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Abducted and branded by Mugabe's hit squads

Zimbabwean police sidelined as vigilantes kidnap 200 opposition activists in
a week

Chris McGreal in Harare
Saturday March 31, 2007
The Guardian

The whipping and beating came first, but it is the branding of Leonard
Dendera that has left the most visible scar. As his attackers intended.
The round white mark is seared on to the black skin just above Mr Dendera's
right eye so that, according to the men wielding the iron bars and fan
belts, the 25-year-old opposition activist abducted from a Harare street in
broad daylight will be immediately recognisable to Robert Mugabe's hit
squads when they come across him again.

Mr Dendera couldn't resist - given the broken bones and lacerated flesh - as
something hot was burned on to his forehead before he was left virtually
naked in the bush with a warning to keep out of politics. "They said it was
so they would always know who I was when they saw me on the street," he said
from a Harare hospital bed. "It was a threat. I must stop opposing Robert
Mugabe and if they saw me doing anything next time they would kill me."
Mr Dendera is one of hundreds of opposition activists snatched from their
homes or the street in recent days. Some are bundled into the back of
pick-up trucks, driven miles out of town and, after the assaults, left
naked. Others disappear for days, sometimes kept in torture centres at army
barracks. Mr Dendera is not alone in being branded.

About one in three of those abducted are women. Those kidnapped include MPs,
members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, trade unionists
and human rights workers, as the ruling Zanu-PF shifts away from using
increasingly repressive laws to a greater reliance on violent intimidation.

"It's a terror tactic," said Tendai Biti, the MDC secretary general. "Mostly
it's aimed at the local leadership. It's intended to intimidate people and
make them give up the struggle, stop them organising on the ground. The
vigilante violence is increasing because the use of formal repressive units
like the police is problematic. If you use a policeman people see it. We
aren't breaking the law so they can't prosecute us. These vigilante
abductions are a demonstration that they are running out of options."


The MDC estimates that more than 200 people have been abducted this week. Mr
Dendera, an MDC local chairman, was snatched from a bus stop. "They grabbed
me and pushed me into the back of a pick-up and immediately started to beat
me with batons and iron bars. They drove into the bush and beat me again.
They said: 'You are an MDC giant and we are going to beat you until you
die,'" he said. "Then they branded me. I lost consciousness and when I came
around I was next to a road."

Mr Dendera's back is covered in weals. His left leg is fractured, and his
buttocks were so badly beaten that he cannot sit down.

Last Maengehama's crime was to sing in church. On Wednesday he was called
from the congregation by the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, to lead the
singing at a memorial service for Gift Tandare, who was killed by the police
on the way to the anti-Mugabe rally at which Mr Tsvangirai was beaten three
weeks ago.

The Central Intelligence Organisation took Mr Tandare's corpse and buried it
without many of his family present, to prevent his funeral becoming a
rallying point. The opposition was turned away by a number of churches
before one in northern Harare agreed to hold the memorial service. Many of
Mr Tandare's relatives could not attend because they said they were
threatened by the CIO. The service was overtly political with even the
priest given the MDC salute.

As Mr Maengehama, a member of the MDC's national executive, left the church
a pick-up truck drew up. "These guys grabbed me and bundled me into the back
of the pick-up. They bound my arms and legs and put a cloth around my head
so I couldn't see," he said in hospital. "On the way they were interrogating
me. They wanted to know my role in the MDC and what the MDC plans are. They
made all sorts of allegations that we were going to sell out the country and
the liberation war. Then they told me to give a list of 'troublemakers'. I
couldn't answer these questions."

When the truck stopped he was thrown out and beaten with sticks and bars.
"They were urinating on my mouth. When I started shivering they thought I
was going to die and left me there. After a while I managed to move slowly
to the main road. I was naked except my underpants. I tried to stop the
vehicles but they probably thought I was a mad person. There was a tractor
going slowly so I got him to stop."

Mr Maengehama was found in Mutorashanga, more than 60 miles north of Harare.
He has a broken leg, cuts and severe bruising.

He already knew he was a target. His home in northern Harare was petrol
bombed three weeks ago.

The victims of the beatings are frequently forced to seek treatment from an
underground network of doctors because the staff of some government
hospitals are too scared to help.

"It's particularly bad for those outside of Harare," said a doctor working
to treat the injured. "Sometimes it takes days until we find out about them.
They just go home with their broken bones. They are too afraid to get to
hospital. We bring them here, try to get them into private clinics. It's
hard to believe we have to do this in Zimbabwe. We never imagined we would
have to work like this, that to give someone medical attention would be a
political crime."

Although there have been occasional beatings and disappearances since the
rise of the MDC seven years ago, there has been an escalation since strikes
by doctors and teachers at the start of the year, apparently because
officials feared mass protests. The numbers surged again after the break-up
of the anti-Mugabe prayer rally three weeks ago.

But the scale of the abductions has hit new levels over the last week as Mr
Mugabe's loyalists apparently grow concerned at the pressures of rising
expectations among ordinary Zimbabweans that the government is facing
collapse, dissent within the Zanu-PF and a national strike called for next

The opposition says the man behind the strategy is Saviour Kasukuwere, the
deputy minister of youth who was present when Gift Tandare's corpse was
taken by the CIO and has been identified at three abductions in Harare. MDC
officials say that a meeting last week of the liberation war veterans
association, effectively Mr Mugabe's private army, decided on a more violent
response to opposition. The government says there is no vigilante violence
by its supporters, only "terrorism" by its opponents.

Mr Biti conceded that the abductions were taking a toll. "What has made a
difference is the violence has discouraged people from coming to meetings
and identifying with the party," he said. "In the townships there is a de
facto state of emergency and a curfew. People know that they are not safe in
their houses but if they go out they might be abducted."

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Farmer challenges legality of land grab laws

The Telegraph

By Tom de Castella

Last Updated: 1:50am BST 31/03/2007

      A British farmer in Zimbabwe has launched a legal challenge to the
government's land reform programme that has forced out thousands of fellow
white farmers.

      The landmark case in the country's Supreme Court will decide on the
legality of a constitutional amendment which gives the government the right
to nationalise private farmland with the stroke of a pen.

      For Ben Freeth, his wife and three young children, the case is their
last hope of stopping President Robert Mugabe's propaganda chief from
seizing their fruit farm.

      Mr Freeth, 37, was born in the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, and moved to
Zimbabwe in 1996 where he settled down with his Zimbabwean wife, Laura, on
her family's Mount Carmel farm, 70 miles southwest of Harare. The farm is
the country's biggest producer of mangoes and has supplied Marks & Spencer.
But for the last 18 months the Freeths have been in a tug-of-war over the
farm with Nathan Shamuyarira, the 77-year-old information minister.

      After Mr Freeth refused an offer to share his farm, his safari lodge
and farm buildings were burned down. Last month there was a raid on his farm
by 30 thugs. "They forced their way into the house and took a camera away
from my wife who was taking pictures of them," Mr Freeth said. "They said
they'd come to take the farm by force. I replied that we'd fight them with
the law, the press and prayer. I said that if the minister wants to take the
farm he will have to come and shoot me first."

      It was only the arrival of police - a rare event in Zimbabwe's land
disputes - that caused the trespassers to leave. Since the land invasions
began in 2000, the number of commercial farmers has fallen from around 4,500
to 400. The amendment in 2005 made it even easier to redistribute private
land under the law.

      "Since that amendment we are all now on state land and anyone on state
land without authority from the minister can be put in jail for two years,"
said Mr Freeth.

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Fighting to survive madness of Zimbabwe

The Telegraph

By a Special Correspondent in Harare
Last Updated: 1:50am BST 31/03/2007

      In the shade of a soaring glass and granite office tower, beneath a
brilliant blue late-afternoon sky, a teenage boy in a grubby red Arsenal
shirt snaked through a traffic jam of smart saloons and shiny pick-ups.
      He stopped at each vehicle, his eyes pleading, his palm outstretched.

      A window whirred down and a disembodied hand passed him a note. In a
flash it was added to a brick of bank-notes the size of a block of butter
hidden in his waistband.

      Three months ago, that stack of cash would have been an impossible
fortune for the boy begging on the boulevards of Harare. Now, it may buy him
bread, if he is lucky.

      Before Christmas, Zimbabwean dollars were trading at a black-market
rate of Z$4,500 to the British pound. On Monday, the rate was Z$34,000, on
Wednesday, Z$38,000, yesterday, Z$44,000.

      Officially a pound should buy Z$400, but no one except corrupt
officials use these rates, buying foreign currency at the bank rate then
selling it at the black-market level.
      This is the story of Zimbabwe under President Robert Mugabe.

      The few who have jobs have not seen wages keep up with the world's
most rampant inflation, calculated yesterday at 1,730 per cent.

      The Z$400,000 a month that a teacher earns no longer covers transport
to and from work. Minimum wages for farm workers were last week increased
from Z$8,000 a month to Z$32,000, just 3p a day.

      Petrol or diesel has jumped in price to the point where many hauliers
are simply parking their vehicles and sitting out the storm.

      On the surface, however, this is not a country on its knees. Plenty of
food does still make it to the markets, where the neat stacks of tomatoes,
pumpkins, cucumbers and cleaned potatoes mock the meagre offerings of dusty,
fly-infested stalls of many other major African cities.

      Yet deadly food shortages loom. The United Nations estimates that the
country has only a third of the maize it needs for this year.

      "What you have to understand is that this used to be a first-world
country," said a 32-year-old entrepreneur who sources diesel for a haulage

      "The place worked. It's the level to which we have fallen that is the
tragedy." Entrepreneur is perhaps the most apt title for most Zimbabweans
today. "We do the best we can, we get by, we find ways," they say.

      Many people are returning to a subsistence farming. Each week
thousands more try to cross illegally into South Africa, Botswana, even
Mozambique, looking for work.

      Businessmen set up anonymous email accounts, saving balance sheets as
draft messages on Yahoo to thwart government auditors. Shops and restaurants
update prices daily, depending on the Forex rate.

      Petrol stations allow people in Britain to pay for a full tank for
friends in Zimbabwe. A text message confirms the transaction, and the fuel
is dispensed. The money bypasses Zimbabwe's economy.

      "Every day you have to find a new strategy to make money, but every
day I see the money to pay my child's school fees and feed my family
disappear overnight while I sleep," said a 34-year-old who illegally trades
foreign exchange.

      In Zimbabwe's clusters of mud-walled huts, the talk is of little other
than the plummeting value of the currency.

      This, after all, is what has left them unable to pay for bus fares
sent sky-high by petrol prices, to take dying relatives to hospital, or to
buy medicine for their children.

      Life expectancy is now the lowest in the world, at 40 years. HIV
rates, officially 24.6 per cent, are soaring.

      "I am getting four or five calls a day from people - rich people - who
can no longer afford their HIV treatment, " said an HIV nurse at a private
clinic in Bulawayo. Only money from the 4.5 million Zimbabweans living
abroad is keeping the economy afloat.

      Even agriculture, once Zimbabwe's biggest earner, has collapsed in the
wake of Mr Mugabe's land reform policy.

      One man who took over a white-run farm said: "The policy was a noble
idea, but it was carried out badly. We feel like a bullet was fired in the
air back then - and now it is coming back down to hit us like a bull's-eye."

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Mugabe's party to increase number of seats in Zimbabwe's parliament

The Raw Story

dpa German Press Agency
      Published: Saturday March 31, 2007

Harare- In a move set to strengthen President Robert
Mugabe's hold on power, Zimbabwe's ruling party has said it would
increase the size of both houses of parliament, it emerged Saturday.
Significantly, the party also wants to change the rules so that if
the ageing Mugabe dies in office, or if he resigns, a general
election will not have to be called. Instead parliament which is
heavily dominated by ZANU-PF will elect a successor.

The decision to increase the number of seats in the house of
assembly from 150 to 210, and in the Senate from 66 to 84 was taken
at a meeting of the ZANU-PF central committee on Friday, said the
official Herald newspaper.

"Zimbabwe's population is clearly under-represented. We are
basically expanding our democracy, that is the rationale," Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa was quoted as saying.

It was not immediately clear how new constituencies would be drawn
up. Mugabe's ruling party has strong support in the rural areas,
while the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by
Morgan Tsvangirai has a strong following in major cities.

At Friday's Central Committee meeting a decision was made to
retain the 83-year old Mugabe, who has been in power for the past 27
years, as the party's candidate in presidential elections next year.

It paves the way for Mugabe to stay in power until the age of 90.
The party also called on the government to call a parliamentary
election next year to coincide with the presidential poll. ZANU-PF
also wants to scrap Senate elections and have senators appointed on
the basis of proportional representation.

The MDC's Tsvangirai has threatened to boycott any poll that
doesn't take place under a new democratic constitution that
guarantees free and fair elections.

© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency

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Zimbabwe opposition officials beaten by police: Tsvangirai

Yahoo News

HARARE (AFP) - Nine Zimbabwean opposition officials arrested during a
midweek crackdown were hospitalised Saturday for injuries suffered in police
custody, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said.

"They were brutalised, one of them was in resuscitation, they are in a bad
shape but in high spirit," Tsvangirai said after visiting them in hospital.
"Many of them suffered bruises around the abdomen," the leader of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) told AFP in an interview.

Scores of MDC officials and supporters were arrested this week in what
police said was a clampdown on fire bombers accused of a series of attacks
across the southern African country.

The MDC has denied the accusations saying its members, charged with
attempted murder over the firebombing of a ruling ZANU-PF office this week,
were framed.

"We don't sanction or plan any bombings, we don't support violence,"
Tsvangirai told a news conference earlier Saturday.

The officials, among them a lawmaker, were taken to hospital after one of
them allegedly collapsed while awaiting a hearing on their application for
bail at a magistrate court on Saturday.

Veteran President Robert Muagbe has in recent days come in for wide
condemnation by the West for the arrests and assaults of senior members of
the opposition as they tried to stage an anti-government rally on March 11.

But addressing supporters in his native Shona language Friday before his
party meeting that endorsed his candidature for 2008 elections, Mugabe was
unapologetic about a police assault on Tsvangirai, saying he deserved it.

Earlier Tsvangirai expressed guarded optimism that proposed South
African-brokered talks between Harare and the opposition might offer the
country a final chance out of its worsening economic and political woes.

"The proposed dialogue might offer Zimbabwe one last chance," Tsvangirai

"Zimbabwe is at the crossroads ... (and) cannot continue to slide further
into chaos and abyss. Quite clearly a decisive end must be found to the
Zimbabwean crisis," he said.

Southern African leaders this week appointed South African President Thabo
Mbeki to head efforts to promote dialogue between the rival political
parties in Zimbabwe, despite previous failed attempts.

"Such dialogue is as necessary as it is long overdue, but such dialogue
cannot take place under such conditions of thuggery and violence against the
opposition," said Tsvangirai.

Mbeki, who since 2000 had led several rounds of talks between the country's
foes in a bid to stem the collapsing economy and troubled politics in
Zimbabwe, has repeatedly been accused of doggedly sticking to his
softly-softly diplomatic approach while the northern neighbour continues in

"I hope that he (Mbeki) seizes this as a new initiative, not business as
usual," said Tsvangirai.

The opposition leader said dialogue, a new constitution, an overhaul of
"unjust" electoral laws and free and fair elections under international
supervision "is the only viable political" solution.

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Africa's predictable behaviour

Mens News Daily

March 31, 2007

By Zvakwana
No wonder Africa is called the dark continent. No wonder Africa keeps
falling behind the rest of the world. No wonder there is starvation and
poverty in Africa. No wonder Africans invest a large proportion of their
investments offshore. No wonder so many Africans are leaving Africa. Africa
has inflicted demise on itself and it still won't learn any lessons.

It seems that if you take logic, put it in a bucket and turn it upside down,
you will get close to the logic of how Africa's leadership thinks and

Take this week's emergency SADC meeting in Tanzania. They met to discuss the
shocking situation in Zimbabwe. This country was once the breadbasket of
Southern Africa. It fed many of its neighbours whose earlier independence
and lack of good governance ensured food insecurity. In many cases, its
leaders looted their countries' treasuries.

It didn't take long for Zimbabwe to fall in line. Mugabe's rapaciously
corrupt regime applied this same "african logic" to ruling Zimbabwe but this
time, their intention was to destroy anything and everything that they could
not control. In a matter of just 7 years, as a result of losing an election,
Mugabe's zanupf has destroyed productivity in just about every segment of
industry, agriculture and mining. One thing is clear, Mugabe's regime only
knows how to destroy. It has added not one iota of value to Zimbabwe since
coming to power. It has effectively hijacked Zimbabwe by rigging elections
since 2000. As long as zanuPF remain in power, Zimbabwe will continue to go
down the plug hole.

Their blueprint for power is rather simplistic, but highly effective.
Establish a small loyal elite, destroy the middle class and keep the rest of
the population dependent by creating conditions for a large peasant
poverty-stricken population. In political terms, their reverse logic keeps
them in power - forever. Their overiding priority is power and that is why
politics dictates economics in Africa. The reverse is the case in the free

This week, we saw Zimbabwe's vital statistics breaking more barriers. The
inflation rate went to 3000% and the currency went through the floor. For
the ordinary citizen, there is no hope and that is why so many are risking
the crocodile infested waters of the Limpopo to escape the horror.

The President of Tanzania called together an urgent meeting of SADC to
discuss the Zimbabwe situation. 14 Presidents flew into Tanzania and
deliberated. As expected, they shot the messenger. They blamed everyone else
except the culprit. Mugabe came away from this meeting stronger than ever.
He gloated on his way out saying that these 14 Presidents gave him their
full support and that the beating that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
received from the police was because "he deserved it".

These 14 Presidents believed Mugabe when he told them that Zimbabwe's
economic melt-down was caused by western sanctions. How on earth can travel
sanctions on known zanupf human rights violators cause economic melt-down?
But that's the logic and these Presidents believe obviously believe it or
surely they wouldn't have called for their removal.

These 14 Presidents, it seems, also believed that the cause of the breakdown
in law and order is caused by the "violent" Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC). Is their intelligence so bad as that they don't know about the 200
odd MDC members who have been kidnapped by Mugabe's militia and severely
beaten in the last two weeks? One has to wonder. The current whereabouts of
many of these people remains unknown. In all likelihood, the could be dead
as a result of Mugabe's "Degrees in Violence", as Mugabe himself has so
aptly put it.

Robert Mugabe is a violent dictator with the blood of thousands of
Zimbabweans on his hands.

It seems that his kind of uncivilised behaviour must be okay in Africa
because over this last week, he was supported by 14 Presidents.

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MDC Can't Win Unless We Unite - Mutambara

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

March 31, 2007
Posted to the web March 31, 2007


MOVEMENT for Democratic Change (MDC) faction leader Arthur Mutambara said
this week opposition forces had a clear choice of uniting to defeat
President Robert Mugabe in elections or remain divided and hand him victory
by default.

Mutambara said an honest assessment of the current balance of forces on the
political landscape shows that Mugabe, while weakened by the economic
situation, is still sufficiently strong to win if MDC factions persist on
the path of division.

He said the MDC greatly needs a strategic plan to join forces to confront
Mugabe as a united front or hazard defeat.

"There is absolutely no viable alternative for the democratic forces to the
need for a strategic arrangement to work together," Mutambara said. "If you
look at it very well, the illegitimate Mugabe regime is still very strong in
some respects, as vicious, brutal, criminal in its intent as ever and wont
to use violence to maintain power," he said.

"It still has the power of incumbency and will deploy the instruments of
coercion in fighting the democratic forces. Events of the past three weeks
clearly show this. Zanu PF is still capable of technical rigging of
elections and rigging \the process through sheer brute force."

Mutambara said the opposition should, however, avoid the pitfalls of working
with Zanu PF factions under the mistaken impression they can deliver change.

He said while it was good to reach out to forces which want change, the MDC
has to tread carefully in dealing with Zanu PF factions because as chips
from the old block they are not capable of initiating fundamental reforms
because they come from "an entrenched political culture and tradition of
repression, violence, corruption and bad governance".

Mutambara said working together with progressive forces was a necessity
because there is no single entity strong enough to defeat Mugabe.

"The MDC (faction) leadership fully supports and advocates the fielding of
one opposition candidate in the election to face Mugabe or any other Zanu PF
candidate to focus the opposition campaign and to consolidate all votes
against Zanu PF ensuring each and every vote against Zanu PF will count," he

"In this way the people of Zimbabwe will have a much better chance of
defeating the Zanu PF regime. While we fully endorse the principle of one
opposition candidate to challenge the Mugabe regime in the 2008 presidential
election, the opposition forces are yet to discuss and hopefully agree on
both the principle of a single presidential candidate and on the process of
selecting that candidate," Mutambara said.

He said this issue could be easily resolved if strategic thinking took
precedence over individual power quest and other narrow interests.

"We believe in the philosophy and principle of fielding one candidate to
contest against Mugabe. The framework of establishing and choosing a single
candidate has not yet been developed. However, there are ongoing discussions
whose confidentiality and integrity need to be protected."

Mutambara said dialogue between the MDC factions has been taking place under
the facilitation of a Zimbabwe institute.

He said he was hopeful the talks would yield positive results in the end.
"Dialogue is ongoing and save for agreement on a code of conduct to govern
the relations between the two MDC formations, no other agreement has been
established," he said. -- Staff writer.

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Zimbabwe opposition guardedly optimistic about SAfrica mediation

Yahoo News

Sat Mar 31, 11:46 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on
Saturday said proposed South African-brokered talks with Harare might offer
the country a final chance out of its worsening economic and political woes.

"The proposed dialogue might offer Zimbabwe one last chance," Tsvangirai
told a news conference.
"Zimbabwe is at the crossroads ... (and) cannot continue to slide further
into chaos and abyss. Quite clearly a decisive end must be found to the
Zimbabwean crisis," he said.

African leaders this week hastily called an extraordinary summit to discuss,
among other thorny issues, the Zimbabwean crisis following an international
outcry after police crushed an anti-government rally earlier this month.

Under the aegis of a 14-nation regional bloc, the Southern African
Development Community (SADC), the leaders appointed South African President
Thabo Mbeki to head efforts to promote dialogue between the rival political
parties in Zimbabwe.

"Such dialogue is as necessary as it is long overdue, but such dialogue
cannot take place under such conditions of thuggery and violence against the
opposition," said Tsvangirai.

Mbeki, who since 2000 had led several rounds of talks between the country's
foes in a bid to stem the collapsing economy and troubled politics in
Zimbabwe, has repeatedly been accused of doggedly sticking to his
softly-softly diplomatic approach while the northern neighbour continues in

But Tsvangirai expressed guarded optimism the new attempt could be

"I think this is a new initiative. I hope that he (Mbeki) seizes this as a
new initiative, not business as usual," said Tsvangirai.

He said Mbeki, whose country bears much of the brunt of the Zimbabwean
economic crisis with a wave of illegal migrants flocking to South Africa,
must ensure clear-cut conditions for the proposed talks.

"To avoid the cul-de-sac route that other previous efforts have gone, Mbeki
must take bold steps to outline an unambiguous timetable for dialogue... a
modus operandi which will guide the process," said Tsvangirai.

He said dialogue, a new constitution, overhauling of "unjust" electoral laws
and free and fair elections under international supervision "is the only
hope for this country, in fact it is the only viable political route."

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Mbeki confident mediation can help Zim crisis


          March 31 2007 at 02:54PM

      Johannesburg - South African President Thabo Mbeki said he was
confident new mediation could help resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis, but
warned that neither the government nor opposition should attach conditions
to the talks.

      Mbeki, named last week by the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) to promote dialogue between President Robert Mugabe and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), told the SABC broadcaster
Western calls for tougher moves on Zimbabwe were misplaced. "As a region we
are quite convinced that the only way to solve the problem is the direction
we have taken," Mbeki said in an interview broadcast on Saturday.

      The United States said African nations "fell short" in putting
pressure on Mugabe at a special summit in Tanzania last week, which saw SADC
call for an end to sanctions on Mugabe's government and a new political

      Tensions in Zimbabwe have risen sharply in the last two weeks after
police arrested and beat MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other activists in
a move that spurred widespread international condemnation.

      Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party on Friday formally endorsed the
83-year-old leader as its candidate for presidential elections next year, a
move which could see him extend his rule over the country into a third

      Mbeki, who has tried and failed to facilitate dialogue between Mugabe
and the MDC in the past, said he believed all sides in Zimbabwe agreed that
political talks were the best way to address the crisis.

      "Both MDC groups - the one led by (Morgan) Tsvangirai, and the other
by (rival MDC faction leader Arthur) Mutambara - have not complained to us.
Mugabe and Zanu-PF have not complained," Mbeki said.

      Tsvangirai's MDC has warned it may not participate in the 2008
elections if Mugabe is a candidate, accusing him of rigging a series of
previous elections.

      But Mbeki said such pre-conditions would do little to improve the
situation in Zimbabwe, where an accelerating economic collapse is increasing
political tensions. "If people have issues to raise, they should raise it in
the context of discussion," he said.

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MDC threatens to boycott Zimbabwe elections


March 31, 2007, 19:15

The Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's main opposition, has
reiterated its threat to boycott next year's presidential and parliamentary
elections unless there is a new Constitution. This, a day after the ruling
ZanuPF endorsed 83 year old President Robert Mugabe as their candidate in
the 2008 polls.

From his party's head office in Harare, Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader,
told the media his party welcomed President Thabo Mbeki's mediation in the
Zimbabwean crisis but said his priority should be to push for a new
constitution ahead of the elections.

While the MDC's participation in the elections is not clear as yet, the
party was back in campaign business today. A rally in Chitungwiza just
outside Harare marked the first major outing by the party since the lifting
of a temporary ban on political gatherings.

SA unions vow to keep up pressure on Zimbabwe
Earlier today, South Africa's largest labour federation will keep up
pressure on Zimbabwe, Zwelinzima Vavi, its general secretary, said ahead of
next week's protest over the deteriorating political and economic situation
there. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), a member of the
ruling tripartite alliance with the African National Congress (ANC), has
lambasted Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president, for "attacks on democracy
and human rights".

Cosatu's position sharply contrasts with the quiet diplomacy advocated by
Mbeki, the ANC leader, who was named last week by the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) to promote dialogue between Mugabe and
Zimbabwe's opposition. Mbeki said he was confident the new mediation could
help resolve that country's political crisis, but Vavi said Cosatu will
maintain pressure on Harare.

"We are proceeding with the protests. We are not going to let go because
there is a promise of dialogue," Vavi said earlier today after organised
labour met with Mbeki in Cape Town. - additional info, Reuters

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Condemnation grows for Mugabe's regime

StatesmanJournal, Oregon


March 31, 2007

On the surface, the African Union's critique of Zimbabwean dictator Robert
Mugabe doesn't sound particularly damning. The AU's statement calls for
"respect for human rights and democratic principles in Zimbabwe."

It is rather mild for a scold, and perhaps a touch hypocritical. Africa is
rife with human rights abusers, and democracy is rare.

Yet the AU's welcome jab at Mugabe may portend the end of the political
"blind eye" given to black-run tyrannies in sub-Saharan Africa.

African democratic movements and reform politicians have suffered from this
double standard. On March 11, Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), and 50 MDC supporters were attending a
prayer meeting in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, when they were arrested and
beaten by Mugabe's police.

The "thousand words" of a pain-filled photo featuring Tsvangirai's pummeled,
bleeding face did what years of Mugabe-led repression and 1,700 percent a
year inflation could not quite do: provoke substantial and effective
condemnation by Zimbabwe's neighbors.

That's important, because it denies Mugabe his favorite propaganda ploy -
blaming "imperialist" Great Britain and the United States for Africa's and
the world's ills.

But over the last seven years, that tiresome tyrannical media gimmick has
worn desperately thin. The 1,700 percent a year inflation isn't only
unconscionable, it is incomprehensible unless it is translated from
economist-speak (inflation) into its grinding, ground-level reality: mass
poverty and starvation in a nation that was once a regional breadbasket. In
March 2002, 55 "old" Zimbabwean dollars bought a U.S. dollar. In March 2007,
it takes 259,793 "old" Zimbabwean dollars to buy a buck. "Old" crops up
because last year Zimbabwe issued a "new" dollar that lopped three zeroes
off the inflation-destroyed currency.

Since February 2000, when a "constitutional reform" referendum backed by
Mugabe was defeated at the polls, the dictator has pummeled and beaten the
entire country. Mugabe responded to that democratic defeat by dispatching
his thugs (he calls them "war veterans"). The thugs took control of
white-owned farms and began to "re-distribute" the land - usually to Mugabe
supporters. In the process, the thugs also brutalized the MDC, Mugabe's real

The "farms" gambit used legitimate historical resentment as camouflage for
attacks on his democratic opponents. In May 2000, I wrote a column that
argued the defeat of the referendum "clued Mugabe that his regime, in power
since 1980, was at risk. The opposition, black-led Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) had strength throughout Zimbabwe, through all economic classes
and in all tribes."

"Urban renewal" has been another subterfuge. In 2005, Mugabe's Operation
"Murambatsvina" (a Shona phrase meaning "drive out the trash") literally
erased opposition neighborhoods. An estimated 700,000 people lost their
homes and their livelihoods.

Now, Mugabe intends to change Zimbabwe's constitution. His term as president
runs out in 2008, but he wants to remain in charge at least until 2010. Over
the years, Mugabe's ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front) Party has been a reliable prop for his regime. However, his move to
keep the office until 2010 has ignited some opposition among younger party

Many Zimbabweans believe this nascent opposition could produce a political
opportunity, if disgruntled ZANU-PF members can find common ground with the
Tsvangirai's MDC. The MDC has international moral capital and international
media credibility.

Mugabe, however, still controls the guns.

Forging a new internal Zimbabwean political consensus is absolutely vital,
not only for Zimbabwe but for the rest of southern Africa. A civil war in
Zimbabwe will have tribal overtones, with Mugabe's dominant Shona tribe
likely providing the core of "pro-Mugabe" fighters. The Congo provides a
bitter example: In sub-Saharan Africa, tribal wars all too easily spill over
borders, which risks regional war. Wars in developing nations quickly erase
decades of economic progress.

The United States and European Union are considering a package of economic
sanctions that will affect Mugabe without punishing Zimbabwe's people, but
that is a difficult formula that diplomats and bankers have yet to perfect.

The key actor is South Africa, the local regional power. South Africa needs
to promote peaceful political change in Zimbabwe, publicly and forcefully.
And that means easing, then releasing, Mugabe's grip on power.

Austin Bay, an author and colonel (retired) in the U.S. Army Reserve, writes
for Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA
90045. Send e-mail through or

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Robert Mugabe's misrule is in danger of spreading

The Hamilton Spectator
(Mar 31, 2007)
This year Africa plans an impressive number of presidential, parliamentary
and local elections. The continent's boosters like to argue that this
heralds a new age of democracy, part of the "African renaissance" that has
been under way since the turn of the century with the creation of the
revamped African Union and a new commitment to good governance.

Before it breaks out the champagne, however, Africa needs to do something
about Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, the tiresome guest who just won't go away.

Zimbabwe is hardly the worst story from Africa, nor is Mugabe the world's
worst dictator. Nothing he has done holds a candle to the genocide in Rwanda
in 1994 or the government-inspired slaughter in the Darfur region of Sudan

His fiercest critics claim he oversaw attempted genocide in the 1980s in
Matebeleland, when several thousand people were killed.

But it is fairer to think of him as just a moderately violent thug with a
touch of megalomania, whose goons club rivals, who closes newspapers,
harasses judges and bans public meetings. He even holds elections, albeit
rigged ones.

The consequences are not trivial.

He has destroyed the economy of a once prosperous country and caused a mass
exodus of its people.

But, in the African scheme of things, he is a commonplace sort of villain
which is part of the reason his neighbours have tolerated him. It is also
what makes his remaining in power so worrying, for the Mugabe pattern is in
danger of infecting many parts of Africa.

In a democracy index for sub-Saharan Africa, the Economist Intelligence Unit
concluded recently that although almost all countries now hold elections,
only Mauritius deserves to be rated fully democratic.

That judgment is harsh -- South Africa was excluded only because it lacks a
strong opposition -- but the general point holds.

The fate of Zimbabwe under Mugabe could all too easily become that of other
African democracies, from Nigeria to Ethiopia, and even -- one day
perhaps -- to South Africa.

Congo is at serious risk of lapsing back into authoritarian rule only months
after hugely expensive elections, overseen and protected by the United

If Africa's leaders want to be taken seriously on democracy and human
rights, they simply must speak out in a case as clear as Zimbabwe's.

Mugabe is expert at dismissing the West's criticisms as white man's
dictation. Britain in particular has little credibility in its former

For too long, however, Zimbabwe's neighbours have allowed solidarity with a
hero of the liberation struggle to drown out criticisms of what he has

Now, at last, the mood is changing. "We Africans should hang our heads in
shame," says Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the conscience of the anti-apartheid

Some of the credit for the change of mood should indeed go to the democracy
talk sweeping Africa this year. There was a time when African leaders used
to argue against multi-party democracy on the ground that it would
exacerbate tribal divisions.

Now they have made at least a rhetorical commitment to the idea of
democracy. Helping to get Mugabe out of power, and following that with free
and fair elections, would do much to give substance to the rhetoric.

Better still, outside pressure seems this time to coincide with real
resistance within Zimbabwe itself, where senior members of Mugabe's own
ZANU-PF party may now be eager to ditch their boss and are known to have
been in talks with the official opposition. This opportunity is too good to

It would be nice to believe that at 83 Mugabe belongs to Africa's past. It
is within the power of Zimbabwe's neighbours to make sure of that. But if
Africa fails to dislodge him he may instead point to a possible future: an
awful reminder that holding bogus elections does not make governments
accountable, let alone removable.

Without tough action against Zimbabwe and reforms across the continent,
there may be more Mugabes to come.

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Food for Politics, Politics for Food

Mens News Daily

March 31, 2007

By Zvakwana

Whilst many western industrialised countries have developed economies of
scale in their agri-sector, Zimbabwe's Mugabe has stolen and destroyed what
was large scale, world class, efficient agriculture and replaced it with
uneconomic, unsustainable, small-holdings. Yes there are some large scale
farms left but these farms are occupied by zanupf cronies, senior military
and judicial people who toe the party line and remain loyal to zanupf.

In just a few years, those "New farmers" who were settled on their "plots"
have destroyed any previously established infrastructure, slaughtered all
wildlife, cut down forests and destroyed sensitive eco-systems to sustain
themselves. When there is nothing left, they have simply violently occupied
another farm or moved back to town.

The bulk of the farmland stolen from Zimbabwe's commercial farmers is now a
wasteland. Production has dropped to between 10 and 30 percent of levels
pre-2000 and starvation is now a daily reality for most people.

The self inflicted starvation has created more opportunity for those in

Controlling food supply has been a well known tactic used by African
dictators to retain power and control. Mugabe once said that you know you
have total power when a man gets down on his knees and begs you for food for
his family. This situation is a reality in Zimbabwe. The regime even has
food police. These police set up road blocks countrywide to stop and search
buses and other commuters for maize meal (Zimbabwe's staple diet). They
confiscate even smallest of parcels that people are trying to bring in from
rural areas to feed family members in town. In rural areas, food production
has been militarised. The army has taken over. All maize produced must go to
the Grain Marketing Board. People are no longer allowed to grow their own
food. If they grow anything else, the army orders it to be removed and
replaced with maize.

Incidentally, hybrid seed is no longer available. This is seen as a good
thing by politicians as they promote the use of "open pollinated varieties".
In Africa, this means saving seed from the previous crop. The results, of
course, are crops producing a fraction of previous yield, especially when
there is little or no fertiliser, pest or weed control. So whilst the water
storage dams are full and infrastructure to use that water has been
destroyed, the results are catastrophic for food security.

Then comes the big lie. The regime declares a drought. So whilst
Matabeleland has had a drought, a common feature of this region, the food
cropping locations of Mashonaland and Manicaland have enjoyed an average
season. The regime's propaganda machine starts rolling and weather is blamed
for their woes.

Mugabe then relies on the United Nation's food aid and he controls who gets
it. If you are opposition, you starve. It's that simple. The graphic
pictures of starving people, especially children, on televisions in the West
are great motivators for civilized people to donate and it's those very
donations that bank roll these African regimes and keeps them in power. In
recent times, many organisations have woken up to this and have diverted
funding to non-government organisations. In Zimbabwe's case, the government
has decreed that it, and it alone, is the sole distributor of food. Donors
have therefore buckled under the pressure. For those who know, it is
sickening to watch bags of corn labeled "USAID" being distributed by zanupf
to their supporters whilst those who support the MDC are sent away to

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Mugabe's crackdown, what it means for Zimbabweans

Mens News Daily

March 30, 2007

By Zvakwana

There has been plenty news about Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe lately. Much of it
has been caused by Mugabe's usage of state military organs, using thug
tactics, to destroy the opposition.

The regime has mobilised it's CIO, police, military and "Green Bombers"
(Mugabe's militia) to terrorise Zimbabweans and crush the opposition. A
country-wide operation is underway. Hundreds of MDC activists have
disappeared over the last two weeks, whilst many have been "hidden" in
police stations.

Below is an extract from ground zero in Zimbabwe yesterday Friday 30th

Friday, began with the hope that we would find more of our abducted and
brutalised colleagues and friends. Some had just been released "no charge"
and told to "go". Having been thoroughly beaten and tortured, they are told
to just go, no charge.

I wish I could say the situation is improving, that there are less of these
terrible incidents and that justice is prevailing. Absolutely nothing of the

1) Paul Madzore was "found" at Borrowdale Police Station with four others
this morning, and for the first time since they were abducted on Tuesday,
they were allowed a meal. He is in a very bad way having been severely

At midday the group comprising Ian and Theresa Makone, Paul Madzore MP,
Luke, Kudakwashe Matibiri, Brighton Matimba, Juaba, Fidelis Mashu's
bodyguard Shame, and Better Chokorurama were brought to court.

2) Theresa Makone appeared first. She looked ragged and exhausted, in prison
uniform and was remanded out of custody on bail of Z$500,000 on condition
she stayed only at her principal place of residence (good clause, it makes
it easier for the CIO to slip back and re-arrest you), and did not interfere
with witnesses. She had not been beaten.

3) Then came Pineal Denga, the organising secretary for Mashonaland East. He
was limping and could not stand up straight. So the preliminary trial could
not take place because he could not hear a word. All he could do was
indicate that he had been hit so hard around the ears, that there is no
doubt that he has two burst ear-drums. Despite his battered state, the young
female Magistrate remanded him in custody till next Monday.

4) Next were Hatridge Mutasa, Edmore Manyoka, Chemdare Amisi, Moses Mutasa,
Peter Bokisi, Fungai Katurudza and Amos Musekiwa. It was obvious that all
had been assaulted, especially Amos Musekiwa. They were all remanded in
custody charged with Attempted Murder for allegedly petrol bombing a Police
The State has little or no concrete evidence, and to hear the CID officers
giving evidence (under oath!?) was sickening. Categorically denying
assaulting the accused's "who gave a statement of their own free will". If
that is "free will" then I hate to think what "under duress" is???

The Twin cab carrying group 1 was parked outside the court but no one was
allowed to speak to them. They were guarded by gun toting militia and, of
course, the torturers from Law and Order section. They were allowed to have
a meal, only the second in three days.

Well the suspense grew as the hours went by and they were not brought before
the Magistrate. A few of our colleagues went back into the Court while
others waited outside watching the truck with Group 1. Suddenly around 4pm
they were driven away. A runner alerted the lawyers. To cut a long
frustrating story short, the A.G. informed CID L & O that he declined to
prosecute on account of there being no evidence and instructed that the
"accuseds" be released.

Having waited for a short while at the Court, the lawyers, knowing full well
a devious plan was afoot, rushed off the Harare Central Police Station only
to find (as expected) that Group 1 had been taken back to the cells.

Despite an urgent High court order instructing that the legal team be
allowed access to all their clients, and the order from the AG that they be
released no charge, they have been re-arrested, according to Law and
Disorder officers, on a new set of charges !! Why ?? Because they can,
because they act with total impunity and because now they can keep them in
over the weekend.

It is 10.40pm. Half an hour ago, the lawyers were still attempting to at
least get their clients to a medical facility for treatment. Whether they
will succeed is anyone's bet, but knowing the system as we do, it is highly

The following points must be highlighted :-

. All those in detention, apart from the Harvest House raid, were abducted
in the middle of the night.
. The majority of the so called accused's have been brutally beaten and
. They have all been denied access to their lawyers.
. They have been denied visits by friends and family.
. They have been denied food.
. They have been denied access to vital medication as well as medical care.
. They have been denied their constitutional and legal right to be released
on the orders of the Attorney General.

A few of the detainees are on medication, that if interrupted or stopped,
will be life threatening. Yet this has been denied them!


The stand off continues. A Doctor has joined the legal team at Harare
Central Police Station. From visual observations, there is one man who is in
a bad way (they are not sure of his identity), but of concern is that they
have not had sight of Hon. Paul Madzore MP since outside the court this
afternoon. When seen as Borrowdale Police this morning his condition was
described as serious.

Filed under: Vox Populi, Africa - Zvakwana @ 11:27 pm

 Print This Post | Other posts by Zvakwana
  1.. Zvakwana said,

  Occurred at Glow Night club in Borrowdale village.

  At 3am this morning approx. 120 Riot Police (militia) most wearing the
riot uniform (some were in civilian clothing wearing riot helmets) raided
the night club. They told girls to go one side and boys to the other. They
shouted "every one get out, get out" and started beating the young people
with batons. There was pandemonium as kids tried to get out, most tried to
protect their friends and were savagely beaten. Those, who in the chaos,
could not produce their ID's were beaten.
  One young coloured man was so badly assaulted on his head and face that
his eye burst.
  It is feared he may have died.

  This is a night club frequented by young people of all ethnic groups and
social status.


  March 30, 2007 at 11:43 pm
  2.. Zvakwana said,

  Personal Accounts

  Latest personal accounts.

  GC, a middle aged man was taken from Dzivarasekwa 2 around midday on
Thursday 29th March, 2007. They were actually looking for his sister who is
an MDC district chairlady. Then they went direct to where her daughter
stays, picked her up and took them both to Mondoro (approximately 80 kms
from Harare) where they were beaten up. (full details to follow). The
daughter was treated and has gone home.
  GC was particularly badly injured and is in Hospital. He is suffering from
TB, lost his wife 3 months ago and he has three small children under the age
of 8.

  AM, arrested by 6 plain clothes operatives and driven out to Mazoe. They
blindfolded and gagged him. He was beaten by the six men who all had weapons
and threatened to shoot him. They used baton sticks, flat hands, booted feet
and their weapons to assault him. He was then taken to the CID Law and Order
offices where the torture continued, beating on his back, buttocks and feet.
He was threatened with death if he did not sign an affidavit admitting that
he had petrol bombed the Mbare Police Station. Denied access to legal
representation and medical attention.

  HM, also accused of petrol bombing. Armed CID Law and Order details
arrived at his home at around 3am on 27th March, 2007 and took him to their
offices (office number 22) at Harare Central Police Station. He was
assaulted with baton sticks. His feet and hands were tied together and he
was suspended on a plank between two tables. They said "you are now
Birchenough Bridge" and all laughed as they continued the beatings. Injuries
sustained : swollen legs, deep tissue bruising on back, buttocks and legs.
Denied access to legal rep. and medical attention.

  EM, accused of petrol bombing. CID L & Order details arrested him at home,
in Mbare at 2 am on 27th March, 2007. He was forced to lie on the ground
while they beat him and threatened to shoot him. He was then taken in a bus
to office 22, stripped naked and beaten all over the body and feet
(falanga). He has a suspected fractured left arm. Denied access to legal
attention and medical assistance.

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The lever to oust Mugabe

Boston Globe


March 31, 2007

ROBERT MUGABE, the tyrant president of Zimbabwe, is right about one thing:
The United States, Britain, and the other nations of the developed world
will not remove him from office. His neighbors, especially regional leader
South Africa, need to persuade him to initiate a peaceful transfer of power.

Mugabe, who first came to power in 1980, has long since dissipated the moral
credibility he earned while leading the struggle against the white-dominated
government in what was then called Rhodesia. He throttled democracy and
corrupted the economy to protect and enrich himself and his cohorts in the
ZANU-PF party .
Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of the continent, is now unable to feed
itself, with inflation and unemployment out of control and millions of
people forced to seek work in South Africa. The Movement for Democratic
Change , a coalition of opposition groups, protested in Harare, the capital,
this month, only to be attacked by Mugabe's police. Morgan Tsvangirai, one
of its leaders, was seriously injured.

According to the Mail & Guardian in Johannesburg, President Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa persuaded Mugabe not to extend his term as president from 2008
to 2010. But the official South African line remains that quiet diplomacy is
best to encourage all the parties to negotiate a settlement.

This approach was endorsed this week by other leaders in the region at a
meeting of the Southern African Development Community , who also urged
Western nations to end sanctions against Zimbabwe. Support from his
neighbors immediately emboldened Mugabe, who said that Tsvangirai deserved
whatever he got. And yesterday, the central committee of ZANU-PF endorsed
the president for re election next year. Mugabe is displaying great
political resilience.

Perhaps the African leaders are using kind words to cloak tough talk in
private, but unless they push Mugabe out, Zimbabwe will descend further into
poverty, sending economic refugees and unrest throughout the region.
Zimbabwe needs South African imports, and the ZANU leaders need a place of
refuge if the population turns against them. Mbeki has the means to force
change if he has the will.

Mugabe blames Britain, with its colonial history, for the enduring strength
of the opposition. That's a lie, but his rhetoric feeds into Africans'
distaste for outside interference. Memories of past injustice should not
blind them to the realization that Mugabe bears the most responsibility for
his people's plight.

Zimbabwe's devastated economy impedes regional growth, and the people
fleeing its collapse are a strain on its neighbors. Mbeki would be an
African hero, not an imperialist, if he helped resolve this crisis and
improved the lives of the 12 million Zimbabweans.

© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.

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Christchurch vigil to highlight Zimbabwe plight

Radio New Zealand

Posted at 5:18pm on 31 Mar 2007

Members of Christchurch's Zimbabwean community started a 24 hour vigil on
Saturday afternoon to draw attention to the human rights abuses they say are
occurring in their country.

They say their fellow Zimbabweans are living in chaos, caused by the
government and specifically the long time president Robert Mugabe.

About 40 gathered in Cathedral Square for a service to mark the start of the
vigil, including Catholic and Anglican leaders as well as National and
Labour MPs.

The event's organiser Shupay Mpunga says she hopes the vigil will raise
awareness of her country's plight.

And she wants the New Zealand government to lend support to Zimbabwe's
doctors and lawyers who she says are dealing with victims of abuse.

Mugabe chosen to run again
The Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has chosen him to run
for another term, in next year's presidential elections.

There had been reports that one faction in the party had wanted Mr Mugabe to
stand down to end a political and economic crisis in the country.

The 83 year old leader has been widely condemned by the West for the arrests
and assaults of senior members of the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change this month

Addressing supporters as he arrived at the party's central committee
meeting, Mr Mugabe said the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was beaten,
but he asked for it.

And in a rare admission of divisions within his ruling Zanu-PF party, he
told members to keep quarrels in-house and not to feed the appetite of a
hostile media.

He says a summit of the Southern African Development Community in Tanzania
has given him fill backing.

Major setback - opposition
The Zimbabwean political opposition is describing the endorsement of Robert
Mugabe as his party's candidate for next year's presidential election as a
major setback for the country.

Zimbabwe is engulfed by economic and political turmoil and calls for Mr
Mugabe to step down have been growing.

There have been demonstrations in the capital Harare and opposition leaders
have been targetted in a campaign by Mr Mugabe to prevent any challenge to
his leadership.

Zimbabwe's former information minister, Jonathan Moyo, who fell out with Mr
Mugabe, says he expects the mounting opposition to continue in the lead up
to next year's elections.

Copyright © 2007 Radio New Zealand

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Zim crisis hampers Mozambique


31/03/2007 19:57  - (SA)

Maputo - The Zimbabwean crisis had affected Mozambique economically and
compromised the security of their shared border, President Armando Guebuza
told the official media on Friday.

In a report in the Saturday edition of the daily Noticias, President Guebuza
was quoted as saying that the Zimbabwean crisis had affected the viability
of the Beira Corridor.

The paper said Guebuza could not give figures, but had said that Mozambique
was "loosing important business deals" as well job posts for workers in that

Guebuza, in Tanzania attending a SADC meeting that had discussed the
political and economic impasse in Zimbabwe, said Mozambique supplied
Zimbabwe with electricity but the country was failing to make "regular

"That affects us a lot and the same applies to the border business.

?The current situation in Zimbabwe does not allow the legal entry of goods
to and from that country, and this encourages the illegal entry of
commercial products from both countries," said Guebuza.

Britain 'caused' Zimbabwe problems

He said the emergency meeting in Tanzania to discuss Zimbabwe had resulted
in setting "good results" that could be used to resolve the challenges
Zimbabwe was facing.

SADC leaders delegated President Thabo Mbeki to "facilitate" dialogue
between the Zimbabwean government and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main
opposition MDC.

The SADC leaders also decided that Britain should "honour" its promises made
at Lancaster House to finance agricultural reforms in its former colony.

Guebuza was quoted by the paper as saying that the world should not forget
the historical aspect that the problems in Zimbabwe were caused by Britain's
"failure to fulfil its promises".

"For that reason, we encourage open dialogue, and it is through this that we
can open lines that will permit the resuscitation of democracy in harmony,"
said Guebuza.

The SADC meeting also tasked its secretariat, led by Mozambican Tomaz
Salamao, to do an economic study to "recuperate" the Zimbabwean economy.

The Zimbabwean economy has plunged to an all time low. Inflation was pegged
at more than 1 700, reported Vista News.

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A Regional -- and National -- Embrace for Mugabe

IPS news

Moyiga Nduru

JOHANNESBURG, Mar 30 (IPS) - Hopes that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
would be taken to task this week over human rights abuses in his country
have been dashed -- this after regional leaders reaffirmed their solidarity
with Zimbabwe, and the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front (ZANU-PF) endorsed Mugabe as its presidential candidate for 2008

A special summit of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community
(SADC) also appealed for sanctions against Zimbabwe to be lifted.

The European Union imposed targeted sanctions on the country in 2002, and
the United States in 2003, in response to rights violations in Zimbabwe and
flawed parliamentary and presidential polls in 2000 and 2002 respectively.
In its communiqué for the Mar. 28-29 summit, SADC described the 2002
presidential election as having been "free, fair and democratic".

In addition, the summit communiqué called on Britain -- Zimbabwe's former
coloniser -- to honour a commitment made during independence negotiations to
help fund land reform in the country aimed at rectifying racial imbalances
in land ownership.

It also mandated South African President Thabo Mbeki "to continue to
facilitate dialogue" between Zimbabwe's government and opposition, and the
SADC executive secretary to study the economic situation in the country.

South Africa's policy of quiet diplomacy towards its northern neighbour has
come under repeated attack, with critics accusing the approach of being

Zimbabwe is currently battling inflation of about 1,700 percent, widespread
unemployment and shortages of food and other basic goods -- evidence of
economic decline ascribed to government mismanagement, and a controversial
farm redistribution programme ostensibly aimed at giving property to
landless, black Zimbabweans.

Mugabe blames Zimbabwe's economic woes on Western nations, accused of
undermining the Southern African country in response to the land
reallocation programme.

The SADC summit also discussed the aftermath of elections in Lesotho, and
violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Just a day after regional leaders wrapped up their talks in Dar-es-Salaam,
Tanzania, ZANU-PF agreed to hold presidential, parliamentary and local
government elections in 2008 -- backing Mugabe to lead it in the polls. The
83-year-old leader has been in power since independence in 1980.

ZANU-PF's continued support of Mugabe Friday came despite reports of
disenchantment in party ranks at the effects of his rule, which has in
recent weeks seen another crackdown on opposition supporters that claimed
the life of an activist earlier this month.

Several others have been hospitalised after undergoing beatings. They
include Morgan Tsvangirai -- leader of a faction in the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) -- who was assaulted when police broke up a prayer
meeting on Mar. 11.

Mugabe has accused the MDC of staging a terror campaign to unseat him (a
charge the party denies), and portrays it as a Western puppet. Reports
indicate that nine opposition officials were charged this week in connection
with the alleged terror campaign.

In a press release issued Wednesday, Human Rights Watch claimed that
ordinary Zimbabweans had also been affected by the latest wave of state

"Witnesses and victims from Harare's high-density suburbs of Glenview,
Highfield and Mufakose told Human Rights Watch that for the past few weeks
police forces patrolling these locations have randomly and viciously beaten
Zimbabweans in the streets, shopping malls, and in bars and beer halls,"
notes the Mar. 28 document.

The New York-based grouping had called on SADC to speak out against abuse in
Zimbabwe as well as against "the general climate of repression faced by
(its) citizens". It also wanted the region to appeal for and participate in
an independent commission of inquiry into the latest abuses at the hands of
security forces.

Ayesha Kajee, a researcher at the Johannesburg-based South African Institute
of International Affairs who recently visited Zimbabwe, says people there
often depend for their survival on family and friends living abroad.
Economic and political hardship has caused millions of Zimbabweans to leave
for South Africa, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

"The standard of living has fallen among ordinary Zimbabweans. Two to five
years ago an average family would have subsisted on proper meals. People now
depend on grain and vegetables. They say they are relying on remittances
from the disaspora," she told IPS.

But, "If people were forced to change their forex (foreign exchange) at the
official rate they would not live. They change it on the parallel market at
40 times the official rate," Kajee added.

Remittances will not reach everyone, however.

On Thursday Rashid Khalikov, New York head of the United Nations Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, informed the Security Council that
harvests this year might only meet one third of Zimbabwe's requirements.
This would increase the number of people at risk of hunger, a figure that
had already reached upwards of 1.4 million last year.

Agencies such as the U.N. World Food Programme are already feeding the needy
in Zimbabwe.

Noted Kajee: "People are reluctant to tell you that they rely on food aid.
But they will tell you that they know someone who relies on food aid. Of
course they have their pride and dignity to protect." (END/2007)

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Mugabe ambassador takes plea for food aid to EU

The Scotsman
Sat 31 Mar 2007

ZIMBABWE'S ambassador to the European Union is drawing up a request for food
aid to help relieve the country's growing food shortages, a European
Parliament development committee member has said.

Zimbabwe's Gift Punungwe said he will "be making a detailed request" to EU
Aid Commissioner Louis Michel concerning the need for increased food
supplies, EU assembly member Eoin Ryan said yesterday.

"The ambassador said Zimbabwe needs substantial food supplies from the EU.
He admitted his country is suffering chronic food shortages and people are
now caught by the clear effects of a famine," Mr Ryan said after meeting
with Mr Punungwe.

A spokeswoman for Mr Punungwe confirmed the meeting had taken place on
Thursday and the issue of EU aid was discussed.

In 2006, the EU contributed 86.1 million (£58m) in aid to Zimbabwe in areas
such as healthcare and water sanitation, but did not include food.

"This is not normal development aid," a spokesman for Mr Michel said. "We
have not received any request so far for food aid, nor has the government
indicated to our agencies that there is a crisis up to now."

The aid is in line with the EU's targeted sanctions which were renewed for
12 months earlier this year. The United States has also imposed sanctions
following claims of election rigging.

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Time for Zanu PF to Send Mugabe Packing

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)

March 31, 2007
Posted to the web March 31, 2007

WHEN Zanu PF held its national people's conference in Goromonzi in December
it had a mammoth task ahead: to endorse or not to endorse the extension of
Mugabe's presidential term. The proposal was shot down, representing a
significant defeat for the 2010 lobby.

Today the ruling party is meeting again. The dramatic turn of events since
December, and especially in the past three weeks, makes their task both
onerous and simple -- onerous because they must tell their leader that his
time is up, simple because he has become too obvious a liability to their
own interests and those of the nation.

In the past few days, opposition leaders and their supporters have been
subjected to brutal beatings at the hands of the police. Their crime was to
exercise rights that are enshrined in the constitution of Zimbabwe, the
right of association and assembly as free citizens. Their beatings in police
custody were so savage they attracted worldwide condemnation, even from
African leaders who often accuse opposition parties of working for foreign

Zanu PF leaders attending this week's meetings should capitalise on this
growing anger against Mugabe's brutal regime to tell him he is not doing his
party any service by staying on.

While we don't have details of their agenda, it is known that two issues
will be central to their deliberations, either to extend President Mugabe's
term by a further two years to 2010 or to endorse his candidacy to represent
Zanu PF in next year's election, possibly with a reduced term.

This is a Hobson's choice. Either way it's a non-starter and Zanu PF should
make this plain to Mugabe. Zimbabweans want Mugabe out as soon as possible,
at the latest when his term expires next year. The current cycle of
senseless violence against peaceful dissent makes that a millennium away.
This is a point Mugabe's cohorts can tell him without committing treason.

It is a good omen that Sadc has been galvanised by the deteriorating
economic and political situation in Zimbabwe into raising the issue at its
summit in Dar es Salaam this weekend. They can only feel energised when they
realise that Zimbabweans across the political divide are striving for a
consensus to get Mugabe out of the way. It will have a greater impact if
this "final push" is coming from within Zanu PF itself.

South African president Thabo Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy" is increasingly
coming under severe criticism from the region and beyond. Zambian leader
Levy Mwanawasa last week went out of his way to describe Zimbabwe as a
"sinking Titanic". He said the time had come for Sadc to speak with one

The West has always expressed its disquiet with the African approach in
general and the South African approach in particular to the deepening
Zimbabwean crisis. After President George Bush anointed Mbeki the pointman
on the Zimbabwe issue, Britain and the United States took a back seat hoping
the stick of sanctions and the carrot of "closed door" discussions among
African peers would do the trick.

The failure of both megaphone and quiet diplomacy has been spectacular. It
has become clear to all that Mugabe is not amenable to either. In fact he
has proved impervious to counsel from any quarter except when it comes as an
endorsement of his actions. The world will have to try other tactics to
nudge him.

The same applies to opposition parties. Draconian laws like the Public Order
and Security Act make it impossible for them to mobilise their supporters
for a common cause. Police authority which in the past was hard to come by
has been made impossible by the recent blanket ban on all gatherings. Any
breach has been met with brute force.

It is foolish for suborned Zanu PF organs like the Women's League and the
youths to pretend that Mugabe is not culpable in the breakdown of the
economy and the accompanying poverty across all social strata. This position
presupposes that Mugabe with time will morph into a miracle worker to mend
this economy. He is well beyond that judging by the failure of his recent
policies. His dwindling number of supporters regard Mugabe as perhaps the
last bastion against imperialism but that's all. The extent of our crisis
requires more than this old school bluster.

It is in this light that Zanu PF can combine forces with democratic
movements to take a firm stand against Mugabe's ruinous stay in power. That
opportunity is now when world attention is on Zimbabwe. The opportunity may
not arise again.

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SAfrica unions vow to keep up pressure on Zimbabwe


Sat 31 Mar 2007, 13:51 GMT

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa's largest labour federation will keep up
pressure on Zimbabwe, its general secretary said on Saturday, ahead of next
week's protest over the deteriorating political and economic situation

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), a member of the ruling
tripartite alliance with the African National Congress (ANC), has lambasted
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe for "attacks on democracy and human

COSATU's position sharply contrasts with the quiet diplomacy advocated by
ANC leader Thabo Mbeki, South Africa's President, who was named last week by
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to promote dialogue
between Mugabe and Zimbabwe's opposition.

Mbeki said on Saturday he was confident new mediation could help resolve
that country's political crisis, but COSATU's Zwelinzima Vavi said COSATU
would maintain pressure on Harare.

"We are proceeding with the protests. We are not going to let go because
there is a promise of dialogue," Vavi said on Saturday after organised
labour met with Mbeki in Cape Town.

"We're having demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday, we're having marches
in Johannesburg and we'll be marching to the Zimbabwean High commissioner's

Tensions have risen sharply in Zimbabwe in the last two weeks after police
arrested and beat Morgan Tsvangirai and other activists in a move that
spurred widespread international condemnation.

Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate, at over 1,700 percent, is the highest in
the world outside a war zone and unemployment currently stands at 80
percent. Critics blame President Mugabe's policies.

Vavi said COSATU's responsibility was to make sure the unions exerted
pressure to force the parties involved to engage in serious negotiations for
a solution to the crisis.

Asked what the union's wanted to see Mbeki achieve, Vavi told Reuters: "We
hope the arms will be twisted for people to engage seriously, the arm of
president Mugabe in particular."

He said COSATU was hopeful of a break-through.

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Zimbabwe business committing hara-kiri

Zimbabwe Independent

      By Eric Bloch

      FROM October 1997, until very recently, the never-ending decline of
the Zimbabwean economy has been almost entirely due to government's acts of
commission and of omission.

      Government successfully imploded the foundation of the economy, being
agriculture, partially through its incomprehensibly ill-conceived basis of
attaining much-needed land reform and partially through near-criminal
mismanagement. It was government's policies and actions that did more to
fuel hyperinflation than any other causes.

      Through its abuses of the internationally recognised, fundamental
principles of human rights, justice, law and order, and respect for property
rights, compounded by a continuous barrage of vitriolic insults targeted at
all too many of the international community, government vigorously
discouraged foreign direct investment and provoked the withholding of much
otherwise available developmental aid and balance of payments support.

      By its rigid resistance to extensive privatisation of parastatals, and
its unwillingness or inability to fund parastatals adequately, concurrently
with a like unwillingness to effect meaningful managerial appointments in
many of them, the infrastructural support base of the economy is collapsing
more and more, with inadequate availability of energy, disastrously
ineffectual telecommunications and much else retarding economic activity.
And these are but a few of government's very many contributions to the
accelerating contraction of the economy.

      But since the beginning of February, much of commerce and industry has
been pursuing operations in a manner that can only hasten the Zimbabwean
economic collapse. The captains of business, and many others, are apparently
now driven to pursue self-destruction or, in other words, to commit
hara-kiri, but to do so with the same philosophy as that of suicide bombers,
being to destroy not only themselves, but also all others.

      Partially spurred by a grievous misunderstanding of the concepts of a
social contract, many have sought to pre-empt any such contract by rapid
increases of prices ahead of the commencement of any such contract.
Partially spurred by ill-conceived, and consequently ineffective, intents to
counter the impacts of inflation, they have embarked upon business
strategies which will destroy them, but will also accelerate the destruction
of the economy and potentially will undermine all endeavours to salvage the

      Yet some are doing likewise for no other reasons than beliefs that
they should emulate others, while others are solely driven by greed.

      The first of the ruinous, suicidal actions, following upon the call
for a social contract by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, was that many
businesses very hurriedly, and very radically, increased the selling prices
of their goods or services to an extent far greater than then prevailing
inflation. They did so in anticipation of further inflation, during the
continuance of the social contract, and wished to counter that further
inflation, and its potential erosion of profits, by those price increases.

      In reality, not only did many price their products beyond the reach of
consumers (and especially so in the case of non-essentials), and therefore
suffered declining sales volumes, other than in monetary terms, but at the
same time they fuelled, through their actions, the very inflation that they
had foreshadowed, but to an even greater extent than they had envisaged
inflation would occur.

      Concurrently, ever-greater numbers of industrialists, wholesalers and
retailers abandoned the traditional approach of determining selling prices
by aggregating the direct costs of the goods produced and sold, the
proportion of operational costs as attributable to the sale of such goods,
and the desired profit margin. Instead, they have resorted to calculations
based upon anticipated replacement costs, plus a forecast inflation-adjusted
profit margin.

      Some do so in the misguided belief that in the absence of so doing,
they will be operating at a loss, which is not so if the sale price exceeds
aggregate costs. Others contend on obligation to do so as their
capitalisation levels will not enable them to support continuing operations,
at same sales levels, unless they fund replacement costs through current

      However, their actions are causing inflation to surge upwards to a
greater extent and, in fact, to a considerably greater extent than would
otherwise be the case. As a result, not only will those business enterprises
suffer declining volumes of trade, precluding adequate recovery of fixed
costs, and potentially setting them upon a path of ultimate non-viability
and collapse, but concurrently they are contributing to the further
disintegration of the economy as a whole, and to the unending demands of
labour for higher wages.

      At the same time, the endlessly soaring inflation has virtually
destroyed what little remaining viability existed for any exporters,
resulting in an ongoing decrease in Zimbabwean exports, and thereby
resulting in an ever-lesser availability of foreign exchange, within
official markets.

      As a consequence, demand for currency in the alternative markets has
increased very considerably, without any commensurate increase in
availability, and that has caused immense rises in the costs of sourcing
foreign currencies in those markets.

      The increase in demand has been exacerbated by the reaction of many to
the pace of exchange rate movements in the alternative markets, being to
source foreign exchange immediately which would not normally be sought until
a future date, in order to avoid the impacts of further exchange rate

      Simultaneously, those who are sellers within the alternative markets
are regrettably but understandably not only exploiting the situation, but
intensifying it by a continuous "talking up" of the rates with examples,
often specious, of transactions at exaggeratedly high rates, and
prognostications of declining foreign currency availability in unofficial

      Over the last seven weeks, the average rate on the parallel market has
risen from about US$1:$6 000 to approximately US$1:$30 000, and all signs
point to a continuing rise in the immediate future.

      The result has been that any and all imported commodities have become
exceptionally more costly, a prime example being petrol, which has risen
from less than $500 a litre to almost $20 000 per litre in less than two
months, despite world oil prices falling. Similarly, locally produced
products have been subjected to marked rises in prices for they all have
some import content, even if only indirect.

      All these and other factors have resulted in inflation increases of
stupendous frequency, and of gargantuan proportions. Many enterprises are
changing prices on a daily basis, and some even more frequently. (By now, a
housewife entering a supermarket must hastily grab a trolley, and run up and
down each aisle, in order to reach the cash till before the prices go up

      Some employers are now paying salaries fortnightly, instead of
monthly, in order that employees can use earnings before inflation
depreciates them further.

      However, those who in panic are raising prices unduly, or prematurely,
must recognise that in so doing they could well be destroying market demand,
or even market ability to buy, to an extent that they could soon be wholly
out of business.

      And those who avariciously overprice foreign currency which they are
willing to sell may well soon find that they run out of customers, as one
after another business goes into liquidation as a result of the continuing,
intensifying collapse of the economy while, at the same time, they too
suffer the effects of the increasingly ailing economy.

      All should realise that a united, determined approach to economic
recovery, encompassing all sectors of society - including government,
business, labour, the churches, NGOs and the population in general - is the
only assured way of achieving that recovery. Pursuit of the national
interest will automatically advance individual interests, while the present
tactics of many businesses, parallel-market dealers and others will push
them rapidly into self-destruct mode.


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Domestic debt up 200% in 2 weeks

Zimbabwe Independent

      Paul Nyakazeya

      ZIMBABWE'S domestic debt has soared to nearly $1 trillion, increasing
by more than 200% in a space of two weeks.

      The unprecedented rise in government debt level was sparked by huge
interest payments, according to figures obtained from the central bank this

      The figures indicated that government debt had surged to $922 billion
on March 16, from $290 billion at the start of the month.

      The increasing government debt stock raised fresh fears of renewed
turbulence in the crisis-sapped economy, battling high inflation currently
topping 1 700%.

      "The surge in domestic debt was above market expectations," said David
Mupamhadzi, group economist at Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG).

      Interest payments accounted for 67,8% of total debt at a hefty $626

      The interest payments were for treasury bills, most of which were
issued to the market at rates of between 500% and 445% last year.

      The principal treasury bill debt amounted to $237 billion, or 25,7% of
government debt.

      Mupamhadzi said the debt stock was likely to rise further on increased
borrowing by government to finance the import of cereals, debt repayments
and unbudgeted for expenditure arising from unscheduled salary hikes for
civil servants.

      "Government should be on the market looking for $7 billion for winter
wheat, and resources to import maize to cover the maize deficit. All this
should put pressure on domestic debt in the short term," Mupamhadzi said.

      Independent economic consultant, John Robertson, said the major effect
of rising government debt would be an escalation of inflationary pressure
due to increased recourse to the domestic market for funding.

      While government projects inflation to end the year at between 350%
and 400%, independent forecasts put the inflation rate at over 5 000% by

      Robertson said the huge appetite for cash was also likely to spur
increased money printing, pushing money supply growth to new high levels and
again exacerbating the inflationary environment in he country.

      This would be worsened by the fact that Zimbabwe has no access to
international capital and therefore government would rely exclusively on the
domestic market for debt.

      Mupamhadzi agreed: "The only market where the government can raise
funds is the local market, thus going forward, the government is likely to
increase its recourse on the domestic market because credit lines on the
international market have virtually dried up."

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Police, CIO deployed on gold mines

Zimbabwe Independent

      Shakeman Mugari

      GOVERNMENT has deployed security agents at the country's major gold
mining firms to monitor gold production after concerns over plummeting

      But mine representatives downplayed the deployment, saying the real
issue was an unviable local gold price that did no match escalating
production costs.

      Businessdigest established that officers from the police gold squad
and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) agents, whose role is to
maintain state security, moved into mines three weeks ago and are likely to
remain stationed there for the next six months.

      The move is said to have been instigated by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) which is worried that production had declined because of
smuggling. Details obtained by businessdigest indicates that each of the
targeted gold mines had three police officers and one CIO agent.

      They have been instructed to monitor entire production processes from
the extraction to the smelting of gold.

      "They are recording every step of the production process and they are
working in shifts," a manager at one affected mine told businessdigest.

      Gold mining operations had inspectors from Fidelity Printers &
Refiners who are understood to have already intensified their visits to
mines over the past three month.

      Last week businessdigest revealed that Zimbabwe risked losing its
right to sell gold directly on the international market if it fails to
produce 10 tonnes of gold required this year for them to maintain their
licence with the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA).

      LBMA is the only organisation that licenses gold refiners to allow
them to trade their gold on the international market.

      The situation is not looking good for Zimbabwe which produced 1 400 kg
in the past two months, and sector experts say Zimbabwe could fail to meet
the LBMA prescribed annual tonnage at current production levels.

      Government suspects that the dropping levels of gold production are a
result of rampant smuggling but miners say they are bleeding from the
overvalued exchange rate and the delays by the central bank to pay for their
gold deliveries in time.

      The central bank is yet to pay miners for gold delivered three months
ago. Chief executive of the Chamber of Mines, David Murangari, said there
was nothing unusual about the presence of officers in mines because they
were from the gold squad doing routine checks and inspections.

      "To mines, that is not an issue. Miners are more worried about the
local gold prices and the fact that they are still to get their foreign
currency payment for the gold lodged with the central bank," said Murangari.

      "The situation is serious because some mines can no longer get lines
of credit from their suppliers of essential chemicals and inputs."

      Murangari said the cost of production far exceeded revenue because of
the local gold price.

      Chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines, Energy,
Environment and Tourism, MP Joel Gabbuza, said the committee was aware of
the presence of security officers at mines. "There has always been something
like that but I think it has intensified because of these suspicions that of
gold smuggling," said Gabbuza. "What I know is that some police officers
from the gold squad and officials from the central bank are stationed at the

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Sorry state of Zim's tourism industry

Zimbabwe Independent

      Shame Makoshori

      THE thick jungle around Hwange still bustles with life, and for the
discerning tourist chasing after the best view to the abundant wildlife in
the country, the expansive wildlife estate provides just that.

      A 420-strong herd of presidential elephants - part of the few friendly
untamed elephants in the world - roams freely across Kanondo Safari Lodge.

      This jewel estate, a crown of Zimbabwe's national parks and wildlife
estate, used to attract more than 200 000 visitors annually.

      But things have fallen apart.

      A cluster of timber structures at Kanondo Safari Lodge, once a haven
for foreign tourists at Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe's largest wildlife
sanctuary, now lie disused.

      Clay has built up on the lodges' thatched roofs where termites have
been feeding.

      "The place was popular with tourists because of its designs which
resembled African villages," a tour guide explained during a recent tour of
the place by this reporter.

      "The lodges struggled to survive after foreign tourist arrivals
declined to unsustainable levels," he said.

      Touch The Wild Safaris (TTC), the proprietors of the Lodge, abandoned
the property about two years ago after failing to sustain operations because
of dwindling room occupancies.

      Political turmoil in the country sparked bad publicity on Zimbabwe in
the international media, triggering a sharp decline in international

      Across the forest from Kanondo Safari Lodge is the Hwange Safari
Lodge, which still exudes a bit of life but is clearly struggling.

      Hwange Safari Lodge remains operational - daring eagles hover in the
skies, occasionally taking a quick spin to snatch meals from unsuspecting
guests' plates.

      Workers here are despondent, and look back wistfully at times gone by
when operations around the area were still robust and the tourism sector was
one of the most vibrant in the economy.

      "We're just scraping through," a Hwange Safari Lodge employee told

      But not so much for the tourism sector, expected to take a fresh
battering from renewed political turmoil set off by the beating of key
opposition figures and a spate of petrol bombings around the country.

      The collapse of Kanondo Safari Lodge epitomises the sorry state of
Zimbabwe's once robust tourism industry.

      Recent political disturbances, which have sparked increased negative
publicity in the international media, are likely to further worsen the
industry's plight.

      "We are concerned that the bad publicity is increasing again," Chipo
Mtasa, president of the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT), told
businessdigest last week.

      "We are yet to assess the impact of the bad publicity on our
operations, but this will continue to cause a big problem for the industry;
the bad publicity is high in our traditional markets," she said.

      Captains of the industry expressed increasing concern over the country's
political situation, saying the consequent bad publicity was likely to
derail massive investments they had put into image rebuilding campaigns
across the world.

      Tourist arrivals, which increased from 237 668 at Independence in 1980
to 2,5 million in 1999, plunged to 1,9 million in 2000 following an
escalation of violence as a result of Zimbabwe's chaotic land reforms and a
general election members of the opposition and the international community
said were stolen by Mugabe's regime.

      ZTA statistics indicate that the arrivals declined further during the
following years, hitting 1,5 million in 2005, but players dispute this
figure arguing it is not reflective of the low bookings in their hotels.

      Figures for 2006 are not yet out, but industry players said the sector
remained depressed.

      Of Zimbabwe's 12 000 hotel rooms, occupancy rates have declined from
54% in 1999 to current levels of between 28% and 34%.

      The figures were 43% for Cresta Hotels, 34% for Rainbow Tourism Group
(RTG) and 37% for Zimbabwe Sun hotels in 2006.

      At its peak, the tourism sector employed 200 000 people.

      The number of workers has declined to about 20 000.

      Major hotels and lodges such as Bumi Hills Safari Lodge, Katete Safari
Lodge and Kiplings Safari Lodge and many others have either closed down or
downsized operations.

      While significant inroads had been made by tourism sector players to
turn around the sector's ailing fortunes, market players said these efforts
had been scuppered by the recent wave of violence on the political scene.

      "The political events of the past week have a negative effect on
Zimbabwe as a tourist destination," admitted Karikoga Kaseke, chief
executive officer of the government-run Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
"The issue of image (had been) dealt with extensively in the National
Tourist Development and Marketing Strategy (NTDMS)," he said.

      NTDMS is a road map being used by the tourism industry in mapping out
the turnaround of the fragile sector.

      Kaseke however says the violence that has characterised the political
landscape was only a temporary setback, and industry players should remain
focused on coming up with strategies to revive the ailing industry.

      "Our focus until December 2007 is to redress the negative image," the
ZTA chief said last week.

      But the question is: for how long will the industry plot its revival
strategies only to have politicians scupper their efforts?

      There are strong feelings that violence is likely to escalate as
political protagonists mobilise their supporters for the presidential
election next year.

      Hotels were last week said to have experienced "massive

      It is expected that some of the Western countries, key source markets
for Zimbabwe's tourism industry, were likely to intensify travel warnings on
Zimbabwe to their already wary citizens.

      Mtasa, who is also the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Rainbow Tourism
Group chief executive officer, told analysts at the presentation of the
group's results recently that poor international relations would worsen the
state of the industry.

      "We are optimistic, but any improvement (in arrivals) will hinge on
economic trends and a return to normal relations with the outside world,"
Mtasa said.

      However, government appears unmoved by the tragic events ravaging one
of the country's major foreign currency-generating sectors.

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