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1 killed, 83 injured in "Freedom Train" crash blamed on broken signals

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: August 9, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe: A crowded commuter train slammed into a freight train
early Thursday, killing one person and injuring 83 passengers, a third of
them seriously. Railroad officials said signals were not working, Zimbabwe
state radio reported.

The driver of the commuter train - dubbed the Freedom Train as the cheapest
and most effective commuter transport in a service subsidized by the
government - relied on a verbal go-ahead that the line ahead in western
Harare was clear, then the train crashed head-on with an oncoming freight
train carrying blocks of granite used in construction, the radio said.

It was not immediately clear if it was one of the drivers who died on the
spot. Injured passengers pulled from buckled and derailed cars were ferried
to hospitals and clinics in the capital already facing acute shortages of
medicines and other supplies.

In the worst economic crisis since independence in 1980, the state railroad
has been hit by breakdowns, shortages of equipment and thefts of signaling
gear it has been unable to replace.

One recent official report said along one 300 kilometer (190 mile) stretch
of the railroad through the countryside, signals were working for just 20
kilometers (12 miles) and train crews used handwritten cards left at
stations and flags and wooden paddle signs to signal train movements.

The Freedom Train was put into service in 2003 in the morning and evening on
the sole west-to-east line of rail through Harare after lack of gasoline and
spare parts led to private road transport shortages. The Freedom Train fare
is about one-fourth the bus fare.
Overcrowding on the Freedom train increased sharply since a June 26
government order to cut prices of all goods and services, including commuter
fares and gasoline. The order drove many private minibuses off the road and
left long lines of stranded commuters at bus stops and along highways
leading into cities across the country.

The government Thursday said it was making more subsidized gasoline
available to bus operators ahead of Zimbabwe's upcoming Heroes Day holiday
weekend to enable city dwellers to travel, mainly to their traditional rural

The holiday Saturday through Tuesday honors guerrilla killed in the
liberation war that ended colonial era white rule in 1980, sweeping
President Robert Mugabe to power as the first black leader. It is among the
most cherished holidays in Zimbabwe.

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Zimbabwe crisis will be high on agenda of regional summit, says official

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: August 9, 2007

LUSAKA, Zambia: The deteriorating political and economic crisis in
neighboring Zimbabwe will be a key focus of a regional summit in Zambia next
week, a top African official said Thursday.

"It's clear in the agenda, the issue of Zimbabwe will be high," Tomaz A.
Salomao, executive secretary of the Southern African Development Community,
told reporters at a briefing in the Zambian capital.

The regional body is holding its 2007 conference in Zambia, which is taking
over as chair of the organization. Leaders, including South African
President Thabo Mbeki and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, will meet Aug.

Massive inflation and food and fuel shortages and a crackdown on Mugabe's
political opponents have sent Zimbabweans fleeing by the thousands. Zambian
immigration authorities said this weekend the number of Zimbabweans crossing
into Zambia at the southern border city of Livingstone had risen from 60 to
1,000 persons a day, and that they feared the influx threatened security.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa earlier this year likened Zimbabwe to a
"sinking Titanic." For the most part, though, Mugabe's fellow southern
African leaders have muted their criticism. South African President Thabo
Mbeki, who maintains quiet diplomacy will be more effective than public
pressure, is heading a regional effort to bring Zimbabwe's government and
opposition together to resolve the crises. Mbeki is expected to report on
the progress of the mediation effort to the Zambia summit.

Salomao stressed that regional leaders will be trying to "assist Zimbabwe to
overcome challenges" in solidarity. He added that the Zimbabwean economy "is

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In Zimbabwe, even the pubs have no beer


Thu 9 Aug 2007, 11:45 GMT

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE (Reuters) - After a busy day trying to survive Zimbabwe's economic
crisis, Jeffrey Ndoro likes to relax after work with a beer.

Even with inflation spiralling out of control, beer had been comparatively
cheap before a price crackdown by President Robert Mugabe's government
caused supplies to dry up.

"Of all the things, you can't find beer - this is too much," said Ndoro,
sipping a soda at his drinking spot, the Chelsea Pub.

Ndoro is left with few alcoholic options. A shot of imported whisky, for
example, is far too expensive.

Zimbabweans have been struggling with severe shortages of fuel, food and
foreign currency, and now the few pleasures of life are rapidly

Mugabe has warned businesses they will face dire consequences if they ignore
his price-capping campaign, another bid to tame the world's highest
inflation rate that has cut supplies of maize-meal, milk, sugar and meat.

Police have targeted more than 7,500 business people and companies for
overcharging and Mugabe has vowed to escalate the crackdown, launched in

The shortages of basic goods have increased the misery of Zimbabweans
struggling with crumbling sewers, water and electricity cuts, and rising

In poor townships, where the majority of urban residents live, beer
shortages are severe and liquor stores, normally a hive of activity, now
close early.

At a beer outlet in central Harare, the owner sat on an empty freezer
reading a newspaper. He was frequently interrupted by customers inquiring
about beer. He told them the last delivery was six days ago.

Across town, employees were forced to close a liquor store which had beer,
after being overwhelmed by a large crowd. In the end beer was rationed to
two per customer.

"I have never heard of a place where there is beer rationing," an angry man
who identified himself only as Sam told Reuters.

"At this rate, we will be buying beer on the black market."

With summer approaching, thirst-quenching may become a nightmare. Sales of
less fancied spirits and wines are up but supplies are running low.

Ndoro, a 25-year-old pharmacy clerk, fears he won't be sipping another
soothing beer at the Chelsea anytime soon.

"I am sure things will get worse. But I guess this is now beyond our
control," he said, shrugging.

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Is There Any Way Out?

International Crisis Group (Brussels)

9 August 2007
Posted to the web 9 August 2007

Notes for Panel Presentation by Gareth Evans, President, International
Crisis Group, to Royal Commonwealth Society Conference, Zimbabwe: Preparing
for Change, London, 2 July 2007:

The Bad News

Zimbabwe is not fertile ground for optimists:

  a.. The internal situation is catastrophic, with the country's economy in
freefall and its people suffering grievously. Economists are putting current
inflation rates at 9,000 per cent or worse. Over 80 per cent of the
population of some 12 million is living below the poverty line, and 80 per
cent is unemployed. The economy as a whole has shrunk dramatically in recent
years and has a current growth rate of negative 4.4 per cent. Health
indicators are equally depressing. Life expectancy has dropped below 40
years for both men and women, and the prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in adults
hovers around one in five.   And the last four months have seen the
government embark on another brutal campaign of state-sponsored violence
against opposition groups and their supporters.
  a.. The internal opposition is fragmented.   The opposition MDC is trying
to coordinate a common front but remains split between two wings and both
strategically and tactically less effective as a result.   The   ZANU-PF
is internally divided with a numerically strong anti-Mugabe faction led by
the Majurus,   but the debacle in the Central Committee   immediately
after the SADC meeting in late March, when Mugabe rammed through a
resolution supporting his running again as President in 2008, showed the
limits of its strength, or commitment, or both.   There are divisions in the
security services, reflecting the stress felt by families in every walk of
life as a result of the economic meltdown, but these have not been enough to
give anyone confidence that anything resembling a velvet revolution could
succeed.   And civil society organizations   continue to struggle to
exercise any influence at all on the course of events.
  a.. External pressure remains ineffective.   International sanctions are
shrugged off, with general economic sanctions hardly likely to make any
difference - except to further immiserise the poor; targeted sanctions too
narrowly focused to make an impact (and with travel bans regularly ignored,
most recently by the Portuguese presidency of the EU with the forthcoming
EU-Africa Summit).   General condemnations from the North - especially the
UK - seem to be if anything counterproductive, fuelling Mugabe's claims of
neo-imperialism: SADC leaders remain hypersensitive to any suggestion they
are carrying out an external agenda, in particular one imposed by Zimbabwe's
former colonial rulers.    South Africa continues to decline to use such
leverage as it has, and the regional countries have - until very recently -
contributed nothing but support for Mugabe's leadership.

All this means that there is little or no prospect of Mugabe being
bludgeoned out of office in the   foreseeable future - from below, within
the country; from above, by the international community; or from the side -
by any really coercive pressure from his regional neighbours.

The Better News

Causes of Conflict Not Deep Rooted

  a.. The first piece of more heartening news is that none of the causes of
Zimbabwe's current discontents seem to have roots so deep that the situation
cannot be quickly turned round once some decent leadership is restored:
  b.. Ethnic conflict has occurred between Ndbele and Shona in the past, and
fears are periodically expressed that the present woes will reignite it, but
so far remarkably little tension of this kind has surfaced.
  c.. Democracy is not something which Zimbabweans have had much chance to
enjoy under successive regimes, but on available evidence they appear to
have a taste for it and would hugely welcome free and fair elections.
  d.. Economic destruction has been great, but the resource base of the
country remains strong, and with good planning and international support,
the situation can be reasonably rapidly reversed.
  e.. Land distribution remains an emotive and divisive issue, but - even
with all the additional problems created by Mugabe's expropriations and
reallocations - it is not incapable of resolution, especially if generous
resources are forthcoming from the UK and other international donors.

SADC has Engaged - and Given Political Cover for South Africa for the First

In its March 2007 Dar es Salaam Extraordinary Summit meeting, the Southern
African Development Community did not directly confront Mugabe, but did
finally decide to take concrete action, mandating South African President
Thabo Mbeki to mediate between the parties.

The first round of mediated talks between ZANU-PF and the MDC   - and the
first substantive dialogue between them for four years - took place on 18
June, with an agenda agreed (covering Constitution, Electoral Laws,
Repressive Legislation, and 'Political Climate'), and a further meeting
planned for later in July. Mbeki is making an initial progress report to the
AU Summit in Accra this week.

This process faces significant hurdles and limitations, especially:

  a.. Time is running out to create the minimum conditions necessary for
reasonably legitimate elections in March 2008, even with full cooperation
between the parties - of which there is as yet no sign, with ZANU-PF bent on
proceeding simultaneously with legislative and constitutional changes
reinforcing its advantage
  b.. The balance of power between ZANU-PF and MDC is very unequal, making
it difficult for any mediator to obtain significant concessions (although,
as noted below, this could be overstated: SADC has real leverage if it
chooses to exercise it). The internal divisions within ZANU-PF relating to
the succession have not yet translated into any fragmentation of the
government's position vis a vis the MDC.

All that said, the SADC development has introduced a new dynamic into a very
stalemated         process, and remains about the only game in town in terms
of moving forward. There are essentially two levels of activity in play, or
potential play, so far as the SADC leaders are concerned.

First, there is the overt agenda of ensuring free and fair elections next
March, which will require:

  a.. An immediate end to the repression and intimidation of the opposition,
civil society, media and legal professions, including by the repeal of the
repressive POSA and AIPPA laws;
  b.. A hold on constitutional changes aimed at strengthening ZANU-PF's
  c.. A fully independent electoral commission, to replace the present
military-run body (this being part of a larger need to demilitarise state
institutions), to prepare a new voters roll and carry out everything
necessary to ensure a free and fair election.

The hope is that a free and fair election would be followed, notwithstanding
which party had the majority of seats, by a government of national unity to
carry through all the necessary political, legal, constitutional and
economic changes needed to stabilise the country and set it back on the path
to recovery.

SADC's leverage in all of this is great, if it chooses to exercise it. If
the South African mediation is unable to achieve the outcomes necessary for
free and fair elections, SADC

  a.. can publicly state, before the elections, that the conditions are
simply not in place for any possible outcome to be free and fair; or
  b.. after the election, refuse to certify it as free and fair.

SADC's willingness to go down either of these paths would, if clearly
flagged in the mediation, maximise the chances of the necessary reforms
being accepted. The point is that Mugabe is politically very dependent on
support for his positions from his Southern African peers: any condemnation
by them of the electoral process would be likely to have a devastating
effect on his credibility, and create the conditions for an effective
political move against him. This may all be unduly optimistic, but I for one
have been struck by the number of South African senior figures who attach
real weight to the SADC role in this respect.

The second track in play is a behind the scenes exercise, involving senior
SADC and other figures, to try to negotiate a 'soft landing' for   Mugabe,
ie a reasonably graceful exit combined with assurances that he would not
face prosecution in any domestic or international court.   Present
indications are that this course has been made very much more difficult by
the removal of Liberia's Charles Taylor to face charges in the Sierra Leone
Special Court, notwithstanding safe refuge assurances he had earlier been
given by Nigeria's President Obasajano in 2003 to secure an early end to
threatened further major warfare in Monrovia.   But efforts should certainly
in my view   - and I believe most Zimbabweans - continue to negotiate such a
soft outcome: sometimes the urge for justice just has to yield to a more
urgent need to stop large scale human suffering.

The Commonwealth's Role

  a.. Political Support for SADC. The Commonwealth's strong African and
general South membership makes it an important source of political support,
with the November Heads of Government   meeting in Kampala a timely
opportunity for making that clear   - provided its North members are not
seen to be pushing the issue too hard. Although there should be no question
of readmitting Zimbabwe to Commonwealth membership until some normality in
the country is restored, continued overt external pressure, here as
elsewhere, runs the risk of being counterproductive.
  b.. Support for Civil Society.   By itself this may be unlikely to change
the political balance in Zimbabwe, but is worth every possible effort
nonetheless to avoid the disintegration of Zimbabwean society under the
present stresses and to hasten the eventual return to normality.
  c.. Support in Planning and Coordinating Zimbabwe's recovery.   The
Commonwealth as an institution has particular technical expertise in certain
areas, which should be harnessed and coordinated with the resources of major

Take a Leadership Role on the Land Issue

-   A commitment on the part of the Commonwealth to engage on land reform
could act as a powerful hook for Harare, which desperately needs a way out
of the quagmire of its current land policy. To this end, the Commonwealth
Secretariat might consider establishing a working committee or a group of
Eminent Persons, tasked with exploring options for land reform in Zimbabwe,
mediating between Harare and the international community, and finding a
settlement on the land question that will allow international donors to
reengage on the issue and is acceptable to key stakeholders.

- The grouping's African members could include both SADC and non-SADC
countries: South Africa, Tanzania and Botswana (SADC countries and regional
stakeholders), Kenya (as a useful case study of a viable post-colonial land
settlement), and perhaps Ghana. It could be composed of former high-level
decision-makers, as well as officials with technical expertise. The
recommendations generated by such a body, composed predominantly but not
exclusively of African countries, might well carry weight with Zimbabwe,
allow the British to remain quietly engaged and overcome some of the
constraints that prevent SADC member states from addressing land reform.

- Ultimately, the land issue must be resolved by Zimbabweans themselves. As
Crisis Group has argued in a book-length report on the subject, the logical
first step in moving the land process forward during a transition period
would be to establish a Land Commission, with a clear mandate, a strong
technocratic base and representing a large cross-section of Zimbabwean
stakeholders. The responsibilities of the Land Commission would include
conducting a comprehensive inventory of land, mediating claims on the
ground, developing a compensation formula and so on. But a Commonwealth
committee of the kind suggested would provide important political and
technical support to Zimbabwe's own land reform efforts.

Watching Zimbabwe's decline and fall has been one of the most dispiriting
experiences of modern times.   There are no easy ways out of the abyss in
which the country now finds itself.   But hopefully sustained, carefully
modulated commitment by the international community - with the Commonwealth
and its member countries playing a particularly important role in this
respect - can and will make a difference.

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Mysterious 'accident' offers window on Zimbabwe politics

International Herald Tribune

By Michael Wines Published: August 9, 2007

JOHANNESBURG: With all the problems besetting Zimbabwe these days, the
untimely death of Armstrong Gunda, flattened by a freight train in late
June, might seem to deserve only passing mention. His family, however, begs
to differ.

Late last month, the Gundas mourned his passing in a cryptic front-page
advertisement in the state-run Bulawayo Chronicle. "It's now 29 days since
you were tragically killed in a mysterious train accident," the ad stated.
"Little did we know that instead of the board you were going to chair on
21/06/07 and picking up the kid from school, you were going to die."

The mysterious accident, as the ad twice described it, has not gone
unnoticed by Zimbabwe's ruling elite: Brigadier General Gunda, 50, was the
commander of President Robert Mugabe's presidential security guard. And
barely six days before his death, members of the guard were publicly accused
by the government of plotting to end Mugabe's 27-year reign.

Gunda's sudden departure is one nugget of information analysts are studying
as they try to determine whether Zimbabwe's economic and political meltdowns
have loosened Mugabe's grip on power. The early consensus is that they have
not - at least not yet.

Even disregarding his nation's economic collapse, however, Mugabe, now 83,
faces serious and rising opposition to his plan to run for another term as
president next March. Gunda's death is seen by some experts as a signal that
threats to Mugabe's re-election will be crushed. Some political analysts
suspect that the coup plot was engineered by Mugabe's inner circle to make
just that point.

"He's supported by a coterie of securocrats and military officers who are
entirely loyal, however serious the situation may be," one Zimbabwean
analyst who insisted on anonymity said in an interview. Rumors of
instability, the analyst said, reflect the intense jockeying to succeed
Mugabe more than any real threat to his power.
Still, the expert and others say that Zimbabwe's economic disintegration
could seriously undermine Mugabe if it continues for very long, in part
because it threatens the vast riches amassed by officials of the ruling
party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or ZANU-PF.

Mugabe's two chief rivals, both among the nation's wealthiest people, still
hope to edge him from power before the proposed March elections. One, Vice
President Joyce Mujuru, is married to Solomon Mujuru, a retired general with
deep ties to the military dating to Zimbabwe's liberation wars in the 1970s.
The other, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is the rural housing minister, but his power
lies in his influence in the Central Intelligence Organization, the state
security apparatus.

Mugabe has played the Mujuru faction against Mnangagwa's camp, and the
purported coup attempt, which led to the arrest of as many as 15 civilians
and soldiers, is seen by some as part of that strategy.

Still, the two rivals have managed to keep the ZANU-PF hierarchy from
formally anointing Mugabe for another term, and Mugabe faces a series of
tests in the next six months that could help unravel his control.

This month, southern African heads of state will gather in Lusaka, and
Zimbabwe's meltdown will be atop their list of issues. The same group was
widely reported to have told Mugabe at a meeting in March that he should
plan a graceful exit from power; the pressure is likely to increase sharply
at the next session.

After that meeting, Parliament will convene, very likely to consider
legislative or constitutional changes that would cement Mugabe's control.
His cadre of loyalists are floating a proposal that would certify Mugabe as
president for life. Any defeat in Parliament would leave him severely

ZANU-PF leaders will convene again in December. If any question of who will
run Zimbabwe remains undecided, that meeting is expected to resolve it. All
that assumes, of course, that Mugabe can defeat by far the most serious
threat to his power: a collapsing economy that has decimated the poor, and
is now beginning to gnaw at the rich.

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Mugabe nears deal with Zimbabwe opposition - report


Thu 9 Aug 2007, 7:25 GMT

By Shapi Shacinda

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is nearing a deal with
the opposition to end a political crisis in his country after South Africa
tried to broker an agreement, a document obtained by Reuters on Wednesday

A confidential report due to be presented by South African President Thabo
Mbeki to leaders of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) says
"progress" has been made in talks between Mugabe's ruling party and the
opposition and a deal could be close.

"It seems there are no real substantive issues between the government and
the (opposition) MDC. There are strong indications that the two sides are
sliding towards an agreement," the report says.

SADC asked Mbeki to mediate talks between Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party
and the main Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) opposition party in March.
He is due to report back on his progress at an SADC summit in Lusaka next

The request for Mbeki to mediate followed a crackdown on MDC activists which
triggered international outrage and renewed calls on African nations to
pressure Mugabe to agree to political reforms. SADC stopped short of
condemning the crackdown.

Despite a media blackout on the talks, some reports said South African
negotiators have struggled to get ZANU-PF representatives and the MDC to
agree on anything of substance in the past five months.

But the South African document says various contentious issues, including
constitutional reforms, have been "worked out" by the two sides.

The report also blames the country's former colonial power, Britain, which
has been highly critical of Mugabe, for Zimbabwe's isolation by Western

Mugabe blames Western sanctions for hyper-inflation, food shortages and an
economic crisis in the formerly prosperous southern African nation. Critics
say Mugabe is at fault because of his controversial policy of farm seizures.

"The most worrisome thing is that the UK continues to deny its role as the
principle protagonist in the Zimbabwean issue and is persisting with its
activities to isolate Zimbabwe," the report said.

The report said Britain had a "death wish" on the dialogue between ZANU-PF
and the MDC, which faces its own internal divisions.

Scrutiny of the talks has intensified as thousands of desperate Zimbabweans
trying to escape poverty and unemployment of 80 percent sneak over the
border into South Africa every day.

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MDC to express voter registration concerns to Electoral Commission

By Tichaona Sibanda
9 August 2007

The MDC has been granted a 'groundbreaking' meeting with the government
controlled Electoral Supervisory Commission, where it is expected they will
hand over a dossier of their concerns regarding the current voter
registration exercise.

Ian Makone, the MDC director of elections, told Newsreel they would be
meeting a delegation from the ESC in Harare on Friday to brief them of
numerous problems that have been encountered by people trying to register
for the presidential and parliamentary elections.

'This is a meeting where we will be exchanging notes. Of major concern to us
are reports we have received and compiled about the inconsistencies involved
with the current voter registration exercise. Our aim really is to tell them
what we know and wait to hear what they say,' Makone said.

On Thursday we reported that hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans could have
failed to register with the mobile voter registration teams after officials
avoided certain areas associated with opposition supporters.

MDC legislator Editor Matamisa first raised the issue of the irregularities
with her party and claimed on Wednesday that mobile registration teams did
not bother to visit her constituency which has close to 10 000 residents who
wanted to be added to the voters' roll.

The MDC has however discovered that the problems are not only limited to
Kadoma but are countrywide. Analysts believe however that very little
response can be expected from the ESC. There have been problems of this
magnitude before but the ESC has failed to act on any of them because of
their close links with Zanu (PF).

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network recently said the time allocated for
the mobile registration exercise was too short. ZESN like all pro-democracy
groups in the country have proposed that the exercise be extended to at
least four months and called for more public awareness about the on-going
exercise. The last day for people to register with the mobile teams is next
week Friday.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Foreign currency scam at RBZ confirms illegal deals on black market

By Tererai Karimakwenda
09 August, 2007

Foreign currency dealers and economic experts have always claimed that the
biggest buyer of foreign currency on the black market was the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ). But because the bank uses individuals who have no formal
ties to it, there has never been any real proof of the illegal forex deals.
That is until this week, when The Zimbabwean newspaper reported that a
division head at the RBZ had been suspended over a foreign currency scandal
that is believed to have prejudiced the country's central bank out of
billions of dollars and exposed it as the key player in illegal foreign
currency deals.

According to The Zimbabwean, RBZ Governor Gideon Gono last week suspended
Mirirai Chiremba, head of the Financial Intelligence Division and a former
operative with the Central Intelligence Organisation, after it was
discovered he was misrepresenting the exchange rates he paid to the black
market dealers. Chiremba allegedly inflated the rates at which he purchased
the forex, and made huge sums for himself from each transaction. Wilf
Mbanga, publisher of The Zimbabwean, said the RBZ was mopping up all the
forex in the country, using people not associated with the bank in any way.
No receipts or paperwork were processed to represent these deals. The RBZ
chef trusted Chiremba.

Mbanga said Gono became suspicious because Chiremba kept providing exchange
rates that were not correct, so he put a trail on him. And this is how the
whole scandal unravelled. Gono suspended Chiremba for two weeks without pay.
Mbanga finds that fact that Chiremba was not dismissed or formally charged
rather suspicious. He said if the RBZ was defrauded the police should be
involved. He believes that this case is very important because it is the
first time there has been evidence linking the central bank directly to
black market forex deals.

Mbanga said other government institutions and parastatals are also illegally
mopping up foreign currency. He pointed to the Revenue Authority which is
insisting that Zimbabweans who import vehicles pay duty fees in forex. "I
believe this is illegal," Mbanga said and he also referred to Air Zimbabwe,
which often charges part of their airfares in forex. He said Zimbabwean
currency should be used to pay for goods and services in Zimbabwe.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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16 WOZA activists released but two more arrested

9 August 2007
By Violet Gonda

More than a dozen activists from the Women and Men of Zimbabwe Arise were
finally released on Thursday, but they had been badly beaten. They were
arrested on Tuesday while playing a game of netball and mixed soccer when
state security agents arrested them at Macheke Stadium in Masvingo. The
victims spent two cold nights in police cells in their sports uniform. They
were released after being forced to pay admission of guilt fines.

WOZA coordinator Jenni Williams said all 16 activists were badly beaten. She
said: "At lunchtime two (members) of our support team were going to bring
food to those in custody and they were subsequently arrested and as we speak
those two are still in police custody. We hope they won't be assaulted as
the others were last night."

Meanwhile, Tapera Kapuya the coordinator of the National Constitutional
Assembly said there is still no information on the whereabouts of Mannex
Mawuya, the NCA acting youth chairperson in Manicaland who went missing two
weeks ago. Mawuya has not been seen since his release from police custody in
Mutare. The NCA said he had been severely assaulted by state security

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Mugabe's sewage cost Makwavarara her job

By Lance Guma
09 August 2007

It was a battle fought by Harare residents for years and even several court
orders failed to move Local Government Minister Ingatius Chombo into
flushing Sekesai Makwavarara out of her position as Chairperson of the
Commission running Harare. But a burst sewage pipe at Mugabe's state house
last week did the job. According to online publication Talk
Mugabe ordered Chombo to fire her after it took council workers over 2 days
to attend to the problem, resulting in sewage overflowing from State House
into Borrowdale road. Mugabe took exception to the delay and its messy

Talk report that on the eve of his trip to Malaysia for an
anti-poverty summit, Mugabe summoned Chombo and gave him orders to sack the
opposition turncoat. "I don't want to see this MDC woman running the affairs
of Harare when I return from Malaysia. She must be fired with immediate
effect." Makwavarara is said to have been unaware of the impending dismissal
and looked forward to the renewal of her term in office. She had even
planned a series of mayoral engagements including a women's cookery
competition in which she was going to be guest of honour. Little did she
know she would be guest of 'dishonour' at a press conference later.

Makwavarara is said to have had no idea the press conference chaired by
Chombo was to announce her dismissal. The other commissioners had however
been informed in advance. Mugabe's point seems to have been that Makwavarara
should have woken and smelt the coffee, or at the very least smelt the
stench that was making its way from state house into Borrowdale. The former
Harare Commission Chair will find it hard to find sympathisers after winning
the deputy mayorship on an MDC ticket before stabbing them in the back to
join Zanu PF. She has since presided over a corrupt and incompetent
administration that has destroyed essential service delivery in Harare.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Free Zim Youths to protest at SA and Zimbabwe embassies

By Lance Guma
09 August 2007

The Free-Zim Youths based in the United Kingdom will on Friday launch a
double demonstration at the Zimbabwean Embassy and South African High
Commission in London. Sunday sees the commemoration of World Youth Day but
Alois Mbawara and his team plan to use Friday instead to launch a solidarity
campaign for youths and students in Zimbabwe. He told Newsreel on Thursday
that their campaign involves raising awareness and mobilising support within
the UK student movement for those in Zimbabwe.

He mentioned the eviction of over 4000 University of Zimbabwe students from
their halls of residence, as some of the issues that need intense lobbying
and help for the students. It's more than likely the university will close
the halls even in the next semester. Free-Zim say they are also working with
the Commonwealth and student groups in the UK to organise scholarships for
disadvantaged Zimbabwean students.

The youths also plan to present their concerns at the South African High
Commission over the capture of Zimbabwean border jumpers by vigilante
farmers in South Africa. The farmers claim their property is being
vandalised and valuable equipment being stolen. The youths feel the South
African government should take a more proactive approach and seek a more
robust involvement in solving the crisis rocking its neighbour. Asked if
demonstrations at the Zimbabwean and South African missions were not an
overused strategy Mbawara said these had to be used in conjunction with
other forms of lobbying.

He also shared his thoughts on why Zimbabweans tended to shy away from
protests saying not everyone stayed in London and it was only a few people
who were willing to cough up transport money to travel long distances.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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No welcome, no let-up

The Economist

Aug 9th 2007 | BEITBRIDGE
From The Economist print edition

Zimbabweans opt for hardship in South Africa rather than hopelessness at home

ON A dirt road in Weipe, a farming area in South Africa on the banks of the Limpopo river about 60km (37 miles) west of the busy Beitbridge border post, a few cars are waiting. Unemployed South Africans try to make a bit of money driving Zimbabweans—either locally employed or freshly arrived from across the river—wherever they want to go. But business is hard, as many new immigrants have no money. And there is also the risk of being arrested by the police for transporting people without visas.

When a police car duly arrives, the few bystanders hoping for a ride quickly vanish into the bush. Two friendly policemen stop the vehicles driving past, checking the passengers' papers. Six illegal Zimbabweans are picked up and ushered into the police car. They will be driven to the military base south of Musina, the nearby town, and deported within 24 hours.

Nick van der Vyver, who heads the office of the Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration on the Zimbabwean side of Beitbridge, says that so far this year an average of about 570 deported Zimbabweans cross his threshold every day. The figure is higher than last year's, and is probably far smaller than the number of those who do not get caught. Of those who do, most will probably be back on the South African side of the border within a few days; sealing over 200km of border is almost impossible. They add to the thousands who cross legally, in both directions.

The numbers say much about the desperation and determination of the impoverished Zimbabweans fleeing a country that is collapsing around them. Over 3m Zimbabweans are thought to have left their homeland (out of a population of 13m), most of them for South Africa. It is there that many already have friends or relations and where the economic opportunities are presumed to be best. But these emigrants are now causing problems far beyond the border.

At this time of year the Limpopo is dry, making it easy to cross by foot. But in the rainy season Zimbabweans dreaming of a better life drown in the surging waters, or are occasionally killed by crocodiles. Almost as dangerous are those who offer to help them cross for money: they often rob them blind or worse.

And crossing the border is only the beginning of their problems. Once they are in South Africa, making a living is hard. Some find jobs on farms, with minimum monthly salaries of about 1,000 rand ($142): not much, but still more than ten times a teacher's salary in Zimbabwe at the unofficial exchange rate. Many professionals, unable to survive at home with 80% unemployment, inflation heading for 100,000% (according to the IMF) and severe shortages of basic items such as meat, sugar and cooking oil, are also coming over. An association of Zimbabwean teachers in Johannesburg tries to help its 3,500 members with papers, professional certification, advice and jobs. Doctor Ncube, the chairman, believes there are over 10,000 Zimbabwean teachers in South Africa.

Limkani, who once taught in a secondary school in Matabeleland, hauled boxes in a warehouse for 75 rand a day when he came to South Africa in 2005. Another high-school teacher speaks of the one-bedroom flat he shares with seven others. His work permit means he is among the lucky ones. But he is struggling to win certification as a teacher in South Africa: he needs a letter from the Zimbabwean authorities, which say they have no stationery.

Many cannot even afford housing. In central Johannesburg the Methodist church has become a refuge for about 1,000 people, most of them Zimbabweans. At night the building bursts with people sleeping on every inch of floor; all must share just six lavatories. A Zimbabwean salesman has been living there for about a year. He finds occasional jobs as a security guard for 70 rand a day. Like most Zimbabweans in South Africa, he sends groceries and money home to his wife and children whenever he can.

The vast majority leave Zimbabwe because they cannot make ends meet. But some are escaping political persecution. Pianos, a 43-year-old official of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), shows multiple scars on his face, legs and knees from the beatings he says he received from the police and pro-government youth militia. He fled after an opposition gathering on March 11th, during which MDC leaders were arrested and later beaten up. He is now hoping to obtain political asylum. But, even if successful, this will take years—and his wife and four of his children remain in Zimbabwe.

Many Zimbabweans say they will go back if things improve at home. In the meantime, though, Zimbabwe is losing its people and South Africa has a problem on its hands. With an unemployment rate of 26%, or closer to 40% by some measures, it can hardly absorb the flow. Some locals feel that Zimbabweans are competing for scarce jobs and adding to the crime rate, although there is no hard evidence to support this. The opposition Democratic Alliance wants refugee camps set up; the government disagrees, saying that most Zimbabweans are economic migrants, not refugees.

South Africa's government has been heavily criticised for not doing more to hasten the end of President Robert Mugabe's disastrous regime. One of its excuses for not pushing harder has been fear of precipitating a crisis in Zimbabwe that would adversely affect South Africa. But it is hard to escape the conclusion that the damage is already being done.

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How to plunder an economy

Jamaica Gleaner

published: Thursday | August 9, 2007

John Rapley

First lesson in economic plunder: take a regional breadbasket with a dynamic
industrial base, mismanage it into the ground, and you have the recipe for

Imagine having to rush through your grocery shopping to reach the check-out
before the prices rise yet again. That's how life is becoming in Harare.
Rushing is probably a waste of time anyhow: queues can keep you waiting for
an hour or more, and the goods you await might not be available.

And the prognosis is for worse. Zimbabwe already has the world's highest
inflation rate, with some estimates suggesting it may reach 100,000 per cent
by year's end. Inadequately maintained due to shortages, the country's
infrastructure is running down. Electricity and water supplies can stop
running for days.

Urban unemployment is soaring. The wages of those who have jobs have been
gobbled up by inflation. Most of Zimbabwe's population lives in the
countryside, where an agrarian crisis has created food shortages. In
desperation, thousands of Zimbabweans leave the country each day. Estimates
of the daily exodus to South Africa alone range up to 10,000. It is all
creating a sense of crisis in neighbouring countries.

Pressing for changes quietly

However, South Africa has stuck by a regional tradition of pressing for
changes quietly, while openly supporting the government of Robert Mugabe. It
is no secret the South Africans are not pleased with Mr. Mugabe. But so far,
their actions to dislodge him or to persuade him to create space for the
opposition have amounted to little.

Not that there seems to be much the South Africans can do. As unhappy as
Zimbabweans have become, they still see Mr. Mugabe as the best of a bad lot.
Despite the country's parlous state, the opposition cannot rally around a
common cause or leader.

Faced with this, the ruling clique around Mr. Mugabe has opted for the
status quo. Reportedly unhappy themselves, they cannot agree on a way
forward for the country. In the midst of the inertia, the ruling party has
once again approved Mr. Mugabe as its candidate in next year's presidential

Mr. Mugabe's response to the crisis appears to be to rail against white
farmers and British colonialism. Warranted as some of his rants may seem,
they do not solve the crisis. His government's response to the inflation has
been to print new bank notes and freeze prices, using thugs to enforce the
regulations. Meanwhile, he has announced a programme of taking over
white-owned business in order to enrich poor Africans.

No friend to black bourgeoisie

As is to be expected, the price controls have only worsened shortages. As
for the Africanisation of the business community, Mr. Mugabe is acting a bit
disingenuously. Despite his rhetoric, Mr. Mugabe long patronised the white
urban business class, and was no friend to Zimbabwe's black bourgeoisie. The
Africanisation programme appears mainly to be benefiting his inner circle.
With their access to scarce foreign currency, they are snapping up assets at
fire-sale prices.

The amazing thing is that, despite this mess, foreign investors are still
coming into Zimbabwe. Some adventurous punters are betting that things
cannot get much worse, that Mr. Mugabe will soon die, and that the country's
immense potential will then begin to be realised once again. So while
Zimbabweans head for the exits, a few brave souls are venturing in.

It may be a tad optimistic. Though it's a pity that in recent years Mr.
Mugabe has been most effective at doing damage, there is little doubt he is
an effective leader. Zimbabwe has no obvious successor to him. The circle
around him is opportunistic, not visionary or reformist. The outlook is not

John Rapley is a senior lecturer in the Department of Government, University
of the West Indies, Mona.

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Taking the 'fast' out of Zim's fast foods


No option but to continue operating say businesses, as Zimbabweans wait,
wait and wait.

Tawanda Jonas
08 Aug 2007 23:00

HARARE - It is lunch hour in Zimbabwe. There is hurried activity as people
rush to find something to eat. Only a select few well-off customers used to
visit fast food outlets such as Nandos, Chicken Inn and Steers, but these
days the queues for takeaways twist along pavements.

"Our customers were usually the upmarket youths and those young executives
who, in an economy like Zimbabwe's, have a few extra dollars to spend," says
Bernadette Mangwiro, a supervisor at a Steers outlet. But over the past
month, during which a senior Nandos manager has been arrested, the "fast"
has simply been taken out of Zimbabwe's fast foods.

At a Chicken Inn outlet along Leopold Takawira Street in central Harare, a
queue snakes for almost 20 metres as people try to buy the now-reduced "two
piecer" (two pieces of chicken and chips) ... if there's any left.

A two piecer costs Z$215 000 at a Chicken Inn outlet while at a Nandos
outlet it costs Z$365 000. Using the thriving parallel market rate, this
equates to about R1 and R1,40, respectively.

Fast food operators complain that the government directive to halve prices
has left their operations "in the red, battling to remain operational".
Should the fast food operators close shop, then President Robert Mugabe's
government seems ready to nationalise the companies. Plans to this effect
have been made public in recent weeks.

"We have no option but to continue operating, hoping that the political
situation here will come out right and then we will be able to do business
again," bemoans an executive with one of the country's leading fast food

Before the price slashes, which have destroyed several businesses,
Zimbabweans could easily find their favourite dishes at fast food outlets.
Nowadays one has to be prepared to endure waits of a few hours to at least
get some take away Sadza (cooked grain), Kapenta, soya beans or vegetables
(if you are lucky enough).

"I have been waiting for my order for the past 50 minutes but I have to wait
because my little daughter is now tired of eating vegetables. At her age she
does not understand why our diet has suddenly changed," says Fiona Kashoti,
who awaits her order at a Nandos outlet in Harare.

Supermarkets - which used to sell fast food - are no longer receiving meat
deliveries from abattoirs. The roaring refrigerators that used to stock meat
are silent and bare.

Abattoirs have stopped slaughtering beef because farmers cannot afford to
sell livestock at government-determined prices. Chicken, pork and other meat
products have disappeared from retail outlets. Executives at leading
suppliers such as Colcom, Crest Breeders and Irvines have been arrested.

"It's not that the prices are cheap or that I can afford it, but it's for
convenience sake. Although meat trickles into the shops, it's difficult for
working people to find it because of soaring demand," explains one consumer.

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CHRA local government weekly update

Welcome to CHRA News Service, provided by the Combined Harare Residents Association; to subscribe, please send an email written in the subject Subscribe, to unsubscribe, write the word Unsubscribe in the subject line.
COMMENT:  Commission Term Renewal Calculated to Buy Time                          5 August 2007
RESIDENTS of Harare must be a very frustrated lot. The thought of us going for another six months under another bunch of commissioners is another setback that has to be dealt with. We in the Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA) believe that the timing of the re-appointment of the Commission was meant to avoid elections by the regime.

The illegal term of this commission ended on 9 June 2007 but Chombo was fully aware that it was going to be difficult to run Harare from 9 December until the time of the local government elections.

The citizens of Harare need not be fooled by this hypocrite called Michael Mahachi who has come in as the replacement for the ousted Makwavarara. What he tells us about the mayoral Mansion is nothing new. His predecessors Executive Mayor Engineer Elias Mudzuri and Commissioner Sekesai Makwavarara also indicated at the time of their appointment that they would not be staying in the mansion but soon found the mansion irresistible, and unashamedly moved in.

Mahachi is loudmouth who just felt he needed to say something to the media. His conscience tells him that he is there to serve the interests of the collapsing Zanu PF in Harare. He has outlined a programme of action that prioritises housing. CHRA is fully aware of the pitfalls of such a programme, even when the intention is good.

So far there is nothing legal that Mahachi and his fellow puppets will enunciate on behalf of the City of Harare. The commission’s re-appointment was in itself an exercise in futility. On 2 March 2007 Justice Lawrence Kamocha ruled that the commission is illegal and cannot act on behalf of the City of Harare.

CHRA continues to demand the immediate restoration of legitimate authority to manage the resources of Harare in line with court judgments listed below:

High Court, Hungwe J. HH 210/2001 (CHRA and Another vs. RG),   
HH 80/ 2005 Makarau J (Christopher Magwenzi Zvobgo vs. City of Harare and Dominic Muzawazi)
Sandura J (Stevenson vs. Minister of Local Government and Others SC 38/02) and HC12862/00,
Justice J. Chinengo-HH24-2002, and Justice Kamocha ruling -HH 13-2007/ HC5604/06 (Nomutsa Chideya vs. City of Harare, the eight commissioners and the probe team that recommended Chideya’s dismissal).
High Court, Uchena J, H/C 6350/06 AND H.H 41-2007

Below are some key articles that appeared in the media:

Mugabe ropes in soldiers for voter registration, Zim Online, 30 July 2007 ------------------------------Page 2
Bulawayo water crisis a boon for hawkers, the Independent 3 August 2007, Loughty Dube ----------Page 3
Civic leaders reject poll harmonisation, The Standard 5 August 2007 ------------------------------------Page 5 
Chitungwiza moves to ban illegal crèches, Sunday Mail 5 August 2007 By Tafadzwa Chiremba ----Page 5
Zinwa pins hopes on Kunzvi Dam, Sunday Mail 5 August 2007, by Tafadzwa Chiremba ---- --------Page 6

Mugabe ropes in soldiers for voter registration, Zim Online, 30 July 2007

MASVINGO - President Robert Mugabe has drafted in soldiers and police officers to spearhead an ongoing voter registration programme for next year's elections, ZimOnline has established.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), that runs elections in Zimbabwe, has engaged hordes of army and police officers for the voter registration programme that ends on 17 August.

At a meeting held on Saturday in the southern town of Masvingo that was organised by the Public Rights Information Forum, civic groups condemned the move saying Harare should stop engaging soldiers and police for the registration exercise.

In a petition addressed to Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa that was also copied to ZEC chairperson Justice George Chiweshe, the civic groups condemned what they called "the militarisation of the voter registration exercise".

 "We the civic organisations of Zimbabwe note with concern the continued militarisation of the voter education exercise.

 "We are calling on your office to stop the practice ahead of next year’s polls as this will compromise the credibility of the polls," read part of the petition seen by ZimOnline.

A spokesperson for the Forum, Marble Sikhosana said it is improper to hire individuals who have declared their loyalty and support to Mugabe to run voter registration as the move would intimidate potential voters.

"It is not proper to engage soldiers for this exercise because this not a war situation," said Sikhosana.

Sources within Zimbabwe's electoral body said almost half of all voter educators employed by the ZEC were members of the army.

The rest of the voter educators were top civil servants and former liberation war fighters, all loyal to Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party, said the source. Under Zimbabwe's electoral laws, only the ZEC can conduct voter education.

Contacted for comment, Chinamasa scoffed at the civic groups' petition saying it would not change anything.

"I have not seen the petition but even if it reaches my office, it will not change anything. ZEC is a legally constituted body and as far as we concerned it is doing a good job," said Chinamasa.

Mugabe, who faces his biggest electoral challenge from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, has become increasingly reliant on the military for political survival over the past few years.

The veteran Zimbabwean leader has over the past few years appointed serving as well as retired members of the armed forces to take charge of electoral bodies and institutions directly involved in the running of elections.

For example, ZEC chairman, Chiweshe is a former senior army officer. Before his appointment to the ZEC, he headed the Delimitation Commission that draws the country's voting constituencies.

Zimbabwe's attorney general Sobuza Gula-Ndebele is also a former army intelligence officer while the chief executive officer of the country's Grain Marketing Board Samuel Muvuti is a former army colonel.

Last month, the MDC said thousands of potential voters in the party's urban strongholds had been denied permission to register as voters under the current registration exercise.

The opposition party also charged that the Registrar General's office, that is in charge of the process, had opened fewer voter registration centres in urban areas that are hotbeds of opposition support in what it said was an attempt by ZANU PF to rig the elections even before a single vote was cast. – ZimOnline

Bulawayo water crisis a boon for hawkers, the Independent 3 August 2007, Loughty Dube

SECOND-HAND plastic container business in Zimbabwe has over the years been boosted by a recurrent shortage of fuel. Every motorist keeps these in case of a chance encounter with black market merchants, or to simply store the commodity at home.

In Bulawayo the containers have found a new use. They now rank among the most sought-after goods and it’s reflecting in the prices the vessels are fetching. Bulawayo residents, facing one of the worst water crises in living memory, have taken to accumulating as many plastic containers as they possibly can during the few hours the commodity is available every three days.

Entrepreneurs, especially those from Harare, are making a killing out of the crisis by selling water containers at exorbitant prices. The entrepreneurs sell a 20-litre container for prices ranging from $800 000 to $1 million while elevated tanks holding up to 200 litres of water are fetching as high as $25 million each. Water containers have suddenly become popular as residents fill up anything that can carry water in anticipation of long hours without water.

"There is a high demand for the containers and we are now buying the containers in rural areas and re-selling them in Bulawayo. They are selling fast, demand is high," said one trader selling metal drums at the Renkini bus terminus, who only identified himself as Tapfuma.

The city of Bulawayo is facing a critical water shortage that has seen residents getting water supplies once every three days, a situation that the city says will worsen when it decommissions another dam soon.

The serious water crisis is a result of poor rains and lack of adequate dams blamed largely on government and the city council itself.

Five dams — Umzingwane, Inyankuni, Insiza, Lower and Upper Ncema — supply the city with water in normal circumstances.

However, the city has so far decommissioned three supply dams, Umzingwane, Lower and Upper Ncema, leaving two dams to supply water to the more than one million Bulawayo residents.

The situation has seen people in the city’s high density areas resort to queuing for water from boreholes sunk by international aid agencies before the water crisis started.

But as the water crisis unfolds, it has emerged that once the council decommissions one of the two remaining dams, industries and manufacturing firms will face closure.

Bulawayo Council has indicated that Inyankuni Dam is likely to run out of water at the beginning of October and that will leave the city with only one supply dam, Insiza.

Bulawayo city council spokesperson, Phathisa Nyathi, this week said industry has not been affected by water rationing as an arrangement was made for it to get constant supplies to save jobs. But he said if Inyankuni Dam dries up the city will be forced to include industry in the water rationing schedule.

"The situation will deteriorate further when Inyankuni Dam is decommissioned in October. At that point the city will get a paltry 46 000 cubic metres a day. Average daily consumption for the city is around 120 000 cubic metres," Nyathi said.

"With Insiza Dam as the only source of water, there will be a huge deficit. Water may be supplied after long periods and industry will also be affected," Nyathi said.

Matabeleland Chamber of Commerce president, Dumisani Sibanda, said industry leaders had met with council officials to discuss the water situation.

"Industry and manufacturers have set up a committee that meets council regularly to discuss the water crisis," Sibanda said. "We have big industries that use large volumes of water such as Delta and Merlin but for the time being industry has been spared from water cuts," Sibanda said.

Bulawayo used to be the country’s industrial hub but most companies relocated from the region in the 1990s due to perennial water problems.

Last month the city council issued a health warning about a possible outbreak of disease as a result of water shortages.

The water shortage has been ascribed to drought, a burgeoning population and lack of cooperation between the City Council and the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa).

Government’s reluctance to implement the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWT) and the Mtshabezi pipeline has worsened the city’s water crisis.

The Resident Minister of Bulawayo Metropolitan Province, Cain Mathema, has in the past blamed the city council for arrogance in failing to involve government in water planning activities.

Last week Mathema said the only solution to Bulawayo’s water crisis was for Zinwa to take over the water supply system.

He said it was unfortunate that the city council was not being cooperative.

"The Ministry of Water Resources and Infrastructural Development has written to me informing us of the need to set up a committee of five that has got to look into the issue. I relayed the information to the executive mayor, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube," he said. "But the mayor responded by advising me to turn down the directive."

Mathema also said council did not have a long-term strategy for water supply.

Nyathi however refuted the claims and said council’s role was to reticulate water as the Water Act stipulates while government’s role was to supply bulk water.

"There has been a lot of politics on the Bulawayo water crisis but the truth is that Bulawayo has no water because there is no water in the dams. But we have other scenarios where some cities have water but they are failing to supply it to residents," Nyathi said.

The last supply dam for Bulawayo was built in 1976 by the council before the Water Act was amended to give all powers to build dams to the government.

When the last of its five dams was completed in 1976, Bulawayo had a population of around 250 000 and it met the needs of residents and industry.

Civic leaders reject poll harmonisation, The Standard 5 August 2007 

MASVINGO — Civic organisations have added their voice to mounting opposition to the proposed harmonisation of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, widely seen as a ploy by President Mugabe to prolong his stay in power.

The proposal has divided Zanu PF after some provinces refused to endorse it at last year’s conference in Goromonzi.

The proposal, which would allow Mugabe to rule until 2010, has been referred to the provinces where it is being debated.

In his 83rd birthday interview on State television, Mugabe indicated his party would go ahead with the proposed harmonisation plan, claiming that it would be cost effective. This was in spite of it not having been endorsed by the party.

Speaking at a workshop organised by the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisation (NANGO), civil society leaders said they would join calls by opposition parties to provide a "granite resistance" to any extension of Mugabe’s term.

The groups said they would not "fold their arms" as Zanu PF amended the constitution to suit its own interests.

Zimbabwe Human Rights Masvingo provincial co-ordinator, Mabel Sikhosana said it was not Zanu PF’s mandate to decide "for the people" when elections would be held.

The constitution stated clearly that presidential elections should be held early next year.

"The people of Zimbabwe should not allow one party to decide elections for them when it is clear in the Constitution," she said. "The Constitution states that Presidential elections should be held after every six years. So they must go ahead next year. What Mugabe is trying to do is like trying to extend the pregnancy from its usual nine months to 12 months, it’s impossible."

Others felt that if harmonisation was geared towards cutting costs, it meant there was more sense to having the elections next year, than in 2010.

Zimbabwe Liberators’ Platform provincial chairperson, Ray Muzenda said: "It’s a ploy to make Mugabe president for life because if people accept this harmonisation, in 2010 the ruling party will simply say we don’t want to disturb the World Cup in South Africa by holding elections. They would further postpone them to 2012 and they would find another excuse again in that year."

Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavarasha Zhou said harmonisation should be separated from the extension of Mugabe’s term of office.

"The constitution of Zimbabwe entails that there are presidential elections in 2008 and only the generality of Zimbabwe should determine if they want to extend such an election beyond the stipulated period. PTUZ urges all Zimbabweans to ensure that there are presidential elections in 2008 under a democratic constitution and harmonisation of elections should be separated from extension of Mugabe’s term of office," he said.

Chitungwiza moves to ban illegal crèches, Sunday Mail 5 August 2007 By Tafadzwa Chiremba

CHITUNGWIZA Municipality plans to ban creches operating from various churches and houses in the sprawling town because they are affecting recruitment in council-run creches.

There was heated debate on the issue during a recent full council meeting with councillors expressing divergent views. It was later agreed that creches operating from churches were doing so illegally and that they be banned.

Councillors were of the opinion that churches and creches should operate separately and that any association needed to be regulated by the local authority.

It was noted that enrolment at council-run creches was dropping because council-run kindergartens were being shunned for private creches.

"People renting council creches are complaining of illegal creches which they say are preventing them from enrolling enough children resulting in their failure to raise money for rental payment," councillors heard.

A number of churches in Chitungwiza have got pre-school classes at their premises.

The municipality has pre-schools in almost every ward, but some have since been abandoned while some are being rented to various individuals and institutions.

"Poor administration in creches is compelling people to enrol their children in private pre-schools," the councillors heard before a resolution was passed to improve facilities.

Chitungwiza is believed to have compiled a list of all church-run creches operating without licences and legal action is reportedly on cards.

The issue is expected to be finalised soon.

Zinwa pins hopes on Kunzvi Dam, Sunday Mail 5 August 2007, by Tafadzwa Chiremba

THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) continues to pin its hopes on the Kunzvi Dam project for the restoration of normal supplies to Harare residents amid revelations that the Government has allocated funds for the resumption of the project.

Zinwa, which has faced intense criticism for failing to provide water in most parts of the Harare, feels that the completion of the Kunzvi Dam project is key to solving its problems.

Officials in the organisation said the Government had promised to speed up the construction of Kunzvi Dam to restore normal supplies to Harare.

"Although it is a long-term measure, the construction of Kunzvi Dam and its piping remain the solution to water provision. Talks with Government on this issue bore some fruits as more funds are being channelled to Kunzvi," said a Zinwa official.

Zinwa had reoriented its rotational water provision so that areas did not go for a long time without supplies.

"We understand some of the loopholes that were there as we tried to make sure everyone got water. We are now in a clearer position as to how we can counter the shortcomings to ensure that every household receives water," he said.

The official said the banning of the use of hosepipes and the water rationing exercise were temporary measures aimed at ensuring water conservation.

"There is a certain amount of water that a household should use per month. If a household exceeds the limit, then the charges for the extra consumption would be higher. So the more one uses water, the more they are charged," said the official.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Water Resources and Infrastructure Development, Engineer Munacho Mutezo, said the problems that the residents are facing after the re-assignment of water and sewer management to Zinwa would still confront them even if local authorities were still in charge of water supply.

"When Zinwa was assigned to manage water, it inherited old and dilapidated infrastructure. However, the problems of burst pipes will soon be a thing of the past as we move to counter the challenges through identified projects," said Eng Mutezo.

“CHRA for Enhanced Civic Participation in Local Government”
For more details and comments please contact us on 011 862 012, 0912 924 151, 011 443 578 and 011 612 860 or email you can also visit us at Exploration House at Corner Robert Mugabe Way and Fifth Street.


Precious Shumba
Information Officer
Combined Harare Residents' Association
Mobile: 011 612 860 or 0912 869 294
Tel: 04-705114

"Stand Firm. Be of Good Courage"

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Soldiers assault

Dzivarasekwa, Ward 40, It is reported that soldiers, numbering about 30, beat up vendors on Monday from 6pm until around 8pm. They accused them of engaging in vending. They indiscriminately beat up woman and children.
Rorani Muchiwa, the Ward 40 Chairperson told CHRA that the soldiers beat up people at Dzivarasekwa 1 and 2 shops, and along Boterekwa Street.
They used open hands and booted feet to assault the vendors.
In a related matter, men in army uniforms allegedly beat up people doing their shopping at Kuwadzana 4 Shopping Centre. Two men and a woman were seriously injured, according to CHRA representatives in the area.
Meanwhile, Mrs Muchiwa has been set free by the courts after the police withdrew charges of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm against her. She allegedly assaulted a police officer who had attacked her on 18 December 2005 in Dzivarasekwa.
Precious Shumba
Information Officer
Combined Harare Residents' Association
Mobile: 011 612 860 or 0912 869 294
Tel: 04-705114
"Stand Firm. Be of Good Courage"

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Mugabe Misled SADC About MDC Terrorism Charges

SW Radio Africa (London)

8 August 2007
Posted to the web 9 August 2007

Lance Guma

Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state have been left
with egg on their face after allowing Mugabe the benefit of the doubt when
he claimed at a meeting his regime was cracking down on the opposition to
stem a terrorism plot.

The brutal assault on opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and several other
activists put Mugabe in the spotlight and he responded by getting the Home
Affairs ministry to produce mountains of 'information' packed into what they
termed a dossier incriminating the MDC. The document circulated worldwide
and contained pictures of alleged terrorism acts and listed several alleged
perpetrators in the opposition.

It has taken the dramatic collapse of the state case in court to prove that
Mugabe in fact misled his SADC peers. The latest proof of this is the
acquittal of Glen View MDC legislator Paul Madzore on Monday this week. He
faced charges that in March 2007 he incited members in his constituency to
engage in acts of violence following a planned stay away by the labour
unions. Then on Wednesday the two remaining MDC officials, Morgan Komichi
and Dennis Murira, who spent over 5 months in remand prison allegedly for
recruiting the 'terrorists,' were set free by the High Court on Z$10 million

The terrorism charges engineered by the state have seen the High Court blast
police for faking evidence. Justice Lawrence Kamocha last month delivered
the stinging criticism after freeing 15 activists facing terrorism charges.
He threw out all the key police evidence submitted, saying they had failed
to show on a map the location of a farm in South Africa where the alleged
banditry training was supposed to have taken place. The judge concluded the
farm was 'nonexistent' and that state witnesses were 'fictitious persons.'
The entire case formed part of Mugabe's propaganda push and his peers in
SADC must be embarrassed at the new developments.

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Botswana Acts on Soldiers' Abuses


      Zimbabwean refugees find little peace as they flee their country's
economic meltdown

      Stephen Tsoroti

     Published 2007-08-09 09:14 (KST)

Many Zimbabwean refugees believe that a case involving Botswanan soldiers
will be a test for that country's courts as it attempts to halt a slide into

The court proceedings, against Botswanan soldiers who allegedly forced
Zimbabwean nationals into illicit sexual acts, started a month ago. The
soldiers are pitted against their fellow Botswanan citizens in a matter that
has brought to the fore abuses being perpetrated on innocent Zimbabweans
residing in the Southern African country.

The charges came to the fore when Botswana Police Service trainee (BPS)
Gaamagwe Marope revealed the alleged abuse of Zimbabwean males and females
that took place at an unidentified house in Gaberone, the capital.

The victims were reportedly taken to the house, then "ordered to undress and
lie on the floor." After a time, Marope had begun to complain that the
officers were taking too long in the house.

"I then went to investigate what was going on, only to find the soldiers
with naked men and women lying on the floor," testified Marope.

He told the court that he went straight to one of the officers, who was
standing in the passage holding a torch, and ordered him and his companions
to leave the Zimbabweans alone. He then immediately left the house and went
to the vehicle parked inside the yard.

Amazingly, the case is hardly unique. Earlier in the year, in the northern
city of Francistown, cross-border traders from Zimbabwe were subjected to
the same subhuman treatment when a bus they were sleeping in was invaded by
soldiers. The passengers were subjected to sexual abuse.

"We were told to get off the bus in the early hours of the morning, and we
were told to undress for the soldiers wanted to search for illegal diamonds
believed to have been smuggled from Zimbabwe," said Zimbabwean Nokuthula

The case has chilled many Zimbabweans, whose resentment of the Botswana army
is growing.

Zimbabweans exiled to or visiting Botswana say the abuses have been going on
for some time as a tacitly sanctioned system of humbling Zimbabweans,
routinely resulting in human rights abuses such as extortion, forced labor,
beatings and starvation.

Over the last fours years, Zimbabweans have crossed into Botswana in the
thousands as they flee the economic meltdown in their own country. The
country's spiraling cost of living and shrinking industrial and agricultural
base, largely attributed to chaotic land reform and a lack of the rule of
law, has forced them to seek a living in neighboring countries.

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Mugabe Puts Out the Barbecues

Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Meat and alcohol shortages, caused by ill-judged economic policies, end
moneyed Hararians' weekend binges.

By Meshack Ndodana in Harare (AR No. 125, 09-Aug-07)

Weekend life for the capital's rich is drearier these days, as they're
forced to give up on their marathon barbecues.

Prior to a June government directive to businesses to slash prices, which
effectively closed butcheries, barbecue sites such as KwaMereki and KwaZiko
would be roaring with life, almost round the clock at weekends.

But meat and beer shortages have left Harare a much quieter place, with the
rowdy barbecues now a thing of the recent past.

The people who flocked to these weekend binges were the newly-rich
urbanites, who've emerged in spite of the country's ten-year economic

They included young business people who have benefited from the black
economic empowerment programme that saw the launch of more than a dozen
black-owned financial institutions such as banks and bureaux de change.

Some were young politicians in the ruling ZANU-PF party, and their
hangers-on, who do not have to queue for government largesse. They have
launched shelf companies through which they get government tenders as part
of President Robert Mugabe's politics of patronage.

But the majority were what are referred to as "dealers", who trade in
anything from fuel to foreign currency. They live well from their black
market activities, as the swish cars they drive and the designer clothes
they wear testify.

Close to the barbecue locations on the outskirts of the city centre are
bottle stores that usually sell ice-cold beer and butcheries, retailing all
cuts of beef, pork and chicken. But now the shelves in these stores are

Albert Musara, who runs a small butchery and a bottle store at a popular
barbeque spot, says he is devastated, "I was forced to sell all my meat at a
loss. Now I can't restock. My butchery and bottle store complemented each
other. The more meat I sold for the braais, the more beer was bought too.
Now I have shut my shop and my family has no source of livelihood."

Barbecues would begin on Friday after work and continue into the early hours
of Saturday morning. Later in the morning, the men would play or watch
"boozers' football" to "shake them beer-bellies".

Around mid-morning, the mobiles would begin to ring, signalling that
girlfriends, popularly referred to as "small-houses" or "spices", had
finished their morning chores and were ready to join their menfolk.

The cars would begin roaring to life to pick up the dates and the barbecuing
would continue until the wee hours of Sunday.

But well-off Hararians' good times are no more. On June 26, the government
launched Operation Reduce Prices whereby wholesalers and retailers were
ordered to slash the prices of goods by as much as half. The directive
turned out to be tsunami-like in the scale of its devastation. The business
sector is being destroyed. Most firms are only operating because owners fear
Mugabe might nationalise their companies as he has threatened to do. Many
people have lost their jobs.

The blunder that the Mugabe government made in carrying out the price blitz
was to begin at the top. The authorities forced retailers at the apex of the
food supply pyramid to slash their prices, literally driving them out of
business. Butchers were among those worst hit.

The government then went downwards to the private abattoirs, who responded
by refusing to slaughter cattle and supply meat at a loss. As a result, they
had their licenses withdrawn and the moribund state-owned Cold Storage
Company, which owns no cattle, was vested with the sole responsibility of
meat provision.

The government then descended on cattle producers, commercial and
subsistence, and tried to force them to sell their beasts a knock-down
prices. They refused and now the shops are empty.

Operation Reduce Prices has dramatically changed the lifestyles of almost
everyone but the change has been most painful for the ordinary people.

"There is nothing in the shops," said Anita Moyo, a housewife in Harare's
medium-income suburb of Parktown. "There is nothing on the black market
either. There is nothing more painful than for a housewife to fail to
prepare meals for the family. My family does not remember when there was
last meat on the table."

Zimbabweans are now increasingly depending on commodities imported by
cross-border traders who buy the basic foodstuffs - meat is not among them -
from neighbouring countries, particularly South Africa, Mozambique and

Cross-border trading is a big industry, providing income for thousands of
jobless people. Unemployment in Zimbabwe is estimated at over 80 per cent.

That figure is partly due to Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out the
Rubbish), launched by the government in May 2005 to destroy, military-style,
the homes of the urban poor. UN Habitat estimates Operation Murambtsvina
left 700,000 people without homes and two million without the source of
their livelihoods. Since then, the jobless ranks have been swollen by former
civil servants, especially teachers, who have quit their jobs because of low
wages to become cross-border traders.

But this industry is also in danger as the government tries to suppress it.
Last month, it announced and then withdrew a directive which would have
given the minister of industry and international trade powers to control the
importation and export of certain goods, including essential groceries.

Although the measure was withdrawn, there is no guarantee it will not be
re-introduced. There is widespread suspicion that government wants to
control the supply and distribution of foodstuffs as a political tool to
whip opposition supporters into line.

Trader Maureen Chihota castigated the government over the directive, "I know
the withdrawal is temporary. This government will stop at nothing to make
people, especially urbanites, suffer. This is my livelihood. How do they
expect us to survive?

"It is not only our livelihood but also a lot of people have been depending
on us to close the gap left by the price blitz. When was the last time shops
received sugar and cooking oil? Where do they think people are getting those
products? Government has been squeezing us and squeezing us until there will
be nothing to squeeze anymore."

Meshack Ndodana is the pseudonym of an IWPR contributor in Zimbabwe.

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Zimbabwean Militaries Briefed on Angolan State Organisation

Angola Press Agency (Luanda)

7 August 2007
Posted to the web 9 August 2007


The delegation of the Zimbabwe National Army's Staff College, in Angolan
since Monday, was Tuesday briefed on the country's geopolitics and the
organisation of the Angolan State in workshops part of their working agenda.

Made up of students and top officials of the Zimbabwe National Army's Staff
College, the delegation started their visit by extending courtsey greetings
to the national director of Foreign Affairs of the Defence Ministry, Admiral
Gaspar André Mendes de Carvalho "Miau".

Thereafter the militaries also attended two lectures on the country's
geopolitics and the organisation of the Angolan State.

This Tuesday afternoon the delegation will visit the Higher Military
Training Institute (ISEM).

The Zimbabwe National Army's Staff College also trains soldiers from other
countries, in particular of the SADC region.

In Angola, the Zimbabwean military delegation will hold a courtesy meeting
with the National Defence Minister, Kundi Paihama, and will also visit the
101st Tank Brigade of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) in Funda locality.

The visiting delegation's programme also includes visits to the Central
Military Hospital, National Assembly (Parliament), Public Television of
Angola and Higher Military Training Institute (ISEM).

They will also visit the Angolan Staff of the Navy, Land Forces and of the
National Air Force.

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Private Schools Set to Increase Fees

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

8 August 2007
Posted to the web 9 August 2007


Parents of children at private trust schools have been warned that the costs
of educating their children will be much higher next term, largely because
salaries, which were not frozen, are more than half the cost to run the

But parents were told yesterday not to panic as final fees, approved in
terms of the Education Act, could well be lower than anticipated as the
price freeze on goods was likely to lower monthly inflation for July and

Some, but not all, of the trust schools have set interim fees based on
estimated rises in the cost of living during the second term, with some
boarding schools now seeking well over $200 million for the term.

The estimated inflation figure used was the average of three predictions by
independent economists made before the freeze on prices of goods.

The rest of the schools have used the second term fee as a provisional third
term fee, these generally having been topped up before June 18, but have
warned that this could not cover all third term costs.

It was simply an interim fee designed to keep the schools going until better
information or the CPI figures for the second term were available so that
the formal legal process could start, culminating in an application to the
Secretary for Education, Sport and Culture for a final fee.

The schools now expect the rise in the cost of living for the second term to
be lower than these predictions because the price freeze should lower the
July and August indices for the Consumer Price Index.

Under the Education Act, private schools are allowed to increase fees in
line with the rise in the CPI for the previous term. A majority of parents
at a meeting must agree and an application must be made to the Secretary for
Education, Sport and Culture. The secretary, however, must agree to the
application so long as the rise is no more than the percentage rise in the

The chairman of the Association of Trust Schools, Mr Jameson Timba, said
yesterday that all third term fees for ATS schools were provisional and
would be adjusted when the Central Statistical Office would release the CPI
figures for May, June, July and August.

The provisional fees had been set to guide parents, most of whom have to
plan well in advance to raise the money, and to ensure schools had adequate
funds to keep running from the first day of term.

"So to the extent that the invoices are provisional, there is no need for
anyone to panic. Parents must also appreciate that the recent price cuts
will have a positive impact on the CPIs for July and August, which should,
in turn, affect the levels of the fees positively."

Any excess paid by parents would be refunded or, if they wished, credited to
their account.

The association wrote to the Secretary for Education, Sport and Culture on
June 27 to inform him of the interim arrangements, pointing out that the
Government had advised that salaries should be revised upwards to ensure
that all receive a fair wage.

The same letter assured the secretary that interim fees would be adjusted in
accordance with the law and his approval would be sought before the final
fee was set, as the law demanded.

Mr Timba said that the ATS was working on the basis that while price control
orders could regulate the prices of goods, they could not fix the prices of
services so the Education Act's provisions remained in force.

However, the ATS hoped the regulation of goods prices would rein in the CPI
index and so help the private schools bring down anticipated fees.

The task force led by the Minister of Industry and International Trade, Cde
Obert Mpofu, was welcome to visit any trust school and inquire on any
financial matter, said Mr Timba.

But the ATS would prefer the task force to first seek the permission of the
Secretary for Education or his nominee before entering school premises, as
the Education Act laid down.

Several trust schools have already been visited by the task force and it is
these who have largely decided to set the interim third term fee as the
second term fee.

Trust schools are non-profit organisations but face the problem in times of
high inflation of trying to predict their costs five months in advance.

Most parents of children at such schools have said in the past that they are
prepared to pay the costs of the facilities and standards they want for
their children and so do not believe that the amount they wish to spend on
their children should be capped.

Three years ago, when fees were capped under previous legislation, most
schools asked parents to donate the difference between the actual cost and
the legal fee, stressing that such a donation was voluntary. In most schools
more than 90 percent of parents gave the donation.

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$700bn Needed to Address Marondera Water Challenges

The Herald (Harare)  Published by the government of Zimbabwe

8 August 2007
Posted to the web 9 August 2007

Innocent Ruwende

A SERIOUS water crisis looms in Marondera amid revelations that the two dams
supplying the town have just enough water to last two months and that $700
billion is urgently needed to address the town's chronic water woes.

On Tuesday, the Minister of Water and Infrastructural Development, Engineer
Munacho Mutezo, toured Wenimbi Dam, widely regarded as the only long-term
solution to the looming crisis.

Eng Mutezo said the purpose of his tour was to familiarise himself with the
water and sewer systems and to get first-hand experience of the problems.

"We noticed that the town is facing challenges; its water reticulation has
not expanded in tandem with population growth.

"The water in Nyakambire and Nyambuya dams cannot last more than two months,
hence the Government saw it fit to get water from Wenimbi Dam," he said.

Eng Mutezo said the biggest challenge was to carry water from the dam to
Marondera town, 19,7km away.

Eng Mutezo was quick to point out that Zinwa had come up with a rescue plan
in which the authority would put up submersible pipes that would temporarily
supply the town with water while work was carried out on permanent pipes
over the next three months.

"We need at least two months to make sure that Marondera gets water. We urge
residents to continue with water rationing because we cannot afford a
situation where the water supply runs out," he said.

Speaking at the same occasion, Zinwa acting chairman for Mazowe catchment
area Mr Garikai Musikavanhu said work on the Wenimbi project would start as
soon as the State Procurement Board approved a contractor.

"Marondera will not run dry. We are receiving a lot of help from our parent
ministry as well as from Marondera Municipality. We will put up temporary
pipes to feed into the main waterworks.

"On the water project which will take three months, steel and asbestos pipes
will be connected on the dam's outlet and a transformer will pump the water
to a midway booster which will in turn pump the water to the main
waterworks," he said.

He said that the condemned Rufaro Dam would not be abandoned, but water will
be pumped to a marshland which will allow the river to naturally cleanse

Mr Musikavanhu commended the excellent relations between Zinwa and Marondera

This was echoed by Marondera mayor Mr Ralph Chimanikire, who said the
council was working in close collaboration with Zinwa to mitigate the
impending water woes.

"As a municipality we have an obligation to make sure that our residents get
water," he said.

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Exec Jailed Over Attempted Passport Scam

Life Style Extra, UK

Thursday, 9th August 2007, 01:05


A high-flying female executive was dragged sobbing from court after being
jailed for helping a friend enter Britain illegally.

Mother-of-two Chengetai Bobo - a £55,000 a year personnel manager for
electronics giant Siemens - was caught trying to sneak her Zimbabwean pal
through immigration at Heathrow using another person's passport.

Tearful Bobo, 40, looked shellshocked and had to be told to keep quiet after
twice interrupting the judge as he sent her to prison for 14 months.

Shaking with emotion, the mother of young daughters aged six and 10,
screamed "my husband" as she was physically removed from the dock at Inner
London Crown Court.

Further loud wailing could be heard from under the court for several minutes
as half a dozen security guards rushed to help restrain the prisoner.

She had been hoping for a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to
assisting unlawful immigration.

Earlier, the court heard how Bobo, whose husband is managing director of his
own company, had bought a plane ticket for her friend while on one of her
regular trips to Harare last August. Bobo planned to come to the UK with her
friend, who didn't have a passport - and agreed to try and pass her off as
her aunt.

But when the pair arrived at Heathrow's Terminal Four, Bobo handed over her
own British passport and her aunt's Canadian passport, telling an
immigration officer it belonged to her travelling companion. But he spotted
that she didn't look like the photo.

Elaine Curtis, mitigating, told the court: "This was an isolated incident by
Mrs Bobo, a highly regarded professional woman who was acting well outside
her ordinary and law-abiding character.

"She has been acutely aware of the consequences ever since, and she
continues now to wrestle with her misjudgement that she made last August
when acting out of misplaced loyalty."

Bobo did not make any money from it, Miss Curtis added.

However, Judge Peter Grobel said: "I do not regard it as a particularly
humanitarian act that you did. You facilitated the illegal entry into this
country of a friend of your aunt's.

"The offence is so serious that a deterrent element is required and I am
afraid the sentence has to be one of immediate imprisonment."

Zimbabwe-born Bobo, of Reigate, Surrey, must serve half her 14-month
sentence. Her friend has been deported

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Rwandan tale of redemption is Edinburgh sellout


      Thu Aug 9, 2007 4:36 AM EDT

By Paul Majendie
EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Immaculee Ilibagiza is Rwanda's Anne Frank. The
difference is she survived to tell her tale, now being dramatized in a
sell-out show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

When Rwanda turned into Africa's killing fields in 1994, she and seven other
Tutsi women were hidden in the tiny bathroom of a pastor to escape bands of
machete-wielding killers.

They had to be silent, communicating only in sign language. Some days they
had no food or drink. Eventually smuggled out to safety, they emerged as
emaciated skeletons in a land where 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus had
been killed in 100 days of genocidal madness.

Immaculee, whose father, mother and two brothers were all killed, eventually
moved to the United States, married a Trinidadian working for the United
Nations and they now have two children.

Hearing one of her lectures inspired American actress Leslie Lewis Sword to
write a one-woman show recreating her story. She plays all ten characters
from Immaculee and her family to the pastor and a militia leader.

"Her message is forgiveness. She has found a way to move on after these
unbearable hardships," the actress said.

"It gives hope for Darfur, for Zimbabwe too. People are taking a look at
these things too and asking what is happening there," she told Reuters after
another sell-out performance of "Miracle in Rwanda."

Sword accompanied Immaculee on a trip back to Rwanda to revisit the house
and its cramped bathroom, hidden behind a wardrobe in the pastor's bedroom.

Immaculee relived her nightmare in her best-selling autobiography, "Left To
Tell," which echoes the diary of Anne Frank, the Jewish schoolgirl who hid
from the Nazis for two years in Amsterdam with her family before being taken
to a concentration camp.

"It is the same message as Anne Frank. Forgiveness sets us free. She knelt
to pray with the murderer of her mother afterwards," she said of Immaculee,
a devout Catholic who clung to the rosary her father gave her the last time
she saw him.

With just a bare stage, a black curtain backdrop and a stark spotlight,
Sword chillingly recreates the stifling claustrophobia of Immaculee's hiding

"We are in the same room as Immaculee, sweating with her, gasping for air
with her. It is a physical theatre experience," she said.

Meeting Immaculee changed the life of Sword and her businessman husband

"On our last day in Rwanda, Immaculee brought me to an orphanage. When I got
there I saw a room full of babies who needed a home. I thought -- well, I
have a home.

"Seven months later, I came back and adopted two babies. Immaculee is their

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