The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

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SADC muzzles civic groups on Zimbabwe
Wed 17 August 2005
  GABORONE - The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has barred
regional civic society groups from raising Zimbabwe 's crisis at the
organisation's heads of state annual summit beginning in Gaborone today.

      The SADC Council of Non-governmental Ogarnisations had wanted to
present a communiqué to the summit on the deteriorating human rights
situation, political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe , a move that would
have forced SADC leaders to discuss President Robert Mugabe's controversial

      But the council was told by organisers of the summit that laid down
protocol and procedure did not allow it to address the SADC summit on the
Zimbabwe situation.

      "The time to discuss ( Zimbabwe at the summit) is there but there is
no political will from the SADC leadership," Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights chairwoman Nokuthula Moyo told ZimOnline. Moyo is heading civic
society groups from Zimbabwe at the summit.

      SADC leaders, long accused of standing by in the face of gross human
rights violations by Mugabe and his government, have omitted Zimbabwe from
the summit's agenda arguing their summit discusses "regional situations" and
not individual countries.

      The executive secretary of the 13-members SADC Prega Ramsamy told the
Press: "There is no agenda on Zimbabwe . We discuss regional situations not
individual countries."

      Botswana President Festus Mogae, who takes on SADC's revolving
chairmanship today, also told the Press that Zimbabwe did not pose a problem
to economic growth in the region, even though its problems have weakened the
economy of his own country.

      Moyo said civic society groups were still exploring other ways to try
and bring the Zimbabwe situation to the attention of the summit, adding only
a more direct and robust intervention by SADC leaders could help pave way
for a solution to that country's six-year economic and political crisis.

      Political analysts say Mugabe's SADC neighbours particularly economic
powerhouse, South Africa could, if they so wished, pressure the Zimbabwean
leader to abandon his controversial policies and to engage the opposition to
find a democratic solution to his country's problems.

      But SADC led by regional economic powerhouse, South Africa , has
always shied from confronting the veteran Zimbabwean leader. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Zimbabwe opens up grain market
Wed 17 August 2005

      HARARE - The Zimbabwe government on Tuesday opened up trade in maize
and wheat and waived duty on grain imports in a desperate bid to facilitate
greater inflow of the two key staples into the country, battling worsening
food shortages.

      Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa announced the new measures when he
presented a Z$6.6 trillion supplementary budget and his mid-term fiscal
policy review statement to Parliament.

      Murerwa said the state-owned Grain Marketing Board would no longer
enjoy a monopoly in maize and wheat trade while imports of the two
commodities and other food aid items by private firms would no longer be
subject to paying duty, in a virtual admission by the government that it is
finding it difficult to feed millions of hungry Zimbabweans alone.

      An estimated four million Zimbabweans or a quarter of the country's
about 12 million people could starve unless 1.2 million tonnes of food aid
are urgently provided.

      President Robert Mugabe's government, which has approached China and
South Africa for emergency loans to save Zimbabwe from total collapse, has
already opened up the fuel market and allowed traders to charge for diesel
and petrol in foreign currency as it battles an acute fuel shortage
threatening to bring the country to a complete halt.

      Apart from fuel and food, essential medical drugs, electricity and
hard cash is also in short supply as Zimbabwe grapples its worst economic
crisis since independence from Britain 25 years ago.

      Murerwa downplayed prospects the economic crisis could dissipate soon
telling Parliament: "Recovery has remained slow, inflation remains
unacceptably high and foreign currency shortages continue to undermine
economic turnaround.

      "The situation has been made worse by the large-scale crop failure -
economic performance has rescinded and the state of the economy is not

      The Finance Minister sought to assuage fresh fears in the farming
sector over new legislation proposed by the government which legal experts
say would virtually nationalise all land in the country.

      The draft law, which is before Parliament, seeks to ban private
landowners from contesting acquisition of their land by the government while
courts will be barred from hearing such appeals.

      Economic analysts have warned the proposed law could destroy the
little that is left of the key agricultural sector after the government's
controversial seizure of productive land from white farmers in the last five
years, which many say worsened Zimbabwe 's food and economic problems.

      But Murerwa said: "Investment on farms has been undermined by security
of tenure and therefore the government will soon hand out 99 year leases to
farmers. Security on farms has been increased to ensure no more disruptions
to farming activities."

      Requesting Parliament to approve his supplementary budget, Murerwa
said the additional funds were needed to among other things, pay for the
creation of a new House of Senate and holding of local government elections
later in the year.

      Mugabe has publicly stated he wants the Senate, abolished more than 10
years ago restored, to calm disgruntled lieutenants in his ruling ZANU PF
party by appointing them to the second chamber.

      Murerwa, who said he had turned down requests for more additional
funds by line ministries, proposed a special tax for cell phone airtime, an
increase on duty on stamps, clothing material such as shoes, travel bags,
beverages and on cigarettes.

      He also proposed a special levy on public transport operators while
employees of foreign companies or groups earning in hard cash will be
required to pay tax in the same currency. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Pastors horrified at plight of Zimbabwean immigrants in SA
Wed 17 August 2005

      JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwean pastors have expressed horror at the plight
of Zimbabwean immigrants living in South Africa .

      Most of the immigrants who fled political and economic hardships from
Zimbabwe had virtually jumped "from the frying pan into the fire" because of
the squalid conditions they were living under and the failure of South
African police to offer them any form of protection against undue
harassment, the pastors said.

      The pastors are from the Zimbabwe National Pastors Conference (ZNPC),
a network of clergy, pastors and priests from around Zimbabwe . They have
begun a week long tour to assess the plight of Zimbabweans living in South
Africa .

      "To say we are horrified by the conditions Zimbabwean immigrants here
are living under is a huge understatement," said Reverend Vimbai Mugwidi
from the Methodist church who is a spokesperson for the seven pastors.

      "It's one thing to read about the plight of the Zimbabweans, many of
whom are considered illegal, and totally another to witness their reality
with one's own eyes. It is heart- rending," she said.

      She said the pastors were hoping that their mission would help in
further highlighting the plight of Zimbabwean immigrants around South Africa
and draw the attention of South African authorities' and those who can help
to their situation.

      She said most of the immigrants they had met complained that they
could not access formal employment because they could not get the necessary
refugee permits.

      Unable to get jobs in the formal sector, they were exploited by
unscrupulous employers who paid them starvation wages knowing full well that
they had no re-course.

      Even those with the refugee permits were routinely discriminated
against by the South African police.

      "We have met Zimbabweans who have been granted the official refugee
permits. But their permits are routinely torn apart by the police who round
these people up and deposit them at Lindela for deportation despite that
they are living here legally" said Mugwidi.

      She said they had learnt of the story of a man who died after walking
40 kilometres to his home in Zimbabwe upon being dumped at Beitbridge border
post by South African authorities.

      While the legal role of authorities in arresting and deporting illegal
immigrants could not be denied, South African police were in many cases
abusing their powers.

      She said cases of sexual abuse of young Zimbabwean girls by South
African police were rampant. One 16-year old girl had told the pastors of
how she was arrested by police in Hillbrow and detained in the back of a
bakkie for the whole day.

      They had vowed not to release her until she agreed "to make a plan",
meaning to offer them sexual favours.

      The pastors said they were hoping to see South African police
authorities to protest their handling of Zimbabwean immigrants.

      The pastors said they had met people with no homes and with no access
to food and any of the basic necessities for survival.

      But still these people could not return home because many feared for
their safety. The situation was particularly dire for children. Many had
fled their homes in Zimbabwe due to economic problems.

      Some had even arrived in South Africa with their fleeing parents only
to find themselves in the streets after the breaking up of their families
mainly due to economic hardships.

      Reverend John Chinyowa, who is part of the delegation, said the plight
of these children of varying ages was particularly distressing.

      He doubted that many of them would ever grow up into becoming
responsible adults.

      "They need help. It is depressing to look at these children who find
themselves in these circumstances because of circumstances beyond their
control," said Chinyowa.

      Reverend Nicholas Mukaronda of the Anglican Church said South African
authorities regularly told Zimbabwean immigrants that they should go back to
their country because "it's not at war".

      "Yes, Zimbabwe is not at war, but why they cannot understand that
Zimbabwe is in major problems is incomprehensible," he said.

      The pastors thanked the Methodist Church in Johannesburg for opening
its halls to homeless Zimbabweans to sleep overnight as well as offering
them food. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

MDC urges SADC leaders to help resolve Zimbabwe crisis
Wed 17 August 2005

      HARARE - Zimbabwe 's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) party on Tuesday warned that the country risked becoming a failed
state unless regional leaders act to find a peaceful and democratic solution
to the five-year old crisis.

      In a statement yesterday, MDC secretary for information and publicity
Paul Themba Nyathi said Southern African Development Community (SADC)
leaders must use the summit which begins tomorrow in Gaborone , Botswana, to
press for a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.

      "At the Heads of State meeting . . . SADC, leaders have an opportunity
to use the leverage that they have at their disposal to advance the
objective of finding a peaceful and democratic solution to the Zimbabwe
crisis," said Nyathi.

      The two-day SADC Heads of State meeting begins Wednesday.

      The MDC also lashed out at SADC leaders for failing to speak out
against President Robert Mugabe's policies accusing the regional leaders of
backing the Zimbabwean leader "on the skewed basis of historical friendship".

      "The risk of this approach is that Zimbabwe could become a failed
state; a development which would have serious socio-economic consequences
not just for Zimbabwe but also for the whole region."

      Regional leaders have in the past shielded Mugabe from international
censure. The SADC leaders have also failed to condemn Mugabe's demolition of
houses in urban areas dismissing the issue as "an internal matter."

      But the United Nations (UN) and other western governments have
criticised the clean-up operation which left at least 700 000 people
homeless and directly affected another 2.4 million people. - ZimOnline

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Zim Online

Zimbabwean editor convicted over 'falsehoods'
Wed 17 August 2005

      GWERU - Willie Mponda, an editor with a weekly paper in Gweru, has
been convicted for publishing a false report that a woman had committed
suicide after her backyard phone shop was destroyed during the urban
clean-up exercise.

      Mponda, who edits The Sun newspaper, was fined Z$100 000 for
publishing the false story.

      He becomes the first journalist in Zimbabwe to be successfully
convicted under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) enacted three years

      Mponda was convicted last Friday for breaching some sections of the
security law which makes it an offence for journalists to publish
falsehoods. The offence carries a five-year prison term, or alternatively a
fine of Z$100 000.

      The paper said in its 10 June edition that the woman committed suicide
after the police had demolished her telephone shops during the clean-up.

      But the State dismissed the story saying no telephone shops had been
destroyed during the blitz and that the
      woman had left a suicide note indicating she was having personal

      The Sun later issued a retraction of the story.

      A Gweru magistrate said that by publishing the retraction, Mponda had
admitted that the story was false.

      More than a hundred journalists have been arrested in the last three
years for flouting Zimbabwe's tough media laws. Four newspapers including
the country's biggest paper The Daily News have also been shut down for
failing to comply with the tough legislation. - ZimOnline

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People's Daily

      Parliament receives Zimbabwe's supplementary budget with mixed

      - Parliament of Zimbabwe on Tuesday received the government's Mid-term
Fiscal Policy Review statement and Supplementary Budget presented by Finance
Minister, Herbert Murerwa, with mixed feelings.

      Members of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF) commended the government for spending more money on mitigating the
effect of drought, while the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
dismissed it as a display of failed economic policies.

      Cash-strapped Zimbabwe is experiencing food shortages as a result of
poor rains the country received, and is importing maize from neighboring
countries to augment available supplies.

      A sharp increase in the price of fuel on the world market has also
seen the country spending more foreign currency on limited quantities of the

      Murerwa presented a 6.6 trillion Zimbabwean dollars (about 377. 1
million US dollars) Supplementary Budget.

      Hatfield Member of Parliament and MDC shadow Minister of Finance,
Tapiwa Mashakada said by coming up with a Supplementary Budget, the
government was conceding that it had failed to find solutions to economic
challenges the country was experiencing.

      Mashakada said the government had erred when it drew up the 2005
National Budget, as it was evident that it would not be sufficient to meet
national requirements.

      He also accused the government of admitting to economic challenges the
country was experiencing, but failing to proffer solutions.

      "The economic challenges that the country is experiencing are a result
of lack of harmony between the Fiscal and Monetary Policies, " he alleged.

      There was need for the government to come up with more effective
measures of raising revenue that prevented tax evasion to increase the
revenue base, he said.

      ZANU-PF chief whip Joram Gumbo, however, commended the government for
introducing the Supplementary Budget, saying it displayed concern for the
people that were affected by the drought ravaging the country.

      "The reasons for the Supplementary Budget are self-explanatory, " he

      Gumbo said a combination of factors had compelled the government to
formulate the Supplementary Budget, some of them natural and others

      It was not possible for the government to predict the drought, he

      Source: Xinhua

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People's Daily

      Zimbabwe cuts ministerial budget

      Zimbabwe on Tuesday announced a cut in ministerial budget allocations
of a combined 171.4 million US dollars in an effort to reign in resurging

      Announcing a mid-term fiscal policy review, Finance Minister Herbert
Murerwa said the cut would entail deferment of projects that had not yet
commenced, and those facing implementation difficulties due to foreign
currency constraints, tender delays and lack of technical capacity.

      He said affected expenditure also included furniture, travel,
training, institutional provisions and consumables.

      "In this regard, I propose to reduce all ministries' original 2005
budget allocations," he said.

      The most affected ministries were finance, home affairs, health and
child welfare, defense and education.

      Murerwa said this would reduce the budget deficit, projected at 8.7
percent of Gross Domestic Product in the current fiscal year.

      A higher budget deficit would rapidly fuel money supply growth,
impacting negatively on the country's inflation targets, he said.

      The current inflation rate stands at 164.3 percent up from 127 percent
in March this year.

      Inflation peaked at 622.8 percent in January 2004 before progressively
declining in the year due to tight monetary and fiscal measures.

      Source: Xinhua

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Mugabe in drive against street children
From Correspondents in Harare

August 17, 2005

ROBERT Mugabe's city officials are to launch a new clean-up campaign in
Harare to drive beggars and street kids out of the capital.

The state-controlled Newsnet said scores of beggars and street children
rounded up during a 10-week urban clean-up campaign that ended late last
month were "back in full force".
"We are not going to allow that," said Sekesayi Makwavarara, chairwoman of a
government commission that runs the city. "We are going to make sure that
these street kids are taken out of the city." Ms Makwavarara said there were
plans to recruit 200 more municipal police to carry out the exercise.

"As we speak now, some of them are on training and you shall see them on the
streets soon," she said.

Newsnet reported that Harare was teeming with beggars, touts and vendors
selling petrol on the black market.

Zimbabwe was condemned internationally in May when it bulldozed shanty
towns, market stalls and small shops and detained 46,000 people as part of
what it described as an urban renewal campaign.

But the opposition denounced the blitz as a campaign of repression, while
Western governments and the UN condemned it.
A UN report released last month said the demolitions had left 700,000 people
homeless or without sources of income, or both, in cities and towns across
the country, while a further 2.4million were affected in varying degrees.

Zimbabwe's economy has collapsed since Mr Mugabe ordered the seizure of land
belonging to 5000 white farmers, blaming them for mounting opposition to his
25-year rule.

Mr Mugabe has rejected a proposal from South African President Thabo Mbeki
that he hold talks with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a bid to
solve the country's economic problems.

And early this month, Mr Mugabe reportedly failed in his quest to secure a
$US1billion ($1.3billion) loan from China to pay for desperately needed
fuel, electricity and medicines.


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      US Envoy Affirms Solidarity with Zimbabwe's Hungry, Homeless
      By Sarah Williams
      16 August 2005

Zimbabwe officials say they will resume an urban clean-up campaign to rid
the capital of illegal vendors, weeks after suspending the controversial
exercise.  In May, Zimbabwe's government began demolishing urban slums,
including market stalls and homes, saying the campaign was necessary to rid
cities of crime.  Two months later, the government declared an end to the
campaign and said it would now focus on building new homes for those
displaced in the crackdown.

The United Nations says the demolition campaign has left 700,000 people
homeless or jobless.

Tony Hall, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. World Food Program and the Food
and Agriculture Organization, has just returned from Zimbabwe.  Speaking
from Rome, he tells VOA's Sarah Williams about the hardships of the people
there:  a shrinking family budget due in part to a 380 percent inflation
rate and 80 percent unemployment, a poor harvest, and about 3,300 people
dying each month of HIV.   Ambassador Hall says he tried - but failed - to
visit one of the camps of some whose homes had been destroyed in what the
Zimbabwean government calls "Operation Restore Order."

Ambassador Hall says the United States can not - and will not - write off
the people of Zimbabwe.  The US has recently donated nearly 74 metric tons
of food to Zimbabwe and five other countries in southern Africa facing
drought.  The United States Agency for International Development says the
contribution is enough to feed five million people for one month.

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United Nations News Service

Date: 16 Aug 2005

UN agencies collaborate to distribute shelter packages in Zimbabwe
Two United Nations agencies, along with the International Organization for
Migration (IOM) and the Zimbabwean Government, have launched a pilot project
to distribute shelter packages in the Southern African country where
Government eviction programmes have left an estimated 700,000 people without
homes or businesses.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it
was collaborating with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), UN
Development Programme (UNDP) and the non-UN IOM in a pilot project that
initially would help 123 families and, if successful, would reach 40,000
households across the country in conjunction with Government allocation of
plots of land for housing.

The UN's planned humanitarian appeal for Zimbabwe was still being finalized,
UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told journalists at UN Headquarters.

While it was being completed, several UN agencies, including UN-HABITAT, the
World Food Programme and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) were helping with
such programmes as food distribution and providing sanitation, he said.

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Zimbabwe Lawyers in Protest Against Constitutional Revisions
      16 August 2005

About one hundred Zimbabwean lawyers were preparing to march to the
parliament and the supreme court Wednesday to present a petition expressing
opposition to proposed amendments to the constitution.

The ruling party's Amendment Bill No. 17 would give the government sweeping
powers to confiscate land and restrict the free movement of citizens, among
other expanded public powers and diminished civil rights.

Reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Tafadzwa
Mugabe, one of the lawyers intending to march, to explain objections to the

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Zimbabwe Government Spokesman Rejects Political Opening By Blessing Zulu
      16 August 2005

A spokesman for the government of President Robert Mugabe has declared that
talks with the opposition are not on the agenda so far as it is concerned,
despite comments from a senior South African official who says there are
indeed conditions that Harare must meet to obtain the financial bailout it
is requesting from Pretoria.

South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad said the pending
loan is predicated on "a common approach involving the Zimbabwean private
sector and political parties." Mr. Pahad emphasized that Pretoria's
overarching concern was to prevent the already-collapsing Zimbabwean economy
from imploding with all of the consequences that would entail for South
Africa and the region.

In Harare, Acting Information Minister Chen Chimutengwende told the
government-controlled Herald newspaper that the government did not envision
opening talks or negotiations with the opposition Movement for Democratic

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe reached Mr.
Chimutengwende and asked for clarification of his remarks published Tuesday
in the Herald.

President Mugabe's adamant opposition to dialogue with the leading
opposition party is perceived by some international observers as a stalling

Political analyst Princeton Lyman, director of Africa studies at the Council
on Foreign Relations in New York, and a former U.S. ambassador to South
Africa and Nigeria, said Mr. Mugabe ultimately has little choice but to
accede to Pretoria's demands.

Zimbabwean political analyst John Makumbe, a lecturer at the University of
Zimbabwe, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that the Mugabe government is
increasingly isolated.

But Dr. Makumbe said he believed Mugabe would go to any length rather than
give in to pressure from the African Union and others to open talks with the

Residents of Harare, meanwhile, expressed the hope that Zimbabwe's main
political parties - the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front or ZANU-PF, and the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, would
pursue a healing dialogue.

Correspondent David Mutomba in Harare heard from ordinary citizens that they
see inter-party discussions as the only way out of the long-running national

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