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Mbeki arrives in Zimbabwe amid signs of deal in crisis talks


09/08/2008 19h19
HARARE (AFP) - South African President Thabo Mbeki arrived in Harare on
Saturday to meet Zimbabwe's political rivals amid signs that a power-sharing
deal to end the country's crisis could be near.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, as well as the country's highly
influential security chiefs and government ministers, greeted Mbeki at the
airport as the South African leader began his one-day visit.

Mugabe and security officials then accompanied Mbeki to the Sheraton Hotel
in central Harare, leaving shortly afterward while Mbeki remained.
Government sources said the two presidents would meet on Sunday.

Mbeki, the mediator for the negotiations, is to hold talks with Mugabe,
opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the
leader of a smaller MDC faction, Arthur Mutambara, during his visit.

Negotiators from all sides pushed ahead with talks late Saturday and it was
likely they would continue into the night, said Mutambara spokesman Edwin

Mbeki's trip follows more than two weeks of discussions between
representatives of the rival parties in South Africa, and with both Mugabe
and Mbeki's government reporting progress in the talks.

Mugabe spokesman George Charamba said in Zimbabwean state media on Saturday
that the talks had reached a "milestone."

"This is an important milestone that has been registered in the inter-party
dialogue," Charamba said in the Herald.

"He is going to meet the three principals basically to update them on the
progress made so far and to consult on how to take the dialogue forward."

It was unclear whether the meetings with the rivals would be held separately
or in one session.

A source close to the negotiations told AFP earlier Saturday: "We are not
yet sure how the meetings will go.

"There are things which were referred to the principals and need to be
sorted out before President Mbeki comes. At the moment there is no clear

Power-sharing talks began after the political rivals signed a deal on July
21 laying the framework for negotiations following Mugabe's re-election in a
one-candidate poll in June widely condemned as a farce.

Tsvangirai boycotted the June 27 presidential run-off despite finishing
ahead of Mugabe in the March first round, citing rising violence against his
supporters that had killed dozens and injured thousands.

In a sign the two sides were moving closer to an agreement, the parties
issued a joint statement earlier this week calling on their supporters to
halt political violence.

The main sticking points in the talks are believed to involve what roles
Mugabe and Tsvangirai would play in a power-sharing government.

Tsvangirai believes his first-round total gives him the right to the lion's
share of power, but sources in his party said previously that Mugabe's
negotiators had only offered him one of several vice-presidential posts.

The ruling ZANU-PF party has insisted the 84-year-old Mugabe must be
recognised as president as part of any deal, since he won the June 27 vote.

Discussions have reportedly included offers of amnesty from prosecution for
Mugabe if he agrees to take on a more ceremonial role as president, with
Tsvangirai being named executive prime minister.

On Thursday, Mugabe trashed the reports as "utter nonsense" although he said
the talks were proceeding smoothly.

Human rights groups say the veteran leader could face prosecution over a
host of issues ranging from the so-called Gukurahundi killings of opposition
supporters in the 1980s to recent political violence.

Once a regional economic model which had exported its staple maize,
Zimbabwe's economy has been in meltdown, with nearly a quarter of the
population in need of food aid and the world's highest inflation rate,
officially put at 2.2 million percent.

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Zimbabwe govt says coalition talks reach milestone

Yahoo News

By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer Sat Aug 9, 9:29 AM ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe - The Zimbabwean government said a visit Saturday by South
African President Thabo Mbeki marked a "milestone" in the power-sharing
negotiations he is mediating between President Robert Mugabe's party and the

The South African government had said Mbeki would fly to Harare on Saturday
for meetings with Mugabe, main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutambara, leader of a smaller opposition faction. Mbeki was to
return to South Africa on Sunday.

Mbeki "is going to meet the principals, basically to update them on the
progress so far and to consult on how to take the dialogue forward,"
Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba said, according to Zimbabwe's state-run
Herald newspaper.

"This is an important milestone that has been registered in the interparty
dialogue," Charamba was quoted as saying, without elaborating.

The Herald said negotiators of Mugabe's party and the opposition returned
from South Africa, where the talks began, after a memorandum of
understanding was signed July 21 setting out a framework for meetings
between Mugabe's ZANU-PF, Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change and
Mutambara's faction of the Movement for Democratic Change.

South African mediators have said the talks are aimed at reaching some kind
of power-sharing deal to tackle the nation's deepening political and
economic crisis.

Bitter rivals Mugabe and Tsvangirai met face-to-face for the first time in a
decade at the Harare signing on July 21.

Mbeki has imposed a news blackout on the ongoing talks, which have been held
at an undisclosed location in the South African capital. The blackout has
made it difficult to determine if any progress is being made, though
sticking points have appeared to be over who would lead a unity government
and whether Mugabe would have any role.

Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai claim to be Zimbabwe's legitimate leader -
Tsvangirai based on placing first in a field of four in March presidential
elections; Mugabe based on a widely denounced June runoff in which he was
the only candidate.

Tsvangirai - who withdrew from the runoff because of attacks on his
supporters blamed on Mugabe's party militants and security forces - has said
he would not share power with Mugabe but could work with ZANU-PF moderates.

The talks broke down July 28, with officials saying the problem was Mugabe's
insistence that he be the president of any new government. Talks resumed
Sunday, and there was an indication Wednesday that both sides were
determined to work together toward a solution: the Movement for Democratic
Change and ZANU-PF issued their first joint communique condemning violence.

Mbeki is under pressure to show results before a mid-month summit of the
Southern African Development Community, the body that appointed him to
mediate the Zimbabwe political crisis.

Zimbabwe's economic meltdown has also threatened regional security and added
urgency to finding a political settlement.

Western nations urged Zimbabwe's government Friday to lift restrictions on
aid agencies and charities. The government imposed the restrictions June 4,
accusing the groups of favoring opposition supporters in the distribution of
food aid.

"The June 4 suspension of humanitarian operations is estimated to have
affected more than 1.5 million Zimbabweans already," said a statement issued
in Harare and signed by Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan,
Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, the United States and the
European Commission.

It expressed concern that the restrictions were still in place two weeks
after the July 21 agreement, which pledged that humanitarian assistance
would be restored.

"This year's poor harvest means that 5 million Zimbabweans will face a
severe food crisis," it said. "Without the immediate resumption of food aid
across the country, widespread hunger and worsening malnutrition are

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Plan for amnesty deal breaker

From ZWNEWS, 9 August

A source within the Pretoria negotiations between MDC and Zanu PF has told
ZW News that the question of amnesty had become "a deal breaker". "Things
really are bogged down on this," the source claimed. "Zanu and Thabo Mbeki
want a total amnesty for everything that has happened since 1980, but the
MDC won't hear of it." In an effort to move past the issue, the informant
said that the MDC had come up with a compromise. They suggest that for the
life of the transitional government there should be no amnesties and no
prosecutions, and that neither side would lay accusations on the other.
Instead, the whole matter would be left until after the first free elections
when a new government could then decide how to deal with it.

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Anger over plan to govern with Mugabe acolytes

By Tom Burgis in Johannesburg and Tony Hawkins in Harare

Published: August 8 2008 03:00 | Last updated: August 8 2008 03:00

Zimbabwe's rival factions last night appeared to be closing in on a deal
that would see Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, become the
country's most powerful politician.

The deal would see Robert Mugabe, the president, assume a largely ceremonial
role but his acolytes would retain significant influence in the
conflict-torn country, a compromise likely to disappoint Mr Tsvangirai's
supporters in the Movement for Democratic change as well as the wider
international community.

Talks brokered by Thabo Mbeki, president of neighbouring South Africa, are
subject to a media blackout. However, three people familiar with the
discussions have told the Financial Times that the parties are coalescing
around a framework that would create the new post of executive prime
minister for Mr Tsvangirai.

Mr Mugabe would become "father of the nation" and is expected to enjoy some
form of immunity from prosecution. One person close to the talks said any
amnesty would extend to all members of a transitional government but would
expire with fresh elections.

However, George Charamba, Mr Mugabe's spokesman, said that reports of a deal
were "utter nonsense".

The South African government said talks were advancing "extremely well".

Leaked reports of the compromise caused consternation in opposition,
civil -society and some business circles, where the reported deal is seen as
"surrender" to Mr Mugabe.

One prominent activist said: "We voted for a new government. We won the
election in March but now it looks as though many powers will continue to be
held by the losers."

Mr Mbeki is expected to fly to Harare as soon as this weekend to convene a
face-to-face meeting between the bitter foes.

A person familiar with one draft proposal said the generals, who had become
increasingly potent under Mr Mugabe would retain influence through a new
security committee.

Cabinet posts are expected primarily to be split between the MDC and Zanu-PF
with the remainder going to a breakaway wing of the MDC. Sydney Masamvu, an
analyst with the International Crisis Group in Harare, said Zanu-PF would
keep the defence portfolio.

Some western diplomats in Harare made no secret of their unhappiness. "Just
because the parties reach an agreement does not mean that the donor
community will automatically back it," said one. "It was only five weeks ago
that we went to the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on 14 of the top
members of the Mugabe government. If some of these people are to remain in
office it will be very difficult for us to release any aid, other than
humanitarian assistance."

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008

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Zimbabwe Traditional Chief Imposes Fines On Opposition Members


By Jonga Kandemiiri
08 August 2008

Opposition officials in Zimbabwe's Manicaland province said a traditional
leader in Makoni district has imposed fines on all members of the Movement
for Democratic Change living there for alleged "over-excitement" following
the March 29 elections, which the MDC won.

The MDC officials said an aide to Chief Chiduku recently ordered headmen in
the district to collect fines of Z$50 (US$1) from MDC members with a payment
deadline of August 15. Those who have not paid the fine by then are
threatened with expulsion from Makoni district.

MDC officials at the national level said members across the country are
facing similar problems when they try to return to their homes having fled
political violence in the April-July period.

They say some opposition members are being beaten while others are forced to
pay fines in cash and livestock before they are allowed to settle back into
their homes.

MDC Manicaland provincial spokesman Pishai Muchauraya told reporter Jonga
Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the party is considering
legal action against Chief Chiduku on grounds that he is engaging in a form
of extortion.

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Thousands face starvation as food crisis deepens in rural Zimbabwe

09 August 2008

The Food Security situation in rural Zimbabwe remains desperate as
humanitarian NGOs are failing to cope with the number of people requiring
food aid.

A survey carried out by the Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe
(CCDZ) indicates that the majority poor living in rural Zimbabwe are on the
verge of starvation due to critical food shortage.

The CCDZ survey also indicates that most families are adopting various
survival strategies which include eating one meal per day. Most school
children have also dropped out of school because their parents cannot afford
to send children to school as they now concentrate on looking for food.

Most children are being asked to drop out of school and assist with working
in farms to get grain. The food situation in most rural areas in Zimbabwe is
further compounded by the fact that most NGOs are still banned from engaging
in food distribution programmes.

The retributive and ill-conceived NGO ban on food aid by the ZANU PF
government has affected most people, particularly those in the rural areas
who were benefitting from food aid.

Although most of the country's provinces are critically hit by the ongoing
food shortages, CCDZ warns of mass starvation in Masvingo, Matebeleland
North and South, Manicaland and parts of the Midlands. The ongoing food
operations by NGOs is not enough to avert starvation or near starvation of
the populations of these provinces.

Despite its promises to the electorate, the government of Zimbabwe is again
failing to provide food and other essential services to the people. The
government is under obligation to provide food to the needy or at least to
create conditions that makes it possible for the majority poor to enjoy the
human right to food.

The Centre for Community Development reiterates that even in times of
economic turmoil such as the current situation prevailing in Zimbabwe, the
government is still obliged to fulfil its human rights obligations. We urge
that the government of Zimbabwe must take urgent steps and adopt lasting
solutions to the perennial food shortages in Zimbabwe.

We urge the adoption of a Food Security National Strategy with clear
benchmarks, targets and a well-defined operational framework within which
the human right to food can be realized. This means that partisan
institutions will not have a role to play in determining and implementing
food security policy in Zimbabwe.

We urge investigations into the continuous discrimination of opposition
supporters in the rural areas under the BACOSSI programme. Most people who
are suspected of having voted or openly campaigned for the Movement for
Democratic Change in the recent elections are being left out of the BACOSSI
lists being compiled in the rural areas.

We note with concern the involvement of ZANU PF activists in some
communities in Mashonaland East,West,Central,Midlands and Manicaland
provinces in compiling the lists of potential food aid beneficiaries.

Issued 08 August 2008

Advocacy & Publicity
Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe

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MDC Demands Release of Detainees

BULAWAYO - THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the majority
of its 1 500 political activists are still detained despite the smooth
progress reported in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
mediated talks between the two main opposition parties in Zimbabwe.

"The situation has not normalized in rural areas and we still cannot
get a correct figure from our structures, we are still compiling the
information but what I can indicate at the moment is that the number of
those still in detention is quite high," MDC national organizing secretary,
Elias Mudzuri said.

At the height of political violence that gripped the country before
and after the June 27 presidential run off, the MDC claimed that 1 500 of
its political activists and supporters were arrested on allegations of
perpetrating violence.

The MDC however said it did not have the precise figures to indicate
how many of its people are still in jail due to disruptions in its
structures countrywide.

Party sources however said the MDC was grappling with coming up with
the exact figure of how many of its supporters are still incarcerated.

The sources however said when the talks commenced three weeks ago a
substantial number of MDC  political activists was released from detention
on bail while in some instances some were released with the police saying
they will proceed with the cases through summons.

Mudzuri, confirmed that a lot of MDC activists were still held by the
police but said the party did not have specific numbers of those still held
and those released due to ongoing violence countrywide.

He however said violence was still taking place and said despite
denials from Zanu-PF its supporters were still being driven from their homes
and were still being targeted for attacks.

Oliver Mandipaka, the police spokesperson, was non-committal when
contacted to give a comment on the number of political activists still
detained for political violence cases around the country.

"We are still working on establishing how many people have been
released from prison because the situation is national that will take some
time but at the moment I will not give you an exact figure," Mandipaka said.

South African president Thabo Mbeki, mediating im the Zimbabwe peace
talks was due to arrive in Zimbabwe Saturday to finalise the talks.

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Zimbabwe Vigil in Olympics Protest in London – 8th August 2008





     Dictators chained to China                       Gathered round the coffin


                                                                                                                                                                                     Peter Tatchell      


                                                                                           Raising of the Tibetan Flag              Singing of ‘Ishe Komberera/Nkosi Sikele’


There was big media attendance at the joint demonstration outside the Chinese Embassy in London to coincide with the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing.  Television teams from British and foreign news organisations spent four hours with us.  They included a team from the SABC and we took the opportunity to explain why the Vigil is calling for FIFA to move the 2010 World Cup from South Africa.


It was an uplifting experience working with other oppressed peoples in protest at China’s support of dictators. It is difficult to say how many people attended because the Burmese and Tibetans mobilised at different times but the Zimbabweans and Darfurians were there from beginning to end.  There must have been well over 500 demonstrators in all, many of them in ethnic dress, making it a very colourful and vibrant occasion.  Certainly the Burmese and Tibetans are Olympic champions at chanting slogans against Chinese oppression! 


A highlight was a symbolic tableau depicting Mugabe, Bashir of Sudan and Than Shwe of Bruma chained to a figure representing China against the backdrop of a black coffin representing the millions of victims of the three dictators. 


The gathering was addressed by Kate Hoey, MP, Chair of the All-Party parliamentary group on Zimbabwe, who spoke forcefully on Zimbabwe.  Another speaker was the human rights activist Peter Tatchell, who condemned China as rapaciously imperialist. 


The demonstration ended after the Tibetan flag was raised at 13.08, the exact time of the opening of the Games.  This was to symbolise the refusal of China to recognise Tibet as a nation to be represented at the Games.


Zimbabwe 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.



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Kneeling in the dust

Saturday 9th August 2008

Dear Family and Friends,
Coming into Zimbabwe by road from South Africa is an experience not to be
missed - for all the right and all the wrong reasons!

As you approach Musina, the last South African town before the border with
Zimbabwe, you are struck with a feeling of being in a place of great majesty
and ancient history. Giant Baobab trees stand dramatically in the dry,
scratchy scrub land. It's hard to take in their massive and strangely upside
down appearance. They are leafless as summer approaches and you are left
wondering if some great hand from above pulled them up and then plunged them
head first back into the hard African ground. In Musina town itself, on a
dusty roadside, a glorious blaze of pink flowers crowd the swollen, grey
stems of a Sabi Star shrub. Their pink-ness seems ironic and out of place
amidst the dust and the heat and this, together with the Baobabs, sets the
scene for the approaching insanity that has become life in Zimbabwe.

Musina town is crowded with Zimbabwean vehicles. Cars, trucks and minibuses
are filled to overflowing with food and household goods. The images remind
you of the place you are going to: the land of nothing. There are piles of
bread crammed against car windows, huge blocks of toilet paper stuffed onto
roof racks; women with 10 kilo bags of flour, sugar and mealie meal on their
heads; gaudy carrier bags bursting at the seams filled with all the
essentials of every day - essentials robbed us by economic collapse due to
gross mismanagement and leadership incompetence.

The border control entry point at Beitbridge is Zimbabwe at its worst: a
grim nightmare and disgraceful window into our country. The officials are
sour, surly and downright rude. You stagger from one filthy counter to the
next with no volunteered information on what to do, where to go and which
bits of paper need stamps on. There are more touts, con men and wheeler
dealers than you can cope with and they operate openly, brazenly and
untouched, in full view of police, security guards and officials. For
American dollars or South African Rand they force their way to the front of
the one and only counter for returning residents and there they get your
papers stamped, pay your road access tax, your Bridge toll fees or your
customs duties. Appealing to the man with the legend: "Modern Security"
enscribed on his navy uniform incurs a disgusting display of rudeness,
temper and heavy handed physical pushing, not of the bad guys but of
innocent members of the public. Question Mr Modern Security and he rubs his
thumb against his fingers indicating clearly that if you want help you must
pay. If you don't pay the bribes you wait, and wait, and wait. I was 12th in
line but was there three and half hours.

Once back in Zimbabwe you plummet from 1st world to 4th in less than 10
minutes. Fuel stations are dry, food shops are empty, mobile phones have no
signal. Women wash clothes and naked children bathe in the pools of the
Bubye River and one lady dressed all in white kneels in the dust, her hands
clasped in prayer, under a leafless thorn tree in the middle of nowhere.
Donkey drawn carts become more commonplace than cars, goats dawdle across
the road, fences along the highway are gone and its not worth your mental or
physical health to look for or use a public toilet. Huge farms stand empty
and derelict, fields unploughed, no sign of preparation for the season now
just weeks away.

As night draws in you pass towns and cities engulfed in the darkness of
power cuts and an uncountable number of road blocks loom out of the
blackness, manned by Policemen who look younger than my teenage son.

Its hard to believe that Zimbabwe is in the same place in time as the rest
of the world. Perhaps not for much longer is our fervent hope.
Until next time, thanks for reading, love cathy.

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Punished for celebrating March 29 victory

Tribune Staff 09 August, 2008 02:51:00
Villagers in Makoni South, who celebrated the defeat of people like Patrick
Chinamasa in the March 29 election, are being punished by ZANU-PF

Makoni -- Chief Chiduku of Makoni District is demanding $50 fine from all
MDC supporters in Ward 28, Makoni South for what he called over-excitement
after the 29 March harmonized elections.  MDC won resoundingly in that Ward
during the March elections.

Chief Chiduku who is a prominent Zanu PF stalwart and formerly appointed by
the Senate of the ageing Robert Mugabe in 2005, on Monday 4/8/08 dispatched
his aide, a Mr. Mhuru to the following villages, Mutinhira, Tseriwa,
Chinyan'anya, Muzawazi and Magore to meet the village heads to demand $50
from all the MDC supporters in their domains as a punishment for
over-excitement after the March harmonized elections.

The money is to be paid to Chief Chiduku before the 15/8/08.  Anyone who do
not pay that money would be evicted from all villages under Chief Chiduku.
Antony Chiguware is the MDC Councilor for Ward 28.  He defeated Zanu PF in
the area by a wide margin in March 2008.  Chief Chiduku was the brains
behind the establishment of the torture camps in Makoni South and Makoni

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Extracting inspiration and pedagogy from combat

August 9, 2008

By Arthur Mutambara

AS WE commemorate our Heroes' Day by remembering those that sacrificed for
our emancipation, freedom and democracy, we must take stock of the lessons
from their experiences.

Although it is 28 years later, there is a lot of wisdom, institutional
memory and revolutionary best practices that we have not sufficiently
leveraged for the advancement of our nation. These key aspects from our
heroic revolution provide inspiration and education applicable in both the
private and public sectors. Not only did our heroes create a solid
foundation for the construction of our nation-state, they also crafted a
rich fountain from which we can feed our minds.

Effective Execution of Strategy

The armed struggle was about effective implementation planning and
execution. Yes, there was strategic thinking, logistical planning, tactical
considerations, and effective consultations. However, at the end of the day
the guns had to blaze. One of the major constraints in modern management,
both public and private, is paralysis by analysis. Decision-making is slow
and the execution is ineffective. Government departments are littered with
extensive economic plans, strategic blueprints, and project proposals, all
put to waste by lack of implementation planning and execution. If there had
been a feasibility study carried out before the decision to wage the armed
struggle in the 1960's there would have been no liberation war.

If Nelson Mandela had done a cost benefit analysis and a net present value
assessment before joining the ANC or launching MK, the African icon we
celebrate today would not have existed. Sometimes you have to jump from the
pan into the fire and implement. The rubber must hit the ground as quickly
as possible without being bogged down by endless investigation or
examination. ZANLA and ZIPRA fighters were about effective execution of the
armed struggle. They did not spend time pontificating over the efficacy of
an armed response or bleating that the odds were stacked against them. They
waged war. While Josiah Tongogara and Nikita Mangena were strategic thinkers
and master tacticians, their greatness as guerrilla leaders was defined by
effective execution of the armed struggle.

The problems most emerging market governments and businesses have are
two-fold; either too much planning without implementation, or ineffective
execution. We need to embrace the dictum: Never forget implementation, it is
the last 98% of the task. Execution is the discipline of getting things
done. It is a systematic process of rigorously discussing the how's and what's
of the work, tenaciously following through, and ensuring impact and
accountability. A brilliant strategy, a blockbuster product or breakthrough
technology can put you on the competitive business map, but only solid
execution can keep you there. You have to deliver on the strategic intent.
Enterprises fail because they go straight into structural reorganization,
while they neglect the most powerful drivers of implementation

One such a lever is effective flow and management of information. This
includes task details, intelligence about the competition, organizational
metrics, bottom-line numbers and message discipline. The other driver is
defined around decisions rights. This refers to responsibility and
accountability for decisions and the corresponding actions. There must be
decisiveness and not second guessing of actions to be executed. Line
managers or leaders must be involved in making operational decisions.

They must also be sufficiently empowered to deal with ambiguities,
uncertainties and unforeseen circumstances. There must be alignment of
incentives with strategy, performance based differentiation, effective
recognition of high flyers, and emphasis on non-pay incentives, while
emphasizing unique and not generic assessments. Structure must follow
strategy, and there must be provision for lateral transfers, frequent
promotions, balanced delegation, and broad span of control.

In engaging all these drivers of effective execution there must be total buy
in, accountability and ownership by the top leadership. There must be clear
timelines, milestones, and incentives. There must be effective
institutionalization through awareness, education, training, change
management, and adequate communication. The adage, "if you cannot measure
it, you cannot manage it," reigns supreme. Consequently, there must be
systematic and structured ways of evaluating success through metrics,
analysis and feedback systems.

The Essence of Self-Selection and Sacrifice

Another key lesson from the liberation struggle is the importance of
self-selection and sacrifice. People were not elected or forced to join the
war effort against the oppressive and racist Rhodesian regime. Instead they
volunteered to fight for the collective interest, and in the process
forgoing personal opportunities and individual success. They were arrested,
detained imprisoned, and indeed some of them died. Two heroes perfectly
exemplify the notions of self-selection and sacrifice. Herbert Chitepo, the
first Black barrister in our nation, could have enjoyed the immense
opportunities presented to him in the country, region and world, but he
chose to abandon self-interest in pursuit of the bigger picture. He died in
the process. Similarly, Dr. Samuel Parirenyatwa, the first Black medical
doctor in the country, chose to self-transcend, while giving up on personal
comfort, pursuits and gratification. He also paid the ultimate price.

As the best of our generation pursue business, corporate, academic and other
private interests within and outside the country, what lessons are they
drawing from Chitepo and Parirenyatwa? Are we suggesting we have better
options and more important things to do than these two heroes had? What do
we need to do, both as a polity and a society, to make public service
attractive to our young and able people? Of course we need outstanding
business leaders, entrepreneurs and academics, but surely we need to attract
some of our best human capital and technocratic capacity to the electoral
and democratic processes.

We cannot outsource the task of our public governance to mediocrity and
expect to be globally competitive as a nation. In any case, the personal and
corporate brands are a function of the national brand. Given our current
damaged national brand, there is neither a single corporate (domiciled in
Zimbabwe) nor a business leader that is globally exalted. Why should anyone
respect a company or an individual that originates from a country with nine
million percent inflation? We all need to take a vested interest approach in
redeeming, salvaging and transforming our nation so that we can reconstruct
our country brand. While this is clearly in our national interest, it also
serves our personal and corporate aspirations.

On Redemptive and Revolutionary Violence

As we remember our heroes we must be very clear on the acceptable norms and
standards of a democratic society. Violence, or the threat of it, is not an
acceptable part of competitive political discourse. We should never again
witness the psychological trauma, brutality, and dehumanization that
characterized our polity in the past four months. Any attempts to paint this
mindless, state sponsored violence in the tradition of the liberation
struggle should be dismissed with the contempt it deserves. The experiences
of Gukurahundi and Murambatsvina should be understood as a total negation of
the heroic revolution we exalt today. The liberation war was about a popular
armed insurrection by the people against an illegal and racist regime. It
was not a war by the state against its citizens, in pursuit of the retention
of power. Our heroes were involved in revolutionary combat for the
collective good. Theirs was redemptive violence. As we commemorate their
sacrifices we must also resist the temptation to embrace the Rhodesian and
racist interpretation of history that equates the redemptive violence of
ZIPRA and ZANLA fighters to the murderous shenanigans of the Selous Scouts;
the revolutionary war efforts of Herbert Chitepo to the repressive violence
of Ian Smith. There is a fundamental difference. One cannot equate
activities of the Allied Powers in the Second World War to Hitler's
violence. This is the context in which we celebrate our heroes who violently
smashed the ugly illegitimacy of Ian Smith and his Rhodesian racists.

Putting the West in its Place

Heroes Day also provides an opportunity for us to evaluate and put into
context the role of the Western World in the affairs of our country. As we
currently struggle to establish a peaceful, democratic and prosperous
Zimbabwe there has been a lot of interaction with the international
community, in particular the West. We appreciate the moral, diplomatic and
material support our democratic forces and organizations have received from
Western institutions and governments. Under globalization Zimbabwe cannot be
an island unto itself. Even our radical transformation into a globally
competitive economy will depend on leveraging global strategic partnerships,
while unlocking synergies from, and moving up, global value chains. However,
we take exception to the irritating ignorance, political insensitivity,
double standards, and patronizing arrogance that characterize Western
diplomacy with respect to our country.

How does a Western country publicly pronounce that they will not recognize a
government unless it is led by a particular leader without undermining the
credibility and integrity of that individual? How do you include on the list
of the top thirteen people to be sanctioned by the UN over disputed
elections in Zimbabwe, an individual such as Dr. Joseph Made, who lost in
those elections and was not involved in the problematic Presidential run-off
campaigns? How do you have the foolish naïveté to justify his inclusion by
saying he was responsible for destroying Zimbabwe's agriculture? Are we
taking Zimbabwe to the UN over the land question? So all this fuss is about
white farmer interests in Zimbabwe?

Well, that is not our agenda. We are sick and tired of the hypocrisy, double
standards, racism and downright dishonesty. The West must not hide its true
motive. Where are the Western democratic demands to Egypt, Angola, Saudi
Arabia, Libya, Israel, Pakistan, and Kuwait? Moreover, what does the record
of the US and UK in Iraq, Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay teach
us? What are the lessons from the ghettos of Chicago, New York and Los
Angeles? Who took out Patrice Lumumba, Salvador Allende and Kwame Nkrumah?
Who created and nursed Mobutu Sese Seko, Sadam Hussein, Manuel Noriega,
Jonas Savimbi and Osama Bin Laden?

More significantly, since it is our Heroes Day, why is it that there is not
a single ZIPRA, ZANLA, MK or APLA fighter trained in the US or the UK? Why?
Why did the Western lovers of democracy and freedom not extend arms of war
to Africans in pursuit of the same? We thought the slogan was "Give me
freedom or give me death!" and the clarion call "The price of freedom is
death." Western Europe and the USA did not train and arm Zimbabwean freedom
fighters. They left the task to the "evil regimes" of China, Cuba, Russia
and Eastern Europe. How ironic! Is there an apology for this malignant
neglect? If there was no Western motivation to support our liberation war
then, why should there be any attention paid to our democratization efforts
now? Do not give us the moralizing nonsense about violence. Both the US and
French revolutions were bloody. Hitler was driven out by violence, and so
was Saddam Hussein, just yesterday. What we needed in order to deal with Ian
Smith and Pieter W. Botha were arms of war, pure and simple. Our heroes were

We understand Henry Kissinger very well when he paraphrases Lord Acton and
says; "America does not have permanent friends, only permanent interests."
Every time a Western leader or diplomat speaks about a developing country
they must repeat the essence of this Kissinger dictum first and then
articulate their national position. Of course each nation seeks to optimize
its national interest. What is criminal is trying to hide this motive behind
lofty ideals of democracy, freedom and good governance. It is imperative
that the West openly declares its economic, strategic, and geo-political
interests in Zimbabwe.

For the record our angry rebuke of Western bungling is not just driven by
principles, values or pursuit of the puritanical. It is about impact and
results. For the democratic forces in Zimbabwe, Western double standards and
dishonesty have actually damaged our cause and cost us immensely. Western
governments have undermined our legitimacy, strengthened our opponents (the
dictatorship), removed our moral authority, and ruined our effectiveness and
standing among Africans.

As we finalize the political settlement to the impasse in our country, we
have heard sentiments from the West indicating that they will look at the
agreement and decide whether it is acceptable to them. Who are they, to
superintend, judge and grade a collective decision by Africans? It is not
the place for Western governments or their institutions to determine whether
the agreement is right or wrong. It is strictly none of their business. We
will brook no nonsense on this matter. What is essential is for Zimbabweans
to agree, own the processes, and buy into the settlement.

There is something completely disrespectful, contemptuous and patronizing in
the Western attitude that Zimbabwean leaders might actually sign the wrong
agreement. What Western arrogance does not seem to appreciate is that the
leaders most undermined by this Western imbecilic thinking are those that
the West supposedly supports. How do you give your favourite leader such a
vote of no confidence? To add insult to injury you impose sanctions in the
midst of the negotiations. How can this be an expression of faith in African
efforts to solve African matters? On our Heroes Day, we say shame on you!!

Towards A New Dawn

As we celebrate and honour our heroes, it is befitting that Zimbabwe is
sitting on the threshold of transformative change. We have a national
political agreement that seeks to bring all our people together irrespective
of party affiliation. This compromise solution, a suboptimal answer, with
its glaring and attendant limitations is the best temporary measure to
extricate the country from its worst situation. It is the price we pay for
peace, national healing and restoration of human dignity. However, it is
imperative that those involved in driving this agreement take cognizance of
the fact that it is an arrangement meant to effectively and efficiently
deliver services to the people. Hence, the implementation planning and
execution will have to be done diligently. This is not a settlement for the
sake of settling, through meaningless accommodation.

We are settling so that we can salvage, stabilize, recover and more
importantly, transform our economy. We need to create and build an expanded
middle class of new taxpayers and entrepreneurs through rapid reconstruction
and industrialization. Hence, there is need to underwrite this agreement
through diversified sources of both domestic and foreign direct investment,
balance of payment support and multi-lateral institutional engagement.

There must be a comprehensive economic strategy that includes
infrastructural development, natural resource mobilization, local processing
of all minerals, economic empowerment, value-added manufacturing,
industry-wide beneficiation, optimum leveraging of the Diaspora, and moving
up both the skills and global value chains. For this economic framework to
deliver, it must be grounded in good governance, a democratic culture,
pluralism and competitive politics, all envisioned and built on the solid
foundation of a new people driven democratic constitution.

The journey towards a peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation has just
begun. It will require a new crop and genre of gallant fighters.

We are a heroic people. Our history inspires us.

(Prof Arthur G.O. Mutambara is the President of a breakaway faction of the
Movement for Democratic Change).

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Zimbabwe Civic Activists Deny Attempting to Sabotage Power-Sharing


By Patience Rusere
08 August 2008

One of about a dozen Zimbabwean civic activists denied entry to Zambia
yesterday by authorities there said to have been acting on instructions from
Harare denied allegations that the civil society members were plotting to
disrupt ongoing power sharing talks.

Crisis In Zimbabwe coalition spokesman Macdonald Lewanika told reporter
Patience Rusere that he and others were heading for a meeting with members
of other African civil society groups on political crisis management and how
to effect a transition to democracy - but the meeting was canceled after he
and the others were barred at the Lusaka airport.

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Waiting and waiting in Zimbabwe. But for what?


Date: 08 Aug 2008

Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai are finally talking, but while the world
waits to hear the result of their dialogue, millions of Zimbabweans simply
wait for food.

The UN this year suggested that Zimbabwe's 2008 winter harvest may only
produce about 40 per cent of the country's needs. This means hunger will
rise: 2 million people will go to bed hungry tonight, rising to potentially
3.8 million in October and up to 5.1 million before the next harvest in
March 2009.

That figure is approximately the same as the number who went to the polls
twice in the past four months in the hope for change.

A series of negative factors have dovetailed to create this unprecedented
humanitarian situation. Unpredictable weather patterns, drastic
socio-economic decline and a deepening political crisis have left millions
of Zimbabweans without access to sufficient food. The HIV and AIDS pandemic
continues to ravage the country as it claims an estimated 2,300 lives every

Zimbabwe's predominantly subsistence agriculture economy is particularly
prone to the changing weather patterns induced by climate change. To worsen
the situation, Zimbabwe is struggling with the world's highest inflation
rate currently at over 2,000,000%.

Despite the rapidly deteriorating situation, NGO operations are still
officially banned by the Government, although an ad hoc opening up of
humanitarian access has been witnessed by Trócaire partners over the last
weeks. But not all groups are operational; some have managed to negotiate
with local authorities while others are preparing to act as soon as it is
safe to so.

Thousands of the most vulnerable people continue to suffer and remain
without assistance, as the wait goes on.

At present Trócaire supports six partners with a budget of over half a
million euros. Food is a priority for these partners, and their work ranges
from school feeding programmes to assistance for the most vulnerable,
including households where both parents are missing and those affected by
and infected by HIV/AIDS. These feeding programmes reach approximately
128,725 people throughout Zimbabwe.

The Memorandum of Understanding that initiated dialogue between Robert
Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change reaffirmed the
fundamental concern for the 'the multiple threats to the well-being of our
people' and their commitment to the 'restoration of economic stability and

It is clear that a deal will not come fast or easy. But for millions of
people throughout Zimbabwe, politics is less important than food. It is for
their sake the politicians must come to an agreement, and soon.

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Army says it is rebuilding destroyed homes

August 9, 2008

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - The Zimbabwe National Army says it has embarked on an ambitious
programme to rebuild rural homes that were destroyed by elements of the
army, working hand-in-hand with Zanu-PF militants in a bid to shore up
support for President Robert Mugabe in the run-up to the June 27
presidential election re-run.

A pilot project has reportedly been launched in the Gokwe District of the
Midlands before the programme spreads to other provinces where families
suffered the consequences of state-sponsored retribution after they voted
for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on March 29.

Defence ministry permanent secretary, Trust Maposa, said it was time to bury
the hatchet.

"Its time to concentrate on nation building," Maposa said on State
television. "We should stop killing each other, or burning other people's
homes. We need to live together as brothers and sisters. It's time to
rebuild our country."

This was the first tacit acknowledgment by the army of political killings
and arson during the violent election campaign which forced rival election
candidate Morgan Tsvangirai of the mainstream MDC to withdraw from June 27
election a few days before the poll.

Maposa said five houses were already under construction in Gokwe since
Wednesday, under the aegis of the programme, which he said was being
spearheaded by the Mechanized Division of 5 Brigade in Kwekwe. Maposa did
not disclose the source of the funding for the ambitious programme.

He said the troops had started to work on brick houses in Madzivazvido,
Tsungai and Village 1D in Gokwe. Work was also said to be in progress in
Village 2D, he said.

The army was providing all the building materials in a programme meant to
pacify people in those rural areas which bore the heaviest brunt of
political violence.

The head of 5 Brigade, Major Augustine Ruwambara said: "It is part of our
social responsibility programme."

The programme apparently started hard on the heels of a joint statement
issued by the MDC and Zanu-PF from Pretoria where the three parties were
negotiating a power-sharing agreement. The statement slammed political

"We unequivocally condemn the promotion and use of violence as a political
tool and call for the cessation and end to all politically motivated
violence in the country," said the statement, issued Wednesday, the day
Maposa says the army started to rebuild the houses in the Gokwe District.

Unless there was co-ordination between the military and the negotiators in
Pretoria this could be an act of coincidence.

Political commentators scoffed at the army's rebuilding operation saying
troops were responsible for burning down the homes in the first place.

"It's a joke," said University of Zimbabwe political science professor, John
Makumbe. "I think it's frivolous. How do they rebuild the homes they
destroyed? They are rebuilding the homes but they are not replacing the

"What about the injuries sustained by these people? It's an indictment of
the Mugabe regime. It shows that transitional justice is not being properly
handled. There is an element of impunity."

About 200 senior serving army officers deployed countrywide on April 8 are
widely believed to have orchestrated the massive wave of political violence
that engulfed the country, with some of them being fingered directly in
several instances where homes of MDC supporters were burnt. The list
containing the names of all the officers involved was published by The
Zimbabwe Times in April after it was leaked by disgruntled officers.

The officers commanded troops, comprising war veterans and Zanu-PF
militants, including the ruthless so-called Green Bombers. The operation was
allegedly spearheaded by Zimbabwe Air Force Commander, Perrence Shiri with
the assistance of Maj. Gen. Nick Dube.

Defence Forces commander General Constantine Chiwenga was the overall
commander of the operation. He was assisted by Maj. Gen. Last Mugova and
Col. S. Mudambo.

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Zvayi deported alongside priest

August 9, 2008

 By Our Correspondent

GABORONE - Controversial journalist Caesar Zvayi, fought back tears and
pleaded: "You people don't understand", when the police came to pick him up
from his University of Botswana campus residence on Friday afternoon.

The tough talking former Herald political editor whose name was recently
added to a European Union blacklist, cut a sorry figure as his bags were
loaded onto a police van at the university where he was recently appointed
lecturer, before he was whisked away at the beginning of a 500 km journey to
the border at Plumtree.

Zvayi, who was a leading propagandist for President Robert Mugabe's
government, however, still managed to turn on his own propaganda offensive
and have his deportation leaked out to sections of the Zimbabwe media with
his spin on it.

The Herald, the leading newspaper in the Zimbabwe government's media stable,
however, claimed that the Botswana government was the source of the leak as
a publicity stunt.

A controversial Zimbabwean priest, Edmund Chaka, who fleeced many
HIV-positive people in Botswana by claiming that he could cure them, while
allegedly sending them to an early grave, was deported together with Zvayi.
Chaka, who established the cynically named Abundant Life Ministries in
Botswana, was deported after a number of HIV-positive Batswana died,
allegedly because he convinced them to stop taking their ARV medication and,
instead, substitute it with his concoction.

Chaka's alternative medication came at a price.

Soon after Zvayi's deportation an online publication quoted Professor
Jonathan Moyo, the controversial Member of Parliament for Tsholotsho North
as warning Botswana that the move to deport Zvayi could cause untold damage
to relations between that country and Zimbabwe. Moyo is the former Minister
of Information and in that capacity enjoyed a cozy relationship with the
political desk at The Herald. He created and contributed to a controversial
column in The Herald in which he lashed out viciously at Mugabe's critics,
writing under the pen-name Nathaniel Manheru. Simultaneously, he instituted
effective measures to silence the independent press.

Resorting to language that clearly poses a greater threat to relations
between Zimbabwe and Botswana than Zvayi's deportation, Moyo was quoted on
Friday as saying: "When a country has more goats than people it suffers a
serious leadership deficiency, as is happening in Botswana where a primitive
and intolerant military junta is masquerading as a democracy.

"They cannot hide the obvious fact that their unlawful deportation of Zvayi
who was in fact in that country legally with a work permit, not as a
journalist but as a college lecturer, has been done simply to please George
Bush's criminal administration that put Zvayi on its illegal sanctions list
against Zimbabwe.

"The Botswana government apparently has a 'monkey-see, monkey-do' approach,
I suppose because what Uncle Sam does Uncle Tom follows. In the end,
Botswana will pay a heavy regional price for its shocking treachery
including its xenophobic treatment of Zimbabweans in general."

Moyo is an American-trained political scientist. He worked for the US-based
Ford Foundation in Nairobi until he parted ways with the organisation amid
allegations of financial impropriety on his party. He returned to Zimbabwe
where he aligned himself with Mugabe and Zanu-PF, both of whom he was a
severe critic before his sudden departure for Nairobi. On return to Zimbabwe
he became Mugabe's most ardent defender; that was until 2004 when he fell
foul of Zanu-PF. He then reverted to his original status as relentless
critic of Mugabe.

Over the past two months he has undergone transformation again and is once
more a defender of the embattled Mugabe government.

As political editor of the Herald, Zvayi "whipped up the terror campaign
before and during the elections", according to an entry against his name on
the EU sanctions list. But Moyo says Botswana, by targeting Zvayi so soon
after the EU and US sanctions, is clearly doing someone else's bidding.

"Somebody should tell the reckless ruling elite in Botswana not to be too
excited about selling the Kalahari Desert which makes up most of their sorry
country to the Yankees, who have turned it into a hopeless military base."

Botswana Government spokesperson, Jeff Ramsay, confirmed Zvayi and Chaka's
deportations on Saturday morning.

Zvayi was given his contract termination letter on Thursday night by the
Head of the Media Studies Department, Professor David Kerr. Last week Kerr
had indicated that Zvayi's ideology was "an issue of concern".

The university finally succumbed to pressure after all students taking
Writing for Print and News Writing and Reporting 1 in the university's
Faculty of Communications and Media. Started boycotting his lectures in
protest after Metro broke the story two weeks ago.

Students at the university were set to be joined by Zimbabweans residing in
Gaborone to stage a protest at the campus on Monday. Anti-Mugabe sentiments
are particularly strong among Botswana citizens and the Botswana government
has taken a particular hard line stance against Mugabe.

The development comes as reports say students at the University of Zimbabwe
are augmenting their lecturers' salaries. Zvayi could have stood to earn
more than 15000 Pula a month as a lecturer at the University of Botswana, a
salary a full professor at any university in Zimbabwe could only dream of.

Zvayi has, in the past, openly called for the alienation of the opposition
and celebrated the violent crackdown on the opposition in Zimbabwe. He is
well known for bastardizing the MDC acronym to mean Movement for the
Destruction of our Country, sometimes with the ascetic 'movement' for
'morons'. Last year, he used a racial slur against the US Ambassador calling
him a "house Nigger".

Zvayi, alongside Sunday Mail's Munyaradzi Huni, became the first journalist
to be included to the European Union travel restrictions on Zimbabwe.

He is accused of propagating hate speech in an updated list of 37
individuals and four 'entities' under a visa ban and assets freeze. They are
accused of whipping up support during a state sponsored terror campaign
during and after the June 29 controversial run off election.

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Backstory: The swearing in of Mutare councilors
image View overlooking City Hall in scenic Mutare

The following is diary entry of a person who was present when the councilors who will take over the running of Mutare were sworn in

Mutare -- Last week we returned from an incredibly moving ceremony.  Nineteen Mutare municipal  councillors were sworn in.  It was held in the conference room at the Municipal buildings.  All nineteen councillors were MDC.  The room was crowded and many of the brave folk wore their MDC regalia and kept using the open palm salute.  It was amazing.

The councillors were sworn in individually - each  one receiving resounding applause. The councillor for Ward 12 (our ward) was none other than Brian James, our dearest friend who lost his wife in a tragic car accident only a few weeks ago. When he rose to be sworn in, the crowd stood as one and the people went frantic. The applauded, waved, whistled, ululated, danced and sang.

There were nine of us whites there - we were all brought to tears while everyone went wild with excitement re Brian being their favourite Councillor. 

Once all were sworn in, the nineteen councillors were asked to propose the Mayor and Vice Mayor.  Brian was nominated for Mayor with no opposition.  Once again the people went absolutely wild with excitement  - more hands in the air, singing, dancing, ululating. whistling, shouting their approval - showing HUGE support, love and respect for Brian.

We listened to a fairly long speech by the deputy District Assistant followed by His Worship the Mayor's (Brian's) thanks and closure of the meeting.

It was amazing. Firstly the bravery of these folk wearing their regalia, clapping, singing, dancing and openly showing the MDC open palm.  Many of them have been beaten and locked up for being members of the opposition - one told me that was his hardening process.

Secondly the support and love shown for Brian.  We were very proud of him, his courage and determination to see the MDC win  -  his main reason is to support and see the poorest folk are cared for.  They realise this and I think they see him as their wonderful father who will save them all - quite a responsibility for Brian!

It was a great moment.  Imagine the joy in this country when we are eventually freed from the tyrant who rules us now. It was an amazing, emotional afternoon and we were quite overwhelmed by all the people there and their incredible courage.

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Minister In Warriors Scandal

HARARE - The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Francis Nhema
received part of the Warriors jerseys - the subject of dispute between Zifa
chief executive officer, Henrietta Rushwaya over non payment and used the
consignment for campaign purposes, according to papers filed at the High

Legea Zimbabwe, who is being represented by Manase and Manase Legal
Practitioners, are no suing for non-payment of the jerseys.
According to summons filed at the High Court, Rushwaya and Zifa are
cited as the First Defendant and Second Defendant respectively while Nhema
is the Third Defendant.

Legea Zimbabwe has since recovered US$7 000 from Henrietta Rushwaya,
the Zifa CEO, who was also being sued in her own capacity for failing to pay
for 1 000 Warriors replicas.

In the court papers, Legea Zimbabwe said on 24 September 2007,
Rushwaya collected 1 000 replicas and instructed them to invoice Zifa.

Legea Zimbabwe said Rushwaya informed them that the purchase of the
replicas was made for Minister Nhema.

On March 27, Legea Zimbabwe director Luc Verheyen delivered 531 team
kits replicas to Rushwaya. The jerseys were to be sold at the national team's
game against Morocco.
After the game she remitted some of the proceeds from the sales but
could not account for 298 replicas valued at USd 4 470. She promised to
remit cash and some cheques she accepted for 25 replicas valued at USd 375.
Rushwaya paid USd 1 000 and remained indebted to Legea Zimbabwe to the
tune of USd 19 845.
Rushwaya admitted in an email to Legea Zimbabwe on October 30 that he
had received USd 4 000 from the Minister to pay for the jerseys. She never
did until the lawsuit was filed by Legea Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile CAPS United Football Club director Farai Jere have avoided a
messy public fight with Legea Zimbabwe by paying USd 26 100 incurred in
debts in 2005 by the club president and Harare business Twine Phiri.
Caps United were being sued in the High Court by the Belgium based for
reneging on paying the debt.

According to acknowledge of receipt filed at the High Court, Manase
and Manase Legal Practioners received USd 26 101 (at the inter bank rate) on
behalf of Legea Zimbabwe being money owed by Legea Zimbabwe.

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Let your fingers do the talking

Comment from The Mail & Guardian (SA), 8 August

Stanley Kwenda

Harare - My cellphone is the only thing left that occasionally brings me a
smile in an environment where there is little left to laugh about. Every day
I wake up to a cellphone full of text messages poking fun at Zimbabwean
political leaders or the bad shape of the Zimbabwean economy. Zimbabwe is a
nation of naturally opinionated, humorous people, who use laughter to help
cope with critical situations - personal, political or economic. These days
speaking one's mind - let alone debating the country's problems in public -
can be a grave mistake. But while Zimbabweans have learned to live with a
raft of laws stifling their freedom of speech, it doesn't mean we're not
talking. Zimbabweans have learned to express themselves in different ways.
Text messages have become a forum for people to vent, mock and say things
that they would not say or do openly. A cellphone has become more than just
a tool of communication, it has assumed a new identity and become a tool of
survival. I am one of the people who use a cellphone to relieve everyday
stresses by exchanging political messages with friends and relatives.

Post June 27's one-man election, one of the most widely circulated text
messages goes: "The run-off is over, now it's time to run away to the
diaspora ." Another suggests that the "run-off" might as well be a beauty
contest between the daughters of Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe as the
electorate was denied the chance to choose between their fathers. Such
comments raise a weary laugh among us and, though not really very funny,
they allow us to share the sad joke without getting arrested - or worse.
With the depressing economic situation, going home after work to an empty
table can be a dreaded experience for both husband and wife. I sent my wife
a text message doing the rounds in an attempt to ease domestic tensions
about our own budget. "You need to go to the bank for four consecutive days
to be able to buy lunch at Jameson Hotel. The lunch costs $400-billion but
the bank limits customers to withdrawing $100-billion a day. So if you want
to have lunch, you need to go for four days without having it so that you
can go to the bank for four days to get $400-billion to buy lunch."

My cellphone comes in handy when I need to change foreign currency. South
African rands, United States dollars and British pounds are like gold; you
have to try to get the best rate. I do not want to do this negotiation by
going to the street traders in person as I'd expose myself to arrest, let
alone thieves. It takes only a couple of minutes to agree on the "going
rate" at any given hour, so instead I text various traders a message asking
for offers and choose the best rate. With advertising space shrinking in
newspapers in the economic downturn, companies are making use of SMS to
advertise. "We offer South African, Namibian, Mozambican and Chinese visa
services," reads a message sent to subscribers of one of Zimbabwe's two
cellphone networks. Their advertising has become one of the most lucrative
businesses in the country for the thousands seeking to leave. But by far the
most popular SMS messages caricature Robert Mugabe. There is one among
Harare residents suggesting that he be sent farming and make way for Simba
Makoni to head a new government of national unity. There is also a bleak
weather forecast doing the rounds which reads: "Partly MDC, partly Zanu PF,
by midday a total eclipse will engulf Zanu PF and there will be a
thunderstorm ... a tsunami will follow and cyclone Zanu PF will persist for
five years causing major disruptions in cities and untold suffering." But
the real clincher is the inflation newscast SMS about how "criminals robbed
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe today and got away with $100-trillion. Police
are still looking for a motive."

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Investor Gets One Cent After 10 Years

The Herald (Harare)   Published by the government of Zimbabwe

9 August 2008
Posted to the web 9 August 2008

Bulawayo Bureau

AFTER investing his earnings in a permanent shares account with a local
building society for over 10 years, a Bulawayo man received a shocker after
he was told he had just one cent ($1 billion in old currency) in his

The man, a Government pensioner, held a permanent shares account with
Beverley Building Society and invested "so much in the account for decades".

In an interview last Thursday, the man, who requested anonymity, was at a
loss for words.

"I don't know what to say, I am just angry over what I got," he said
producing his bank statement.

The man, a former Arex officer, who served the organisation for 44 years,
disclosed that he was supposed to use the investments during his retirement,
but it looks like he had been wasting his time.

He blasted the banking system for eroding his savings, which he thought
would help sustain his family.

"It's not fair that I get a cent after saving for so many years. At the end
of the day, I ask myself why I banked the money. It's ridiculous, to say the
least," said the disgruntled pensioner.

"I was told the shares would give me an advantage to access loans but all
that never happened. Instead, I lost out because how can I get a cent after
investing for so many years?"

He revealed that the savings through the shares were deducted by the bank
from his salary as well as pension through the stop order system.

The man has since closed the permanent shares account, saying that "it was
not worth it".

However, an official at Beverley Building Society in the city said the
permanent shares scheme yielded low earnings because of low interest rates.

He said the permanent shares were recently pegged at 14 percent interest per
annum, which meant low yields under the prevailing hyperinflationary

The official suggested that the money market was a better investment option
compared to permanent shares.

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