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

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From BBC News, 26 August

Close encounter with Zimbabwe's secret police

Justin Pearce reflects on the hardships of life in Zimbabwe - for those
delivering aid and for journalists trying to find out what is going on.

Delivering food aid is not a crime in Zimbabwe. Nevertheless, I saw a priest
interrogated by the secret police for that very reason. Legal or illegal,
delivering food aid in Zimbabwe is certainly a slow business, mostly because
no one knows where exactly the needy people are. I had spent the best part
of 24 hours rumbling around the dirt roads of rural Matabeleland in a truck
laden with maize meal and blankets - intended for some of the people who
have been dumped in the countryside after government knocked down the homes
of 500,000 people. Whenever we saw someone on the road, the priest and the
driver who were delivering the food asked if they knew of any displaced
people in the area. When we stopped at a cluster of shops by the main road,
the priest got out to ask the same question once again. He seemed to be
spending a long time in conversation with one man in a smart white shirt. I
asked the truck driver what was going on. "The pastor is under arrest," the
driver explained. "That gentleman is from the CIO." The CIO is the Central
Intelligence Organisation: Zimbabwe's secret police. In this case, the
pastor was lucky that he managed to talk his way out of the situation. And
since unauthorised journalism in Zimbabwe carries a 20-year prison sentence,
I suppose I too was lucky that the CIO man didn't see me behind the driver's

From the day I arrived in Zimbabwe, I had been frightened - not because of
anything I had seen or experienced, but because of the fear I had sensed in
other people. I felt it in the way that no one wanted to be photographed, or
to give their name when interviewed, or even be seen in public with me when
I was carrying a camera. (This explains why the photos accompanying my
articles over the past week include so many silhouetted faces.) I felt that
same second-hand fear when I went to interview a Zimbabwean aid official -
and saw him keep his door shut during the interview, and lie to his
colleagues about the purpose of my visit, lest the wrong person get wind of
the fact that there was a journalist on the premises. I felt it in the way
that some people would have incredibly cryptic conversations by phone or
e-mail - while others said what they liked, realising that if you were going
to succumb to the fear you'd never communicate at all. The problem was, you
never knew whether the CIO would be listening in or not.

I felt the fear in the way I was unable to go and interview people at the
Hopley Farm resettlement area - and when some of them came to talk to me in
a secret location, they told me how even prayer meetings there are broken up
by the police. I felt it after I had lunch with a contact in the resort town
of Victoria Falls - and afterwards, one of the touts who hang around the
tourist shops demanded to know: "Who was that black guy you were talking
to?" Perhaps he thought my friend was a freelance tour guide who had
ventured onto his own turf - or perhaps he was motivated by something other
than commercial rivalry. The uncertainty made the experience even more
unnerving. So I was almost grateful for that near miss with the security
police in the bush of Matabeleland. After 10 days of being infected by other
people's fear, at last I could see, just the other side of the truck's
windscreen, the kind of thing that people were frightened of. And I, of
course, had the luxury of being booked on a flight out of the country the
next day.
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New York Sun

A Unique U.N. Scandal

August 26, 2005

PRISTINA, Kosovo - "You cannot build democracy with troops from Zimbabwe,"
says the director of Kosovo's leading think tank, Lulzim Peci, offering what
would seem to be reasonable, if exceedingly obvious, advice on the dos and
don'ts of nation-building. Yet Peci lives in a territory administered by the
United Nations, which, over the course of its six year trusteeship in
Kosovo, has demonstrated its own perverse understanding of what it considers
reasonable and obvious.

As it happens, Kosovo is in fact host to a contingent of Zimbabwean police
officers, members in good standing of the United Nations's 54-nation-strong
international constabulary force. Their mission? To conduct law enforcement
in this collapsed corner of the former Yugoslavia, while simultaneously
standing up an indigenous Kosovar police....[rest of articl unavailable]
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'We'll take over your company now, thank you'    Basildon Peta
          August 26 2005 at 11:42AM

      As Zimbabwe opens its books to the visiting International Monetary
Fund (IMF) representatives, concern about the rule of law and property
rights has been heightened as a result of the current constitutional
amendments before parliament.

      The causal link between a stable macroeconomic environment and
investment has been well established.

      But developments in Zimbabwe since the controversial land reform
programme is of concern to any investor because laws have been passed that
provide for the state to expropriate private assets without compensation.

      Although the plight of the white commercial farmers has been global
news, black victims of the Zimbabwean government have not attracted much

      Entrepreneurs like Mutumwa Mawere, now based in South Africa, and
other businessmen who either have been harassed through trumped-up charges
or are now in exile, have seen their assets being expropriated by the state.

      The case of Mawere and how the state targeted him personally and
subsequently passed a law to strip him of all his assets under the guise of
reconstruction demonstrates how exposed businesses are in what analysts
describe as failed states. Mawere, formerly employed by the World Bank,
relocated to South Africa in 1995 from Washington DC, where he used to be

      He negotiated and successfully closed a $60-million leveraged buy-out
of T & N's remaining asbestos and other industrial interests in Zimbabwe and

      Zimbabwe is the third largest producer of asbestos in the world. This
was the first major transaction involving a black person in Zimbabwe
acquiring significant assets in the country.

      Although asbestos is a distressed commodity because of the
environmental and health issues associated with it, Mawere built up a
conglomerate with interests in financial services, manufacturing, logistic,
agribusiness and other sectors.

      He built up the company organically and through acquisitions and it
now employs about 19 000 people and is valued at about $300-million.

      Zimbabwe does not have any coherent black economic empowerment (BEE)
policy and the government has over the years been claiming credit for any
black participation in the economy. Mawere was not an exception and the
market came to believe that his acquisition was state-supported.

      The facts show otherwise. A dossier about how he acquired his
properties fully supports his story.

      Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick Chinamasa
in response to a question from Job Sikhala, a Movement for Democratic Change
MP, misled parliament when he said Mawere had acquired his business empire
using a government guarantee.

      This version has been repeated in the media so many times that many in
government ended up believing that President Robert Mugabe had indeed
bankrolled his acquisitions.

      Mawere had this to say about this perception: "Unfortunately when a
black man does anything unusual, the easy conclusion is that someone is
behind him. You can understand that even in South Africa it is not unusual
that the public would attribute the success of certain BEE (ventures) to
government ministers and in some instances to the president.

      "This is not surprising given our history that often condemned black
people to poverty, but it has led to the rational expectation that big
business is not for us unless we are cronies."

      Mawere's problems began in 2003 when he was elected in absentia as
secretary of economic affairs of the ruling Zanu-PF's Masvingo Province. He
politely turned down the post, saying he was not a politician.

      He explained that he was not even an ordinary member of Zanu-PF and he
found it bizarre to be offered a post by a political party of which he was
not a member.

      For that "grave error" or "cardinal sin" - as some would call it
later - Mawere has paid a heavy price. He has lost his entire business
empire which Mugabe nationalised earlier this year.

      At one Zanu-PF Politburo meeting, a furious Mugabe reportedly railed
against Mawere for declaring that he was not a member of Zanu-PF.

      Mugabe reportedly said that was an unkind way of being thanked for the
assistance his government had rendered Mawere. He vowed to take revenge.

      Of course, his regime had not been involved in the acquisition of the
asbestos mines. It had nonetheless given a guarantee to Belgium's KBC Bank
that provided a $60-million external loan to Shabanie Mashaba Mines, a
company controlled by Mawere.

      The off-shore loan was used to finance the company's working capital
requirements at a time when Zimbabwe was unable to access international
capital markets because of sovereign risk perception. The loan was fully
repaid in November 2002.

      Mawere was first targeted personally when the state unsuccessfully
sought his extradition from South Africa last year. When this attempt
failed, the state proceeded to specify him, paving the way for the state to
freeze any asset controlled by him.

      This was followed by the specification of his companies and the use of
regulations passed under the president's emergency powers to appoint an
administrator to take over control of those of his companies deemed to be
state-indebted and insolvent.

      The regulations allowed the state to avoid the courts, where they
would have had difficulty explaining how a private company can ever be
indebted to the state.

      Mawere said: "For the first time the state was defined mischievously
to include all state corporations, although these institutions have their
own legal personae.

      "Can you imagine, the state claiming that an institution like Eskom is
no longer a juristic person, but part of the state in the definition of

      It was clear that after refusing to accept the Zanu-PF post, Mawere
was a targeted man of the vindictiveness of Mugabe.

      "Mugabe does not hesitate to use state machinery to settle personal
scores," one analyst said.

      But Mawere and other analysts warn that the Reconstruction of
State-Indebted Insolvent Companies (RSIIC) regulations can now be used to
seize any businesses whose owners cross Mugabe's path.

      South African companies that are heavily investing in Zimbabwe are not
immune to the vagaries of this law either. Like Zimbabwe's security and
media laws, it is so broadly and vaguely worded that the state can use it to
achieve anything it wishes.

      "It's a satanic law," said Eric Dehwa, a Zimbabwean economist.

      "Its wording is so broad that the state can intervene and take over
your businesses if, for instance, they fail to or delay paying electricity,
water or any bills to state companies and institutions, because that can be
interpreted as being indebted to the state," said Dehwa.

      The state has effectively assumed the role of a bank.

      He warns companies investing in Zimbabwe that their "cavalier
attitude" in not vigorously fighting this law and the general assault on
property rights could still backfire.

      When Mawere's business empire was seized, it was neither insolvent nor

      It was also not indebted to the state. In fact, the indebtedness to
the state was created by the government's appointees when it took over the

      And with the judiciary muzzled, there are no effective options for

      To make matters worse for business, the RSIIC will soon be
complemented by "monstrous" constitutional amendments being railroaded
through parliament.

      These will remove the rights of those whose properties are
nationalised to seek adjudication by the courts and allow the government to
withdraw the passports of citizens in "the national interest".

      In the face of all this, observers are puzzled that Zimbabwean
businesses and key foreign investors have remained silent.

      "Maybe when one day they face Mawere's fate they will wake up. But it
might be too late," said Dehwa.

      He believes South African businesses investing in Zimbabwe should play
a more pro-active role in fighting the regulations.

      He urges them to implore President Mbeki's government to demand a
repeal of all laws that impact negatively on business and property rights
before they consider Zimbabwe's request for a $1-billion bail-out loan.

      Asked to respond, Anglo American Corporation spokesperson Daniel Mwape
said his organisation was not a political think-tank which could readily
address issues through the media.

      "We are a major investor in Zimbabwe and we have certain lines of
communication with the Zimbabwean government over issues that may concern
us," he said. "We prefer to use those channels."

      The loan issue was a matter between South Africa and the Zimbabwe
governments and Anglo had nothing do do with it, he said.

      Other major investors in Zimbabwe, Impala Platinum and Mzi Khumalo's
Mettallon Corporation, did not return calls.

      This article was originally published on page 13 of Pretoria News on
August 26, 2005
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Source: Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Date: 26 Aug 2005

UN relief coordinator paints grim picture of Zimbabwe's humanitarian crisis
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 26 (AFP) - UN relief coordinator Jan Egeland on Friday
painted a grim picture of Zimbabwe's humanitarian situation in the wake of
the government's recent slum demolition campaign which has affected hundreds
of thousands people.

Egeland said that following a 11.9-million-dollar (10-million-euro) appeal
launched by his Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in early
July, "we are undertaking a big humanitarian program... and have been able
to reach between 100,000 and 200,000 people."

But he said the Harare government was refusing to cooperate with a larger UN
program to assist those hardest hit by the eviction campaign, including a
longer-term component to resettle affected slum-dwellers.

"We have not reached agreement with the government .. (on) how many are
affected, how to help them, the role of (non-governmental organizations) and
other operational aspects," he told a press briefing here.

"We will continue our dialogue with the government," he noted. "We are
working hard to gain access to people in need and to get donors' funding."

Egeland said the evicted slum dwellers had gone back to live with relatives
in the countryside or had gone to other urban slums, many of them drifting
around or sleeping outside or living in overcrowded urban shelters.

The largest concentration of such people is now in Hopley Farm near Harare,
where at least 4,000 to 5,000 people were living in rudimentary conditions,
he added.

He noted that the demolition campaign could not have come at the worst time
for Zimbabwe, which is being blighted by the effects of AIDS, food
insecurity and crumbling basic services.

"Life expectancy has plummeted from around 63 years in later 1980's and
early 1990's to 33.9 years in 2004... this is a meltdown," he lamented.

A quarter of the country's population is infected by the AIDS virus, with
3,000 people dying from the disease per week and 1.3 million children
orphaned, he noted.

"Food insecurity is also now very severe and growing in Zimbabwe," he added.

A drought across the Southern African sub-region means that 10 million
people will likely need food assistance, according to Egeland.

He said the World Food Program was already feeding one million people in
Zimbabwe and was making preparations to feed 2.9 million people before the
end of the year.

Zimbabwe on May 18 launched the two-pronged Operation Restore Order and
Operation Murambatsvina, razing shacks, homes, small businesses and market
stalls in shantytowns and other poor urban areas.

The government has portrayed the cleanup blitz that took place amid severe
food and fuel shortages as an urban renewal campaign and says it is building
new housing for those displaced in the operations that ended in late July.

But a report released by UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka last month estimated that
700,000 people had lost their homes or their livelihoods, or both, in the
10-week campaign, and that a further 2.4 million Zimbabweans "had been
affected in varying degrees."

But the Harare government accused Tibaijuka of choosing to "indulge in
mathematical extrapolation so as to produce the grossly inflated figure of

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Source: United Nations News Service

Date: 26 Aug 2005

Zimbabwe: Still no accord on UN donor aid appeal as country faces 'meltdown'
With Zimbabwe facing a meltdown and life expectancy cut in half, the United
Nations has not yet reached agreement with the country's Government on an
overall international aid appeal for a crisis which has been exacerbated by
the authority's mass urban eviction campaign, the UN chief humanitarian
envoy said.

"We have not reached agreement with the government on the text (of an
appeal), we have not agreed on how many are affected, how to help them, the
role of (non-governmental organizations) NGOs and other operational
 aspects," Jan Egeland, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs,
told a news briefing today in UN headquarters in New York.

The complex emergency in Zimbabwe comprises a combination of widespread food
insecurity, high unemployment and a 25 percent HIV/AIDS prevalence rate.

Most recently, the two-month old Government Operation Murambatsvina (Restore
Order) urban eviction programme, described by senior UN officials as an
ongoing violation of human rights, has forced an estimated 650,000 to
700,000 into conditions much worse in many cases than they had before they
were evicted.

Mr. Egeland said the world body has been using funding from an earlier
appeal to provide some aid to 170,000 and 100,000 people affected by the
evictions and of that number about 100,000 are getting regular assistance to
include food, temporary shelter, water and sanitation. But a much broader
programme is still lacking and is sorely needed to address the broader
emergency in the country, he added said.

"The backdrop is a dramatic one in Zimbabwe, one of the most dramatic in the
world. Life expectancy has plummeted from around 63 years in the late 1980s
and early 1990s to 33.9 years in 2004. This is a meltdown. This is a nearly
halving of life expectancy," Egeland said.

He said talks were continuing with the Zimbabwean Government and in the
absence of an agreement, the UN has not been able to get out an appeal to
donors. "We made an appeal for $11.9 million in July and we've gotten quite
a bit of that, but we would like to have a more comprehensive plan to help
more people and we need government help for that."

He said most people affected by the eviction have gone back to the
countryside to live with relatives, have been absorbed by countryside
villages, or absorbed by other urban areas But many live now out in the
open, or urban shelters, or in the rubble of the demolished homes in which
they'd lived before being evicted.

Central to the problems in the country is an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate, which
now stands at about one-quarter of the adult population. Some 3,000 people
die from HIV/AIDS per week in Zimbabwe and about 1.3 million children have
been orphaned by the pandemic.

He also said that although Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been considering
a visit to Zimbabwe as a means of focusing more international attention on
the crisis, as he did this week in Niger, no decision has been made.

"I think we have to make some progress - and I think we will - before he
visits," Mr. Egeland said.

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SA offered Zimbabwe a loan - Harare minister
          August 26 2005 at 11:41AM

      Harare - South Africa offered Zimbabwe a much-needed loan to help it
out of its economic crisis following a request from the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), a Zimbabwean cabinet minister claimed in a newspaper
report published on Friday.

      The state-run Herald newspaper quoted Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa as saying Harare "had not requested South Africa to rescue
Zimbabwe with a financial package but instead the loan was being offered to
Harare on the instigation of the IMF".

      "We have not approached any government for a loan. We are being
offered loans and I am aware some of the loans are being offered to us at
the instigation of the IMF," Chinamasa said.

      Discussions are reported to be ongoing between the authorities in
Zimbabwe and South Africa over the terms of a loan to be used partly to pay
off Zimbabwe's crippling debt of nearly $300-million to the IMF.

      There has been widespread speculation that President Robert Mugabe's
government is not happy with the conditions South Africa may want to attach
to the loan.

      Chinamasa told parliament on Wednesday that Harare would not accept
any loan "that has political conditions attached to it", the Herald

      "He told parliament... that the state would only accept a financial
package that had commercial conditions such as those related to interest
rates," the newspaper said.

      Reports that Pretoria is demanding talks between Mugabe's ruling
Zanu-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as a
condition for the loan have been denied by sources in South Africa.

      A team of IMF assessors is in Zimbabwe this week for talks with
government officials. The IMF's executive board is due to meet in early
September, when it is likely to discuss Zimbabwe's possible expulsion. -

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  South Africa silence on loan

      By Tererai Karimakwenda
      26 August, 2005

      Very little information has been released to the press about the loan
that South Africa is considering to bailout Zimbabwe from IMF expulsion and
total economic collapse. Even now, no-one is sure exactly who initiated the
deal, just how much money is being considered, and what conditions, if any,
will be placed on the government in Harare. It was only on Thursday that the
press got confirmation that a deal is indeed being discussed and that was
during a press conference at the reserve bank of South Africa's annual
general meeting.

      South Africa's Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni told reporters at
the press event that there was a media frenzy about the Zimbabwe loan. But
when pressed for more details, Mboweni became irritated and refused to
answer any more questions about Zimbabwe. Thami Dickson, political
correspondent for SABC, was at the Mboweni press briefing. He says the
reserve bank governor confirmed that discussions are going on, and that the
amount is less than reported. He also confirmed there is talk about economic
policies that Zimbabwe would need to follow.

      Dickson says reporters in South Africa are not getting enough
information and most reports, especially print, are quite speculative.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Anchorage Daily News

DALE MCFEATTERS: The lost white tribe of Africa

Scripps Howard News Service

Published: August 26, 2005
Last Modified: August 26, 2005 at 07:44 AM

(SH)- Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe likes to blame his country's manifold
and mounting woes on a legacy of white colonialism and imperialism. And at
one time there might have been something to that, but no longer.

The former Rhodesia, and before that Southern Rhodesia, took its name from
arch-imperialist Cecil Rhodes, who invaded the country as a commercial
mining venture in 1888 and, after fighting off the outgunned local tribes,
ran it as a private business enterprise until it became a regular British
colony in 1920.

The colony's white population steadily grew with immigrants, mainly from
Britain, who were attracted by the farms, mines and scenery. It grew
especially fast after World War II, and by 1974 the white population had
reached 293,000. It was a pleasant life of clubs, sports and drinks on the
verandah of the Meikles Hotel in a social milieu that reminded some
observers of prewar England.

The tide of black African independence and nationalism was rising, but the
white minority was not about to give up its solid grip on power and its
privileged status in a majority black country. That position was not only
immoral; it was also untenable.

The minority government declared independence in 1965 and almost immediately
the United Nations imposed economic sanctions. There followed a guerrilla
war that the white government more or less kept under control until 1975,
when Mozambique became independent of Portugal and guerrillas then had safe
haven on Rhodesia's eastern border.

In 1980, after an ineffectual African interim government failed, elections
that included the two main guerrilla groups, ZANU and ZAPU, were held. The
ZANU leader, Mugabe, was elected president in what is now an extinct
institution in Zimbabwe - a free and fair election.

Mugabe inherited a thriving country. Because of the sanctions, the economy
was thrifty and self-reliant. Because of the white-owned commercial farms,
the country was a major food exporter. Its mining sector was still vibrant
and, had there been no sanctions in place, it had immense tourist potential.

As Mugabe's misrule grew, the white population dwindled. Its exodus was
accelerated by the confiscation of white-owned farms, a feat of political
grandstanding that has left the country starving. The last official report
said that there were about 46,700 whites left, although the Associated Press
cites sources that say the figure now is likely fewer than 30,000.

Zimbabwe is moribund: Its currency worthless, its population starving and
stricken by a 34 percent HIV/AIDS rate and its unemployment off the charts.
To add to Zimbabwe's woes, Mugabe's government is bulldozing the shanty
homes of tens of thousands of its poorest and most miserable citizens in the
chillingly named Operation Drive Out Trash.

What was once called with some accuracy one of the white tribes of Africa
has now been thoroughly dispersed. Whom will Mugabe blame now?
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From The Mail & Guardian (SA), 26 August

Zimbabwe Cabinet minister dies in South Africa

Michael Hartnack

Harare - Josiah Tungamirai, Minister for Black Empowerment and
Indigenisation in Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government, has died
while receiving treatment at a clinic in South Africa, state radio announced
on Friday. Family members, who asked not to be identified, said the retired
Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) commander had been having problems with the
rejection of a kidney transplant carried out several years ago. He was
reported to be in his late 50s. Mugabe's politburo was convening to declare
him a national hero and a state funeral was expected at the Heroes' Acre
national cemetery outside Harare. Mugabe customarily uses such occasions to
make fiery statements on pressing issues, which may include Zimbabwe's
request for "unconditional" South African help meeting $295-million arrears
to the International Monetary Fund. The chief political commissar of
Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army during its 1964-1980 war
to overthrow white rule in former Rhodesia, Tungamirai became a brigadier in
the newly formed Zimbabwe National Army after 1980 independence. In 1982
Mugabe transferred him to command the air force, which had had an all-white
officer corps. Tungamirai insisted on being taught to fly and obtained his

In line with Mugabe's policy of having senior soldiers, civil servants and
judges active in the ruling Zanu PF party, he appointed Tungamirai to its
top policy-making body, the 40 member politburo, as secretary for youth
affairs. On retirement he was brought into Parliament and the Cabinet. He
was on the "targeted sanctions" list of prominent regime supporters banned
from travel to the United States, the European Union, Australia and New
Zealand, and barred from having bank accounts there. Tungamirai bought a
farm near Masvingo, on a willing-buyer, willing-seller basis, before the
February 2000 launch of Mugabe's "fast track" redistribution of former white
owned land to black Zimbabweans. He was considered a model emergent
commercial farmer. Mugabe made unsuccessful attempts to promote Tungamirai
as a political strongman of the influential Karanga section of Zimbabwe's
majority Shona tribal group, but he never succeeded in ousting Eddison
Zvobgo, who died last year. Tungamirai and Zvobgo were seriously injured 10
years ago when the car in which they were travelling together crashed in
their home area near the southern town of Masvingo. To calm a nationwide
frenzy of speculation, both were forced to issue strong statements there was
no foul play involved.
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Zim Online

Zimbabwe officials discuss South African loan offer with IMF
Sat 27 August 2005

      HARARE -- International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials on Friday
discussed with Zimbabwean officials details of a US$500 million South
African loan offer to Harare to help it pay off outstanding debts to the
fund, authoritative sources told ZimOnline.

      The IMF, which visited Zimbabwe this week to assess economic
conditions in the country, will decide at its board meeting on September 9
whether to expel the southern African nation for nonpayment of a US$295
million debt.

      South Africa, fearing IMF expulsion would hasten Zimbabwe's total
collapse and trigger a humanitarian crisis that would spill beyond its
northern neighbour's borders, has offered a hard cash loan to Harare to pay
off the fund as well as to buy critically short food and fuel.

      The sources said Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa and Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono discussed the loan offer with IMF officials,
who they said had made their own "suggestions and observations" to be
incorporated in the loan deal.

      "Murerwa and Gono held extensive discussions with the IMF team
comprising, Sharmini Coorey, Sonia Munoz and Kevin Fletcher on Friday
morning," said a senior Finance Ministry official, who cannot be named.

      He added: "They discussed fiscal, monetary and exchange rate policy as
well as the loan offer by South Africa. The IMF guys made their suggestions
which will be incorporated into the whole loan deal and forwarded to
President Thabo Mbeki who will review them with his Cabinet."

      Both Murerwa and Gono could not be immediately reached for comment on
the matter.

      But the official added that Pretoria was most likely to advance money
to payoff Zimbabwe's debts once it had reviewed "positions agreed between
Harare and the IMF team".

      The loan deal had appeared in jeopardy after President Robert Mugabe
publicly objected to demands by Pretoria to reopen dialogue with the
opposition to find a solution to Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.

      According to sources Pretoria was no longer specifically demanding
talks between Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party and opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change party. Mbeki and
his government were now pushing for wider and democratic constitutional
reforms in Zimbabwe, they said. ZimOnline.

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Traditional healers make a killing as healthcare costs rocket

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

HARARE, 26 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - An increasing number of Zimbabweans are turning
to traditional healers for inexpensive medical care as health costs continue
their upward trajectory.

Under-resourced state hospitals and clinics charge around Zim $20,000 (US 8
cents) per consultation, but the cost at better-equipped private hospitals
is around Zim $500,000 (US $20) and patients can quite easily run up a bill
of Zim $15 million (US $615) in a week.

Gordon Chavhunduka, the director of the Zimbabwe National Traditional
Healers' Association (ZINATHA), said prohibitive medical costs had made it
difficult for the poor to access healthcare and most government and private
hospitals demanded cash upfront.

"We have, for a long time, been telling the government that they cannot go
it alone in the delivery of health. There has been a lot of tension between
the government and us over our usefulness, and it is encouraging that they
are seeing the light now," Chavhunduka told IRIN.

The authorities have been sceptical about traditional herbalists, raising
concerns that their medicines were not properly administered nor
scientifically proven, despite the Traditional Medical Practitioners Act,
which was aimed at regulating the work of 'n'angas' (Shona for traditional
healer), being passed some 25 years ago.

Minister of Health David Parirenyatwa recently publicly acknowledged that
Zimbabwe has been slow in incorporating traditional healers into mainstream
healthcare delivery.

"This is one of the few remaining countries in the [southern African] region
that does not have a proper council representing traditional healers and
their operations," Parirenyatwa told a gathering of traditional healers

He added that the ministry of health had appointed a director of traditional
medicine, who would focus on regulating the work of traditional healers.

Traditional medicine experts said the formal recognition of healers by
government was long overdue, but warned that tighter control was needed to
rein in those using unorthodox methods to treat patients.

ZINATHA has already established a team of health inspectors who carry out
nationwide checks on registered traditional healers to ensure that they
conform to the organisation's regulations.

Ironically, the difficulties facing Zimbabwe's healthcare sector have
brought a business boom to many traditional leaders.

Sekuru Chamunorwa Masamba, 60, a registered ZINATHA practitioner, is working
long hours in Harare's Rugare suburb, where he specialises in infertility
and mental illness, and claims he can help people find jobs.

Even people living with HIV are among his patients, but he points out that
while he administers herbs to deal with the symptoms of the virus, he does
not have a cure.

"I wake up at around 4 o'clock in the morning and begin attending to my
patients at 5 o'clock and usually go to rest at midnight - there is always a
long queue of people who come to me with different complaints, with some of
them sleeping at my house either because they come from outside Harare or
want to be attended to early.

"Five years ago, patients would come in trickles, but these days I am kept
busy throughout the day and people sometimes request me to work throughout
the night, but I am getting old and I also need to rest," Sekuru Masamba
told IRIN.

He often gets requests to travel outside the capital city and says even
foreigners approach him for help.

"I charge a consultation fee of Zim $20,000 and ask my patients to pay me
according to their capability. Even though I don't ask for much, I also
attract rich people and have been called to attend to sick people in
Botswana and South Africa," said Masamba, who has been practicing as a
traditional healer for the past 40 years.

Stella Moyo, 34, a teacher who had travelled from the small town of Chegutu
about 100 km from Harare, told IRIN that she decided to consult Masamba
after doctors failed to cure her persistent headaches.

"I visited several doctors but they could not help me, even though I spent a
lot of money hoping that the headaches would be cured - I would be admitted
in hospitals for weeks. But what surprises me is that the doctors said they
could not identify what was wrong and, in some cases, they did not even have
pills to relieve my pain.

"I have been here for a week and I feel much better, and what is encouraging
is that Sekuru Masamba has told me that I will pay him only when my problem
has been solved," Moyo said.
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Zanu (PF) and MDC not willing to talk: Chissano

August 26, 2005, 15:15

The African Union (AU) envoy to Zimbabwe and Joachim Chissano, the former
Mozambican president, says his mission to mediate in Zimbabwe between Robert
Mugabe's government and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
failed long before it could start.

Chissano was attending a conference on refugees and displaced people in
southern Africa. The conference has been organised by the UN's High
Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Chissano said the mission could not get off
the ground as both parties never had consensus for a dialogue.

It is not only Chissano's mission that failed to bring the parties to the
negotiation table. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads
of states meeting in Gaborone, Botswana, held extensive discussion with
Robert Mugabe, but yielded very little results.

A nation in distress
Meanwhile, as the political bickering continues, thousands of Zimbabweans
are facing a bleak and uncertain future. Critical shortage of food, fuel and
foreign currency continue unabated.

Chissano declined to endorse or disapprove the recent demolition campaign of
urban slums in Zimbabwe, where thousands of people have been uprooted under
operation Marumbazena. Asked whether the Zimbabwean government acted
properly, Chissano said sometimes governments are forced to take unpleasant
measures in the best interest of its citizens.
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Female leaders urge school boycott over fee hikes

      By Tererai Karimakwenda
      26 August 2005

      A group of female leaders in and around Bulawayo have resolved to
organise a 2-week boycott of schools when the last term of the year begins
in September. The women were participating in a focus group discussion
sponsored by Bulawayo Agenda, an organisation that facilitates public
debates on important issues. The purpose of this session was to discuss the
implications of the United Nations report on Operation Murambatsvina, but
the key issue became the recent hikes in school fees that have made
education unaffordable for many.

      The gathering on Thursday was attended by female representatives from
various organisations including Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), the National
Constitutional Assembly, Zimrights and the MDC. Busani Ncube, events
coordinator for Bulawayo Agenda, said an invitation was extended to ZANU-PF
female leaders but none of them had attended. He said ruling party officials
rarely show up for these public debates on key issues affecting the country.

      The women resolved that they would urge students to boycott school for
the first 2 weeks of the last term starting in September. This is to protest
the drastic increases in school fees recently announced by the government.
Fees went up in some cases by a thousand percent, with the Minister of
Education Aeneas Chigwedere claiming schools need to buy teaching and
learning materials.

      Speaking in parliament on Wednesday Chigwedere said some schools
charging fees that were as low as Z$225 per term had raised their fees to
Z$200 000 while parents who were paying Z$500 per term would now be required
to pay Z$500 000.

      SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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The Guardian

Unicef calls for help to keep Zimbabwean children in school

Liz Ford
Friday August 26, 2005

The United Nation's children fund, Unicef, has called on the international
community to support efforts to get Zimbabwean pupils back to school in
Despite the country's unstable domestic situation, school enrolment rates
have actually risen over the past five years, and Unicef said it was keen to
ensure this trend continued.

Unicef's representative in Zimbabwe, Festo Kavishe, said this week that
Zimbabweans were making "great sacrifices" so their children could continue
going to school in the face of a declining economy, high unemployment, food
shortages and an increasing number of orphans, caused in part by the rise of
HIV and Aids cases. Zimbabwe now has the world's fourth highest rate of

"General enrolment is up, while families who have been greatly stretched by
absorbing this country's 1.3 million orphans are somehow finding the means
to keep orphans in school," said Mr Kavishe.

But he added: "Recent surveys show signs of strain in the families' ability
to support their children to go to school. I can think of no clearer reason
why Zimbabweans deserve the full support of the international community."

Between 2000 and 2004, national primary school enrolment rates rose from 92%
to 96% and nearly four out of five orphans and other vulnerable children
continued in education, according to UN figures. The country also managed to
achieve gender parity.

The Zimbabwean government's recent "restore order" programme to clear slum
dwellings, known as Operation Murambatsvina - affected most of the country's
cities and over the past two months has left thousands homeless and
displaced. But it has also failed to significantly reduce the number of
children in school. Some 90% of children affected by the forced evictions
remain in education.

Mr Kavishe said Unicef wanted to ensure numbers did not drop and is
supporting the Zimbabwean ministry of education's back to school campaign
next month. The campaign will seek to re-enrol all children who recently
left school because of the clearance operation and encourage more vulnerable
children to attend.

Children's charities and politicians have pinpointed education as key to
tackling poverty and reducing HIV and Aids rates, but the cost of tuition
fees remains a huge barrier to achieving the UN's millennium goal of giving
all children a primary education.

Although primary education is now free in state schools in some parts of
Africa, like Uganda, for example, education in Zimbabwe has to be paid for,
although the government is trying to keep costs down. It also says it is
working towards primary education for all.

"Education remains the engine to drive Zimbabwe's long-term prospects, and
it is clear from this data that Zimbabwean parents know that," added Mr
Kavishe. "With additional international assistance we can support the
admirable endeavours of parents and communities across this country."

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Mushroom Projects Collapse

The Herald (Harare)

August 26, 2005
Posted to the web August 26, 2005

Sifelani Tsiko Recently in Hwedza

TWO deep lines of worry appeared between the eyes of Mrs Leticia Muzuva of
Nhekairo Village in the Dendenyore ward of Hwedza district, as she bemoaned
the collapse of mushroom projects that only a few years ago had become a
symbolic development initiative to fight hunger, poverty and unemployment.

Mrs Muzuva's mood is reflected in the fear among many residents of Hwedza
over the decreasing number of mushroom growers from Hwedza Centre through to
St Anne's Goto, Mt St Mary's, Zviyambe, Goto, Chigondo, Dendenyore and
Goneso areas of Hwedza district.

"We can't get water to sustain mushroom projects," Mrs Muzuva said, "For us
to get water we have to travel for more than five kilometres."

"Water is the problem and we can't get the spawn and plastic pockets," she

Some smallholder farmers in Hwedza are now disillusioned that they have
virtually abandoned growing mushrooms owing largely to the shortage of
spawn, water and the rising costs of plastic bags and other inputs required
in mushroom growing.

Before the collapse of the mushroom projects, smallholder farmers with sheer
interest and determination received training from the University of
Zimbabwe's (UZ) Biological Sciences Mushroom Project, built structures for
mushroom cultivation, dug wells for water and even opened markets for the
oyster mushroom crop.

Growers could buy spawn from the UZ project, which was usually on wheat
straw and placed in heavy-duty plastic bags.

Farmers dotted around Hwedza district could, around 2002, harvest up to 50kg
of mushroom every month raising incomes from sales and enhancing the
nutritional levels of their families.

At that time, demand for mushroom was high and a kilogramme could be sold
for about $1 200 in urban centres.

Hope was also high that mushroom growers in the Dzvairo, Nhekairo, Chitongo,
Nyamhemba, Mvurachena and Dendenyore areas under Chief Svosve would
eventually build a storage centre to build up stocks for sale to retail
chains such as OK, TM, Spar and Food Chain.

An agricultural expert in Hwedza says that most farmers are failing to get
spawn, as they cannot afford to go to Harare were it is sold.

"We can't get it here in Hwedza closer to our homes. If we could get it
somewhere near, then these mushroom projects would be thriving by now," she

"Mushroom projects which once thrived here are now at a standstill because
of water and spawn shortages. Trained mushroom growers are there but they
need support in terms of accessing the spawn and water," she added.

Mushroom projects in Hwedza had risen from six around 2002 to about 25 by
last year owing largely to growing interest in the cultivation of the

"It is important to smallholder farmers in terms of nutritional status,
finance and employment creation," says the agricultural expert. "The will is
there but how to access the spawn, plastic bags and water is the problem
especially now with drought ravaging most parts of the district."

Mrs Chishamiso Mugandani lamented the lack of a dam in Dendenyore that could
at least help them sustain the mushroom projects.

"When we have good rains, we don't cry but with these droughts we can't
sustain mushroom growing which requires a lot of water," she said, "Our
mushroom structures are lying idle and there is nothing we can do. The
drought has really hit us hard in our area."

The Chitukuta and the Mukada families from the Matsine area close to Goto
also echoed similar sentiments and pointed out the need to resuscitate the
mushroom projects that had, in the last few years, thrown a lifeline to many
smallholder farmers in the area.

"We can't get the spawn and money to buy plastic bags. It is a big hustle
and we can't move forward with the projects," added Mrs Rudo Gunda of

"On a good day I could get between $250 000 and $300 000 a day from mushroom
sales," she said, "It helped us a lot to get money to buy soap, sugar, salt,
flour and other things we needed in our day-to-day living."

With earnings from mushroom sales, she maintained, they could afford to send
their children to boarding schools.

To grow the mushrooms, one needs to build simple structures using farm
bricks, thatching grass, have adequate water and plastic bags.

Bags with spawn are then hanged inside the structures under certain

In the initial stages, the room has to remain closed to maintain moisture,
an essential factor in the growth of oyster mushrooms.

Growers then have to pour water on the floor of the room everyday until
mushrooms germinate after six weeks.

When the mushrooms have colonised the bags, the grower spikes some holes
around the bags for the mushroom to sprout.

At this time, doors and windows have to be opened for a certain period for
mushroom shoots to grow.

It takes about three months for the bags to be fully colonised by the

A grower is rewarded for his patience and resilience after three months when
the mushroom begins to fruit.

Mr Chenjerai Kashangura of the UZ project once remarked that mushroom
cultivation is relatively cheaper and not much inputs are required.

He said mushrooms are rich in proteins and vitamins and boost the immune
system particularly for people suffering from heart and kidney ailments.

"Mushrooms have some medicinal properties and can help lower blood
cholesterol levels," he said in 2002 while working on a pilot mushroom
project in Hwedza and Buhera.

"If there is too much cholesterol, arteries and veins can be blocked
creating problems in the people."

Mushroom cultivation is popular in urban areas too and many people have
converted their houses into structures for growing the delicacy.

Zimbabwe consumes about 500 tonnes of mushroom and about half of the produce
is imported during the dry season.

The challenges facing the Hwedza growers all point to difficulties that face
farmers once donors leave.

Decades of development initiatives many of them donor supported have failed
to survive in the long run owing to the donor dependency syndrome that at
times does not put adequate structures in place to ensure continuity.

But this does not mean smallholder farmers in Hwedza should resign to fate.

They must resuscitate the projects and take advantage of the profit
opportunities availed by cash crops.

There is great potential and scope for the development of mushroom growing
in Hwedza and relevant government agencies have to find meaningful ways to
ensure growers can buy spawn from the Grain Marketing Board depot at Hwedza

Mushroom growing is still critical as a means of addressing food security,
financial and social security for the people of Hwedza, apart from spurring
agricultural production in the countryside.
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