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SADC: Take action to end Zimbabwe rights crisis

Southern African Development Community - Drought Monitoring Center

Date: 14 Aug 2007

Send Human Rights Monitors to End State Brutality

Lusaka, August 14, 2007 - Government leaders gathered this week at a summit
in Lusaka, Zambia should  urgently press Zimbabwe's government to end its
broadscale attack on human rights, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing
paper released today. Human Rights Watch called on the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) to deploy human rights monitors to Zimbabwe to
assess the situation.

The summit, which takes place on August 16 and 17, 2007 is expected to
address the ongoing political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe. At an
extraordinary summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in March 2007, SADC asked
South African  president Thabo Mbeki to mediate talks between the ruling
Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the two
factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Mbeki is
expected to report back on the progress of the talks in Lusaka.

"SADC members must take strong and effective action to deal with one of the
region's most grave crises - Zimbabwe," said Peter Takirambudde, Africa
director at Human Rights Watch. "SADC's credibility as a real force for
change on human rights is on the line here and its leaders should insist on
tangible improvements in Zimbabwe."

Human Rights Watch urged SADC to more explicitly incorporate human rights
concerns in the mediation talks and set clear benchmarks for progress within
a clear time-frame. The summit should make a public acknowledgement of
ongoing human rights problems, Human Rights Watch said, and deploy SADC
human rights monitors as an essential first step in protecting Zimbabweans
from state brutality.

In the past, SADC has failed to extract concrete commitments on human rights
from the government of Zimbabwe. Although serious human rights problems have
plagued Zimbabwe for the past seven years, the conclusions issued after
SADC's past summits have failed to adequately reflect these problems. For
example, the final communique of the extraordinary summit in Tanzania failed
to mention the arrests and beatings of opposition and civil society leaders
or the broader human rights situation in Zimbabwe.

The 13-page briefing paper, "A Call to Action: The Crisis in Zimbabwe -
SADC's Human Rights Credibility on the Line,"highlights priority areas of
concern on human rights and proposes a number of actions to help tackle the
crisis. The government of Zimbabwe has used methods against critics that
range from intimidation, threats and harassment to physical attacks and
torture. Hundreds of civil society activists - including human rights
defenders, independent journalists and members of the political opposition -
have been arbitrarily arrested and beaten by police and other security

Police often use unnecessary and lethal force to violently disrupt peaceful
protests. Recent examples highlighted in the memorandum include: the arrest
and assault in police custody of more than 200 activists from the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) when they attempted to demonstrate against the
Constitutional Amendment Bill in Harare on July 25, and the arrest and
assault of up to 20 women from Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) during
peaceful protests in Bulawayo on June 6.

Human Rights Watch called upon SADC to send a clear, visible and unambiguous
message from this week's summit, repudiating the Zimbabwean government's
policy of political repression through laws and the unaccountability of
Zimbabwe's police, army and security forces.

"The political and human rights crisis in Zimbabwe, which threatens to
destabilize the whole region, is crying out for urgent and effective
leadership," said Takirambudde.

"Only by addressing the human rights violations in Zimbabwe can SADC hope to
nurture a political and economic revival in the country."

To view the Human Rights Watch report, "A Call to Action: The Crisis in
Zimbabwe - SADC's Human Rights Credibility on the Line," please visit:

For more information, please contact:

In Lusaka, Tiseke Kasambala: +44-79-3965-5384 (mobile); or

In London, Urmi Shah: +44-20-7713-2788; or

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SADC meeting to put Zimbabwe high on its agenda

LUSAKA, 14 August 2007 (IRIN) - The Southern African Development Community
(SADC) heads of state meeting this week in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, is
to put the Zimbabwean crisis "high on the agenda", and is poised to take
"practical steps" to resolve the country's problems, the regional body's
deputy executive secretary, Joao Caholo, told IRIN on Tuesday.

"It's not going to be mere rhetoric but practical steps, because we have
already set the issue in motion. In March this year, at the SADC
extraordinary meeting in Tanzania, the executive secretary [Tomaz Salomão]
was mandated to do a report on the Zimbabwe economy, while [South African]
President [Thabo] Mbeki was tasked to mediate [between the ruling ZANU-PF
government and opposition parties]," Caholo said.

"Both of them will present their findings, which will then form the basis of
the summit decisions on addressing the Zimbabwe situation. Everything is in
place to fully tackle the Zimbabwe issue." Caholo declined to elaborate
until after the 14-nation regional bloc had discussed Zimbabwe's crises. The
summit convenes on Thursday.

In 2000 President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government launched its fast-track
land-reform programme, in which white-owned commercial farmland was handed
over to landless Zimbabweans, setting in motion a chain of events that has
seen the country's inflation rate top 13,000 percent, according to the
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) and unemployment reach 80 percent. More
than a third of the population will be in need of food aid by early next

During this period, the international community, particularly the European
Union (EU) and US, has accused the SADC of passively observing the collapse
of what was once one of the continent's strongest economies.

"SADC has never been quiet on the Zimbabwe issue in the past; we have been
working in the background, so I wouldn't like to comment on why we are now
talking of dealing with the Zimbabwe issue, or having to come up with
practical steps on the issue," Caholo told IRIN.

Jennifer Kabbo, the sub-region director of the United Nations Economic
Commission for Africa, said Zimbabwe's "deteriorating economy and political
instability is a major source of concern, and it has affected the economic
growth of the SADC region as a whole," she told IRIN.

"Once concerted efforts are put in place and the crisis in Zimbabwe is
reduced to manageable levels, the Southern African region will perform a lot
better because it has the potential to become the richest region in Africa."

Analysts sceptical about SADC

The belief that the summit could be a watershed for Zimbabwe was dismissed
by Mulenga Chileshe, director of Institute for Economic and Social Research
at the University of Zambia.

"Judging from history, we are all sceptical whether SADC will really pass
any resolution that can bring immediate change to Zimbabwe. The organisation
has all along displayed a culture of keeping silent," Chileshe said.

As many as three million Zimbabweans, or a quarter of the population, are
thought to have left Zimbabwe in search of work in the past seven years,
mostly in neighbouring states, such as South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and

Robert Mtonga, a Lusaka-based consultant to Zambia's foreign ministry, said
such large-scale migration presented "serious security concerns, which could
become deadly if the SADC meeting ignored the Zimbabwe crisis".

"SADC countries can't afford to play silent diplomacy on Zimbabwe; they
would be abrogating their own responsibility. They are talking about
creating a SADC [peacekeeping] standby force; then what is it going to be
doing if they can't resolve a simple civil case in Zimbabwe?" he said.

"Certainly, the situation in Zimbabwe won't be resolved just now, but what
is encouraging is that there are already meetings going on between President
Mugabe and the MDC [Movement for Democratic Change opposition party],"
Mtonga told IRIN.

Political negotiations

Mbeki, mandated by the SADC to find a political solution to the crisis,
finally managed to bring representatives of Zimbabwe's government and
opposition parties together last week, after Mugabe's negotiators failed to
arrive for talks in South Africa in mid-July.

The opposition wants the negotiations to create the conditions for the
holding of free and fair elections, through constitutional reforms and a
dilution of the powers of the presidency.

Presidential and parliamentary polls have been scheduled for March 2008;
Mugabe, who is now 83 and has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence from
Britain in 1980, intends to again contest the elections as ZANU-PF's
presidential candidate.

The parties involved in negotiations - ZANU-PF and both factions of the
MDC - have agreed not to discuss the talks with the media, although all said
the negotiations would not stop ongoing political activity.

Arthur Mutambara, the president of one MDC faction, told IRIN, "Zimbabweans
cannot outsource their emancipation and liberation to foreigners. We must
not be solely dependent on the Mbeki initiative, we must have an alternative
programme of action - one that seeks to achieve conditions for free and fair
elections. In the battle to make Zimbabwe a peaceful, democratic and
prosperous nation, we must be masters of our own destiny."


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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Mugabe hails army loyalty as he fights severe crisis


Tue 14 Aug 2007, 13:59 GMT

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday decorated his top
military commanders and hailed the Zimbabwean army for standing by him
despite a deep economic crisis which many critics blame on his government.

Addressing a rally to mark defence forces' day, Mugabe said soldiers were
playing a big role in government efforts to turn around the economy, and
urged what he called Zimbabwe's "true friends" to invest in the southern
African country.

The Zimbabwean army -- commanded by former guerrillas who fought for
independence under Mugabe's leadership in the 1970s -- is part of the ruling
ZANU-PF party's hold on power in the face of growing opposition to his
27-year rule.

The 83-year-old Mugabe said Zimbabwe's security and the welfare of its
people were his top priority, adding that he had ordered a price blitz
against businesses to neutralise a plot "meant to cause unbearable
suffering" and a public revolt.

"In this regard, I would like to thank the defence and security forces for
remaining loyal and dedicated to the maintenance of people and tranquillity
of the country in these trying times," he said, when decorating his three
top army generals.

The veteran Zimbabwean leader has co-opted a number of serving or retired
army officers into civilian administration, and they have in the last seven
years played key roles in running elections, state companies, distributing
food aid and crushing opposition protest campaigns.

On the eve of the 2002 presidential elections, security chiefs announced
they would not accept victory by an opposition candidate not linked to
Zimbabwe's independence struggle -- which many critics saw as a threat that
they were ready to stage a coup if MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai had won.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) accuses Mugabe of
turning the army, police and the secret service into partisan organs to
maintain his ZANU-PF party's hold on power.

Last month, Mugabe said Zimbabwe's military had rejected British
encouragement to stage a coup in exchange for helping the country out of its
political and economic crisis.

Mugabe blames the West for the economic situation in the country, which has
the world's highest inflation rate spiralling above 4,500 percent and rising
unemployment and poverty levels.

On Tuesday, Mugabe said his government was constantly reviewing salaries and
conditions in the army, investing in training and was working to contribute
manpower to a planned Southern African Development Community peacekeeping

Critics say Mugabe's drive against businesses over prices is part of a
populist campaign to win re-election in general polls due by March 2008 but
is damaging Zimbabwe's economy further.

Panic buying over the last seven weeks has left many shops without basic
foodstuffs, and companies say they cannot restock and sell goods at a loss.

But Mugabe says the economy will rebound on government help to new black
farmers who took over land he seized from white commercial farmers. On
Tuesday he called on Zimbabwe's friends to invest in the country.

"I would like to invite our true and genuine friends to join hands with us
in investing in the abundant natural resources of this country," he said,
adding the investments would be secure.

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MDC ups stakes and urges SADC to broaden mediation talks

By Tichaona Sibanda
14 August 2007

The Movement for Democratic Change on Tuesday appealed to the Southern
African Development Community to broaden the Zimbabwe initiative and include
other SADC Heads of State.

Apparently concerned at the slow pace of the mediation talks, the MDC made
it clear the current initiative by President Thabo Mbeki has failed to stop
the country cascading further into chaos. MDC Vice-President Thokozani Khupe
said nothing concrete has emerged from the talks since SADC Heads of State
mandated President Mbeki to find a lasting solution to the crisis five
months ago.

Speaking to Newsreel from Lusaka, Khupe said by adding one or two Heads of
State to help Mbeki would ensure a 'fair outcome' to the crisis because they
felt the initiative was too much work for one individual. Analysts however
believe Mbeki's closeness to Mugabe has always compromised his position as
an impartial mediator.

'We feel the burden of such a critical issue as the Zimbabwe question cannot
be put solely and exclusively on the shoulders of President Thabo Mbeki
alone. The problems in Zimbabwe are multiplying by the day so its obvious
President Mbeki is finding it hard to keep up with the growing crisis,'
Khupe said.

Pointing out the state sanctioned violence specifically targeted at the MDC,
Khupe said 600 of their members have in the last two months been victims of
'this callously violent regime.' Another 200 of their branch party leaders
have fled the country into South Africa.

Khupe, who is also the MDC MP for Makokoba in Bulawayo, said any rational
analysis indicated that the situation in Zimbabwe has negative regional
implications. She added that the processes of regional integration couldn't
meaningfully progress while there is a pariah state run by unrepentant and
ruthless dictators like Mugabe.

'This kind of environment does not provide a reliable basis and foundation
for meaningful negotiations in line with the SADC initiative. The conditions
simply do not exist for this SADC initiative to come out with acceptable
results,' Khupe said.

The MDC Vice-President stressed that they believe the Zimbabwe crisis is an
African problem which has to, and is capable of, being resolved by Africans.

'While we are fully supportive of the SADC initiative presided over by
President Thabo Mbeki, we are extremely concerned at the pace at which the
process is taking. We are convinced that the process could move faster to
give birth to agreements that could become practical political facts on the
ground, cognizant of the expected Presidential and Parliamentary elections
in March 2008,' said Khupe.

According to Khupe, the MDC hopes that SADC will act quickly and decisively
to avert a complete catastrophe of unimagined proportions in Zimbabwe. She
said it was not too late for SADC and all democratic forces to act.

'As each day passes without a meaningful and concrete step being made, we
are moving towards a catastrophe. We do not want to go that way,' she added.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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MDC in danger of missing the freedom train

New Zimbabwe

By Nixon Mao Nyikadzino
Last updated: 08/15/2007 02:45:45
I HAVE read with interest the postulations made by Lloyd Msipa about setting
a new agenda for Zimbabwe.

No-one would deny that such a new beginning is now or never. The only
question we should ask ourselves is: how do we set the new agenda and for

For me the question is not about Morgan Tsvangirai's failures only, but the
failure of the opposition as a bloc. It is regrettable that both MDC
factions have tended to seek comfort in newly created terminology such as
MDC formations while forgetting that whatever they are called, the fact
still remains that the unity that once lit the hearts of many suffering
Zimbabweans is no more and the culprits are the leaders of the MDC.

They individually and variously opted for self glory more than national
interest. They paddled on personalising the struggle and making decisions on
behalf of the people whose negative effects are predictably so fatal that
even a grade one pupil would not dare make.

I disagree with Lloyd's argument that Tsvangirai is the only person or
leader who has outlived his usefulness in the struggle for democracy. For
me, both the MDCs have betrayed the people and they know it. The current
wave of insults being exchanged is a clear testimony of how the opposition
has stooped so low as to regard public platforms as a launch pad for
attacking each other instead of concentrating on bread and butter issues.

Witness how they draw comfort from being identified in such terminology as
"main MDC", "main wing", "smaller faction", "Tsvangirai MDC", "Mutambara
 MDC" as if any of that nonsense will end Mugabe's misrule. What has
opposition politics become? A place of employment for the unemployed and

The problem with Zimbabwean politics is that it centred on political parties
only and hence the personalisation of power by leaders of the opposition. It
is this personalisation that brings about idolisation and monopolisation of
power - which is exactly what we seek to escape from.

The current wave of personalised attacks clearly point to a failed
opposition that needs alienation. By alienating them, we give them enough
space to remove the speck in their eyes and begin to see the reality on the
ground -- that personal egos no longer have space in Zimbabwe and that
people need deliverance from evil. And now!

The MDC must be made to begin to see that neither of them can walk alone.
Zimbabweans must show their bravery and begin to have the guts to castigate
the MDC left, right and centre for the benefit of many. Civic society and
other brave Zimbabweans can bring about democracy in Zimbabwe.

How can both factions claim that they will continue the Thabo Mbeki
mediation as a united front when they have failed to unite back home?
Charity begins at home. Such political sentimentalism chastises them and
reflects how they are both playing with people's minds, and lives.

It is an assumed belief that they have monopoly over us and hence they hold
the only key to our salvation. But the truth is no one has monopoly over
liberating a country from dictatorship. Only the people enjoy that monopoly,
and the MDC is fast expending the people's goodwill.

By beginning actions that alienate the MDC, and yet people oriented, we can
begin to see the emergence of a unified progressive force in Zimbabwe. My
prediction is that if the MDC is alienated, then one day they will wake up
from their slumber and realise that the train is already getting to its
final destination without them, and hence the need to join others and not
the other way round.

Both the MDC factions are wrong and they must be castigated for continuously
letting down the people. At the beginning of 2007, both factions pledged to
work together and to deliver the people of Zimbabwe from dictatorship. Eight
months down the line, nothing has happened except the deepening crisis.

By the end of 2007, we shall judge them, and like what they said, if they
fail to do something positive, then we should throw them into the dustbins
of history and proclaim the emergence of a people's movement not based on
personalities but on a new agenda and national interest.

As sure as the sun will rise and set tomorrow, the people shall govern!

Nixon Mao Nyikadzino is a Zimbabwean journalist and human rights activist

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SADC urged to deploy rights monitors in Zim ahead of polls

Zim Online

Tuesday 14 August 2007

Own Correspondent

LUSAKA - Human Rights Watch (HRW) says southern African leaders must
urgently deploy monitors to assess the human rights situation in Zimbabwe
amid fears that President Robert Mugabe could turn on the heat against
opponents ahead of crucial polls next year.

Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state and government
meet in Lusaka, Zambia, this week for their annual summit starting on

HRW said the SADC leaders should make a public acknowledgement of ongoing
human rights problems and deploy human rights monitors as an essential first
step in protecting Zimbabweans from state brutality.

"SADC members must take strong and effective action to deal with one of the
region's most grave crises - Zimbabwe," said Peter Takirambudde, Africa
director at Human Rights Watch.

He noted that SADC's inability to effectively deal with the Zimbabwe
situation was tarnishing its credibility as a force for change on human

The regional body must insist on tangible improvements in Zimbabwe,
Takirambudde said.

HRW implored southern African leaders to incorporate human rights concerns
in ongoing South African-led mediation talks involving Zimbabwe's ruling
ZANU PF party and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
party and to set clear benchmarks for progress within a clear time-frame.

South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki was mandated by SADC at a special
summit in Tanzania last March to mediate in the crisis talks between the two
Zimbabwean parties.

Mbeki is expected to table a report on the talks whose progress has faced
several glitches, mainly involving ZANU PF's attitude.

SADC has previously failed to extract concrete commitments on human rights
from the government of Zimbabwe.

Past SADC summits have failed to censure Mugabe on his human rights record
and have instead stood by the embattled Zimbabwean leader over what they
claimed was an unjustified Western vilification campaign.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain 27 years and
is blamed for running down the economy, was slapped with targeted personal
sanctions barring him and more than 100 of his senior lieutenants from
traveling to Europe, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

The targeted sanctions slapped in 2002 also include an arms embargo against
the Harare authorities.

The Zimbabwean leader is accused of using repressive security and media laws
to stifle the freedoms of opponents.

He attracted international outrage last March when he unleashed heavily
armed police officers on opposition leaders who had sought to hold a prayer
meeting in Harare without police clearance.

Head of the main MDC faction Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders
were brutally assaulted following their arrest after the melee that ensued
after the aborted prayer meeting.

Hundreds of civil society activists - including human rights defenders,
independent journalists and members of the political opposition - have been
arbitrarily arrested and beaten by police and other security agents over the
past seven years.

HRW called upon SADC to send a clear, visible and unambiguous message from
this week's summit, repudiating the Zimbabwean government's policy of
political repression through laws and the unaccountability of Zimbabwe's
police, army and security forces.

"The political and human rights crisis in Zimbabwe, which threatens to
destabilise the whole region, is crying out for urgent and effective
leadership," said Takirambudde. - ZimOnline

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No walk in the park for Mugabe at SADC summit, analysts

Zim Online

Tuesday 14 August 2007

By Never Chanda

HARARE - Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe should not expect a walk in the
park when southern African leaders converge in Zambia this week for a
watershed summit which is likely to hammer important regional economic
commitments, analysts warned yesterday.

Zimbabwe continues to be the weakest link in the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) jigsaw puzzle, perennially registering the
lowest economic growth rate in a region where economies have expanded on
average by five percent for the past six years.

The SADC economy grew by an average five percent in 2006, according to
latest figures released last week by the regional body.

Zimbabwe was the only member of the 14-country grouping to record negative
growth rate in 2006, recoiling to an embarrassing minus 4.4 percent growth
rate against 18.6 percent for Angola.

Other SADC high performers included Mozambique and Malawi at 7.9 and 7.4
percent, respectively.

The region expects an average growth rate of seven percent in 2007 although
analysts say the ongoing Zimbabwe crisis could put paid to such prospects of
a robust economic performance for the region.

Political scientist Eldred Masunungure said despite the usual façade of
political solidarity with the Zimbabweans, SADC leaders would privately
press Mugabe for action to end a seven-year political and economic crisis.

"They will want portray a spirit of solidarity in public, particularly for
the sake of the international community, but behind closed doors they will
let the man know that his actions are hurting the rest of the region,"
Masunungure said.

Increasingly unsettled by the ongoing economic collapse, the main fear of
the SADC leaders who have steadfastly supported Mugabe is the contagion
effect of his policies on their own countries and the region.

These concerns are particularly more worrisome at a time when millions of
desperate Zimbabweans are flooding neighbouring countries to escape
hardships at home.

The influx of Zimbabweans into Botswana, South Africa and to a lesser extent
Mozambique and Zambia is beginning to affect these countries, with the huge
demand for products by Zimbabweans pushing prices of basic commodities

Zimbabwe is currently the third most risky country in the world, ranked
marginally better than and Myanmar, according to the Economist Intelligence

Excluding Zimbabwe, the average rate of inflation for the SADC region is
pegged at 17.3 percent.

Zimbabwe currently has the highest inflation rate in the world, officially
estimated at more than 4 500 percent in May. Independent estimates put the
rate of change in Zimbabwean prices at as high as 20 000 percent.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has even warned that Zimbabwe's
inflation could breach the 100 000 percent by year-end unless drastic action
was taken to arrest the economic decline.

"Economic considerations would carry the day at the end of the Lusaka
summit, particularly in light of the imminent launch next year of the SADC
free trade area and the various targets the member states have set for
themselves ahead of the launch," said a Harare-based investment analyst who
cannot be named for professional reasons.

The targets include single-digit inflation and budget deficit for all member
states by 2008.

These targets could prove quite a tall order for the Harare authorities
whose penchant for populist and often ill-conceived policies is widely

Mugabe has through the central Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) often ordered
the printing of money to finance unbudgeted spending to appease his

Quasi-fiscal activities by the RBZ have been blamed for Zimbabwe's high
inflation rate and budget deficit.

Economists warn that the country's budget deficit could currently be higher
than 80 percent of Gross Domestic Product and still rising on the back of
ongoing unbudgeted expenditures such as grain and fuel imports as well the
recent subsidies to gold and tobacco producers.

RBZ governor Gideon Gono announced new support prices for gold and tobacco
producers, saying the subsidies were meant to boost production in the two

Anticipated subsidies to companies affected by the ongoing government purge
on prices are seen exerting additional pressure on Zimbabwe's already huge
budget deficit.

"The exact magnitude of such subsidies will only become clearer when most of
the companies run out of current stocks and start approaching government for
assistance to keep their factories running," said the investment analyst.

Mugabe has during the past two months ordered prices to be rolled back to
mid-June levels in a move targeted at reining in runaway inflation.

Some manufacturers responded by stopping production, prompting the ageing
Zimbabwean leader to threaten to nationalise any companies that close down
or retrench staff.

SADC has tasked its secretariat to recommend an economic rescue package for
Zimbabwe and its executive secretary Tomaz Salomao has been to Harare twice
since April to meet with Zimbabwean officials.

Salomao is expected to table his proposals before the SADC leaders at their
annual summit this week.

South African President Thabo Mbeki is also expected to brief his colleagues
on his mediation role in the crisis talks between Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU PF
party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party. - ZimOnline

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Passing the colonial buck

Simon Tisdall
August 14, 2007 3:30 PM

South African president Thabo Mbeki's attempt to blame Britain for
Zimbabwe's problems may convince fellow leaders at the Southern African
Development Community's summit in Lusaka this week. But it is unlikely to
bring a peaceful resolution of the country's crisis any closer - and is
certain to deepen misgivings about perceived anti-western tendencies in
South Africa's international outlook.

The SADC asked Mr Mbeki to mediate between Zimbabwean president Robert
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
after a brutal crackdown on government critics, including the beating of the
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, caused international repulsion earlier this

But regional analysts say that despite claims to the contrary, Mr Mbeki has
made little substantive progress in bridging the gulf between the two sides.
"He will put the best shine of his efforts, which are in all probability
failing miserably, and that will suit the SADC because they don't want to do
anything anyway," said one observer.

According to leaks to South African media, Mr Mbeki's report backs Mr
Mugabe's claims that British-orchestrated sanctions are the principal cause
of Zimbabwe's woes, including hyper-inflation and accelerating economic
meltdown - and that the government is effectively the target of a "regime
change" plot hatched in London with US backing.

Characterising the situation as a "bilateral dispute with Britain", the
Mbeki report states: "The most worrisome thing is that the UK continues to
deny its role as the principal protagonist in the Zimbabwean issue and is
persisting with its activities to isolate Zimbabwe." Britain harbours a
"death wish" against the Mugabe government, it says.

Defending his policy of farm seizures, draconian price controls and
nationalisation of foreign-owned companies this week, Mr Mugabe rehearsed
the theme. "If indeed we are a sovereign independent nation, we see no
reason whatever why our empowerment programmes should encounter undeserved
opposition as comes from Britain regularly," he said.

"Economic saboteurs do not have a place in Zimbabwe. Let us continue to
defend Zimbabwe from internal and external forces seeking to reverse the
gains we have so far registered. Let Zimbabwe be an impenetrable fortress."

Britain denies trying to overthrow Mr Mugabe, although successive
governments have made no secret of their hope to see new leadership in
Harare. But while Mr Mugabe's position, objectionable as it is, is well
known in London, Mr Mbeki's buck-passing and apparent resort to
anti-colonialist arguments will cause particular alarm in Washington.

The US has until now accepted South Africa's contention that "quiet
diplomacy" is the way forward with Zimbabwe. Mr Mbeki's failure to deliver
is now being set alongside a series of other foreign policy positions
adopted by the African National Congress-led government that run contrary to
wider US and western interests.

According to the New Republic magazine's James Kirchick, these include
recent, friendly contacts between South Africa's intelligence minister and
Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader; South Africa's public support for Iran's
nuclear programme; its defence of Sudan and Burma against proposed UN
sanctions; and its siding with Russia and China and on these and other

"The roots of the ANC's willingness to overlook totalitarianism go back to
its historic hostility to the west, which solidified during the apartheid
years, when it was the Soviet Union that supplied the ANC and the US,
Britain and Israel were unwilling to cut ties to the white government in
Pretoria," Mr Kirchick argued in the Los Angeles Times.

Mr Mbeki and colleagues were the willing heirs to an "anti-imperialist
intellectual tradition heroically opposed to the western democracies," he
said. South Africa was squandering its post-apartheid moral authority and
"slowly moving into the anti-western camp". In another neck of the
geopolitical woods, western intelligence agencies fret privately about South
Africa's alleged reluctance to help track Islamist extremists and suspect

According to one regional analyst, such hostile outside assessments
typically fail to appreciate the driving force in sub-Saharan politics: the
rightful insistence on African sovereignty, dignity and autonomy that
trumped all other considerations, was jealously defended, and which Mr
Mugabe has so shamelessly exploited.

All the same, this week's expected repeat failure by regional leaders to
tackle Zimbabwe's crisis, coupled with South Africa's apparent estrangement,
will increase talk of rasher remedies. Quoting recent appeals by Archbishop
Pius Ncube of Bulawayo for British military intervention to topple Mr
Mugabe, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby said this week it was time to

"Countless lives could be saved and incalculable suffering ended if Mr
Mugabe were forced from power," he said. "A detachment of US marines could
do the job on its lunch break."

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Police disrupt late MDC chairman's memorial service

Zim Online

Tuesday 14 August 2007

By Regerai Marwezu

MASVINGO - Zimbabwean police disrupted a memorial service for the late
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party's national chairman
Isaac Matongo on Sunday morning, accusing the organisers of holding an
unsanctioned function.

Heavily armed police stormed Dewure mission in Gutu around 4am on Sunday
morning and ordered those gathered for the vigil to leave.

MDC provincial spokesman Tongai Matutu confirmed the incident but Masvingo
police yesterday refused to comment on the matter.

"This was a memorial service and the police were not supposed to disrupt the
proceedings," said Matutu.

A senior MDC official in Masvingo said the police action was illegal because
there was no need for them to apply for police clearance since the function
was not a political gathering.

"What this means is that in future the government would want us to apply for
clearance to attend funerals," said the MDC official who spoke on condition
he was not named.

Under Zimbabwe's tough security laws, all political gatherings have to be
sanctioned by the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

Matongo died in May this year and was the national chairman of the larger
MDC faction headed by Morgan Tsvangirai. - ZimOnline

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What progress will Mbeki report?

:: Innocent Madawo - The Southern African
Monday, 13 August 2007

This week all southern African eyes will be on Lusaka and particular
attention will be on one man, South African president, Thabo Mbeki.

Thabo Mbeki will take centre position at the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) heads of state and government summit as he is
expected to give a report back on his mediation in the Zimbabwean political
and economic crisis.

A lot of regional and international hope has been placed on Mbeki
mostly because he is believed to be the only man Zimbabwean president,
Robert Mugabe will listen to and co-operate with. And, this is the reason
why, in my view, it should not surprise anyone if come end of summit, no
tangible progress has been announced by Mbeki.

The fact that Mugabe lends his ears to Mbeki means that Mbeki too
listens to Mugabe and I am not inventing anything here because the evidence
is already there. Mbeki subscribes to Mugabe's theory that Zimbabwe's
problems have been caused and exacerbated by Britain and its western allies
and Zimbabwean political  puppets.

Yes, Britain historically caused problems to Zimbabwe like it did to
all its other former colonies including South Africa. However, I am not
willing to buy that Britain exacerbated these problems alone with its
so-called allies and puppets.

If Britain played a part in the escalation of Zimbabwe's problems, it
was in cahoots with the current Zanu PF government or in reaction to actions
of the Zanu PF government.

What I mean is; Britain may have played part in the land chaos in
Zimbabwe, but it did not influence or sponsor the subsequent economic rot
and political persecution of the opposition and civic groups.

Nevertheless, Mbeki will not be expected to initiate and force Mugabe
to see reason in redrawing the constitution and redressing the current
injustices perpetrated on the nation by Mugabe's government. Mugabe simply
does not want that and what Mugabe does not want, Mbeki will not push for.

This is why recently the South African president announced that the
main SADC goal is to ensure "free and fair" elections next year. He makes it
sound like "free and fair" is a new catch phrase in Zimbabwe or the region.

The fact is that Zimbabwe has had "free and fair" elections since
independence and SADC has been one organization that has always led the way
in declaring Zimbabwean polls "free and fair" despite clear and mounting
evidence to the contrary.

So, I wonder whether there is a new "free and fair" that Mbeki is
talking about. We all know that unless something quite dramatic happens in
the remaining months until March 2008, Zimbabwe will go to the polls, Zanu
PF will win and Mbeki will declare a "free and fair" election.

Already the so-called talks have been beset with problems of Mugabe
refusing to have the constitution discussed and his envoys not availing
themselves for meetings. Word has it that not much really has been discussed
except a few house-keeping matters.

So, I can predict what Mbeki's report will say: "Progress has been
made and continues to be made."

Life goes on.

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Hope for Zimbabwe walking among us

Business Day

14 August 2007

Norman Reynolds


WITH several million Zimbabweans in SA, and a million more on the way in the
face of an imploded economy and failed polity in their home country, SA must
act decisively. The background to any decision making is clear. Zanu (PF)
"stole" the three most recent elections and will not win another unless all
refugees are prohibited from voting. President Robert Mugabe does not want,
nor can he afford, a democratic election, the loss of which would render him
vulnerable to criminal charges. The lesson, now so evident, is: stop pinning
hopes on Mugabe's participation in the creation of a new constitution. Deal
rather with Zimbabweans.

The Zimbabwean dollar is no longer a working currency. Until there is a
working currency, there can be no working economy. Something has to replace
it immediately. Internally, people are demanding payment in rands. The
Zimbabwean dollar buys nothing, as there is little production inside
Zimbabwe. Without production, even barter is difficult.

The millions of adult Zimbabweans now in SA and those already on their way
must be treated as fellow southern African citizens. They need the means to
help their families in Zimbabwe survive.

Today, they cannot send money as there is nothing to buy and any official
conversion of dollars or rands to Zimbabwean dollars is a straight loss - a
gift of hard currency to Mugabe for worthless money. Food, bought here by
refugees and sent privately to families in Zimbabwe, costs an extra
120%-150% for transport. Hence, refugees are now buying less than half the
food they were able to deliver just two months ago.

Zimbabwe is now virtually a hapless province of SA . The myth of Zimbabwe as
a national entity ended in 2004, when Mugabe stole that year's general
election. Since then, he has engineered the largest genocide for decades

We are witnessing the latest stage - after beating up Matabeleland, getting
rid of farm workers by ruining commercial agriculture, and sending, as Pol
Pot did, the urban opposition to the countryside by destroying houses and
businesses, Mugabe is now chasing the remaining members of the formal
economy across the borders. The genocide remains unnamed. So the
international community, headed in this instance by South African President
Thabo Mbeki, has not had to act to stop it.

At the 60th anniversary of Auschwitz in 2005, Kofi Annan, then United
Nations (UN) secretarygeneral, called for an end to genocide. "It is, above
all," he said, "a day to remember not only the victims of past horrors, whom
the world abandoned, but also the potential victims of present and future
ones. A day to look them in the eye, and say: 'You, at least, we must not

Annan said not a word about Zimbabwe's genocide. Nothing has been said by
any authority. Not by SA, the Southern African Development Community, the
African Union (AU), the European Union or the UN.

Annan quoted the old chestnut: "Truly it has been said: 'All that is needed
for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing'." However this defines
Annan's response and SA's own failed "quiet diplomacy". This neglect, which
has been led by the South African government, has allowed Mugabe to continue
his rampage against all Zimbabweans.

The danger is that, with Mugabe weak and old, the field is ripe for new
demagogues to take over.

The Mugabe government does not have the ideas or the integrity to persuade
the international community to rescue the country while it governs.
Recently, at last, a senior African National Congress (ANC) member, Cyril
Ramaphosa, stated that SA should intervene in Zimbabwe. However, he did not
say how. ANC MP Kader Asmal has just called for UN Security Council action.

There are steps SA and the international community can take to remedy the
situation. The UN and SA should declare a genocide in Zimbabwe, and a failed
and tyrannical state. As long called for, SA should open the borders to
people and goods and give all Zimbabwe refugees, here already or coming,
three-year working visas.

This will allow for the legal hiring of Zimbabweans, whose skills are badly
needed in our failing education, health and agricultural sectors. They could
also bolster the vast public and private middle management and engineering
sectors, where there are real shortages.

Within refugee camps massive training can take place by fellow Zimbabweans,
who have the skills, so that Zimbabweans going back over the next three
years have enhanced their abilities to rebuild Zimbabwe.

SA must allow the rand to become the working currency in Zimbabwe. The 5-
million Zimbabweans in exile worldwide earn R10bn a month and seek to send
home R3bn a month.

If there were suitable banking regulations to keep the hard currency out of
Mugabe's hands (where it is now paying for five-star hotel accommodation and
shopping in Malaysia), this money would play the major part in the
humanitarian and reconstruction work urgently needed.

With rand-backed demand inside Zimbabwe, South African goods could flow and
local production would be revived.

The international community could co-fund (with foreign currency payments)
support to Zimbabweans in SA, Botswana, etc, to ease any undue pressure on
the rand.

Finally, the UN and AU, with South African leadership, should provide a
mandate to treat Zimbabwe as a province of SA until its people choose to
hold a referendum on its "national" future. India has a similar provision.
"Presidential rule" allows the central government to take over the
administration of any Indian state (with between 30-million and 130-million
residents) when it fails. "Super-administrators" replace politicians and
head the bureaucracy.

The real Zimbabwean economy has moved "offshore" - to SA, Botswana, the UK
and the US. It is here that family members try to find work or run
businesses or do crime so that they can send money - no longer a real
option - or food home.

These Zimbabweans must have about 3-million bank accounts in these countries
in dozens of banks, none of which has a programme to work with them. It is
time to form The Zimbabwe Bank - a bank run to support Zimbabwean refugees.

It would become a powerful player, able to negotiate with the Mugabe regime
as the major provider of foreign currency - about R3bn a month - to
Zimbabwe. It would reinforce the open use of the rand and a free flow of
monies to Zimbabwe citizens. It, as a member-controlled bank, would also
become a central piece in the rebuilding of Zimbabwe.

A model now exists whereby such a bank could be created quickly using an
existing bank - Standard and Absa-Barclays fit the bill as they are already
prominent in Zimbabwe - to accommodate the new bank as a client, so that it
has immediate access to technology and banking skills.

The network of Zimbabwean refugees can carry the message and mobilise at
little cost.

Dr Reynolds is a development economist.

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NGOs need to operate independently


Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Lusaka, August 14, 2007, ZANIS - The Civil Society in the
SADC region has been called upon to put in place a framework that will
ensure Non Governmental Organisations operate independently. SADC Council of
NGO's Abie Ditlhake observed in Lusaka today that without a strong and
independent civil society that proactively participates in decision making
at various levels, the region will lag behind in terms of good governance
and economic development. Mr Dithlhake said this at the 3rd SADC Civil
Society Forum held in Lusaka today under the theme 'Ensuring effective civic
participation and democratic governance in Southern Africa'. "SADC has
formally committed itself to support, enable and work in partnership with
civil society in the region, including NGO's, CSO's and CBO's," he said. He
stressed that the partnership between the civil society and respective
governments in the region can only be effective and beneficial if it exists
within a truly democratic framework, where basic freedoms of assembly,
association and expressions are guaranteed. The Zambian government recently
presented an NGO bill to parliament which is currently being debated. The
Bill seeks to regulate the operations of NGO's. Mr. Ditlhake said the
proposed Zambian NGO Bill runs against the commitments in the 2003 Kigali
statement on Human Rights, which specifically urges governments to protect
and encourage CSO's participation in decision making. He also urged the
forum to forcefully respond to the situation in Zimbabwe which he said has
been going on for too long. And Southern Africa Trade Union Co-ordination
Council (SATUCC) vice president Ram Nikaddee pointed out that the situation
in Zambiawe has far reaching consequences for the region. He said social
activism should continue in Southern Africa to press for the reversal of the
current situation in Zimbabwe. "We need to offer more than basic solidarity
to the people of Zimbabwe. If we watch the country sink further, then we
should admit that as SADC we are sinking," he stressed. Mr. Nikaddee said it
is now imperative that SADC involves all the stakeholders in the process of
seeking political, social and economic solutions to the Zimbwean problem.

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Civil society leaders meet SA mediation team

By Lance Guma
14 August 2007

After months of intense lobbying civil society leaders from Zimbabwe finally
got the chance to put forward their concerns to a SADC initiative aimed at
solving the country's long running crisis. On Tuesday key figures from a
broad array of pressure groups had a 4-hour meeting with a delegation of
South African government officials leading the mediation talks. The civil
leaders were all whisked away from the Oliver Tambo airport by South African
foreign affairs officials and led to a meeting chaired by South Africa's
Local Government Minister, Sydney Mufamadi.

Lovemore Madhuku (National Constitutional Assembly), Jacob Mafume (Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition), Jenni Williams (WOZA), Netsai Mushonga (Women's
Coalition), Jonah Gokova (Zimbabwe National Pastor's Conference) and
Washington Katema (Zimbabwe National Students Union) were among those who
attended. Newsreel spoke to Mafume who said they were able to present their
concerns as civil society. These included issues related to the country's
constitutional framework, violence directed at perceived government
opponents, respect for the rule of law, the electoral and media environment.
He said all these issues needed to be addressed if a lasting solution was to
be found.

Mafume also said the secrecy behind the Thabo Mbeki led talks had not
inspired confidence in the Zimbabwean public and that it was important to
build this confidence from the ground. He emphasized that there was a need
for some urgency in proceedings since the situation was dire. The groups say
they will support any genuine attempt to get a solution. Asked if there were
to be any more meetings, Mafume said they all pledged a 'commitment to keep
being engaged' but that nothing had been written in stone yet. The South
African mediation team was meanwhile eager to explain that their mandate was
not to 'mediate' but rather to 'facilitate' dialogue between Zanu PF and the

The meeting however must have given the civil leaders a sense of
achievement. Throughout the year they criticised the mediation process for
marginalising their concerns. In May this year the Save Zimbabwe Campaign
wrote a letter to Mbeki with a specific request to be included in the
negotiations. Speaking for the group NCA Chair Lovemore Madhuku said, 'It's
common knowledge that the views of millions of disenfranchised Zimbabweans
cannot be articulated by two opposing political parties,'

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Invest in Zimbabwe, says Mugabe

Monsters and Critics

Aug 14, 2007, 11:19 GMT

Harare - President Robert Mugabe Tuesday urged 'true and genuine friends' to
invest in Zimbabwe's natural resources, promising their investments will be
protected by his security forces.

'I would like to invite our true and genuine friends to join hands with us
in investing in the abundant natural resources of this country,' Mugabe told
thousands of people in a speech to mark Defence Forces Day.

Decked in medals and wearing a green and gold sash, Mugabe promised the
investments were guaranteed by 'the professionalism and loyalty of our
defence forces.'

The Zimbabwean leader's plea for outside investment comes as the ruling
party-dominated parliament is due to debate an indigenisation bill which
will make it mandatory for all companies operating in Zimbabwe to have a
majority black shareholding.

Analysts say there's little doubt the bill will become law.

And in a sign of just how serious the authorities are about forcing
internationally-owned companies to hand over economic muscle to local
blacks, the government last week cancelled the licence of the country's
third mobile phone network, allegedly because a majority share had not been
transferred to locals ahead of a June 30 deadline.

In his speech, the second in a long holiday weekend that's been marred by a
series of fatal traffic accidents and a critical shortage of bread and beer,
Mugabe hit out at Zimbabwe's business community, which he said was trying to
foment civil unrest in the struggling southern African nation.

Local businesspeople have been severely shaken by a seven week- long blitz
on prices, which has seen crack teams of police and price inspectors raiding
stores and forcing them to sell goods at 50 per cent or less of their
original price.

The authorities have also threatened to take the campaign to schools, estate
agents and even beauty parlours as Zimbabwe battles record inflation some
analysts say could have topped 13,000 per cent.

'We have witnessed unprecedented increases in the prices of basic
commodities as part of efforts to increase the feeling of extreme hardship
and suffering among the general populace,' the longtime Zimbabwean leader
told a packed soccer stadium in Harare.

'Thankfully government moved in to stem the price increases and thus
neutralize the objective, which was meant to cause unbearable suffering on
our people and push them into lawless and disorderly conduct,' Mugabe said.

The celebrations were broadcast live on state radio and television. Mugabe,
who is the commander-in-chief of the defence forces, was driven on the back
of an open military vehicle as he inspected troops on parade.

The troop detachments later marched past the president carrying his portrait
and bearing rifles with glinting bayonets to the sound of a brass band.

In his speech Mugabe thanked the security forces for remaining loyal. 'The
security and welfare of this country and its citizens remains a top priority
for government,' he said.

Mugabe's government and the police force came in for severe international
criticism earlier this year following their brutal crackdown on opposition
members during a prayer rally. At least one opposition activist was shot
dead and dozens severely assaulted while in police custody.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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Malawi opposition wary of 'death squad'

Nyasa Times, Malawi

Ruby Suzgika on 14 August, 2007 06:29:00

Malawi leader of opposition, John Tembo today told Parliament that he has
information that there are "foreign soldiers" in the country being hosted by
Malawi government for sinister moves.
According to Tembo, the foreign militia were in combat drills in Mangochi,
the lakeshore district in the southern Malawi.  He did not elaborate details
of his information.

Nyasa Times diplomatic have revealed the visiting foreign militiary
officials were welcomed in the country by the Zimbabwe High Commissioner who
held a dinner attened by some high ranking Maalwi Defence Forces officials.

Defence Minister, Bob Khamisa could not deny the claims by opposition leader
but asked for a withdrawal of the remarks.

Militiary sources say President Bingu wa Mutharika, on July 1, 2007 sent a
team of military officials from Malawi Defence Force (MDF) to Zimbabwe for
master training under the tutelage of the Chinese People's Liberation Army.

As a follow-up, Zimbabwe President, Robert Mugabe agreed to send his own
contingent hosted by the MDF from August 3-18 under the disguise of regional

A letter, sourced by Nyasa Times, addressed to Malawi Army Commander General
Marko Daiton Chidziko MSM, OSC signed by P. Shiri PSCRCDS UK Air
Marshall/Commander Defence Forces referenced 672/07 dated June 20, 2007 from
the Office of Commander Defence Forces, Ministry of Defence, Defence Forces
Headquarters, Private Bag 7713, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe has all the
details about the planned visit of the "death squad" trainers from the Joint
Command and Staff College (JCSC).

"As you may be aware the ZDF and Staff College runs a front command and
staff course among other courses. The aim of the course is to train selected
majors and lieutenant colonels from the region in command procedures
included in the JCSC syllabus," read the letter in part.

"I kindly request your defence force to host one group which comprises nine
directing staff and 21 students of which four of the directing staff are
Chinese officers who are on secondment from the Chinese People's Liberation
Army," said Shiri.

President Mutharika is feared to be planning to declare a state of emergency
to run-away from the application of rule of law in the present political
crisis involving government and opposition.

State House sources say President Mutharika has met MDF Commander, general
Chidziko and Police chief Olive Kubambe to brief them on his plans to rule
by decree.

Analysts have described Mutharika to be gradually pulling one leaf after the
other from the tactics of dictator Mugabe.


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SA minister dismisses claims of Zim draft report


August 14, 2007, 18:00

The foreign affairs minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has dismissed
suggestions of a draft report supposedly written by President Thabo Mbeki
regarding the Zimbabwean situation. This follows reports that a draft report
is circulating among diplomats in which the President is said to have blamed
the United Kingdom (UK) for the crisis in that country.

Speaking in Lusaka ahead of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) summit, Dlamini-Zuma said the president is still preparing to make
his recommendations to the SADC heads of state. It has been five months
since Mbeki was appointed to facilitate in the Zimbabwean crisis.

While SADC officials remain tight-lipped, analysts and civil society groups
have been quite vocal. "We think this is a real opportunity for SADC heads
of state to take real, practical steps to face challenges facing Zimbabwe
head on," said the spokesperson for Southern African Regional Poverty, Jack

The Movement for Democratic Change has already written off the negotiations,
saying they are failing. Mbeki will deliver his report on Thursday.

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Zim in spotlight at SADC summit


    August 14 2007 at 01:19PM

Lusaka - The crisis in Zimbabwe will dominate the agenda at a regional
gathering of Southern African leaders this week, but analysts see little
chance of a significant shift in policy towards Harare.

The meeting of heads of state from the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) which begins on Thursday in Lusaka is expected to confirm
the 14-nation regional bloc's stance of "quiet diplomacy" with the
government of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe.

"SADC has no muscle, no enforcement abilities," Moeletsi Mbeki, deputy
chairman of the South African Institute for International Affairs, told AFP.

"SADC has no power to make the Zimbabwean government do anything."

Chris Maroleng, a Zimbabwean expert at the Pretoria-based Institute
for Security Studies, said the SADC's track record showed it was unlikely to
publicly condemn Mugabe or his ruling Zanu-PF.

"There is very little it can do outside some kind of diplomatic

South African President Thabo Mbeki will report to the summit on his
efforts to mediate a political stand-off between Zanu-PF and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Fellow SADC leaders, faced with a rising flood of Zimbabwean refugees
to their countries, mandated Mbeki in March to broker talks following a
violent clampdown by Mugabe's government on opposition supporters.

A Zimbabwean government report last week claimed an agreement with the
opposition may be reached soon, despite the ruling party being accused of
thwarting negotiations.

A Harare official said spotlighting Zimbabwe at the SADC gathering in
the Zambian capital would be playing into the hands of Mugabe's western

"This is a normal meeting of the SADC leaders, but we are aware at
every summit there are people trying to put Zimbabwe in the spotlight,"
Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga told AFP at the weekend.

"We are aware of efforts by the West to divide African nations over
Zimbabwe but the good thing is African leaders are aware of these

Zimbabwe is in the throes of an economic crises with inflation well
past the 5 000 percent mark, four in every five people jobless and no less
than 80 percent of the population living below the poverty threshold.

Mugabe blames the economic woes on drought and sanctions imposed after
presidential polls that were dismissed as rigged by opposition parties and
western observers.

But critics say the problems are the result of controversial land
reforms in which the government seized at least 4 000 farms from white
commercial farmers for reallocation to landless blacks and state cronies.

This week's SADC summit will see chairmanship of the regional bloc
pass to Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, who recently broke ranks by
likening Zimbabwe to a "sinking Titanic".

Some hope he will use the chairmanship to push for a more hardline
stance against Mugabe.

Other summit discussion points include regional economic integration,
as well as the political situation in Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of
Congo (DRC).

Lesotho has been rocked by political unrest since the disputed outcome
of elections in March which saw Prime Minister Phakalita Mosisili returned
to power for a third term.

And the DRC is in the throes of transition after a devastating civil
war which culminated in the first democratic elections in four decades last
year. The east of the country remains unstable and opposition leader
Jean-Pierre Bemba is in exile. - Sapa-AFP

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Cement giant hit-hard by price slash

The Zimbabwean

A move by Zimbabwe's cement manufacturing giant to stop supplying a main
component used in the manufacture of cement in protest over the government
price slash has hit Malawi which no longer gets the product from the

Malawi's cement giant, Lafarge Portland is reportedly hard hit after failing
to obtain clinker and gypsum ,key ingredients in the production of
cement-from Zimbabwe's Portland Holdings Limited (PHL) that stopped
manufacturing the product in the aftermath of the price blitz.

Zimbabwe's Portland Holdings Limited (PHL) which is part of Pretoria
Portland Cement (PPC) is said to be hampered by high input costs and
unrealistic prices which have led to a temporary stoppage of operations at
one of its subsidiaries, Colleen Bawn in Matabeleland South.

Reports obtaining from Malawi say the failure by that country's cement
manufacturing giant to obtain key ingredients used in the manufacture of
cement has led to cement shortages in that country and a drastic rise in the
price of the product.

"It is a thing that has never happened in the country (to increase the price
of cement by this percentage-on average by 14 percent (K150 per 50 kg bag)
and it pains us that this is happening when the economy is booming," Nestor
Msowoya, the Malawi's Lafarge Portland commercial manager talking to
Malawi's Daily Times.

"The situation looks grave and there are no signs of an immediate solution
in sight. We (Portland Cement) are not sure whether the little clinker that
trickles from Zimbabwe will continue. We have asked our suppliers in
Zimbabwe to closely work with relevant authorities."

No comment could be obtained from PHL Managing Director Trevor Barnard on
the latest development. He recently told the paper that the price cuts had
impacted negatively on their operations.

This follows reports last month that the country faces cement shortages
following a move by Zimbabwe's Portland Holdings Limited (PHL) to stop
manufacturing the product in protest over the government order on price
slashes after they registered losses against production costs- CAJ News.

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FNBS claims RBZ governor Gono closed their bank to settle scores

The Zimbabwean

FIRST National Building Society (FNBS) majority shareholders have alleged
that Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono closed the
institution to settle old scores he had with the society when he was at the
helm of the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ).

 Three  years ago FNBS was placed under the curatorship of David Scott
following the arrest of two founding directors Dr Samson Ruturi and Nicholas
Musona for allegedly defrauding the society of $958 million (old currency).
Ruturi and Musona have 89.74 % in First National Holdings Limited that
wholly owns FNBS.

Last year, the Registrar of Banking Institutions and Building societies
cancelled its banking licence.

In an appeal to the Ministry of Finance against the cancellation of its
licence, the shareholders said that Gono wanted the society closed to
conceal evidence that FNBS had been fleeced of $320 million (old currency)
by CBZ when Gono was CEO.

The shareholders said CBZ abused the Accommodation Facility to fix the
society. They said that between May and June 2002, the society's treasury
department discovered some discrepancies in the manner CBZ had managed FNBS'
Accommodation Facility.

They said that the society's deposits were not being paid interest for a
number of days from date of deposits on same day value cheques. Interest was
also being overcharged by CBZ on Accommodation Facility.

"At one of the meetings between S. Ruturi and the then CBZ Chief Executive
Officer, the CBZ CEO (Gono) hinted that he had been earmarked for the
appointment to be governor of RBZ. However, he further pointed out there
were certain individuals who are back stabbing him to discredit him and
prevent his ascendancy to the position of central bank governor," FNBS
appeal said.

"The then CBZ CEO urged Ruturi to look at the bigger picture and ignore
pursuing FNBS' claims of $320 million as it would nearly dissipate profits
declared by CBZ. He advised that FNBS must not be counted amongst the
bandwagon of his detractors."

The revelations meant that Gono was appointed on false grounds. In
appointing Gono, President Robert Mugabe said the former CBZ CEO's track
record in successfully turning around the fortunes of CBZ had been used to
select him.

The shareholders said that after regular updates to the board, the FNBS
board urged management to pursue the claim.

"However, in retaliation CBZ responded by bouncing or returning FNBS
customers cheques as unpaid particularly the POSB cheques of $110 million
under pretext on non renewal of the Accommodation Facility.

"Following a telephone conversation it was agreed that FNBS must abandon the
claim in exchange for the restoration of the facility," the shareholders
said- CAJ News.

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