The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Zimbabwe c.bank says new bank notes imminent

Reuters

Wed 21 Nov 2007, 14:19 GMT

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe will soon issue new bank notes, for the second
time in as many years, to try to control rampant inflation and curb black
market trade, central bank Governor Gideon Gono said on Wednesday.

The southern African country is in the grips of a severe economic crisis -- 
blamed on President Robert Mugabe's policies -- and battling the highest
annual inflation rate in the world, at nearly 8,000 percent.

Zimbabwe lopped off three zeroes from its currency in July 2006 and phased
out old notes within three weeks in a programme dubbed "Sunrise".

"The general public, as well as the financial sector are hereby forewarned
that Sunrise Two is now imminent," Gono told reporters.

"The Reserve Bank has now put in place all the machinery, to enable the
implementation of a short and precise change-over programme, which would be
completed in a matter of a few days."

Gono declined to say exactly when the currency change would take place and
how many zeroes would be dropped.

"The actual change-over will be done without prior notice beyond what we are
saying here."

He added that Zimbabwe's inflation would not deter the central bank from
effecting a currency change.

"Last time we removed three zeroes. But they've returned. Now we are
determined not to allow them to return," Gono said.

"Some have said we are in a hyperinflationary environment and can therefore
not bring in a new currency. Nothing could be further from the truth."

CASH SHORTAGE

The last redenomination took the Zimbabwean dollar to 250 to the U.S dollar.
While the official rate to the dollar is now 30,000 Zimbabwean dollars, the
black market rate is 1.2 million Zimbabwean dollars to the U.S dollar.

Zimbabwe has, in recent weeks, seen long queues at most city banking halls
due to cash shortages, which Gono blamed on black market foreign currency
trade.

Gono had announced earlier this month the central bank would defer the
introduction of new bank notes until 2008, but said he was forced to change
the plans due to a resurgent black market.

"As a central bank we have been impelled to now take stern and unprecedented
punitive measures against the dark forces of parallel market trading and
financial disintermediation," he said.

"With a total of 58 trillion Zimbabwean dollars in cash currently in issue
and in circulation, the current shortages are principally a result of
underground parallel market trading activities."

At the time of the last currency change, inflation was 993.6 pc but it has
since vaulted above 7,900 percent and analysts say the figure is actually
double that.

A blanket price freeze imposed by Mugabe's government in June in a desperate
bid to rein in inflation backfired and fuelled black market trade in most
basic goods and an already thriving informal foreign currency market.

Mugabe denies mismanaging what was one of Africa's most promising economies
and accuses western nations opposed to his policies of sabotaging the
economy to undermine his rule.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe opposition pleads for international support

Yahoo News

KAMPALA (AFP) - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday
called for international support to help break the political stalemate
between his party and President Robert Mugabe's regime.

"Mugabe has taken a defiant stance against national and international
opinion, but Zimbabweans are seeking international solidarity, like South
Africa during apartheid," Tsvangirai told reporters.
The opposition leader was speaking in Kampala at a debate on Zimbabwe
organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, on the sidelines of the
biennial summit of the 53-state organisation of former British colonies.

"The campaign against the opposition has intensified, perhaps because of the
elections," said Tsvangirai, head of a faction of the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change.

Tsvangirai -- who is expected to meet South African President Thabo Mbeki on
Thursday -- bemoaned what he described as "quiet approval" of Mugabe among
African leaders.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is mediating negotiations
between the government and civic and opposition leaders, but Tsvangirai said
the talks are "not a panacea to the Zimbabwean crisis."

"Although significant progress has been made on paper in the SADC-brokered
talks, the situation on the ground remains unchanged," Tsvirangai said.

"While the process is under way, Robert Mugabe is still determined to pursue
a destructive path through state-sponsored violence, the abuse of state
institutions, abuse of traditional leaders and open dishonesty."

The southern African country is in the midst of an economic crisis,
characterised by the world's highest rate of inflation, shortages of basic
foodstuffs and mass unemployment.

Zimbabwe is due to hold its next presidential poll in March 2008 and
Tsvangirai urged African countries gathered in Kampala to secure election
monitoring from their international allies.

A "free and fair election could easily reverse the economic decay,"
Tsvangirai said.

Mugabe is absent from the Uganda summit as Zimbabwe is no longer part of the
Commonwealth, which suspended its membership in 2002 on charges of election
rigging and human rights abuses.

The Zimbabwean leader then withdrew from the organisation in protest.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe opposition leader says progress made on election talks with government

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: November 21, 2007

KAMPALA, Uganda: The leader of Zimbabwe's opposition said Wednesday that
talks with his government over electoral reform had made progress, but said
ensuring implementation would be crucial.

"I am confident that the agenda set through the (South Africa-led) mediation
will address the fundamental concerns around holding free and fair
elections," Morgan Tsvangirai told The Associated Press in an interview.

"But we want to translate those ideas onto something on the ground so people
can feel confident that the situation is safe; that there is a stop to
violence."

During previous elections in Zimbabwe, opposition supporters have been
tortured and killed by government forces and supporters of the ruling party.
The country's economy is in meltdown, with the highest rate of inflation in
the world, and millions have fled abroad.

Tsvangirai said the talks had centered on constitutional and electoral
reform but had stalled over freedom of assembly. He offered no further
details.

Protests in Zimbabwe are frequently met with violence by the police, who
beat up and arrest demonstrators.
Tsvangirai participated in a public debate on Zimbabwe in Kampala Wednesday
organized two days before a Commonwealth summit opens here by the Royal
Commonwealth Society.

He called on Commonwealth leaders to monitor the talks mediated by South
African President Thabo Mbeki under Southern African Development Community
auspices and to ensure any future commitments were honored.

Mbeki's office announce Wednesday he would stop in Zimbabwe to consult with
political leaders there on his way to the Commonwealth summit.

Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth in 2003 after it was suspended.

"It is very important for the Commonwealth to continue to engage with us to
ensure that Zimbabwe is rescued from its pariah status and moves towards a
democratic outcome," he told the AP.

He said that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe had made a unilateral
decision to leave the Commonwealth and expressed optimism that one day the
country would be able to rejoin.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mbeki to Meet MDC And Zanu-PF Negotiators in Harare


SW Radio Africa (London)

21 November 2007
Posted to the web 21 November 2007

Tichaona Sibanda

South African President Thabo Mbeki will fly to Harare on Thursday to meet
with the ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition MDC negotiating teams. He
is also expected to brief his counterpart, Robert Mugabe.

A statement from his office said the visit is part of efforts to break a
political deadlock between the country's feuding political parties.

Mbeki, who was appointed by regional leaders earlier this year to mediate
between the two sides, will be making a stop-over in the capital on his way
to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Uganda, Kampala.

A South African based political analyst told Newsreel the visit was a
follow-up by Mbeki to the meeting he held last week in Pretoria with the
leaders of the divided MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.

Glen Mpani said it seems Mbeki, with the help of SADC, wants to ensure that
his image as the mediator is not blemished by the failure to resolve the
Zimbabwe crisis. The ANC leader is reportedly pushing for a negotiated
settlement that would give the country an opportunity to show it can hold
elections that work.

Mpani argued that the 2008 polls are key to the country's recovery after the
disputed elections in 2002 and 2005 descended into violence that led to the
current political and economic crisis.

'The efforts of the SADC bloc and the support of the international community
have afforded Zimbabwe the opportunity to recover,' said Mpani.

He added that the country's economy is struggling against powerful
headwinds: political mismanagement, corruption, inflation that is out of
control, food shortages and a destroyed agriculture sector that used to be
the backborne of the economy. These are all likely to intensify, rather than
weaken, in the year ahead especially if there is a disputed election.

'It is really important for Zimbabwe, with the help of SADC and the
international community to organise transparent, objective, free and fair
elections, and to avoid contestation of results. That is why the
international community is keeping a close watch on the mediation talks,' he
said.

There is consensus that Mbeki should not let Zanu-PF dictate the pace,
outcome and the implementation of agreements that will come out of the
talks. This comes after the ruling party insisted elections be held in March
next year, despite overwhelming evidence that opposition parties would not
be ready.

Mpani explained that by sticking to March Mugabe and his party want to
capitalise on the disunity and internal wrangling currently ravaging the
MDC, making it difficult for them to mobilise their resources to fight the
well-oiled machinery run by Zanu-PF.

'Why the ruling party is reluctant to push the elections forward is they
will give the opposition ground to regroup and I don't think they want to
face either a united or organised MDC. This is where Mbeki should stand up
and be counted. He should not allow any particular party to have
pre-conceived ideas that will turn out to be detrimental to the entire
country,' Mpani said.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe opposition wants reform before it contests vote

Reuters

Wed 21 Nov 2007, 14:16 GMT

KAMPALA, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition party the Movement
for Democratic Change will not compete in next year's elections until it is
certain President Robert Mugabe will not rig them, opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai said on Wednesday.

"We have gone through three national elections and we know it is always
pre-determined," Tsvangirai told Reuters in an interview in Kampala ahead of
a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). (Reporting by Francis
Kwera)


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Portugal would prefer Mugabe not to come to summit

Reuters

Wed 21 Nov 2007, 15:30 GMT

(Updates with details, background)

By Axel Bugge

LISBON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Portugal would prefer that Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe did not come to an EU-Africa summit in December, Foreign
Minister Luis Amado said on Wednesday, indicating for the first time that
Mugabe is not welcome.

Portugal has come under pressure from some countries and from human rights
activists not to invite Mugabe, whom they accuse of rights abuses.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said he will not come if Mugabe is
present. Scandinavian EU members have also voiced concern about Mugabe
coming.

African countries have insisted that Mugabe must be invited and Lisbon's
line up to now has been that it would not discriminate in its invitations
and would invite all African heads of state.

Mugabe, who faces a visa ban in Europe which would have to be lifted for the
summit, has said he will attend and has been sent an invitation.

"If you ask me if I would like him (Mugabe) to come to Lisbon I would say
that I would prefer that he would not come," Amado said in comments aired by
local radio station TSF.

"Because it will create noise around the summit that in my point of view
will distract from the essential points to discuss at the summit."

Amado, whose country is hosting the summit under its six-month presidency of
the European Union, said he did not know who would turn up.

"We never know what level of participation there will be and it is the
different countries that decide on participation and as such we will wait
until the end to see who comes and who does not," he said.

The EU agreed on Monday to send a "clear and tough" message to Mugabe on
human rights at the summit and the EU will send an envoy to the country to
assess the rights situation before the December meeting.

Western critics accuse Mugabe of ruining Zimbabwe's economy, rigging
elections and suppressing opponents violently but African leaders see him as
an independence hero.

The EU-Africa summit in Lisbon on Dec. 8-9 will be the first in seven years.
Portugal made it one of its priorities during its EU presidency after
previous attempts failed because of disagreement over whether Mugabe should
be invited. (Reporting by Axel Bugge and Elisabete Tavares; Editing by Giles
Elgood)


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Corruption And Economic Crisis Mar Voter Registration


SW Radio Africa (London)

21 November 2007
Posted to the web 21 November 2007

Henry Makiwa

Rampant corruption and the economic crisis hampered the much-vaunted mobile
voters' registration exercise, an independent electoral body has said.

The latest report by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) points to
numerous discrepancies in the registration process, heightening doubts over
the transparency of next year's crucial elections.

According to findings of a ZESN report that came out Wednesday, chances of a
free and fair election under prevailing conditions in the country are slim.

Chief among the disparities identified by ZESN are allegations that
registration officials were demanding bribes from the rural poor before
recording them on the voters roll. The report attributes the corrupt
practices of the officials to the low allowances the registrars receive.

The report also notes that the country's general economic crisis,
characterised by power outages and fuel shortages, also affected the mobile
voter registration process. In addition findings of the 'Mop-up Mobile Voter
Registration Report' state that posters advertising the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission were barely seen in public areas.

ZESN head Noel Kututwa said most people did not participate in the process
as lack of publicity and poor selection of the registration centres brought
adverse effects.

He said: "Very few people learnt about this process. We observed that the
majority of the people were unaware that there was voter registration going
on but were aware that national ID cards were being issued. There was little
enthusiasm in the people to register as voters and most of them instead
appeared content only to get the ID cards.

"The government should ensure that adequate resources are set aside for such
an exercise. There is also a need to conduct a continuous, exhaustive,
comprehensive and all-inclusive mobile voter registration exercise to enable
all aspiring voters to register."

The mobile voter registration process was run by the government's Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission between the 26th October and 15th November. The
commission has been largely dismissed as an appendage of Zanu PF party, as
known ruling party sympathisers presently lead it.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Seven Injured As Police Crush NCA Demo in Harare


SW Radio Africa (London)

21 November 2007
Posted to the web 21 November 2007

Lance Guma

The National Constitutional Assembly say seven of their members were
seriously injured on Wednesday after police crushed their demonstration in
Harare's city centre.

The group was marching to Parliament in an attempt to denounce
constitutional amendment 18 which harmonised presidential and parliamentary
elections. Teera Musiya, one of their activists, sustained a deep cut on the
head and blood was said to be 'gushing' out as he was ferried inside an NCA
truck.

Over 300 NCA activists gathered in the city centre, holding up placards
criticizing the MDC and Zanu PF for voting together in passing the bill
through parliament. An NCA statement said 10 armed riot police rounded them
up as soon as they approached Africa Unity Square from the Fourth Street Bus
terminus.

NCA National Youth Chairperson Alois Dzvairo told Newsreel 5 of their
activists were arrested during the commotion. He said they mobilised about
500 activists to demonstrate and these were positioned in groups at various
entry points onto Jason Moyo Street.

One by one the groups joined the march until the number reached 300 before
the police intervention. The other 200 were not able to join in the march as
police fought running battles with the first procession Dzvairo told us.

Chairperson Lovemore Madhuku condemned the police action saying, 'It shows
that they act on instructions and they do not reason. This kind of brutality
is not acceptable in a country that claims to be a democracy. We will see
the intensity of the injured with a view to sue the police.' In a telephone
interview he confirmed that all those arrested have since been released.

Once strategic partners with the MDC, the NCA has since distanced itself
from its former ally and accused the party of betraying demands for a new
people driven constitution. The MDC say the concessions to Zanu PF were
necessary to build confidence in the talks and remain confident the process
will deliver the repeal of repressive legislation like POSA and AIPPA
amongst other targets.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Tsvangirai reveals talks stalled over freedom of assembly



By Tichaona Sibanda
21 November 2007

MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai revealed on Wednesday that talks between his
party and the ruling Zanu-PF party have made progress, but have been held up
over the issue of freedom of assembly.

Speaking in Kampala, Uganda ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government
meeting that begins on Friday, Tsvangirai said while he was happy the talks
had made some ground, the crucial test will come during the implementation
phase.

He told journalists that besides the setback on the issue of freedom of
assembly, he was nonetheless confident that the agenda set through the South
African led mediation would address the fundamental concerns around holding
free and fair elections.

Fambai Ngirande, an advocacy officer with the National Association for Non
Governmental Organisations, said it was clear Tsvangirai meant Zanu-PF were
reluctant to repeal repressive laws such as POSA and AIPPA. Demonstrations
in the country are always violently broken up by the police under the cover
of these two oppressive pieces of legislation.

Activists are barred from holding consultative or political meetings and
authorities in the country have lately cancelled all opposition political
rallies, especially in the last two months.

Ngirande, who attended Tsvangirai's press briefing, said elections in
Zimbabwe could never be held under such laws, where people are not allowed
to gather as a group.

'When people talk of Zanu-PF having a big advantage over the opposition,
they would be referring to such instances. There is no way the opposition
can go into an election with such restrictive laws,' Ngirande said.

During previous elections in the country, opposition supporters have been
tortured and killed by government forces and supporters of the ruling party.
The country's economy is in meltdown, with the highest rate of inflation in
the world, and millions have fled abroad.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Czech PM "boycotts" Mugabe

From The Prague Daily Monitor, 21 November

Prague - Czech PM Mirek Topolanek will not attend the EU-Africa summit over
the participation of controversial Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, but
the Czech Republic will not boycott the summit, Lidove noviny (LN) wrote
Tuesday, referring to deputy foreign minister Alexandr Vondra. The Czech
Republic will be represented by Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg at the
summit to be held in Lisbon in early December, Vondra confirmed to reporters
on Monday. "We only suppose that Mugabe should not attend the meeting. Among
others because he will divert attention from significant matters," the paper
quotes Vondra as saying. Vondra refused to say whether the absence of
Topolanek (Civic Democrats, ODS) at the summit should be understood as a
clear political message sent to Mugabe or just an organisational decision,
the paper notes. "The minister [Schwarzenberg] is not pleased about Mugabe's
participation, but he considers the African Union's countries important as a
whole, and this is exactly why he will go to Lisbon. Nevertheless, he will
carefully monitor the developments around Mugabe," Schwarzenberg's
spokeswoman Zuzana Opletalova told LN.

The Czech step is in compliance with the country's long-term critical stance
on Mugabe's policy. The Czech Republic reiterated this position at the
recent meeting of the EU foreign ministers where Vondra called on the
participants to use Mugabe's presence at the summit for the criticism of the
human rights violations in Zimbabwe. A crushing majority of the EU member
states share the Czech position on Mugabe. In spite of it, most of them will
send their heads of state or government to the EU-Africa summit, LN writes.
Slovakia will also be represented by its Foreign Minister Jan Kubis.
However, it is not a matter of principle in this case. Slovak Prime Minister
Robert Fico cannot go to the summit since he must take part in his Smer-SD
party's congress on the same day, LN writes. It adds that out of the EU
members, Britain has expressed the toughest stance on the Zimbabwean regime
and it will only send a Foreign Office's senior official to Lisbon. British
Prime Minister Gordon Brown clearly said he would not take part in the
summit due to Mugabe.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Call for action on Zimbabwe abuses

From The Irish Times, 21 November

Politicians will gather at the Dáil today to express their opposition to
human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The Irish section of the Association of
European Parliamentarians for Africa (AWEPA) is expected to call for greater
action against repression in the African country. Organisers said they want
to draw attention to the situation in Zimbabwe ahead of President Robert
Mugabe's controversial appearance at the EU-African Union summit in Lisbon
next month. "Irish members of AWEPA have been forthright in their opposition
to the use of violence and repression of human rights in Zimbabwe,
especially following the beating of their fellow parliamentarian and
opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, in March this year," an AWEPA
spokesman said. "That this human rights repression has taken place in the
context of Zimbabwe's wider economic decline, where the UN says 45 per cent
of the population is malnourished and where Aids has orphaned one million
children, makes this action all the more urgent." Fianna Fáil TD Barry
Andrews will chair the meeting, which includes guest speakers, Otto Saki,
the award-winning human rights lawyer and Mary Sandasi, the renowned women's
rights and Aids awareness campaigner, both of whom are from Zimbabwe.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SA bank set to bankroll US$38m airport project in Zimbabwe

Zim Online

by Wayne Mafaro  Thursday 22 November 2007

HARARE - South Africa's Nedbank Group has expressed interest in
bankrolling a US$38 million project to construct a new terminal and runway
at Victoria Falls airport.

Documents in the possession of ZimOnline show that Nedbank Capital, a
division of the Nedbank Group Limited, supported a bid by Ngezi Road Joint
Venture to undertake the Victoria Falls airport project.

Ngezi Road Joint Venture comprises construction companies Costain,
Bitcon and Tarcon.

The undated document compiled by the joint venture's advisers,
Zimlantic Export and Import (Private) Limited, shows that Nedbank was
proposing two funding options for the airport project.

The first option would be a loan facility, secured by ring-fencing the
revenue from the project during repayment period, which could be between 10
and 20 years.

Option two is a Build Operate Own and Transfer (BOT) arrangement in
which the bank owns the assets for an agreed time until the loan is fully
repaid.

"Nedbank has of late directed its Zimbabwean subsidiary, MBCA Bank, to
do the initial due diligence on the project. We have so far directed both
the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) and Costain to submit
documents relating to the tenders to MBCA as per the bank's requirements,"
the documents say.

In a letter dated 29 March 2007 to CAAZ, Nedbank's Sphiwe Celemade
made a commitment to finance the execution of the project provided that that
there was "ring-fencing of the revenue stream of the new airport until
liability has been retired."

In the same letter, Cele, from the bank's investment banking arm,
noted that Nedbank was willing to consider funding the airport project only
if the financial institution's credit committee is satisfied "with political
risk mitigants" in Zimbabwe.

Zimlantic said Nedbank was cognisant of the fact that revenue
generated during the football World Cup tournament in South Africa in 2010
was able to reduce the repayment period by three to four years.

"Nedbank is cognizant of the fact and has invited CAAZ to South Africa
for a roundtable discussion on the project. Nedbank is ready to meet CAAZ in
South Africa at any time, given forty eight (48) hour notice period," the
Zimlantic documents say.

Nedbank was this week cagey about the project and declined to divulge
further information, saying it only comments on projects after all
transactions have been concluded.

"As a banking institution, Nedbank is regularly invited to submit
quotes to finance all sorts of projects and we generally inform the market
of transactions only once they have been completed," said the bank.

Lack of funding has stalled the refurbishment of Zimbabwe's major
airports since the country started facing economic problems in 2000.

The problems have affected refurbishment of the country's second
largest airport in Bulawayo which is reportedly behind schedule as Harare
faces a critical shortage of foreign currency to import materials. -
ZimOnline


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Young Zimbabwe rebel artists take on Mugabe

Zim Online

by Tafirei Shumba Thursday 22 November 2007

HARARE - The rugged youths sporting dreadlocks under tight bandannas looked
like any other Harare teen-boppers as they walked casually into Book Café, a
restaurant in the city's Avenues area.

But within minutes electric instrumentals of heavy rock 'n' roll, ragga and
hip-hop music exploded literally tearing apart the small cultural venue. The
ragamuffins had arrived.

A closer attention to the hard-hitting lyrics and satirical poetry
accompanying the rhythms revealed the young artists were not Harare's usual
teen-boppers who hang around town lazily humming tunes.

The lyrics, own compositions by the youthful artists, which Harare's
paranoid government would certainly not wish too many people to hear boomed:
"The revolution is right here . . . the revolution is right now. The
revolution is right now . . . the revolution is right here."

The next 90 minutes of music, poetry and dance were to introduce a new breed
of brazenly courageous young artists adapting artistic metaphor to infer a
particular political line tackling head-on the excesses of President Robert
Mugabe's controversial rule.

Mugabe, 83, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its 1980 independence from Britain
is blamed for plunging the southern African country into unprecedented
economic meltdown, marked by the hyperinflation, deepening poverty and food
shortages.

"Government is manipulating the arts and culture for propaganda to brainwash
the nation and we are coming in to challenge that and liberate our people's
mental perceptions of reality," the tough-talking youthful poet and rapper
Sam Farai Monro, one of the pioneers of the rebel music and poetry genre,
told ZimOnline.

The musical and poetry performances, ineffable in every artistic sense,
would probably sound unconvincing to the uninitiated for the complex and
rare way the productions are arranged to blend with Western rhythms.

But it is the militant lyrics calling for justice, human freedom, democracy
and good governance that clearly hit too close to Mugabe's bone and will
likely cause some consternation at State House - the official presidential
palace.

The rebel performers are taking their music and poetry to the townships not
merely for entertainment but also to engage the masses in the arts and
culture "as a tool for liberation".

Launched at the weekend, the rebel arts initiative is using music and poetry
plus theatre as alternative artistic expression in light of the aggressive
state propaganda that has now been sharpened ahead of next year's joint
presidential and legislative elections.

Already musical jingles, prating over government benevolence to new farmers
by doling out farm machinery and equipment, have been released to state
radio where they are playing with nauseating frequency.

Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF is campaigning on the strength of the free farm
machinery and equipment that have been received mainly by government
supporters in a season touted by Harare "the mother of all farming seasons".

Said Monro: "Our performances are acknowledging that there is a struggle
that has to be fought in Zimbabwe. We are fighting a pro-freedom and
pro-democracy battle because we are not free."

The artists, most of them unemployed school leavers from poor working class
townships, are an outstanding breed of "born frees" - those born after
Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in April 1980 but who have refused to
be coerced into Mugabe's pet project, the 21st February Movement.

The movement that is named after Mugabe's birthday, he was born on 21
February 1924, is used to feed youths one-sided nationalist propaganda that
does not encourage free debate and generally idolises Mugabe as ultimate
defender of black freedom.

Monroe admits the risks of refusing to conform but says the fear of a
possible government backlash is never a major preoccupation of the young
rebels.

"Yes, the thought of fear comes sometimes but we certainly don't work with
fear in our minds," he said, adding: "We are championing this cause because
we are the youths and the future . . . we are courageous and strong."

Courage and strength are qualities the youths will certainly need in larger
dosages especially as Mugabe steps up a crackdown against Zimbabwe's small
but bold protest art industry and other voices of dissension ahead of key
presidential and parliamentary elections next year.

Mugabe, one of the few remaining of Africa's old style Big-Man rulers, has
often warned that anyone who dared involve themselves in politics should
expect to be treated accordingly as a politician - meaning they should be
prepared for the same violence and harassment meted out to opposition
activists everyday.

For example, Mugabe has in recent months dispatched his Gestapo-style
Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) - which reports directly to his
office - to crush student activism and dissent at state universities.

And critical arts and culture remain threatened with dozens of theatrical
performances having been harassed over the past three months while music by
militant artists like Leonard Zhakata and Thomas Mapfumo remains banned from
state television and radio. On the other hand, government praise singers
enjoy unlimited airplay.

Harare-based cultural activist and author Obert Muronda said: "Politicians
don't like to be criticised and Mugabe is no exception. He (Mugabe) will
treat diverging views and opinion with a heavy hand to protect his position.

"And Mugabe having himself led an armed political revolution, knows the game
of silencing dissent extremely well." - ZimOnline


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Hell in a cell if Mugabe wins

Africa News, Netherlands

Posted on Monday 19 November 2007 - 13:50

  Fidelis Zvomuya, Pretoria, South Africa
  Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner who has fled his country to work in
South Africa, Pius Chitaunhike says he can wait for the election to come
next year and see President Robert Mugabe going.

  The watershed elections are going to be held next year as the country runs
dry of all basic commodities and inflation reaching uncontrollable heights.
If Mugabe stays in power for another five year term, then its going to be
hell in a cell for most Zimbabweans, but if the election goes otherwise,
then there is hope for a better life, and that is what Chitaunhike is hoping
for.

  Zimbabwe is currently a country in tatters and is hanging by the sick of
its teeth. The giant has already collapsed economically, politically and
socially. With Mugabe standing again, things are not going to be good at
all. In late 2006 a plan was proposed that would have delayed the election
to 2010, at the same time as the next parliamentary election, which was said
to be a cost-saving measure. This would have lengthened Mugabe's current
term by two years.

  However, there was reportedly dissent within the ruling Zanu PF regarding
the proposal, and it was never approved. In March, Mugabe said that he
thought the feeling in the party favored having the presidential election in
2008, and moving the parliamentary election up by two years instead.

  Although Mugabe faces a weak and divided opposition at the election,
analysts say the country's severe economic crisis poses a major threat to
his rule. Zimbabwe has the highest inflation rate in the world above 7 900%
as well as food, fuel and foreign currency shortages.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

First diarrhoea, now possibly plague


Photo: ff/IRIN
Uncollected refuse could cause a possible rodent problem
BULAWAYO, 21 November 2007 (IRIN) - Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city, already reeling from a diarrhoea outbreak as a result of water shortages, has been told by its fuel-strapped city council that it can only collect refuse once a month.

Garbage has been piling up around the city centre and a stench has now enveloped most high-density suburbs, where refuse has not been collected for the past 3 weeks. Bulawayo has recorded 3,600 cases of diarrhoea since the disease hit the city in August 2007.

"The issue of refuse collection touches directly on health as we face serious disease outbreaks, and the situation we are in will be worsened by the water
shortages we are facing at the moment, and diarrhoea-related cases will increase as a result," said Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, the mayor.

Zanele Hwalima, director of health services, warned that the uncollected refuse could cause a possible rodent problem, which could expose residents to other diseases. "The risk of disease outbreaks will be high ... apart from [rodents] destroying food stores, there is the risk that the rodents will carry plague and contaminate food they come into contact with when they invade people's homes."

Zimbabwe, battling a long-running economic meltdown, has been severely hit by foreign exchange shortages that have affected its ability to import fuel and other essential commodities.

Most of the vehicles in the refuse collection fleet were donated by French companies, and raising foreign currency to purchase spares is a problem. The city has also grounded its ambulance fleet because of fuel shortages, and the council says it is unable to maintain its fleet of other vehicles because it cannot import spare parts.

The mayor said fuel supplies from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) were erratic and inadequate to meet the city's needs. NOCZIM officials commented that everyone was aware of the fuel shortages in the country.

Local authorities are not allowed to purchase fuel on the thriving but illegal black market. Private businesses purchase petrol and diesel on the black market at a cost of Z$1 million per litre (about US$0.74 at the parallel market exchange rate of Z$1.35 million to US$1). The official price for fuel is Z$120,000 per litre (US$0.08).

"If the [national] government allowed us to buy fuel on the black market we [could] purchase fuel on the black market for critical areas such as fire and ambulance emergency services, refuse collection and for responding to complaints of burst sewers," said Ndabeni-Ncube.

Alternatives

Garbage was cleared once a week before the council's decision to scale down refuse collection to once a month. Health director Hwalima said the city council was in the process of devising alternative measures to help residents with waste management systems that could prevent disease outbreaks.

''The risk of disease outbreaks will be high ... apart from [rodents] destroying food stores, there is the risk that the rodents will carry plague and contaminate food they come into contact with when they invade people's homes''

"We are urging residents to bury all organic refuse instead of dumping the refuse in undesignated areas and on street corners, and we are urging the residents to desist from burning the waste, as this might cause damage to property and the emission of toxic fumes, which might cause injury."

Winos Dube, chairman of the Bulawayo United Residents Association (BURA), suggested that the national government consider allowing local authorities to purchase their own fuel on the black market.

Bulawayo residents complained that it was unfair of the council to continue to demand refuse collection fees when the service was being offered on an irregular basis.

"We are paying a refuse collection fee of Z$500,000 [about US$0.03] a month and we expect council to reduce the amount, since they will only be collecting once a month, and if they do not collect for a certain month then they should not charge us at all," said city resident Mary Moyo. An irate Sithabile Ncube, who also lives in Bulawayo, suggested that the council use donkey-drawn carts if it had no fuel.

ld/jk/he


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


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Another Poor Harvest Beckons


Institute for War & Peace Reporting (London)

21 November 2007
Posted to the web 21 November 2007

Hativagone Mushonga
Harare

With serious shortages of fertiliser and maize seed, Zimbabwe faces another
poor harvest - even if it receives good rains this season.

Some retail outlets last received fertiliser in April and there have been
very few deliveries of maize seed.

An employee at one outlet, Farm & City, told IWPR, "We have no idea when and
how many bags of fertiliser we will receive. The situation does not look
very good, yet people should be planting their crops now. The last delivery
of fertiliser we had was in April this year. We are telling people to keep
checking every week."

At the Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, which should be working overtime now,
employees said they had no idea when they would have any fertiliser to sell.
They explained that domestic production had been hit because foreign
currency shortages meant that raw materials could not be purchased, while
power cuts and fuel shortages had also taken their toll.

The country needs about 650,000 tonnes of fertiliser every cropping season.

Worsening an already dire situation is the fact that there has been very
little land preparation for the 2007 farming season.

Each day planting is delayed results in lost yield. Agricultural experts say
a ten-day delay could contribute to a 20 per cent reduction in yield.

A drive around the countryside brings a sickening feeling of despair. There
is very little activity on the country's farms, particularly in the
large-scale farming areas. Normally by now, land would have been tilled and
the planting of various crops would be underway.

But when IWPR drove along the Harare-Masvingo road past Beatrice, an area
with some of the best soil in the country, tilling on most farms had not
even started. Yet this was once a prime large-scale farming area.

The first rains of the season, which have been falling in the past two
weeks, have found large tracts of unprepared land - a bad omen for a country
which once boasted the most sophisticated agricultural industry on the
African continent.

"It was disheartening to watch such beautiful soils going to waste and it is
the same everywhere along Zimbabwe's highways from Harare," said our driver
as he looked at the fallow lands. He knows the picture well, for he travels
regularly round the country.

Some farmers on land along the country's highways said they had been
threatened with farm seizures if they did not at least plant something now
along these roads.

"They want to make people travelling along the highways believe that there
is some activity," said one farmer.

"Remember these farms used to be green with some product all year round. We
don't want to admit to failure so it is better to give a wrong impression.

"The problem we have had is that we are now mostly concentrating on making a
quick dollar. So those that received subsidised fuel from government have
sold it on the black market and have made a killing. Most of the stuff being
given is ending up on the black market. That is Zimbabwe for you."

The situation on the ground is contrary to the forecast by Reserve Bank
Governor Gideon Gono and Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo that the
2007-2008 season they have dubbed the "mother of all farming seasons" was
going to be a success.

Gono, whose job is to ensure the availability of funding to acquire the
inputs farmers need, has said he is looking at the coming summer season as
the end of all food insecurity the country has experienced during the past
few years.

He said the Central Bank had made all necessary arrangements to source
fertiliser locally and outside the country, and some product had already
been received by the Grain Marketing Board.

Gumbo has said the country was targeting, at a minimum, two million hectares
under maize, 60,000 ha under tobacco, 400,000 ha under grains, 400,000 ha
under cotton and 200, 000 ha under soya beans. But this seems a tall order
considering the lack of preparedness.

Gumbo claimed he had already sourced the required seed and fertiliser and
was attempting to ensure that new farmers and those working subsistence
communal lands had adequate inputs and equipment which would re-establish
the country as a net exporter of agricultural produce.

His claim was disputed by producers, who recently told a Parliamentary
Portfolio Committee on Lands, Land Reform, Resettlement, Agriculture and
Water that there was insufficient seed and fertiliser for the new farming
season because the government's recent price controls had resulted in
unrealistic prices, which had created shortages of these inputs.

"We are facing problems getting seed from growers, who are not willing to
release their seed due to the price, which they say is not viable," said a
spokesman for the Seed Trade Association.

They had only received half of their total requirement of 20,000 metric
tonnes.

The government's fast-track land reform programme dispossessed about 4,000
white commercial farmers of prime agricultural land, ostensibly to correct a
history of skewed ownership. Critics allege the ruling ZANU-PF party and
other government officials, including high-ranking army and police officers,
took over the best estates.

Since the onset of the land redistribution programme, the country has
recorded increasingly acute food shortages, and international donor agencies
estimate that more than a third of the population, or 4.1 million people,
require emergency food assistance this year.

Hativagone Mushonga is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Commonwealth Group Woos Zimbabwe Back


The New Times (Kigali)

21 November 2007
Posted to the web 21 November 2007

Charles Kazooba And Berna Namata
Kigali

The Commonwealth Chief has asked Zimbabwe to change its hardliner position
and return into the 53-member state organisation.

The organisation's Secretary General Don McKinnon said in Kampala, Uganda
this week that the Commonwealth's doors were still open for Zimbabwe, and
urged Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries to sweet-talk
the former British colony to change its position.

Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth in 2003 after it faced suspension.
President Robert Mugabe's government said it did not see any value in
belonging to an organisation that "has nothing to offer". "It was certainly
sad and difficult for us all to see Zimbabwe go beyond suspension to
withdraw itself from the Commonwealth in 2003. I have to respect that
decision even if I don't agree with it; that's their sovereign right. What
it means is that we leave our options open," Mckinnon (above) said on
Monday. "The Commonwealth's door will always be open and welcoming to
Zimbabwe's return.

Meanwhile, the best we can do is to encourage the SADC process, led by
(South African) President Thabo Mbeki (to play a leading role in that,"
MacKinnon added at the opening of the Commonwealth Forum of National Human
Rights Institution. However, the Commonwealth chief said suspension of
member states as a form of punishment to human rights abusers would stay. "I
believe that the Commonwealth has not just matched international commitments
to human rights but tried hard to set the bar even higher - to say that we
expect a greater commitment, and higher standards. The Commonwealth capacity
to suspend members is perhaps the most visible way in which we can show how
serious we are about this," he said. Zimbabwe's suspension was based on
human rights violations, including expulsion of white farmers. Mckinnon said
that 19 of the Commonwealth member countries have yet to ratify the two 1966
UN conventions on civil and political rights, and social and economic
rights.

Rwanda applied to join Commonwealth club, which largely brings together UK
and its former colonies.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Resourcefulness of Zimbabwean asylum seekers impresses UNHCR


21 Nov 2007 15:54:55 GMT
Source: UNHCR

 PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, November 21 (UNHCR) - Every client walking
into Rutendo Mutopa's hair salon can expect a friendly welcome, including
efficient and professional service, based on the premise that good customer
care can guarantee a repeat visit. The survival of her family in Zimbabwe
depends on it.

Having fled her country's deteriorating political and economic situation in
April 2006, each customer Mutopa works on ensures that her two children and
family back home don't go hungry.

Mutopa is one of almost a thousand Zimbabwean asylum seekers living in Port
Elizabeth's Walmer Township - part of some 28,000 across South Africa. Its
rickety shacks and matchbox houses huddle together, out of sight of the
plush suburb of Walmer, where many are employed as domestic workers, child
minders or gardeners for as little as 30 rand (US$4.50) a day.

"On arrival here, we pay a fee of R20 to employment agencies to help us find
jobs," explains Mutopa. "Many employers specifically ask for Zimbabweans
because no South African will take on a job for as little as R30. We are
terribly exploited," continues Mutopa. She recalls a period soon after her
arrival when for eight months she was employed to clean a gym from five in
the morning to seven at night, six days a week for just 1,200 rand a month.

Mutopa is among a group of Zimbabwean asylum seekers UNHCR staff in South
Africa are meeting under the Age, Gender and Diversity Mainstreaming (AGDM)
exercise, an initiative aimed at engaging with persons of concern to help
assess their protection risks and find possible solutions to their problems.

Driven by desperation and the obligation to support families back home, most
of Mutopa's compatriots have little option but to take these jobs,
particularly on arrival. For those who refuse to be exploited, the only
other option is self-employment, a choice Mutopa welcomes. With a steady
stream of the local women as her clients, Mutopa makes a tidy sum to cover
her rent and other necessities.

"The resourcefulness of refugees in Port Elizabeth, compared to other areas
in the country is quite impressive," says Monique Ekoko, UNHCR protection
officer and leader of the team undertaking the AGDM exercise. "When we met
with Zimbabweans, nobody was sitting with cap in hand, waiting for a
handout. They are all out there doing something for themselves, so what we
have gathered here is that very few if any are waiting for material
assistance."

Zimbabwean asylum seekers face the same problems and difficulties as
refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
particularly the lack of access to documentation, which has a negative
effect on their chances of securing gainful employment.

"The Zimbabwean community in Walmer Township also provides a safety net for
newly arrived Zimbabweans with nowhere to go and those who have fallen on
hard times, either fleeing political intimidation or economic crisis back
home," says Roderick Chimombe, representative of the Zimbabwean community in
Walmer.

Chimombe, however, has not found this form of solace among the local
population in Port Elizabeth, which is ironically also called the Friendly
City. Despite Zimbabwe's proximity to South Africa and its cultural and
ethnic ties, Chimombe is disappointed with the reception he has received.

"Xenophobia is rife," he confides. "Whether it is because of ignorance of
the Zimbabwean situation within the local South African community or the
fact that we are able to sustain ourselves better than many of the locals
through whatever employment we are able to find or create, it breaks my
heart that we are treated this way. Calling us by that derogatory word,
kwerekwere [foreigner], wounds me deeply."

Despite this, Chimombe and his countrymen are making the most of every
opportunity available under his asylum seeker permit, which allows him to
work and study. Outside of requests for UNHCR's intervention in the
acquisition of relevant documentation and information on their rights and
obligations, Chimombe and his countrymen seek very little else from the UN
refugee agency.

A qualified metallurgist back in Zimbabwe, Chimombe aspires to start a small
business in outdoor timber construction, which he is struggling to register
on his asylum seeker permit. His only request is support to acquire
implements to get the business off the ground.

Already established in her small business, Mutopa rarely leaves her salon
before 8pm. Although the hours are long she, like many Zimbabweans here, is
determined and driven.

"Despite the problems we encounter here, it is the thought of my children
and family back home and the situation they live under that gets me out of
bed early and back home late," concludes Mutopa. "My consolation is that I
am not being exploited as when I arrived here and that I continue to be able
to provide for my family."

By Pumla Rulashe
in Port Elizabeth, South Africa


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Refugees die waiting for South African asylum

Reuters

Wed Nov 21, 2007 9:59 AM EST
By Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Unable to survive on his policeman's salary, Adonis
Musati decided to leave his base at Mtjinge, Zimbabwe, for the "great trek"
to South Africa and a better life.

Less than five months later, friends and fellow refugees are trying to raise
the 19,000 rand needed to repatriate his body back to Zimbabwe, after Musati
was forced to scavenge for food -- eventually dying, they say, from
starvation in Cape Town.

"Asylum seekers are literally dying in the queue waiting for even the right
to apply for their asylum-seeker status," said Braam Hanekom, a refugee
activist from the organization People Against Suffering Oppression and
Poverty.

Hanekom said four affidavits have been handed over to the country's Human
Rights Commission which "clearly state that he was seen extremely hungry,
begging for food before he passed away."

The police have not released the results of the 24-year-old Musati's final
post mortem.

Musati's death was covered extensively by the South African media, with
front-page headlines alerting the public to the plight faced by
asylum-seekers.

But as tragic as Musati's death is, neither it nor the publicity it
generated have alleviated the daily fight for survival faced by hundreds,
sometimes thousands, of refugees who bivouac daily outside the offices of
the Home Affairs Department.

Mostly men, but also women with babies strapped to their backs, they brave
hot Spring sun and unseasonal rain waiting for documents granting temporary
asylum in Africa's biggest economy.

Scared to give up their place in the queue, they sleep rough: often the only
buffer between the cold cement and their bodies is a single sheet of
cardboard.

Meager possessions are hidden in trees and drains from criminals and fellow
refugees who have resorted to plunder.

No taps are visible. The asylum-seekers have to refill large plastic
containers with clean water to drink. The few available toilets are often
locked day and night.

"It is hell... They are not treating us like people," said Rosemary
Shambira, a 28-year-old executive secretary who fled from Zimbabwe, where
the world's highest inflation rate, food and fuel shortages are prompting
thousands to seek the relative prosperity of South Africa.

Compounding the misery are corrupt officials: despite a government
crackdown, they demand bribes of up to 1,000 rand ($146.8) to facilitate
easier access to documents.

"The longer people are denied assistance the more desperate they become and
the more fertile the ground is for corrupt officials to take a pay-off in
return for providing a permit," said William Kerfoot, a lawyer at the Legal
Resources Centre in Cape Town city.

(Additional reporting by Mike Hutchings, reporting by Wendell Roelf, editing
by Sara Ledwith)


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

African bishops examine Chinese investments in Africa

United Methodist News Service

Nov. 21, 2007 News media contact: Linda Green * (615) 7425470* Nashville
{586}

NOTE: NOTE: Photographs are available at http://umns.umc.org

By Linda Green*

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) - How are African people being affected by
Chinese investments in African nations in exchange for mineral and mining
rights?

The question was explored by a coalition of African and U.S. church leaders
seeking to strengthen United Methodist ministries in Africa. The Holistic
Strategy on Africa task force met Nov. 3-4 in North Carolina prior to the
worldwide United Methodist Council of Bishops meeting.

Bishop Fama Onema, a retired bishop from the Democratic Republic of Congo,
reported on China's $5 billion loan to his country under an agreement signed
in September. According to Asia Economy Watch, the loan will pay for
enhancements to the Congo's extraction infrastructure and give China access
rights to extract significant natural resources.

In their conversations about eradicating poverty in Africa, the African
bishops noted that China has made similar investment deals across the
continent. The bishops expressed concern about the costs to the people of
Africa.

"Africa is not a poor continent," said West Angolan Bishop Gaspar Domingos.
"Many people come to the continent to look for riches to obtain. They take
resources back to their countries and then bring them back to Africa to
buy," he said, reporting that Africa is purchasing more Chinese-made goods
that are industrially manufactured.

"Education is the No. 1 key for the fight against poverty in training
engineers and people who can be responsible for the wealth of the
continent," Onema said.

Bishop Benjamin Boni noted that, during the civil war in the Ivory Coast
that ended five years ago, the region was exploited for gold, diamonds and
other minerals. "How can we explain that?" he asked. "It is a very serious
problem."

China's muscle

Analysts say China's financial muscle is providing an economic alternative
to African leaders, since traditional partners like European nations and the
United States are consumed by their own economic and social issues. China
also has cancelled debts owed by some African nations.

"I am unclear about the motivation of China and the way in which they are
now appearing on the scene and interacting with several of the countries
that are related to (The United Methodist Church) and our work," said Bishop
Felton May, task force chairman and interim top executive of the United
Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Zimbabwe, he said, has experienced an influx of Chinese people over the past
seven years. The number of Chinese people in the restaurant and hotel
industry has increased significantly, and a large number work in Zimbabwean
mines while many in Zimbabwe remain unemployed. "My question is why?" May
asked.

May wondered if Zimbabwe felt abandoned by the West, namely Great Britain
and the United States.

"I would like to know whether the U.S. State Department has clear and
unmistakable knowledge of what China is doing in Zimbabwe and what the
proposed outcome would be in terms of the growing presence," he said.

May noted that the United States has invested in Zimbabwe in various ways
over the years and that USAID, a government agency providing U.S. economic,
developmental and humanitarian aid worldwide, has invested in United
Methodist-related Africa University. "For that we are grateful," he said.

But in terms of trade, he said, it is "problematic" that Chinese workers are
perhaps displacing Zimbabweans in certain jobs and that textiles and other
products previously made in Zimbabwe are being manufactured in China and
glutting the market.

"The price for these items has forced Zimbabweans to ask for little or
nothing for what they are doing. For me that is a problem," May said.

U.S. debt to China

Another concern cited is the U.S. debt to China. The United States has
borrowed money unilaterally or through secondary banking systems from China
to shore up deficits.

"Is there a relationship to the indebted of the United States to China and
China's encroachment on the social and political scene of Zimbabwe and other
subSaharan African countries?," May asked.

"Should China do something that we are not pleased with, are we able to
morally and ethically speak to them about what they are doing or will be
silenced by our financial relationship to them?"

May expressed hope that the U.S. State Department would give The United
Methodist Church or any faith-based organization in Africa an assessment of
the U.S. relationship to China and the effect of China's presence on the
economic future of Africa.

"As we are concerned about the economic future, we want to know if our
investments will be to naught or will they help people come out of poverty,"
May said. "We certainly do not want China to come in and possibly move
toward domination of these countries economically and socially."

The African bishops said if money generated from the sale of African
products were being mined and invested in the countries where the mines are,
the residuals would help to fight poverty.

"Poverty is something we can't understand in a country that has everything,"
said Bishop David Yemba of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

May expressed a desire that the U.S. government or a research department at
a United Methodist-related university would provide a clear picture of what
is happening socially, economically and medically in African countries where
China has invested.

"We have underutilized the tremendous academic strength of our institutions
of higher education," said May.

The Holistic Africa task force provides the African bishops with an arena to
share hurts, dreams and aspirations for their respective areas and allows
churchwide agencies to share programs, projects and initiatives that can
benefit Africans and the church in Africa. The task force also provides an
arena to identify common issues that affect the way the African bishops do
mission and ministry.

# # #

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville,
Tenn.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Diaspora Entrepreneurs Use Internet to Send Remittances to Zimbabwe

VOA

21 November 2007

 In Zimbabwe, rising inflation means many citizens cannot afford basic
necessities. The recent attempt by the government to enforce strict price
regulations has done little to improve the economy. But Zimbabweans in the
Diaspora have found a way to help - with a new website called Mukuru.com.
It allows them to send relatives in Zimbabwe money and vouchers for gas and
airtime for mobile phones.

 Rob is a young Zimbabwean entrepreneur living in England, who doesn't want
his name used, for security reasons. He explains his website by saying, "The
concept is very simple; you pay Mukuru.com for products and services that we
ensure get delivered to the Zimbabwean recipient through our network of
local agents."

Mukuru.com uses a voucher system, which allows customers to purchase units
that are redeemable for the product or service they chose.  Mukuru.com
processes payments for an order and uses text messaging (SMS) to send a code
to the recipient in Zimbabwe. It follows up with a confirmation and details
of the order sent by e-mail. A voucher goes to both the buyer and recipient.

Rob says the venture is owned entirely by Zimbabweans. He worked for
different IT companies before he formed his own. He says he recognized the
"potential and endless possibilities that technology brings." So far his
business model has been successful -- with hundreds of orders placed by
Zimbabweans in the Diaspora. Other online businesses have joined Mukuru.com,
including zimbuyer.com, zimland.com and others.The service Rob says, will
expand to allow Zimbabweans in the Diaspora to provide their families at
home other items and services, including food.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SW Radio wins international award

zimbabwejournalists.com

21st Nov 2007 17:31 GMT

By a Correspondent

LONDON - SW Radio Africa - the independent radio station that operates from
London, has won the 2007 award for Most Creative Radio Marketing Concept,
from the Association for International Broadcasters.

The station was announced as joint winners with France 24 for the most
creative marketing concept.

"SW Radio Africa's use of SMS text messaging to beat the censors enables the
station to reach an audience under the most difficult censorship
 conditions," the AIB said yesterday.

Gerry Jackson, the founder of the station which is run by former radio
personalities from Zimbabwe and exiled journalists, said: "This Media
Excellence Award was given to us for our sms campaign, where we send news
headlines into Zimbabwe on a daily basis via mobile phone text messages."

Jackson said everyone at the station was thrilled by the award.

"We would like to thank our supporters and friends and to share this award
with all of them," she said.

The radio station is one the three independent radio stations that beam into
Zimbabwe on a daily basis from overseas due to the country's draconian media
laws that have seen the shrinking of media space.

There are no independent or private broadcasting stations in Zimbabwe.

The AIB is the industry association for all sectors of international
broadcasting. It's membership is global and includes television and radio
broadcasters, satellite operators, transmission companies, technology
providers and consultants.

Judges for the 2007 awards were drawn from media companies around the world.

France 24's got the award for its launch campaign, which AIB says was "very
well thought through and well executed, with a unique use of animation to
bring in younger viewers".

Bloomberg Television was named AIB's International channel of the year -
television for "consistently high quality and punching above its weight,
successfully marrying specialist material with more mainstream coverage of
news and current affairs".

Radio New Zealand International is the International station of the year
because it "proved it has the ability, clarity of vision and resources to
deliver something that's valued by audiences throughout the region".


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Govt Gazettes New Prices for Bread, Flour



The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

21 November 2007
Posted to the web 21 November 2007

Harare

Government has reviewed upwards the retail price of bread from $100 000 to
$200 000 while the wholesale price has been pegged at $185 000.

In a Statutory Instrument published yesterday, the Minister of Industry and
International Trade, Cde Obert Mpofu, also announced new prices for flour.
The approved price of bread is, however, far less than what the bakers had
been asking for. Bakers have been requesting for a review of the price to
$400 000 a loaf, arguing that this would cover the cost of production and
their profit margin.

A loaf of bread is, however, being sold for up to $700 000 on the parallel
market. National Bakers' Association chairman Mr Vincent Mangoma last month
wrote to the National Incomes and Pricing Commission proposing that the
viable standard price of a loaf of bread should be $400 000. He submitted
that the ultimate remedy to the bread shortage was to peg the price of bread
in Zimbabwe at regional levels tracking the price of the United States
dollar.

The baking industry did not, however, specify the rate at which the
greenback should be pegged, but considering the static nature of the
official rate and its fluctuating rate on the parallel market, they were
looking at the latter. They submitted that the general price of bread was
US$1 per loaf and urged the Government to take a leaf from the regional
pricing model for the commodity. They have also cited the escalating cost of
fuel, claiming that they were obtaining the commodity from the parallel
market. The National Incomes and Pricing Commission has stated that it does
not recognise the parallel market, and has ordered companies to submit
import invoices to the commission from which it would convert the foreign
currency component to the local currency using the official rate.

Major bakeries have scaled down operations drastically citing viability
problems, and calling for an expeditious determination of the price review
application.

The new bread prices are as follows:

Producer Retail

700g white $185 000 $200 000

700g brown $185 000 $200 000

350g white $92 500 $100 000

350g brown $92 500 $100 000

Wheat flour wholesale price per tonne

White flour $111 648 224,40

Brown flour $104 000 321

Cake flour $128 953 699,20

Self-raising flour

Producer Wholesale Retail

1kg $121 390 $127 460 $140 210

2kg $242 780 $254 920 $280 420

5kg $606 960 $637 460 $701 050

10kg $1 213 913 $1 274 630 $1 402 090


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC denounces violence

The Zimbabwean

Wednesday, 21 November 2007 11:26
MDC denounces violence

The MDC denounces the reported assault of journalists outside the
party's headquarters after President Morgan Tsvangirai's address to
provincial and district leaders at Harvest House on Sunday.

The MDC has never believed in the politics of violence and denounces
the barbaric politics of brutal coercion. Zimbabweans know that as a party,
the MDC has never been a perpetrator but a victim of political violence and
we condemn whoever was responsible for the primitive acts of barbarism.

We have walked the long, dark road of violence for the past seven
years. We have been victims of violence and we are aware of its implications
at personal, family and national level. Violence does not pay.

The MDC believes in a free and unfettered press. Our information and
communications policy makes it clear that press freedom should be an
integral part of the bill of rights because we believe in the freedom of
journalists to operate in a free and unfettered environment.

The MDC leadership, itself scarred by unmitigated Zanu PF and police
violence on 11 March 2007, has never believed in brutality against fellow
Zimbabweans; let alone a committed independent press operating in a
repressive environment. Media freedom is an item on the agenda of the
dialogue currently taking place in South Africa. As a party, we argued to
have this item on the agenda because we firmly believe that democracy starts
with a free press. It would be disgraceful on our part if on one hand we are
advocating for media freedom and on the other we are seen to be assaulting
journalists.

Zimbabwe has seen enough violence. The nation wants to start afresh.
Zanu PF has spilled enough blood in this country. A free press is the
cornerstone of our struggle for a new Zimbabwe.

As a party, we believe that violence is firmly located in the realm of
Zanu PF. Zimbabweans should be aware of a deliberate effort by Zanu PF
agents and its external hand to soil and to malign the image of President
Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC ahead of a crucial election. We are aware that
money has exchanged hands and merchants of death have been paid in a mammoth
agenda to project the MDC and its leadership as violent in the run up to the
make-or-break plebiscite. Zanu PF is running scared.

The fourth Estate should be protected. We believe that journalists
must feel free to tell the story of Zimbabwe especially as we slog towards
the next election.

The MDC, which has been blacked out of the public media against the
spirit of the SADC guidelines on the conduct of free and fair elections,
cannot be seen to be assaulting journalists from the independent press who
are operating in a hostile environment to tell the true story of Zimbabwe.

A new Zimbabwe, a new beginning. Now is the time.

MDC Information and Publicity Department

Back to the Top
Back to Index