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Zimbabwe economic slide likely to worsen - analysts


Fri 27 Apr 2007, 12:47 GMT

By Nelson Banya

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe's economic crisis is likely to worsen despite
new government efforts to cope with food shortages and a foreign currency
crunch that has crippled farmers and business, analysts said on Friday.

Measures unveiled by central bank Governor Gideon Gono are not enough to
rescue the economy, they said, while drought and tensions before next year's
presidential election are likely to hamper the government's recovery

"The lack of policy consistency and cohesion shows growing signs of
desperation," said Best Doroh, a senior economist at ZB Financial Holdings.

"Bold decisions are needed, but all we see is that they are just tinkering
and avoiding the fundamental issues that need to be addressed because
there's a political element," he added.

Once a prosperous agricultural exporter, Zimbabwe has inflation of 2,200
percent, soaring poverty, high unemployment and chronic shortages of food,
fuel and foreign exchange.

While insisting the central bank would not yield to calls to devalue the
local currency, Gono said on Thursday that mining firms and exporters would
be allowed to exchange foreign currency at 15,000 Zimbabwean dollars to the
U.S. dollar.

Doroh said delaying broader adjustments to the exchange rate would only fuel
the thriving black market, where the Zimbabwean dollar was trading at about
100 times weaker than its official rate of 250 to the U.S. dollar.

President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in
1980, plans to run for another term next year despite widespread calls for
him to step down.

"The election is a challenge. When you're approaching an election, political
considerations tend to trump economic decisions, but one would hope that the
economy gets priority," said David Mupamhadzi, an economist with banking
group ZABG.

Mupamhadzi said food shortages caused by the drought and low farm production
would continue to fuel inflation, which hit 2,200 percent in March.

Zimbabwe's mining chamber, which says the skewed exchange rate had forced
many mines to close, said Gono's prescription was inadequate. "There's
absolutely nothing to be happy about. Gold miners are closing down because
the Reserve Bank owes them money ... A lot of miners have not been paid
since October," said Jack Murewa, president of the chamber.

The central bank is the sole purchaser of gold in the country, with
producers getting only 60 percent of their earnings in foreign currency, but
it has struggled to find the funds to pay for the gold.

In an emergency policy statement Gono said gold producers could receive the
remaining 40 percent of earnings in local currency at the new rate. Murewa
said this move would complicate the situation as miners struggled to import
spare equipment.

Gold deliveries to the central bank fell 19 percent in the first quarter of
2007, down from 2.76 tonnes recorded in the same period last year, according
to figures provided by the central bank.

Gono also offered incentives to miners and farmers by announcing support
prices of Z$350,000 per gramme of gold and Z$40,000 per kg of tobacco.

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Mugabe threatens foreign ambassadors, raps 'dictator' Blair

Yahoo News

Fri Apr 27, 9:02 AM ET

LONDON (AFP) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe threatened Friday to "kick
out" western ambassadors from Harare, and called British Prime Minister Tony
Blair a "dictator" co-ordinating sanctions against his country.

In a wide-ranging magazine interview, he also defended the recent beating of
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, saying "these things happen" and
warning that others will meet the same fate if they provoke the police.
"If America wants a man like (US ambassador to Harare) Christopher Dell to
remain here, then he's got to behave because we will not brook further
nonsense from him," he told the London-based monthly New African magazine.

"We have read them the riot act," he said, referring to western ambassadors
accused of interfering in Harare. "If they continue to do that, we will
certainly kick them out of the country. It doesn't matter who it is."

The long-standing political tensions in Zimbabwe deteriorated in March when
police assaulted Tsvangirai and scores of supporters and shot dead an
activist as they broke up an anti-government rally.

Mugabe defended the action against the opposition leader.

"These things happen. It happens in war. It happens everywhere. If you
challenge the police don't think they are going to be merciful with you," he
said, alleging that Tsvangirai supporters had beaten a group of police.

"So the police had that grudge also. They are also human beings. Let us bear
that in mind," he added, warning opposition supporters that "if they dare
challenge the police, they will get more Tsvangirais beaten up".

The Zimbabwean leader rounded on critics who describe Zimbabwe as a
"dictatorship" -- and pointed the finger at Blair for reneging on a deal to
provide compensation for land reform after the country's independence in

"He is very much more of a dictator than any dictator I have read about in
modern times in Britain and in Europe," he told the magazine.

Specifically he accused Blair of persuading his European allies, and
countries further afield including in Asia, to join in seeking to isolate

"They interfere with even our friends in the East and try to persuade them
to reduce their relations with us," he said, lamenting that sanctions "have
wreaked quite some havoc on our economy".

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Unseating Mugabe

Apr 27th 2007

Our online news editor finds the opposition in disarray

FOR about three seconds, as I head to the airport, I have a pang of guilt
that I did too little to talk to the opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC). I have always rather liked chatting to the assorted
opposition leaders, and it never felt too difficult to show up at the home
of Morgan Tsvangirai (pictured below) for a chat, or to drop in on other MDC
leaders throughout the country. Beyond the official party, there are
activists and church leaders, union bosses and the like, who help spell out
how badly things are going in Zimbabwe. They would clam up a bit when you
asked what else the opposition could do to get things to change, but the
meetings were always useful.

There were reasons why I should have made a special effort this time around.
Perhaps I should have commiserated with Mr Tsvangirai after his recent
savage beating. I had heard a blow-by-blow account of precisely what the
police did to him-it makes me cringe to think of it now. The same goes for
other leaders of the opposition who have been beaten and bruised, possibly
injured for life, by Mr Mugabe's thugs. I had planned to call one particular
opposition MP on arrival, only to hear that he had been dragged aside at the
airport and smashed up anew the day before I landed. I read that he may have
lost an eye in the process. Even Mr Mugabe's nephew, another
parliamentarian, said this was a step too far.

Yet I talk only to a couple of opposition people. They are in disarray-the
party split, seemingly along ethnic lines, in a way that bodes ill for the
country. Some analyses of the divisions of Zimbabwe now emphasise the
rivalry of the Shona people of the north versus the Ndebele people of the
south. Worse, the rival ethnic groups within the Shona are rumoured to be
lining up against each other.

For the opposition to fall apart in this way is deeply disappointing: in the
past resistance to Mr Mugabe was impressive because it drew together a wide
range of adversaries, of different ethnic identities, rival political
stripes, women's groups, church groups and more. As the movement fractures
into smaller, ethnically-driven cohorts, it becomes more obvious that the
opposition is desperately weak. Change in Zimbabwe will have to come from
the same corrupt and violent lot who are ruining the country now, with the
opposition a part of what comes next, but not responsible for forcing a
better future.

At the airport again, an array of jolly signs warn Zimbabweans who are
leaving to remember to send money home to their relatives through official
channels only. But almost nobody remits money at the official exchange rate.
Why would you, when changing it on the black market is many hundred times
more lucrative?

Some 2m-3m Zimbabweans are thought to be out of the country and many more
are desperate to leave. According to some reports, the border with South
Africa is now thick with young men braving the crocodile-infested Limpopo
river in an effort to get out of Mugabeland.

It is far easier for me. At customs I am told to give up any Zimbabwean
dollars I have. I lose a thick bundle of notes, worth almost nothing.
Walking to the plane there is no need to turn around to know that staring me
out of the airport are the school-teacher's eyes, behind the Elton John
glasses and above the Hitler

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Court orders police to investigate themselves over assaults on activist

By Lance Guma
27 April 2007

A Harare magistrate on Thursday ordered police to launch a probe into their
own assault of opposition activist Philip Mabika. Mabika is among 30
activists in remand prison on discredited allegations of petrol bombing
government targets. Magistrate Lazarus Murendo ordered that he be taken to
hospital for treatment. The police commissioner was ordered to set up an
internal investigation into the assaults and submit its findings by the 12th
of May. He said doctors should ascertain the injuries sustained by Mabika
and establish the cause. The magistrate also had a chance to examine the
opposition activist in the cells at the courthouse and found him with deep
cuts on his wrists and a swollen back. There was also evidence of blunt
trauma on both his knees as well as lacerations on the legs.

The authorities in Zimbabwe say they are still hunting down 70 opposition
activists they suspect of involvement in alleged terrorist activities amid
claims the government is trying to sugar coat its brutal crackdown. High
Court Judge Justice Paddington Garwe had given state prosecutors up to 25
April to come up with a trial date. But instead the state responded by
saying more arrests and interrogations were needed in order to complete
investigations. Critics say the policy strikes at the very core of natural
justice insisting police should investigate first before arresting people.
Adding to concern is the fact that most activists have been abducted,
interrogated and then tortured before being locked up in remand prison. The
judiciary is also accused of pandering to government pressure and denying
activists bail without reasonable cause.

MDC official Eddie Cross expressed hope there were members of the judiciary
who are not compromised and the decision by the magistrate on Thursday to
order a probe was to be commended. He said the nature of the government
crackdown was well planned and intended to cripple the MDC's capacity to
fight an election next year. 'They know exactly who to pick up,' Cross
explained. Senior MDC officials like Ian Makone, Glen View legislator Paul
Madzore and Information Officer Luke Tamborinyoka have been in remand prison
for over a month despite no clear evidence linking them to any of the
alleged terror plots. Over 600 activists have been arrested, tortured and
hospitalized since a prayer rally in Harare's Highfield Suburb was brutally
crushed by police. Activist Gift Tandare was shot dead in the melee.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Pro democracy advocates brief UN on rights abuses

By Violet Gonda
27 April 2007

A united front of pro-democracy activists from Zimbabwe gave first hand
accounts of Robert Mugabe's brutal suppression of opponents at the United
Nations on Wednesday. The group is in the United Stated to also brief
western institutions like the Centre for Strategic and International Studies
and the Woodrow Wilson Centre for International Relations on the state of
violence and the human rights abuses that are taking place in Zimbabwe.

Media reports said the group, which included civic activists, lawyers and
senior officials from the MDC, briefed international diplomats at the UN on
the horrors suffered under a brutal government crackdown that began two
months ago.

Organised by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), the
delegation includes civic leaders Dr Lovemore Madhuku, Jacob Mafume, human
rights lawyer Otto Saki and opposition official Grace Kwinjeh.

The MDC's deputy secretary for Foreign Affairs Grace Kwinjeh was able to
provide a first-hand account of her torture in police custody. Kwinjeh said;
'Riot police officers told us to put our phones on the ground and then they
started to beat us. They had people whom they had specifically targeted.
They called people by name. Morgan Tsvangirai, what do you do? they asked
before beating him,'

Otto Saki, the acting director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
reportedly said they are trying to meet with as many institutions as
possible while in the States to build support. Tawanda Mutasah, executive
director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, said the regime
is still torturing innocent civilians beyond the events of 11th March.

The delegates also had a Congressional briefing on Friday. The Mugabe regime
embarked on a vicious campaign against the opposition and members of civic
society that has led to an estimated 600 people injured or arrested. Several
journalists have also been caught in the crossfire, including the murder of
a journalist from the ZBC, Edward Chikomba.

This week more than 60 people including babies from the pressure group Women
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) were beaten in police custody. Their 'crime' was
staging a sit-in at the local offices of the state electricity supplier
demanding better service delivery.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Mugabe invitation to Portugal hinges on talks with opposition

By Tichaona Sibanda
27 April 2007

Portugal has delayed sending out an invitation to Robert Mugabe to attend to
the EU-Africa summit set for November in Lisbon and their decision will
depend on the outcome of peace talks between Zanu (PF) and the MDC, Newsreel
learnt on Friday.

Hebson Makuvise, the chief MDC representative in the UK held talks with
Portuguese diplomats in London this week, at which it was pointed out to him
that the decision to invite Mugabe will now hinge on the outcome of
mediation efforts being led by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

A split had developed within the EU over sanctions on the Zimbabwean
government, after Portugal announced early this month that it was
considering inviting Mugabe for the summit. Makuvise said officials at the
Portuguese embassy were fully aware of events happening in Zimbabwe and were
also concerned about the gross human rights abuses.

'They also know there plans for talks between the MDC and Zanu (PF) and they
thought it would be wise to wait until the outcome of the talks before they
decide on anything,' Makuvise said.

Analysts in Europe believe Portugal has been under so pressure from fellow
EU countries to scrap their plans. They added that since they had made their
intentions known, that they were planning to invite Mugabe, they were now
looking for a face-saver to get out of the mess.

'They plan to use Mugabe's human rights abuses as an excuse not to invite
him to Lisbon,' said one analyst.

Other EU states argued this would weaken the diplomatic isolation of Mugabe's
regime that member states were trying to maintain. European officials said
there is an agreement in principle to continue five-year-old EU travel
sanctions against senior Zimbabwean officials. Initially Portugal was
concerned that if Mugabe is excluded, other governments from the region,
particularly South Africa, might boycott the meetings. But recent events
have led the Portuguese to change their minds following the continuation of
attacks against opposition activists.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Mugabe says Look East policy paying off for isolated Zimbabwe

Yahoo News

Fri Apr 27, 11:23 AM ET

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe (AFP) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said on Friday
that burgeoning economic ties with Asian countries were paying off for the
country shunned by its former trading allies in the west.

"I am pleased to report that significant headway has been made with a number
of investment projects that have been funded by China now at various stages
of implementation in all the key sectors of our economy," Mugabe said in a
keynote address at the annual Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
"Beside our trading partners in the Southern African Development Community
and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, countries of Asia are
becoming very important partners in trade and investment issues because of
our Look East policy.

"Indeed Zimbabwe has been able to broaden her economic horizon by embarking
on various joint co-operation projects."

He acknowledged the country was saddled with economic woes blaming the
problems on "declared and undeclared sanctions by western countries."

Mugabe adopted the "Look East" policy nearly four years ago after Zimbabwe's
trading partners turned their backs on the country following presidential
elections in 2002 which the opposition and western observers said were
rigged to hand Mugabe victory.

Mugabe called for "a strong and genuine partnership" between his government
and business to overcome the country's economic woes.

"One that is synergistic and collaborative rather than adversorial and

Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downturn over the past seven years with
world-record inflation now at 2,200 percent, four in every five people
without a job while the majority of the population living below the poverty

Poor families resort to skipping meals, foregoing ingredients like milk and
margarine from the meals and walking long distances to work in order to
stretch their wages to the next pay day.

Critics blame the deterioration on controversial land reforms which saw the
government seizing farms from white commercial farmers resettle landless

But government officials say the economic woes were the impact of targetted
sanctions imposed on Mugabe and members of his inner circle by the EU and
the United States following presidential elections in 2002 whose outcome was
disputed by the main opposition and western observers.

  b.. IM Story

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Zimbabwe's Mugabe makes rare call to business for partnership

Monsters and Critics

Apr 27, 2007, 15:03 GMT

Harare - President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe Friday made a rare call for
strong and genuine partnership between his government and the business
sector, which is normally a target for his calls against price increases.

The 83-year-old leader made the call in a keynote address to officially open
an exhibition of foreign and local businesses at an annual trade exhibition
in the city of Bulawayo.

Addressing the southern African country's dire economic problems needed a
reformed mindset right across the board, he said.

'It calls, and I repeat, for a strong and genuine partnership between
government and the private sector. One that is collaborative rather than
adversarial and confrontational,' he said.

The president's conciliatory tone was in stark contrast to his accusation
last week that the business sector was behind unjustifiable price hikes in
the country, which is currently hit by the world's highest rate of inflation
of 2,200 per cent.

In a speech to mark Independence Day on April 18, Mugabe blamed price hikes
on unbridled greed among the business sector and called it a strategy by
saboteurs to undermine his government.

Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst economic crisis since independence from
white minority rule in 1980, and the manufacturing sector has been one of
the hardest hit by company closures and reduced capacity.

The cash-strapped country is facing a shortage of more than a million tonnes
of the staple maize, and there are acute shortages of foreign currency, fuel
and power.

On Thursday the central bank governor unveiled a strategy to lure more
foreign currency into the country, by offering those with hard cash 60 times
the official rate of exchange.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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Meeting the General

New Zimbabwe (London)

April 27, 2007
Posted to the web April 27, 2007

Judith Todd

THE Bulawayo Chronicle reported on Saturday February 12 1983 that Sydney
Sekeremayi, Minister of State (Defence) in the Prime Minister's Office, had
said that 5 Brigade was going to operate in Matabeleland for a long time.
The headline was "Five Brigade here to stay".

Not all readers could have comprehended the report, but rumours had been
mounting about the commission of terrible deeds by armed forces in different
parts of the country, particularly Matabeleland -- rumours like ghastly
nightmares from which you struggle, but don't quite manage to awake.

Then Henry Karlen, the Catholic Bishop of Matabeleland, telephoned my father
to inform him that the state was perpetrating atrocities. People were being
terrorised, starved and butchered and their property destroyed.

Bishop Karlen said he had tried without success to make an appointment with
the prime minister to tell him what was happening and to get him to stop.

The Catholics had been assembling evidence from their network of churches,
schools and hospitals throughout the rural areas. The bishop asked if he
could send a copy of these documents to my father and whether, as a senator
appointed by Mugabe, he could seek an appointment for Karlen and others with
the prime minister.

My father said he would do whatever he could. Karlen would courier the
material to me and I would hold it for my father, who was due in Harare

The documents were delivered to my office on Thursday 17 February. I rang my
father to report their arrival and he gave me permission to look at them,
which I immediately did. Then I wished I hadn't.

Events chronicled were far, far worse than I could ever have imagined. It
seemed that state armed forces -- whether only 5 Brigade or others too -- 
had gone berserk in an orgy of violence against defenceless civilians.

I felt so horrified, sick and faint that I longed to go straight home to
bed. But I had an appointment early that evening with a representative of an
overseas agency which could benefit the Zimbabwe Project.

I couldn't cancel.

We met at the Quill Club, a haunt of journalists and others who relished
informed gossip, in the Ambassador Hotel near parliament. We had an
adequate, if short, conversation and then I excused myself.

As I was leaving, someone hailed me. I turned and there was Justin Nyoka,
now government's director of information, waving at me and calling "Judy!
Come and say hello!" He was with two other men, one of whom I didn't know.
When I joined them, he was introduced to me as Brigadier Agrippah Mutambara,
head of the Zimbabwe National Army Staff College. The other was Lieutenant
General Rex Nhongo, the army commander.

I shook hands with them, sat down and we exchanged courtesies. Justin bought
me what was gladly described as a bitterly cold Castle Lager.

Bishop Karlen's documents started burning in my handbag. I knew I would
never have an opportunity like this again and steeled myself to speak to

I suppose Bishop Karlen had thought that perhaps Mugabe did not know what
was happening. I suppose I thought that maybe Nhongo didn't know either.

I said how wonderful it was that we were having this chance meeting, as I
had information about army activities in Matabeleland that he might be
unaware of.

The noise around us was increasing as more people came into the club and I
could tell he was straining to hear me. I persevered and said it appeared as
though forces were out of control; that atrocities were being committed and
that mass graves were being filled with the corpses of helpless citizens.

Then, with terror, I fell silent. I had been noticing huge trickles of sweat
pouring down Justin's temples. He was mopping his face and saying, "Judy,
keep quiet! Judy, keep quiet!" but Brigadier Mutambara intervened and said,
"No, let her speak. She may know things we don't. Let us hear what she has
to say."

Nhongo was stuttering, whether with horror or anger I couldn't tell. I
learned later that the stutter was a normal part of his speech. People
passing our table kept trying to greet him, and he waved them all away.

He asked me for specific localities. I said I would find out for him. He
said he was going to Matabeleland by helicopter the next day. He would send
a car for me and I could go with him and show him the mass graves. I said
unfortunately I couldn't, as I had only heard about them and not seen them

But, I said, thinking of Bishop Karlen, I might be able to find someone else
to accompany him. Certainly I would try to compile information for him about
what appeared to be happening. I gave him my telephone number and said if he
really wanted someone to guide him, he should let me know as soon as
possible and I would try to help. Then I said goodnight and slipped away.

Early the next morning, I telephoned Bishop Karlen and told him of my
meeting with the army commander. I asked permission to copy all his
documents for Nhongo.

He was quiet and obviously troubled but eventually said yes as others,
including my father, of course, had, or were about to receive copies.

At about 9.30 I received a call from our reception area a floor below to say
someone from the army was waiting for me in a car downstairs.

I scribbled a note to Sister Janice McLaughlin, saying something like: The
Army Commander, Lt Gen Nhongo, has sent a car for me. I put it in a sealed
envelope and gave it to Morris Mtsambiwa in an adjacent office, calmly
saying, without explanation, that I was going somewhere and he must deliver
the note if I wasn't back before our offices closed that afternoon.

On the street I found a very smart looking Brigadier Mutambara in khaki
uniform waiting for me. He opened the passenger door at the front of the
olive green army car, I climbed in and we drove away -- to where or what my
mind refused to consider.

I greeted him and started talking, trying to act as though everything was
normal. I said I had just been on the telephone to Bishop Karlen and had
told him of my meeting with Nhongo and himself the previous evening.

I said Bishop Karlen was the one who had compiled the information I had
talked about and that he had given me permission to copy all the documents
for the army commander. Mutambara seemed preoccupied. He was driving in the
direction of Chikurubi Prison and started talking about himself and the fact
that he was divorcing his wife, who had been unfaithful to him, and
preparing to marry someone else. He stopped at a bottle store, went in and
bought a couple of bottles of beer and orange juice and then proceeded to a
house which, I think, was in the Chikurubi complex.

A servant let us in, not looking at us. The brigadier led me into a bedroom,
opened a bottle of beer for each of us, unstrapped his firearm in its
holster, laid it on the bedside table next to my head and proceeded. I did
not resist.

Before long the subjugation was over, he dropped me back at our offices and,
in the words of Eddison Zvobgo, I tried to continue on my road precisely as
if nothing had ever happened.

Should you fall, rise with grace, and without/Turning to see who sees,
continue on your road/Precisely as if nothing had ever happened;/ For those
who did not, the ditches became graves.

I collected the unopened letter I had left with Morris and destroyed it.
Then I made copies of Bishop Karlen's documents and drafted a covering
letter to accompany them to Lieutenant General Nhongo and now, also, to
Brigadier Mutambara.

After the weekend I contacted Mutambara, who had given me a card with his
number. We met at the reception desk of the Ambassador Hotel.

I handed over an envelope for Nhongo and one for Mutambara himself, each
containing a complete set of Bishop Karlen's horrifying documents on death
and destruction, my letter to Nhongo and a copy of it for the brigadier.

Dated Monday 21 February, it read:

Lieutenant General Nhongo

Army Commander


Dear General

It was a privilege to talk to you and your friends at the Quill Club last
Thursday evening, and to hear your views. My own strong feelings were based
in part on evidence which I was not then authorised to pass on to you.

I now enclose a copy of a letter and reports compiled for the Prime
Minister. I believe that Cdes Sekeremayi, Muzenda, Mnangagwa and perhaps
others have also been given these copies. Bishop Karlen has given me
permission now to give them to you. You can see for yourself the terrible
suffering which they portray, if even half of these limited reports are

It seems to me that if, in the hunt for dissidents, we inflict such enormous
damage on people who are Zimbabweans, and who are poor, weak, hungry and
defenceless, all we will achieve is the creation of more dissidents forever.

believe that this policy can only harm Zimbabwe. I also believe that, when
Zimbabweans throughout the country learn what is happening, they will lose
confidence in our government and in our national army.

When I hear of such damage to our people, I find it very difficult to sleep
at night or to work during the day.

But while I am not in the position to provide these tormented peasants with
food, with comfort and with safety, at least I can pass on to you what news
I have of them.

I am sure that you are able to help [to] provide food and protection, and
that the army can be redirected to healing and construction.

One of the things that frightens me most is to be told of the
"disappearance" of so many young men from the affected areas -- people who
have never been proved to be dissidents, but who probably played a brave
role in the struggle for Zimbabwe -- their Zimbabwe as well as ours.

Surely the way to "deal" with dissidents is to establish first why they are
dissidents, then to think of remedies? In other words, surely a political
solution -- perhaps then backed up by the military -- is required, rather
than an intransigent military one which, in my humble opinion, cannot be a
solution but which can breed only more violence, bitterness and grief.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Judith Acton

There was no further reaction from either Nhongo or Mutambara. I had
unburdened myself on the very Friday I was collected to Professor Noel
Galen, a retired American psychiatrist and dear friend teaching psychiatry
at the University of Zimbabwe's medical school, but to absolutely no one

Judith Todd is the daughter of Sir Garfield Todd, erstwhile prime minister
of colonial Southern Rhodesia. She spent eight years in exile in Britain as
an opponent of white minority rule in Ian Smith's Rhodesia. She returned to
Zimbabwe shortly before independence in 1980 and soon realised that, far
from being the solution to Zimbabwe's ills, Robert Mugabe and his ruling
Zanu-PF party were increasingly becoming the problem. As the country slid
into economic and social decline, Todd had a front-row view from her
position as director of an international aid agency. Over the first 25 years
of Mugabe's rule, she kept journals, notes and copies of letters and
documents from which she has compiled an intensely personal account of life
in Zimbabwe.

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Zimbabwe story not black and white

Radio Netherlands

by Bram Posthumus


Something needs to fundamentally change about the way in which Zimbabwe is reported. A return to journalistic principles is long overdue. This is a heartfelt plea from a Zimbabwean journalist and an open invitation to debate.

Zimbabwe is bad news. We get the statistics constantly hammered into us: world record inflation, the world's fastest shrinking economy, mass emigration to practically everywhere, the list is endless. Oh, and yes: it's all the fault of President Robert Mugabe. Therefore, he must go.

It's the kind of closed-minded journalism that does no one any favours. And it positively rankles with those who are attempting to try and do what journalists are supposed to be doing: finding the facts.

Basic principles
Charles Rukuni heads the city desk of Zimbabwe's reputable financial weekly, the Financial Gazette, lovingly referred to by Zimbabweans as Fingaz. Why does he think the reporting standards for Zimbabwe are so low?

"The biggest problem we face here is journalists not following the basic principles of their profession. They're not honest enough to tell an editor that a story is simply not there. But because journalists get paid in foreign currency, they end up writing what they think the editor wants, rather than explaining the facts on the ground."

Foreign currency is scarce in the country and a bit of money from abroad can make a huge difference. But that alone does not make for the lowering of journalistic standards when reporting this country. When we talk about closed-minded journalists, the minds that Rukuni is referring to belong to editors. "If you're writing a piece that does not seem to support the opposition or a civic or human rights group, you're immediately branded a Mugabe apologist," he says. As a consequence, a journalist writing for a foreign news outlet will do what is expected: bash Mugabe and tell the world that only bad news comes out of Zimbabwe.

Of course, you have publications that read like Robert Mugabe fanzines but these are either produced by the Zimbabwean Ministry of Information, which is simply doing its job, or by a vocal lunatic fringe that uses the race card to play the many strings of white guilt. Rukuni certainly does not agree with those who believe that Zimbabwe is only about Mugabe, misery and race.

And that appears to be the core belief about his country among the editors who decide what news is and what is not: "You cannot market any story about Zimbabwe if it says something positive. So you already have a particular angle to your story before you even talk to anybody."Why is Zimbabwe being reported through this black/white/misery lens? Apparently because of previous reporting-techniques by the major Western broadcasters. When the mostly white-owned farm invasions started in 2000, most of the reports were about the owners and their families who had lost everything they had toiled for. It was the easiest item to make. After all: they were articulate and spoke English; very convenient. But round the back of the invaded farms was the real story.

The people who were really targeted during the invasions were the tens of thousands of farm hands, who did not speak English but posed a serious and proven electoral risk to Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU-PF party.

Murambatsvina - an urban district razed to the ground in Zimbabwe

In 2000, president and party had done a most unusual thing: they had lost a poll, in this case a Constitutional Referendum. Repetition of this had to be prevented and so they set about removing the very people who were likely to vote for the opposition. Farm labourers went first. This was never about hitting the white people - it was about winning elections, which president and party duly did, in 2002 and 2005 respectively.

Operation "Murambatsvina" (Clean Out Trash), in which makeshift urban residential areas were razed to the ground, is another attempt to get rid of an opposition voting base, this time urban. It will probably work again.

The link with race was tangential at best but it became the focus of reporting because the Western media homed in on the (largely irrelevant) white farmers, giving the Mugabe government the perfect race card they wanted. And boy, have they used it. And boy, have the newsmakers everywhere fallen for the ruse.

Add to that the deeply acrimonious personal relationships between Robert Mugabe on the one hand and British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his then minister for Africa, former anti-apartheid activist Peter Hain, on the other - and you can see where this story is heading.

The reporting of farm occupations has been one-sided

The situation in Zimbabwe is bad enough to also have to deal with the fantasies of commissioning editors and their strung-along stringers. The story is not black and white - it is not even about black and white. Sure, the British political establishment (Labour or Tory) is not going to change its opinion about Zimbabwe and neither will ZANU-PF change its views about Britain.

Their mutual mud-slinging is set to continue. Newsmakers should never have been drawn into this debilitating polarisation but they have an escape route: reporting the facts. Rukuni has some badly needed advice:

"If you report something and your story turns out to be false - and this has happened on many occasions - you are arming the government and reinforcing their idea that you tell lies about them. You also make the situation worse for those who fight for change in Zimbabwe."

And the remedy? "Simple,"says Rukuni. "Use the same principles that you use at home. Fact check. Find out what is fact and what is opinion. For instance, you have these reports like the one released by the International Crisis Group, which said that Mugabe had five months to leave office. That is not fact reporting, that's wishful thinking."

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Mugabe’s critical colleagues

The First Post

In the rancid world of Zimbabwean politics silencing your enemies is a matter of routine. Silencing those you expect to be faithfully 'on message' is not. Yet President Robert Mugabe had to bite that particular bullet twice this week.

First in line for gagging was roly-poly Central Bank governor Gideon Gono (right), a long-time buddy of the President.

But Gono must have been expecting trouble. After all, he was asking for it. His recent public pronouncements have reeked of heresy. To businessmen, to students, he talked of government corruption, incompetence and laziness. And as for the Mugabe gospel that Zimbabwe's appalling troubles can all be blamed on Tony Blair and the West - that, he said, was rubbish.

On Tuesday, he was duly

Even the President's friends and allies are going ‘off message’

summoned to the President's Munhumutapa office. No one knows what passed between the two men. But my source in the office told me that when Gono left he looked "dejected". As well he might.

Number two on the list of government figures needing correction was Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele. Gula-Ndebele has certainly made a grave error. He has attempted to prosecute a case of fraud involving Reward Marufu, who, as the brother of our First Lady, Grace Mugabe, is of course above the law.

Briefly: Marufu received his reward some years ago when he claimed US$70,000 from the War Victims Compensation Fund on the grounds that he was 100 per cent disabled, even though he was about as disabled as the average gazelle.

Mugabe foiled an earlier attempt to prosecute him by posting him to

Page 2

Canada as a diplomat. Now the Attorney General is trying again. Which is why a bunch of goons from the Central Intelligence Organisation arrived in his office the other day.

My source in that office told me: "They summoned everyone into the boardroom, and told us that as far as the First Lady's brother was concerned, we must shut up - or die".

Both Gono and Gula-Ndebele will probably cool it, at least for now. But many of us see things this way. There's our President, stamping out small fires in his own back yard, while the rest of the country goes up in flames.


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Police Brutality in Mugabe's Zimbabwe


Roadblocks target opposition supporters

Nelson G. Katsande

     Published 2007-04-27 15:44 (KST)

As Zimbabwe prepares for the 2008 general elections, reports on police
brutality continue to rise. Police have also increased the number of road
blocks at which suspected opposition supporters are stripped of their
possessions and assaulted. The people are now afraid to travel in fear of
being assaulted by the police.

Francis Chidhakwa, a civil servant narrated his sad encounter to OhmyNews.
He is one of the many innocent people to suffer at the hands of Mugabe's
police. Chidhakwa, a civil servant told OhmyNews that he was assaulted by
police Wednesday on his way to his father's funeral.

"I was coming from Harare where I work as a teacher and was on my way to
attend my father's funeral in Kwekwe, some 220 kilometers (136.7 miles)
away. Before my ordeal, I had passed through three road blocks manned by
heavily armed police. As I approached Chegutu, a Zanu PF stronghold I was
welcomed by a 'Police Ahead sign.' I was signaled to stop and I complied."

He paused for a while and continued with his sombre story:

"One of the police officers wrongly identified me as an MDC activist.
Despite my denial, a policewoman drew her gun and threatened to shoot me.
She took me to one side and advised me to accept that I was an MDC activist
in order to proceed with my journey. At first I stood my ground and
eventually acceded to her advice."

"Realizing that I had been duped, I tried to withdraw my statement but it
was already too late. I was ordered to lie on the ground and assaulted by
three officers. They continued to assault me resulting in my broken arm and
deep cut on my forehead. I fell unconscious and only woke up in hospital."

Chidhakwa is recovering in Chegutu hospital. He never made it to his
father's funeral but hopes that justice will one day prevail. Nurses at the
hospital refused to comment in fear of reprisals. Efforts to get comment
from Chegutu police were futile as their phone service was continually
jammed. OhmyNews later learned that the telephone service had been suspended
due to non payment.

A number of innocent civilians have recently been targets of police
brutality around the country. Zanu PF youths trained at the notorious Border
Gezi camp in Mashonaland Central province have been on a drive to gear up
support for Mugabe. The youths are known to be aggressive and have been on a
reign of terror in Harare's Glen View high density area.

Elderly women and men have reportedly been assaulted by the youths who boast
they are immune to prosecution. The Border Gezi Camp was started by the late
Mashonaland Central governor Border Gezi, widely believed to have harbored
ambitious plans for presidency. He was killed in a car accident and his
death raised many questions. The independent media suspected foul play and
not much was said by the police.

The opposition MDC has vowed to push for Mugabe's exit despite the increased
police brutality and repression. The party claims that more than 600 members
and supporters have been abducted and assaulted by police. Others are said
to have gone missing while in police custody.

Mugabe has continually labeled the MDC as British puppets. Zimbabwe is
currently experiencing its worst economic recession since independence from
Britain in 1980. Inflation has reached an alarming 1,700 percent. Most
industries have ceased operations citing viability problems.

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Air Zimbabwe Hikes Fares By 200 Percent

New Zimbabwe (London)

April 27, 2007
Posted to the web April 27, 2007

ZIMBABWE'S national arline Air Zimbabwe has increased fares for its
domestic, regional and international

flights by 200 percent, it was announced Wednesday.

Air Zimbabwe spokesperson David Mwenga said the fare increases range from 37
percent to more than 200 percent depending on the route.

Asked to justify the increases, Mwenga said: "Everything is going up. The
new fare is a token increase."

He could not provide a schedule of the increases for each route, but said
the Dubai route is one of those that have a hike of more than 200 percent.

AirZim effected a hike of an average 168 percent on fares in March and 100
percent in February to keep pace with Zimbabwe's galloping inflation which
the last government statistics put at 1700%. The government has indefinitely
postponed the latest inflation figures.

The fare hikes are likely to become more regular, tracking the foreign
currency pararell market.

Last month, Air Zimbabwe said it had launched an ambitious plan dubbed
"equator South plus Ethiopia", seeking a bigger market share on air
travellers in sub-Saharan Africa.

The plan saw the reintroduction of flights to the Angolan capital Luanda and
the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

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Student leader abducted as food and housing crisis continues

By Tererai Karimakwenda
27 April, 2007

The president of the Students Union at Hillside Teachers College was
abducted from his campus residence in Bulawayo on Thursday and has not been
seen since. The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) reports that
Tafadzwa Chengewa, was abducted by four unidentified men wearing black suits
and driving an unregistered Mazda 323 vehicle.

ZINASU president Promise Mkwananzi said this vehicle has been used to abduct
other student leaders and activists. Colleges in Bulawayo and surrounding
areas were searched, and lawyers have been engaged to assist in the search
for Chengewa.

Meanwhile at Masvingo State University, lecturers are on strike after
turning down a small salary increase offered by government. They believe it
is not enough given the skyrocketing increases in the cost of basic services
and food. Mkwananzi confirmed that there are currently no classes being held
at Masvingo State despite statements by the officials that the situation was
back to normal.

Students at the institution report that they are still being denied access
to food. Mkwananzi told us the situation was in its second week. He said two
student activists had been suspended indefinitely for addressing other
students over this food crisis.

A serious accommodation crisis has been reported at Bulawayo Polytechnic
College where the officials are re-assigning the students' halls of
residence to college staff. A statement from ZINASU said the Vice Principal
Gilbert Mabasa offered students' accommodation to security guards, cooks,
academic and non-academic staff after negotiations over their salary
packages. These workers are being charged Z$1,000,000 per month for the
accommodation, while students are charged the same amount but for a single
day. Those who cannot afford it are simply told to find alternatives.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Mugabe: Hostility from all sides

Comment from The Mail & Guardian (SA), 25 April

William Gumede

President Robert Mugabe stepped out of the Zanu PF politburo meeting on
March 30 with a triumphant look, defiantly waving his clenched fist in the
air. He had secured his position as the ruling party's 2008 presidential
candidate. But his triumph was a facade, hiding the reality of a party on
the verge of implosion. Mugabe is not a man at the summit of his power. In
fact, the longer Mugabe holds tight-fistedly on to the helm, the more
crippling the succession struggle within Zanu PF and the more terrifying the
country's plunge into chaos and bloodshed. The most crucial moment for any
African and developing country's liberation movement is the transition from
the immediate post-liberation leader to a new one. From past evidence, the
longer the leader overstays in office, the fiercer the battle for succession
and the bigger the chance of a fragmentation of the party - or its total
collapse. Similarly, the more centralised power, patronage and control the
leader has exercised, the more destructive the forces when the holder of all
that power finally leaves. So tight has Mugabe's hold on Zanu PF been that
it will be very difficult - although not altogether impossible - for the
centre to hold when he goes. It is even more difficult when there is no
clear successor to unite the party - as is the case now in Zanu PF. Just
like many other liberation leaders, Mugabe had made sure he appointed weak
deputies. For a long time now, the glue that has held the Zanu PF leadership
together has been the wealth that comes from governing an agriculturally and
commodity-rich country. The crumbling economy, however, means that this is
diminishing. Mugabe's rhetorical flashes against colonialism, imperialism
and neo-liberalism masked a liberation movement that has long sold out to
the good ideals of providing a better life for its people. It is a better
life for its leaders now.

A breakdown of Zanu PF into separate entities is quite possible. There are
at least two main Zanu PF factions, both former die-hard supporters of
Mugabe. The Mujuru group is rallied around [Vice-President] Joyce Mujuru and
her husband, while the hard-line group exists around Emmerson Mnangagwa,
Mugabe's former confidant. There are also separate and less organised
moderate groups centred on current Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono and
former finance minister Simba Makoni. Mugabe was humiliated at the March
meeting. He demanded to stay on until 2010, when he wanted to have the
elections and handpick his successor. But he was rebuffed and forced to
accept that he will have to step down. Some of Mugabe's most fierce
opponents within Zanu PF were worried that if they had pushed Mugabe out
immediately, it would have appeared that they were succumbing to Western
demands. This is apart from their anxiety that a power vacuum would be
created because they could not agree on a successor. SADC leaders have also
finally taken a stand and told Mugabe that he is a threat to the
subcontinent's economic growth and political stability; that he should leave
office and that he must negotiate with the opposition. Insiders at the SADC
meeting say Mugabe has confirmed to regional leaders that he will leave
"soon" after the 2008 elections. He gave no date, however. He apparently
told SADC leaders he needed to ensure a smooth transition both within Zanu
PF as well as the country. Zanu PF's politburo - the powerful organ in
charge of party affairs between national conferences, which has hitherto
been packed, dominated and manipulated by his supporters - is now hostile
towards him. In February, Mugabe unsuccessfully tried to regain control of
his Cabinet by reshuffling it and promoting key supporters to influential

The security forces so crucial to Mugabe's long reign now see his leadership
as a danger to their economic interests. In January, Mugabe sent a memo to
senior police commanders, threatening to discipline them if they rebel, as
they had threatened to do. In a secret briefing to the Zanu PF leadership,
Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation, which is notoriously loyal to
Mugabe, told them that extending his term of office beyond next year would
destabilise both Zanu PF and the country and could lead to the loss of a
large number of supporters and voters. Even the party's old guard, its
so-called "elders", is rebelling. For example, Enos Nkala and Edgar Tekere,
surviving founding members of Zanu PF, have denounced Mugabe. The rebellion
against his rule at the December 2006 Zanu PF conference was engineered
mostly from the provinces. The crumbling economy has demoralised even his
most blinkered supporters. For the first time in South Africa, Zimbabwe has
become a political issue in the ANC's succession battle: those opposed to
Thabo Mbeki are using Mugabe's continued stay in power to ridicule the ANC
leader. They say the decline in Zimbabwe is a glaring failure of his Africa
policy. The battle between Mbeki's supporters and his opponents is so
fiercely and tightly fought that, going into the ANC's December 2007
national conference, a failure to report progress in Zimbabwe could mean
political humiliation for the proponent of the "African renaissance".

William Gumede is research fellow at the Graduate School of Public and
Development Management, University of the Witwatersrand. The second edition
of his book Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC will be
released later this year

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Doctors: Delay in treating Mann could be disastrous

Mail and Guardian

Harare, Zimbabwe

27 April 2007 02:10

      Two government doctors in Zimbabwe tasked with verifying the
medical condition of jailed British mercenary Simon Mann have concluded that
any delay in operating on him could be disastrous, his lawyer said on

      Mann, who is accused of plotting to overthrow the government in
Equatorial Guinea, is due to be released from a Zimbabwean high security
jail on May 11.

      But the government of President Tedoro Obiang Nguema is applying
for his extradition to the oil-rich Central African country once he finishes
his prison term in Zimbabwe.

      Defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange said on Friday the examinations
by the two government doctors had strengthened his client's case against

      "It strengthens his defence," the lawyer told Deutsche
Presse-Agentur in a telephone interview.

      He said the government doctors had confirmed the defence claims
that Mann was in need of a hip replacement, as well as urgent surgery for a

      "They concluded that any delay in surgical treatment could be
disastrous," Samkange said.

       The two doctors, George Vera of Harare Central Hospital and Noah
Madziva of Parirenyatwa Hospital discovered that the former SAS officer was
suffering from the additional ailment of chronic hypertension, Samkange

      But Samkange said that despite the seriousness of his client's
condition, Mann was still holding out hope of undergoing surgery in his
native England in the event of his release on May 11.

      "My client's view is that he'd rather die than go to a public
hospital [in Zimbabwe], where he's going to end up with tuberculosis and
other things he hasn't asked for," he said.

      Mann was arrested at Harare International Airport in March 2004
along with 69 other alleged soldiers of fortune. The authorities accused
them of being en route to Malabo to topple the government, but they denied
the charges.

      Under Zimbabwean laws, Mann could only be convicted of firearms
and security offences. He was sentenced to a four-year jail term, with a
third off for good behaviour. The rest of the men were jailed for minor
immigration offences and released two years ago.

      Closing arguments in Mann's extradition case are due to be heard
on May 2. -- Sapa-dpa

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MDC supporters flee to Malawi

The Zimbabwean

HARARE - Scores of MDC supporters, harassed by police and Zanu (PF)
elements, are fleeing to Malawi to seek political asylum.
The Zimbabwean heard that scores of party supporters have fled to Dzaleka
refugee camp, run by the Jesuit priests of the Catholic Church, located
outside Lilongwe. The refugee camp contains political refugees from the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and the Sudan.
There are an estimated 3,000 inmates at the camp, a former prison.
An MDC refugee at the centre told The Zimbabwean that he was trying to
adjust to life at the camp after he fled Harare following indications that
police were looking for him.
He called The Zimbabwean after reading a copy of the paper. The refugee, who
cannot be named for security reasons said there were more and more refugees
being admitted into the centre every day.
"The conditions here are bad and one has to put up one's shelter. Each one
of us receives a ration of 12kg rice, 1kg sugar, 100 grammes of salt, three
tablets of soap, and 1kg of beans. They don't supply blankets and I would
very much want to return home, but I understand the political situation is
still very tense," he said.
He said he could not go to SA and Botswana because those places was teeming
with intelligence operatives.
"It was so tense and we escaped via Mozambique. My colleagues became jittery
at Nyamapanda border post and were detained," he said.
"I made good my escape and was helped by an international truck driver who
drove me into Malawi," he said.
But he is concerned about the safety of his wife and two children he left in
"Every day that passes I think of home," he said. "I desperately want to
return home, but I fear for my life. I also fear that publication of your
story will lead to harm for members of my family and that my hide-out will
be discovered."  - Staff reporter

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UK organisation urge Zimbabwe to stop de-registering NGOs

27th Apr 2007 13:46 GMT

By a Correspondent

LONDON-ARTICLE 19 condemns the Zimbabwean government's decision to move to
cancel all registration certificates of non-government organisations (NGOs)
in order to "sift out those seeking to force regime change in Zimbabwe", as
reported by the State broadcaster, Zimbabwe Television. Such a move is a
clear violation of Zimbabwe's human rights obligations under the African
Charter on Human and People's Rights, particularly in respect of the right
of freedom of expression and the right of freedom of assembly.

The hundreds of Zimbabwean NGOs perform essential functions not provided for
by the State, including humanitarian assistance, food aid and housing, care
of orphans and other vulnerable children, as well as providing support for
the protection of social, economic and civil rights.

ARTICLE 19 calls upon the Zimbabwean government not to proceed with its
threatened cancellation of NGO licences. Such a move will deepen the
everyday suffering of Zimbabweans in the current severe socio-economic
crisis, and worsen Zimbabwe's reputation as a State which fails to uphold
its obligations under the African Charter.

ARTICLE 19 is an independent human rights organisation that works globally
to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression. It takes its name
from Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which
guarantees free speech.

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Zimbabwean Police Bar Weekend Rallies By 'Violent' Opposition Faction


      By Patience Rusere
      27 April 2007

Police in the Mashonaland West province of Zimbabwe have barred the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change from holding weekend rallies on
grounds that the party is accused of firebombing police posts and other
targets, MDC sources said.

Mashonaland West representative Silias Matamisa of the MDC faction led by
Morgan Tsvangirai said police told him permission was withheld because the
party is "violent." The Tsvangirai faction had scheduled rallies in Mola,
Kariba and Chinhoyi.

Officials of the Tsvangirai faction have denied any involvement in the
Molotov cocktail attacks which began in March, and say they believe they
were carried out by security forces to justify the arbitrary arrest of MDC
activists. The faction says hundreds of its members have been abducted,
beaten and tortured by suspected state agents.

Rally plans by the opposition grouping met with mixed official responses

Police in Mashonaland Central gave permission so long as there were no "toyi
toyi" demonstrations or door-to-door campaigns. Matebeleland North police
granted permission, but it was unclear if Matabeleland South police would
follow suit.

A youth forum planned in Gweru, Midlands, by the MDC faction of Arthur
Mutambara was disapproved because church meetings had already been

Mashonaland West MDC representative Matamisa told reporter Patience Rusere
that his party would file an application in high court Monday challenging
the ban.

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Central Bank Quasi-Fiscal Losses and High Inflation in Zimbabwe: A Note

Author/Editor: Munoz, Sonia
Authorized for Distribution: April 1, 2007
Electronic Access: Free Full Text (PDF file size is 277KB)
Use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this PDF file.
Disclaimer: This Working Paper should not be reported as representing the views of the IMF. The views expressed in this Working Paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the IMF or IMF policy. Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to further debate.

Summary: Zimbabwe's failure to address continuing central bank quasi-fiscal losses has interfered with both monetary management and the independence and credibility of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). Realized quasi-fiscal losses are estimated to have amounted to about 75 percent of GDP in 2006. Because they were financed by creating money creation or issuing RBZ securities, they contributed to the four-digit inflation reached in 2006. The remedy for the current situation is clearly to eliminate the causes of losses by implementing measures to improve the cash-flow of the bank and restore its financial position.
Series: Working Paper No. 07/98

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UNDP pushes for dialogue between Harare, NGOs

Zim Online

Saturday 28 April 2007

      By Hendricks Chizhanje

      HARARE - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is pushing
for dialogue between President Robert Mugabe's government and
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) following a government crackdown on
dissension that saw several civic and opposition activists arrested and
brutally assaulted by the police.

      Armed police last month violently broke up a prayer rally called by
NGOs, churches and opposition political parties to pray for peace in
Zimbabwe. Civic society activist Gift Tandare was shot dead while main
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and scores of opposition and NGO
activists were assaulted as the police scuttled the prayer rally in Harare's
Highfield suburb.

      National Association of NGOs spokesman Fambai Ngirandi said a meeting
between NGOs and government security chiefs that was brokered by the UNDP
mission in Harare was later postponed last Tuesday.

      "We were scheduled to discuss issues such as the recent government
crackdown and the current spate of abductions," Ngirandi said. He did not
say to what date the meeting hade been rescheduled.

      Nana Busia, the UNDP's senior legal and policy adviser referred
questions on the matter to Leri Sisey the organisation's deputy resident
representative who was however unreachable.

      Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, whose department was actively
involved in preparing for the aborted meeting, was also not immediately
available for comment.

      According to sources, the UNDP had only stepped in to help initiate
dialogue to ease tensions between the government and civic society following
representations by NGO leaders over the violent attack against civic society

      Senior commanders of the army, police and secret service are expected
to attend the rescheduled meeting.

       "They wanted to discuss issues arising from the 11th of March
beatings. Civic society is of the opinion that security forces heavy
handedly dealt with the protestors while the government is also said to have
had some concerns," said one source.

      Although NGOs have become a vital conduit for aid to Zimbabwe after
international donors and Western governments stopped dealing directly with
the Harare administration, relations between the NGOs and Mugabe's
government remain strained if not hostile.

      The government, which two weeks ago said it had cancelled licences for
all NGOs operating in the country, has repeatedly said it welcomed aid but
without conditions and has charged that some of the NGOs were running covert
operations in support of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
The aid groups deny backing the opposition. - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe Foreign Exchange Policy Moves Are Felt At The Gas Pump


      By Carole Gombakomba
      27 April 2007

The new regimen of preferential foreign exchange rates unveiled Thursday by
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono seems to be tightening supply
in fuel markets as gasoline sellers withdraw supply until the impact in
markets is clear.

Prices of gasoline and  other imported commodities are highly sensitive to
fluctuations in the currency exchange rate on the parallel market,
economists noted, speculating that players in the black market in fuel want
to be sure that their prices will cover the replacement cost of gasoline
sold while maintaining their profit margins.

Motorists complain lines at gas pumps have gotten longer recently with
prices ranging from Z$15,000 to Z$25,000 a liter vs. an official price of
Z$445 dollars a liter. Local markets braced for a devaluation as soon as
Gono's speech was announced.

The central bank established an effective exchange rate of Z$15,000 per U.S.
dollar for exporting companies and for remittances from Zimbabweans abroad.
But Gono insisted that the official rate of Z$250 per U.S. dollar remained
in place.

Economic consultant Daniel Ndlela told reporter Caroline Gombakomba of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that tightness in local fuel markets could continue
until early next week when the response to Gono's sectoral devaluation is

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At Bulawayo Trade Fair, Mugabe Blames Sanctions For Economic Slide


      By Blessing Zulu
      27 April 2007

President Robert Mugabe officially opened the Zimbabwe International Trade
Fair in Bulawayo on Friday with an uncharacteristically brief speech whose
subdued tone matched the downbeat mood at the fair, much diminished from
years past.

Mr. Mugabe repeated his often-made charge that Western sanctions targeting
him and members of his inner circle sent the economy into a tailspin. Most
economists trace the decline to the crash land reform program launched in
2000 which evicted most white farmers and destabilized agriculture, the
linchpin of growth.

Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono, speaking at the trade fair one day
earlier, said inflation had reached 2,200% in March. He also effectively
devalued the currency by some 98% for exporting businesses and remittances
from Zimbabweans abroad.

Sources in the Ministry of Trade said African leaders traditionally called
on to open the fair declined Harare's invitations this year.

Not a single South African company official made the trek north, instead
engaging local representative agents, and European companies were totally
absent. Just five foreign companies mounted exhibits compared with 90 last

The fair boasted 690 domestic exhibitors against 713 in 2006, officials
said. The fair's theme this year is "Zimbabwe brands, African brands, global

But participants said the event has hit a new low and Friday was turned into
a ZANU-PF rally as Trade Minister Obert Mpofu voiced praise of Mr. Mugabe's
leadership, trading his history from birth and describing him as a great
African visionary.

Mr. Mugabe cited growth in small to medium-sized enterprise participation in
the fair as indicating the success of the event and of his black empowerment

The president said his"Look East" policy of building ties with China and
other Asian partners was helping to relieve the country's economic distress.

"I am pleased to report that significant headway has been made with a number
of investment projects that have been funded by China now at various stages
of implementation in all the key sectors of the economy," Mr Mugabe said.

Meanwhile, many opposition activists in Bulawayo were in hiding following a
two-week crackdown by state agents determined to prevent Mr. Mugabe's
opponents from staging a demonstration against his government at the fair.

Groups targeted by the crackdown included the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, the Bulawawo Agenda, Radio Dialogue, Women of Zimbabwe
Arise and the Zimbabwe National Students Union, local sources said.

Student activist Tafadzwa Chengewa told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that he and a colleague were abducted in Bulawayo late
Wednesday by suspected state agents and left in Nyamandlovu, 60 kilometers
from the city.

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Mugabe Opponents, In Washington, Sound Alarm On 'Rising Repression'


      By Ndimyake Mwakalyelye
      27 April 2007

A delegation of Zimbabwean opposition leaders and civic activists made the
rounds in Washington on Friday to call attention to a government crackdown
on opponents that they say has involved arbitrary arrests and detention,
beatings and torture.

It included Deputy International Relations Secretary Grace Kwinjeh of the
Movement for Democratic Change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai, National
Constitutional Assembly Chairman Lovemore Madhuku, Otto Saki of the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition National
Coordinator Jacob Mafume.

Members of the U.S. Senate and House heard a briefing Friday from the
delegation, which later participated in in a conference at the Woodrow
Wilson Center on the theme of "Keeping Democratic Hopes Alive Amid Rising

Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with
Kwinjeh and Mafume about recent events in Zimbabwe and their purpose in

Kwinjeh said the ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe has a
record of instigating violence ahead of elections. Presidential and
parliamentary elections are on tap for March 2003 even as South African
President Thabo Mbeki tries to mediate the Zimbabwean crisis on behalf of
the Southern African Development Community.

In a visit to the United Nations in New York earlier this week, Kwinjeh
issued an appeal to the international community to increase pressure on
Harare to release 28 activists held since late March on charges they plotted
firebombings and sabotage.

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Plea for funds

Please can you pass this on to anyone you feel may be able to help

Dear Concerned Supporter,

We are circulating externally based friends and contacts with the hope that
we can make a difference for those elderly who find themselves trapped in
Zimbabwe's hyperinflation and have little or no hope of assistance. Please
take a moment to read this and pass on to anyone who you may think could
help us. We can make a difference if we take the time to make the effort.

Eastern Highlands Trust offer excellent facilities to our senior citizens,
here in Mutare, but are reeling from the effects of the current economic
melt down. EHT provide a Frail Care facility with dedicated nursing staff,
Individual rooms & cottages. All these facilities need maintenance and staff
need to be rewarded for their services which is becoming increasingly
difficult. Your assistance, however small WILL make a difference. If you
need further info please contact us direct or visit EHT's website.

Our aim is to raise a minimum of a THOUSAND POUNDS PER MONTH, which will
give the Trust the security that will ensure their continued ability to
offer their invaluable services. Every donation will help relieve the
pressure on the Trust.

All donations are channelled through the UK based charity "HOMES IN
ZIMBABWE" (REG 1104512), who provide excellent support to the various homes
throughout Zim. Herewith contact details. Please remember to mark your
donation for "EHT" so the Trust here in Mutare receives the credit.


BANK -            HSBC

            SORT CODE -   40-31-24

            ACCOUNT-       92185245


            NIGEL KAY


OFFICE - 44-1612364177,

FAX - 44 161237 5781,

CELL - 077 1374 1632.

We are extremely grateful for your generous assistance and thank you for
your concern.

Sincerely yours Des Becker


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