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Zimbabwe revokes all NGO licences

Mail and Guardian

Harare, Zimbabwe

16 April 2007 06:36

       Zimbabwean authorities have cancelled licences for NGOs in a
crackdown on groups accused of planning to oust veteran President Robert
Mugabe, state television said on Monday.

      "Government has annulled registration certificates of all NGOs
in order to sift out those seeking to force regime change in Zimbabwe," the
state broadcaster Zimbabwe Television said.

      "As pro-opposition and Western organisations masquerading as
relief agencies continue to mushroom, the government has annulled the
registration certificates of all NGOs in order to screen out agents of
imperialism from genuine organisations working to uplift the well-being of
the poor."

      The report said Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu made the
announcement at a meeting of ruling-party supporters in the second city of

       "The opposition has of late been aligning itself with
anti-government religious groups under the umbrella of the Save Zimbabwe
Campaign," the report said. "Rallies held under this banner have seen
supposedly prayer meetings turning into violent illegal gatherings."

      Zimbabwean authorities have in the past accused Western powers
of using NGOs and aid agencies to channel funds to the country's main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

      The country's relations with the West became strained after the
United States and the European Union imposed targeted sanctions on Mugabe
and cronies from his ruling party following presidential elections in 2002
whose outcome was disputed by the MDC and Western observers.

      Mugabe often castigates MDC leaders as stooges of the West and
accuses British Prime Minister Tony Blair of harbouring plans to recolonise
Zimbabwe using the MDC as a front.

      To keep an eye on the operations of NGOs, the authorities
drafted a Bill allowing the state to demand records of finances and
operations of NGOs. -- Sapa-AFP

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Zim losing battle against 'economic HIV'


    April 16 2007 at 03:32PM

By Fanuel Jongwe

Harare - Zimbabwe's government, which has indefinitely postponed the
latest set of inflation figures, appears increasingly panicked over its
losing battle against the country's "economic HIV," analysts said.

Central Statistical Office acting director Moffat Nyoni told AFP on
Monday he was still hoping to announce the figures for March by the end of
the week after ironing out a "few technical glitches".

But a finance ministry staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity,
said the CSO was under instructions to "withhold the figures until further

After the inflation announcement was postponed twice last week, also
for "technical" reasons, most observers believe the real explanation is a
sense of panic over the surge beyond the 2 000 percent mark, defying
previous forecasts.

"Official projections have been far off the mark and naturally there
is anxiety on the part of the officials," financial analyst Best Doroh told

"But there is no way to water down the figures to match the official
predictions because the movement of prices is in the opposite direction to
what has been projected."

When the CSO announced a month ago that the February inflation rate
had jumped by another 137 points to a staggering 1 730 percent, it further
undermined a prediction by then Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa in December
that the figure would fall to around 300 percent by the end of the year.

Witness Chinyama, an economist with finance group Kingdom Financial
Holdings, said it was clear the government had once again been unable to
halt the inflation juggernaut with the cost of living increasing by the day.

"One can speculate that the postponement may be due to figures which
could be higher than officials anticipated," said Chinyama.

"But it's obvious the figure will be higher following wholesale price
increases as businesses anticipated a wage freeze and the rise in fuel

After the announcement last month, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa
remarked that his southern neighbour had "sunk into such economic
difficulties that it may be likened to a sinking Titanic".

Even central bank governor Gideon Gono was moved to compare the
inflation rate - now the highest in the world - to the Aids pandemic.

"Inflation has ceased to be just the number one enemy. It is now
actually the economic HIV of this country," Gono said in remarks carried by
the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

When the rate reached four figures in May last year, the announcement
was also delayed for several days but Chinyama said that fudging figures
would not halt the mounting economic woes.

"It's like the HIV and Aids problems and you need to publicise the
true figures and adopt measures to deal with the problem rather than sweep
things under the carpet and continue under the impression that all is well,"
he said.

Murerwa had predicted that inflation would be reined in by a marginal
economic growth propelled by good weather, stabilising of commodity prices,
improved mineral deposits and increased tourists arrivals.

But the International Monetary Fund director for Africa, Abdoulaye
Bio-Tchane, told South Africa's public broadcaster SABC over the weekend
that he expected the figure by the end of the year could reach 5 000

Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn over the past seven years
characterised by world-record inflation along with four in every five
persons out of work and perennial shortages of commodities like sugar,
cooking oil and fuel.

Over 80 percent of the population is living below the poverty
threshold often skipping meals or cycling or walking long distances to work
in order to stretch their wages.

The government blames the economic crisis on targeted sanctions
imposed on veteran President Robert Mugabe and members of his inner circle
by the United States and the European Union following presidential polls in
2002 which the opposition and western observers charged were rigged. -

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Crackdown On Illegal Mining Has Unforeseen Consequences

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

April 16, 2007
Posted to the web April 16, 2007


A controversial police crackdown on illegal mining late last year, followed
by an environmental rehabilitation project in which small-scale farmers in
central Zimbabwe were forced to participate, has left them struggling to
find their feet and adversely affected food security.

Police arrested more than 20,000 "illegal miners" across the country in
Operation Chikorokoza Chapera (No to Illegal Mining), which began in
November 2006, and then rounded up local people and forced them to work on
restoring the landscape. Many left their homes for safer places, while
small-scale farmers were forced to abandon their fields in the planting

Faced with the world's highest annual inflation rate - more than 1,700
percent - and 80 percent unemployment, thousands of Zimbabweans, including
professionals, have abandoned their jobs to dig for minerals in rural areas
across the country.

Illegal gold panners, known as 'makorokoza', left a trail of gullies and
pits in Gokwe, a cotton-farming district in Midlands Province, about 260km
west of the capital, Harare.

Many subsistence farmers had to give up working on their plots, and
abandoned and now derelict thatched huts dot the countryside in and around
Chevecheve village in Gokwe. Some residents have returned, but a number of
huts remain unoccupied.

"The police came and raided the area, arresting a number of the makorokoza
and, after several crackdowns, the gold panners disappeared. That was when
we were forced to attend a meeting in the village at which we were told that
we should participate in filling up the gullies," Saiton Mukudu, a village
elder, told IRIN.

He said the police accused Chevecheve residents of causing damage to the
environment by mining illegally; they took the names of all the villagers
and ordered them, including teenagers and the elderly, to use shovels to
fill up the gullies and pits, and this "obviously scared those who decided
to leave the area".

People who refused to participate were hunted down and sometimes beaten up.
"We suggested to the police that the government should instead make
arrangements for volunteers to get involved and get paid either in cash or
kind, but they would not hear of that, saying we were all responsible for
the damage to the environment," Mukudu said.

"I do not disagree with the police that the environment has been badly
damaged. In fact, we also had problems with these makorokoza because
sometimes they invaded our fields and disturbed our farming activities. They
also even went as far as digging up graveyards, but the point is that most
of them came from other places," he added.

He had to take care of some of the homesteads after the fleeing villagers
pleaded with him to do so.

Missed out on planting season

Margaret Chimboza, 43, a widow, recently returned to her home. "I am
devastated by what the police did. I have never participated in illegal
panning all my life since I could adequately cater for my family on the
cotton that I produced on my plot." She "escaped" to a nearby farm, where
she worked as a casual worker.

It was therefore extremely unfair for the police to come and round all of us
up and accuse us of damaging the environment. After all, even if it is true
that there were people who were indiscriminately digging up the earth, the
timing of the operation was wrong because it was the farming season and we
had to abandon our fields."

Even if it is true that there were people who were indiscriminately digging
up the earth, the timing of the operation was wrong because it was the
farming season and we had to abandon our fields

Having missed out on planting season, Chimboza, who is also asthmatic, now
has to raise funds to reconstruct her home and feed her two children, who
have also been unable to return to school.

"It is a real drawback because my children have to spend the whole year
doing nothing and can only resume next year, assuming there is no operation
like that again," the frail woman said.

Legal miners affected

Many legal small-scale miners have also been left in a quandary after their
operations were stopped by the police. Joseph Rukodzi owned three gold
mining claims in the Ngezi district 20km west of Kadoma town, about 125km
southwest of Harare, but when the operation started he was accused of mining
illegally and forced to close them down.

Rukodzi was among more than 50,000 small-scale miners who were forced to
abandon their livelihood after the police crackown last year, when the
government alleged that the country was being prejudiced of large quantities
of foreign currency, as illegal miners smuggled minerals out of the country.

"I was surprised that the police insisted that I should stop operating, even
after I produced valid certificates that showed clearly that I was a
registered miner and had been operating for five years," Rukodzi told IRIN.
He had managed to build a house in Kadoma and intended to start a grocery
store with the profits from his mining venture before the clampdown.

He had made numerous visits to the police and even approached Home Affairs
officials for the release of his confiscated equipment and certificates, but
to no avail.

"Some of my friends have paid bribes to the police and are back in mining,
but I don't see any reason why I should go to the extent of giving them a
kickback when I am in this business legally. Besides, where will I get the
money to pay them when I have not been generating money for five months?" he

Earlier this month, George Kawonza, president of the Zimbabwe Miners
Federation, reported that only 100 small-scale miners had been allowed to
resume mining. The crackdown on illegal miners was scaled down when some of
the miners testified to a parliamentary committee that influential
government officials were soliciting bribes from them and participating in
illegal mining activities.

Innocent Makwiramiti, an economist and former chief executive officer of the
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), said the government had "gone
overboard" in carrying out the operation.

"It was legitimate to put a stop to illegal panning, but the methods that
the police used were extremely wrong: they have left a trail of suffering
through the indiscriminate closure of mines and disruption of farming
activities, worse still now that the country has been hit by another
drought," Makwiramiti told IRIN.

"But it is vital to also consider why illegal mining is so rampant in the
country," he said. "Something should be done to fix the economy."

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

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Zimbabwean civil society under acute threat, says CIVICUS during visit

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation

Date: 15 Apr 2007

CIVICUS Press Conference tomorrow - Zimbabwe civil society under attack

"Over the past few weeks in Zimbabwe, leaders of churches, unions and
non-governmental organisations have been harassed, intimidated, imprisoned
and even physically attacked - tragically just for going about their
legitimate activities" said Kumi Naidoo.

Kumi Naidoo, CIVICUS Secretary General, and Clare Doube, Manager of CIVICUS'
Civil Society Watch programme visited Zimbabwe from 13 to 16 April to offer
solidarity and support, and to deepen their understanding of the challenges
faced by the country's embattled, yet courageous civil society.

In their meetings with civil society activists, including church leaders,
unions and non-governmental organisations, Naidoo and Doube were told of
growing limitations on civil society's vital work, as well as mounting
violations of citizens' fundamental rights to freely express themselves and
gather peacefully.

"While Saturday's prayer meeting in Bulawayowas fortunately allowed to
proceed without police interference, this was definitely an exception to
recent practice,"said Naidoo, who spoke at Saturday's peaceful meeting
organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign and Christian Alliance. "The
increasing restrictions on civil society action in Zimbabweseverely hamper
citizen participation in making a turn for the better," he said.

Civil society organisations told Naidoo and Doube about a slanted new
government report which attempts to criminalise legitimate civil society
activity. Opposition Forces in Zimbabwe: A Trail of Violence falsely claims
that a "Broad Alliance" of organisations - including CIVICUS partners
Christian Alliance, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights and Women of Zimbabwe Arise - have led a campaign inciting violence
and promoting regime change.

The report unjustifiably states, "The Broad Alliance's defiance campaign for
regime change and overthrow of the democratically elected Government of
Zimbabwehas resulted in a plethora of criminal activities and political
violence in the country."

Naidoo and Doube also asked their fellow civic activists for suggestions of
how civil society and governments in Africa, and more broadly, can best
materialise solidarity and support for civil society in Zimbabwe.

"We Africans should not sit back and see the people of Zimbabwesinking
deeper and deeper into poverty and desperation every day,"said Naidoo.
"During South Africa's struggle, cross-border solidarity was extremely
important. Now that we are enjoying democracy, it is our and every African's
responsibility to respond to the plight of fellow Africans, in this case the
people of Zimbabwe."

The visit of Doube and Naidoo follows a series of activities by CIVICUS in
support of civil society in Zimbabwe. Most recently, CIVICUS and the Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition coordinated the first ever African-led civil society
solidarity visit to Zimbabwefrom 26 November to 1 December 2006.

For more information, please contact Julie Middleton at +27 82 403 6040 or Alternatively, for more information on CIVICUS and its
Civil Society Watch programme visit and

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African leaders no better than Mugabe

The East African

A while back, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe told his critics to go
hang. Interestingly, he said this in the company of President Jakaya Kikwete
of Tanzania, one of the countries in the Southern African Development
Community out to resolve Zimbabwe crisis.

He pulped his main opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai. The Movement for Democratic
Change legislator and spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, was equally badly beaten.
In fact the opposition figures had to seek the court's intervention to leave
the country.

Yet Mugabe can thumb his nose in the presence of Kikwete because he knows
that the Tanzanian government is not without blemish, like many other
African countries.

Whether it is Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, Nigeria, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea,
Cameroon or Malawi, the story is the same: the leaders are tainted.

A few years ago, Tanzania police invaded the semi-autonomous Zanzibar and
Pemba and clobbered people senseless. In Uganda, the army stormed the High
Court, beat up a lawyer and dragged away accused people who had been granted
bail. In the Sudan, Darfur is a genocide any way you look at it. The brutal
force with which President Hosni Mubarak's government descends on political
dissent, mainly the Islamic Brotherhood, must have been copied by Mugabe.
The list of atrocities is endless.

With all this "talent" across Africa, who will dare confront Mugabe? No
wonder we hear talk of quiet diplomacy and that they are not going to
interfere in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe.

It is truly a see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-it-is-an-internal-affair approach.
The kind that let the genocide in Rwanda go unchallenged leading to the
slaughter of nearly a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

The international community seems spineless in the face of dictators like
Mugabe. The United Nations is aloof, while the African Union is toothless
and has neither the ability nor courage to bark.

As Zimbabwe goes up in flames, Nepad with its peer review mechanism is
nowhere to be seen nor heard. Are there Mugabe peers who are doing an
evaluation of Zimbabwe and telling him to account for it?

The way forward is for African leaders to clean up their act, at least to
give them leverage in correcting their wayward colleagues.

Meanwhile, it is crucial that President Mugabe steps down. It needed the
courage of the late President Mwalimu Nyerere to get Tanzania to move into
Uganda and remove Idi Amin. That is an option African leaders fear to
pursue, because they are all tainted.

Moses Auta

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Zimbabwe coal producer hikes price by 16,000%

Africa Interactive, Netherlands

In a move that portends far-reaching consequences on the economy, Zimbabwe's
sole coal producer, Monday announced a 16,000-percent price increase for the

Hwange Colliery Company raised the price of coal from 2,000 Zimbabwean
dollars to 335,200 Zimbabwean dollars per tonne with immediate effect. (250
Zimbabwean dollars=US$).

The company blamed the increase on rising production costs, fuelled by high
inflation of more than 1,700 percent in the country facing its worst
economic crisis in years.

"The increase was necessitated by an increase in costs of critical input of
up to 700 percent since the last price adjustment in January 2007," it said
in a statement.

The price hike could drastically push up electricity costs because much of
Zimbabwe's power is generated by thermal power stations using coal.

The state-owned power company is expected to increase electricity prices,
thereby pushing up production costs across the board. 16 April 2007 - PANA

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EU gets ready to bite the Mugabe bullet to keep its Africa policy on track

From The Cape Times (SA), 16 April

Peter Fabricius

It's beginning to look like Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will
participate in the second summit between the European Union and Africa
despite his recent assaults on opposition leaders and a worsening economy.
For four years the summit has been postponed because of a disagreement
between the two continents about whether or not Mugabe may attend. But on
Friday, Portugese Foreign Minister Luis Amado made it clear in an interview
that the EU was now determined it would be held in Lisbon in December. The
question of Zimbabwe's participation was now being treated as mere "detail"
to be worked out over the next few months. Much more so than in 2003 when
the summit was supposed to have been held, the EU members realised the
strategic importance of resuming a dialogue with Africa at the highest
level, Amado said. At an earlier press conference with him, South African
Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had been adamant that the AU would
not allow Zimbabwe to be excluded or treated differently. Amado said that
the EU now mostly wanted to treat its bilateral policy on Zimbabwe - which
was to maintain pressure - as a separate issue from its relations with
Africa. So it's looking as though the EU will give ground and allow Mugabe

This issue in some ways illuminates two contrasting approaches to analysing
Africa's problems; the one identifies internal causes as paramount, the
other external causes. Usually, as here, bilateral approaches stress
internal causes while multilateral approaches stress external causes. One of
the main strategic concerns that is now motivating the EU towards holding
this summit is the flood of illegal African migrants into Europe over the
last few years and the eruption of rioting among African immigrant
communities already in Europe. Amado said that the EU and AU were already
working on a joint strategy to be ratified at the summit which would include
a tripartite approach to the migration problem. This would be increased
security to address illegal immigration, better integration of legal
migrants and more and better development in Africa (to reduce the push
factor, presumably). The migration problem was proving a catalyst for
upgrading the EU's Africa development policy, which he said was being found
inappropriate or at least insufficient. This policy shows how these big
multilateral gatherings tend to emphasise external causes. The joint
strategy which is being prepared looks as though it will imply that if the
EU pumps more development money into Africa, this will improve conditions at
home enough to discourage Africans from clambering into boats and risking
drowning to sail to Europe.

Ironically, though, even if they have not taken to boats, several million
Zimbabweans have also become illegal immigrants, most to neighbouring
countries, but quite a few to Britain. If the summit devises a policy to
allow more of them into Europe, that will be good, as most are innocent
victims of circumstances beyond their control. But the summit needs also to
acknowledge that the reasons they are fleeing are almost entirely internal -
the political and economic policies of Mugabe. Even South Africa's deputy
foreign minister Aziz Pahad acknowledged the other day that the main causes
of Zimbabwe's economic meltdown were not the external policies of Britain,
Europe etc, as Mugabe himself constantly claims, but the country's own
internal policies. Pahad quoted no less an authority than Zimbabwe's own
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono for this opinion. If Mugabe is allowed to
participate in the summit, it should be on condition that his disastrous
policies - and similar policies of other failed or failing African states -
must also be addressed as primary causes of Africa's ills, including the
exodus of emigrants to Europe. If the summit, on the other hand, simply does
the usual mealy-mouthed summit thing of promising more external aid, it will
merely massage Mugabe's bloated ego and achieve very little for the wretched
people of Zimbabwe and elsewhere. Then it would be better to postpone the
summit once again and maintain Mugabe's isolation.

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Zimbabwean Independence Day overshadowed by humanitarian crisis


Date: 13 Apr 2007

Zimbabwe gained its independence on April 18, 1980, a day that was
celebrated internationally.

But 27 years on, there is little cause for optimism as Zimbabwe has become
synonymous with corruption and chaos and, more recently, with the desperate
attempts of President Robert Mugabe to cling to power at any cost.

Amid a devastating economic crisis - the culmination of years of graft and
chronic abuses of political power - Zimbabwean citizens are facing an
escalating humanitarian crisis. A timeline of recent events in Zimbabwe.


People generally experience hunger in Zimbabwe between January and April,
while crops planted during the last rains are maturing. During this
pre-harvest lean season, people are forced to buy food and other essential
items. The effects of a 1,700 per cent rate of inflation has compounded this
time of hardship as even the most basic commodities such as maize, sugar,
soap and cooking oil remain well out of the reach of the majority of
Zimbabweans. In major cities such as Harare and Bulawayo the prize of maize
meal has increased by 148 and 358 per cent respectively, leaving many
households unable to meet their immediate food needs.

Poor Rains

Once the harvest begins and maize becomes available again many people
usually get some relief. But this year, following prolonged dry periods or
erratic and light rains in many parts of the country, extremely low crop
yield levels are predicted. Less than one third of the 1.8 million metric
tonnes of maize needed to meet minimum requirements is likely to be
harvested this season. The negative effects of poor seasonal rains on crops
will mean that communities already struggling will find it increasingly
difficult to cope. This is particularly the case in Southern Zimbabwe, where
actual and pending acute food shortages are being frequently reported in

Continued Oppression

Almost two years since Mugabe's government unleashed its programme of mass
evictions and demolitions during Operation Murambatsvina (a Shona word
meaning clear out the filth) hundreds of thousands continue to live in
makeshift shelters. Having watched their homes and small kiosks and informal
businesses destroyed, most have no chance to provide for their families and
live in fear of being moved on once again. This climate of brutality and
oppression has only intensified since then, with recent attacks illustrating
how the security forces are permitted to commit serious abuses against
opposition members and ordinary Zimbabweans alike. Human Rights Watch has
described the systematic use of violence and oppression against the

"Police forces have also gone house to house beating people with batons,
stealing possessions and accusing them of supporting the opposition. The
terror caused by the police has forced many families in the affected areas
into a self-imposed curfew after dark."


Zimbabwe is also faced with the additional challenge of a high prevalence of
HIV and most Zimbabwean households have been affected by HIV in some way.
With a prevalence rate of 20.1 per cent, it is estimated that more that 1.6
million people of all ages are currently infected with HIV. However, in a
country with such a tense political and social climate, responding to the
crisis presents an ongoing challenge.

Trócaire's Emergency Work in Zimbabwe

Tr?caire has worked to deliver emergency programmes in Zimbabwe since 1992.
Currently, Tr?caire is providing help to people who have trouble securing
enough food while also helping those affected by Operation Murambatsvina to
rebuild their livelihoods.

To contact Trócaire's press team:

Republic of Ireland
Catherine Ginty,
Press Officer,
T: +353 1 505 3270
M: 086 629 3994

Northern Ireland & UK
David O'Hare,
Press Officer,
T: 028 90 80 80 30
M: +44 7900053884

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Bob orders, Mbeki waits

Financial Mail

13 April 2007



You have to give it to Southern Africa's leaders. They have a sense of
humour. Appointing President Thabo Mbeki to mediate between Robert Mugabe's
despotic regime and the bleeding, tortured leaders of the opposition is a
masterstroke of irony.

I mean, how long has Mbeki been going around the world claiming to be
quietly talking to Mugabe and the opposition? Seven years? Remember how,
back in 2003, Mbeki stood smiling inanely beside US president George W Bush
and claimed that talks with the Zimbabweans were getting on nicely, thank
you very much? He said: "We are absolutely of one mind about the urgent need
to address the political and economic challenges of Zimbabwe."

Mark the word "urgent". So what has Mbeki been doing all this time? He
has tolerated, clothed, fed and supported Mugabe with his tolerance for the
man's penchant for arresting and beating up opposition leaders. And, oh,
don't forget the little matter of that farcical trial in which Movement for
Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai was accused of planning to
assassinate Mugabe.

Mbeki has made it abundantly clear which side he is on. He is a Mugabe
man through and through. Appointing him to seek dialogue between the two
sides is tantamount to asking a bent referee to make sure a football match
is clean and fair.

Mugabe confirmed as much after he returned, triumphant, from the SADC
meeting. Gloating, he said Tsvangirai "deserved" to be savagely beaten up.

"Yes, I told them [SADC leaders] he was beaten but he asked for it...
We got full backing, not even one criticised our actions," he said. "There
is no country in SADC that can stand up and say Zimbabwe has faulted."

I can imagine the scene. Fourteen regional presidents, scared witless
by Mugabe's shaking voice, cowering before him and applauding as he
described how his goons beat up defenceless men and women.

There was a time when this sort of thing made me want to cry or just
lock myself up and laugh uncontrollably. Now, well, I just scream into the
deep dark nights until I fall asleep. I know the Mbeki-ites are too busy
playing political games to care about the 3m Zimbabweans who have lost their
homes - and their country.

There has, of late, been a steady stream of visitors to our shores.
They always blink and ask: "So what's going to happen in Zimbabwe? Who will
be SA's next president?"

So when Matthew Kaminski of The Wall Street Journal breezed into town,
wanting to know about the state of our literature, I felt moved to have
lunch with him. After all, the answers to the usual questions are brief.
Firstly, I don't know anymore what is going to happen in Zim. Secondly,
whoever succeeds Mbeki should not keep the sorts of friends the president
has been keeping.

And so off to Mama Tembo's to ponder literary matters. I choose it
because it is newish and a friend tells me he has never been served such a
huge plate of food. "I don't know how they make a profit," he says.

Mama Tembo's styles itself "Sophiatown in the suburbs". The décor is
sort of romanticised 1950s, a bit like those sepia-tinged movies one always
sees trying to glorify the Drum writers. But there are also images of Nelson
Mandela and Nkomazi jostling for space on the walls, while the waiters give
you pamphlets of their 2010 Supa Soccer Special (food = R20; drink = R10).

There are quite a few restaurants popping up playing on this nostalgic
theme. I think they are hankering after a time when "the international
struggle for human rights" was part of our vocabulary.

The menu is meaty and most of the dishes are named after an SA icon:
Mandela's Meat Platter, Tutu's Beef Burger, Winnie's Seafood Platter,
Thabo's Marrow Bone (eh?) and even Nkosi (Johnson's) chicken livers.

I go for a (football club Mamelodi) Sundowns oxtail with pap and
vegetables; Matthew for a seafood curry with rice. We sit outside and wash
it down with Heineken. Matthew enjoys his curry. My oxtail is fine.

The truth is that you don't really come to places like this for an
excellent meal. Mama Tembo's is a bit like a curio shop, a Disneyland of
aspects of our past and present.

I am glad I went with a foreign visitor, who liked what it
represented. The food is forgettable, but it will be full of soccer fans in

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Morgan Tsvangirai talks back

The First Post

Morgan Tsvangirai apologises. "If I say something incoherent you must forgive me. It's the after-effects of the beating Mugabe's thugs gave me."

The leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) looks a lot better than when he was taken to hospital after being beaten by police a few weeks ago. The grotesque swelling around his eyes which shocked the world has subsided. But there is a deep scar on his scalp.

I ask him how he has coped. He smiles. "I have been living with this kind of stress for nine years. You learn to be resilient. My wife Susan has been with me all the way, she has been my strength."

He changes the subject, reluctant to talk about personal matters. During the past two months, he tells me, a total of 600 MDC activists have been abducted, beaten and tortured

Our man in Harare enjoys an exclusive interview with the leader of the MDC

by President Mugabe's hit squads. "There is now a total onslaught against the entire leadership, including the middle and lower ranks of the party. Everyone associated with the MDC has been declared a legitimate target."

Tsvangirai dismisses with contempt Mugabe's allegations that the MDC is responsible for recent bombings. It is a familiar Mugabe trick, he says, to invent reasons to arrest people.

In 1981, he recalls, Zanu-PF planted arms on the marginalised Ndebele tribe, and this was used to justify the infamous Gukurahundi massacre in which thousands died.

He's equally sombre when considering what happens next in Zimbabwe. I ask him if he thinks South Africa's "quiet diplomacy" policy will succeed? "I am not a disciple of quiet diplomacy, but I wish Thabo Mbeki all the best in trying to negotiate a solution to the crisis."


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'The Uncertainty of Hope'

World Press

An Interview With Novelist Valerie Tagwira

Valerie Tagwira is a Zimbabwean medical doctor and an author. Currently she is working in London while preparing for her membership exam for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Her debut novel, "The Uncertainty of Hope" is set in the densely populated suburb of Mbare, Harare, and explores the complex lives of Onai Moyo—a market woman and mother of three children—and her best friend, Katy Nguni—a vendor and black-market currency dealer. The novel gives an insight into the challenges faced by a wide cross section of Zimbabwe, where life expectancy has dropped to 37, possibly the lowest in the world.

In 2005, Operation Murambatsvina, the government's controversial urban slum clearance program, created over half a million internally displaced persons and destroyed the livelihoods of close to 10 percent of the population. Eighty percent of the country's population is unemployed.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that the rate of inflation, which currently stands at over 1,700 percent, could reach an unprecedented 4,000 percent this year.

In a recent interview, Tagwira spoke about the concerns that influenced the novel.

Musiyiwa: What would you say "The Uncertainty of Hope" is about?

Tagwira: It is a novel set in contemporary Zimbabwe. It looks at poverty, homelessness, H.I.V./AIDS, domestic violence, and a host of other socioeconomic challenges of the day. It is also a story about surviving against the odds and, hopefully, gives an insight into the intricacies of contemporary Zimbabwe with respect to how people are trying to survive.

When I initially started thinking about writing, I had a desire to do something different … something creative, and because I'm something of a '"mild feminist'" at heart, I always knew that I would write something featuring strong female characters. Writing about contemporary Zimbabwe was a natural choice because I am very much attached to '"home'" and I travel back quite frequently. At each visit, it strikes me how the living standards are deteriorating, and at each visit, I never imagine that things can get any worse, but they do, and people still survive. I was particularly concerned about how women deal with the challenges that are thrust upon them.

When I started writing the book, being a woman was my motivation, but I also had a strong interest in socioeconomic, developmental, and health-related issues that affect women. I wanted to highlight the plight of the disadvantaged in modern day Zimbabwe … the poor. This encompasses the homeless, be they adults or street children, the unemployed, and all the employed and ex-middle classes who are now living below the poverty datum line. It includes everyone who cannot afford basic necessities like food, clothing, education, and access to healthcare …

Among the disadvantaged in Zimbabwe, are there groups that are more vulnerable than others?

In each of the groups I've mentioned, I think women (and the girl-child) are worse off than their male counterparts.

What is life like for these women and children?

Extremely difficult.

They have been disempowered, and have very little or no means with which to make their lives better. The issues discussed in the novel have touched most people either directly or indirectly because there is now so much poverty in Zimbabwe.

To me, it feels as if most things are collapsing, be it industry, the health system, or the education system … you name it, it's going … deteriorating. Even the judicial system is struggling. The current political situation and the country's negative publicity certainly don't help. All these have the combined effect of making life very difficult for the people.

Also, women are more likely to be unemployed, less educated, and less in control of their lives because of cultural and biological reasons, all of which makes them even more vulnerable. The collapsing health system in Zimbabwe has placed an even bigger burden on women, who are naturally expected to be caregivers. For example, childbearing necessitates the provision of obstetric services which, for the greater proportion of women, are now out of reach, even at a very basic level. I can see a situation where pregnancy and childbirth are soon going to be gratuitously risky. In addition to this, women's role as caregivers now brings with it the extra burden of looking after family and friends with H.I.V./AIDS.

Is there a solution?

In my opinion, this is where the uncertainty about the future of Zimbabweans lies. If a solution is ever to come, I don't know when it will be or how it will come. What I'm sure of is that drastic changes have to take place in order for the lives of ordinary people to improve.

What can/should be done to improve the lives of women and children in Zimbabwe?

Empowerment through education, employment creation, affirmative action where possible (as long as this does not lower standards), and generally making resources available to the population.

This can be effected by government leaders as they are the ones in charge of policymaking processes and allocating funds to various sectors.

I must also say it was heartening to see the Domestic Violence Act come into being in 2006. To me, this was a demonstration of an awareness of the significance of domestic violence and its negative effects. It will go a long way toward protecting the rights of women and children. They are affected to a greater extent than men, who are more likely to be perpetrators of violence and abuse. The women's coalition which campaigned for the bill had representatives from women with different political and social affiliations. This provided a window of hope that if women can come together to pursue a common goal, they can bring about positive changes in a patriarchal society which tends to put men's interests before those of women and children.

N.G.O.'s and the donor community also have the capacity to complement government efforts aimed at improving the lives of women and children. And at grassroots level, communities do have a duty of care toward the next disadvantaged person. As the core unit of society, the family setup has a very important role to play as well.

Which aspects of the work that you put into "The Uncertainty of Hope" did you find most difficult?

The novel is quite long, and for each of the characters, I had to maintain consistency throughout, taking into account various interpersonal relationships.

I did find that a challenge. I don't know if I got it right. I suppose I will be able to tell from how the novel is received.

What did you enjoy most?

Working with my editor.

I was able to participate in the editing process, which was a great learning experience. Basically, this involved checking the manuscript for errors, consistency, language, etc. Being in medicine for so long and not reading as much as I did when I was younger made me feel that my English had gone rusty so this was a great opportunity to "revise" language skills as well.

How did you decide on a publisher?

I didn't decide on a publisher as such. I heard about Weaver Press from my cousin and I rang them to ask about manuscript submission.

I was very fortunate to have my manuscript accepted, and to have Irene Staunton as my editor. She is very supportive and serious about the work she does.

In the writing that you are doing, who would you say has influenced you the most?

My parents. They were teachers, and I was always surrounded by books from a very early age. I developed a love for books because of their influence.

I read anything that I could get my hands on. This included the Benny and Betty series, the Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene, volumes of fairy tales, Enid Blyton, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Catherine Cookson, [Charles] Mungoshi, Chinua Achebe, Ngugi [wa Thiong'o] (and many more). My favorite Shona novels were: "Pafunge," "Ziva Kwawakabva," "Ndiko Kupindana Kwamazuva," "Rurimi Inyoka," and "Maidei." The list goes on and on …

What are your main concerns as a writer?

My biggest challenge is how to juggle family life, my medical career, and still find enough time to work on my writing. My career makes it impossible for me to have enough time to write as much as I would like to.

How do you deal with this?

When I have to write, I just make sure that I set aside time to do so, which might mean giving up some leisure time. I enjoy writing so much that I don't mind terribly when I have to give up something else in order to write.

While I was working on the novel, I tried to make time for about three writing sessions per week. Each session was at least three hours during the week and much longer, with short breaks, during weekends, and involved expanding the manuscript, rewriting, checking for mistakes, inconsistencies, the usual … and later, working with the editor to shape the story into something worthy of being called a novel.

What will your next book be about?

I recently came across some disturbing U.N. statistics on child abuse in Zimbabwe. I would like to find out more about this sometime in the future and see if I can write a book which looks at that theme.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Several years ago … sometime in my late twenties. I can't remember the exact age.

It was one of those vague ideas that kept crossing my mind time and again. However, because of work and study, I never seemed to have the time to settle down and commit myself to writing. I only started working on my novel earnestly toward the end of 2005, when I made a conscious decision to start working and get on with it, instead of daydreaming about being a writer one day.

I think I worked really hard once I started. It took me about ten months to complete the manuscript.

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Zimbabwe counts cost as Sibanda joins club

Sydney Morning Herald

Alex Brown
April 17, 2007

IT'S hard to know which is more depressing: the fact that a bright, young
cricketer is planning to terminate his international career to play for a
Sydney club side or that, because he is Zimbabwean, the move is not entirely

There is little joy in Vusi Sibanda's voice when he outlines his intention
to retire from international cricket aged 23 in pursuit of what would seem
an inverse sporting dream. Sitting in the pavilion at Bankstown Oval, a
fortnight after playing at the World Cup, Sibanda wearily details the social
and sporting decline of his homeland.

"I had dreamed of playing for Zimbabwe all my life, but, over the years, it
has changed a lot," he says, having just guided an invitational African XI
to victory in the annual Cricket Masala tournament in western Sydney. "The
young guys have been left to clean up the mess. In the last three years, I
don't feel like my game has improved, and I believe that will happen in

If Sibanda was from any other country, such comments would attract worldwide
attention. He is, after all, among Zimbabwe's most lauded batting talents.
Picture Michael Clarke standing down from international cricket to take play
in the Lancashire leagues. A sobering comparison, and in no way overstated
relative to Zimbabwean cricket.

Sadly, though, the cricketing world has become largely desensitised to hard
luck stories out of Zimbabwe - the black-armband protest at the last World
Cup; the premature retirements of leading players including Heath Streak and
Henry Olonga; the destructive depression spiral of Mark Vermeulen.
Accordingly, many will view Sibanda's move as part of a broader, melancholic
montage, rather than a sad, individual tale of a young man worn down by his
country's tailspin.

Thrust on to the international stage as a teenager, Sibanda scored 58 on
debut against the West Indies before struggling through tough tours of
Australia and Sri Lanka. While senior player after senior player stood down
from the Zimbabwean side, the left-hander continued to pursue a dream first
forged in the township of Highfield. But years of board mismanagement and
corruption have taken their toll. And the dream has altered significantly.

"I know that, in the long run, I can better my career here," Sibanda says.
"I wouldn't mind playing for a grade or Shires team, so long as I felt my
game was improving. I would also like to study computing. I think that this
will hurt the [Zimbabwean] team, but I feel it is important."

Zimbabwe's loss could well prove NSW's gain. In his first foray in Sydney
club cricket, Sibanda notched a pair of centuries for Strathfield in the
Shires competition, and is now attracting interest from several grade clubs.
Cricket NSW chief executive Dave Gilbert is intrigued by the prospect of
having a young international cricketer in his playing ranks.

Sibanda had hoped to play for Strathfield in the Shires finals last month,
only to be stalled by the investigations into Bob Woolmer's murder. As a
guest in the Pegasus Hotel on the night of Woolmer's untimely demise,
Sibanda, along with every other person at the hotel, was held back while
Jamaican police launched their investigation.

Had he stayed with the Zimbabwean national team, Sibanda would now be
preparing for home series against Australia, South Africa and the West
Indies. But in the twilight of Bankstown Oval, Sibanda appeared to have
accepted that the sun had set on his international career. Another dark day
for Zimbabwe.

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Mbeki advocates for free and fair in elections Zimbabwe

By Tichaona Sibanda
16 April 2007

South African President Thabo Mbeki has emphasised that the only way
Zimbabwe can solve its crisis is to have free and fair elections next year,
a senior MDC official said on Monday.

MDC secretary for Foreign Affairs Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro said Mbeki
wrote to Morgan Tsvangirai and said a free poll was the only answer to the
current meltdown in the country. The letter is believed to have been copied
to Arthur Mutambara and Robert Mugabe.

'We have responded to his letter and I am sure he's still studying the
documents from both the MDC and Zanu (PF). So when he finishes only then can
he decide on the way forward,' Mukonoweshuro said.

He added that Mbeki will either engage on further consultations or if he
were satisfied with responses from both sides, he would try and break the
ice and call for a formal engagement between the two political parties.
Mukonoweshuro ruled out any direct talks between Mugabe and Tsvangirai for
now saying 'that is not on the cards but perhaps logical thinking now would
be for the party delegations to meet and discuss.

But Mukonoweshuro reiterated that Mbeki's call for free and fair elections
has been on the MDC's drawing board for the last 5 years. He said to
constitute a cornerstone for a free and fair elections, the government will
have to change a lot of things that currently give Zanu (PF) a far superior
advantage over others.

'Technically speaking, all other Southern African Development Community
countries don't have laws that make it difficult for the opposition to
campaign or have equal access to the media. Other countries don't have laws
like POSA and Aippa, so its only fair for Zimbabwe to change its electoral
rules to meet standards set out by SADC,' Mukonoweshuro said.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Analogy about Struggle and Political Advocacy

There is no political or any struggle anywhere on our planet that will be
appreciated, embraced or even supported by total majority. The Zimbabwe
struggle for real freedom is no exception in this regard.

Struggles should be regarded as risks whose end result is determined by the
commitment of the committed patriots.

I would liken any struggle to the instinctive life and conduct of small
black ants:-

"When ants want to pull a dead grasshopper, they all really see the need to
hold on to it (bite it) and lead it to their hole and enjoy it peacefully.
You note, however, that they split (not necessarily by design) into three
groups, with the main group pulling it toward the right direction and the
other pulling it the opposite side. Even worse, the third group finds itself
on top of the grasshopper, making it heavier. The last two groups of ants
actually are only helping to slow or even frustrate the good process. But
the struggle must go ahead regardless of the frustration until the
grasshopper gets to the hole and becomes a meal for every ant".

If ants have a language, I want to believe that all of the ants will pat
themselves on their backs, including those in the last two groups, saying
"It's so good that we had to pull this "meal" to here!"

Beneficiaries of any (political) struggle and or advocacy include even
perpetrators of oppression and violence (in all forms). It may not be by
design that the police harass people, disperse peaceful advocacy gatherings
or even kill fellow citizens. It is usually because of the system and the
sort of regime they are working to appease. In addition, oppressive
governments deny people of their basic human and socio-economic rights and
subject them to adverse poverty and misery.

Those who are involved in advocating for peace, freedom and rule of law
(pulling the grasshopper to the hole) should not despair nor grow weary. The
fight must continue for the good of all, including the oppressors. So, long
live our struggle for freedom!

By:- Rev. Maurice Munthali

(a) Deputy General Secretary
Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian Synod of Livingstonia

(b) Publicity Secretary
Public Affairs Committee (Malawi)


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Zimbabwe - Let the Games Begin

Mens News Daily

April 16, 2007 at 5:53 am ·

Over the past month Zanu PF has launched its 2008 Presidential and
Parliamentary campaign. For a democracy, this campaign has a number of
unique features. At its core is an operation to essentially destroy its main
rival - the MDC. To this end a campaign of terror and intimidation has been
put into effect. Carefully planned and targeted, they are picking up known
MDC activists and leadership across the country. They are not giving any
heed to the legal niceties - those abducted are being taken to centers where
they are beaten and interrogated and then dumped out in the bush, sometimes
over 100 kilometers from the places where they were held. The great majority
are not charged or brought to Court.

In this campaign, the use of lethal force - a euphemism for the use of live
ammunition on unarmed civilians engaged in normal, peaceful, political
activity has become commonplace.

At the same time the campaign to control the media has intensified. A number
of journalists have been arrested, some deported and others beaten and
threatened. A photojournalist who was responsible for many of the images
that shocked the world was picked up - beaten so severely that his heart was
ruptured, ribs broken and he died from his injuries. His body was dumped in
an open field nearly 100 kilometers north of the capital where his injuries
were inflicted.

The electronic jamming of foreign radio broadcasts has intensified and the
media campaign against the MDC by the State controlled media has been racked
up to new, absurd, heights. The propaganda is crude and blatant with little
regard to niceties. The Security agencies are also now engaged in a new
campaign to discredit the MDC and to justify State claims that we are a
terrorist organisation. Fake attacks on Police Stations and on a train were
staged and then blamed on MDC activists - in one case the subsequent charges
made were laid against individuals who were already in Police custody when
the alleged incidents took place. Photographs of "injured policemen" were so
clearly forged that they were laughable.

We are not laughing. Zanu PF is fighting for its very life and at stake are
the future of the country and the stability of the region at large. They
know full well that their backs are against the wall, that the SADC
initiative cannot be ignored and that, horror of horrors, they are going to
find themselves in the ring with the MDC in 11 months time and having to
fight an election in front of an audience that is not totally subservient to
Caesar! So while they have the MDC prisoner in the cells below the Arena
they are deliberately starving and beating him so that when he staggers out
onto the field against a carefully prepared and nurtured Zanu PF opponent,
the latter will have a clear advantage!

The ringmaster in this bit of subterfuge is no less than the President of
South Africa and his silence on this issue is shameful. He may have taken on
the role of ringmaster on behalf of the region but we are not deceived and
we hope the rest of the world is not deceived as well - he is not in any
sense neutral. In this game he supports Zanu PF but has reluctantly accepted
that the MDC should be given a chance to win power and freedom in an open
contest before a watching world.

Yesterday I gave a lift to a young lady, about 17 years old, who had been
picked up in Bulawayo on the previous Tuesday. She and another local
activist were taken in a Police Truck to Harare - 400 kilometers away. There
they were held for 4 days and nights, denied food until Thursday evening,
interrogated and beaten. After signing an affidavit setting out what she
knew about "petrol bombings and training young people in South Africa" she
was released on Friday afternoon without charge. She was never brought to a
Court for remand.

She was taken to hospital for a check up and then accommodated by the MDC in
a nearby lodge until I was able to pick her up and take her home. When she
got back to Bulawayo she would not go straight back home because she had
been warned that the Police were still looking for her. Her mother is a
widow - supported by a son in the UK and she herself is a student doing A
levels at a local college - mathematics, biology and science. She is typical
of the sort of people who are being targeted. She is a member of our local
Youth wing.

I remember the two young people who were burned to death in the 2002
campaign, their killers known and identified. No action. The chairman of the
Zishavane Town Council. They came to his home at 2 am. Barricaded the front
and back doors then threw a military explosive charge into the dining room,
destroying the room and setting the house on fire. He was able to break down
the back door and get his family out before the house was totally destroyed.

No investigations, no subsequent arrests.

Blessing Chibundu, standing against a Zanu PF candidate in Kwe Kwe town,
held down by several people in the street, doused with petrol and his hands
tied behind his back with wire. When the matches would not ignite, they fled
leaving him on the street. His home burnt to the ground with the loss of all
his personal goods. He was unable to hold a single meeting in his
constituency for the whole campaign - beat his opponent by a margin of three
to one. No investigations, no prosecutions, no compensation. Democracy and
justice - Zanu PF style.

President Tsvangirai went to the Prison in Harare where 27 of our leadership
are being held. He saw them and reported that they were in good spirits and
were encouraged by his visit. We are deeply concerned about reports of
continued beatings and savage interrogations - some at the hands of
individuals who only speak Portuguese! Just who these people are and where
they are from is anyone's guess. The one person who had seen them said they
were sure they were Angolans.

At Saturday's prayer meeting in Bulawayo, faced with the presence of South
African clerics and a very determined Pius Ncube, the Police backed down and
it went off peacefully. This should convince the world that 100 per cent of
the violence here - in all its forms - is Zanu PF sponsored and is being
carried out on the orders of Mr. Mugabe. If they leave us alone, our
meetings and marches are not only peaceful; they are characterized by plenty
of humor and laughter. Perhaps that is what they fear most.

So now we wait for the South African response to our submissions on what we
need for a free and fair contest in this modern arena. If South Africa was
genuine in its efforts to see that a fair contest was possible it would step
into the ring right now and demand that the MDC be left alone and that we be
allowed to prepare and train for the contest in the normal way. They will
have to do a lot more than just that to create a level playing field and if
they do that, they better be ready to deal with a subsequent MDC victory and
all its consequences.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 16th April 2007

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High Inflation - The Silent Killer

April 16, 2007
Dr Bhaskar Dasgupta

Suddenly people are starting to wake up to the disaster happening in
Zimbabwe. Southern African leaders are gathering to find ways to address the
issues. ZANU-PF, the main goon party of Zimbabwe is meeting to figure out
what to do with President Mugabe, Kleptocratic-in-Chief, who is currently
running his country into the toilet and keeping it there. The
anti-imperialists are all up in arms about how the western imperialistic
powers (read the United Kingdom) are against the anti-colonial strength of
Zimbabwe. The African Union is debating what to do with Zimbabwe. A brief
murmur was even heard in the United Nations, which was quickly squelched.
Everybody is talking about the bungled takeover of the white owned farms,
the destruction of shops and homes, the endemic corruption, the rapid
emigration, the breaking of the skull of Morgan Tsvangirai and the arrests
of the opposition party. People are also mentioning the inflation rate
(which is near 2000%) in passing. But at this moment, it's this inflation
rate which is the biggest killer.

If you work in the financial markets or are connected in any shape or form
to economics and business, you will know about inflation. You will know how
governments panic about inflation. There is an amazing amount of human brain
power aimed at managing inflation. For the great majority of people, though,
inflation is known as "price rises". At this moment, I won't be exaggerating
if I said that inflation makes more people excited than all the gods and
religious leaders combined. Inflation, in a nutshell, is the constant
reduction in the value of your money. A Dollar/Pound Sterling/Won/Rupee of
today is worth more than a Pound tomorrow. A bit of inflation is good for a
whole load of economic reasons, but this column tries to keep away from
economics and sticks to politics and international relations.

As I mentioned, every government under the sun, irrespective of the
political persuasion, worries about inflation and tries to control it. If
they lose control, they are dead. The price of basic things is so core to
people's existence that if they are unable to feed/clothe/shelter themselves
and are priced out, they will revolt. Look at what the USSR tried to do.
They kept the price of bread and basics steady for decades on end, but
ultimately fell foul of the laws of economics. Even now, most of the USSR's
successors are suffering badly from bad economies, because of their lack of
inflation management skills. Indian governments, the biggest democracy in
the world, are deathly scared of the price of onions and basic foods, as the
populace harshly treats anybody who is in power during a time of price
rises. The gasoline price inflation is a gigantic bug bear in the United
States of America, with the price increases being one of the biggest
political talking points. House price inflation is an equivalent debating
point in the United Kingdom, and the long suffering phlegmatic Englishman
was forced to do a very polite revolt when the fuel price escalator went
beyond control. But all these are small bits. These examples are for
inflation which rises maximum between 2% and at the most 50% annually.

Don't think that inflation going the other way is bad. Japan had a decade of
deflationary behaviour. What it means is that a yen of today is actually
worth less than a yen of tomorrow. Weird, no? What does it actually mean?
Well, because of frankly silly economic policies, demand collapsed. So to
encourage demand, Japanese companies kept on reducing prices. On the other
hand, if this is the case, you won't buy today preferring to wait till
tomorrow, when you know that the price is going to be lower. This takes the
entire economy into a tail-spin. To simulate demand, Japan had interest
rates at near zero for years, but again, it is now showing signs of breaking
out and inflation is coming back into positive territory. Another factoid to
know is that in Switzerland interest rates turned negative once. So if you
wanted to invest in Switzerland, you had to PAY! Go figure!

I am not talking about normal inflation or even deflation. I am talking
about hyper-inflation, an economic condition which is terrible when it
occurs. Hyper-inflation is a horrible animal, it rips apart the basic
structure of a state and ruins it down to its core foundations. It breaks
the relationship between a citizen and the state, the citizen and the state
institutions. Again, I don't want to go too deep into the causes, but
basically it's because of serious and disastrous economic mismanagement
Where absolute nincompoops are running the economic policy. Total criminals,
people who are basically mentally deficient and have gone beyond the pale.
If you print off too much paper money, then it gets devalued dramatically.
How much devaluation? Well, I have used the word "gazillion" in these essays
in jest, but consider two famous cases of hyper inflation in pre-war
Germany, which issued a note worth 100,000,000,000,000 Marks or the
Hungarian 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 Peng. By the time you count to the end
of the zeros, you have run out of breath!

Give the chap his due, Robert Mugabe did reasonably well (with some
exceptions like a tiny spot of ethnic cleansing and genocide in Matabeleland
with the notorious Fifth Brigade) in the initial days in the 1980s and early
1990s. But ever since the white owned farms issue bit him, he has turned
into a strange creature. He has unceremoniously turfed out and cleaned out
hundreds and thousands of shops and houses in urban areas. All material
export industries have collapsed, except the export of people, as people
started emigrating in a flood (estimated three million Zimbabweans have
emigrated in the past few years itself - mostly into South Africa). Because
of the wholesale destruction of the commercial farming industry and the
utter and complete imbecilic treatment of the agricultural sector, most of
the food needs to be imported into what was previously the bread basket of
Africa. But guess what? There is very little foreign exchange to pay for
food imports. Who can provide food aid? The western governments and
institutions could, but they are Enemy Number #1 on Robert Mugabe's list. No
fuel either, no equipment and no nothing! So the industrial capital stock is
slowly rusting to a halt. What is the response of his economic advisors?
They try to ban inflation. King Canute is not dead folks!

Think of yourself as a Zimbabwean school teacher or a member of the
previously flourishing middle class. A middle class member whose earnings
are generally fixed on years on end with no bonus and a tiny salary
increase. If you have that sort of incoming salary, it is tough even with
small inflation. If you have a situation where prices are under
hyper-inflation and doubling every week or so, then you do not need to be
Stephen Hawking to realise how quickly you will run out of your disposable
salary, your accumulated savings and finally your assets, like your
ancestral property, house or your pension. And when you end up in a
situation where your salary is just enough for two days out of an entire
month, what do you do then as a middle class man? A dark joke of old Soviet
times gives you the answer: "they pretend to pay us for working, we pretend
to work for the pay they are pretending to pay". So you have a choice of
either doing two or three jobs, do something illegal, become a criminal or
simply leave the country. In this case, Zimbabweans have taken the last
option. What's left? Nothing much actually. Like an anorexic patient, after
finishing off the fat, the locusts in the ruling ZANU PF party and Robert
Mugabe's goons have now started eating into the muscle itself, leaving the
patient bony. He even asked for a loan from China. China, who is not at all
squeamish about lending to all and sundry, turned him down. And for all the
ills, Mugabe blames Tony Blair, USA, and everybody else outside the country.

What is even worse, is that this hyper-inflation has impacts on the
neighbours. South Africa is one of the great white (if you excuse the pun)
shining hopes of the African continent, a country which dealt with a very
bad historical apartheid card with maturity and peace. A country with sky
high moral authority and to whom people look upon as a trend setter and
moral compass. A country which has a gigantic task ahead to bring its black
majority up the curve. A country which cannot afford to have any kind of
macro-economic problems, because any problems will blow up the very
delicately balanced racial bargain. Very nice! No, actually not very nice.
Let me quote Thabo Mbeki, President of South Africa, who said the following
in an interview to the Financial Times of April 3rd, 2007. "President Mugabe
and the leadership of Zanu-PF believe that they are running a democratic
country. That's why you have an elected opposition, that's why it's possible
for the opposition to run municipal governments in Harare and Bulawayo. You
might question whether these elections are genuinely free and fair... But we
have to get the Zimbabweans to a position that they do have elections that
are genuinely free and fair."

I have to admit that I winced reading this. This is the President of South
Africa speaking? But why am I surprised? This same man believed once that
cucumber oil (or something like that) would cure AIDS. An election
opposition whose leader had his skull cracked open, all opposition press
muzzled if not burnt out! The municipal townships which have been
eviscerated by the Zanu PF goons and President Mbeki is wondering about free
and fair elections? Is he on the same planet as us? The way Zimbabwe is
imploding, is impacting South Africa as well. Not only economically, but
also the fact that it has to support three million additional Zimbabweans.
The last time a migration of this magnitude happened, war broke out and a
new country was born (Bangladesh). Old man Hemmingway said it all, and it
typifies Zimbabwe. "The first panacea for a misguided nation is inflation of
the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both
bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!

Dr. Bhaskar Dasgupta works in the city of London in various capacities in
the financial sector. He has worked and travelled widely around the world.
The articles in here relate to his current studies and are strictly his
opinion and do not reflect the position of his past or current employer(s).
If you do want to blame somebody, then blame my sister and editor, she is
responsible for everything, the ideas, the writing, the quotes, the drive,
the israeli-palestinian crisis, global warming, the ozone layer depletion
and the argentinian debt crisis.

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The Sides of the Argument in Zimbabwe

Arab News

Jonathan Power,
Memories are short, too conveniently so.

42 years ago the then named Rhodesia, a British colony, ruled by a white
minority, made its unilateral declaration of independence. The break with
the mother country had come after an acrimonious period of resisting
pressure from London to modestly widen the franchise. For fourteen years
Rhodesia was a pariah state, boycotted by order of the UN Security Council,
yet finding ways to circumvent the embargo and prosper. Even the big British
oil companies, Shell and BP, connived in the sanctions busting with, if not
a nod, at least a wink from Britain's Labour government.

That was Britain's mistake NO.1: Forcing the Africans to fight their cause
by guerrilla warfare for want of pressures on other fronts. Led by Robert
Mugabe, now Zimbabwe's prime minister, the guerrillas weakened the white
government to the point where it was persuaded to sue for terms.

Both London and Washington favored a compromise with a less militant black
leadership than the avowed Marxist, Mugabe. Yet, as is usually the case, the
lack of British and US commitment in the early days of the struggle meant
that the militants held most of the cards, not only on the battlefield but
in electoral appeal as well.

The stepping-stone to black rule had been the constitutional conference in

One of the sticking points was the question of land reform. I interviewed
Mugabe and when I asked him what the main issue for his party was he
replied, "land, land, land, land, land." The British, however, were
constrained by public opinion - the government could not be seen to be
giving Rhodesia, lock, stock and barrel and that meant the highly productive
white owned farms - to the insurgent blacks. So the British mumbled their
way through the conference, saying that while they favored a sensible land
reform they couldn't be explicit about how much money they would set aside.
The Americans were also reticent.

"We would never get an appropriation for land reform through Congress, if it
means giving white farmers a tough deal, " Andrew Young, the US ambassador
to the UN told me.

Nevertheless, I assumed that once the election was over that the new
Zimbabwe would tackle land reform, even if it had to borrow the money from
the World Bank or seek aid from Scandinavia.

Yet from Mugabe's new government there was a deafening lack of initiative. A
few months after independence I met an old acquaintance on a London street,
Bernard Chidzero, Zimbabwe's minister of finance. "What's going on about
land reform? What are you planning to do?", I asked. "Not for now," he
replied. "It's not on our list of priorities"

I couldn't believe my ears, even though I knew it had a superficial
rationale. The white farmers with their exports kept the country's trade
balance in the black. They also kept the urban population fed.

Moreover, and this seemed the sensible part, there was much to be done in
upgrading the productivity of those millions of peasants who did have land.
Their holdings may have been of inferior quality but they knew nothing of
modern methods. Under the prodding of the Ministry of Agriculture led by a
benign and dynamic ex-white farmer, production leaped.

Yet as time passed momentum slackened. The leadership lost its way. Its
reforming instincts, first briefly Marxist, then
capitalist-liberal-pragmatic, returned to an old fashioned socialist state

The arrival of black power in South Africa, which should have been
liberating for Zimbabwe, seemed to pose a personal challenge to Mugabe.

He made it abundantly clear in more ways than one that he didn't like the
limelight of liberation moving from him to Nelson Mandela. Mugabe seemed to
take a personal delight in going in an opposite direction to South Africa.

Desperate to find a winning issue at the polls in May 2000, Mugabe used his
land reform crusade as a vote getter and a way of embarrassing the cautious
Mandela. Defying the courts, he encouraged old warriors to invade 700
white-owned farms while he promised to expropriate them without compensation
if Britain didn't give him the money.

For once, belatedly, the British government, tried to occupy the high
ground. If the election were honest, said Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, then
London would help fund an orderly reform program.

But the promise came too late. Britain - in its second grave mistake - had
made its own contribution to the present day imbroglio by not putting
serious money on the table for land reform at the time of independence.

Mugabe, increasingly besieged by opposition at home, resorted to rigging
that poll and every succeeding one. Mismanagement of not just the land but
many other aspects of the economy increased sharply over the next seven

Now Mugabe's Zimbabwe is in terminal crisis but I doubt history will record
that Mugabe is the only one to blame.

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Recent events in Zimbabwe: A timeline


February 13 2007

State security agents detain more than 50 protesting students from Harare
Polytechnic who were calling for the state to address the exorbitant fees
being charged by state institutions of higher learning and for greater
academic freedom.

Marches by the Women Of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) and Men of Zimbabwe Arise
(MOZA) to mark WOZA'a fifth Valentine's Day procession in both Bulawayo and
Harare were violently disrupted by armed police. Reports indicate that 274
men and women and 20 infants were held in police custody in Bulawayo and 10
women were held in Harare.

February 14 2007

Zimbabwean police arrest Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ)
President Takavafira Zhou and Secretary General Raymond Majongwe for
spearheading the national strikes by teachers demanding salary increases. An
indication of the distortion caused by hyperinflation is the fact that
teachers on the lowest salary grade earn as little as Zim$84,000 while the
poverty line is currently Zim$556,000.

February 18 2007

Armed police fire tear gas to disperse about 50,000 MDC (Movement for
Democratic Change, the opposition party) supporters gathering in Harare's
Highfield suburb to launch the party's campaign for next year's presidential
election. Despite the presence of a High Court order sanctioning the rally,
armed riot police seal off the Zimbabwe Grounds, the venue of the rally, and
indiscriminately beat up opposition supporters. At least 127 opposition
supporters were arrested following the disturbances.

February 21 2007

Zimbabwean police ban rallies and demonstrations in the southern parts of
the capital, Harare, for the next three months following violent protests in
Highfield suburb. The ban is later extended to all major cities and towns as
political tension mounts.

February 23 2007

Zimbabwean police, fearing a repeat of the violent scenes witnessed in
Harare, block an MDC rally at the Large City Hall in Bulawayo scheduled to
be addressed by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

February 27 2007

As political tension mounts, Zimbabwe Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri
cancels leave for officers and beefs up manpower in Harare and Bulawayo in
preparation for possible opposition protests in the two cities.

March 1 2007

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe announces the introduction of a Zim$50,000
note. The Zim dollar had three zeros taken off it last August, making notes
of tens and hundreds more commonly used. However, the hyperinflation of
1,700 percent continues to rapidly devalue the currency and drastically
undermine people's purchasing power.

March 8 2007

Zimbabwean police arrest 37 members of the National Constitutional Assembly
(NCA) for demonstrating in central Harare in defiance of the police ban on
political rallies. The NCA is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that has
actively campaigned for constitutional reform since the late 1990s.

March 9 2007

Lawyers representing the Save Zimbabwe Campaign say the March 11 prayer
meeting scheduled for the Zimbabwe Grounds will go ahead as prayer meetings
did not need police clearance under the country's tough security laws. The
Save Zimbabwe Campaign, formed in 2006, is a network of Christian groups and
leaders concerned by the ongoing human rights violations in Zimbabwe.

March 11 2007

Zimbabwean police prevent people from attending the Save Zimbabwe Campaign
prayer meeting. Scores of opposition supporters, including leaders Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, are arrested on their way to the prayer
meeting. Many more are injured as police wage running battles with the
crowd. One opposition supporter, Gift Tandare, is shot and killed.

March 12 2007

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon releases a statement urging the government
of Zimbabwe to release opposition leaders being held by police. The
statement also condemns the reported beatings they suffered. Despite a high
court judgement, lawyers representing all arrested opposition leaders are
still denied access to their clients by police. Medical practitioners are
also denied access.

March 13 2007

Police descend on the home of Gift Tandare, the activist who was killed
during disturbances at the aborted Save Zimbabwe Campaign prayer meeting,
and start shooting at mourners to disperse them. Two activists are shot and

Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and Lovemore Madhuku, together with 48
other MDC and civic leaders, appear in court for their remand hearing.
Tsvangirai and Madhuku as well as other activists show visible sights of
police brutality. As international criticism of Mugabe's regime intensifies,
South Africa's deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad breaks the South African
government's silence.

In his statement Mr. Pahad expresses South Africa's concerns over the
deteriorating political and economic situation in the country and reiterates
South Africa's stance that only dialogue among the main political
protagonists could help to bring about a lasting solution to the current
political and economic challenges facing the nation.

He also urges the Zimbabwean government to ensure that the rule of law for
all Zimbabweans was respected and urges opposition leaders to work towards a
climate conducive to finding that lasting solution.

March 15 2007

President Robert Mugabe defiantly tells Western critics of his government to
"go hang" for daring to criticise him over the brutal assault of opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Mugabe speaks after talks with Tanzanian President
Jakaya Kikwete, who was in Harare to express the region's concerns over the
deteriorating political situation in Zimbabwe.

Morgan Tsvangirai, who suffered head injuries, and Lovemore Madhuku, whose
arm was broken, are discharged from hospital where they were receiving
treatment following their brutal assault by state security agents whilst in
custody. A total of 116 MDC party supporters were detained during the week
for protesting against the brutal assault of Morgan Tsvangirai and other
opposition leaders.

March 18 2007

Nelson Chamisa, an MDC spokesperson, is beaten up on his departure from
Harare international airport to an ACP/EU joint parliamentary session in

March 19 2007

The Zimbabwean government warns Western diplomats accredited to Harare to
stay out of the country's internal political affairs or risk expulsion.

March 20 2007

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai expresses his concern over
the region's failure to deal with rising violence and assaults of opposition
and civic leaders in Zimbabwe.

March 21 2007

The body of Itai Manyeruke was discovered. An MDC supporter, he was last
seen being arrested and beaten by police on March 11 2007.

March 22 2007

20 MDC activists are arrested in Harare after taking to the streets in
protest against the murder of Itai Manyeruke.

Zambian President, Levy Mwanawasa, broke ranks with fellow African leaders
and urged Southern Africa to take a new approach on Zimbabwe, likening the
country to a 'sinking Titanic' and saying millions of people are fleeing the
economic and political turmoil.

March 23 2007

Vice President Joyce Mujuru meets with South African Deputy President
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in Johannesburg for private talks.

March 24 2007

Harare police partially lift the ban on rallies and demonstrations imposed
last month. The police lift the ban in all Harare districts except Harare
south, the scene of violent clashes between police and the opposition over
the past month.

March 24-25 2007

The weekend sees the escalation of civil unrest in Harare as three police
stations, a passenger train and a supermarket are petrol bombed. The police
allege that the violence is part of the MDC's 'militia-style' violence and
accuses opposition activists of being behind the bombings. However, MDC
officials say that the bombings in Harare, and other disturbances in Gweru
and Mutare, were orchestrated by the government as a pretext to justify
intensifying its violent crackdown on opponents.

March 27 2007

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights condemns police as they continue to detain
activists and prevent access by lawyers.

March 28 2007

President Mugabe flies to Tanzania for a two-day meeting with heads of state
of the SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) region. The meeting,
which was originally scheduled as a ministerial meeting, was upgraded to an
emergency summit of heads of state following recent disturbances in Zimbabwe
and DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).

Police raid the MDC offices in Harare and arrest party leader Morgan
Tsvangari and 20 administration staff.

March 29 2007

SADC leaders agree at their meeting that South African President Thabo Mbeki
should try to promote political dialogue inside Zimbabwe. In their
communique, the leaders express solidarity with Mr Mugabe, urge western
countries to lift sanctions and call on the UK to pay for land reform.

UN humanitarian director Rashid Khalikov says that 1.4 million Zimbabweans
will need food aid this year, as harvests were only due to meet one-third of
the country's requirements.

March 30 2007

The central committee of ZANU PF (Mugabe's party) meets in Harare and
decides on Robert Mugabe as its only candidate for the 2008 presidential
election. Rumours that the more entrenched party divisions would inhibit the
nomination of any one candidate and that factions led by Vice President
Joyce Mujuru or by Emmerson Mnangagwa may put forward their own candidates
come to nothing.

April 3 2007

In the first day of a two-day work stoppage organised by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), there is a heavy police presence in many
work places. Employers, supermarkets, etc open as normal and most people
show up for work. The ZCTU accuses the police of intimidating employers and
workers, forcing them to operate as normal.

April 5 2007

The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference issues a pastoral letter stating
the country is in a crisis of moral leadership and governance and calls for
a new people-driven constitution. The Conference highlights the collapse of
the country's social services, the hyperinflation, condemns the corruption
and the abuse of power and calls for action to avert a mass uprising. While
some individual bishops have spoken before, most notably Archbishop Pius
Ncube, this is the first time they issue a joint statement through the
Bishops Conference on the governance crisis.

To contact Trócaire's press team:

Republic of Ireland
Catherine Ginty,
Press Officer,
T: +353 1 505 3270
M: 086 629 3994

Northern Ireland & UK
David O'Hare,
Press Officer,
T: 028 90 80 80 30
M: +44 7900053884

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The Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe

Monday April 2nd 2007 - Sunday April 8th 2007
Weekly Media Update 2007-13



1. General comment
THE Media Monitoring Project strongly condemns the increased use of the
"official" media to stoke up hatred against political opponents of the
government and their perceived allies, which has accompanied the ongoing
crackdown on opposition and civic activists. For example, between March 11th
and April 8th the Project monitored 48 stories in the official media that
conveyed threats, incitement, racial bigotry and insults against the
opposition MDC, civic leaders and some Western diplomats.
Most of these (37) appeared in the government Press while the remaining 11
were contained in ZBC bulletins (ZTV [10] and Radio Zimbabwe [1]).
Thirteen of the official papers' reports were news stories while the rest
were editorials and opinion pieces.

Almost all the news stories passively quoted President Mugabe either
endorsing the brutal assault and torture of opposition leaders or
threatening more violence against them. For example, five days after the
assault in police custody of MDC and civic leaders, ZTV (16/3, evening
bulletins), The Herald and Chronicle (17/3) quoted Mugabe telling ZANU PF
youths that the injured opposition leaders would "get arrested and get
bashed" if they protested against government again because the "police have
a right to bash".
None of them subjected these inflammatory statements to scrutiny.
Neither did they analyse the implications of his calls to ensure the police
are "well armed" to counter "threats" of alleged MDC violence, nor his
instruction to ZANU PF youths to "organize and defend the revolution that
brought about independence".
Instead, they unquestioningly quoted him describing the youths as the party's
" big hard-knuckled fist", which ZANU PF can "summon effectively, once

The Sunday Mail and Sunday News (18/3) also quoted Mugabe making similar
threats against the MDC while addressing International Women's Day
Said Mugabe: "We have given too much room to mischief-makers and shameless
stooges of the West" adding that government "will not sit back and watch the
opposition perpetrating 'terrorist attacks' on innocent civilians".
Undeterred by widespread world condemnation of the police brutality, Mugabe
was again quoted in The Herald (24/3) telling ZANU PF Women's League that if
the opposition leaders had not "learnt a lesson" they would "get similar
treatment" as the police "will act very vigorously and severely on those who
go on a defiance campaign".
Earlier, ZTV (23/3, 8pm) reported him using racial language to vilify the
MDC leaders saying that while they were "stooges" of the West who advocated
change of their skin colour he "didn't want to be pink" or have a "pink
Inflammatory statements also characterized President Mugabe's address to
ZANU PF supporters following the SADC extraordinary summit that discussed
the Zimbabwean crisis. ZTV (30/3, 8pm) and the official dailies (31/3)
quoted him justifying the severe assault on MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
saying he had "provoked" the police.
He said: "I told SADC (leaders) that yes he (Tsvangirai) was beaten up. He
was thoroughly beaten up. I told them that the police thoroughly beat him. I
didn't hide that. You ask for it when you go and challenge the police,
especially at the police station".

But rather than condemn such statements and discuss their negative
ramifications (not least their role in undermining the public's perception
of the country's justice system), the official papers carried 24 editorials
and opinion pieces that endorsed the severe beatings of the MDC activists;
called on the authorities to maintain their brutal treatment of the
opposition and even threatened some diplomats accused of bankrolling the
opposition with deportation and death.
The three articles by The Herald's vituperative columnist, Nathaniel
Manheru, whom the private media claim is a pen name for Mugabe's spokesman
George Charamba, typified their tone. Manheru ridiculed the injured
opposition leaders and the murdered MDC activist Gift Tandare; made sexually
abusive comments about the injured female MDC activists and invariably
insulted Tsvangirai, Ambassadors Christopher Dell (United States) and Andrew
Pocock (UK), and independent MP Jonathan Moyo.

Notably, Manheru found allies in the form of other abusive Herald columnists
such as Caesar Zvayi, Reason Wafawarova and David Samuriwo, whose articles
also contained venomous attacks against government opponents and their
perceived allies.
For example, Herald columnist Samuriwo accused a senior British diplomat
Gillian Dare of financing the alleged MDC violence and warned that she could
be deported or end up dead (3/4). Said Samuriwo: "It will be a pity for her
family to welcome her at Heathrow Airport in a body bag just like some of
her colleagues from Iraq and Afghanistan".
Although the media are obliged to expose inflammatory language made by
public figures, they are duty-bound to condemn it as unacceptable in a
civilized society because it undermines the basic democratic concept of
justice by encouraging hatred, violence, lawlessness and intolerance. Their
failure to do so makes them accomplices in the erosion of a nation's
fundamental human rights. The great tragedy of Zimbabwe is that instead of
fulfilling this duty, the official media are actually used to endorse and
promote the language of incitement and intolerance.

This week the private media carried 18 new incidents of serious rights
abuses by state security agents and others unknown. These comprised the
continued abductions, torture and shooting of MDC and civic activists, the
harassment and beatings of university students and the killing of retired
journalist Edward Chikomba.
The official media ignored these incidents.

2. Stay-away
THIS week the government media politicized the objectives of a two-day
national job protest by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) by
presenting it as part of alleged clandestine Western moves to overthrow
government. For instance, none of the 71 stories these media carried on the
matter (ZBC [44] and official papers [27]) reported the exact purpose of the
strike, aimed at protesting against worsening economic conditions.
Instead, they just covered it in the context of pre-emptive and
unsubstantiated conspiracies that projected the ZCTU as having abandoned its
"mandate" by joining the alleged MDC/West crusade to 'illegally' oust
government (Spot FM 2/4, 8pm).
For example, a day before the strike The Herald (2/4) widely quoted
government authorities, a group calling itself the "Concerned ZCTU
Affiliates" and unnamed members of the public dismissing the strike as
"illegal", "unwarranted and counterproductive political posturing".
The Herald (2/4), for example, cited the ZCTU "affiliates" as having
"blasted" the ZCTU for "calling on workers to rally behind a patently
political mission". There was no elaboration on what they meant. Instead,
the official media just quoted government ministers Sikhanyiso Ndlovu,
Webster Shamu, Obert Mpofu and Nicholas Goche expanding on these
unsubstantiated claims.
The Herald (2/4) also cited "various people" contending that they would
"proceed with their normal business" as they were "tired of being used as
cannon fodder by individuals keen to line their pockets". Notably, none of
the "people" quoted were identified and reasons for hiding their identities
remained a mystery.
Similarly, in an effort to depict Zimbabweans as being against the boycott
Spot FM (3/4, 1pm) and ZTV (3/4, 8pm) reported that the "stay-away was
widely condemned by all sectors of the country", without naming the sectors.

The government dailies (4&5/4) and Spot FM (4/4, pm) presented the alleged
"flop" of the stay-away as a demonstration of Zimbabweans' displeasure with
ZCTU's political agenda. No attempt was made to holistically link the
'failure' to harsh economic conditions or the alleged intimidation of
workers by state security agents.
In fact, while the government media reported approvingly on the alleged
failure of the strike, it did not reconcile this with Minister Mpofu's
threats to take "uncomfortable" measures against "all companies that closed
shop or turned their workers away in support of the ZCTU stay-away, which
was a flop" (The Herald 5/4; Radio Zimbabwe 5/4, 1pm; ZTV 5/4, 6pm and Spot
FM 5/4, 8pm). Neither did they examine the effects of such threats on the
country's struggling industry.

The government media's sourcing patterns are shown in Figs 1 and 2

 Fig. 1 Voice distribution in the government Press
GovtZCTUAlternativeBusinessZanu PFWar vetsPoliceOrdinary peopleUnnamed

Fig. 2 Voice distribution on ZBH
GovernmentPolicePublicWar VeteransBusinessAlternative

Although the official media's voice distribution appeared diverse, their
coverage remained unbalanced as all the voices, except those of the ZCTU,
were quoted echoing the official line. ZBC simply blacked out all ZCTU

The private Press was generally reticent on the stay-away. Only The
Zimbabwean (5/4) and The Standard (8/4) carried stories in their news pages.
The Zimbabwe Independent (5/4) dealt with the subject through its columnists
while The Financial Gazette ignored it.
However, the private electronic media devoted more attention to the
stay-away in 17 reports. They mainly blamed the "mixed results" of the
industrial action to the "desperate campaign of misinformation and threats
by the government to thwart the boycott" (Studio 7 3/4 and Zimbabwe Times 3,
For example, Studio 7 reported that police had ordered businesses, such as
Border Timbers in Mutare, to stay open. In addition, the station and
Zimbabwe Times (4/4) revealed how on the eve of the stay-away the police had
ordered beer halls to close early, and beat up patrons and anyone seen
loitering in several high density suburbs of Harare. The two media
organisations (3/4) also reported on the arrests of ZCTU provincial chairmen
for Kariba, Chinhoyi and Bulawayo before the stay-away.
The government media ignored these events.

However, Studio 7 (3/4) and The Standard failed to independently verify or
challenge the ZCTU leadership to provide statistical evidence on what they
claimed was the "success" of the stay-away.

The private media's sourcing pattern is shown in Fig 3.

Fig. 3 Voice Distribution in the private electronic media
Studio 733211-
SW Radio Africa-2----
Online agencies-45232

Notably, the private papers' failure to adequately cover the stay-away
resulted in them relying on only two ZCTU voices in the five reports they
carried on the matter.

3. SADC Summit
THE government media continued to distort the outcome of the SADC summit in
Tanzania by projecting it as a diplomatic victory for Zimbabwe while
simultaneously censoring information that suggested other developments.
As a result, all 23 stories on the matter (ZBC [8] and government papers
[15]) highlighted SADC's call on the West to lift "sanctions" and for
Britain to honour its land reform obligations while censoring the
circumstances leading to SADC's appointment of SA President Thabo Mbeki to
mediate between government and the opposition. Neither did they query Mugabe's
claims of SADC support for his government's "bashing" of the opposition
leadership or explore the implications of the region's decision to task its
secretariat to assess the country's economic woes.
The nearest these media came to discussing Mbeki's role was when The Herald
(6/4) sought to discredit the MDC officials meeting Mbeki as the opposition's
"pre-emptive" strategy meant to give a distorted picture of the country's
crisis and thereby influence Mbeki to "come up with a pre-conceived
 position" in his mediation efforts.
Otherwise, they vilified the MDC and the West for their alleged plans to
effect "illegal" regime change in the country.
For example, The Herald (2/4) columnist Reason Wafawarova portrayed the MDC
as having been disowned by SADC by equating its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai,
as being in the same league as Jean-Pierre Bemba, Alfonso Dhlakama and Jonas
Savimbi: "subversive individuals that needed to be tamed and reformed into
acceptable Africans".

In fact, the official papers' efforts to present the problems bedeviling the
country as a creation of the West resulted in The Sunday Mail and Sunday
News (8/4) simplistically interpreting US revelations that it was taking
measures to foster democracy in Zimbabwe as a "confession" of its "plot to
topple President Mugabe". While the papers reported the US as having denied
the allegations, they insisted that "recent political disturbances" were
part of "the US-sponsored machinations to illegally remove the Zimbabwe
government from power".

Although the official papers' sourcing pattern appeared balanced as shown in
Fig 4, they remained pro-government in their approach. For instance, most of
the MDC voices were quoted in stories that malign the opposition as
 "stooges" of the West.

Fig. 4 Voice distribution in the government Press

In contrast, the private media's 30 stories on the SADC summit did not only
dispute official claims on the meeting but also assessed Mbeki's chances of
resolving the country's crisis. Of these, 13 were carried by the private
electronic media and the rest by private papers.
For example, Studio 7 (3/4) reported analyst Aubrey Matshiqi saying the fact
that SADC had chosen Mbeki to deal with the matter was enough evidence of
how the region had "hardened its stance on Zimbabwe". The Zimbabwe Times
(3/4) quoted Mbeki himself expressing optimism in SADC's position, saying he
was "quite convinced" that it was "the only way to solve the Zimbabwe
political crisis".

And contrary to Mugabe's boast that SADC had failed to raise a finger over
the beating of MDC leaders, the private media disclosed that this was not
the case. Citing Mbeki's interview with the UK-based Financial Times, The
Financial Gazette quoted Mbeki saying: "The region believes there are
political problems (in Zimbabwe).and people said quite openly that they are
disturbed to see these pictures of people beaten up".
It then carried excerpts of the interview in which Mbeki expressed his views
on the problems in Zimbabwe and part of the initial steps of his mediation
However, the paper's comment was doubtful of the SADC initiative. It
dismissed the summit outcome as a "damp squib" and ruled out any "prospects
for success" in Mbeki's mediation saying the fact that SADC chose him to
resolve the crisis despite his previous failed efforts made its decision
"pass for a horribly bad joke".

The Zimbabwe Times (3/4) and Studio 7 (4/4) also reported MDC national
executive member Eddie Cross and US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell
expressing disquiet over the summit. Dell, for example, told Studio 7 that
SADC's failure to publicly censure Mugabe allowed the ruling party to spin
the story and claim "great victory".
However, Zimdaily (2/4) reported MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai expressing
confidence in Mbeki's new initiative "considering that he is now acting on
behalf of SADC". So did Zimbabwe Independent columnist Iden Wetherell.

The private media dented its coverage of the subject by its sparse sourcing
(See Fig 5).

Fig. 5 Voice distribution in the private Press


The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project
Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702,

Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we
will look at each message.  For previous MMPZ reports, and more information
about the Project, please visit our website at

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Mbeki's Rhodesia problem

International Herald Tribune

By James Kirchick Published: April 16, 2007


Throughout the 1960s and 70s, five successive British prime ministers had to
contend with the "Rhodesia problem." The former colony - which unilaterally
separated from Britain in 1965 - became a thorn in the side of every leader
from Harold Wilson to Margaret Thatcher.

Rhodesia did what only one other country in the world - the United States -
had accomplished: It successfully declared its independence from the mighty
British Empire. But Rhodesia's sovereignty was short lived. In 1980, the
country reborn as Zimbabwe, held a democratic election in which Robert
Mugabe became president, an office he continues to hold with ruthless

Zimbabwe's colonial past might seem of little significance in resolving its
current crisis. But there's an interesting twist in the history of Rhodesian
independence that remains vitally relevant today.

The cause of the Rhodesia problem was the colony's Unilateral Declaration of
Independence, which Rhodesia's obstinate prime minister, Ian Smith, declared
on Nov. 11, 1965. The brash move was precipitated by the British policy of
refusing to grant independence to British colonies in Africa before they had
established majority rule. While Britain faced some opposition among white
settlers in its other African territories, there was no greater resistance
to majority rule than in Rhodesia, where whites represented about 4 percent
of the population yet controlled the economy.

From 1972 onwards, black guerrilla groups fought the white regime, which dug
in against economic sanctions and international isolation. Yet a turning
point in ending white rule came from the most unlikely of places - apartheid
South Africa.
In 1975, Prime Minister B. J. Vorster withdrew South African military units
fighting alongside Rhodesian forces against Mugabe's Zanu-PF rebels, without
even warning Smith. Vorster also halted oil supplies to Rhodesia. The
unlikely action - Vorster hoped that getting Smith to concede to majority
rule would win South Africa important new allies in black Africa - played a
crucial role in bringing majority rule.

In his memoirs, Smith bitterly counted South Africa as one of his country's
"great betrayers." Nevertheless, Vorster's action forced him to do the
unthinkable. In September 1976, Smith accepted the principle of majority
rule, a concept that he had said just years earlier would not occur in
Rhodesia for "1,000 years."

Today many people are calling - with good reason - for South Africa's
president, Thabo Mbeki, to put the same screws on Mugabe that Vorster did on

It is important to appreciate the gravity of Vorster's decision in 1975.
Just months earlier, a left-wing military coup overthrew the dictatorship of
Marcelo Caetano in Portugal. This led to the immediate evacuation of
Portuguese troops from Angola and Mozambique, which had been reliable
buffer-state allies of the South Africans in fighting insurgencies against
white rule in southern Africa. Angola entered a long civil war in which Cuba
and the Soviets would become mired, and which also sapped South Africa.

Mozambique fell into the hands of Frelimo, a Marxist rebel group hostile to
apartheid South Africa. While Vorster's motivation for abandoning Smith was
hardly altruistic, he knew that a white-ruled Rhodesia was impossible to

What matters is not Vorster's rationale for abandoning white Rhodesia but
the fact that he did. Thabo Mbeki and his governing African National
Congress sympathize with Mugabe and his liberation past, just as Vorster's
National Party saw Ian Smith as a hero standing athwart the black masses.
But sometimes, statecraft requires breaking with one's most steadfast
ideological convictions. This is one lesson that Mbeki ought to have the
courage to emulate.

James Kirchick is assistant to the Editor-in-Chief of The New Republic.

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Mugabe's enemies now within the gate

The Zimbabwean

Widespread brutality against all those perceived as his enemies, has been
Mugabe's response to his increased terror at losing power. His enemies are
now everywhere. No longer is it just the MDC, or Tony Blair and George Bush,
who frighten him. Now the enemy is within the gate - personified by his
life-long comrades at arms, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Solomon Mujuru.
Both factions, which have been gingerly shadow-boxing for the right to
succeed him, have this week finally had the guts to say they don't want
anything more to do with him. It's now official. Mugabe is liability - even
to Zanu (PF). Faced with unprecedented opposition from within his party to
his intention to extend his rule until 2010 without the mandated
presidential elections in 2008, Mugabe backed down and agreed to elections
in 2008.
He immediately declared his intention to stand for re-election. Loyal
comrade Nathan Shamuyarira immediately announced that Mugabe would be Zanu
(PF)'s sole candidate for the presidency.
However, others begged to differ. Both warring factions were quick to make
know, albeit unofficially through leaks to The Zimbabwean, that the aged
tyrant's days were now over and they would not be supporting his candidacy.
At last the MDC and Zanu (PF) - or at least certain elements within the
ruling party - are in agreement. Mugabe must go. What happens next is
vitally important. This common ground must be recognised and seized. It
provides a fantastic opportunity for the international community to do
something concrete and positive at last.
Every possible avenue must be explored via which support can be extended to
the democratic forces in the country, who have paid such a high price for
their commitment to freedom over the past few weeks in particular. The
Americans spoke of a "toolbox of measures" - these need to be actioned as
soon as possible.
South Africa and Britain, both key players, need to stand up and be counted.
Their silence, in the hour of Zimbabwe's greatest need, is inexplicable and
unjustifiable in the extreme.
They could still redeem themselves by acting quickly to condemn the
shootings and beatings, and offering assistance to the wounded who are
imprisoned in ill-equipped hospitals, unable to travel for specialist
medical attention.
Targetted sanctions need to be broadened and tightened.
The EU action this week in allowing a Zanu (PF) delegation to attend the ACP
parliamentary meeting in Brussels (while the official MDC delegate is
fighting for his life in hospital in Harare having been assaulted with iron
bars by eight state security agents while at the airport en route to the
meeting) is deplorable.
We pay tribute to the voices that have been raised around the world. In
particular we applaud Botswana's principled stance in closing its embassy in
Harare. We implore others to follow suit. This practical step of showing
disgust at Mugabe's behaviour, while at the same time encouraging those
brave enough to resist him, is what is needed right now.

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International day of prayer

Click to read the Press Release

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Just what is the meaning of independence?

New Zimbabwe

By Mutumwa D. Mawere
Last updated: 04/16/2007 09:42:56
AS ZIMBABWE turns 27 this week, I could not think of a better topic for a
conversation than to unpack the meaning of independence and whether the
country has lived up to the expectations of its citizens.

The term independence is often used in contrast to subjugation which refers
to the subjection of a territory to the political and military control of an
external government.

Independence, therefore, means the self government of a nation, country or
state by its citizens. Independence Day marks the given date when a country
achieved sovereignty.

In the case of Zimbabwe, the day is April 18 and like many countries that
gained independence from former colonial powers, the day represented the
beginning of a new nation born from the womb of oppression and race-based
politics of exclusion.

Essentially independence is a negative definition i.e. the state of not
being controlled by another power through dictatorship, colonialism,
expansionism or imperialism.

Therefore, independence may be obtained through decolonisation or by
separation or dismemberment. Even the Rhodesia Front was a front set up to
emancipate Rhodesia from the dominating power of the British Empire and they
did so by issuing a declaration of independence.

In human history, the earliest surviving example is Scotland's Declaration
of Independence of Arbroath and the most famous of which remains the U.S.
Declaration of Independence issued in 1776. It is not surprising that the
Rhodesia Front was led by a Zimbabwean of Scottish heritage, Ian Douglas

Causes for a country wishing to seek independence are many but in the case
of Zimbabwe, I would like to think that the core objective was to create a
new society founded on the Rule of Law and respect for human and property
rights with universal access to the right to vote. The struggle for
independence was, therefore, a struggle to remove the illegitimate
government of the Rhodesia Front with a democratic government informed the
wishes of the citizens in their totality rather than by a minority.

Twenty seven years later the question is whether the citizens of Zimbabwe
have progressed on the independence value chain. Are they freer today than
they were under the Rhodesia Front? What is the difference, if any, between
the approach to governance of Zanu PF and the Rhodesia Front?

Zimbabwe finds itself on the radar screen of the world in 2007 in as much as
it found itself on the same spotlight in 1979 at the Lancaster House
Conference. In 1979, the quest was independence and yet in 2007, citizens
are also asking for the same rights that the past 27 years should have
conferred on them. Has anything changed in Zimbabwe over the last twenty
years or like life which really a nuisance of time, the last twenty years of
uhuru was a sleeping time?

Those who were leaders in 1979 are still leaders in 2007. They promised
independence and yet are accused of condemning the country into an economic
and political mess. In 2007, the intervention of a third party in Zimbabwe's
political discourse in now accepted as a sine qua non for the resolution of
the crisis in as much as the intervention by Lord Carrington.

Today, Zimbabwe's Lord Carrington has taken the form of President Mbeki.
With this background, what can we say about the lessons of Zimbabwe's
independence? Can we say that Zimbabweans have matured to the level that
they cannot resolve their own problems? President Mugabe in 1979 needed the
intervention of Lord Carrington to talk to other Zimbabweans and in 2007 he
still needs a third party to talk to his own subjects. As the father of the
nation, what does this say about the President's qualities as a leader?

It is common cause that Zanu PF has confirmed that President Mugabe will be
the candidate for the party in next year's election. In the 1980 elections,
Zimbabweans did not even trust each other to have an internally supervised
election. In as much all the parties trusted the British to supervise the
1980 elections notwithstanding the fact that the liberation struggle was
essentially constructed on the basis that the real struggle was against the
British Empire and not against the Rhodesia Front.

In 2007, Zimbabwe cannot look at the British to provide a credible umbrella
for conducting next year's elections. In 1979, President Mugabe welcomed
Lord Soames to provide a transitional bridge to independence and in 2007,
the opposition in Zimbabwe is asking for a new Lord Soames because they
cannot trust their own government to conduct credible elections. Has
anything, therefore, changed in Zimbabwe? What does this tell us about the
maturity of Zimbabweans? If President Mugabe accepted the intervention of a
third party in 1979 why would he object to the interventions of a
transitional authority in 2008 if it is accepted that Zimbabwe is mired in
the same crisis that it found itself in 1979?

One South African journalist called me last week seeking my assistance in
crafting some questions that he wished to include in an interview with
President Mugabe. He wanted to know what kind of questions he should ask and
was quick to point out that President Mugabe was so eloquent and smart that
he presented a challenge to any interviewer. Before I responded, I told him
that I was the least qualified to ask questions rather it was important for
him to try to establish from the people on the ground what they would like
to hear from their leader. It is clear from the conversations that I have
had with many Zimbabweans that they feel alienated from their government.
They feel that the last 27 years has not brought the citizens closer to
their government anymore than Ian Smith was closer to his subjects.

With respect to the questions to President Mugabe, I feel that it is only
fair that Zimbabweans reflect this week on what kind of questions they
should frame for their President. There appears to be a real disconnection
between the governed and the governors to compel the President to listen now
more than ever. If President Mugabe has accepted the intervention of a third
party like President Mbeki, then it is a step forward in the quest to create
a national consciousness that Zimbabwe is in a crisis. The issues to be
resolved may be hazy not because the people charged with resolving the
crisis are negligent but because citizens appear to be talking at each other
rather than talking to each other.

In this conversation, even members of Zanu PF are entitled to ask why
President Mugabe would want another term if it is the case that under his
watch the promissory note given at independence has not been honoured by the
bank because of insolvency. If the bank is insolvent, surely the question is
whether control of an insolvent bank should remain with the directors
appointed by the shareholders or it should be transferred to a judicial
manager in line with universally accepted norms of managing bankrupt

All the macro-economic variables show that Zimbabwe's economy is in a
terminal ward and has moved from intensive care where despite the condition
a patient can still expect help from doctors. In the case of Zimbabwe in
2007, it is not even clear where the doctor is and the people charged with
leading are now behaving like patients. President Mugabe has placed his
faith in central bank governor Gideon Gono who by all accounts is behaving
more like an opposition leader, albeit underpinned by state power, and every
day he on the road blaming everybody for the government's shortcomings.
However, he has not dared direct his confused and confusing statements to
his principal, the President. Rather, he conveniently targets Ministers
appointed by the same President that appointed him.

If no-one is taking responsibility, then is there any cause to celebrate
Zimbabwe's birthday. Should citizens and well wishers say "Many Happy
Returns" or should they craft another message. What would the appropriate
message. Given the state of the economy, is it in the national interest for
President Mugabe to offer his continued services to the nation? Is it the
case that he is the only one who can deal with the colonial question? Is it
not the time that Zimbabweans start a conversation with their own President
about what, if any, interest would be served by him continuing to serve?
What kind of communication would be appropriate to a person like President
Mugabe to help him separate the interests of his party and national interest
as well as his own personal interest and national interest?

It would be unreasonable to expect that Zanu PF members will be expected to
have an honest conversation with President Mugabe. Equally, it is obvious
that the opposition still needs to construct its case for change in a manner
that even members of Zanu PF will appreciate that change is in their own
self interest. It appears that the manner in which the change agenda is
framed has not resonated with the interests of those who sustain the status
quo. Under this construction, it is important that a reflection be made by
all concerned role players on the Zimbabwean question about what kind of
change Zimbabwe needs and deserves.

President Mugabe and his crew have already drawn the battle lines for 2008.
The election will not be fought on his record but on the regime change
agenda of the imperialists. Zimbabwe will be cast as country under siege
and, therefore, unorthodox measures will be the order of the day even for
the election. The inter play between race and sovereignty will be
overplayed. According to President Mugabe, Zimbabwe is on the spotlight
because he dared challenge the economic hegemony of the remnants of white
settlers and not because of bad policies and governance.

Some will forget that it was President Mugabe's government that implemented
economic structural adjustment programs well before the formation of the MDC
and yet today some would like to say that the economic problems of Zimbabwe
were caused by the MDC and the sanctions imposed by imperialists. Even if
Prime Minister Blair had agreed to fund the land reform program, it is
correct to observe that Zimbabwe will not be in any better shape today than
it is. On what role bad economic policies play in the overall scheme of
things, there appears to be no appetite to engage in such conversations and
yet Zimbabweans are serious about their heritage.

Anyone who is honest about Zimbabwe's true story since independence will
have to acknowledge the bankruptcy in the construction and execution of
economic policies. The current fate of Zimbabwe was as predictable as the
continued suffering of Zimbabweans is if President Mugabe is given another
term. Just imaging what Zimbabwe will be like after the extended term of
President Mugabe is sufficient to make many people sick. In the face of a
Tsugabe (the cousin of Tsunami), Zimbabweans cannot remain indifferent when
their future is continuing to be mortgaged to a future with hyperinflation,
corruption, dysfunctional state, poverty and exclusion.

Mutumwa Mawere's weekly column appears on New every Monday. You
can contact him at:

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Worry Over Delay in Opening of Tobacco Auction Floors

The Herald (Harare)

April 16, 2007
Posted to the web April 16, 2007


THE Zimbabwe Association of Tobacco Growers has expressed concern over the
delay in opening of tobacco auction floors saying it could hold-up farmers'
preparations for the next tobacco-farming season.

According to the association, land preparations for tobacco planting for
next season are supposed to have been underway and this requires financing.

Opening of tobacco auction floors was this year delayed following a deadlock
between Government and tobacco farmers over the price of the gold leaf and
the exchange rate of $250 against US$1.

A similar scenario was also experienced last year following disagreement
over the opening selling price.

"It has to be noted that the delay in the opening of auction floors has a
negative effect on the preparation of a new season as we should, according
to tradition, already be focusing on land preparation soon after a previous
crop's harvest.

"Without a selling price that cushions the farmers, they will find it
difficult to strike a balance between what they are to spend in the form of
inputs and what they are likely to come up with.

"Farmers cannot guess the amount of seeds they need as they would know if
they can manage the hectarage from the profits they will make," said ZATG.

ZATG added that the delay was also likely to hamper the set target of
achieving approximately 150 million kilogrammes of tobacco from the next
season's harvest.

"It has been our aim to gradually enhance the annual output of tobacco each
season and next year we were looking at achieving about 150 million
kilogrammes from the approximate 80 million kilogrammes we expect to put
under the hammer this year," said the association.

However, the association was quick to point out that the action by tobacco
farmers to hold on to their crop was not aimed at sabotaging the economy but
to urge Government to review the selling price in line with the inflationary

"It is, therefore, necessary that instead of using a confrontational
approach to solve this problem, amicable means be sought and compromises be
taken to come up with a permanent solution to this problem.

"What makes it more unfortunate is that this has become the trend, and last
year, like the present scenario we experienced delays in selling our crop,"
said ZATG.

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Lack of Resources Affects Agricultural Research and Extension Services - Boss

The Herald (Harare)

April 16, 2007
Posted to the web April 16, 2007


THE Department of Agricultural Research and Extension Services is still
operating below capacity owing to lack of resources and a massive exodus of
trained officers.

Arex director Dr Joseph Gondo told the Herald yesterday that this was now
hampering efforts to provide critical services to farmers in remote areas.

He said the agricultural services provider still has more than 1 000 vacant
posts for extension officers, needs vehicles and up to 2 000 motor cycles to
improve mobility.

"We received 183 bicycles from Operation Maguta to boost the mobility of our
extension officers who are experiencing serious transport challenges," Dr
Gondo said.

Currently, some extension officers from various provinces still walk long
distances to attend some field visits.

Field visits are critical especially in areas where there are farmers still
trying their hand in growing new types of crops such as soya bean and

Dr Gondo said farmers living in remote areas such as Mudzi, Rushinga,
Mukumbura and parts of Matabeleland were the worst affected.

"The bulk of the extension officers we have prefer working near urban
centres leaving out areas where our services are mostly needed.

"This is a challenge," he said.

He says his organisation was promised money to buy vehicles for district
officers by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and was still not sure when the
money would be released.

Dr Gondo also confirmed that they had completed assessing the crop situation
around the country.

Because of limited resources, Arex had a tough time in completing the

"We completed the sampling and interviewing of farmers in all wards around
the country and have since handed our findings to the Agriculture Secretary
for purposes of national planning," Dr Gondo said.

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Debt-ridden Zimbabwe fails to pay up

16th Apr 2007 11:14 GMT

By Ian Nhuka

BULAWAYO - THE government is failing to pay up its growing debt to Bulawayo
City Council for service charges, falling to more than Zd$570 million in
arrears since the beginning of the year, a new council report reveals.

The debt-ridden government, which has struggled to meet a range of other
obligations including to international financiers, owes the local authority
$802 million of which $243 million is current debt while $577.1 million
represents overdue debt.

Including other debtors, the local authority is owed $12.9 billion, a
situation which city officials say is a threat to service delivery.

The report issued last week by the council's Finance and Development
Committee says, excluding ministries and government departments, service
debtors owe the local authority $11.6 billion.

In January, the total debt stood at around $1 billion but rose sharply
thereafter following the revision of tariffs by more than 1000 percent.

The 1000 percent tariff review has only been effected in low and medium
density areas and not in high-density areas as rate increases in working
class areas need government approval before implementation.

The Movement for Democratic Change-run council said it is now desperate to
claim what is due to it. It has engaged debt collectors to force its debtors
to pay up but has always found it tough against the government.

It has mooted an idea of convincing authorities to retire pay it directly,
and not through ministries.

"Another way is to bring back incentives for early payment of debts," said
the report.
A councillor, who sits on the Finance and Development committee yesterday,
blasted the government for its poor debt service record.

"Government always gives us problems yet it is the first to criticise us for
poor service delivery.  There is no need for us to be confrontational but
you reach a stage where you say 'enough is enough,'" he said.

Ironically, the biggest single government debtor is the ministry of water
resources and infrastructural development, which owes $288.1 million. The
ministry is locked in a bitter war of words with the local authority over a
proposed takeover of the water reticulation system from council to the
Zimbabwe National Water Authority, a parastatal.

Council is resisting the proposal, arguing that if implemented, it would
financially cripple the local authority.

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