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Poster child for Africa

Winnipeg Free Press

Editorial

Tue Oct 16 2007

A report last week from three aid-oriented organizations, not usually given
to criticism of Africa, pointed out that black Africa has spent as much on
internecine warfare as it has received in aid over the last few decades --
some $260 billion.
That's astonishing, but not quite as astonishing as this. Last week, the
government of a nation gripped by famine hauled a small group of 10 farmers
into court and charged them with illegally growing food. They are not
charged with profiteering in food in a land faced with starvation, they are
simply charged with growing it against government instruction.

Where, you might ask, could such an absurdity take place in this world
today? And, if you gave any thought to it, about the only answer you could
come up would be Zimbabwe, the tragically lunatic world ruled by dictator
Robert Mugabe for its entire 27 years of independence.

In 2000, Mr. Mugabe began seizing farms owned by whites in the ostensible
position that ordinary black Zimbabweans had a right to some of that land as
well. In reality, the land was simply given to Mr. Mugabe's cronies in the
ZANU-PF party -- when the 10 farmers were dragged before the bench, two of
the intended recipients of their lands, the speaker of parliament and a
former minister who is one Mr. Mugabe's closest aides, were sitting in the
audience in eager anticipation of the wealth that is about to come their
way. Neither was wearing overalls.

That would be because they are not farmers. Nor are the other recipients of
the former farm lands. Since the farm-takeover program began, Zimbabwe has
declined from being the breadbasket of southern Africa -- a net exporter of
food -- to depending, this year, on international aid programs to feed at
least one third of its population. The rest, unless they are connected to
Mr. Mugabe, just go hungry.

Zimbabwe and Mr. Mugabe epitomize just about everything that has been wrong
with black Africa in the post-independence era. In almost every African
nation that achieved independence in the 1960s and 1970s, fledgling
democracies turned over to African nationalists became dictatorships that
were euphemistically called "one-party democracies" and welcomed by a West
that no longer cared much about Africa except in Cold War terms. Many
nations in Africa have come a long way towards freedom since then, but of
all of them, only tiny Botswana has clung to the democracy the colonialists
left it, and as a result is near the bottom of the Western liberal
democracies' list for foreign aid today.

Mr. Mugabe, however, has had a long ride. Zimbabwe came to independence, or,
more accurately, majority rule, late -- in 1980 -- because its former white
regime had unilaterally declared independence from Britain to preserve its
minority-rule status until it was brought to its knees by international
sanctions.
Ironically, many older black Zimbabweans regret that day now. They may not
have had the vote then, but they don't actually have the vote now anyway --
rigged elections are not free elections -- and at least they could work and
they could eat.

This newspaper in 1980 suggested that Zimbabwe under the inevitable rule of
Robert Mugabe would be the last and classic case of black African
independence -- one man, one vote, one time. It was accused of being
colonialist, imperialist, even racist for that, but Mr. Mugabe has proved it
right. The question today, however, is not who was right or wrong 27 years
ago, but where is everyone today? In 1980, Zimbabwe was, arguably, the
poster child for a free and prosperous Africa. Today it is the poster child
for a dark continent, and will remain so until other African nations and
Western governments do something to change that picture.


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Zimbabwe govt escalating crackdown - opposition

Reuters

Tue 16 Oct 2007, 13:19 GMT

By Nelson Banya

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's main opposition said on Tuesday President
Robert Mugabe's government was escalating a violent crackdown against its
members, but said it would not walk away from talks with the ruling party.

Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), told journalists the opposition was worried by increased cases of
violence against its supporters.

"We have witnessed an escalation in the number of assaults, violence and
intimidation against our members, particularly in the rural areas but also
in the urban areas," Chamisa said.

Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF and the MDC are holding talks mediated by South
African President Thabo Mbeki, as part of a regional drive to end Zimbabwe's
political and economic crisis.

The negotiations yielded a compromise constitutional amendment last month,
which would allow Mugabe to pick a successor if he retired mid-term but the
president's powers to choose members of parliament have been curbed.

Chamisa said the fresh attacks were worrying.

"This is particularly worrying if you consider the process going on in South
Africa. There's no use to be in talks in Pretoria and at war here at home."

He said the MDC would not pull out of the talks to protest against the
government crackdown. Opposition officials have recorded over 4,122
political violence cases since January.

"We know ZANU-PF is trying to jeopardise the process, but we want the
process to benefit the nation," said Chamisa, adding that several MDC
meetings had been cancelled or interfered with by the police..

The government has also accused the opposition of carrying out and fomenting
violence.

Zimbabwe's tough security laws require political parties to notify the
police when holding political gatherings, but the opposition says police
often ban the meetings without reason.

On Tuesday, anti-riot police broke up a march by the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA), a pressure group which is pushing for a new constitution.

A Reuters correspondent saw a small group of placard-waving protesters
singing revolutionary songs and denouncing the recent constitutional
changes, before they broke up when police arrived on the scene, warning them
to disperse.

No arrests were reported and NCA officials were not immediately available
for comment.

Mugabe, 83 and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, denies
charges of human rights abuses and mismanaging a once vibrant economy, now
with world's highest inflation rate.


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40 Hospitalised As Police Attack NCA Demo in Harare



SW Radio Africa (London)

16 October 2007
Posted to the web 16 October 2007

Tererai Karimakwenda

Riot police attacked a group of NCA members who had gathered for a
demonstration on 2nd street in Harare on Tuesday, and injured 40 of them.

The NCA reported that approximately 400 members had come to protest against
Constitutional Amendment 18 Bill, which passed in parliament earlier this
month. The group intended to march peacefully to the parliament building,
but they were rounded up at Herald House where the police took turns beating
participants.

The NCA had announced there would be a peaceful demonstration in the capital
this week, but did not reveal the exact date of the protests fearing the
police would react in just such a brutal manner. A statement by the NCA said
that the injured, including a man who sustained a deep cut on the forehead,
were taken to a private hospital for treatment.

NCA spokesperson Madock Chivasa told newsreel the marching activists had
just turned onto 2nd Street when they were blocked by police and ordered to
sit down on the sidewalk. Some immediately fled for safety and others sat
down. Police then assaulted them severely, causing chaos and many of them
got up and escaped. Chivasa said it appears the police just wanted to
assault and intimidate the activists because no arrests were made.

A statement released by the group said in part: "We urge all pro-democratic
forces in Zimbabwe to include all stakeholders in fundamental issues such as
constitutional making."


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Lawyer Assaulted By Senior Police Official While Assisting Woza



SW Radio Africa (London)

16 October 2007
Posted to the web 16 October 2007

Tererai Karimakwenda

The lawyer representing the 75 activists from Women and Men of Zimbabwe
Arise who were arrested in Harare on Monday has reported that he was
assaulted by a senior police official while attending to his clients.

Lawyer Tafadzwa Mugabe said he was patiently waiting inside the station for
an Inspector Shumba, who was processing arrest sheets for WOZA coordinator
Jenni Williams and other members who had been arrested. A Superintendant
Tendere arrived with some riot police officers and began interrogating
Tafadzwa about his presence at the Station. The Police Superintendant's
words soon turned to physical pushing and shoving. Tafadzwa said Tendere
then hit him on the jaw with a left jab and ordered the riot police to throw
him off the premises.

Fortunately Williams and the WOZA members were released without charge
Monday evening. The group had staged a peaceful demonstration earlier to
protest police brutality against its members. They marched up First Street
to the parliament building's steps where they intended to handover a report
on political violence against their activists. It was here that they were
arrested, after sitting down instead of dispersing when police arrived.

The defiant lawyer returned to Harare Central on Tuesday and filed charges
against the Superintendant who assaulted him. Tafadzwa said he was able to
get into the police station because the officers at the entrance were not
the ones that were ordered to block his entry. He also said as much as the
environment is intimidating, he will continue to do his work as a lawyer.


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Police Assault Masvingo Students As Hlatshwayo is Further Remanded



SW Radio Africa (London)

16 October 2007
Posted to the web 16 October 2007

Henry Makiwa

Two students are in a critical condition after police in Masvingo assaulted
students at the city's Polytechnic College, as they met Monday evening to
discuss the case of detained student leader Edison Hlatshwayo.

The students, whose names are yet to be released, reportedly suffered severe
head injuries when armed riot police stormed into their meeting assaulting
them indiscriminately. Eleven students were arrested on charges of "criminal
nuisance".

The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) legal secretary, Milward
Makwenjere, bemoaned the "deliberate targeting" of students by state
security agents.

He said: "All signs show a purposeful strategy to frustrate students and its
evident with these arrests and beatings of our members. We are also
frustrated by the continued detention of Edison and we have lost faith in
the lawyer (one Mr. Hwacha) because he did not show up to fight our case
today when our friend has been suffering in prison for three weeks. We have
now sought alternative legal advice in Mr. Tongai Matutu."

The trial of Edison Hlatswayo, who has now spent 20 days in detention, was
postponed to Wednesday after the magistrate, the prosecutor and Hwacha
agreed to move it.

He was tortured whilst in custody and his health is deteriorating due to the
squalid conditions in the police cells.


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Tsvangirai Threatens To Exit Zimbabwe Crisis Talks If Violence Continues

VOA

By Blessing Zulu
Washington
15 October 2007

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Monday that his faction of
the Movement for Democratic Change will quit South African-mediated crisis
talks unless a stop is put to violence and intimidation accuses the ruling
party of carrying out.

Tsvangirai did not say whether this would also mean a boycott of the
elections due for early 2008. But he has previously said that his faction's
participation in those elections depends on whether they shape up to be free
and fair. Earlier elections, like the 2002 presidential election, have been
marred by violence mainly against the opposition.

Tsvangirai's statement differed significantly from remarks attributed to the
secretary general of his faction, Tendai Biti, who was quoted by Web news
agency ZimOnline as saying the MDC would stay with the negotiating process
despite rising violence and intimidation of opposition members, "pursuing it
to its logical conclusion."

Biti is an opposition negotiator in the talks mediated by South African
President Thabo Mbeki, with Welshman Ncube, secretary of the rival MDC
faction headed by Arthur Mutambara. Ncube could not be reached for comment
on Tsvangirai's ultimatum.

In a statement Monday, Tsvangirai faction spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the
ruling party acted in bad faith because it has continued to "hound our
supporters, brutally assaulting and attacking them against the spirit of the
dialogue process." Since the negotiations began, police have barred 103
Tsvangirai faction rallies, he said.

In an interview, Tsvangirai told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7
for Zimbabwe that his party is committed to the talks - but added that there
are rising doubts as to whether the ruling party is committed to the
Pretoria-mediated negotiations.

Tsvangirai spoke from Philadelphia, a stop on a North American trip during
which he has been meeting with opposition supporters in the US and Canada.

Meanwhile, Harare police summoned Paul Madzore, member of parliament for the
Glen View section of Harare and the Tsvangirai faction's Harare Province
organizing secretary, and his brother Solomon, the faction's youth
secretary, for questioning.

Madzore said police and intelligence officers summoned him and his brother
to Harare Central Police station where it was alleged that speakers at a
rally the faction held on Sunday in Glen Norah, Harare, had preached hate
and insulted police officers.

He said police objected to what they said were calls by speakers for those
present to note the names of police involved in human rights abuses for
future prosecution.

The MDC faction says this is a ploy by police to intimidate activists and
ban rallies.

Madzore told reporter Zulu that he and his brother Solomon were moved from
one police station to another and warned against "verbally attacking the
police."


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Zimbabwe - It's Just a Question of Time

Mens News Daily

October 16, 2007 at 12:43 pm

A few things are now absolutely clear; the State is determined to destroy
what is left of the MDC by the end of the year. They are determined to force
what remains of the urban economic infrastructure into servitude to their
priorities and give their key supporters even larger stakes in the economy
and they are going to try and control the delivery of all essential needs to
both urban and rural populations.

The scope and scale of violence against the MDC and those in the economy
whose independence and autonomy are viewed as being potentially dangerous,
is very concerning. A staggering 25 000 business persons have been arrested,
detained and charged by the Police since the so called "Price Control"
strategy was implemented. The numbers of MDC activists who have likewise
been arrested, detained and beaten since March the 11th when Morgan
Tsvangirai and 70 other senior MDC leaders were savagely beaten in Policy
custody in Harare must also run to many thousands.

When the global reaction to the beatings on the 11th March became clear, the
regime turned its attention to our lower structures and they have been
working these over in a systematic and brutal way. Just in the past week we
have had 4 activists so savagely beaten that they have either died or
required hospital treatment. One is paralysed for life and another is on
dialysis because of kidney damage. Many are unknown or unrecorded. On Friday
I heard of a grandmother who has two children from her sons family living
with her after he son was beaten and died at home after his release from
prison. We are now helping with the expenses of the Grandmother.

In rural areas our structures are in tatters, many are in hiding or have
fled to the urban areas or to South Africa. This is exactly what the regime
wishes to achieve. Our capacity to fight back is very limited. We have
little money available to us, we have even fewer things such as functional
vehicles and fuel and our staff is poorly paid and often go hungry. When a
driver brought his pick up to my home for safety last week, a battered old
vehicle followed him with shaded windows occupied by several young people
who slowly drove by when the driver left on foot to catch a bus home.

The attacks on the remnants of the private sector are also relentless.
Farmers are being forced off their farms, large segments of the retail trade
are nearing bankruptcy, manufacturers are idle and finding it impossible to
operate with shortages of electricity, fuel and water, the high cost of
transport, and the scarcity of both orders and inputs. Thousands of workers
have left their jobs and fled south to try and make a living. Hundreds of
the remaining skilled and experienced people in all sectors are making plans
to move when the schools close at year-end and exams are over. Despair and
helplessness are almost universal.

We have raised this at the SADC sponsored talks but there is no evidence
that either the region or South Africa (as facilitator) have taken this
situation seriously and raised it with the regime. Our leadership that had
been earlier charged with treason for allegations of violence and planned
military style attacks on Police Stations has now all been released. All
were beaten in custody and are recovering slowly. Many have lost their jobs
and their families have suffered while they have been detained. The evidence
led against them in Court was laughable.

The question is what do we do about all this? We are expected to negotiate
in good faith with Zanu PF at the talks while there is no evidence that they
are also negotiating in good faith. In fact quite the contrary. We
understand from the press that both the regime and the facilitators are
determined to hold the elections as soon as March 2008 as scheduled. This
can only be done if the electoral machinery is left very much as it is and
simply co-opted into the new legal framework being negotiated.

What our friends need to understand is that Zanu PF has been working on the
voters roll for 5 years. They have disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of
people who will now be entitled to vote - if they can register. They have
left the dead on the roll and thereby created hundreds of thousands of
opportunities to vote against the names of dead people using these ID
documents. They are denying us any opportunity to campaign or even organise
properly, we are given no access to the media and independent media is
totally controlled and cowed. Foreign media is tightly restricted.

Almost all basic foodstuffs come under political control. If you are a known
MDC supporter you find it difficult to buy food, secure land for housing in
urban areas, access to fuel, imports of any kind. If you swear allegiance to
Zanu PF you are given all these things and at prices that would stun an
outsider. A new pick up will cost in real terms US$6 to US$ 7 dollars ( I am
not exaggerating) fuel costs half a US cent a litre. Just on Saturday a Zanu
PF office in Harare was handing out maize meal at 23 US cents for 10
kilograms.

It goes beyond that - support MDC and your license is cancelled, your leases
abrogated and your right to a plot on an irrigation scheme withdrawn. Your
right to live in your rural village can be withdrawn at the whim of your
local traditional leaders. Become known as an MDC activist and you will have
to live with the dread of a knock on the door at 3 am in the morning. Your
family may not be safe, your children victimized. Get arrested and if we
cannot find you, you will disappear into the labyrinth of State prisons and
police holding cells. Once there you will not get food unless your relatives
bring you meals. Water to wash is unavailable and even drinking water is
scarce. Tuberculosis and malaria are endemic.

So we are being told that this election is already decided - in Zanu PF's
favor. I do not agree, If the SADC talks give us half decent conditions and
allow people a secret vote that is counted and reported independently then
the only vote these guys can rely upon is one filled in by a soldier under
supervision or one cast by a robot. If the body filling in the ballot can
breathe, it will vote MDC. This time I think that no matter what Zanu does,
their ship is sunk. It's only a matter of time.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 16th October 2007


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Zanu PF abuses legal system to brutalise innocent MDC members



The withdrawal of criminal charges against all but one of the Movement for
Democratic Change members and workers who were arrested on trumped up
charges during the months of March and April 2007 has clearly exposed the
ZANU (PF) government for what it is - a cruel, heartless and tyrannical
regime.

The arrests were carried out in a blaze of publicity and the persons branded
as terrorists. Graphic details were given of the crimes allegedly committed
by the "terrorists" including the petrol bombing of Police Stations, a ZANU
(PF) office, training in banditry sabotage and terrorism, at the Movement
for Democratic Change offices and in South Africa and attempted murder. The
public media went into a frenzy in condemning the MDC and accusing it of
causing mayhem and a reign of terror and yet not a single person had been
convicted of any of the allegations levelled against them.

Among the Movement for Democratic Change officials arrested were Morgan
Komichi, the Deputy Organizing Secretary and a member of the Standing
Committee, Ian Makone the Secretary for Elections, Paul Madzore , the Member
of Parliament for Glen View Constituency and organizing Secretary for Harare
Province, and staff members Dennis Murira, Luke Tamborinyoka, Kudakwashe
Matibiri, Brighton Matimba, and Zebediah Juaba. All the arrested people were
subjected to severe assaults and torture by police officers calculated to
induce confessions and admissions.

In particular, Morgan Komichi, Ian Makone, Philip Mabika and Philip Katsande
went through harrowing experiences. It is simply through the grace of God
that these gentlemen are still alive. They were all remanded in custody when
it was evident that the police had grossly violated their rights. They were
unwillingly guests at our overcrowded, filthy and uninhabitable prisons
which are straight out of hell.

What is most tragic about all this is that the ZANU (PF) regime knew all
along that the detainees had no case to answer. The purpose of the arrest
was simply to justify the crackdown on a legitimate political opposition
whose only crime is to take a stand against dictatorship, tyranny and
oppression. The State case hinged upon a fictitious person called Peter
Chidodana, whom the State failed to produce after being ordered to do so by
the Court.

The Police, not satisfied with their unlawful and high handed methods
against the arrested persons, went on to arrest the legal practitioners
representing the accused persons namely Messrs Alec Muchadehama and Andrew
Makoni, on spurious charges to frustrate the efforts of the detainees to
regain their freedom. The criminal charges against the lawyers were without
substance and the State was simply abusing the legal process to achieve its
objectives of frustrating the accused persons.

The State deliberately violated the rights of the accused from the outset,
denying them legal representation, access to food and medical treatment and
disobeying court orders. This is unfortunately not the first time that it
has happened but is part of a grand scheme to brow beat the people of
Zimbabwe into submission. The Cain Nkala murder case is instructive when the
State case crumbled like a deck of cards when it emerged that the video
evidence which was displayed on ZTV amidst pomp and fanfare was in fact
wrongfully and unlawfully obtained.

The Movement for Democratic Change activists have lost several months of
their lives. They were deprived of their liberty and freedom. They were
subjected to savage and inhuman treatment. Their families were subjected to
untold anguish and suffering. But the regime knew all along that they were
not guilty of any wrong doing. The charges against them have been withdrawn
before plea and the State may proceed against them by way of summons. But we
know that this will not happen because the State does not have an iota of
evidence against them. The ZANU (PF) government has simply done this because
it thinks that it will get away with it.

While the government press devoted acres of space in its newspapers and
hours of prime television time on ZTV to cover the arrests and court
appearances of the Movement for Democratic Change members, when it comes to
the dropping of the charges, there is deafening silence from the state
media. No screaming headlines this time about the State case which is now as
dead as a dodo. We challenge the State media to give equal coverage to the
withdrawal of the charges which virtually amounts to an acquittal.

The Zanu PF regime lied to SADC in Dar es Salaam, they lied to Parliament
and they lied to the people of Zimbabwe that the MDC harboured terrorists.
Now that the cases have died a natural death, the only act of terrorism
which turns out to have taken place was the brutal assault, illegal
detention and the torture of MDC members who spent months in prison for no
apparent reason.

The Movement for Democratic Change condemns the actions of the Police and
State agencies responsible for the abuse of innocent citizens to achieve
selfish political gains. Apart from the $4 trillion that our members are
demanding in damages from the State, we demand the immediate investigation
of the heinous acts of torture against the detainees and the consequent
prosecution of individual police officers and state security agents involved
in the same. The culture of impunity in our State institutions must come to
an end. Zimbabwe must uphold the Rule of Law and not just pay lip service to
the ideals of the liberation struggle. We believe that the time has come to
put a stop to this madness. We call upon the regime to accept that
fundamental human rights and freedoms are universal and inviolable. The
regime must ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture.

Legal proceedings for damages against the Minister of Home Affairs and the
responsible officers have been commenced and the law will have to take its
course.

Hon Innocent Gonese, MP

Secretary for Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs


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Seeing the Depths of Hell in a Hungry Child's Eyes

huffingtonpost.com

Michealene Cristini Risley
Posted October 16, 2007 | 11:38 AM (EST)

Dear President Mugabe,

I am haunted by the current situation in your country. I am haunted by the
hunger I see in a little girl's eyes. I met her in a rural village that I
cannot list here, for fear of danger to many lives. I do not know this
child's name. She had walked many miles with her grandmother and younger
brother to thank my friend for her gift of blankets. I look into those deep,
hollow eyes and see through to the depths of hell. I cannot look away,
terrified as I am by this images being thrust at me.

I am haunted by my memories of your country -- one that I cannot stop
thinking about . Yet, I am forced into silence. To speak brings
interrogation, punishment, even death. I am followed by horrific images as
unwanted as a stalker that follows me to the car wash or out to dinner. The
voice cries out in my head. I feel so spoiled, so privileged, so American --
and yet, so helpless. The helplessness is the worst of all feelings, for I
cannot assist these kids or alleviate their condition. I have seen young
girls who have been raped and abused. A common occurrence in Zimbabwe
brought about by men who seek to rid themselves from HIV/AIDS by raping
young virgins. I have talked to a doctor, shook the hand of a man who talks
about the rape of a one-day-old girl. The ignorance and apathy is
incomprehensible.

I have also seen the unintended consequences of celebrity adoptions in
Africa. Men are going to villages, taking advantage of those events, telling
mothers that their daughters are going to be adopted by "celebrities" and
"wealthy American families" -- and that they can now cease to worry. The men
give families $100 dollars and take their daughters away. These unknowing
children are raped first and sent into sexual slavery. A few children
adopted, thousands put at risk. I cannot even speak these words aloud for
fear of repercussions. I am a still a prisoner in Zimbabwe. A prison not of
my own making but one that forces me to be silent against the daily
atrocities in your country.

I can still smell the suffering and feel the tension throughout the air.
Food is scarce, water is scarcer. Electricity is sporadic at best. Your
country is on the verge of collapse. Yet denial plays like a cheap filmstrip
upon your ugly back. A barrage of requests for media interviews come to my
apartment. But the safety of my friends comes first. Haunted, hunted and
trapped in hell. The Hell you have created.

You are a smart man, Mr. Mugabe. For I am one of many forced to be silent. I
have never thought my world could be like this, but here I am. What can I do
with this knowledge to save people? What harm will my attempts cause? What
deaths and torture lay upon my actions? I exaggerate not.

You're clever in your torture methods. Don't feign ignorance because you
know it is so. The first one is the old-fashioned beating. The beatings by
your thugs with their hands and feet. I know of one man who survived a
beating with a plank of wood covered in nails. He was thrown in the river to
be eaten by the alligators. Even the alligators had some mercy and left his
punctured body on the banks. The second kind of torture used is poisoning.
This happens often in prisons. It is easy for you to hide this kind, for
many people never come out from behind those bars. Who has money for
autopsies there -- when there is no food to eat? Most people know the truth
anyway, even if you make it illegal to say it. The last type of torture is
electrical wires that touch against both sides of the victim's body. The
body smells as it is slowly electrocuted. People will say anything when
tortured.

I went to a party last weekend in a local neighborhood. It is an annual
event hosted by good, decent people who are active in our community. The
couple is in the midst of doing a remodel on their house yet still hosted
the event. A large pig slowly turned on the roasting pit, waiting for its
final crispness. In the midst of laughter and good food, I walked up the
hill to the top of the driveway. I looked down at the guests who milled
around the plates of food. The laughter floated up to me. There were some
children that followed me up to where I sat on the cement. The kids via
their imagination created little monsters that were gong to "eat us up."
"Ah! Those tree-suckers are coming", said one child. He began to describe
the one-eyed monsters to his companion. I got up to take them back to the
party, as I could see they had begun to scare themselves into fear. A hot
tub filled with fear that I am already soaking in.

I am surrounded by my own monsters now. Monsters that you have created and
you can eliminate. My monster has eyes everywhere, and I cannot escape. Can
you?

I got stuck in a cell in one of the many prisons in your country. A 5-by-5
holding cell that had one small bench. One woman lay sprawled on the wooden
platform. She was asthmatic and clutched her inhaler close to her chest.
There were a number of women there arrested for selling food on the street.
Street vending is an illegal activity in Zimbabwe. Even so, the roads are
littered with the site of makeshift tables displaying sale items. These
women are aware of the law, but have no other way to feed their children.
They sell items on the streets to feed their little ones, and hope not to
get caught. Who will watch their children when they are caught? No one. They
do get caught, and are arrested and incarcerated. They go before the courts
and pay a fine -- if they have the money. I do not know what happens to them
if they cannot pay the fine. I dare not ask.

I am grateful that I had the money. It allowed me to bribe every shift of
guards while I was incarcerated. We avoided going up to the holding pen on
the third floor. That floor was covered with feces and urine. Woman lay
scattered across the floor barefoot. A prisoner must be barefoot in prison.
It is the only way a guard can tell the prisoners from the guests. I step on
the substance and it oozes through my big toe. I try not to gag.

We talked through the night and the women shared their stories. They came in
all shapes and sizes but there stories were remarkably similar. Their tales
depicted desperate mothers forced to break the law to feed their children. I
had no answers for them. I wept when they told me their stories. A few of
them asked me why I cried, and I explained that I wept for their suffering.
They seemed puzzled by this. "This is our life", they explained, "Why do you
cry for us?" They did not seem to comprehend my grief.

One woman had a series of photos that she clutched in her hands. She shared
the photos with our group. The photos captured her after being severely
beaten by her husband. Her face was so swollen and beaten that she was
unrecognizable as the women who sat in front of me. Shocked, I asked "Why
are you here" She said that her husband told the police that she stole
something and they arrested her. She started to cry. I got angry.

Surely, we must be spoiled here. We complain so much as people, and don't
take action. In America, we squander our rights. As a country we can't seem
to even get the majority of our population out to vote. In Zimbabwe their
rights are trampled on daily, yet they do not complain. They get beaten to a
pulp by their spouses and thrown into jail with trumped up charges. They are
silent. We complain, we yell, we fight and then we sit and stuff ourselves
with a rib-eye steak. I am ashamed.

I think again of the young child in tattered clothing. Of her trying to
cross her emaciated legs and sit down, when a plate of food is put in front
of her. Her desire to gorge on the plate of food is palpable. I have lost my
appetite. She grabs a potato with her hands and begins eating quickly. I
watch her waiting for some sense of satisfaction, to light up her eyes, but
it never comes.

I sign my name here.


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Cost of food aid soars as global need rises

Reuters

Tue 16 Oct 2007, 12:36 GMT

By Peter Apps

LONDON (Reuters) - A "perfect storm" of drought, conflict and rising costs
has increased the ranks of the chronically hungry by millions of people, and
forced aid workers to find and fund longer-term solutions to the food
crisis.

As the world marked World Food Day on Tuesday, the United Nations said the
number of chronically hungry people around the globe rises by an average of
4 million each year.

At the same time global fuel prices have soared, pushing up road transport
costs and global maritime shipping rates.

The U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) says the cost of cereals has risen 50
percent over the past five years, which experts say is due to the world's
growing population -- particularly in non-food producing urban areas --
combined with bad harvests and an increased demand for cereal products in
previously rice-eating India and China.

Conflict in some of the world's poorest regions has created refugee crises
and experts warn climate change may promote more fighting over resources,
demolishing coping strategies and pushing already vulnerable families over
the edge.

"It is a perfect storm," said WFP Africa spokesman Peter Smerdon. "They all
feed into each other."

Worst affected is sub-Saharan Africa, home to 21 of the 36 states worldwide
requiring food assistance.

WFP says it is most concerned about Somalia where drought and conflict have
coincided to produce what some say is the country's worst humanitarian
crisis.

Violence has restricted handouts and fighting between the transitional
government, its Ethiopian allies and insurgents has forced thousands to flee
Mogadishu to makeshift camps.

The closure of the capital's main market -- a food and job lifeline which
has been the scene of repeated fighting and was recently burned -- has also
hit supplies and buying power.

LONG TERM SAVINGS?

In southern Africa, food crises in Zimbabwe and the kingdoms of Lesotho and
Swaziland share two causes: drought, which has also hit regional producer
South Africa and driven up prices, and AIDS, which has killed farmers and in
turn cut output.

Zimbabwe's situation is exacerbated by the seizure of white commercial
farmland for landless blacks which has hit output, critics say, and
hyperinflation and economic collapse.

West and southern Africa are largely at peace, making access relatively easy
but in East and Central Africa's war zones, many of the neediest are out of
reach.

New fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has left WFP unable to
reach a third of 300,000 new displaced, while in Ethiopia's Ogaden region
government restrictions and a crackdown on rebels are seen blocking aid and
trade shipments.

"Populations in these areas are reportedly consuming wild foods and, in the
most food-insecure households, slaughtering livestock -- their main source
of income -- for consumption," said famine early warning service FEWS NET.

"If trade restrictions continue, these negative coping strategies will lead
to destitution."

But while conflict continues to drive food shortages from Sri Lanka to
Colombia, hunger is more often caused by deepening poverty.

"If our planet produces enough food to feed its entire population, why do
854 million people still go to sleep on an empty stomach?," the U.N. Food
and Agriculture Organisation Director-General, Jacques Diouf, said in Rome.

Pope Benedict said the world should consider the right to food a universal
right for all human beings, without distinction or discrimination.

Increasingly, aid workers say it is time to move beyond handing out food as
crises bite. They say simply speaking, longer-term programmes could save
money.

Aid group CARE International says its programmes in West Africa's Niger,
aimed at reducing poverty and building sustainable agriculture, cost only
around $30 a person -- half the price of providing food at the peak of a
2005 food crisis.

While some government donors are being won over to that idea, obtaining
funding for sustainable development lacks the draw of an urgent emergency
appeal.

"With an emergency response, it is very easy to say who you helped and
where," Africa food security expert for CARE International UK Vanessa Rubin
told Reuters.

"It is not that simple when you stop a crisis."


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Political apathy has never been deeper - even in Zanu PF's rural heartland


In the Zanu PF rural heartlands, even people who have always been Robert
Mugabe's supporters are beginning to despair of his rule - but do not know
of any alternative. "My mother is 90 and even she is now tired of him
(Mugabe). She hasn't had a cup of tea for three months because I can't find
sugar anywhere," said Florence Chiwayo - not her real name - deep in a rural
stronghold tightly controlled by Zanu PF. "We don't talk about politics. Why
should we?" In this remote part of Zimbabwe where opposition Movement for
Democratic Change politicians dare not venture, everyone would say, if
asked, that they are Zanu PF supporters. Zanu PF was in control here long
before the end of the Rhodesian civil war in 1979. It was a "liberated zone"
then. Today it is a one-party state, peaceful, subdued, stuck in a time warp
of underdevelopment and absolute dependency on the state.

Chiwayo, 46, and her younger sister, Memory, were walking from their cluster
of huts near Dendera village, 240km north-east of Harare hoping for a lift
to Nyamapanda, the border with Mozambique. Even Mozambique, officially one
of the poorest countries in the world, has more food for sale than Zimbabwe.
Chiwayo said some people knew the name of founding MDC president, Morgan
Tsvangirai. "We know him, but we never saw him." She says she is the only
person in her district who travels out of Zimbabwe to work. She goes to
Botswana where she does not need a visa, "cleaning houses, doing anything"
for 90 days a year. The two women, a grown son, and others who stopped for a
chat were slender and said they were hungry, but they are not starving as
there was summer rain for subsistence farming. "If we have money we can get
maize from the GMB (Grain Marketing Board). "

The state GMB, the only legal cereal trader, regularly asks people to
produce Zanu PF membership cards before it will sell the staple food. "They
don't ask us because everyone here is Zanu PF," she said, laughing again.
People here get little news. They have no batteries for their radios to tune
into the Zanu PF-controlled radio. Newspapers used to come when relatives
visited, but that seldom happens nowadays. The only news they get is local
Zanu PF news. Yet neither Forence Chiwayo and her sister bothered to vote in
the 2005 general election: " What do we get from voting?" Memory Chiwayo
asked. Mutoko is the main town towards the border and trading stores there
are as empty as Harare supermarkets - a few boxes of jelly powder, cleaning
materials. Half a hind quarter of beef was delivered that morning, the first
meat for three months. "We have nothing for sale here," said Perpetual
Duncan, 19, at a kiosk outside a garage in Mutoko which had no fuel.

About 20km west of Dendera, about 100 people were sitting under a tree
alongside a dilapidated clinic listening to a local Zanu PF heavyweight on a
warm Wednesday morning far ahead of elections next March. A further 8km down
the rutted dirt track through wooded hills in another tribal area was
another Zanu PF rally. Mugabe is "busy already", said a man from the area
who was travelling in our small truck. Perhaps Mugabe's lieutenants know
that political apathy has never been deeper, not just in opposition
dominated urban areas, but out here too, in his rural heartland. People have
little to show for 27 years of independence even in the three large
Mashonaland provinces with superb soil and reliable rainfall. They rarely
see relatives from Harare nowadays as fuel is scarce and expensive. They are
poor, certainly, but not as desperate as those in the south and parts of
eastern Zimbabwe.

In the late afternoon, on the outskirts of Mount Darwin, 155km north of
Harare, Mugabe's personal army, a new intake of youth militia, dubbed "green
bombers" for their uniform colour and violent history, were marching towards
town from a day's training. These strapping young men and women glowed with
health in new uniforms and waved as our vehicle, the only one on the road
for many kilometres, passed by. Zanu PF member of parliament Shuvai Mahofa
recently told a parliamentary select committee that the militia should
disband as trainees were not fed properly and some women members were raped.
Many believed that the militia, loyal to Zanu PF, but publicly funded, was
no more. The militia was the key to Mugabe's relentless pursuit of the MDC.
Human rights activist David Chimhini said recently that the militia "loot,
assault and rape". Last month Mugabe's supplementary budget allocated 40% to
security ahead of the elections. The last stop on this extraordinary
journey, where everyone was pleasant and polite, was at the Mazowe Hotel,
about 40km from Harare. There the bar was busy, selling beers and amazingly
expensive packets of crisps (Z$700 000). No one there was talking politics
in this small hotel owned by a Zanu PF bigwig, where pictures of white
settlers in front of ox wagons are still on the walls and the low moon above
the dam reflected on still waters as it always has.


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Tsvangirai's cronies take power in UK



By a special correspondent in London

16th October 2007

The UK province of the MDC has been thrown into chaos by intervention from
party headquarters in Harare. At a meeting in Northampton on Saturday the
provincial executive under the chairmanship of former trade unionist Ephraim
Tapa was dissolved.

During Mr Tapa's year in office membership has more than quadrupled with
branches increasing from 19 to 52. He was given a vote of confidence by
more than forty branches at a meeting in Coventry only a week ago.

But a campaign to wrest power continued, apparently organised by relatives
of Morgan Tsvangirai. MDC UK sources say the dissident group includes Mr
Tsvangirai's uncle, Hebson Makuvise, the MDC leader's special representative
in the UK. They said another relative involved was Jaison Matewu of the
Portsmouth branch. Others in the group come from Buhera, Mr Tsvangirai's own
district. The group was apparently assisted by a former Assistant Police
Commissioner, Jonathan Chaora, now of Birmingham branch.

The group raised money to fly over the MDC's national chairman, Lovemore
Moyo, after sending a petition to Harare accusing Mr Tapa of incompetence.
Several branches reported to have signed the petition have denied any
knowledge of it. And a senior member of the Tapa executive, Virginia Ncube,
who was alleged to have defected to the Matewu group, says she is
considering taking legal action against those misusing her name.

Mr Tapa said he had not been told of Mr Moyo's visit until four days before
his arrival. "The only official communication I got was a text from Harare."
Speaking after Mr Moyo's hurriedly called meeting in Northampton, he said
the dissolution was a product of nepotism.

"What happened here is an assault on both democracy and human rights. The
MDC has shown itself to be grossly faulty. This episode is an indication of
the amount of work the party needs to do to be truly democratic, otherwise
we are just another Zanu-PF. Imagine a government which appoints its
relatives to senior positions.. a government that does not respect the right
of the people to choose their leader."

Mr Moyo's decision to suspend the executive, taken at a meeting attended by
about fifty people, led to the instant resignation from the MDC of Adella,
widow of murdered MDC activist, Tichaona Tapfuma Chiminya, in protest
against what she described as "dictatorship and corruption in the MDC".

Observers say the MDC in the UK has been riven for years by tribalism and
jockeying for position, leaving all actual work for Zimbabwe to other
organisations such as the Zimbabwe Vigil and the Zimbabwe Association. But
they say the bust up could seriously damage Mr Tsvangirai's position as most
MDC supporters in the UK are likely to stay loyal to Mr Tapa.


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Harare says not aware of Senegal leader's mediation trip

Zim Online

Tuesday 16 October 2007

By Sebastian Nyamhangambiri

HARARE - The Zimbabwe government says there has been no official
communication about a planned visit to the country by Abdoulaye Wade, two
weeks after the Senegalese leader announced he was coming to offer help in
resolving Harare's long-running political crisis.

President Robert Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba yesterday said Harare
was not aware of President Wade's planned visit.

"Anyone is free to come to Zimbabwe," said Charamba. "But as regards the
issue of mediation, I am not aware of that yet. Even the trip to Harare has
not yet been actually confirmed in terms of what it will be for. If it is
there, the issue of mediation has not been raised."

Wade announced on 2 October that he was heading for Harare within the
following two weeks to propose to Mugabe multilateral mediation by African
heads of state to solve a seven-year political crisis besetting Harare.

His proposal would involve broadening the number of players involved in
current mediation talks being led by South Africa to include other African
heads of state and Zimbabwe's former colonial master, Britain.

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki is leading a Southern African
Development Community initiative to mediate between Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF
party and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party.

In a weekly column in the state-run Herald daily, a pro-government columnist
using the pen name Nathaniel Manheru but whom many believe to be Charamba,
scoffed at Wade's mediation effort as an attempt by France to seek a late
entry into Zimbabwean politics.

"France is seeking justification to attend (EU-Africa Summit) through the
dutiful Senegalese President Wade who thinks he can do better than Mbeki in
bringing about a resolution of an impasse which has already been unclocked.
In Shona we call it bravely slaying the dead and cold, muchekadzafa," said
Manheru.

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa yesterday dismissed Manheru's assertions,
saying Wade was welcome to mediate to end the deteriorating political and
economic situation in Zimbabwe.

With inflation of over 6 000 percent, shortages of basic commodities and
unprecedented poverty levels, Zimbabwe has been ranked among the world's
worst performing economies outside a war zone.

"It is a positive development that an African leader has finally seen that
there is crisis here. We are not surprised that Mugabe is not happy with the
African stick. Dictators hate their own African brothers," said Chamisa.

Mugabe, 83 and in power since independence from Britain in 1980, denies
charges of human rights abuses and accuses Western countries of sabotaging
the economy as punishment for his seizure of white-owned farms to resettle
landless blacks.

The Zimbabwean leader accuses Britain and her Western allies of imposing
what he calls illegal sanctions aimed at sabotaging the once prosperous
southern African economy.

The frosty relations between Harare and London have been topical in recent
months amid threats by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to boycott a
summit of African and European leaders set for Portugal in December if
Mugabe was invited. - ZimOnline


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Businesswomen donate sanitary wear to prisons

Zim Online

Tuesday 16 October 2007

By Simplisio Chirinda

HARARE - A group of top Zimbabwean businesswomen has sourced sanitary
pads and food supplements for women serving jail terms in the country's
prisons where prisoners are living in de-humanising conditions and often
suffer from malnutrition and other diseases as a result of food shortages.

The group had been touched by the plight of women in Zimbabwean
prisons, many of whom do not get a chance to observe their reproductive
rights as result of the shortage of sanitary pads in prisons.

The donation, coordinated by Harare businesswoman Abigail Magwenzi
through her organisation called Celebrate A Sister, was sourced by Grace
Muradzikwa, Pindie Nyandoro, Charity Jinya and Chipo Mutasa.

Muradzikwa is chief executive officer of insurance company NICOZ
Diamond while Nyandoro heads the Zimbabwean operations of South African
banking group Standard Bank.

Charity Jinya is chief executive officer of Barclays Bank and Mutasa
heads hotel and leisure group Rainbow Tourism Group.

The donation is enough to supply female inmates in prisons around the
country with sanitary pads for one year.

Mangwenzi, who is co-ordinator of Celebrate A Sister, said her
organisation signed a memorandum of understanding with the Zimbabwe Prison
Service (ZPS) as part of a campaign to assist female prisoners.

"We have signed a memorandum of understanding with ZPS and we will
assist it with critical logistics such as sanitary pads and food supplements
for children who live with their mothers in prisons as well as help with the
rehabilitation of these female inmates," Magwenzi told journalists
yesterday.

The campaign involves assisting teach inmates with life skills and
helping to rehabilitate them.

Magwenzi has since started a competition to reward the best female
inmate in Zimbabwe's prisons.

Many prisoners in Zimbabwe have constantly complained about the lack
of adequate sanitary facilities and food, which has resulted in several
unreported deaths and cases of disease outbreaks.

Some have also complained about the lack of access to life prolonging
drugs such as antiretroviral drugs, which the Zimbabwean government can
barely afford to buy for the huge prison population.

"The situation in the prisons is bad and we would like to help and do
our role as women to help children some of who are suffering from
malnutrition. It is only when you get in there that you will appreciate the
magnitude of the problem," said Magwenzi who also announced plans to get a
farm where the organisation would produce food for female prisoners and
their children.

Last year, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions sourced and donated a
consignment of sanitary towels worth US$7 000 after a huge outcry over the
price of sanitary wear, which has gone way above the reach of many
Zimbabwean women.

Many women in Zimbabwe are now using newspapers, tissues and rags as
substitutes for tampons and pads.

An outbreak of pellagra earlier this year killed 23 inmates at the
notorious Chikurubi Maximum Prison where hardcore prisoners are kept.

Zimbabwe's prison system was condemned this year by a parliamentary
delegation, which visited jails around the country.

The country has about 35 000 people incarcerated in 42 jails, a number
which is said to be well over the designed capacity of about 17 000 inmates.

The country is in the midst of an economic meltdown, marked by world
record inflation, shortages of drugs, food, electricity and water.

A stint at any of the country's prisons is now regarded as a sure
death penalty for Zimbabweans. - ZimOnline


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Chaos continues to mar Grade 7 exams

Zim Online

Tuesday 16 October 2007

By Regerai Marwezu

MASVINGO - Pupils at 10 primary schools in Masvingo province failed to sit
for their Grade 7 exams last Friday because question papers were not
delivered on time as chaos continued to mar this year's examinations.

In a classic example of the chaos marring the running of examinations in
Zimbabwe, the affected schools failed to get the question papers on time
forcing the authorities to postpone the exam to yesterday.

There were fears that hundreds of pupils who failed to sit for the Content
Paper 2 exam last Friday could have accessed the paper from students at
neighbouring schools.

Zimbabwe School Examination Council (ZIMSEC) officials in Masvingo said they
had rescheduled the examination for yesterday adding that the affected
schools had failed to get the papers on time because of transport problems.

"We had no option but to reschedule the examination for Monday (yesterday)
because the question papers were not delivered on time.

"Our vehicle that was distributing the question papers went to some of the
centres late when all the teachers had knocked off on Friday," said a ZIMSEC
official who refused to be named.

The postponement of the examination followed a similar incident last
Wednesday when several schools in Bulawayo received blank question papers
for the Content Paper 1 examination.

Education officials in Masvingo confirmed the development adding that the
situation was beyond their control.

"We have received reports from some schools that they did not get their
question papers on time.

"The problem lies with ZIMSEC and they have since told us that the affected
pupils will sit for the examination on Monday," said Clara Dube, the
education ministry's regional director for Masvingo.

ZIMSEC has struggled to run exams after President Robert Mugabe's government
localised public examinations in 1998.

There have been numerous reports of exam paper leakages and mix-ups of
students' results raising fears that standards of Zimbabwe's once revered
education system could be seriously compromised.

Morale among Zimbabwean teachers, who ended a two-week strike over poor pay
and working conditions, is still said to be low after the government awarded
them a 420 percent salary raise that will see the lowest paid teacher
earning Z$14 million a month.

The teachers, who were among the lowest paid civil servants before the
salary adjustment last week, say the money is still way below the poverty
datum line that currently stands at Z$16 million a month.

Thousands of experienced teachers have fled Zimbabwe, which is in the grip
of a severe economic crisis, in search of better paying jobs in neighbouring
countries, such as South Africa and Botswana. - ZimOnline


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At home and abroad

swradioafrica.com

By Allister Sparks

For publication 17 October 2007

It is with some reluctance that I take issue with my friend and fellow
journalist Trevor Ncube on a matter concerning Zimbabwe, of which he is a
deeply concerned citizen. But I cannot let his argument, set out in an
article in his own newspaper, the Mail & Guardian, go unchallenged that
personal economic sanctions Western countries have imposed on key members of
the Mugabe administration have contributed to the mess in Zimbabwe.

The essence of Ncube's argument is that these sanctions have not only
achieved nothing but have been counter-productive. Firstly, because they
have estranged those countries diplomatically from the Zimbabwean government
and so diminished their ability to influence it; and secondly, because they
have enabled President Robert Mugabe to blame the sanctions, rather than his
own policies, for Zimbabwe's catastrophic decline.

Ncube says opposition and civic society groups in Zimbabwe have found it
difficult to rebut that line of argument by Mugabe.

Moreover, "Many on the African continent regard the sanctions as a white
racist response to land reform in Zimbabwe."

Ncube suggests this is why bodies such as the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) have found it difficult to
criticise Mugabe and his policies publicly, "because they fear being seen as
supporting the Western sanctions, that are undeniably affecting ordinary
people, or as puppets of the West."

I find this line of argument, to blame Western sanctions for the African
countries' complicit silence in the face of Mugabe's multiple crimes against
humanity, disingenuous.

It may well be, as Ncube suggests, that these African leaders are afraid to
be seen criticising one of their own who has become a tyrant. But who is at
fault here? The Western leaders who are denouncing the tyrant, or the
African leaders who are too scared to raise their voices?

Does ethnic solidarity require tolerance of tyranny because they are your
people doing the bad things? Ask that of Beyers Naude or Braam Fischer or
the thousands of other white South Africans who stood up against apartheid.

There is a deep and ongoing problem here that has been damaging Africa since
the earliest days of independence, and finding pathetic excuses and
scapegoats will not rectify it. African leaders must summon the courage to
challenge the delinquent leaders among them. Until they do, Africa as a
whole will not acquire the respect it deserves in the international
community.

Mugabe is not the only African leader to benefit from this kind of racial
protectionism. The most notorious was of course Idi Amin, the "Butcher of
Uganda," who ruled over that hapless land for eight years in the 1970s,
during which he ran a regime characterised by monstrous human rights abuses,
political repression, ethnic persecution which included the expulsion of all
Asians from the country, and was estimated to have killed 30,000 of his
citizens.

Never once was he criticised by his fellow African leaders, who not only
tolerated his atrocities but allowed him to host a summit meeting of the
Organisation of African Unity in 1975 and become head of the OAU --
resulting in the travesty of Amin's Uganda being appointed to the United
Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Amin was eventually toppled only because he tried to annex a piece of
neighbouring Tanzania, causing President Julius Nyerere to send in his army
and overthrow him. Referring to the Amin phenomenon after his retirement,
Nyerere made the observation that Africa's greatest single weakness was its
failure to confront such tyrants among its own ranks.

Sadly his reprimand has gone unheeded.

There was the thuggish Sani Abacha, who ruled over Nigeria for 13 years from
1985. Not only did Abacha loot his country of some $4-billion, he had
hundreds of political opponents executed and imprisoned. His atrocities
reached a climax with the execution of the Ogoni activist and poet, Ken
Saro-Wiwa, which resulted in Nigeria being suspended from the Commonwealth.

President Nelson Mandela, to his credit, played a role in bringing about
that suspension with a powerful denunciation of Abacha at the Commonwealth
Heads of Government summit in Granada - but later I was to hear Deputy
President Thabo Mbeki offer a veiled defence of the tyrant in an address in
Johannesburg.

There were others, too -- Mobutu Sese Seko, the kleptocratic ruler of the
Democratic Republic of Congo (which he called Zaire) for 32 years,
Jean-Bedel Bokassa, who ruled and plundered the Central African Republic
from 1966 to 1974, then proclaimed himself Emperor of the Central African
Empire at a $20-million coronation ceremony before being overthrown in a
coup.

None was ever criticised by his fellow African leaders. As Vaclav Havel once
said, he had encountered two types of people during his long years as a
fighter for human rights, a prisoner and eventually Czech president. There
were "those with the soul of a collaborationist and those who were
comfortable denying authority."

By their silence, Africa's leaders have made themselves collaborators with
their continent's tyrants. To blame that silence, that timidity, on Western
sanctions is a shameful cop-out.

Ncube contends that Western policies of sanctions, criticism and isolation
have not achieved anything, and that may be so. But I refuse to accept that
a political leader who has been responsible for the murder of at least
20,000 political opponents in the 1980s, who continues to beat up, imprison
and even kill anyone who dares oppose him, who has brought his country down
from glowing promise to dire poverty in a handful of years, destroyed the
principle of property rights so as to shatter its economy and plunge it into
the world's worst inflation rate, who has driven a quarter of his population
into economic exile and bulldozed hundreds of thousands of its poorest urban
dwellers into oblivion with his Operation Murambatsvina, should get away
without a word or gesture of criticism from any quarter.

Tyranny cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. And if the African leaders
won't challenge it, someone else must.

Nor do I accept that there was nothing more effective African leaders could
have done about Mugabe other than "quiet diplomacy." Ncube says he doesn't
think there is any discerning observer who believes South Africa supports
Mugabe's policies. Maybe not. But Mugabe has used Africa's silence, and
especially Mbeki's, in a massive propaganda campaign to tell his own people
that the whole of Africa is on his side in his heroic struggle against the
imperialist West -- and that is what has saved him so far.

Had Africa, and especially the frontline states of SADC, raised their voices
in unison to tell him publicy that what he was doing was unacceptable, I
doubt he would have survived it.

At the very least, they could have warned Mugabe last April, when he began
his latest campaign of beating up opposition supporters and throwing them in
jail, that if he didn't stop such an obvus attempt to cripple the
opposition, they would not validate his coming election or recognise his new
government. That he would then be heading an illegitimate regime in their
eyes.

Don't tell me that wouldn't have had a salutary effect on him.

But they lacked the courage even for that.


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Pick 'n Pay writes off Zim

The Times, SA

Oct 16 2007 6:46PM

By Michael Hamlyn, I-Net Bridge Published:Oct 16, 2007

Introducing what he described as "a solid, solid result",
Raymond Ackerman, the chairman of Pick 'n Pay (PIK), said that his company
had had to take a knock in Zimbabwe.

A 23 million rand profit last year had turned into a
write-off this year.

He said that although his company's stores were still
running extremely well there, on the advice of his auditors Pick 'n Pay had
decided to write the operation off, in common with other stores. The
investment had been written down to zero, and no income was calculated as
coming from there.

The group's interim results for the half year to the end
of August show that overall the group's turnover increased 16.9% to 21.76
billion rand, trading profit was up 26.8% with the profit margin rising from
2.4% last year to 2.6% for the six months.

Headline earnings per share rose by 15.1% and interim
dividends of 31.10 cents per share for Pick 'n Pay Stores, and 15.18 cents a
share for Pick 'n Pay Holdings, were declared - both of them increased by
15.2% over last year.

While Ackerman and his chief executive Nick Badminton
spoke happily of the company's achievements and its promise for the future,
they also had to admit that the hypermarkets have had a challenging six
months, thanks to the start-up costs of four new stores - five if one major
revamp was included.

"We all knew it would be a big task to open four,"
Ackerman said. "But two of them are already breaking even at the moment."

Two other major costs have been affecting the company's
balance sheet.

They are the conversion to the SAP system of accounting,
and the development of the distribution centre at Longmeadow in
KwaZulu-Natal.

SAP is now fully rolled out in the Western Cape for both
corporate stores and franchises. Corporate stores in KwaZulu-Natal and the
Eastern Cape are live, as is the Longmeadow centre.

The Longmeadow centre has been operating since August, and
the dry grocery warehouse is already delivering 6% of grocery sales to 230
stores. All inland stores will be serviced by fresh distribution centres by
the end of next month.

Badminton said that the new distribution centre would
enable the group to buy products forward to guard against anticipated price
rises.

Giving a presentation on the group's results in the new
corporate headquarters in Kenilworth, Badminton promised that there will be
further announcements next month on what future plans are being made


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Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda Urges Britain To Engage With Zimbabwe

VOA

By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
Washington
15 October 2007

Zambian founding president Kenneth Kaunda has joined the ranks of African
leaders offering their services to help resolve the Zimbabwe crisis, more
specifically to end the standoff between President Robert Mugabe and British
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has vowed to boycott a European-African
summit if Mr. Mugabe shows up.

The December summit in Lisbon has become a focal point for European and
African leaders because the Zimbabwe question threatens to overshadow the
summit or, as happened in 2003, scuttle it over the issue of Mr. Mugabe's
participation.

Mr. Brown's threat to withhold top-level British participation if Mr. Mugabe
is included has not gone over well with African governments which see in his
ultimatum a post-colonialist bid to impose Western policies on what should
be equal partners.

Mr. Brown cited Harare's record on human rights and the deepening
humanitarian crisis in the country, which he laid at Mr. Mugabe's doorstep,
saying it would be "inappropriate" for him to share a podium with the
African head of state.

Summit host Portugal has not yet sent out invitations for the December 8-9
summit, but Zimbabwe Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said Monday that
Mr. Mugabe will definitely attend the summit even if Mr. Brown decides to
stay away.

Harare has further taken umbrage at a British proposal that the European
Union said a special envoy to Zimbabwe to assess human rights and
humanitarian conditions in advance of the summit, seeing in this, according
to the government-controlled Herald newspaper, an effort by the somewhat
diplomatically isolated Brown to "save face."

Kaunda, weighing in, said Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Brown both should attend the
summit and open themselves to mediation by other countries. Much as Harare
has done, Mr. Kaunda framed the dispute in terms of Britain's role in the
chaotic land reform program that many see cite as the root cause of
Zimbabwe's current deep economic crisis.

Harare charges that Britain reneged on a commitment to financially
underwrite land reform, fatally destabilizing the agricultural economy.
Britain says it stopped payments to Harare for land redistribution because
land was mainly going to Mugabe cronies.

Harare says talks are needed to resolve what it sees as unfinished business;
London says it met its commitment to the tune of 44 million pounds between
1980 and 1988.

Mr. Kaunda first expressed an interest in meeting with Mr. Brown at the
recent summit of Southern African Development Community leaders in Lusaka,
Zambia, stressing the importance of land and historical issues in the
British-Zimbabwean relationship.

"When I look back at the road that this man (Mr. Mugabe) has walked, I don't
understand how the world can just choose to look only at the current
problems that Zimbabwe is facing without looking holistically on the
country's history, particularly on the land issue," the Times of Zambia
quoted Mr. Kaunda as saying this week.

"Yes, there are problems in Zimbabwe at the moment," Mr. Kaunda told an
audience at a British Council-sponsored event in Ndola, Zambia. "But it
would be unfair for all of us here sitting in this room today, to just
demonize Mugabe, without trading the roots, from which the problems are
emanating today."

Kaunda's chief of staff Godwin Mfula told reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of
VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Kaunda wants to encourage Britain to
engage in a dialogue with Zimbabwe.

A spokesperson for Mr. Brown at 10 Downing Street declined to comment, but
said that no meeting had been scheduled with Mr. Kaunda.

Senior Analyst Sydney Masamvu of the International Crisis Group said Mr.
Kaunda could play a constructive role, but would have to be careful not to
undermine the mediation being pursued by South African President Thabo
Mbeki.


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Bob Marley's Zimbabwe

OhMyNews

[Opinion] 'So arm in arms, with arms, we'll fight this little
struggle'

Masimba Biriwasha

Published 2007-10-16 08:31 (KST)

On April 18, 1980, Jamaican musician Bob Marley joined millions of
Zimbabweans to celebrate a hard-won independence from oppression. As part of
his tribute he performed the song "Zimbabwe" live in Harare, the capital
city.

April 18 marked the day on which Zimbabwe's incumbent leader Robert Mugabe
was sworn in as the first prime minister of a people that took over a
hundred years to reclaim their freedom from British colonial rule.

Twenty-seven years later Marley's words in "Zimbabwe" ring with an amazingly
prophetic tone. More than anything they speak to his inspired genius and to
his ability to understand humanity. But greater still, they speak to the
struggle of how to build a nation from the ashes of oppression in which
every human being must be granted a right to decide their own destiny.

"Bob's story is that of an archetype, which is why it continues to have such
a powerful and ever-growing resonance: it embodies political repression,
metaphysical and artistic insights, gangland warfare and various periods of
mystical wilderness," states the official Marley Web site.

I couldn't have put it better.

It was the ability of Marley's music to tear into the fabric of the
sociopolitical establishment of his time that won him so many fans. With his
words Bob Marley was able to open up new human awakenings and, fused into
rhythmic yet soothing Jamaican reggae melody, the power of his words went on
to inspire millions of people around the world.

The fact that Bob Marley penned a song for Zimbabwe can only mean that he
had a special regard for the country in his heart. By the power of his
words, he managed to capture the dream of the people of Zimbabwe and project
it onto the world map.

More amazingly his words are so true to the reality in Zimbabwe today. As a
Zimbabwean it's both nostalgic and frightening for me to listen to the words
of Marley's "Zimbabwe."

Set it up in Zimbabwe
Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny,
And in this judgment there is no partiality.
So arm in arms, with arms, we'll fight this little struggle,
'Cause that's the only way we can overcome our little trouble.

.
To divide and rule could only tear us apart;
In every man chest, mm - there beats a heart.
So soon we'll find out who is the real revolutionaries;
And I don't want my people to be tricked by mercenaries.

On the one hand it arouses the joyous reminisces of a newly independent
Zimbabwe with a promise of a future of hope, development, democracy and
opportunity.

On the other hand it mirrors the disintegration of the state of Zimbabwe
today. For me it's indeed like a surreal paradox.

Marley's song in the current Zimbabwe is no longer a song of liberation but
a call to a united front that can confront the dark powers of black-on-black
oppression camouflaged in pan-African ideology.

More than just a gifted songwriter and musician, Marley was indeed an
inspirational prophet who wanted truth to be told and injustices to stop.

Ironically Zimbabwe's President Mugabe has ushered a dispensation that is
akin to a silent genocide against his own people. Marley must be cringing
wherever he is living now with the gods of music.

Presently Zimbabwe has come down to devouring its own people because of the
selfishness and greed of its political leaders. The political leaders care
little about the people that they claim to represent.

Poverty and suffering have become the order of the day in that beloved
nation. All because of the beliefs held by its political leaders. The belief
that we must revenge the evils of the colonial past has killed the country
of Zimbabwe.

Belief shows itself in action and, if its root is coated with evil, shows
itself with an ugly face.

Revenge, oppression and hatred are the currencies turning the wheels in the
ramshackle state of Zimbabwe. And as a result many people in the country are
dying, like donkeys drinking water at a poisoned well.

Marley asked in one his songs: What happens to a man that kills to save his
own belief?

That very question is what Zimbabwe's political leaders need to ask
themselves today.

The political leaders' divide-and-rule tactics against the population have
made Zimbabwe a laughingstock around the world.

The nation itself is like a house cracking at its foundation.

Not many in Zimbabwe today have a right to choose their own destiny.
Partiality and cronyism is what the politicians practice.

Increasingly it is becoming apparent that ordinary people need to join "arm
in arms" to fight for freedom; otherwise, there will be no guarantee of a
future of promise. Only a united Zimbabwe can fight the trouble the nation
is facing.

But the truth is that the country today lacks true revolutionaries: people
who are willing to give up their lives for the cause of freedom, but who
will not kill innocent beings for the cause of freedom. True revolutionaries
who dare to dissent at the risk of having their voices cut off.

Mugabe's government has become like a mercenary against the people.

But in every Zimbabwean's heart, the quest of freedom beats constantly. It's
probably the only right thing about the country today.

If the people of Zimbabwe can believe more in the sound of that heartbeat,
Marley's song will reverberate again like a joyful sound.

Freedom must free not just the freedom seeker but those around him. Real
revolutionaries, in Marley's words, are people who do not tolerate any form
of injustice or oppression.

That message rings true throughout his music, touching the hearts of many
freedom fighters around the world.

And in Zimbabwe, Marley's words could never sound better as a call to
progressive action.


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You can't go telling folk that life in Zimbabwe is murder

Comment from The Cape Times (SA), 16 October

John Scott

There is a big debate going on in Musina about a large hoarding that
proclaimed in red letters: LIFE IN ZIMBABWE IS MURDER THESE DAYS. It didn't
stay up very long last week. Before the two workers had quite finished
pasting up the notice, armed police arrived, accompanied by nine soldiers in
a troop carrier, and arrested the men on unspecified charges. They were
handcuffed and carted off to the police station. The mayor and a town
councillor had also raced up to the scene of the crime in their respective
cars. The hoarding was meant to be read by the thousands of Zimbabwean
refugees pouring across the border. It said it knew why they were in South
Africa, but urged them return to their own country in March to vote.
Townsfolk opposed to the hoarding are deeply divided. One group argues:
"Zimbabweans don't need to be told life in Zimbabwe is murder. They must
know already, or they wouldn't be fleeing across the border. "Reading that
billboard would make them even more depressed, and unlikely to return.
Surely it's our job to reassure them that things aren't so bad, otherwise
they'll be hanging round here until March." Another group says: "Notices
like that just further inflame rebellious Zimbabweans unloyal to their great
leader. Of course life in Zimbabwe isn't murder, except to those who vote
against him, and then they don't deserve to live, anyway." A third group is
pedantically insisting: "Life in Zimbabwe can't be murder. Only a person can
be murdered, but if they arrive here and are able to read the board, then
obviously they haven't been murdered. It is not life that is murder, it is
death that is."

One thing they all do agree on is that such notices should never be
permitted on South African soil. "It's very unfriendly to our neighbouring
state," said a municipal spokesman. "How would we like it if Zimbabwe
allowed a notice on the other side of the Limpopo that said, for instance:
MBEKI IS A PAP PRESIDENT. We would expect the Zimbabwean authorities to tear
it down, too." "Even if it's true," added a spokesman for the group that
said Zimbabweans didn't need to be told life in Zim was murder. A minority
in Musina believe the short-lived billboard at least created a bit of
excitement in the town. A professional person confessed: "Once you've seen
the rock bed in the Munyengedzi River - it's called Sand River Gneiss and is
supposed to date back 3 850 million years, making it the oldest rock in
Africa - there's not much of interest here in Musina. Life in Zimbabwe is
murder these days made a nice change from the usual Kentucky Fried Chicken
and Coca-Cola ads. But the best part was when the police and army rushed up
to tear it down. If only they were as quick when there is a real murder on
this side of the border."

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