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Zimbabwe opposition fails to unlock Senate deadlock

ZimOnline


Fri 14 October 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi on Thursday said a meeting of top leaders of
the party earlier in the day had failed to resolve a deadlock on whether the
party should contest Senate polls next month.

But Nyathi said consultations were continuing on the matter,
threatening to split the six-year old party that has to date posed the
biggest threat to President Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party's
25-year stranglehold on power.

The MDC official told ZimOnline: "Nothing has come out of the meeting
of the MDC's top six leaders who were seeking to unravel the differences in
positions taken by the president (Morgan Tsvangirai) and the national
council ..but they hold meetings regularly and we hope they will find a
final solution to the matter soon."

According to Nyathi, those who attended yesterday's inconclusive
meeting were party president Morgan Tsvangirai, vice-president Gibson
Sibanda, secretary general Welshman Ncube, deputy secretary general Gift
Chimanikire, national chairman Isaac Matongo and treasurer Fletcher Dulini
Ncube.

Tsvangirai could not be reached for comment on the matter last night
but his spokesman William Bango insisted the MDC leader had not attended the
meeting as claimed by Nyathi, in yet another illustration of the confusion
rocking the party.

The MDC leaders were meeting to patch up widening cracks after
Tsvangirai told journalists on Wednesday that a meeting of the party's
national council had resolved to boycott the Senate polls. Tsvangirai
admitted the council had been divided 50:50 on the matter but said he had
used his casting vote in favour of a boycott.

However in a statement barely an hour after Tsvangirai spoke, Nyathi
said the council had in fact voted 33:31 in favour of contesting the polls.

It remains unclear how the MDC will resolve its biggest crisis ever
since its formation by various groups including labour, human rights and
civic groups many of them still in the party solely because of a desire to
remove Mugabe and his government from office.

Political analysts had already warned that the differences over the
Senate election could set asunder the MDC. They said merely boycotting the
polls for whatever reasons and then failing to provide a viable alternative
to pressure Mugabe to accept democratic reforms would make the MDC
irrelevant and could even see some of its leaders breaking away.

Tsvangirai and leaders of the MDC's youth and women's leagues had in
recent weeks vehemently opposed participating in the Senate polls saying
conditions on the ground were not conducive to free and fair polls.

Out of the 66 senators, 50 will be elected by Zimbabweans while 10
shall be elected by the Chiefs' Council and the remainder appointed by
Mugabe.

Critics of the move to reestablish the Senate, abolished more than 10
years ago, say it does not add value to Zimbabwe's legislature and that it
would only help bolster Mugabe's hold on power. - ZimOnline


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IMF team to visit Harare to probe source of mystery funds

ZimOnline


Fri 14 October 2005

JOHANNESBURG - An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team will visit
Zimbabwe at a date still to be fixed to probe the source of Harare's
surprise US$135 million loan payback in the last two months.

IMF Africa department deputy director Michael Nowak said the mission
would report back to the Fund's executive board during its next meeting to
consider overdue accounts in March next year.

Nowak said: "The executive board of the IMF has asked the staff to
verify the sources of these funds. We are in the process of doing that ..a
mission will be going at some point to Harare in order to undertake that
exercise... that mission hasn't yet taken place."

Hard cash-strapped Zimbabwe, in arrears since 2001 paid back to the
Bretton Woods institution $120 million in September and followed up with
another installment of $15 million to leave its debt to the institution at
$160 million.

Harare, which paid only after the IMF threatened to expel it, has said
it plans to clear the outstanding amount by November 2006.

But the source of the money Harare used to pay back remains a mystery
with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono insisting the money was
raised from "free funds" and export earnings.

Economic analysts however remain unconvinced that the southern African
nation, without any meaningful forex reserves since 1999, could afford to
raise so much in just two months.

Unconfirmed reports suggest part of the money was provided by close
Harare allies China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo while some say
President Robert Mugabe raided corporate accounts to raise the money - a
situation that has forced the IMF to step in to investigate.

Zimbabwe is grappling its worst ever economic crisis with food, fuel,
essential medical drugs, electricity and nearly every other basic commodity
in short supply because there is no hard cash to pay foreign suppliers,

Nowak described Zimbabwe's crisis as a "cloud over the rest of the
region" but said foreign investors realised that the rest of southern Africa
was not going the Zimbabwe way.

The IMF official added that although Zimbabwe's economy had shown
remarkable resilience after six years of recession, the Fund was, "very
concerned that remedial policy action be taken ... (to prevent) a situation
where Zimbabwe will never, ever recover to where it was before." - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwe gold production plummets to new low

ZimOnline


Fri 14 October 2005

HARARE - Production of gold, the single largest foreign currency
earner in Zimbabwe, plunged by 31 percent during the first eight months of
this year due to viability problems, piling more pressure on the country's
economic recovery prospects.

Official figures from the Chamber of Mines showed gold output at 9
865.23 kg between January and August this year, much lower than the 14
348.36 kg produced during the same period in 2004.

The drop in production will starve Zimbabwe of critically needed
foreign currency whose shortages have highlighted the country's six-year
economic recession and has also dented hopes of increased production of the
precious metal this year.

Industry officials had this year predicted gold output to increase by
nearly two thirds to a record 35 000 kg, buoyed by prospects of an expected
economic recovery which has since been shattered as the once vibrant economy
totters on the brink of total collapse.

"Production is low at the moment and this is due to shortages of
inputs required by mining companies, especially fuel and of course we also
need chemicals and spares which we have been unable to get due to
unavailability of foreign currency," an industry official told ZimOnline.
"So the industry is in serious problems which is why output has gone down."

Zimbabwe's total gold production last year topped 21,300 kg, which
resulted in foreign currency earnings surging to US$273.8 million from
US$152.3 million previously.

During the first six months of this year, inflows from gold amounted
to US$116.5 million versus US$141.1 million during the same period in 2004.

The industry official also said rising production costs, especially
labour costs and surging price increases, which have pushed inflation to
359.8 percent had helped lower gold output.

President Robert Mugabe's government had hoped that the economic
downturn was starting to level off, and his ruling ZANU PF party campaigned
on a platform of a recovering economy during a parliamentary election in
March which it controversially won. Economic decline has however gathered
momentum since ZANU PF's poll victory. - ZimOnline


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British tycoon consolidates grip on Zimbabwe's anaemic economy

ZimOnline


Fri 14 October 2005

HARARE - British business tycoon and President Robert Mugabe ally,
Nicholas van Hoogstraten, has snapped a huge chunk of the Zimbabwe
government-owned Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) to strengthen further his grip
on the southern African nation's sickly economy.

According to RTG's latest shareholder list, van Hoogstraten - who is
said to have bankrolled Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party on many occasions -
now owns 35 727 640 shares of the company to make him the eighth biggest
shareholder in the firm that is among Zimbabwe's top three hotel and tourism
operators.

Van Hoogstraten, who is represented in RTG by his Messina Investments
firm, moved to consolidate his hold on the tourism firm when the largest
foreign investors French group, Accor Afrique and Libyan firm, LAAICO,
reduced their stake in the group.

The British tycoon, whose farm in Zimbabwe has been spared from
seizure apparently to thank him for financial support, also holds huge
stakes in the country's agriculture and coal mining sectors.

Van Hoogstraten was in the news a few months ago after he again
snapped huge chunks of shares to become the single largest shareholder in
NMB Bank Limited and the giant Hwange Colliery. He controls 32 percent of
coal producer Hwange and about 20 percent of the upmarket NMB.

Earlier this year, he muscled into one of Zimbabwe's biggest
agro-industrial firms, CFI Limited, where he is now the second largest
shareholder controlling seven percent of the company.

Once heralded as Britain's youngest millionaire, van Hoogstraten has
never made any secret of his robust if crude approach to business.

He left school at 16, joined the Royal Navy and travelled the world.
Just a year later, he sold his astutely acquired stamp collection for 1 000
and embarked on a business career, buying property in the Bahamas.

He is believed to have homes in Barbados, St Lucia, Florida, Cannes
and Zimbabwe. He has spoken warmly of Mugabe, whom he once described as "100
percent decent and incorruptible".

He was born in 1946 in Shoreham, East Sussex, as plain Nicholas Marcel
Hoogstraten - the "van" was added later.

With the profits he made from his Bahamas property deals, he moved on
to the British housing market, buying several properties on his way to
becoming a significant player in that country's property sector. - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwe judge dismisses MDC candidate's election

ZimOnline

petition
Fri 14 October 2005

BULAWAYO - A Zimbabwe Electoral Court judge on Thursday dismissed a
petition by former opposition legislator Renson Gasela challenging the
election victory of a ruling ZANU PF candidate in last March's parliamentary
election.

Justice Maphios Cheda ruled that ZANU PF's Josphat Madubeko was
properly elected in the controversial election which he won against Gasela,
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidate for the poll.

Cheda said: "I have variated all the evidence and submissions by both
parties and have concluded that the petition be dismissed with costs and the
respondent be allowed to carry on with his duties as a legislator."

Gasela had argued before the judge during the petition hearing that
his supporters were subjected to harassment by ZANU PF supporters rendering
the outcome of the election not free and fair.

ZANU PF won 78 out of the 120 contested seats with the MDC garnering a
paltry 41 seats. The other seat was won by former government information
minister Jonathan Moyo.

The opposition has refused to accept the March election results saying
ZANU PF had rigged its way to victory. ZANU PF denies the charge. The MDC
initially agreed to challenge ZANU PF's election victories in about 16
constituencies.

The MDC says the Zimbabwe Electoral Court (ZEC), which was set up
earlier this year to resolve electoral disputes, lacks sufficient clout to
make independent decisions. ZEC judges are appointed to the court by
President Robert Mugabe. - ZimOnline


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Zimbabwe High Court judge finally takes over farm after producing offer letter

ZimOnline


Fri 14 October 2005

HARARE - High Court judge Annie-Marie Gowora has finally taken over
Helensvale Farm in Makoni district in Manicaland after she produced an offer
letter from the government allowing her to take over the farm.

Judge Barat Patel on Wednesday ordered the former white owner, Peter
Purcell-Gilpin, to vacate the property also known as Nyamera Farm, after
Gowora produced an offer letter from the government.

Under Zimbabwe's Land Acquisition Act, blacks allocated land seized
from former white owners are given official letters from the lands ministry
naming the specific farms they would have been allocated.

Purcell-Gilspin earlier this month challenged in the High Court the
government's seizure of his property by the judge arguing that the new owner
did not have an offer letter from the government allowing her to take over
the farm.

But in a ruling on the matter on Wednesday, Patel ordered
Purcell-Gilpin to immediately vacate the farm to pave way for the new
owners. He however allowed Purcell-Gilpin to take his moveable property as
well as his cattle and sheep from the farm.

In his court application, Purcell-Gilpin accused the husband's judge,
one S Gowora, of seizing his property with the help of Agriculture and
Justice Ministers Joseph Made and Patrick Chinamasa respectively.

But Gowora later told the court that he was only acting on behalf of
his wife who had been offered the property under the government's land
redistribution exercise.

At least 4 000 white farmers have been expelled from their properties
after President Robert Mugabe began seizing large tracts of land from whites
for redistribution to landless blacks five years ago.

Mugabe says the farm seizures were necessary to correct historical
imbalances in land allocation.

But critics blame the farm seizures for slashing Zimbabwe's food
output resulting in the country depending on food handouts for survival. -
ZimOnline



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Zimbabwe close to running out of anti-retrovirals

Mail and Guardian



Harare, Zimbabwe

13 October 2005 02:03

Zimbabwe's stocks of locally produced anti-retrovirals
(ARVs) are running low, the state daily said on Thursday.

The Herald reported that stocks of the locally
manufactured life-prolonging drugs have dwindled due to shortages of foreign
exchange needed to import raw materials used by pharmaceutical companies to
produce the drugs.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries hardest hit by the
HIV/Aids pandemic with an infection rate of 20,1% and at least 3 000 people
dying weekly from HIV/Aids-related illness -- or about one person every
three minutes -- according to the National Aids Council.

Drug stocks at about 48 public health centres across the
country were not expected to last until December, according to sources who
attended an emergency meeting called by the government this week to discuss
the looming crisis.

"Stocks of anti-retroviral drugs... are running low,
fuelling fears that the lives of thousands could soon be endangered," the
newspaper said.

The majority of the people infected by HIV get their
supplies of drugs from government hospitals or clinics, while a few buy from
private chemists.

But economic hardships have meant even those who used to
afford the expensive imported brands are now turning to public institutions
where a month's supply cost the equivalent of two percent of the average
retail prices.

Zimbabwe launched a public anti-retroviral treatment
programme for the poor and vulnerable people aiming to roll-out ARVs to
about 100 000 people by year-end, but less than 20 000 are receiving the
drugs.

The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria,
last week gave Zimbabwe $105-million of which $62,7-million are earmarked to
fight HIV/Aids.

The government collects a monthly levy from all workers to
fund HIV/Aids projects.

Zimbabwe's HIV prevalence rate has dropped by 4,5% to the
current level of 20,1% in the past two years because of changed sexual
behaviour, according to the government. - Sapa-AFP


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Waiting for change in Zimbabwe

BBC


By Joseph Winter
BBC News Online

The euphoria which surrounded the birth of Zimbabwe's main opposition
party six years ago is being replaced by disillusionment on the part of many
of its supporters.
Only a year ago at a mass birthday party in Harare, Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai told thousands of
supporters: "We are on the winning track. Zimbabwe is on the verge of
massive and decisive change."

But that optimism now appears misplaced.

"By now, I was sure we would be in power," one MDC activist told BBC
News Online.

"We were complacent, we thought it would be easy," he said.

'Nothing tangible'

Just six months after the MDC's launch on 11 September 1999, President
Robert Mugabe suffered his first - and still only - national election defeat
in a referendum on a new constitution.

But that set-back only stirred him into action and the MDC has been
unable to loosen his grip on power.

The opposition says he used violence and rigging to narrowly win
elections in June 2000 and March 2002. In 2005 polls the MDC dropped back
further.

"The MDC has succeeded in maintaining the hopes of Zimbabweans that
change is possible, said Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National
Constitutional Assembly, which is pressing for a new constitution.

"But it has achieved nothing tangible. There has been no change of
government, oppression has got worse and the economy has collapsed."

He says there has been a lack of strategy in the MDC leadership, which
has been outsmarted - and literally outfought - by Mr Mugabe and his Zanu-PF
party.

'Final push'

A woman in Harare, who says she wants a change of government, admits:
"Zanu-PF is better at long-term planning than the MDC. "The MDC just react
and by then, Zanu-PF is already far ahead."

But Mr Mugabe has certainly done everything in his power to make life
difficult for the opposition to operate.

The MDC complains that elections are rigged and street protests are
brutally suppressed by the security services.

Security and media laws have also made life much more difficult for
the opposition.

All political meetings now require police approval, which is rarely
given to the MDC.

All foreign correspondents have been expelled and the only
privately-run daily newspaper closed down, so the MDC has trouble getting
its message out to the electorate.

They tried to organise a "final push" - mass street protests to bring
down Mr Mugabe - in 2003 but the security services succeeded in stamping
these out.

Waiting game

In such circumstances, it is certainly not easy to see how to defeat
Mr Mugabe, except for hanging on and waiting for the economy to deteriorate
to such an extent that he is unable to remain in office.

This has always been Mr Tsvangirai's back-up plan but living standards
for Zimbabweans have got worse and worse and this has not yet led to a
change of government.

"People are impatient and disillusioned," the activist said.

Rampant inflation has eroded the buying power of the Zimbabwe dollar
since 2000.

Mr Madhuku is one of those who called for popular protests to bring
about change.

He says the MDC abandoned mass action too quickly after the failure of
the "final push."

"If people are not prepared to suffer, they won't get change. More
oppression is the only alternative."

Regional hopes

But people are intimidated. The MDC activist says: "It is difficult to
organise marches now. People are afraid."

The MDC previously hoped that regional leaders would put pressure on
President Mugabe to introduce electoral reforms before the parliamentary
elections earlier this year, as part of a new promise by Southern African
leaders to raise the standard of democracy in the region.

But Zimbabwe's neighbours have always been the most reluctant to
criticise Mr Mugabe, who they see as a hero of the fight against
colonialism.

The party initially said it would not contest the 2005 election unless
reform were forthcoming - but reform never materialised and the MDC
eventually put up candidates regardless.

With its options more and more limited, the MDC is once again divided
over whether Zimbabwe-style elections represent a path to change - or
whether the party's participation can do no more than grant legitimacy to an
election that the government will never allow it to win.


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IMF says Zimbabwe woes cast shadow over region

Reuters


Thu Oct 13, 2005 6:27 PM GMT

By Mariam Isa

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's woes are casting a cloud over southern
Africa although they have not yet had a direct economic impact on
neighbouring countries, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday.

Michael Nowak, deputy director of the IMF's Africa department, also told
reporters in Johannesburg that the fund planned to verify Zimbabwe's
explanation of how it managed to clear some of its long-standing arrears
with the IMF.

"Zimbabwe is putting a bit of a cloud over the rest of the region ... the
bottom line is it has to be a concern for policy makers in the region," he
said in reply to a question.

"The direct economic impact is minimal ... if there is a problem it is one
of perceptions," he said.

The southern African country is struggling to repay its debts to the IMF and
turn its economy around after six years of recession which have seen output
contract by a third, inflation soar into triple digits, and unemployment
climb to 70 percent.

In a bleak report earlier this month the IMF said the pace of deterioration
in Zimbabwe's economy had worsened, and it was expected to contract by seven
percent in 2005 after shrinking by four percent last year.

Nowak said the situation in Zimbabwe was "rapidly reaching a point" where,
even if policy action were taken, the loss of human and physical capital
meant that "Zimbabwe would never be able to recover to the level it was
before".

There were no longer any concerns that the controversial land invasions seen
in the country would spread to its neighbours, but its deepening economic
crisis could start to take a toll on investor perceptions toward the region,
he added.

Nowak said there would be another IMF board meeting on Zimbabwe in March to
discuss its remaining arrears and a mission would visit the country before
then to assess its economy, which remained the fund's main concern.

UPBEAT PICTURE OF SOUTH AFRICA

Zimbabwe has paid the IMF $135 million in a bid to clear debt arrears that
drove the country into danger of expulsion from the fund, but it still owes
about $160 million.

President Robert Mugabe's government has said it raised the money through
proceeds from the export of tobacco, minerals and cotton as well as market
purchases and free funds from banks.

But analysts say the purchases suggest the dollars were bought from the
black market as the central bank's foreign exchange auctions only cover a
small portion of demand.

"We will look into the verification (of the arrears) ... we are in the
process of doing that," Nowak said.

The IMF painted an upbeat picture of South Africa, Zimbabwe's bigger
neighbour and the continent's biggest economy.

Vivek Arora, the IMF's resident representative, said the Fund viewed the
government's aim of boosting annual economic growth to 6 percent by 2010 as
"bold and ambitious ... and achievable over the time horizon specified."

But he said some policy changes were needed before this could happen --
including steps to improve the functioning of public enterprises, liberalise
trade, and make the labour market more efficient.

South Africa's economy has steadily accelerated since the demise of
apartheid, with growth expected to quicken to 4.3 this year from 3.7 percent
in 2004.

Nowak told reporters the value of South Africa's rand -- which some analysts
believe is still too strong for export competitiveness -- was not out of
line with the country's economic fundamentals.

"On the basis of a variety of objective criteria ... the value of the rand
is in line with economic fundamentals," he said, highlighting strong gold
and platinum prices and domestic demand as key factors.

The rand slid by nearly two percent to 6.66 against the dollar on Thursday,
near a 2-1/2 month low, as other major currencies weakened against the
greenback.

But its losses of close to 15 percent against the dollar in the year to date
have put only a small dent into 3 consecutive years of huge gains.


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They refused to sing with us

New Zimbabwe

MASOLA WA DABUDABU HOPEWELL



Last updated: 10/14/2005 04:17:13
WAY back in the early eighties, Zimbabwe was so politically divided
(perhaps along tribal lines) that when the people of Matabeleland sang songs
against Robert Mugabe's dictatorship, most of the country sang back louder
and more vociferously against them.

For the souls that yearned for unfettered freedom in Matabeleland,
singing songs against Mugabe was like a tiny tad-pole trying to learn the
skills of croaking in a sea teaming with sharks. The danger of singing
against Mugabe's rule was real, unimagined and its extent in terms of
extremity was immeasurable. The people of Matabeleland sang lonely hymns
with an occasional contribution to the chorus by the people of Chipinge.

As the people sang, the rest of the country wondered why so few people
felt disenfranchised by the occasion of Mugabe at State House. To silence
the few voices of reason, the rest of the country croaked back in deafening
tunes. The youth brigades of torture and doom churned louder and longer
songs against the people of Matabeleland. Soldiers of misfortune, hurriedly
manufactured by instructors from North Korea, composed death messages and
broadcast them as songs to deride the people of Matabeleland.

The people of Tsholotsho were given the song 'Comrade tora bazooka, to
nange Tjolotjo, torove mhandu iyo!' Then the soldiers of infamy went dancing
and desecrating the holiness and the sanctity of the said area of
Tsholotsho. People were sung to and danced upon until they were lifeless -
Mtshaya'zafe - hit him until he/she is lifeless! The Zanu PF women's league
gave the people more vile songs as if to serenade their appetite for freedom
from Mugabe.

Zanu PF was a satanic religion headed by a devil. The gospel they
preached and taught was evil. They sang their own version of Psalms; only
this time they were known as Songs of Robert Mugabe. They read verses from
the satanic writings and prayed for death upon their opponents. It was hell
on earth; and it is still hell on earth! Singing against Mugabe usually
culminated in the invocation of Mugabe's misguided murderous instincts. At
one time, Joshua Nkomo sang from exile in London. When he came back, he even
had the misfortune of experiencing Mugabe's angry mob when his entourage was
stoned in Masvingo by enthusiastic Zanu PF supporters during the 1985
general election campaign.

No-one was really safe! Mugabe could even shoot his own foot if he
thought he heard it dance to tunes sang by the unhappy people of
Matabeleland. To safe-guard his own despotic tendencies, Mugabe re-invented
the art of incarceration and political apartheid. Dumiso Dabengwa and
Lookout Masuku sang from Chikurubi prison. We sang from the slams, the
ghettos, the mud huts and sullen hearts.

It took a solid fifteen years for a larger percentage of the people of
Zimbabwe to realise that Mugabe was after-all a wimp and a liar who would
kill to remain in state house.
The people started singing with a semblance of cohesion. Mutare sang
against Mugabe. Harare did the same. Masvingo sang too. The songs were
electrifying. It was what the people who longed for democracy wanted to
hear. The whole of Zimbabwe could not sing with the same tune and tempo
though.

Whilst the cities sang against Mugabe, the rural peasants of UMP,
Sadza, Chikomba, Zvimba and further a-field in Mashonaland were trying hard
to make a demi-god out of the devil. Educated people sang for Mugabe against
the calling of democracy. The ignorant, the poor, the rich and the unknowing
knowingly sang for Mugabe. The people of UMP were the most notorious, and
perhaps they remain so in wanting to please Mugabe by song and dance. These
unfortunate political bigots will dance until the soles of their un-shoed
feet burn with bloody pain.

So, the professors of song sang and danced; so did Jonathan Moyo. The
doctors who do not prescribe pain-killers but kill painfully also found
themselves singing and dancing against the people; so did Doctor Sydney
Sekeramai. The witch-doctors sang as well; Hunzvi, Chinotimba and others.
Businessmen with ill-gotten riches sang; Mutumwa Mawere, Ibbo Mandaza and
Philip Chiyangwa. The terrible tenor from the Rhodesia Broadcasting
Corporation; James Makamba also sang. The singing could only get louder; the
drum could only get hotter and the tempo more evil!

As the singing by the devil's advocates clogged our ear-drums and our
air-waves, the suffering and the disenchantment amongst the people grew!
Today, UMP would rather sing against Mugabe. Today, Zvimba would rather sing
with the people. So far, their hearts are full of yellow chicken blood. They
will not sing because they are afraid. James Makamba, so resolutely Zanu PF
in money, may soon be singing with the people. Mutumwa Mawere is singing
from his luxurious hide-out in Johannesburg and he sounds willing to wail
longer and louder for the eventual emancipation of the people.

The singing professor, crafty in formulating the repressive piece of
legislature (AIPPA) is singing too. As if he has a crunch with the people
from the district whose name has the acronym UMP, he is busy singing praises
for UPM. UPM seeks to sing louder than the oppressive Zanu PF and with a
better vision than the courageous MDC. Agh.. So we hear that the song will
liberate you. The singing will cure your ills and curse the ill that is
Mugabe to oblivion. Lets us sing!

Masola wa Dabudabu is a columnist for New Zimbabwe.com and was
previously a regular columnist with the banned Daily News. He writes from
London. CONTACT MASOLA: hopemasola@hotmail.com


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Zanu-MDC MPs meet secretly

The Zimbabwean


BY WILF MBANGA
LONDON - Zimbabweans of all political persuasions are now beginning to look
beyond Mugabe's doomed reign. Governments in Europe and the USA are gearing
themselves to work with a post-Mugabe administration, as they realise that
South Africa's Thabo Mbeki is playing games and can no longer be relied upon
to play a meaningful role in breaking Zimbabwe's political logjam.
Even MPs within Zanu (PF) have now come to realise that Mugabe will soon be
yesterday's man, and once he has gone they will be left with a failed state.
They must therefore make their peace with the new dispensation - and with12
million Zimbabweans, and the international community.

As Mugabe's inevitable departure date draws near, ambitious politicians -
anxious to save their own bacon - are desperately vying for position within
the ruling party. However, fear of Mugabe and his all-seeing CIO have forced
them to negotiate secretly with selected MDC officials.

To this end, The Zimbabwean can reveal that two clandestine meetings have
been held recently under the auspices of Parliamentarians for Global Action
(PGA) - one in Washington and one in London, attended by 25 MPS from each of
the two parties.

PGA represents 114 parliaments around the world and works for peace and
democracy, international law and human rights, and population and
sustainable growth.

It is generally accepted by the participants that a New Zimbabwe will have
to have an administration of individuals who are considered 'clean' by the
people.

"The post-Mugabe government will need to comprise people who are not tainted
by the many human rights abuses of the Mugabe regime, such as the
gukurahundi massacres, operation murambatsvina, the formulation of un-just
and draconian legislation and corruption," said a source who attended both
meetings.

He said the Zimbabweans from both parties had got on with each other well
and a lot of progress had been made in terms of understanding how a new
Zimbabwe could be brought about after Mugabe.

"There has been discussion recently about the emergence of a third force in
Zimbabwean politics, but this initiative has nothing to do with that," he
emphasised.

The source confirmed that Jonathan Moyo, former minister of information, who
was largely responsible for the draconian press law, AIPPA, which led to the
emasculation of any semblance of a free press for Zimbabweans, was
unacceptable to both parties.

Other individuals currently in high positions who were listed as undesirable
characters included: Patrick Chinamasa, Didymus Mutasa, Joseph Made,
Emmerson Mnangagwa, Aeneas Chigwedere and Christopher Mushohwe.



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'Scared' magistrate won't hear case

The Zimbabwean


BY A CORRESPONDENT
HARARE - Lawyers have condemned the refusal of Harare magistrates to hear an
appeal to stop police evicting 252 Mbare residents living in the open since
their homes were destroyed in Operation Murambatsvina.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the refusal on October 5 of
the Provincial Magistrate, one Ms Chigwaza, to hear the case could only be
either because she was acting on illegal instructions from superiors within
the Ministry of Justice, or that magistrates were scared to hear such cases
because of threats of getting fired or attacked if they ruled against the
authorities.

"It is clear that the judicial authorities have, once again, failed to
protect the rights of vulnerable groups, and continue to express a worrying
lack of desire to take a rights-based approach to ensuring justice to those
affected by unlawful actions against them by the State," the lawyers said in
a statement.

Chigwaza refused to let the duty magistrate hear the case, claiming that
magistrates courts had no jurisdiction in Murambatsvina cases, and had never
heard any. This is simply not true: there is a register of such cases
handled.

ZLHR has since filed an urgent application to the High Court and has
reserved the right to take action should police or any other officials of
the regime harm the homeless group. They were evicted from their homes and
had their property and livelihoods destroyed in May and June this year.
Since June 2005 they have been forced to live exposed to the elements in
squalid conditions on an open area near Tsiga Grounds in Mbare. Police armed
with dogs showed up on October 2 threatening them with violence unless they
moved.

As well her ill-founded reasons for refusing the case, the magistrate also
acted unprocedurally, as issues about jurisdiction can only be raised during
formal legal proceedings in court, ZLHR said.

The lawyers called on the Justice Ministry to made a public declaration that
it is committed to upholding fundamental rights and freedoms, and for the
Executive and Legislature to state a commitment to the separation of powers
"so necessary in maintaining the rule of law in Zimbabwe."



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Farm invaders evicted

The Zimbabwean


CHINHOYI - About 78 families who had settled on Hunyani Farm in Chinhoyi,
near President Mugabe's home, have been evicted and are living in fear after
the government allegedly deployed state security agents to get rid of them.
The families, who occupied the farm at the height of farm invasions five
years ago, were last week served with notices to vacate the farm because the
government says it wants to build an agricultural research station.

A resident, Petros Pakare, said: "We were told by Governor Nelson Samkange
that we have to move out, but we have nowhere to go."


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Harare forced to pay

The Zimbabwean


HARARE - The Combined Harare Residents Association believes the government
has offloaded the costs involved in Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order
and its successor Operation Garikayi onto ratepayers.
"We understand that the Municipal salary department travelled twice in
September on Saturdays to pay people working on Operation Garikayi, some of
whom also receive additional payments from the regime. It is further alleged
that minister of local government Ignatius Chombo has ordered the un-elected
commission to pay workers at Hopley and Whitecliff.

"Such an abuse of our money comes as no surprise as we are accustomed to the
regime's chronic abuse of power. We can see the practical result of such
policies as service delivery crumbles," says a CHRA statement.



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African doctors: a duty to speak out

The Zimbabwean




Up and down Africa, health professionals are failing to speak out about
crumbling health systems. In Zimbabwe, for example, the death rate among
pregnant women is now 100 times higher than in the UK, often for want of a
simple drug. The entire health system has been degraded without public
protest from the most influential professional bodies because of fear of
offending the authorities. Zimbabwean doctors' most eloquent political
statement is to emigrate. Here Zimbabwean DR FARAI MADZIMBAMUTO argues that
medical associations in Zimbabwe and throughout the continent must be at the
forefront of championing the people's right to medical care.
For the many people in Zimbabwe in need of health care, the British Medical
Journal's recent special issue on Africa, "Health in Africa," and an
editorial and article on Zimbabwe in The Lancet may not mean anything. For
the health authorities, there is nowhere to hide. Health professionals and
activists worldwide want to know how the deepening health crisis is being
addressed.

The BMJ is being distributed at the meeting of African Union health
ministers in Botswana this month and at a scientific conference in Durban.
The aim is to bring the issues raised to the attention of the political
policy directors.

Take Zimbabwe for example. Professor Godfrey Woelk of the Department of
Community Medicine, University of Zimbabwe and colleagues have written a
paper about why magnesium sulphate for treatment of high blood pressure in
pregnancy is not available in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The university was
involved in the key multinational study which established that magnesium
sulphate is the best drug for this condition. It has been used on and off
since the early 1980s at Harare Central Hospital but is not on the Essential
Drug List or registered with the Medicines Control Authority. Zimbabwe's
maternal mortality rate is now more than 1,100 out of every 100, 000
pregnant women - compared with eight in Australia and 11 in the UK. Many
reasons are discussed, but the one that probably best sums up Zimbabwe is
that the drug 'lacks a champion'.

The title of the Lancet editorial is 'Who takes responsibility for Zimbabwe?'
The catastrophe that is Operation Murambatsvina is only in its early stages.
The public health consequences of displaced people with virtually no income,
little food, shelter, treatments for chronic diseases such as HIV, TB, and
diabetes are still unfolding.

According to the UN 79,000 people with HIV have been displaced, 30% of those
identified have lost contact with their treatment. This alone means disease
progression and risk of resistance. These people need a champion. On the
ground a few doctors and other health professionals are battling with little
resources and support. We have heard the human rights groups speak, what of
the doctors and nurses? The Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights has spoken
out, but the more authoritative health professional organisations have not.

The reason is fear that anything one says could be read by the 'authorities'
as being anti-government. So, one approach is to be 'silent' and hope that
it all goes away. The other approach is to say that there should be 'quiet
discussion' with the government. I think the example shown by the results
Thabo Mbeki has had speak for themselves.

A third approach is to say that doctors deal with the drugs and the bandages
of medicine, not the soapbox. Following the widespread outbreak of organised
violence after the referendum in 2000, all three positions were advocated by
the medical establishment and prevailed.

On all fronts the health system has been degraded without so much as a
whimper of protest. In the mid 1980s when the Hospital Doctors Association
was founded, junior doctors' protests highlighted the plight of patients as
well as working conditions and pay. Now they just talk about the pay and
working conditions. The most eloquent political statement doctors in
Zimbabwe have made is to leave the country. However, it is a personal
solution, not a system solution.

Zimbabwe is not the only country where doctors maintain 'the great silence'.
At the Zimbabwe Medical Association annual congress in Nyanga in 2003, Dr
Rogena told how the medical establishment in Kenya was silent, against the
wishes of its members, about tortures and violence perpetrated by the
government. The story of how the Medical Association of South Africa was
complicit in the death and cover up of Steve Biko is now well known.

Up and down the continent countries are in health crises, yet the medical
associations are not in the forefront of championing the health needs of
people. It is the foreign medical organisations like Medicines sans
Frontiers which speak out. Local doctors who do so are likely to find they
stand alone.

The South African Medical Association is the only association in Africa to
show concern about the crisis in Zimbabwe. On September 17 the Lancet
carried an article titled 'Zimbabwe: health and human rights versus African
solidarity' from South Africa. It referred to the fact that the health human
rights of Zimbabweans were being sacrificed for the solidarity of the
presidents and governments in Africa. It can be argued that health
professionals in Africa are not showing solidarity with each other for the
benefit of the health of their people.

Many of the leading medical associations in Asia, Europe and the Americas
recognise human rights as a health professional matter. The technology and
other tools are available - they just have to be made accessible to the
people who need them. For health professionals not to champion this must be
seen as a great failure.



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What about a Federation?

The Zimbabwean


BY STANFORD MUKASA
WASHINGTON - There is now a national consensus among Zimbabweans that Mugabe
is the problem. The resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis has, therefore, as a
precondition, the removal of Mugabe from the seat of power.
What Zimbabweans do not seem to be sure of is how to get rid of Mugabe.
Opinions are wide and varied. There does not seem to be a mainstream
consensus on what strategy must be adopted to get rid of Mugabe. Some
Zimbabweans believe the economy, which is now in shambles, will ultimately
bring him to his knees.

There is also an emerging debate focusing on post-Mugabe Zimbabwe.
Specifically, some people are now looking at a federal structure. In
principle, this would be ideal for Zimbabwe under certain circumstances. But
there are some significant disadvantages that need to be considered.

For a start, it would be very expensive. And a federal system of government
in Zimbabwe could also create huge inequities with provinces with more
resources getting richer. For example, agriculture-rich provinces like
Mashonaland East and West could easily have more political influence than
others.

There could also be competition for resources among provinces as each
province tries to assert its sovereignty over resources whether in mining,
agriculture, tourism, in its area of political control.

One of the reasons for the break-up of the Federation of Rhodesia and
Nyasaland was simply that Southern Rhodesia had a tremendous political
control of resources. Harare grew and developed at the expense of Lusaka and
Blantyre.

One argument being advanced in support of a federation is based on the
experience of the Ndebele under a Shona-dominated post-colonial Zimbabwe.

Proponents of a federation in the aftermath of the Ndebele experience argue
forcefully that the massacre by Mugabe of over 30,000 Ndebele in 1982 and 83
was a high point in the way the Shona-dominated Zimbabwe government had
always treated Matabeleland.

A federation in which Matabeleland North and South would have their own
governments is seen as the sure way of preventing the ethnic abuse Ndebele
have suffered under Mugabe in particular.

But future generations are unlikely to be as ethnically conscious as today.
Over half of the population is15 years old and less. This youthful
population was not even born during the liberation struggle. They,
therefore, cannot relate to the struggle for freedom against colonialism or
any of the nationalists' exploits in that struggle.

Zimbabweans both inside and outside Zimbabwe, have found common cause in the
strategy to fight against Mugabe. They should find common cause for
coexistence in the post-Mugabe era.

To continue to play the race, ethnic or tribal card is to miss the political
thinking of mainstream Zimbabweans, regardless of their race or ethnic
group. - With thanks to SWRadioAfrica for permission.

Letter from America is a weekly analysis broadcast every Monday
evening(www.swradioafrica.com) and Tuesday mornings (1197khz medium wave) on
SW Radio Africa.



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A time bomb is ticking

The Zimbabwean


BY LITANY BIRD
Dear Family and Friends,

I have just been grocery shopping at the biggest wholesale supermarket. In a
town with a population of probably a million people, there are only two
wholesalers and this one used to be jam packed with people. Just a couple of
months ago you would wait, sometimes for half an hour, just to reach the
front of the queue to pay for your groceries. All that has changed in the
last couple of weeks, as Zimbabwe's inflation has soared and it has now
become almost impossible for businesses to replace their goods as the prices
are going up so rapidly.

I spent the first 15 minutes or so just walking around, looking first at the
prices and then at what wasn't available. Aside from potatoes, there were no
vegetables at all to buy; none, not even the common and easy-to-grow things
like carrots, tomatoes, cabbages or beans. Aside from seven small punnets of
strawberries, there was no fruit at all to be bought - not a banana or even
one single orange.

There was no bread of any type, nor any other bread products like rolls or
buns. There was no milk, cheese, eggs, margarine or yoghurt. There was no
sugar, maize meal or flour. Whew, basic shopping for the family has become a
nightmare. Eventually, after walking around and picking things up and
putting them back, I did eventually buy a week's worth of groceries and it
was frightening. A four pack of one-ply local toilet paper had increased in
price from thirty seven to fifty two thousand dollars in just six days. My
groceries, with no dairy produce, vegetables, meat, alcohol or
confectionery, cost the same as a four-bedroomed, two-bathroomed house on an
acre of land with a swimming pool had cost just four years ago.

How utterly absurd that this is the situation on the ground in a small
Zimbabwean farming town, where the day time temperatures are in the high
twenties celsius and the farms are right there, on our front and back
doorsteps. How ridiculous too that in these circumstances Zimbabwe has this
week been hosting a UN conference on food safety and security in Africa. One
day during the week I switched on local television to see if I
could find some coverage of the food safety conference. Mugabe's speech to
the delegates was being replayed, the one where he defended his government's
seizure of all white-owned commercial farms over the past five years. "Land,
land, land" he said, "means food, food, food to the people."

That speech was followed by a couple of minutes of film footage showing
elaborately dressed women delegates with amazing head gear, acres of yellow
flowing tablecloths, and people sipping delicately from their bottles of
pure spring water. It did not show desperate ordinary people in Zimbabwe
trying to bring food safety into their own homes as they scour the
supermarkets for anything they can afford to buy.

So, while Mr Mugabe is adamant that land, land, land means food, food, food,
ordinary people like me are saying tick-tock, tick-tock, how much longer can
this situation hold? It feels like a time bomb, which is ticking faster and
faster. Please remember the ordinary people of Zimbabwe in your thoughts and
prayers. Until next week, Ndini shamwari yenyu



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The truth that needs to be told

The Zimbabwean


BY THE PATRIOT
Trying to get a tank of petrol in the new Zimbabwe is an involved process.
Firstly, one must buy US$100 from some shady character for about Z$7,5
million, or Z$9,5 million this week. Make sure you don't get caught with
counterfeits or arrested while doing this and, oh yes, you will need a large
brown bag to deliver your Zim dollars.
Then off you go to the "garage", get in line, wait, and wait. Pay your
US$100, get arrested by uncle Bob's secret police, or get half a tank (if
you are lucky), then drive home at 55km/hr to conserve the fuel, and thank
your long dead ancestors that you are OK for another 4 days! So, yes you're
right, there is fuel available, at Z$95,000 a litre!

That means that the doctor that saves my life can't buy a tank of fuel on a
whole month's wage! Yet our President and his ministers don't seem to know
this. Do the 15 cars that you need to get from State House to the Brooke run
on air, Mr President? 15 cars, I've actually counted them, to ferry one
tired, old man, while millions queue. Do you have no compassion? Do you hate
us all so much, is that it?

Now on CNN you proclaim that I'm not a Zimbabwean, and I must go back to
Tony Blair and demand money for what you have done! You say enough is
enough, all those Zimbabweans who dare to speak out will be sorted out.
Well, you have one thing right, it is enough now.

I will tell you one thing, no matter what you say on CNN, I am a Zimbabwean,
and I will not go back to Tony Blair! You, and a few of your lieutenants,
obviously saw the real election results in 2002. So did the true results
frighten you? Did they show you what you have done? Is that why you hate us?

Your building schemes are failing, and you demand Z$17 million from your
people to move into a tiny brick cupboard! Yet on my farm that you
destroyed, I myself, built 75 x five room houses, all with water and
electricity. Do you know what happened to those houses Mr. President? Well I
will tell you. Your war-vet destroyed those houses.

As surly as the sun will rise tomorrow, a time will come, and then what will
you do? You appointed your war cabinet. Do you now see the result of your
war? We do, but we have time on our side, so we can wait! But where will all
the presidents men go, what will they do, where will they hide? Do you think
that the three million Zimbabweans outside the country have emigrated for
good? I think not. The people of Zimbabwe will come home, and Zimbabwe will
rise to its rightful place, and there will be no room for murderers or
destroyers.

Perhaps a truth and reconciliation commission might help. Perhaps some
leopards will be able to change their spots. I'm sure there will be many an
appeal of " I was just doing my job!" But true Zimbabweans would stand up
and speak out, because we haven't forgotten.

So when will those policy makers, the puppeteers themselves, realize that
2008 is too far? It's just too far for us to suffer! We, the people, are not
interested in your succession plans or your inter-factional fighting, we are
also tired and want to rest, and we demand our beautiful country back!



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Zanu (PF) kills democracy

The Zimbabwean


Elsewhere in this newspaper we carry a story about how the ruling Zanu (PF)
is usurping the will of the people by suspending popularly elected mayors
and their councils on some flimsy excuse or other.
These councils are then replaced by government-appointed commissioners -
responsible to no-one but the Minister of local government, Ignatius Chombo,
who is himself an interested party. In Harare, the residents have been
deprived of a democratically-elected council for several years now. The
government is fertile with excuses as to why democratic elections, now
long-overdue, cannot be held in the city.

This usurpation has now been extended to the residents of Mutare, and
citizens of Bulawayo and Chitungwiza face similar action. In the case of
Chitungwiza, the mayor's crime is that he suspended the town clerk, a friend
of the minister, who is facing serious allegations of misappropriating
billions of dollars of government resources allocated for the repair of
water reticulation equipment.

This is a project that would have benefited the residents of Chitungwiza,
which suffers a perennial water problem. Instead of the government coming in
to support the mayor in demanding a thorough investigation in order to stamp
out corruption, the minister responsible has come out on the side of the
official concerned - making a mockery of the central government's
anti-corruption drive.

The mayor of Bulawayo's sin is that, apart from being elected on an MDC
ticket, his city too suffers from acute water problems. Like most other
cities in the country, these problems have their roots in a complex web of
factors including climate change, urban drift and, above all, years of
neglect by corrupt and incompetent Zanu (PF) councils. To blame the mayor is
singularly stupid and simplistic.

In the case of the mayor of Mutare - his crime was to show the visiting UN
envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, the true extent of the devastation caused by
Operation Murambatsvina.

The government's inventiveness in its attempts to wrest control of the urban
areas back from MDC knows no bounds. For example, in Chinhoyi, Zanu (PF) won
the last municipal elections by default. On nomination day, there was an
outbreak of political violence at the nomination court, after which
officials declared that all MDC nomination papers had been misplaced. The
Zanu (PF) candidates were therefore declared the unopposed winners.

Another ruse to undermine local government democracy was the move to appoint
resident Zanu (PF) minister/governors in Harare and Bulawayo. This took
place when it first became apparent that urban voters had utterly rejected
Zanu (PF). The city councils were forced to report to these un-elected
ruling party functionaries, who thus usurped the authority of the mayors and
their councils.

This pathetic and transparent refusal to accept democracy is now entrenched
in the culture of the ruling party. Democracy in Zimbabwe is dead.



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Why on earth are we still here?

The Zimbabwean


BY DEBI JEANS
HARARE - Having just returned from attending a sports medicine conference in
Jozi, the extent of both the economic and emotional meltdown in less than
seven days is very obvious! Prices soaring, fuel still an even rarer luxury,
add to this the alarming rate at which our hard-earned cash seems to vanish
on a pitiful bag or two of basic groceries.... it's a battle both out there
as well as here in our heads, to desperately try to keep calm!
We all do what needs to be done to feed, clothe and school the children,
work harder to attempt to keep up with the weekly inflation of bills, but
catching ourselves at odd moments in the day wondering where it will all end
and what the future holds?

This is 'survival mode'. This is where we get to stare at our own fear in
the face and tread where we've never been before. We make a plan for fuel,
another to buy rare luxuries such as sugar or cooking oil and yet another to
stretch the dollars until the end of the month.

We have learned to say 'no' to many things we want to ensure that we can say
'yes' to the things that we really. Normal everyday 'basic' commodities and
actions in another place and time have become a treat for us, something to
fully appreciate, to savour and to draw out the pleasure with which it
comes! This can be a glass of imported wine, a take-away pizza for the kids,
an imported deodorant, or even a bottle of hair conditioner.

Many ex Zimbos and people living outside simply cannot understand why we're
still here! Incredulous stares when one describes the plan of action for
water shortages, fuel saving and sourcing, and daily adjustments on every
level to rising costs and inefficiencies in just about every sector of
business, municipality or service industries!

Empathy runs high amongst those on the outside who understand why we are
still here. So many have openly encouraged us to stand our ground, to hang
in and to throw ourselves at making it 'work out', to do whatever it takes
to build upon the foundation of who and what we are.

These very same people are the ones who tell us about the despair, the
longing, the loneliness and the yearning for parts of our beloved land. The
wide-open spaces, the people and friendships, the Kariba sunsets, the
laughter around a braai, the community in 'making a plan'. The 'drop in for
tea' attitude so prevalent amongst all Zimbabweans regardless of race,
colour, tribe or background. The 'we're all in it' under-current that brings
us together in fuel queues, financial disasters, daily challenges.

Our mountains are huge, yet sitting in that auditorium listening to the
shift in some of the best researchers and practitioners from sports medicine
and the field of excellence in both physical and mental endeavour towards
prevention and treatment of 'chronic diseases', I found myself counting
blessing after blessing for living in Zim!

Here are just a few of the 'highlights' ...

60% of men and 50% of women are overweight in Oz. Could say the same for UK
and USA ... South Africa not far behind.

Inactivity has become a number one killer risk factor for heart disease ...
on a par with smoking. In fact, being inactive is the same as smoking 20 a
day!!!!!!

Countries all over the world are engaging in huge, multi billion dollar
health warnings and promotions. Get moving, eat less junk, get away from the
T.V., eat less junk, get off the couch and turn off the tv ... don't use the
remote, eat less junk, get moving.

Clogged and diseased heart arteries has just become the biggest killer in
the world.


It has become a crisis of such huge proportions to just get people to do
enough movement to shunt blood through their blood vessels to literally slow
down the rate at which bodies are rotting from disuse, from stress and from
almost 100% diseases caused by LIFESTYLE!


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Food - What needs to be done?

The Zimbabwean




What would a new government in Zimbabwe need to do to sort out the
disastrous food situation resulting from Zanu (PF)'s misrule? RENSON GASELA,
MDC shadow minister for agriculture, explains.
HARARE - When SADC decided to give Zimbabwe the responsibility for food
security in the region, there was a lot of debate on what exactly, in
practical terms, it entailed. There were basically two schools of thought.
The first was that Zimbabwe should use its expertise in food production and
grain storage to lead the region and use its infrastructure to store and
hold food stocks. In other words, that we should be the granary of the
region. This would have been extremely beneficial to Zimbabwe, what with the
accompanying investments. The other countries clearly opposed this.

The second school of thought, which eventually prevailed, was that Zimbabwe
would be responsible for coordinating food security - because we had capable
farmers with skills to produce food and we were in fact producing surpluses,
to the benefit of the region.

All this changed within an unbelievably short space of one year - we moved
from the high pedestal of breadbasket to an embarrassing basket case.

The country is kept in blissful ignorance of the food supply. We know for
certain that there is virtually no maize in stock. We are living from hand
to mouth, on imports. Any event, such as a one-week strike by railways in
South Africa, would result in many people starving. The hungry villagers
need food and energy to work in the fields. Despite monotonous denials by
the government, people in Zimbabwe are starving.

We are only three weeks away from the start of the new cropping season.
There are a number of givens now that can only be marginally improved for
the incoming season. Otherwise the die is cast.

Factors that determine how much food can be produced are the availability
and cost of seed, fertilizers, chemicals, tillage and of course, good rains.
There is only 30 000 tonnes of seed available. This is 40% of what would be
required to produce sufficient food for next year. This seed has only just
been released to the market because government wanted seed houses to sell
seed at a loss. Naturally, the prices are unaffordable to many a farmer, but
such is the state of the economy. Because seed is not selling fast, an
impression is created of sufficient supply when in fact this is only 40% of
national requirement.

Fertilizers and chemicals are not available at all because manufacturers
have been operating well below capacity. I understand that some foreign
currency was made available to them last week. This is naturally too late.
The little fertilizer available is far too expensive for the ordinary farmer
who, in fact, is the producer now.

On tillage, only about a third of DDF tractor fleet is functional. The fleet
was 780 tractors. This situation is further worsened by the cost of hire and
the unavailability and cost of fuel. The cost of putting one hectare under
maize this coming season is well over Z$9m. Very few communal and
resettlement farmers can afford these costs.

In the prevailing hyper-inflation, farmers will need a profitable
pre-planting price. It must be remembered that planting maize in November
means that farmers would only be paid in June 2006. So, a pre-planting price
entices the farmer sufficiently to believe that such price would still be
profitable by that time. To do 10hectare, a farmer needs 110 bags of
fertilizers costing $55m. Is he prepared to bury $55m without knowing what
price will be paid for his maize in June 2006? Without this, many farmers
will grow maize for their own use only.

The net effect of all the above, is that even if the country received good
rains this coming season, at best no more than 700 000 tonnes of maize would
be produced, giving a shortfall of well over 1 million tonnes.

Since the year 2006 has already been decided by the failure to plan by this
regime, I can only advise what needs to be done now to start addressing the
food shortage from 2007 onwards.

Firstly, government and seed houses need to select and train potential seed
growers. These would need a lot of training and support over a number of
years. The intention is to be self-sufficient in seed production.

Secondly, the average to high maize producing areas are well known. It is in
these areas that good farmers need to be identified and given adequate
support. While doing this the rest of the country is not neglected, but you
have targeted farmers who you know would deliver. After all, communal and
old resettlement farmers used to produce 70% of the maize. They were able to
do this because they had inputs at affordable prices.

Thirdly, government must ensure that fertilizer and chemical companies are
provided with adequate foreign currency from January to the end of the year
in order for them to be in full production throughout.

The fourth point is that is the ministry of agriculture must announce
agricultural plans for 2007 by March 2006. These must include:

a) a pre-planting producer price to encourage farmers to plant now. This
must be announced now for 2006.

b) all materials for tobacco crop for 2006 must be in place by January,
2006.

c) loans to farmers must be in place by March, to enable them to start
buying fertilizers and chemicals.

d) In announcing plans for 2007 in March, the annual inputs programme must
commence as farmers deliver their produce of 2006 to the market so that the
trucks delivering maize return with fertilizer.


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Zimbabwe Vigil members present petition to 10 Downing Street

in the UK

By Violet Gonda
13 October 2005

Members of the Zimbabwe vigil marched from the Zimbabwe Embassy to
Prime Minister Tony Blair's office in London Thursday to hand in a petition.
The pressure group, that marked it's 3 rd anniversary Wednesday, collected
signatures from thousands of people concerned about the crisis in Zimbabwe.

The group, which was joined by British Labour MP Kate Hoey, is calling
for Tony Blair to put the Zimbabwe issue high on the agenda of the EU
council and G8 in his capacity as the chairman of these two bodies. The
Zimbabwe Vigil is calling on world leaders not to legitimise Mugabe anymore
and press for him to be tried for crimes against humanity.

Kate Hoey, who is also the Chair of the all-party Parliamentary Group
on Zimbabwe, called on Tony Blair to bring the Zimbabwe situation to the
attention of the UN Security Council.

Hoey said Blair should also use his position to put a halt on the
deportations of Zimbabwean asylum seekers. She said more pressure was also
need on influential leaders like South African President Thabo Mbeki to
allow democracy in Zimbabwe.

The petition was carried to Downing Street by Zimbabwean exiles in a
symbolic "walk to work" from the Zimbabwe Embassy in the Strand.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news


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'Lazy' parliament seats for 5 minutes



By Lance Guma
12 October 2005

The role of Zimbabwe's parliament as a mere rubber-stamping
institution for Zanu PF policies was highlighted Tuesday when in spite of
mounting political and economic problems, the reopening session lasted only
five minutes. As if that was not enough, a 66-seat upper house, otherwise
known as the senate is being added to the bureaucracy.

It was the first time the legislators met following a one-month break.
Zanu PF passed the controversial constitutional amendment bill number 17 in
the last session. Under this new law, the state has blocked all court
petitions relating to seized farms, nationalized all farm land, created a
senate and legal powers to seize the passports of so called 'traitors'.

According to the state owned Herald newspaper all the scheduled
business of the House on the Order Paper was stood down leaving MP's with
nothing to do. In stark contrast to Tuesday's circus, parliament in November
last year sat for a record 16 hours without recess as the opposition
resisted attempts by Zanu PF to ram through the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission Bill and the Non-Governmental Organisations Bill.

In just two weeks the country's sole tyre manufacturer has closed down
while the largest milling company shut four flour-milling plants due to
wheat shortages. Addressing these problems did not seem to be a priority for
the MP's.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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