The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Robert Mugabe to form minority cabinet in Zimbabwe

The Australian

August 29, 2008

JOHANNESBURG: Zimbabwe's veteran ruler, Robert Mugabe, will defy the
opposition and form a new government despite stalled talks on power-sharing
after contested polls, the junior information minister said yesterday.

"Nothing is going to stop us from forming a new government," Bright Matonga
told South African public broadcaster SAFM, disregarding warnings by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change that doing so would scupper the
talks. "We need to move forward; we need to make sure that Zimbabwe regains
its status; we need to work on the economy. People are suffering.

"That is the mandate that he (Mugabe) was given by the SADC (Southern
African Development Community regional bloc) and he is not going to stop
forming that new cabinet. The MDC are not serious at all."

Matonga was responding to a statement by MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti
that Mugabe would be violating a recent agreement between the ruling ZANU-PF
party and the opposition, as well as jeopardising power-sharing
negotiations, if he unilaterally formed a government.

The talks on creating a unity government to end a ruinous political crisis
were suspended a little over two weeks ago.

"You will be killing the talks. Once you form a government, forget about
talks. It is a disaster and an act of insanity to think that Mugabe can go
it alone" Mr Biti said.

"Formally, we are going to write a letter to the facilitator (South African
President Thabo Mbeki) about the breaches that have occurred," he said,
referring to an Mbeki-mediated agreement of July 21 signed by the ruling
party, the main MDC and its breakaway faction.

Zimbabwe's new parliament opened this week, five months after contested
elections in which Mugabe's party lost legislative majority for the first
time since the country's independence from Britain in 1980, when Mugabe came
to power.

The 84-year-old Mugabe also lost to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in
the first round of the presidential election but was re-elected in a one-man
runoff after Mr Tsvangirai boycotted the poll, alleging intimidation and

Mugabe on Tuesday made gibes at the MDC after facing opposition jeers that
drowned out parts of his ceremonial opening speech at parliament, an
unparalleled domestic public humiliation for a man who has ruled his country
for almost three decades.

"We shall soon be setting up a government. The MDC does not want to come in,
apparently," the government newspaper, The Herald, quoted Mugabe as saying.

"This time they have been promised by the British that sanctions would be
more devastating, that in six months' time the government will collapse.

"I do not know when that day will come. I wish Tsvangirai well on that day."

Edwin Mushoriwa, spokesman for an MDC faction with whom Mugabe's ZANU-PF
could conceivably form a majority in parliament, said it would not join a
Mugabe government.

Mugabe's plans to form a cabinet mean he will be drawing his ministers from
the minority party in parliament, in apparent violation of basic
constitutional principles.

He faces being censured by the SADC and losing the support of Mr Mbeki.

AFP, The Times

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SADC Denies Giving Harare Green Light To Form Cabinet Before Conclusion of Power Sharing Deal


By Blessing Zulu
28 August 2008

A top Zimbabwe government and Zanu-PF official says president Robert Mugabe
will defy the opposition and form a new government despite stalled talks on
a unity government.

Deputy information minister Bright Matonga told South African Public
Broadcaster SAFM that the regime needs to work on the economy because in his
words people are suffering.

Matonga says president Mugabe is acting based on the mandate of the SADC
or Southern African Development Community regional bloc.

But the SADC has denied the claim it gave president Mugabe the mandate to
appoint a new cabinet.

SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salamao told VOA that though he is not
allowed to comment on the talks because of the pledge made by the parties
not to comment to the media, "it is not true that his body gave Harare the
green light to appoint a new cabinet. "

The talks are expected to resume in Pretoria Friday and the Movement for
Democratic Change formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to begin by
petitioning president Thabo Mbeki the SADC appointed mediator on recent

The party says it will protest the convening of parliament by Mugabe without
the consent of the other parties, the continued arrests and harassment of
its members of parliament and Mugabe's threat to form a new cabinet even
before the talks have been concluded.

Political analyst Hermann Hanekom told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's
Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Zanu-PFis negotiating in bad faith.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MDC to Petition Mbeki Over Mugabe Plans to Form Government

SW Radio Africa (London)

28 August 2008
Posted to the web 28 August 2008

Tichaona Sibanda

The MDC leadership has resolved as a matter of urgency to write a letter of
protest to South African President Thabo Mbeki about Robert Mugabe's
'suicidal mission' to form a new government.

Apparently rattled by the jeers and heckles he endured during his speech at
the official opening of parliament on Tuesday, Mugabe has hit back by
threatening to put in place a cabinet of ZANU PF ministers.

MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti said on Thursday they would write a letter
of protest to Mbeki the facilitator about the breaches that have occurred to
the July 21st Memorandum of Agreement governing the talks.

Article 9 of the MoU, titled 'Decisions by the Parties' stipulates that
during the period of the dialogue, the parties shall not take any decisions
that have a bearing on the agenda of the negotiations, such as convening of
parliament or the formation of a new government.

Mugabe's regime threatened on Thursday to form a new government and that
nothing is going to stop them from doing so. ZANU PF MP Bright Matonga said
Mugabe got the mandate from SADC to go ahead with the formation of a

MDC's Biti warned that such a move would scupper the talks, adding, it is a
disaster and an act of insanity to think that Mugabe can go it alone.

"Once he does that (forms a new government), then he has put a final nail on
this dialogue. So, what in fact you are doing is you are making people
suffer, and therefore declaring a war on the people," he said.

The talks on creating a unity government to end the political crisis have
been stalled for over two weeks, since MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai refused
to accept a power-sharing deal under which Mugabe would retain all the
powers of a Head of State and Head of Government. It's believed Mbeki hopes
to reconvene the talks as early as next week, although MDC secretary for
Foreign Affairs Elphas Mukonoweshuro told Newsreel they've not heard
anything yet from the facilitator.

The South African media has reported that senior SADC officials are unaware
of Mugabe's intention to form a government before the talks are concluded.

Tanki Mothae, director of the SADC organ on Politics, Defence and Security
is quoted saying he was not aware of that, but he hoped that all parties to
the conflict in the country will abide by the agreement, and will finalise
whatever issues are outstanding and still require their signatures.

Political analyst Isaac Dziya said by forming a government which leaves out
the MDC, Mugabe would be taking a calculated risk that may spectacularly

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Total defiance


    August 28 2008 at 06:35PM

by Fanuel Jongwe

Harare - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's regime insisted on
Thursday it will form a new government alone as an outraged opposition
planned to petition mediator Thabo Mbeki to save Zimbabwe's power-sharing
talks from an "act of insanity".

"Nothing is going to stop us from forming a new government. We need to
move forward, we need to make sure that Zimbabwe regains its status, we need
to work on the economy. People are suffering," Mugabe's junior information
minister Bright Matonga told South Africa's state broadcaster SABC.

Matonga was responding to opposition claims that Mugabe would be
violating a recent agreement between his ruling Zanu-PF party and the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), as well as jeopardising the
delicately-poised negotiations if he unilaterally formed a government.

"That is the mandate that he (Mugabe) was given by the SADC (Southern
African Development Community regional bloc) and he is not going to stop
forming that new cabinet. The MDC are not serious at all," said Matonga.

But a senior SADC official, in a thinly veiled swipe at Mugabe, urged
all parties to the talks to respect commitments to negotiate a unity

Tanki Mothae said the parties had agreed at the August 19 SADC summit
"that all Zimbabwe stakeholders should go and sit and finalise all
outstanding issues, which will pave the way for establishing a stable and
peaceful government."

"All parties concerned must abide by all the agreements," said Mothae,
a retired army colonel who heads the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and

Speaking earlier, MDC deputy leader Tendai Biti warned Mugabe's move
would scupper the talks.

"You will be killing the talks. Once you form a government, forget
about talks. It is a disaster and an act of insanity to think that Mugabe
can go it alone," Biti said.

"Once he does that (forms a new government), then he has put a final
nail on this dialogue...So what in fact you are doing is you are making
people suffer, and therefore declaring a war on the people," he said.

The talks on creating a unity government to end a ruinous political
crisis have been stalled for a little over two weeks.

Biti said the MDC would write a letter of protest to Mbeki, the South
African president who has been mediating the talks from Pretoria.

"Formally, we are going to write a letter to the facilitator about the
breaches that have occurred," to the ground rules for the talks which where
thrashed out in a July 21 agreement, said Biti.

Mbeki's spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga said he did not "know when the
talks will resume" adding that there was no immediate plan for his boss to
visit Harare.

The talks are stalled over MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's refusal to
accept a power-sharing deal under which Mugabe would retain the right to
hire and fire ministers and over how long a transitional government would
remain in place.

Takavafira Zhou, a political analyst at Zimbabwe's Masvingo State
University said Mugabe's threat "may be a strategy to arm-twist the MDC to
accept the deal that is on the table.

"The formation of a new government...sends a message that talks my
have collapsed," he added.

Lovemore Madhuku, a Harare-based constitutional lawyer, said that
Mugabe's intention to form a new government alone "is a clear indication
that the talks between the Zanu-PF and the MDC are long dead." - Sapa-AFP

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe power-sharing talks resume in South Africa

By Lebo Nkatazo
Posted to the web: 28/08/2008 19:01:28
NEGOTIATORS from Zimbabwe's three main parties were gathering in South
Africa, beginning Thursday, for crunch talks on a power-sharing deal being
negotiated under the aegis of President Thabo Mbeki.
Optimism for a power-sharing deal has cooled since August 17 when opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai refused to sign a draft deal, demanding that
President Robert Mugabe becomes a ceremonial president, while he assumes the
role of executive Prime Minister.

Leaders from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) trade bloc
who met at an extra-ordinary summit to discuss Zimbabwe in South Africa said
the terms of the draft deal were "a good basis for a global agreement" on
resolving the Zimbabwe crisis, but failed to convince Tsvangirai to sign the

After President Mugabe rode opposition protests to reconvene parliament
early this week, with SADC's blessing, he gave notice that he would soon
appoint his Cabinet - prompting renewed efforts by Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party to restart the power-sharing talks.

Sources said Mugabe had intended to announce his Cabinet on Thursday, August
28, but was persuaded by his Zanu PF party's representatives at the
power-sharing talks to give dialogue one last chance.

The fresh discussions in South Africa "should not last two days", a source
close to the talks told New

A senior Zanu PF official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the
negotiators had been invited back by South Africa at the behest of
Tsvangirai's MDC.

South Africa's Cape Argus newspaper reported Thursday that Tendai Biti, the
secretary general of Tsvangirai's MDC was seeking an urgent audience with
President Mbeki, although no date had been set.

Biti wanted to know from Mbeki "if there was any life left in the
negotiations or whether the MDC should regard them as dead so it could
proceed with other strategies", the paper said.

A South African newspaper, the Citizen, reported this week that Mbeki had
snubbed Tsvangirai's request for a meeting late last week. The paper said
the MDC leader had been advised to "follow protocol" because he "can't just
meet the President whenever he likes".

Analysts are reading this as a sign of Mbeki's growing frustration with the
MDC's refusal to accept terms of what a growing number of African leaders
see as a fair deal for him and his party.

President Mugabe agrees to the terms of the power-sharing deal with Arthur
Mutambara, the leader of a rival MDC faction, but remains at odds with
Tsvangirai over a share of responsibilities in the "all inclusive

"President Mugabe will not move an inch from what's on the table," said the
Zanu PF official. "He has postponed the appointment of the Cabinet to give
the MDC leader a chance to sign the deal as adopted by SADC leaders at the
August 16-17 summit. That's the final position."

The official said if the fresh talks failed to secure agreement, Mugabe
would go ahead and appoint a Cabinet next weekend.

The two MDC factions and Zanu PF began a process of inter-party dialogue in
March 2007. The discussions assumed greater purpose after President Robert
Mugabe's disputed June 27 sixth term victory.

Tsvangirai boycotted the election, accusing Mugabe of waging a violent
campaign against his supporters and forcing SADC, the African Union and the
United Nations to call for power-sharing.

Zimbabwe is going through a devastating economic crisis which analysts warn
will get worse if there is no political settlement.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe Police Storm civil society meeting

Thursday, 28 August 2008 14:23
Heavily armed police officers stormed a meeting of the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition, in Harare hotel around 12:30 this afternoon disrupting
proceedings of an Annual General Meeting (AGM) of its membership, gathered
for the administrative business of electing new office bearers.

This happened as South Africa's president Thabo Mbeki, mediator in
Zimbabwe's power-sharing talks, arrived in Zimbabwe for what is expected to
be a next leg in his efforts to enforce an unpopular government of national

"They are being very rough, and unreasonable. They are threatening us
with arrest and saying that our gathering is illegal", said Elinor Sisulu, a
spokesperson of the group. "This whole attack of civil society flies in the
face of the provision the memorandum of understanding of which says that
there should be an environment in which social welfare organizations, of
which Crisis has a sizeable members who are gathered here today, should be
enabled to carry outs their activities without intimidation".

On July 21, 2008 Mbeki, and the mediating parties MDC leaders Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara and ZANU PF's Robert Mugabe, co-signed an
MOU agreeing to ensure that "they will work together to ensure the safety of
any displaced persons and their safe return home and that humanitarian and
social welfare organizations are enabled to render such assistance as might
be required".

Five million Zimbabweans face the severe threat of food insecurity,
humanitarian groups such as the United Nations Food and Agricultural
Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) have warned. This is an
increase of as many as one million people from last year, the groups say.

Zimbabwe has the highest inflation in the world, a direct consequence
of Mugabe's poor economic policies and massive corruption. Once the
breadbasket of the region, the southern African country has become the
begging bowl with its current GDP sitting at third worldwide, after the
warring territories of Palestine in the Middle East region

"This is completely outrageous," says Isabella Matambanadzo, Zimbabwe
Programme Manager of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, OSISA.
"Since 2004 Zimbabwe's civil society and media groups have been under
persistent and systematic attacks by the government.  It is high time that
the SADC, AU and UN took these threats against Human rights Defenders
seriously. There have been more than enough incidents of rape, deaths and
shocking levels of torture to enable the UN to act decisively. Rights groups
have documented what shows beyond a shadow of any doubt a systematic project
of elimination pioneered by ZANU PF," she explained.

Zimbabwe's octogenarian former liberation leader Robert Mugabe,
installed himself as president following a self styled election re-run on
June 27, in which he claimed that some 85% of the population had voted him
into power. The election was condemned as being overshadowed by extremely
high levels of violence and intimidation and therefore not free or fair by
the region's electoral observation groups, such as the Pan African

"This latest event highlights the need for this mediation to deliver a
popular, homegrown constitution that protects citizen's civil liberties,
such as freedom of association and assembly. It is an outrage that while
ZANU PF is able to freely organize its members to it uses its power and
influence over the police to prevent others from enjoying such a fundamental

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Security strongmen put pressure on Mugabe


     August 28 2008 at 08:19AM

President Robert Mugabe is under pressure from his top military and
security advisers to form a government on his own, and ignore the
power-sharing talks between his ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change.

Intelligence sources said on Wednesday that after Mugabe's humiliation
when he was heckled and harassed by MDC MPs while opening parliament on
Tuesday, angry advisers had told the 84-year-old leader to immediately form
a government without Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC.

Tsvangirai has rejected a power-sharing deal in which he would become
prime minister and Mugabe remain president, as he says it gives him no real
executive powers.

The all-powerful Joint Operations Command (JOC), comprising military
and secret service chiefs, which advises Mugabe on national issues, has
taken the hard-line stance that Mugabe should abandon the talks and form a
Zanu-PF government, possibly with some ministers drawn from Arthur
Mutambara's smaller MDC faction.

"JOC has always been against the talks which could result in
Tsvangirai getting some executive powers. Remember, JOC is made up of
military commanders who have in the past made it public that they will not
allow Tsvangirai to be the leader of the country," one source said.

"Immediately after Mugabe's speech, JOC members ran around and
communicated to each other that this was the right time to pressure Mugabe
to pull out of the talks," a source said.

"It's not clear if Mugabe has heeded their advice, but from the way he
reacted after parliament, it seems he will announce his Zanu-PF cabinet
anytime," he continued, referring to reports in the state-owned Herald that
Mugabe had told guests at a reception that he was ready to form a

Forming his own cabinet would kill the negotiations, mediated by
President Thabo Mbeki, by blatantly violating the memorandum of
understanding Mugabe signed together with Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara of
the MDC faction on July 21, to set the framework for negotiations for a new
power-sharing government.

"The president is in a quandary. He is well aware that he will
disappoint Mbeki by forming his own government without Tsvangirai, but as
things stand, he has little option. He is aware more than ever before that
he cannot work with the main MDC.

"But he might give people like Mutambara powerful positions and dump
Tsvangirai's MDC, and form a government.

"It will be a difficult decision, but it looks like there is little he
can do at the moment. Mugabe's advisers seem determined and the old man
might give in to pressure," said the source.

The negotiations have suffered another blow with the arrest this week
of five MDC MPs on charges including rape, kidnapping and violence. The MPs
had not been released by late on Wednesday.

Though the negotiations are in peril, there are no signs that Mbeki is
trying to salvage them. SA government sources had indicated last week that
he would fly to Harare this week to try once again to secure a deal.

MDC sources said Mbeki would go to Harare on Thursday, but his
spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga denied on Wednesday night that he would go
on Thursday or Friday. - Independent Foreign Service

This article was originally published on page 3 of The Star on August
28, 2008

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Red Cross appeals for urgent food aid for Zimbabwe



The Red Cross federation has made an urgent appeal for 26.8 million dollars
in emergency food aid for about 260,000 people in Zimbabwe, in a statement
released late Wednesday.

According to the United Nations, up to 5.1 million people, almost half of
Zimbabwe's population, may be without accesss to food by the end of this
year, said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies statement.

"This preliminary emergency appeal, launched at the request of the Zimbabwe
Red Cross Society, is therefore intended to provide vital support in
responding to the immediate humanitarian needs of 260,100 particularly
vulnerable people," the statement said.

The first distributions of food are scheduled for next month.

The 2008 food security situation in Zimbabwe "will likely be the worst ever
on record.... The capacity of governmment to import food is constrained by
soaring food prices and the unavailability of foreign currency in the
country," it said.

It added that the "calamitous situation" comes on the heels of a difficult
2007 when the country experienced inconsistent rainfall, and flooding early
this year, leading to erosion and limited farming activities.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Goche, government responsible for suffering of millions - McGee

Thursday, 28 August 2008 14:28
HARARE - The US ambassador to Zimbabwe has said his government will
hold Nicholas Goche, Mugabe's minister for public service, labour and social
welfare, personally responsible for the inhumane suffering of more than a
million Zimbabweans.

According to impeccable sources, the outspoken diplomat, James McGee,
has also protested formally to the Mugabe regime about the theft by
government officials of 20 tons of food aid donated by the US government.

"This incident was particularly objectionable not only because it was
perpetrated by government officials, but also because it diverted food from
poor children and was used instead for the political patronage of a select
few," McGee said in a letter to Goche this week, sources revealed.

Millions of Zimbabweans have been affected by the military junta's
continued refusal to allow international food aid from the United States and
other western countries to reach the intended beneficiaries.

Confidential documents in the possession of The Zimbabwean show that
access to food aid for more than 420,000 children, health services for 8000
and water for some half a million people from USAID has been denied by the
Mugabe regime since just before the combined elections in March 2008.

McGee has taken a tough stance with the government - describing the
ban on humanitarian organisations as "inhuman".

McGee told Goche the humanitarian situation in the country now verges
on "catastrophic".

"Without prompt action on your part, a humanitarian crisis is
imminent. It is within your power to immediately lift the NGO ban, stop
harassment of NGO's and ensure the protection of humanitarian workers. If
you choose not to act, we will hold you personally responsible for the
inhuman suffering caused by this ban," he said.

With regard to the stolen food aid, McGee said a report prepared by
his officials about the incident revealed that the driver of the truck
carrying the food to 27 schools in Mutare district was captured on June 6 by
war veterans and police officers, dispatched by Governor Chigudu and led by
a Zimbabwean Army colonel, who threatened him and forced the truck to go to
Bambazonke police station. Under the direction of Chigudu the aid -
comprising bulgur wheat, pinto beans and vegetable oil, was distributed to
Zanu (PF) supporters assembled at a rally near the police station.

The driver was detained at the police station until June 9.  Project
staff who arrived to recover the food were prohibited entry to the police
station until after the food had been distributed at the rally.  Despite
continued efforts, US officials have been thwarted by the police in all
their attempts to pursue investigation of the theft.

McGee is adamant that responsibility for the theft rests with the
government of Zimbabwe and will leave no stone unturned in pursuing the

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Chiwewe Weeps Over Chop

MASVINGO, August 28 2008 - Former Governor and Resident Minister for
Masvingo province, Willard Chiwewe, reportedly cried uncontrollably upon
receiving the news that he had been axed from government, after the new
appointments made on Monday by President Robert Mugabe.

Mugabe has reportedly been ridding his government of individuals
sympathetic to a faction headed by retired army general Solomon Mujuru,
husband to vice president Joyce, and recently appointed his loyalists to
govern Zimbabwe's ten provinces.

He also appointed three non-constituency Senators, in an effort to
thaw the succession race within the highly divided party.

Titus Maluleke, the Deputy Minister of Education, replaced Chiwewe, a
former senior civil servant linked to the Mujuru faction, as Mugabe's winds
of political change blew across Masvingo.

Close sources said Chiwewe bawled copiously on Tuesday when Maluleke
was announced as his predecessor.

"He locked himself in his office and started wailing. He only gained
composure after being consoled by his secretary. Being a political green
horn, his future looks bleak," said a very close source who spoke on
condition of anonymity.

The source added that the corrupt governor never accepted advice on
how to run the affairs of the politically volatile province.

"He did not like listening to advice. We warned him that he was moving
too fast. Now he has been axed, oh poor Willard," added the source.

Chiwewe's penchant for self enrichment is well documented. First, he
diverted a truckload of fertilizer meant for poor newly resettled farmers to
the black market, only a year after assuming the reigns.

Afterwhich he grabbed a farm from a war veteran, which he latter gave
to his daughter.

The last blow, sources said, was his attempt to muzzle the list of
beneficiaries for tractors and other farming implements distributed by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) under the Agricultural Mechanisation
Programme at Gutu growth point last month.

All these allegations came hard on the heels of reports that Chiwewe
did not campaign for Mugabe in the initial March 29 elections, in which Zanu
PF was trounced by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Hopes in Zimbabwe for Success in Tobacco Farming Lead to Disappointment


By Safari Njema
Harare, Zimbabwe
28 August 2008

Resettled farmers in Zimbabwe who've ventured into tobacco farming say
bringing their produce to the sales floors in Harare is a nightmare. They
complain farming the golden leaf has left them destitute and disheartened
rather than enriching them, which they'd hoped for. Voice of America English
to Africa Service reporter Safari Njema in Harare says over the past two
years tobacco farmers have been working hard, hoping the crop that
transformed the lives of their predecessors would turn them into wealthy

They soldier on despite unreliable rainfall and a lack of inputs. continuing
to hope for a brighter future. But the grim reality of their daily plight is
clearly visible for everyone to see.

As one enters Harare from Beatrice it's impossible not to notice the sheer
number of people milling around the giant Zitec auction floors, popularly
known as the Boka Tobacco Auction Floors.

This giant building with its red brick walls and blue metal roof was
conceived by the late Roger Boka, who dreamt of building the biggest African
auction floor in the world. Indigenous farmers say it's ironic they are
getting so little from a structure that promised so much.

Two mobile toilets at the auction floor are in a terrible state, prompting
farmers to use the nearby bush, which is enveloped in a terrible stench.

Thirty-six-year-old Joyce Wutawunashe explains she cultivates the golden
leaf with her husband at Buta farm, near Marondera. The mother of three says
she's been at the auction floors for more than a week, waiting for her
payment to be processed. Joyce says she has no more money to spend. As the
current withdrawal limit is 100 billion [Zimbabwe] dollars daily, Joyce says
she's a sitting duck:

"We left children in the rural areas who are starving. We don't have any
money. The money we are getting from the bank is too little, it doesn't mean
anything. The children we left need our attention. They need food, they need
to go to school so if the bank could give us a little more money as a
withdrawal, it would help us a lot because we are starving here. We are
staying in the cold for many nights."

There are no showers at the facility. 49-year old Michael Mhofu from Madziwa
complains he's been here a week without taking a bath. He says he's spent
all his money and has nothing left, so he can't visit his ailing mother, "We
are being forced to go to ordinary shops to go and cash our cheques. So I
don't believe we will have enough money to buy inputs."

The farmers spend the greater part of the night sitting around small fires.
Some share the few blankets they have while sleeping in the open. Then they
wash their clothes in the nearby Mukuvisi river and hang them on a boundary
fence to dry.

The story is the same at the Tobacco Sales Floor, situated in the Willowvale
Industrial area. It's an empty space supported by robust metal poles,
covered with an iron roof. It's since been turned into a temporary shelter
for many new tobacco farmers, who spent at least a week waiting for their

Asked to comment on the payment system, an official at the Zitec Sales
Floors who requested anonymity, said they're following government orders not
to give cash to farmers. Instead payments are made directly into farmers'
bank accounts. He said they've requested that the Reserve Bank back up the
bank withdrawal threshold, especially for tobacco farmers.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

No Zimbabwe trip for Mbeki

28 August 2008


The Presidency denied media reports today that President Thabo Mbeki would
be leaving for Zimbabwe later in the day to try and salvage power-sharing

"These reports are absolutely baseless, He is definitely not going today,"
said presidential spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga.

Ratshitanga said if Mbeki was to depart for Zimbabwe to resume talks at a
later stage, an announcement would be made at that time.

On Thursday, The Times reported that spokesman for the Movement for
Democratic Change George Sibotshiwe had told the newspaper the party had
been informed Mbeki would be in Harare on Thursday to meet with them and
negotiators from the ruling Zanu-PF.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe - The Plan Comes Unstuck

2008-08-27 at 11:40 pm ·

When Tsvangirai refused to sign the agreement already approved by both
Mugabe and Mutambara two weeks ago, it is sure that the one person who was
not surprised was Mugabe. He knew from the beginning that Tsvangirai would
never agree to the post of Prime Minister with responsibility but no power.
In fact the wily old devil had been negotiating for a long time knowing that
when the final crunch came, Tsvangirai would walk away.

But the plan started to unravel before he had any opportunity to gloat. The
MDC did not just refuse to sign but put in an alternative that in their view
was practical, consistent with the outcome of the March 29th elections and
workable. The second development was that Mr. Mbeki did not automatically
endorse the idea of a unity government between Zanu and the Mutambara
faction of the MDC. Instead he said that the problem would go to the SADC
summit that weekend for arbitration and that he would go on from there.

Even so Mugabe was still confident - he knew how to handle his detractors in
the SADC and was a past master at subterfuge. At the summit Tsvangirai ran
into a situation where he faced not just a recalcitrant Mugabe, but also
Mutambara and Welshman Ncube who made it clear, in both the plenary and the
closed sessions that they were backing Mugabe in this situation. They argued
that we were being unreasonable in not signing the deal as they had already
done and that if Tsvangirai continued to refuse to sign up, they would go
into a unity government with Zanu PF.

Mutambara played the role of "power broker" claiming that he held the
balance of power between Zanu and the MDC and would use that influence to
ensure that a unity government under Mugabe would have a majority in
Parliament. As you can imagine this created severe difficulties for
Tsvangirai and his team as well as for our many friends in the region.

So the SADC summit decided to test the Mugabe/Mutambara hypothesis and get
them to convene Parliament and see who ended up controlling the House of
Assembly. Mbeki called for the formal opening of Parliament and in 10 days
this was put into effect. After a delay of 5 months Parliament was called
and on Monday the new Members of Parliament and the Senate were sworn into

The issue at stake was quite simple - who controlled a majority in the lower
House and therefore the third arm of the State? Behind the scenes activity
was intense. Both Zanu and the MDC Mutambara held caucuses with their
representatives and tried to whip them into line. Threats were made against
those expected to rebel against the Party line and the regime pulled out all
the stops to try and whittle down the MDC majority. They attempted to bribe
MP's they issued warrants of arrest against others and there were blatant
attempts to threaten and intimidate.

The MDC went to great lengths to protect their legislators - people in
hiding were given security and moved to safe houses, MP's were ordered to
switch accommodation at the last minute to ensure their safety overnight. On
the day, those MP's who were under threat (15 of them) were transported to
the Parliament and then smuggled into the building via a back door. Those
using the front door, even with diplomats watching, were arrested - one
escaping and making it into the building and the other two being hauled off
to the Central Police Station. We managed to get one out of police custody
in time for him to be sworn and to vote, but we were one short when we
convened at 10.00 hrs.

After the swearing in, we were asked to elect a Speaker by secret ballot.
The atmosphere was electric - the tensions between the MDC, many of whom
were new, and the Zanu PF benches were palpable. Zanu PF were supremely
confident. I voted and then walked out of the building with a Zanu PF
legislator. He said to me "you know what is happening in there?" he said
pointing back into the House? "You are going to lose this vote, we have
bought many of your people and you cannot win against a disciplined Zanu
 PF!" I grunted in reply "wait and see".

At 13.30 hrs the place erupted - MDC had won the vote for Speaker by 110
votes to 98. We then went on to elect his deputy and this was also MDC. We
now controlled the lower House and the Parliamentary Committees. Under our
constitution the Speaker is the third most important post in the country.
When the President is incapacitated he acts as the President until a new
President is elected. Zanu PF was completely stunned - it was their first
defeat in the House for 28 years.

The majority of the Mutambara MP's and 4 Zanu PF legislators voted for our
candidate. The first major defection by Zanu PF legislators since we entered
the fray in 2000. It gave the MDC control of the House and a clear response
to the question raised by the SADC leadership. It also meant that Mutambara
is probably finished politically and that Mugabe's plan to form a unity
government with him and to then move on without Tsvangirai, controlling a
majority in the House that Zanu PF could gradually increase by eliminating
MDC legislators, in tatters.

Mbeki was not long in responding and called for the talks to resume to deal
with the remaining issues. There is not a great deal to talk about - 98 per
cent of the agreement has been wrapped up and it's just the central aspect
of the power and authority of the Prime Minister and the issue of the
governors and the special Senate seats (5) that are outstanding. Mugabe must
now face his regional mentors against the background that he has lost an
election, held a run off election that was not recognised by the region and
is in limbo politically. He has also now lost control of the Lower House and
faces grave difficulties in securing support for his legislative programme,
including budgets.

It would appear that the plan for a unity government has more or less
collapsed. Mugabe was holding back two Senate seats and two governor
positions, I suspect as rewards for Mutambara and Ncube. I also hear that
Munangagwa was set to be appointed to the watered down position of PM and
that they would then implement the deal and claim legitimacy from the SADC
process. Instead they are again thrown into the lion's den with a hungry,
angry lion and no defence.

Eddie Cross
Bulawayo, 28th August 2008

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Listening for the trucks that will bring the food

Photo: IRIN
Food aid needed
CHIVA, 28 August 2008 (IRIN) - Hungry residents of a village in Masvingo Province, in southeastern Zimbabwe, have acquired an unusual skill: they have learnt to listen for trucks carrying food aid.

Elijah Banguza, 69, has become the village expert and can now identify vehicles by their sound, long before they appear on the road used by government and non-governmental organisation (NGOs) trucks.

The villagers are waiting for the grain the government promised them, but aid agency trucks have not come down the road since a ban was imposed on NGO operations in June. More than five million Zimbabweans will suffer food insecurity by March 2009, according to aid agencies, but many are already experiencing food shortages.

Banguza's skill saves villagers the distress of coming back empty-handed after pushing wheelbarrows, or driving donkeys or ox-drawn scotch-carts, for several kilometres to the business centre where maize used to be delivered for distribution.

"Now I can tell whether it is a haulage truck, a bus or passenger vehicle with the same ease with which politicians and local leaders have let us down," Banguza said. "Promised ... grain deliveries ... never materialise, week in and week out. Perhaps it is because the elections are over, we don't know."

In the run-up to the general elections in March, the Zimbabwean authorities assured people that government had imported 600,000 metric tonnes (mt) of maize from Malawi and Zambia, but mainly from South Africa.

But in the in the period before the second round of voting in the presidential ballot on 27 June, the government suspended all NGO activities, alleging political bias.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently urged the authorities to lift the ban and "avert a catastrophic humanitarian crisis", saying that "Due to their [NGOs] inability to operate, only 280,000 people of the 1.5 million in need of food assistance are being reached with distributions."

Little food to go around

Banguza's wife, Ruvimbo, lamented: "We are starving and no one seems to care about our plight. Our livestock will soon perish." She leant against an empty granary as she picked out kernels of maize from among the dried leaves in a half-empty reed basket. "This is all the grain we have."

''Now I can tell whether it is a haulage truck, a bus or passenger vehicle with the same ease with which politicians and local leaders have let us down''
She and her three granddaughters are lucky to have half a basket of grain to cook for supper; other families in the area have gone without meals for days, and any chance of the winter wheat harvest providing relief has also faded.

According to official estimates, about 8,900 hectares of winter wheat was planted - 13 percent of the area required to produce the more than 400,000mt the country needs to meet its annual requirement.

The government recently introduced a Basic Commodity Supply Side Intervention (BACOSSI) programme to cushion ordinary Zimbabweans from the escalating prices of basic household commodities, but this has done little to alleviate the villagers' plight.

"What we need is grain, not affordable hampers containing luxuries like sugar, cooking oil and toothpaste," Banguza complained. "We have survived on sadza [a thick maize-meal porridge] as a staple; who wants clean and healthy teeth when he is starving?"

Bartering livestock

Villagers in Masvingo tell how one of them sought to barter an ox for a bag of grain - a very uneven trade - to illustrate their dire situation. Experts say bartering might further impoverish the villagers because they will lack critical draught power to prepare their land in the coming planting season.

"It creates a huge dilemma for farmers," said local agricultural extension officer Jervas Rera. "They have to choose whether to barter their livestock to meet immediate needs in the form of grain, or face the prospect of failing to prepare their fields for lack of draught power in time for the onset of the wet season."

Malnutrition up

Food shortages have also increased malnutrition among pupils who benefited from supplementary feeding schemes funded and run by NGOs, mainly at schools and in poor communities.

When the twice-yearly national child health days, aimed at reaching the country's two million children aged under five with essential Vitamin A supplements and immunisation, kicked off in early August, the UN children's agency, UNICEF, expressed grave concern over the ongoing ban.

"We applaud and are committed to efforts such as the Child Health Campaign, but we cannot forget that a growing number of children are suffering daily because of the NGO ban," said UNICEF's Regional Director, Per Engebak.

"Every day that such an important lifeline of humanitarian aid for children remains cut off puts the children of this country at ever greater risk."

The week-long US$1 million campaign was supported by essential funding from the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), Canada's International Development Agency (CIDA) and UNICEF's National Committee of the Netherlands.

Zimbabwe is reeling under galloping inflation officially pegged at 11.27 million percent, although independent economists and bankers have put the rate as high as 22 million percent. 


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

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

A Question of Survival Under 'Too Much Mugabe'

Business Day (Johannesburg)

28 August 2008
Posted to the web 28 August 2008

Greg Mills

THERE is much on view that highlights Zimbabwe's woes. Passengers are
processed on arrival at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo "Temporary Terminal" in
Bulawayo in a converted hangar.

"We need a few things, some floor, the luggage conveyor thing, and then the
new building will be finished," says the friendly official. But it's been
that way this century, and is not likely to get done while things remain as
bad as they are.

At one end of the hangar is a Zimbabwe Reserve Bank currency exchange booth,
the digital display of the various rates flickering brightly in the gloom.
Alice in Wonderland would be proud. The Z$500bn agro-cheque is legal tender
until the end of this year. Only issued this July, this mega-cheque has now
been superseded by new notes issued on August 1, lopping 10 noughts off the

So Z$500bn became Z$50. Already Z$200 in new currency -- Z$2-trillion in
old -- is required on the black market for a single US dollar (10 times less
at the official rate), one of the effects of inflation running officially at
11-million percent a year.

People can hardly keep up and most can hardly get by. By robbing people of
their savings and pensions, hyperinflation has wiped out Zimbabwe's middle
class. But unlike other countries it has not fomented revolution and toppled
the government in Harare -- not yet, any way.

And there are some unusual side-effects of high inflation, one of which is a
shortage of cash to make transactions. Bizarrely, thus, money held outside
the banking system is more valuable than that within. Another is the
inability of companies to calculate beyond Z$99-trillion, or just $50.

And very few businesses any longer accept cheques. Seven days' clearance
does not pay when inflation is guesstimated at 30000% a day. Thus more and
more companies are functioning with foreign currency -- though this is
technically illegal.

Not that there is much to buy. Petrol is available regularly only to those
who have access to foreign exchange, and distributed via a coupon system.
Water and electricity supplies are erratic, with elderly machinery prone to
breaking down or not being able to keep up.

Food shortages are the norm. Foreign remittances and regular supply runs to
SA are the lifeline for most. Shortages help explain why food inflation is
now independently estimated at 649-million percent, exceeding Weimar levels
during the 1920s.

Everywhere you go, Zimbabweans say the same thing. "It is too much hard. SA
is easy; we must go there. There is too much Mugabe." And so on.

But everywhere, too, Zimbabweans -- the few whites remaining (probably less
than 10% of the 1970s peak of 250000) and the black majority -- do what they
have been good at through the worst of the Smith and sanctions years and,
today, the worst of the post-independence era: making a plan.

It's all about survival for most; prosperity for a small elite using their
access to government assets and foreign exchange to make often obscene
amounts of hay.

It is the other Zimbabwe that gives hope if a political settlement can be
engineered. It is the Zimbabwe of an educated workforce, almost limitless
tourism potential from Kariba to the Matopas, Mana Pools in the north to the
Highlands in the east.

It's the Zimbabwe of platinum, nickel, coal and chrome, of bustling, if
small-scale, industry around Harare, and of a burgeoning agriculture sector.

But recovery to this state is only possible with a legitimate government,
and Morgan Tsvangirai now holds those cards, no matter the tactics of
marginalisation employed by Robert Mugabe from trying to cut side-deals with
Arthur Mutambara's Movement for Democratic Change faction to opening

But these are increasingly desperate and meaningless actions. As long as
Tsvangirai is the key to legitimacy and foreign aid necessary to stabilise
the economy, time is on his side and is running out for Mugabe and his
cohort. For no country has historically been able to deal with
hyperinflation and stabilise its currency without access to significant
amounts of foreign capital, and without monetary and fiscal discipline.

But if and when a deal is struck, then what?

A new government will have to have a very clear idea of what exactly it
wants and should do, lest it be overwhelmed by the agendas of foreign
consultants and donors.

It will have to do three things straight away. First, stabilise the
currency, most likely by accepting in the short term the de facto
inevitability of at least short-term dollarisation.

Second, find the means to restore the value of fixed, tradable assets by
reinstating the rule of law.

Third, recover agriculture as quickly and completely as possible -- since we
know today, by sadly destructive measure, the extent of the country's
economic dependence on this sector.

In the interim, we wait.

Dr Mills heads the Johannesburg-based Brenthurst Foundation.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The Face of the Struggle for Zimbabwe

Thursday, 28 August 2008 08:11
By Patrick Huni

"Well, we literally went to bed with Zanu PF, took no precautions, and
Zanu PF raped us in our sleep".

In my sojourn in South Africa, I have had the opportunity to witness
first hand the post-traumatic aberrations of the Apartheid System which
ended 14 years ago. The resultant stress is still with the majority of the
people, particularly the previously disadvantaged groups (PDI), still fresh
and vivid as if it was a few years ago. The economic inequalities are still
evident, but there is a pervasive spirit of optimism. The government is at
great pains to advance the economic well-being of the average PDI South
Africans, they being unapologetically preferred above former Whites and all
foreigners both in business and employment. It is only those poorer PDI
individuals who believe 'the government' must bail them out by way of
handouts that have not had their lot improve much in the 14 years of

You could therefore say that things are 'looking up' for South
Africans. At least they are committed to protecting their democracy, having
firstly put in place a constitution that makes it that much easier, most
importantly the limit of presidential terms to two. With the Zimbabwe
experience, one would need extra genius to destroy an economy in about ten
years, after which time the president would have to go. Also, they do not
directly vote for a presidential candidate, he is seconded to government by
the winning party and can therefore be recalled. Similarly with Cabinet
ministers et al. The only ingredient missing which is therefore a threat to
this young democracy is an effective, reasonably large opposition party.

Which is where Zimbabwe now is! The former opposition, the winning
party (which should be the ruling party!) now is a formidable force to
reckon with. Why, they took control of Parliament this week, for the first
time ever in the 28 years of Zimbabwe Independence. Take note of the years,
at half that time, Zimbabweans probably were in the bliss South Africans
currently find themselves in. In 1994 anybody who prophesied the chaos
Zimbabwe is in now would have been labelled an alarmist heretic and burnt at
the stake.

We were happy with the party of the people, Zanu PF. We had a saying
then, "Zanu Vanhu, Vanhu  iZanu" loosely translated,  "Zanu party is of the
people, and the people are the party" Mugabe would have made it a one party
state at some point were it not for Edgar 'Two Boy" Tekere and his ZUM party
who got three seats in the early 90s Parliament election. He knew the evil
heart of his erstwhile colleague, and risked his personal comfort to prevent
that catastrophe. He must be remembered fondly in Zimbabwean history.
Someone of repute must take that plunge, quit the ANC and lead a vibrant
opposition for the South African democratic space to survive.

By the time Morgan Tsvangirai rose to ascendancy in the early 2000s,
firstly through the Labour Movement, then through the Civic Groups, namely
the NCA, the damage to the democratic space in Zimbabwe was complete. I was
reading the Zimbabwe Constitution recently comparing it with a more
democratic one of South Africa, its amazing how much repression is
institutionalised in it though many years of calculated amendments to limit
democratic space. As an example, the simple determination of who can be a
citizen has many winding paragraphs formulated with the idea of
disenfranchising bona fide citizens of their status. It's really amazing,
and it goes for everything. Even universally accepted human rights are
included with qualification in that constitution.

By that time (early 2000s) you had people who believed they were born
to bear rule in the country. They had turned themselves into career
politicians and could not envision any other role outside of government, and
never thought their hold on power could ever be seriously challenged. What
happened then was they became more and more inept at addressing the concerns
of the "ordinary man on the Chitungwiza bus", as one of my lecturers was
wont to say. This worsened to the extend where they no longer knew what to
do, and as time went on, it moved to a place where they could not do
anything, even if they wished, to turn around the economy. That is where we
are, 28 years after independence. The only positive thing is, we could have
a vibrant democracy going forward if only we can handle the current
delicately balanced political impasse, and here I appeal to all concerned.

This is the face of the Struggle for Zimbabwe. It is first and
foremost for democratic space. It is a struggle for a country we can be sure
that its future is protected by institutional provisions in our constitution
and other laws. It's a struggle for a country we can feel optimistic about;
we can plan our future on, which holds the prospect of true prosperity for
all citizens. Not one of us wants to die in far-off lands. Initially, many
moved out to horn their skills hoping to come back cleverer for the
experience, but many are finding themselves hostages in these foreign lands
because of the deteriorating political situation back home.

We made our mistakes, and must all take our fair share of the blame.
We trusted Zanu PF the way no man will ever trust his wife. It was like
letting your wife get into bed with another man, night after night, while
she vowed all the time it was only sharing a bed, and you were only too
ready to believe it. Can you blame her if she finally presented a bastard to
you? Well, we literally went to bed with Zanu PF, took no precautions, and
Zanu PF raped us in our sleep.

How do we correct this? Our resistance has to be steadfast. It will be
good if it does not have to be violent, I am happy Tsvangirai is thoroughly
a man of peace. Negotiations overnight are not realistic, that two week
time-frame was just ambitious. Let us be prepared for many rounds of talks,
and many failed such rounds. As the natural external pressure is brought to
bear on the warlords one at a time, the negotiations will become more and
more fruitful. What ordinary people can help with is to blow the whistle on
these power-mongers on their businesses outside Zimbabwe, have these frozen
or seized and when each and everyone of them begins to suffer personal
losses, they will be prepared to listen better. Let us be in it for the long
haul. South Africa's talks started while Mandela was in prison. He was
released in 1991 and the fruition of the talks was only 1994.

On each one's individual part, in as much as we enjoyed false comfort,
peace and prosperity during Zanu PF's  "good days", let us take the pinch of
the struggle boldly, as a naughty boy takes his stripes. He dare not wail,
after all he was fully aware of the consequences of his actions. Let us not
put pressure on Tsvangirai and company to accept anything stupid to
short-circuit our suffering. It will be folly and short-lived. We need a
total overhaul of our institutions, starting with the Constitution. Even
when MDC comes to power, it must be in a totally different space, a truly
democratic space. Never again must we have the prospect of such failure in
governance. Never, ever again, once beaten, twice shy. My only words of
comfort: If we hold on, it cannot be too long now, the writing is on the
wall for Mugabe & Co. But even if it's long, let's hold on, Evil will never
prevail over Good.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe Risks Hostile Parliament

Financial Gazette (Harare)

22 August 2008
Posted to the web 28 August 2008

Clemence Manyukwe

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe faces the prospect of a hostile parliament unwilling
to endorse government plans, heralding the escalation of political tensions
when legislation cannot be passed because ZANU-PF has a minority in the
House of Assembly.

As a sign of potential conflict, the state media reported last week that
parliament would be convened "soon" despite the fact that a deal has not yet
been reached between the negotiating parties.

This flies in the face of a provision in the Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) between ZANU-PF and both Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
formations, which stipulates that the national assembly should be opened
with the consent of all negotiating parties.

To cloud the issue further, talks mediator President Thabo Mbeki, said at
the end of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit at the
weekend that there was need to open Parliament.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvan-girai's formation has 100 members in the lower
house; the other opposition formation has 10 Members of Parliament (MPs)
while ZANU-PF has 99.

Jonathan Moyo, the MP-elect for Tsholotsho is the only independent

The resulting tug of war between parliament and government for the first
time since independence in 1980 is likely to delay economic reforms and
bring the decade-long political crisis to a head.

Opposition legislators could constrict the President's powers by refusing to
endorse government plans on important national issues such as the passing of
the budget.

Although ZANU-PF and the combined opposition have 30 seats each in the
Senate, ZANU-PF will control the Upper House through presidential appointees
comprising 10 provincial governors, five non-constituency senators and 18
chiefs who normally side with the ruling party.

However, ZANU-PF's majority in the senate will not be of any help in the
crafting of legislation as the House of Assembly has the final say on all
laws emanating from parliament.

ZANU-PF will also not be able to amend the constitution, as was the case in
the previous parliament, because that requires a two-thirds majority, which
it does not have. But neither does the combined MDC.

ZANU-PF's majority in the senate is likely to be useful only in the
management of internal succession politics in the event that President
Mugabe decides to step down before completing his term of office.

Under Constitutional Amend-ment No 18, one of the outcomes of Mbeki's
mediation, if a sitting president does not serve his full term, a joint
sitting of the Lower and Upper Houses chooses a successor and under that
scenario, ZANU-PF would have a majority.

A ZANU-PF source warned on Tuesday that if parliament does not co-operate
with President Mugabe he might be forced to dissolve it.

The source said the parties had signed an MoU with a provision on the
opening of parliament because they realised that they were in a "jam".

"What will result is a constitutional crisis? A constitutional crisis means
that you have an arm of the state, which cannot function due to the
non-cooperation of another arm of the state," the source said.

"The President has an option to dissolve parliament and call another

The MDC will have the option to introduce Private Bills -- proposed
legislation not emanating from the government -- but these could also hit a
brick wall because any bills passed need the President's assent and
signature to become law.

With the two MDC formations failing to agree on the appointment of the
Speaker of the House of Assembly, the formation headed by Arthur Mutambara
stands a chance of landing the post despite having the least number of
seats, sources said this week.

In talks last week, Tsvangirai suggested that negotiating parties grant his
formation the right to appoint a Speaker, but the request was turned down by
both ZANU-PF and the Mutambara formation.

Sources told the Financial Gazette, Tsvangirai's proposal was turned down
because ZANU-PF and the Mutambara group had information that he had
approached former politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa, with the aim of
appointing him Speaker to consolidate his support in Matabeleland.

ZANU-PF and the Mutambara faction's opposition to Dabe-ngwa's appointment
could see them teaming up to appoint a speaker from the smaller MDC faction
with the President of the Senate co-ming from the ruling party.

The sources referred to a clique within ZANU-PF, which was bent on derailing
the talks so as to thw-art the granting of any decision-making powers to
Tsvangirai. These hardliners were responsible for leaking stories to the
state media in violation of the MoU.

The MoU states that "parties shall refrain from using abusive language that
may incite hostility, political intolerance" during the talks, but this week
The Herald accused Tsvangirai of lying to SADC leaders.

The sources said this was one of the ZANU-PF hawks' ploys to scuttle the

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Inflation Heads for One Billion Mark

Financial Gazette (Harare)

22 August 2008
Posted to the web 28 August 2008

Inflation - identified as the country's number one enemy - is seen reaching
one billion percent by the end of the year unless a political solution is
hammered between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) led by former trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai,
analysts said this week.

Inflation data released by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) this week
put year-on-year inflation for June at 11.27 million percent, the highest in
the world and quite unusual for a country not at war.

The previous month, the rate had reached 2.2 million, which means it
accelerated by a massive 839,3 percent underlining the gravity of the
inflationary pressures afflicting the country's economy. The latest
inflation figure shows the economic meltdown is worsening with no signs that
the country's rival parties, ZANU-PF and the MDC, will reach a power-sharing
deal to end the crisis.

Much of the country's inflation stem from the excessive money supply growth
and the funding mechanisms of the budget deficit. But economists believe the
actual inflation figure is higher than the official figures.

"Our inflation figures are way above that but what it tells us is that the
productive base of the economy has really shrunk. We really need to change
the way we do business," said an economist at a domestic bank who declined
to be named.

He said the core problem was that Zimbabwe's manufacturing sector had ground
to a halt and money supply was at very high levels.

Critics have accused President Mugabe's government of printing money to
finance an election campaign and prop up the economy, fuelling

"What is needed is significant inflow of foreign currency, policy
consistency and structural reforms in the energy sector," the economist

Zimbabwe is suffering from almost 80 percent unemployment and many of its
people survive by bartering goods. Maize, sugar and other basic foodstuffs
are in short supply.The central bank re-denominated the Zimbabwean dollar
currency on July 30 by slashing 10 zeros but this has had no effect on
stemming the devaluation of the currency.

When it was re-denominated the Zimbabwean dollar was trading at $140 billion
to the United States dollar, or $14 in the re-denominated currency.

Currently the unit trades at $100 to the greenback, or $1 trillion in the
old currency. Yesterday, the Zimbabwe Economics Society (ZES) said any delay
in arriving at a solution to the political impasse that represents the will
of the people might worsen the economic situation.

"We want to make a clarion dismissal of talks that build on the foundation
of the June 27, 2008 presidential run-off poll results, that in fact was a
one-man election," said ZES president Lovemore Kadenge.

"We as ZES want to argue that the talks should not be an issue of power but
democracy, human rights, freedom, justice and economic development. The
suffering we currently see was borne out of gross macroeconomic
mismanagement. In as much as ZANU-PF's economic models have plundered the
nation, it is necessary that they acknowledge responsibility for the
economic woes and concede defeat. We expect the greatest degree of
compromise from ZANU-PF. That and that alone is a litmus indicator of true
patriotism," said Kadenge.

John Robertson, a Harare-based economist said the skidding exchange rate was
worsening the inflation outlook.

Said Robertson: "The foreign currency cost is rising at the rate of 13
percent per day. That rate of increase will mean that prices will be one
billion percent higher than they were at the same time last year. The 11
million percent year on year inflation rate could be 100 million percent by
July and by about October were expect year-on-year inflation to rise to
about one billion percent, that is something you cannot live with. The
government is pinning hopes on the social contract. The target should not be
the behavior of business and labour but their own behavior. Business is
actually a victim because it is the government that is causing the dollar to

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The Laughter Has Gone!

Financial Gazette (Harare)

22 August 2008
Posted to the web 28 August 2008

Ken Mufuka

MY employers at The Financial Gazette wanted me to meet the movers and
shakers of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) before leaving for
home (I almost said). No, home is in Zimbabwe. I am an African.

The reason I am confused is that for the first time in 30 years, the
laughter and the banter that characterised my Zimbabwe has gone, or rather
is subdued.

I sat with Supa Mandiwanzira. He was still bullish and revolutionary, but
the fire was no longer there.

My old classmate and belo-ved friend Clifford Sileya was there, just a few
inches from me. He failed to recognise me. My role model Rugare Gumbo
quickly left the room before I could say hie! He has a warm heart for
everybody, and I was surprised.

It was unlike Zimbabweans. If the laugther goes out of Zimbabweans, the
whole of Africa is in mourning. The issue became clearer later on.

The Dean of Arts at U-Zee kindly took me out for lunch at the Senior Common
Room, and there I met the intelligentsia of Zimbabwe. There were four Deans
of Faculty there, and the Registrar.

The laughter was there, but it was subdued. Signs of deterioration and
desperation are everywhere at U-Zee because it is supposed to be the light
shining in darkness.

The dim light bulbs in the halls of learning and the jailhouse burglar bars
welded on office doors are a witness to a descent into Hades.

There was a little laughter, but it was subdued. The professors were
struggling under difficult circumstances.

Their salaries had been eaten up by inflation. It seems that the highest
paid received no more than US100 per month and the younger lecturers were
lucky to take home US10 per month.

One professor protested at a miserable plate of rice and a scrawny piece of
chicken. When the waiter returned there was no more rice and he had to put
up with scrawnier pieces of potatoes.

The Common Room toilet was locked up.

The last time I was there was in 2002, six years ago. It has been in disuse
for six years at least. Three students in the Arts Theatre were struggling
to read in a half lit room.

My longtime friend, lectu-rer Mickias Masiyiwa, was working through precious
Mu-tsvairo documents in a similarly half lit room.

I prayed that God would give me students like these three. I could see a
Martin Luther King and a Mary McCleod Bethune emerging from these determined
students. If my students were in any way inconvenienced, they would demand
that I be sacked from Lander University.

The professors were heroic and stoic. They defended the efforts of professor
Levy Nyagura, the vice chancellor.

They appreciated the fact that he was overwhelmed by the vicissitudes of
everyday life. He was doing everything purposeful to alleviate their
situation. Even the scrawny potatoes in the Common Room had been secured at
great effort on his behalf.

There is something about suffering that brings out the spirit of gratitude
and appreciation of God's mercies. The dean and the students were doing
God's work. Brother Nyagura must feel blessed to be surrounded by
appreciative staff.

My American student swore he saw an alligator at the Department of
Agriculture. The sign, Agriculture itself was missing a c, so it read wrong.

A water pipe broke and has since created a reed infested tropical forest. I
discounted the sighting. I am quite sure it was a rock lizard (guya kuya),
which inflates its lungs and raises its head so it looks four times larger
than it actually is.

Kyle Hicks' powers of observation are overly cute. In the Vumba Mountains he
woke me up at midnight because a tarantula (a spider) was creeping through
his blanket.

For the first time in 30 years, starvation stared me in the face.

I found myself going to the bank everyday because of the unrealistic
withdrawal limits. A masochist vampire set the maximum withdrawal amount.
The first week I was there, a loaf of hollow bread (blown up inside to meet
the standards of the pricing commission) cost $10. By the third week, it
cost $50. By the time I left, it cost $150. The maximum allowed by the bank
was $100.

My mother no longer draws her pension, which amounts to $40 000 per month.
To avoid starvation, I decided to call on all my debts, I started with
sister Anna Perusa, my neighbour. If she did not give me some vegetables
(cabbages were now $150 billion a piece) I would write her up. She kindly
came to our help.

A government operative, Tinos Mujati owed me a goat. Years ago, I had helped
his son through college. Now I wanted my goat, quick! I did not have to
blackmail my longtime friend Fabian Mabaya in Masvingo. His wife Happiness
squirreled a whole box of goodies, a package of sugar, two loaves of bread,
some coffee, macaroni, rice and even managed to squeeze in (their language)
some candy. The rules were against me. I had to share some with sister
Perusa, my neighbour.

As I was contemplating this survival matter, there was a knock. It was
Rutendo Mas-ango, a bank manager and her three kids. They had not had water
at their house for two years.

Life and laughter is slowly draining away. Anglican Bishop James Bakare told
an audience in London that these conditions have drained the virtuous life
in Zimbabwe. "Falsehood has almost become a national disease." I think the
Bishop was too severe with the brothers.

But this must have come as madness to my hosts. I reminded the Dean of Arts
that I had made an application to return home. Either my application was
regarded as madness, or as a provocation, I do not know. It was ignored.

These guys cannot understand that while they suffer material deprivation; I
suffer from the worst kind of deprivation, spiritual loneliness surrounded
by over abundance.

I have three computers, two telephones, two research assistants in my office
and three cars at my house, but I miss you guys.

Why cannot the Dean of Arts understand such a simple idea?

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

TUC calls on Mugabe to set Zimbabwean trade union leaders free

Source: TUC
Published Thursday, 28 August, 2008 - 12:17

As Lovemore Matombo and Wellington Chibebe, the leaders of the Zimbabwean
trade movement, go on trial in Harare tomorrow (Wednesday) for speaking out
against the violence that took place during last month's re-run Presidential
election campaign, the TUC has called on the Mugabe regime to drop the
charges against the two men and let them go.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has written to the Zimbabwean
Ambassador in London, HE Mr Gabriel Mharadze Machinga, to express concern
over the trial. The TUC also called for all Zimbabweans to be able to
exercise their democratic rights without interference from the State.

Back in June when Lovemore and Wellington (the President and General
Secretary of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions) were due to appear in
court, the TUC and Action for Southern Africa held a demonstration outside
the Zimbabwean Embassy in London in protest at the two men's bail
conditions. These prevented them from speaking in public or attending public
meetings - and effectively gagged them throughout the election campaign.

The two had been arrested following speeches made at a May Day rally
concerning the violence and intimidation that had become widespread,
particularly in rural areas, during the election re-run. As a result,
Lovemore and Wellington were charged with supposedly spreading 'falsehoods
prejudicial to the state'.

When the two trade union leaders arrived at Harare Magistrate's Court on 23
June, there was no trial magistrate or state prosecutor to initiate
proceedings. There were also no court records or witnesses. After waiting
around for hours, the union leaders were told that the trial was to be
postponed. The ZCTU will now be hoping that the charges are to be dropped
later today.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'The ZCTU leaders were brave
enough to speak out against Mugabe's thugs and as a result the Government
silenced them. The presidential re-run election was a farce, and Mugabe has
already shown he isn't serious about sharing power or about listening to the
true wishes of the Zimbabwean people. The trial must be abandoned and the
ZCTU leaders set free, without condition.'

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP on Sale for US$500,000.00

Posted by zi.editor on August 27th, 2008 in News & Updates, Zimbabwe Internet History.

Do you have half a million US dollars to spare? Well, if you do, you could be the proud owner of the domain which goes on auction tomorrow (28 August 2008). While you’re at it you, may as well buy, or perhaps Which are also on sale.

You may wonder, who on earth is selling these domains? How do they come to own them in the first place?

Here’s a little history lesson to put it all nicely into perspective. Sometime after the World Wide Web was born, some clever people realised that sooner or later every major company or organisation and every country would one day have a website. So, before was registered, someone would snap it up until one day So And So Company wanted a website and wanted to register the domain only to realise that it was taken. They would then find out who the domain was registered by and buy it from them- at an inflated, which was equal to the domain name many times multiplied.

This came to be called cybersquatting- literally buying on a domain name and “sitting” on it until someone wanted to buy it from you. According to a United States law known as the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, “Cybersquatting is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.”

On 27th May 1997, some clever opportunist registered We have no record of how many times it has changed hands since then, but tomorrow, it can change into your hands. If this person is not Zimbabwean or if they have no reasonable right to own this domain, have they broken any law?

According to the Whois registry, the domain was registered through and is owned by a client of Domains by Proxy Inc of Scottsdale, Arizona, in the United States. Domains by Proxy does private registrations of domain names to protect the identity of the owners.,,, are other domains which have been registered by various parties and  which are on sale at various prices.

A notice on the temporary website for states that on 26th August 2008 the domain goes on sale. “This country domain is available at auction closing on August 28th with a low starting bid of between US$517,700 and US$750,000. This exclusive domain will generate advertising revenue way above its selling price. Get in on the auction action now and don’t miss out, once it’s gone, you may never have this chance again to own the hottest Zimbabwe domain. Serious Bidders Only. … You can also buy for a low starting price of US $9,440 so act now on this great deal.” Reads the notice.

I think the person who owns this domain is highly optimistic, because I don’t see anyone, even the Government of Zimbabwe, paying that much for the domain. But then again, I could be wrong.

Domains have been known to fetch millions of US dollars. The most expensive domain ever sold was in January 2006, which was snapped up by Escom LLC for US$11 million dollars, although some reports state that the price was as high as US$14 million. was sold for US$7.5 million, for US$7 million and for US$3.5 million. Note that we are not talking of websites here- just the domain which costs an average of US$9.00 in a normal every day registration.

Internationally, domains that pertain to countries are hot property. Tourism is the biggest online product and so any domain that can be used as the address for a potentially busy tourism site is hot property. In 2000 The Government of South Africa started a much publicised battle for the domain with American businessman, Greg Paley. The South African Government, having decided that they wanted to set up a site to promote the country found that the domain they wanted had already been registered. They approached the domain owner but he refused to let it go. Paley Media still owns the domain so I suppose that Greg Paley won in the end.

If this is a precedent to go by, the only way can come back to Zimbabwe is for a rich benevolent son or daughter of the soil to buy it and bring it home.

Back to the Top
Back to Index