wrong without offending the Mugabe regime. Do you
agree with this?

Archbishop Pius Ncube: In a way Ya, as Church we are too soft. In such a way
that I wonder whether we are going to make any headway. But you see I think
perhaps we are so desperate; desperately looking for a solution that we are
ready to go two miles rather than one mile with the Government, but I don't
know whether it works. What really worries me is that Mugabe is an awfully
arrogant and heartless person. And, for him, what matters is power and
filling his own pockets with money and that even as Church, as we come up to
him, I wonder whether he is going to listen because for him, where his power
base is threatened he is not going to go along but where his position is
strengthened he will go along.

Violet: But you know, Archbishop, the last time we spoke just a couple of
weeks ago you said half a loaf is better than nothing and that we should
give this initiative a chance, and you were one of the people who signed the
document, together with people like Walter Kamba, Marvellous Mhloyi. And,
people ask that is it possible that the Mugabe regime is using some of the
Church leaders and using some people who are respected and wanting to
associate themselves with people who are critical, to legitimise the regime
and to legitimise this initiative and you are being drawn or sucked into
this. Would you agree with those sentiments?

Archbishop Pius Ncube: Yes, I am beginning to agree with that because you
see when I looked at the document, the original document was quite a great
effort you know. And we were trying to follow the Kairos document done by
the Churches in South Africa. Where when things really were absolutely
hopeless and no one knew what next in regards to the Apartheid government
and the ANC fighting with other Nationalist parties, also engaged in
fighting for justice and peace to come to South Africa. Then in that
situation the Churches said we can't just stand around and fold our hands;
let's put out a document where the concerns of everybody are reflected. And
so we were trying to put out that.

But, I was hoping that this was going to be our document not that the
Government should now poke its nose and remove something like eight or nine
pages from our document and soften; completely soften it so that they will
always appear innocent. I'm extremely disenchanted having seen how they've
done a lot of damage to our original document.

Violet: But these pages that were removed; the eight or nine pages that you
mentioned. Were they removed after or before you signed the document and had
you had a chance to look at it?

Archbishop Pius Ncube: They were removed after we signed the document. We
agreed as I was saying that it was a hush, hush job. We came together as
Churches and were reading - how can you, Violet, even if you are very
intelligent, how can you read through a fifty page A4 closely typed document
in three hours? How can you do it? I mean this is meant to be a very crucial
document, it's supposed to reflect some of the most important national
issues, it's supposed to be a document to deal with life or death issues and
we just rushed through it in three hours from 10.00 up to 1.00.

I did point out that I was extremely displeased. We were supposed to have
got that document, discuss it with other fellow clergy. We just gathered as
Bishops; we had never even talked with other fellow priests or other lay
people and then we gathered and approved it. Nevertheless, it was quite a
fine document, reflecting some of the crucial issues. But they go and cut it
down and they remove eight or nine pages so that it's softened. I'm
extremely displeased. That's not our document, it's a Government document.

Violet: So now that you feel disenchanted, do you still support the
initiative?

Archbishop Pius Ncube: I do Violet because I mean the people of Zimbabwe are
suffering so much Violet, honestly we just don't know what to do. There's so
much suffering Violet here that honestly if it was said 'can someone offer
himself to die so that we can remain and return to normalcy', I would go and
give myself to the Lord and pray and be ready to be killed to bring
normalcy. Honestly, so many innocent people are suffering Violet here and
these are the young people. I mean, I'm 60, so OK I've had the bulk of my
life. But look at the youngsters; they have to run away, they go to South
Africa because they can't live normally here

A youngster cannot buy a house, a house costs so much here, no one can
possibly afford a house, even a house in Mbare or Makakoba, the poorest
suburbs, it's so costly. These youngsters cannot get married unless they
have a bit of money. Unless they do mapoto you know, and they can't get
educated with the ever-increasing prices that are there. Half the children
in primary and secondary schools are no longer in school in Zimbabwe. Things
are closing down. The medical services are hopeless here; specialists have
left; the hospital equipment has broken down.

Often we have electricity black outs every day, something like two or three
hours blackouts during which time everything is put to risk including
incubators and so on. So we are in such dire straits that we are looking for
every way to bring about peace and normalisation. We are no longer looking
for the idealistic democracy. We can't anyway; a man Mugabe has no idea
about what democracy is, he's an absolute dictator; a most shameful one. So,
in such a situation where the people are at risk. So in such a situation
where we are facing a life or death situation, we are looking for a way out
to save the lives of the people. We have murderers here and they don't care
about the lives of the people, so we are trying to look for every way,
including soft ways.

Violet: That's what I was going to say.

Archbishop Pius Ncube: I .

Violet: That's what I was going to ask, you know, it seems the Church is in
a very difficult position and you've just painted a very bleak picture

Archbishop Pius Ncube: It is yes.

Violet: Now some say being critical hasn't really made an impact and being
soft hasn't helped either. Now what other options are there really for the
Church? What can the Church do?

Archbishop Pius Ncube: The trouble is that the Church is divided, right,
left and centre, they are divided. Whether you look at EFZ on its own; it's
divided. You look at ZCC; they are divided. You look at ZCBC; they are
divided and so because they are divided it's very hard and Mugabe uses that
division to his advantage. It's very, very hard to come up with a, we hardly
make an impact. We should have taken the chance to make an impact by
standing together. I mean, the Churches in Zambia they stood together
against Kaunda, against Chiluba. The Churches in Malawi, they stood together
against Banda and then later Maluzi wanted a third term and they said 'no'.

But here we are paling on both shoulders and so Mugabe is only too glad;
divide and conquer; that's his principle. So in view of that it's really
difficult to see any option because if we were united we would stand
together and remove this government through popular uprising and a peaceful
uprising. But, because we are so divided we are looking for every possible
way; whether through prayer or by persuasion or by inviting fellow Churches
outside the country to discuss with them possible ways. It's not easy to
find the options because we are dealing with people here who are lawless.

Violet: And some also ask that do you think Mugabe is creating a platform
for peace talks with this initiative, because some believe that he does not
want to preside over peace talks with the MDC because he doesn't want to be
seen to be too weak and is now creating an environment where there is debate
with this initiative. Would you agree with this?

Archbishop Pius Ncube: Oh yes, yes. Well he's such a trickster most likely
he'd have it that way, Ya, I would agree with that. I mean we had Bishop
Njongonkulu Ndungane, the successor of Desmond Tutu coming; the Archbishop
of Cape Town, the Anglican. He came over to Mugabe and Mugabe kept saying
'Yes, yes, we want mediation, yes, we want peace'. But we know he's not
interested in peace because when it came to real talks he never got to the
nitty gritty issues of MDC because what Mugabe wants to do is just to
swallow them up so that they become part of Zanu PF. He doesn't want the
kind of sharing of power; he's far from that.

Violet: And Archbishop, do you think there are co-relations between the
re-unification talks between the MDC factions and the launching of this
document?

Archbishop Pius Ncube: Uhh, I'm not sure, it's possible. I mean I think
there are some Church men who are trying to encourage unity and there are a
lot of civic society, a lot of non-governmental organisations that are in
favour of peace. They see that the division of the MDC it only made Zanu PF
stronger in its dictatorship. So it's possible, I don't know what all is
going on in talks between the two MDCs and who initiated them. But a lot of
people are anxious that Zanu PF should stop its bullying and for us to
weaken their bullying, if the MDC is strong then their bullying tactics
become weak.

Violet: And also on the issue of the MDC, do you think this re-unification
or these unity talks, so called unity talks are about bringing personalities
together or its about the core issues in the struggle which is removing
Mugabe as you said earlier?

Archbishop Pius Ncube: You mean in the case of the MDC?

Violet: In the MDC

Archbishop Pius Ncube: Ya I think they are dealing partly with the
personality issues and partly with the core issues. The sad thing is that
this Morgan Tsvangirai he is also become very Mugabe-istic, in a sense in
that he takes MDC as his party that only he must lead it. Because I know
that they went around harassing people who were a threat to him. They were
harassed, and shjamboked and striped naked at Harvest House there, I know
it. And so, then, it also was felt that he doesn't always follow the
constitution, where it doesn't suit him he just overrules his Council. So
this is quite a sad thing so in view of that it means that they have to deal
with core issues but so often, I understand he tries to ignore the other
faction. He wants to put himself up as The MDC; the others are non existent.
So these are the issues.

So I'm not quite sure really what they are dealing with but I think they are
trying to deal with both the personalities and also the core issues which
divided the MDC. MDC must also examine itself, I mean, OK at present there's
no other real strong party that we can vote for, so those who are really
pro-democracy they will vote for MDC but it doesn't mean that we should say
'yes, yes' to everything that's going on there, right? Things that are
incorrect and evil, we can criticise constructively right? I mean MDC has a
lot of wonderful things in it, but, I mean I hate that attitude of 'I'm the
owner of this Party'. Like Mugabe, he thinks he's the owner of Zanu PF. He's
not the owner of Zanu PF. Zanu PF is meant to be a vehicle to bring about
good living conditions for the people, because any political party is
important in so far as it helps the people to attain their ends and to
attain their livelihoods and get their basics. When a party fails to deliver
that, it must just get out. The same with MDC. They are not there forever.
If they fail to deliver they will find themselves getting out.

Violet: But others would also say what about the Mutambara faction, it doesn't
seem to be doing much?

Archbishop Pius Ncube: They are, ya. The thing is that actually there is not
much that's published about the other faction. But I know that they were
trying to get the memorandum of understanding between the two of them. But I
heard that there were three from the Tsvangirai faction and three from
Mutambara faction and they got an agreement on certain things. For instance
that certainly they would have to share 50/50 the vehicles rather than
quarrel and fight each other. But, I heard that now when the Mutambara
faction accepted that, the Tsvangirai faction wouldn't accept, they didn't
come forward. I mean, OK, it's always necessary to compromise. I mean,
Morgan Tsvangirai is partly to blame for the division of MDC; he over-rode
the decision of his Council. His Council had decided by 33 votes to 31 in
favour of the Senate, and he said they should vote. If you allow them to
vote then you must respect the vote; not just override. He is partly
responsible.

Violet: But then there are others who would then say is it not time, you
know, to let it go and move on and try to find ways.

Archbishop Pius Ncube: It is yeah, it's time to move on, but unfortunately
there's pride again. Just like this pride that we are in with regards to
Zanu PF. A lot of people are frustrated in Zanu PF, for instance some young
people, I hear they are frustrated. Because all these old timers like Mugabe
they are sticking, clinging to positions and young people have no say and
the future belongs to young people. They are not even ashamed, I mean a man
who is 82 years old should be ashamed and step down and give room to the
young people; not to be clinging. He has had his time. But then this is the
danger that the MDC is getting into. You have a few people at the top up
there and the others are not listened. I mean let's always be ready for
criticism. There's no place where we grow without criticism, including in
the Church. I often ask my priests to evaluate and to write their criticism,
things they are not happy with in the Church or with my administration. It's
very painful to be criticised but that's the only way forward. How are we
going to grow without allowing ourselves to be evaluated and to be told what
makes people unhappy.

Violet: Alright. Now, so a final word Archbishop Pius Ncube. You know,
Zimbabwe is a country that is burning and so in your view what do you think
is the way forward, the Church has launched this discussion document.

Archbishop Pius Ncube: My hope is that all the stakeholders will realise
that we are dealing with, I mean, they will have in mind the good; the
common good for every person in Zimbabwe and that therefore people should
give up their arrogant positions and say 'what can best serve the people'
and then launch into and move towards a peaceful solution where people can
at least live even if we might not get every thing that we want. If at least
people can live.

You see for instance, the Unity Accord in 1987 agreed between ZAPU and Zanu
PF the whole idea there was ok let's concentrate on what gives life, let's
not take hard lines. They were taken down in the negotiation something like
13 times and the Catholic Church was involved and the Catholic Commission
for Justice and Peace. And, finally the Unity Accord was achieved. Well, it's
true that they swallowed up ZAPU and ZAPU lost its properties and what have
you; there were a lot of injustices that happened. But at least the whole
idea was well we rather that than the killing of 20 000 innocent civilians
which Zanu PF carried out here in Matabeleland.

Let's rather come to a solution where at least we can be alive. We can
preserve life rather than be at each other's throats our lives our
threatened by hunger and inability to pay for hospital fees and all the
services just break down gradually and people cannot live on their salaries;
even professional people. A lot of people suffer. Even those who are backing
the present lawless system, they suffer. There's so much discomfort, there's
so much depression, and so, my hope is that we get at least to a compromise
solution where people can at least breathe. Not in this hothouse where
everything becomes more and more senseless.

The only sense that is there for people like Mugabe is that 'Oh at least I
remain in power and at least I haven't lost power'. But, like Mutasa said;
this is the attitude of Zanu PF; you can sacrifice life to power. It doesn't
matter, as Mutasa said, if half the Zimbabweans die, as long as we remain
with those that support us. So, I'm saying OK can we find a way where people
can continue to live even if we don't get everything that we bargained for.

Violet: OK, thank you very much Archbishop Pius Ncube.

Archbishop Pius Ncube: Thanks Violet.

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


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Probe into overseas nurses

The Advertiser, Adelaide

KARA PHILLIPS

November 15, 2006 04:39pm

AT least 18 Zimbabwe nurses wanting to or already working in South Australia
are being investigated by the South Australian Nursing Board for using
suspected false documents.

Health Minister John Hill told Parliament yesterday that 28 nurses had been
registered in South Australia "under mutual recognition with other
Australian jurisdictions and that initial checks had resulted in the Nurses
Board further investigating 18 nurses'' for suspected falsified Certificates
of Good Standing.

"(of those) Eight reside in Zimbabwe, two are believed to reside in
Zimbabwe, five in South Australia, one in Queensland, one in New Zealand and
the whereabout of one is not yet clear,'' Mr Hill said.

Mr Hill said all current application from Zimbabwe had been frozen, while
all Certificates of Good Standing for the 88 nurses and midwives currently
registered are being "closely examined''.

He said all future applications from Zimbabwe would now require further
stringent requirements.


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Mercy flight delayed by Zim clearance block

The Mercury

November 15, 2006

PRETORIA: Bureaucracy nearly cost a man his life when Zimbabwean authorities
revoked a takeoff clearance by a rescue service, International SOS said
yesterday.

The Medical Director of International SOS, Roger Dickerson, said the
organisation had received a call to rescue a severely injured South African
citizen in Zimbabwe on Monday.

A blanket clearance had been authorised by Zimbabwean authorities before
their departure from Lanseria Airport, Johannesburg.

On arrival in Harare, the flight doctor and nurse went to the side of the
patient, conducted an assessment and prepared the patient for transport in
an air ambulance.

"When we were about to take off, the pilots were told that the takeoff
clearance had been revoked. We made urgent representations to the Zimbabwean
authorities, to no avail."

He said the five-hour delay had endangered the patient's life.
International SOS representatives contacted the Department of Foreign
Affairs and the ambassador to Zimbabwe in Harare to resolve the issue.

"With the direct intervention of the South African Ambassador, final
clearance was given, but International SOS has no explanation regarding why
the clearance had been revoked."

Dickerson said investigations into why their takeoff had been revoked were
underway. "International SOS has never been prevented from landing or taking
off anywhere and this was the first time," he said. - Sapa


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A Day in the Life of an Asylum Seeker

OhMyNews

Zimbabwean down and out in Leicester

Ambrose Musiyiwa (amusiyiwa)

Published 2006-11-15 15:09 (KST)

"What is a day in the life of an asylum seeker like?" you ask me.

I will tell you about a week in the life of an asylum seeker.

For the past seven days, I've been sleeping under bridges, in phone
booths and in abandoned buildings -- anywhere dry. I've been living out of a
suitcase. The suitcase is getting heavy. I might leave it here today.
There's nothing in it that I really need ... nothing I can live without.

My wife threw me out of the house last week because I remind her of a
terrible period in her own life. I've brought her nothing but grief. She
wishes she'd never met me. And on top of that I'm not working. I haven't
been working for a very long time.

She says I'm not working because I'm selfish and lazy. I want other
people to do things for me. I want other people to look after me.

I try to tell her that I'm not working because the country's
immigration laws do not allow me to work, but she doesn't listen. She
doesn't understand when I tell her I am terrified of coming into contact
with the police and with immigration officials.

The only way I can work is if I buy papers. The only way I can work is
if I buy identity documents and fake Home Office letters which say that I'm
allowed to work. The last time I checked a British passport was going for
about 2,000, and the only way I can raise that kind of money is if I have a
job that pays well in the first place and I can't get a job because I don't
have papers.

If I somehow manage to find the money and I manage to buy the papers,
if I'm caught there's a risk I'll be sent to prison for six months or more.
There's the added risk that after serving the prison sentence, I'll be sent
to an immigration detention center for a further six months or more. There's
also the risk that after all this time in prison and in detention, I'll be
deported.

I don't want to be deported. I want to stay alive.

I left Zimbabwe because my life was at risk. I left because the lives
of those who were close to me were at risk.

I'd received a death threat from ZANU PF or CIO operatives because I
was perceived to be an opposition political party activist. I'd been chased
out of a job that I loved and had been blacklisted from teaching. I'd been
harassed, interrogated, beaten and detained by security agents in the
country.

If I'd stayed on in Zimbabwe, other equally horrific things would have
happened to those closest to me and I'd either have become permanently
unhinged or I'd be dead. I'm not sure which is worse than the other.

My wife's also paid a price because of her association with me, which
is why I don't blame her for the way she thinks. If it weren't for me, none
of the things that happened to her would have happened. I feel I've failed
her. I should have been able to protect her. I should have been able to keep
her safe. I should have been able to look after her. I failed.

When we came to the U.K. I thought it would be a new beginning. I
thought we'd be able to salvage our relationship. But things haven't
improved. I have no control over anything. I can't work. I can't study. I
can't do anything except wait and hope that somewhere along the way the Home
Office or an immigration judge will look at my case and see what I see and
allow me and my family to settle and live normal lives.

In the meantime, I'll stay here under this bridge, in that phone
booth, in that abandoned building ... anywhere where it is dry.

What else can I do?


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Up to 200 Zim media workers to lose jobs

IOL

November 16 2006 at 03:50PM

Harare - The privately-owned Financial Gazette said that Henry
Muradzikwa told a workers' meeting at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings
(ZBH) that almost half of all employees would have to be retrenched in the
next three weeks.

"Muradzikwa said ZBH was seriously overstaffed and more than 200 of us
would have to go home," one worker told the paper.

If confirmed, the news will come as a further blow to Zimbabwe's
struggling media workers. Dozens have lost their jobs since President Robert
Mugabe's government used tough media laws to close
down four newspapers perceived to be anti-government.

Jobs with the official media are usually more secure. But a
parliamentary investigation earlier this year into conditions at the
state-run broadcaster uncovered mounting levels of

ssatisfaction as well as poor pay. - Sapa-dpa


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Zimbabwe refugees evicted from church



By Tichaona Sibanda.
16 November 2006

A sombre mood prevailed at the Methodist church in central
Johannesburg on Thursday as Zimbabwean refugees sheltering at the premises
were being evicted. The mayor of Johannesburg Amos Masondo had given them an
ultimatum that they should all leave the church premises by 12 midday
Thursday.

Oliver Kubikwa from the Zimbabwe Political Victims Association ZIPOVA,
said only about two dozen refugees remained inside the church by the time of
the deadline. He said most of them were women still breastfeeding, with
nowhere else to go. 'They are still in the church with their little babies.
They just don't have anywhere else to go but all efforts are being made to
find them alternative accommodation.'

There were over 100 refugees who were still under the care of the
church when the notice of eviction was served on the group by the
Johannesburg mayor. The group was part of a large contingent of about a
thousand Zimbabweans who were temporarily sheltered at the church since last
year.

But a growing resentment of the refugees within the church community
has been on the rise over the last couple of months. On Sunday during a
church service, elders threatened to cut the power supply, water and other
essential services to the building. Some church members accused the refugees
of being disobedient and violent. Other allegations claimed there was a lot
of prostitution going on at the church, claims that were vehemently
dismissed by the refugees as baseless and unfounded.

Many of the refugees had left the church as pressure grew within the
community for them to be evicted following violent clashes in April that
left two people dead.

Most of those who have left the premises said they had nowhere to go
except to sleep outside. To make matters worse, the refugees still do not
have any documentation to remain legally in South Africa. They now face the
danger of being picked up by the police and sent back to Zimbabwe.

Kubikwa said it was depressing witnessing fellow Zimbabweans walking
from a shelter to live in the open, when the South African government could
have helped by granting them refugee status.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Golden Leaf Loses Its Glitter



Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 15, 2006
Posted to the web November 16, 2006

Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
Harare

THE auctioning of 55.5 million kilogrammes of tobacco in the 2005/06 selling
season shows a relentless decline of one of Zimbabwe's main sources of hard
currency, spelling doom for the country's efforts to stem a seven-year
economic decline.

With Zimbabwe's six-year foreign currency crisis choking the country, the
harvesting of the golden leaf was anticipated to bring relief to President
Robert Mugabe's foreign currency-starved administration, battling to import
grain, fuel and essential drugs.

But official figures made available by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing
Board (TIMB) show that at the end of September, the penultimate month for
the sales, a total of 55.5 million kg, the tiniest crop since independence,
had passed through the country's three auction floors. The crop, down
sharply from 73.4 million kg sold in 2005, generated revenues of about
US$110.7 million down from US$118.1 million earned in 2005.

The latest tobacco crop compares negatively with the harvest of 237 million
kg, which earned more than US$400 million in 2000, the year land
redistribution began.

Until the government began confiscating thousands of commercial farms in
2000, tobacco underwrote the economy, supplying up to 40 percent of its
foreign currency while the wealth generated by leaf tobacco marketing and
production assisted to improve the quality and standard of life, created
employment and attracted educational, health and social facilities in
relatively impoverished rural areas.

Critical observers note that the perpetual hard currency shortage worsened
by the steep drop in the production of tobacco, which is geared for the
unmanufactured international leaf market, will accelerate Zimbabwe's
economic meltdown.

"This is not just shooting yourself in the foot. It's chopping your leg
off," says Peter Robinson, an economic consultant at Zimconsult, independent
economic and planning consultants.

In a desperate bid to lift sales, the TIMB extended mop-up sales to December
16, making this year's selling season the longest since independence,
ironically at a time when Zimbabwe has produced its smallest tobacco crop.

The latest tobacco harvest continues a pattern of steady decline that began
six years ago when veterans of the liberation war and ZANU PF supporters
embarked on an orgy of disorderly land seizures.

Grower organisations attribute the fall in production to the erratic supply
of critical inputs like fertiliser, chemicals and fuel. New farmers
resettled under the government's land reform exercise and who constitute the
bulk of tobacco growers, had been the hardest hit by the erratic supply of
fuel and the shortage of inputs.

Prospects of a recovery do not look any better in 2006/07 as the government
seizes even more farms.

At the end of October, the planting dates for the main dry-land crop, more
than 100 white farmers were forced to cancel their cropping plans. The
Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) says its members are still being served with
eviction notices barring them from working their fields.

Against the background of a government undertaking to halt land seizures,
which have decimated agricultural production, government supporters have
reportedly intensified farm invasions, ordering all production to cease even
if crops are ready to be harvested and appeals against the evictions are
pending.

Failure to comply with an eviction order attracts a sentence of up to two
years in prison.

The Mashona-land West and East, Manicaland, Midlands and Masvingo farming
regions are reported to be the worst affected by the fresh wave of farm
disturbances.

In Banket and Karoi, mainly rich tobacco growing areas, tobacco farmers say
they are being served with eviction notices signed by State Security, Lands,
Land Reform and Resettlement Minister Didymus Mutasa at a stage when they
should be transplanting seedlings.

It is estimated that between 3 000 and 5 000 jobs could have been lost as a
result of the latest wave of evictions.

Critics warn that the radical parcelling out of productive pieces of land to
unproductive farmers under the pretext of redressing colonial injustices
could drastically reduce next year's harvest.

"Projections for next year point to a crop harvest of 35 million kg on the
basis of the land preparation done so far," Robinson warns.

Out of the few remaining white farmers left in the country, the majority
have been dispossessed in the middle of planting their seedlings.

But some optimists still hold out hope for a modest recovery. They point to
the issuing of 99-year leases to 'productive' farmers, which they say brings
certainty to both the new settlers and half a dozen commercial farmers who
remain on their land.

"With the issue of land tenure now resolved, farmers can now be able to
leverage the value of their farmland as collateral," said one Harare-based
economist.

President Mugabe who last week issued the first 99-year leases to 125
farmers drawn from across the country's 10 provinces out of a total of 275
farmers whose applications were approved by the government instituted
National Land Board, says the long lease agreements guarantee land ownership
and can be used as collateral for borrowing from financial institutions.

On the other hand, the TIMB says it is working in cooperation with Zimbank,
a local commercial bank, to assist new black tobacco growers who have had
difficulties raising money to invest in machinery and agricultural inputs
such as fertiliser to access funding for the 2006/07 season. The finance
scheme is targeted at farmers with a good loan repayment track record.


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Farm Workers Mull Job Action



Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 15, 2006
Posted to the web November 16, 2006

Zhean Gwaze
Harare

PROSPECTS for an improved summer agricultural season, already threatened by
a myriad other factors, could be reduced further if commercial farm workers,
who are disgruntled with their fourth quarter wage increments, go on strike.

The General Agriculture Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) is
currently holding consultations with the country's more than 200 000 farm
and plantation workers to map out the way forward and set in motion the
process of seeking clearance to embark on nationwide industrial action.

GAPWUZ secretary general Gertrude Hambira said farm workers were not happy
with the wages of between $5 000 and $6 000 that commercial farmers were
offering.

The workers earned $4 100 from May to August this year. Wage adjustments in
the sector are effected on a quarterly basis.

New farmers allocated land under Zimbabwe's controversial land reform
programme employ the majority of the poorly paid workers.

More than 3 000 former white-owned commercial farms were allocated to
landless blacks to correct a historical imbalance that reserved the best
land for whites while cramping the majority blacks on poor, sandy soils.

GAPWUZ is negotiating for a basic wage of between $15000 and $16 000 per
month.

"How can the land reform programme be a success when the workers who are
involved in its success are languishing in poverty? Our demands are not even
anywhere near the Poverty Datum Line (PDL) or half of it. We can not have a
blanket increment when prices are constantly rising," Hambira said.

The PDL currently stands at $175 000 for a family of six while the inflation
rate rose to 1 070 percent in October.

"The government recently revised the allowances and salaries of civil
servants and domestic workers respectively, who are non-productive employees
as compared to farm workers," said Hambira.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the Zimbabwean economy, contributing about
18.5 percent to the Gross Domestic Product. It provides more than 60 percent
of the raw materials required for the manufacturing sector.

However, most farm workers are living in abject poverty, which has forced a
significant number of them into other enterprises such as the flourishing
gold panning trade.


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Air Zim Board Sinks Into Turbulence



Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 15, 2006
Posted to the web November 16, 2006

Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
Harare

ANOTHER board and management shake-up looms at Air Zimbabwe following last
week's embarrassing flight cancellations.

Jobs on the line over London

Air Zimbabwe cancelled all its three scheduled flights to London because of
fears that one of its long serving and wide-bodied aircraft could be seized
because of an unpaid debt owed to the Agency for the Safety of Air
Navigation in Africa and Madagascar (ASCECNA).

The agency is in charge of air space encompassing Air Zimbabwe's
international routes. In 2004, ASCECNA won a court order authorising it to
impound the airline's aircraft for non-payment of a US$2.8 million debt.
After numerous fruitless efforts to get Air Zimbabwe to settle the debt,
ASCECNA was ready to take the last resort.

The airline's parent ministry, headed by acting Minister of Transport and
Communications Francis Nhema, scrambled to solicit funds to settle the
long-standing debt at the eleventh hour. But senior government and Air
Zimbabwe officials told The Financial Gazette this week that officials in
the Ministry of Transport and Communications could soon move to restructure
the board, a move which could be extended to a management shake up. They
said the botch-up in flight schedules could give additional ammunition to
Transport and Communication Minister Chris Mushowe who is reported to have
vetoed the appointment of Oscar Madombwe as the substantive head of Air
Zimbabwe against the recommendations of the national airline's board,
chaired by Mike Bimha.

Bimha's board was appointed in July last year.

"The Minister wants to put a new board in place and they are not agreeing on
a new CEO. So this mess-up just builds up on his intent," said the sources.

...as parts crisis emerges

THE country's financially troubled airline, Air Zimbabwe, is battling to
raise US$900 000 to purchase thrust reversals--used by jet aircraft to
assist the braking process and reduce wear--for one of its wide-bodied
planes.

Reliable sources at the national airline told The Financial Gazette that Air
Zimbabwe had been battling in vain to secure the foreign currency needed for
the purchase of the deployable metal levers used to divert engine exhaust.

"They (thrust reversals) are overdue for overhaul. We had agreed on a
service exchange where the suppliers would give us theirs and we would give
them ours later. But they have failed to secure foreign currency," the
sources said.

Thrust reversers are used by many jet aircraft to hasten slow down after
touch-down, thus reducing wear on the brakes and enabling the aircraft to
use shorter runways.

Despite posing a safety threat to passengers, the sources said the national
airline's quality assurance department and the Civil Aviation Authority of
Zimbabwe (CAAZ) had given Air Zimbabwe the authority to continue flying.

The thrust reversals are required for one of Air Zimbabwe's Boeing 767s,
which services the London, Dubai and Singapore routes.

Air Zimbabwe has in recent years struggled to secure hard currency to pay
for the purchase of replacement parts for its fleet.


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Nepad Fails to Make a Dent On Crises



Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 15, 2006
Posted to the web November 16, 2006

Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
Harare

There was not much fanfare when the New Partnership for Africa's Development
(NEPAD), marked its fifth anniversary last month.

This low-key approach was perhaps justified because the initiative has
nothing substantial to show for its existence over the last five years and
is in danger of becoming one more ego-inflating talk shop for African
leaders. It is unlikely to make any difference to the lives of the
continent's impoverished people in the foreseeable future.

A number of commemorative events to mark the fifth anniversary were held in
the Nigerian capital, Abuja. These included a multi-stakeholder dialogue
which was held prior to the Heads of State and Government Implementation
Committee summit. The top-level dialogue gave stakeholders from civil
society, the private sector and continental and international institutions
the opportunity to review progress made so far . The marginalisation and
underdevelopment of Africa and escalating poverty among its people were some
of the topics on the agenda.

In a speech to mark the launch of Newsdesk: Business Africa, which is
designed to help Africa raise its voice on the world stage, NEPAD chief
executive officer, Professor Firmino said, "NEPAD provides a framework for
African renewal, in order to drive socioeconomic development and enable our
continent to participate actively in the world economy and body politic. It
rests on African determination to provide a way for Africans to help
themselves." Some observers, however, believe that these high-sounding
ideals are meaningless unless the benefits of NEPAD can filter down to
ordinary Africans. This can only happen if peace, security, observance of
human rights and the rule of law prevail in member countries to facilitate
sustainable development and that way reduce poverty.

NEPAD's Peer Review Mechanism, which is supposed to promote good governance
and observance of human rights, is doomed to remain as ineffective as such
organs of the African Union as the African Commission on Human and Peoples'
Rights (ACHPR) which have failed to get round the egos and pride of leaders
to fulfill their mandates.

The Peer Review Mechanism, designed to be conducted every three to five
years, is supposed to be a vehicle for African countries to benchmark their
economic and political performance . The process is however, anathema to
some leaders because it calls for free discussion of governance issues and
they regard this as a threat to their authoritarian regimes. It is difficult
to see how such regimes which are already bent on the total crushing of
dissent by clamping down on opposition parties and civil society groups can
honour this requirement.

The example of events in Zimbabwe over the last few years probably best
illustrates the futility of setting up more organs when existing ones have
proved impotent. Since about 2000, various events in Zimbabwe have caused
outcries over which either the African Union or NEPAD should have
intervened. These have pertained to disputed election outcomes after alleged
rigging, state-sanctioned violence against opponents, repressive media and
other laws, alleged human rights abuses, the displacement of large numbers
of people under Operation Murambatsvina, etc.

Numerous attempts by representatives of civil society in Zimbabwe to have
some of these issues deliberated on by relevant continental or international
organs have failed repeatedly. The government has, by hook or crook, ensured
the forestalling of the scrutiny of its role and actions in these disputes
and alleged violations of its own constitution and international law. The
government has consistently cited Zimbabwe's sovereignty and territorial
integrity as justification for its intransigence. Situations such as the
conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan and the dispute over Cote
d'Ivoire's Laurent Gbagbo, show how African leaders can ignore pressure
exerted even by the African Union and dig in their heels. The question is,
can NEPAD succeed where other continental organs, the United Nations and
other world bodies have failed?

It is ironic that it is the situation in Zimbabwe that has caused the most
serious doubts in some quarters about the prospect of NEPAD having any
appreciable impact on governance issues. The South African President, Thabo
Mbeki, the main architect of NEPAD and therefore its human face, lost
credibility as a crusader for democratic governance when he adopted the
widely discredited "quiet diplomacy" approach with respect to the Zimbabwean
crisis.

Mbeki's dithering and reluctance to speak out on the crisis when he was the
official troubleshooter, was the more appalling because of the lame excuses
he gave for his reticence, which was widely interpreted as complicity with
President Mugabe's administration. The South African president claimed that
he was powerless to confront his northern neighbour because "Mugabe will
tell me off" - or words to that effect. In the end, he threw in the towel
and washed his hands off the Zimbabwean problem.

"For Africans to be able to resolve the problems of peace and security and
good governance, they must be able to peer review themselves", a NEPAD
official, Isaac Aluko-Olokun has said. But if the lacklustre performance and
lack of conviction of the prime mover of Africa's Renaissance so far is
anything to go by, NEPAD is unlikely to make any impact in the next five
years.


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Yet Another Land Audit



Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 15, 2006
Posted to the web November 16, 2006

Kumbirai Mafunda
Harare

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's government, under intense pressure to lend
credibility to its anti-corruption drive, says an audit into the take-up and
utilisation of land under its controversial land reform programme will be
completed by the end of this month.

In 2004 the government admitted that only 44 percent of the land allocated
under the controversial agrarian reforms was under productive use.

State Security, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Minister Didymus Mutasa
told The Financial Gazette this week that the audit, which was embarked on
just after his appointment in 2005, had already been completed in
Manicaland, Mashonaland West, Matabeleland North, Mashonaland East and the
Midlands.

"We are looking at the take-up of A2 farms, their utilisation and where
there are disputes on boundaries. Plot take-up under the A2 model is between
80 and 89 percent . . . The audit has identified men and women who are
productive," said Mutasa.

His ministry expected to have concluded the audit by the end of this month.

"We will compile it into one report that we will publish as soon as the
government gives us the go-ahead," said Mutasa.

He said with effect from January next year, the ministry would conduct a
similar audit on the take-up of land under the A1 farming model. The plot
take-up under this model is over 90 percent.

"We will proceed to issue permits to bona fide A1 farmers," said Mutasa.

The latest audit is one of many similar verification exercises President
Robert Mugabe has ordered since 2000. In 2003, the minister responsible for
land reform and resettlement Flora Buka, headed another land audit team. The
government never made her report public but the document, which was leaked
to the local and international media, contained disturbing revelations.

A follow-up land audit by a commission led by Charles Utete, a former
secretary to the president and cabinet, exposed the existence of "swathes of
productive land lying idle".

During his tenure as Special Affairs, Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement
Minister John Nkomo, who is now the Speaker of Parliament and the ruling
party's national chairman, also headed a presidential inquiry into serious
irregularities pertaining to land reform.

Although the government intended to resettle more than a million people on
not less than 11 million hectares between July 2000 and December 2001, it
has only gazetted 6 517 farms measuring over 10 million hectares when
President Mugabe gave the nod to the land grab exercise. Since then, 140 698
A1 farmers have been resettled on 2 740 farms while 14 856 large-scale
farmers have been resettled on 2 280 farms.

Critics are sceptical that the contents of this latest and eagerly-awaited
audit will see the light of day in view of the numerous earlier audit
reports that have gathered dust in government offices.

Reports say the land reform programme is riddled with double allocations as
both the Agriculture Ministry headed by Joseph Made and Mutasa's ministry do
not have a computerised data base on land parcelled out to beneficiaries.

Critics allege that a majority of party 'chefs' used proxies when
registering acquired land and properties.

Despite the conducting of successive land audits, the identities of multiple
farm owners, whom President Mugabe has on several occasions ordered to
surrender the properties for redistribution to veterans of the liberation
struggle and landless peasants most of whom bore the brunt of the liberation
war, have never been made public.

Some observers say the government's inertia over the issue could suggest
that the main culprits who have violated the government's one-man-one-farm
policy are powerful politicians.

The accelerated land redistribution programme, which was meant to reverse
the legacy of a century of colonial land ownership imbalances, has plunged
the country into a food crisis which has only been eased by the intervention
of the World Food Programme (WFP) and other humanitarian organisations.


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Hexco's Bungling Hits Polytech Students



Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 15, 2006
Posted to the web November 16, 2006

Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
Harare

HUNDREDS of students at the Harare Polytechnic could not write scheduled
examinations last week after the Higher Education Examinations Council
(HEXCO) failed to avail question papers.

HEXCO'S dereliction of duty affected students in the Polytechnic's
electrical, engineering and mass communications departments, who almost two
weeks later, are still not sure when they will finally sit for the
examinations.

This is not the first time the national tertiary education examinations
board has been found wanting in this respect, heightening fears that the
public examinations system is crumbling.

"We were supposed to sit for an electrical engineering paper on the 6th but
the paper did not come and we were told that it would be written at 2pm but
still nothing came and now we are not even sure if at all we will write the
paper," said a student in the electrical division on Monday.

The students were scheduled to write an Electrical Division National Diploma
part two Digital Electronics paper at 9 am on Monday last week while those
doing a National Diploma in Secretarial Studies were supposed to write a
Business Economics paper at the same time.

Students in the Mass Communications division were due to sit for a
Developing Economies paper.

"The standard of education has been falling and now it is getting worse with
the prospect of failing to write examinations altogether fast becoming a
reality. Students are struggling to get by and the last thing they need is
this situation where their stay at the college is prolonged while they are
not getting anything to eat," said Tawanda Gumbie, president of the Harare
Polytechnic Students Executive Council.

The college has now postponed the examinations to next week.

Harare Polytechnic vice principal, Tafadzwa Mudondo could neither confirm
nor deny the reports.

"From what I know students are writing their exams but I have to find out if
there are any of them who failed to write. The best office to call is that
of the principal or the examinations board, I can't really communicate to
you the official position because it comes through the principal's office,"
said Mudondo.

Officials from HEXCO's Standards and Quality Control department were not
available for comment.

Examinations administered by HEXCO have in the past been characterised by
confusion resulting from delays and mix-ups.

Allegations of rampant leaking of test papers before examinations have also
persisted.

Earlier this year business studies students at Harare Polytechnic waited
until 8pm to write a paper that was scheduled to have been written at 2 pm.


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Chombo Caught On Tape



Financial Gazette (Harare)

November 15, 2006
Posted to the web November 16, 2006

Chris Muronzi Staff Reporter
Harare

FRESH evidence implicating Local Government and Public Works Minister
Ignatius Chombo in the bribes-for-buses scandal that has rocked the
state-owned Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO) over the past year has
surfaced amid reports that the Attorney General's office and the police are
looking into the possibility of prosecuting the senior politician.

The new sensational evidence is in the form of a taped telephone
conversation between Chombo and businessman Jayesh Shah in which Chombo is
heard apparently asking for a US$68 000 bribe from the businessman, who has
been at the centre of the corruption saga at ZUPCO.

In the recording, a copy of which was lodged with the AG's office and the
police -- which The Financial Gazette obtained this week -- Chombo appears
to demand US$1 000 for every bus supplied to ZUPCO. The bus company was to
procure 68 buses -- 49 conventional coaches and 19 minibuses -- from Shah.

This recording opens yet another intriguing chapter in the scandals that
have rocked ZUPCO over the past year, particularly with respect to deals
between the company and Shah. A politically well connected businessman and
regular donor to the ruling party, Shah has frequently courted controversy.
He was once at the centre of a storm when he riled competitors by importing
buses already painted in ZUPCO colours in an apparent flaunting of
confidence that the tender would be tailor-made for his company.

Below is a verbatim reproduction of what is heard on the tape: (the gaps
represent sections of the recording where what is said is inaudible or
garbled):

Shah: "No, first time how much do you want to add on top? Just add it.
Because I do not want . . . one thing is that last time I was squeezed on
the . . . very well. So it went . . . So last time I tried to talk to you
and you know . . .

Chombo: "Just one will . . .

Shah: "Sorry?"

Chombo: "One."

Shah: "1 000? So I can put 1000 on this . . .

Chombo:"Yah.

Shah: "No, I will squeeze it from my pocket.

Chombo: "Okay, just one?

Shah: Yah

Chombo: ". . . me one and . . . and you know, because if we . . . we can get

Further in the conversation, Chombo is heard apparently saying: "so let us .
. . We will . . . one per big bus, this . . . and one for the small bus" To
which Shah says, "it is fair."

Chombo concurs, saying "I think it's fair, . . . I am not a greedy person"
to which Shah says "I had kept two on the previous one but unfortunately . .
. it got mixed up" after interjecting Chombo.

Chombo says; "Yah. I think . . . Let us in terms of . . . capacity . . . .
we . . . . Need really to . . . ."

Shah: "Because, you know, what I really felt was like, I don't know you are
dealing with . . . . but the way he was talking, the way he was talking, you
know . . . . "

Chombo: "No it is . . . ."

Shah: " . . . . and he took off his money."

Chombo: " You are talking to . . . . and also benefited from them in any way
. . . ."

Shah: " you see, this is what I am saying, you need to now look at the two
options that are here, Simon . . . . . and Shah, Simon . . . . buses, look
at the measurement of it. I only did 55 but can you really point a finger at
anybody . . . . clean clear, above board."

In a later conversation Shah says " but Minister anything, let us a clear .
. . . The opportunity is we have known each other but the thing is
opportunities were not there" while Chombo agrees saying "Oh, Yah."

Later in the conversation Shah is heard saying, "now, opportunities are
there. It is, we need to . . . ." to which Chombo says " No, I think we are
clear, on the 40, one on the 96, one and then if we can get an increase on
the others that are coming"

In the same dialogue Shah says, "Yes, others that are coming, but I told
them to prepare 60 buses"

Chombo says "yes, go ahead, I know, you were not going to . . . . Actually
we don't want only 150 buses, we want further 150 buses."

It is not clear however if Chombo received the money and how much it was but
ZUPCO went on to float a special tender which resulted in Gift Investments
supplying 69 buses -- 24 minibuses and 45 conventional buses.

Chombo was not available to comment yesterday.

The ZUPCO bribes-for-buses saga erupted two years ago after Shah fell out
with former chairman at the parastatal's board, Charles Nherera. The scandal
led to the arrest, sensational trial and jailing of Nherera for three years
after a Harare magistrate convicted him of corruption.

Former ZUPCO chief executive, who is now deputy Information Minister, Bright
Matonga, Nherera as well as Chombo, have been implicated in the scam by
Shah's production of recordings of conversations with all three officials.
Shah has been granted immunity from prosecution by the Attorney General's
office. Nherera and Matonga, who are jointly charged in a separate case from
the one for which Nherera is already serving a sentence, have claimed that
the recordings were doctored in order to implicate them. Police are
investigating Chombo's role in the saga.

The minister was a state witness during the Nherera trial, but the
magistrate questioned the credibility of his testimony, saying the police
should probe deeper into the scandal.


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We Told You So



Financial Gazette (Harare)

EDITORIAL
November 15, 2006
Posted to the web November 16, 2006

Harare

WE hate to say we told you so. But we did. In our editorial comment of
September 21, 2006 we commended, though with reservation, the announcement
by the Reserve Bank of Zimabbwe (RBZ) of a US$490 million agricultural
support facility.

While we admitted that under normal circumstances the package deal put
together with the help of local and regional financial institutions,
agriculture, which has been comatose for some time, could tip-toe back to
recovery, we warned that we did not have high hopes for it for as long as
Joseph Made remained the Minister of Agriculture.

Our scepticism was not without reason. There has been a series of
inexcusable blunders over the past six years that has seen the key
agricultural sector slipping on too many banana skins, leaving the country's
food security situation dangerously precarious. This has left many in no
doubt that the successive failed crop harvests that have seen Zimbabwe being
reduced to a perennial grain deficit country alongside Lesotho, Swaziland
and Malawi were, contrary to government claims, in the main due to human
error. The recurring biting shortages of critical inputs, among others, all
of which have left many wondering as to when enough would be enough before
heads start rolling, are a case in point.

We had a strong sense of deja vu. Having seen agriculture lurch from one
crisis to another under the stewardship of Made, we were convinced that,
even with those resources at its disposal, the Ministry of Agriculture,
under him was incapable of returning production in the sector to its
pre-crisis levels. The ineptitude of those running the country's agriculture
led by Made is legendary. They couldn't organise a beer party in a brewery.
Thus we chose to err on the side of caution.

It is no secret that Made, whose tenure of office as Minister of Agriculture
has seen the production of almost every agricultural commodity hitting an
all-time low, has slept on the job. Which is why famine and hunger have
stalked Zimbabwe for the past six years. That is why we categorically stated
then that a typical square peg in a round hole, Made has proved that no one
in Zimbabwe ever knew so much that was so little to the purpose. And unless
he was sacked, we said, availing the US$490 million would be an exercise in
futility.

And here we are: another stinking fertiliser scandal at Made's ever-bungling
ministry. The ministry sanctioned, through Made's lieutenants, Permanent
Secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa and GMB chief executive officer Samuel Muvuti,
the importation of 70 000 tonnes of fertiliser from South Africa, 800 tonnes
of which are useless. The questionable importation of the inferior
fertiliser has already played out into the public domain. And we have
already had a taste of the finger-pointing that can be expected as the
scandal heats up, indicating that there could be more to the scandal than
meets the eye.

Typical of the ruling ZANU PF government's culture of scapegoating, instead
of taking full responsibility for the mess, explaining how it happened and
the steps being taken to rectify the situation, those involved have chosen
to engage in unhelpful semantic arguments. Some would say this is why the
powers-that-be should, in addition to closely questioning those that were
involved in the deal, subpoena all the documents relating to the deal as
they try to ferret out details of what actually happened.

But given the evidence of the letters written by Pazvakavambwa to the GMB
and by the Rand Merchant Bank to the RBZ about Muvuti's acceptance of the
fertiliser consigment, the shortest route to settling this case would be to
fire Pazvakavambwa and Muvuti immediately. They do not have a conscience to
bother them enough to take a jump before being pushed. And giving them the
sack for this unacceptable scandalous waste of US$300 000 of public money is
the best option no matter how politically sticky it might seem within ZANU
PF. True, one swallow does not make a summer and sacking the two could, in
the eyes of sympathisers, be too harsh. But we see the fertiliser debacle as
the thin end of the wedge, which should be nipped in the bud. Of course Made
should also be in the firing line. If not for his past costly failures then
for the fact that a fish rots from the head. But most importantly because
the buck stops with Made and he should own up.


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Murambatsvina Refuses to Be Swept Under the Carpet



Financial Gazette (Harare)

COLUMN
November 15, 2006
Posted to the web November 16, 2006

Mavis Makuni
Harare

THE insensitivity and aimless perversity of Operation Murambatsvina, during
which the government embarked on an unprecedented demolition spree in Harare
and other urban centres, rendering about one million people homeless and
depriving a further two million of means to earn a livelihood, becomes more
difficult to conceal and justify with each passing day.

Despite its best efforts, the government has failed to pull the wool over
any sensible person's eyes about its real motives for embarking on the
controversial exercise which has been roundly condemned both at home and
internationally. The matter cannot be wished away or swept under the carpet
because it has impacted inestimably on the lives of flesh and blood humans
who cannot be regarded as mere statistics that can be filed away and
forgotten. The plight of the millions displaced by the exercise must remain
in the public domain and consciousness.

From the outset, United Nations Special Envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, who was
deployed to Zimbabwe by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan at the height of the
tumult, declared the initiative cruel and insensitive and possibly illegal
under international law. The government of Zimbabwe however thought it could
dupe every one by announcing the charade of embarking on Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle through which it was supposed to provide decent
housing for the hundreds of thousands it had rendered homeless and
destitute.

The government has failed dismally to deliver on its promises and it can no
longer decree that this lack of success is a perception confined to what it
deceives itself are prophets of doom or agents of foreign interests.

Last week a parliamentary portfolio committee chaired by ZANU PF Mazowe
legislator, Margaret Zinyemba, tabled a report in Parliament confirming what
observers and the people traumatised by the government's actions have been
saying all along.

The report said the government had failed the victims of its illogical and
spur-of-the-moment operation by not honouring its pledges to cater for them.
The government, which initially announced that it would finance the project
to the tune of $3 trillion, now regularly harangues the private sector to
step into its shoes to tackle a problem it deliberately created on a whim.

Said the portfolio committee: "In terms of project implementation, no
significant progress was made as funds provided were too little for any
meaningful development to take place." Zinyemba told Parliament the
secretary for local government and urban development had admitted the lack
of progress on building sites.

The bottom line here is that millions of innocent Zimbabweans have been
dealt a cruel blow by their government. First, they were targeted for no
apparent rational or valid reason as it turned out later that Operation
Murambatsvina was undertaken because of the government's paranoid fear of an
uprising.

It is scandalous that having displaced and traumatised these hard-working
ordinary Zimbabweans, the government has had no qualms about being deceitful
with regard to Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle. What has slowly emerged is that the
government never intended to see the housing scheme through but only
embarked on it as an act of diversion and bravado to silence its critics.
The fact that its reckless actions affected fellow human beings has never
pricked any consciences in the corridors of power.

Instead, there has been no shortage of vehement defenders of the madness.
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo has led the pack in insisting that
the uncalled for upheavals were an exercise to spruce up urban areas and rid
them of criminal elements. State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa went
ballistic in June last year in response the disquiet expressed about the
vindictive manner in which the exercise had been undertaken.

"We are strongly united in our efforts to make Zimbabwe a clean and safe
environment," he said, insisting that the decision to demolish abodes and
other structures deemed to be illegal was taken unanimously by cabinet. For
good measure, he castigated independent newspapers for "always making noises
about the rule of law and when we use the law you make unnecessary noises."

Neither Mutasa nor anyone else in government has ever identified which law
obliged the government to degrade and dehumanise its own people by treating
them like animals to be herded into the open to fend for themselves. The
"people's government" has exacerbated the plight of its victims by
preventing well-wishers from coming to their rescue.

The government has fought tooth and nail on the continental and
international scenes to forestall scrutiny of its cruel and vindictive
actions on the pretext that as a sovereign state it had the right to behave
as it did to afford its people decent housing.

What does the government have to say now that the "decent" accommodation
sprouting everywhere in the aftermath of Murambatsvina is in the form of
even more plastic shacks than before. Even those who had solid brick and
mortar houses are now reduced to living in flimsy shacks. Does the
government regard this as progress? It apparently does not give a damn
because despite this gruelling evidence of human suffering, government
officials continue to breathe fire and brimstone against anyone who feels
compassion and empathy for the victims of Operation Murambatsvina.

Only in September Chombo launched into a tirade against international human
rights watchdog, Amnesty International after it had expressed concern that
only 3 000 housing units had been built under Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle. Chombo
glibly claimed that negative perceptions about the operation were proof of a
plot to tarnish Zimbabwe's image. What image, my foot!

But now that a parliamentary portfolio committee has reached the same
conclusion, can Chombo and company say it has been bought by the British and
Americans too? I say to hell with sovereignty and Zimbabwe's image if these
concepts are to be evoked to prolong the suffering of fellow human beings.
Government officials have proved themselves to be so deceitful and
insensitive that they no longer deserve to be holding their positions. They
can only afford to continue to strut around with impunity because of the
prevailing tyranny.


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Change Your Course!



Financial Gazette (Harare)

COLUMN
November 15, 2006
Posted to the web November 16, 2006

Gondo Gushungo
Harare

A STORY is told by former US undersecretary for international affairs,
Lawrence H Summers about the US navy which, in my view captures the way the
Zimbabwean government in particular seems to feel about confronting
political and economic realities. Be they people's wishes for a new
constitution or the need for a shift to market forces in the management of
the economy, the ruling ZANU PF government, wary of such change probably
because it challenges the status quo, is always digging in its heels.

According to Summers, a US Navy fleet was sailing in the Pacific when a blip
appeared on the fleet's radar screen. The destroyer's captain sent the
message: "We are on a collision course, change your course". "No, you change
your course," came back the reply that seemed to irritate the captain. The
increasingly agitated captain shot back: "This is the US Navy's fleet. We
are on a collision course. Change your course". Again the reply came:
"Change your course." The admiral of the US Navy fleet had had enough.
Patently bent out of shape and probably frothing at the mouth, he sent the
message: "This is the most powerful sailing force ever assembled. We are on
a collision course. Change your course". Then came the reply: "Change your
course. This is a lighthouse".

The moral of this story is that some forces and ideas whose time has come
are inevitable. And for the Zimbabwean government, desperate to stitch
together the fragile fabric of a frayed society, such realities are:

lFirst, the need for a new constitution. Of course this is a contentious
issue, a hot button political issue, if you will. But it is a fact that
there has been a chorus from civic society and opposition political parties
which represent a significant portion of the country's population for a new
people-centred constitution that facilitates a strong but democratic system
of government and explicitly defines and precludes all authoritarian traits
and tendencies.

The deafening calls for a new constitution can only mean one thing:
Zimbabweans yearn for a new constitution that ensures further
democratisation and expansion of political pluralism. Presently, with the
absence of basic freedoms and rights, they are straining at the leash. Thus
they want to be rid of everything that should have been swept away with the
rubble of Rhodesia's minority white supremacist regime. If the government
has nothing to fear, it should take the issue up the flagpole and see what
the people have to say about it.

lSecondly, there is the inexorably rising pressure on the government to move
towards competitive market forces in the management of the economy where the
government has been comfortable with piece-meal policy implementation -- a
half way house between a market economy and rigid state control. Issues for
discussion under this are too numerous to mention. But I will just pick two.
That would be the need to change course towards privatisation of
government-owned companies and a move towards a more realistic exchange
rate.

As far as devaluation is concerned, government has been reluctant to take
the plunge. Instead it has always favoured a fixed exchange rate regime,
which has created a lot of problems for Zimbabwe. To the extent that any
talk of devaluation, which is the best route to go given Zimbabwe's
circumstances, has become sacrilegious. It has assumed weighty political and
nationalistic connotations. The proponents of devaluation who listen to the
voice of reason and reckon the influence of realities have been labelled
economic saboteurs. Indeed, some who were previously considered rising stars
on the political firmament have had their political careers cut short or put
on hold at the slightest mention of devaluation.

Much as I cannot stick my neck out and say that there is a direct link
between the choice of exchange rate and macroeconomic performance, it is
indisputable that among other things, a fixed exchange rate increases
protectionist pressure, distorts price signals in the economy and prevents
the efficient allocation of resources. International monetarists have gone
in so far as saying that it is possible for inflationary pressures to build
up -- but be held in check -- during a period of pegged exchange rates and
then explode into the open when a float is adopted. Thus high inflation
would be blamed on the floating regime though it should more properly be
attributed to the fixed exchange rate. Yet the government continues to do
things pretty much the same way -- the fixed exchange rate route -- and
expect a change.

The situation is much the same as regards privatisation. The government is
not moving an inch, even with evidence of positive improvements from the
before-and-after comparisons of companies that have undergone privatisation
elsewhere.

After the ill-conceived stop-go public asset disposal programme, the
government, which does not have the capacity to manage public enterprises,
in what can only be described as sheer waste of public resources, poured $12
billion into these bottomless black holes last year in a futile attempt to
restore viability in the monoliths.

But someone who understands what needs to be done when a company gets into
operational inefficiencies once said that you cannot bail out a boat with a
big hole because it will never sail. And how so true! The public funds so
doled out by the government failed to staunch the never-ending bleeding. And
just like before, the government-owned companies continue to operate below
the red-ink line and remain a major impediment to economic growth.

Yet all it could have taken to deal with the foregoing issues is a conscious
effort, a conscious strategy because it would just have been a matter of
comparisons among options. This makes Zimbabwe's sad story that of choice
and consequence, which could have been different if only the government had
changed its course.


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IMF Executive Board To Reconsider Zimbabwe's Status In February

VOA

By Blessing Zulu
Washington
16 November 2006

Zimbabwe's status as an International Monetary Fund member nation will be
taken up again by the IMF Executive Board in February, official sources said
Thursday.

IMF spokeswomen Gita Bhatt confirmed the Board will meet in early February.

On the table will be the question of restoring Harare's voting rights and
its right to tap IMF funding. Harare has cleared debt arrears to the IMF
General Resource Account, but other arrears totaling some US$119 million
remain under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility-Exogenous Shocks
Facility.

The board's decision will be informed by a report from the Article IV
mission expected in Harare next month for an economic policy review. The IMF
wants Harare to change policies - in particular curbing public spending - to
reverse the process that has driven inflation to 1,070% in October amidst
continued contraction of output.

Sources in the Ministry of Economic Development said another emergency
economic plan is in the works and will be launched in January. The current
National Economic Development Priority Program, which ends next month,
failed to achieve objectives including bringing inflation under control and
stabilizing the Zimbabwe dollar.

Two previous recovery blueprints - the Millennium Economic Recovery Plan of
2000 and the National Economic Revival Programme of 2003 - also failed to
deliver.

The new plan will be in place before the IMF Board meets, but economist
James Jowa of Harare said it was unlikely to make much difference to the
country's IMF status.


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Women March Through Harare Demanding Expanded Public Role

VOA

By Thomas Chiripasi & Carole Gombakomba
Harare & Washington
16 November 2006

Dozens of women marched in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare Thursday to
demand equal representation in public offices, but the launch of the
so-called 50-50 Campaign by the Women in Politics Support Unit was poorly
attended by the political class.

Correspondent Thomas Chiripasi reported on the march through central Harare.

Political parties were unevenly represented at Thursday's march. Though two
senior members of the Movement for Democratic Change faction led by Arthur
Mutambara lent their support, there was just one representative of the MDC
faction of Morgan Tsvangirai, and the ruling ZANU-PF party was a complete
no-show.

A spokespersonfor the Women in Politics Support Unit said women from all
political parties were invited as gender discrimination varies little by
political affiliation.

Lucia Matibenga, who chairs the women's league of the Tsvangirai MDC
faction, told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that
she did not attend the event because she did not receive an invitation. But
she said that the event was important because women are constantly sidelined
when decisions are made.

Studio 7 placed a call to Women's Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri, who is
the ruling party's secretary for gender and culture, but she declined to
comment..


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Heavy Rains Dampen Zimbabwe Hopes For Overdue Wheat Harvest

VOA

By Jonga Kandemiiri
Washington
16 November 2006

Some farmers and agricultural officials may be pleased to see the heavy
rains now falling across Zimbabwe, but others are concerned that the
downpour could mean an even bigger shortfall than feared in the lagging
winter wheat crop.

Authorities had projected a harvest of 220,000 tonnes, but the Grain
Marketing Board, a state monopoly, said it has taken delivery from farmers
of only 60,000 tonnes.

A GMB official said the rains will not do much damage to the standing wheat
crops, as farmers can still harvest when they stop and the wheat dries out.

Many farmers have failed to harvest all their wheat due to fuel shortages
and the cost of hiring combine harvesters. One farmer said the Agricultural
and Rural Development Authority, or ARDA, charges $55,000 (US$220) a hectare
to harvest while commercial harvesters charge $95,000 ($380) per hectare for
the same service.

Agronomist Renson Gasela, agriculture spokesman for the Movement for
Democratic Change faction led by Arthur Mutambara, told reporter Jonga
Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the main problem is a
shortage of harvesters.

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