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Zimbabwean opposition officials abducted from hospital: lawyer

Yahoo News

HARARE (AFP) - Nine Zimbabwe opposition activists recovering from beatings
in police custody were taken out of hospital by state security agents, their
lawyer said on Sunday.

The nine were later found at Harare central prison late afternoon after the
lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, had visited several police stations throughout the
day, he told AFP.
The men had been hospitalised on Saturday for injuries suffered after a
police crackdown in the capital Harare in the week. They were sent to
hospital after one collapsed while awaiting a bail hearing at a magistrate
court on Saturday.

"The guys were abducted last night from hospital around 2300 GMT by state
security agents," Muchadehama, a lawyer for the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), said Sunday.

"They were taken from the wards without any hospital discharge cards or
anything to say they have been released.

"We understand the guys who took them were also accompanied by prison
officials." Some were on intravenous drips when they were taken away.

Muchadehama said he intended going to court on Monday to ask for an order
that the nine be returned to hospital without further police interference.

Several MDC officials and supporters were arrested last 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.

On Friday, a defiant President Robert Mugabe told supporters that MDC leader
Morgan Tsvangirai had deserved a recent beating by police.

The veteran leader, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain
in 1980, said he had told fellow African leaders at a summit last week that
his arch rival had deserved to be assaulted.

Addressing a rally in Shona, Mugabe said of Thursday's summit of the
Southern African Development Community in Tanzania: "Yes, I told them he was
beaten but he asked for it."

"We got full backing, not even one (leader) criticised our actions," added
the president, who on Friday was chosen by his party to stand for another
term in office.

Mugabe has been widely condemned by the West for the arrests and assaults of
Tsvangirai and other MDC members last month as they tried to stage an
anti-government rally.

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Teens Assaulted in Zimbabwe Police Raid

Associated Press Writer

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Heavily armed paramilitary police raided a popular
nightclub in an affluent, predominantly white part of Zimbabwe's capital,
attacking teenagers with riot batons and detaining scores for hours,
witnesses said Sunday.

The raid came after police shut down bars and beer halls in impoverished
black townships as part of its latest crackdown on dissent. It was the first
time an upscale establishment patronized by the nation's dwindling white
community has been targeted.

Witness Keith Murray, 20, said about 20 paramilitary police armed with
automatic rifles and batons stormed the Glow nightclub Saturday night and
forced revelers - both white and black - to sit on the dance floor in
silence. Three who protested and kept talking were assaulted, he said.

Another witness, who did not want to be identified for fears of reprisals,
said police struck the three teenagers with rubber batons and hit them
around the head and shoulders. The witness said they were not injured.

The youths were jostled into lines and frog-marched into a cage wire
enclosure outside. At least 100 were then taken in police buses to the
feared downtown central police station. One who tried to get onto a police
bus to help his girlfriend was dragged off and hit. Another girl asking
friends to call her parents was slapped for not remaining silent, Murray

A number of revelers outside the club said they saw teenage girls being
slapped, manhandled and jostled onto the buses.

Police said they launched the raid to clamp down on alleged underage
drinking, according to witnesses. Some youths were also targeted for not
carrying identity cards required under security laws, the witnesses said.

Most of those detained were teenage girls, many of them white, and they were
released after daybreak. Several of the youths were treated for shock. One
parent said some of the girls became "hysterical" and were taken for medical

"I was distraught," said one white parent, who asked not to be identified
for fears of reprisals. "One way to drive more of us out of the country is
to arrest our children."

The government has routinely accused whites, mainly the descendants of
colonial-era British settlers, of backing its opponents. An estimated 30,000
whites live in Zimbabwe, down from about 270,000 when the country became
independent in 1980.

In 2000, Mugabe's government began violently seizing thousands of
white-owned commercial farms as part of a program to redistribute land to
poor blacks. The chaotic way the seizures were carried out disrupted the
agriculture-based economy in Zimbabwe, a former regional breadbasket,
plunging the country into its worst economic crisis since independence in

Annual inflation is running at more than 1,000 percent, the highest in the

Tensions have been high in Zimbabwe since security forces broke up a prayer
meeting by opposition activists on March 9, severely beating dozens of
people, including Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic

Last week, police stormed the party's headquarters and arrested 60 people,
including Tsvangirai, who had planned to talk to reporters about the recent
wave of political violence, party officials said. They said several
activists were beaten.

Nine of the activists detained in the raid were charged with attempted
murder and illegal weapons possession in what the government alleged was a
terror campaign. On Saturday, the activists all required medical attention
for injuries sustained since their arrests, doctors said. One was carried
from the Harare magistrates' court on a stretcher.

Doctors and staff at private medical facilities where the detainees were
taken under police guard said the nine appeared to have been assaulted while
in custody.

Police later Saturday removed the detainees from the facilities, saying they
were being taken for government treatment, said medical staff who asked not
to be identified.

On Friday, Mugabe acknowledged that police used violent methods against
Tsvangirai and other opposition supporters and killed at least one activist
last month. Referring to injuries suffered by at least 40 others in custody,
Mugabe warned perpetrators of unrest they would be "bashed" again if
violence continued.

Zimbabwe's ruling party has endorsed Mugabe as its candidate in next year's
presidential elections, shrugging off international criticism of the
clampdown on opposition activists. The 145-member decision-making body also
agreed to bring forward parliamentary elections, scheduled for 2010, by two
years to coincide with the presidential poll.

The election would allow Mugabe to stay in power until 2013, when he would
be close to 90.

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Zimbabwe unions demands wage increase

Financial Times

By Tony Hawkins in Harare

Published: April 1 2007 18:08 | Last updated: April 1 2007 18:08

After the failure of last week's regional diplomacy to resolve the Zimbabwe
crisis, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is staging a two-day
"national stay away" to demand a ten-fold increase in industrial minimum

Past efforts to stage national protests by the ZCTU have flopped, but
tensions in Zimbabwe are running high because of the brutal treatment of
political detainees and the collapse of real wages in the economy with
inflation of 1730 per cent.

ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo said the unions were demanding a national
minimum wage of Z$1m a month (£22 at the parallel exchange rate of Z$40 000
to the pound) but this has been rejected by the government which recently
gazetted a minimum wage for domestic workers of only Z$25 000 a month.

The unions are locked into negotiations with the government over a proposed
"Social Contract" that was due to have come into force on March 1 but which
is stalled over employer demands for price flexibility, labour calls for a
national minimum wage and the government's refusal to take meaningful steps
to curb inflation.

The ZCTU, whose leaders were severely assaulted by police after their last
demonstration in 2006, said there would be no public activities or marches.
Instead workers are being urged to keep a low profile.

Reports of police brutality, especially in the last few days, may weaken the
resolve of trade unionists to support the strike. Members of the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change arrested last week on allegations of
possessing arms and explosives and of throwing petrol bombs at a train and
houses who were taken to court on Saturday had clearly been seriously beaten
while in custody.

"Almost all of them were unable to walk, and two were whisked to hospital by
ambulance while on life-support systems," a MDC spokesman said on Sunday.
One was carried from the Harare magistrates' court on a stretcher.

Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, the party's secretary for international
affairs, said that some of the MDC politicians who had been remanded by the
magistrate on instructions that they be taken to hospital for treatment
under police guard, were later abducted "by unknown individuals in uniform".

Ian Makone, a close adviser of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and the party's
election organiser is said to be a serious condition following his arrest by
the police last week.

Following Thursday's regional summit of Southern African leaders that backed
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's continued rule, the Zimbabwe leader
claimed that his African peers, including South African President Thabo
Mbeki, also supported the harsh treatment of opposition activists.

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Zimbabwean police to be deployed during strike, minister says

Earth Times

Posted on :
Sun, 01 Apr 2007 08:59:00 GMT | Author : DPA

      Harare/Johannesburg - Police will be deployed to make sure workers are
not intimidated during a planned strike by Zimbabwe's main trade union body
this week, Labour Minister Nicholas Goche warned Sunday. President Robert
Mugabe's government, under fire from Western nations over a brutal clampdown
on the opposition, is strongly opposed to the nationwide job stayaway called
by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) on Tuesday and Wednesday.

      Tensions are running high in Zimbabwe following the brutal beating
last month of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and several of his
colleagues - treatment which Mugabe said Tsvangirai asked for.

      A number of opposition officials were accused of planning petrol bomb
attacks and were also badly beaten this week in a move that has sparked
outrage in the West.

      Writing in the official Sunday Mail newspaper, Goche appealed to
workers to ignore the call for a strike this week and to report for work as

      Government would ensure that transport is available during the days in
question and police details will be there to ensure that workers are not
intimidated when boarding buses on their way to their respective workplaces,
Goche said.

      The ZCTU has called the strike to protest government's failure to deal
with a rapidly worsening economic crisis and to press for a minimum wage
linked to the Poverty Datum Line. Planned marches by the ZCTU in September
resulted in the arrests and beatings of union officials.

      Goche claimed some in the ZCTU were working with the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and other pro-democracy groups seeking
regime change in Zimbabwe.

      Police commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena called on Zimbabweans to report
anyone who tries to intimidate others into staying away from work, the
Sunday Mail said in a separate report.

      Meanwhile a number of foreign trade union groups have expressed
solidarity with the ZCTU ahead of the planned strike.

      A statement signed by trade unions from Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia,
Malawi, Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands said: "We express our
solidarity with the actions the ZCTU is calling for on April 3 and 4, and
with all the workers and citizens of Zimbabwe joining in those actions."

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Zimbabwe government urges workers to ignore strike

Yahoo News

by Godfrey Marawanyika Sun Apr 1, 10:40 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - The Zimbabwean government on Sunday urged workers to ignore
calls by labour union leaders for a two-day general strike in protest
against the country's economic meltdown.

"I wish to appeal to all workers to ignore the politically-motivated
stayaway being called for by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) on
April 3 and 4," Labour Minister Nicholas Goche said in a statement.
The ZCTU said it decided to call a general labour shutdown over the
authorities' failure to respond to concerns about the worsening economic

Four in every five potential workers are jobless in Zimbabwe and official
inflation stands at 1,730 percent.

"Government has learned that it is the individuals in the ZCTU who are
aligned to the oppositional politics of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC)...who want to be seen participating in the current Western-backed
violence aimed at regime change in Zimbabwe," Goche said.

He said everyone should report for work as usual, adding that the
authorities would ensure public transport was available and security ensured
during the strike days.

"Employers are free to deal with the workers who choose to deliberately stay
away from work," he said.

In September, labour unions were forced to abandon plans for mass
anti-government protests after organisers were rounded up in a police

Zimbabwe's economy has been on a downward spiral for the last seven years,
characterised by runaway inflation and perennial shortages of basic

Its annual rate of inflation, already the highest in the world, should hit
4,000 percent by year-end, according to the International Monetary Fund

Several trade unions in Europe and Africa have thrown their weight behind
the ZCTU strike call.

"The government of Zimbabwe should take steps to address the economic
meltdown," said national umbrella unions of Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, Malawi,
the Netherlands, Finland and Denmark in a statement published in Zimbabwe's
The Standard independent weekly.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) said it would hold
demonstrations next week in a show of solidarity with Zimbabwean workers.

"COSATU is giving its full support to its trade union comrades in Zimbabwe,
as they struggle against an economic catastrophe and more and more vicious
attacks on their members and leaders," it said in a statement.

The congress, which is critical of the Pretoria government's policy of
"quiet diplomacy" towards its northern neighbour, said South Africans and
Zimbabweans living in South Africa would march on the Zimbabwean consulate
in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

President Thabo Mbeki was tasked by the Southern African Development
Community last week to promote talks between the government and opposition
leaders in Zimbabwe.

South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper, meanwhile, reported that at least
49,000 Zimbabweans were illegally crossing into South Africa every month.

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Latest personal accounts

The Zimbabwean

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.


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.



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Payday Nightmare in Zimbabwe

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

The six-digit salaries earned by those lucky enough to have jobs are not
enough to cover the barest essentials.

From Florence Muchena in Harare (AR No. 106, 1-Apr-07)

There is a new class of people in Zimbabwe who go by the name "BSAP" -
"broke soon after pay".

Sibongile Ncube is a typical white-collar BSAP, a young urban professional
who a decade ago would have been driving a small car and renting a
two-bedroomed flat in the posh Avenues district of the capital Harare.

Now she dreads the end of the month when she gets her paltry salary, which
is not enough to cover transport costs for her and her daughter, let alone
other things. She shakes her head in despair as she calculates her budget
for the month and tries to balance it with her pay.

Ncube's monthly salary of 384,000 Zimbabwean dollars, ZWD, would come out at
a respectable 1,500 United States dollars if you applied the official
exchange rate set by the country's central bank. But as is generally the
case with government-enforced exchange rates, it is an irrelevance because
no one except a few privileged insiders has access to foreign currency at
this price.

Instead, a parallel exchange market has grown up where most transactions
take place. Such is the pace of the Zimbabwean dollar's depreciation that it
trades on the informal but realistic exchange market at an astonishing 1,000
times less than its official value. In other words, Ncube's salary in the
real world has the purchasing power of not 1,500 but nearer 15 US dollars.

So her six-digit salary may make her a millionaire earner over the course of
a year, but it leaves her and her daughter on less than one American dollar
a day, well within the parameters of extreme poverty defined by the World

Ncube's monthly outgoings includes 660,000 ZWD for her own commute to work
and her daughter's travel to school, 300,000 ZWD in rent, 35,000 for water
and 25,000 - so even without food, her costs are two-and-a-half times her
income. Were it not for a relative living outside Zimbabwe who sends her
money occasionally, life would be impossible.

Asked what the point of going to work was, Ncube said, "I have asked myself
the same question over and over again. I have been losing weight - not
because I am ill, but because I simply cannot afford to feed myself.

"I forego breakfast and lunch. And these days I can go into a supermarket
and come out with nothing because prices would have gone up from my previous
visit and I realise that I can no longer afford anything."

As well as worthless wages, the 20 per cent of Zimbabweans who are still in
work have to battle with consumer prices that rise daily.
Annual inflation stands at 1,700 per cent - in other words, the nominal
prices of consumer items in the shops are that much higher than they were at
the same time last year.

The BSAPs - a category that these days includes just about everyone - are
the result of the ever-widening gap between prices and wages. Bread, at
5,000 ZWD a loaf, is now a luxury item and is not always available, while
milk, meat and eggs are priced off the menu. The price rises are
continuous - in March, for example, prices trebled for many items.

Fuel prices, too, go up on almost a daily basis, leading to rising fares for
commuters, so many people have just stopped reporting for work.

People on lower pay than Ncube, plus the vast army of unemployed, have an
even tougher time of it in the ongoing economic meltdown described by the
World Bank as the world's worst outside a war zone.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which represents most of those still
in employment, has called for industrial action, telling people to stay away
from their workplaces on April 3-4. Yet despite poor wages and economic
hardship, the signs are that most workers will ignore the call.

One security guard - doing a job that is among the worst paid in the
country - explained this apparent paradox. "The problem is that people are
afraid of being beaten up by the police and the army and losing their jobs,"
he said. "So we are saying that at least we have jobs and losing them would
make life even more difficult, so why risk it? Personally, I don't see
people staying at home."

Several other workers interviewed were worried about retribution from the
authorities if they stayed away from work. President Robert Mugabe has vowed
to mercilessly crush any groups showing resistance to his rule.

Ncube, meanwhile, has resigned herself to a life on the margin, scrounging
for every bit of food and waiting for divine providence,

"Why I continue going to work and still beg for bus fare from friends and
relatives is because I hope and am praying that maybe one of these days my
salary is going to be increased to levels that will enable me to try and
survive," she said. "Had it not been for my sister in the diaspora who
assists me with at least rent and tops up my transport fare, particularly
for my daughter, I would be living on the streets.

"Sometimes, I think of getting what we girls now call 'sponsors' [sugar
daddies] to take care of me, but because of my Christian values I haven't
taken that step. But if things get worse and I don't get an increase, I
might be forced to."

Florence Muchena is the pseudonym used by a reporter in Zimbabwe.

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Desperately fleeing Mugabe April 2007

From The Sunday Times (SA), 1 April

Bumping along a sandy track in the pre-dawn gloom, security guard Pappi
Molefe hisses "Illegals!" from the open back of the Land Cruiser. The faint
beam of his torch reveals two frightened young men huddled under mopane
scrub. Isaac and Nathan, in their 20s, say they made their way from Harare
alone, but two other men joined them once they had illegally crossed the
Limpopo River. Those other men are now gone. Molefe tells them where to find
water, and points them in the direction of Musina - and the possibility of
reaching the Promised Land: Gauteng. He's not going to bother arresting just
two Zimbabweans; last week he caught a group of 175 men, women and babies
single- handedly just metres from here. According to South African National
Defence Force officers and civilians in the area, the number of "fence
jumpers" has increased significantly in recent months - and coincides with
the political crackdown and economic meltdown in Zimbabwe. Those arrested by
the security forces simply turn around and try again. One young woman speaks
of being arrested for the eighth time. The border is a roundabout for
desperate Zimbabweans.

Molefe and his colleagues continue their patrol. They come across a swathe
of fresh tracks. "Maybe 60 in this group," he grunts. We pursue the group
through the bush on foot. "We will catch them soon," he whispers. It is a
race to beat the Zimbabweans before they reach the tarred road. There,
minibus taxis and bakkies await them. There is cellphone contact. Moving
illegals across the Limpopo is big business, and has become a sophisticated
operation. A toddler's pair of shorts, perhaps lost in the dark during a
stop, lies in the bush, along with shattered clay pots. They tell us
something of the individuals we are chasing - the desperate and wretched
fleeing Mugabe's failing Zimbabwe. Our chase ends at a gaping hole in the
barbed-wire fence that runs along the N1. All we find are discarded water
bottles. For others, crossing the border is a more banal affair. Right under
Beit Bridge, within calling distance of an army base, two teenagers climb
down from the catwalk and race through the bushes on the Zimbabwean side of
the fence. Within 15 minutes they are crawling under one roll of razor wire
and then scaling a 3m- high fence.

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Zimbabwe's had enough of Robert Mugabe

Los Angeles Times

Violence may no longer be enough to keep the oppressive dictator in power.
By Martin Meredith, Martin Meredith is a journalist and historian whose
books include "The Fate of Africa" and "Our Votes, Our Guns: Robert Mugabe
and the Tragedy of Zimbabwe."
April 1, 2007

AFTER 27 years in power, President Robert Mugabe is finally losing his grip
over Zimbabwe. Economic disaster has provoked mounting criticism not only
from opposition groups but from powerful factions within his own party.
Mugabe's customary tactics for dealing with his critics have been violence
and repression. But so dire has the plight of Zimbabwe become recently that
there are signs that even violence is no longer sufficient to keep the
increasingly unpopular president in power.

Zimbabwe has the world's fastest-shrinking economy outside a war zone.
Agricultural production has declined by half since 2000, when Mugabe sent
militia groups to seize white-owned farms in the hope of restoring his
popularity. Vast tracts of land now stand unused. The inflation rate has
officially soared to 1,700% and is expected to reach 5,000% by the end of
the year. Three-quarters of the population is unemployed. More than 3
million people, desperate to find work, have moved to neighboring countries.
Education and health services are on the brink of collapse. Foreign
diplomats have begun warning of mass starvation.

Amid rising public despair, opposition groups convened a "Save Zimbabwe"
prayer meeting in Harare on March 11, defying a government ban on public
rallies. Mugabe's response was to order armed police to break up the
meeting - to "bash them," as he likes to say. Dozens of opposition
activists, including Morgan Tsvangirai, the 55-year-old leader of the
Movement for Democratic Change, were savagely beaten.

Last week, opposition leaders charged that scores more advocates of
political and civic change had been abducted and badly beaten in recent
middle-of-the-night assaults by unidentified assailants - widely believed to
be part of a government campaign to stifle dissent. Nelson Chamisa,
spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change, was attacked at Harare's
airport last month by four men who fractured his skull with iron bars,
according to the New York Times. "It's state terrorism," he said.

But far from intimidating opposition groups, Mugabe's use of violence has
emboldened them. "They are losing their fear, despite every effort of the
government to build that fear over the last eight years," Christopher Dell,
the U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, told a reporter.

Furthermore, this latest bout of repression has led to a torrent of foreign
condemnation, even from Mugabe's allies in Africa. The South African
government, which is Zimbabwe's largest trading partner and has hitherto
been reluctant to criticize Mugabe's regime, has made it clear that it wants
him to retire when his current term expires in 2008.

Mugabe, of course, has other ideas. Despite his age, the 83-year-old leader
is determined to hold onto power beyond 2008. He has even talked of
continuing in office until 2014, vowing that Tsvangirai will never be
allowed to become president as long as he is alive.

But it will be increasingly difficult. These days, prominent figures within
Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party are trying to maneuver him toward an exit,
fearing that their private wealth amassed during the Mugabe years could be
lost in an economic collapse. Mugabe previously retained their loyalty by
rewarding them with farms, government contracts and other perks, but he no
longer has the ability to offer such patronage because the government, mired
in debt, is bankrupt. When Mugabe recently tried to postpone next year's
presidential elections for two years, to keep himself in power for an
extended term, he was thwarted by Solomon Mujuru, a former army commander
and one of Zimbabwe's richest men.

Nevertheless, Mugabe has long experience in outmaneuvering his critics
within ZANU-PF; the wayside is littered with challengers. Moreover, as long
as he maintains control of the army and police, the option of violent
repression remains at hand.

For much of Mugabe's career, violence has been his stock in trade. As leader
of one of the guerrilla armies that fought to overthrow white-minority rule
in Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was previously called, he became obsessed with the
power of the gun, telling supporters that even when they had the vote, the
gun would always be ready for use. During the 1980s, he unleashed a campaign
of terror against opponents in the western provinces of Matabeleland in
which at least 20,000 civilians were killed.

So proud was he of his record that he once boasted about having "a degree in
violence" to add to his six university degrees. "The area of violence is an
area where ZANU-PF has a very strong, long and successful history," said
Nathan Shamuyarira, one of Mugabe's closest colleagues, confirming the

It didn't have to be this way. Mugabe came to power in 1980 in an atmosphere
of hope and optimism. In the early years, he strove to build a good working
relationship with his former white adversaries; he reassured white business
about the future, stressing the need for foreign investment. Buoyed by a
huge influx of Western aid, he was able to embark on an ambitious program to
extend education and health services to the population.

But as the years passed, he turned viciously on his black opponents and,
over time, his goodwill toward the white community evaporated as well. In
his bid to create a one-party state in the years since, he has crushed his
political opposition, rigged elections, corrupted the courts, trampled
property rights and suppressed the independent press. Now, however, his
style of government has become a matter of embarrassment for other African
leaders. In return for Western aid, they have repeatedly promised to adhere
to strict rules of governance and to bring an end to the era when Africa's
"big men" could rule the roost with impunity. But, like other big men before
him, Mugabe has no intention of going quietly.

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Analysis: Africa fails again to deal with Zimbabwe

Jerusalem Post

Apr. 1, 2007


Once again, African leaders have shown their complete and total lack of
respect towards the rights of ordinary Africans. In a shocking communiqu ,
the 14 countries that make up the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) declared their solidarity with Robert Mugabe, the man responsible for
the destruction of Zimbabwe.

What is even more beguiling was SADC's decision to blame the West and
sanctions for Zimbabwe's troubles, when the only person responsible for the
dire state that Zimbabwe finds itself is Robert Mugabe.

The Zimbabwean economy has been declining for decades. GDP has decline by
more than thirty percent between 1997-2005, inflation stands at around 1700%
and rising, (Z$10,000 is equal to one US dollar) and due to rising poverty
levels around 20 babies a week are found in Zimbabwean dustbins.

UNICEF reports that around thirty percent of the population (2.2 million
people) has HIV/AIDs. More recently and due to rising concerns over a coup,
Mugabe has recruited around 2,500 Angolan paramilitaries known as "Ninjas"
for their all-black uniforms. The 'ninjas' provide personal protection for
Jos Edurado dos Santos, the Angolan president, and are reported to instil
fear among ordinary Angolans for their brutality.

Mugabe's destruction of civil society began once he successfully
out-manoeuvred Joshua Nkomo, the head of the Zimbabwe African People's Union
(ZAPU) and Bishop Abel T. Muzorewa to ensure that Mugabe's party: the
Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) won the April
1980 elections.

Mugabe has used ZANU-PF to cement his rule through legislation, graft and
corruption. When politics failed, Mugabe turns force as seen in 1983 when he
sent the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade to the Midlands and Matebeland
regions to crush opposition which mostly came from Joseph Nkomo's Zimbabwe
African People's Union. More recently, he has used the Youth Brigade and the
war Veterans, as well as his usual henchmen and sycophants in the police and
the security services to harass those who oppose the regime, as seen with
Operation Murambatsvina ('Operation Clear the Filth') in May 2005, in which
thousands were arrested and approximately 700,000 people became homeless.

Under Mugabe, any form of dissent or opposition is crushed severely as seen
recently when Zimbabwean authorities detained Moragn Tsvangirai, the leader
of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and other senior opposition
members (Arthur Mutambara and Lovemore Madhuku) for attending rallies and
calling for the removal of Mugabe. Freedom House, a non-profit, non-partisan
organisation ranks Zimbabwe as one of the most oppressed countries in the
world, on par with North Korea, Sudan, Iran, and Syria.

At the heart of Mugabe's destructive policies lie the controversial land
issue and which he has repeatedly used to shore up support from fellow
African leaders. The nineteenth-century 'Scramble for Africa' and the
imposition of White Colonial rule allowed the whites who headed to the
territory of Zimbabwe (known as Rhodesia at the time) to help themselves to
the best land by pushed off the indigenous African population to the less
fertile areas or forcing it to pay taxes and/or rents to the Whites.

Consequently, whites came to own and control the best lands in Zimbabwe,
something that Mugabe was determined to overturn. To this end, he has driven
whites off the land, initially by providing some compensation but since 2000
his land eviction policy has turned increasingly brutal, as he has grown
more authoritarian. Mugabe's land reform campaign as seen productive farms
handed to war veterans (those who fought in Zimbabwe's war of independence)
and to family and close allies of the Zimbabwean dictator with the
consequence that it effectively destroyed Zimbabwe's agricultural industry.

As the international community became increasingly critical, Mugabe has
found allies in China, Iran and North Korea, whilst launching tirades
against Britain, the West and the homosexual community (Mugabe has described
homosexuals "as worse than dogs" and not entitled to basic human rights).
Overall, Zimbabwe is in a deep crisis, the country's infrastructure is
destroyed, while health, education, social welfare are non-existent.

Yet, despite this, no real criticism or condemnation is coming from South
Africa, Nigeria or Kenya, countries that vie for a permanent representation
at the Security Council. It is becoming increasingly apparent that in
twenty-first century the international community has decided to continue to
treat Africa and Africans as second-class citizens. The only difference
between the twenty-first and twentieth-century is that nowadays, African
leaders are the cause of the suffering.

The writer an expert on international politics and a lecturer at the Lauder
School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya

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Africa plots own diplomatic course on Zimbabwe


Sun 1 Apr 2007, 7:10 GMT

By Andrew Quinn

JOHANNESBURG, April 1 (Reuters) - Smiles and hugs marked Africa's crisis
summit on Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe won vows of support from
African leaders in the face of sharp Western criticism of his autocratic

But political analysts said the veteran leader may find Africa's embrace
uncomfortably tight as neighbouring countries exert pressure on him to
change his ways even as he stands for re-election in polls next year.

"The summit was not an outright victory for Mugabe," said Chris Maroleng, a
researcher on Zimbabwe at South Africa's Institute for Security Studies.

"Publicly they allowed him to declare that he has the solidarity of Southern
African leaders. But behind closed doors there was serious debate and
criticism ... they read him the riot act, and are now waiting to see if he

Mugabe -- now 83 and one of Africa's canniest political operators -- sailed
through last week's special southern African summit in Tanzania with aplomb
after a month that saw his security forces arrest and beat opposition

He then returned home and rallied his ruling ZANU-PF party to endorse him
for re-election next year.

While the United States and Britain called for a tough African response to
Mugabe's crackdown, regional leaders emerged with little more than a call to
lift Western sanctions against Zimbabwe and a plea for more dialogue.

South African President Thabo Mbeki was asked to bring Mugabe together with
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), a mission critics
quickly dismissed as doomed given the failure of so many earlier
reconciliation efforts.

But political analysts said despite the low-key pronouncements, the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) summit had achieved something that
Western grandstanding on Zimbabwe had failed to do.

"What Zimbabwe has called an internal matter is now being handled at a
regional level. To that extent, it is a major breakthrough," said Shadrack
Gutto, head of the Centre for African Renaissance Studies at the University
of South Africa.

"The onus is now on Mugabe. But that does not mean it is going to be easy.
He is a stubborn man, and the older he gets the more stubborn he becomes."


Analysts said South Africa was the main force behind the SADC strategy,
reflecting fears in Pretoria that Zimbabwe could collapse into conflict just
as South Africa gets ready to host the 2010 soccer World Cup.

With Zimbabwe's inflation above 1,700 percent and millions of economic
refugees streaming across its borders, South Africa has watched nervously as
Mugabe's police force steps up repression of the MDC amid an economic crisis
exacerbating splits in Mugabe's own ruling ZANU-PF party.

Mugabe's endorsement on Friday as the ZANU-PF candidate for new elections -- 
which could see him extend his rule into a third decade -- appeared to paper
over some of those differences. But analysts say other party leaders remain
worried the country is sliding past the point of no return.

South Africa's Weekender newspaper on Saturday quoted unidentified sources
as saying Britain and the United States had drafted a five point rescue
package for Zimbabwe which could swing into play if Mugabe steps aside.

But South African officials have warned that focussing too much on Mugabe
himself risks underestimating the deep systemic problems of ZANU-PF rule in
the country.

Olmo von Meijenfeldt of South Africa's IDASA think tank said Mbeki would
likely seek to reach around Mugabe, forging agreement with both the MDC and
disaffected ZANU-PF factions on how to move forward.

"It won't have an immediate effect, but it is a process that is under way.
From one perspective, the goal on all sides is to oust Mugabe from his
position," he said.

Mugabe, of course, has thwarted such efforts in the past and few observers
expect him to fade out quietly.

But analysts say Zimbabwe's increasingly dire economic situation -- 
illustrated in a U.N. report which said that hundreds of thousands of
Zimbabweans faced starvation this year due to poor harvests -- could prove a
tipping point that African leaders can exploit.

"The economy is certainly imploding ... and at some point everyone inside
and outside the country will see he has to go," said von Meijenfeldt.

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International Crisis Group - CrisisWatch N°44, 1 April 2007

Nine actual or potential conflict situations around the world deteriorated
in March 2007, according to the new issue of CrisisWatch,* released today.

In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe cracked down violently on the
opposition - sparking sharp local and international criticism - and yet
ended the month with his party's endorsement as its candidate for the 2008
election. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, clashes between government
forces and guards loyal to opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba killed
hundreds, while in Nigeria, a political crisis deepened ahead of April
elections. Conflict intensified in Somalia, where the capital Mogadishu saw
some of the worst fighting in fifteen years, and in Sri Lanka, where the
government opened a new front against Tamil separatists. Iran saw tensions
spike after seizing 15 UK navy personnel it claimed had entered its waters.
The situation also deteriorated in Guinea-Bissau, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan.

Six situations showed improvement in March. A peace agreement was signed
between ex-rebels and the transitional government in Côte d'Ivoire providing
for power sharing for a period of transition. Positive steps were taken in
Israel and the Occupied Territories with the formation of a Hamas-Fatah
national unity government and decision by the Arab League to renew its
commitment to the 2002 Arab peace initiative. In Northern Ireland, a
power-sharing agreement was signed between the Democratic Unionist Party and
Sinn Fein, paving the way for the resumption of devolved rule in Stormont.
In Nepal, a government was formed that fully incorporates Maoists into the
political mainstream for the first time. The situation also improved in
Guinea and Mauritania.

For April 2007, CrisisWatch identifies Nigeria, Timor-Leste and Zimbabwe as
Conflict Risk Alerts, or situations at particular risk of new or
significantly escalated conflict in the coming month.


Deteriorated Situations
DR Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri
Lanka, Zimbabwe

Improved Situations
Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Israel/Occupied Territories, Mauritania, Nepal,
Northern Ireland (UK)

Unchanged Situations
Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Basque
Country (Spain), Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Burundi, Central
African Republic, Chad, Chechnya (Russia), Colombia, Cyprus, Ecuador, Egypt,
Ethiopia, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Fiji, Georgia, Haiti, India (non-Kashmir),
Indonesia, Iraq, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia,
Macedonia, Moldova, Morocco, Myanmar/Burma, Nagorno-Karabakh (Azerbaijan),
North Caucasus (non-Chechnya), North Korea, Philippines, Rwanda, Saudi
Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan Strait,
Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda,
Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Western Sahara, Yemen


Conflict Risk Alerts
Nigeria, Timor-Leste, Zimbabwe

*NOTE: CrisisWatch indicators - up and down arrows, conflict risk alerts,
and conflict resolution opportunities - are intended to reflect changes
within countries or situations from month to month, not comparisons between
countries. For example, no "conflict risk alert" is given for a country
where violence has been occurring and is expected to continue in the coming
month: such an indicator is given only where new or significantly escalated
violence is feared.

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 31st March 2007

Disappointed is too mild a description of the feeling at the Vigil following
the SADC meeting on Zimbabwe. Supporters were outraged at what was seen as
cowardly betrayal by our neighbours.  It was agreed we would immediately run
a new petition: "We record our dismay at the failure of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) to help the desperate people of Zimbabwe at
their time of trial.  We urge the UK government, and the European Union in
general, to suspend government to government aid to all 14 SADC countries
until they abide by their joint commitment to uphold human rights in the
region." Of course, we do not want to hurt our brothers and sisters in
Southern Africa but we must drive home to their hypocritical governments
their obligation to observe the commitment to good governance they have all
signed up to.  We do all we can to encourage humanitarian aid but it is
difficult to explain to the British taxpayer why he should pay Malawi to
employ guards to stop people defacing signs on the new highway Malawi has
named after Robert Mugabe.

Today's Vigil was in solidarity with the suffering back home. We watch with
great anxiety and helplessness as brave people suffer on our behalf.  The
perpetrators of violence will not get away with it.  The Vigil has a new
poster - "Roll of Shame" on which we list information on these monsters with
their background and crimes committed.  This will be added to as information
comes to light.  The Vigil is pressing for the creation of a special
rapporteur funded by the European Union to record human rights abuses.  We
were all amused that Zanu-PF is to put forward Mugabe for another term.  It
will confirm to the outside world that the country is run by clowns.

Our supporters in Free- Zim Youth claimed another scalp this week when they
confronted Angola's Ambassador to the UK in his own Embassy.  They wanted to
establish the truth of reports that Angola has agreed to send 3,000 of its
para-military forces to Zimbabwe to shore up Mugabe's tottering regime.  The
good news is that the Ambassador denied this.  The bad news is that the
Vigil is getting reports from Zimbabwe that some of the perpetrators of
violence do not appear to be Zimbabweans as they can't speak either Shona or

We had an interesting visitor today, Brian Haw, who has been staging a
non-stop demonstration for six years in Parliament Square over Iraq.  He
briefly left his patch to visit a fellow activist being held in our local
police station.  He joined in the singing and dancing and expressed sympathy
for our cause.

After four and a half years we at the Vigil are used to the bizarre.  Vigil
co-ordinator Dumi said that when he had to report to the Home Office with
his baby son, Zizi, the baby was issued with ID that stated he was not
allowed to work.  Dumi was planning to send him cleaning up chimneys as soon
as he could crawl.  Dumi is to feature in a video show in Paris in June.
"Here I Am Still Strong!" a video interview with Dumi was made in 2005 by
artist/film-maker Melissa Bliss on a mobile phone. It has been chosen for
the Pocket Films Festival at the Pompidou Centre. The Festival is keen to
hear about the situation in Zimbabwe and how mobile phones are useful.
Melissa would like to hear any information about how mobile phones are used,
for example, to collect evidence or to record news. You can contact her at

We are getting so many requests for interviews etc from university students
and researchers that we have had to appoint a special team to look after
them.  It is encouraging to find such interest and sympathy.

With the peculiar ritual of changing the clocks for British summer time it
was good to end the Vigil in daylight.  We welcomed several new supporters
including a singing stuffed Rasta lion dressed in Zimbabwean colours which
our friend Caroline from Devon brought as a mascot. He sings "Don't worry,
be Happy" when you squeeze his paw.  We were surprised to find after the
Vigil a beautifully made new banner "ANC loves Mugabe. South Africa props up
Dictator".  It had not been unwrapped for the Vigil and we would love to
know who made it.  We will use it on Wednesday at the demonstration outside
the Embassy in support of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.  See below
for details.

The Belfast Vigil reports "Our first vigil got off to a great start.  We had
about a dozen Zimbabweans, lots of singing and dancing, banners and
placards. We were given chocolates by a passer-by and offered free coffee at
a local coffee shop by a sympathiser. We ran out of leaflets and had to
print off more. As you say there is more awareness recently and people are
sympathetic.  We should have had a register also but asked anyone interested
in updates or in helping out to email us. We are reconsidering the venue -
although the City Hall is iconic it does not reach a lot of passers-by."
They sent us a photo which we have put on our photo site. We have already
passed to them a request for an interview from the Irish press. Their next
Vigil is on Wednesday 18th April, 2 - 5 pm (to mark Zimbabwean Independence
Day). Venue to be advised.

For this week's Vigil pictures:

FOR THE RECORD: 98 signed the register.

-         Monday, 2nd April, 7.30 pm. Central London Zimbabwe Forum.  The
speaker is Viomak the Zimbabwean protest singer who launched her new CD
entitled "Happy 83rd Birthday President R G Mugabe (bones of a 30 year old)"
at the Vigil on 24th February. Upstairs at the Theodore Bullfrog pub, 28
John Adam Street, London WC2 (cross the Strand from the Zimbabwe Embassy, go
down a passageway to John Adam Street, turn right and you will see the pub).
-         Tuesday, 3rd April, 7.30 pm - Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place,
London W2 1QJ - Zimbabwe in Meltdown - to be discussed by a panel consisting
of Lord Triesman, Minister for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office, Wilf Mbanga, Founder, Publisher and Editor of The Zimbabwean
newspaper, Gugu Moyo, Zimbabwean lawyer of the International Bar Association
and Bill Saidi, Deputy Editor of The Standard in Zimbabwe - via phone link.
Tickets £7 available online at
-         Wednesday, 4th April, 12 - 2 pm - join ACTSA and the Trades Union
Congress for a demonstration outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in solidarity with
the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions who have called a general strike for
3rd and 4th April.
-         Wednesday, 18th April, 2 - 5 pm - the second Belfast Vigil (to
mark Zimbabwean Independence Day). Venue to be advised.
-         Saturday, 28th April, 11 am - 3 pm. The Bristol Vigil meets under
the covered way, just near the Watershed, Canon's Road, Harbourside.

Vigil co-ordinator

The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe.

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Sleepout to make a point

stuff, New Zealand

By JOHN HENZELL - The Press | Monday, 2 April 2007

Shupayi Mpunga did not want to spend Saturday night sleeping in
Christchurch's Cathedral Square, providing unexpected education for young
men out on the town.

However the Zimbabwean is hoping that something as simple as a small 24-hour
vigil will lead to change in her homeland.

Mpunga said she and a dozen others found themselves the focus of men out
drinking, but soon informed them about the plight of those in Zimbabwe who
did not enjoy political freedoms as simple as sleeping out to make a point.

"Small things might make a difference and we don't know what will tip the
scales," she said. "Sometimes we don't know what to do and we feel helpless
and desperate. I don't want my children to grow up in a foreign land. I want
them to experience the Zimbabwe I grew up in."

The vigil included gathering scores of signatures on a large cloth petition
calling on the New Zealand Parliament to lobby for the Zimbabweans suffering
under President Robert Mugabe's dictatorship. The petition was handed to
Green MP Keith Locke yesterday afternoon, who promised to help raise
Zimbabwe's case whenever he could.

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A man mistaken for ZINASU President severely attacked

The Zimbabwean

Zimbabweans today got the shock of their lives when an innocent man
whom the
Central lntelligence Organisation (CIOs) mistook for Promise Mkwananzi
severely assaulted and left for dead.The State apparatus have been
for Promise Mkwananzi whom they accuse of working with the opposition
effect regime change in Zimbabwe.Promise Mkwananzi is the current
of the Zimbabwe National Students Union and has been very articulate in
terms of advancing the interests of students and speaking out against
rights violations.On wednesday last week Promise Mkwananzi went into
after he learnt that he was now topping the list of people earmarked
abductions.This came against the backdrop of illegal abductions of key
opposition and human rights activists that rocked Harare early last
week.Among those who were abducted and/or assaulted are Nelson Chamisa
Spokesman and MP,Ian Makone Tsvangirai`s personal advisor,Hon  Madzore,
Chisvuure,Hon Mhashu ,all of whom are opposition MPs,Last Maengahama,
an MDC
Youth Leader and a whole lot of other people.While speaking from his
sanctuary Promise Mkwananzi urged government to stop sponsoring this
and sqaurely blamed Robert Mugabe for encouraging these barbaric acts
warned that time would call upon him to pay for his sins.Promise
is also a member of the Save Zimbabwe General Council.

Beloved Chiweshe
Secretary General
Zimbabwe National Students Union
21 Wembly Road, Eastlea, Harare, Zimbabwe,
00263912864534/ 002634788135

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ZANU PF set to re-draw Zimbabwe's Constitution

Zim Online

Monday 02 April 2007

By Patricia Mpofu

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party at the weekend
brushed aside opposition calls for comprehensive and people-driven
constitutional reforms and instead agreed to unilaterally change Zimbabwe's
Constitution to hold concurrent presidential and parliamentary elections in

Churches and civic society groups have called for an inclusive process to
rewrite Zimbabwe's governance charter while the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party has threatened to boycott next year's polls
unless Mugabe and ZANU PF first agreed to a completely new and democratic
constitution that guarantees free and fair elections.

A ZANU PF central committee that on Friday nominated Mugabe as party
candidate for the 2008 presidential poll appeared to ignore the opposition
and civic society calls, agreeing to use the party's overwhelming
parliamentary majority to make constitutional amendments that analysts said
would only help further entrench Mugabe's hold on power.

The ruling party, which controls more than the two-thirds majority in
Parliament required to make constitutional amendments, agreed to amend the
Constitution to cut short the life of Parliament to 2008 so new elections
could be held together with elections for President.

The planned constitutional amendment will also see elections for the House
of Senate scrapped with new senators being chosen on proportional
representation. Each party will be allocated senatorial seats next year
based on support garnered in the general election to select House of
Assembly representatives.

The number of seats in the House of Assembly will be increased from 150 to
210 while seats in the Senate will expand from 66 to 84 members under the
proposed changes. ZANU PF presently has 109 seats in the lower chamber
against the MDC's  41 seats. The opposition party controls seven seats in
the Senate while the rest belong to ZANU PF.

Local government elections - held last November together with Senate
elections - will also be brought forward to next year which means they will
thereafter be held every five years instead of after four years.

Mugabe will be allowed to handpick 30 individuals to Parliament, a provision
he enjoys under the present constitution and which he has used to appoint
loyalists, friends and relatives to the House.

Another major change endorsed by the ZANU PF central committee was that in
the event of a sitting president dying, resigning or being no longer able to
continue with his duties, Parliament would sit as an electoral college to
elect a successor.

At present fresh elections to choose a new president would have to be called
within 90 days in the event of Mugabe dying, resigning or becoming unable to
continue with his duties.

ZANU PF expects to fast track the proposed constitutional changes into law
within the next three months.

MDC secretary general Tendai Biti told the media that the push by ZANU PF to
hold elections next year without comprehensive and democratic constitutional
reform would only help strengthen Mugabe's power base, while expansion of
Parliament was aimed at filling the House with Mugabe loyalists. - ZimOnline

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COSATU to march in solidarity with Zim labour union

Zim Online

Monday 02 April 2007

Own Correspondent

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Congress of Trade Unions (COSATU) says it
will go ahead with protests on Tuesday and Wednesday to force President
Robert Mugabe to address the worsening economic crisis in Zimbabwe.

COSATU secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi said the labour union would proceed
with its protest plans this week despite calls for dialogue by Southern
African leaders over the crisis in Zimbabwe.

"We are proceeding with the protests. We are not going to let go because
there is a promise of dialogue.

"We are having demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday, we are having
marches in Johannesburg and we will be marching to the Zimbabwean High
commissioner's office," said Vavi.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) last week said it was forging
ahead with the protest tomorrow despite a crackdown on the opposition by
President Robert Mugabe's government last month.

The ZCTU wants President Robert Mugabe's government to address a seven-year
old economic crisis that has manifested itself in record inflation of over 1
700 percent, massive joblessness and poverty.

COSATU said it will hold the demonstrations in solidarity with their
counterparts in Zimbabwe.

The labour union, which is part of South Africa's ruling tripartite alliance
together with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the Communist
Party of South Africa, has been highly critical of Mugabe's government.

President Thabo Mbeki has however continued to pursue "quiet diplomacy" on
Harare and has consistently refused to publicly censure Mugabe over human
rights abuses and failure to uphold democracy. - ZimOnline

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Update on the arrest of Gift Phiri , Chief reporter, The Zimbabwean

The Zimbabwean

Gift Phiri, chief reporter for The Zimbabwean, was arrested in Harare
this afternoon (Sunday 1st April) by one plain clothes and three uniformed
policemen outside his home in Sunningdale, Harare.

His computer and his  cell phone were confiscated. He is currently being
 by the Law and OrderMaintenance section at Harare Central. Our lawyer,
Alec Muchadehama, isurgently trying to get access to him.

In the past 30 days Zimbabwean  police have arrested, abducted, beaten and
tortured hundreds of critics of Robert Mugabe's regime. We fear greatly for
Gift's safety.

Wilf Mbanga, Editor

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Acid test awaits Mbeki's quiet diplomacy in Zimbabwe endgame

The East African


Will Thabo Mbeki be able to negotiate an exit deal for President Robert
Mugabe on the expiry of his term in 2008?

Although the decision by an extraordinary summit of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) held in Dar es Salaam last week to appoint
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki to bring Zimbabwe's government and
opposition to the negotiating table has been greeted with scepticism,
President Mbeki is best positioned to strike a peace deal for Zimbabwe.

Throughout the Zimbabwe crisis, Mbeki has maintained a policy of quiet
diplomacy and constructive engagement with Mugabe, the result of which is
that South Africa is now in a position where it can play honest broker in
the conflict.

Critics have blamed the summit meeting for not taking a stronger stance
against Mugabe. Yet a closer look at the situation shows that the meeting in
Dar es Salaam realised that a confrontational stance against Mugabe would
not achieve much.

The critical thing was to tactically commit him to SADC-sponsored
negotiations with both the Zimbabwe opposition and elements opposed to an
extra term for Mugabe within the ruling Zanu-PF party.

Mbeki's chances of clinching a deal are stronger this time round because
although Mugabe remains in a fairly strong position to choose the time and
manner of his departure, growing economic and political pressure makes him
more amenable to a deal.

As we went to press, a meeting of Zanu-PF's central committee was scheduled
to deliberate on his plans to extend his term. If the committee does not
approve, options will emerge for a negotiated solution.

Mbeki's appointment as mediator came as Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete
warned that SADC would not allow the economic meltdown in that country to

SADC executive director Dr Tomas Augustino Salamao was appointed to study
the economic situation of Zimbabwe and propose measures SADC can take to
assist the country to recover.

The summit, held at Kempinski Kilimanjaro Hotel from March 28-29, addressed
current affairs facing the region, particularly the crises in Zimbabwe and
the Democratic Republic of Congo.

President Kikwete, who is the chairman of the SADC Defence and Security
Committee, said after the closed-door emergency meeting that "Zimbabwe's
macroeconomic indicators - inflation, economic growth and exchange rate -
are worrisome," and that SADC will not allow this situation to continue.

Meanwhile, a delegation from a coalition of civil society groups in Zimbabwe
that was in Dar es Salaam to monitor the summit underlined the gravity of
the situation in the country by stating that should the latest initiative
fail, they would be appealing to neighbouring countries to open their
borders to what they predicted would be an exodus of desperate Zimbabweans
fleeing the collapsing country.

President Kikwete, who also chaired the SADC meeting, said the leaders had
expressed grave concern over the worsening political situation in Zimbabwe.

"You have the opposition complaining of infringement on their rights and on
the other hand the government accusing the opposition of violence and
disobeying the law. The situation is not good either way, so SADC has
decided to act," he said.

He said it would be best if the ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) co-operated with President Mbeki, who will be
working with the SADC organ for politics, security and defence to facilitate

President Kikwete said SADC was also appealing to the international
community to accommodate Zimbabwe instead of isolating it.

"Diplomatic relations between Zimbabwe, the EU and the United States are not
healthy," he said.

Zimbabwe's official inflation stands at 1,700 per cent, but critics and
insiders say the actual rate is about 4,000 per cent.

A sum of $10,000 that, just after independence in 1980 would have bought a
decent house, today buys only about 25 litres of petrol.

The Coalition of Activists and Civil Societies in Zimbabwe said on the
sidelines of the summit that it will appeal to neighbouring countries to
open their borders to allow Zimbabweans to flee their country.

"Many Zimbabweans are fleeing to neighbouring countries in search of a
better life but are being deported," Rev Nicholas Mukaronda, the coalition
co-ordinator said last week in Dar es Salaam.

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MDC accuses SADC of 'playing ping-pong' on Zimbabwe

New Zimbabwe

By Torby Chimhashu
Last updated: 04/02/2007 08:15:03
A FACTION of Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
has accused the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) of "playing
ping-pong" with the lives of Zimbabweans by accepting that the country's
problems stem from Britain's failure to support land reforms and sanctions.

SADC leaders met President Robert Mugabe for crisis talks in Tanzania last
week. After the meeting, the SADC leaders urged western countries to lift
targeted sanctions against Mugabe and senior ruling Zanu PF party officials.

Tendai Biti, the secretary general of a faction of the MDC led by Morgan
Tsvangirai accused SADC leaders of swallowing dishonest submissions by
Mugabe's government.

"SADC's view of our crisis is totally dishonest and mendaciously
constructed," Biti said in an interview Sunday. "It is not honest to say
Britain must pay compensation for the land when the land has actually been
acquired from white commercial farmers.

"Zimbabweans are suffering from Mugabe's misrule not economic sanctions.
Targeted sanctions are not economic sanctions. SADC has been taken for a
ride on the issues of land and sanctions," Biti told New

He added: "SADC is playing ping-pong with the people of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabweans are the biggest losers. Those who are holding the bats should
stop playing ping-pong with the lives of Zimbabweans."

A special summit of the Sadc last Thursday urged the West to drop sanctions
against Mugabe's government and appealed to Britain to "honoUr its
commitments" to fund land reforms in its former colony.

The summit came amid Western calls for a tougher line on Mugabe's most
recent political crackdown on human rights activists and opposition members.

Leaders at the Tanzania summit put South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki in
charge of defusing Zimbabwe's deepening political crisis.

Biti said the involvement of President Thabo Mbeki in the troika to mediate
between Mugabe and the opposition is not new.

While maintaining the MDC has faith in Mbeki, Biti pointed out that Mbeki
had failed in the past to prevail over Mugabe.

"We saw him (Mbeki) in 2002 when Zimbabwe was still part of the
Commonwealth. He was part of the troika that included Australian Prime
Minister John Howard and Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo.

"Mbeki was again involved in the collapsed talks between the MDC and Zanu
PF. We have faith in President Mbeki but have no faith in Mugabe. As long as
we have guarantees that come 11 March, 2008, Mugabe quits, it's ok. We would
love to say good bye to uncle Bob," said Biti. "There must be a firm
decision on that".

He said his party was ready to engage Zanu PF in a dialogue aimed at
resolving the current crisis which has thrown the once prosperous southern
African nation towards the precipice.

"We are ready to engage Zanu PF but on condition that Mugabe is not part of
the process. Mugabe belongs to the past and is not part of the future. It's
up to Zanu PF. It must accept that Mugabe is a liability.

"We think he is delusional and dishonest. Mugabe has no relation to reality.
He is caught up in a cold wartime frame. His body demeanour does not reflect
someone in total control of his mental faculties," said Biti.

"If Mugabe's performance on Zimbabwe was a school card, it could have read
that he is an irredeemable and incorrigible kid who does not know how to
spell and write his name."

Biti spoke as the ruling Zanu PF resolved to field Mugabe as its candidate
in next year's Presidential elections.

"The candidate of the party will be the President (Mugabe) himself. He was
endorsed by the central committee at the meeting today," said Shamuyarira
Friday, adding the presidential term will be cut to five years from the
current six.

Mugabe outfoxed hopefuls - Emmerson Mnangagwa and Joice Mujuru - to earn the
right to represent his party in watershed elections that could end his rule.

Although both Mnangagwa and Mujuru have so far not commented, it is believed
Mugabe will face a tough time to win the support of disgruntled provinces
that are against his decision to stand again.

Mugabe has faced international condemnation over a brutal crackdown on
opponents and stands accused of running down Zimbabwe's economy with
reckless abandon.

Last month, security agents, at the behest of the 83-year-old leader
launched a crackdown on the leadership of the two MDC factions which saw
dozens of activists arrested and some beaten in police custody.

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What next for Zimbabwe?

New Zimbabwe

By Mutumwa D. Mawere
Last updated: 04/02/2007 08:13:58
IN THE countdown to the 27th birthday of Zimbabwe, we have no choice but to
continue to reflect on the meaning of independence and the destiny of

Ultimately life is a nuisance of time but in a nation's life every minute
counts because nations do not expire like natural persons. The history of
any nation is informed by the actions of each generation. Like a relay, one
generation expects to inherit a legacy from another generation.

With respect to Zimbabwe, the baton remains locked firmly in the hands of
one generation or one man to the exclusion of other generations. The world
can go hang so says Zimbabwe's leadership while the country remains groping
for solutions to an economic quagmire whose cause is a subject of dispute.

Last week was full of drama. For some the week started with great
expectations that the SADC Summit was going to provide the answers they were
yearning and working for. They waited in anticipation to President Mugabe's
dressing down by his colleagues in SADC. Some peddling the fragmentation of
Zanu PF into two distinct factions allegedly united of late in a resolve to
replace President Mugabe.

Even the opposition parties invested emotionally in the outcome of the Zanu
PF Politburo and Central Committee meetings. In all, those opposed to
President Mugabe were anxiously expecting the good news of the old man
vanishing into the twilight and the red card being handed to him by both
SADC and his own club.

On Friday, Mugabe was triumphant and yet no rational analysis is evident on
why SADC would meet and arrive at the conclusion that the Zimbabwean crisis
requires the western countries to back off by lifting sanctions and for
Britain to honour its compensation obligations with respect to land reform
made at Lancaster House. The media and the international community i.e.
Britain, USA, Australia and some countries in the EU were expecting a
different outcome that would locate Mugabe at the centre of Zimbabwe's
problems. In fact, the construction of the Zimbabwean problem is that Mugabe
has to go for Zimbabwe to be accepted in the commonwealth of progressive

Having written on the subject of the seemingly inability of Mugabe's
adversaries to read into the complex Zimbabwean condition, I have come to
the inescapable conclusion that it is important that those who seek to
unseat Mugabe must reflect deeply on their strategies and go back to the
drawing board. Why is it that SADC and Zanu PF members do not seem to see
what the opposition sees as critical to the resolution of the Zimbabwean
crisis? Is the construction of the Zimbabwean problem in the minds of Mugabe's
adversaries irrelevant and uninformed? What sustains Mugabe? Why would
allegations of factional fighting in Zanu PF take a life of their own and
yet Mugabe emerged at the end of the week fully in charge with no alleged
faction electing to leave the party? Is it true that Zanu PF is ridden with
factional fighting whose leaders have no spine to stand their ground?

If Zimbabwe was a natural person, what would it say for itself? Would the
country want five more years of Mugabe's rule? What would the country say to
Mugabe, Tsvangirai, Mutambara, Bush, Blair, and Mbeki? What would the
country say to its citizens? Would the country agree with the MDC (both
factions) that unless the country has a new constitution, a transitional
authority to run the elections and a government of national unity, there
will be no resolution to the crisis? What would the country say to Mugabe's
allegation that Zimbabwe is a victim of imperialist machinations designed to
change the regime and put in place a puppet government, and the land
question is at the core of Zimbabwe's problems?

It is important that in as much as people may find Mugabe's rule
unacceptable, we reflect on why the message from his political adversaries
has failed to capture the imagination of the regional governments. Even
President Chiluba and his former nemesis, President Kaunda, agree on one
thing that the Zimbabwean crisis is externally engineered. Why would all
these people be wrong on MDC? Could it be that MDC is missing the point? How
justified is the allegation that MDC's analytical and conceptual framework
of the Zimbabwean problem is a Rhodesian Front construction that was wrong
during the liberation struggle and is wrong now? Even Ian Smith in boasting
that majority rule was inconceivable in a 1,000 years failed to understand
the true nature of the forces underpinning the liberation struggle.

Some people have argued alleged that notwithstanding the personal views that
President Mbeki may hold on President Mugabe, he has no choice but to take
the side that is consistent with the values that informed the liberation
struggle. On issues related to the interplay between race and politics, race
and land, race and African transformation, the views of SADC heads of states
are at one.

So where is MDC getting it wrong? This requires a new conversation informed
by the experience of the party during the past seven years. Yes, MDC split
into two real factions and yet Zanu PF's alleged factions have not split
from the party. Rather many people including highly placed intellectuals
appear to speak on behalf of the so-called faction leaders i.e. Mujuru and

When Mnangagwa was challenged on the Tsholotsho plot, he did not stand up
and yet people still believe that while Mugabe is in power he will have the
courage of making a stand. While no one knows what General Mujuru believes
in, many have credited him for Vice President Mujuru's election by the
party. No one has asked whether it is the case that Mujuru is indeed a king
maker or he had nothing to do with his wife's rise to power.

Some have argued that the premise of the MDC argument has a lot of problems
that make it difficult to mobilize support from African heads of state.
Firstly, most of the African heads of state say that the starting point must
be that the 2002 election is history. On this construction, it is
unreasonable for MDC to seek to reverse the election result that SADC
endorsed as free and fair and expect SADC to reconsider a position that has
already been made. How then could MDC expect that SADC would take the
position that Mugabe is not a legitimate President of Zimbabwe?

With respect to the constitution, they argue rightly or wrongly that MDC is
hypocritical on this question because Mugabe accommodated the push for a new
constitution by appointing a Commission and conceded to a referendum whose
outcome is well known. Having gone the referendum route, they argue that it
is unreasonable for the NCA and MDC to continue to agitate for a new
constitution having failed to achieve the result they sought i.e. to remove
Mugabe through the introduction of a new constitution.

On the question of a government of national unity, they argue that there is
no precedent where a President having won an election can then accept to
accommodate his opponents. If one accepts that Mugabe is a legitimate
President of the country, they argue that it is unreasonable for MDC to
expect him to accommodate them. With respect to a transitional authority,
they argue that Zimbabwe is a sovereign country and there is no legal basis
for the involvement of third parties in the domestic affairs of a country.

With respect to the economic meltdown, they argue that MDC with the support
of its international friends is responsible for the current state of the
Zimbabwean economy by advocating the imposition of sanctions. While
acknowledging that the sanctions regime is generally acknowledged as
ineffective is also argued that their existence gives Mugabe a convenient
excuse to escape culpability.

Some would argue that Zimbabwe has been targeted by imperialist forces for
taking a principled stance on the land question and, therefore, it is
important that any way forward for Zimbabwe necessarily has to deal with
this question. In as much as people may dismiss it as a convenient excuse,
there are many who genuinely believe that the same forces that were opposed
to majority rule are the same forces that are taking the lead against
Mugabe. If in 1960, Mugabe was not liked by the west and in 2007 he is still
not liked by the west, then it means that nothing has changed and his party
and country needs him to fully defeat the enduring enemy.

It is important, therefore, that Mugabe's opponents framework their injury
broader than the political question. What is clear is that notwithstanding
the voodoo economics coming from the RBZ, no foreign investors who still
have substantial investments in Zimbabwe have dared add their voice to the
opposition. Why would bad policies not generate a negative response from the
private sector? With an official exchange rate of US$1=Z$250 against a
market rate of US$1=Z$25,000, why would exporters still remain in business
unless they are playing by different rules? Why is it that the opposition
has failed to attract the captains of industry to their ranks assuming that
the regime change agenda is informed by the real interests of Zimbabweans?

It is true that President Mugabe has positioned himself as the champion of
the common man and as the ultimate protector of Zimbabwean sovereignty.
However, he boasts of a number of black victims including myself whose
interests would not attract the attention of Bush and Blair. In the
circumstances, why would the opposition fail to articulate that any
continuation of the status quo ante is necessarily harmful to the interests
of not only white property owners but blacks as well who are being
externalized in large numbers on a daily basis. It is important that the
true cost of bad governance is exposed and critically examined with a view
to establishing whether Zimbabwe is the victim or beneficiary of President
Mugabe's life Presidency. If Zimbabwe is the victim, then surely it is up to
the citizens of the country to speak loudly.

Some have argued whether President Mugabe truly enjoys the support of his
party. They ask how many people would genuinely support President Mugabe if
he ceased to be the President of the country. They make the point that any
regime change agenda must necessarily be funded and yet many of the western
countries that engage in megaphone diplomacy have not put resources on the
ground choosing to impose ineffective sanctions. Can you imagine what would
happen if the opposition has its own Gono? The role of the state in
sustaining a party and leader who may have lost touch with the soul of the
nation needs to be interrogated critically.

Finally, what is next for Zimbabwe? The fact that President Mugabe is the
candidate for Zanu PF in next year's elections clearly has implications on
the country's future. Does President Mugabe have the solutions required to
give hope to the country? Does the end justify the means? Will the solution
come from intransigence or from accommodation? Zimbabwe is going to turn 27
in a few weeks and must speak with clarity about what will sustain the
nation and the kind of reforms that are required to promote the interests of
the country rather than its leader.

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

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Africa's bishops blame Mugabe for Zimbabwe crisis

Independent Catholic News

ACCRA - 2 April 2007 - 390 words

Following a worldwide outcry over the suffering in Zimbabwe, Africa's
Catholic bishops have said the country is in the grip of "a crisis of moral
leadership and bad governance."

They appealed "to the Government of Zimbabwe, in the name of Jesus, to
immediately stop the violence" against its people.

A statement by the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and
Madagascar (SECAM) on Saturday said: "the situation in Zimbabwe is not the
result of a natural catastrophe or only of adverse international conditions.
It is largely self-inflicted. It is a crisis of moral leadership and of bad

President Robert Mugabe, a Catholic, has led the southern African nation
since Independence in 1980.

The bishops of Africa "are saddened and concerned about the suffering of our
sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe."

Their statement came as Southern African leaders gathered in Tanzania to
find a solution to the political and economic crisis.

A fact-finding mission sent to Zimbabwe recently by SECAM reported that the
situation there had reached a state where an uncontrolled outbreak of
violence, chaos and anarchy was more and more becoming a danger.

The bishops said freedom of assembly, expression and movement no longer
exists in Zimbabwe. Members of the civil society, political opponents and
even ordinary citizens are often victims of violent acts, meted out on them
by the state for no legitimate reason.

"Basic needs are hardly met; food has become unaffordable for the vast
majority of the population. Drugs and medical services are far beyond the
reach of the ordinary Zimbabwean. The education system is almost
collapsing," the statement said.

The crisis had forced almost four million Zimbabweans into exile. "At the
same time, the wave of refugees to Zimbabwe's neighbouring countries is also
becoming a burden for that region." The bishops said.

The bishops appealed to African leaders to prevail upon the government of
Zimbabwe to immediately take measures to stop the violence and carnage that
is engulfing the country.

They also urged all churches and people of faith and good will in Africa to
join the people of Zimbabwe in their national day of prayer scheduled for
the 14th of April 2007 by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Zimbabwe.

Source: CISA

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Big Men

Saturday 31st March 2007

Dear Family and Friends,
On the same day that President Mugabe clapped his hands, declared that he'd
had an "excellent meeting" and stepped into a gleaming limousine, at least a
hundred people clamoured outside a bakery in Marondera town. They were
desperately waiting for the chance to buy a loaf of bread. There is now no
bread at all in the town. Around the corner at the town's biggest
wholesaler, at least fifteen men pushed huge flat trolleys loaded high with
all the flour that was left in the warehouse.

It was only 9 in the morning and the electricity had already been off for
three hours so it took a while for the news to trickle in that SADC leaders
meeting in Tanzania had appointed South African president Mbeki to "lead the
process of dialogue" between political parties in Zimbabwe. The words are a
flat and hollow echo of past meetings of these Big Men who lead the
subcontinent. They hold no glimmer of hope, compassion or even empathy for
another gathering crowd of sixty, then a hundred people waiting at the gates
of the Grain Marketing Board in my home town on the same day. The people are
dwarfed by four massive 30 tonne trucks - 22 wheelers - also waiting to try
and buy maize.

Later in the morning I hear the statement that the Big Men have made: "The
extraordinary summit appeals for the lifting of all forms of sanctions
against Zimbabwe." There is still no electricity in the town, its been off
for four hours now and I wander around a supermarket with a scrap of paper
and I shake my head in amazement at what I find: bubble bath from Bulgaria;
disposable razors from Poland; Band Aid plasters from Sweden; deodorant from
France; welding holders from Germany; hair styling hot combs from England
(still with the price sticker in British pounds attached to the box!)
Sanctions, I ask myself? Where? Against whom?

I leave the supermarket and have to wash my hands from a bottle of water I
keep for emergencies as there is, again, no water in the town.

At nine pm that evening, when local ZBC news has finished, the electricity
comes back on at the end of the second power cut of the day. We've had ten
hours without electricity that day and haven't even had the chance to get
the propaganda bulletins. News comes though, one way or another: President
Mugabe has been chosen by Zanu PF as their candidate for the 2008 elections.
He will be 84 years old by then and will have been in power for 28 years.

I will be taking a short break for the next three weeks but wish all
Zimbabweans, wherever you are in the world, a happy Easter and Independence.
A letter from the outside, looking in, will be written by my Mum, a
Zimbabwean in the Diaspora, and posted on the African Tears website for the
next three weeks.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.

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