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Parliament to reconvene in Zimbabwe

International Herald Tribune

The Associated PressPublished: August 24, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe is preparing to reconvene Parliament for the
first time since elections in March, despite a standoff between President
Robert Mugabe and the main opposition movement over a power-sharing

Streets alongside Parliament House in downtown Harare were closed over the
weekend for rehearsals for official opening ceremonies Tuesday. The
ceremonies usually include a colonial-style parade of police on horseback
wearing helmets and carrying lances to escort the president's vintage,
open-air limousine.

Air force fighter jets screamed overhead Sunday in a rehearsal.

Lawmakers elected in national polls March 29 are scheduled to be sworn in at
the Parliament building in a separate ceremony Monday.

But five months of delay in convening the legislature since the
internationally discredited polls and deadlocked mediation efforts between
Mugabe's party and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change have
spurred a bitter political rivalry before the opening of  Parliament.

Divisions in the opposition are expected to give Mugabe's party the
important post of speaker.
Leaders of Mugabe's party met Saturday to discuss their choice of a
Parliament speaker, the official media reported Sunday. The Sunday Mail, a
government mouthpiece, said John Nkomo, the powerful chairman of Mugabe's
party, was their likely nominee.

Morgan Tsvangirai's main opposition grouping is still to announce its
nominee and the smaller opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change
led by Arthur Mutambara, also wants to vote in a speaker from its ranks.

Mugabe's party holds 99 seats in the 210-seat legislature, Tsvangirai has
100, Mutambara has 10 and there is a single independent seat.

Tsvangirai won the first round of presidential polling in March but not by
the margin necessary to avoid a runoff vote against Mugabe in June. He
boycotted the runoff, citing government-sponsored violence against
opposition supporters.

Tsvangirai has criticized the reconvening of Parliament given the deadlock
in power-sharing talks mediated by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.

Leaked documents from the talks show Tsvangirai balked at signing a deal
based on an offer making him prime minister with limited powers and
answerable to Mugabe, who would remain as president.

The documents show the prime minister would be deputy chairman of the
cabinet, the president and the prime minister would need to agree on
ministerial posts. With the prime minister reporting regularly to the
president, Mugabe's power would be left virtually intact.

Mugabe reappointed his old cabinet after the disputed elections, but many
ministries have operated at a near-standstill since then, with government
funding in a state of limbo, worsening the country's dire economic crisis.
Seven of Mugabe's ministers lost their seats in the March voting, but have
continued to serve in office.

Under the Constitution, Mugabe's first task as Parliament reconvenes Tuesday
is to appoint a new cabinet with members drawn from the opposition, but the
unresolved power-sharing arrangements are expected to stall some new cabinet

The political impasse has worsened Zimbabwe's economic meltdown. Official
inflation is given as 11 million percent, but independent financial
institutions say it is closer to 40 million percent, with acute shortages of
food, gasoline, medicine and most basic goods.

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MDC factions dispute leadership of Zimbabwe parliament

Yahoo News

Sun Aug 24, 11:29 AM ET

HARARE (AFP) - Two factions of Zimbabwe's MDC party have nominated their
candidates to contest the leadership of the parliament to be sworn in Monday
by President Robert Mugabe, their officials said Sunday.

While the main Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party of leader Morgan
Tsvangirai has nominated its national chairman, Lovemore Moyo, as speaker, a
smaller MDC faction led by Arthur Mutambara is putting forward senior party
member Paul Themba Nyathi for the same position, MDC officials said.

"Except for some few MPs who are in hiding, all our elected 100 members of
parliament should be there on Monday," party spokesman Nelson Chamisa told
AFP, referring to the lower house.

Although the country's ruling ZANU-PF could not be reached immediately, it
is believed that the party would put forward its chairman, John Nkomo, for
the speaker position.

The Zimbabwe parliament meets Monday for the first time since elections that
unleashed a political crisis and increased Mugabe's international isolation.

Tsvangirai's MDC said it opposes the formal convening of the parliament
session but will attend the swearing-in on Monday.

It expressed the fear that convening the parliament on Tuesday could
jeopardise South African-mediated power-sharing talks, suspended about two
weeks ago.

President Robert Mugabe ZANU-PF suffered a historic setback when it won only
99 seats in March legislative elections, while the MDC got 100 and
Mutambara's faction got 10, with one independent also elected.

Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in the first round of the presidential voting but did
not get the necessary majority to be declared winner. He boycotted the
runoff because of alleged violence against his supporters, handing the win
to Mugabe.

In Senate, ZANU-PF controls 30 seats, while the MDC has 24 and the Mutambara
faction six. The chamber has no significant power.

Thirty-three Mugabe appointees -- traditional chiefs, provincial governors,
women, disabled groups and other interested parties -- take the senate
numbers up to 93 members.

Meanwhile, policemen have since Saturday cordoned off roads adjacent to
parliament to allow for rehearsals for the Monday and Tuesday events.

On Sunday, Zimbabwe Air Force jets were seen displaying in preparation for
the events.

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Zimbabwe faces crunch week as Mugabe draws battle line


Sun 24 Aug 2008, 10:05 GMT

By Cris Chinaka

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe faces an uncertain political future, but its
economic crisis is only likely to get worse while power-sharing talks
between President Robert Mugabe and the opposition remain deadlocked,
analysts believe.

Mugabe intends to open parliament on Tuesday despite protests by Morgan
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that this would scuttle
negotiations on forming a unity government to end the current political

Political analysts say that although the political talks -- which have
stalled over how to share power between the two bitter rivals -- look doomed
for now, they are likely to resume in the coming weeks because both Mugabe
and Tsvangirai are under intense pressure to reach a settlement.

"Nothing is clear on the political side, but unfortunately this also means
the economy is condemned to suffer some more," said Eldred Masunungure, a
political science professor at the University of Zimbabwe.

"I think in the coming days we are going to see a hardening of positions
again as a matter of political pride, but because both parties need some
kind of settlement for their political future, they will also resume the
talks very soon," he said.

"There is a lot of political and economic pressure on these guys ... but I
think there is now more pressure on Tsvangirai especially from SADC," he


Political analysts say a majority of Zimbabwe's fellow SADC (Southern
African Development Community) countries appear to have accepted Mugabe's
line that Tsvangirai is stubbornly rejecting a fair power-sharing deal
brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

"It's a very crucial week in many respects. Both men (Mugabe and Tsvangirai)
will have to stand firm or concede some ground and it doesn't look like it's
going to be Mugabe," said a senior Western diplomat.

"I think, yes, they will talk but I don't see a quick or internationally
acceptable agreement coming out soon," he said.

Without a power-sharing deal accepted as credible by major Western
countries, Zimbabwe's economy -- which critics say has been destroyed by
Mugabe's attack on the agriculture sector, where he seized and distributed
white-owned commercial farms to inexperienced black farmers -- will get
worse, analysts say.

Tsvangirai's absence from a new government would do nothing to dispel
investors' concerns about a country facing economic ruin, with the world's
highest inflation of 11 million percent, huge food and fuel shortages, and
80 percent unemployment.

Many families are surviving on one meal a day and can barely find the staple
maize meal. Basics like milk and meat have become luxuries in what was once
southern Africa's bread basket.

Tsvangirai maintains that a power-sharing agreement is being held up by
Mugabe's refusal to give up executive powers. Mugabe says Tsvangirai wants
to strip him of all authority.

In elections last March, ZANU-PF lost its parliamentary majority for the
first time since independence from Britain in 1980, but Tsvangirai's MDC did
not win an overall majority either. The balance of power rests in the hands
of a breakaway opposition faction led by Arthur Mutambara.

Negotiations began last month after Mugabe's unopposed re-election in June
in a poll condemned around the world and boycotted by Tsvangirai because of
attacks on his supporters.


Veteran political commentator and Mugabe critic John Makumbe said the
84-year-old leader appears set on sealing an immediate power-sharing deal
with the Mutambara group and on isolating Tsvangirai.

Mutambara has become a strident critic of what he sees as Western
interference in Zimbabwean politics, which ZANU-PF has welcomed as a sign of

A defiant Mugabe is drawing the battle lines.

The former guerrilla leader is in the coming week expected to name a cabinet
of both hardline political combatants and technocrats to help him fight a
crisis, which analysts say remains a threat to his 28-year-old rule.

A columnist in the Herald newspaper -- whose views normally reflect
government thinking -- suggested this weekend that Mugabe had to assemble
"structures of a war" because London and Washington are expecting ZANU-PF
rule to collapse in 60 days.

"We need a strong government which will take bold decisions without
flinching," the columnist said.

Besides working with Mutambara's MDC faction, analysts say Mugabe also
appears to be banking on possible splits in Tsvangirai's camp over issues of
political strategy.

Two weeks ago Tsvangirai's MDC condemned what it called "corrosive" attempts
by ministers and intelligence agents to recruit some of its members to join
Mugabe's government.

"It's not very clear yet, but we are hearing of tension, of officials who
think that Morgan (Tsvangirai) is wrong in not signing what is on the
table," a Western diplomat said.

"Their (MDC) challenge will be to keep their ranks tight because the
agreement on the table basically keeps Mugabe and ZANU-PF firmly in power,"
he added.

The support of major Western powers, especially the United States and
Britain, will end an aid freeze and sanctions imposed on Mugabe's government
over charges of human rights abuses, vote-rigging and economic

Makumbe believes this will not happen while Mugabe tries to hang onto power
by fanning splits in the opposition.

"To his admirers Mugabe is a skilful and shrewd political player, but I
think he is just a devious man playing games with a nation's life," he said.

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Tsvangirai risks being out-manoeuvred


    August 24 2008 at 11:58AM

By Basildon Peta and Moshoeshoe Monare

When President Thabo Mbeki reconvenes the Zimbabwean talks, Morgan
Tsvangirai, the leader of the main Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will
be under immense pressure to sign the proposed power-sharing deal or else an
inclusive government could be formed without him.

To outmanoeuvre him, the smaller MDC of Arthur Mutambara is said to be
colluding with Zanu-PF to elect Welshman Ncube, the chief negotiator for the
Mutambara faction, as speaker on Monday.

Other official sources said Mutambara wants to push for Paul Themba
Nyathi, a former MP, as speaker.

Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti, his secretary-general, returned to Harare
yesterday to confer with their MPs. Tsvangirai is backing Lovemore Moyo, his
party's chairperson, but officials said there could be others.

No party has a clear majority to claim the speaker position after
Tsvangirai's MDC won 100 seats, Zanu-PF 99 and Mutambara's MDC 10 in the
March elections.

The remaining seat belongs to an independent MP. But Zanu-PF commands
the majority in the senate, and it is expected to elect the senatorial

Tsvangirai's MDC has pleaded with its MPs - including those who are
allegedly in hiding - to report to parliament and vote for their chosen
candidate as the speaker.

"We need all our MPs there, and hope that some of Mutambara's MPs defy
him and vote for our candidate," said an MDC official.

However, Tsvangirai's MDC said it would boycott the official convening
of parliament to be conducted by President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday. The
swearing in of MPs on Monday will be conducted by Austin Zvoma, the clerk of

"We do not recognise Mugabe as head of state and we will not allow him
to come and masquerade as Zimbabwe's legitimate leader before our MPs," said
a senior official of Tsvangirai's MDC.

On the other hand, Tsvangirai will be pressured to agree to become
prime minister under Mugabe's executive presidency.

Insiders have sent a strong warning to Tsvangirai - who tried to
mobilise African leaders to his side - to heed Mbeki's advice or be left out
in the cold.

Meanwhile, some Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders
are drumming up support to isolate Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai's power leverage is that, unless he is included in the
deal, there will be no economic rescue plan and Zimbabwe's economy - already
on its knees - will collapse.

As prime minister, Tsvangirai would be in charge of ministers in the
social and economic clusters, whereas Mugabe would be responsible for
security ministers.

Mbeki tried to persuade Tsvangirai that it would be difficult for the
MDC leader to command hostile generals.

Tsvangirai was told that he should, instead, work with Mugabe to win
their confidence. He was also told that he would still be in charge of
security ministers because the prime minister would be responsible for
overall policy formulation as leader of government business. He would be a
member of the revamped National Security Council.

But Tsvangirai, who initially agreed, reneged after pressure from his
party and from - say some SADC leaders - his Western backers.

He wanted to chair the cabinet and become head of the government, thus
reducing Mugabe's presidency to a ceremonial role, a position Zanu-PF will
not accept. And it seems Mbeki, with the tacit backing of SADC leaders, will
not shift from this proposal in Harare.

This article was originally published on page 3 of Sunday Independent
on August 24, 2008

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Rebutting Ncube: the agreed rules gave Tsvangirai the presidency, & Mugabe a run-off

The Rules

In a zimonline interview on 20 August, a former MP & now lead negotiator for
MDC-M, Prof Ncube correctly said "You can't remake the rules after the game".

He added: "The game was that you had more than two players. One of the
players had to get 50 + 1 percent for power to move to him".

If intended as a statement of law, this is directly contradicted by the
Electoral Act, Ch 2:13, subparagraph 3(1) of the Second Schedule, which
states as follows:

Determination, declaration and notification of result of Presidential poll

3.(1)  . after the number of votes received by each candidate as shown in
each constituency return has been added together in terms of subparagraph
(3) of paragraph 2, the Chief Elections Officer shall forthwith declare the
candidate who has received-

(a) where there are two candidates, the greater number of votes;

(b) where there are more than two candidates, the greatest number of votes;

to be duly elected as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe with effect from
the day of such declaration.

Paragraph (b) is explicit. It deals PRECISELY with the situation Prof talks
of, and it details what had to happen in the election of 29 March with its 4

The run-off requirement is a separate rule in the Electoral Law - unchanged
from before our first election of a President in 1990. The Second Schedule
is a newer rule, added by ZANU-PF unilaterally, signed into law by RG Mugabe
in 2005.

While others may disregard this rule from ignorance or interest, Prof Ncube
is surely aware of it, not just as a Professor of Law, but also as one of
negotiators who reviewed our electoral laws last year for this year's
elections. Paragraph 3(1) was endorsed then by all the negotiators, and by
all the parties in Parliament, [the same parties engaged in the current
talks], as they added another rule:

' "election period" or "period of an election" means-

(a)     in the case of a Presidential election, the period between the
calling of the election and the declaration of the result of the poll in
terms of paragraph 3(1) of the Second Schedule'

The Electoral Law obliges a player to get over 50% in the first election
only to avoid a run-off. To take over power, she or he just needs to come

The law is clearly sensible. Zimbabwe's President has nearly unchecked
powers. The introduction of Paragraph 3(1) ensured a trailing candidate
could never hold those powers while contesting a run-off. Events since March
have confirmed the dangers in that, and the wisdom in the law that should
have prevented those.

Perhaps our legislators never planned to be so wise, but their words
actually are, and can not be disregarded now just because they are
inconvenient to some.

Their Consequences

March 29's official results put Tsvangirai well ahead, and Mugabe second.

All executive power rests still here with the President, at Mugabe & his
backers' insistence. Tsvangirai became entitled to have all that power
transferred to him.

Mugabe became entitled to a run-off.

Voters too had a right to rely on the rules the parties had agreed and
published. Under those, they spoke clearly enough to "move the power",
although without the cohesion needed to spare themselves a run-off.

They were entitled to have the leading candidate, not the chasing one, in
charge of the nation, responsible for protecting their rights, while the
second election was held.

Many agonies would have been spared, public threats made meaningless.

The agreed definition of the period of an election also leaves the March
election unfinished, incomplete, as the prescribed declaration has not yet
been made.

Once that is made, the run-off rule will require a second election within 21

A second election is separate, to be held in the prescribed time AFTER the
first. The countdown for it cannot start before the first election is duly

The will of the people as expressed in free and fair elections is accepted
in local and international law as the only legitimate basis for government.
SADC and the international community agreed the June 27 'election' was
neither free nor fair.

Thus it can give no legitimacy for Mugabe to govern in future under
international or local rules. June 27 is a legal & diplomatic nothingness in
any case.

This doesn't mean there's a vacuum: there's a new President-elect until a

What Tsvangirai lacks is not a RULE that would let him take power based on
his March results.

What he lacks is some AUTHORITY willing to tell Mugabe that, having agreed
to Paragraph 3(1) in 2005 and confirmed it in 2007, he must abide by it in
full, and give way to the leading runner from March 29 pending the run-off.

In 8 years of trying, MDC has not found such relief through local courts
while Mugabe, his appointees and supporters have repeatedly broken all the

SADC, AU, UN should be that necessary authority. They should be willing to
tell Mugabe and his government to abide by the rules they enacted, as each
of them and each Member State have promised to uphold the rule of law.

Mugabe, reluctant to step down for years, notoriously said this year "ONLY
GOD CAN REMOVE ME", then threatened war if voters tried to do so again.
While the AU rejects impunity and political assassination, Mugabe it seems
has come to depend upon them. Until his powers are checked, problems will

There is nothing offensive in the laws I've outlined, no reason for these
bodies not to insist that our de facto government fully comply with its own
rules, and no reason to fail to recognize that Tsvangirai became a
President-elect under those.

SADC, AU, UN etc can surely also ensure that a run-off election held while
that candidate holds Zimbabwe's reins of power is free and fair for both

The will of the people will then have decided the interim and final

The principles of democracy and the rule of law will have been saved.

If the run-off is combined with a referendum on an transitional constitution
finally providing Zimbabweans with a full bill of rights, progress can be
made while their will is respected on that issue too.

The Alternatives

Although Tsvangirai was entitled to a transfer of power [based on his own
votes, not his number of MPs], effort is being made to reach a settlement

There are pragmatic reasons to try to avoid another election: Zimbabweans
have endured 8 national polls in the last 8 years. The human, social and
financial costs have been high. Few really want another winner-take-all
contest now.

Thus talks - to seek another way forward, still based on the people's free

Failing such a settlement, insisting on abiding by our law will be the only
way to avoid a vacuum that must otherwise exist. Without a new agreement,
requiring parties to abide by the rules they agreed on earlier will be SADC's
only option.

From reports & communiques it seems SADC does not yet plan to insist on
this, maybe from ignorance of our rules, maybe for other undisclosed

It does not matter what its reasons are.

Having already recognised that June 27 did not represent the people's free
will, SADC cannot recognize any President or government founded upon that

Professor Ncube, and the Mediator, must know that.

Mugabe can get any future legitimacy only from the people, via a free & fair
run-off election duly held now in accordance our laws - or else indirectly
under the 18th Amendment, should he be elected by MPs seen as legitimately

Thus the relentless pressure now on Tsvangirai to give legitimacy to
ugabe  -

despite Mugabe's public rejection of democracy & breaches of prior

If the [secret] deal on the table is the limit of 'what is practicable' for
Tsvangirai but is unacceptable, it does not cure SADC's problem - how can
SADC or AU recognize Mugabe, without him having a legitimate basis now to

He remains a residual President only while talks are held; and risks an AU
admission that he is violating its Lome Declaration against Unconstitutional
Changes of Government.


As a lawyer and accredited observer I have felt obliged to draw attention to
the rules that the Professor and his political party, and Mugabe and his
political party, endorsed before the games, and to the obvious breaking of
those same rules.

To accuse Tsvangirai of wanting to change these rules after the game is

It is Mugabe & Co who did so, after they agreed to Paragraph 3(1), etc.

I don't know if the Prof's motive for ignoring these rules is his reported
intense dislike of Tsvangirai; or a hope of sharing now in the absolute
power that Mugabe failed to transfer under Paragraph 3(1) after the people's
votes in March were counted and recounted; or some other motive.

Whatever the reasons, I advise caution.

There is little reason to agree on anything new when previous agreements
brokered by SADC have been broken with impunity; little point in relying now
on a SADC-AU promise to underwrite and guarantee a "Global Political
Agreement" if their Treaty promises to uphold the rule of law, democracy &
human rights are being broken. Why keep making agreements if these can be

Think of a single key Memorandum of Understanding promise: humanitarian and
welfare organisations would be able to give all assistance required in the

Has it been kept? Or, in a repeat of gukurahundi, are Mugabe & Co still
trying to starve the people into submission instead, while SADC remains

At least with broken Treaty promises there is a chance that the SADC
Tribunal, our new "house of justice" for the region set up to enforce the
SADC Treaty, might be willing and able to help ensure these are fully
carried out.

Any political deal not firmly based on the Treaty promises offers no such

Finally, anyone tempted to sign an agreement with Mugabe must bear in mind
his prior [and very public] warning: how can a ballpoint pen fight a gun?

Why sign anything, if he will still control all the guns?

Sheila Jarvis, Legal Practitioner, Harare, Zimbabwe.

The author is a senior legal practitioner in practice in Harare, and board
member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, with extensive experience in
Zimbabwe's election laws

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Zimbabwe Vigil Diary - 23rd August 2008

A concensus is emerging at the Vigil that the talks about power sharing will
not answer our prayers. There was general agreement that it would be
impossible to work with Mugabe and his gang. People recounted the latest
horror stories from home.  It is clear that there has been no end to the
violence and intimidation. One supporter's mother had told him "Don't call
me until after midnight as I will be forced to go to a Zanu-PF pungwe".
People are calling for justice: we all know people who have died or been
tortured or suffered under the regime and it is really a great challenge to
ask us to work with the perpetrators if they show no remorse.

A surprising number of South Africans passed the Vigil. They stopped to talk
but most refused to sign our petition calling on FIFA to move the World Cup
from South Africa in 2010. We were taken aback that human rights concerns in
Zimbabwe were of so little concern to them.  We thought they would have some
lingering memory that they owe Zimbabwe something for their freedom.

It was good to have with us Ben Dalby to sing his song "Chinese Friends"
about Chinese exploitation. There was a verse about Zimbabwe and it has been
recently featured on the SW Radio Africa website - to listen to the song
check:  We were also pleased to meet
Mark Denham, a British actor, who is going to Malawi to work on a play about
Zimbabwe.  It is planned to take it to the Zimbabwe Arts Festival next year.

Plans are progressing on presenting our petition to European Union
governments.  We are approaching a prominent figure to receive the petition
and below is our letter of invitation.

"The recent meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in
Johannesburg, despite the report by its own observers on electoral
malpractices, has in effect accepted Mugabe as the President of Zimbabwe
(with the honorable exceptions of Botswana and Zambia).  We are dismayed
that SADC is still betraying our people by not acknowledging their vote.

We ask whether you would be prepared to accept a petition to pass on to the
relevant EU authority.   Briefly, the petition calls on EU governments to
suspend government to government aid to SADC members until they abide by
their commitment to uphold human rights in the region.  We are not
referring, of course, to humanitarian aid but to balance of payment support.
We do not see why, for instance, the British taxpayer should contribute £70
million a year to Malawi, whose President has been given a stolen Zimbabwe
farm and has named a highway in Malawi after Robert Mugabe.  We want the
money saved to be used to finance refugee camps in the countries bordering
Zimbabwe where Zimbabweans can seek a haven from starvation, violence and
collapsing health and education systems. We are anxious that our people
should not be an imposition on our neighbours prompting further xenophobic

The petition has been signed by people passing the Zimbabwe Vigil, which has
been held outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London every Saturday for the last
six years in support of free and fair elections in Zimbabwe.

We will send copies of the petition to EU and SADC member countries but we
hope you can help to get this project underway.  We could either present
this petition to you at the Vigil or a place of your own choosing."

For latest Vigil pictures check:  .

FOR THE RECORD: 174 signed the register.

·  Next Glasgow Vigil. Saturday 30th August, 2 - 6 pm. Venue: Argyle
Street Precinct. For more information contact: Patrick Dzimba, 07990 724
·  Zimbabwe Association's Women's Weekly Drop-in Centre. Fridays 10.30
am - 4 pm. Venue: The Fire Station Community and ICT Centre, 84 Mayton
Street, London N7 6QT, Tel: 020 7607 9764. Nearest underground: Finsbury
Park. For more information contact the Zimbabwe Association 020 7549 0355
(open Tuesdays and Thursdays).

Vigil co-ordinators
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe.

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Questions over Tsvangirai's change of stance

Sunday Nation, Kenya


Posted Sunday, August 24 2008 at 19:58

HARARE, Monday - Ever since he burst into the political scene on the back of
swelling disgruntlement over President Robert Mugabe's disastrous economic
policies ten years ago, Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has
been viewed by millions as a saviour of some sort.

"Zimbabweans believe that the only person who is capable of removing Mugabe
from power is Tsvangirai hence they are prepared to forgive him for all the
blunders he is making," Mr Yeukai Madondo, a political analyst said.

"However, people are getting impatient over the delayed resolution of the
political and economic problems facing the country and he needs to be

That time of reckoning for Mr Tsvangirai might be as early as Monday when
parliament reconvenes.

Last week, Mr Tsvangirai performed a spectacular U-turn by warning that
President Mugabe risked scuttling power-sharing talks if he goes ahead with
the opening of parliament.

He told a news conference in Nairobi that Mr Mugabe's move was a
"repudiation" of the Memorandum of Understanding with the opposition on the
framework for talks.

That agreement was signed on July 21.

But, speaking in South Africa early in the week, the opposition leader has
said: "Let parliament be reconvened.

"As far as we are concerned, we don't see anything wrong with that. It will
have no effect.

"Parliament is an expression of the will of the people, but Cabinet is
another thing."

To compound the confusion, MDC secretary general Mr Tendai Biti appeared to
try and narrow the gap between his expressed position and that of his leader
in an interview with AFP on Thursday.

"Our problem is with the convening of parliament," he said, "not the
swearing-in of members." In practise, however, once MPs are sworn in, the
implication is that they begin their legislative work.

The swearing-in ceremony is usually followed by the election of Speaker, the
appointment of Cabinet by the President which is then followed by the
election of parliamentary committee chairmen based on the various government

Once Mr Mugabe appoints a new Cabinet without Mr Tsvangirai, the power
sharing talks would be essentially over.

Zanu-PF won 99 House of Assembly seats, MDC-T 100, MDC got 10 with
independent candidate Jonathan Moyo winning the remaining seat.

The post of speaker was among the issues under discussion in the ongoing
power sharing talks between Zanu and the MDC that produced a deal that Mr
Tsvangirai refused to sign preferring to press for more executive powers.

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ZINASU Blasts Mbeki

BULAWAYO, August 24 2008 - The Zimbabwe National Students Union
(ZINASU) has accused South African President Thabo Mbeki of taking sides
with President Robert Mugabe in the Southern Africa Development Community
(SADC) negotiated talks.

In a statement released over the weekend and signed by its
spokesperson, Blessing Vavi, ZINASU attacked Mbeki for proposing that
parliament be convened before the talks have been concluded.

"ZINASU is dismayed with Thabo Mbeki's partial behavior as the
chairman of SADC and the current mediator to resolve Zimbabwe's political
stalemate. Mbeki's role was supposed to be that of a facilitator but he has
thrown his credibility away and compromised his standing as a trusted
African Statesman who can help broker a deal that would satisfy all

"President Mbeki has proposed that parliament be convened and ZANU PF
is jumping at the idea and has hurriedly set up the dates for the opening of
Parliament, even though the talks are yet to be concluded. There is no doubt
that the convening of parliament before the logical conclusion of the talks
violates the very memorandum of understanding which Mbeki set as the ground
rule in consultation with the negotiating parties," ZINASU said.

ZINASU said Mbeki's actions since the talks began, clearly display a
man who is far from being an honest facilitator.

"This man is taking the Zimbabwean people for granted and is
responsible for exacerbating the stalemate as he is giving Mugabe
instructions on how Zimbabwe should move forward, thereby overstepping his
mandate as a facilitator, to act as Mugabe's deputy and advisor," ZINASU

The students' body also took a pot-shot at the leader of the smaller
MDC faction, Arthur , whom it accused him of being Mugabe's puppet.

"Mbeki is the one who single handedly resurrected the confused
Professor Mutambara back to the political scene after a dismal performance
in the March elections. Mutambara has no stake whatsoever as far as the
talks are concerned, because in our view, he is a stooge and Mugabe's puppet
disguised as an opposition leader," Zinasu said.

ZINASU called on Mbeki to uphold the democratic will of Zimbabweans as
expressed in the March 29 vote, as well as ensure that Zanu PF allows
humanitarian agencies to resume assisting millions of people who are going

The student body also called upon Mbeki to expand the mediation team
'that will help broker a peace deal acceptable to all parties and reflective
of the democratic expressions of the people of Zimbabwe.

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Chaibva Threatens to Sue Khama

HARARE, August 24 2008 - Former opposition legislator and top official
in the Arthur Mutambara led Movement for Democratic Change faction, Gabriel
Chaibva, has threatened to sue the Botswana government  after authorities
there deported him early this month.

Chaibva was thrown out of Botswana early this month after being
declared a prohibited immigrant (PI) following his visit to the neighbouring

But Chaibva, the former spokesperson of the Mutambara led MDC faction
told RadioVOP that he had since engaged an unidentified lawyer in Botswana
to initiate proceedings against Botswana's president Ian Khama and his

"It's just a matter of time before my lawyer serves them with the
papers. I am going to get redress," said Chaibva, without disclosing much
detail about the legal action.

Chaibva also refused to disclose the name of the lawyer and the law
firm that he has engaged.

The smaller MDC faction suspended Chaibva from his position as party
spokesperson after he attended Zanu PF leader Robert Mugabe's swearing in
ceremony boycotted by his party leaders, Arthur Mutambara and Welshman

Since his suspension from the MDC, Chaibva has been singing praise for
ZANU PF and Mugabe, prompting his former colleagues and associates to accuse
him of betraying them and the democratic struggle.

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PetroSA denies links with Zimbabwe's Mugabe


August 24, 2008, 16:00

PetroSA has denied reports that it knowingly "dished out oil deals" to a
consortium partly owned by foreign businessmen accused of being fronts for
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

PetroSA says in a statement the decision to award MESA Energy a highly
competitive tender in 2004, was based on PetroSA's stringent selection
criteria. It says it has conducted itself with professional integrity with
this and other deals.

PetroSA says at no time was it ever informed of any allegations of
impropriety concerning Mesa Energy or any of its partners. - Sapa

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Immunity and amnesty only encourage human rights abusers

 Friday, 22 August 2008


A few days ago, I had the privilege of being the only invited journalist to
a briefing by MDC National Chairman, Lovemore Moyo, MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai and his vice president, Thoko Khupe.

They spoke well and explained several issues that were of concern to the
thirty-something group of invited Zimbabweans.

I could not help but feel that were the MDC to give people such information
in regular briefings, it would go a long way in calming nerves and
consolidating support for the talks among the jittery populace, a point I
made to them but, of course, was reminded that certain trade-offs are
necessary in delicate negotiations, such as these.

Among other things, I was personally interested in the post-Mugabe era.
I am consumed by the unnecessary deaths mindlessly rained on the people by
ZANU-PF before, during and after independence.

It is an obsession on my part.
Manicaland and many parts of Zimbabwe continue to suffer.
Matabeleland and the Midlands suffered. They remain the most tragic chapter
in our history. Families were destroyed with parents and children made to

And, disgustingly, the whole nation continues to suffer at the hands of the
same man who has cases to answer about the demise of his fellow comrades
during the war of liberation.

It was not even friendly fire.
There were people, like Josiah Tongogara, who were murdered so that some
people could secure political control of a liberation army they had never

The killing by ZANU-PF was started by these same men before we even acquired
independence. I cannot, for the life of me, believe that our nation shall
ever contemplate that it is business as usual when we think of those killed
for the glorification and gratification of a dictator.

The issue of those killed by Mugabe and ZANU-PF before, during and after
independence is one that is going to be very difficult to lay to rest,
especially if it is handled in a cavalier manner for the convenience of
political parties and some individuals at the expense of the people.

Amnesty is the "official pardon for people who have been convicted of
political offences".
Surely, the MDC is not thinking of this?

Take Mugabe, for example. If he is granted amnesty, it means he had been to
court and was convicted of, among other things, genocide, but his successor
government might just decide to pardon him and let him spend time on his pig
farm as a free man, a status he denied Zimbabwean citizens since he became
Prime Minister and, later, President.
Amnesty is offensive in that those against whom those crimes were committed
have no say. Politicians just forgive each other for their own conveniences.

Amnesty is offensive in that it does not take into consideration the
feelings of those whose parents, brothers, sisters and other relatives
perished for no reason at all.
It is highly offensive to me that a man who murders another man at a beer
hall is sentenced to death and his death sentence is actually carried out by
the government, the very same government that would pardon a man who,
through deliberate abuse of office and betrayal of public trust, killed
thousands of innocent people just to boost his own ego and to hold on to
power because people no longer liked his policies.
If you kill one person you hang; but if you kill thousands, you get amnesty.
Is the equation accurate and normal?

Yet we always hoped the state is the custodian of justice!
It gets worse.
There is what they call immunity and it is "the protection or exemption from
something, especially an obligation or penalty".

Surely, the MDC is not really thinking about this? Take Mugabe, for example.
If he is granted immunity, he will go home to Zvimba and be free to continue
abusing people and the hogs on his farm.

Immunity is offensive because a government that we are going to vote into
power, hoping to be afforded the opportunity of closure, will protect and
exempt the men who are terrorizing them and us today.

Imagine the MDC protecting Mugabe from fellow citizens? Imagine the MDC,
which lost so many of its supporters to ZANU-PF, protecting them all.

As recently as yesterday, Mugabe's goons continue terrorizing people in
Manicaland, abducting, kidnapping and assaulting opposition party activists.
As we talk today, many people cannot go back to their homes because of
Mugabe's supporters.

These are the people who are floating around words like amnesty and immunity
at any opportunity they get, especially at the talks in South Africa.
How can immunity and amnesty be granted to men who never admitted committing
any crime and who, while waiting for an answer to their request for
immunity, continue to kill and abuse people, including those same ones who
are supposed to grant them their request?

As the MDC National Chairman was driving me back to my residence in Gaborone
after the briefing, I revisited the issue of immunity and amnesty and he
repeated more or less the same thing he had said in the briefing and that is
that in the interests of Zimbabwe, the MDC was prepared to accept some
unacceptable things, like amnesty and immunity.  For the sake of Zimbabwe.

On the whole, it does make sense that agreements to free Zimbabwe should not
be derailed by a request for amnesty or immunity from Mugabe. The reasoning
seems to be: give the man what he wants and save lives and rebuild the
nation. But it's not that easy as any successor to Mugabe, be they ZANU-PF,
MDC or something in between, will find out.

Can the people of Zimbabwe really forgive Mugabe and most of his people?
There is Entumbane, Gukurahundi. Murambatsvina and a host of other
deliberate acts of killing and abusing people, each one qualifying as
genocide in its own right.
Can the people forgive? I find this difficult to believe.

It is too soon.
As for me, I am in a quandary. I am a Christian, a former Catholic alter boy
who was taught to forgive those that trespass against us as those we
trespass against are bound to forgive us too.

But I can't. I just can't. Something has to heal inside me first.
Mugabe need not forgive a single Zimbabwean because no single Zimbabwean
ever did him any wrong. We just never had the opportunity. I know my God is
listening and I hope He understands why I cannot forgive. I do not, and I
repeat, I do not forgive these men because they continue with their evil
ways. They continue committing the same crimes for which they seek immunity
and amnesty.

They are starving children and chasing parents into the mountains and want
to be forgiven while they scout for more families to destroy and kill. They
are denying people they injure access to hospitals which they control.

If my refusal to forgive Robert Mugabe, my homeboy Emerson Mnangagwa, Army
Commander Constantine Chiwenga, Perence Shiri, Joseph Mwale, Joseph
Chinotimba and all those who played cheerleaders to the murder of
Zimbabweans will condemn me to the fires of hell, then I am prepared for

I will find Mugabe and his cronies there as well and none of us will have
the advantage of fireproof gear.
Amid the crackling of flames and the putrid smell of burning human flesh, we
will be fighting on equal terms at last and there is nothing I would cherish
The MDC better be warned; this battle is going to go beyond our galaxies.

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Mugabe must emulate Musharraf

 Friday, 22 August 2008

After nearly a decade in power, heavy handed Musharraf has succumbed to
reality by stepping down from the helm of power.

Good riddance, his resignation may usher in a new political and economic
dispensation in troubled Pakistan. He leaves behind a disastrous economy,
but also a huge sense of relief.

Mugabe should emulate Musharraf and step down. Enough is enough! People will
not eat dirty politics.

While Mugabe and his amateur political rivals pursue their selfish political
ambitions, 80 % of the Zimbabwean population is trapped in abject poverty as
annual inflation soars to 11.2 million percent.

It is easy to predict that if Mugabe steps down the Zimbabwean economy will
slowly resurrect itself.

History tells us that all dictators end wretchedly, but perhaps a dictator
who resigns can be "forgiven" than he who fights to the wretched end.


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OP responds to Zimbabwean media reports

 Friday, 22 August 2008

The Office of the President has taken note of, and is concerned about,
misleading content which appears in an article published in the Harare
Herald newspaper entitled "MDC-T leader lied to us about Zim situation".

In the said article it is claimed that:
"Leaders from Zambia, Botswana and Tanzania expressed "embarrassment" at
having "blindly supported Tsvangirai" during the 28th SADC Heads of State
Summit in Sandton, Johannesburg, after South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki,
who is facilitating talks between Zimbabwe's political parties, gave them a
full briefing on what was taking place."The same article goes on to
misleadingly attribute certain sentiments to Botswana's Minister of Foreign
Affairs and International Cooperation.

In the above context, the Office of the President wishes to emphasise that
its position, with respect to the political situation in Zimbabwe, has not

Jeff Ramasy
By Email

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A paradise loved and lost


    August 24 2008 at 01:24PM

By Justine Shaw

The cursor hovers over the "send and receive" icon and I hesitate
before pressing enter. I haven't heard from my parents for a week. Although
I know the telephone line has been faulty, I desperately hope that it has
been fixed - however temporarily - simply so they can reassure me they're

I have three new e-mails. The first informs that I have enough FlyBuys
points to purchase free electronic products online. It has been 19 months
since my husband, two children and I settled in Australia, and yet, I'm
still amazed by the giveaways, promotions, sales and bonus offers.

The second e-mail is deleted immediately. It's advising me to resend
it to seven friends within 10 minutes or be cursed with years of hardship.
It's already disappeared, but suddenly I feel superstitious. I'm a
Zimbabwean. For years I've binned e-mails like this.

Perhaps all my fellow countrymen did the same? It certainly seems that
nothing but misfortune and bad luck have shrouded our beautiful country for
more than a decade.

The third message is the one I've been waiting for. I'm relieved and
happy, eager to hear my parents' news. I still retain a desperate longing to
keep up to date with the dismal state of affairs unfolding at home. The
recent flawed election process has once again propelled Zimbabwe into the
news and my appetite for information about the situation is insatiable.

My parents, left in the capital, Harare, form part of a population
subjected to unabated, deplorable actions sanctioned by their government. In
five months' time, I can initiate an application for a visa that will
hopefully give them the opportunity to begin a new life with us here in
Australia. Whenever I hear from them, left behind there, I feel a terrible
sense of guilt, and find myself wondering: could I have made a difference
had I stayed?

I can't help but feel I have let them - and Zimbabwe - down, choosing
to slip through the gap in the fence and run away from the chaos.

When I look at my children, Karly-Emma and Kieran, now seven and six
respectively, I see how they have grown in just 19 months. How different
they are from the shy, apprehensive, withdrawn immigrants who arrived in
Australia. They have become outgoing, confident characters, focused on the
business of growing up without being ground down by the transference of our
worries, fears, insecurities and stresses. We took them away because we were
fortunate enough to be able to move. We took them away because we wanted
them to have a normal life, one where their father didn't carry a gun and
they weren't afraid of walking out of the front gate.

We have started life again. But I cannot let go. I am constantly
revisiting the place, a cauldron of 33 years' worth of memories -
delightful, happy, exhilarating times and ones that still seem so
unbelievably tragic that it often seems surreal that I was once a part of
them. A piece of me remains in Zimbabwe with my parents. A piece is still
trying to comprehend how they lost their farm four years ago and how we
lived through and recovered from an armed robbery five years ago.

I regularly ponder how it became possible for one man and his handful
of ruthless, greedy colleagues to orchestrate so carefully such devastation
and reduce a once thriving country to a desperate, starving nation crying
out for salvation.

Of course, we are the fortunate ones to have the choice of starting
again. So many thousands have no option but to remain in the country and I
can only admire their resilience, their determination and their will to
survive this continuing holocaust of suppression, food deprivation and

I turn back to the e-mail, typed by my unshaven, unwashed father and
my mother who is "hanging on with very shredded fingernails".

When they left the farm in 2004 - a household run on borehole water,
with ageing power cables and serviced by an erratic party telephone line,
40km from the nearest town, they should have been leaving erratic services
behind. Their suburban rental in Harare should, by all accounts, have had
more efficient services: council water, reliable electricity and a telephone
line not shared by neighbouring farms.

I continue to read their news.

They have only had municipal water once in two months, and that was
only for 12 hours. During this time, they managed to top up the swimming
pool - water which they use for filling up the toilets and doing the
laundry. Buckets of cold water are carried from the pool into the shower to
wash. It is like a black comedy and I manage a small smile as my mother
describes herself "bottoms up and bent over a bucket" in the shower, dousing
herself with cold, chlorinated water in an effort to keep herself clean.

They have a quarter of a loaf of frozen bread which they've preserved
in the freezer by running the generator for an hour each day. My mother is
an artist, but she's now been forced to supplement their income (to cover
rent and the spiralling cost of living) by teaching. After work, she begins
her search - scouting from shop to shop looking for grossly expensive
commodities to ensure they have food for the week. Supermarket shelves are
generally empty and street vendors haunt the pavements, selling anything
from eggs to cooking oil at extortionate prices that increase daily. Most of
their groceries are sourced from various "contacts" that have various

The power cuts are frequent, haphazard and unannounced, so they are
unable to plan activities around them. They cannot run the generator for too
long as there is still the ever-present prospect of fuel shortages. Their
rent has just gone up by 6 250 percent.

They spend days queuing at banks and building societies with scores of
other Zimbabweans, resigned to hours of idleness as they wait to withdraw
vast sums of money that will only enable them to buy a loaf of bread or a
tin of baked beans. There is an automatic 50 percent price increase if you
pay by cheque, simply because this is the amount the currency will have
devalued by the time the cheque is cleared.

My mother has just become used to performing mathematics in the
trillions and will now have to reprogramme her arithmetic. To date, the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has dropped 13 zeros off the currency, although
this does little to lift my parents' spirits. They sign off the e-mail with
assurances that they are coping, that they are safe and send much love to
their grandchildren.

I stare at the screen and glance across the words, trying to convince
myself that the most important thing is that they are fine and that as long
as they can battle on until the end of the year, when they will qualify for
a migrating parent visa, they have more than many other Zimbabweans can hope
for. Yet I find myself banging my fists on the computer table with tears in
my eyes, screaming: "It isn't fair."

My parents have lost almost everything and instead of arriving at a
point where their lifetime of hard work rewards them with adequate pensions,
a home of their own and long afternoons of reflection, they are confronted
with the overwhelming necessity of starting again.

They are not alone.

The commercial farm invasions continue, intensifying during the
election period, in spite of the increasing need for productive agricultural
areas to feed a starving nation. While President Robert Mugabe cradles his
well-fed belly, he offers little comfort to the nation, reminding us in
speeches and interviews that like most of the problems faced by Zimbabwe,
hunger is a result of actions sanctioned by Western leaders such as Tony
Blair, Gordon Brown and George Bush.

Zanu-PF and the ruling elite set the stage for a guaranteed victory
when they held the elections earlier this year. Re-education camps were set
up to brainwash, beat and coerce people to remain loyal to the dictatorship.
Food aid organisations were banned from operating, accused of gathering
support for the opposition. Suspected opposition supporters paid the price
in life and limb simply for exercising their democratic right to vote. The
voices that cried out for change were heard, but only for an instant and
then quickly silenced.

The results of the elections were ignored and Zanu-PF remains in
power, as though there had never been a vote. Terrified Zimbabwean refugees
fled across the borders and, in South Africa, found themselves in another
hostile environment where they were subjected to horrific xenophobic attacks
and blamed for rising unemployment and escalating crime.

Four months later, the talks on power-sharing between Zanu-PF and the
opposition MDC have failed to produce a deal. Mugabe has snubbed the world
and lords it over a crippled nation. The democratic right of the people has
been ignored. But, as the impasse drags on, nothing improves for ordinary
Zimbabweans and they continue to endure a miserable existence where
scavenging for food is the hot topic each and every day. And I can't help
but feel guilty.

Perhaps my guilt comes from the fact that we could escape while so
many others are sentenced to see things through until the end, and I am
powerless to help them. I didn't run away or pack it all in for an
extraordinary adventure in a new country. We did what had to be done for our
children and I will always cherish the memories and the amazing,
unpredictable place I used to call home.

For a while, I had it all. I was born in colonial Rhodesia and had the
geographical privilege of growing up as the country made the transition to
independence - as the African nation of Zimbabwe.

My parents played a large part in preparing us for a multiracial
inevitability and ensured that we held no biases with regards to race.

We confidently became Zimbabweans and, in spite of the sudden exodus
of many white countrymen who predicted doom and degradation of the black
ruling party, chose to remain.

My parents purchased a farm and were committed to a future in a
racially tolerant community. After independence, laws stipulated that when
farms were made available for sale, they first had to be offered to the
government for resettlement or redistribution to the indigenous people. My
parents received the required "certificate of no current interest" from the
government and embarked on a three-year project of constructing their home,
a place in which they imagined they would grow old.

My childhood was an exhilarating period of adventure, experience,
lessons and an eager anticipation for a future unknown.

School inspired, challenged and facilitated the cementing of lasting
friendships. It was where I met my future husband, Ross. I was impatient to
grow up and become independent, imagining a future of motherhood and

I married Ross and by the age of 30 I was the mother of two young
children. With the responsibility of parenthood came the realisation that
Zimbabwe was no longer the country I'd grown up in and that my children
would never have the same carefree childhood that I had been so privileged
to enjoy. Daily chores had become insurmountable challenges.

My parents relocated to the city, worn down by uncompromising
vagrants, threats, blackmail and the sad evacuation of so many neighbours.
But in spite of everything, we all clung to the belief that things would be
resolved and that the atrocities would have to cease. Yet the carnage of the
land invasions spilled over into the city. Unemployment spiralled,
accelerating residential armed robberies, hijackings and muggings.

In January 2003, armed robbers attacked my family, threatened my
children's lives and violated our home and our sanctuary. Suddenly, I could
no longer focus on better times to come. I was constantly afraid and found
my ability to perform as a mother, wife and Zimbabwean were compromised
horribly by fear and loss of hope. I became numb.

We were content to go to bed each day knowing that our finances were
still adequate, our children were safe and our large wall, alarm system and
electrified fence would protect us from any intruders. We ploughed through
each day, resigned to the uncontrolled political anarchy, trying to ignore
the racism, the inflation and escalating crime. We received our regular
bills for irregular water and electricity.

And we watched as the nightmare Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out
Filth) was skillfully executed by the government and the military. Hundreds
of thousands of Zimbabweans were left homeless as their humble dwellings
were burnt or bulldozed to the ground.

With every new tragedy and every new incomprehensible act of
dictatorship we became more and more grateful that we had food on our table,
a roof over our heads and a routine to follow each day. I no longer expected
anything or hoped for more. Once I refused to entertain bribery. Now we were
forced to establish various "contacts" to ensure that passports and vehicle
licences were issued.

Finally, we were forced to sit down and take a long, hard, critical
look at our lives. The preceding four years had been a vacuum, a regimented
sequence of parenting, feeding and protecting an existence that became more
desperate with each passing month.

We took our great leap in January last year when we packed up our
lives and emigrated to Australia.

Now I sit here with a cupboard full of groceries, a deep freeze
stocked with meat and a fridge packed with yoghurt and eggs. I am only just
starting to regard them as groceries and not luxury items. I am only mildly
concerned about the world fuel price increases, secretly grateful that I can
fill up my vehicle without having to purchase fuel on the black market.

My family and I are becoming part of a society that functions, where
there are prospects for the hard-working as opposed to the corrupt and
connected. I have learnt not to be astounded by the things thrown away
during bulk refuse collection days and no longer want to stop and pick up
every abandoned television. I am slowly becoming an Australian, but I am
humbled by where we have come from and will never take for granted the
opportunities that lie ahead.

The Zimbabwean exodus continues and we are a halfway house for family
and friends who all hope to have their immigration applications approved. We
watch as they walk down the same paths, come to the same conclusions and
make the same decisions that we made.

Mugabe has crippled Zimbabwe, reducing most of its people to beggars
or barterers and black marketeers. - Foreign Service

This article was originally published on page 11 of Sunday Independent
on August 24, 2008

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Rubbish money!

Why scores of hopefuls are digging for cash in the trash

Marko Taruwona is sweating. It's running off him in buckets. But that's not
stopping him as he stands in the middle of the Harare dumpsite in Glen Norah
and flails away with his shovel. There's money amongst the rubbish, and
Marko is determined to find it.

We're not talking re-cycling here. This is actual currency that Marko and
dozens like him were this week searching for amongst the city's trash. To be
precise, he and his fellow-diggers are looking for $1,000 notes - and
finding them.

Once these notes were useless. Now they may not be. Just like the coins that
we once discarded as valueless due to our rampant inflation, the old
thousand-dollar bill, once thrown away by the stack as so much waste paper,
may suddenly be worth spending again.

This paper money-rush began last Wednesday. Previously Zimbabwe's hopelessly
incompetent Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono had slashed ten zeros from the
values printed on our notes. This meant that coins last used three years ago
bounced back into circulation, regaining much of their former value. Gona
agreed that they were legal tender.

On Wednesday the comic radio presenter Dr. Zobha, who is one of the top
names on the government's ZBC (Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation), told his
listeners that the old $1,000 note was also back in circulation at its face

Immediately people like Marko remembered that they'd thrown hundreds of
these notes away when their previous value diminished to nothing. Where had
they gone? Into the rubbish. Where was the rubbish? At the dumpsites. It was
time for Marko to grab his shovel and get digging.

When I spoke to him, in the late afternoon, he had found twelve $1,000
notes - the equivalent of Z$120 trillion in the old currency.

"God surely speaks in many ways," he told me, as he paused for breath.
"Whoever thought that from this rubbish we would extract such riches!"

I didn't like to tell him that ZBC that evening were announcing that the
notes would not be accepted back into circulation. However, there had been
no official statement from the Reserve Bank, and the bounty hunters kept up
the search.

"We know their lies," said Dadirai Marime, who had brought along his wife
and two children to help search in the rubbish. "They told us that coins
would never be used again. Now we are using them. The same may be true for
the notes."

And he could be right. A Harare lawyer, who wanted to remain anonymous, told
me: "There has been no announcement from the central bank, to declare that
the notes have ceased to be legal tender. And the fact that the coins have
regained their face value sets a precedent. After all, the notes are still
legal tender."

Out on the dumpsites, legal arguments mean little. And the digging goes on.

Posted on Sunday, 24 August 2008 at 09:48

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Comments from Correspondents


Thank you very much for enlightening the vast majority of us who were
in the dark to some of the laws that are in place in regards to the
election rules. It gives reason for Tsvangirai to stand up and claim
the presidency. My question would be, why isnt anyone making a big
deal out of this. As you rightly point out, the rule of law took
flight when mr Mugabe changed the goal posts. He has a tendency of
shooting the arrow, then draw the target with his arrow on the bulls
SADAC and the AU find themselves in a predicament. A Kenyan
moulinrouge atmosphere arises, who will be the first to cast a stone,
when their own countries are bedeviled with human rights violations
and corrupt governments. They cannot or will not call upon mr Mugabe
to stand down. General Musharaf against Mugabe appears a very
reasonable man. Our (ZIM) judiciary system is controled by Zanu pf
and Mugabe, who then can mr Tsvangirai and mdc turn too. The people
themselevs are too tired and hungry to stand their ground and demand
their chosen leader into the seat.
Hameno, as i always say,ALUTA CONTINUA, the struggle continues


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