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Police cordon off Harare ahead of senate election

Zim Online


Sat 26 November 2005

HARARE - Police have virtually cordoned off Harare, mounting
roadblocks on all major roads leading into the capital as Zimbabweans go to
the polls today to choose a new senate that most ordinary people have
dismissed as unnecessary and a waste of resources.

At the roadblocks the police, some of them armed with automatic
rifles, searched motorists for subversive material and weapons that could be
used to commit public violence.





The police have also kept a heavy presence on the streets in Harare's
central business district and residential areas and while reports from other
urban centres said there were police officers patrolling the streets there
but not in as great numbers as in the capital.

Neither Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi nor police spokesman Wayne
Bvudzijena could be reached yesterday to establish the reasons for the heavy
deployment of the police on Harare's streets.

But sources said President Robert Mugabe's government was leaving
nothing to chance, sending the police onto the streets to pre-empt possible
spontaneous protests by hungry Zimbabweans.

"The presence of the police on the ground is meant to ensure nothing
gets out of hand, it serves as a warning to elements that might want to
cause disorder," said a senior police officer, who declined to be named.

But most ordinary people in Harare and elsewhere across the country
yesterday appeared uninterested in today's poll. Many continued going about
their chores without seeming too concerned about the unusually heavy
presence of the police.

The run-up to today's ballot has also remained largely peaceful and
uninteresting with the only drama being the bitter wrangling in the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party over whether to take
part in the poll.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has opposed contesting the poll saying it
is pointless to run in an election that is going to be rigged and also
saying that creating a new senate was not an urgent matter for a country
facing severe hunger.

But secretary general Welshman Ncube and four other top leaders of the
opposition party have revolted against Tsvangirai saying the MDC should
contest the election after its national council narrowly voted for the party
to do so.

Political analysts have warned that bickering in the MDC would only
worsen voter apathy and have predicted that turnout today could be one of
the lowest ever recorded in any national election.

The non-governmental Zimbabwe Election Support Network in a report
released this week also predicted a low turnout and said the MDC could lose
even in some urban areas where the party has traditionally enjoyed more
support.

Only 31senators will be elected today after Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF
party won unopposed in 19 other constituencies mainly because the MDC failed
to field candidates in those constituencies.

Mugabe is going to hand-pick six people to the senate while the
pro-government traditional chiefs council will elect 10 people to the second
chamber, which has a total 66 seats.

There are 4 500 polling stations set up across the country at which
Zimbabweans will cast their ballots.

A spokesman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, running the poll,
said all logistical issues including transport were in place to ensure
today's poll progresses without hitches.

"We now have all the resources including enough fuel and manpower for
the election," said ZEC communications officer, Utoile Silaigwana.

Only 12 foreign observers and 60 from local groups are accredited to
witness one of the most lukewarm elections ever in Zimbabwe. - ZimOnline



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MDC faction meets to plot Tsvangirai's ouster

Zim Online


Sat 26 November 2005

HARARE - The leaders of a faction of the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party are scheduled to meet tomorrow to decide on
what action to take against party president Morgan Tsvangirai who they
accuse of violating the party's constitution.

The MDC is on the verge of splintering after disagreeing on whether to
contest today's senate election with Tsvangirai saying the party should not
contest the poll because it will be rigged by President Robert Mugabe and
ZANU PF.

The MDC leader has also opposed the poll saying it is a waste of
resources for a country that should be focusing all its energies on fighting
hunger threatening a quarter of its 12 million people.

But party secretary general Welshman Ncube, deputy president Gibson
Sibanda and other top leaders have revolted against their party leader
insisting the MDC should contest after its national council voted for the
party to do so. They also accuse Tsvangirai of violating the party's
constitution when he sought to overturn the decision of the national
council.

MDC deputy secretary general Gift Chimanakire, who belongs to Ncube's
faction, yesterday told ZimOnline: "The top four executives of the MDC will
definitely meet on Sunday to initiate the disciplinary process against
Tsvangirai and all the others who breached the party's constitution."

But the MDC leader's spokesman, William Bango, scoffed at
Chimanikire's statement saying it was not possible for disciplinary
committee head Sibanda, to summon Tsvangirai before the committee when he
was also an interested part to the wrangle.

He said: "He cannot call the president to a disciplinary hearing
because he is an interested party in this debate. He has already declared
his position that Mr Tsvangirai breached the constitution therefore he
cannot be a prosecutor, judge and complainant at the same time."

Bango however said Sibanda could however call for a meeting of the
national council at which he could convince the council to appoint an
independent committee to look into the dispute.

The bickering in the MDC has weakened the party that had since its
formation six years ago appeared Zimbabweans' only alternative to Mugabe's
government.

Many of its 26 candidates who opted to defy Tsvangirai and stand in
today's poll are expected to lose mainly because many of the party's
supporters, disillusioned by wrangling in their party, will choose to stay
away from the poll. - ZimOnline



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Three South African soldiers arrested for shooting Zimbabweans

Zim Online


Sat 26 November 2005

JOHANNESBURG - Three South African soldiers were on Friday arrested
for shooting and wounding four Zimbabweans near the border town of Musina.

A South African police spokesman said the soldiers tried to stop the
car but when the driver ignored them, the soldiers opened fire injuring the
four.

"The SANDF members tried stopping the car for no apparent reason. The
driver of the vehicle drove on. Then, the men took out guns and started
shooting at them. Two adults and two children were wounded," Mushavhanamadi
said.

The Zimbabweans were taken to hospital in Musina.

Human rights groups accuse South Africa's security agents mainly the
police of harassing and ill-treating thousands of Zimbabwean refugees who
have sought asylum in the country. But the South African government denies
deliberately targeting Zimbabweans in their operations. - ZimOnline





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Death toll mounts for Zimbabwe's Operation Murambatsvina victims

Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe
PROMOTING NON-VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY

Sokwanele Report : 25 November 2005

A home at Killarney destroyed during Operation Murambatsvina earlier this yearIf anyone thought for a moment that the suffering caused by Operation Murambatsvina ("Sweep away the filth") was over, or had abated, they would be seriously mistaken. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Six months on from the initial brutal assault which saw 700,000 people in cities across the country losing either their homes, their sources of income or both and a further 2.4 million affected in varying degrees, the misery of the victims continues. Indeed for many it has only intensified in the ensuing months. And the death toll among the internally displaced persons (IDPs) increases week by week.

In her report on this vicious programme the United Nations Special Envoy, Mrs Anna Tibaijuka, noted in July that "the humanitarian consequences are enormous. It will take several years before the people and society as a whole can recover". Mrs Tibaijuka further commented that there was "an immediate need for the Government of Zimbabwe to recognise the virtual state of emergency that has resulted, and to allow unhindered access by the international and humanitarian community to assist those that have been affected." She referred specifically to the priority needs of providing shelter and non-food items, food and health support services.

Although it is almost beyond belief the fact is that the government of Robert Mugabe has neither recognised the "virtual state of emergency" resulting from this catastrophic programme, nor allowed unhindered access to those international and humanitarian agencies able and willing to help. On the contrary it has continued, and intensified, its propaganda of denial and deceit, while at the same time obstructing genuine offers of much-needed assistance. When the UN proposed an international relief appeal to assist the homeless victims with temporary shelter, Mugabe's ministers refused to cooperate. The UN's "common response plan" for US$ 30 million was eventually launched in September without the signature of Zimbabwe. Only belatedly and under extreme pressure has the regime modified its stance, permitting the world body to provide humanitarian assistance to some of its suffering citizens, on terms yet to be made public. Where church and civic groups have responded to the ongoing crisis with genuine and generous relief measures for even a few hundred of the hundreds of thousands of IDPs, with few exceptions they have been met with suspicion, hostility and outright opposition by agents of the regime.

But the statistics alone, as horrifying as they are, hardly convey the trauma, pain and wretchedness of the victims. To put a name or a face to even a handful of the victims somehow brings home the intensity of the suffering in a way any number of statistics cannot do.

Like Patrick Ncube, a young married man with two children. Until June 11 the family had been living at Killarney, eking out a precarious existence but with some dignity and cheerfulness. On that day however the family's meagre home at Killarney was razed by Mugabe's "black boots" - the so-called riot police who swept through the area (illegally) destroying every structure in their path. The Christian community in Bulawayo responded magnificently, ferrying as many as possible of the traumatized victims to a place of sanctuary in one or another of the city's churches. Patrick's family was accommodated in the Agape Church in Bulawayo's Nketa township.

There they enjoyed what were for them the unprecedented luxuries of warmth, shelter, regular food, medical attention and a degree of security - until July 21. At close to midnight on that day - a day which will forever be remembered as a day of infamy for Robert Mugabe's despicable regime - truck-loads of riot police invaded not only Agape Church but about a dozen others across the city. Those sheltering in the churches, including the frail elderly and some tiny babies, were rudely awakened from their sleep and roughly man-handled onto the waiting trucks by Mugabe's gun-toting, baton-wielding storm troops. From there they were taken, in the cold of the winter's night, to the temporary holding camp at Helensvale, some 20 kilometres north of the city. Their stay in Helensvale was very short, just a matter of days in fact, because the UN Envoy's report, of which the regime had seen an advance copy, was about to be published and, fearing the international fall-out, the regime was determined to "sweep the filth" right out of view just as quickly as ever it could.

For this reason Patrick and his family found themselves taken, without consultation, and unceremoniously dumped, without food, water, blankets or prospect of shelter at Spring Farm to the east of Bulawayo. There the family was left to the mercy of the elements - the mercy also of the local impoverished community which was none too pleased to welcome them, with others, to share their few meagre resources. Eventually through the tenacity and courage of a small team of volunteers, the churches in Bulawayo re-established contact with the family and brought them food and blankets and negotiated with the local community leaders to afford them a place to stay for the time being - though not yet a place of shelter.

For Patrick, whose whole life had been a continuous struggle against dehumanizing poverty, it was just too much. To a caring pastor who had shown a remarkable degree of compassion for the family in their wretched plight, he confessed that he felt a sense of guilt and failure. He had failed to provide for his wife and children as a good husband and father should. Nor was there any prospect that the situation might improve. The family was now immeasurably worse off than when they lived in their own fragile structure at Killarney. And the local people who had been forced to find a space for the little family clearly did not want them to stay. They had no ties of family or clan. They simply did not belong. "I have nowhere to go", confided Patrick. "No one wants us. The government wants us out of the way - dead." And whether of the severe malnutrition that had been reducing his immunity system dangerously, or out of utter despair, Patrick Ncube obliged. He died within a few weeks - aged 39.

Or again one could cite the case of Mavis Mkandla, her husband Luke and baby daughter, Flora. Another small family living successfully, against all the odds, at Killarney - until the riot police arrived on June 11 and razed their flimsy dwelling to the ground. This family also benefited from the compassionate hospitality of one of the Bulawayo churches until the riot police invaded the premises on that dark night of July 21. For the Mkandla family also, as for the Ncubes, a brief stay at the Helensvale centre followed, and then they were moved on again, in the winter cold. In the Mkandla's case they were dumped in the Nyathi area some 40 kilometres north-east of the city.

Mavis and Luke had no previous connection with Nyathi. So they found themselves, homeless and destitute, among complete strangers. Moreover the local headman and chief were unsympathetic to their plight. No doubt it was difficult enough for them to find support for the existing families who had a claim of residence or affinity, without taking on additional mouths to feed. So the traditional leaders informed Mavis and Luke that they would need to live in the area for at least five years before their plea for help could be considered. In the meantime they must leave! A Catch-22 situation which effectively meant the family could never establish itself in the area where they had been dumped by the police.

What other option did they have? Mavis and Luke walked back into Bulawayo with baby Flora, and to the only place they knew where they might take refuge for a short while - Killarney. Their old home had been reduced to charred ashes now, but they "camped" secretly in the bush nearby, making sure to keep well out of sight during daylight hours in case the riot police should make a sweep through the area, as they tended to do from time to time.

Until the forced removal from Killarney in June Mavis had been in reasonable health. She had no medical history to cause any concern. But now back in Killarney after the trauma and incredible hardships of the last five months, she began to complain of stomach pains. When the pain continued her pastor took her to the United Bulawayo Hospitals. There she was examined and kept under observation for a few days. Whether the medical staff were able to diagnose her condition is not known, but some time later she was discharged to her secret "home" in Killarney. Within a few days she was dead. The cause of death unknown. Mavis was buried on Sunday November 6.

The pastor who conducted Mavis' funeral had barely returned to his own home when the phone rang. A colleague advised him that Mavis' 6 month old daughter, Flora, had also died. Would he please conduct the funeral? He did two days later, with a broken heart for the beautiful baby whom he had once held tenderly, and grown to love as he supported the family through their terrible ordeal. Christian friends paid for the little coffin that her father was obviously unable to afford.

Leaving just one member of the little family to survive Operation Murambatsvina - Luke Mkandla, aged 33, who grieves now for both his young wife and baby daughter.

What consolation can anyone offer this distraught young widower, or Patrick Ncube's widow and children for that matter? Week by week the number of grieving families increases. Another Bulawayo pastor told our reporter that he conducts, on average, between 3 and 7 funerals a week. Of these about a half are for the victims of this dastardly campaign. What words of comfort can anyone offer the relatives of Mavis and baby Flora or Patrick or the countless others who are dying across the country week by week, the unseen, unrecorded victims of this crime against humanity?

Nothing will bring any one of them back of course but perhaps the one thing that will bring a measure of consolation to the grieving families would be the knowledge that the perpetrators of this gross crime will one day be brought to justice. The criminals include the strategists who first dreamed up the plan, as well as the compliant politicians, army and police chiefs who went along with it, whether out of conviction or fear. All of them, right down to the zealous Mugabe thugs who executed the plan, must be brought to justice. In recommending that all those responsible be held fully accountable, Mrs Tibaijuka noted that their deeds were in breach of both national and international law. Bringing them to justice therefore must be a priority for whatever government is installed once Zimbabwe achieves freedom and democracy. This is the least we owe to the victims, and indeed to ourselves if we are to ensure that never again is such a crime against humanity perpetrated in this land.


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Upcoming Zimbabwe Senate Elections Attract Little Enthusiasm

VOA


By Peta Thornycroft
Harare
25 November 2005



There is little enthusiasm for Senate elections in Zimbabwe Saturday.
Analysts say either voter apathy or a boycott campaign by one faction of the
main opposition may be to blame.

There are no election posters in the capital, Harare, for either the ruling
ZANU-PF's candidates or those standing for the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change.

Some political analysts blame the lack of campaigning on a faction of the
opposition party that says voting in this election is pointless.

Tendai Biti, is a founder member of the MDC, and a member of parliament. He
has actively campaigned for a boycott of the election.

"The constitutional, legal, political, social framework militates against a
free and fair election in Zimbabwe," explained Mr. Biti. "It is impossible
to have a free and fair election in Zimbabwe, and it is about time we stood
up against a system of a predetermined result. ZANU-PF needs this
election. ZANU-PF needed to thump the MDC, and say to the international
community, your opposition is finished."

Mr. Biti said that after election day, the MDC would have to find out
whether it still exists as a political party and will have to rebuild its
structures.

"We have to provide the leadership that is required, that we have not been
able to provide for one reason or another, and Zimbabweans themselves have
to accept they are their only liberators. We have to go the confrontational
route," he added.

However, Mr. Biti said he did not support violence as a means of defeating
the ZANU-PF.

Political analysts say that the MDC, which came close to defeating President
Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF when it fought its first election in 2000, is
splintering over long-standing disagreements, which came to a head over
voting in the election for a new Senate body.

Trudy Stevenson, like Mr Biti, is a founding MDC member and an elected
legislator, and is working hard supporting candidates in Harare who will
stand for election to the Senate on Saturday.

"As a party, we voted to participate in this election. I am doing my duty,
in so far as I can to support the resolution. The party was formed
precisely to contest power through democratic elections," said Ms.
Stevenson.

Ms. Stevenson said the MDC has to defend the seats it won in two
parliamentary elections. The pro-participation faction of the MDC is only
contesting 26 out of 50 elected senate seats.

Mr. Mugabe can appoint six additional senators and 10 traditional chiefs,
giving the ruling ZANU-PF an automatic majority, regardless of the outcome
of Saturday's poll.

The senate was created by a controversial amendment to Zimbabwe's
constitution in March.


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More players could dump hopeless Zim cricket

Mail and Guardian



Harare



25 November 2005 05:56

A group of Zimbabwe national team cricketers who met after the
resignation of captain Tatenda Taibu are to consider their own positions
over the weekend.

They are scheduled to meet again on Monday after making up their
own minds whether to stay with the Zimbabwe team or seek new careers --
inside or outside the game.

Taibu will no longer be playing for Zimbabwe in any form of the
game. He says that early next year he will head for England and "probably
join a club on professional terms to start with".

He said that his reason was mainly "the deteriorating state of
the Zimbabwe cricket administration and then failure to obtain a
satisfactory contract after months of negotiations".

Taibu was also affected in his decision by two threats of
violence, one by telephone and one face to face by the same person, which
forced him to go into hiding on one of the occasions. He said "I reported
both incidents to the cricket authorities and to the police. But nothing has
happened."

The first meeting of several of the other national team players
was held with their representative Clive Field.

He said: "We discussed at some length the Taibu development and
where it left them all personally. We decided they should go away for the
weekend, consider their own feelings and talk to their families.

"We won't be making a collective decision on Monday. That
wouldn't be relevant. Each man must make his own stay-or-go decision. There
is a lot of concern about their own careers and also the team situation.

"Taibu was a quality batsman and wicketkeeper and undoubtedly
inspirational as captain. His departure is a big setback for the others. He
will leave a considerable void.

"In addition, many of the other national players have no other
job and they are worried."

Zimbabwe has lost many fine players in the last two years or so.

World's top ten batsman Andy Flower and the first black player
Henry Olonga had to leave the country quickly after their black armband
protest about their "death of democracy" statement during the 2003 World Cup
here.

Sean Ervine, an all-rounder praised by captain Shane Warne, is
highly successful with Hampshire, Grant Flower with Essex and Rap Price with
Worcestershire, for example.

Craig Wishart and Stuart Carlisle, two experienced batsmen, were
not offered contracts.

Taibu's predecessor Heath Streak has quit all international
cricket with Zimbabwe and is due to captain Warwickshire next season.

The Zimbabwe cricket stakeholders led by provincial chairmen and
joined by nearly all the players have demanded chairman Peter Chingoka's
resignation in recent weeks, and also the suspension of managing director
Osias Bvute pending in independent audit.

Those two and two women staffers have also been questioned by
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe officials, mainly about foreign currency movements.

On Thursday the president of the International Cricket Council
Ehsan Mani was due to receive a full report on the Zimbabwe cricket
situation sent by Charles Robertson, a provincial chairman, on behalf of
stakeholders and players.

Meanwhile Chingoka has called a directors' meeting for next
Saturday, December 3, the first to be held since July. - Sapa-AFP


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MDC row overshadows Zimbabwe election

BBC


Zimbabweans will have a chance to vote this weekend - but many are
wondering what the point of the Senate election is.
At the same time, campaigning has been overshadowed by an ugly
political row within the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic
Change.

A survey by the Crisis Coalition of Zimbabwe - a non-political civil
society group - suggests that 90% of Zimbabweans were opposed to the
creation of the new Senate, though the state media report that three million
are preparing to vote.

Angelina Nkomazana, a farmer trying to support two orphaned
grandchildren in drought-stricken Matabeleland North province, told the UN
news agency Irin that she knew little about the election.

"I have heard about it but I don't know when it is," she said.

"Most people are in the dark... and I personally have little interest.
I'm tired of voting and things remain the same, with life getting tougher,"
she said.

New chamber

The last elections in Zimbabwe were only eight months ago, when voters
elected a new parliament.

Shortly after that, Zanu-PF tabled a constitutional amendment to add
an upper house - the Senate - to the current one-chamber parliament.

Thanks to the 30 MPs appointed directly by the president, Zanu-PF has
the two-thirds majority that makes it possible to push through
constitutional changes.

So the Senate is coming into being at the behest of the same party
that abolished the previous Senate in 1987.

President Robert Mugabe's government says the reintroduction of a
two-chamber parliament will deepen democracy.

His opponents say it represents nothing more than a chance for Mr
Mugabe to dish out more jobs to loyal supporters - including some who failed
to make it into the lower house in the last election.

They point to senatorial constituency boundaries that have been drawn
in a way that favours Zanu-PF and to the fact that the president can appoint
unelected senators - not to mention the intimidation and alleged fraud that
have marred previous elections.

Harsh words

The decision to set up the Senate has provided Zanu-PF with an
unexpected boost, as the MDC has split over the question of whether to
boycott the elections.

Party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, echoing the sentiments of many civil
society organisations, declared a boycott.

Another faction, led by MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube,
responded that Mr Tsvangirai did not have the authority to make such a
decision - and a group of 26 MDC members registered their candidacy for the
elections in defiance of the party leader.

They argue the opposition should take advantage of a political
platform, however flawed it may be.

The two sides initially denied there was a rift in the party but the
row escalated as the two factions exchanged, through the media, increasingly
harsh words.

End of the road?

Mr Tsvangirai ordered the expulsion of the 26 election candidates from
the party. They are standing in any case - and their supporters have in turn
called for disciplinary measures against the party leader.

Some analysts are now saying the MDC has reached the end of the road.
Even if the party does eventually manage to recover, it has been deeply
damaged by the dispute over the elections.

It will have lost the respect of those Zimbabweans who supported a
principled stand against the election but also spoilt any chances it may
have had of using the Senate as a platform for its views.

The state media have enthusiastically followed the MDC's misfortunes.
Even before the polls have opened, the clear winner, in every sense, is
Zanu-PF.


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Zim keen to trade with Vietnam

The Herald



By Kudzai Chawafambira
THE governments of Zimbabwe and Vietnam have expressed willingness to work
together by establishing a joint trade committee early next year in Hanoi to
further strengthen bilateral economic co-operation.

Secretary of Industry and International Trade Retired Colonel Christian
Katsande emphasised Zimbabwe's willingness to trade with the Asian country
at the trade and investment seminar held for a business delegation from the
Vietnam Chamber of Commerce last week.

"Out of the foreign investment that Zimbabwe approved in 2004, 54 percent of
it was from the South-East Asian countries.

"It was our hope that Vietnam will also contribute to this investment drive.

"I would like us to work towards constituting the joint trade committee and
convene our first meeting in the first quarter of 2006, to further pursue
the matter of increasing bilateral economic co-operation between our
respective countries," said Rtd Col Katsande.

He, however, noted that the greatest challenge that confronted both parties
was information exchange. There was therefore an urgent need for the
respective business sectors to be better informed with respect to what each
country had to offer.

"It is against this background that we greatly value this exploratory
mission by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"The Government of Zimbabwe will also put together a business delegation to
reciprocate this mission and explore opportunities in Vietnam, in the early
part of next year," said Rtd Col Katsande.

The visit by the Vietnam delegation comes against a backdrop of relatively
low volumes of trade between the two countries over the past five years.

Total trade between Zimbabwe and Vietnam declined from US$4,7 million in
2001 to only US$2,4 million in 2004, reflecting a 49 percent drop.

Trade between the countries was restricted to tobacco and cereals, with
Zimbabwe exporting tobacco to Vietnam and importing cereals, mostly rice,
from that country.

There were indications that the visiting delegation had expressed interest
in food processing and leather making, among others, which they intended to
venture jointly with locals such as the Industrial Development Corporation.

Colonel Phung Quang, Vietnam's deputy director-general in the Department of
Economics, led the 15-member delegation comprising export and marketing
managers, among other senior government officials.

"We need to consolidate and foster business between the two nations. We
strongly believe there is need for the two nations to put our efforts
together," he said.

Col Quang said they would want to explore areas including tourism,
agricultural equipment, leather and shoewear chemicals, wooden furniture,
textile and clothing, construction, telecommunications, foodstuffs and
beverages, among others.


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Zim's senate polls ring death knell for opposition

Mail and Guardian



Susan Njanji | Harare, Zimbabwe



25 November 2005 10:58

Elections to a new senate in Zimbabwe this weekend appear to
have sounded the death knell for a party that posed the stiffest challenge
to President Robert Mugabe's uninterrupted rule since the country's
independence in 1980.

The elections due on Saturday have exposed deep divisions in the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and chances of two
feuding factions reconciling have grown slimmer in the run-up to Saturday's
polls.

The six-year-old party -- considered the biggest threat to
Mugabe's rule -- has been rocked by bickering after disagreements on
contesting the controversial senate elections.

The party's woes started on October 12 when MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai overrode a decision of the party's supreme decision making body,
the national council, to take part in the controversial polls.

But a section of the party led by Vice-President Gibson Sibanda
and powerful Secretary General Welshman Ncube, stuck by the national
council's decision and nominated about 26 candidates, later sacked by
Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai, along with the MDC's national chairperson Isaac
Matongo, is leading a faction of the party that is vehemently opposed to the
senate elections arguing it is an ill-timed and expensive exercise which
comes against the backdrop of a food and economic crisis wracking the
country.

Sibanda, Ncube, deputy Secretary General Gift Chimanikire and
treasurer Fletcher Dulini-Ncube are leading the pro-senate faction.

Commentators say the elections have exposed simmering tensions
in the party over leadership.

"The issue of the senate has exacerbated the existing tensions
in the party. Those tensions were building up for a year or so and I think
they are to do with leadership style," said professor Lloyd Sachikonye of
the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Zimbabwe.

"The senate elections have exposed inherent weaknesses within
the MDC. It will take more time for it to be the governing party," said
Lovemore Madhuku, a pro-democracy activist.

Observers say the divisions in the MDC over the polls might
raise fears that opposition politics could degenerate into tribal politics.

"Many people have read into the ethnic dimension because most
seats have been contested in the Matabeleland region, but I am not sure if
that is the reason behind the underlying tensions," said Sachikonye.

Tsvangirai, who has been at the helm of the party, belongs to
the majority Shona ethnic group while Sibanda, Ncube and Dulini-Ncube belong
to the minority Ndebele race.

Although Tsvangirai extended an olive branch to the party's
"dissidents" at a recent rally, the public bad-mouthing the two camps have
adopted could spell ultimate doom for the party.

Some party lawmakers have accused Tsvangirai of dictatorial
tendencies and labelled him a lunatic with an unsatiable appetite for money.

But analysts believe chances of the two resolving their
differences and reconciling still exist, but will be determined by the
outcome of the senate elections.

"The deciding factor now are the senate elections," said
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer Joseph Kurebwa.

"They will all sober up after the elections and will have time
to reflect," said Sachikonye.

Kurebwa said if the 26 opposition candidates win significantly,
they might be able to have the leverage on which to approach the other camp.

But fears abound that an apparent lack of enthusiasm displayed
by voters so far might result in voter apathy, handing over a crushing
victory to Mugabe's ruling party.

Mugabe and his two vice-presidents have in recent days been on a
campaign trail, capitalising on the divisions in the MDC to woo support.

"It will deal a serious blow to democracy in Zimbabwe if the
main opposition party is to break up," said Kurebwa. - AFP


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Despotism hinders Africa's development - PAP

IOL


November 25 2005 at 08:39AM

By Mariette le Roux

Corruption and despotism were highlighted during an introspective
session of the Pan African Parliament on Friday as key stumbling blocks to
the continent's development.

Along with ignorance, these had replaced the evils imposed on Africa
by colonialism and imperialism, United Kingdom High Commissioner to South
Africa Paul Boateng told a parliamentary sitting in Midrand.

He said freedom fighters of old, including Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe, had been imbued with a spirit of determination and valour.

'Things did fall apart'
"But, yes, things have not gone as we thought they would. Things did
fall apart."

Africa should not allow the mistakes of its past to stand in the way
of future achievement, Boateng said.





Fighting the new evils, he said, required the same valour,
determination and clarity of vision and purpose employed in the continent's
freedom struggles.

The sitting debated the report of the Commission for Africa, which
under the chairmanship of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, recommended
several remedies for the continent's problems. These included debt relief,
increased aid and fairer trade.

But several members of parliament stressed that Africa should stop
seeking the root to its problems elsewhere.

"There is a tendency to put the blame on external issues," said
Ghanaian representative John Mahama.

The real blame lay with bad management and despotic governments, he
said. Some African presidents had more money than their national economies.

"The time for playing the blame game is over," Mahama told the
sitting.

While international trade barriers were an obstacle to development,
corruption and bribery hindered trade among African countries themselves, he
said.

"The bribes one has to pay to take a truck of pineapples from Ghana to
Nigeria are exorbitant.

"We can blame the developed world for trade imbalances, but what about
trade on our own continent?"

One MP said Africa's problems had more to do with corruption and bad
management than a lack of resources.

Another said the continent could not rely on outsiders to clamp down
on corruption, conflict and bad governance.

PAP justice and human rights committee member Princess Baba Jigida
said it was time for African countries to fall in line and obey the rule of
law - for their own sake.

"If we don't wake up, we won't survive," she told reporters at the
conclusion of Friday's session.

Jigida said she wasn't sure the Blair Commission report was on the
right track.

The continent has had many pledges before which never materialised.
Money which did find its way to Africa made little difference to the lives
of ordinary citizens, while taxpayers in developed nations went to bed with
a clear conscience, thinking they were "helping a starving child in Africa".

The commission report was silent on the African brain drain, Jigida
said.

In his morning address, Boateng said there was a duty on countries
responsible for colonialism and imperialism, including his own, to help
Africa address its new challenges.

To this end, he emphasised the need for the next round of world trade
talks to succeed.

"We have got to right the wrongs imposed on this continent," he told
parliamentarians. "We need special measures for the poor."

These would include the elimination of agricultural subsidies and
trade barriers, which Boateng acknowledged would not be easy to achieve.

"But I believe we can translate the will... into concrete actions that
will benefit all."

A one percent increase in Africa's share in world trade would benefit
the continent by $70-billion - three times the aid increases agreed to at
the recent Gleneagles summit of the Group of Eight (G8) developed countries,
Boateng said. - Sapa


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Mugabe promises voters food

News24


25/11/2005 11:07 - (SA)


Harare - Villagers in southern Zimbabwe are set to receive more grain
inflows, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe said as he wound up a campaign
trail ahead of this weekend's controversial senate elections, the Herald
newspaper reported on Friday.

Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF)
party has focused its campaign for the senate polls on the southern
Matabeleland provinces, which are traditional strongholds of the opposition.

"We are concerned to know how people are managing in these difficult
circumstances in terms of food," Mugabe told traditional leaders and civil
servants on Thursday in drought-hit Insiza.

"I would like to assure you that we will continue to get food and distribute
it to the most critical areas first," the Herald quoted him as saying.

Authorities in Zimbabwe admitted that at least 2.9 million people would need
food aid this season following an assessment by the local Vulnerability
Assessment Committee.

The United Nations's World Food Programme (WFP) however says the figure will
be at least 3.4 million.

Mugabe also handed out 100 computers to schools in the province and promised
another 100 early next year.

Analysts predict that voter turnout on Saturday will be very low as most
Zimbabweans are preoccupied with finding food and other basic commodities
amid shortages and galloping prices.

This is the second round of national polls this year following parliamentary
elections in March won by Zanu-PF.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is unlikely to make
much of a showing on Saturday. Following squabbles over whether or not it
should boycott the polls, it only fielded 26 candidates for the 50 contested
seats.

The senate polls may be the last the 81-year old Mugabe will preside over.
He has said he will not stand for re-election in 2008. - Sapa-dpa


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Zimbabwe's MDC on course for another poll defeat

Financial Times


By Tony Hawkins
Published: November 25 2005 02:00 | Last updated: November 25 2005 02:00

Some - though probably not many - Zimbabweans will go to the polls tomorrow
to elect 26 senators to sit in the new second chamber created by President
Robert Mugabe's government. The main interest in the election centres on how
many of the 26 contested seats the deeply split opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) manages to win.

Having lost one presidential and two parliamentary elections since 2000,
there is little stomach within the MDC for yet another electoral defeat. But
many in the party, especially in Matabeleland where the MDC is the majority
party, insist that an electoral boycott favoured by MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai would relinquish "political space" to Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF
party.
The MDC's national council narrowly voted last month to fight the poll, in
the face of bitter opposition from Mr Tsvangirai and his closest supporters.
When Mr Tsvangirai overruled the council, the party split into two bickering
groups - much to the dismay of western governments that saw the MDC as a
government-in-waiting.

The opposition's descent into acrimonious name-calling and even physical
violence has demotivated opposition supporters and voters.

Political observers in Zimbabwe believe that, outside Matabeleland, few MDC
supporters will bother to vote. With widespread apathy amongst government
supporters, especially in urban areas, a low turnout is expected.

Voting is likely to be heavier in rural areas where the government has
traditionally managed to mobilise its supporters, and possibly in
Matabeleland.

Zanu-PF's control of the Senate is already secured. The party has won 24
seats unopposed and its influence will be bolstered by 10 seats for
traditional chiefs loyal to the government and another six nominated by the
president. Analysts say the MDC will do well to win 10-15 seats.

The real losers will be the country's 11m people. Business leaders complain
that the country cannot afford a Senate that will have no meaningful
constitutional functions.

Western diplomats worry that the MDC split, ostensibly over the electoral
boycott but also reflectingthe tribal fissure between Matabeleland and the
restof the country as wellas growing impatience with the indecisive
leadership of Mr Tsvangirai, has played into Mr Mugabe's hands.

The South African government, which for the last three months has been
negotiating a loan to Zimbabwe of some US$500m (?416m, 295m) to help revive
the country's economy, had been trying to attach political conditions on
Harare, one of which would have been a dialogue with the MDC to set up a
national unity government.

With this now a non-starter, diplomats fear the government in Pretoria will
soften its stance and hand over the money.

Mr Tsvangirai's enemies within his own party expect him to welcome the
expected low turnout as a vindication of his call for a boycott.

This is likely to worsen relations between the two feuding wings in the
party and may lead to a split into two weak and poorly financed entities.

Opposition infighting and the government's glee at the likely extinction of
what was once a serious political threat make a gloomy backdrop to a rapidly
deepening economic crisis.

On Monday the country's national airline was forced to cancel flights for 24
hours because it had no fuel. Despite repeated calls from senior government
ministers for an end to farm evictions, productive white farmers are still
being driven off their land.

One farmer said: "We are talking of some 80 farmers, out of 300-odd still in
business, whose properties have been looted in the last few weeks."

On Thursday Herbert Murerwa, finance minister, will present his 2006 budget
under pressure from the International Monetary Fund to impose serious
spending cuts and higher taxes.

In the real world of Zimbabwean politics, the unfortunate minister is under
equally intense pressure to announce huge wage increases for public
servants, especially the armed forces and police, so that their take-home
pay matches annual inflation, currently 411 per cent.


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Army boots Arda off farms

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe




The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Nov-25

THE army has taken over two Agricultural and Rural Development Authority
(Arda) farms in Mashonaland West, after the parastatal ostensibly failed to
fully utilise the properties' prime land.
Reliable provincial sources said the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) booted
Arda off the land early this month after the two farms were found to be
lying idle and "showing no signs of production."
"Nothing was happening on the ground. Last year they (Arda) ran a loss due
to mismanagement and this year by October, there were no signs that anything
would take place. The idea to take the farms had been there for some time
now," said a source.
Mashonaland West Governor Nelson Samkange confirmed on Wednesday that the
diversified agricultural giant no longer ran the two concerned properties,
but stressed that the farms still belonged to Arda.
"The ZNA has taken over the running of the farms. It is like contract
farming. They have been directed to grow maize since the government is
working on providing food to everyone," Samkange said, noting that the two
farms' produce belonged to the State.
"It was realised that Arda did not have the capacity to run the farms, hence
the coming in of the army. There is nothing amiss about that at all. The
army is just rendering help just like it did during Operation Garikai," he
added.
The ZNA was reportedly using equipment provided by Arda and the District
Development Fund (DDF) to work on the farms.
Yesterday, Lieutenant-Colonel Aggrey Wushe, the army spokesperson,
acknowledged that the ZNA was providing "organisational expertise" in line
with one of its community roles.
He however differed with Samkange on who now effectively owned the farm.
"The army has not taken over the farms. It is only assisting with
organisational expertise. One of the roles of the army is to assist civil
ministries," Lieut-Col. Wushe said.
He could not immediately provide statistics on the exact number of farms
involving soldiers nationwide.
Since independence, the army has been involved in a number of civil
projects, among them, constructing houses and engaging in community
services.
Currently, soldiers are assisting in constructing houses under the
government's massive reconstruction programme, Operation Garikai/Hlalani
Kuhle.
The government move to utilise the farms comes at a time when about 3
million Zimbabweans are reportedly facing food shortages due to drought and
socio-economic challenges facing the country.
According to a report by the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee
(ZimVAC) prepared in collaboration with government ministries and UN
agencies, 225 455 metric tonnes of maize are needed to cushion the affected
people from the effects of hunger.
The report said 549 877 people in Masvingo province and approximately 529
983 citizens in Manicaland would be affected. As one of its recommendations,
the report said the government should ensure efficient distribution of food
so that food-insecure people would not increase from the projected 2,9
people.
In a bid to meet basic minimum production requirements, the government this
year came up with an ambitious target-oriented model dubbed "Command
Agriculture", where each of the 10 provinces would select farmers to
participate in the scheme.
The farmers were expected to produce food security crops, livestock, and
industrial and export crops over a targeted 1, 9 million hectares with a
projected production of 8, 5 million.


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Starvation looms in Muzarabani

Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe



The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Nov-25

PEOPLE in Muzarabani, Mashonaland Central, are in urgent need of government
assistance to avert a looming starvation after their food supplies dwindled.
Cattle and goats have perished with hundreds of other domestic animals
threatened by drought-related diseases due to depletion of pastures and lack
of adequate water. Some water sources have reportedly dried up.
Chief Chisiwiti of Muzarabani said he was worried that villagers have gone
for months without adequate food supplies and called on authorities to act
quickly by introducing irrigation schemes to help supplement food reserves.
"We are calling on the government to assist us with food as people have run
out of food supplies.
"Some have gone for months without food and it is difficult to access clean
water, as sources have dried up.
"We are calling on the government to initiate irrigation projects by drawing
water from the perennial Musengezi River to supplement our reserves," the
chief said.
He said people were walking long distances to fetch water from Musengezi
River. They also go the same distance, and at times to Harare, to buy
mealie-meal.
Said Chisiwiti: "Many people are walking long distances in search of food
and water. In other districts in the province the situation is even worse."
Headman Siyakurima of ward 13 echoed the chief's sentiments: "Our beasts and
other domestic animals have already died and many could face the same fate.
"The government is our only salvation.
"Responsible authorities must chip in and introduce supplementary feeding
schemes for both people livestock in the most affected districts."
The headman stressed the need for the government and local community to work
together to ensure food security until the next season.
Villagers in Buhera (Manicaland) and Mudzi (Mashonaland East) also face a
similar situation.


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95% Zimbabweans say no to senate in Crisis Coalition survey



By Tererai Karimakwenda
25 November 2005

The results of a recent survey conducted by the Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition and Women of Zimbabwe Arise have revealed that an overwhelming
majority of Zimbabweans do not want a senate. The groups conducted a
door-to-door campaign in which the public was asked to fill out forms simply
choosing a yes or a no to the creation of a new senate. According to the Zim
Online news site, 95.06 percent of those interviewed were opposed to the
senate. The survey covered six of the country's 10 provinces.
The senate elections are on Saturday and Zimbabweans will be choosing
50 senators who will form part of a 66-member parliamentary house. Robert
Mugabe and the council of traditional chiefs will select the other 16. But
since many civic groups, churches and students' organisations were opposed
to the creation of this second chamber from the beginning, experts have
predicted that very few people will turn out to vote. Despite all these
signals, the state controlled Herald newspaper reported Friday that 3,2
million Zimbabweans are expected at the polls.
In Harare, 40 732 people or 98.43 percent of those interviewed said
they were against the setting up of the senate. Only 649 people or 1.57
percent said they supported it. In Bulawayo province, the base of the
pro-senate faction led by MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube, 44 310
people interviewed were opposed to the senate. In Mashonaland East, 3 765
were opposed, and only 52 favoured a senate. In Masvingo, there were 32 404
people against the senate and 6 241 in support. Surprisingly, Matabeleland
had the biggest gap. 32 404 were against another parliamentary chamber, with
only eight supporting it.
Elinor Sisulu of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition South Africa said
elections have become a discredited institution. She said ordinary people
have been voting since the referendum in 2000 and have seen no results from
it. In fact things are getting worse. As for the results of their survey,
Elinor said it reflects the disillusionment with elections. She believes
people are no longer interested in the process, and are continually put off
by ZANU-PF propaganda. The turnout will be low, she said, many people
displaced by Murambatsvina will not find their names on the voters due to
constituencies being shifted around. Asked about food for votes tactics
being used by the ruling party, Elinor said Zimbabweans may do what they did
last time in the rural areas, and that is take the maize and spoil the
ballot.
The Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube told reverend Martine Stemerick
Friday that he too expects voter apathy to rule the day. Based in Bulawayo
where pro-senate MDC officials are running for senate seats, the archbishop
said there has been no excitement or passion in these elections. He said he
has seen no reporters at all as opposed to other elections, and there are no
observers either.
As for the introduction of a senate, Archbishop Ncube said politicians
rejected the idea back in 1990, and reminded us that Zimbabweans themselves
voted no to a senate in 2000 when they rejected the government's draft
constitution. Like the majority of those opposed to the senate, the
archbishop believes it was forced on the people in order to employ Robert
Mugabe's cronies who were defeated in the parliamentary elections.
If these figures are anything to go by, voter turnout on Saturday will
surely be the final statement to the government regarding its latest
political ploy, the senate.






SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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All night vigil in protest against senate elections in London



By Tichaona Sibanda
25 November 2005

Pro-democracy activists in the UK will stage an all night vigil
outside the Zimbabwe embassy in central London on Friday. The mass action is
in solidarity with the civic society in the country who are against Saturday's
senate poll.

Activist Chengetai Mupara said the senate elections are nothing but a
grand strategy by Robert Mugabe's regime to protect its interests.

'We want to tell the people that as part of the civic society we are
totally against the senate elections. We have never supported a
constitutional making process through a government initiative, like what
happened with the constitutional amendment no 17,' said Mupara.

Mupara said Zimbabweans, in their quest to have an all inclusive
people driven constitution, should stay at home on Saturday in protest.
'As a first step, the senatorial elections do not provide for that.
Why should people care if the election doesn't give them any food on the
table,' said Mupara.








SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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Gold output in Zimbabwe falls

Angola Press




Harare, Zimbabwe,11/25 - Gold production in Zimbabwe fell 31 percent to 9.8
tonnes in the first eight months of the year, a mining industry body said
here Thursday.

The Chamber of Mines did not give reasons why production of the precious
metal had fallen, but in the past mining companies have complained of high
inflation and interest rates.

It said, however, platinum production surged seven percent during the period
to 3,129 kilograms.

But nickel output declined 12 percent to 6,220 tonnes between January and
August, again for reasons the Chamber of Mines did not state.

Apart from high interest rates and inflation, mining companies have also
cited unviable exchange rates as affecting production levels.

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