The ZIMBABWE Situation
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Mbeki says "not much time" to sort Zimbabwe polls


Sat 7 Apr 2007, 7:41 GMT

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African President Thabo Mbeki said he wants
to move swiftly to ensure free and fair elections in Zimbabwe next year.

Mbeki was appointed last month by regional leaders as mediator between
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) after a government crackdown on opposition leaders.

Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF has put him forward as their candidate for the
presidential election in 2008. The opposition has said it may boycott the
polls unless authorities guarantee they will be free and fair.

 "In reality, we don't have much time ... the Zimbabweans have got 11 months
to do everything that is necessary to ensure that those elections are free
and fair and that the outcome of those elections is not contested by
anybody," Mbeki said on state radio SABC on Saturday.
It was not clear when the remarks were made. Zimbabwe also plans to hold a
parliamentary election next year.

The broadcaster said MDC officials were in South Africa for talks in the
mediation process, proposed by a summit of leaders of the Southern African
Development Community (SADC).

Mugabe's government drew furious protests from Western nations last month
after Zimbabwe police arrested MDC leader Morgan Tsvingarai, who said he and
other opposition members were severely beaten in detention.

Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

The MDC and other groups have protested against Zimbabwe's crippling
economic crisis which critics blame on government mismanagement. The MDC
also accuses Mugabe's government of stealing a series of elections since

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Black Market Economy Thrives in Zimbabwe

Associated Press

 Apr 7, 2007

      Associated Press Writer

      HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- The economic chaos engulfing Zimbabwe has
turned even a mundane task such as renting a car into an unachievable dream
for the average law-abiding citizen.

      A car rental company on Saturday quoted a day rate of 69,000 Zimbabwe
dollars to hire a basic model, plus a deposit of 25 million Zimbabwe
dollars. This is the equivalent of a staggering w$2,760 per day - plus a
deposit of $100,000 - at the official exchange rate, but only $35 and $125,
respectively, on the black market.

      The figures provide an insight into the growth of the black market
economy in this once-prosperous southern African nation, which is reeling
under inflation of more than 1,700 percent and suffering from shortages of
most basic goods.

      The number of Zimbabwe dollars that bought a three-bedroom house with
a swimming pool and tennis court in 1990 today - at official exchange
rates - would buy a single brick. A lifetime public worker's monthly pension
cannot buy a loaf of bread.

      The independent Consumer Council estimates regular supermarket goods
increased in price by between 50 and 200 percent last month alone. The
official government mouthpiece, the Herald newspaper, warned last week that
inflation would hit 2,500 percent by the end of April.

      President Robert Mugabe blames sanctions, drought and Zimbabwe's
former colonizer Britain for the collapse of an economy based on exports of
agricultural and mineral products.

      Others blame land grabs, in which Mugabe encouraged blacks to force
out most of the 5,000 white commercial farmers who owned 40 percent of all
agricultural land and produced 75 percent of agricultural output.

      Zimbabwe's main foreign currency comes from an estimated 3.5 million
of its nationals living abroad, replacing tobacco exports, tourism and
mining revenues slashed in six years of political and economic turmoil.

      Much of the hard currency sent home from Zimbabweans abroad ends up on
the black market - and gives even impoverished villagers the benefit of
black market deals, making most of the population lawbreakers, analysts say.

      Currency violations carry the penalty of a fine or imprisonment, which
are invoked often - mainly by political and business rivals seeking to
settle grudges.

      Many Zimbabweans are prepared to run the risk, saying they have no
choice considering the official rate of 250 Zimbabwe dollars to the U.S.
dollar, and the black market rate of 20,000 Zimbabwe dollars to the U.S.

      For instance, a pack of six wax candles, traditionally used by rural
poor but now essential in urban homes during frequent power outages, sold
for 47,000 Zimbabwe dollars, which was $188 by the official rate, or $2.35
at the unofficial one.

      A can of soda costs 10,000 Zimbabwe dollars, or $40 at the official
rate, and 50 cents at the black market rate. The price of a bottle of
imported Scotch whisky was around 500,000 Zimbabwe dollars, or $2,000
officially and $25 by the black market.

      A Zimbabwean motorist wanting to rent a car Saturday was told that the
25 million Zimbabwe dollar deposit on a Volkswagen Chico was payable in
cash - bundles of it - or a bank certified check on a day banks were closed
for Easter.

      "When we accept cash, it's obviously coming from the black market. We
don't ask questions or we'd be out of business," said an official of the
rental company who asked not to be identified in case of investigation by
central bank inspectors.

      "Everyone does it. That's the way it works," he said. "It doesn't make
any sense to change at the bank. Do you think our politicians do that?"

      If a foreign tourist bought a small, locally made chocolate Easter egg
at 22,000 Zimbabwe dollars on his international credit card, charged by law
at the official rate, it would set him back $88. But if he changed money on
the street, he would get it for just over $1.

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Expect more Mugabe brutality, says US envoy

The Telegraph

By Peta Thornycroft, Zimbabwe Correspondent
Last Updated: 12:45am BST 07/04/2007

      President Robert Mugabe has entered a new phase of brutality since
African leaders and his own party failed to take a stand against his violent
rule, America's ambassador to Harare has told The Daily Telegraph.

      Christopher Dell gave warning that more oppression could be expected.

      "The situation has changed in some respects now that the mask is off
and we see the beast for what it really is. As they feel more and more
cornered they act in more and more desperate ways," he said.

      Mr Dell said that the US shared Britain's concern over Mr Mugabe's
recent threat to deport western journalists he accuses of backing opposition

      The US has also expressed concern to Zimbabwe's ambassador to
Washington over a threat to send a British diplomat in Harare, Gillian Dare,
home in a "body bag".

      "The threat was evidence of the depth to which this regime is prepared
to go to try to save themselves," said Mr Dell, who is due to end his
mission in June.

      He added that Zimbabwe's economic crisis would ultimately be the
downfall of Mr Mugabe, 83.

      The president, whose Zanu-PF party endorsed him last week to stand for
a five-year term in next year's elections, claims that western travel and
financial sanctions are responsible for the economic crisis.

      "I don't think this resolved anything for Zanu-PF. The brilliantly
orchestrated show rammed through his nomination without debate or
contemplation, and he has been foisted on the party, a tired old candidate
whose succession is fuelling much dissension in the party," said Mr Dell.

      "The end will come, and it's not long off," he added, without
specifying how Mr Mugabe might yet be forced from power.

      The party apparatus knows about the economic collapse, and each one is
considering options, but they know that Mugabe is the greatest of all
dangers to the party and the country."

      A general strike called last week was a flop, like many previous
attempted protests against the regime. Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change remains weak, ineffective and divided.

      The US acknowledged on Thursday that it was helping Mr Mugabe's
critics. In its annual report on supporting democracy worldwide, the State
Department said its approach towards Zimbabwe included taking steps to
"support persons who criticised the government". The report added that
"fundamental political and economic changes" were needed before the US would
agree to better relations with Zimbabwe.

      The State Department said that the US had encouraged "greater public
debate" in Zimbabwe by sponsoring "public events that presented economic and
social analyses discrediting the government's excuses for its failed
policies". Of all the western envoys in Harare, Mr Dell is by far the most

      Britain's ambassador, Andrew Pocock, generally refrains from public
criticism of the regime for fear of giving Mr Mugabe an opening to claim
that the former colonial power is trying to discredit him. The President
does this anyway in many speeches. The way is now clear for Mr Mugabe to
seek re-election next year. If he serves another term, he will stay in power
until 2013 when he will be 89.

      But many Zimbabweans hope that Mr Mugabe will agree to step down
peacefully in the aftermath of another electoral victory.

      . An experienced Zimbabwean photo-journalist may have been murdered.

      Edward Chikombo, who worked for the state broadcaster, is thought to
have helped smuggle video footage out of the country showing Morgan
Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, with head wounds after being detained by

      The footage provoked international outrage and calls for Mr Mugabe to
step down.

      Mr Chikombo was reportedly abducted from his home on the outskirts of
Harare and his body was found 50 miles outside the capital at the weekend.

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Challenging Mugabe

Chicago Tribune


Published April 7, 2007

Like a bad houseguest, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe doesn't know when
he has worn out his welcome. Or worse, he knows and doesn't care.

Now 83, he has held office since his country was born out of the breakaway
British colony of Rhodesia in 1980. His best days are long behind him.

Mugabe has wrecked his country's economy, brutalized his rising political
opposition and inflamed international outrage. Famine plagues his country,
which had been a major agricultural exporter. Factories and other businesses
have closed. Prices are rising at an annual rate of almost 2,000 percent.
Yet Mugabe has held onto power.

Now he appears finally to have overplayed his hand. He is running out of
scapegoats. For the first time visible opposition is rising within his own
political party, which was formed out of the anti-Rhodesian insurgency
movement he once led. Party leaders in December refused to go along with his
request to extend his term as president by two years to 2010. For a party
that until now has moved in lock step with his wishes, it was a major

Facing an uphill election campaign, Mugabe has unleashed his uniformed
thugs. A recent police assault on a political prayer meeting in the capital,
Harare, on March 11 injured more than 60 people. Opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai was badly beaten while he was in police custody.

The prayer meeting marked a reunion of factions in the Mugabe opposition
that had been divided for two years. If the intent of the police raid was to
beat Mugabe's critics into submission, it appears to have had quite the
opposite effect. It has unified his opponents across party lines and
national boundaries.

Impatience is growing within his own political party and in neighboring
countries. South African President Thabo Mbeki and other leaders have been
reluctant to openly criticize Mugabe, who still commands respect as an
anti-colonial fighter. But that reluctance is giving way as South Africa and
other neighboring countries bear the burden of some 3 million Zimbabwean
refugees. Mbeki is believed to be trying quietly to push Mugabe to retire.

Indications of election fraud moved the United States, Britain and the
European Union to impose economic sanctions targeted against Mugabe and his
close associates. Stronger pressure is needed from Zimbabwe's neighbors to
ensure honest elections and a peaceful transition of power. Mugabe, once a
freedom fighter, needs to free his country from his own disastrous rule.

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Prayer Vigil for Zimbabwe 21/4/07

Supporters have asked for a special focus on prayer for Zimbabwe at the Vigil on Saturday, 21st April from 2 - 6 pm.  Given the desperate situation back home, the Vigil Co-ordinators are happy to agree and pass on the following invitation.  Apart from the usual singing and dancing there will be prayers, talks and bibile readings.  The Vigil has also asked churches in the UK to join churches across Zimbabwe in prayers for the country on Sunday, 15th April. 
Vigil Co-ordinators

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.







DATE                  21st April 2007

TIME                   1400 – 1800




THERE HAS BEEN POLITICAL UNREST THAT IS CAUSING UNTOLD SUFFERING IN ZIMBABWE. The situation is deteriorating everyday with more and more disturbing reports on the harassment, torture and abuse of THE ORDINARY Zimbabwean. THE PEOPLE ARE BEING HELD HOSTAGE IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY. 









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Outside Looking In

A letter from the Diaspora

Good friday 6th April 2007

Dear Friends.
I checked 'diaspora' in the dictionary and it's defined as ' A dispersion,
as of people originally belonging to one nation.' Zimbabweans have certainly
spread all over the world. Between three and four million people, black
brown and white have left the motherland and are scattered through Africa,
Europe and North America. That fact more than any other tells you there must
be something seriously wrong at home.

Like so many others I am here in the United Kingdom. I have been here just
over two years now, watching events at home and wondering if the suffering
for the Zimbabwean people will ever end. Sometimes I think it's almost worse
to watch from the outside knowing that there seems to be absolutely nothing
one can do except weep for Zimbabwe and respond as best one can to the
desperate requests for pounds.

The news this week that fourteen SADCC states had refused to condemn
Mugabe's brutality against his own people was not unexpected but it was very
depressing. Placed alongside the horrific pictures of Zimbabweans beaten and
tortured in police cells it highlighted the shocking hypocrisy of the
African leaders. When he got home from the SADCC meeting Mugabe boasted that
he had not received condemnation from one single country. He added, ' Of
course, he (Tsvangirai) was bashed. He deserved it. I told the police 'beat
him a lot' He and his MDC must stop their terrorist activities.' That
statement sounds even more shocking when we hear it from thousands of miles
away; this is the President of the country we call home.

But this time in exile need not be completely wasted. We can learn something
from the experience. The one advantage we have of living in a country with a
(relatively) free press is that we can see how the rest of the world covers
'our'story. Possibly because there has never been a completely free press in
Zimbabwe, it is sometimes difficult for us to understand the power of the
media in a democratic society. We need to do whatever it takes to keep
Zimbabwe in the news; whether it's the activism demonstrated by the Zim
Vigil or the Free Zim youths or something less active, we can all keep the
issue alive.

Personally, I write letters to newspapers, MPs, radio and TV editors and
anyone else I can think of to air the Zim question. I also keep newspaper
cuttings, records of Zimbabwe's human rights abuses carried in newspapers
all over the world. There are names of victims and perpetrators and
sometimes even the precise locations where the abuses occurred. One day my
overflowing cuttings box may provide just a part of the evidence to bring
the wrong doers to justice. You know what they say, 'What goes around comes

Last week the media here was full of pictures of two once bitter enemies Ian
Paisley and Gerry Adams sitting peaceably together at a news conference.
Paisley, of course, is the man who said he would never, never, never sit
down with the IRA - remember Ian Smith said that Africans would never never
never rule in Zimbabwe! You'll remember too that Mugabe says he'll never,
never, never sit down with Tsvangirai. It seems unlikely that Thabo Mbeki is
the man to persuade Mugabe otherwise. Since Mugabe got home from the SADCC
meeting he has unleashed an orgy of violence against the people - and Mbeki
hasn't said a word.

But miracles do happen, look at Northern Ireland! Perhaps there's hope that
even Robert Mugabe will one day have to accept the inevitable. Sure, he
seems all-powerful at the moment. He can beat the hell out of his opponents
and tell the world they deserved it because they are 'terrorists, he can
fiddle around with the economy and blame the collapse on sanctions, he can
rig the elections, he can con other African leaders into supporting him
because of his 'liberation credentials' but there's one thing not even
Robert Mugabe can do. He cannot make the people love him again. And Robert
Mugabe is a man who likes to be liked. He may deny there is crisis in
Zimbabwe but the fact that the SADCC conference took place at all is
evidence that Mugabe's powers of persuasion are fading. His once loyal
African brothers have admitted, if only to themselves, that there is a
crisis in Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe can't seem to see that, he prefers to live
in the past when everyone loved him . 'I have 83 year of struggle,
experience and resilience. I cannot be pushed over,' he boasts. To me that
sounds like delusions of grandeur; perhaps Morgan Tsvangirai is right when
he says; the man needs a psychiatrist!
More next week.
Ndini shamwari yenyu. PH.

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Former African Leaders Could Hold Key To Zimbabwe Crisis

The New Times (Kigali)

April 6, 2007
Posted to the web April 7, 2007

Omar D. Kalinge-Nnyago

The much anticipated Southern Africa Development Coordination Committee
(SADCC) summit in Tanzania to discuss the Zimbabwe situation produced
largely expected but disappointing results. As expected, the summit only
served to embolden President Mugabe who left the summit in an upbeat mood.
He was to be nominated presidential candidate for his ZANU PF party in the
increasingly uncertain 2008 poll.

This, despite speculations of a revolt in his party and rumours of a
possible military coup climaxes amidst the sensational resignation of his
Vice President.

For sitting presidents meeting in Tanzania in the presence of Mugabe, it
would have been wishful to expect them not to empathise, even sympathise
with the elder statesman, whom many see as a veteran Pan-Africanist and
relentless anti-imperialist crusader.
For a country like South Africa, arguably the most important politically and
economically stable in the block, Mugabe is an icon of the new democracy's
anti-apartheid struggle that ushered the black leadership to power.

While Zambia's president Levi Mwanawasa had earlier been reported to have
made remarks that were quite disapproving of Mugabe's undemocratic conduct,
he was not expected to sustain his position, if for moral reasons.

Mwanawasa has not treated the opposition well either, including his mentor
and former friend, President Chiluba.

Southern Africa has had a unique relationship with the whites, which makes
it less receptive to suggestions from the northern hemisphere. Namibia,
Zimbabwe, and South Africa suffered the horrendous last experiences of white
domination in the last century and their memory of white exploitation needs
no refreshing. So, when Mugabe stood up to redistribute land to the
indigenous Zimbabweans, however crudely, much of Southern African
"understood". Tanzania, though fairly farther off, in Eastern Africa, was a
frontline state against apartheid and other anti-imperialist struggles. It
is not difficult to see where Tanzania's sympathies would lie.

Besides Southern Africa's reluctance to condemn Mugabe and their unexpected
appeal to the so called Western 'friends' to go slow on Zimbabwe, perhaps as
far as sanctions are concerned, there is a reality that ought to be
addressed. Most African leaders, not least Mugabe, are afraid of leaving
power, not more for the sake of it as for the uncertainty of the
consequences. Chiluba's case has been well documented.

So is the recent indictment and trial of Liberia's Charles Taylor. The
tirades against Jerry Rawlings in Ghana and accusations of corruption
against his family that made him skip the 50 year celebrations of Ghana's
independence are also common knowledge. Chiluba did not treat Kenneth Kaunda
particularly well either.

Many African leaders have come to power after years of armed conflict that
alienated the vanquished. The armed struggles that bring some African
leaders to power involve actions that often constitute crimes against
humanity, for which they can be prosecuted. Some commit crimes during their

Olara Otunnu, former UN Special Representative for Children in Conflict
Areas has repeatedly called on the International Criminal Court, ICC, to
indict Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni for 'crimes against humanity' he
committed during 1980-85 when he fought a bloody war that toppled President
Obote (RIP), and for 'atrocities committed by his army' in the 19-year civil
war in northern Uganda while fighting the equally atrocious Lord's
Resistance Army of Joseph Kony. Such calls would make Museveni think twice
about relinquishing power.

I think Mugabe, and other African leaders who are afraid of leaving power,
need some help. Not from the same frightened lot of serving presidents, but
from past leaders who are now leading normal, private, productive lives.

Between June 5-8, 2005, 15 African former heads of state and government from
across Africa gathered in Bamako-Mali, to discuss the individual and
collaborative contributions that former leaders can make to address the
urgent challenges facing Africa .

In their declaration at the end of the meeting, now known as the "Bamako
Declaration of the African Statesman Initiative" the former leaders
committed themselves, in part, "... continuing to use our good offices to
foster dialogue and the peaceful resolution of the continent's conflicts and
to promote human security and democratic models of government that offer
citizens the opportunity to choose their leaders freely and participate
fully in the political life of their countries".

In the circumstances, the involvement of former African statesmen might be
more useful in solving Zimbabwe's problem and persuading Mugabe to step down
peacefully, than to ask sitting presidents faced with their own unique
challenges to tame the aging leader.

The crux of the matter, really, is that Mugabe and others like him need
assurances - that it is possible to leave power peacefully and continue to
be useful to one's country. Only former leaders can play this role.

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Tsvanirai vows to fight Mugabe at polls

ABC Radio Australia

This is a transcript from Correspondents Report. The program is broadcast
around Australia on Sundays at 08:00 on ABC Radio National.

      Correspondents Report - Sunday, 8 April , 2007
      Reporter: Andrew Geoghegan
      ELIZABETH JACKSON: Zimbabwe's Opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is
still recovering from being bashed by the Government's security forces, but
that hasn't stopped his campaign to remove President Robert Mugabe from

      He's vowed to fight Zimbabwe's veteran leader at the ballot box,
provided that next year's elections are free and fair.

      Mr Tsvangirai has been in South Africa this past week for medical
treatment, but he was also there to court the media.

      Among them, our Africa Correspondent, Andrew Geoghegan.

      ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Morgan Tsvangirai was unsure if he'd be allowed to
leave Zimbabwe, given that some of his colleagues have been bashed trying to
do so.

      The Opposition leader is still suffering the effects of the bashing he
received from police last month, and he wanted to go to South Africa for
medical treatment.

      He eventually made it to Johannesburg, and he wasted no time in
briefing western media organisations, many of which are banned from
Zimbabwe, including the ABC.

      MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: I came here to check whether I'm still coherent
because of the attacks that I've received. But I'm going to see a doctor.

      ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Morgan Tsvangirai admits that his task of opposing
the rule of Robert Mugabe does jeopardise his safety, particularly in light
President Mugabe's recent violent crackdown.

      MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: My personal security is just as at risk as any
other Zimbabwean.

      This last week hundreds have been subjected to abductions, brutal
attack and beatings. But I must say that that risk will always be there, and
people of Zimbabwe are always vulnerable the regime's actions.

      But what is happening is a horrendous attack on the Opposition, and I
cannot put a wall around me. I'm as vulnerable as any other Zimbabwean when
it comes to the regime actions.

      ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: And Morgan Tsvangirai says those actions are
destroying a generation of Zimbabweans.

      MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Mugabe's crackdown on our people leaves a trail of
broken limbs, rape victims, torture victims and dead bodies.

      ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: In the wake of Robert Mugabe's recent brutal
crackdown on dissent, observers have noted that this is the action of a man
desperate to hold onto power.

      SYDNEY MASAMVU: I think the immediate and first port of call is to get
the lead of President Mugabe to retire.

      ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Sydney Masamvu is with the International Crisis
Group, and he's just returned from Zimbabwe.

      SYDNEY MASAMVU: Thought it's not the be all and end all of the
situation, but that's the starting point.

      ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: It appears most Zimbabweans, and indeed members of
the President's own party, ZANU-PF, had been hoping that the veteran leader
would retire before next year's elections.

      SYDNEY MASAMVU: From interface (inaudible) the key players within
ZANU-PF, and there's a general consensus which is now emerging that for the
country to begin to move forward in terms of, I mean reconciling this
situation, there's need to press along President Mugabe to retire.

      ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: But, Robert Mugabe has been endorsed to run again.

      Morgan Tsvangirai says he will lead the Movement for Democratic Change
into those elections, but only if they're guaranteed to be free and fair.

      MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: How do you go into an election when the opposition
is being battered?

      How do you go in an election when there's no freedom of assembly,
freedom of expression, the media is banned.

      How do you go in an election when the very same machinery of running
an election is militarised?

      So I'm just highlighting some of the impediments to free and fair
elections in Zimbabwe.

      ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: But Morgan Tsvangirai maintains that it's critical
that parliamentary and presidential elections proceed.

      MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: Only a government with democratic legitimacy,
elected no later than 2008, can reverse Zimbabwe's slide into catastrophe,
that will drag the hopes of Africa down with it.

      Mugabe's continued violent attack on the MDC is a pre-emptive strategy
designed to decapitate the Opposition prior to the upcoming elections in

      ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: In the meantime, South Africa's President, Thabo
Mbeki, has been charged by fellow Africa leaders with the task of mediating
talks between the Opposition and the Mugabe Government.

      MORGAN TSVANGIRAI: President Mbeki, however, must remain conscious of
the developments in 2004, when Mugabe scuttled the negotiations. One bitten,
twice shy.

      It is critical of president Mbeki to act quickly and decisively to
halt the suffering of millions of Zimbabweans.

      ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: In the eyes of the Opposition, the planned talks
will determine if Zimbabwe's crisis ends in calm or conflict.

      This is Andrew Geoghegan in Johannesburg for Correspondents Report.

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If Mugabe was here, I'd ask him where my cousin and friends are .. then I'd kill him

Daily Record, Glasgow

7 April 2007

By Darren Cooney
OUT of necessity, Hopewell Tumbdira belongs to Glasgow. It may be some time
before Glasgow belongs to him.

While most people have welcomed him to Scotland, some have tried to rob him.

Others have abused him because of the colour of his skin.

But nothing that Glasgow can inflict on Hopewell comes anywhere close to
what he left behind in Zimbabwe.

It is now six years since he fled Robert Mugabe's tyranny.

And it's still impossible to detach his mind from the horror of that regime.

Once he lived in a comfortable house in a suburb of Harare.

Now he survives in a drug den of a homeless hostel where a few days ago his
wallet was snatched from his room.

Still, however, the mean streets of Glasgow seem like Utopia compared to the
blooddrenched dust-tracks of Harare.

Like so many of Scotland's homeless, Hopewell's life story doesn't follow
the path of acliched down-and-out.

He doesn't drink heavily and has never indulged in drugs. Neither does he
come from an impoverished background where the only education consists of
learning where you next mouthful is coming from.

Back in Zimbabwe, he was a respected primary school teacher.

To many, this comedown would seem like the rawest of deals.

To Hopewell, it was his salvation.

"I moved to the UK in 2001 to escape the Mugabe regime. I was a supporter of
the opposition to Mugabe and wasn't safe in my country," said the
40-year-old African.

"Originally I stayed in London, but for various reasons I had to leave. It
might sound paranoid but maybe Mugabe has spies down there.

"Here, though, I feel safe, if not rich in the modern sense of the word.

"Although I wasn't in politics as such, just being a supporter of the
opposition party was enough to have me down as a marked man. I used to
organise rallies but it didn't matter that they were peaceful. Just saying
something was reason to stand out.

"I watched from my school and saw my fellow teachers jump out of their
classroom windows to escape Mugabe's army trucks that used to come searching
for insurgents.

"The trucks used to be camouflaged like any military vehicle, but the
dictator changed them to yellow to make them like the school buses so no one
saw them coming.

"But we heard them coming. We knew the sound they made and I will never
forget it.

"Mugabe's regime is all wrong. He pays his soldiers - ordinary privates -
more money than he does teachers. That's the value he places on education.
He is like so many dictators in that he wants the population to beignorant.
That gives him power."

Hopewell is the son of a Methodist minister, but forgiveness is a concept
that he can't extend to Mugabe.

Despite his anger towards an African dictator who strikes fear into the
heart of his countrymen, Hopewell's face regularly breaks into a smile. It
is a front for a tortured mind.

"They never touched my father because he works in the church and Mugabe
likes to be perceived as a Christian," he said.

"I had a cousin who suddenly disappeared, though. He would have been around
30 at the time and, like me, was a supporter of Mugabe's opposition.

"I don't know where my cousin ended up but I know Mugabe used to get his
bodyguards to throw people down this old mine at Goromonzi. They couldn't
get out and they starved to death.

If Mugabe came into this room, I would demand answers. I would demand he
told me where my cousin was, where my friends where. Then I would kill him."

Hopewell is seated in the comparative safety of a city-centre cafe. Yet he
casts furtive glances around, as if wondering whether Mugabe's tentacles
have reached this far.

He admits to still living in fear of this murdering despot. But he is no
longer consumed by the horror of his past.

He, after all, has a future to worry about.

"I have no job and no home but, although people might steal from me, they
will never try to kill me," he said.

"People say racist things to me and pass me needles and because I'm black
they think I take drugs. Every time I go into and exit the hostel, I am
offered smack.

"But I have never touched drugs in my life and I say a prayer for these
people on heroin.

Where I stay is like hell and, appropriately enough, the building next to it
is a mortuary.

"You might say I'm unlucky but, believe me, I am one of the lucky ones. I
got out of Zimbabwe alive.

"When I see my country on the news, I often cry. It's painful for me because
it brings so much back into my head. I know how they interrogate people.

"They beat you on the soles of your feet and use nails. It's horrifying."

If you ask Hopewell if he was interrogated, it's as if his memory shuts

Instead he expands on his new life in Glasgow and thanks God for the help he
has been given.

By day, Hopewell pounds the streets looking for work. By night, he enters
the sanctuary of the Wayside Club, run by the Roman Catholic Legion of Mary
organisation, where he is fed, clothed and listened to. He fully appreciates
the help afforded him, but in some way feels guilty for accepting it. He,
after all, believes he should be helping others.

This is a proud man, a man who believes charity is something that should be
given, not accepted.

"When I go to the Wayside Club and look into the eyes of the legionary
brothers and helpers, I see God," said Hopewell.

"So many Scottish people are friendly and want to help me. But I am healthy,
I have a brain, so I should be the one helping.

"People talk about asylum seekers and how they just want Government help.

"I don't want benefits. I want to work because I am not lazy. I want to help
the community and become a volunteer in the Wayside Club.

"Apart from the fear, I had a good life in Zimbabwe. I was middle-class and
had a nice house, cars and girlfriends. "I have two daughters and they now
live in Botswana.

"Like me, they are teachers. They are 20 and 21 and they are clever.

"I phone them all the time and maybe one day soon I will have some good news
to tell them. Nothing will stop me."

Mugabe certainly couldn't. And having met Hopewell, you don't see the red
tape of bureaucracy halting him either.

If you have been touched by Hopewell's story and would like to help men and
women such as him, please contact the Wayside Club, Midland Street, Glasgow
0141 2210169.

'Although people might steal from me, they will never try to kill me'

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Petrol bomb witness 'fictional' - lawyers

Zim Standard


      SOME of the defendants alleged by the State to be responsible for
recent petrol bombings were already in police custody when the incidents
occurred, their lawyers claim in bail application papers filed at the High

      Six Movement for Democratic Change activists have been accused of
masterminding the bombings, said by the State to be aimed at triggering an
insurrection against the government of President Robert Mugabe.

      Led by Alec Muchadehama of Mbidzo, Muchadehama & Makoni, the lawyers
will seek to prove in court some of the suspects were being charged for
bombings that took place when they were already in police custody.

      The lawyers will seek an explanation as to how these detained people
could have sneaked out of the cells to commit the offences.

      The lawyers claim there were no witnesses to "say they saw the
applicants committing the said acts".

      All the defendants, allegedly members of the MDC's so-called
Democratic Resistance Committees (DRC), are being charged with causing
"forcible resistance to the Government, defence forces or any law
enforcement agency".

      They face insurgency, banditry and terrorism charges.

      The State's case against Tonderai Ndira and five others is based on
affidavits by one Peter Chindodana, who claims he was a member of the MDC
anti-Senate faction for three years. Chindodana implicated Ndira, Barnabus
Ndira, Enock Mukudu, Friday Muleya, Nyasha Chikombe and Bornwell Chivishe in
the bombings of Sakubva police station in Mutare and Zanu PF's Mbare
district offices in Harare.

      Chindodana, claiming he stays in "Porta Farm in Banket", said in his
affidavit he had gathered that Ian Makone, MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai's
special advisor, had organised training for DRC members in June 2006.

      "That is why I was not surprised to hear that the seven took part in
the petrol bombings referred to above," said Chindodana in his affidavit.

      In bail application papers they filed at the High Court, the lawyers
are challenging the credibility of Chindodana, arguing that he "does not
appear to be one person".

      They also argue that Chindodana's signature on the affidavit in the
case differs with the other two affidavits used in two similar cases that
are being heard at the same time in remand court.

      "Therefore, the said Peter Chindodana does not exist and is a
fictional character," the submissions read.

      "The character has been created to find basis for remanding the
accused persons. Even if he existed his averment in the affidavit still does
not link the accused person to the offences."

      The lawyers will argue the statements by the police "are general and
do not say how the accused persons committed the offences".

      "For instance, Tonderai Ndira was arrested on 20 March 2007and has
been in police custody since then. How then could he have bombed Sakubva
police station on 23 March 2007? How also could he have bombed Zanu PF Mbare
District office on 27 March 2007?"

      The lawyers ask in their papers before the High Court.

      Their application for the accused, who have been denied bail three
times by the Magistrates Court, will be heard in the High Court on Tuesday.

      Meanwhile, other people accused of petrol bombings were granted bail
last week. Hatradge Mutasa, Chimudara Amisi, Moses Mutasa, Peter Bokosi,
Edmore Munyofa and Fungai Katurudza, also charged with bombing the Zanu PF
district offices in Mbare, were freed last week.

      High Court Judge Justice Joseph Musakwa on Thursday granted them $100
000 bail each.

      Five other MDC activists arrested on Tuesday were on Friday granted
$200 000 bail by Harare Magistrate Gloria Takundwa.

      But Glen View legislator Paul Madzore and six others, also accused of
petrol bombings across the country, remain in custody until Wednesday when
their bail application is to be heard in the High Court.

      The six others are Zebediah Juaba, Kudakwashe Matibiri, Luke
Tamborinyoka, Brighton Matimba, Better Chakururama and Stanley Mutsendi.

      Another MDC activist, Piniel Denga's bail application will continue on
Tuesday. Denga is being separately charged with illegal possession of 54
sticks of dynamite and 24 fuses.

      The bail application for Makone, charged with recruiting and training
insurgents, bandits, saboteurs or terrorists, has been set down for Tuesday.

      Raymond Bake, an MDC party activist, who is facing charges of
petrol-bombing the NRZ Bulawayo-bound train last month, will also have his
freedom bid heard on the same day.

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MDC activist shot, in critical state

Zim Standard


      AN opposition activist was battling for his life at Parirenyatwa
Hospital last night after being shot in the chest at his house early
yesterday as security agents continue to abduct and torture members of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

      Philip Katsande, a provincial executive member of the MDC, was shot
once in the chest by police, The Standard was told yesterday.

      MDC sources said yesterday police officers came to Katsande's Budiriro
1 house around 1AM and started smashing windows and doors.

      Katsande sought refuge in the ceiling.

      "The police officers started beating up his wife and kids," said the
sources, "until they revealed that he was in the ceiling. One police officer
fired three shots at him and he dropped to the ground."

      Katsande, who belongs to the Morgan Tsvangirai faction, was later
rushed to Parirenyatwa Hospital where he is receiving treatment under police

      Katsande's wife, Agnes, yesterday refused to comment for fear of
further attacks from the police. "We are just coming from the hospital to
see him, I can only talk if you get permission from him," said the wife
before switching off her mobile phone.

      Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena was not
immediately available for comment yesterday. His mobile phone went
unanswered for the better part of the day.

      MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said their lawyer, Otto Saki,
yesterday confirmed he was working on Katsande's case but was still
struggling to locate three other MDC activists, allegedly abducted on the
same night.

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US warns Zimbabwe over threats

Zim Standard


      THREATENING diplomats accredited to Harare can only worsen already
difficult relations between Zimbabwe and the West, USA Ambassador
Christopher Dell warned last week.

      Last month, Zimbabwe threatened to expel the US ambassador and his
British counterpart, Dr Andrew Pocock.

      Last week there were threats of physical violence against a British
diplomat, Gillian Dare.

      The threats, Dell said, were a sign of the government's desperation.

      London and Washington have reacted angrily to the threats and
representatives to the UK and US were last week summoned by their hosts and
had the riot act read to them.

      Zimbabwe's ambassador to Washington was called in and "if anybody has
been read the riot act, I can assure you he has been read the riot act on
this period", Dell told The Standard.

      There were also charges of foreign diplomats interfering in the
internal affairs of Zimbabwe after they attended a briefing by an official
opposition political figure in Harare last week.

      But Dell accused Harare of "having a peculiar and narrow
understanding" of the Vienna Conventions on diplomatic relations.

      "For them (the government)," he said, "it seems to be exclusively a
matter of Article 41 which talks about interference as the sole purpose of
the Vienna Conventions and give it an infinitely inflexible interpretation.

      "We have reached a new height of ludicrousness this week in seeing the
government, the official media claiming that diplomats attending a Press
briefing by an opposition figure is an unwarranted interference in

      Zimbabwean diplomats in the US, he said, were free to meet with
Democrats, Republicans or members of the Communist Party of the US. They
were free to attend any public hearings and briefings and public events they
wish because that was standard diplomatic practice worldwide.

      "I can't think of any country in the world," Dell said, "with the
exception of North Korea, which would have the effrontery to define meeting
with political figures in that country as a violation of the Vienna
Conventions. "

      The government in Harare, he said, seemed all too wiling to ignore
Article 26, which says diplomatic agents are free to observe and report on
relevant developments in the country they are accredited to.

      Attending briefings of figures, whether from government or opposition,
was within the scope of diplomatic duties.

      Dell said the government also seems all too willing to turn a blind
eye to Article 29, which imposes on the host government the obligation to
take the necessary measures to protect all diplomatic agents.

      Describing the officially sanctioned attacks as "despicable", Dell
said: "The threats we have seen in the State media - dealing with open
threats of physical harm, culminating in attacks on Gillian Dare of the
British Embassy - are a clear abrogation of its obligations under the Vienna

      Last year Zimbabwe claimed it was committed to bridge-building, but
Dell said it was hard to think that any government could do anything
resembling bridge-building when it was intolerant to criticism.

      The US would, he said, continue to condemn State-sanctioned violence
because this had the important effect of isolating the regime.

      While the government had responded by unleashing a campaign against
foreign critics, Dell said Zimbabwe did not understand the "extremely
negative consequences" the country would experience.

      Harare was free to expel him, Dell said, but whether he stayed or left
Zimbabwe would not silence the US.

      "Somebody will take my place. What happens to me as an individual does
not matter. I am coming to the end of my assignment. I will move on.
Zimbabwe will have to deal with the consequences of self-inflicted wounds,"
he said, warning: "Sending me away now would provide me an opportunity to
speak out more directly, not only in the US but throughout the region."

      Dell dismissed accusations by the government linking the US, UK and
the opposition to violence as "patently absurd". It was "naked gall" for
President Robert Mugabe (when he returned from Tanzania) to boast about his
government's violence and then attribute it to someone else.

      Two weeks ago after its summit in Dar es Salaam the regional grouping
SADC recommended the lifting of targeted sanctions, but Dell said that was
simply not going to happen - not until there is irrefutable evidence the
government has adopted a new approach.

      In fact, he predicted an increase in some of the targeted measures.

      Dell said he was more optimistic than a year ago and the reason was
that next year's elections could be a step closer to signalling an end to
the crisis in Zimbabwe, as free and fair elections represented the best
chance for the country's peaceful transition.

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'Stayaway was successful'

Zim Standard


      A TOP official of the labour movement says last week's stayaway was a
success, despite claims by the government that it was a massive flop.

      Lovemore Matombo, the president of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU), said they were satisfied with the workers' response to their
call for a two-day job action.

      He said they were well aware that the government had launched a
massive intimidation campaign among employers and workers using the security

      Matombo said for example, army helicopters, soldiers and police were
all over Harare on the days of the stayaway.

      "They summoned all their military hardware to intimidate workers;
there were soldiers everywhere. Their response showed that they knew our
mass stayaway would be a success," he said.

      The labour leader said that the job action had succeeded mostly in the
industrial areas where workers stayed away from work in large numbers.

      In Harare's central business district, Matombo said workers had also
stayed at home.

      "Some people thought because they saw people walking up and down the
streets, the stayaway had not succeeded. This is not the case. Based on last
year's figures, we have only 800 000 people who are in formal employment.
The majority of the people you see in town these days are not formally
employed; they are doing their own thing," said Matombo.

      He added that although the banks were open, there was "little activity
taking place".

      There were reports the government warned businesses they risked losing
their licences if they closed their shops.

      Matombo said the ZCTU would review the job action strategy and decide
on the next course of action.

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Civil servants demand more

Zim Standard


      ANOTHER clash is looming between the government and civil servants
this month as the workers demand a further pay increment, only two months
after the government granted them one.

      The workers say the hyperinflationary environment has eroded their pay

      The civil servants' pay was raised after teachers, nurses and doctors
downed tools.

      The Civil Service Staff Association Apex Council, which represents
about 180 000 civil servants, said they would demand another pay hike this

      Chairperson of the Apex Council, Tendai Chikowore, said a fresh wave
of discontent was brewing in the civil service due to poor remuneration.

      "Generally, all civil servants are not happy with what they were given
after the last pay negotiations. We will make fresh proposals this week,"
she said.

      In February, civil servants were granted a 300%salary increment.

      It is unlikely the financially crippled government would yield to
their demands for another pay rise two months after the last one.

      Chikowore, the president of the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association
(Zimta), said the association would meet today to decide on the percentage
increase they would demand.

      "After our meeting on Sunday (today), we will then meet as the Apex
Council before making our presentation to the government," she said.

      Nurses in Harare have been on strike for the past two weeks in support
of a salary demand "above the poverty datum line (PDL)".

      The PDL is currently slightly over $1 million but most nurses earn
about $350 000 a month.

      On Wednesday, Parirenyatwa hospital principal nursing officer, who
identified herself as Mrs Mavhaire, ordered the nurses to go back to work or
face dismissal.

      The striking nurses said they were told they would be docked money
from their salaries for the days they were not at work. But some have vowed
to stay away from work until their demands are met.

      The militant Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has
demanded a salary increment of over 300%, effective from April this year.

      In a letter to the Public Service Commission, PTUZ secretary-general
Raymond Majongwe said teachers were "living like paupers" due to the current
hyperinflationary environment.

      "With reference to the 2007 national budget as announced by Minister
Herbert Murerwa in November 2006, we hasten to remind you that the second
quarter of 2007 is approaching. The cost of living has significantly gone up
and our members are failing to make ends meet," said Majongwe in the letter
dated 15 March.

      Chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC) Mariyawanda Nzuwah
could not be reached for comment.

      Currently, inflation tops 1 700%and is expected to reach 5 000% by

      Majongwe said teachers required a basic salary of $1 420 000, and
transport and housing allowances of $420 000 and $540 000 respectively.

      Analysts say the mounting discontent among workers poses a serious
threat to the government. There have been reports of mass desertions and
resignations from the army and police over poor pay.

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John Nkomo plans to tell the Zipra story

Zim Standard

  By Nqobani Ndlovu

      BULAWAYO - Zanu PF chairman and Spe-aker of the House of Assembly,
John Nkomo, says he is writing his autobiography that will "set the record
straight" on the role played by PF Zapu in the liberation struggle, a few
months after Edgar Tekere released his own book, which divided the party.

      In February, President Robert Mugabe said Vice-President Joice Mujuru
had destroyed her chances of succeeding him by associating with people out
to damage him politically, following the release of Tekere's autobiography,
A Lifetime of Struggle.

      In the book, Tekere, a Zanu PF founder member, questioned Muga-be's
liberation war credentials and portrayed him as a weak leader.

      There have been resolutions that Tekere be expelled from the ruling
party for his remarks.

      Nkomo's book is expected to spark controversy, following growing calls
for the liberation war to be re-written to reflect the role played by PF
Zapu and its military wing, the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army

      Historians blame the apparent non-recognition of PF Zapu's role on the
lack of records about its operations after its archives were confiscated by
the government at the height of the disturbances in Matabeleland and the
Midlands during the 1980s.

      In an interview on Thursday Nkomo, a former senior Zapu stalwart, said
the history of the liberation struggle is "full of inaccuracies as it
downplays Zapu and ZIPRA's contribution".

      "It is important that we correct the fallacy that ZIPRA did not
participate in the liberation struggle . . .," Nkomo said. "We have to
correct some of the inaccuracies in terms of who fought where, operated
where . . ."

      Nkomo said: "I have a feeling that I should recount the distance that
I have walked from the time I was born. I have to write a book about my life
and the liberation struggle and my role in it.

      "I must put all that together. I am not a good writer but I will write
my own recollections and give somebody to follow up. It is not for financial
benefit but it's a way of telling a story about Nkomo and the country's
liberation history."

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ZINWA fails to raise $1 million

Zim Standard

  By our staff

      BULAWAYO - The Zimbabwe National Water Authority is unable to raise $1
million to fund "extraordinary meetings" to prepare for the declaration of
Bulawayo as a water shortage area and avert a looming crisis, it was
reported last week.

      Bulawayo City Council applied to the Ministry of Water Resources and
Infrastructure Development to immediately declare the city and its environs
a water shortage area to enable it to mobilise resources to mitigate the

      The government turned down a similar request in 2005, saying the local
authority needed to consult stakeholders with the assistance of ZINWA before
a declaration was made.

      But last month, the ZINWA Gwayi Catchment Council advised the council
it was "unable to carry the costs and requests the Bulawayo City Council to
fund these meetings".

      According to a report of the council's Executive Committee tabled at a
full council meeting last Wednesday, the meetings would cost $1, 2 million.

      Local authorities, including Bulawayo, have been resisting ZINWA's
moves to take over the management of their water and sewer reticulation,
alleging the parastatal lacked the resources to run the services.

      The council "grudgingly agreed" to fund the meetings because the water
shortage was fast approaching crisis proportions. The council said ZINWA's
position was not only "puzzling but disappointing".

      "The water situation facing the city is no laughing matter and every
effort should be made to avert a disastrous situation occurring," said the

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Ex-Zipra fighters locked in battle over properties

Zim Standard

  By Kholwani Nyathi

      BULAWAYO - Former Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA)
ex-combatants are at each other's throats over control of several properties
seized by the government during the 1980s disturbances in Matabeleland.

      The government handed over the properties to Nitram (Pvt) Ltd seven
years ago but is yet to give the war veterans title deeds to enable them to
revive the projects.

      But already the former combatants are fighting over the running of the
properties, which include farms, companies and a motel.

      Some of the war veterans who have been occupying Nest Egg Farm in
Bulawayo are facing eviction after the Nitram management committee leased
the property to a company called Village Walk Curio Walk (Pvt) Ltd.

      The company is co-owned by a war veteran named Thomas Ndlovu.

      But some of the war veterans at the property insist they would not be
forced out. "Some of the people connected to the board" were benefiting from
the properties, they said, while "fellow comrades were languishing in

      "There is no production at the Nest Egg and that is why the board
decided to lease that property to us," said Ndlovu. "The lease agreement
came into effect at the beginning of this month and we have already written
to those people staying at the property that we will be moving in next

      Mclean Mbayiwa, a member of the Nitram (Pvt) Ltd management committee,
confirmed they had leased out the property and described those who were
opposed to the move as "renegades".

      "They are not producing anything and that is why we are leasing out
the properties to a war veteran who was not a commander," said Mbayiwa.
"This shows that we have no intention of abusing the properties."

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Surviving through the grace of God

Zim Standard


      MUTARE - Ishmael Nyamudeza wakes up at 2AM and rushes to fill up his
bucket with water for his bath. A few minutes later, he sits on a stool and
starts eating the remains of last night's sadza and vegetables.

      Ten minutes later he puts on his creased clothes and passes by his
friend, John Mavhu's house. Then, together they are off to the Nyakamete
heavy industrial area where they work.

      This is the daily routine for the two friends as they are no longer
able to pay the new fares announced by transport operators.

      As they walk a distance of 100m from their lodgings, they meet a group
of security guards near the railway station linking Hobhouse and Chikanga
Phase Three, panting as they hobble in the same direction.

      The group grows bigger as they reach Chikanga Two and it is almost
dawn now, with hundreds of people all walking along the Mutare-Harare
railway line - to work.

      Among them are civil servants, some in the private sector and others
in the informal sector. They are all finding life difficult in Zimbabwe with
its inflation rate now hovering around 2 000%.

      Commuter omnibus fares have shot up to what some of them believe are
stratospheric levels. While the fares were half the current price cheaper,
they have risen unexpectedly, taking many by surprise.

      So, they now walk daily to and from work despite the long distance of
more than 12km each way.

      Nyamudeza says he earns $80 000 a month. He says with the transport
fare at $4 000 one-way, he would require at least $160 000 a month in
transport alone.

      "This is a far cry from what I am getting at the moment and the
prospect of getting an increment soon is unlikely as the company is
operating below capacity," he said.

      The bachelor says he returns to his lodgings from work, gets there and
often finds there is no electricity. When he leaves for work in the morning,
there is often no power either.

      "Apart from power outages, we get water at odd hours. Water only comes
around 12 midnight up to 3AM every day. That is in Hobhouse."

      Nyamudeza says he can no longer afford decent meals as he relies on
his leftovers and cannot afford to throw anything away.

      The commission running the city of Mutare, led by Fungai Chaeruka,
while aware of the problem of water shortages in some suburbs, often passes
the buck to the sacked MDC-led council of Misheck Kagurabadza.

      "The MDC council exhausted the money allocated for water reservoirs by
buying vehicles for themselves," Chaeruka once told a press club meeting.

      After being reminded the reservoir project was mooted during Lawrence
Mudehwe's tenure, he made a U-turn, saying he would look into the matter.

      Nyamudeza says the little money he earns from his job is not enough to
see him through the month. He is thinking of quitting altogether.

      He shares the dilemma with his friend, Mavhu, and many others they
meet along the road to work and the topic does not change for days as they
walk to and from work each week.

      Mavhu says if all things were equal he would buy a bicycle. The
journey to work would be so much more comfortable.

      "The problem is I cannot afford a bicycle. They are now so expensive.
But this would help me a lot. Walking is sapping the energy out of me. By
the time I get to work, I am already tired, after walking for two and half

      The poverty datum line is now pegged at about $640 000 for a family of
five. The $80 000 Nyamudeza earns would need to be multiplied by 12 to match
that figure.

      He admits his own existence in the city is a miracle; he says it can
only be through the grace of God.

      Nyamudeza, like Mavhu, says it is fortunate that he is still a

      "I wonder how I would manage with an extra mouth under these
circumstances. It would be a disaster."

      Many parents with school-going children say they have withdrawn them
from such city schools as St Dominic's, Mutare Girls' and Boy's High. They
say they cannot afford the daily bus fares for themselves and their

      While the commuters complain of the ever-increasing fares the public
transport operators remain adamant that they are actually being generous.

      "Considering that fuel is being bought at the parallel market, without
the government-subsidized fuel, we have to charge what is concurrent with
where we get the commodity. Remember also that spare parts need to be
imported and foreign currency is not readily available," said an operator
with a fleet of commuters, who preferred to remain anonymous.

      Social scientist Dr Donan Gwashu says Zimbabweans have to brace
themselves for worse.

      "It is not soon that we will have people being able to afford basics
such and shelter, and food. We haven't seen anything yet," he said.

      For Nyamudeza and Mavhu, the road to a better life is, literally, very
long. Placing faith in the grace of God may be an option that, spiritually,
could be very uplifting.

      Yet, at the end of the journey from work, if there is no square meal
on the table, or even the prospect of one the next day, is it time to hope
for a miracle, or to look elsewhere for succour?

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HIV/Aids: a heart-rending story of discrimination

Zim Standard

  By Bertha Shoko

      RITA Gada tested HIV positive in 2004. Unknown to Rita, her whole life
was about to change completely. After disclosing her status to her husband
of 19 years, Timothy Gondo, (not his real name) her life became a living
hell. Since then, her husband refuses to sleep in the same blankets with her
or share the same mosquito net with her.

      Timothy will not touch the cup or spoon she uses, will not use the
same soap and has his own toiletries marked for "security".

      And, if he had his way, he would not breathe the same air she
breathes, says Rita. After her daughter fell ill at nine months and later
succumbed to a deadly opportunistic infection, Tuberculosis-Meningitis, at
three years of age, Rita was convinced her immune system was compromised and
decided to have an HIV test.

      Said Rita: "My daughter's illness was an eye-opener for me. She was
very ill until she died in 2003 at three; the doctors did not mince their
words. They told me her death was Aids-related. I decided to get tested but
my husband refused. Before my daughter died he wouldn't even touch her,
saying she had Aids. It was really painful."

      But this is not all this woman has endured. Rita's first-born son who
recently completed Ordinary Level studies, now believes his mother is to
blame for being HIV positive, after his father poisoned his mind, says Rita.
Even worse, Timothy has openly threatened her at gunpoint in the presence of
their son: she must leave the house.

      Rita says she refuses to leave because they built the house together.
With tears streaming down her face, Rita told stunned delegates at a
discussion forum on stigma and discrimination organised by Southern African
Aids Information Dissemination Service (SafAIDS) last week:

      "I have told him I won't leave the house. He has reduced me to a
beggar, to fix me he does not leave money for food and yet he knows that I
have no source of income.He refuses to be tested because he is being fooled
by his healthy body and he is very ignorant.

      "I have experienced the worst form of stigma anyone can endure. Can
you imagine being treated like this by that one person you thought would
always be there for you? When we married, we vowed to each other that we
would always be there for each other. I am tired of this. Help me, please.
What wrong did I commit?"

      Watching Rita break down in front of strangers, made my heart twitch
in pain. This is just a tip of the iceberg, I thought to myself. Many people
living with HIV and Aids (PLWAs) continue to experience various forms of
stigma and discrimination at work, at home and in various facets of their
lives. But where can they get recourse and move on with their lives? How far
can the law protect them? This was the basis of the SAfaids discussion forum
whose theme was "Using the law to address HIV and Aids-related stigma and
discrimination" and this is where people like Rita had come to get answers.

      According to Emilia Muchawa from the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers'
Association, proving that one has been discriminated against or stigmatised,
especially in the workplace is the biggest challenge that human rights
lawyers like herself face. Muchawa said even though Zimbabwe is party to
numerous international human rights instruments, such as the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, most of the clauses in these declarations first
have to be "domesticated" so that they are relevant to Zimbabwean laws.

      The other issue, Muchawa says, is that many PLWAs who have been
discriminated against and stigmatised fear to seek legal recourse because
they dread to be labelled again.

      Rita is now in the process of taking her husband to court to force him
to support her and sue him for the emotional trauma she has suffered. She is
receiving assistance from the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers' Association. Rita's
case could inspire other PLWAs to break their silence.

      But for now, the most immediate challenge Rita faces is how to get
third line Antiretroviral Therapy after she reacted to the first and second
line combinations of treatment.

      Third line combinations are not available in Zimbabwe. With a CD4
count of only 51 Rita could be running out of the time and it is even a
wonder she has survived this far, according to the health experts.

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Byo spurns request for Mugabe birthday bash

Zim Standard

  By Kholwani Nyathi

      BULAWAYO - The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)-led council last
week refused to donate to President Robert Mugabe's regional 83rd birthday
celebrations, saying it was "constrained" by the harsh economic conditions,
says a council report.

      The low-key celebrations were held at Mpopoma High School last
Saturday and the guest of honour was Resident Minister, Cain Mathema.

      Zanu PF only managed to raise $15 million for the celebrations.

      According to a report of the council's executive committee tabled at a
meeting last Wednesday evening, Zanu PF Bulawayo province appealed to the
council for donations "in the form of transport or fuel for the provincial
21st February Movement celebrations", according to their letter.

      The council said it could not donate because it was "struggling to
provide satisfactory essential services to the public".

      It resolved that "the appeal by Zanu PF for transport and fuel for the
provincial 21st February Movement celebrations be not acceded to with regret
due to financial constraints, erratic supply of fuel and the depleted
transport fleet".

      The regional celebrations were held almost two months after the main
celebrations were held in Gweru. Mugabe turned 83 on 21 February and held
another lavish party with his inner circle at State House in Harare.

      Government departments and some municipalities across the country
bought acres of space in national newspapers and airtime on ZBC TV to wish
Mugabe a "happy birthday" ahead of the national celebration in February.

      Loss-making parastatals, such as the Grain Marketing Board and the
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority were forced to spend millions of
dollars towards the celebrations.

      They also donated towards the $300 million fund that was used to buy
food and drinks for the lavish celebrations held at Mkoba Stadium in Gweru.

      Bulawayo said it last supported the celebrations in 2002 when it
placed a congratulatory message in the government mouthpiece, The Herald.

      This is the first time the council has made it public that it turned
down appeals for donations towards Mugabe's birthday. It says in 2004 it
refused to place an advert in The Chronicle, the government mouthpiece in
Bulawayo, for the same reason - no money.

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More victims of State brutality sue government -NGO

Zim Standard


      A LOCAL non-governmental organisation said in Harare last week it was
handling over 60 cases, in less than a month, of citizens suing the
government after being assaulted by state-security agents.

      The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said at least 15 of the victims
have already filed notices to sue the government for the emotional and
physical suffering they endured after being shot or abducted and beaten by
security agents since last month's foiled Save Zimbabwe prayer meeting.

      The forum provides legal aid to victims of organised violence.

      Since the Save Zimbabwe prayer meeting last month, the government has
stepped up repression, abducting and torturing citizens seen to be
sympathetic to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

      The forum said it was in the process of filing more notices to the
relevant government departments.

      "Many more people are coming but so far we have sent out over 15
notices," said a senior official with the forum.

      He said the notices have been filed against the Minister of Home
Affairs, Kembo Mohadi, and the commissioner of police Augustine Chihuri in
their official capacities.

      Compensation would be claimed from them, depending on the severity of
the torture.

      Mohadi and Chihuri could not be reached for comment, but police
spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said he had not heard about the impending

      "But they (the victims) can go ahead. They are free to do so," he

      Among those suing the government are people shot or beaten while
attending the funeral of MDC activist, Gift Tandare last month.

      The forum declined to release the names of the applicants, citing
client-counsel confidentiality.

      But those shot by security agents at the funeral wake include MDC
activists Nickson Magondo and Naison Mashambanhaka, according to the
opposition party.

      The forum has also taken up the case of slain 17-year-old Chitungwiza
boy, Prince Chabuda, who was gunned down by police detectives in August last

      Prince's mother, Winnet, is claiming $150 million from the government
to cover the funeral expenses the family incurred.

      The police paid neither compensation nor assisted the family with
funeral expenses.

      Several opposition leaders, activists and human rights campaigners
have been severely assaulted as the government intensifies repression ahead
of next year's elections.

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Burial delays as one pathologist serves city

Zim Standard

  By Nqobani Ndlovu

      BULAWAYO - Bereaved families have to wait for more than two weeks
before burying their loved ones, as there is only one government pathologist
in the city, The Standard's investigations have established.

      Pathologists carry out post-mortems on bodies to determine the cause
of death.

      In murder cases, death due to negligence and accidents a post-mortem
is a statutory requirement.

      Most residents rely on the government pathologists because public
hospitals do not charge for the service.

      A pathologist also studies all aspects of disease with an emphasis on
the nature, causes and development of abnormal conditions to help in the

      It could not be established how many pathologists Bulawayo needs, but
the government admitted the situation had deteriorated to a crisis.

      The Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Edwin Muguti, said
the government was working on rectifying the problem but warned this would
not be easy.

      Muguti said his ministry was battling with a massive brain drain in
the medical profession.

      "It's a process and they (pathologists) can't be found in one day.
Even a gardener can't be found in one day," he said.

      The Standard learnt that only one doctor believed to be attached to
the police is carrying out post-mortems at Mpilo Central and the United
Bulawayo Hospitals, the two referral hospitals in Matabeleland.

      Junior doctors who since last year have been embroiled in an
acrimonious salary dispute with the government are reportedly refusing to
carry out post-mortems, protesting against their low pay.

      Themba Ndlovu of Mzilikazi said his family had to wait for a body of
his relative for some days because of the problem.

      "My brother died in an accident at the beginning of the month but the
hospital could not release the body until last week because there was no one
to carry out a post-mortem," Ndlovu said.

      "All our relatives who had travelled from South Africa and Botswana
had to go back before burial because they were given only a few days off by
their employers," he said.

      Other families in Bulawayo had similar tales about how the health
sector has crumbled in the last 10 years as a result of the deteriorating
economic situation, which has led to the flight of medical professionals,
among them doctors and nurses, for greener pastures overseas and in
neighbouring countries.

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Vagrants die after courts delay medical examination

Zim Standard

  By our staff

      BULAWAYO - Seven vagrants rounded up during a controversial police
clean-up operation last year died while waiting to be examined by doctors in
terms of the Mental Health Act.

      The deaths are reported to have occurred because the courts ran out of
bond paper to process their documents.

      The deceased were among 37 vagrants arrested in the streets of
Bulawayo and charged under the Vagrancy Act.

      A Bulawayo Magistrates' court ordered the 37 to be committed to
Mlondolozi prison for examination by two doctors in terms of the Mental
Health Act.

      Others were re-united with their families while some found their way
back onto the streets.

      According to court officials, the seven died between November last
year and February this year while waiting for their committal papers for
medical examination to be released by the courts

      Since last year, the courts have on several occasions been forced to
suspend operations because of a shortage of stationery and other basic

      The Zimbabwe Prison Services (ZPS) has also been unable to take
prisoners to court on time due to shortage of fuel, resulting in defendants
spending more time in custody than is necessary.

      "There was no bond paper to process their papers," said the official,
"and some of them succumbed to different ailments before they could be
examined by the doctors to ascertain their mental condition."

      He said the last vagrant died in February, bringing the number to
seven. "Three died at Khami prison while four died at Bulawayo prison."

      It is understood the clerk of court released their papers only
sometime last month with instructions that 21 be committed to Mlondolozi
while 19 should be released. It was not immediately clear how many of them
had been released from prison by last week.

      "Those committed to Mlondolozi might move in this month, depending on
how long the process will take," said the official.

      He said a mentally challenged suspect spent a year and a half in
prison while waiting to be examined by a doctor after the Clerk of Court at
Western Commonage Magistrates Court ran out of bond paper to photocopy his
committal papers.

      The provincial magistrate responsible for Matabeleland region, John
Masimba, said he was not aware of the matter when contacted for comment last

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Major power cut expected today

Zim Standard

  By Jennifer Dube

      A MAJOR power deficit of up to 520MW is expected today when two power
stations at Kariba Dam - Kariba South Bank (Zimbabwe) and Kariba North Bank
(Zambia) - will be shut down for maintenance work.

      In a statement, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority general
manager-corporate communications, James Maridadi, said the 10-hour outage
was aimed at allowing international consultants to inspect the downstream
side of the dam wall.

      They are engaged by the Zambezi River Authority, responsible for the
operation and management of the Kariba Dam complex, on which it conducts
periodical standards inspections.

      "On the Zimbabwean side, this shutdown implies that power supply to
the country will be curtailed by up to 700MW - Kariba Power Station's
generating capacity.

      "During this period, load-shedding will be carried out in order to
maintain a balance between supply and demand," Maridadi said.

      The Zambian power authorities have told their clients to expect
"massive load-shedding". Power is expected to be curtailed by 600MW in

      Maridadi said the outage was deliberately scheduled for a weekend when
demand is generally low in an effort to maintain the supply-demand balance,
thereby stabilising the power system.

      The authority has appealed to the public to contribute to the
stabilisation effort through voluntarily reducing power consumption by at
least 50%.

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Tourism bodies intensify 2010 preps

Zim Standard

  By our staff

      REGIONAL tourism players have intensified preparations for the 2010
Soccer World Cup to be held in South Africa, with three tourism boards
endorsing the formation of five committees to spearhead regional tourism
efforts ahead of the mega event.

      Participants at the SADC 2010 tourism workshop held in Harare recently
endorsed the formation of a regional steering committee and four technical
committees with the aim of stepping up efforts to maximise regional benefits
expected from the soccer event.

      The chief executive officers of the various tourism boards were
appointed under the steering committee while private sector players
dominated the other four committees which include joint marketing, product
development and statistics, human resources development and 2010 strategies.

      ZTA marketing and communications director, Givemore Chidzidzi,
represents Zimbabwe in the joint marketing committee; the authority's Simba
Mandinyenya is in the product development and statistics committee; Mary
Anne Situma is in the human resources development committee while Zimbabwe
Council of Tourism CEO, Paul Matamisa, is in the 2010 strategies committee.

      Participants said it was imperative for the private sector to dominate
the technical committees as they best identified with the needs of the

      The participants, who were under the flagship of the Zimbabwe Tourism
Authority, Zambia Tourist Board and South Africa's Limpopo and Parks Board
agreed that the technical teams should meet in mid-April to identify common
goals to hand to the steering committee, expected to draft a Memorandum of
Understanding before the Great Indaba to be held in South Africa in May.

      Meanwhile, it has emerged that both South Africa and Zambia have
stepped up national efforts to market their respective countries ahead of
the 2010 event.

      In a sideline interview at the workshop, chief operations officer for
Limpopo Tourism and Parks Board Seipati Tlaka said her board intended to
intensively market Limpopo province.

      She said a team from her board has undertaken educational trips to
former World Cup hosts that include Germany and the headquarters of FIFA in

      "Africa has never hosted such an event so there is a great need for
exposure and educational trips especially to those countries which have
hosted such big sporting events. In November last year, we showcased our
province at Soccer EX in Dubai. We are also increasing leverage on existing
trade shows," Tlaka said.

      In another interview, Zambia National Tourist Board's acting marketing
manager, Ephraim Belemu said his board was projecting Zambia as both a
tourism and sporting destination.

      "In September, we will be hosting a water sporting competition called
Regatta in Livingstone and we expect about 200 participants from UK, South
Africa and other countries. We also expect a host of spectators and we hope
to intensively market our tourism and sporting facilities at the event,"
Belemu said.

      He said his team was carrying out several national and international
awareness campaigns with the hope of reaching out to large numbers of
possible 2010 visitors. He said the board was improving its promotional
material and had started face-lifting its website to include more of
tourist attractions as part of the initiative.

      Belemu said his country was also establishing a stadium, upgrading the
airport, road infrastructure and increasing bed capacity in Livingstone.

      ZTA CEO Karikoga Kaseke said Zimbabwe was far ahead in terms of
preparations. He dismissed sentiments by some people that the authority was
behind its two neighbours in marketing local tourist attractions.

      "What is it that we should have done that we haven't done? We are the
only other country that has followed very closely what the host nation is

      "We have come up with our own national 2010 strategy which includes
tourism and soccer. We are moving at the same pace with the host. They are
not any metre ahead," Kaseke said.

      There have been general feelings among some people that South Africa
especially has invested a lot in marketing its tourist attractions,
particularly those shared with Zimbabwe such that some tourists believe the
Victoria Falls is a South African phenomenon.

      The participants pledged to plan beyond 2010 and if fruitful, the
partnership could be a shot in the arm for the Zimbabwean tourism industry
which has been on a downward trend for more than six years now.

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Mugabe shows why not dealing with corruption pays dividends

Zim Standard


      A WEEK ago President Robert Mugabe faced little competition when he
decided to seek re-election, because of his policy of non-interference with
corrupt ruling party members, officials and government Ministers.

      This policy has ensured that at each propitious moment, he can call in
the rogue Zanu PF party members or Cabinet Ministers, read them a list of
their extra-legal activities and threaten to have them arrested if they do
not fall into line.

      After the ruling party's December 2006 conference in Goromonzi, most
senior Zanu PF officials and even Ministers talked, unusually openly, about
how Mugabe has contributed to the rapid and spectacular fall of Zimbabwe's

      But after Mugabe returned from Dar es Salaam with the apparent support
of the SADC regional grouping, he had already outwitted factions in his
party that were plotting his downfall. The process of outmanoeuvring his
competitors started when he successfully postponed a decision on his bid to
seek re-election until his return from Tanzania.

      In East Africa Mugabe told SADC leaders that not rallying behind him
would throw Zimbabwe into chaos with disastrous consequences for the region.
Support for him at the summit would see him begin the process of
relinquishing power in a manner that would leave no room for destabilisation
as pretenders to his throne jockeyed for power.

      Quite why SADC believes Mugabe means what he says this time when his
record of reneging on his undertakings is self-evident defies logic.

      Once Mugabe returned he turned to three allies - the Zanu PF youths,
the women's league and war veterans. The strategy was reminiscent of how he
rallied the former freedom fighters around him in 2000 and survived defeat.
A week ago Mugabe did not face opposition from the MDC. It was discontent
from within his party.

      His trump card was intelligence on the weaknesses and corrupt
practices of his government ministers and party members who labour under the
mistaken belief that Mugabe does not know about their secret wheeling and
dealing or that he condones their rampant wrong-doing.

      All Mugabe did was to call in ministers and ruling party members he
knew were against him running for another term next year. Then he reminded
them of what they did and when and the cost.

      Not only did Mugabe manage to disarm them, but he threw them into
disarray: they have to fight for their survival and few have been able to
pull it off without his backing.

      Most of the ruling party's members are spineless. That is why Margaret
Dongo once described them as Mugabe's wives. In order to ensure that their
support for Mugabe would mean a guaranteed seat in the Lower House and the
Senate, Mugabe expanded membership of the two houses, even though the
country can ill-afford it.

      Mugabe had the last laugh and because he knows the weaknesses of his
Ministers and officials, there is no guarantee he will not resort to his bag
of tricks in 2010. For Mugabe, not dealing with corrupt officials has its

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The folly of shooting the messenger

Zim Standard

  Sunday opinion by Bill Saidi

      IT'S now five years since Jonathan Moyo persuaded President Robert
Mugabe and Zanu PF that he could bring "sanity" to the Zimbabwean media.

      Mugabe may not have agreed with him. After all, only a few years
before, this man was one of his implacable critics.

      But he must have decided he had little to lose. By that time, the old
Mugabe magic had evaporated into Zvimba dust.

      Could this tall, young man with the premature stoop and the balding
head tame the independent media beast, always snapping at his heels?

      That, by the way, presupposed the media beast was foaming at the
mouth, stark raving bonkers and needed to be tamed with a straitjacket or
massive doses of tranquilizers or a blast from a bazooka.

      In short, this beast had to leave The Dear Leader alone or join his

      So, Moyo, on his trusty white charger - let's say the Media and
Information Commission - would smite this dragon with one stroke of his
trusty sword and send it reeling into the Gehena of all media monsters.

      Moyo has since disowned AIPPA, which leaves us to wonder: who was the
Svengali - Moyo or George Charamba?

      The grand plan was to prevent the image of the government and Zanu PF
from further damage after the land reform debacle, the 2000 parliamentary
and the 2002 Presidential election fiascos.

      Earlier the ruling party had suffered a humiliating defeat in the
constitutional referendum, for which they had specifically hired the same
Moyo as their No 1 spin-doctor.

      That they considered him to have the right stuff for the job of
Information Minister, after what appeared to be a wretched PRO job in the
referendum, must count as one of the great mysteries about Zanu PF and
Mugabe which we may never understand in this or our next lifetimes.

      It is not cruel to believe that Moyo/Mugabe were convinced AIPPA and
their tongue-lashing of the independent media would soon have all
journalists eating out of the palms of their hands, or grovelling at their
feet, in abject subservience.

      Just to demonstrate how he intended to deal with any recalcitrant news
people, Moyo sued some of them for defamation. Then he himself libelled them
as "terrorists".

      There were other inflammatory exchanges. Moyo was discovering the
dragon he thought he had slain still breathed fire.

      To flex his muscles with the foreign media, he virtually banned the
British Broadcasting Corporation from operating in Zimbabwe, which was not
at war with the British.

      With his waspish tongue, Moyo antagonised both the local and the
foreign media. His contempt for both seemed fathomless, as if they had done
him a personal wrong. It was almost inevitable that this mutual antipathy
would lead to an explosion; the small printing press of the independent
publishing company was blown up.

      The government propaganda was that the company had done the deed for
the insurance money.

      But more was to come; in 2003, the government banned two independent
papers through AIPPA. The two papers had not been registered as required
under AIPPA; there have been endless arguments about the merits of the
government action, as there have been on why the publishing company did not
register with the MIC.

      Before the closure, armed police visited the newspaper offices in the
CBD of Harare, in broad daylight.

      Two other newspapers were banned under AIPPA. Still the image of the
ruling party and the government did not improve.

      In 2005, with only the independent weeklies providing something of a
fair and balanced coverage of the campaign, Zanu PF still failed to win back
all the 57 seats it had lost to the MDC in 2000 - and for which the
government had blamed one independent daily newspaper.

      But the worst was yet to come; with only The Zimbabwe Independent and
The Standard telling "the other side" of the Zimbabwean story, Mugabe was
hauled before his Southern African Development Community (Sadc) peers in Dar
es Salaam.

      "Grilled" is a relative word. The government would prefer "asked to
explain". But the fact is that he was summoned to Dar es Salaam to explain
why he was allowing his political opponents to be brutalised by his police
and by other unidentified people suspiciously acting as if they were in his
or his government's payroll.

      In truth, the five-year-old AIPPA has achieved precious little in
preventing the truth about Zimbabwe from getting out. Even after banning
four newspapers and throwing hundreds of journalists out of employment and
into exile, the image of this government as a pariah state is as universally
recognised, as it was when AIPPA was promulgated in 2002.

      The lesson is clear: the pen remains mightier than the sword, even if
the ink now costs an arm and a leg. Also, shooting the messenger is a
definite no-no if you believe the truth can be suppressed permanently.


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Why I would go on strike

Zim Standard

  sunday view by Webster M Muzambara

      ACCORDING to the Oxford Advanced Learners' Dictionary, to humiliate is
to "make somebody feel ashamed or disgraced; to lower the dignity or self
respect of".

      Never have professional people been humiliated to the extent teachers
have had to endure. Most of them, if not all, are now ashamed of their
profession. They are a disgraced lot. All the dignity is gone. They have
lost their esteem at personal and professional level. Even their pupils feel
sorry for them.

      Remember we are talking of people who have 5 "O" Levels and above.
Thousands have "A" Levels. Thousands are holders of Diplomas and
Certificates after undergoing rigorous and intensive teacher training
courses that take anything between two and four years to complete.

      Thousands have been courageous enough to obtain degrees, starving
themselves and their families in order to be better equipped to deliver
knowledge. Thousands are direct university graduates, and among them are
hundreds with Masters as their qualification. But they have one thing in
common to show for it - poverty.

      I once wrote in this paper that my father, Nicholas Zambara, being a
teacher, could afford to send three of us to boarding schools at the same
time. Now teachers cannot even afford to buy a full set of uniform and pay
school fees on time at the very schools that they teach. I am not talking of
boarding schools here. I am talking of our council and government schools
both in rural and urban areas.

      My colleagues at boarding schools knew that earlier because they see
boarders carrying groceries that they as teachers cannot afford. They see
the cars that bring their pupils to school and are only left green with
envy. How humiliating it is. Just imagine how it feels to look confused when
a child asks how cheese tastes like. To have a child who asks: "Mummy, what
is bacon?"

      In March last year I wrote again in this paper that teachers were
earning one salary a term, spread over three months. By then most of them
took home around $12 million when the poverty datum line was $36 million.

      But life was different not so long ago. In 1996 the starting salary of
a teacher was $1 200. By then a pint of milk or that of beer was $2, so a
teacher's salary would translate to 600 pints. If, with inflationary
adjustments the same pint now costs $1 500 then 600 pints cost $900 000.
Therefore when these very loyal civil servants ask for a mere $400 000 they
are either unknowingly short-changing themselves or deliberately asking for
less from their employer, for reasons so obvious. What more would one ask
for in terms of patriotism?

      Also in 1996, our exchange rate with the United States Dollar was
1:11. Yes, 1 Zim-dollar was equivalent to 11 USD. That is when ex-Japanese
cars became popular, being advertised for either US$2 000 or Z$22 000. Ten
teachers at a small rural school could buy a Nissan Sunny ex-Japan. I
vividly recall contemplating doing it with my fellow teachers and it was
going to take us only 10 months for each of us to drive an ex-Japanese
Sunny. Now 10 years down the line, salaries for teachers in the whole
district, including their headmasters and Education Officers, cannot buy two
good ex-Japanese cars. If this is not humiliation then only a rocket
scientist could prove otherwise.

      While this is a very sad situation, it becomes sadder to hear members
of society ridiculing the very teachers to whom their children's education
is entrusted. In other words, those members of our society who smack at
teachers' poor salaries and working conditions are very shallow minded
because their children are getting commensurate service. Society should be
at the forefront, challenging the government to do something for the
educators of their children. Everyone should be in full solidarity with the
teachers because it's their children's lives that are compromised in a big
way. After getting a poor education and failing where do these children go
for the rest of their lives? The truth is bare - invest in education then
you will have invested in a brighter future for the whole society.

      It is unfortunate that teachers resort to strike action. But it is
more unfortunate that the government left teachers with no alternative. I
would support this route because I support non-violent action, and in this
case teachers are simply withdrawing their labour in protest against low pay
and bad working conditions. As Martin Luther King Jr wrote in A Letter From
Birmingham Jail, non-violent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and
foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to
negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to dramatise the issue
that it can no longer be ignored.

      Our teachers have been patient for too long. It's no longer
resilience. It is docility, some would argue. Year in year out they have
been awarded "hefty" increases yet they have become poorer with each day.
The other year we were told that they would require nurses when they get
their "hefty" salaries. Indeed they all now require specialised doctors
because they are all traumatised. They experience Severe Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder after every pay day.

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Zim Standard Letters

Merciless Zanu PF criminals sink economy

WHY is Zimbabwe, once the jewel
and icon of Africa, in deep economic meltdown?

      Zimbabwe, once the envy of the world, has fallen far into the pit and
is now the world's fastest shrinking economy exceeding the collapse in
war-torn countries like Somalia.

      To explain this surprising phenomenon, I use a criminal metaphor, as
an illustration of the calculated, evil and self-interested use of cohesive
power by Zanu PF directed on the defenceless masses, the hardworking, caring
and loving Zimbabwe people.

      With the aid of this metaphor, I will try to let the reader see
beneath the surface and increase an understanding of the suffering on
Zimbabweans inflicted by Zanu PF over the past 27 years.

      Consider the incentives facing an individual criminal in a society.
Other things being equal, a criminal is always there to steal. When
resources are abundant, there is more to steal. Criminals do not care who
they steal from, they have no mercy they even steal from the hand that feeds

      Likewise, when Zanu PF took control of power at independence they took
on the minds of criminals - squander, loot and steal the vast natural
resources of our economy. Corruption, scandals, embezzlement, nepotism and
shady deals have been slogans of Zanu PF since it took power.

      Most Zanu PF cronies expropriated state enterprises for free. As
thieves they stripped the assets, sold them, only to buy mansions in Western
countries and invest in foreign banks. This substantially reduced our
capacity to produce more output, reduced incentives to invest, negatively
affected upstream and downstream industries and set the stage for the
economic meltdown that we have today.

      Likewise Zanu PF thugs were, are and will continue to steal every
resource that our country has, since they know that they are not the ones
who pay the price for their evil deeds. The majority of Zimbabweans today
are paying for this mismanagement of the economy by Zanu PF.

      As with this metaphor, the regime has used brutality, cohesion,
instigating fear on its citizens, threats of war, repression, murder and
torture to evade punishment from the people of Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans have
watched and taken no action while this Mafia gangster called Zanu PF robbed
them, terrorised their families and subjected them to inhumanity.

      Zanu PF is truly a Mafia family or a criminal gang that continues to
monopolise crime and terrorise Zimbabweans. This Mafia family has incentives
and will do all it can to evade punishment for its crimes and keep sensible
Zimbabweans away from the economy.

      Who in his right mind would continue to say there is no vacancy at
State House when one's performance results are inflation 1 700%,
unemployment 80%, poverty 90%, and shortages of basic foodstuffs and fuel?

      While other countries are busy trying to realise the full potential of
every one of their citizens, Zanu PF elites are busy torturing and killing
Zimbabweans who want this madness to stop and return sanity to our land.

      Laramie, Wyoming



       Reject biased commissioners

            NOW that the Presidential and Parliamentary elections have been
set for 2008, Morgan Tsvangirai, Arthur Mutambara and Daniel Shumba must
reject a very important aspect of the election process.

            The opposition leaders must put their heads together and reject
the clause that allows President Robert Mugabe to appoint people who form
the Electoral Commission. Mugabe is a participant and as such he can never
choose neutral election commissioners.

            All members of the present Electoral Commission, including the
chairman, are biased, unfair and aligned to Zanu PF by the nature of their
appointment. Mugabe has never appointed truly independent electoral
commissioners. Obviously these commissioners must please their master and
consider which side of their bread is buttered.

            Opposition leaders are aware that Zanu PF wins elections well
before they take place due to this defect. Supporters of opposition parties
can vote in their millions but still it makes no difference because election
results are always pre-determined and manipulated in favour of Zanu PF.

            So opposition leaders should fight tooth and nail to remove this
gross irregularity that allows only one participant to appoint a referee in
an election game.

            D R Mutungagore



       Offensive Chihwayi must just shut up

I WAS greatly angered when I
read Kurauone Chihwayi's response to Humba Wekumanyika's letter (Standard 18
March 2007).

            He trashed Morgan Tsvangirai's faction of the MDC whose top
leadership had been brutalised by the State security apparatus, something
that has raised worldwide condemnation.

            I have been hospitalised because of the beatings I received from
the police. And my crime? Shopping at Machipisa on the day of the Save
Zimbabwe Campaign prayer meeting.

            Chihwayi never condemned Zanu PF and President Robert Mugabe for
unleashing such brutality, even against members of Chihwayi's own pro-Senate
faction, which I have been supporting all along.

            This leaves me wondering whether Professor Arthur Mutambara will
leave Chihwayi to denigrate other members who are challenging Zanu PF or
give him a good tongue-lashing.

            For a whole week, I thought the democratic forces had united to
strengthen their resolve to remove Mugabe and his cohorts in Zanu PF.

            If my faction of the MDC fails to come clean on Chihwayi and his
obsession with plotting Tsvangirai's downfall while ignoring Zanu PF
tyranny, then I will be forced to join the other MDC faction which seems
serious in ridding Zimbabwe of Mugabe and the Zanu PF dictatorship.

            Angeline Mawere



 A day in life under Mugabe's rule
      ON the same day that President Robert 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

      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 15 men pushed huge flat trolleys loaded high
with all the flour that was left in the warehouse.

      It was only nine o'clock 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 Thabo 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 sub-continent. They hold no glimmer of hope, compassion or
even empathy for another gathering crowd of 60, 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, it's
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 9PM, when local ZBC news has finished, the electricity comes back
on at the end of the second power cut of the day. We have had 10 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.
Until next time, thanks for reading.

      Cathy Buckle



       AirZim story inaccurate

YOUR paper in last week's article headed
'Passengers stuck as Air Zimbabwe suspends staff' reports inaccurate facts.

            National Handling Services, Air Zimbabwe's subsidiary, suspended
staff on 18 March, not 20 March. They all returned to work five days later
after internal investigations.

            The suspension was for theft of company funds, not, as your
article suggests, for smuggling.

            Most importantly, no passengers were stranded at Victoria Falls
airport as a result as your headline glaringly declares.

            As soon as management of National Handling Services realised
some company money had been stolen and the matter required immediate
investigation of the entire airport team, it sent a team of 24 staff from
Harare to Victoria Falls airport as temporary replacements.

            The team arrived at the airport in time for a proper handover
and handled all flights without inconveniencing any passengers. To date
there has not been a single complaint from clients relating to the handling.
However if The Standard can produce names of any passengers who were
stranded or inconvenienced, we would thank them for the information.

            Air Zimbabwe has faults, true, but it has always co-operated
with both The Standard and its sister paper The Independent. But despite our
professional handling of your papers' requests, Air Zimbabwe almost always
gets deliberately misinterpreted and mis-reported by yourselves. If this is
a deliberate stable or house policy of rubbishing Air Zimbabwe, it is
unfortunate. We believe the airline and its subsidiaries deserve fair and
objective reporting, not a deliberate besmirching.

            Last week both papers deliberately ignored a story we sent them
about the airline's efforts to expand its network and improve its
operations. The Standard chose to repeat this article by The Independent,
something that can only re-enforce an already deliberately distorted image
of the airline. A deliberate policy of shutting out the positive about us
from your papers surely cannot help us. Fairness starts with giving us space
for this letter to be published.

            David Mwenga

            Spokesperson: Air Zimbabwe Holdings (Group)

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