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No end in sight for Zimbabwe judiciary strike

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: November 25, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe: The government said it was unable to raise salaries to end
a strike of magistrates and state prosecutors that has crippled the
Zimbabwe's court system, official media reported Sunday.

The Public Service Commission said magistrates were classed as civil
servants whose salaries were only due to be reviewed early next year, the
state Sunday Mail newspaper said.

Other civil service pay demands have been put off after the government said
it had run out of money in the current budget to meet pay increases in the
crumbling, hyperinflationary economy.

A magistrate earns about 20 million Zimbabwe dollars a month, or US$15 (€10)
at the dominant black market exchange rate, a third less than the official
poverty line.

Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation of 15,000 percent though
unofficial estimates put it closer to 40,000 percent.

Prices of individual items are not reflected in inflation calculations. A
regular pack of six pork sausages was on sale at a Harare supermarket Sunday
for 11 million Zimbabwe dollars (US$9, €6), more than half a magistrate's
salary and a thirty fold price increase this month.
In July, the government ordered prices of all goods and services slashed by
about half to combat inflation but the move left shelves bare of the corn
staple, meat, bread, sugar and basic foods.

The government has allowed some prices to be raised to restore supplies but
has not been able to enforce remaining price controls.

A magistrate's salary buys ten liters (two gallons) of scarce gasoline.

The Sunday Mail, a government mouthpiece, quoted one unidentified striking
magistrate saying he was forced to hitch rides to the court before he
stopped work.

"When I come to court, I usually catch a lift with the public, some of whom
turn up in my court as an accused person. Because of low salaries, we remain
exposed to corruption," he said.

Besides some 30 judges, hundreds of magistrates run provincial and district
courts. The Sunday Mail said senior magistrates and police prosecutors were
keeping some courts open to reschedule a growing backlog of cases.


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Electoral body ignores MDC call on election boundaries

Zim Online

by Hendricks Chizhanje Monday 26 November 2007

††††† HARARE - The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) says it is will press
ahead with demarcation of constituencies for next year's elections despite
pleas by the opposition to shelve the exercise until the conclusion of talks
with the ruling ZANU PF party.

††††† ZEC public relations director Shupikai Mashereni said the commission
had the "legal mandate" to prepare for the polls including drawing up
constituency boundaries, adding it would only stop doing so if ordered by
the government.

††††† "We work according to the law and as things stand, we have the legal
mandate to draw the (constituency) boundaries," Mashereni told ZimOnline at
the weekend.

††††† "We will only stop when we are told to or if the law changes," the ZEC
official said, adding that it was only reasonable that the commission starts
its work now or it would fail to meet deadlines.

††††† The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party led by
Morgan Tsvangirai has called on ZEC to delay the delimitation of
constituencies, saying while the commission had the mandate to demarcate
constituencies, its composition was still subject for discussion at the
ongoing talks with the ruling ZANU PF party.

††††† The MDC and ZANU PF are engaged in talks under South African mediation
aimed at resolving Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis. A key objective
of the talks is to ensure next year's joint presidential and parliamentary
polls are free and fair.

††††† A constitutional amendment enacted by the government last August with
backing from the MDC among other key provisions empowers the ZEC to take
over registration of voters, demarcation of constituencies and overall
management of elections.

††††† However, the MDC says the spirit of the constitutional amendment was
that a new commission and not a "sanitised" version of the existing one be
appointed to register voters, demarcate constituencies and oversee
preparations for next year's elections.

††††† The MDC accuses the current ZEC led by former soldier and High Court
judge George Chiweshe of bias in favour of President Robert Mugabe and ZANU
PF, a charge the commission denies.

††††† Postponing demarcation of constituencies until conclusion of
inter-party talks could mean moving the polls to a date later than the
scheduled March.

††††† Zimbabwe is in the grip of a debilitating economic crisis that is
highlighted by the world's highest inflation rate of nearly 8 000 percent, a
rapidly contracting GDP, the fastest for a country not at war according to
the World Bank and shortages of foreign currency, food and fuel.

††††† Political analysts believe truly democratic polls next year are a key
requirement to any initiative to pluck Zimbabwe out of an ever-worsening
political and economic crisis. - ZimOnline


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Teachers forced to contribute to ZANU PF congress

Zim Online

by Prince Nyathi Monday 26 November 2007

HARARE - Teachers in rural areas are being forced to contribute money
towards the hosting of the ruling ZANU PF party extraordinary congress
slated for next month, their union said at the weekend.

The Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said reports of teachers
being forced to finance the special ZANU PF congress had been received from
Midlands, Mashonaland East and West as well as Manicaland.

"This is extortion. We all know that teachers are suffering and they are
taking more money from them. It is criminal," said PTUZ secretary general
Raymond Majongwe.

Zimbabwean teachers earn an average $17 million a month while official
estimates put the cost of sustaining a family of six at around $30 million a
month, assuming they only paid for basic goods and services.

It is alleged that ZANU PF district co-ordinating committees have during the
past two weeks moved from school to school in most parts of the country,
ordering teachers to contribute.

Each teacher is required to contribute $300 000 towards the cost of holding
the December congress set for Harare. Headmasters are forced to pay $500 000
each.

A teacher at Chibiya Primary School in Murewa said all the 27 teachers at
the school had paid the money by Friday last week.

"We were ordered to pay the money or else we would not get protection during
the forthcoming elections. In the rural areas, if you fail to pay such
monies you will be in for big trouble during election time because they
label you an opposition supporter," said the teacher who requested anonymity
fearing victimization by ZANU PF supporters.

Majongwe said the forced contributions were in violation of a 2005 promise
by ZANU PF secretary for education and information minister Sikhanyiso
Ndlovu that no teacher would be coerced to contribute money towards ruling
party business.

"So we are urging our members not to pay anything," said Majongwe.

Contacted for comment, Ndlovu said he was not aware that teachers were being
forced to pay for the hosting of the ruling party congress.

"I am not aware of that but talk to (David) Karimanzira. He is responsible
for the party's finances," he said.

ZANU PF secretary for finance Karimanzira said the party has appealed to
supporters and well-wishers to contribute towards the congress but insisted
that no one was being forced to contribute.

"There is nothing like that. That information is coming from people who want
to tarnish the image of our party as we go towards elections," he said.

Karimanzira said the party was targeting to raise $6 trillion for the
congress, which is set for December 11 to 14 in Harare.

"But that figure could increase depending on the economic outlook by the
time of the congress," he said.

The special congress is set to endorse Mugabe as the party's election
candidate for the polls next March. - ZimOnline


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Bulawayo warns it could decommission dam

Zim Online

by Lizwe Sebatha Monday 26 November 2007

BULAWAYO - The Bulawayo city council has warned that it could be forced to
decommission one of the last two dams that are supplying water to the city
this week due to "critically low" water levels in the dam.

Residents in Bulawayo, numbering over a million people, have had to endure
persistent water cuts over the past months as the city battled to ration the
little water that was available.

Bulawayo's two remaining dams, Insiza and Inyankuni are currently supplying
less than 55 000 cubic meters of water a day against daily requirements of
about 145 000 cubic meters.

Bulawayo mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube told ZimOnline at the weekend that
Inyankuni Dam could be decommissioned this week if does not rain heavily
this week as water levels had dropped to "critical levels."

"We are only hoping that it rains heavily this week otherwise we would be
left with no option but to just decommission the dam anytime this week.

"It just has to rain on a daily basis as we are facing a serious crisis,"
said Ndabeni- Ncube, a senior official of the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party.

Even the rains that lashed Bulawayo at the weekend appeared not to have
raised Ndabeni-Ncube's spirits with the mayor saying he was still to be
briefed if the rains had any impact on the dam's water levels.

"I am still waiting for the results from city council personnel who are out
there at Inyankuni Dam collecting data on the water levels following last
night's rains.

"But the last time we had rains, the in-falls were very insignificant
because of the dam's location," said Ndabeni-Ncube last Saturday.

Bulawayo, which lies in the drought-prone southern Matabeleland province,
has battled severe water shortages for decades.

An ambitious scheme to draw water from the Zambezi River, some 450km away,
has remained on the drawing board since 1912 with successive governments
failing to allocate funds for the project. - ZimOnline


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Bias Widespread In Food Aid Distribution, Zimbabwe Civic Group Charges

VOA

††††† 25 November 2007

Millions of Zimbabweans are depending on distributions of food aid to
survive due to a poor harvest last year and the economic crisis besetting
the country, but a new report by a nongovernmental organization says food is
being handed out on political lines to reward backers of the ruling party
and exclude supporters of the opposition.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project said it documented 267 cases in September in
which the distribution of food and other forms of aid, such as the provision
of seed, was carried out on political lines. Such discrimination, which in
some cases included harassment and violence, occurred nationally, according
to the organization. But the pattern of discrimination was strongest in
Masvingo and Midlands provinces, it said.

It cited "malicious damage to property, physical attack on community members
and in a serious case a village head was allegedly shot in a dispute over
food aid. For women, some food distributors were demanding sex in exchange
for food aid."

In 70% of cases, those denied food or other aid were opposition members,
said the civil society group, while 8% of the victims were members of the
ruling party, and 3% were penalized for an affiliation with some
nongovernmental organization.

The Peace Project report said instances of discrimination on grounds of
political party affiliation or participation in NGO activities "abound in
the food distribution process."

The report said such abuses were most commonly associated with distributions
by the Grain Marketing Board, the Zimbabwean state cereals monopoly.

"Traditional leaders, councilors and community food committees mostly
recommended by ZANU-PF leaders orchestrated the removal of non-ruling party
members from the list of beneficiaries. Beneficiaries were expected to chant
ruling party slogans and to produce party affiliation cards before receiving
food," the report said.

Zimbabwe Peace Project Director Jestina Mukoko told reporter Patience Rusere
of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that traditional leaders such as village
headmen are commonly responsible for enforcing discrimination in food
distribution.


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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 24th November 2007


Although winter is upon us there has been no cooling of support for the
Vigil's campaign for a free and democratic Zimbabwe.† There was a bitingly
cold wind when we set up but singing and dancing kept us warm and the
temperature rose as the wind eased. It was a long day for the Vigil
management team who gathered two hours ahead for a meeting with Stendrick
Zvorwodza and Justin Shaw-Gray of Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe
(ROHR) to discuss the logistics of our new partnership.† One of our team,
Ephraim Tapa, said that ROHR and the Vigil are different sides of the same
coin.† ROHR would be working on the ground in Zimbabwe for human rights and
we would be their support in the UK.† We agreed that the best way we could
help them was to publicise their efforts and fundraise on their behalf.

Stendrick told us of a meeting he had with a group of 155 orphans. They had
no food and he had nothing to give. ROHR has set up structures throughout
Zimbabwe and hold mass meetings to educate people that they can stand up for
their rights. They are conducting a campaign to 'name and shame' violators
of human rights.† We plan to regularly feature their activities in our
diary. ROHR is filling a vacuum in Zimbabwe and we are 100% behind them,
united in a non-party political cause. We are putting on a permanent link to
their website (see menu in the right hand column).

Supporters stayed long after the close of the Vigil to discuss how we could
maximise our impact at the EU/AU summit in Lisbon on 8/9 December.† Thanks
to generous donors we have already been able to book flights for 20 people
and are hoping to take another 10 or so.† If Mugabe goes to the summit we
will be there to greet him.† If he doesn't turn up we will be there to tell
the world that Zimbabwe needs help.

At our post-Vigil meeting, we were pleased to have with us Brendan Cox of
Crisis Action. This international organisation aims to help avert conflicts,
prevent human rights abuses and ensure governments fulfil their obligations
to protect civilians. It has an office in Lisbon.† Brendan outlined some
imaginative plans for demonstrations at the summit and we were asked for our
support for these.† The consensus of the meeting was that we were very happy
to work with them.† We are now co-operating with several groups in Lisbon.

While we hold our protest in Lisbon the Vigil in London will take place as
normal. There is a possibility that it may be augmented by protesters from
Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) and the trade unions.† ROHR also plans a
protest in Zimbabwe on the same day so we will be advancing on three fronts.

For this week's Vigil pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/

FOR THE RECORD: 150 signed the register. Supporters from Addlestone,
Becontree, Bedford, Bexley, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton,
Bristol, Byfleet, Coventry, Crawley, Derby, Dudley Port, Guildford,
Hatfield, Huddersfield, Kettering, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool,
Loughbourough, Luton, Manchester, Milton Keynes , Northampton, Nottingham,
Oxford, Portsmouth, Romford, Sheffield, Sittingbourne, Slough, Southampton,
Southend, Tunbridge Wells, Wolverhampton and, of course, many from London
and environs.

FOR YOUR DIARY:† Monday, 26 November at 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe
Forum. The speaker is Judith Todd, author of "Rhodesia: An Act of Treason"
and the recently published "Through the Darkness: A life in Zimbabwe". She
is the daughter of former Rhodesian Prime Minister Reverend Sir Garfield
Todd. Judith's father became a supporter of the Liberation struggle and an
opponent of Ian Smith's regime.† Judith's relentless fight for democracy in
Zimbabwe has seen her being exiled by Ian Smith and vilified by Mugabe.
Venue: downstairs function room of the Bell and Compass, 9-11 Villiers
Street, London, WC2N 6NA, next to Charing Cross Station at the corner of
Villiers Street and John Adam Street.

Vigil co-ordinators

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk


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Zimbabwe poses dilemma for EU-Africa summit host

africasia.com

LISBON, Nov 25 (AFP)

Two weeks from hosting the second-ever summit between Europe and Africa,
Portugal is scrambling to ensure that Zimbabwe's contentious presence does
not eclipse the chance for a true partnership between the EU and the world's
poorest continent.

"This is about a summit that has not been held for seven years, a summit on
human rights, on climate change, on migration, on problems of the EU and the
African Union," Prime Minister Jose Socrates of Portugal, which currently
holds the rotating EU presidency, was quoted as saying Thursday.

"I would like the summit not to be about one country or one leader," he
said, according to the Portuguese news agency Lusa, referring to Zimbabwe
and its controversial leader, Robert Mugabe.

The day before, Portugal's foreign minister Luis Amado astonished European
diplomats by judging it "preferable" if Mugabe did not attend, since he
might divert participants from essential issues.

Amado had previously fought for Zimbabwe's presence at the summit.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its 1980 independence from Britain and
is accused by the West of stifling democracy and leading his southern
African nation to economic ruin, has said he means to attend the Lisbon
summit, although he faces an EU travel ban.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has vowed that neither he nor any senior
cabinet member will attend if Mugabe turns up.

"In this story, the Portuguese are playing a double game. They want their
summit. They'll have it, but one must wait to see who will come and at what
level," a European diplomat said.

Amado's remarks have been greeted with irony in some parts of Africa, where
southern African governments in particular have threatened to boycott the
summit if Mugabe is barred from attending.

"It is not possible to invite someone and to ask him to leave his arm or
finger a home," Mario Feliz, Africa director at Angola's foreign ministry,
was quoted by Lusa as saying, in reference to the African Union.

No EU-Africa summit has been held since the first and only one in Cairo
seven years ago, as several European countries rejected inviting Mugabe,
accused of human rights violations.

Other European capitals have conditioned Mugabe's attendance at the Lisbon
summit to the organising of a debate on Zimbabwe.

But during a visit to Portugal, Senegalese Foreign Minister Cheikh Tidiane
Gadio adopted Lisbon's line of downplaying the Mugabe question.

"We are 52 countries in Africa. Why reduce Africa to Zimbabwe?" asked Gadio,
who thanked Portugal for offering an opportunity for Africa and Europe to
discuss "fundamental questions" through the summit.


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Zimbabwe: Voices from a basket case

The Independent, UK

Ian Smith, leader of the racist regime in Rhodesia, died last week. Robert
Mugabe took over the newly independent Zimbabwe in 1980, and for years the
nation was the breadbasket of Africa. But now, illegal blogs from the
benighted nation tell a very different story
Published: 25 November 2007

"We have been waiting for bread for nearly two hours in a rubbish-strewn
lane behind a supermarket. It is mid-morning, the sun blazing down on the 50
or so people in line, when three policemen stroll to the front. A rumble of
discontent rolls along the line like a thunderstorm.

In Zimbabwe, where runaway hyperinflation has reached 7,900 per cent and
people have used their entire savings just buying food, life has been
reduced to this: the queue."

Moses Moyo

"After a prolonged drought and very short rainy seasons (if they happen),
Zimbabwe is experiencing real troubles with water. Parts of Bulawayo are
dry; you may be living in a modern house with very beautiful fittings in the
bathroom, but you may only get a trickle of water once a week out of said
fittings."

Shona Tiger

"My doctor put me on an antibiotic and a course of vitamin B injections. She
was very kind and understanding of my pecuniary circumstances, and charged
me only Z$1m (£1.80) for the consultation and first injection. The
pharmacist wasn't so sympathetic. My monthly medication and the antibiotic
came to more than Z$13m. I came home with my bag (we don't use purses here
any more; they're simply too small) a good deal lighter than when I went out
(Z$14m is a lot of notes) and found an electricity cut."

My Paradise Lost

"Grow your own vegetable garden. When you see something in stock - buy it
all. Freewheel downhill (the angel gear) whenever possible and save fuel,
coz you're not going to get a refill any time soon. Cut down your garden
trees for firewood, due to having a maximum of three days of power in the
capital a week. Drive to Mozambique for a monthly grocery shop, but make
sure to hide it carefully, so that the police don't confiscate it on the
grounds of "hoarding". Fill up your bathtub with water, because the two-day
water shortages make one very stinky toilet. Most importantly, get used to
eating pork sausages."

Fat Cat

I looked at the menu [in Meikles Hotel] and saw that a toasted sandwich cost
Z$1.3m, which means that a teacher's salary is equivalent to about 12
toasted sandwiches per month. I thought I'd rather go for a piece of anchovy
toast, some Marmite toast and a coffee. The waiter returned five minutes
later to say that there wasn't any anchovy, so I changed my order to Marmite
toast and a scone. The waiter returned to say that there wasn't any Marmite.
So I had a scone, without butter. And this is a five-star hotel."

Bev Clark

"Chipo left her two starving children with their grandmother to go to
Botswana. She says: "I shed my tears before embarking on the 760km journey
to Gaborone. Right now, I don't know whether my children have had a decent
meal during the past three weeks, because my grandmother is poor and she
receives Z$100,000 per month from the Department of Social Welfare. This is
hardly enough to buy two loaves of bread."

Mike Coleman

"In my home town this week there was air freshener, window cleaner, some
vegetables, Indonesian toothpaste and imported cornflakes from South
Africa - one single packet costing more than half of a teacher's monthly
salary."

Cathy Buckle

"A friend volunteered for a few months to do household surveys of rural
families in Masvingo. The main focus was to find out how they were being
affected by HIV/Aids, and what kind of coping strategies they had developed.
She was shocked by how poorly the majority were doing. HIV was hitting the
adult population hard, making it difficult to carry out the basic chores and
activities needed to survive. When the price controls hit and goods vanished
off the shelves, relatives and caregivers in many cases stopped visiting."

Amanda Attwood

"At Chicken Inn, two street kids were begging food from a fat woman. The
woman scowled and drew her food closer, shouting at the security guard to
"come and do your job!" The guard, who looked hungry himself, used his baton
on one of the urchins, but they suddenly returned with four others. He stood
there helplessly as they swarmed all over the woman's table. She stood up,
clutching chicken pieces to her bosom and shouting obscenities at the
departing figures. Surprisingly, she continued to eat, ignoring the guard's
suggestion to move to a safer table indoors. But then a whole pack of street
kids surrounded her, grabbing everything, including the piece she was
holding to her mouth."

Natasha Msonza

"A friend had 100 tractor tyres he purchased three years ago, and has been
selling them. He bought them for Z$50,000, equivalent to 500 [South African]
rand at that time. The police accused him of hoarding and wanted to see the
purchase invoice. The government insists only 20 per cent mark-up is
allowed, so they told him to sell the tyres for Z$60,000 each. That is
equivalent to R3 today, so his loss is R49,700. But the worst part is that
the police phone all their friends once they discover situations like the
one above. Government officials purchased all the tyres and sold them on the
black market for R900 each. They are profiteering at the expense of the
economy."

Rat

"I am safe [in Johannesburg], but am very worried about my wife and children
because of the food situation in Zimbabwe, and try and send them as much as
I am able, so that they can survive. I want South Africa... and the rest of
the world to put pressure on the government of Zimbabwe to ensure that there
are free and fair elections. If this happens, I have no doubt that the
Mugabe government will be defeated, and I will be able to go home and live
with my family."

Sokwanele

Further reading: 'Mugabe: Power, Plunder and the Struggle for Zimbabwe's
future' by Martin Meredith, £8.99


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Mugabe scoffs at claims of violence

Sunday Times, S A

Sunday Times Foreign desk
Published:Nov 25, 2007

President Thabo Mbeki reportedly riled his Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert
Mugabe, on Thursday when he raised allegations of continued violence against
opposition members.

The heads of state were meeting in Harare to discuss the status of
negotiations between Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC).

Mbeki was on his way to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, which
kicked off on Friday in Kampala, Uganda.

Mugabe is said to have scoffed at the allegations, labelling them the "usual
accusations" made by the MDC.

Mbeki, appointed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in
July this year to mediate in the Zimbabwean crisis , first met MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders, who apparently raised the
issue of ongoing political violence .

The MDC told Mbeki that despite the SADC-sponsored talks, Mugabe's state
security agents were still harassing opposition officials and supporters.

Tsvangirai, the leader of the main faction of the MDC, insisted that it
expected a firm commitment from the ruling Zanu-PF regarding the cessation
of violence if the talks were to succeed.

was subject to sweeping electoral reforms and repeal of draconian media and
security laws, which presently limits the political activities of the
opposition;

a.. Other issues raised by the opposition with Mbeki were the timing of next
year's polls will be held;

a.. the legitimacy of the Constitution; and

a.. the freeness and fairness of next year's elections and the commitment to
observe SADC guidelines on staging of democratic elections. The MDC is
adamant the political climate in the country is not yet conducive for the
staging of free and fair polls citing the political violence, the
politicization of food and traditio
Mbeki told journalists, after meeting Mugabe and the MDC, that he was
confident the talks would succeed.

"The talks have been going on very well. I came to Harare so that we can
reflect where we are and give my own perspective. It was basically to inform
President Mugabe and the MDC leaders, as the principals," he said.

It is understood Mbeki is under pressure to conclude the talks before the
European Union Africa Summit to be held in Portugal early next month.

European leaders are at loggerheads over the attendance of Mugabe, with
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisting he and senior government
officials will not attend if the Zimbabwean leader is present.

Mbeki is said to have shared notes with Mugabe over Africa's position
regarding the summit.

Meanwhile, it was reported this week that Mugabe unleashed a devastating new
blow to Zimbabwe's economy when he announced a new law giving the state a
controlling stake in mines operating in the country.

Under the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, the government can take over
51% of companies mining strategic fuels and minerals, taking 25% without
payment.

The Bill brazenly asserts that payment will come from dividends earned from
the state's shares in the companies.

The affected companies include Zimplats, the local subsidiary of South
Africa's Impala Platinum, and the world's second-biggest platinum producer,
as well as London-based Rio Tinto's Murowa diamond mine .

No comment was available from the two companies.


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'I am ashamed of my African leaders'

Mmegi, Botswana
†Friday, 23 November 2007

*TANONOKA JOSEPH WHANDE

And what a shame it is, indeed! African presidents are busy buying suits and
bow-ties to impress those who make suits and bow-ties when they attend a
summit where, in spite of the continent's wealth, they are going to beg like
no subway beggar has ever begged before. It is a shame.

In a published letter to Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva, (Mmegi,
November 16, 2007), I pleaded and urged Silva and his government to justify
their invitation of Robert Mugabe in contravention of European Union travel
bans on Mugabe and his lieutenants because of their deplorable human rights
violations.

I pointed out that since Portugal had chosen to invite Mugabe, Portugal
should put Zimbabwe on the agenda and, thus, possibly offer an effective
alternative to Gordon Brown's stand of isolating Mugabe.

Portugal, of course, is barren of human rights decency in foreign lands and
is doing things that fly in the face of the EU and thereby neutralises the
EU's policies.

But I am, however, humbled that, early this week, the EU itself leapfrogged
over Portugal and demanded that Portugal, which holds the EU presidency,
puts Zimbabwe on the agenda.

Many people feel rewarded, especially me.
Even then, for now, I dare stand and demand for Mugabe's complete isolation.
There should not be any letting up until the dictator is uncoiled. The EU
says 'No Mugabe' on its soil because of the transgressions he is committing
against innocent people but Portugal says 'yes.' It is clear to me that
African dictators are not the only ones who violate constitutions and
collective agreements.

ZimOnline reported that the European Union had "agreed to have the human
rights situation in Zimbabwe put on the agenda for a summit with African
leaders set for next month."

It went on to say that EU foreign ministers met last Monday in Portugal to
discuss, among others, the 8-9 December Europe-Africa summit and resolved to
give a "clear and tough" message to President Mugabe on his government's
human rights record" and then further quoted an EU official as having said
that Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands had pushed for "a real discussion
on human rights and governance in Zimbabwe" during the summit.

"We will organise a debate (at the summit) so that Mugabe can receive a
clear and tough message," an EU official said.

That's all I wanted. Thank you, Lord!
I, however, feel extremely embarrassed that Europeans have to arm-twist
Africa's inconsiderate presidents into taking note of the atrocities being
committed in an African country called Zimbabwe. The EU is trying to do
something to bring some relief to the long suffering Zimbabwean people while
those occupying state houses across Africa appear to approve of sadistic
practices of their fellow heads of state.

I declare that African presidents are a horrible and ghastly disgrace and I
wish they could boycott the Portugal summit for whatever reason because none
of them represents or espouses African people's attitudes.

Africans are not sadists nor are they warmongers but our so-called
presidents are a totally different species, offering the world a false
picture of Africa.

African presidents are collectively responsible for the deaths and mayhem in
Zimbabwe, Darfur, DR Congo and elsewhere on the African continent for, if
they do not wish to assist, they should leave those who have the desire to
assist to do so. When my life and family are under threat, shall I, being
African, insist on the unwilling African president Thabo Mbeki to rescue me
while a foreigner is already doing something to save us before being even
asked?

Two weeks ago, Mbeki said he was quite satisfied with the negotiations that
he is chairing between Mugabe and the opposition. That is very encouraging;
wouldn't you say, especially considering the deaths and violence being
perpetrated by Mugabe on defenseless people? On Wednesday, Mbeki said he
would make a whistle-stop visit to Zimbabwe en route to Uganda for the
Commonwealth meeting. He said he would be talking to Mugabe's
representatives and those who represent the opposition. To Mbeki, Zimbabwe
is an afterthought. I was under the impression that serious negotiations
were being held in South Africa.

Three days ago, South Africa's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aziz
Pahad, parroted his master's voice and said that South Africa "is happy with
the progress that has been made regarding efforts to resolve the problems
currently facing Zimbabwe."

While Africa, and, indeed, the world, is still trying to clear the
unpardonable cobwebs from the atrocities of Rwanda, where men, women and
even children along with priests and nuns went mute and attempted to cover
up atrocities, we now have South Africans actively denying and covering up
the maimings and political murders in Zimbabwe.

What progress are the South Africans always spouting about that we don't
know of? Or are they saying they are satisfied with the daily political
violence and death toll? What kind of progress is it when the other half of
the negotiating partners does not report any such progress but complains?

The day Pahad made that obviously false statement of satisfaction,
Zimbabwean parliamentarian, Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson for the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) expressed his party's concerns over current
talks being brokered by South Africa in a report he presented to the
on-going ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Kigali. So why are
the South Africans, yes, including their president, lying about the
situation over these talks?

And a day before Mbeki and his crony lied to the world about progress in
Zimbabwean mediation talks, Zimbabwe's main opposition leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai, had urged Mbeki to pressure Robert Mugabe to end political
violence and repeal tough security and press laws. It is surprising that so
late into the negotiations, the MDC is still begging for an end to political
violence and the repeal of repressive laws. No talks should have been
started while such serious curtailments existed. However, I am curious to
know what 'progress' Mbeki and Pahad are talking about?

Portugal and South Africa, two countries that have always connived to save
renegade leaders in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, should be warned not to play
exterminator games with Zimbabweans whose lives are already at stake.

South Africa should be aware that Zimbabweans view it, especially Mbeki, as
a co-oppressor with Mugabe. Zimbabweans are well aware that it is South
Africa, especially Mbeki in his personal capacity, that stands between
meaningful assistance to end the repression, mayhem and killings in Zimbabwe
and the continued suffering and murder of the innocent people in our
country.

SADC, and indeed the world, rightly defer the Zimbabwean issue to South
Africa. It is protocol. It is diplomacy and it is getting more and more
people killed in Zimbabwe because South Africa, because of Mbeki, is
impotent and is preventing the emancipation of the Zimbabwean people.
Without South Africa manning the doors, freedom could long ago have poured
into Zimbabwe. Without South Africa protecting a murderous dictator, the
issue could have been laid to rest a long time ago. I salute the European
Union and I deplore so-called African presidents who, with a colonial
mentality of always imitating what former colonisers did, are still at the
stage of oppressing their own people. I chide all African presidents for
their short-sightedness. I rebuke them for bringing shame to the continent.

Oppressing the 'natives' appears to be the only thing these presidential
charlatans learned from the former colonisers. I do declare and say that I
am ashamed of all African leaders. Robert Mugabe is twice the man they are,
for Mugabe parades his evil and frolics in it proudly and publicly yet the
other African leaders try to hide their evil but expect the world and the
people to applaud just because, in every respect, they are all a few thebes
short of a pula.

African presidents should wake up and rescue Africa. Whatever happened to
our pioneering spirit? Where is that individual and personal initiative so
prevalent among early pioneering leaders that we used to see as we tried to
dislodge colonialists?

We have always given our support to our leaders, mostly against our will,
but look at what they are doing to Africa against our will. I am a son of
Africa and am totally ashamed of all my African leaders.

God have mercy!
*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Botswana-based Zimbabwean writer.

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