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Tsvangirai humiliated as MDC blocks Makone

Zim Standard

  BY WALTER MARWIZI

EMBATTLED MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday failed to secure the
endorsement of Theresa Makone as chairperson of the women's assembly by the
national executive, The Standard confirmed last night.

The failure was a big blow to Tsvangirai, already accused of violating
the party constitution at will.

He had traversed the length and breadth of the country last week,
trying to drum up support for Makone, installed as Lucia Matibenga's
replacement in controversial circumstances.

In his presidential report to a heated meeting in Harare yesterday,
Tsvangirai announced Makone as Matibenga's replacement.

The reaction was a point-blank rejection of the change. He was told
the process leading to the change was "flawed" and "unacceptable" to the
executive.

The party had to be guided by democratic principles in any election,
he was told.

To add to her humiliation, Makone was asked to leave the boardroom by
party officials who said they did not recognise her election.

Party sources said several senior party officials were emphatic in
their opposition to the manner of Matibenga's replacement by Makone.

Among them were founder-members and high-ranking officials of the
party. Their readiness to openly challenge Tsvangirai signalled the
potential of the crisis to poison the unity of the party.

These members of the party hierarchy said they did not recognise the
so-called extraordinary congress held in secret in Thokozani Khupe's
restaurant in Bulawayo. One told the meeting that he was unaware how Makone
was elected.

Tsvangirai tried in vain to defend Makone's "election", saying the
matter was "water under the bridge". He failed to convince delegates the
issue had not been properly brought to the meeting.

It could thus not be debated.

Tsvangirai was reminded since he had mentioned it in his report, the
matter legitimately would be discussed. The strong objections prompted the
national executive to defer the matter to 11 November.

On that day, Lovemore Moyo, the party chairman, is expected to explain
how Makone's election was handled.

Moyo did not attend yesterday's meeting.

Earlier, in his presidential address, Tsvangirai tried unsuccessfully
to have a commission of inquiry set up to look into circumstances leading to
thousands of Matibenga's supporters being in Bulawayo for the congress.

The commission was to probe alleged violence in Gweru and how youths
came to disrupt his meeting in Kwekwe last week. The delegates did not
endorse the proposal.

The party's information department yesterday said in a statement that
the national executive had resolved to "set aside discussion on the matter
(Makone's election) until the return of the party chairman".

Meanwhile, two women's organisations, granted observer status to the
extraordinary congress of the women's assembly by Tsvangirai, have shed
light on what transpired in Bulawayo where Makone was elected.

The Women in Politics Support Unit (WiPSU) and the Feminist Political
Education Project (FePEP) said: "The entire electoral process of the MDC
(Tsvangirai) Women's Assembly was severely flawed and could not have
constituted a legitimate process in terms of the MDC's internal party
procedures, basic electoral norms and the SADC guidelines regarding
election."

It said there were allegations "some provincial chairpersons and
district chairpersons had been given sums of between $40 to $60 million",
cellphones and taken on shopping trips to South Africa.


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The Grade III dropout who fooled Cabinet

Zim Standard

  BY WALTER MARWIZI

Grade III school dropout was just what was needed to expose the
gullibility of both the Cabinet and the Zanu PF politburo.

Information gathered by The Standard shows in graphic detail, how a
Cabinet of people with many academic degrees swallowed hook, line and sinker
ludicrous claims by a 35-year-old alleged Guruve spirit medium.

More than any other Zimbabwean, the primary school dropout showed it
takes little imagination to fool Zanu PF leaders, desperate to find "magic"
solutions to the country's unprecedented economic crisis.

As Zimbabwe faced crippling fuel shortages, little known Nomatter
Tagarira alias Rotina Mavhunga emerged from Pemhiwa village in Guruve late
last year to tell government officials that Changamire Dombo of the Rozvi
Empire had left behind treasures hidden in Mashonaland West province.

This wealth, in the form of diesel, gold and diamonds, she told
mesmerised ministers, could help the country out of the economic quagmire
spawned by violent seizures of productive farmland in 2000.

Tagarira claimed to be possessed by Changamire Dombo's spirit. She
told government officials her rituals could recover those treasures - and
they believed her!

Both the politburo and the Cabinet deliberated on the findings, hoping
this could turn around the fortunes of a country with the highest rate of
inflation in the world.

To the amazement of Zimbabweans who have endured fuel shortages since
October 1999, the government announced a miracle cure - thanks to Tagarira's
mystic powers.

But a single pipe lodged between the rocks at the summit of Maningwa
hills was all the alleged spirit medium needed to complete the ruse, which
had desperate ministers, police and the Central Intelligence Organisation,
falling over themselves with undisguised glee and relief.

Away from the prying eyes of the CIO agents and the police, aides of
the alleged spirit medium fed diesel into the pipe.

It was that secret pipe that spewed the precious liquid into the
caves, where it then "miraculously oozed from the rock", much to the
astonishment and delight of the ministers: here was the solution to Zimbabwe's
fuel crisis.

The Standard was told when the pipe ran dry, the spirit medium would
make near-impossible demands which had to be met before "the ancestors
allowed the diesel to flow again".

In the meantime, her aides would refill the pipe which contained about
20 litres of diesel at any given time.

But if diesel stocks were empty, the spirit medium knew how to handle
the situation; she instructed senior government officials to go to other
sites where they could see other treasures left by Changamire Dombo.

A subcommittee of the Joint Operations Committee (JOC), led by Deputy
Police Commissioner Godwin Matanga, which visited the "oil mountain", was
made to travel 40km along the Kariba/Makuti road to a place called Kaburi.

From there, they were told to move to another venue where they were
shown diesel in a small gourd.

Between 28 and 30 May, the team was led to various places in Chinhoyi
and Guruve in pursuit of Changamire Dombo's wealth. They waded through pools
and caves identified as chitubu chemachembere, garoi, nyakasikana,
pasipameraziso and chiroroma.

Among high ranking Cabinet ministers in a special committee tasked to
look into the diesel find were the Minister of Defence, Sydney Sekeramayi,
Minister of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi and securiy minister, Didymus Mutasa.

One minister developed blisters on his feet after spending three weeks
following the spirit medium.

At the shrine no one was allowed to wear shoes, lest they offended the
"ancestors", who provided the fuel.

The officials could not have been disappointed as they were shown
"gold in large boulders" wrapped in traditional clothing.

Observations made by the JOC committee, which prepared a report for
the Cabinet, betray how officials fell for the alleged spirit medium's plot.
The committee talked about using the "diesel and gold to boost our national
wealth". It said the "gold should be sold to clear the country's debt" -
US$4.4 billion.

On several occasions, a witness saw CIO agents "in deep and secretive
consultations with the alleged spirit medium, especially at night".

Meanwhile the spirit medium's simple traditional life changed
dramatically as ministers and top government officials trooped to the
mountain for an audience with "Changamire Dombo".

At one time the alleged spirit medium was flown to Kariba where she
"extracted gold from Kariba Dam".

While in the past the alleged spirit medium used to be surrounded by
villagers, now her dare (council) comprised members of the CIO and the
Police.

Keen to safeguard the "diesel deposits", the government provided armed
police who guarded her and the whole mountain round the clock. Eleven war
veterans were also on standby to ensure the alleged spirit medium's needs
were catered for. The alleged spirit medium received several presents,
including a farm and a farm house. Prosecutors value them at $5 billion.

But the government soon realised what any other normal thinking
Zimbabwean had known: that diesel could not gush out of rocks. This led to
the arrest of the spirit medium's aides and later the alleged spirit medium
herself.

The State says Tagarira committed an offence by saying there was
diesel in Maningwa, when in actual fact she knew this was false. It says
this "interfered with the ordinary comfort, convenience, peace or quiet of
the public".

Tagarira, who is accused of fraud or alternatively committing acts
constituting criminal nuisance, is offering a simple defence:

"Four years ago, I started receiving the spirit of Sekuru Dombo. I was
told this by people who had heard me speak whilst in a trance. It was the
spirit of Sekuru Dombo that said there was 'mafuta' diesel.

"I am a spirit medium. I get possessed and I can be made to say things
that I might not even remember when I come out of a trance."

If acquitted, ministers and members of the Zanu PF Politburo may have
to reflect on how they were fooled by someone who says she did not even know
what she was saying.


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Fresh divisions in Bulawayo Zanu

Zim Standard

  PF By Kholwani Nyathi

BULAWAYO - The fractious Zanu PF Bulawayo province was last week
rocked by fresh divisions after a restructuring exercise, described by some
senior officials as "fraudulent".

The exercise led to the creation of "fictitious" branches that will
elect a new provincial executive ahead of the party's special congress next
month.

Disgruntled officials, including politburo members, yesterday accused
the interim executive of manipulating the exercise to ensure that it was
retained.

The interim executive enjoys the backing of politburo members from the
region.

Zanu PF provincial spokesman, Effort Nkomo maintained the
restructuring exercise was a success. He denied reports that some war
veterans demonstrated outside the party headquarters after they were barred
from taking part in last weekend's elections.

"The party has gained a lot of ground and strengthened its structures,
following the successful restructuring exercise," he said.

Zanu PF commissar, Elliot Manyika ordered the province to carry out a
restructuring exercise after Jabulani Sibanda's supporters accused the
interim executive of trying to bar them from taking part in provincial
elections scheduled for April.

The Zanu PF old guard reacted angrily to Manyika's order and accused
him of trying to impose leaders from outside the region.

But, there is controversy over the way new districts were created
following the restructuring exercise.

A Zanu PF politburo member who requested anonymity said the elections
were not free and fair.

"The so-called restructuring exercise was a fraud," he said. "Where
did all those new districts they claim were created come from because there
is no evidence that the party membership is growing."

The senior Zanu PF official said the elections would fuel more
divisions within the party.

"Instead of uniting the party, the restructuring has seen the creation
of another faction, in addition to the Egodini faction (those loyal to
Sibanda) and the Petition faction (those who support the old guard."

The party's districts increased from 29 to 53 and officials attributed
this to the growing membership.

They claimed there were new members who joined during the
restructuring exercise.

The elections for district co-ordinating committees have also been
disputed.

A faction of war veterans loyal to Sibanda were barred from taking
part.

Zimbabwe Defence Industries boss Tshinga Dube, who is linked to a
faction led by the old guard in the region, was the only newcomer in the
DCCs, which will act as an electoral college for provincial elections.

"The problems in Bulawayo now need the direct intervention of
President Mugabe himself," said another source. "We now understand why
Jabulani Sibanda is always lambasting some of these senior people in the
party.

"Through these fictitious structures they want to promote tribalism
and their own interests at the expense of those of the party. They have also
ensured that their stooges in the interim committee will be retained."


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Msika slams 'young turks'

Zim Standard

  BY OUR STAFF

TSHOLOTSHO - Vice President Joseph Msika on Friday accused Zanu PF's
"young Turks" challenging their seniors in the ruling party of lacking
discipline and respect for their leaders.

This comes hardly two months after the former PF Zapu leader vowed he
would die in office rather than retire from politics.

There is also growing apprehension in Matabeleland over controversial
war veteran, Jabulani Sibanda's campaign to discredit party officials in the
region he accuses of destroying Zanu PF.

Addressing guests at Tsholotsho High School where he officially
commissioned a science laboratory block built by Zanu PF chairman, John
Nkomo, Msika said youths in Zanu PF should not waste their time plotting the
downfall of their leaders.

"Do not try to topple your leaders," Msika said. "Understudy them so
that you could become effective leaders when your chance comes to rule this
country.

"The likes of (Dumiso) Dabengwa and Nkomo are understudying us and I
can tell you they have never undermined me or plotted my downfall."

Msika is among politburo members from Matabeleland who called for
Sibanda's expulsion from the party in 2004 for allegedly "disrespecting his
seniors".

Msika repeated his claims that Sibanda was not a war veteran.

Although he did not mention Sibanda by name, Msika said "some people"
were claiming to be war veterans "yet they did not fire a single bullet"
during the liberation struggle.


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Zinwa backs down on Khami water

Zim Standard

  By Kholwani Nyathi

BULAWAYO - The government is backtracking on its decision to draw
water for Bulawayo from the heavily-polluted Khami Dam after criticism from
senior Zanu PF officials in the region.

The influential politicians reportedly told the promoters of the
controversial plan to "leave Bulawayo residents alone".

Two months ago, the Zimbabwe National War Authority (Zinwa) announced
it was working on plans to draw water from Khami Dam to alleviate the city's
crippling water shortages.

Zinwa has been trying to wrest control of the city's water and sewer
systems from the council for the past 10 months.

The council disassociated itself from the initiative, claiming the
water from the dam, decommissioned in 1989, could not be recycled because
raw sewage was being discharged into the catchment area every day.

A Zanu PF politburo member, Dumiso Dabengwa, chided those behind the
plans "to proceed to the dam with their cups and drink the water and leave
the people of Bulawayo alone".

Zinwa, condemned by most local authorities where it has taken over
their water and sewage systems, had previously maintained Khami water was of
better quality than that of Lake Chivero.

Zinwa said it was waiting for the council's go-ahead to start pumping
water from the dam.

But on Friday, Munacho Mutezo, the Minister of Water Resources and
Infrastructural Development, told a pre-budget seminar the plan had not been
approved.

"We are looking at Khami like any other sources, such as Nyamandlovu
and Mtshabezi," said Mutezo. "We will be guided by experts and we will not
take a political decision on the matter and we are not going to be
reckless."

The Government has been accused of not taking the water shortage in
the city seriously after it failed to finance the connection of the idle
Mtshabezi Dam to the city water system, even after three of the five supply
dams dried up.

Zinwa has not resuscitated the 77 boreholes at the Nyamandlovu Aquifer
to alleviate the water crisis.

Meanwhile, Mutezo maintained that the government would not compensate
the MDC-dominated council for the water and sewage infrastructure it would
take over.

The council has said it will not hand over the systems to the
parastatal until compensation is assured.


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HIV/Aids 'good news' hailed

Zim Standard

  By Bertha Shoko

THE United Nations agencies in Zimbabwe and other international and
non-governmental organizations have welcomed the reduction in the HIV
prevalence rate in the country, saying it was "good news" and called on a
more concerted effort to further bring down infection rates.

Zimbabwe's partners in the fight against the scourge also called on
the government to raise more resources and make Antiretroviral Drugs (ARVs)
available to everyone who needs them

The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa on
Wednesday last week unveiled new statistics showing a significant drop in
the HIV prevalence rate from 20,1% to 15,6%, recorded over a four-year
period (2002-2006).

These new national estimates were announced at the launch of the
Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey (ZDHS) and Antenatal Clinic Surveillance
on Pregnant Women, showing HIV and Syphilis prevalence rates.

The overall HIV prevalence among antenatal clinic attendees (pregnant
women) decreased from 25.7% in 2002 to 21.3% (2004) and to 17.7% in 2006.

The new HIV estimates are based on the findings in the ZDHS and the
antenatal clinic findings in which the latter showed that at least 16% of
all women interviewed and tested were HIV positive.

Other key announcements made by the Ministry are that there are now
1.3 million people living with HIV compared with 1.8 million before.

It was also said that 2 214 people are now dying every week instead of
the 5 000
a week during previous years.

According to the new evidence, the number of people in need of ARVs is
now 260 000 compared with 90 000 who are currently accessing the drugs.
Before this, the ministry claimed the number of people in need of ARVs was
300 00. But, this figure was disputed by non-governmental organizations
involved in Aids work, who claimed the number
was more than 600 000.

In a joint statement following the announcement, the United Nations
Children's Fund (Unicef) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said
the new data reinforced Zimbabwe's successes in behaviour change among young
people.

The biggest falls among pregnant women were recorded among the 15-24
year age group, showing a drop in HIV from 20.8% to 13.1% in just four years
(2002 to 2006), according to the new estimates.

"Young people are having fewer partners and using more condoms," said
UNFPA's Representative in Zimbabwe, Bruce Campbell. "They have heard the
messages, taken action, and are being safer. Now we must continue our
combined efforts to ensure national HIV prevention programmes have an even
greater reach."

The United Nations in Zimbabwe said the announcement underscored the
need to strive for continued broad behaviour- change promotion and universal
access to quality HIV prevention, as well as adolescent sexual and
reproductive health services. Without ongoing and substantial support, the
current positive national trends would not be sustainable.

"It is imperative that all partners adhere closely to the concept of
three Ones "(prevention, prevention, prevention)," said Dr Kwame Ampomah,
the Country director of UNAIDS.

"One of our greatest achievements over the last few years," said
Ampomah, "has been a truly collaborative and concerted effort to ensure that
all partners support the National AIDS Strategic Plan, and that there is
only one national co-ordination mechanism led by the National AIDS Council,
and only one comprehensive and integrated Monitoring and Evaluation System."

Unicef's Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr Festo Kavishe, said:
"Zimbabweans have again shown that they have the determination and the
education to defeat HIV/AIDS, and a variety of causes of child mortality.
However, mortality also played a hand in the drop and there remains an
urgent need to boost prevention and treatment programmes in Zimbabwe.

"There is no doubt that a drop in the rate is great news," said WHO
Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr Mandlhate. "However let us recognize that a
sero-prevalence rate of 15.6% remains high and this is not the moment for
relaxing. Rather we must take advantage of this positive action by youth and
put even greater energy and resources.

"The United Nations family reiterates its commitment to supporting
Government efforts towards the achievement of universal access of HIV
prevention, treatment care and protection for those living with HIV and
their families."


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Miss Rural pageant girls stranded in Masvingo

Zim Standard

  By Godfrey Mutimba

MASVINGO - Controversy continued to dog the Miss Rural Zimbabwe beauty
pageant after contestants were stranded in Masvingo last week.

The contestants of the pageant, snubbed by the people of Masvingo,
spent two days roaming the city streets on empty stomachs while the
organisers were busy trying to raise money to buy fuel for the vehicles they
had hired.

After being postponed several times, the show was finally held at
Masvingo Polytechnic. It was moved from the Great Zimbabwe Monument after
officials there turned down the organisers' request to stage it at the
shrine following the controversy it had generated.

The Standard caught up with the organizer and pageant founder, Sipho
Mazibuko-Ncube, at a bank in Masvingo.

Mazibuko said she wanted to withdraw money from the pageant's account
to buy fuel but claimed she was failing to do so because the bank was
off-line.

"We are going to Harare today, our kombis are there and we are waiting
for the bank which is offline right now," Mazibuko said.

A quick check by this reporter revealed that the bank was online, with
people busy transacting business inside.

Sources close to the pageant revealed that Mazibuko had run out of
cash, after poor attendance at the show, which attracted less than 100
people.

Some contestants who were heavily guarded by bodyguards from a
Bulawayo gym told The Standard they were stranded and hungry. They said they
had been told to wait for Mazibuko's husband who they understood was to
deposit money into her account so they could go home.

"We have no bus fare to go back home," said one of the contestants,
licking her dry, cracked lips. "We did not eat the whole day today and we
are waiting for our boss (Mazibuko) to withdraw money from her account which
she said her husband had deposited."

The contestant said Mazibuko returned from the bank empty-handed by
end of day on Monday - two days after the show - and they were forced to
sleep in Masvingo again.

Mazibuko's heavily built bodyguards, nick-named the Bulldogs, were
also stranded and some ended up using their own money to return to Bulawayo.

"I can't wait for Mazibuko," said one of the guards. "We are also
stranded, The girls are just loitering in the streets, waiting for Mazibuko
to do something. This is a very bad situation."

A modelling fan, who attended the show, said it was poorly organized,
with less than 100 people in attendance "Considering that it is a national
event, the show was a flop," said Dickson Muguti.

The Standard was told the Masvingo business community and politicians
who had promised to support Mazibuko ditched her after press reports that
the girls were being abused.

Women's Affairs Minister, Oppah Muchinguri, was quoted in the State
media criticising the pageant, described by Information Permanent Secretary,
George Charamba, as "a mess".

The Girl Child Network founder and director, Betty Makoni, has also
criticised the show.


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Shop shelves still empty despite Gono's promise

Zim Standard

  Our Staff

SUPERMARKET shelves continue to remain empty despite Reserve Bank
Governor, Gideon Gono's declaration last month that the authorities were
working flat-out to ensure that business restocked by the end of October.

Presenting his mid-year monetary policy statement on 1 October, Gono
vowed the RBZ would ensure basic commodities would be back on the shop
shelves by month-end.

A snap-survey by The Standard in Harare last week showed Gono's
promise was in vain: most shop shelves were still empty.

The central bank was not immediately available for comment.

While expensive South African luxury imports continue to dominate the
shop shelves, such basic commodities as maize meal, sugar, cooking oil and
salt were nowhere to be found in the same shops.

Even the traditional "people's supermarkets" - OK, TM and Spar - are
selling large quantities of the luxury imports. There seems to be a
proliferation of new brands of some products, manufactured by equally new
industry players.

In some cases, The Standard crew came across confused shoppers, some
of whom scrutinised unfamiliar products at length before buying.

"This juice - is it good?" a woman asked a fellow shopper in one
supermarket. "I need something for my children but I cannot find any
familiar flavour."

Some retailers like OK New Marimba were even unpacking South African
products to sell them as single units, still at exorbitant prices.

One interesting case was of the Nutriday Yoghurt, sold at below R20
for six packets in South Africa, being unpacked and sold at $897 000 a unit.


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CZI blasts NIPC over 'illegal policies'

Zim Standard

  by Jennifer Dube

THE National Incomes and Pricing Commission must stick to its mandate
of monitoring prices, instead of trying to force illegal policies down the
throats of business, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president has
said.

In an interview last week, Callisto Jokonya said the NIPC "can best
put their house in order and get their work done instead of deviating from
their mandate".

"They are just going about trying to find a loophole everywhere,
instead of concentrating on their pricing mandate," fumed Jokonya.

He said he was incensed by the commission's recent announcement that
business would now be required to produce foreign currency invoices for
imported goods and inputs to curb "unjustified" price increases.

"The foreign currency issue is for the governor of the Reserve Bank,
not the NIPC. They are deviating from their mandate," he said.

Jokonya said the NIPC must realise that such a price control regime
was inappropriate for an import subsidised economy, such as Zimbabwe's.

"I do not want to waste my time commenting on the likely effects of
such an impractical move, as I could end up looking like a fool myself.

"All NIPC has to remember is that Zimbabwe does not have foreign
currency. Both the government and the Reserve Bank do not have foreign
currency. There is no foreign currency on the official market," he said.

NIPC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa last Monday announced the new
measures, adding that his organisation would stop businesses from pegging
prices on parallel market rates through converting the foreign currency
component at the official exchange rate.

The country is battling a severe foreign currency crunch which has
prevented the government from importing such critical essentials as wheat
and electricity.

It is estimated the country has been maintaining less than two weeks'
import cover for a very long time now, something which, according to
economists, is "very dangerous" for the economy.

What it means is that the foreign currency available at the central
bank can hardly sustain two weeks' imports.

Business have had to resort to the illegal parallel market for foreign
currency, where it is readily available at exorbitant rates.

For example, while the Zimbabwe dollar remains stagnant at an official
rate of Z$30 000:US$1, the parallel market rate rises constantly, with the
greenback changing hands at Z$1 200 000 last week.

Business thus feels the new measure is aimed at forcing them to
subsidise their goods.

Jokonya urged the country "to continue praying" over the deteriorating
economic environment.


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Government loses wheat consignment stranded in Beira

Zim Standard

  BY our staff

THE government has lost the bulk of the wheat stuck in Mozambique for
over eight months, as it failed to source foreign currency to pay for the
consignment, sources said last week.

Although Grain Marketing Board acting CEO Samuel Muvuti denied the
claims, baking industry sources said of the 36 000 metric tonne consignment,
the government only managed to pay for 1 600 tonnes, not enough to satisfy
local demand for a day.

Last March, it emerged that the government was failing to pay for the
consignment, stuck at the port in Beira.

"That flour no longer exists," said the sources. "We understand
somebody else took it over as the government was seriously behind in
arrears.

"The little that came was hardly enough to last the industry a day and
we are surprised the government harped like that about it."

But Muvuti said the GMB was still negotiating with the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe and the wheat supplier.

"It is a lie that we have lost the wheat," he said. "We are still
negotiating for an appropriate price. We are trying to get the supplier to
lower the price from the current US$520 per tonne."

He would not say how much the GMB was willing to pay.

"I cannot pre-empt what we are offering as there are many players
involved," he said.

Sources said the government was "fond" of exaggerating the country's
wheat situation, adding that they were even surprised to hear the country
was expecting 140 000 tonnes from the winter harvest.

"That amount can cover us for 22 weeks but we do not think the figure
would be that high, given the problems associated with the winter crop,"
they said.

Farmers have so far delivered about 23 000 tonnes of the winter crop
to the GMB since harvesting started in September.

But sources said problems continued to dog the baking industry, with
the GMB now proposing to scrap the subsidy for millers, which would push up
the price of bread.

The GMB buys wheat from the farmers at $71,5 million a tonne and sells
to millers at a subsidised price of $238 000.

Sources said the GMB complained to the government that it was making a
loss and proposed that either the government subsidises the price or allows
the GMB to sell at the purchasing price plus a mark-up.

It is estimated the price of bread may shoot up from $100 000 to $1
million if the millers added their own mark-up.

"Those issues are still being negotiated. Although the government and
millers are yet to agree, I am assured government will ensure that bread
will still remain affordable to consumers," Muvuti said.


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Probe into Air Zimbabwe chief's job

Zim Standard

  BY NDAMU SANDU

A PARLIAMENTARY team has conducted a number of interviews as the
Transport and Communications portfolio committee seeks to unravel the
mystery surrounding the fate of the former Air Zimbabwe acting group CEO
Oscar Madombwe.

Madombwe was sent on leave last September.

Two weeks ago, Leo Mugabe, Transport and Communications portfolio
committee chairperson, announced a four-member subcommittee to investigate
Madombwe's fate.

The subcommittee is chaired by
Chitungwiza Senator Forbes Ma-gadu and includes Harare Central MP
Murisi Zwizwai, Mutoko Senator Edmund Jacob and Chikomba MP Musekiwa
Chiurayi.

Magadu confirmed with Standardbusiness last week the subcommittee had
conducted interviews but could not identify the interviewees, as the matter
was sub judice.

The subcommittee will interview the former Air Zim board member Luxon
Zembe, who chaired the board's human resources committee.

Zembe said he had read the story in the newspapers but no one had
interviewed him.

"I will wait," he said. "When they come, I will tell them the truth -
the facts are there."

Information gathered last week shows that what the Air Zim board
chairman, Mike Bimha, told the committee two weeks ago was not entirely
accurate.

Bimha said Madombwe had agreed to be sent on leave, but the veteran
pilot, who has in the past flown President Robert Mugabe, was on an
indefinite paid leave effective 1 September.

Sources say even before his forced leave, Madombwe was made redundant
at the airline and allowed to fly on a few occasions before being banned
"for security reasons".

Air Zimbabwe then appointed Dr Peter Chikumba to head the airline in
February.

Two weeks ago, Bimha told the portfolio committee the board had
reached an "amicable" agreement with Madombwe that he goes on a sabbatical
after which his future with the troubled airline would be decided.

Bimha told the committee that Madombwe had declined to revert to his
old position at National Handling Services (NHS).

Innocent Mavhunga was appointed to head NHS in September, weeks after
Madombwe had been sent on leave.

Insiders told Standardbusiness last week Madombwe's "crime" was
producing an adverse technical report on Air Zim's bid to buy five Ilyushin
planes from Russia.

Madombwe has on two occasions steered the airline's ship from sinking.
He was there when Air Zim needed him most following the resignation of then
head Rambai Chingwena. He came to the rescue again in 2004 when then group
CEO Tendai Mahachi was suspended. Mahachi left Air Zim last year.

Under Madombwe's reign at Air Zim the airline posted its first profit
in 10 years: $554 million in December and $389 million in January.

Madombwe declined to comment on his future at the airline when
contacted for comment on Thursday.


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Comment

Zim Standard

  THE only beneficiary of a delayed 2008 poll is going to be the
ruling party but just how the whole of the opposition MDC is unable to
fathom this is most perplexing.

Just as the python mesmerises its prey, the MDC is slowly being
entranced into a deadly game from which it can never hope to emerge
victorious.

It begs the question: What muck has the ruling Zanu PF/government
uncovered and is using to threaten the opposition, resulting in the MDC
being led willingly like a lamb to the slaughter?

It is difficult to understand what the opposition is getting in return
for the concessions it continues to make to the ruling party. The
inescapable conclusion is that the opposition has decided to sell out in
broad daylight.

First, the opposition agreed to Amendment No 18 of the Constitution.
Now it has agreed to elections in June next year, instead of March 2008, as
reported last week. This exposes the extent of the opposition's naivety. The
government and Zanu PF have agreed to scrap the post of executive mayors,
precisely because they are aware that they will lose to the MDC, but the
opposition appears oblivious to the chicanery the government and the ruling
part are engaged in.

The reason Zanu PF is doing away with executive mayors is because it
realises its dismal performances will continue and that by allowing
councillors to elect a mayor the ruling party has a chance of avoiding the
embarrassment of previous mayoral polls.

But the reason why the government would be in favour of harmonised
elections in June next year rather than March 2008 is because it gives it
more time to right its wrongs and project itself as being committed to
improving services and the lives of the majority of Zimbabweans, when in
fact it is the author of the country's misfortune.

Who in their right senses would vote for the ruling party, in the
middle of an electricity, water, fuel and food crisis? These are enough
grounds for the opposition to mount a compelling campaign against the
government and Zanu PF and get them out of power.

The main function of an opposition is to drive those in power out,
while for any ruling party the objective is to ensure they remain in and
shut out the opposition. The MDC does not appear to appreciate this, or if
it does, it has decided to give up the fight. It is such ill-informed
complicity by the opposition that strengthens the case for a third
alternative.

The 2005 Parliamentary elections were held at a short notice, so the
argument for more time is merely a ruse by the government to buy more time
to put its house in order and to try and rectify the catalogue of blunders
it has committed since 2005, chief among them Operation Murambatsvina, and
the disasters in the food, water, fuel and power sectors.

Of course, the other reason is simply that Zanu PF and the government
do not have the resources for their campaign and for staging elections. When
and if the opposition realises what the government is up to it will be too
late. And the electorate will have awoken to the betrayal by the MDC.

The government is stringing the opposition along. It has a history of
trashing any agreements it enters into in its determined bid to remain in
power. So far the opposition can not claim to have extracted any significant
concessions from the government. It is giving away too much, but getting
nothing in return.


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Perfect World: turkey, mistletoe every day

Zim Standard

  sundayopinion by Bill Saidi

EVERYBODY'S idea of a perfect world is one in which every day is
Christmas, with turkey and mistletoe.

Or, in the remotest parts of Zimbabwe, rice and chicken for the whole
family, every day.

The Perfect World is not Utopia, or countries with a cradle-to-grave
social welfare system.

The Swedish prime minister, Olof Palme, was killed as he left a
theatre in 1986.

Abraham Lincoln, the US president, was killed in a theatre. John F.
Kennedy was assassinated in broad daylight in Dallas, Texas.

The USA has nothing like the cradle-to-grave social welfare system
that Sweden has. It's emphatically capitalist. The government notoriously
persecuted all suspected communists in Hollywood - of all places - through
the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, from 1947.

In the Senate, the chief head-hunter was Joseph McCarthy. The
committee, renamed the House Internal security Committee was abandoned only
in 1975.

Still the richest country in the world is far from being an example of
a Perfect World. Richard Nixon's Watergate scandal introduced the world to a
new definition of political skulduggery.

George W. Bush's misadventure in Iraq has definitely heightened the
suspicion among many that the USA cannot be identified as an example of The
Perfect World.

The demise of communism in the late 1980s put paid to the wild hype
and hope that in this ideology of equality lay the seeds of a Perfect World.

My memory of a visit to the Soviet Union in 1973 remains of a young
man in Baku, Azerbajain, begging me for chewing gum, as we walked along a
street in that city.

witzerland, which has not gone to war for ages, is rich, but not
"perfect". A recent election centred on a drive to kick out immigrants. Most
critics called it "racist".

Then you have Zimbabwe which, at independence in 1980 was once touted
as being on the verge of emerging as an African country inching towards a
near-perfect world.

Today, with almost all supermarkets half empty or shut down
altogether, what would an average Zimbabwean citizen consider their "perfect
world"?

One in which they are able to work to provide for their families, save
money for the family's future, build a decent house in a decent area and
retire in comfort.

One in which there is freedom of expression, education, food, shelter,
security, worship and association.

Any citizen who pays taxes, doesn't sexually molest innocent men,
women or children, must be entitled to a say in who can guarantee these
freedoms.

Their choice would be made in an election, as free and fair as it can
be. If it does not meet that criterion, then they ought to demand to know
why.

Some African analysts now believe we should experiment with compulsory
voting: there is a deep darkness in the minds of many about the exact role
of an election in determining who runs a countries and how.

It's not enough to insist that since 1957, all Africans know the
relevance of an election to their destiny. There were elections in Ghana
from 1957 but Kwame Nkrumah was not removed in an election. Most Africans
have understandably lost faith in elections as a guarantor of their
freedoms.

n example was the cause of the Biafran war in Nigeria: Odemugu Ojukwu
lost faith in the federal system as protection of the rights of the people
of Eastern Nigeria.

A BBC programme featuring the Nigerian Nobel Prize for Literature
winner, Wole Soyinka's interviews with Ojukwu and his then adversary, Yakubu
Gowon, brings to the fore the futility of entrusting political decisions to
soldiers.

People, in general, ought to be educated on the dynamics of the
political clout they wield in determining their destiny.

If it cannot be achieved through a free and fair election, then they
must demand to know why not.

Most governments in Africa, unfortunately, would not raise a finger to
help their people through the maze of an uncluttered diagram of how any
election has to constitute the ultimate testimony of their freedom of
choice.

To many diehard pan-Africanists, this requirement seems to have all
the unpalatable ingredients of a Western system.

They would prefer for the people to trust "their" government to honour
its pledges to be fair to them. There is much evidence such a risk could be
fatal.

There have to be clear structures, supervised by independent agents,
to ensure the people are not taken for a ride.

If helps if the opposition is clear-headed as it goes into an
election. By its own fuzzy thinking and planning, it might turn the turkey
and mistletoe into sadza (isitshwala) cooked by a drunk, with rotten maize
meal infested with rat droppings.

If you eat that for Christmas, watch as unpleasant things explode from
your rear-end.

saidib@standard.co.zw


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Zanu PF politburo hand-picked, not elected: Tekere

Zim Standard

  sundayview by Judith
Todd

A group of us, including Mike Munyati from Zimbabwe Television, met at
Sandro's to commiserate with Godwin Matatu. Mike was "shocked but not
surprised" by the news that Shamuyarira was making it impossible for Godwin,
like Michelle Faul, to continue working as a journalist in Zimbabwe.

It was now the turn of veteran Zanu PF politician Edgar Tekere to be
in trouble, and Mike told us what bits had been cut from his interview with
Tekere, screened that week. These were that the political leadership in the
country had "decayed" and that Tekere no longer had any respect for the Zanu
PF Politburo, as it was now hand-picked, not elected. Mike said his friends
in the CIO were expecting trouble in Tekere's stamping ground, Manicaland.
"The ground is swelling," they told Mike.

Mike, previously of Zanla, asked me something about PF Zapu. I said I
didn't know, as I was not a member of Zapu or any other party. Mike laughed.
"Don't apologise," he said. "It's not entirely a bad thing to belong to
Zapu." Then he said: "You see, Godwin, Judy loves underdogs. When she came
back to Zimbabwe, she was worried that she wouldn't have anyone to look
after. But then, fortunately for her, we started crushing Zapu."

Mike wasn't very happy himself. I gave him a lift back to ZTV and, as
we arrived, his hands clenched and he beat a tattoo on the dashboard. "War!"

For the past two months there had been an instruction at ZTV that no
stories could go out without being cleared with the director of news. The
director was himself immediately under Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation's
director-general, Tirivafi Kangai, brother of Minister Kumbirai Kangai.
Kumbirai had been appointed by the Politburo, through Minister Nyagumbo, as
Zanu PF chairman for Manicaland province in the place of Edgar Tekere.

That first week of May 1987, Godwin Matatu for the London Observer,
Karl Maier of the UK Independent, Sully Abu for the Lagos African Guardian
and I visited Rusape and spent some hours with Edgar Tekere. I noted some of
his thoughts.

Was his removal a surprise?

I'm used to being surprised in the rough and tumble of politics. But I
have always tended to be controversial and not many people like controversy,
especially in a young country like ours, which is still trying to find its
way.

Why were you removed?

Perhaps someone could find a very good n'anga (traditional soothsayer)
to answer that question for me. But by way of guesstimating, it's probably
because I'm very critical of the people up there. There is daily theft and
corruption by our leaders. Compare this to our leadership code, where it is
stipulated that our leaders cannot own more than 50 acres of land each.
Perhaps some now own 50 000 acres. This is a collapse of our leadership code
and it is my duty as a leader to criticise this.

Comrade Nyagumbo has said that I'm my own enemy. Well, I'm my own
enemy because I'm not going to sit back and let them get away with what they
are doing. They are violating every basic code of Zanu and of our
beginnings. How can thieves talk about socialism? How can we talk about our
very poor people when their leadership is corrupted?

What do you feel about the collapse of the unity talks?

I was working in the very innermost Zanu committee on unity. I was
made responsible for approaches to various groups. I was working from the
basis that unity must not be only Zanu-Zapu, it must be national.

And Zanu had accepted that concept. "Let us work in togetherness and
without recrimination." As a governing party one of the obligations is to
lead the nation in togetherness. But I'm not sure how many of my colleagues
appreciate this. I describe the pasis (down with) as the slogans of
yesterday, the products of minds that are bankrupt. Instead of pasi to Nkomo
or to Zapu, can't we instead have down with laziness? Instead of pamberi
(forward) with Zanu, can't we have forward with work or forward with the
five-year plan?

I had done very well with the Muzorewa group, and so our leadership
thought I could help with Matabeleland and suggested I go there for three
weeks. I said no, I can meet Nkomo in Parliament. I was getting on fine with
them and I had even met Ian Smith. I was then going to get on with the
Ndabaningi Sithole group, through Noel Mukono. The only problem was I
thought I was going too slowly. So when it was decided that the unity talks
had collapsed, I felt frustrated and embarrassed. I had been doing the
spadework single-handedly. How would the people I had approached in good
faith now feel?

It is the obligation of this government to continue to toil for
national unity.

What is your response to the statement that there is no Zanu PF in
Manicaland without Tekere?

I really would not like to comment on that. That's for other people to
say. I was a founder member of Zanu. They asked me to table the motion to
get rid of Nkomo and then of Sithole, and I did. It was very dangerous then
to try and get rid of Nkomo, but I did what I was asked.

I joined the Youth League in 1955. I am a political animal and I am
going to die a political animal.

By way of national duty, I still know how to put on my uniform. If,
for example, we are threatened by South Africa, I must remember to put on my
uniform, not my tie and suit. I am 50 now, but I think the bones and muscles
can still do the bush.

What is the future for yourself and for Zanu PF?

I leave that for providence to decide. However, it is not a privilege
to be concerned about the future. It is a right. I am going to continue
politicking.

Might you not step on the toes of those who are against you?

As I said at that meeting of our province addressed by Comrade
Nyagumbo on Friday 1 May, you may yet sack me from the party, you might
arrange for me to be gunned down in broad daylight, you might arrange for me
to sit on a bomb so that I go up in smoke. In this game of politics one has
to learn to wear heavy-duty shock absorbers.

What is your relationship with the prime minister?

There is no personal relationship. There is just a business
relationship to do with management. I do not accept what has happened to me.
We have a national disciplinary committee. This committee, in the case of
Zvobgo, went to the Politburo, who then took the case to the full Central
Committee. Why did this not happen to me? Because they are being dicey. This
is where I get very, very hot. The Politburo is now hand-picked, not
elected. I have no respect for it. It is the hand-picked people who are
interferring with those who are popularly elected. What a mess-up in the
party!

No one says the issue was clearly discussed, even in the Politburo?

No.

How do you think Comrade Nyagumbo had the authority to act as he did?

Political ineptitude. I am not responsible for the activities of
political fools. Although I myself am an April fool, born on the first of
April just over fifty years ago, and I now have half a century of political
foolishness behind me. I am not as foolish as some.

l Excerpt from Judith Todd's latest book, Through the Darkness; A Life
in Zimbabwe, available from www.zebrapress.co.za


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Amendment 18 silent on many critical issues

Zim Standard

  WHILE there is the provision in
Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill 2007 that, for the first time in the
history of constituency delimitation in the country, parliament would be
presented with the preliminary report for consideration, we have noted, with
interest, that the Bill is quite inexplicit on various issues that pertain
to the delimitation exercise.

Although it states that the "President shall cause the report to be
laid before Parliament within the next seven days after he has received it"
from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, it is not clear what powers
Parliament has over making any changes to the report. The Bill is also
silent on what it is really that Parliament can do with the report. What is
clear, however, is that Parliament is not the final authority in determining
the boundaries since the report has to go back to the President then ZEC for
final approval.

In some countries where a constituency plan proposed by a boundary
commission must be enacted by the legislature before it is implemented, the
law is always explicit on the role that the legislature plays in the drawing
up of constituency boundaries.

Countries like Mauritius and Malaysia have provisions in the
constitution which outline that the legislature can either accept or reject
the proposed delimitation plan. The two countries' constitutions are also
clear that while parliament can accept or reject the delimitation plan, it
does not have the authority to modify the plan. In the Bill, it is not clear
what parliament can do with the report, whether it has powers to modify it
or not remains unclear.

According to the Bill, it is not explicit whether parliament can
effect changes to the constituency plan, or as is the case with Mauritius
and Malaysia, just reject it without powers to modify it.

The Bill is also silent on the role of the executive pertaining to the
Bill. Is it that the President just causes the report to be tabled before
parliament or he has powers to make changes to the constituency map within
the seven days before he causes the report to be debated in parliament? It
is important to note that prior to the provisions in the Bill, the President
was the final authority with regards to the delimitation of constituencies
but according to the new Bill, ZEC has the final authority. It is therefore
not clear, as is the case with parliament, what the role of the executive is
when he is presented with the ZEC delimitation report.

The Bill also does not make it clear whether there is provision for
legal recourse to aggrieved parties who might feel hard done by the way the
constituency boundaries would have been drawn up. Some countries like
Nigeria and Uganda have made provisions to allow delimitation plans to be
challenged in court while others like Tanzania and Pakistan have effectively
barred court processes that involve the delimitation issues. In our case the
proposed constitutional amendments are not clear on whether the delimitation
plans can be challenged in court or not.

The amendments do not indicate what form of action will be taken in
case parliament is dissolved before the delimitation report is tabled before
it. One would have thought the Bill was to have provisions that take care of
the likely event that parliament dissolution precedes the completion of delimitation.

But while the Bill is silent on the several issues that we have raised
above, it is loud on some provisions that we feel have an impact on the
administration of elections. It specifies that the delimitation report
should be completed not later than one month before parliament is dissolved
to allow for the parliamentarians to deliberate on the report before their
attention is shifted towards campaigning.

The usual practice in the country has been that delimitation is done
three months before the election. As ZESN, we recommend that the
delimitation process be finalised at least six months before parliament is
dissolved. This would enable ZEC to establish adequate polling stations and
come up with staffing levels that would make the whole election
administration process viable. Apart from expediting ZEC's work, timely
establishment of polling stations and their publication would help the
electorate acquiesce themselves with the voting centres and this is
particularly crucial in the harmonised 2008 elections.

The early completion of the delimitation exercise would afford
stakeholders involved in civic education, ample time to inform the
electorate of the new constituency, ward and senatorial boundaries so that
they register, transfer or inspect the voters' roll in time for the actual
election. Ahead of the election in 2008, this will be very crucial as it
will necessitate people to be acquiescent with their wards as the election
will include local authority elections.

The Bill is also clear that ZEC would play a crucial role in
determining constituency boundaries, thus there is need to ensure ZEC is as
impartial as is possible. There is need, therefore, to ensure that ZEC as
the Electoral Management Body (EMB) excludes anyone with political
connections from serving on the commission. It should have its own staff not
the current situation where staff is seconded from government ministries,
departments and even the security services. ZEC should also have its own
consolidated funds to avert reliance on government for funding which can
compromise its impartiality.

ZEC officials should report directly to Parliament not an individual
minister who, in our case, is a contestant in the elections for which the
boundaries are drawn. In short, as stipulated in the SADC Principles and
Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections section 7.4, ZEC should be
"impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable" as well as "staffed by
qualified personnel" who are incorruptible so as to ensure that the whole
electoral process, including delimitation, is as impartial as is possible.

Article produced by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN).


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Zim Standard Letters



AU should stop protecting Mugabe's autocratic regime

FOR all his denigration of the British on the world stage, (President)
Robert Mugabe is very attached to our way of doing things at Westminster.

Sadly, it is only the pomp and ceremony that attends the opening of
Parliament he likes. He attends his Parliament in an open-topped
vintage Rolls-Royce, escorted by mounted lancers resplendent in
colonial-style pith helmets and with his consort beside him.

He has dispensed with all the tiresome bits: fair elections, open
debate, free media and open association. Opposition MPs who criticise him
are viciously assaulted by the security forces, detained and charged with
treason.

Members of his own Zanu PF and the armed forces who show signs of
disloyalty have a noticeable tendency to die in motor accidents.
Ruthlessness towards political opponents has always been Mugabe's hallmark.

The international community was so keen to buy into his self-portrayal
as the magnanimous and conciliatory statesman that it turned a blind eye to
incidents such as the murder - in a "car crash" - of Josiah Tongogara,
commander of the Zanu's military wing Zanla, only six days after the signing
of the Lancaster House Agreement in 1979.

Far more seriously; it ignored the 1980/5 Gukurahundi massacre of 20
000 so-called dissidents in Matabeleland.

The principal donor nations, the UK and USA, are portrayed as villains
even though we provide food aid to keep millions of Zimbabweans alive in a
country where agriculture has been systematically destroyed as a means of
political control.

African leaders, mesmerised by the myth Mugabe has
created of himself as the liberator and father of Zimbabwe, scramble
to protect him.

Mugabe's skill has been to maintain the facade of functioning
democratic institutions and rule of law. He can afford to do that because he
knows he can crack down with an iron fist when any real threat to his power
shows signs of momentum. As with any bully, he doesn't need to resort to
violence; the reputation for violence is enough to cow the desperate
population into
submission.

Yet somehow, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions continues to
mobilise resistance to the regime with great international solidarity from
Cosatu in South Africa and our own TUC.

Keeping together a democratic and non-violent opposition in a despotic
state that has at its disposal the untrammelled forces of the army, police
and youth militia has been a magnificent achievement on the part of Morgan
Tsvangirai, the leader of the mainstream MDC opposition.

International commentators lecture opposition groups saying they must
present a united front, however artificial it might be. Surely Zimbabweans
deserve democracy, not a one-party state nor a one-party opposition.

Zanu PF itself is more divided than ever. I'm not really interested in
which faction leader is in the ascendant. In my view, all the senior members
of
the Zanu PF line-up have been too closely involved and complicit in
Mugabe's reign of terror to be able to play any part in rebuilding Zimbabwe.
What we want for Zimbabwe is democracy, so that the people of Zimbabwe can
decide who they want in government.

It remains to be seen whether the mediation process facilitated by
President (Thabo) Mbeki at the request of SADC leads anywhere or is just
another ploy to buy time for Mugabe and continue wearing down the
opposition.

Nothing in Mugabe's past, and the continuing violence being meted out
to the MDC, suggests that he is ready to give up power. But the economic
position of the country is dire and his ability to fall back on state
resources and play a long game is running out.

The prime minister's refusal to take part in the EU-Africa summit if
it means sitting down with Mugabe is very welcome. The African Union should
stop protecting Mugabe. Only then will we be able to believe the commitments
they made to good governance and democracy at Gleneagles.

Kate Hoey

UK Labour MP and chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on
Zimbabwe

--------------
 Why Zanu PF wants executive mayors out

IT is not difficult to appreciate the motive of the paranoid regime's
intention to dissolve the posts of executive mayors.

The ruling party is scared of an embarrassing defeat if the elections
are held. Who is comfortable with the skyrocketing bills of unavailable
water? Worse still, it is doubtful whether the water is fit for human
consumption, when eventually it becomes available.

Who is comfortable with the daily floods of sewage at a time when all
meals are being prepared outdoors due to load-shedding of electricity
supplies?

Because the ruling party is obviously bankrupt and has no meaningful
sympathisers beside village heads, there is a strong need to consolidate its
grip on council affairs with the control of revenues being prominent. Most
Zanu PF chefs have unscrupulously contracted their private companies to
councils, using the influence of their offices. In the event that the
opposition holds influential posts like that of executive mayors, retaining
these contracts won through fraudulent tender procedures will be extremely
difficult.

The ruling party considered it a waste of their meagre resources, time
and energy especially in view of the hard-to-be-won harmonised parliamentary
and presidential elections. The abolition of the post of executive mayors is
just a case of sour grapes.

It is not surprising that the Minister of Local Government confessed
publicly that there has never been efficient administration of council
affairs since 1995. But who has been running the councils beside Zanu PF?

Makanyisa Wachop

Chitungwiza

----------------
 Most prices no longer affordable

GOODS in shops have gone up again. Just
imagine biscuits selling for $350 000. In cloth-shops, one metre of material
is going for more than $1 000 000.

Maize meal is going for $1 000 000 for a 10 kg bag. Meat is somewhere
around $1 000 000 and $2 000 000 a kg. Is this is normal in a country where
most of us in the private sector are earning around $5 000 000 a month?

Salaries are still frozen and there is not much buying power among
poor Zimbabweans.

We are suffering out here, people. Those privileged to get close to
the ministers should tell them that things are tough out here. The black
market is thriving and everything is in abundance. Our salaries are pegged
on normal scaling but our expenditures are on the black market rate. How is
one expected to balance things? Kombis are demanding $200 000 a single
journey.

So where are the price control people? We thought they had found an
appropriate formula for the economy last time when they forced everything to
be reduced. We are now far worse than before.

If Obert Mpofu, the Minister of Industry and International Trade keeps
quiet in the face of all this madness we shall say he does not know what he
is doing. Maybe he was just politicking since we are approaching elections.
But this has made him very unpopular with everyone.

Finally, may I appeal for an overhaul of the entire economic system?

Accusing each other will not take us to anywhere. The outside world
has its own contributions but let us be bold enough and accept where we have
erred. Let us call a spade a spade. We have messed up. Let us pick the
broken pieces and start to rebuild.

Sam Khumalo

Bulawayo


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Mugabe gives UZ graduates the silent treatment

zimbabwejournalists.com

 3rd Nov 2007 01:00 GMT

By a Correspondent

HARARE - Irked by growing opposition to his rule at the University of
Zimbabwe, President Mugabe yesterday capped 3 034 students but departed from
the norm. He did not say a single word to congratulate the graduates or even
encourage them or their parents as he normally does and has been doing this
year at other university graduations around the country.

Graduates and their parents were shocked yesterday when Mugabe stuck to his
mere ceremonial role and did give a speech at the institution which has over
the past few years been regaining its stature of being a hot-bed for
opposition politics.

Students at the university, who have aligned themselves to the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have been giving the government
headaches with protests that have also resulted in property being damaged on
campus.

There was tight security at the UZ with armed security details from the
army, police and Central Intelligence Organisation all over the place.
Cameras were not allowed into the sports pavilion where the ceremony took
place and cell phones had to be switched off.  Those who had cameras to
capture their children or relatives important moment had to leave them
outside if they wanted to enter the pavilion.

"President Mugabe is well-known for holding grudges and this time it was us
the poor University of Zimbabwe graduates at the receiving end. I take it he
did not want to be seen complimenting a group of students who have and
continue to condemn his rule," said one student from the arts faculty.

"Can you imagine none of us will have a photograph to cherish the hour they
graduated because someone did not want pictures to be, I assume, distributed
on the internet to even sent to the international media. It is rank madness,
especially to think that a whole President will take it out on students and
treat them as if they do not even exist."

The graduates and their guest had to take pictures at the different
faculties and around the university after the ceremony and after Mugabe had
left.

One graduate who only wanted to be identified as Chipo said: "It would have
been good for some of us who have no political connections at least to hear
the Chancellor saying something. There were no ululations, the kind
synonymous with such occasions, the ceremony for me was just dead but anyway
what matters most is that I have graduated, I have done well and hope now to
get out there and get a job, hopefully."

Another graduate said: "Of all the things, I did not expect to have such a
graduation ceremony. I know there are some involved in politics who did not
even want him to cap them but others like me would have loved to hear him
say something about our prospects in the Zimbabwe we are living in today,
job creation and related things but he chose to keep quiet and walk away
without even saying congratulations to us, let alone our hard-working
parents who suffered through this man-made crisis to have us go to
university to this day."

At least 2 320 graduates were conferred with first degrees, 703 with Masters
degrees and 11 with Doctorates in Philosophy.

They came from the Faculties of Agriculture, Arts, Commerce, Education, Law,
Science, Social Studies and Veterinary Science and from the Institute of
Development Studies and the College of Health Sciences.

The graduates comprised 144 medical doctors, 14 dentists, 42 pharmacists, 25
medical laboratory scientists, 16 veterinary doctors, 137 agriculture
scientists, 43 computer science specialists, 83 accountants, 263 economists,
184 engineers and 91 lawyers.

Mugabe has in past speeches urged such graduates to stay and work towards
the development of their country rather than moving to greener pastures.
Most health professionals from Zimbabwe go to work in the United Kingdom,
New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.

Vice Chancellor Professor Levy Nyagura, who spoke at the ceremony, boasted
the UZ continued to strengthen links with universities in the Far East.

"The University of Zimbabwe is keen to meet the growing demands for Chinese
language as our people seek to explore the vast business opportunities that
you, Your Excellency and Chancellor, have abundantly created for our
economy.

"To that end, it is our hope that the University of Zimbabwe, through the
Confucius Institute, will accelerate better understanding of China, promote
greater bilateral exchange and co-operation, and help commerce and industry
and individuals by offering consultation, Chinese language and culture
training and transfer of technology," said Nyagura.

Meanwhile the Zimbabwe Youth Movement reports that its treasurer Wellington
"General Homes" Mahohoma was abducted at the UZ yesterday.

"Mahohoma was invited to attend a graduation ceremony at the University of
Zimbabwe by his brother, Walter Mahohoma who was graduating with Masters in
Agro-meteorology," the ZYM said in a statement. "General Homes is a former
student leader at the University of Zimbabwe who was slapped with a life ban
along with three other colleagues in 2006 after leading a myriad of
demonstrations at the university in particular and the country at large."

Witnesses said Mahohoma was "whisked away by unidentified man in suits
suspected to be CIO and part of the presidential guard working in cahoots
with the university security".

Efforts to contact the Avondale police station and university security have
been in vain.


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Zimbabwe lawmaker arrested over cooking oil scam

Yahoo News

Sat Nov 3, 8:27 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - A lawmaker from Zimbabwe's ruling party has been arrested
after handing himself over to the police investigating the sale of 10,000
litres of cooking oil on the black market, a report said Saturday.

The state-run Herald said police arrested Zanu-PF lawmaker Zacharia Ziyambi,
of Kadoma West, in connection with the sale of the cooking oil consignment.
It added that authorities were also keen to question a senator, Chiratidzo
Gava.

"He (Ziyambi) is still in police custody and investigations are still
continuing," police spokesman Oliver Mandipaka told the daily.

"Our specific interest is to critically examine and establish the
circumstances surrounding the acquisition of 10,000 litres of cooking oil
from Grefax Cotton," he added.

Ziyambi and Gava are alleged to have signed a letter to acquire the cooking
oil from Grafax Cotton purportedly for the benefit of their constituents.

Mandipaka said police impounded the cooking oil found being offloaded in
drums from a Nissan truck near a furniture shop.

In June, President Robert Mugabe's government ordered a blanket freeze on
the prices of all goods and services, previously limited to essential
products, saying prices could only be raised with government approval.

Zimbabwe, reeling under hyperinflation, is critically short of essential
items like wheat, fuel, cooking oil and sugar.

In July, a senator from the ruling party and thousands of business people
were arrested for flouting a government-imposed ceiling on basic commodity
prices.

Mugabe's government introduced price controls five years ago to fight a
burgeoning black market in staples like cornmeal, cooking oil and bread.


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Mbeki accused of ignoring human rights abuses in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean

Friday, 02 November 2007 16:08
By Ntando Ncube

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa 's minority African Christian Democratic
Party (ACDP) party said on Thursday that President Thabo Mbeki's mediation
talks on Zimbabwe is looking bleak if Mbeki fails to recognize the human
rights violations by Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party.

ACDP President, Kenneth Meshoe, accused Mbeki - who was appointed by
the SADC heads of states to mediate between Zimbabwe 's ruling party Zanu-PF
and the main opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) - of
being Mugabe's chief defender.

"So far President Thabo Mbeki did not see anything wrong with Mugabe
and his government while there are lucid human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
While this continues we don't see any hope for progress in these talks. As
an opposition party we urge him (Mbeki) to stop being biased and
self-protective towards Mugabe, while the Zimbabwean government continues
with human rights abuses in the country in the presence of mediation talks.

"We call on President Mbeki being honest and open to Mugabe if he is
wrong and to be open to the opposition if it is wrong", Meshoe said.

Meshoe blamed Mugabe for failing to respect the ongoing talks.

The SADC-led mediation talks on Zimbabwe missed Tuesday's key deadline
to agree on a broad framework for free and fair elections.

Meanwhile South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic
Alliance (DA), said Thursday that it has submitted written parliamentary
questions to Mbeki on Zimbabwe.

Despite missing the Tuesday' deadline, the negotiating teams in
Pretoria continue to thrash out some remaining stumbling blocks.

Issues still to be tackled are the role of the police, military and
the CIO during the elections, and the contentious issue of when to introduce
the country's new constitution. Both sides are agreed on a new constitution
but are divided over when to introduce it. Zanu-PF wants to introduce it
after the elections, while the MDC insists it must happen before.

The talks constitute the most comprehensive and sustained attempt so
far to reduce tensions between Zanu-PF and the opposition parties in
Zimbabwe and to move ahead with free and fair elections.


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MDC in weekend crisis talks

From Business Day (SA), 3 November

Dumisani Muleya and Sarah Hudleston

Morgan Tsvangirai's future at the helm of Zimbabwe's strife-torn opposition
party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), hangs in the balance ahead
of Saturday's crisis meeting to deal with growing infighting. Tsvangirai,
President Robert Mugabe's main political rival, is fighting for political
survival in the MDC after a rebellion in the party structures, which was
triggered by his recent dismissal of the head of the women's league, Lucia
Matibenga. Tsvangirai nearly defeated Mugabe in the 2002 presidential
election, "losing" by a mere 400 000 votes amid allegations that the
election was rigged. Tsvangirai challenged the electoral outcome in court,
but the case is still pending. However, his power and influence seems to be
on the wane since 2005 - with the MDC splitting into two factions over
participation in the senate elections. The recent squabbles in the
Tsvangirai-led MDC could weaken the opposition.

Accusations of violations of the constitution, violence and weak leadership
are being levelled against Tsvangirai by his hitherto loyalists, who are
infuriated by his unilateral dismissal of Matibenga to install Theresa
Makone - the wife of his adviser, Ian Makone - as head of the women's wing.
Loyalists, including his deputy, Thokozani Khupe, held a women's congress in
Bulawayo last weekend and elected Makone as the new leader of the women's
wing. This sparked off angry reactions in the party structures. There is
also anger that Tsvangirai has not briefed party structures about the talks
between the MDC and Zanu PF facilitated by President Thabo Mbeki. Matibenga
and others have been critical of the approach adopted by Tsvangirai and his
secretary-general, Tendai Biti. Reports from Harare say that the MDC's
parliamentary caucus wants to oust Tsvangirai, saying he has become a
liability to the party.

Party spokesman Nelson Chamisa confirmed Saturday's crisis meeting, saying
it would also be an opportunity discuss the alleged escalation of violence
against opposition members. "The MDC as a democratic institution has
sufficient mechanisms to deal with challenges that are inevitable in such a
mass-based organisation," Chamisa said. He declined to comment on
behind-the-scenes manoeuvres to oust Tsvangirai. But sources say that senior
party officials, among them organising secretary Elias Mudzuri, Chamisa,
youth chairperson Thamsanga Mahlangu, deputy secretary-general Tapiwa
Mashakada, health secretary Blessing Chebundo, transport secretary Murisi
Zwizwai and Budiriro MP Emmanuel Chisvuure, now want Tsvangirai out. William
Bango, Tsvangirai's spokesman, says these men are among Tsvangirai's closest
allies and that the issue has been blown out of all proportion. "I know
these men and to a man, if they had a problem with the president, they would
sit down and work it out with him," he says.

But sources say Tsvangirai has lost the support of one of his former key
advisers, top national executive council member Eliphas Mukonoweshuro. They
say this influential group wants to depose him if he refuses to reverse the
decision to dissolve Matibenga's women's assembly. Mashakada is being tipped
to lead the MDC in the interim until a special congress is held to elect a
new leadership, sources say. Documents show Mudzuri last week wrote to
Tsvangirai telling him that the dissolution of the Matibenga executive was
brazenly unconstitutional. "The process of dissolving the assembly can only
be done by the national executive committee, national council or national
assembly of women," Mudzuri warned Tsvangirai.

"It is unacceptable for us, the president and the secretary-general, as the
custodians of the constitution, to breach the constitution. You must relook
at this and respect the constitution." But Tsvangirai ignored the advice and
forged ahead with the "congress". Tsvangirai reportedly enjoys the support
of Biti, national chairperson Lovemore Moyo, and his "kitchen cabinet" made
up of Ian and Theresa Makone, businessman Jameson Timba and lawyer Selby
Hwacha, among others. Roy Bennett, the party's national treasurer, said on
Friday that reports that Tsvangirai's tenure as leader was under threat were
"absolute rubbish". "His support has never been stronger. Any ructions are
part of a process of cleaning the party of Central Intelligence Organisation
infiltrators. He has done nothing unconstitutional. The decision to get rid
of Matibenga was taken by the women's league on grounds of nonperformance.
But it has provided a great opportunity for the government to undermine his
leadership," he said.


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Fuel Supplies


I note in the latest Zimday that the Business Day Newspaper in South
Africa
carries a story about the fuel pipeline from Beira to Harare. This
story has
many inaccuracies in it including the basic facts. At the peak of
economic
activity in 1997 the country used about 5,5 million litres of liquid
fuels a
day. This is thought to have slumped to less than half as a
consequence of
the economic collapse that has followed over the past decade.

The pipeline was originally established by Lonrho working with the
Government of Mozambique and its ownership, even today, is shrouded in
mystery. What we do know is that the tariff charged for the use of the
pipeline has been very substantially above world market rates for
similar
pipelines of a similar length and capacity.

Originally the pipeline was built to serve the oil refinery at Feruka
but
after the imposition of sanctions in 1966 by the UN the pipeline was
not
used until it became possible to feed refined products through its
length
after Independence. Thereafter the Norwegian Government financed the
development of a new petroleum terminal at Beira as a part of the
Beira
Corridor Project.

The pipeline was subsequently extended to Harare - by a consortium
which
again included Lonrho and the Zimbabwe government. It was designed to
terminate at the newly established underground storage facilities at
Msasa
in Harare. The latter are thought to be capable of storing up to half
the
total demand for liquid fuels for a year. In fact they have not been
used to
any extent because it was discovered that the storage of refined
petroleum
products for any length of time is a difficult and expensive
operation.

Subsequently the private sector (led by Mobil who have now left the
country)
built a storage complex above ground some 3 kilometres from the
underground
facilities and these tanks are now used as the terminus of the
pipeline.

The capacity of the line is 3 million litres of fuel a day - not the
1,2
billion litres a day as recorded in the article. The balance of our
requirements was always imported via rail from South Africa where
there is a
surplus of diesel due to the operations of SASOL.

Eddie Cross
30th October 2007


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Refugee dies of hunger on Cape Town street

IOL

     November 03 2007 at 10:11AM

By Clayton Barnes

Adonis Musati, a Zimbabwean asylum seeker and a familiar face to many
at Cape Town's Home Affairs office, died on a pavement just metres from the
Foreshore office on Friday.

Musati, 24, is believed to have died of hunger.

Bennett Hodi, the last to see Musati alive, said he came zigzagging
across the road towards the Cape Town International Convention Centre on
Friday morning and asked a construction worker for money to buy a loaf of
bread.

      'These guys have a strong bond, they are like a family'
Hodi, a guard at a nearby construction site, said although none of the
workers had money, a colleague decided to buy the bread as they could see
Musati was hungry and weak.

"He told us he hadn't eaten in two weeks," said Hodi. "We gave him the
bread and he finished half a loaf in seconds.

"He then asked for water and swallowed a few sips before lying down
under a tree on the island opposite the Convention Centre.

"A few minutes later we noticed he was lying on his back with his legs
and arms stretched out. That's when we rushed over and saw he wasn't
breathing. We immediately called the police."

Braam Hanekom, chairperson of People Against Suffering, Suppression,
Oppression and Poverty (Passop), was greeted by a crowd of people standing
around Musati's body after being released from the holding cells at Cape
Town Central police station on Friday afternoon.

Hanekom and a member of his refugee advocacy group were arrested on
Thursday night after a peaceful sit-in by desperate asylum seekers turned
violent when they clashed with police.

The refugees refused to leave the department's premises after waiting
more than seven hours to be served.

Hanekom said Musati's death had left the refugees heartbroken and
angry.

"These guys have a strong bond, they are like a family," said Hanekom.
"These refugees have nowhere to go, nothing to eat and nowhere to live.

"They depend on begging in the streets bordering the Home Affairs
office to stay alive.

"This is unfortunate and if nothing is done, we are definitely going
to see more refugees dying on the streets of this country."

Patrick Chauke, chairperson of Parliament's Home Affairs Portfolio
Committee, was on the scene and said Musati's death was a tragedy.

"This is not good, but we are trying our best to process the paperwork
for all refugees as effectively and efficiently as possible," said Chauke.
"Our condolences go out to the family.

"The next step now is to get in contact with the Zimbabwean
authorities and their embassy. We'll do our best to see that the deceased
gets a proper burial. If his family is located in time we might be able to
transport his body back."

Musati's friend, Steve Mabambe, said he was saddened by Musati's death
and feared living on the streets of Cape Town.

"I came here for a better life, but it looks like we will all die if
we don't get asylum and jobs soon," said Mabambe.

Senior Superintendent Billy Jones said an inquest docket was opened.

This article was originally published on page 5 of Cape Argus on
November 03, 2007

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