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Robert Mugabe humiliated as Zimbabwe parliament opens

The Telegraph
President Robert Mugabe suffered public humiliation when opposition MPs booed, heckled and sang through his speech at the state opening of Zimbabwe's parliament.
Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, arrives for the opening of the country's Parliament in Harare
MPs from the opposition MDC party denounced Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party as 'rotten' Photo: EPA

The event, supposedly a grand occasion, opened with Mr Mugabe arriving at parliament in a gleaming Rolls Royce, once used by Lord Soames, the last Governor of Rhodesia.

Two dozen mounted soldiers rode alongside him and traditional chiefs, clad in pith helmets, waited to greet him along with judges in wigs and red gowns.

But MPs from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change snubbed Mr Mugabe by staying firmly in their seats when he walked into the chamber. They soon broke into song, denouncing his Zanu-PF party as "rotten".

This was probably the first time that Mr Mugabe, who is shielded from public criticism, has ever faced an openly hostile audience.

He was jeered when he talked of the negotiations with the opposition, mediated by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, which are now stalled without agreement.

"Landmark agreements have been concluded, with every expectation that everyone will sign up," he said, expressing his increasingly unlikely hope that the MDC will sign up to deal.

The anger on the opposition benches rose to a crescendo as Mr Mugabe launched into one of his characteristic denunciations of the West and the supposed sanctions that he claims have reduced Zimbabwe to penury, rather than his own mismanagement.

The volume reached its peak when Mr Mugabe referred to the carnage inflicted by thugs loyal to him following the first round of the presidential election in March, which saw the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai pull out of a run-off.

"Happily, all political parties in the country have acknowledged culpability in this violence," said Mr Mugabe.

"Zanu is rotten," sang the opposition MPs.

At times Mr Mugabe was drowned out by the heckling, having to raise his voice to be heard, and with his humiliation broadcast live on Zimbabwean state television for the entire nation to watch.

With MDC backbenchers drumming their hands on the seats in front of them, Mr Mugabe displayed his characteristic ability to see events his own way.

He told the house: “I wish to pay tribute to all Zimbabweans for having exercised their democratic right in our recent election (jeers) in a peaceful manner, notwithstanding the regrettable and isolated cases of political violence (…inaudible through the heckling…) in the run-up to the presidential election run-off.

“Happily all political parties in the country (jeers) have acknowledged culpability in this violence, itself an important step towards putting behind us the odious habit of election-related violence,” he added, to more heckling.

Over and over again, the MDC MPs chanted in harmony: “Zanu is rotten, MDC is for the people.” Nonetheless Mr Mugabe is a past master at hiding his emotions, and his features remained impassive. But Eldred Masunungure, professor of political science at the University of Zimbabwe, said: “He won’t take kindly to that. He is not used to that sort of behaviour.

“It is happening in what is supposed to be an august house by august MPs. Going by his track record he is likely to respond in quite a vindictive manner.”

Mr Tsvangirai's party has been emboldened by its success in choosing one of its own MPs, Lovemore Moyo, as Speaker of parliament. Instead of boycotting the state opening, the MDC attended in order to allow Mr Moyo to preside over the event.

"The purported opening by Mugabe, the illegitimate usurper of the people's will, is illegal and of no force and effect," said its spokesman Nelson Chamisa.

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Jeers, boos, heckling

Yahoo News

Mugabe gets hostile reception in Zimbabwe parliament
by Godfrey Marawanyika Tue Aug 26, 12:19 PM ET

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe's new parliament got off to a stormy start Tuesday
when the opposition flexed its new-found political muscle by heckling
President Robert Mugabe in the most hostile legislature the veteran leader
has faced in 28 years.

Four MPs of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) were
arrested, bringing the total number in custody to five, police said.

The party said its MPs had been arrested "on trumped-up charges of political
violence," which were a "direct affront to the will of the people of

Angered that a power struggle remains unresolved over his refusal to cede
executive power months after a flawed presidential poll, the MDC roundly
booed Mugabe during his speech.

The barracking intensified when he declared that "landmark agreements have
been concluded with every expectation that everybody will sign up".

Opposition MPs had earlier abandoned plans to boycott the opening and
flocked into parliament to denounce the session as meaningless, saying it
violated a deal signed in July ahead of power-sharing talks, which have been
stalled for two weeks.

Despite his 28-year grip on power, Mugabe faced an unfamiliar assembly, his
ZANU-PF party outnumbered by the opposition for the first time since

"ZANU is rotten" chanted the MDC deputies, who hold 100 seats to the once
all-powerful ZANU-PFs 99 following the March general election. A breakaway
opposition faction holds 10 seats with one independent making up the
210-seat assembly.

Tuesday's arrests brought to five the number of opposition MPs in custody,
following the arrest of another on rape charges on Monday in what the party
said was an attempt to influence a crucial vote to elect the parliament

Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the charges against those arrested
Tuesday ranged from causing disaffection among the security forces,
attempted murder, inciting public violence to rape.

Mugabe used the ceremonial opening to try to draw a line under months of
political deadlock and put the best face on the crisis.

"The elections are now behind us.... Now is the time for us to put Zimbabwe
first," he said in his speech.

And he accused Britain and the United States of a "vicious onslaught,"
saying Zimbabwe's "enemies" had tried to oust him by undermining grain
imports which had driven up regional food prices.

"Food is their latest weapon in their regime change agenda," Mugabe said.

Mugabe said the delay in opening parliament was due "to a praiseworthy
search for peace and greater amity for our nation.

The 84-year-old president also lamented what he called "regrettable and
isolated" cases of political violence which caused MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai to withdraw from the second round of a presidential election in

"Happily, all political parties in the country have acknowledged culpability
in this violence," said Mugabe.

This prompted further jeers of derision from the opposition, who afterwards
handed in a petition addressed to Mugabe rejecting his right to open the

"For the avoidance of doubt the only person who can officially open
parliament will be determined by the outcome of the on-going dialogue"
sponsored by the Southern African Development Community, it said.

The petition denounced "continued arrests and harassment of members of the
MDC" which it said was an affront to Zimbabwe's people.

The parliament was adjourned to October 14.

Earlier, Mugabe had arrived to cheers from a crowd of supporters gathered
outside the parliament building in Harare.

Wearing the regalia of his ZANU-PF party, the crowd sang "He is our father.
He is our leader" while Mugabe arrived in a Rolls Royce used for state
ceremonies and then inspected a guard of honour.

The opposition said earlier Tuesday they would boycott the parliament
opening, saying it will not recognise a government that was not a result of
ongoing power-sharing negotiations.

"We will not attend...we don't expect any member of the executive to address
us until that dialogue has been concluded," MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa
told AFP.

The MDC won the key parliamentary speaker post in Monday's vote, but ZANU-PF
retained its presidency in the senate, parliament's upper house, which has
limited veto powers against lower house decisions.

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Three more MPs arrested

MDC Press Release:

Three MDC MPs were today arrested at Parliament bringing the number of
arrested MPs in the past two days to four.

Hon. Broadwin Nyaude, the MP for Bindura South, Hon. Mathias Mlambo, MP
Chipinge East and Hon. Pearson Mungofa, Highfield East MP were arrested
today while Hon. Eliah Jembere, the MP for Epworth is still in police
custody after he was arrested yesterday.

The arrest of the four legislators on trumped up charges of political
violence is meant to frustrate the people's project following MDC's victory
in Parliament in the 29 March harmonised elections.

MDC views this continued harassment and arrest of MDC legislators by the
state security agents as a direct affront to the will of the people of

This entry was written by Sokwanele on Tuesday, August 26th, 2008 at 7:02

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MDC says parliament opening "illegal", calls for talks

Africa News
By Clare Byrne Aug 26, 2008, 16:12 GMT

Harare/Johannesburg - Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said
President Robert Mugabe's opening of parliament Tuesday was 'illegal' and
called for the speedy resumption of talks on power-sharing as a state
crackdown on MDC officials continued.

'The purported opening by Mugabe, the illegitimate usurper of the people's
will as reflected on 29 March 2008 (elections), is illegal and of no force
and effect,' the MDC said in a petition handed to Mugabe after he opened the
two-chamber parliament to noisy protests.

'The only person who can officially open this session of Parliament will be
determined by the outcome of the on-going dialogue sponsored by SADC
(Southern African Development Community),' the petition continued.

In unprecedented scenes reflecting the ebullient mood within the party after
scoring a parliamentary victory Monday, MDC deputies occupying ruling party
benches for the first time this week drowned out Mugabe's speech with
booing, clapping and singing.

Mugabe's Zanu-PF was consigned to the opposition in March elections after it
finished second to Tsvangirai's MDC faction - the larger of two.

Tsvangirai's MDC won 100 seats to Zanu-PF's 99. The balance of power in the
210-seat lower house is held by a breakaway MDC faction led by Arthur

The MDC had initially threatened to boycott the convening of parliament
because it does not recognize Mugabe as president.

Mugabe stakes his legitimacy on a June presidential run-off vote that
Tsvangirai - winner of the first round - refused to contest because of a
spate of political violence directed at his supporters.

MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti said the party had reviewed its stance
after its candidate, Lovemore Moyo, was voted speaker of parliament.

The party had wanted to show 'we now control parliament,' he said, while
calling for the resumption of stalled power-sharing talks.

'Dialogue must continue and dialogue must be concluded,' Biti said.

In a speech barely audible above the din, Mugabe admitted to 'cases of
regrettable and isolated political violence' in recent months, in which more
than 125 MDC members have been killed.

He also continued to cast Tsvangirai as the spoiler in talks on a government
of national unity, saying there was an 'expectation that everyone will sign
up' to the deal on the table.

Under the current proposal brokered by South African President Thabo Mbeki,
Mugabe would remain president with control of the army and significant
executive powers.

Tsvangirai is demanding full control of the government, on the basis of his
March victory.

Flogging a by now familiar hobby horse, Mugabe also lashed out at what he
called a 'foreign hand' in Zimbabwe's economic demise.

The 'destructive hand of our enemies' was evident both in rising food prices
and the destabilization of Zimbabwe's currency, he said.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of a grave economic crisis that has forced Mugabe
into talks with the donor-backed MDC.

After Tsvangirai refused to sign up to the deal on the table, Mugabe got the
go-ahead from his neighbours in SADC to convene parliament.

He was expected to follow that up by appointing a cabinet, possibly with
some support from Mutambara's faction.

But Monday's vote for speaker looks to have stymied those plans.
Tsvangirai's MDC won the position, with support in the secret ballot from
within Mugabe's own party and Mutambara's faction and despite the arrest of
two of its MPs. One was later released.

On Tuesday, the crackdown continued with the arrest of three more MPs and
Elton Mangoma, a negotiator for the party who has been involved in the
negotiations with Zanu-PF.

The MDC sees the arrests of the MPs as an attempt by Mugabe to shrink its
numbers in parliament.

Zimbabweans are counting on a negotiated settlement to end nearly a decade
of worsening hardship and political repression under Mugabe, who has ruled
Zimbabwe since 1980.

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MDC MPs, Senators petition Mugabe

 Tuesday, 26 August 2008 13:23

MDC MPs and Senators today handed over a petition to Zanu PF President and
Fiirst Secretary Mr Robert Mugabe when he came to "officially open"

The following is the full text of the petition:

TO:       Mr Robert Gabriel Mugabe-ZANU PF 1st  Secretary and President

FROM: MDC Senators and Legislators, Harvest House, Harare

DATE: 26 August 2008

We, the undersigned members of the Movement for Democratic Change elected
both to the Senate and the House of Assembly declare that:

1. This official opening of the 7th Parliament of Zimbabwe is a clear
breach of the Memorandum of Understanding and is therefore of no force and
2. The purported opening by Mugabe, the illegitimate usurper of the
people's will as reflected on 29 March 2008, is illegal and of no force and
3. For the avoidance of doubt, the only person who can officially open
this session of Parliament will be determined by the outcome of the on-going
dialogue sponsored by SADC.
4. The appointment of Senators and governors by Mugabe is an affront
to the MOU and a fraud on the people of Zimbabwe, which wrongfully and
unlawfully was designed to affect and did affect the election of both the
President and Vice President of the Senate.
5. The continued harassment, arrest of MDC legislators and activists
by members of the police and related security institutions is a direct
affront to the will of the people of Zimbabwe.
6. The people of Zimbabwe await anxiously for the resolution of the
SADC-brokered dialogue in order that the humanitarian crisis they face is
urgently and immediately addressed.

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MDC calls for urgent resumption of talks

Tuesday, 26 August 2008 19:08

Wayne Mafaro and Hendricks Chizhanje

HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition called on Tuesday for urgent resumption of
stalled power-sharing talks with President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF
party, saying only a negotiated political settlement could end deep-seated
polarisation ripping the country apart.

Opposition MDC party secretary general Tendai Biti said the unprecedented
jeering and heckling of Mugabe by opposition legislators as he opened
Parliament earlier in the day was evidence of a divided nation, and urged
neighbouring South African President Thabo Mbeki to recall Zimbabwe's rival
political parties back to the negotiating table.

Mbeki is the Southern African Development Community (SADC)'s mediator in

"What happened today shows the obligations on both sides that negotiations
should continue until we reach a negotiated settlement. I hope the
facilitator (Mbeki), as a matter of urgency, will re-convene the talks so
that dialogue will resume," said Biti, speaking after the opening of
Parliament five months after last March's elections.

Negotiations to form a government of national unity - which many analysts
say is the most viable way to end Zimbabwe's long-running political and
economic crisis - hit deadlock after MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Mugabe
failed to agree on who between them should control such a power-sharing

The election on Monday of an MDC Speaker to preside over the key House of
Assembly while ZANU PF took firm charge in the upper chamber of Parliament,
the Senate, has only helped to further complicate the struggle for power
between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

While the opposition-led lower chamber can originate and pass Bills, these
will need endorsement from Senate and Mugabe's signature to become law.

Judging on the palpable animosity between ZANU PF and the MDC, this could
mean a paralysing tug-of-war between the two chambers on nearly every major
issue that shall come before Parliament - unless of course some form of
political settlement or cooperation agreement is reached between the
squabbling parties.

On Tuesday, the extent of loathing between Zimbabwe's two biggest political
parties was on display when MDC parliamentarians jeered and heckled Mugabe,
drowning large parts of his speech to the new Parliament.

The MDC, which says it does not recognise Mugabe's presidency, had earlier
threatened to boycott the opening of Parliament but later decided to attend
the ceremony to show support for its national chairman Lovemore Moyo who is
the new Speaker of the House of Assembly.

To show their disdain for Mugabe, opposition legislators remained seated
when the veteran leader walked into the House. And when he began delivering
his speech, they interrupted him with embarrassing chants and taunts.

"You killed people, we won't forget that," some of the MDC parliamentarians
shouted at Mugabe who defiantly continued with his speech and attempted to
defend his record in power by narrating some of the achievements of his

Meanwhile MDC parliamentarians have handed a petition to clerk of
Parliament, Austin Zvoma saying Tuesday's opening of Parliament was invalid
and that it was in violation of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on talks
signed between ZANU PF, MDC and a faction of the MDC led by Arthur

The MOU, underwritten by the SADC, had barred Mugabe from convening
Parliament or forming Cabinet while talks were underway and said the
Zimbabwean leader could only take such action with the consent of the other
parties to the dialogue.

The MDC legislators said in the petition: "This official opening of the 7th
Parliament of Zimbabwe is a clear breach of the Memorandum of Understanding
and is therefore of no force and effect. The purported opening by Mugabe . .
. is illegal and of no force and effect.

"For the avoidance of doubt, the only person who can officially open this
session of Parliament will be determined by the outcome of the on-going
dialogue sponsored by SADC." - ZimOnline

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Zimbabwe's speaker makes history

Tuesday, 26 August 2008 12:28 UK

Lovemore Moyo

By Brian Hungwe

The speaker's seat in Zimbabwe's lower house of parliament is an intimidating chair, overlooked by an artificial leopard mounted on the walls.

It is a symbol of power.

I will call her [my mother-in-law] to order
Lovemore Moyo

The man who has occupied it as parliament opens is volleyball fan Lovemore Moyo, 43, from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mr Moyo becomes the first opposition speaker to assume that position since the country attained independence from the United Kingdom in 1980.

It is a development that is forcing President Robert Mugabe to take a hard look in the mirror as the balance of power slowly shifts.

It is creating tremors along the corridors of the lower house of parliament, where the opposition commands more legislative seats than the ruling Zanu-PF party.

'Hate being patronised'

But the election of Mr Moyo as speaker does have its ironies.

The leopard on the walls of parliament
The leopard which looks over proceedings in Zimbabwe's parliament

He won with 110 votes to 98, meaning some Zanu-PF MPs voted for him.

One could have been his mother-in-law, Sithembiso Nyoni, a former minister in President Mugabe's government, who may make it into the new cabinet.

It is not easy to guess if family or party loyalty won the day for her in Monday's vote.

Given their different political backgrounds, Mr Moyo says the two "don't discuss politics at home".

But if she gets out of line in the House of Assembly, Mr Moyo will have no qualms in doing his job.

"I will call her to order," he chuckles.

The new speaker is warm and softly spoken. MDC insiders say it is difficult to read his mind, because he is quiet and aloof.

"Quiet yes, but very tough," he says.

"I don't care who you are, I just hate being patronised."

Passion for politics

His relationship with Mr Mugabe over his five-year term is likely to be turbulent given their wide political gulf.

I was taught by people that were younger than me
Lovemore Moyo

"I'm not in this job to pander to the interests of individuals or political organisations. Even with the head of state, we both have different constitutional obligations."

He says he wants to oversee a parliament where there are lively and real "balanced" debates.

"The polarised parliament of the past should remain in the past. I don't owe anybody anything, I owe Zimbabweans a service."

Mr Moyo hails from Matabeleland, in southern Zimbabwe, and the marginalised region will take comfort in an opposition speaker that will spearhead their interests.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. File photo
There will be no love loss between Mr Moyo and Mr Mugabe

There is much resentment among the region's Ndebele people towards Mr Mugabe, which stems from the massacre of an estimated 20,000 people after independence.

His passion for politics was cut early in life, when he and his seven brothers went to join the liberation struggle against white minority rule.

He cut his education short and left for Zambia in 1977 and trained to become a political commissar in Zipra - the military wing of Ndebele nationalist leader Joshua Nkomo's movement.

At independence, he refused to join the army and retired to his rural home in Matabeleland


He describes himself as a cultural and developmental activist and founded the Matabeleland Development Association.

Lovemore Moyo
I went to war, I'm a freedom fighter. My whole Mute village in Matopos was reduced to ashes during the war
Lovemore Moyo
He only finished his secondary education in 1990.

"I was taught by people that were younger than me," he remembers.

Now a father of three, he comes from a large family - his father had three wives and 17 children altogether.

"We are many and proud of that," Mr Moyo says.

His favoured way to relax is to watch a game of volleyball.

He plays socially and has sat on the committees of Zimbabwe's Volleyball Association and his favourite Bulawayo-based Highlanders Volleyball team.

His Matopos constituency is home to the grave of the man who engineered the colonisation of the region, Cecil John Rhodes.

I tease him about the British puppet tag Mr Mugabe continues to put on his party.

"I went to war, I'm a freedom fighter. My whole Mute village in Matopos was reduced to ashes during the liberation war.

"When Rhodesian forces would ask for terrorists, people would point at our village," he says.

"Our family has a liberation war tradition and I'm proud of that."

His village, he adds, also has the grave of Mzilikazi - the last king of the Ndebele people.

"Those that call us puppets, have no understanding of our history."

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It's about power, stupid

      MANDY ROSSOUW - Aug 25 2008 00:00

The talks to bring peace to Zimbabwe drag on, check-mated by the conflicting
notions of power-transfer versus power-sharing. Mandy Rossouw put a similar
set of questions to both Zanu-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change to
assess the political temperature

George Charamba: spokesperson for Robert Mugabe

Why, in your view, did the talks take so long to reach agreement?
The summit adopted a document that should have been signed by everyone, but
it was signed by only two of the three parties. The document stood the test
of the power-sharing deal if you go by the results of elections in March,
which said there was no outright winner. They [the people] don't want power
to be transferred, it must be shared. The summit communiqué is an
exhortation to the MDC-Tsvangirai to please proceed and sign the document.
The negotiations are part of an entangled scheme; it is not about whether
Zimbabweans will understand one another politically. It is about how
Zimbabwe is being used to protect external interests. We are dealing with
interests that have nothing to do with Tsvangirai and Mugabe. It is about
the plight of the white man and Britain and its mining interests. Zimbabwe
is heavily mineralised and that is our curse.

What should be the most important outcome of these talks?
The reaffirmation of Zimbabwe's independence. To put it down simply to
matters of democracy and good governance is missing the issue altogether.
Talks are of no significance if they do not address economic independence.
There should be a broadening of empowerment to cover more than land.

Zimbabwe is addressing a new question: what to do about the political
kingdom [that was won without winning power over the economic resources]?
Which country has firmly put on the agenda the social question [of the
redistribution of resources] and had to pick a fight over national resources
[with its former colonisers]? Tsvangirai did not do that -- he doesn't own a

It [the money] is with the settlers, the people who matter economically. It
is the economy of ownership. There are 600-plus British companies in
Zimbabwe. It is not this native of Buhera [referring to Tsvangirai]. He
can't be calling the tune in this country.

What influence does the continuing economic decline in Zimbabwe have on the
I don't know what you are terming as economic decline. In terms of the
stats, Barclays is declaring a dividend every year, so does Stanbic and
Zimplats. All the real players are sticking it out and doing brisk business.
The social condition of the native is on the decline. The condition of the
Zimbabwean black will remain the same for years from now, because it is
about who runs the economy. When [British Prime Minister] Gordon Brown wants
Tsvangirai to sign, he will sign.

All sanctions must be dropped. An MDC that signs an agreement with Zanu-PF
removes the fig leaf from Britain to uncover the interest of the British
[and shows the MDC to be a front for British interests].

What kind of support would Zimbabwe need once the recovery process starts?
Zimbabwe doesn't need to be assisted. We are the cheapest producers of
platinum. This is not a country that is poor but we are suffering due to our
national mineral endowment. The $1,8-billion that is promised by the United
States and United Kingdom will never come.

 We don't have the capital and the investors of goodwill -- that is what
Zimbabwe needs. We will be able to pull ourselves up if our agricultural
effort is not destabilised. Why haven't those companies that are already
here not made a difference?The capital that will liberate us is the capital
that has liberated us before. You know about our Looking East policy? We are
looking at China as a source of capital and also Iran, India and Russia. If
the British and Americans make way, there wouldbe replacement capital there.
The Russians want to move in and exploit the mines. The Chinese are already
trying to find a way into the platinum industry. We are not moving
backwards, we are stumbling forward.

The status quo is unsustainable
Tendai Biti: secretary general of the MDC

Why, in your view, did the talks take so long to reach agreement?
It has not taken a long time. If you look at negotiations in Darfur and
Sudan and South Africa, the talks took nothing less than two years. It is
actually a shock just how quickly we have been able to reach agreements on
the things we reached agreement on. The principles of constitutionalism and
non-violence have been agreed. The issue that is bogging us down now is the
nature of the state and of its power relations. It's not a walk in the park.

What should be the most important outcome of these talks?
The most important outcome is a solution that places Zimbabwe on an
irreversible path to the resolution of the crisis once and for all. This
can't be a piecemeal agreement.

What influence does the continuing economic decline in Zimbabwe have on the
It is a reflection and proof of the fact that nationalism has been a
failure. The problem is some people's value systems are skewed and the
economy is the least of their concerns. Any government that presides over
interest rates of well over 2 000% would have resigned. But you won't resign
if that does not bother you.

Why is it important for the talks to be concluded speedily?
The status quo is unsustainable.

You have thousands of people fleeing the country every day. Inflation is
sky-high. Life expectancy is 34 years.

What kind of support would Zimbabwe need once the recovery process starts?
One of the ironies of the present matrix is that this regime that has made
sovereignty the national religion has made the Zimbabwean economy so
vulnerable. This has decreased our independence. This state will require
massive amounts of money and assistance because these nationalists have made
us decrease our sovereignty.

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Zanu PF are still delusional

The Spectator
Tuesday, 26th August 2008
Sean Martin 5:20pm

With the MDC still refusing to sign the unacceptable power sharing deal, Zimbabwe’s future hangs in the balance. The discussions are as farcical as we expected – a fact demonstrated by Mandy Russow’s piece in the South African Mail and Guardian today. In it, she interviews both George Charamba and Tendai Biti, from Zanu PF and MDC respectively, and asks them identical questions about the deal negotiations.  Charamba’s answers depict the central cause of Zimbabwe’s ruin: Zanu PF delusions. He asserts:

“It is about the plight of the white man and Britain and its mining interests…I don't know what you are terming as economic decline. In terms of the stats, Barclays is declaring a dividend every year, so does Stanbic and Zimplats” 
 No mention of interest rates over 2,000% and hyperinflation then. The truth is that any deal with Zanu PF playing a significant role will fail to address the chronic breakdown of the Zimbabwean economy. It is hard to see how an effective solution can be produced from these talks. We know one thing for sure though. If Zimbabwe is to eventually recover it must be taken completely out of Zanu PF’s hands.

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Parliament opens as patients despair

Last Modified: 26 Aug 2008
By: Guest blogger

As Zimbabwean guest blogger Helen watches the opening ceremony of
parliament, a friend tells her how patients are struggling to get necessary

I watched the opening of parliament on TV with Frank, a friend who has

I hadn't seen him for a while and while we waited for the live coverage of
the ceremony to begin, he told me what had happened when he went to the
large government hospital a few days ago.

Frank got to the hospital early in the morning, an hour before the
outpatients department opened. There were already forty people standing in
line and the queue was growing every minute.

When the doors opened at 8am there were about 200 people waiting to see the
pharmacist and collect life preserving medication on repeat prescriptions
for conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy and

Nothing happened for an hour and there was no explanation for the delay but
at 9am the pharmacist finally came out and he went quickly down the line
looking at people's open case record books.

  The pharmacist could not help the woman and neither could he help Frank
who needs 3 tablets every night to control his epileptic fits.

"Nothing, nothing, nothing," he repeated as he looked at the books being
held open by the patients.

The pharmacist at this big, provincial, teaching hospital had none of the
drugs needed by the waiting people: no anti-retrovirals for HIV, no insulin
for diabetics, no blood pressure pills, nothing for asthma, nothing for

"You are wasting time here," he said "go and try somewhere else, we have

In a few minutes the 200 strong queue had all but dispersed. The pharmacist
offered to write referral letters for people to take to chemists in South
Africa, Zambia, Botswana or Mozambique and said he was sorry but there was
nothing else he could do.

This hospital, like all other government hospitals around the country, has
no drugs on hand, no stocks on order, no money, no budget and no idea when
there may be a change in the situation.

Frank watched a woman, perhaps in her late fifties, sitting on a wooden
bench weeping. He saw her tears dripping onto the cracked concrete floor,
their wetness bright in the dust. He tried to comfort the woman but she was

"Now I am going to die," she said. "Without my tablets I will die."

The pharmacist could not help the woman and neither could he help Frank who
needs 3 tablets every night to control his epileptic fits.

Parliamentary performance
Frank drew quiet from telling his story and we turned to watch the TV
screen - a rare treat as the electricity is usually off for 16 hours a day.

We watched the police cars, the mounted escort, the black, open topped Rolls
Royce and in the back seat just one head - that of Mr Mugabe. No sign of Mrs
Mugabe today - strange, unusual.

After Mr Mugabe had inspected the guard of honour he disappeared and then
the spectacle started.

Five months after the elections and now at last we could finally see the men
and women we'd chosen filing into Parliament. The new opposition MDC MPs
were easy to spot: they were smiling, waved and raised their arms to greet
the spectators.

  Five months after the elections and now at last we could finally see the
men and women we'd chosen filing into Parliament.

"They are for the people!" Frank said, "you can see it so easily."

Then followed the red robed judges, the chiefs, senators and governors. The
green leather benches in the House of Assembly held far more people then
they were designed for in our massively inflated Parliament. Some people had
to sit back while others sat forward in the leg spaces and still others
wedged in sideways.

When Mr Mugabe walked in the ZANU PF MPs rose, the MDC MPs remained seated -
a sign of things to come.

For thirty minutes Frank and I were riveted to an electrifying performance.
The MDC MPs called out, shouted, sang, talked, jeered, heckled and
challenged Mr Mugabe throughout his speech. "ZANU is rotten!" they sang and
clapped while Mr Mugabe raised his voice and spoke ever louder to make
himself heard.

"ZANU is dead and buried!" the MDC MPs sang out repeatedly in gospel type

Mr Mugabe's forehead glistened with sweat and he spoke faster and faster
until he got to the end of his prepared speech. As Mr Mugabe left the House
the MDC MPs remained seated.

Respect is lost. Recognition has gone.

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Doctors' strike adds to country's pain

Photo: IRIN
Health care strained
BULAWAYO, 26 August 2008 (IRIN) - Mehluli Moyo's frail looking mother wheels him into Mpilo central hospital in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city. Her son is suffering from an undiagnosed illness, has lost a huge amount of weight and is in constant pain.

Nurses at the main referral hospital in southern Zimbabwe advise his mother, Jestina Moyo, 59, that she should take her son to a private hospital, but she protests that she cannot afford the high consultation fees charged by private doctors. The nurses then suggest that she buy pain killers for him.
Mehluli, 35, is just one of thousands of Zimbabweans bearing the brunt of a strike by government doctors, who downed tools last week to protest against salaries that are quickly eroded by the official annual inflation rate of 11.2 million percent.

"This is painful to watch my son waste away like this. The hospital says the doctors are on strike, demanding high salaries, and there is nothing I can do for my son, as I have no money to take him to a private doctor," Jestina said, wiping the perspiration from her son's face with a towel.

"So I just have to take him back home and buy painkillers as the nurses have advised - I do not know what he is suffering from this time, and we needed a doctor to diagnose what the problem is this time," she told IRIN.

"All this is a reflection of the political system we have in the country; everyone is on strike at any given time, and things will not improve unless and until there is new leadership that will address the doctors' concerns and those of other professionals in the country," Jestina said. "As it is, my son will die a painful death unless I find money to take him to a private doctor."

State hospitals provide health services to the majority of Zimbabweans but the country's economic meltdown has brought shortages of most things, including basic foods, fuel and electricity.

The situation in the health sector has been compounded by acute staff shortages of medical personnel, drugs and equipment; government hospitals were barely functioning before the strike started.
Health for a few

Private doctors charge fees in foreign currency equivalents of between about US$35 and US$50, far beyond the reach of most people: unemployment is above 80 percent, and the salaries of those with jobs often do not even cover monthly transport costs.

In Mpilo hospital's emergency and burn wards, nurses are struggling to treat patients because there are few medicines or other resources. "We are just giving them ... [painkillers] as these are the only drugs available at the hospital. Since the strike started we have registered deaths which doctors could have dealt with if they were not on strike," a nurse, who declined to be identified, told IRIN. 
''Since the strike started we have registered deaths which doctors could have dealt with if they were not on strike''
Tawanda Sibanda was turned away from the hospital after seeking treatment for acute diarrhoea, and went to a traditional healer. "It is cheaper to visit the traditional healers and under the circumstances there is no choice, as private doctors are very expensive."
Zimbabwe's health workers have gone on strike several times in the past few years to try and keep up with the rocketing cost of living. Medical staff were awarded wage hikes ahead of the 29 March elections, but the effects of hyperinflation have rapidly devalued their salaries again.

The chairman of the Zimbabwe Medical Doctors Association (ZMDA), Amon Siveregi, reiterated to IRIN that his members would not return to work until all their demands had been met.
"The situation countrywide is that all doctors at all the country's referral hospitals are on strike, but we are negotiating with the government on a new package," Siveregi said.

"At the moment I am not at liberty to disclose to you our demands because of a confidentiality clause in our dealings that we signed with our principals." 


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

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Questions loom over the new role of parliament

By Violet Gonda
26 August 2008

MDC parliamentarians were in attendance at the opening of parliament by
Robert Mugabe on Tuesday although the party had threatened to boycott the
event saying nobody has the mandate to address the House before the talks
are completed. Despite getting a boost when the MDC won the Speakership on
Monday, the party came under fire from people who felt they should not
attend the opening ceremony. They complained it was 'normalising the
abnormal,' and accepting Mugabe's terms.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) issued a statement
condemning the convening of parliament before the completion of the
inter-party talks. CHRA said without an agreement between the two parties,
it is very difficult for the Parliament to conduct its business.

On Monday the MDC made history by becoming the first opposition party to
take away the position of Speaker from ZANU PF, and it is widely believed
the impact would have been greater if Robert Mugabe had been forced to open
parliament without the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the MDC's 100 members of
parliament. Critics also accuse the party of being ambivalent and sending
mixed messages over the issue of boycotting the convening of parliament.

Despite the mixed messages, the MDC parliamentarians booed and heckled
during Mugabe's opening address in a clear sign that they did not recognise
his legitimacy as Head of State. The party said in a statement that the only
person who can officially open this session of parliament will be determined
by the outcome of the on-going dialogue sponsored by SADC.

In a functioning democracy the role of the Speaker is fairly critical as he
leads the business of parliament, regulates debate in the House and holds
the government to account. In theory, parliament can also pass laws and
issue directives for Cabinet Ministers to appear before it, and if they fail
to comply they may be held in contempt. However, Zimbabwe is not yet a
functioning democracy. Analysts say winning the Speakership is a victory for
the MDC but seems rather insufficient given the extent and repressive nature
of the prevailing political context.
Political analyst Brian Kagoro said: "So the question remains, in a system
where Parliament has previously been a rubber stamp, to what extent does the
wielding of a nominal majority and the election of an MDC Speaker amount to
revolutionary change or the sort of meaningful transformation that we

Kagoro said as long as Mugabe wields the imperial Presidential powers the
parliament can go through the symbolic process of passing progressive
legislations but the enactment requires Presidential assent.

ZANU PF still has control of the senate and it is widely believed the roles
of the two legislative bodies contribute to a deadlock in the country.

Some observers also fear that the regime is still up to no good as it
continues to arrest MDC MPs. Three more legislators were arrested on Tuesday
while two others were arrested on Monday, although one of the MPs was
released on the same day.

On the other hand some believe these are the last kicks of a dying horse and
that Mugabe's position is now truly undermined by Tsvangirai and his party.
It still remains to be seen if Zimbabwe is witnessing the gradual transfer
of power.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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Bleak future for Tsvangirai if he surrenders

August 26, 2008

By Tendai Dumbutshena

ROBERT Mugabe's intentions are now quite clear. At the recently concluded
SADC summit in Johannesburg he got what he wanted - recognition as Zimbabwe's
president by his regional peers.

With considerable pressure and manipulation by South Africa's President
Thabo Mbeki, SADC leaders, with the exception of Botswana's Ian Khama,
endorsed a draft agreement that leaves Mugabe's powers as president intact.
As a bonus the Zimbabwe leader was given the green light to convene
Parliament and form a government. It is a given that the African Union (AU)
will take its cue from SADC and accept Mugabe as a legitimate head of state.

Having secured recognition from Africa Mugabe intends to form a government
with the support of Arthur Mutambara's faction of the MDC. That faction's
support is required to give Zanu-PF a working majority in the House of
Assembly and to be seen to comply with the AU's call for a government of
national unity (GNU).

The decision to support Mutambara's candidate for Speaker of the House was
intended to secure collaboration between the two parties in the lower

The first prize for Mugabe is to get Morgan Tsvangirai, the main MDC leader,
to sign the deal on the table which gives him a subordinate role in
government. If he refuses Mugabe is determined to forge ahead with Mutambara
on the grounds that Tsvangirai is being unreasonably intransigent. Mbeki and
other SADC leaders are applying pressure on Tsvangirai to sign a deal that
legitimizes Mugabe's rule for a full five years.

African solutions for African problems.

With recognition by Africa in the bag Mugabe is under no pressure to
compromise. He can form a government without Tsvangirai and dress it up as
an inclusive one with the help of Mutambara. As South Africa's labour body
COSATU put it: '' Mugabe believes he can get away with this manoeuvre
because of the clear signal he received from SADC when they paraded him as
head of state at the summit. It was the worst possible message they could
have given.''

The significance of Monday's election of Lovemore Moyo of Tsvangirai's MDC
as Speaker of the House is that it cast serious doubt on Mutambara's ability
to deliver his party's 10 MPs to Mugabe. All indications are that Mutambara's
MPs defied the party leadership by voting for Moyo. They are opposed to the
treacherous deal Mutambara is crafting with Mugabe. They know how their
constituents feel about signing a Faustian pact with Mugabe. It is obvious
that a deal was struck between Mugabe and Mutambara in which the former
uncharacteristically let go the speakership of the House. Mugabe, ever so
cunning, was looking at the bigger picture. A few senatorial seats and
governorships are also on the table for Mutambara to further sweeten the

Down the road lie cabinet posts. All this is irresistible to Mutambara and
his secretary-general Welshman Ncube. The two men are blinded to the perils
of this anti-Tsvangirai pact. Having no constituents to answer to they
cannot see beyond their hunger for office and power.

Whither the talks?

Mbeki has convinced his regional counterparts that the agreement on the
table is a fair one. All pressure should be put on Tsvangirai to sign. There
is a thinly veiled threat that if he does not play ball Mugabe will form a
government with Mutambara. Tsvangirai will be left out to freeze in the
cold. Psychological warfare is being waged against the MDC leader to sign a
political death warrant. Central to that pressure is incessant propaganda
that Tsvangirai is being dictated to by Western powers. The expectation is
that in an eagerness to prove he is a good pan-Africanist he will sign the

The question now is whether Tsvangirai will buckle under the pressure.

Reasons for the deadlock are now in the open. Under the terms of the
agreement Mugabe will be both head of state and government with Tsvangirai a
prime minister who reports to him. How Ncube, a constitutional lawyer, can
argue that this amounts to power sharing boggles the mind. What power does
the prime minister have under this agreement? Zilch. A genuine power-sharing
arrangement has a president as head of state with the prime minister in
charge of government. There is not an aorta of power Mugabe has conceded to
Tsvangirai. So devoid of power and responsibility is the office of Prime
Minister in this agreement that its incumbent will hardly need any staff to

The choice Tsvangirai faces is clear.

Does he stick to principles and reject a deal that is insulting to his
party, himself and the people who have sacrificed and lost so much in
support of genuine democratic change in the country? Or does he succumb to
the material benefits of office and to the illusion of power? There is no
doubt that to sign the agreement as it stands would be nothing short of

The former American president Abraham Lincoln famously said: "Put your feet
in the right place and stand firm." There is a great principle at stake. It
is time for African leaders to respect the wishes of their people. Violence
was used to deny the people of Zimbabwe a free choice on the June 27
presidential run-off. To sign an agreement that essentially validates a poll
rejected by all observers is unacceptable.

It will support Mugabe's contention that the bullet is mightier than the

The purpose of these talks should be to create conditions for the
transformation of Zimbabwe into a truly democratic nation. This necessarily
entails a genuine power-sharing arrangement with specified tasks and of
limited duration. The process must culminate in free and fair elections that
yield a government of unquestionable legitimacy. Tsvangirai must not shift
from this position because it is a principled and correct one.

The coming days and weeks will determine what the future holds for
Tsvangirai and his party. If they wilt under the pressure and surrender to
Mugabe a bleak political future awaits them. They will undo in a moment of
panic and stupidity all they have painstakingly built over the past nine
years. Their resolve must not weaken.

They must put their feet in the right place and stand firm.

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COSATU slams SADC support of Mugabe

By Alex Bell
26 August 2008

South Africa's trade union federation, COSATU has slammed the Southern
African Development Community's apparent support of Robert Mugabe, saying
the regional body gave the dictator clear signals that it is backing him as

The powerful grouping of heads of state effectively endorsed Mugabe as
Zimbabwe's leader, after accepting him as head of state at the SADC summit
in South Africa earlier this month. Meanwhile, leaked confidential documents
revealed over the weekend that SADC sanctioned a power-sharing agreement
that would have seen Mugabe remain as head of state as well as head of
government. The regional body proceeded to put pressure on opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai to sign the deal during the summit before giving Mugabe
the green light to convene parliament when Tsvangirai refused to sign.

Mugabe ordered Parliament to convene on Monday ignoring opposition protests
that the move could derail the stalled inter party negotiations. However,
the move to recall Parliament appeared to backfire on ZANU PF and its ageing
leader when an MDC candidate was elected Speaker of the key House of
Assembly, the first time that the lower chamber of Parliament is to be led
by the opposition.

COSATU said in a statement on Tuesday that Mugabe, with 'clear signals' from
SADC's regional leaders, was now on a mission to secure power to the
exclusion of the Tsvangirai lead MDC. The trade union federation said 'it
was the worst possible message they (regional leaders) could have given'
when SADC 'paraded him (Mugabe) as head of state at the summit.'

The trade union federation has been vocally opposed to Mugabe's reign of
terror and has insisted he is illegitimately in power after he snatched back
power in the controversial one man run-off election in June.

SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news

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CHRA demands legal reforms from Parliament

25 August 2008

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) condemns the decision to
convene the 7th Parliament of Zimbabwe. It is the Association's view that
the Parliament should have been convened after the completion of the inter
party talks between ZANU PF and the MDC. Without an agreement between the
two parties, it is very difficult for the Parliament to conduct its
business. None the less, CHRA reasserts its demands for legal reforms on
Zimbabwe's local Governance system. The following are CHRA's demands

o The return of the executive mayoral system
o Constitutionalisation of Local Governance
o Creation of autonomous and cooperative system of local Governance
o The reversal of the ZINWA takeover
o Reform of the Urban Councils Act.

The Association is of the firm view that these reforms will help create a
participatory and democratic system of local governance in Zimbabwe; and
therefore open up space for residents' participation in local Governance.
CHRA reminds the Parliament that local governance is the link between the
central Government and the grass root communities. It is the vehicle through
which the ordinary citizens of this country can be able to actively
participate and influence national policy formulation, implementation,
evaluation and management. Through various reforms enacted by the previous
and successive Parliaments, Zimbabwe's local Governance system is in a state
of collapse as the central Government has taken over most of the critical
powers and functions of the local authorities. The final nail to the coffin
of Zimbabwe's Local Government system was the Local Governement Amendment
Act which stripped the Mayors of their executive powers. In essence, this
has robbed the residents of the only platform they could use to participate
in national and community development. The previous cabinet's authorization
of the ZINWA takeover was yet another blow to the innocent residents. As a
direct result of this irresponsible decision, Harare residents are now
suffering a water crisis while ZINWA seems not to have a solution at all.
The service delivery problems currently bedeviling the once sun shining city
of Harare and indeed all the other towns and communities are a direct result
of Government's decision to usurp the powers and functions of the local
authorities. CHRA remains firm on its demand for enhanced citizen
participation in local governance. It is on this basis that residents across
the breadth and length of the country rendered their support to the various
candidates who are now Members of the 7th Parliament of Zimbabwe. The
Association realizes and appreciates the significance of the 7th Parliament
of Zimbabwe in fulfilling the residents' desire for a democratic, people
centered local governance system.

Farai Barnabas Mangodza
Chief Executive Officer
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA)
145 Robert Mugabe Way
Exploration House, Third Floor
Landline: 00263- 4- 705114

Contacts: Mobile: 011 563 141, 0912638401 and 011862012 or email, and

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Sinking Economy, Misery Index and Zimbabwe’s Moral Quandary

Dereliction of duty best describes the indictment befitting a regime that
has consistently failed its people for nearly three decades with Mugabe as
its Commander-in-chief. The end-product of this incompetence has been an
impoverished nation whose out-of-touch government cannot even afford to feed
starving citizens or take care of the sick as productive farms were looted
and hospitals bereft of the most basic supplies and manpower, respectively.
It would have been unimaginable 10 years ago that Zimbabwe, Africa’s
breadbasket, would ever experience a situation where outside help would ever
be needed to help feed nearly half of its population facing starvation. The
quality of life has drastically plummeted for all these years and the
Zimbabwean story has become a glaring epitome of destitution.
Millions of Zimbabweans have been displaced by the economic plague
predominantly as economic refugees, across the world, overwhelmingly pouring
into South Africa, Botswana and UK. Ironically, these are the same ‘refugees’
whose meager remittances have collectively and indirectly sustained the
regime consequently slowing down the economy’s imminent collapse.
It is almost as if the officials of the current government do not have the
urgency to address the ‘black market’ economy they have presided over for a
long time. As the economic crisis continues unabated, the rich have become
richer and the middle class has been totally wiped out and relegated to
levels below the poverty datum line. Yet the response from the regime is
that characterized by a fundamental lack of empathy for the suffering
For its size, Zimbabwe has a bloated bureaucracy with all kinds of stupid
ministries and self-serving programs which do not serve any purpose. No
wonder the government sanctioned a costly exploration and research
undertaking by four cabinet ministers to analyze the ‘farting habits’ of a
Chinhoyi ‘con-woman- cum-n’anga (witchdoctor) who claimed there was diesel
oozing=2 0out of a rock in Chinhoyi provided by medium spirits, enough to
alleviate the nation’s fuel shortages. How retarded!
Due to the wretched handling of the economy, recent reports indicate that
inflation is well over 50 million percent. The band-aid redenomination
solution of scrapping ten zeroes is already wreaking vengeance on the
economy with a double ricochet. The recent monetary announcements were meant
to serve as a short-term expedient haphazardly designed out of desperation
by a government that has no clue about how to get us out of this quagmire.
Misery index, an indicator used to assess an economy’s health/well-being, is
calculated by adding the rate of unemployment and inflation. The current US
Misery Index is 11.3% as of July 2008. Former President Jimmy Carter made a
highly successful campaign around ‘Misery Index’ during the 1976
Presidential race that culminated in his victory. Carter’s message was very
simple: he argued that a misery index of 13.75% (during that time) was too
high for the nation to re-elect Gerald Ford, the incumbent president
responsible for that statistic.
Zimbabwe’s misery index is incomputable and out of range. At approximately
50 million % + 95% (inflation and unemployment respectively), the indicators
is a typical ‘rocket science made easy’ scenario. Citizens’ outrage is the
missing link! For much longer will the regime continue to ignore the voices
of the overwhelming majority immersed in poverty? The damage done to the
economy is not for the faint-hearted.
While the regime’s beneficiaries have unashamedly basked in glory and flaunt
their vast wealth, thanks to politics of patronage that has handsomely
rewarded them, the rest of the nation is squirming in abject poverty. It is
almost as if the whole establishment of the current government is designed
to appease Mugabe’s loyalists.
Gono and his bosses are the biggest obstacles to economic recovery because
the current state of affairs economically benefits them. Need Money? Print,
print, print! Need foreign currency? Mop up th foreign currency floating in
the black market remitted by exiles and buy more luxury cars for the army’s
top brass and government officials. It is an economy conveni ently driven by
black market hence no accountability requirements!
What we have learnt from the just-held elections for speaker of parliament
is that Zanu PF will lose any free and fair election. Even Zanu PF’s
sympathetic ‘good professors’ who were again acting like monkeys flinging
feces on our hopes and dreams last week, could not stop the will of the
people. Mutambara, the man with a Mugabesque similitude, must be squirming
with shame for his well-deserved defeat after openly declaring his support
for Mugabe despite clear indications that ‘his’ MP’s were ready to disown
him in protest of his association with Mugabe.
The military has profoundly betrayed the people of Zimbabwe. Mugabe has
exploited the loyalty of the top brass of the security apparatus for
political advantage. Nonetheless his strategy in dealing with the nation’s
security forces is highly flawed. It has just been revealed that the monthly
salary of a Zimbabwean soldier is barely enough to buy two loaves of bread.
What a recipe for mutiny!
The poverty in Zimbabwe does not discriminate except for those in the
echelons of power. Poverty has fiercely struck the men and women in uniform.
The vast majority of the police, army and the CIO officers are equally
living in extreme pauperism. The sad realization is that these are the very
same people who personified the face of violent torture and execution of
perceived enemies of Mugabe.  The nation has very little sympathy for them
even though they are ‘one of us’.
 Those military bosses are not the real soldiers; they are politicians
fighting for political survival. It is not surprising that the JOC is
interfering with the formation of a government of national unity. They know
that such a government is a threat to their ill-gotten economic privileges.
Mugabe is sadly missing his best opportunity to mildly redeem a botched
Having worked tirelessly to give workers a voice, I have no doubt that
Morgan Tsvangirai, whose stated policies closely identify with the suffering
masses, will give due consideration to the plight of the unemployed and the
suffering citizens. Tsvangirai is leve raged by a stockpile of goodwill of
people from all walks of life in Zimbabwe and across the globe. The totally
made-up argument that Tsvangirai will reverse the gains of Independence is
ludicrous. Nonetheless, what gains are there to talk about that we can be
made to be afraid of?
The nation needs a people-oriented, stable and qualified leader. This
economic disaster of our time demands that our politicians rise above party
prejudices and come together to stop economic bleeding, if they care about
the ordinary men and women of Zimbabwe. Politics is at the epicenter of
Zimbabwe’s economic problems and lack of political will is the cause for
continued downfall.
The moral quandary of a fraudulently run economy is there for everyone to
see. Zanu PF’s inability to connect with the suffering masses is shocking.
Mugabe and his cronies are acting as if they are not seeing the desperation
that people are experiencing just to make ends meet. Mugabe must resign if
he cannot take the position of ceremonial President as he has nothing to

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Female Reporter Who Witnessed Police Violence Released After Several Hours in Detention

Reporters sans Frontières (Paris)

25 August 2008
Posted to the web 26 August 2008

Reporter Rutendo Mawere of the privately-owned weekly "The Standard", who
was arrested on 21 August 2008 in Gweru (in Midlands province), 280 km
southwest of Harare, was released a few hours later without being charged.
Mawere was arrested while watching police beat residents who had been
queuing outside a shop for basic staples.

"As the search for a negotiated solution to the political crisis continues,
journalists are still being subjected to police brutality, arbitrary arrest
and constant intimidation," Reporters Without Borders said. "Trying to hide
the destitution of the population by arresting witnesses is shameful."

The arrest comes two weeks after freelance photographer Tsvangirai Mukwazhi
fled Zimbabwe with his family after being attacked and beaten at his home on
29 July by the Harare police, who accused him of owning an improperly
registered car. The police still have his vehicle. Mukwazhi and his family
have found refuge abroad.

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Church leaders concerned that time is running out in Zimbabwe

By Ecumenical News International
26 Aug 2008
Christian leaders in Zimbabwe have called on parties to continuing
power-sharing talks to shun partisan interests and urgently break the
impasse that is holding back the conclusion of negotiations aimed at
resolving the country's political and economic crisis.

"As the Church, we urge the political parties to take national issues
seriously and avoid advancing selfish partisan interests," Goodwill Shana,
chairperson of the Heads of Christian Denominations group, was quoted as
saying in an interview with the government-run newspaper, The Herald, on 20
August 2008.

"We are losing time; we need to move forward and break the impasse," said

South African President Thabo Mbeki, mediating in talks between Robert
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and the Movement for Democratic Change, which won a
majority of seats in the March parliamentary elections, were adjourned late
on 19 August after reports that Mugabe was demanding he retain power in the

Although the negotiators have not officially given the reason for the
deadlock, sources close to the talks say opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
refused to sign, and was insisting that the post of prime minister that
reports say it is proposed he would hold, should have real executive power
and thus more influence than Mugabe in the proposed government.

The international community has so far not recognized the election of
84-year-old Mugabe as president. For his part, the long-time leader of
Zimbabwe has refused to relinquish his executive powers.

The current talks were expected to resolve the political crisis that
resulted from the one-candidate presidential run-off internationally
declared as a sham election, and which sole candidate Mugabe won after
Tsvangirai boycotted the race following a campaign period marred by violence
and intimidation.

The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference has welcomed the talks in South
Africa, although the bishops said the process should be more inclusive in
order for it to gain legitimacy. The Catholic leaders called on the
negotiating parties not to rush into a government of national unity but to
urgently dismantle instruments of violence, reject impunity, and usher in a
new political culture in which accountability, inclusiveness, transparency,
healing and reconciliation are paramount.

The bishops also urged the negotiators to act with urgency given the
economic situation in Zimbabwe that saw the official annual inflation rise
in June 2008 to 11.2 million percent, although independent economists say
the real figure could well be over 20 million percent.

"We urge negotiators to recognise the urgency of economic priorities," the
Catholic bishops said in a statement reacting to the earlier signing of a
memorandum of agreement on 21 July between the three parties. "They will
need to create an environment in which production can begin to take place
and economic stability established. We will continue to pray for God's
grace, and to encourage all citizens to pray for the process that has begun
so that . all people are reconciled and become one."

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly
sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation,
the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European

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